Most visiting families find Phuket a delightful place to travel as, apart from the fine weather and great beaches, Thais are exceptionally warm-hearted towards kids. Rather than viewing children as a nuisance, Thais will welcome them almost anywhere with open arms. Don’t be surprised to find that hotel staff, shopkeepers, waitresses and others become impromptu babysitters wherever you go. This makes travelling in Phuket with children very easy.
Some kids may find Thais’ exuberant friendliness towards them at times overwhelming or even frightening. Be sure to give your child some advance warning about the local culture, and the occasional ‘time out’ in your hotel premises may be needed.
Kid-friendly activities are available at several of the resorts in Phuket, and there are a number of attractions that will amuse kids, such as Phuket FantaSea theme park, Kathu Waterski Park, and Phuket Zoo.
Safety for Children in Phuket
Phuket is generally a safe island, but you should keep a close eye on your children, especially around traffic in Phuket. Though many of the locals do it, travel by motorbike with kids can be dangerous and is not recommended.
Car seats are not required by law for infants and toddlers, but you may consider bringing your own for taxi rides and hire cars to best protect your child. Some car rental companies provide car seats upon request.
During the dry season (November-March), the sea is very calm and this is the safest time of year for swimming. Waves and undertow can be extremely strong during the southeast monsoon season (May-November), and there may be several days in a row where the waters are too hazardous for swimming. If in doubt, keep your kids out of the sea.
Stings and bites from sea creatures are fairly common, though very rarely life threatening and easily treatable. Advise your kids to keep an eye out for jellyfish and sea urchins when swimming or snorkelling. Sunscreen, hats and beach umbrellas are a must as the sun’s rays are very strong here and especially from 11:00 to 16:00. Always keep bottles of drinking water to hand to keep dehydration at bay.
When travelling in Phuket with children, watch out for stray dogs, which are a common sight at some of the beaches and around town. Though most are harmless, kids should be kept well away from these dogs as rabies is a risk. They can also be unpredictable and suddenly aggressive as a reaction to the cruel treatment that many have received throughout their lives. In the early morning and at dusk, children should be protected from mosquito bites with repellants and clothing, as there is a chance of contracting dengue fever.
While sampling the local food is one of the highlights of travelling in Thailand and Phuket, some of the spices may be too much for Western children. Additionally, standards of hygiene are not always high, so your kids may be exposed to more bacteria than they’re used to and may consequently suffer a bout of diarrhoea.
There are plenty of places that are clean and healthy, so stick to these just to be sure. Look out for the ‘Good Taste, Clean Food’ endorsement on green and blue signs hanging outside restaurants and kiosks that have passed a health inspection.
Childcare in Phuket
There are a few daycare centres around the island that offer childcare services for short-term visitors. Ask your hotel or resort concierge for recommendations, though this concept is a little strange to Thais (who have an endless supply of relatives and friends who are only too happy to babysit) so don’t always expect an immediate solution. Additionally, several resorts have childcare facilities onsite, offering children of all ages a host of fun activities – and vacationing parents a well-deserved break. Be sure to check in advance when booking your hotel.
Finding a babysitter at an inexpensive price isn’t difficult, but be sure to check references carefully before turning over the care of your children to her.