Thailand’s largest island has all the ingredients for a perfect tropical family holiday. Phuket has always been at the top of many a traveler’s bucket list with its white powder-soft sandy beaches, gravity-defying palm trees, endless world-class food, luxury accommodation, glorious villas, and friendly locals. Phuket has so much to offer, from its peaceful toes-in-the-sand vibe to the hedonistic nightlife in Patong. Phuket international airport connects to various hubs worldwide; there are two international marinas, and the Sarason bridge links to the mainland, making it easy to reach for local and international travelers.
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Thailand is world-renowned as the land of smiles and its exotic appeal, attention to detail, and exemplary service offerings. Phuket boasts luxury internationally-branded hotels like The Slate, Rosewood, Amanpuri, Trisara, and bird-nest-inspired Keemala. It also enjoys world-class exclusive boutique-centric hotels such as wellness retreat Chivitr and expansive private villas like the beautiful Trichada Villa in Cherngtalay, northwest of the island.
There are plenty of cooking classes in hotels and private kitchens across the island if you fancy trying your hand at some of the many much-loved dishes. The southern regions of Thailand boast sharp and spicy food heavily influenced by neighboring countries Indonesia and Malaysia. Middle Eastern and European traders brought spices, recipes, and cooking techniques and added them to the eccentric mix of multifarious cuisine. Old Town Phuket is already known for its eclectic art scene, placing the colorful Sino-Portuguese community firmly on the map. Phuket has ample street vendors and high-end dining choices, from bustling markets and cool cafes to in-villa butler service and international hotel restaurants.
Private yachts and rickety longtail boats are always on hand for watery adventures to Phang Nga Bay to discover castle-like limestone karst spires hiding secret lagoons and the famed James Bond island. There are plenty of Instagrammable moments as you zip between the karsts, enjoy the cooling shade of the cliffs, and explore Koh Panyee, the floating village. Quietly kayak through the endless pristine mangroves in search of wild monkeys, otters, and the odd-looking mudskippers as they wade through the shallows. If you have an adventurous nature, there’s ziplining, hiking, 4X4 island tours, diving, waterfall climbing, paintballing, or trying your hand at the art of eight limbs, Muay Thai.
After almost two years without tourists, Phuket has re-set and is more beautiful and enchanting than ever. The island has seen nature bloom in abundance. Turtles have returned in droves to nest on their once-busy beaches, rare mammals peeking out their snuffly noses to re-explore their native jungle, and the skies are once again full of magical birdsong. Phuket has long been synonymous with tropical luxury and is straightforward to navigate; it’s easy to hire a car or take a taxi to get you from A to B. Phuket is fondly known as the Pearl of the Andaman. You’ll see why when you visit.
Phuket offers hotels and villas on the powder-soft sandy shores that dip into clear emerald waters or defy gravity as they seemingly hang from sheer cliffsides and peep over hidden rocky bays. You can choose from the little beach huts that are steps from the warm Andaman Sea, oversized, fully staffed villas on steep hillsides with inside-outside living and areas for poolside entertainment, or urban-inspired beach bars. Phuket has something for every taste, style, and budget for a much-needed getaway.
Different areas of Phuket attract different people. Young couples or solo travelers without children tend to head to the busy heart of Patong's bar-strewn center, while Rawai is fun and laidback with a jungle vibe. Further north, you'll find exclusive beach clubs and grownup wine bars on Kamala, Laguna, or Bangtao beaches. The Phuket coastline has many intriguing fishing villages where you can explore local markets and dine on the freshest seafood in Thai-typical beach hut restaurants.
Phuket could happily boast about its endless beaches that fringe the island, and quite rightly so. Little Steps Asia has rounded up their seven favorite gems that are ideal for families.
Laem Ka Beach
Whether you prefer to be on the beach on the busy southern stretch of the island, on the quieter northwest coast, or on the bustling east coast, there are endless hotels, resorts, and villas for you and your family.
You'll soon discover that Thai cuisine has a serious kick! You'll enjoy exploring the land of food and discovering the ingredients that make up some of the nation's favorite dishes, such as pad Thai, Tom Kha Gai, Som Tam, Pad Krapow, Khao Soi, and Tom Yum Goong. Whether you visit a local market and chat with the stall holders or join a cooking class for a bit more guidance, you'll find the vibrant tastes of local ingredients and learn about the influences from ancient trade routes and neighboring countries.
The great thing about Thailand is the variety of choices. You can pick up a bag of delicious traditional noodles from your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant for about THB60 or dine in one of the luxury hotels for over THB5,000! You’ll know that the local food is excellent if it's packed with Thais enjoying the local dishes. Let your taste buds do the exploring. The following are some of the off-the-beaten-track Little Steps Asia favorites.
Family-Friendly Restaurants In Phuket:
Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants
Thailand is beginning to catch up with the plant-based movement. Phuket is seeing a healthy slew of vegan and vegetarian restaurants appearing on the island and piquing the interest of even the most staunch carnivores. Enjoy everything from delicious and fruity breakfast bowls and smoothies, to brunch, light lunches, afternoon nibbles, dinners, and late-night snacks.
Best Beach Clubs In Phuket:
Cooking Classes In Phuket:
Learn to cook the Thai way and participate in one of the cooking classes on the island. Whether you participate in one of the activities at your hotel or venture out to an independent cooking class, you’ll enjoy visiting the local markets and finding local ingredients with your chef teacher. Phuket is well known for its fresh seafood because of its proximity to the sea. You might even visit a local wet market or a community fishing village for the day's freshest catch.
E-Biking - Driving The Island
Getting around Phuket is pretty straightforward. You can hire cars and scooters, flag down a taxi, book a private car from your hotel or resort or zoom around on an E-bike. Thailand is renowned for its chancy roads, so if you are on a bike or a scooter, always wear a helmet.
More Fun Things To Do In Phuket With Kids:
Ice Rink For Kids In Phuket:
Bike And Skate Park In Phuket:
Water Parks In Phuket:
Horse Riding In Phuket:
Hiking And Adventures In Phuket:
The walking street markets are a must-see whether you've never been to Thailand before or are a regular visitor. They are colorful, overload your senses, and give you a fascinating insight into Thai peoples' daily lives. Outside Bangkok, Phuket has some of the most spectacular night markets. They are busy, noisy, and assault your senses, but are always good-humored and bags of fun. Visiting local markets allows you to try some of the extraordinary Asian delicacies.
Phuket Walking Street Market
Known as Lard Yai by the locals, Phuket Walking Street Market is one of the most popular attractions in Phuket Old Town. The indy-style market takes place each Sunday evening on historical Thalang Road, adorned with beautifully colorful Sino-Portuguese architecture. Each stall offers piping hot dishes from freshly prepared Pad Thai to steamed wontons or crispy chicken and crickets. See if you can track down the pineapple or the rabbit in a makeshift pram! Local artisans frequent the market with their paintings or handcrafted wares. There are all kinds of entertainment to keep you amused, from karaoke singers, high-energy street artists, and local and school bands. Get to the market early so you can wander through Phuket Old Town's graffiti art which frequently appears on Instagram.
Blue Tree Wansao Market
Situated in the enormous Blue Tree complex in Cherngtalay, Blue Tree Wansao Market guarantees you a blend of contemporary offerings with traditional market experiences. There are many food stalls, handicrafts, and herbal cosmetics to try and buy. Food trucks offer a diverse range of spicy culinary bites and iced drinks. Each Saturday night at the market, you'll be surrounded by a vibrant 'festival' vibe, live music, street performers, and movies under the stars. Blue Tree offers lots of fun for the family throughout the day, so why not plan to come on a Saturday so that you can end your fun day with the family-style market?
Boat Avenue Friday Market
Boat Avenue market is situated around the lake in the Laguna and Cherngtaley area. It's thoughtfully split into various sections selling products from talented artisans, traditional and Muslim Thai food stalls, clothing, lots of jewelry, homemade coconut health products, and antiquities such as old clocks and watches. Keep your eyes open for the 'mushroom' lady, she makes soup from the freshest mushrooms in front of you, and it's delicious. The market wraps itself around the container-style shopping center, which houses boutique clothing outlets, hair and nail salons, restaurants, and wine bars. It's a great place to hang out any night of the week. Villa Market is a supermarket that has a great collection of imported groceries and reasonably well-priced wines. If you head towards Laguna, there are plenty of artisanal boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir shops to explore.
Naka Market is also known as Phuket Chatuchak or Phuket Weekend Market. It's bursting with fun, food, and fakes! Wander around with no expectations and be prepared to be overwhelmed with the spectacular offerings. You can absolutely buy everything you don't need here at excellent prices! Vendors display famous brands at knockdown prices (this should give you an idea of their authenticity!). Some brilliant bona fide local designers are set among the imitations, so not all is lost. The food is somewhat bewildering and is everything you could imagine! Choose from stinky, fermented, boiled, fried, with or without chilies, stuffed, roasted, sliced, or steamed versions.
Chillva Market is young and fun and attracts younger Thais. The food offerings are always impressive, with endless seafood, sausages, meatballs, crispy chicken, melt-in-the-mouth ribs, and yummy satays. You'll also find overly sweet banana pancakes and well-loved mango sticky rice. If you are feeling brave, why not try some of the fried insects on offer?
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and can take some exploring. If you have time in your itinerary, jump on board a speedboat or traditional longtail and head to one of the outlying islands for a day trip.
Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi
Approximately 20 kilometers from the southern tip of Phuket lie two islands surrounded by crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches; Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi. Yai means big and Noi means little in Thai. Racha Yai is home to families of Muslim farmers and fishermen, glorious beach-front restaurants, and a smattering of resorts. The waters surrounding the island are pristine and offer incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities. This island is increasingly popular with day-trippers from Phuket in the afternoons, so to avoid the crowds, it's best to reach this island in the morning. After walking on the powdery white sands, hop back on board and head to the uninhabited island of Racha Noi. This island has some stunning outcrops of jagged rocks around its coastline. There is little to do here besides explore, snorkel or soak up the sun's rays. You'll sail back to Phuket feeling relaxed and unwound from your busy life.
Maiton is a private island just nine kilometers off the southeast coast of Phuket. You might be one of the lucky few that get to watch wild dolphins riding in the clear waters of your boat's wake. Beneath the turquoise waters encircling the island is a thriving coral sanctuary, home to over hundreds of fishes and magnificent colorful marine life. Alternatively, you can head to Koh Rang Yai, a peaceful island just five kilometers from the east coast of Phuket and wander through the shady, tree-lined paths of the island. Rang Yai has a mysterious southern drift current that takes you from one end of the island to the other. Try it; it's great fun.
Koh Phi Phi
There are six islands in the breathtaking archipelago called Phi Phi, pronounced pee-pee. They lie 50 kilometers southeast of Phuket and are part of the Hat Nopparat Thara-Ko Phi Phi National Park. This is home to abundant marine life, coral gardens, limestone mountains with cliffs, caves, and endless white sandy beaches. Various archaeological discoveries have led scientists to believe that Phi Phi was the oldest community in Thailand, dating back to the prehistoric period. When approached by boat, the islands dramatically rise from the sea as if to form an impenetrable stronghold. The towering cliffs are met by white powdery beaches and gently swaying palm trees. Phi Phi has an interesting heritage and houses a melting pot of nationalities and religions, including Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims, and even sea gypsies, the Chao Ley.
In 2000 it became famous for its appearance in the British-American film 'The Beach,' starring Leonardo DiCaprio. An increase in tourism was attributed to the film's release, which sadly resulted in environmental degradation and the closure of Maya Bay in 2018. The good news is that nature is returning in droves. The bay has reopened but remains protected, and visitor numbers are limited. 2004 also saw mass devastation on the islands that resulted from the disastrous tsunami.
Your captain can take you to the island's main attractions and explore Phaya Naak (Viking Cave), adorned with cave paintings and where edible bird nests are collected for the famed Bird's Nest Soup. These edible bird's nests are the most expensive animal-made products consumed by man. The nests are sold for prices up to US$3,000 per pound! You can also explore secret bays that are only accessible by boat.
Koh Hong and Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is known for its towering limestone karsts and the famous island named after James Bond. Did you know the movie 'The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed here in 1974?
Koh Hong is a cluster of four closely-knit islands which hide the beautiful Hong Lagoon from the outside world. The islands are protected by the National Park, and the lagoons are only accessible at low tide. An inflatable kayak will allow access to this Aladdin's cave of natural beauty. Your boat's captain will recommend that you get there early to avoid the peak times of the day.
You may have noticed Koh Panyi on your flight into Phuket; the floating settlement was established at the end of the 18th century by nomadic Malay fishermen. At this time, it was forbidden for any other nationality other than Thais to own land here, so the villagers built their fishing community on stilts. Also, on this island is an impressive golden mosque and a football pitch that hosts Koh Panyi FC. The local boys created a football team, now one of Thailand's most successful youth clubs.
Krabi is a spectacular province packed with limestone karsts, over 200 islands, and virtually endless, softer-than-soft, white sandy beaches on the southern coast of the Andaman Sea. Along the coast are various inlets with lush mangroves and ceaseless wildlife. Explore nature by silently moving through the deep-rooted trees and cave systems home to some unusual fish, bats, and several varieties of swift.
Further south of Ao Nang is Raleigh Beach, an excellent destination for those with a streak of adventure. Raleigh is renowned for its challenging rock climbing up towering limestone karsts. There are hundreds of routes to choose from, and the climbs vary and accommodate various levels of expertise. Try your hand at psycho bouldering which is perhaps more aptly known as deep-water soloing. The challenging solo climbs with no harnesses, if you accidentally fall, you end up in the water and very wet! Throughout this touristy region are plentiful restaurants, bars, and markets. Head back to the peace and tranquillity of your boat and watch the action from afar.
Phuket is full of glorious scenery, colorful buildings, narrow cobbled lanes, and pretty postcard-inspired views. Go on the hunt for giant water lilies, catch a plane, discover graffiti art in the heart of Phuket Old Town or visit the purpose-built Selfie Experience. Kids and families love the occasional selfie (or elfie if you are at an ethical elephant sanctuary).
Selfie Experience Phuket, https://www.facebook.com/tsephuket
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, https://www.facebook.com/phuketelephantsanctuary
The Memory at On On, https://www.thememoryhotel.com/
Soi Romanee, Phuket Old Town, https://goo.gl/maps/xnZW4YZdKo6ahXXEA, get lost amidst the colorful Sino-Portuguese buildings
Mai Khao Beach, https://goo.gl/maps/6eYPHZ3jwFV1Sh7E8, flight path selfies
Chaithararam Temple - Wat Chalong, https://goo.gl/maps/Qr5u8HhTQjSawYNg8
Jui Tui Shrine, https://goo.gl/maps/mjh4LpPPXKLECKm17
Surin Beach, https://goo.gl/maps/HnuJz4vzomLi59gu8
Phuket Art In Old Town, https://goo.gl/maps/emcjqZDhzvr2qhBdA, hunt down graffiti art
Ma Doo Bua, https://goo.gl/maps/BAf8fX4dEJ87T1jJ8, giant water lilites
Baan Ar-Jor, https://baanarjor.com/, time travel
Phuket is renowned for its sports, including the world-challenging Iron Man, football, an impressive road cycling community, tennis, rock climbing, the art of eight limbs Muay Thai, and centers dedicated to the sport, wellness, and nutrition. There is something for every family.
Sports, Wellness, And Nutrition For All Ages:
Muay Thai For Kids In Phuket:
Rugby For Kids In Phuket:
Tennis In Phuket:
Surf Lessons For Families In Phuket:
Swimming Lessons For Toddlers And Kids In Phuket:
Sailing Schools In Phuket:
Temples are places of peace and reflection.
Chalong Temple, https://goo.gl/maps/HPm1DJTSrfZjaP8F8
Phuket Big Buddha, https://www.mingmongkolphuket.com/
Wat Mongkol Nimit, https://maps.app.goo.gl/YhYsWu2AaKNoK2hRA
Doi Thepnimit, https://goo.gl/maps/3qTY3m3phpK8Dx4FA
Wat Khao Rang, https://goo.gl/maps/mBkr97fShLGr7cwQ9
Wat Phra Thong, https://goo.gl/maps/6Kr8GGQ2LdNTVQw48
Wat Karon, https://maps.app.goo.gl/eJxdKKpBwyAHmsuk6
Wat Phra Nang Sang, https://goo.gl/maps/Pm7MNdDp63md8NpT8
Wat Nai Harn, https://goo.gl/maps/AbQ3PKqBjdtHwj5q6
Wat Kathu, https://goo.gl/maps/Pyphf9cY6JqtAcL56
Wat Choeng Thale, https://maps.app.goo.gl/jegupDBAokZwbP9SA
Wat Tha Rua, https://goo.gl/maps/VZ6GjwZfwCLcMiEg8
** An ethical sanctuary does not offer riding, bathing, or any form of entertainment with the elephants
Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve, https://www.phuketnatureelephantreserve.com/
Phuket Elephant Sanctury, https://www.phuketelephantsanctuary.org/en/
If you and the kids are animal lovers, you can head over to one of the valuable animal rescue centers and give some cats and dogs lots of much-needed love for a day or longer or spend a week living at an elephant sanctuary caring for a herd of pachyderms
Soi Dog Foundation, https://www.soidog.org/ - the most prominent animal welfare center in Asia
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, https://www.gibbonproject.org/
Bodhi Dog Rescue and Shelter, https://www.facebook.com/BodhiShelter
Rawai Animal Lovers, https://www.facebook.com/groups/RawaiAnimalLovers/
Wonders In Nature Thailand, https://www.facebook.com/WondersInNatureThailand/
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, https://www.phuketelephantsanctuary.org/en/volunteer-program/ - spend a week with the elephants!
Phuket is full of friendly folk, and they are eager to help you answer any questions. There are numerous groups where you can pick the brains of those that live on the island.
Phuket 101 Community, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1729277967377499
Phuket Foodies OFFICIAL, https://www.facebook.com/groups/544433509034032
Phuket Expat Families, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1511516022497356
Phuket Travel & Thailand, https://www.facebook.com/groups/297831037069335
Phuket is extremely family-friendly. There are lots of shops, shopping malls, and services, to help you and your family have a great vacation. As with all travel in Asia, there are some do’s and do not's, and must-pack items. Fortunately, hotels can offer beds and strollers either for a small fee or complimentary. Here’s our go-to guide for everything you need to know about traveling to Phuket with kids in tow.