Thailand - Dream World Bangkok
Until the age of 50 I only ever had myself to think about and when it came to exploring different parts of Bangkok, visiting a theme park was something that I never even thought about.
That all changed when children arrived - the first in 2011 and the second in 2014. Nowadays, everything revolves around the children and decisions are made putting their concerns first and my wife's second. I no longer get much of a say in the matter, bt I had a good run as a single man and now I get enjoyment from seeing my kids have fun.
Dream World entrance
We go to Bangkok twice a year or more and when it's time for fun we have to find places that are fun for youngsters. Bangkok is well known as being a fun destination for adults, but looking from a child's perspective it is very different.
Apart from fun activities in Bangkok for adults not being much fun for children, and most children not being very interested in shopping or temples, Bangkok isn't the most child-friendly of cities.
Broken, cluttered sidewalks are difficult to walk along, there are crowds everywhere, roads are congested and dangerous, and steep pedestrian bridges aren't easy to traverse with children.
Bangkok is full of shopping malls and some shopping malls offer activities for children, but I don't think it is healthy for children to be inside all day.
With all this in mind we started looking further afield and roughly an hour from the city centre, in what I guess would be classified as Bangkok suburbs, there are some good places.
One such place is Dream World. The park opens at 10am. From Monday to Friday it closes at 5pm, and at weekends the closing time is extended to 7pm.
Sunflowers at Dream World
Getting There And Back
Dream World is located in the Rangsit area of Bangkok, which is about one hour east from the city centre. This is a pleasant area where you will find lots of recently built residential housing developments and I suspect that most people living in Rangsit commute to Bangkok each day. It looks like a typical commuter belt community.
Although there are buses and trains that go out to Rangsit, it is easiest just to take a taxi. A taxi is door-to-door, whereas that isn't the case with buses and trains. Bangkok must have almost the lowest taxi rates in the world and for the comfort and convenience, especially for a family of four, a taxi makes the most sense.
My taxi fare to Dream World from the centre of Bangkok was Bt300 - roughly US$10. When you are ready to return there are lots of taxis waiting at the park and finding one isn't difficult.
If you are travelling by yourself and living on a really tight budget, a bus or train will be cheaper. I have no personal experience but, according to the Dream World website, you can catch an air-conditioned public transportaion bus (service number 538) from Victory Monument. I don't know how much the fare is, but public bus services in Thailand are very cheap.
My children at Dream World
This should be an easy, straightforward piece of information, but unfortunately it isn't because of the following.
- Dual Pricing - this practice occurs everywhere in Thailand. There is one price for Thais (written in Thai using Thai numerals) and another for foreigners. I read Thai and can see the Thai price, but most foreigners can't see what is going on. I also speak Thai, live in Thailand, and have a Thai driving licence. I usually pay the Thai price, but this won't be the case for many foreigners.
- Packages - various packages are available that include different things. The packages on the Dream World website include 'transfer', but it doesn't specify where the transfer is from.
- On-line Deals - You may be able to get a better deal on-line compared to paying on the gate.
- Children - Rather than age, the fee for children is based on height. Children below a certain height don't have to pay and children above a certain height must pay the adult fee.
All I can tell you is that when I visited I paid Bt200 each for me and my wife, and Bt180 for my daughter, who was almost four at the time. I didn't pay for my son, who was only one year old. This was the Thai price and it was only the entrance fee with no rides included. Whenever my children wanted to go on a ride I had to pay separately. I got the Thai price because I spoke Thai when I bought my tickets.
When I looked at the English part of the Dream World website only packages were shown. A Bt1,200 package includes entrance, rides, Snow Town (which wasn't there when I visited) and the mysterious transfer. If you pay another Bt100 you get the same package and also a buffet lunch. Of course, the Thai part of the site shows different (cheaper) prices written using Thai numerals to hide what is happening from foreigners.
Sorry I can't be more precise, but if you search around the Internet you will see lots of different prices being quoted. If you are a non-Thai speaking foreigner and just show up you will pay the top price. If you can find a good deal on-line, or if you can speak Thai sufficiently well to get the Thai price, you will pay less.
Aerial tramway at Dream World
My first impressions were very positive, especially arriving from central Bangkok. Bangkok is noisy, congested and polluted. Dream World was very relaxed, spacious, peaceful and clean.
In provincial Thailand, where I live, lots of tourist attractions suffer from under-investment. The owners are't sure whether the attraction will be successful and don't invest enough. Many attractions fail because visitors notice the lack of investment and don't return.
Bangkok isn't like that.
The city sees millions of tourists every year and lots of money is invested in tourist attractions. Dream World is very well maintained and having been once I would like to return.
There are lots of attractions and rides for children and various attractions for adults. For adults who like fairground rides there are rollercoasters, etc, and for adults who aren't interested in rides there are lots of pleasant areas to walk around and relax in. I was very pleased to see so many flowers and there are several places that have been purposely constructed for photo opportunities.
Have your photo taken with Mr Bean at Dream World in Bangkok
There are rides and amusements indoors and outdoors suitable for young children. I only paid the entrance fee and didn't buy a package, so had to pay extra for the rides. They were around Bt50 or Bt60 each.
Vintage car ride at Dream World in Bangkok
Having rides and amusements indoors means there is always something to do if the weather outside is too hot or too wet.
Inflatable slide at Dream World in Bangkok
I'm not really into theme park rides, but the adult rides looked to be quite exhilarating.
Tornado ride at Dream World in Bangkok
There is also a roller coaster for adults and older children.
Roller coaster ride at Dream World in Bangkok
Roller coaster blur at Dream World in Bangkok
My wife, me, and especially my kids all love animals and I think visiting the animal farm at Dream World was the highlight of the trip. They put on shows, but basically it is just a petting zoo where kids can get up close to, and feed, animals. The animal food is only Bt20, or so.
Feeding milk to the goats at Dream World in Bangkok
Although not to my taste, Thais really love animal shows and wherever there are animals there are shows. On weekdays there are animal shows inside the farm at noon and 2pm. On weekends and holidays there is an additional show at 3:15pm.
Hungry goats at Dream World in Bangkok
For those who don't know Adam Bradshaw, he is a young American who first came to Thailand as a missionary. For his missionary work he studied Thai and discovered he had quite an aptitude for learning the language. He is now a fluent Thai speaker and he has become quite a celebrity on Thai TV teaching Thais how to speak English. He is gradually picking up from where Andrew Biggs left off.
We met him - along with his film crew - at the farm in Dream World and he asked me a question for one of his TV shows. I rather spoiled his little joke by knowing the answer to the question!
He's a nice guy with a larger than life personality and some time in 2016 my wife, who follows social media in Thailand, told me that Adam and his Thai wife had their first child.
Adam Bradshaw and my kids at Dream World
There is also a water park inside Dream World. It's a separate attraction and the price of admission to Dream World doesn't include the water park; you must pay separately.
My daughter wanted to go but we were lacking two things - swimming costumes and time. Maybe next time?
Water park at Dream World in Bangkok
Dream World has a food centre where you can buy various Thai rice or noodle dishes and there are also some fast food outlets if you want to eat Western fast food. Of course, drinks, ice creams and other snacks are also available.
Theme parks have a captive audience and some places charge extortionate prices for food and drink. At Jurong bird park in Singapore many years ago I was charged 3 SGD for a small bottle of plain water, which I thought was outrageous. I am very pleased to say that this doesn't happen at Dream World and prices are pretty much the same as they are outside.
With a free day in Bangkok and needing to go somewhere that was suitable for my young children (and also somewhere that would be enjoyable for me and my wife) Dream World was perfect.
It was cheap and easy to get to because taxis are so cheap and abundant in Bangkok, and it was also easy to get back into town because lots of taxis wait at Dream World for returning guests.
I didn't buy a package and the Thai price entrance fee I paid wasn't too expensive, however, if you don't speak Thai you may have to pay the foreigner price. The park was clean, very well maintained, and there was plenty to do. The pleasant scenery provides lots of opportunities for photos.
We all had a thoroughly enjoyable time and would definitely go back again. As yet, I haven't returned and that is because of my wife. Like most other Thais she loves novelty and I have found with her that once she has been to a place once she doesn't want to go back again. She always wants to go somewhere new, which seems to be a common Thai trait.
Would I recommend it? That depends. If you are an adult travelling alone or with other adults, no. Before I had children I wouldn't have visited somewhere like Dream World and, had I done so, I don't think I would have enjoyed it.
On the other hand, if you have young children I would definitely recommend it.
My only misgiving - and this applies to all attractions in Thailand, not just Dream World - is the widespread practice of dual pricing. Personally, I think it is disgraceful. Thais can't feel proud about it, either, otherwise they wouldn't try to hide what was happening by using Thai script and Thai numerals.
It is simply a myth that all Thais are poor and all foreigners are wealthy. Neither is it true that all Thais pay taxes and foreigners don't. Many Thais pay no tax, and all foreigners are subjected to various taxes when they visit Thailand.
Thais don't face this problem when they travel to most other countries (although there are a few other places, such as Malaysia, where discriminatory pricing practices take place) and actually it is nothing less than racial discrimination, which has been outlawed in Western countries.
If Thailand really wants to progress the country needs to eliminate dual pricing.
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Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you wish to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
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