Family Holiday to Koh Samui
Koh Samui is really a wonderful place for families to visit. Travelling with children can be a real adventure in more ways than one. Koh Samui has plenty of activities to keep all ages of children entertained, from butterfly gardens to ziplining. Of course, there is ample opportunity for the whole family to unwind too. You'll find some of the most idyllic beaches around.
Locals are very friendly and families will receive a warm Thai welcome, with children showered with attention. In this guide we've rounded up our family friendly highlights, plus practical hints and tips to help you prepare and make sure your holiday runs smoothly.
Before you go:
Many of our villas are family friendly properties so have a browse through our website www.thailandretreats.com and give us a call if you would like to chat through any concerns.
Many of the family friendly properties come with facilities that will leave your children speechless, and you! From indoor cinemas to tennis courts, to fully equipped games rooms, amazing swimming pools and even a basket ball court and Muay Thai boxing ring. Add to the mix a range of optional services that make this really feel like a relaxing retreat - such as full time chef, nanny, housekeeper and driver.
You can also be a reassured that if a villa doesn't fit our strict approval criteria, it simply won't be included on our site.
Keep in mind that Koh Samui can reach really high temperatures, so before you go you will need to prepare for this. We would recommend bringing your own sunscreen, although you will be able to get hold of it on the island if necessary, there is a Tesco and a Boots.
For younger children it would be a good idea to include an all in one sunscreen suit or similar. You'll also need to pack hats and it's a good idea to keep children in the shade when possible.
Koh Samui is a developed island now and there will be access to English speaking Doctors and hospitals on the island. You may need to pack a small first aid kit as you would for any holiday with children. Be sure to include mosquito repellent.
Visit your GP at least 6-8 weeks before you travel so you can discuss any immunizations that may need to be updated. Should your children need to visit a doctor whilst on vacation the villa managment will be able to assist you with contact information. There are 3 main hospitals on Koh Samui and emergency numbers are available.
In terms of taking a stroller or pushchair, you will find areas in which the pavement isn't particularly developed and it is difficult to push. If you are staying in a villa it is a good idea to take one, but may be worth taking a baby carrier too.
Also, pack a torch as some areas aren't well lit late in the evening but many of the luxury villas provide a torch as standard.
Which beaches are family friendly?
One of the main reasons to visit Thailand are the simply stunning beaches, with postcard perfect white sand and clear turquoise water. Some beaches are more child friendly than others.
We've summed up our thoughts below, although you will have your own preferences.
It is very easy to get around the island and checking out each of the beaches until you decide on the best, could be a fun way to spend your holiday.
It's important to note that no beaches are completely private in Koh Samui -- if you can reach it, you can use it.
Choeng Mon beach is very family friendly. It tends to be quieter than the busier and lively Chaweng, but still within easy reach of a small high street shopping village. It's also just a short distance from the airport. The sand is perfect for making some awesome castles. You'll also find several child-friendly beach dining options.
Lipa Noi beach is a secluded and remote beach on the south west side of the island and is good for all year round swimming. This area is home to a number of luxury villas and resorts that are tucked away. It is within easy reach of Angthong National Marine Park by speedboat. The sunsets you'll see from this beach are well worth hanging around for.
Bophut beach is one of the largest beaches on the island. It is about half an hour to walk from one end to the other, though you can't always do this when the tide is in. The sand is grittier here, but it is a convenient location for families with easy access to the pedestrian Fisherman's Village and the new beachfront shopping experience The Wharf with boutique shops, eateries and entertainment.
Chaweng Beach is incredibly lively and a central point for those on the backpacker trail. It may not be suitable for a place to stay for a family with young children. However, it is still good for a visit as lots to see and do.
There are several watersports activities, shopping, markets and what is still a stunning beach with really soft sand and shallow safe water.
Maenam Beach is one of the quieter beaches, it is low key and the beach isn't overcrowded.
An opportunity to grab some peace and tranquility, you'll also find there are other families on the beach and a chance for children to make new friends. There are beautiful views over to the island of Koh Phangan. It is well situated with just a short drive to some of the other popular resorts.
Things to do in Koh Samui
If the children have tired of playing in the pool and chilling on the beach it could be time for something new. There is plenty to discover on the island - whatever the age of your children. Here are some of our top picks, loved by our customers and us:
Take a Tour of the island
Whether you decide to hire a car or relax and hire a driver, a tour of the island can be amazing for all ages.
Stop off and see secret beach coves, giggle at the grandfather rock, see which explorer can find Uncle Nim's magic garden and who is first to get in the waterfall.
(If you have particularly young children, ask about the walking distances before you visit certain attractions like the Na Muang Waterfall)
Angthong National Marine Park
This National park has over 40 islands spread over 97 square miles in the Gulf of Thailand.
The islands can be reached by speedboat on a tour from Koh Samui. Here you will have the opportunity to sightsee, go snorkeling or scuba diving and kayaking.
If you wish to introduce your children to some local culture it is a good idea to visit a temple. Visitors are asked to dress politely -- shirts or scarves that cover the shoulders and long shorts, trousers or skirts. Some of the most popular to visit include:
Big Buddha Temple -- an impressive 12 metre seated golden Buddha statue. Buddhist devotees come daily to make offerings of fruit, flowers and light at the base of the statue and visitors are welcome to observe.
Hin Lad Waterfall Temple -- a small peaceful temple on the Hin Lad Waterfall trail. A hike up to the waterfall could take a good thirty minutes so bring comfortable shoes.
Wat Plai Laem -- you will see the Guanyin, a towering white 18 arm statue of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. Visitors here who make a donation to the temple will receive a bag of food to feed the fish in the surrounding water.
For the adventurous thrill seekers try ziplining through the tree tops with views over the island. There are three operators in Koh Samui.
For younger children a trip to the Butterfly Farm is a good choice. It is not going to keep you entertained for a whole day, but is more a couple of hours stop off on a tour of the island. It is set in an enclosed tropical park containing hundreds of butterflies and other insects.
The Yogarden is an amazing and serene little garden and is a haven for adults and children. They offer yoga and pilates classes for adults and children and a café with delicious healthy food, fresh juices and shakes. Bonnie who heself has two children Indi and Max and will make you welcome. This is somewhere different to enjoy and although compact a is great place for the family to really relax.
The Kids list
Sometimes kids just love to have fun doing kids stuff. Whilst the following activities are not unique to Koh Samui, you know they will be on the kids list!
Bowling & Cinema
If you have a teenager or a tween going on teen, you'll know they sometimes just want to do their own thing. Tesco-Lotus offers a large food court with a good choice of both Thai and international menus, a cinema, ten-pin bowling, restaurants, cafes, clothing stores and a children's play area.The Central Festival Mall in Chaweng also has a cinema and a bowling alley close by.
Indoor Play and Entertainment.
The Central Festival Shopping Mall in the centre of Chaweng has a young kiddies play area on the ground floor including a sandpit and plenty for the older children on the upper floor with a Pirates of the Caribean games arcade and a ghosts scare room onthe upper floor of the mall..
Football Golf and Mini Golf
Football golf is an 18-hole small golf course that you make your way around with a football. A unique, but popular Koh Samui sport for all ages. The kids just seem to love it. There are 3 themed mini golf courses on Koh Samui and fun for all the family
The island is home to 2 waterparks at the time of writing and believe a 3rd one is in the pipeline.
The Coco Splash Waterpark located in Lamai in the south of the island is a great day out for all the family with swimming pools, different size waterslides and an inflatable castle. The park has recently expanded to include a bungee trampoline, an airbag jump at different levels, an adventure zone with mini go karts and tree to tree fund for 2 age groups (min 3 years).
The more recently opened 'Pink Elephant' Samui Waterpark is located in Maenam in the north of the island and includes various slides as well as a wave pool and a lazy river. For the smaller kiddes there is a shallow 'Kiddies Lagoon'.
Getting around the island
It is possible for Thailand Retreats to organize a rental car for you or a driver for tours of the island or to act as a taxi.
If you are making your own arrangements, there are some things you should be aware of.
Always check and agree the price before getting in a taxi. 'Songathews' are the local buses - you might be happy to ride these with your teenagers, but they might not be safe with younger children, as many are open backed or have open sides and no seat restraints.
If walking, be aware that some areas of the island are pedestrianised, but in certain places it may be difficult to use a pushchair or buggy as pavements are not present across the entire island.
There are several family friendly options for eating out across the island.
At many of our villas you can opt to use the services of an on site chef who will make mouthwatering meals of your request and even a separate children's tea time if required. Most of our chefs will cater to a Thai or Western menu of your choosing.
There are a range of traditional Thai dishes that will appeal to children such as 'Pad Thai', a stir-fried rice noodle dish and 'Kaow Pad Gai', a chicken fried rice dish. Many of the traditional dishes are cooked with chilli and can be very spicy. Peanuts are also very prevalent in traditional Thai cooking.
When eating out there are a number of family friendly restaurants to choose from. It will be easy to ensure your children hit their five a day quota with the abundance of exotic fruits available -- pineapple, coconut, mango and papaya. Fruit is available in bags straight from sellers on the beach and you can also purchase some mouthwatering delicious juices and milkshakes from the beach-side restaurants.
Pizza or Pasta anyone? If you are looking for some favourites from home, they can be found very easily across the island and eating out really shouldn't be a problem. The Central Festival shopping mall in Chaweng has a large choice of quality restaurants including Japanese cuisine as well as the usual favourites of KFC Chicken,Burger King, Macdonalds, Starbucks and Dinkin Doughnuts close by.
If you are travelling with very young children it can be reassuring to know that there are several Tesco Lotus supermarkets on the island as well as a Boots pharmacies. It is possible to get home brand baby food from these stores and formula milk. You can also stock up with other goodies if you have a fussy eater.
Many of the managments of the villas offer babysitting services at a small additional fee. Daily Nanny Services are available on Koh Samui and we suggest you contact ourseves for our recommendations before your date of travel.
Thai locals are very polite and there is a certain etiquette to be aware of when visiting. Follow the below and their won't be any issues:
Thai people find it offensive to have their heads touched, so do not be tempted to do so.
Don't be rude. Thai people are polite by nature and will take offence if you are rude. Be aware that you could be rude unintentionally! Do not touch things with your feet, put your feet on seats or point with your finger. Thai's prefer if you gesture rather than point.
You don't need to speak Thai to get around, but it would be lovely if you did learn some greetings and phrases and taught your children too.
Please respect dress codes. Bikinis are fine for the beach, but cover up in restaurants and follow the code of dress for temples as described above.
Topless sunbathing is not tolerated, which shouldn't be a problem for most families!
If you have any further questions about taking children to Thailand please contact us.