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5 weeks in Phuket area with a toddler ... what would you do? Help appreciated :)

5 weeks in Phuket area with a toddler ... what would you do? Help appreciated :)

Jun 25th, 2019, 03:51 AM
  #1  
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5 weeks in Phuket area with a toddler ... what would you do? Help appreciated :)

Hi, we are planning a 5 week trip to the Phuket area in Jan / Feb 2020 and would love some advice on places to stay and things to do suitable to do with a 3yr old.
(I'm aware we would need a Tourist Visa to stay over 30 days)

For the 5 weeks around Phuket, this was my initial plan / thoughts -

3/4 days in Phuket,
3/4 days at Khao Sok National Park
2 weeks in Khao Lak
2 weeks in Koh Lanta.

Would love to know if people think this is a decent plan.

Wasn't sure if 2 weeks is too long for Khao Lak / Koh Lanta but we could easily split it to have a week in a different part of the island / area or a different resort etc.

So would really appreciate any ideas or suggestions for places to stay / things to do in Khao Lak / Koh Lanta.
Kantiang Bay is definitely on our list - possibly a week here and a week somewhere else in Koh Lanta?

Our budget is mid range and we're looking for somewhere relaxed and clean with nice size rooms.
Our preference location wise would be a nice safe beach for swimming with our little one, ideally not too isolated so with somewhere you can walk too.

Also would love to hear if people think, given the time we have, if Ko Yao Yai / Koh Yao Noi or Phi Phi are worth a visit?
Other options we could also consider is stopping in Krabi or travelling further south down to the Trang Islands.
We don't want to travel around too much with a toddler but I think we have enough time to stay at 4/5 places over the 5 weeks without it getting too hectic.

Thanking anyone who replies in advance!
Jx
jay7777777 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 09:04 AM
  #2  
 
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I do not think that PhiPhi is worth a visit (but that is because the island has been destroyed by over tourism). We had a recent report here from someone who. spent a fair amount of time at Ko Yao Yai / Koh Yao Noi. The search function doesn't work very well, but you could likely find it by choosing Thailand from the drop down menu.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 25th, 2019, 11:14 AM
  #3  
 
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Personally, I think two weeks is too long in any single resort. If you happen not to like it for whatever reason, or have problems, it is a long time to spent in a place you are not happy with.

Travelfish has some good and reasonably current info on the Thai islands @ https://www.travelfish.org/country/thailand

With a three year old to keep happy and occupied, I would say it is just as much about the hotels you choose as where they are located. I would start with something like booking.com and spend some time on there applying the filters to select hotels and read the reviews. Once you are familiar with the site it has some really helpful tools which can speed the process.

In terms of location. Phuket is mostly about the big ( and often expensive) resorts. Khao Lak was a lot busier 5/years ago when we last visited just prior to the tsunami. It seemed to cater more for families but I have heard that it has become a favourite of Chinese tour groups and all that that implies. Some very nice beaches though.

Ko Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi are much quieter places and I would happily return there but I am not sure that they are geared up for families if that is important to you.

3-4 days in Khao Sok would just about the right amount of time. Lots of activities for all ages, jungle walks, boat rides on the lake, rivers etc. Easily reached from Khao Lak.

With the amount of time you have to play with, I would consider spending some of it in say Malaysia. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about visas etc. And it is pretty straightforward and cheap to get from Phuket to say Langkawi or Penang or both.
crellston is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 05:15 AM
  #4  
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Hi Crellston, thank you so much for your reply and suggestions, really useful and helpful and I think you are spot on with everything you say.

I have been doing some other research and posted on some other forums and it does seem that 2 weeks is far too long to spend in Khao Lak, in fact not sure its worth a trip at all or maybe just for a few days.

I will spend some time looking at Booking.com and other websites and check out the filters / facilities / reviews as you suggest. It looks like the most family friendly hotels will be in the Phuket area but we do want to check out some other areas and not spend too long there. Maybe we get out of the centre of Phuket and spend some time in Karon Beach or Kamala Beach nearby, have you been to either of these?

You are also not the first person to suggest we should head south and check out Malaysia / Langkawi or Penang island which given the time we have does seem like a good idea plus it sorts out our Visa issue too. Plus none of us have been to Malaysia before!
Have you been? Which out of Penang / Langkawi would you recommend?

Sounds like its around a 3hr ferry from Phuket, not sure if we can manage this with a little one but if not I guess we can fly Phuket to KL and then onto either Penang or Langkawi from there. I've never been to KL but I imagine it would be interesting and maybe worth spending a couple of days there too.

Thanks again for your time and thoughts.
J x
jay7777777 is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 05:49 AM
  #5  
 
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You are very welcome J.

I have been all over Phuket but it was many years ago now so any comment of mine would be a little redundant and way out of date. Hopefully, others here who have been more recently will be able to comment. You may get more responses on the Tripadvisor forums which are a lot more active than Fodors these days.

As far as Malaysia is concerned, Georgetown, the main town on Penang island is a quaint old colonial town. Very interesting but very crowded, loads to see some of which I covered in our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/malaysia/ . There are a number of resorts strung out along Batu Ferringhi beach but the beaches are not great, neither is the water quality.

Langkawi is a lot quieter and has some amazing hotels. we got married at The Datai when it opened 20 odd years ago. the beaches are amazing. We returned 4/5 years ago and whilst it was busier, it was much less developed than Phuket and, I suspect, a lot cheaper.

The last time there we got the ferry from Koh Libong, a small island, south of Phuket. I can’t recall how long it took, but it was quite a pleasant trip. An alternative to flying might be to take a look at going by train - may be a bit long winded but the three year old might think it fun! some info on trains and ferries here https://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm#southbound-times

Malaysia is a pretty child friendly country. more multi cultural than Thailand, it has some incredible and varied food - Malay, Chinese, Indian and western. Incredible value.

I like Kuala Lumpur and have visited many times but I think I am in a minority on this forum. Great for shopping, good value hotels (equivalent hotels there tend to be cheaper than most SE Asian cities)
crellston is offline  
Jun 26th, 2019, 10:48 PM
  #6  
 
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Posts: 152
Originally Posted by jay7777777 View Post
Hi Crellston, thank you so much for your reply and suggestions, really useful and helpful and I think you are spot on with everything you say.

I have been doing some other research and posted on some other forums and it does seem that 2 weeks is far too long to spend in Khao Lak, in fact not sure its worth a trip at all or maybe just for a few days.

I will spend some time looking at Booking.com and other websites and check out the filters / facilities / reviews as you suggest. It looks like the most family friendly hotels will be in the Phuket area but we do want to check out some other areas and not spend too long there. Maybe we get out of the centre of Phuket and spend some time in Karon Beach or Kamala Beach nearby, have you been to either of these?

You are also not the first person to suggest we should head south and check out Malaysia / Langkawi or Penang island which given the time we have does seem like a good idea plus it sorts out our Visa issue too. Plus none of us have been to Malaysia before!
Have you been? Which out of Penang / Langkawi would you recommend?

Sounds like its around a 3hr ferry from Phuket, not sure if we can manage this with a little one but if not I guess we can fly Phuket to KL and then onto either Penang or Langkawi from there. I've never been to KL but I imagine it would be interesting and maybe worth spending a couple of days there too.

Thanks again for your time and thoughts.
J x
The centre of Phuket has nothing, you want the west coast beaches from Nai Thon down to Nai Harn. Kamala is ok but it is nicer further north. Avoid Patong and going south Kata is better than Karon. Nai Harn was voted best beach and the Nai Harn hotel is very nice and next to the beach. Other option is Cape Panwa which is quieter but the beaches are not so good.

You can fly direct from Phuket to Penang with Firefly or Air Asia then get a flight or transport up to Langkawi. From there fly to KL which is a nice clean city but not a lot to see or perhaps head down to Singapore which is far more interesting.

Last edited by Cyansiam; Jun 26th, 2019 at 10:59 PM.
Cyansiam is offline  
Jun 27th, 2019, 03:05 AM
  #7  
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Thank you Cyansiam, that is really useful.

I will look into Nai Harn and the Nai Harn hotel. We definitely want to avoid Patong so the west coast beaches of Phuket do look the best bet for us.

Thanks to all the great advice I've had we are also definitely thinking about heading to Malaysia now, as it also sorts our our Visa issue.
Langkawi looks like the best family friendly island with nice beaches and accommodation. We looked at Penang and as interesting as it looks we weren't sure if it would be as good an option as Langkawi with a toddler - what do you reckon?

We're keen to spend a day or 2 in KL as well, seems worth it if we are travelling through.

Any other help or suggestions for place s to visit / stay gratefully received!

Many thanks all
J
jay7777777 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2019, 04:45 AM
  #8  
 
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Lets put this way, we have a 3 year old grandson and I would much prefer to take him to Langkawi than Penang. Penang is very nice but but very crowded and is more of an adults location - JMO

With a couple of days in KL I would splash out on a luxury hotel there . Prices are very reasonable compared with the rest of Asia. Somewhere around KLCCC close to the Petronas Towers - Traders or Mandarin Oriental are good options. Alternatively close to Bukit Bintang - Shangri la, JW Marriot or similar. There are loads to choose from.

if you did like the idea of including Penang, there is a fast ferry between Penang and Langkawi.
crellston is offline  
Jun 28th, 2019, 10:13 PM
  #9  
 
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For Phuket - I would look at Angsana and Outrigger at Laguna/Layan area, the Angsana definitely has sun beds etc on the beach and both are family orientated hotels. The area is really good with lots of restaurants, markets and shops and only 20 mins from airport. The Meridien just south of Patong is also a good family hotel with its own beach but you have to get transport to go anywhere.

Langkawi - have not been for a long time and we stopped at The Datai which is great but we were a captive audience. Think there is a nice St Regis there and some large hotels on the beach nearer the town. My issue is having to take 2 flights to get there or a long car ride, did not know about the ferry!

I think I would choose Penang so Batu Ferringhi beach would be the best option, lots of families go there, beach is not so good but clean, no sun beds on it. Hotels - Golden Sands or Rasa Sayang...both family orientated. They set up street stalls most nights and there are a restaurants and a great small hawker centre, plus you can go into Georgetown for sightseeing etc.

KL - Mandarin Oriental is possibly the best hotel, perfect location (great club lounge), Traders good also but rooftop pool and restaurant was not good. There is also a new Four Seasons close to Petronas. Shangri La is a good but further out so if you want to be close to the Pavilion Mall then Ritz Carlton (small pool area and bad service last time) or J W Marriott. FYI you can walk traffic free undercover from Petronas to Pavilions.

Singapore - MO or Shangri La which has a nice pool area but there are loads of hotels to choose from - those two cover both areas.
Cyansiam is offline  
Jul 1st, 2019, 06:24 AM
  #10  
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Thank you Cyansiam, all that info is really useful.
We really appreciate you listing the different areas and suggesting some places to stay, we will look into all of those.

We're definitely going to Phuket / Langkawi, still trying to decide on whether to go to Penang or KL.

Penang looks really interesting culturally & historically, would definitely like to go if we didn't have a little one in tow, just not sure if the beaches are not so nice here if its worth the trip.

Equally, with KL and Singapore - are they just huge sprawling Asian cities?
We didn't love Bangkok, again not sure if it would be fun with a toddler in such a huge city or not.

Would love to hear your thoughts if you have time.

Thanks again for all your excellent advice.
Jx
jay7777777 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2019, 12:17 PM
  #11  
 
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I'm not fond of KL, though I have stayed there several times and had good food and lovely accommodations. I'd go from Phuket to Penang and spend some time in Georgetown, skip KL and go right to Singapore. Singapore sore expensive than most other cities in Asia. It is very clean and very organized. There are a number of things to interest a small child (their world-famous zoo, the bird park, and such). Lovely hotels, but pricier than elsewhere in SE Asia. Clean and efficient subway system. And, of course, Singapore is renewed for its food, especially the hawker food.

I've stayed at a number of hotels in Singapore. For me the most important factor is proximity to an MRT station. A number of hotels sit atop an MRT station. Perhaps my favorite is the Fairfax.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2019, 12:22 AM
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Batu Ferringhi is not a bad beach and you will be getting a mix of beach and culture with Penang after just a beach in Phuket so agree with Kathie. We always stay in Georgetown but I think the beach area more suitable with a toddler.

KL is a major city and not such a lot to see there so Singapore would be better with a toddler although it is more expensive than KL if you are looking at the top hotels but you can get deals. Singapore works and is well set up for tourists with lots of downloadable apps from their tourist website. Neither are like Bangkok which I dislike greatly, tried it again a few years back and still dirty and smelly, shopping is poor, transport can be annoying and safety is a concern compared to the other two.
Cyansiam is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2019, 05:12 AM
  #13  
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Thanks everyone again for great advice.

We have almost nailed our itinerary now:

A few days in Hong Kong when we arrive.
A week in Phuket, then a couple of nights in Khao Sok
A week in Yao Noi
A week in Koh Lanta
A week in Koh Lipe (takes us up to 30 days with Visa)
The down into Malaysia for a week in Langkawi.

We then have one week left to fill and I think is a decision between spending another week in Malaysia probably on Penang (maybe 1/2 nights in KL) or flying north and spending a week in Chang Mai. We aren't really interested in Singapore just don't fancy a huge city with a little one in tow.

Just interested if anyone has any opinion about which of these locations they think would be more interesting / easier with a toddler. As you can see we have plenty of beach time already so looking for something different with this final week.

Any advice much appreciated! Thanks in advance
jay7777777 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2019, 11:03 AM
  #14  
 
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I like Chiang Mai, but a week with a toddler would be too much. You could look at splitting your northern Thailand with CM and Chiang Dao or Chiang Rai which would be a nice balance after all the beach time. Chiang Dao Nest is worth looking at as a place to stay as they have lots of activities on offer, whether they are geared towards children, I don’t know.

Penang has its attractions too, although in many respects, it is similar to Chiang Mai but it does have the advantage of the resort hotels along Batu Ferrengi which would give some respite from the urban environment.
crellston is offline  
Jul 4th, 2019, 01:30 AM
  #15  
 
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Lot of travelling and one Thai island is much like the other, Koh Yao Noi is nice (purely relaxing beach holiday although there is a company doing a good bike nature tour there) and easy to get to from north Phuket either by public ferry or hotel boat. Chiang Mai is a city and can have heavy pollution so Chiang Rai better. KL and Sing are both huge cities.

If you fly direct from HK to Phuket then do Khao Sok first especially if you are staying more south in Phuket, spending hours in a minivan here can be nerve racking so make sure you use a good company and request a safe driver although there are very few of those! If you do Chiang Mai then you need to check the flights as there is not even a direct one from Phuket.
Cyansiam is offline  
Jul 4th, 2019, 10:40 AM
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"spending hours in a minivan here can be nerve racking" Indeed! Which is why you should consider renting a car and driving yourself. It is cheap, roads are decent and there are loads of rental operators in Phuket or Surat Thani airports.

Surat Thani is closer to Khao Sok NP and may also be more convenient if you do decide to head up north. In the past we have used Air Asia to connect the south and the north via Bangkok with reasonable connection times in Don Muang. Of course, a lot will depend on routings from HK and whether there are flights to either airport but you could easily do a one way rental. Unless you are intent on staying in your Phuket hotel, it would be useful there to get around and we found it invaluable in Khao Sok.
crellston is offline  
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