Are you planning a family trip to Thailand and looking for the best things to do in Phuket? You’re in the right place! We are covering the top 10 things to do and see in Phuket!
If you’re traveling to Thailand, there is a good chance that you have plans to spend some time on one or more of Thailand’s 1430 islands. As the largest of all of the Thai islands, Phuket is a well known top tourist destination. Offering incredible beaches, waterfalls, an old town and tons of new attractions-it’s no wonder why tourists are flocking to this piece of island paradise.
On a personal note, Phuket has a special place in our hearts. It was our first stop back in early 2019 when our family of six left our traditional American life and everything we knew to set off on our full-time travel adventure.
Ok, enough sappy stuff…let’s get talking about the best things to do in Phuket!
Things to Do in Phuket
Phuket hosts nearly one-third of all of Thailand’s international visitors so it doesn’t come as much surprise that there are plenty of things to do. If you’re a foodie, you’ll find find some of the most incredible Thai cuisine. I may or may not have had curry for breakfast every day. Like the beach? You’ll find paradise on earth. Looking for a taste of culture? The temples and the people are first class. Going for the scenery? Yep, there’s a reason why Hollywood has featured this area time and time again.
No doubt, there is something for every type of traveler. Phuket is a unique destination because it can deliver the R&R, adventure, food and/or the culture trip that you are after.
In this post we are going to share our top 10 things to do in Phuket with kids.
Did we mention that we are big on adventure travel? Check out some of our recent escapades on insta: @therunawayfamily
Here are the 10 Best Things to Do in Phuket With Kids
1. Play at the Beach
Before we jump into all the different things to do and see in Phuket we must start with the main reason why most families come to Phuket. That is to just enjoy the many beautiful beaches and play in the warm water of the Andaman Sea.
On this giant island, there are plenty of options to make your print in the sand. It’s important to know that all of the best beaches in Phuket are located on the the southern tip of the island or along the Western coast. The Eastern coast is mainly estuaries or mangrove forests.
Our top 5 favorite Phuket beaches:
1) Banana Beach – A secluded hidden paradise. This beach is one of our family’s favorite beaches of all time. Definitely off the beaten path, not near any of the resorts or villages, and requires some effort to get there.
2) Nai Harn Beach – Smaller beach on the southern tip of Phuket with a nice chill vibe. Great sand and views of anchored boats and the nearby islands.
3) Kata Noi – Kata Beach is really comprised of two beaches, Kata Noi (North) and Kata Yai (South). Both are great beaches that are close to Karon Beach but quieter and less crowded.
4) Freedom Beach – The best beach that no one knows about. It is a bit of a trek (like 30-40 minute walk in) or with kids we suggest you take a long-tail boat charter. Remote and secluded feeling but with plenty of services available.
5) Kamala Beach – One of the best big beaches in Phuket. Also, the best of all the west coast beaches for sunset.
Here is a quick vid we put together to give you a little flavor of our favorite beach in Phuket: Banana Beach
Banana Beach Practical Information:
How to get there: Banana Beach is located between Bang Tao and Nai Thon beaches. You’ll have to put your eagle eyes on and spot the beach through the trees and watch for the small parking area. It does pull up on Google Maps.
What to do: Swimming is excellent, snorkeling is good and the sun is hot! Great place for a day trip but as goes for all of Thailand and most of south east Asia, keep an eye on your belongings especially food-the monkeys do make there rounds.
PS. Please leave only your best footprints. Pack out your trash out and dispose of appropriately. Litter and single use plastic is an enormous global issue and we can make a difference.
2. Visit Big Buddha
We’ve learned culture experiences with kids can be hit or miss. But, this one is cool! Big Buddha Phuket is an enormous landmark that sits 45 meters tall and 25 meters across at the base. It can be seen from as far as Phuket town and Karon Beach. The site boasts some of the most amazing 360 degree views in all of Phuket. It is one of the most important and revered beacons in Phuket. It’s definitely a must see!
Be advised: It gets hot! We made the mistake of visiting in the middle of the afternoon and it was blazing. It is a religious site so it is best to dress conservatively avoiding beach wear. They do have sarongs available free of charge and you may be asked to cover up.
How to get there: Nakkerd Hills between Kata and Chalong.
The road leading up to the Big Buddha is off Chao Fa Road East near Chalong. There are many red-and-white signs indicating where it is. Turn down Soi Yodsane and simply follow the indications for the next 6 km up the hill. You can’t miss it. The road is extra steep with some sharp turns and can be tricky for some of the under powered scooters.
3. Explore Wat Chalong
After visiting Big Buddha we had our driver take us to Wat Chalong since the two sites are relatively close together. By the way, with a young family, scooters weren’t the best option for us so we contracted a driver to take us around and wait for us at each site. It was really pretty inexpensive and we highly recommend it for getting your family around Phuket.
Wat Chalong is the largest, most revered Buddhist temple in Phuket. The tallest building on the grounds is a 60 meter tall stupa (chedi) sheltering a bone fragment of Lord Buddha. Walls and ceilings of the temple are decorated with beautiful painting retracing the most significant steps of Buddha’s life. Each floor is also full of large donated golden statues. You are allowed to climb all three floors to the top terrace which we did!
Entry fee. There is no entry fee but donation boxes on site.
Dress code. Of course it is a religious site and dressing conservatively is always a good idea. We didn’t encounter anyone checking wardrobe and no sarongs were onsite. Needless to say, they do ask that shoes are removed prior to entrance.
4. Take a Tour of the Upside Down House
This one is for the kids. We’ve found that balance is crucial when traveling or vacationing with younger children. After the first one, all the temples appear to be the same for the littles. We like to mix in some fun activities that are geared especially for the kids. The Upside Down House or Baan Teelanka is just that. It’s a fun and quirky attraction with tons of photo ops that the kids will have a great time with. There is even a garden maze and an escape room activity if you are feeling it.
Entry Fee: 350 Baht for the house only. There is an additional fee for the maze and the escape room activities.
Staff: Take advantage of the very helpful staff that can show all of the fun angles and tricks for getting the best photos.
Quick Activity: Don’t plan this as an all day event. Depending on how much time you spend taking photos and exploring this quirky place, it doesn’t really take very long. You can easily be finished in 30-45 minutes.
5. Eat Lots of Thai Food
What can I say about this? We have been traveling full time for almost three years visiting other countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Morocco and Malaysia. We have encountered some REALLY good cuisine but Thailand takes the cake and it is not even close. The curry is to die for. Green, yellow, red it is all amazing. Oh, and let’s not forget the mango and sticky rice.
Be advised. Thai spice is on a whole new level than what were used to in the U.S. If you’re not on that level then make sure to ask questions give hand signals whatever you have to do to communicate the level of spice you and your family members are comfortable with.
Street food. Is it ok to eat street food in Phuket? It’s definitely a judgment call because no one wants to spend their trip with food poisoning. I will say that we never had issues with the street food in Thailand. We were careful to select the carts that looked like they had good hygiene and foods that appeared fresh.
6. Take in All of the Sunsets
The sunsets on the beaches in Phuket are absolutely incredible. The sky turns different shades of orange and the reflection off of the water is perfection. No two sunsets are the same so make sure to stay a little later at the beach to witness these masterpieces.
Beach creatures. Right before the sun sets is the best time to go for a walk on the beach. The beaches come alive with all sorts of different types of crabs scurrying around. It’s good fun for the kids to chase the little creatures around so it’s a win all around.
7. Get a Thai Massage
This is a no brainer. Thai massage is an ancient therapy that has been practiced in Thailand for thousands of years. It has become a staple in almost every spa throughout the world. The service is offered everywhere in Phuket. Spas, beaches, hotels, resorts and therapists will even come to you. So, put the kids to bed or let them play at the beach and hook yourself up! Best part, you can get a 60 minute massage for about $5-$10 usd.
Gratuity/Tipping. Tipping is not expected for services in Thailand. That is still a difficult concept to wrap my brain around. However, if you decide to tip for services I found that the Thai people have been extremely grateful, which is generally their nature.
8. Take in the Night Street Markets
Whether it’s the Chillva market, Phuket night market or the walking street market-you definitely need to experience this piece of Phuket. The streets come alive with entertainment, culture, shopping street vendors and some of the most funkiest foods on a stick you’ll ever witness. If you can only choose one market to visit our vote would be the Chillva market (Thurs-Sat) mostly because of the local vibe and local prices.
Transactions: Goes without saying but it’s a street market and cash only please. Be prepared to to barter and have fun with the experience. Be fair and kind. We’ve been to street markets all over the world and the vendors in the Thai markets generally are super friendly and respectful.
Sites and smells: At our first night market in Thailand our 5 year old cried the whole time because of the fragrant environment haha. You will for sure see and smell things that are new and different and may be uncomfortable for the kids. Our 5 year old is now 8 and she absolutely loves visiting the night markets unless it’s in Morocco but that’s a story for another day haha.
9. Do Some Island Hopping
Phi Phi, James Bond, or Similan island are top picks. Maybe Racha if you’re looking for some good snorkeling/diving. The island hopping tours in the Phuket area are some of the best around. So good, that the tourist traffic flows in at a pretty high level. Do your homework and position yourself with a solid tour company that can offer the experience that you are looking for.
We recommend skipping some of those larger outfits that are in the business of cramming numbers through and going with a smaller more personalized crew. They may be a little less money but especially with a family, it’s nice to not feel like your being herded around. We recommend looking into Phuket Sail Tours.
Do your homework. Not all tour companies are the same. Make sure to position with an experienced family friendly company.
10. Visit Old Town Phuket
Phuket isn’t only about beaches and new tourist attractions. It is actually has a pretty cool old town area with Sino-Portuguese architecture. It feels a little like Europe in Thailand. The streets are full of colorful buildings, street art and curious shops.
Old town is one of the top things to do with families and definitely should be on your list if you have an extra day to spare. Check out the Thai Hua Museum, Baan Chinpracha and Lard Yai Sunday street market.
Make sure to grab some good eats. Some of the best Thai restaurants restaurants on the island are found here in Old Town. If you’re looking for some other foods outside of Thai, you’ll find some great options here.
If you’re looking to dig a little deeper into the Old Town food scene, checkout this food tour.
The streets can get quite busy at times especially on the weekends. However, if you’re looking to experience the best of Old Phuket’s energy then make sure to schedule some time on Saturday or Sunday. And of course it’s always hot in the afternoon so go early evening when it cools off a bit.
Best Time to Go to Phuket with Kids
Phuket experiences tropical weather with a dry season November to April and wet season May to October. Dry season is the peak season for tourists and it can be pretty busy.
Hotel costs are nearly double what they are in the rainy season but tourists come prepared to pay them since the weather is almost guaranteed to be perfect.
April or November are great options if your looking to try to take advantage of the lower prices and decent weather. Rainy season is a bit of a gamble. You may only have a couple hours of rain a day or it is quite possible that you could get rain for a solid week.
Phuket Travel With Kids: Before You Leave Checklist
- Remember to check on immunizations. Visit your doctor 2-3 months prior to your trip to make sure that you are up to date.
- Make sure that you have good travel insurance coverage.
- Check on current Visa requirements. We live in a changing world so make sure to do you homework.
- Verify current covid testing requirements for Thailand and your airline.
Final Thoughts on Traveling to Phuket with Kids
We hope that you enjoyed and found some value in reading our guide to visiting Phuket with kids.
We absolutely loved our time in Phuket. It was a great place to kick off our full time travel adventure. The beaches, the food, the culture, the beauty and the people were all first rate.
There are so many great family friendly lodging options in Phuket too with very affordable rates especially during the rainy season months. Our go to sources for lodging in Thailand are Airbnb and Agoda.
We are already making plans to get back to that Thai Curry that is always good for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Til we meet again Phuket.
If you are looking for somewhere to go after Phuket we recommend visiting the Krabi province. Stay tuned for a future post about where to go in Krabi including Koh Lanta.