15 unmissable things to do in Phuket with kids

Last updated on November 10, 2023

Kamala Beach, Phuket

Phuket is one of the most popular places to visit in Thailand, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. In this guide, we lay out the pros and cons of a Phuket family trip and all you need to know to make the most of your time there. It’s your ultimate Phuket kids’ guide.

Also see our guide to Koh Lanta with kids (our favourite place in Thailand) and our complete guide to the best Thailand family holidays.

And if you need somewhere to stay, see our full guide to the best family resorts in Phuket.

What’s Phuket like?

Phuket is by far one of the most built-up, commercialised islands in Thailand. There are lots of beach resorts to choose from and all the major hotel chains have staked their claim in the sand. This makes it one of the easiest places to travel in Thailand. But it isn’t really the place to go for that charming, laidback vibe that epitomises other Thai islands. It’s a kind of ‘love it or hate it’ place.

The island is big at 48 x 21km (the size of Singapore!) and the different beach resorts vary from family-focused to party meccas. They also vary in beauty – some are quite polluted or with rough seas, while others are practically pristine.

Is Phuket good for families?

Because of how developed it is, there are plenty of things to do in Phuket with kids. From seeing shows and going to waterparks to interacting with elephants at ethical sanctuaries, it’s easy to stay entertained. And there are some places to get a cultural fix – such as the Big Buddha and Phuket Old Town.

Because of the sheer amount of Phuket family activities, and wealth of facilities and hotels, it makes for a pretty easy family holiday.

So if you’re looking for a hotel/resort-focussed holiday then Phuket could be a good option. It’s easy to get to and navigate, and there are plenty of beaches and hotels to choose from.

But if you’re looking for somewhere charming and laidback, we recommend Koh Lanta instead.

Where to stay in Phuket with kids

We’ve written a guide to the best places to stay in Phuket for families, including hotel recommendations for each different area. In short, we like Kamala beach the most for a family vacation. But Mai Khao beach is the most beautiful as it’s a national park and wonderfully untouched. We recommend avoiding Patong as it’s the most built up area and has a notoriously seedy reputation.

We stay at The Pe La Resort in Kamala Beach and Melia Phuket Mai Khao and we recommend both of them (see the Phuket family hotels post for full reviews).

Map of things to do in Phuket with kids

Things to do in Phuket with kids

Hit the beach

Phuket is above all a beach destination and there are 30 to choose from, all with different vibes. In our post on where to stay in Phuket, I’ve highlighted the best beaches for families, including Kamala, Nai Harn and Kata. All of these have plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from, and sun loungers to rent on the sand. Some even have play areas. It’s easily the top Phuket kids activity.

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Spend time by the pool

There are no end of family-friendly hotels and resorts in Phuket and nearly all have pools. Some even have water slides. You could easily spend whole days, lounging and playing poolside. We loved hanging out by the pool at both the Melia Mai Khao (amazing pool looking out onto the beach) and The Pe La Resort, which had a picturesque kids pool surrounded by lush gardens.

Boat trips

Koh Phi Phi

There are some great boat trips to take from Phuket, including to Koh Phi Phi and James Bond island where you can do a whole day trip snorkelling and enjoying the islands. Or you can also do sunset cruises or sightseeing boat trips in the waters around Phuket. We highly recommend a trip to Phi Phi, which is stunning albeit over developed.

Old Town Sunday Market

Every Sunday, Phuket Old Town hosts a bustling Sunday Market, selling all sorts of handicrafts and local goods. The street food on offer is amazing and it’s the perfect place to try local dishes.

The whole event has a party atmosphere with live music and street performers. And the colourful buildings of the Old Town provide the perfect backdrop. It’s one of the best things we did in Phuket. It opens around 4pm and goes on until late in the evening.

Visit Phuket Old Town

Aside from the Sunday Market, Phuket Old Town is worth visiting anyway. It has an interesting history, influenced by migrants from China, India and Portugal, and nowadays attracts hipsters, meaning lots of musicians, artists, street art, galleries, and stylish cafes, bars and restaurants.

The Sino-Portuguese architecture is gorgeous, particularly along Thalang Road. And fon’t miss the Jui Tui Taoist shrine.

You can do guided tours like the ones below from Get Your Guide. We particularly like the look of this food tour.

The Big Buddha

Photo by Syed Ahmad on Unsplash

One of Phuket’s most iconic sights and day trips is visiting the Big Buddha statue that presides over the island. The 45-metre white marble statue can be seen for miles and the views from the top are stunning. You can drive up to the bottom of the steps and climb from there, or there’s also a fairly strenuous, uphill hike you can do from There’s a temple to visit on the way down.

You need to dress respectfully to visit (sarongs are provided for free if you’re showing too much skin).

Visit Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic Phuket

Carnival Magic is an absolute feast for the senses. It’s a kind of Disney-meets-carnival-meets-Thailand kind of vibe, including a sit-down show where a parade of ever-more fantastical floats fill the world’s longest stage.

Prior to the show, guests can enjoy the Carnival Magic funfair and shopping streets, where there are all sorts of rainbow-coloured games, rides and curiosities, including the world’s largest popcorn machine and a petting zoo with a Fenix fox.

Even the toilets are an event with themed cubicles and animatronic designs, like a massive dinosaur that pops his head over when you flush. There are a few different toilet themes, but especially don’t miss the toy-lets in the funfair section.

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There’s also a massive buffet hall with food from around the world and a psychedelic peacock design.

Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, at the end there’s a huge light show to walk through with some of the world’s biggest LED displays (this place breaks records all over the place!).

Carnival Magic is a far cry from the laidback island vibes we most love in Thailand, but it’s also a fantastic experience and our kids (and us!) were completely enthralled by it. Don’t miss it if you’re in Phuket with kids.

Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary

Elephant Nature Park

Many elephant sanctuaries are far from ethical even they say they are. A true sanctuary never buys, sells, trades, exploits or profits from elephant. For example, steer clear of any places that are allowing people to ride on or bathe the elephants.

In Phuket, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is one sanctuary that is recommended as an ethical option. Here the elephants are allowed to roam freely and you can see them from around 600m, which is safe and comfortable distance for the elephants. It’s definitely one of the best and most educational Phuket family activities.

Go to a waterpark

If your kids tire of the hotel pool, Phuket has some great water parks including Andamanda, Splash Jungle and Blue Tree. They all have plenty of water slides with Andamanda and Blue Tree being the most impressive.

Upside-down house

The upside-down house in Phuket Town is a a great rainy day activity in Phuket. The inverted pink house stands on its roof and the interior is topsy turvy too, offering all sorts of fun photo opportunities. It’s a great novelty for kids and popular with Instgrammers too.

Aquaria Phuket

Aquaria Phuket Thailand houses over 25,000 fish and sea animals, including penguins, otters, sharks, jellyfish and stingrays. It’s located inside the Central Phuket Floresta mall.

It’s alos home to the AR Trick Eye Museum, an interactive 3D museum filled with optical illusions.

Have a game of mini golf

We love a game of minigolf and Phuket has a great one near Bangtao beach, Adventure Mini Golf, set amid a pretty scene of palm trees and bamboo. There are 18 holes and it takes about an hour to play. You can also buy food and drink on site. And they have boules courts too.

Brave a zipline

If you’re feeling brave, try the ziplines at Hanuman World. You can choose from various levels of adventure, including an 18-platfrom odyssey that involves 16 ziplines, 3 abseils, 5 sky bridges and a huge zipline of 400m. If the zipline isn’t your cup of tea, try the skywalk that takes you on a journey through the treetops on raised platforms.

Go-karting

There are a few places to try go-karting in Phuket including Phuket Kart Speedway and Patong’s Go-Kart Speedway. They have varying age restrictions, so contact ahead of time to make sure it’s suitable for your family.

Visit a farm

A great option for younger kids and toddlers in Phuket is Little Bukit Farm. The cute farm close to Phuket’s British International School is a place to see chickens and goats, and also purchase organic produce. Visits must be booked in advance.

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Another option is Vanich Farm where you can learn about being a farmer and also meet the animals, including sheep, miniature cows and miniature horses.

Visiting a farm is a great pick when choosing what to do in Phuket with toddlers.

How to get to and around Phuket with kids

Phuket has its own international airport, which has flights to destinations worldwide.

Once there, the island is well served by Grab or you can also book private taxis. Despite being the most basic option, tuk-tuks are often fairly expensive but can be the most convenient (and fun) option for short journey between your hotel and the beach. In Phuket, tuk-tuks are the sort that are like a converted mini truck with two rows of seats at the back.

If you’d like a stroller but don’t want to take one from home, you can hire one through Phuket Baby Rentals. We did this as we didn’t want to take one to Koh Lanta, which is where we travelled to next.

When to visit Phuket with kids

The high season in Phuket runs from December to March when you can expect mostly sunny days, minimal rainfall and calmer seas. During the wet season, things get far more stormy and the rain can be unpredictable, ranging from short showers to the consecutive rainy days.

The water at the beaches, especially on the west coast, can get quite rough during the rainy season so it’s not the best time for kids.

The hottest and driest month tends to be March, but it’s warm all year round. And the wettest month is usually August when it can be uncomfortably humid.

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Our top travel planning tips

If you’re planning a trip, be sure to have a look at all our top travel planning tips, including how to save money with the best credit cards, what to bring, and all our favourite tools and tricks.

For car rentals, we recommend booking with Discover Cars. We’ve found they always have the cheapest deals for mainstream retailers.

If you decide to book any Airbnb apartments, use this link, as it’ll give you £25 off your first trip.

We found great last-minute deals on Booking.com, getting a discount of up to 60%.

Have you ever considered a home exchange? It’s our favourite way to travel (and the most affordable).

Our favourite place to book flights is Skyscanner – again, they always have great deals.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We recommend True Traveller who offer reliable, comprehensive cover, including medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. You can buy True Traveller insurance even when you’ve left home, which is unusual for travel insurance companies.

And if you’re travelling with a baby, see our survival guide to flying with a baby and all our best travelling with a baby tips.

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