Phuket for Kids and Families #2

Banana boat rides are great fun
Banana boat rides are great fun

Phuket, with its wide stretches of soft sandy beach and child-friendly culture, is an ideal destination for families of all ages. Thais in general love children, and will give your little ones plenty of attention and care throughout your trip. Though paddling, swimming and building sandcastles at the beach will likely be the main activity, there’s plenty more for kids to see and do, especially in the great outdoors. Mini-treks, elephant rides, snorkelling and other water sports are enjoyable for both adults and kids alike in Phuket.

Many of the larger resorts have childcare facilities and lots of activities to keep the kids occupied throughout your vacation in Phuket. Arts and crafts, cooking schools, tennis, archery, sailing classes and all sorts of sports and games are but a few of the things on offer. Be sure to check with your hotel when booking.

Nature Parks in Phuket

Bang Pae waterfall, on the north-east edge of Khao Phra Thaeo National Park, offers a refreshing respite from the heat of the day, and shallow streams that are great for splashing around in.

Just inside the park’s entrance is the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP), where volunteers and wildlife experts are working on re-introducing to the wild gibbons that were snatched from their mothers and used to entertain tourists. Note that the GRP receives no money from the park entry fees, so donations are welcome.

The Kathu and Ton Sai (in Thalang) waterfalls are also good spots for an afternoon walk and picnic with the kids, and they can splash about in a natural swimming hole while mum and dad relax with a decent bottle of wine.

Note: We recommend you to look online at Agoda.com for the best rate hotels and resorts in Phuket. They seem to be the most competitively priced of the hotels sites.

Animal Shows, Zoos and Aquariums in Phuket

Scattered throughout Phuket are a number of small operations offering snake shows, with exciting and exotic performances involving cobras and other dangerous snakes, which your kids will not soon forget. The shooting range in Chalong also offers snake shows, as well as elephant rides and paintball games.

The Phuket Zoo may not be to everyone’s taste, though kids may enjoy looking at all the colourful creatures there. They also put on crocodile, elephant and snake shows throughout the day.

The Phuket Marine Biological Centre and Aquarium offers fascinating displays of the local marine life, from brilliantly coloured shrimp to impressively huge garoupa fish. as well as an underwater glass tunnel, in which you can stand and watch rays and sharks float overhead. The Butterfly & Insect World in Phuket City makes for a nice afternoon out as well – lots of big bugs to see, both dead and alive.

Nature Tours for Kids in Phuket

Getting out on sea canoe in Phang Nga Bay is a must for families – the waters are calm and the trips into the sea caves are fascinating. Many operations will have someone do the paddling for you, so experience in kayaking is not necessary.

There are also a number of tubing river rafting excursions in neighbouring Phang Nga, elephant rides, eco-tours and mountain bike tours geared towards families. A typical tour might involve an elephant ride followed by a tour of a rubber plantation and a mini-trek through the jungle to a waterfall.

Standards vary greatly, so be sure to book with a company with a good reputation for service and safety.

Recreation and Amusements for Kids in Phuket

Phuket has eight golf courses and a handful of driving ranges for prospective Tiger Woods tykes to tee off (Tiger himself has played twice in competitions at the Blue Canyon Club). Instruction for children is available at some courses. Younger kids will enjoy a round of mini-golf, especially at Dino Park in Kata, where the course runs through a Jurassic Eden complete with dinosaurs and an active volcano. It’s best to go in the evening when it’s cooler and the dinosaurs are scarily lit up.

The go-kart track in Kathu is a popular spot for kids, along with the ATV track next door, as are the horseback riding centres – there’s one at Bang Tao just outside the Laguna resort complex and another in Rawai. There’s an excellent seashore/mangrove ATV tour company at the end of Cape Yamu. Good and muddy.

In Phuket Town, near the Robinson department store, is the new Archery Club, where friendly instructors will turn you and your kids into Robin Hoods in no time. There’s no Disneyland here (yet!), but the Phuket FantaSea theme park comes pretty close. The twice-nightly show is a dazzling display of music, acrobatics and magic acts, including a disappearing elephant.

Look out, too, for the 700-seat magic theatre in the Jungceylon shopping complex in Patong. Illusionist Joe Conrad promises a show to rival anything by David Copperfield, including people flying through the air.

Water Sports for Kids in Phuket

Snorkelling is an easy activity and can be done at most of the beaches and on day-trips to neighbouring islands. Trips to Coral Island and Racha Yai Island are particularly good, as these islands can be reached within an hour by speedboat and both feature clear, calm waters and an abundance of coral and colourful marine life.

On Coral Island, there’s also parasailing, banana boat rides and the Coral Island Club, where you can rent a Powersnorkel (a floating air pump that allows you to dive down and stay down as long as you like). Combine that with an underwater sea scooter and you’re really mobile. They also have clear plastic canoes for leisurely examination of coral from above.

Wakeboarding and waterskiing are available at the Kathu cable ski park. For older kids (12 and up), diving and sailing lessons are available. Another fun family activity on the water is big game fishing, especially thrilling if someone manages to hook a sailfish or two.

In Mai Khao a major new attraction is Splash Jungle, a water park with wave pool, big and small slides and other rides. It has snack and drinks bars, so you can spend an entire day there.

Phuket Adventure Mini Golf

This challenging 18 holes miniature classic championship golf course is surrounded by palm trees, stones, water, bamboo, sand and bushes. Designed & built together with Scandinavian Adventure Golf it’s just as much fun for adults as kids, especially after dark when the course is illuminated by lights. The Off Course open-air restaurant gives diners a full view over the mini golf park with signature thin crust homemade pizzas served directly from the pizzaiola station. The menu includes a wide range of Thai & international food as well as a great children menu. You can also book a private company party, celebration, networking event or children’s party. 

18 holes of mini golf takes about 1-1.5 hours to play depending on the number of players. They recommend not more than 4 players per team and from 4 years age and up. 72/44 Moo 3, Bangtao Beach Road, Soi 2, Cherngtalay, Thalang. Tel: (076) 314 345, Email.

Travel Tip:
For tips, safety advice, childcare and other infomation on travelling around Phuket with your kids, please see our Travelling with Children in Phuket page.

Bowling in Phuket

Thais love to bowl and Phuket is full of bowling alleys, which makes for a good rainy-day activity. In Patong, there is the Rock ‘n Bowl alley, as well as one in the Ocean shopping mall and another in the Jungceylon shopping complex. In Phuket City, the largest alley is on the upper floor of Big C, and there are two more, close to downtown, behind the Pearl Hotel and in the Ocean Shopping Centre.

In Kamala there’s the Kamala Lawn Bowling Club, where kids are always very welcome. They do a mean barbecue buffet in the evening. Some places also have pétanque courts – this French form of bowling, using steel balls, is very popular in Thailand.

Play Areas for Kids in Phuket

Loma Park in Patong has a play area complete with slides and swings, at the north end of the beach. In Phuket City there are two playgrounds in Saphan Hin, one at the entrance and one beside the stadium, and another in the King Rama IX Park (Suan Luang) south of the city centre. There are also indoor play zones with kiddie rides located in the basement of Big C and the upper floor Tesco-Lotus – very noisy and lively places, especially on Sunday afternoons. These areas also have video games with Sony Playstation, and there are video soccer and car racing games in Central Festival.

Public Swimming Pools and Parks in Phuket

Municipal swimming pools are not found much in Thailand and certainly not in Phuket, with none of the beaches boasting one yet, though there is a municipal pool in Saphan Hin, south east of Phuket City, which is very cheap to use.

The major housing developments such as Land & Houses and Phuket Villa will allow the use of their swimming pools and other facilities for a small fee. Another option, if your hotel lacks a pool, is to buy a day pass for a large resort such as Club Med or Laguna Phuket. 

For taking a leisurely stroll around, or having a picnic, King Rama IX (Suan Luang) park at the south edge of Phuket City is a pleasant place to go in the early morning or late afternoon. Rang Hill also has some grassy areas to run around in, as well as two fantastic Thai restaurants with nice views of the city and sea.

Food and Desserts for Youngster in Phuket 

Kids can be fussy eaters, especially when travelling. Fortunately, Phuket offers an huge array of dining options. Kids may enjoy some of the milder noodle dishes or fried rice. If all else fails, there are plenty of restaurants serving Western food and even fast-food outlets such as Pizza Co, MacDonald’s, KFC and Subway.

With all the hot weather, there is plenty of ice cream available, with Western ice cream parlours being popular places to have a treat (Bud’s, Swensen’s and Baskin Robbins are favourites).

Additionally, there are vendors pedalling around coolers with ice cream bars and cones from Foremost or Wall’s. Kids may also have enjoy trying traditional Thai desserts, such as bananas with coconut milk.

Songkran Water Festival

Songkran water festival is riotous fun for the whole family. Taking place annually from April 13 to 15, Songkran celebrates the Thai New Year with various ceremonies and parades. Most fun for kids though, is the custom of throwing water on everyone, everywhere in the streets, on the first day! There are water pistols and even big super-soakers for sale everywhere around this time of year, and everyone has a good time. Be careful with your camera or any other electronic gear – the water battles can get pretty indiscriminate.