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Tips for a fun stay in Phuket

Aleney de Winter and her kids, Rafferty and Marlo, share their tips for a fun family stay in Phuket.

With its balmy evening breezes, inviting turquoise seas and patches of perfect shoreline that are suitable for every member of the clan, fun-filled Phuket provides a warm and wonderful tropical escape for families year round. And, if you can tear yourself away from those beautiful beaches, there are heaps of activities and events in and around Phuket to keep kids – and their parents – entertained. But don’t just take my word on Phuket with kids; here Rafferty (9) and Marlo (6) share the inside story on Phuket by kids and why they think it is fab for families.

Terrific temples

Phuket is home to mosques, churches and some 40 elaborate Buddhist temples. To avoid suffering temple fatigue, don’t try to pack in too many. Wat Chalong is Phuket‘s biggest and most important temple, said to shelter relics from the Buddha. Other worthy contenders are Wat Suwan Khuha with its 15-metre reclining Buddha, rock formations and a colony of bats, and Wat Suwan Khiri Khet, home to Karon Temple Market, an assortment of chickens and dogs, and naga (serpents) who wind their colourful way around the temple.

“At Wat Chalong monks blessed me and fireworks exploded to ward off bad spirits. We met a dog who had eyebrows drawn on him.” - Rafferty

“The temple in Karon Beach [Wat Suwan Khiri Khet] was really pretty and there were chickens everywhere for me to play with.” - Marlo

Image credit © Aleney de Winter

Water Worlds

If youï're beached out but still want to get wet, Splash Jungle Water Park has loads of wild water slides, thrill slides, a wave pool plus an aqua-play kid zone with tipping buckets, slides and climbing nets. Professional lifeguards are on standby to ensure a safe and good time. There's also a lazy river for folks who'd prefer to kick back. Another top spot to cool off is the Rawai Water Park, which features five play areas, a shallow play pool with slides and fountains and a shaded play zone.

"Rawai Water Park was lots of fun but I like Splash Jungle because I cuddled with my mummy on the lazy river." - Marlo

"Splash Jungle Water Park is insane fun. I kept trying to beat my top speed on the Tube Slide, which was about three seconds." - Rafferty

Image credit © Aleney de Winter

Brilliant beaches

There are few destinations on the planet that offer the abundance of picture-perfect, easy-to-access beaches that Phuket does. But they’re not all created equal when it comes to kids. Along with great swimming, Karon Beach and Kata Beach both offer an awesome selection of water sport options, including sea kayaking, SUPing and kite surfing. Rawai Beach’s turquoise water and white sand make it a blissful place for swimming, but as a working beach the kids will also get to see the local fishermen tending to their nets and boats. And a visit to Rawai Beach’s Sea Gypsies Fish Market for super fresh seafood is a must.

“I liked Rawai Beach because the water was super blue and warm. Plus there are loads of cool long-tail boats that you can hire.” - Rafferty

“The beaches were so nice. Some of them didn’t have a lot of people and the sunsets were really orange. I loved doing cartwheels.” - Marlo

Image credit © Aleney de Winter

Day tripping

Take a day trip to explore Phang Nga Bay’s caves, hidden lagoons and James Bond Island by speedboat or sea kayak. Head to Koh Phi Phi and the blue water beauty of Maya Bay. If the idea of a long boat ride puts you off, Khai Nok is just off the coast or, from Rawai Beach, hire a long-tail boat to snorkel the waters of Coral Island and Racha Island.

"Snorkelling at Koh Phi Phi is the best. The water was so clear that I could see gazillions of fish all around me." - Rafferty

"I liked collecting treasures on Koh Khai Nok and there were so many fish in the water that kept nibbling my legs." - Marlo

Fun festivals

The people of Phuket love a party with many festivals throughout the year, but the biggest of them all is Songkran. Running from 13 to 15 April, the New Year festival is the country's most important (and soggiest) holiday and, though it comes from gentle Buddhist beginnings, it has morphed into a nationwide, take-no-prisoners water fight. But things can get a little wild for kids on the tourist-packed beaches, so we suggest opting for safe in-hotel celebrations or to join the melee in Phuket Old Town, where an exuberant army of locals - all armed with neon water pistols and buckets of iced water - happily soak passers-by.

“I loved visiting the temple with all the monks, but the best thing was throwing ice water on my mum and hearing her scream.” - Marlo

“I always knew that Songkran was an epic water fight, and it is so much fun throwing water all over everyone, but what I didn’t know until we visited was that it had a deep-rooted spiritual meaning, which was just as cool.” - Rafferty

Image credit © Aleney de Winter

This article appeared in volume 52 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

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