Phuket is Thailand’s largest island just slightly smaller than Singapore. It’s one of Thailand’s many islands that is part rainforest and somewhat mountainous, located in the Andaman Sea.
Phuket is by far the most touristy of all the Thai islands, which means there is a lot to do. You can do pretty much anything you want here. I know many travel writers that did not love Phuket, but we had a great time. If you are traveling with kids, it’s sometimes best and easiest to stick to the touristy places.
5 Days in Phuket
Day 1: Street Food and Beaches
Check into your hotel, I personally recommend staying at Novotel Karon Beach. I have a few other recommendations below. Once you are settled in go enjoy the pool or hit Karon beach across the street.
Karon Beach – Karon beach is the second longest beach in Phuket. It is not near as lively as Patong beach or as quiet as Surin beach. This beach is a perfect place to play a game of beach volleyball with other tourists or snorkel with the kids.
Street Food Tour – This evening for dinner, take the Phuket Street Food Tour. During the Phuket Street food tour one of the stops is a local market in a parking lot. All of the foods there are likely to be unidentifiable, but the whole family will have to be brave and taste the foods together. Suggested things to try are Kao Kriab Pak Mor (a gooey purple dumpling with a sweet peanut filling), a tasty little Kanom Krok (coconut pancake) or Khanom Buang (a dynamite, crunchy Thai crepe with a creamy filling). Plus, the tour takes you to Old Town.
Day 2: Cooking and Shopping
Cooking Class – Learn to cook an authentic Thai meal. One of the neatest ways to get kids to try new foods is to have them cook the food themselves! Phuket has several cooking classes that are kid-friendly if needed. The Phuket Thai Cooking Academy is a good one for kids and especially convenient for families since they provide transportation. Before the class begins, they take you to a local market where everyone shops for the ingredients they’ll be using in their Thai dishes. Kids will be amused by the seafood in the wet market. Some of the fish and squids are so fresh they are still wiggling around. Once you arrive at the school, kids and parents will learn food carving in addition to making multiple dishes. Once everything is prepared, you all get to enjoy lunch or dinner together as a family.
Shopping – Surprisingly, the shopping in Phuket is quite good. There are several places to shop, including the mall at Patong Beach, Jang Ceylon.
Day 3: Elephants and Beaches
Swim with Elephants – All over Thailand there will be options for encountering elephants. You can take an elephant jungle trek, go give one a bath at a sanctuary or swim with elephants in Phuket. This is an opportunity for a quick swim with two young elephants. This was one of the most incredible experiences the kids and I have ever had and I highly recommend it. The whole experience lasts less than 15 minutes, but still worth it.
Patong Beach – Patong Beach is somewhat hectic because there is so much going on. Here you can swim, jet ski, shop, dine and more. If you are looking for a night out, Patong’s nightlife is awesome. The main street here, Bangla Road, does turn into a full-on party street after 10 P.M. Keep kids away after 9:30 PM otherwise they will get an eyeful. Some fun party spots are Illuzion, Aussie Bar and Sole Mio.
Day 4: Phi Phi Island Day Trip
Day Trip to Phi Phi Island – One of the most famous islands near Phuket is Ko Phi Phi Island, which is accessible only by boat. There are many companies that can take you out there. One way is by speed boat with My Phuket Tours. It’s a long way out there even on a speed boat, which is why I recommend taking this type of transportation. Plus, sitting up front in the speed boat can be extremely fun and exciting for youngsters as they get bounced all around. Once on Phi Phi Island, you can visit the famous beach where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed The Beach. The water is turquoise, and the beach is hemmed in by cliffs. It is quite stunning. The snorkeling is excellent in many spots around Phi Phi Island. Another beach to visit is Monkey Beach. Here, monkeys are hanging around waiting for tourist to feed them. They are so eager for the food, the monkeys sometimes board the boats to get to it. Kids will delight in feeding them and watching them jump around. If you are part of a tour they will take you by here. They will also take you to bamboo beach. From what I observed it doesn’t matter who you take the tour with you make all the same exact stops.
Day 5: Massage and Beach Day
Thai Massage – There’s nothing quite like a Thai Massage and you have to get one before you leave. There are lots of places that offer them, including every hotel.
Beach Day – It’s your last day at the beach, so enjoy it. There is an abundance of beaches to choose from and you can’t go wrong hanging out at any of them.
- Kata Noi – This beach is found on the west part of the island just south of Karon. This is a popular place for surfing. They have surf lessons for beginners.
- Laem Phromthep – This is considered one of the best places on the island to catch the sunset.
- Surin Beach –
- Tri Trang Beach – Not far from popular Patong Beach is Tri Trang Beach. Often times there are hardly any people here. Families can spread out, and the kids can roam. Because there are so few people, it is easier to keep an eye on your kids here. There are a few food options, and the hotels along the beach have bathrooms. The way we accessed this beach was by stairs. If stairs are an issue, skip this beach, because it’s a lot of stairs.
More Fun Things to do in Phuket
- Tiger Kingdom
- 6 Things to do in Phuket with kids
- Phuket FantaSea a 60 acre theme park
- Visit Big Buddha a massive Buddha statue that can be seen from many places on the island.
- Scuba dive at Similan Islands
- Rock Climb at Railay
- Go sea kayaking around rock formations.
- Phuket Gibbon Rehbilitation Project
- Khao Phra Thaew Royal Wildlife and Forest Reserve
- Take a Thai Boxing lesson
Other Places to Stay in Phuket
Thailand Travel Tips
If you are coming from the United States, you do not need a Visa.
T-Mobile works great in Thailand.
I do not recommend using a flat iron or a curling iron.
There are plenty of ATMs in the Phuket International Airport. I suggest pulling some money out before leaving the airport.
Have your hotel arrange any taxi or other transportation you may need to avoid getting over charged.
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a fan of Allianz Travel insurance, because of the variety of options. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Unfortunately, Noah had a seizure while we were out at Phi Phi island. Thankfully, I had gotten coverage that included airlift. So, needless I always recommend getting some sort of coverage. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.
If you are looking for a car rental I recommend getting the car at the airport. You can get a car rental for super cheap in Phuket.