Are you thinking of taking the family to Thailand? In this article we cover the beautiful island of Koh Samui, featuring parent approved beaches, activities, accommodation and eats on the island. Check out this overview of child friendly Koh Samui for inspiration, with top tips from real parents, to show you how to navigate the island smoothly.
Beautiful beaches of Koh Samui
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 children friendly than others. It’s important to note that no beaches are completely private in Koh Samui – if you can reach it, you can use it. Here are a few picks of those we have discovered:
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 a short distance from the airport. The sand is perfect for making sand castles. You’ll also find several child-friendly beach dining options.
This is a secluded and remote beach on the south west side of the island. This area is home to a number of luxury villas and resorts that are tucked away. It is within easy reach of Ang Thong National Marine Park by speedboat. The sunsets you’ll see from this beach are well worth hanging around for.
This 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 pedestrians Fisherman’s Village.
Chaweng 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 still a stunning beach with really soft sand and shallow safe water.
Little eats and exotic treats
Would you like a fried cockroach poppet? Maybe your teenager will be adventurous enough to try one of the fried creatures on offer in the Thai markets, but this level of experimental bravery isn’t compulsory. 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. 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 mouthwateringly delicious juices and milkshakes from the beachside restaurants.
Many of the traditional dishes are cooked with chilli and can be very spicy. Peanuts are also very prevalent in traditional Thai cooking. If you are looking for some Western alternatives, they can be found in most restaurants. It seems that spaghetti and pomodoro sauce is a favourite at home and in Thailand!
In Samui you are not too far from the comforts of home, 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 pharmacy. 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.
Opportunities to eat out as a family are plentiful. Here are some tips from parents:
Rose, mum of Teddy 4 and Lottie, aged 8:
“Our children loved eating fruit in a bag on the beach and milkshakes at lunchtime, then. In the evening we had dinner on the beach at Fisherman’s Village and spent the evening people watching in the market. The children really enjoyed it.”
Kerry, mum of Maya aged 4
“Bread is hard to find on Samui, but we found Maya loved filling up on croissants and pastries from the bakery at Anantara Bophut. We also had a great experience at Treetops restaurant on the branches of a tree.”
Louise, mum of teenagers Jack and Rosie:
“We always stay in a villa when we visit, that has a wonderful Thai chef onsite. You simply tell them what you would like to eat, whether western or Thai and they’ll make it for you.”
Impress them (and wear them out)
Many resorts and villas have swimming pools, which are a necessity to keep children entertained and cool them down in the heat. When you are ready to try something new, there is plenty more to discover around the island. A top tip from mum Rosie is to hire a driver to give you a tour of the island. This is likely to be priced similarly to tours on the island. On Rosie’s trip with children aged 4 and 8 she agreed in advance where she wanted to go. They visited the Big Buddha, a temple, the Butterfly farm and also the Na Muang Waterfall.
Rosie says “The kids really enjoyed the tour of the island, they loved seeing the elephants at the side of the road, but we made the decision not to ride them. One of their favourite things to do was football golf!”
Football golf is an 18-hole small golf course that you go around with a football. A unique, but popular Koh Samui sport for all ages. Those with older children and adventurous types could try canopy walking and zip lining through the jungle or going on a hunt for Uncle Nim’s Magic Garden. Half the fun is finding the magic garden!
Louise and Martin have travelled to Samui with their teenage children several times and favourite activities include kayaking in the crystal clear waters and snorkelling.
Louise says “Jack and Rosie loved hopping on a speedboat to get to the Ang Thong National Marine Park. We managed to snorkel, go kayaking and walk to a beautiful lagoon, all in one day. Amazing.”
Comfy Sleeps on Koh Samui
There are several family friendly hotels on Koh Samui. Another option is to rent a private villa. This can be the perfect option for a family with children. Check out the Paradise Island Estate – a collection of three luxury villas with their own private pool and just a short stroll to Choeng Mon beach.
About the Author: Maggie Saout first visited Koh Samui in Thailand with her family over 10 years ago and has returned every year since. Her son now lives in Koh Samui with his own family. Together they own and run Thailand Retreats – a collection of luxury villas to rent across the island of Koh Samui.
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