When I think of Phuket, I think ‘party party’ and I don’t think ‘family travel destination’. However, that could not be further than the truth. Phuket with kids is an excellent idea! We recommend a Phuket family holiday, especially if you have not traveled abroad much with the kiddos.
Planning Your Phuket With Kids Itinerary
When you are looking to travel to Phuket with kids, know that Phuket is an island that encompasses quite a few different areas. This means that to access different attractions on Phuket can involve a drive of 1 to 1.5 hours. So when planning your Phuket family holiday, definitely look at the location of all the different activities and PLAN your stay. Otherwise, you might spend your Phuket vacation doing a lot of driving (and in our experience, kids don’t like lots of car rides).
In brief, the main Phuket kid-friendly locations are Kamala beach, Kata beach, and Karon beach. We stayed at the Splash Beach Resort at Mai Khao beach (check out our review here). The Splash Beach Resort is definitely at the top of the list of Phuket family resorts.
When travelling in Thailand also keep in mind that there are a lot of tourists. While this covers a day trip to Phi Phi Island, this awesome post about responsible tourism in Thailand is a must read!
A word about safety. While travel insurance is not mandatory to visit Thailand, we highly recommend it. We all have read stories of scooter accidents or being bitten by a monkey in Thailand, having travel insurance is buying peace of mind. We always travel with insurance, it has saved us numerous times. World Nomads have specially designed travel insurance for families! Take a look at their Family Travel Insurance here.
Best Activities In Phuket With Kids
These activities have all been visited by our family during our Phuket family holiday. We visited during the rainy season and have noted when a particular experience works well during the wet.
The Upside Down House
The Upside Down House Phuket (Baan Teelanka) is cleverly built with all the furniture on the ceiling! Yes, that’s right the tables and chairs are on the roof. When you take your pictures everything looks like you’re upside down. Don’t worry if your photography skills are not the best, they have talented photographers wandering around Baan Teelanka.
Included in your entry ticket these photographers help you to get the best photos and to see how to turn your world upside down. This is a great Phuket rainy season activity for all the family.
The Big Buddha
The Big Buddha is one of Phuket’s most visible landmarks, and if nothing else offers gorgeous views across the island of Phuket. Despite some initial grumbling about the steps, the Big Buddha also turned out to be a fun place for our children to visit. We paid for a tile in memory of their father, and in doing so contributed to the building of the Big Buddha. This sparked a great conversation about religion, and we enjoyed this world schooling experience. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the Big Buddha.
If you like giant Buddhas (and my kids do, finding them easier to relate to than temples) then you could also consider a visit to the Large Golden Sitting Buddha at Wat Khao Rang which is in Phuket Town.
Wat Chalong is the most famous temple in Phuket and is included on every tour guide itinerary. It is very sacred because it houses a splinter of bone from the Buddha. Whether your children need to visit this Wat (temple) or could visit one of the other temples that are close to your hotel is worth considering. I say that probably they would get a more spiritual experience out of a visit to a quieter temple.
On the day we visited there were a lot of firecrackers going off, and these frightened my 5-year-old. These loud explosions come from a brick tower; apparently, when your wishes come true you show your gratitude by setting off firecrackers. A person was manning the oven to light the firecrackers for you.
For example, if you are staying in Karon Beach you could visit Wat Karon, a small renovated temple that is easily accessible from Karon beach by walking.
If you were staying in the north like we were (either in Bang Tao or Mai Khao) you will pass by Wat Phra Thong or Wat Phra Nang Sang temples not far from the main road whenever you head to the south of Phuket. We didn’t stop but in retrospect, it would have made more sense than the busy Wat Chalong.
Phuket Old Town
This charming and carefully restored old town, which has Portuguese-Sino architecture, was a great place to spend about an hour wandering up and down the shops. Yes, the shops were a little more expensive than other places in Phuket but certainly, probably better quality and better value for money as well. My kids liked Phuket old town’s streets, which also provide beautiful photo opportunities.
Splash Jungle Water Park
You could easily spend a full day at the Splash Jungle Water Park. It is located to the north of Phuket adjacent to the airport, so over an hour’s drive from some southern family-friendly Phuket beaches, like Karon or Kata Beach.
This Phuket water park features several water slides that are targeted at different ages and abilities. They’ve got some heart in your mouth slides like Super Bowl and Boomerango. Our family’s favorite was the Family Slide where the whole family was seated together in one tube and going very fast. So there were all sorts of options depending on your age and interest at The Splash Jungle Water Park. Allow a full day to visit the Park.
Shop ‘Til You Drop
There are shopping opportunities all around Phuket Island. We only went to a few souvenir shops in Phuket Old Town, and can’t really advise on where to get the best deals. However, if your kids are looking to take home a few souvenirs there are certainly plenty of opportunities on Phuket.
We wanted to get to Patong Beach, after all, it is the area that has helped Phuket become famous around the world.
From what we have heard and read, the area is a lot of fun. It has the same touristy vibe as other tourist hotspots around the world (think Khao Sahn Road, Bangkok, but on the beach).
Bangla Road is famous – and not for the right reasons. We’d take our kids for a walk down here before it got dark; there is no reason to expose them unnecessarily to ‘adult’ concepts.
Hit The Beach
Thailand is of course famous for it’s beaches. We visited during the wet season so they weren’t quite as fabulous as they look in the promotional pictures. However, even on a grey day there is no reason to not enjoy the quintessential Asian Experience, eating right on the beach while the kids play in the sand and on the swings.
Play Mini Golf
There are a couple of miniature golf courses on Phuket, including the Dino Park Mini Golf at Karon Beach.
As we were staying in the North we enjoyed the Bangtao Mini Golf. This is a fun little mini-golf park which we enjoyed spending about two hours as moved around. Keep in mind that the middle of the day in Phuket is hot – very hot – and there were no trees on this course.
Have An Elephant Experience
Most conscious travelers are now aware of the plight of elephants in Thailand and other Asian countries. This doesn’t change that we still want to interact with these gorgeous creatures.
It seems that the Thailand elephant owners have realized this and I picked up many brochures for facilities in Phuket claiming ethical elephant treatment. There are many places in Phuket stating on their brochures they offer “animal welfare” or labeling themselves “elephant retirement homes”. I hope that this interest in animal welfare results in the beautiful elephants being treated better than they were previously. Let’s pray it is not a marketing gimmick.
About ethical elephant experiences, my research has made me confused. Riding is not good for the elephants. However, I ask myself, “what of elephant bathing, when the elephant is bathed numerous times a day by kind tourists”? You know your belief system and will make a decision accordingly. These articles may help you make your decision:
Southeast Asia Backpacker’s Elephant Thailand Sanctuary
Lonely Planets Guide How To Interact Ethically With Elephants In Thailand
Responsible Travel.com’s Elephant Sanctuaries Which We Do And Don’t Support
Family Activities In Phuket – For The Active Family
At every destination, we have a list of things that we want to do and see. Every trip we have to ‘prune’ the list due to the kids being overtired, illness, or if the weather makes the outing difficult.
These are things that were on our list for Phuket that we didn’t do but wished that we did.
James Bond Island Day Trip
Visiting the island that featured in the James Bond movies was something that we really wanted to do. There was a wide range of tours on offer; we were leaning towards going in a big boat for a sunset cruise. One thing that differs between James Bond Island trips are the size of the boat and also if you actually get off on the island. We were going on a big boat because we would be able to push the pram around the decks if the baby got tired. Here’s more about why a James Bond Island Day Trip is a must-do thing to do in Phuket!
Phuket Bird Park And Botanic Garden
This bird park gives your little ones the chance to get up close to many of the world’s colorful birds. We didn’t go as we’d recently been to a couple of bird parks in Australia.
Check the Phuket Bird Park website for more information.
We love zip lines and climbing. Flying Hanuman sounded like it would be lots of fun for our little adventurers.
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
In Thailand, you can see gibbons in tourist areas, posing for photos. Until they reach maturity they are cute and cuddly – but when they reach about 5 years they become aggressive and then are abandoned. The Gibbon Project rescues these Gibbons and is funded by visitors and volunteers.
You should be aware that visitors only get to meet the Gibbons that have been deemed “unable to be released.” Those that are going to be rehabilitated back to the forest are not allowed human contact. The Gibbon Rehabilitation project is located near Bang Pae Waterfall in Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. For more info check here.
The Final Verdict- Phuket With Kids
We loved our visit to Phuket with kids aged 9, 5 and 7 months old. Due to having a baby in our traveling group, we needed to have very reasonable expectations of our trip and be able to return to the hotel frequently for rests. Phuket fitted the bill perfectly for a family holiday destination.
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