Thailands beautiful Koh Samui offers a wide range of activities as well as a growing number of great kid-friendly resorts, making it a great destination for all the family, writes Deborah Dickson-Smith.
With naturally welcoming locals who love children and plenty of safe swimming beaches, Koh Samui is an obvious choice for families looking for a holiday in a tropical wonderland of sand, sea, sun and fun.
On Samui you can walk out of your resort room, stroll across the white sandy beach, and swim or snorkel in the crystal clear waters in front of you. But for the best marine adventure going, hop in a speedboat with the kids and head for the Ang Thong National Marine Park, about an hour south of Samui. There are several companies operating tours from Samui for a price that won’t break the budget.
In this beautiful archipelago you’ll find unspoiled beaches ... as well as caves and enough mystery and adventure for the kids to feel like they’re in their own episode of Survivor.
In this beautiful archipelago you’ll find unspoiled beaches, an inland lake known as the Emerald Lake, as well as caves and enough mystery and adventure for the kids to feel like they’re in their own episode of Survivor. Older kids can also go kayaking and the colourful marine life provides great snorkeling opportunities.
Head in the opposite direction for a great 2km jungle hike that starts from the temple in Hin Lad just south of Na Thon (Samui’s main town) on the island’s northwest. The jungle path follows a small river with plenty of rock pools and waterfalls to dip into and further up the mountain there are larger pools ideal for swimming or paddling.
If your kids, like mine, are budding zookeepers, it’s worth checking out some of the fantastic animal attractions on offer in Koh Samui. There are plenty to choose from, and offerings are as diverse as the animals they exhibit, including a butterfly gardens, crocodile farms, snake farms, monkey shows, and of course, the ever popular elephant camps.
All of the attractions are well signposted and easy to reach by car, taxi or scooter, and many are relatively close together. There are also a number of operators that will take you on a Samui safari to visit multiple attractions - meaning you can get up close to elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and even tigers all in one day.
Paradise Farm Park, in the centre of Samui, is one of the island’s newest attractions, and covers some 20 acres inhabited by plenty of kid-friendly animals including deer, ponies, birds, emus and goats.
If it’s those more exotic species you’re after, the elephant camps are your best bet. You can be entertained by these gentle giants playing football and musical instruments, and if you want to get even closer to nature, try your hand at elephant trekking through the interior jungle. The elephant camp at Namuang Safari Park is one of the best places to start.
Monkeys are traditionally used in Thailand to help farm coconuts, climbing the trees to pick the ripe fruit, and you can see how dexterous these creatures are at a monkey show in the Monkey Theatre near Bophut.
If your children would rather not go underwater to see marine life, take them to the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo. The aquarium is home to sharks, turtles, fish and coral, which you can watch from a glass tunnel. The venue’s real highlight is its daily Bengal tiger show, however.
Not far from the mini-golf course in Choeng Mon you can play a new hybrid game, called football-golf. You
tee-off with your foot and the aim of the game is to get the football round a difficult obstacle course.
If you want to get messier, Samui Paintball can be found near the Samui International Hospital in Chaweng. Also close by is Samui Go-Kart with a great racing course.
For younger kids in need of a jumping castle, the family-friendly restaurant Babylon, located in Bang Por in the north between Maenam Beach and Nathon has plenty, as well as an adventure park with slides and swings.
With so much to see and do it’s no surprise Samui is becoming increasingly popular with Australian families.
There's even more on offer at www.samuitourism.info.