This is our 2nd Christmas in Chiang Mai, and our fifth in Thailand! Learn where to shop for the holidays and what restaurants are open, plus where to get baked goods for the holidays.

Christmas in Chiang Mai

This is our 2nd Christmas in Chiang Mai, and our fifth in Thailand! Learn where to shop for the holidays and what restaurants are open, plus where to get baked goods for the holidays.

We just celebrated our 5th Christmas in Thailand, and the second of which we spent here in Chiang Mai.

If you usually celebrate Christmas in a place that actually has winter ( as in snow), you’re probably wondering what it’s like to celebrate the holiday season here in Thailand. To be honest, I do miss the white Christmases that we had when we lived in Italy, the UK, and South Korea, but even though Thailand is a Buddhist country, many Thais ( and of course expats) celebrate Christmas, to some degree.

Every year, the department stores ( like Maya, Gad Suan Kaew, Central, etc) have a Christmas decorations and do a great job decorating. Christmas lights are also sold at most hardware stores, and at places like Big C and Makro ( top floor).

Restaurants in Chiang Mai are typically open on Christmas day, and many have a special set menu available or some type of holiday dish.

Nic’s family restaurant in Hang Dong does a fantastic job with creating holiday menus and events, especially on Halloween and Christmas. This year, they had Santa swing bye for the kids to chat with, and their set menus had both vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

If you happen to be in Chiang Mai during Christmas and don’t have the ability to bake holiday goodies, I suggest ordering a cake ( or two!) from Butter is Better and California Wraps. Both have gluten-free options too. Sadly, I haven’t found mince pies anywhere in town, but I’ll keep asking as I’m sure I’m not the only Brit looking for them!

The only thing that’s hard to find in Chiang Mai during the holidays is good, Christmasy wrapping paper. We bought our from Makro and it’s not the best, but we managed to use two sheets to wrap a large lego set Santa brought for Kaya.

When it comes to shopping, the malls have a plethora of different toys, clothing, and pretty much everything else. We usually shop at small stores and our local Wednesday market ( at Kad Farang) and ‘Santa’ got Kaya’s lego sets from a small shoe slash Lego store in the Mali Market, located in Hang Dong. The store is near the Pancake House and looks like it only sells shoes but it has an excellent assortment of legos inside.

The Wednesday market at Kad Farang has several toy stalls, including one that is across from Wine Connection ( in the parking lot). We purchased Shopkins-like toys and other stocking stuffers there, and have previously ordered a Scooby Doo lego set from the owner, who is extremely friendly and willing to look for special items.

Coffee shops also make sure to get festive during Christmas. While we always go to independant cafes, I do enjoy going to Starbucks for a holiday coffee in December. They sell some really nice mugs too! Cafe Kantary also got festive and has two hot cocoa specials with a mashmallow snowman, as well as Christmas cookies. And their decorations are by far the best I’ve seen at any place in Chiang Mai! The above Instagram photo with Kaya is taken outside their Kad Farang cafe.

Have you spent Christmas in Chiang Mai? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

How to have a stress-free family road trip

How to have a stress-free family road trip

How to have a stress-free family road trip

Planning on taking a family road trip on your next vacation? Don’t want it to be chaotic?

I feel you. Being in a far for hours with kids can be a challenge. But no matter where you’re headed, you can make the trip easier and more enjoyable by planning ahead and taking breaks.

Make Sure To Pack kid-friendly Healthy Snacks

You never know what types of sugar-loaded, unhealthy snacks will be available at whatever gas station or 7/11 you pass on your trip. And it may take hours until you hit up a decent restaurant. In order to ensure the kids are eating well while you’re traveling, make sure to pack healthy snacks they love. Whether it’s carrot sticks and hummus or organic granola bars, have a bag filled with healthy options in the back seat ( right by the kiddos) so they can munch whenever you’re hungry. If you’re overseas and aren’t sure where you can get healthy snacks, iHerb is a great place to get organic chocolate, gluten-free cookies, almond butter, and pretzels. They ship pretty much anywhere too!

Pack Lots of Games

The inevitable ‘I’m bored’ is sure to creep in at some point, maybe even a few minutes into the trip…if you’re not prepared!

Have your kids pack their favorite toys & games that will help them stay entertained, and keep the bag within reach so they access them easily. Even if you’re a low-media family, you’ll probably want to give in on a long trip and let your child use your phone or ipad. Minecraft is our daughter’s favorite game, as well as the Toca Boca series. And if you’re homeschooling/unschooling or just looking to help your child learn to read, apps like Homer and Hooked on Phonics are fun and affordable investments that they’ll love!

Take Breaks Often

While you may have a time frame you need to stay within to get to your destination, it’s still important to take breaks, which will make the road trip more enjoyable for everyone. Plus, you need bathroom breaks and to eat, right?

If you’re going on a family road trip in an area you’re familiar with ( or can easily research/google) plan ahead of time where there will be gas stations, restaurants with healthy options, cafes, and sights to check out.

This can be a lot harder to do if you are say taking a road trip in Thailand and you’ve never been here before, but even if you haven’t you can ask the hotel you’re staying at if they have driven to wherever you’re going and if there are any sights/stops they recommend. There are actually loads of gas stations and rest stops on all the main high-ways here, if you are planning on driving in Thailand. And thankfully, our 7/11s have decent frozen Thai dishes, if you’re driving late at night and need a quick bite to eat.

Make sure to take loads of family travel photos when you do take breaks, even if they’re short.

Diffuse Essential Oils

Whenever we travel, we always take essential oils with us. They are seriously so versatile, especially oils like lavender and tea tree. You can purchase a cheap diffuser for your car, and choose a relaxing oil to help the kids ( and adults) stay calm.

Get Your Kids Excited About The Trip

We’ve always tried to use our travels as a teaching opportunity for our daughter, even when she was a toddler. By talking about why we’re taking a trip or going somewhere ( even if it wasn’t a vacation per se) this got her excited. Whether we were driving to get my ID card in South Korea or through Tuscany, we told her about the fun we’d have on the way.

Point out different attractions you see our your window, or come up with a game to spot a certain type of car, bird, etc

No matter where you’re taking your family road trip, you can make it an enjoyable, stress-free experience by being prepared ahead of time!

4 ways to improve your family travel photos

4 Ways To Improve Your Family Travel Photos


4 ways to improve your family travel photos

Take great photos of your loved ones when you’re on a family trip is better than any souvenir, am I right?

But it can be challenging to take great family travel photos if you’ve got a wee one that’s eager to run off and explore his/her new surroundings. It can also be a challenge to get the perfectly lit photo, especially if you’re visiting a market or eating street food at a hawker court at night.

While I’m no well-known or super pro photographer, I wanted to share with you the three ways I’ve improved my own family travel photos, based off of the 7 years I’ve owned my DSLR


Shoot Outside As Often As Possible

Almost all of my best shots were taken outside in great lighting. Whether Kaya was playing on a beach in Rawai or in the snow in Tuscany, when I took her photo outside during the daytime, the lighting was good enough that I didn’t have to play around in Lightroom/Picmonkey most of the time, nor did I need a tripod or lighting kit.

I shoot outside as often as possible with my DSLR. When I am indoors and want to take a random shot or say my husband & daughter eating dinner at a restaurant, I’ll whip out my iPhone and use that instead. Why? I’ve found it much easier to carry around my phone than a tripod & DSLR ( obviously lol) and my iPhone 6 happens to take pretty good photos, even in low lighting. And if the photo is underexposed, it’s easy to edit it in apps like VSCOCam or Afterlight.


Video: How to get your kids to smile for photos

How to improve your family travel photos

An impromptu iPhone pic, edited with VSCOcam 6 preset

Be Ready 

I’ve found that the best family travel photos ( and lifestyle pics) are typically taken at random times. This means that just like when you’re at home, a special moment will arise when your kids are playing or doing something funny that you’ll want to capture. But you won’t have long to take the shot, if it’s going to look natural. Have your camera ( or phone) with you as often as possible on your trip and be ready to take snaps throughout the day.

Shoot In Manual or Aperture Priority

If you’re shooting with a DSLR, I suggest trying to shoot in aperture priority or manual. There are several reasons for this. You will have more ability to control how your photos turn out, especially the lighting.

This will make things even easier when you’re taking family travel photos at night or indoors!

Resource: These guides from Photography Concentrate have really helped me shoot in manual

Give Your Little Ones A Camera

Children have the amazing ability to see things we don’t see, because of how creative and imaginative they are, as well as their size. My daughter took my all-time favorite travel photo when we were staying in Penang, which I printed and have a copy of in my room.

If your kids are too young to use a DSLR, I suggest giving them a disposable camera or buying an instant camera, like a Polaroid. The film can be pricey, so let your child know that they need to conserve film, if you get a Polaroid. The cool thing though about instant cameras is that most photos look good, as they have that vintage type feel. Encourage your kids to be creative photographers and to look for what sticks out to them on your travels as being noteworthy. Kaya photographs restaurant decor and food, and also loves to take pictures of animals. What does your child enjoy shooting?

How to improve your family travel photos

When you’ve returned from your vacation and are thinking about what to do with your family travel photos, I suggest printing iPhone pics using a service like Parabo Print, Artifact Uprising, or Print Studio. I’ve printed pictures with all of those companies and like them all. Parabo is probably my favorite, and you can do some cool things with your family travel photos ( like print huge sizes or colourful risograph style). Print Studio has extra tiny size options, which our daughter loves.

Creating photobooks filled with your family travel photos is another option. We use Chatbooks and Nowvel to print photobooks. The former we have print our Instagram photos each month ( for only about 6 dollars) and the latter we give away to friends and family as Nowvel is an amazing quality photobook. For turning your DSLR photos into books, I suggest using Blurb or Artifact Uprising.

No matter where you’re going on your next trip, these easy to implement tips will help you improve your family travel photos, even if you’re just shooting with your iPhone. Remember that kids love being photographers too, and sometimes their pictures are even better than ours! They also love displaying their work, and with affordable printing apps and services, you can display them throughout your home when you get back from vacation.

Why you should go on a family cruise

Why You Should Go on a Family Cruising Holiday

Why you should go on a family cruise

Don’t think for a second that cruise holidays are just for couples and older travellers. While a cruising holiday is perfect for both these groups, cruises are in fact one of the best ways for families to enjoy a holiday. If you’ve never been on a cruise, or are apprehensive about taking your children on one, don’t worry, we’ve compiled a few good reasons why a cruise should be your next family holiday.

It takes care of the travelling

Seeing multiple destinations is wonderful, but the logistics of corralling little ones across countries and on multiple flights can be overwhelming. That’s why taking a cruise is so good; it lets someone else sort out the transport! A cruise holiday by definition takes you to different locations, and you get to relax by the pool or unwind in the cabin while they do it. It’s like waking up in a new all-inclusive resort every day!

They are jam packed with activities for kids

Most cruises boast a wide array of kids’ clubs, children’s activities and even in-cabin babysitting services. There is sure to be a world of entertainment to excite and (tire out!) your little ones. From fun activities for the whole family, to ones just for the kids that let you enjoy a cocktail at the bar, there are endless possibilities for fun.


It lets you see different parts of the world with ease

While the Caribbean is the region many of us think about when we picture a quintessential cruise, there are in fact lots of options available. Take a cruise in the Mediterranean, sail the Black Sea, discover the Baltic, or even venture to the Arctic – it’s up to you!

You only have to unpack once

Taking a cruise lets you get comfortable. Your cabin will be your home for the duration, so you don’t need to worry about packing and repacking when you visit each stop on your itinery. Beyond a small day-bag you can leave everything you need in your cabin.

You’ll never get bored

Going on holiday is great, but after a week in the same location it is natural to get a little restless. This isn’t the case on a cruise, thanks to the fact that you’ll only spend a day or two at each stop-off. This keeps things interesting, and if you fall in love with a destination, you can always come back!

Images by Roderick Eime used under Creative Commons licence.

Thinking about moving to Chiang Mai? Read my thoughts on the pros and cons of living here.

Should you move to Chiang Mai?

Thinking about moving to Chiang Mai? Read my thoughts on the pros and cons of living here.

Thinking about moving to Thailand but aren’t sure which city, town, or island to choose?

After living in this beautiful country for over 5 years, I’ve discovered that Chiang Mai-as busy and touristy as parts of it may be- is perhaps the best place for our family. We tried living in Bangkok for a month, and though there were wonderful networking opportunities and people we connected with, it was too busy for us. I practically had a panic attack everyday. It wasn’t the type of lifestyle we were used to, especially after having lived in Phuket for years.

And speaking of Phuket: as lovely as it is, it also wasn’t the best place for us. Since we homeschool, we need activities and a community of like-minded holistic families, and Phuket just doesn’t have it. That’s not to say there aren’t some like-minded young families there, but we personally haven’t met any! And we lived there for five years! The homeschool community was dispersed throughout the island, and there weren’t many of us. On top of that, island life was so laid-back that it was borderline impossible to get people to come over to our house or to even go out for lunch. We just didn’t make any close friends, until we met our two chef friends Than and Jack.

But Chiang Mai is a bit of both Bangkok and Phuket, mixed with its own unique Lanna culture. It’s a city, but it’s relaxed. And like in Phuket, the touristy parts are easy to avoid, if you know your way around the city and choose to perhaps live in Hang Dong, or Mae Rim.

The Plus Points of Living In Chiang Mai

There are numerous benefits to living in Chiang Mai. For starters, there are lots of schooling options for children, as well as other family-friendly activities. And if you also homeschool ( or unschool) your kids like we do, you’ll appreciate the fact that there are hundreds of homeschooling families up here.

If you’re looking to learn Thai or continue your education, you will probably love Chiang Mai University, which has a Thai studies department. I studied there for about three months and loved it!

Payap University offers undergraduate and graduate programs in English, and our friends that teach there ( or study there) really love it. It too offer Thai language classes, and I believe you can also get your TEFL cert.

Because of the number of schools and universities in Chiang Mai, you can most probably easily find work as an ESL teacher. Billy taught English in Phuket, and found his job by applying to an add in the local paper. We recommend you do the same, and also possibly research schools and actually visit them with your CV. The more proactive you are, the better your chances will be to find work.

Chiang Mai has lots of health conscious farang and Thais too. Mostly the former, but a growing number of the latter are delving into juicing and healthy eating. To meet this demand, there are dozens of vegan, vegetarian, and organic restaurants, stores, and food stalls. This makes it relatively easy to get the vitamins and such that you may need. We live right next to a wonderful juice bar that serves up a mean smoothie!

And if you want a more hi-so grocery store option, you will probably love Rimping, which has a variety of beer and cheese and other imported items, when the craving arises. It also stocks lots of gluten free baking products, although they are extremely expensive. We instead order from iHerb, which is also where we get our vitamins and things we can’t find locally.

Living in Chiang Mai is relatively affordable too, especially if you are outside of the city center. My friend is renting a brand new condo for about 200 dollars a month, and my neighbor’s Bali-style two bedroom house is 8000 baht per month.

If you happen to be Christian, you’ll find that there are many denominations up here in Chiang Mai, especially in comparison to Phuket. I’ve even bumped into Mennonites here! There are of course thousands of Buddhist temples here too, and other religious centers.

Should you move to Chiang Mai?

The Downside To Living In Chiang Mai

The stereotype of the drunk, obnoxious 20 year old backpacker that dons elephant pants everyday exists for a reason. Granted, I have nothing against this type of person ( although I can’t stand the elephant pants uniform for tourists), but if they drive drunk or outnumber locals, it gets on my nerves.

If you are going to be working here, you may find the pay to be less than what you would get in Bangkok. My husband earned about 30K baht per month as an ESL teacher ( with years of experience) in Phuket, and I’m guessing the wage for teachers may be around that here in Chiang Mai. You can make more in BKK, or better yet, in Korea or Japan.

Immigration gets super busy, and depending on which visa you’re on and which immigration office you go to, you could end up waiting in line at 5AM so that you get your visa the same day.

If you want to rent a car here, expect to pay 15000 to 20000 baht per month, unless you get a really good deal through a friend ( or just get lucky) and find a rental for 12K.

Another thing to consider ( that my friends have told me about) is you can get ‘faranged’ if you don’t speak Thai and are at a larger, more touristy market. Aka, you can end up paying more. Funny enough, I haven’t had this happen to me here because we live in Hang Dong and go to local markets, and I speak decent Thai.

The traffic into the city ( and within the city center around Maya) can get bad. Really bad. This is usually during the typical hours, aka when people are coming home from work or picking up their kids from school.

Pollution during the burning months is extremely bad, although I didn’t personally have much of a reaction to it and think the air quality was slightly better here in Hang Dong. Or at least, it was this past year. The pollution comes from a combination of farmers burning their old crops mixed with pollution from other parts of Asia. If you have asthma or a serious health condition, you should notify your doctor about it and get their opinion. Or, spend those months in a different part of the country.

If you are feeling like Chiang Mai is the place for you and your family, read my free guide to living here for extra tips!

Do you live in Chiang Mai or are considering moving here? Let me know in the comments below!

traveling with kids in Thailand

Traveling In Thailand With Kids

traveling with kids in Thailand

Thinking about traveling in Thailand with the kids?

Out of all the places I’ve visited or lived in, I think Thailand is absolutely one of the most kid-friendly places.


More and more Thai families are flying within Thailand, which has prompted airlines to make flying easier for kids.  Nok Air has a playroom in the gate area at Don Muang airport, which my daughter loves to play in.

Perhaps the best thing about traveling with kids in Thailand is just how friendly the staff are, at most airports, hotels, and even customs. Yes, I find the customs people to be the friendliest here than anywhere else I’ve visited!

In fact, Kaya used to be let behind the customs area whenever we went to the Andaman Club in Myanmar, across from Ranong. We would take a boat to Myanmar, and the waiting area before boarding was open and she had fun looking out at the Andaman.

My husband frequently takes the train down to Bangkok from Chiang Mai, and usually sees families eating in the dining car. Because there are several different types of seats you can purchase ( different classes), you can find something appropriate for kids of all ages, including your own private seating area where the seats turn into beds.

Roadtripping through Thailand with kids is also very doable. We’ve done many long drives with Kaya, including the regular 4 hour drive to Ranong from Phuket. At one point, we were driving there every 15 days! And now that we live in Chiang Mai, we’ve begun exploring Northern Thailand by car, and took a trip to Chiang Rai recently.

Because of how beautiful the country is and the many roadside restaurants, cafes, 7/11s, and attractions, it’s extremely easy to drive here with kids. Plus, it’s safe.

Eating Out

Unlike in certain parts of Europe, children are very welcome at restaurants, even if they are ‘hi-so’ upscale ones. And more and more restaurants are understanding that having a play area for kids ( like what DaVinci has done in Phuket) is the way to attract more families, and help give parents time to eat.

Speaking of giving parent’s time to eat, one of our friends said that she loved how her favorite local restaurant would watch her young son while she finished her meal. They would play with him or give him a tour of the kitchen while she had a much needed break. This is perhaps one of the things that lead us to move back to Thailand when Kaya was 2 years old: there is a kid-friendly atmosphere here unlike anywhere else.

Older kids will probably love eating at food stalls on the side of the road. Our daughter isn’t a huge fan of eating outside when it’s hot out, but she does well at some of the covered markets that have food courts. Most malls have an array of cuisines to choose from, with restaurants and food courts that offer dishes for all price ranges.

Kid-Friendly Activities

Thailand has loads of kid-friendly activities for families. Here in Chiang Mai, you can find everything from cooking classes to outdoor activities and indoor play areas ( see here for a full list of activities in Chiang Mai).

Most malls ( such as Central and Maya) have movie theaters showing films in English, or with English subtitles.

All in all, Thailand is a wonderful place for families to visit. Whether you go to the North or South ( or anywhere in between) you’ll find loads of friendly people and places that the kids will love to visit.

Family activities in Phuket

Family Activities in Phuket

I can’t believe we lived in Phuket for 5 years! We had originally moved for a month after my husband finished teaching in South Korea, but we ended up moving back to the island 6 months later.

And while we’re loving life in Chiang Mai, there are many things we miss about Phuket.

In today’s post, I’m sharing our top family activities, whether you’re vacationing on the island for a few weeks or are an expat relocating there with your loved ones.


Family activities in Phuket

Our Favorite Family-Friendly Beaches

Phuket has over 30 beaches, from the uber popular Patong to smaller, lesser known ones. We personally loved taking family walks along Nai Harn or Rawai beach. The former is more popular, drawing both locals and tourists alike, but it’s still quieter than Patong and Kata, and has a more family-friendly, less chaotic vibe.

When Kaya was 3, she especially loved eating at a restaurant near Rawai Beach as we could cross the street and take her by the water while we were waiting for our food. It’s rather narrow and better for walking and taking pictures of the boats.

Yanui Beach is another quieter, family-friendly spot that’s great for a picnic or looking for crabs along the rocks.

Yanui Beach



Phuket Aquarium 

The Phuket Aquarium is smaller than the expensive one in Bangkok, but it’s still amazing. Located in beautiful Panwa, it’s basically right on the beach, and is the perfect family-friendly activity if you’re staying in that area. Even if you’re not, I think it’s worth the drive.

Our daughter’s favorite exhibit is at the end: a large tank that’s home to several large groupers. Mine is the eerily-lit tunnel that exhibits some of the Andaman’s most curious fish.

If you’re looking for a place to grab lunch afterwards, Curry Night is the place to go. It’s pretty family-friendly and is perhaps the best Indian restaurant on the island.

Playroom & Arcade At Big C

If you’ve got a little one that’s full of energy and looking to play, head on over to the Big C. Located near the food court on the bottom floor, you’ll find a playroom and an arcade. It can get rather busy on the weekends and after school.

note: Our favorite arcade is actually in Robinson ( Phuket Town). Although it’s smaller, I think the games are better and it’s kind of retro. 😉


Phuket Zoo

The Phuket Zoo is rather out there. What I mean by that is the layout and overall feel of the place is interesting. Nothing illustrates this more than the dragon mouth you can enter to see a dark, rundown exhibit that’s partially empty. You’ll see what I mean when you go.

But the zoo is nonetheless one of our daughter’s favorite places to visit, especially feeding the otters!

Rang Hill

Rang Hill

Kaya has always enjoyed visiting Khao Rang, where there’s loads of room to walk around and play, plus two new swings they added in the center area at the top. It’s also a great lookout point and photo op!

Have lunch at the Phuket View Restaurant, which you can access by taking the stairs located near the viewpoint area.

worth noting: do NOT feed the monkeys! Yes, there are monkeys and I’ve been bitten by one, so don’t give into the temptation of feeding them.

Queen Sirikit Park

Perhaps the place we frequented the most with our daughter was Queen Sirikit Park. Located near the Sea Dragon statue/fountain in Phuket Town, this small park is across from Limelight Mall and shopping area, and a short walk away from Robinson Mall.

The park has a small play area and exercise equipment, and mainly locals go there, so it’s nice and quiet, except for when the indie market is on.

Suan Luang Park

The large Suan Luang Park is also in Phuket Town. It’s the perfect place to take the kids on the weekend, and has two playareas, plus a running track and weight-lifting area. It’s a beautiful place to take a walk, especially when it cools off in the late afternoon.

Saphan Hin

This seaside park ( also in Phuket Town) is where locals go to have a picnic or go for an evening walk/run. There’s a small beach area and also a playground, plus several sports buildings, as well as the public pool.

Make sure to check out the night market  for a bite to eat and live entertainment.

Central Festival 

When the little ones want to see a movie or go toy shopping, head to Central Festival in Chalong. You’ll find numerous stores, cafes, and restaurants. Our personal favorite place to get a bite to eat is the JuYuan Chinese Restaurant, run by a vegetarian family from China. They have both traditional dishes, as well as vegan options. The staff are friendly and speak English, Thai, and Chinese. Kid-friendly dishes include the noodles with scallions and soy sauce, which are addictive they’re so good!

The food court ( near the movie theater) is pretty darn good too, and they have an array of Thai food stalls, as well as one vegetarian. In addition you’ll find kid-approved desserts like crepes.

Kids will also enjoy taking a ride on the little train that runs on the bottom floor, near the grocery store.

Trick Eye Museum 

The relatively new Trick Eye museum is a fun place for kids to explore 3d art displays. It’s great for a rainy day, and located near numerous small restaurants and cafes in Phuket Town. I haven’t been myself but my neighbor said he had a blast.


Fan of bowling? Head to the Strike Bowl in Jungceylon ( or CS Bowl in Big C) to enjoy a few hours bowling with the kids.

Dance Classes for kids

Phuket has several small dance studies throughout the island. My daughter took jazz at Danz Steps Studio for a few weeks and loved her teacher. They are located in the Limelight area.

Indy Market

I’m actually not a fan of the huge, super-packed Naka Weekend market, and neither is my daughter. We prefer the crafts and ambiance of the twice weekly Indy Market, located in Limelight. While it doesn’t have nearly the same number of food stalls or stores as Naka, it’s more laid back and right next to an air-conditioned mall, and across the street from the Queen Sirikit Park. It can still get busy though, so go early.

Park in Naiharn

The park near the lake area in Naiharn ( near the beach) is a popular place for locals to take their kids to play, as well as the perfect place to jog/walk/cycle. We used to go their regularly when we lived in Chalong. It’s spacious and calm.

What are your favorite family friendly activities ( or places) in Phuket? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add them to this post.





chiang mai for families

Chiang Mai for families

chiang mai for families

One of the primary reasons we decided that after living in Phuket for more or less 5 years we’d relocated to Chiang Mai is there are tons of things to do here for kids.

Don’t get me wrong, Phuket has loads of beaches ( as you probably know) and outdoor activities that are fantastic, but if you live there long-term you may find it a wee bit lacking for other family-friendly activities.

Chiang Mai happens to have many expat families from around the world that are based here, for a number of reasons. From Menonite missionaries to professors and even diplomats, expats have decided that this part of the country is an excellent place to raise kids. And it’s not just expats that feel that way. Many of our Thai friends from Phuket raved about the alternative schools here in Northern Thailand.

In today’s post, I’m sharing tips on how to find regular activities for your children  if you’re coming here long-term, as well as family-friendly travel tips for a short term stay.

Indoor Play Areas

Almost every mall in Thailand ( or Bic C) has a play area for kids. Promenada Resort Mall has perhaps the largest ( and priciest) and is our daughter’s favorite. The staff there are incredible attentive and friendly, plus there’s a little cafe for parents to hang out at while their kids are having in an array of things for children to do.

Maya has a playroom that’s great for younger children, and the same goes for Kad Suan Gaew’s retro playroom. The latter is across from a very old school, awesome arcade and game area, while Maya’s game area has loads of modern gaming options.

Central Airport Mall has our daughter’s second favorite play area, which has a baking and colouring station for kids to create in, as well as go carts.

As I mentioned, most Bic C’s and some larger Tescos have indoor play areas too. They are usually located near the food court.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

You’ll find the majority of restaurants in Thailand to be family-friendly, except for perhaps food stalls on a busy Bangkok soi. But even then, kids can find the hustle and bustle of street food fun!

But if you have a toddler/preschooler, you’ll love taking them to Nic’s where they can play in the hand-made bamboo boat or on the trampoleen while you and your partner have dinner. Or wine. Or coffee!

Nic’s is very popular with local and expat families that live in Hang Dong, and many of the kids that play there attend the buddhist school nearby. The kid-themed menu has everything from vegetarian croquettes to ‘spider’ pizza, plus smoothies and other yummy treats.

Thai dishes are around 100 baht and farang food is roughly 150 and up.

Another restaurant I think kids will enjoy is Ohkajhu, which is extremely popular with Thai families. Our friends have two young children that really enjoy walking around the large restaurant and looking at the organic lettuce and rosemary that’s growing in the front. There is a tractor that our daughter loves to hop on and pretend she’s a farmer.

 Dance Classes

Whether you’re homeschooling/unschooling in Chiang Mai or want to supplement some after school activities, chances are that at some point your lovely kiddos may want to take an art or dance class.

Thankfully, Chiang Mai has a number of schools and activity programs. Sangdao Dance offers ballet, jazz, and modern dance classes. The Russian Ballet in Kad Farang ( Hang Dong) is also an option. The teacher is a very nice man from the Philipines who has lots of experience teaching everything from hip hop to jazz.

Movie Theaters

Chiang Mai has several large movie theaters that show the usual Hollywood kids movies, as well as the latest in Asian cinema.

Because I’m a fan of everything retro, I personally think the cinema at the top of Kad Suan Gaew is pretty sweet, but the majority of the movies they show are dubbed in Thai.

The most popular cinemas are those at Maya, Central Airport, and Promenada.

chiang mai for families

Museums & Gardens

Art in Paradise is a fun place for family members of all ages. The 3d art makes it look as though you’re part of the painting/display. There is a similar museum in Phuket Town that opened recently, in case you’re heading down South.

Here in Hang Dong, you’ll find the beautiful Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden that is popular with locals who like to take strolls or cycle around the area at night, when it’s not as hot. It has a variety of plants from all of the country.


Walking Market

Although touristy, Chiang Mai’s walking market on Sunday makes for a great outing. Kids love  grabbing a cup of fresh passion fruit or juice as they peruse the stalls.

The Walking Market is also in a fantastic location, and if you go early enough you can beat the crowd.

Chiang Mai Zoo

If you’re looking for something a wee bit more affordable than the Night Safari, check out the local zoo. We personally haven’t had a chance to go but I’ve heard it’s OK, and we plan on checking it out sometime this summer.

Homeschool Coop

For Christian homeschooling and unschooling families, the local homeschool coop may be a great place to get the kiddos together with other homeschoolers their age. They offer classes in everything from chess to model UN.

chiang mai for families

Other Activities

Do you have a child that has taken an interest in robots? You’ll be happy to know that in Kad Farang there is a small robotics school!

Monk chat would be a fun thing for teens to partake in. Many wat ( temples) in the city center have a day when you can sit and chat with a monk, which helps him learn English and also gives you the ability to learn basic buddhist concepts.

Cooking schools here in Chiang Mai may offer classes that kids of all ages can partake in. This is a fantastic way to get your kiddos interested in helping you out in the kitchen, and I think cooking in general is an excellent way to help them build creative skills, as well as their confidence. Because we’re a big fan of Southern Thai cuisine, we haven’t yet found a school that offers the type of dishes we want to cook ( like gaeng som) so we have yet to take cooking classes here in the city, but I’m investigating if there are schools that will allow you to cook Thai dishes that aren’t the usual green curry/phad thai type of deal. Most schools  have a set menu that you can learn to cook, with vegetarian options frequently available.

I’ve heard great things about Benny’s Home Cooking school, and have seen photos on Instagram of kids taking lessons. They have several menus you can choose from, including some Lanna specialties and dishes from Isaan.

If English is your child’s second language, you’ll find many small English schools ( such as Kumon) that offer short and long-term ESL classes for kids of all ages.

And if your high school grad is interested in studying Thai while you’re here, Chiang Mai University has both long-term ( 1 year) and short term Thai language classes. I studied at CMU and loved my professor! The year long program would be fantastic if you have a teen that is taking a gap year before going into Uni.

For younger kids, you will find a number of clay modeling studios in malls throughout Thailand, including Central Festival in Phuket, and I believe there is one near the playroom/game area in Kad Suan Gaew.

Public swimming pools offer a great way to beat the heat. We go to our local one in Hang Dong ( the Kad Farang swimming club), where it costs non-members 40-60 baht each time they go for a swim. If you get the year pass it costs less.

For the martial artists in your family, they will be pleased to find a plethora of options and dojos. Kad Farang ( that I keep mentioning because I live next to it) has a tae kwon do place upstairs, as well as gymnastics and yoga.

What family activities do you recommend here in Chiang Mai? I’d love to keep adding to this list and look forward to hearing your tips & suggestions!