PHUKET FOR FAMILIES WITH KIDS UNDER 5

Best things to do in Phuket with kids under 5 by gemma and George

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Phuket With Little Kids: All You Need to Know in 2023 (Travel Guide)

We first travelled to Phuket when George was 9 months old and returned when he was 3, just as covid restrictions were beginning to ease. It’s a great destination for families with children of all ages because it has something for everyone. All inclusive resorts, private villas, hotels or homesteads. You can hire a car, bike or order a taxi with the push a button. Spend the day at the beach, on a boat or by the pool. Phuket is what you make it.

Famed as the party capital of Thailand, Phuket is 100% suitable for children and families. From all of my travels, I always tell people that Thailand is best country to explore with young kids. The weather, relaxed vibe, price tag and friendly locals – we genuinely love the country and keep going back!

Looking for more South East Asia destinations? Consider Vietnam, Cambodia or Singapore.

1. Hit the Beach! The Best Beaches in Phuket

You’re spoilt for choice on the island but, some beaches are better than others. Karon Beach and Kamala Beach are clean, quieter and spans 5km of fine white sand overlooking the Andaman Sea. You’ll find little cafes across the main road and mini marts to pick up cheap snacks.

Bang Tao is the main beach on the island, a long stretch of white sand and warm waters. Plenty of sun loungers, locals trying to sell you stuff etc. It was quite dirty and the toilets need an upgrade. Bring change with you to pay for your sun lounger, we took our pram for baby George to nap in and provide shade.

Depending on when you visit (peak season) the beach might be packed out and therefore, limit your valuables in your bags.You can para-glide here, rent jet skies and go out for boat rides to pass the time. It is cheaper to buy big bottles of water from the shops than pay for vendors.

2. Hire a Boat and Marvel at Phi Phi National Park

Thailand in general is such a lush, beautiful country with a lot of islands but the Phi Phi Islands are special. Located in Thailand’s Andaman Sea about 46 kilometers from Phuket, Phi Phi has two main islands — Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don.

We took a full day boat trip with baby George (9 months old), which included food, kayaking and a trip to the famous James Bond Island. A minibus collected us from Patong and we were one of three families on board with babies/young kids. It was incredibly hot! I had to get creative to keep George cool and was grateful I brought snacks as the buffet food ran out.

On our second trip, we rented a long tail boat for a half day tour which included Pileah Lagoon and snorkelling and visited the iconic Maya Bay, enjoy a spot of snorkelling and the most impressive experience of swimming in Pileh lagoon.

George was 3 years old and loved the adventure. Life jackets that fit small kids don’t really exist, so buy your own or have them in arm bands when on board if you don’t like the look of your boat (health and safety standards in Thailand are different to the West).

3. Get Close to Elephants at an Ethical Elephant Sanctuary

We spent half a day with a small group of elephants and had the most amazing time. Our ethical elephant experience included transfers to and from our hotel, as well as food. When we arrived we learnt about the elephants and made their food, before feeding them bananas and nutritional balls.

Then we entered a pool and gave them a mud bath! Which was amazing. Then we went into another pool and washed them. They were so playful and calm – George was the youngest child there and took a little encouraging initially but the guides were incredibly helpful in explaining and introducing him to the elephants.

4. Visit James Bond Island

James Bond Island (Khao Ping Kan) is one of the many must-see places in Phang Nga Bay. Featured in the James Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun, it’s a naturally stunning place. We got there by a smaller boat as part of a day trip that also included a canoe experience. There are vendors and little shops on the island, a small toilet but limited seats and quote steep, rocky stairs.

It is dodgy getting on and off the boat, I had to climb over seats whilst George was in his baby carrier, so beware of that. The staff and other tourists are helpful though and will assist. 

They have fried squid which is pretty tasty to buy when you arrive, if you like that sort of thing. It can get insanely busy here, as you can imagine, during peak season. You can’t visit Phuket and not go to James Bond Island, but plan when you intend to go carefully to avoid overcrowding.

There are plenty of options to visit, from long tail boats, private yachts and bigger boats/day trips. Consider the heat, lack of clean changing facilities and age of your little one when choosing the right option for your children.

5. Be Entertained at FantaSea

On the main road directly opposite Kamala Beach you can’t miss the neon lights of FantaSea! Purchase your tickets in advance and enjoy the show in the cooler air.

Enjoy acrobats, elephants and magicians. It’s a grand live performance featuring trapeze artists. Featuring over 150 artists and an exotic storyline that blends tradition with fantasy.

It’s also a large cultural theme park with carnival-like games, lots of shopping opportunities, and one of the biggest buffets in Asia. It’s spectacular, it’s extravagant, it’s impressive and it’s great entertainment for all ages.

6. Rent a Longtail Boat and Swim in Pileh lagoon

Pileh Lagoon (also written as Pi Leh Lagoon) can be found on Phi Phi Leh Island, in the Andaman Sea. The Pileh Lagoon is only accessible by boat, entering through a narrow entrance from the north.

We rented a long tail boat for half a day tour that included food. Pileh Lagoon was the first stop on our tour and it did not disappoint! As you get closer you will notice that the water changes from turquoise to green!

This opening is between two towering limestone cliffs that create a natural gateway to the lagoon. During peak season the lagoon is flooded with boats and tourists, enjoying the water and scenery. George did not fit into the lifejackets so wore his armbands for the whole trip.

Getting in and out of the boat can be tricky so ensure you get help from the driver/guide if the entire family wants to swim. There are no toilets on the longboats, take this into consideration when choosing the mode of transport that suits your family/children.

7. Soft Play at Kidzoona

Located in Central Phuket Mall this soft play centre is great for rainy days, energetic toddlers or to escape the heat. Divided into sections, kids can role play in the post office, shop or police station. Plenty of lego, megabucks and wooden toys for toddlers.

Another section towards the back is quieter and has small tables and sofas for the adults. You do have to accompany your child and pay an entry fee but, you can leave and re-enter throughout the day. We visited twice in the 10 days and found it really good value for money.

8. Visit the Worlds Most Famous Beach, Maya Bay

Maya Bay’s iconic setting served as the backdrop for the 2000 blockbuster movie “The Beach,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and, there’s a reason producers chose this secluded, stunning enclave to represent the perfect beach to the world.

Maya Bay: All You Need To Know in 2023 (Travel Guide) www.gemmaandgeorge.com

Only accessible by boat, we visited on our rented long tail boat as part of a half day tour. the Thai Government have been forced to introduction a cap on the number of tourists as well as close the beach down completely for 2 months every year in a bid to preserve its eco system.

The sand is a white and the water as turquoise as you would expect. you do not need to filter your photos! You can enter the water but only Upton your knees because of sharks and your guide will limit you to one hour, but it is such a magical place and even more stunning when the rain comes!

9. Hike and Enjoy the View from Monkey Hill (Toh Sae Hill)

Monkey Hill is another name for Toh Sae Hill in Phuket Town. Named because of the groups of macaques who call the place home. In 2015, a proper platform was built towards the top of the mountain (in the curve before to reach the TV stations), which offers a stunning viewpoint over Phuket Town.

You can drive a car or motorbike up to the viewpoint and peak, but be careful as the hill is quite steep. The road to the summit is closed to traffic from 5pm to 8pm. You might want to wait until then and walk up to watch the sunset from the viewpoint. Roughly it will take you 2 hours and maybe 3 with kids! 

The monkeys are used to humans and it’s cheaper to buy bananas and nuts from the shops at the bottom of the hill. They will grab the food and any items you leave out or not locked/tucked in. Pack things away and discuss with kids not fighting back with the monkeys when feeding them.

10. Go Wild at Andamanda Water Park

You will not be disappointed by Phuket’s biggest waterpark, Especially on a hot day, this park is vast and provides the opportunity to cool down. Located in Mai Khao, transfers are included within your ticket price.

The park has rides and slides for all levels of bravery. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or a relaxing ride on the Lazy River, the park has something for everyone.

A day ticket gives you 7 hours of fun (or until the kids get too tired). There are plenty of lifeguards and sun loungers for you to sit down and keep the bags. The park is really big so you might want to strategically work your way around.

Or head to the big drawer card rides first then enjoy the normal attractions later on. Everything is paid for via an RFID wristband, which makes it an easy day for all.

11. Dance and Party on Bangla Road

At night time this street is the life and soul of Phuket. Just one of many streets, Bangla is the number one area for beers, parties and food. Dependent on the age of your children will dictate the time in the evening you want to visit. Plenty of good restaurants and food stalls, chemists and shopping on the strip and off smaller side streets.

We walked George through just as the sun was setting so he could soak up some culture! There are plenty of Tuk Tuks and drivers waiting to take you home and several really good restaurants just off from this main street. Be wary of pickpockets and sellers will definitely try to engross your child to hold a toy which means you then have to pay for it!

11. Play at all the Parks!

Kids are kids all around the world, so rest assured that there will be parks and play areas for your kids to enjoy in Phuket! Blue Tree Phuket is a  popular complex with waterslides, a massive water lagoon, rock climbing walls, splash pools for the little ones, and more. Lifeguards are always on duty so parents can feel at ease.

Rawai Park offers various play areas that suit kids of different ages, making it ideal an ideal thing for families to do in Phuket.

Best Time To Visit Phuket?

The most popular time to visit Phuket is between November and April, you will find everything open for tourism.  January to February are generally the busiest months so beaches might be more crowded, however, the weather is almost guaranteed to be warm and dry. We have visited in April and September and had great weather for both visits.

April is the last month of the peak season and Phuket switches off, many businesses close and the locals travel to enjoy some downtime with their families. This is when you can find some deals for flights! The weather is still good for most of the months and due to the lack of tourism you’ll be able to find luxury accommodation at very good prices. However, this is when you will see and experience some pretty epic storms with warm weather.

Best Time to Book Flights to Phuket?

There are multiple factors that influence the price of a flight so comparing airlines, departure airports and times can help keep costs down. December is the cheapest month to book,with flights ranging from £450 to £480pp. 

August is the most expensive month, with flights costing on average £670. We recommend using Skyscanner as a starting place and then searching other providers to see if you can beat their price.

Tuesday is the most economical day to take a flight to Phuket. To get the best value, try booking a flight in the evening . Generally the prices will increase for flights in the afternoon as these tend to have higher demand. If you’re visiting during a festival, make sure to book as early as you possibly can to avoid paying over the odds.

Do You Need a Visa to Enter Phuket?

British passport holders arriving by air or land can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa (a ‘visa exemption’). If you need to stay longer, it’s possible to extend your stay once for up to 30 days. You must apply for the extension before your visa exemption period ends.

You can only enter Thailand through a land border using the 30 day visa exemption twice per calendar year. To cross more frequently, you’ll need to get the appropriate visa in advance of travelling. This doesn’t apply if arriving by air. For more information, contact the nearest Thai embassy or consulate.

If you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days, are going to work, or use land borders regularly you must get the appropriate visa before you travel.

The only legal way of getting a new visa, entry permit or extension of stay is from a Thai Embassy or Consulate, an Immigration Officer at a point of entry into Thailand, or one of the Immigration Offices around the country. Visas issued by visa shops, travel agents or by any other means are likely to be illegal and lead to criminal proceedings.

If you stay beyond the period of your visa (‘overstay’), you’ll be fined 500 baht per day up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. You also risk being held in detention, fined, deported at your own expense and banned from re-entering Thailand. The enforcement of penalties for overstaying is strict and conditions in detention centres can be harsh. Deportation by the Thai authorities can be a lengthy process and you will also be banned from re-entering Thailand for up to 10 years.

Where To Stay In Phuket with Kids Under 5?

We have stayed in 4 different accommodations across Phuket with a variation in price and luxury! Below I’ve listed the pros and cons of each, along with a link to the accommodation. There are plenty of hotels, air bnbs, villas and hostels to suit different budgets and needs depending on your child age.

1. Thavorn Palm Beach Resort

Thavorn Palm Beach Resort is one of the best family friendly hotels in Phuket. This affordable accommodation has several swimming pools, big and small kids slides, a petting zoo and an indoor kids play area that is run by staff. It’s a 10 minute drive to Patong main strip.

Located on Karon Beach, just across the road is the beach and you will find a well stocked minimart, cash machine and local shops a short 5 minute walk up the road (on a real pavement!)

Breakfast was great, friendly staff and they have a cafe/ice cream parlous on site. We were charged extra for a roll out bed but that is standard wherever you go. Also had a bath which we used regularly for George. Really enjoyable stay at Thavorn Palm Beach Resort, highly recommend.

2. InterContinental Phuket Resort

We splashed out and treated ourselves to two nights in the 5 star InterContinental Phuket Resort located on Kamala Beach. A 45 minute drive from the airport, the hotel is split into different sections with the main hotel not in the beach.

Our room was lovely but narrow, I struggled to move furniture to make it ‘George proof’ but, it had a full size bath, massive shower and the bed was a 5 out of 5! Plus the view from the balcony was incredible.

There are several smaller pools and a children’s play room, where you can leave your kids aged 4 and above with trained staff. The play room is quite small compared to other hotels we’ve stayed at.

The main draw of the InterContinental Phuket Resort is Kamala beach and your ‘exclusive access’ to it. They are tunnels underneath the main road which you can walk or be driven in a golf cart. On the beach side of the hotel is the spa, another swimming pool, a bar, restaurant and sunbeams on the beach. At night we enjoyed a fire show and a live DJ which George was delighted with and enjoyed dancing with the locals!

3. Phi Phi Holiday Resort

We booked a beach bungalow at the Phi Phi Holiday Resort (formerly part of the Holiday Inn Chain) on the stunning secluded island of Phi Phi Don. A true island paradise where you can relax and embrace relaxation! A mission to get there, we had to get an hour express speedboat from Rassada Pier (get your tickets on arrival) to Koh Phi Phi Ferry Terminal. From there, we got a long tail boat to take us to Phi Phi Don.

Incredibly friendly staff who made a massive fuss of George when we arrived! The beach bungalow looked exactly like the Instagram pictures that spark wanderlust. Clean and simple, it was exactly 13 steps from the door to the beach.

We were one of maybe 20 people staying there, even though it is a big resort it was going through renovation so a lot of the accommodation wasn’t open. Breakfast buffet included with a view of the ocean and they have a small shop on site (stock up on snacks, alcohol and child specific snacks before arriving because the shop is limited and expensive!).

You could eat at the hotel restaurants or walk up the beach and eat at the local run restaurants with your feet and table on the sand and the breeze in your hair. This place was a dream and I would highly recommend Phi Phi Holiday Resort for anyone families looking to experience secluded island life.

COST OF VISITING PHUKET WITH YOUNG KIDS

There is such a wide variety of accommodation available, my advice would be to decide which area of the island you want stay. Kamala and Karon Beach are at least a 45 minute drive from the airport. If you value sleep, starting on Patong Beach isn’t a great idea!

On average you can get a local meal with a drink for around 350 Thai Bhat per person. We would only stay in 3 star hotels when traveling with our babies, which normally gets you a bath which is a non-negotiable for us when our kids were under 1 (and includes breakfast).

Tourist activities remain quote pricey, especially post covid. Many families, locals and businesses struggled tremendously financially and are seeking to recoup costs. Don’t be surprised to be find locals who are not willing to negotiate on price (despite all those blogs telling you to haggle) but, the price would still be cheaper than paying for a family of four to attend a zoo for example.

We always book flights and hotels way in advance to save money and then decide on which tourist activities we want to do and shop around online. Most places want cash so they do not have to pay fees or share the cost with a third party.