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Phuket - K's Cheat Sheet

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

So usually, I do like to be active during my holidays - experiencing different cultures, sightseeing, trying new things... But there are just some days where I want to switch off. I don't want to make any decisions - besides the question of beach or pool first? Pina Colada now, or later? And to not have to deal with long car rides, exhausted kids, and running around. And Phuket always seems to be our regular go-to-place for that. Being only 1.5 to 2 hours flight from Singapore, it's an easy destination for fun in the sun. And it's big enough to give you a variety of things to do and keep things interesting, if you do want to do some exploring.


With the kids, we've been 3 times. First when our eldest was only 6 months old, then when she was 1.5 years old (for a big family reunion with the in-laws) and then most recently in January 2023 when she was 5 and our youngest was 3.


We stayed at different hotels each time, and did different activities. Take a look below for my quick cheat sheet.

 

Hotels


Marriott Phuket Beach Club in Mai Khao



10 minutes drive from the airport. Serviced apartments (with fridge, stove, separate bedrooms and sink). Has 3 swimming pools, one kid's slide, on the beach, kids club, games area (kids and teenagers), water sports and diving centre, spa, pool bar and several restaurants. Downside - can be a bit far from town if you want to go out to night markets and exploring.


Note I went in January 2023, with a 3 year old and 5 year old.


For more details, take a look at my blog post on Marriott Phuket Beach Club.



Centara Grand Beach Resort on Karon Beach



Just over an hours drive. Several swimming pools, lots of slides, a lazy river, place to jump off a "cliff" into the pool, on the beach, kid's club, water sports, spa, tennis courts, pool bar and a few restaurants.


Downside - no suites with a separate bedroom. I think you can book interconnecting rooms, but they interconnect via the balcony.


The kid's club was good - staff seemed really friendly and they offered baby sitting services. They had a ball pit, small slide, and other toys to play with, and little cars to drive. Also a small outdoor play area. But be careful there's a big gap between the outdoor play area and the area around the pool - would stop kids from running off, but could also mean they end up in a ditch. There was a couple of other things I noticed around the hotel that you need to be a bit cautious of (steps leading to the lazy river / slides - they're not obvious and you can easily trip and fall).


Note I went here in April 2019. It was a big family reunion, including grandparents and 3 kids (aged between 1.5 to 5 years old).




Renaissance Phuket Resort and Spa in Mai Khao



10 mins drive from the airport. 2 swimming pools (one shaded, with a slide), on the beach and a couple of restaurants.


Downside - no kids club.


Not sure about interconnecting rooms to be honest - our little one was 6 months old at the time, and we didn't know any better, so just all slept in one room (it did mean having to eat some dinners in the dark, in silence, so as not to disturb the baby - fun times!).


But I found it perfect for when our little one was still a baby, not yet crawling and still napping during the day - so we didn't feel the absence of an kid's club. Pool and beach were enough to keep her (and us) entertained.


Note I went in April 2018, with friends, and we all brought our kids, aged between 6 months to 4 years old at the time.

Where we had our breakfast buffet.


Kid's pool in the shaded area. You can see the slide and waterfall at the back.


Sunset cocktails for the adults, next to the beach, whilst the babies rolled around on the grass.


Others


Other hotels that we considered, but which we never stayed at:

  • Hyatt Regency at Kamala Beach - read great things about it and looked amazing, but we decided against it because it's apparently on a hill with lots of stairs. And stairs with tired toddlers insisting on being carried is not my idea of good exercise: https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/thailand/hyatt-regency-phuket-resort/phuhr

  • Thavorn Palm Beach Resort at Karon Beach - seemed great, with big slides, a petting zoo andK on the breach. But just over an hour from the airport, and it was fully booked: https://www.thavornpalmbeach.com

  • JW Marriott at Mai Khao - Marriott Beach Club actually shares the same facilities and is on the same grounds as JW Marriott. Only reason we chose Marriott Beach Club is because we liked the idea of a serviced apartment. But if you stayed in the JW Marriott, you would be closer to the kids pool, kids club and restaurants: https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/hktjw-jw-marriott-phuket-resort-and-spa/overview/

  • Katathani Phuket Beach Resort at Kata Now Beach - looked like heaven for the kids. Playground, beach, pools, indoor play area (slides and ball pits), splash zone, etc. But it was fully booked, and it also felt a bit too much like we'd be staying in "kid's land". For hotels, I kind of prefer a balance - things to do for the kids, without feeling like your staying in a giant playground: https://www.katathani.com


 

Things to do


Of course there's tons to do in Phuket! But this is just a short list of things I managed to do during my time there, as easy little excursions.


Phuket Elephant Sanctuary



Visited this elephant sanctuary when we stayed in Karon Beach area. I was conscious that Phuket has lots of fake elephant sanctuaries - so I did my research. This one had no elephant bathing, no elephant painting and no elephant rides - so I was relatively comfortable with visiting this one. We did get to feed the elephants, and see them walking around, and to take photos in front of them (elephants weren't required to pose). It also included a vegetarian lunch.


When I learnt that they get put into "stables" during the night, at first I was a bit concerned - but they then explained it's because there are no fences / barriers around the sanctuary. So if they don't put them in their stables (I'm sure there was a more official word for it), then they'd be in danger of wandering our of the sanctuary and onto the road, etc.


For those not able or up for walking, they have a buggy that can drive you around.


Note I went in April 2019



Horse Riding in Mai Khao



Enjoyed horse riding when we stayed in Mai Khao. 5-10 mins drive from the resorts in Mai Khao. Went through a long bean farm, a forrest and along the beautiful beach. Felt safe the whole time (although I'd suggest you hold on tight to the saddle when you go down and up from the beach). Definitely fine for people with no experience. My daughter (5 years old) had her own pony, with someone holding the reins and walking with her, I was on a horse with my 3 year old son (again with someone holding the reins), and my hubby had his own horse. We all got helmets. I had on my long yoga pants, but since my hubby had on shorts he was asked to change into some black pants they had.


It was THB1,200 per hour for each adult, and THB 200 for each kid under 12. Excluding tips.


We managed to get a car from the Marriott Phuket Beach Club for THB 500 (there and back - the driver waited for us).


Note I went in January 2023.



Karon Night Market


Went here when we stayed at Centara Grand Beach Resort - was a 5 minute drive. I'm a fan of night markets, so I liked it and the family had fun. Street food, clothes, souvenirs, etc. However, I went in 2019 - so it was a while ago! Take a tuk tuk back - so much fun!


Open every Tuesday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Note I went in April 2019

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