by Ellen Boonstra
Traveling with children can be challenging at the best of times, but when there are long layovers at dismal airport lounges to contend with, it can be enough to warrant a second vacation. To break up the monotony, many airports, including Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, now offer short appetizer tours for passengers with a stopover of 12 hours or less. These short trips offer the perfect way to get a taste of the Thai capital and surrounding areas, and offer something for the entire family. Take the kids on a boat ride through the Thonburi canals, also known as the ‘Venice of the East,’ a tour of the spectacular Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha, or a trip to a traditional Thai village. Or why not enjoy some prime shopping at Central Chidlom, one of many shopping areas? You could also visit Siam Ocean World, billed as the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) chairman Weerasak Kowsurat commented, “The campaign will give transfer passengers a chance to enjoy a brief tour of the Thai capital and nearby provinces. By giving them a quick first impression, we hope to encourage them to come back for a longer stay in future.”
There’s even a tour where children can learn about caring for elephants and help feed the animals. All in all, there are 15 different packages to choose from, lasting around four hours each. Prices start at 1,850 Thai baht (¥5,200), which includes admission fees and an air-conditioned vehicle with an English-speaking guide. Tour information is handed out to all transfer passengers through in-flight brochures and in the transfer hall. The program, organized by TAT in conjunction with state and private organizations, runs through May 31, 2011. Visit www.tatnews.org for an overview of all the tours. Sightseeing is just the ticket to maintain your sanity while keeping your children thoroughly entertained.