Family Vacations to Phuket, Thailand

Elephant fountain, Phuket
Elephant fountain, Phuket, Thailand (Jennifer Whetzel/Flickr)

Phuket Family Travel Tips

  • More than a dozen people drown in the waters of Phuket's sun-kissed beaches every year, so make sure you ask locals for information on currents.
  • Older kids will relish the opportunity to get in the water and try their hand at everything from snorkeling and windsurfing to scuba diving.
  • Scooter or motorbike rentals might seem like a good option, but they are not advisable for anyone—especially families. These modes of transportation are involved in the vast majority of the frequent, and often fatal, traffic accidents on the island.

Thailand boasts an intoxicating collage of islands, sprinkled in a bright necklace along its western and eastern coasts. There is no doubting the largest, most famous, and most popular of the resort islands, though: the Pearl of the South, Phuket.

The island's attractions are obvious. On a practical level, there are direct flights from overseas and from other parts of Thailand, as well as good road links with the mainland via bridge. Prosaic concerns aside, the island is a natural wonder, the desert island idyll writ large. Graced with swathes of tropical rainforest and a sweep of clean, sandy beaches, Phuket bathes in the balmy waters of the Andaman Sea. The weather, too, is consistently warm year-round.

A few decades ago, Phuket was largely the preserve of backpackers who came to stay in dirt-cheap beach bungalows. These still exist today, but alongside them are modern, thriving resorts laden with luxury hotels and all the trappings of contemporary tourism. This is great for families—air conditioning, fresh towels, swimming pools, and high standards of sanitation help keep young ones safe and happy.

Phuket is also a winner when it comes to activities. Thailand is renowned as one of the world's finest scuba diving destinations and Phuket is the hub of the action. Both experts and novices flock there for the first-rate experience. Older children can also enjoy kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing, while younger visitors can savor the fine beaches. On land, horseback riding is also popular with families, whether on the beach or in the jungle.

Of the island's towns, the capital, Phuket Town, is the most compelling. Over the centuries, Chinese, Portuguese, Malay, Indian, and Arab influences have woven into the architecture and culture. The locals are evenly split between Muslim and Buddhist heritage and traditions. The town is home to the island's most appealing architecture, as well as the most authentic restaurants—with seafood being the obvious highlight.

Of the island's famed beaches, the most crowded are in legendary Patong. Hat Patong is a fully-equipped beach with all of the frills, including sun loungers, water sports, beach bars, and an array of restaurants. The beaches at Kata and Karon, meanwhile, are a little quieter, but when the surf is up they are popular with windsurfers and surfers. Get your own wheels or try local transport to discover more remote stretches of sand.

Phuket offers a great selection of dedicated family attractions. Siam Safari has jungle excursions by elephant, while Phuket Zoo features everything from monkeys to crocodiles to elephants. Dino Park Mini Golf is a surreal, but fun, 18-hole mini-golf course with a prehistoric theme.

Published: 8 Sep 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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