Prepared by Harold Stephens
Travel Correspondent for Thai Airways
The booklet FAMILY GETAWAYS 2011-2012 is now available at all Thai Airways ticketing offices and with designated travel agents around the world. It’s a 38-page booklet with beautiful photographs that covers family vacations not only in Thailand but in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Australia as well, all carefully chosen and monitored by Royal Orchid Holidays.
The concept behind the Family Getaway Package is one of demand. More and more parents want to travel with their children, and for that reason ROH developed a special family package which will go a long way to helping people reach their wishes.
Selected hotels and land arrangements suitable for kids had to be arranged. ROH representatives went out into the field and did the ground work. At first the idea was family getaways in Thailand only but then, as the idea began to take shape, the management thought why not go for the world? But which countries would be safe for family travel? What hotels had the most to offer kids? And, most importantly, what was there for kids to do and keep parents happy at the same time? The results after years of research—Family Getaway 2011-2012
Thailand, of course, makes a perfect family getaway with places like Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi. But what about Bangkok? ROH found family getaways in the capital city as well. And then ROH concentrated on other destinations as well––Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Australia.
Hotels in all these destinations had to be based on 4 days/3 nights’ packages. Choosing the right hotels was important for ROH. Family Getaways hotels had to have special offers, such as: Kids Club, Babysitting Service (free first hour), Game Rooms and daily children snack/ice-cream—complimentary. Hotels also need sports activities for children between 7-12 years, free and, very important, connecting rooms. Hotels were asked to come up with other ideas suitable to their locale.
Let’s take a look at what the booklet has to say about Bangkok. One might ask, Bangkok for children? But look at this: The Thai capital has some very unusual rides for kids of all ages. How about the excitement of a tuk-tuk ride through Bangkok's streets, or speeding past palaces and temples along the Chao Phraya River in a longtail boat? Then there's the skytrain, the fastest, most convenient way to get around the city, but also a great travel experience in itself, offering bird's-eye views of city-life and famous landmarks≥
For kids who are wild about animals there's Safari World, offering close encounters with rare species from the animal kingdom; a trip to Dream World will bring little ones face to face with their favourite fairytale characters. Older kids will enjoy trips further a field to the legendary Bridge over the River Kwai, the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, and the Rose Garden with its highly entertaining Thai Village Show.
A stroll through one of the many vibrant markets and bazaars—overflowing with colourful, strangely-shaped fruits and all manner of bric-a-brac—shows the kids the more traditional side of the city and is a great way to build up an appetite.
When it's time to eat, Bangkok has literally thousands of restaurants with enough food choices to please even the pickiest six-year old. And when it gets too hot, air-conditioned indoor playgrounds offer kids rides, bowling and even a vast underground Aquarium, right beneath a major shopping complex.
That’s only Bangkok. Think about all the beach resorts in Thailand. What kid wouldn’t love them? Set your sails for Phuket and a family adventure, as suggested in the booklet.
Take a speed boat tour of the magical Phi Phi islands where secluded bays are ringed by steep cliffs—who knows, you may find buried pirate treasure. Swim in warm shallow waters amongst shoals of brightly coloured tropical fish (some will even allow the kids to feed them by hand!)
Most of ROH recommended hotels have childcare facilities and are full of activities to keep the kids occupied: arts and crafts, cooking classes, tennis, sailing, and all sorts of sports and games.
And while the kids are making new friends at the hotel 'Kids Club' you can lie back and enjoy a relaxing spa treatment at one of the best spas in the world. Or take the kids on a 'Swiss Family Robinson' adventure. Explore mystical caves and hidden lagoons by canoe, feast on fish fresh from the sea, bite into a big ripe watermelon and let the juice slide down your chin, and slake your thirst with the milk of a freshly cut coconut. For a few days you can spend some real 'quality time' with your family and totally ignore the outside world.
Swim in jungle pools or snorkel at one of the many secluded beaches. Take a walk into the rainforest—you'll be amazed at the number of exotic plants and rare birds that you’ll see—and your kids will find plenty of inspiration for their school projects, as well as magical holiday memories that will last a lifetime.
A trip to Phang Nga Bay takes you into the world of James Bond, and the magnificent towering limestone island that featured in the film, "The Man with the Gold Gun”.
That’s Thailand for family getaway. But let’s take a peek, from the booklet, at the world family destinations. In Hong Kong kids can go to Disneyland and visit Sleeping Beauty castle and Tarzan’s tree house, or see the giant pandas at Ocean Park.
Then there’s Japan. In Tokyo if the kids are girls and are 'Hello Kitty' fans, take them to Puroland. Hello Kitty and friends perform shows, and there's a boat ride trough the Sanrio Kingdom. For boys there's the Drum Museum. Drums of all shapes and sizes are on display here. Kids can bang away to their heart's content on drums from different countries and it's a great way to learn about acoustics. Or there's the Museum of Maritime Science with its collection of model warships, submarines, supertankers and wooden vessels used during ancient times.
Tokyo is also a trip to Tokyo Tower, one of the world's tallest self-supporting steel towers and, would you believe, last but not least, there's Tokyo Disneyland.
Singapore has one of the finest zoos in Asia, and there’s the world famous Night Safari. Nocturnal animals are housed in their natural surroundings—no cages or barbed wire. A tram ride takes kids deep into the jungle at night.
And in Australia where else can kids pet koalas and kangaroos, snorkel with tropical fish and pan for gold and next door in New Zealand they have all the great outdoors and fresh air imaginable?
And then there’s the ultimate—a real, live wild life adventure in South America. At Thai Airway’s latest destination kids can see the kings of the animal kingdom up close.
Don’t be surprised for when parents look over the Family Getaway 2011-2012, they might find this is what they’ve always wanted to do. You always wondered how Tarzan lived in a tree house and now you can have your kids take you there.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. Dear Mr. Stephens. I hear that this is the rainy season and not a good time to visit Thailand. Can you comment on that? Jenny, Auckland
A. Dear Jenny. Thailand is in the monsoon belt, and there are two monsoons—the northeast and the southwest. They do not blow at the same time. Thus, you can escape the monsoon by traveling to another area. Most people think of the monsoon as rain. It is not rain. It is a wind. Generally, however, the winds bring the rains, but no always. ––HS
E-mail: ROH Weekly Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note: The article is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.