Free and family-friendly: Bangkok’s top 5 things to do with kids

Our favourite things to do in Bangkok with kids without spending a cent – or at least, spending only as much as you (or the kids) choose to!

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Bangkok is an amazing family holiday destination, but temple-touring and mall-shopping can get expensive. Here are our favourite things to do in Bangkok with kids without spending a cent – or at least, spending only as much as you (or the kids) choose to!

See a Thai boxing match at MBK Fight Night

Watching a match at Lumpinee Stadium can set you back up to 2000 baht (around $75), but there’s a way to see real Mauy Thai in Bangkok, absolutely free. Outside the iconic MBK shopping mall, every Wednesday night from 6pm, is MBK Fight Night. Each night features matches in different weight groups between Thai and international fighters; the most experienced fighters appear in the night’s final match. The atmosphere is electric, and you can combine your Muay Thai experience with a visit to one of Bangkok’s most famous malls – if you’re in the market for bargain electronics or (not quite authentic) brand-name goods, this is the place! Visit the huge food courts – one local, one international – for a great-value post-fight dinner.

Location: MBK Center, Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan

Our favourite link: MBK Fight Night opens in new window

Watch a puppet show on the canal at the Artist’s House

One of Bangkok’s loveliest sights is hidden in Thonburi, the city’s old capital. The Artist’s House is a beautifully restored 200-year-old wooden building that gives a rare glimpse of traditional Bangkok life along the canals. It’s filled with arts and crafts, and a little gift shop sells handmade works of art – perfect, unusual souvenirs at good prices. Every day except Wednesday at 2pm is the enchanting puppet show: intricately made puppets take on a life of their own, worked by artists dressed all in black, to tell a tale from Thai folklore. The boardwalk around the house holds a number of great-value restaurants and little boutiques – it's a unique, magical area to wander around.

Location: 315 Wat Tong Sala Ngam Alley, Soi Phet Kasem Rd, Pa Si Charoen, 28 Phet Kasem, Khwaeng Nong Khaem, Khet Nong Khaem

Our favourite link: The Culture Trip: What is the Artist’s House in Bangkok? opens in new window

Asiatique: the family-friendly night market

Nighttime activities on holiday with the kids can be tricky. Bangkok is famous for its rough-and-ready night markets, but if you want a more family-friendly version, try Asiatique. A custom-built ‘market experience’ on the Chao Phraya River, it’s a cross between night market and mall – all the fun of the former with the order of the latter. If you can keep the kids away from the shops (and the pricey Ferris wheel) you can definitely have a cheap night here. Enjoy the buskers, take ridiculous family selfies with the various props and statues, and window-shop the 1000+ boutiques. It’s worth coming for the journey alone – a free shuttle boat along the river – and the views of the glowing city skyline.

Location: Chareonkrung Soi 72-76

Our favourite link: Asiatique The Riverfront in Bangkok opens in new window

See traditional dance at Erawan Shrine

Shrines are tucked in everywhere amongst the hectic roads and towering skyscrapers of Bangkok. Erawan, in the midst of the Siam shopping district, is one of the most popular. People visit the elaborate golden statue to pray, and the spectacle of gathered faithful making elaborate ceremonial offerings among the burning incense and bright golden marigolds is fascinating in itself. But what makes Erawan special is the resident dancing troupe, hired by worshippers to accompany their prayers. It’s an opportunity to see graceful Thai dance performed in colourful costumes, absolutely free, in a wonderfully unique atmosphere.

Location: cnr Th Ratchadamri & Th Phloen Chit

Our favourite link: Thailand Pages: Buddhists at Prayer at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok opens in new window

Chill out (or not) in Lumpini Park

Bangkok is a pumping metropolis and you may need a little time out. Lumpini Park is the perfect place to take a break if you simply need to recline on the grass, but it’s also full of fun free activities for the whole family. Hire a swan-shaped paddleboat for only a few baht and get out on the lake, take a free open-air aerobics class or shoot some hoops on the basketball court. Sunday afternoons between November and February, pack a picnic and enjoy a free concert by the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. Or simply wander the maze-like pathways, admiring the skyline views beyond the treetops, people-watching local tai-chiers and reptile-watching the park’s population of giant monitor lizards.

Location: Rama IV Road, Pathumwan

Our favourite link: Lumpini Park in Bangkok opens in new window