Bophut, Koh Samui, Godberstravel, Godberboys, kim England, Koh Samui with Kids, Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise, Thailand 2017, Thailand 2018, Family Holiday, Digging a Hole, Beach, Beach Life
Thailand - Top Travel Tips - Travel With Kids

Koh Samui with Kids – Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise

Our trip to Thailand has been planned for over a year. We love Thailand and we’ve taken Bilbo before. We knew Koh Samui with Kids would be a fun experience. And we were not disappointed despite 4 days of rain, a VERY long journey and mosquitoes. The point of this blog is to show you how accessible the long haul can be. Exotic locations can be a fantastic learning experience for you and your family and they don’t have to be expensive.

 

Bophut, Koh Samui, Godberstravel, Godberboys, kim England, Koh Samui with Kids, Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise, Thailand 2017, Thailand 2018, Family Holiday, Digging a Hole, Beach, Beach Life
What is more fun than digging a hole on a beach at sunset? Chilling out on Bophut Beach

 

We travelled in a party of 8, 6 adults and our boys (Bilbo – 4 and Harrison – 18 months) 

I’ve pulled together my top ten tips for a hassle-free stay in paradise, come rain or shine.

1. Getting there

One of the reasons we chose Thailand for Christmas was because we’d found a good deal with Singapore Airlines to Koh Samui. We’ve been to Koh Lak before so Koh Samui with Kids seemed like a great idea. This was likely our last long-haul flight with H before we’d have to pay for him. When you fly long haul with an under 2 there are some amazing perks (another blog on this topic coming soon)

You can’t fly directly to Koh Samui. There are options to fly via Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur etc. We opted for Singapore because the deal was with Singapore Airlines. Our flight deal included an 18-hour layover in Singapore on the return leg. It was not everyone’s idea of fun, but for us, it was an opportunity to break up the journey, catch up with some friends, and see what had changed since our last visit in 2012.

Flights from Singapore to Koh Samui are just under 2 hrs. We flew with Silk Air, which is a brilliant airline. We had issues between Singapore and Koh Samui, and despite the challenges, we were well looked after.

Pushchairs in Asia still go into the hold, but as soon as you get off the flight, someone will bring it up to you if you ask. This is a lifesaver when you have transfers in bigger airports. We also had 5 hours in Singapore before our Koh Samui flight, so the pushchair was welcome. Just remember it won’t be waiting for you at Heathrow when you come home, you will need to collect it from the luggage carousel.

2. Arrange transfers

You may be a seasoned traveller, and you may LOVE independent travel. But arriving in the middle of a rain storm after 30+ hours of travel due to delays with two smalls and luggage, you do not need the added stress of trying to organise a taxi. We arranged our transfer with our hotel.

It is worth noting that to find your pick-up, you do need to walk some way out of departures to the left and meander around the walkway to where the taxi, minibuses and smiling faces are waiting to greet you.

3. Jet Lag

Koh Samui is +7hrs we (finally) arrived early evening. While we were exhausted, it worked out well for the kids. My advice for overcoming jet lag:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Get the kids eating meals on the location you’re heading to
  • As tired as they may be try and do an activity when you arrive, a walk, a swim they’ve been stuck in a cabin for hours some fresh air will do wonders for helping them sleep
  • Follow your bedtime routine as much as possible to give the kids a sense of normality
  • Bring comforters or things your children need to sleep with you

We dropped our bags off and decided to get our bearings.  I always like to figure out quickly, where we can get essentials (water and beer). We were also on the hunt for a cocktail and some food.

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Elephant Walk is in the centre of the Fisherman Village and also where you can find tourist information.

We chose Karma Sutra for some well-deserved cocktails. Bilbo wanted a pizza so I popped down to try out Link. Pizza in Thailand I hear your cry…yes Pizza in Thailand more on that under what to eat!

4. Where to stay?

Bophut, Koh Samui, Godberstravel, Godberboys, kim England, Koh Samui with Kids, Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise, Thailand 2017, Thailand 2018, Smile House, Accommodation, hotel
We chose Smile House, this is the view of the restaurant overlooking the water. We couldn’t have been happier with our accommodation choice.

Koh Samui is a pretty large and busy Island. It has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. This means there are a variety of options available for accommodation. In 2015 we visited Koh Lak for our honeymoon. We stayed at a resort, and we did not enjoy it. I like to be in the hustle and bustle, and I want to get a beer or cocktail without paying taxes and a service charge.

We were also travelling with my mum, so I was really keen to get somewhere with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bilbo shares with my mum but we didn’t want the second room to be an adjoining hotel room or a bedroom/lounge.

I trawled Airbnb. There are some AMAZING properties on Koh Samui with breathtaking views. I envisioned living in a movie set-style villa overlooking turquoise seas. My daydream was sharply popped when I realised that the practicalities of being in the hills with a small family were not ideal.

  • I did not want to hire a car for the 2 weeks we were there
  • I hated the restrictions the resort gave us but we could walk out
  • Walking hills and dark roads was a no-no with two small children
  • I didn’t want to rely on taxis to get about
  • I did not want to cook more than I had to

For the reasons above Airbnb was out.

Chaweng

Chaweng has the best stretch of beach.

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We took a lovely walk along Chaweng. A beautiful stretch of beach.

The South end in particular. However, it is also the busiest area on the Island. I’ve been to Koh Samui before, and even 10 years ago, it was crazy busy. The streets are narrow, the curbs are high and the traffic is heavy – not a good recipe for navigating a pushchair and a pre-schooler. We visited for an afternoon and evening, we enjoyed the visit but we were glad to get back to the peace of Bophut.

Lamai

I’ve never stayed in Lamai; I’ve driven through it a couple of times. Lamai has some great beaches. Our plans had originally included a boat ride out to the National Park, so Being in the North of the island was more appealing, which ruled Lamai out.

Bophut

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Our home for 2 weeks a 2 bedroom bungalow.
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The small pool by our bungalow. There was a second larger pool at the entrance.

I had fond memories of Bophut, the sleepy Fisherman’s Village, and the option to stay at Smile House, which ticked all the boxes. Big space, two rooms, plus living space. The reviews were good. The location was spot on, and we had a choice of two pools, and the restaurant overlooked the beach. Everything we could have wanted. (Full review of Smile House COMING SOON)

5. How to get about?

You can travel around Koh Samui in a variety of ways:

Organised transport

Our airport transfer was arranged through the hotel, when we took our Thai Cooking Course it was arranged by the cooking school, we also booked a mini bus for our tour through a tourist operator. The benefit of this kind of transport is that it will be a door-to-door service. It is also worth noting that Bophut is a very narrow, quiet road, so to get taxis and Songthaews, you’d have to walk up to the ring road or ask your hotel to arrange a taxi.

Taxi

I was surprised at how expensive taxis were on Koh Samui. 300 Baht from our hotel to the Tesco Lotus for my mum, Bilbo, and me seems steep. When a minibus for 9 to Chaweng was 500 Baht. It was a topic I debated with fellow travellers, and I think there seemed to be some huge variances in price. It really depends on your negotiation technique and willingness to haggle.

TOP TIP: if you’re not in a metered taxi, agree on the price beforehand.

Moped

In 2014 I bombed about the Island on a moped. In 2012 we did the same in Langkawi with only a small incident. Koh Samui is a VERY busy island. Unless you’re very confident in your driving skills I wouldn’t recommend this as a method of travel with kids. The Thais travel with 3 or 4 family members on a bike but are experienced. The roads are busy, unpredictable and not always in great condition. My advice is AVOID!

Songthaews

We didn’t catch one on Koh Samui because we didn’t really need to use one. In Koh Lak, it was the only way we got about. They aren’t ideal for travelling with small people although we’ve often thrown the pushchair in the back and popped the brakes on, and it has been an efficient method of travel.

6. What to eat?

If I had to only eat one countries food for the rest of my life I’d pick Thai I LOVE IT! Just because I love it doesn’t mean my kids love it. It can be spicy, and all the things I love about it are the flavour, colour, freshness, and unusual combinations that can be scary for toddlers and babies who are already taking a HUGE shift in their routine.

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Satay Chicken, Curry Crab and Kale with Crispy Pork

We have a rule on holiday (after some stressful experiences) Don’t stress about food. What this means in practice is the following:

  • Offer local cuisine often
  • Don’t stress if they decline the local cuisine and ask for a pizza
  • If the kids don’t eat anything – don’t stress
  • Accept the kids will eat a lot of ice cream and bread
  • Praise the kids when they try new foods
  • Talk a lot about the foods, why they are yummy and why they might like to try them but don’t stress if they decline
  • Take vitamins
  • Make sure the kids drink lots and lots of fluids

Bilbo was really interested in the fresh crab, lobster and fish on offer. We kept asking if he’d like to try it. One night he asked to try crab. Now I know my boy would not have eaten crab when it arrived. I ordered him Shrimp, told him it was crab and devoured it. He didn’t dip it in the chilli sauce but enjoyed it with some ketchup. You win some you lose some!

7. What do you do if it rains?

Koh Samui is a tropical island. This means it rains. There are also rainy seasons to contend with. It was a bit of a risk booking in December/January. The typical rainy season is Sept – Nov, but in recent years, there has been a shift to Oct-Dec. We arrived during the tail end of some pretty bad weather. It even impacted being able to land.

Bophut, Koh Samui, Godberstravel, Godberboys, kim England, Koh Samui with Kids, Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise, Thailand 2017, Thailand 2018, umbrella, rain season, rain, moonsoon
Umbrellas on the beach
Bophut, Koh Samui, Godberstravel, Godberboys, kim England, Koh Samui with Kids, Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise, Thailand 2017, Thailand 2018, umbrella, rain season, rain, moonsoon
Rain doesn’t stop play, rain what rain.

It rained for our first 4 days. Here are my tips for dealing with the rain with toddlers:

  • It is raining, and no amount of checking your phone, weather apps, or websites will change the fact that it is raining. You can see the weather by looking out the door. Don’t tease yourself with hope and embrace the weather.
  • Kids don’t mind rain – well mine don’t. They swam in the rain, played in the rain, sat on the beach in the rain and jumped through puddles in the rain.
  • It might be raining but it is still warm. Let the kids be kids. Channel Peppa Pig splash in those puddles and high-five the wet foliage.
  • The rain brings out interesting wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for frogs. Go on a bug hunt.
  • We had a wonderfully massive veranda on our house. We used it to hang out and play when we wanted a break from the rain. Beach toys, plane toys and even devices can really help when cabin fever sets in.
  • Find indoor activities to do:
    • Tesco Lotus has a kid’s area with a mini amusement park including karaoke, soft play and a cinema
    • Chaweng Shopping Mall has a train and lots of kids’ areas to play in all undercover

8. Sun

Thailand has a VERY strong sun. I’m probably cautious, but I don’t want my gorgeous baby’s delicate skin to experience a burn. I was burnt badly in Thailand in 2004 it wasn’t pleasant. Even when it is overcast the sun can still get through. We use a combination of Factor 30/50 and the sunsuits. Sun cream is one item I wouldn’t buy locally. I always bring it with me. I want the confidence that hasn’t been sat in a supermarket for the last 10 years.

9. Mosquitos

I hate them they love me! And our whole family. Through my research, I decided to buy incognito spray, shower gel and moisturiser. I took the mosquito bands we’ve used in Greece (and work miracles)  I am not a big fan of wearing long sleeves and trousers – I get too hot. But I try to keep the boys safe with long shorts, loose clothing, etc. I spray the pushchair every night before we go out, and I use a mosquito net over the pushchair. I still got bit!

We were getting bit at night, and I realised there were some gaps where they were getting in, so we filled them. A tip from a fellow traveller was to find the boots roll on. We were in luck. There were boots at the Tesco Lotus. I bought two and the grey one (with deet for adults) the bites reduced using this. The little suckers were out in force from about 4 pm. Quite often, at 4, we’d be at the pool or beach, so fair game to them.

I would also highly recommend taking mosquito repellent on any day trips, we didn’t (school boy error). A walk to the waterfall was pleasant, we were the buffet for them on the walk back down.

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This mosquito balm is amazing, I don’t recommend you put it on your satay chicken though!

Tiger Balm is great if you get bitten, but this little pot of heaven (I never knew about it in 15 years of travelling in SE Asia) was a lifesaver. A little dab on the bite, the sting goes, the desire to itch goes, and it heals up pretty quickly. Sold in most pharmacies and even the 7/11.

10. Day trips

There are lots of day trips on offer around Koh Samui. You can do these as part of an organised trip, or independently. Due to the weather, we were a little limited on the days we could do activities. We were also playing it by ear with regard to the smalls.

Boat Trips

We opted out this time for various reasons but we did one in Koh Lak and thoroughly enjoyed it with Bilbo.

  • Our party didn’t have sea legs, so 2 adults to 2 under 4s didn’t seem like a lot of fun.
  • The journey is quite long, and the feedback from other travellers was that the beaches were pretty grim thanks to the weather bringing in rubbish from the mainland.
  • The tours were also quite expensive with little concession for the smalls.

I would have included a day trip if we were on a slow travel trip.

Tour of the Island

Our party consisted of 9 people so a private tour of the island was a good option for us. Everyone wanted to see a bit of Koh Samui and we wanted the freedom (especially with the kids) to take as long or as little time at some of the attractions.

Big Buddha

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Big Buddah is a fun thing to do, the views are immense, early morning or late afternoon are the best times as it can be very very hot.

This is a pleasant visit, if you go early or late. In the middle of the day, it is VERY hot. No scams or people are trying to get you to part with your money. There is a relaxed atmosphere and some pleasant shops and cafes to explore.

Grandfather and Grandmother Rock

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I think the picture speaks for itself.
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I think this is a sign there is life in Grandma still.
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If you want to take a breather on your tour, this is a good spot.

These rocks are worth a look. It is fun to watch the waves crashing against the rocks and take some photos. There is a sandy bay where you can take some time to chill out and watch the world go by. Again there are stalls selling the normal tourist trinkets and snacks. It wasn’t overly priced I was pleasantly surprised.

Waterfall

Everyone in our party wanted to swim in a waterfall. We asked our driver to take us to the best one…BIG MISTAKE. I’ve travelled in Thailand enough times to know there will always be a kickback for the driver. Our driver, of course, took us to Na Muang Waterfall. My main issue with this waterfall is it is part of the Wildlife Park.

Bophut, Koh Samui, Godberstravel, Godberboys, kim England, Koh Samui with Kids, Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise, Thailand 2017, Thailand 2018, waterfall
Uncle Gav takes the plunge – Na Muang Waterfall.
Enjoying the water from all the rain.

I consciously decided not to include the wildlife park in our itinerary as I know how badly treated the animals are. This is where the elephant rides are and you have to walk past this to get to the falls. I wasn’t going to make everyone drive somewhere else so we went with it. You can walk up to the start of the waterfall trek or you can take a ride in a 4×4. We opted for the car. Our driver was an idiot. He was showing off and whilst he probably does the journey multiple times a day and knows the roads like the back of his hand. We had the safety of our children to consider. NOT COOL

The trek up to the waterfall is tricky. I’d advise sensible shoes (we had flip-flops, but Crocs or something sturdier would be ideal). We also had the baby carrier, which meant Rich took H up on his back, so he had his hands free. If you have timid children or you scare easily I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS WATERFALL.

The falls themselves are slippy and the current is strong. We had 4 additional adults to pass the kids over and have them hold the kids whilst we got in and out.

With all that said we had a lot of fun. The kids thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the falls and we made great memories with our family.

Check out TripAdvisor for some other Waterfall options.

Monkey Show/Elephant Rides/Wildlife Park

In Koh Lak you will find a lot more natural wildlife, there are a couple of Elephant welfare projects you can visit. Monkeys are roaming about, and we saw many on our trip to Koh Pi Pi.

Sadly, all the animals we encountered on Samui were in captivity, and it wasn’t particularly pleasant. We made a conscious decision not to go and see the Elephants. However, as above, they were at the same place as the waterfall, so we did see them. We just didn’t include them in our visit.

The monkey show is just as bad, the monkey is chained up and sent up and down a tree to collect coconuts. I was sad to see this, and I want to warn folk that unless chained-up monkeys float your boat, I would cross it off the tour.

I can’t comment on the Wildlife Park, but since we were at the entrance, it is clear that this place is not for you if you have any interest in animal welfare.

Thai Cooking Class

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The final feast, 5 cooks, 9 dishes endless tastes, smells and lessons learned.

I’ve written a whole blog on our Thai Cooking Class experience. Stephanie from Infusion has done the classes with kids, so if you’re children are a little older and like cooking, this could be a really good option for you to do as a family.

Summary

Koh Samui with kids is a fantastic adventure. If you’re new to South East Asia, it is a gentle introduction to Asian life. We can’t recommend Bohphut enough for a laid-back, chilled experience, and Smile House was a perfect base. Thai people love children so you can rest assured you can have a laid-back holiday where your children can be themselves and explore all that the Thai experience has to offer.

 

 Other posts about our trip to Koh Samui

Thai Cooking Class on Koh Samui

 

 

 

 

 

One comment on “Koh Samui with Kids – Top Ten Tips for a hassle free stay in Paradise

  1. Amazing content, thank you so much for all information. It really helps a lot. I had been there this year the first time, and was surprised, that all your pictures are reality 🙂 The Big Buddha was my favorite place to visit at the time. The people around were so friendly and invite me, to try some typical sweet Asia deserts. I felt in love with it, and would like to take a cooking class to learn how to prepare the dessert and food. A Taxi Driver recommends me https://kohsamui.tours an agency with the best price-performance and knowledge. Fantastic advice. Thai cuisine is now my absolutely favorite and I am preparing my dishes back in the Netherlands daily now. I hope I can go back again, by end of the year.

    Looking forward to your next article.
    Regards Suzan

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