Every year many tourists and expats with children or babies come to Bangkok, Thailand. Some move here and some are just visiting, but coming to a place like Bangkok can sometimes be a bit scary for parents. Honestly, it really doesn’t have to be.
Bangkok is a developed, westernized city with most things available if you have children or a baby. The brands may not be the same, the designs may be different but most children’s things are available in Bangkok. But, if you’re not sure, read on for what you should and shouldn’t bring with you to make sure your kids will have everything they need.
Diapers – Diapers, or nappies as the British call them, are everywhere in Bangkok. Disposable ones are available at any supermarket (Carrefour, Tesco Lotus, Big C, Tops) and there are supermarkets in every area of Bangkok. Department stores also sell them in the baby department. Prices are around the same as in the US and slightly cheaper than in Europe, so if you bring enough with you for a week, that will give you plenty of time to get settled and find a Thai brand that works for your baby.
Baby Wipes – All supermarkets, pharmacists and some department stores sell them. They used to be expensive, but the price has come down a lot and they’re about the same price you would pay for them in the US or Europe.
Drug stores like Boots and Watson’s also sell them, but Watson’s is cheaper for most things so that should be your first stop. Boots usually has one or two of the British brands of baby wipe but they’re always more expensive so, unless you absolutely must have a British brand there’s not much point buying them in Bangkok.
Powdered Milk and Baby Food – Again, available at any supermarket powdered milk and baby food is easy to get. There are lots of different kinds of powdered milk formula (my local Carrefour has a whole side of one aisle dedicated to powdered milk and baby food!), so you may want to try a couple of brands before you find one your baby prefers. Most of what they sell are Thai brands and, of course, the formula will be different than a comparable American or European brand but Thai babies grow up healthy and strong so you shouldn’t have a problem with them. Just stay away from purchasing powdered milk in a small shop as sometimes its sat there a long time in a place that’s moist and not air-conditioned.
Baby food is available in the usual small jars, but the variety isn’t the same as in the US or Europe. You’ll find Gerber brand with things like stewed apple and vegetables, with some variations of rice and some liquidized meat, but a lot of Thais make their own food for their baby so there isn’t the demand for it here like there is in your home country. You can get imported baby food at Villa Market and Food Land, as well as Carrefour and Tops, but if you are staying a long time you’re better cooking vegetables and meat (and rice!) yourself and making your own baby food.
Children’s Medication – Available in any drug store in Bangkok, children’s medication is easy to get and cheap. You’ll find baby aspirin, vitamin C especially for children, treatment for children’s head lice (shampoos, combs etc.) as well as lots of lotions for sun protection (Thais are obsessed with staying white and start early with their kids making sure they don’t burn). Prices for most medications are much cheaper than in the US and quality is the same. At Boots Chemist, you’ll also find some imported brands of children’s medicine but it’s not really necessary to buy them unless you’ll really have trust problems, as the prices are so much higher and the quality the same.
Children’s Toys – Kids toys are available all over Bangkok from small shops to big department stores to even Toys R Us. When I first came to Bangkok I dragged a huge suitcase with me full of American toys for some Thai kids I knew here. When I got here, I was surprised to see tons of American type toys and at prices much cheaper than in the US. You can also buy Thai brand toys at very cheap prices and the quality, overall, is good. Just check to make sure none of the parts are too small for your child.
Children’s Strollers, Cots, Car Seats – All of the department stores sell these although they are quite expensive compared to your home country as most of them are imported. Buying a stroller in Bangkok can actually be more trouble than its worth and you don’t see that many Thai families with them. Bangkok streets and sidewalks are very uneven with pot holes and raised concrete slabs everywhere so navigating them can be a real pain. If you can possibly do without a stroller, do so. You’ll be so frustrated by the end of one day hauling your baby or child around steaming hot Bangkok in a stroller, you’ll probably never use it again.
Cots are available too. Imported brands are expensive but there are some beautiful, very high quality, hand-crafted wooden cots made in Thailand available at places like Chatuchak Market or one of the big wooden handcrafted furniture stores so try one of these before you pay for imported. The quality will be better and they’ll last a whole lot longer.
Car Seats are expensive but you can buy at department stores, Carrefour, Tesco Lotus etc. Most of them are imported but, if you really need a car seat, you may want to go with one of these as the safety and testing done on them is likely better than on a Thai or Chinese brand. However, driving a car in Bangkok is such a nuisance (terrible traffic jams!) that many expats find themselves leaving the family car at home and taking the kids around Bangkok on the sky train or underground.
Children’s Books – There are several excellent places in Bangkok for children’s books in English, French, German and Spanish and, even though imported, they’re actually cheaper than in the US and much, much cheaper than in Europe. Kinokuniya bookstore at Siam Paragon mall has a huge children’s book selection in English, with a smaller selection in French, German, Spanish and even Chinese and Japanese. There’s also a Kinokuniya at Central World Plaza and another one at Emporium mall with good children’s book departments. Kinokuniya will also order pretty much any book you need. Also try Asia Books – a smaller selection and more expensive, but they may carry some books you can’t find at Kinokuniya if you need them in a hurry.
Bringing your baby or children to Bangkok really shouldn’t worry you. Thais love kids and there will always be someone to take care of yours for you. Plus, just about everything is available for your kids in Bangkok and even some things you’d never find in the US so come to Thailand with an open mind. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is and, I guarantee, your kids will love it here too!
Photo copyright – Children in Thailand – copyright mumonsz, Creative Commons License