Family Vacation in Phuket
One of the main points of attraction in Thailand is the islands of the South. Everyone dreams of white sandy beaches, coconut trees, warm turquoise waters... Thailand effortlessly makes this dream come true. It has many islands, each with its own character and style; plenty of attractions; and many options for fascinating tours and lazy indulgences. Where else could you get a foot massage on the beach for under 10 dollars an hour? A seaside meal fit for kings for 3-8 dollars per person? A private tour via boat and cab just for you, including lunch for the whole family, for 80-100 dollars for everyone altogether for half a day? And all this in a modern country with amazing hotels and resorts, with high class facilities such as pools, tennis courts, shops (with decent prices, where you can actually shop and not just look...), a variety of restaurants and great breakfasts.
Which island to choose? The
answer depends on your personal preferences, your
budget, and the weather. For a family visiting Thailand
for the first time between the months of November and
May, I recommend choosing Phuket. This island offers
endless possibilities for travel suitable for anyone of
any age. Phuket is a large island made up of areas very
different from one another. All the best beaches for
swimming and sea sports are on the west side of the
island, but here, too, there is great variety:
The busiest beach is Patong, which I think is most suitable young people looking for wild nightlife and partying. You can of course spend a day there in order to see the tumult and action, but staying there is not recommended. Southward there are other beaches more suitable for families, like Karon Beach and Kata Beach, but in my opinion the best beach for families looking for quality vacation is Bang Tao Beach, in an area of it called Laguna Phuket.
There are 6 hotels in this lagoon, most of them expensive high-class resorts; some of them have villas with private pools. But you can also stay in one of the cheaper hotels: Allamanda Laguna Phuket, an apartment 3 star hotel, great for families who don't want to stay in two separate rooms, but rather a suite, at a decent price.
All the hotels sit on the shore of an artificial lagoon with clear blue waters and rich tropical greenery. There is a free (and highly frequent) transportation service between the hotels, the shopping centre, the golf courts, and the beach. There are also boats which travel between the hotels, free for anyone staying in them. You can take the free transportation to the entrance of the lagoon area where there is a street with restaurants and other tourist services (a mini-mart, touring companies, currency exchange, laundry, etc). The hotels themselves offer various sports and relaxation facilities as well as many activities for kids.
Information and Reservetion about the 5 stars hotels of the lagoon:
Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort & Villas
A 5 star luxury service with all the comforts. Offers spacious villas with private balconies. It has outdoor pools and spectacular tropical views.
Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
A 5 star Hotel with Luxurious rooms. It features an outdoor pool and full spa. Modern Thai-style rooms feature balconies overlooking the lagoon or sea.
Five-star luxury Hotel with a 323-metre pool snakes around it. Fitted with unlimited free Wi-Fi, spacious rooms.
Most of the lagoon's hotels have a luxurious spa and expensive high-class restaurants. Those not interested in spending a fortune on fun and food can find any food and services on the beach itself for a quarter of the price or even less. Along the beaches of the hotels you will find a variety of great restaurants at very affordable prices, cheap stalls of fresh vegetables and tropical fruit, low-cost massages on the beach (though they cost more here than in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or even Krabi) tourism stalls offering many different tours, shows, services, and of course, merchants passing by and selling typical Thai souvenirs to the tourists on the beach.
I recommend staying at the lagoon for at least 6-7 days, out of which at least two days show be spent at the lagoon itself, relaxing and having fun. On the rest of your days there you can go on tours for which you will be picked up straight from your hotel. There is no need to book the tours far ahead of time. Book them no more than a day or two beforehand according to the weather and your whims.
Sailing to Phang Nga Bay: In this bay there are interestingly-shaped cliffs. These cliffs are nicknamed the "James Bond Islands", as one of the James Bond movies was filmed there. I recommend booking a private tour which includes sailing in a long boat between the impressive cliffs, kayaking between them and in the nearby caves, lunch at the Muslim village-on-poles, viewing the famous mushroom-shaped rock that was in the James Bond movie, and hiking on one of the small islands.
Day trip to Koh Phi Phi: You can't take a private tour here, as it is a long motorboat ride away. There are multiple companies offering similar tours here. Pick the one best suited to your budget. Most of the tours include a visit to both of the islands, Phi Phi La and Phi Phi Don, with several stops for snorkelling, swimming, eating, monkey feeding, viewpoints and the like. Most tours also go to Khai Island, known for its many fish which you can feed en masse.
Private tour to the South and centre of the island: Get the cab driver (who is also your guide) to take you on a full-day trip around the island. Points of interest for families (ask your driver to take you there) are:
· Visiting Wat Chalong Temple.
· Going up onto the nearby hill to see the Chalong Big Buddha (still under construction).
· Going up to Kata Viewpoint to see the island from the South.
· Visiting the Patong area to see the shops, malls, stalls, the busy beaches and all the action (one visit to Patong is certainly enough). A big prestigious shopping centre there is Jungceylon.
· Factory tour: visit the Methee Cashew Farm and the Naga Pearl Farm.
· I also recommend going swimming in one of the beaches in the South of the island. I particularly recommend Nai Harn Beach.
Action lovers will enjoy going on
one of the quad bike trips available on the island,
rafting in a wild river, or riding elephants in the
jungle. Animal lovers will enjoy visiting the aquarium
or the zoo and see monkey shows, snake shows, and
elephant shows. Information about animal-related
attractions can be found in the article 'Animal
Encounters in Thailand for Families' on this website.
A particularly great show for families is the Phuket FantaSea Show. The site of the show is beautifully lit up and decorated, and has plenty of shops and stalls, including food and drink stalls and sideshow stalls. At the entrance to the breathtaking Elephant Hall, where the show takes place, you can have your photo taken with the performers, with elephants or with a tiger cub. The show itself is 90 minutes long and incorporates magic, impressive tricks, dancing, a myriad effects (people flying, lasers, smoke, and pyrotechnics), and of course, lots of animals: chickens, pigeons, horses, goats, and elephants.
More Thailand articles:
Animal Encounters for Families
The Jungles of Bangkok and the surrounding
Special Guided tours in Thailand
Vacationing in Koh Chang
A Trip from Bangkok to Khao Yai Reserve
Family holiday in Northern Thailand with Private Guide
Family Holiday in Koh Samui
The Islands of Thailand
Vacations Trips and Luxurious Hotels in Khao Lak