There are just so many reasons we keep boomeranging back to sunny Phuket with (and without) the kids!
Need a luxury island escape two hours from Singapore? Yes, please! What’s not to love about Phuket? This tropical-yet-buzzy island is perfect for a quick getaway as a couple and ideal for a sunny holiday with the kids in tow. With soooo much to see and do as well as luxe hotel picks, a vibrant party scene (sans kids for this one), delish food and huge sandy beaches, Phuket is the Thai destination we keep heading back to time and time again.
When to go to Phuket, Thailand
The best time to visit Phuket is between November and April to avoid the afternoon monsoon rains and make the most of the sunshine for swimming, sun-soaked beach afternoons and exploring neighbouring islands by boat. Take note that this is the busiest time for tourists, so everything will be busier. If you want to save some money and avoid the crowds, go at the tail end of the tourist season. Monsoon weather hits around mid-May and runs through to October, but it’s usually only in the form of short showers in the afternoons.
Here’s the lowdown on Phuket’s seasons and average temperatures so you can work out when is best for you to go:
November to February: Lovely weather with cooler temperatures around 24 – 30 degrees. February is the driest month, and December is the coolest. This is the busiest time for tourists, as it is usually perfect beach weather with calmer oceanfronts for swimming and water sports.
March to May: Just before the monsoon rains, these are usually the hottest months of the year (on average above 30 degrees every day). If you visit in April, be sure to enjoy the Songkran Festival!
End of May to October: The rainy season. Monsoon weather season in Phuket is from May to October, with average temperatures hovering in the late twenties. The wettest months are May, September and October, and it can be almost as humid as Singapore! But if this doesn’t bother you, be rewarded with the lowest prices on flights and accommodation, and much less crowded beaches.
How to get there
We’re not sure there is an easier destination to get to than lovely Phuket. With a flight time of around two hours, you can leave the office on a Friday and be by the beach for sundowners within a few hours. Its close proximity also proves a huge plus when it comes to a stress-free getaway with small people: there’s barely time for a single tantrum because the journey is so quick! Flights depart daily, all through the day, from Changi and there’s an airline for every budget: woo hoo!
Where to Stay in Phuket, Thailand
Avani+ Mai Khao / Anantara
We are huge fans of the Avani+ Mai Khao Phuket and their sister resort, the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket. You get the best of both hotels for an attractive cost, with a private family pool villa, fun fitness gym and kids club at Avani, combined with access to the beachfront pool and restaurants (accessed via golf cart!) at Anantara. There are all the facilities you need for a fab family vacay, with a choice of swimming pools, lots of great restaurants and leisure activities, and a gorgeous (quiet!) beach.
JW Marriot Resort and Spa, Phuket
Five star family-friendly luxury in Phuket, the JW Marriott Phuket has one of the best kids clubs we’ve come across (to the point that we hardly saw our children the whole holiday). Just steps from Mai Khao Beach, enjoy easy access to the islands of Phang Nga Bay, Old Town Phuket and the Royal Phuket Marina. There’s an award-winning spa, three outdoor pools, a modern fitness centre and interesting activities such as Thai cooking classes. The restaurants here are also great, offering Thai, Japanese and Italian cuisine (make sure you check out the pizza dough show!) The rooms are slightly dated, but they are spacious and the beds are very comfortable.
Banyan Tree Phuket
If golf is your thing or you’re after an exceptionally private villa with an extra dash of luxury, then take a look at Banyan Tree Phuket. It’s a short car ride to the bustling Thalang District, where you’ll find lots of cute cafes and shopping, as well as the famed Siam Supper Club. There’s also the Rangers Kids Club that offers fun activities from local Batik Painting, to Bird Watching, to “Walking on Water” and cooking classes – entertainment is guaranteed!
Where to eat – best family friendly restaurants in Phuket
Raya, Old Phuket Town
Raya features in the Michelin Guide, and one taste of the curry and it’s not hard to see why. It’s delicious. Very casual and an easy walk from Old Phuket Town centre, this is the place to go to break up the sight seeing and enjoy some authentic Thai food with the fam. Set in a cute shop-house style building, order lots of different dishes to share. Finish with an ice cream at Torry’s – we hear it’s the bees knees! Just make sure you check their opening times before you go.
Siam Supper Club
One of the best steak restaurants in Phuket, The Siam Supper Club is under new ownership and is a lovely spot for a kid-free date night, although kiddos are welcome too if they are on the best behaviour (it’s just a little bit fancy). Menu highlights include Wagyu Tenderloin, Tomahawk served table side, seasonal Oysters, Caviar, and sweet and tender Lobster. Yum yum!
Simmy Bar & Restaurant
Overlooking the marina, Simmy Bar and Restaurant is a great spot to take the kids for authentic and tasty Thai food, that won’t break the budget. Fried rice, satay, great kid-friendly dishes, plus ice-cold beer and fun cocktails for mum and dad – this is ideal for casual holiday dining.
Love Noodles, Turtle Village
If you want to venture outside of your hotel restaurants, visit Turtle Village Mai Khao and stop into Love, Noodles. We were so pleasantly surprised by the fresh pastries and sandwiches, and the beef noodles were a winner in everyones book – the broth was really tasty, even our two year old was slurping it up!
Sea. Fire. Salt. (within Anantara Mai Khao+)
Poolside dining with a view of the sea – the ambience here at Sea. Fire. Salt. is just gorgeous. We splashed out on a mixed meat and seafood platter, and it did not disappoint. The chefs here are super accommodating – we managed to order one of our fussy eaters a burger from the lunch menu, which was absolutely delicious. Washed down with a crisp and icy cold white wine, this is the perfect end to a day spent by the water.
What to do in Phuket
This is tricky to condense into just a few picks! There are literally hundreds of fun things to do in Phuket, whether you’re travelling as a family, with friends, or on a romantic weekend away. But to give you a snippet of the action happening, we’ve listed out thirty of our faves AND we’ve got a video to show you exactly what you should have on your ‘Phuket to do’ list:
30 Things to Do in Phuket
Here’s a speedy roundup of lots of our favourite things to do in Phuket, in no particular order:
1. The quaint Phuket Old Town is peppered with numerous attractions, great shops and an eclectic mix of restaurants. The architecture is predominantly Sino-Portuguese.
2. Check out Nguan Choon Tong, the oldest herb shop on the island in Thalang Road, Phuket Old Town.
3. Take selfies in Soi Romanée, enjoy local flavoured ice cream at Torry’s and shop for souvenirs.
4. Head for Amulet Alleyway in the old part of Phuket Town to find Buddhist amulets and pendants.
5. Ryn coffee house in Phuket Town serves barista slow-drip coffee and Japanese tea.
6.The Sunday Phuket Walking Street Market takes over Thalang Road in Phuket Old Town every Sunday from 4pm. Visitors can enjoy amazing street food and buy local handicrafts and gifts.
7. Visit Baan-Ar-Jor Museum an 85-year-old Sino-Portuguese mansion and mini-photo museum. The restored heritage building gives visitors a chance to experience what it was like living in the 1930’s in Phuket.
8. Toh-Daeng restaurant has a write-up in the Michelin Guide, and is located in the original dining area of the Baan-Ar-Jor mansion. Offering a unique dining experience serving traditional Thai food, all ingredients and produce are sourced from the local Mai Khao community. Be careful with young kiddies though – ours wanted to touch everything, including precious artefacts, so it was tricky to take it all in with a toddler in tow!
9. Perched on a lush tropical hillside amidst Anantara Layan Resorts’ impressive residences is Age – a modern fine dining restaurant offering stirring sea views and the freshest seafood, dry-aged wagyu and Angus beef cuts.
10. Go island hopping to James Bond Island, Phi Phi and the three beautiful islets of Ko Pha. Snorkel and explore hidden coves and soft corals. Stop off for lunch on Phi Phi Island or one of the smaller islands.
11. Enjoy an incredible omakase experience at Tree House at Anantara Mai Khao Villas. This beautiful Japanese-style restaurant is built around an ancient Banyan tree. Savour Sake paired courses of sashimi, nigiri and grilled dishes – perfect for a holiday date night.
12. Another beautiful date night option for savouring authentic Thai food is at Dee Plee. Chef Hongz seeks out the very best ingredients from every corner of Thailand. Some of her dishes are from secret recipes passed down to her through generations of Thai cooking in her family.
13. Visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre at Khao Phra Thaeo National Park and see the sweet rescue gibbons! This is also a fun day trip featuring waterfalls and rock pools to swim in.
14. Take a Muay Thai boxing class – Avani+ Fit has its own Muay Thai boxing ring for private classes or take a group class at Sumalee Boxing Gym. Kids can also get involved – it’s a great workout, and a way to burn off some energy before a relaxed afternoon poolside!
15. Take in the impressive panoramic Phuket views from the 45-metre-tall white marble Big Buddha. The statue itself is mesmerising, the kids loved watching the clouds floating by fast overhead and the people watching and cafes with incredible views are dotted along the steep climb.
16. Check out Baan Suan Pakkudthong, half an hour from Patong Beach. Here you’ll find an organic farm offering farm lunches and Portuguese dessert making classes.
17. Play golf at Laguna Golf Phuket, a stunning 18-hole golf course that offers lessons to both kids and adults. With easy accessibility by complimentary shuttle services between the surrounding hotels in Laguna Phuket, the redesigned golf course has been revitalised to reach world-class standards.
18. Karon Beach is one of the longest beaches on the island. The northern end of the beach is usually deserted, making it the perfect solitary spot.
19. Go kayaking in Phang Nga Bay with John Gray’s Sea Canoe. A truly amazing experience around the gigantic cliffs and coves.
20. Movie buffs should take a luxury catamaran boat trip to Maya Bay which shot to fame as the location of The Beach.
21. Visit Khao Lak, by car in approximately 1.5 hours from the Phuket airport, a gorgeous, coastal secret with mountains and jungle running all along the coastline. Stay at the newly opened Avani+ Khao Lak resort on Bangsak Beach.
22. During the rainy season Khao Lak’s surfing scene kicks into high gear. Memories is the place to learn to surf, rent boards and enjoy sunset cocktails.
23. A lovely activity in Khao Lak is bamboo rafting, a unique way of exploring the lush creeks. Propelled with bamboo poles these handcrafted bamboo rafts glide through the crystal-clear water and small rapids.
24. Go scuba diving in the Similan and Surin Islands. From late October to early May is the best time to see beautiful coral reefs, abundant marine life, and large pelagic species all living on and around the large granite boulders that make up the islands.
25. Enjoy a unique dawn elephant interactive experience on a Wednesday or Sunday at Phang Nga Elephant Park, an ethical elephant sanctuary.
26. Promthep Cape on the southernmost tip of the island is a high cliff area popular at sunset for its uninterrupted views of the Andaman Sea.
27. Rawai Art Village has several art galleries showcasing local artists. The artist community in Rawai is a collaborative space with painters, musicians, songwriters, actors and puppeteers living together in southern Phuket.
28. Sunday Brunch at Beach House Layan is filled with good beach vibes, flowing drinks and a delicious brunch buffet.
29. If you can sneak away for a date night (ask your hotel about in-house babysitting services!) Junkyard Theatre has put together an exciting show that features an eclectic collection of quirky musical numbers, decadently crafted sets and dinner cabaret-style acts.
30. Send your Instagram into meltdown by taking a few hours away from the pool or beach and heading to the seriously beautiful Bang Pae Waterfall.
See you at the beach, folks!