Things to do in Phuket with kids

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I did a lot of research before I went to Phuket – as I always do before I travel – and it seemed as though people who’d been to Phuket were divided into two camps. Those who loved it and those – who didn’t. I wondered whether I had made the right decision by choosing Phuket over other regions in Thailand, but my flights were already booked so there wasn’t much I could do about it – except go there and form my own opinion.

Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay

We flew to Phuket via Air Asia after spending a few days in Bangkok. The moment we walked out of the arrivals hall, we were accosted by touts trying to sell us transport, tours and all manner of other services. It was very brief though, as someone had come to pick us up from our hotel in Kamala Beach and soon we were on our way.

Things to do in Phuket

Graffiti Tribute to the late King

As we drove through Phuket’s lush, tropical scenery, we marvelled at the local sights and sounds – buffalos grazing on green grass, street vendors selling all kinds of local delicacies, little kids playing outside brightly painted houses and motorbikes everywhere. The laid-back island style reminded me of other tropical places I’d been to, like Penang, Jamaica and the KZN South Coast.

Things to do in Phuket

Lush, tropical scenery

Our first three nights were spent at Sunwing Kamala Beach Resort, and our last two nights at the Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort. On the first evening, we took a short stroll and found ourselves at a vibrant night market. Shoes, clothing, accessories and all sorts of other goods were being sold. We had a great meal of meat satays, fried chicken and sausages for 100THB (about R40).

Things to do in Phuket with kids Taxis in Phuket

Taxis in Phuket

After some deliberation, we decided to hire a car – something we’ve never done outside South Africa before. Mainly because the public transport in Phuket is limited – consisting of tuk-tuks and taxis – as well as pricey, especially if you are a family of four like us. In contrast, the car rental prices were quite low compared to ours and we had a lot of places to go to.  We came across a little kiosk called Assome Tours on a walk. The sign outside said that they offered car and motorbike rental, tours and massages. We proceeded to complete the most informal car rental process we’ve ever done, and were given a piece of paper to sign and the car keys by a friendly middle-aged lady, called Mariam. The rental price for the Toyota Avanza was 4000 THB for 5 days. (Approx.  R1500).

Things to do in Phuket with kids

The Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant.

As soon as we got the car, we went for a drive along the winding coastal roads towards Patong and Phuket Old Town. We drove around for a while getting a feel for the place then took a walk in the old town and looked at the Sino-Portuguese buildings.

Things to do in Phuket with kids Old Town

Building in Phuket Old Town

Of particular interest here, are the Thai Hua Museum, which recounts the history of the Chinese people in Phuket, Baan Chinpracha, a well-preserved Sino Portuguese mansion that one can visit, and Phra Pitak Chinpracha Mansion, now known as The Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant.

Things to do in Phuket with kids Old Town Thai Hua Museum

Thai Hua Museum

Over the next few days, we explored much of Phuket as we could. We went for walks on the family-friendly beaches, indulged in Thai massages, shopped at the night, day and weekend markets, and found hidden waterfalls.

Things to do in Phuket with kids Thai Massage

Thai Massage Parlour

We also visited the Big Buddha, a 45-meter-tall white marble statue on a mountain top which has great views over Phuket. We drove ourselves to Surakul Pier where we hired a longtail boat that took us to explore Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island and Koh Panyee floating village. It was an incredible experience which I have covered here.

Things to do in Phuket with kids Big Buddha

Big Buddha

One night, we visited Fantasea, considered Phuket’s main cultural attraction for families. It is a cultural show and theme park housed in a magnificent, glittering entertainment complex with a 4000-seat restaurant divided into different buffet sections. We were given a tour by Lidia, our charming hostess, and we had a great meal here too. The show was a huge explosion of colour and sound but I was not comfortable with the use of animals in the show.

Things to do in Phuket with kids - Fantasea

Part of The Golden Kinnaree Buffet Restaurant at Fantasea

We drank a lot of iced coffee (hot instant coffee cooled with loads of ice cubes and sugar) and ate a lot of street food. Our stomachs were fine throughout our Thailand stay until we were leaving Phuket and were attacked by a stomach bug at the airport, almost missing our flight – despite being there five hours before the flight.

Things to do in Phuket with kids

Street food vendors with motorcycle carts

My opinion on Phuket? I loved it! I found Phuket to be a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and palm trees, balmy tropical weather and sunshine. The people we met were warm, friendly and helpful.  Strangers helped us with a flat car battery and refused to take any money for it and the lady we hired the car from refused to charge us for some inadvertent damage we had caused to the car.

Things to do in Phuket

Beach in Phuket

The negative things I had heard about Phuket (and Bangkok) were mainly concerning its seedy attractions. We stayed in family-friendly areas and didn’t see any of it. We drove past the noisy and brightly illuminated Bangla Road without any desire to stop, had supper in Patong once – in a quiet area, and barely saw any ladyboys, perhaps three at most. The hotels, areas and attractions we visited were family-friendly. Most of all, my kids loved it too and wanted to stay there longer.

Things to do in Phuket with kids Restaurant

Multi-culinary restaurant in Patong

Useful info

Where to stay

Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort

Sunwing Kamala Beach Resort

More places to stay

Things to do in Phuket

Old Phuket Town

Thai Hua Museum

Baan Chinpracha

Waterfalls

Naka Weekend Market

Big Buddha

Phang Nga Bay

Car rental

Assome Tour – Tel: 076-279426

Click here for delicious foods to eat in Thailand .

 

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22 comments
Craig Lotter

What a great post, thank you! It’s nice to see a family friendly review for Phuket – one doesn’t often come across it! 🙂

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks Craig. Unfortunately, Phuket is better known for its not-so-family-friendly attractions even though it has a plethora of family-friendly attractions too.

    Reply
Granville Van Ross

When hiring your car through Assome Tours, were you required to leave your passport with them?

Reply
    Sara

    Hi Granville , No, we weren’t required to leave our passport with them.

    Reply
Alifa

Phuket is indeed a great family-friendly destination 🙂 Hope you had a great holiday in Phuket!

Phuket is not merely about its crazy beach parties and wild tourist attraction. It offers many exciting activities that can be enjoyed by people at any age. Cooking classes, sports activities or islands hopping are fun activities that children might be interested in

Reply
shanyeyaPr

Very interesting subject, appreciate it for posting.

Reply
Itinera Magica

Thailand is a destination everyone is always torn about – too touristy and “ruined”, or still special and beautiful? I am glad you enjoyed it! Nice tips!

Reply
Cynthai

I really appreciate your post – especially the specific details of where to go and how much things cost! That mural is stunning (I’m a big fan of street art)! And love that you could see so much just walking. So sorry to hear you got sick 🙁

Reply
Rimsha

It seems like you had a great time! I went to Phuket last year but missed out on some of these places 🙁 Though we did manage to discover that they have these blue vans which are like their buses so pretty convenient means of public transport. It’s kind of difficult to figure out the timetable or to even spot them if you don’t know that they exist!

Reply
Christina from Happy to Wander

Ahh this is such a great post. I’ve been itching to visit Thailand for a LONG time and this certainly didn’t help haha. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but it’s really good to see that there’s so much to do there besides get plastered/party (which is what most people my age do when they get to Thailand!) That’s not really my scene, so it was nice to read a more wholesome recap of Phuket’s charms haha. Looks amazing!

Reply
Golam Mustafa

Very nicely and elaborately briefed about phuket. I had the opportunity to enjoy all these places but could never expressed the way you narrated. Thanks a lot. I feel like to see again with my family members. For Muslim Halal food is there. Thanks once again.

Reply
    Sara

    Thank you Golam. Yes, there is alot of Halal food in Phuket.

    Reply
Roxanne Reid

I’ve never travelled in the Far East, but that Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant certainly looks tempting. Funny how some people hate a destination and others have a fine time; it’s all about mind set and expectations, I suspect.

Reply
    Sara

    It does look tempting, Roxanne. I do wish I had time to go and do some lessons there but unfortunately I didn’t. One’s experience does depend on mindset and expectations – and location too. I’ve become more convinced now that I need to go and experience places myself and not take others’ words for it.

    Reply
Suzannah

Although I don’t have kids I need all the Phuket advice I can get! Thanks for this! Everything looks like so much fun – I’m so excited for my trip!

Reply
    Sara

    Oh that’s so exciting Suzannah. Hope you’re going for longer than I did because there’s so much to do there! 🙂

    Reply
Jurga

It’s good to read about things to do in Phuket other than lay on the beach ;). It’s still on our list. Do you know if there are any places nearby where you can see wildlife? It’s always a big success with our kids..

Reply
    Sara

    Thanks Jurga. Laying on the beach is what we do only after we’ve done everything else 🙂 Coming from Africa, we decided not to go and see any wildlife in Thailand as we see alot here – although if I had time – I would have loved to go to a national park to see tigers. There are animal sanctuaries nearby although one would need to first do research on whether they practice responsible eco-tourism as many don’t.

    Reply
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