Beat the Heat and Treat the Kids with a Trip to Our Selection of Top Water Parks in Thailand
The thermometer has climbed another notch, the weather intensifying from hot to just plain insufferable. April, the cruellest month, has arrived in true poetic fury. With it comes Songkran, the revered Thai New Year dedicated to culture and cooling off.
During the holiday, wild water fights usually rule the day (and night). Although chucking bucket after merciless bucket of ice water on passers-by might sound like bliss to some, others, especially those with kids, might prefer an alternative Songkran. For that, escape to one of the Kingdom’s finer establishments: a water park.
Old-Fashioned Family Fun in Bangkok
When the mercury rises and the kids get antsy and relief seems nowhere in sight, worry not, because a few places in Bangkok provide all-day family entertainment with a wet and cool twist.
The grand-daddy of them all, Siam Park City (more commonly called Suan Siam), is as deserving a park as any to pass a hot summer day. Attractions rise like escarpments against the horizon, the centrepieces being a three-story spiral slide and a seven-story speed slide. At less dizzying heights, the flowing pool (a lazy river) and what’s billed as the world’s largest wave pool are magnets for overheated crowds, yet large enough to carve out personal space. With shallow pools suitable for small children, Suan Siam’s attractions satisfy the whole family.
Just outside of the downtown area, not far from BTS Bangna, Leoland is an island within a concrete desert. The young and young-at-heart might enjoy racing down water slides, snaking through a series of interconnected tubes, or taking ride on a go-kart. Those in search of a decent suntan, or perhaps some sorely needed relaxation, might prefer to lounge on one of the many sunbeds. If only at the park to fulfil your filial duties, you can leave the kids in your partner’s watch and go shopping, because Leoland is built on the rooftop of Central City Bangna.
On the western edge of the city limits, another water park rises from the rooftop of a shopping centre. At Fantasia Lagoon atop The Mall Bangkae, a pirate ship slide, fountain gardens with cartoon animals, and various other light-hearted displays tug at the heart strings of young children. All ages can enjoy whirlpools, slides both small and large, and maximum leisure on a lazy river. The park provides a family-friendly adventure with the added bonus of incredible views, being so high up.
Water Parks for Teens and Adults
In Bangkok, a city of pomp and pageantry, water parks are not reserved for the exceptionally young and families alone. A few great places offer aquatic diversions for more grown-up crowds.
There isn’t much space to build towering slides and lazy rivers among office buildings and shophouses, yet Flow House has devised a unique way to bring the beach to the big city. Located in A Space on Sukhumvit Soi 26, this water-haven hangs its hat on the FlowRider, a simulated wave machine in which riders can wakeboard, flowboard, and surf. Theres also a plunge pool with a deck where teens and nine-to-five types lounge on weekends, a café and a bar, and frequent DJ sets. Best of all, entry is free, which makes it a great place to chill out with friends in sweaty Bangkok.
North of Don Muang, in Pathum Thani, the Thai Wake Park throws a little action into the water park cocktail. Cable-led wakeboarding and water-skating (sic) draw adventure-seekers by the dozen. Automated cables pull riders through a lake dotted with ramps on which to grind or jump. There are programs for beginners too, and a water trampoline for good old-fashioned fun. A man-made island breaks waves, keeping water smooth, and a pickup service delivers fallen, floating riders back to the dock. Aside from sports, the park also features a restaurant and café, as well as a small but cosy onsite hotel. For Bangkok, this venue is one of a kind.
Wet and Wild Escapades on the Road
Summer is the unofficial start of day trip season, and with four great water parks just a couple of hours from Bangkok, beating the heat with the whole family has never been easier — or more fun.
Years in the making, Vana Nava in Hua Hin finally opened in 2014. It was worth the wait. The grounds open out along the coast, with striped slides of recordsetting length and height hanging high above the earth like rainforest vines. Young ones get a couple of sections to themselves: the Kiddie Cove, with its interactive fountains and playground, and the RainFortress, whose seven slides might appeal to young adults too. The blue-and-yellow Boomerango, the longest slide in Thailand, stretches 179 metres; the Abyss sends riders 28 metres high into a spiral before funnelling them into the waiting pool. From LED lights at night to wave pools that surge during the day, no leisure activities were overlooked in its construction.
Featuring attractions named “Bacchus’s Magic Hole” and “Ring of the Titan,” Santorini Water Fantasy in Cha- Am might sound like a seedy, Greek-themed bar at first blush. The attractions, however, belie their unfortunate titles. The only digitally-controlled water park in Asia, Santorini invites families to experience weightlessness on the Vulcan’s Kamikaze, lounge in the Lazy Hera, and rumble down Artemis’s Rapids in an inner tube. Many rides feature the powder-blue and white colour scheme of the Greek flag, but all remain distinctly Thai. With plenty of food and beverage outlets, the park is perfect for day-long escapes from frantic city life.
The latest and greatest water adventures in Thailand currently belong to Cartoon Network Amazone in Bang Saray, twenty minutes past Pattaya. A kid’s paradise, complete with Ben 10 and Johnny Bravo iconography, the entire complex stays true to the cartoon theme. From skyhigh slides to meet-and-greets with Cartoon Network stars (in other words, people in character costumes), subtle touches elevate the experience to a higher plane. Although cooling off whilst doubling down on thrills is a draw for all ages, the park does unforgettable children’s birthday parties best.
The soon-to-be-completed Ramayana should give Pattaya another trophy to put on its shelf. Duelling slides, entertainment stages and swim-up bars, cabana rentals, tennis courts, speed slides, drops that are practically sheer: you name it, Ramayana’s got it. When it opens later this year, it will become Thailand’s biggest water park.
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If you happen to be on Koh Phangan this summer, Kaila Krayewski, our ‘girl in the south’, recommends holiday hijinks at these two great venues:
Slip ‘N Fly
Located in the north of Koh Phangan (find it along the highway to Chaloklum), Slip ‘N Fly stands proud like the beacon of fun it is. Two monstrous slides plummet into the largest
pool on the island, with ramps at the end to send sliders soaring. A smaller, less daunting slide twists and turns its way down for a gentler descent, and a lounge pool towards the front is great for kids and a rowdy game of volleyball. Crowds of young revellers flock here for a day of slipping, sliding, drinking and dancing during the five-day Full Moon Festival and two-day Half-Moon Festivals from noon ‘til beyond sunset. Those looking for an extra challenge can take part in games throughout the day, from gladiator mud pit action to the giant twister, and tricks competitions that are just as fun to watch as they are to win! A basketball net promises free drinks to all who sink the ball while being flung from the slide.
If you’ve seen Wipeout the TV show, you know what to expect here: an inflatable obstacle course that is as challenging as it is fun. Floating on Koh Phangan’s serene Laem Son Lake in tranquil Sri Thanu on the west coast of the island, Phangan Wipeout is a great place to come with a group for a friendly competition, a refreshing dip, and tons of laughs. A rope swing starts off the action, with monkey bars, rolling pins, an inflatable “glacier” that must be surmounted, and – the final and most difficult challenge – the daunting red balls. Will you make it to the leader board by beating the times of those ahead of you? Or will you just sit and enjoy watching other people wipe out? Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable afternoon.
By Craig Sauers