As a holiday destination or a home town, Phuket is a fantastic place for families.
There is much to love about this beautiful island in the Andaman Sea – pretty beaches, tropical weather, healthy and delicious food, relaxed lifestyle, interesting culture, value-for-money accommodation and many, many activities for children.
Here are 10 top ways to entertain children of all ages, because in Phuket babies and toddlers do not have to miss out on the fun!
1. Hit the beach at Nai Yang or Surin
Nai Yang Beach and Surin Beach are the perfect place for families to have fun and cool down when Phuket steams.
These beaches are low key, yet retain an element of the tourist infrastructure that makes life at the beach in Phuket comfortable – there are umbrellas, loungers, massage/beauty parlours, bars, restaurants and trinket stores, but not too many.
Head to Nai Yang Beach to lie beneath the Casuarina trees and build sandcastles in the shade. Head to Surin Beach to watch the sunset and feast on street food and fresh tropical fruit shakes.
Location: Both beaches are on the north west coast of Phuket
3. Visit the Phuket Butterfly Garden & Insect World
The term “butterfly garden” can often be applied loosely, however in the case of the Phuket Butterfly Garden & Insect World, it is most definitely not.
This place is delightful. It is interesting and calming. There is an insect museum, a walk-through butterfly garden, a breeding room, a bee yard, and a silk museum.
Youngsters will be enchanted by the colourful butterflies, the peculiar looking insects and the large, ever-hungry carp in the garden’s water feature. A butterfly landing on your child just might become the greatest moment of their life so far.
Location: Sam Kong (in Phuket Town near Tesco Lotus)
Opening hours: Daily 9am – 5pm
Cost: B300 (adults), B150 (children). Free under the age of four
4. Fish-spot at the Aquarium
The Phuket Aquarium is small and sweet. It offers an insight into the magical world beneath the waves and will amuse children and adults alike.
A diverse selection of marine life is represented in the large tank displays. Highlights for children include dancing cuttlefish, snarling giant eels, surreal seahorses and turtles – everyone loves turtles.
But the main attraction is a tank with a short walk-though tunnel where you are surrounded by pelagic fish, sting rays and sharks, circling and darting around. The tunnel is apparently a hoot to run through if you are less than four feet tall.
Location: At the end of Cape Panwa
Opening hours: Daily 8.30am – 4pm
Cost: B100 (adults) B50 (children) Free for babies/toddlers
5. Boat-spot at Royal Phuket Marina and Boat Lagoon Marina
Royal Phuket Marina and Boat Lagoon Marina exhibit an array of water craft – motor boats, sail boats, mono-hulls, multi-hulls, private yachts and charter boats.
If you take a day trip from Phuket the surrounding islands, you might depart from one of these marinas. In any case, the marinas are worth a visit in their own right.
Boat Lagoon Marina in particular is a hive of activity (except on Sundays) with many interesting “boatie” things happening in, and out of, the water that will cause little eyes to goggle.
And, for the mums and dads who fancy treating themselves, at both marinas there are yacht brokers, day spas and fine restaurants.
Location: The marinas are adjacent on the central eastern coast of Phuket
6. Dine at Pae Ma Nam lake floating’ restaurant
This restaurant is somewhat of a local secret. It is a treat.
The “tables” are small floating huts which, once you “board”, are moved by pulley out into the lake. The novelty is a winner with children.
Even more of a winner are the huge carp that swim to greet you and jump out of the water begging for your food, which by the way, is pretty good.
Location: Soi Rattatammanoon. On the road between Central Festival and Patong – heading toward Patong – turn left and follow your nose.
Opening hours: Daily 11am – 10.30pm
7. Escape the heat at Big C indoor play area
To visit a shopping centre play area while at a tropical beach resort destination is pitiful, perhaps.
Nevertheless, on very hot days the attraction of somewhere to entertain children in air-conditioned comfort can be great. In which case, Big C is the place to go.
There is a large padded jungle gym and a jumping castle where energetic youngsters can burn off energy safely and coolly, as well as umpteen cheap and cheerful mechanised rides, and a craft centre that runs activities for older children.
Location: Bottom level, Big C Shopping Centre
Opening hours: Daily 9am – 11pm
Cost: B40 for the jungle gym and jumping castle. B10 per mechanised ride
8. Celebrate Songkran and the Thai New Year
It is well worth timing your visit to Phuket to coincide with the Songkran Festival.
This festival is celebrated throughout Thailand as the traditional New Year.
The celebrations include the sprinkling of water on animate and inanimate things; in practice this means one huge water fight. It is a marvellous festival for children – cool, crazy fun.
Kit out your kids with super-soakers and buckets, and join the masses on the streets.
Oh and remember to wear old clothes, often coloured water (which stains) is “sprinkled” indiscriminately.
When: Annually April 13-15
9. Putt-putt at Phuket
Whether living close by or here on a fabulous holiday, this is the place for the whole family, friends and couples to enjoy at all times.
Putter and golf ball are already included in the price but if you have your own favorite putter, bring it with you. The 18 holes of mini golf take about 1-1.5 hour to play depending on how many players you are. The owners recommend not more than 4 players per team, and from 4 years age and up.
Location: 72/44 Moo 3, Bangtao Beach Road, Soi 2, Cherngtalay
Opening hours: Daily 11am – 11pm
Cost: B280 (adults), B200 (children)
10. Visit the Big Buddha
The iconic Big Buddha statue, which can be glimpsed from most locations in the south of Phuket, has been under construction for a very long time.
Nevertheless, scaffolding and all, the statue up close is impressive and the views of Phuket and its surrounds are spectacular.
Also, there is much to engage young minds – huge bells, chimes that hang from trees and ring in the wind, monks chanting, small gold statues, melted wax candles, rogue monkeys and a cat that sleeps on the visitors’ book. Little people will be entranced.
Location: Nakkerd Hills, Chalong
Opening hours: Daily 8am – 7.30pm
Cost: Free but donations appreciated
Jeunesse Meldrum travels with her husband and their two-year-old daughter. She writes for a website about travelling with children at www.littlepeopleon theroad.com. This year Jeunesse and her family have lived in Phuket on their sailing yacht, Zinc.