Let’s forget superlatives like ‘the best Phuket itinerary’ or other claims. Here’s a solid Phuket family itinerary by a traveling family; actually better still, our 14-day itinerary includes Khao Lak and Phuket – and can be divided into smaller sections like a Phuket 4 day itinerary.
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Why Phuket And Khao Lak For Our Family Holiday
We decided to go to Phuket on a whim, taking advantage of an Air Asia sale. Have you ever done that? Buy a cheap ticket and then go? Well, it goes against all of my best travel planning tips.
After buying the tickets to Phuket, we needed to work out an itinerary that suited our family’s needs. This is our adventure Khao Lak and Phuket itinerary with aged children nine, five and eight months.
What is the best itinerary to take when visiting Phuket and Khao Lak with Kids? Here we share our own itinerary and ideas of how to get the best out of your time in the Phuket region. Traveling with kids, we always try to minimize travel time and maximize our value for money.
Our idea was to combine a slice of Phuket then combine a number of adventure activities, some relaxing on the beach – all within a small area that would be suitable for traveling with a baby. Our kids have recently started complaining about long road trips as well, so we didn’t want to spend too much time in the car.
As reviews promised Khao Lak was small, a little sleepy and is an excellent destination for a family to spend a holiday. Phuket was a pleasant surprise with plenty to do and see!
Khao Lak & Phuket Itinerary In A Nutshell
- Days 1- 5 Khao Lak 5 day itinerary
- Days 6-7 Elephant Hills
- Days 8-9 Khao Sok 2 Day Itinerary
- Days 10 – 14 Phuket 5 Day Itinerary
Days 1-5 Khao Lak 5 Day Itinerary
We flew to Phuket international airport and then had a hotel transfer take us north to Khao Lak. The sleepy collection of resorts known as Khao Lak is about one and a half to two hours’ drive northward from Phuket’s airport. They stretch along the coast for about 25 kilometers (15 miles). It is a rocky coast that is edged on one side by the Andaman Sea, and on the other side by dense jungle.
There is not an overwhelming amount to do in Khao Lak but the resorts are affordable with fantastic pools. Key activities that should be in your Khao Lak itinerary.
- Beach walks
- Swimming by the pool
- Relaxing and taking it easy
- Khao Lak activities with kids
Where We Stayed In Khao Lak:
Days 6-7 Elephant Hills Tented Camp
From Khao Lak, we then traveled to The Elephant Hills Elephant Park and stayed there for two nights. Elephant Hills is one of the more ethical elephant operations in Thailand and the only tented camp in this area.
How were we able to afford to stay at the Elephant Hills Tented Camp? We took advantage of wet season booking rates which were significantly cheaper. In fact, children were free making it an extremely affordable way of visiting this elephant sanctuary.
The Elephant Hills is a glamping experience on the edge of the rainforest. There are beautifully set up tents with comfortable beds and hot showers, and even electric lights! A small swimming pool is literally the icing on the cake of this glamping experience. As the packages are ‘full board’ packages, you get the option to eat delicious freshly prepared meals.
We love that they have larger tents accommodating families and that you get to live alongside elephants that have been rescued from illegal logging camps. These elephants can’t be returned to the wild, and you can spend time watching the elephants play, as well as lend a hand to prepare food.
For another review of the Elephant Hills tented camp, see Jurga’s review Elephant Hills Thailand.
Days 8-9 Khao Sok National Park Two Day Itinerary
From The Elephant Hills, we spent two nights at Khao Sok National Park, which is described as Off The Beaten Track Thailand. With karsts reminiscent of some of the most famous landscapes in the world, like Guilin in China, this mystical national park with its man-made lake was a ‘must visit in our book.
The main feature of the park is Cheow Larn Lake, a product of the damming of the Pasaeng River in 1987. Its creation was controversial at the time, due to the displacement of villagers from five settlements and the disruption to wildlife.
The best way to explore the park is through a two-or three-night experience, which includes a stay in one of the floating lodges. As part of the range of activities on offer, you can choose to kayak across the lake, hike to hidden waterfalls and take a long tail boat deeper into the park.
There are two places to stay in Khao Sok, one is in the village proper, and the other is on the edge of the Cheow Larn Lake – which is actually 60km from the village. Traveling with kids – and having a look at the prices at the lake – made us think that the village was for us. The better accommodation lakeside is in the $200 – $400 per night price range. In the village of Khao Sok, the accommodation is a more reasonably priced range.
Where We Stayed In Khao Sok:
If you book, make sure you ask for the newer, more recently built accommodation. Located amongst stunning cliffs, and with a river running past the location of the Cliff & River Jungle Resort is stunning. It is a little dated and is not 5 stars by a long shot, but it has character and the surrounding cliffs and views are memorable!
Other options that looked very exciting for the kids were:
Located just outside Khao Sok, this family-friendly Thailand accommodation offers bungalows in the trees. What kid would not love this? Located on 25-acres of privately owned jungle, you will really feel emersed in the Thailand jungle experience. The downside to this authentic experience is rooms do not provide wi-fi or air conditioning.
Another treehouse bungalow option in Khao Sok, less rustic than the above. Rock and Treehouse Resort does have wi-fi and air conditioning. If you are looking for the jungle treehouse experience, but still have all the amenities then check them out.
Days 10 – 14 Phuket 5 Day Itinerary
From Khao Sok, we traveled south back to Phuket where we stayed at the Splash Beach Resort which doubles as a fantastic Phuket airport hotel.
If the Splash Jungle Water Park is already on your list, you will see that the entry fees are around $125 USD per day for a family of four (2 adults plus 2 kids). That is why we decided to stay at the Splash Beach Resort. That way, we got one-night accommodation free (or free Splash Jungle Water Park entry). You can read our full review of the Splash Jungle Water Park and Splash Beach Resort here.
As a result of our Phuket accommodation choice, the Splash Jungle Water Park features heavily in our Phuket 5 day itinerary.
These were the spots on our Phuket itinerary, to review our full description of each item please look at the Best Things To Do In Phuket With Kids.
- Private car to Wat Chalong, Phuket Old Town, and the Big Buddha / Afternoon Splash Jungle Water Park
- The Phuket Upside Down House and Bang Tao Mini Golf / Afternoon Splash Jungle Water Park
- Full day: James Bond Island from Phuket
The other reason we chose the Splash Resort was that it was also close to the pier from where the James Bond Island boats depart. You can visit this famous island from other places. We met a family with a 7-month-old baby who organized their James Bond Island trip from Khao Lak and took a long powerboat.
However, for our family, traveling with a 75-year-old and a baby, we wanted to go on what they call a big boat or larger boat. For us the cost of the James Bond Island tour was secondary to the safety record of the boat operator; we needed to travel with someone with a good safety record.
We were communicating with two different operators had settled on Phuket Sail tours which have a big boat that would enable my 75-year-old mother to move around in comfort, and the pram would also be accommodated with the baby. In fact, they welcomed the stroller – that seemed like an awesome option!
They offered two options for tours; most definitely not the cheapest James Bond Island / Phuket Boat tours that you can find. We particularly liked their James Bond Golden Sunset Dinner cruise which went ashore on James Bond Island after the crowds left and also saw the bioluminescent Plankton. The other tour we were considering was their innovative and unusual Secrets of Phang Nga Bay tour.
PRO TIP: Always work directly with the operator, not a third party on-seller. Make sure the person who sells the tour, operates the tour.
Changes To This Khao Lak And Phuket Itinerary
It pays to read the fine print when booking – and as an experienced traveler, I’m slightly embarrassed I didn’t.
We were making our preparations to stay at the Elephant Hills tented camp when someone else in our travel group noticed an important detail – no kids under 4 allowed. I wrote and explained that we had a baby – and they said we couldn’t stay.
As such, we made the decision to cancel the entire trip to Khao Sok National Park. We decided we would make a day trip from Khao Lak when we were there.
During our time in Khao Lak, this Mumma hit an emotional low point, this created exhaustion. As a result, we also decided not to make the day trip to Khao Sok (from Khao Lak). To do so would have been 1.5 hours traveling by car in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon; something I felt I couldn’t manage at that point.
After moving to Phuket to continue with our Phuket 5 day itinerary I was feeling much better. However, we wanted to take a big boat out to James Bond Island. After doing some research we had settled on Phuket Sail tours but due to the weather, that didn’t work out.
You could do everything we described herein a Phuket 3 days itinerary if you combined one day.
Khao Lak & Phuket Itinerary – The Verdict
Traveling with children you need to allow lots of downtime. This combined Khao Lak and Phuket itinerary does that and allows you to mix and match the different things that we saw.
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