Koh Samui is an ideal family destination – kids are welcome everywhere & there’s all sorts to keep them entertained. Thais love children and have a “more the merrier, all ages” attitude. Ensure a perfect and stress-free holiday to Koh Samui with kids, using these helpful suggestions and activity ideas. Enjoy!
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Koh Samui with kids
Use this guide to Koh Samui with kids to find out:
- Where to stay? Find the best hotels for kids on Koh Samui
- What to do? Plan family-friendly Koh Samui activities
- How to pack? Discover what to bring and what children wear
- Is it safe? Learn a few sensible safety and culture tips
Beaches and hotels for Koh Samui with kids
What’s the best beach for kids on Koh Samui?
There are so many factors that will influence your perfect beach decision – from sand texture, to sunset view, to paddling or swimming suitability not to mention what’s nearby. Personal preferences run strong for Samui beaches so be careful when you see hyperbole thrown around! Amongst the most popular beaches:
- Some families love Chaweng Beach for its soft, white sand
- Some love Choeng Mon Beach for its quiet atmosphere and village feel
- And others love Bophut Beach for its proximity to Fisherman’s Village
How to choose? The easiest way to choose a beach is to use my baby, The Koh Samui Guide, to learn the pros/cons and suitability of all of Samui’s main beaches – you’ll soon get the lay of the land. Whether you’re making hotel choices or planning day trips and nights out, I’m certain it will help you make the utmost of your Samui holiday together.
What are best hotels for children on Koh Samui?
To get to know my favourite family-friendly Koh Samui resorts, start with this crucial intro. Learn what ‘child-friendly’ means on Koh Samui, what to expect from different hotel-star ratings, and find out why you won’t find big water slides at Samui hotels on the island.
Top 10 most popular
- 1. Melati Beach Resort & Spa (+ my review)
- 2. SALA Samui (+ my review)
- 3. Anantara Lawana Resort & Spa (+ my review)
- 4. Bandara Resort & Spa
- 5. Banyan Tree Samui (+ my review)
- 6. Hansar Samui (+ my review)
- 7. Bo Phut Resort & Spa (+ my review)
- 8. Smile House
- 9. Belmond Napasai (+ my review)
- 10. Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa (+ my review)
The best kids’ pools on Koh Samui
Debating family vs adult swimming pools? If you know your kids come with cannonballing frenzy (and associated decibels), note that a number of Koh Samui resorts have a choice of pools for guest use: a family pool, and an adult pool (for uninterrupted laps and time with John and Jodi. Er, Grisham and Picoult). As well, many of the resorts listed above offer villas with private pools. In terms of ‘the best’ resort pools for kids, these are:
For older kids who want to swim all day
- Banyan Tree Samui: the kids’ pool is big, and in its own area (so you’re less likely to disturb honeymooners)
- Tongsai Bay Resort: has a beautiful adults-only pool and a beach-front family pool
For little kids who want to paddle
- Hansar Samui: Supervise your child from a number of adjacent comfy locations, including a canopied day-bed
- Belmond Napasai: Good shade is available from a number of comfy seating spots near the kids’ paddling area
Koh Samui hotels ideal for teenagers
- Centara Grand Beach Resort: huge resort grounds, choice of pools and restaurants, central location in easy walking distance to shopping
- Santiburi Beach Resort, Golf & Spa: offers tons of water-sports and activities – great for athletic kids
Romantic boutique hotels (ideal with a baby)
- Zazen Boutique Resort (+ my review)
- Poppies Samui (+ my review)
- Vana Belle (+ my review)
- Sandalwood Luxury Villas (+ my review)
The best kids’ clubs on Koh Samui
Many resorts offer a really cool selection of classes and clubs for all ages, including kids’ cooking classes, coconut painting and more. If I had to pick?
- 1. Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui: Kids For All Seasons
- 2. InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort: Planet Trekkers Kids’ Club
Koh Samui green/eco hotels?
Let’s quickly look at the best hotel for ‘green’ families on Koh Samui. It’s a tie between Tongsai Bay Resort and Six Senses Samui – both are very eco resorts, though with distinct ambience and differing green practices. If you avoid chemicals – these are your new fave hotels!
Things to do on Koh Samui with kids
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There’s tons to do with kids on Koh Samui – educational or not. Do you want to teach your kids to swim, or teach them about Theravada Buddhism? Whether you’re coming to Koh Samui for a total beach holiday or a memorable and adventurous cultural exploration – this little island has more than enough to fill a family itinerary. A few ideas to start:
- The Top 10: Koh Samui Activities for Kids
- How to Visit Big Buddha
- The World’s Stinkiest Fruit: Durian (+ other Thai fruits to try)
For everything else to enjoy, either as a family or as a couple, it’s all in The Koh Samui Guide. Within, you get a dedicated kids’ activities checklist as well as a long list of fantastic rainy day activities – many of which suit kids of all ages.
The best Koh Samui day-trip with kids
With older kids: Take to the seas! Take a family day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park, where you’ll see an untouched archipelago of 42 islands and perhaps some wildlife up-close. Older children will enjoy kayaking and snorkelling, however, the trip isn’t particularly recommended for babies or young children as it’s a long day in the strong sun and occasionally rough water. Check that your tour operator provides children’s life jackets. Reputable ones do!
With younger kids: You’ll find alternative island day trips suitable for young children, as well as tons more things to do, in The Koh Samui Guide.
Beach and pool days
“Swimming keeps kids clean” is a popular bumper sticker with the minivan set, but how much ‘Marco Polo’ can you take? Heed the call of the beach; it’s time for sand castles and burying Daddy. Or, encourage your children to dig their way home.
Elephants on Koh Samui
Can children ride elephants on Koh Samui? Full disclosure – I’ve been accused of being preachy about not riding elephants in Thailand. I’m okay with that – I’ve done my homework and utterly defer to the experts.
If you research only one thing before visiting Thailand – besides travel insurance – please take a few minutes to learn what elephant-riding and elephant performances entail and what your money supports and condones (it’s not pretty).
Where’s the best place for kids to see elephants in Thailand? You’re in luck – there are a few highly rated elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and they welcome children. If your animal-loving family is planning a broader Thailand travel itinerary, consider visiting Elephant Nature Park (near Chiang Mai) or Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, near Sukhothai. Visits to both locations allow interaction with elephants including feeding, washing and caring for them, as well as the incredible chance to watch them interact with each other as a herd.
Otherwise, I encourage all my readers to make a donation in lieu of riding an elephant to any of these registered Thai elephant charities.
Many policies consider handling or working with large, potentially dangerous animals (including elephants) to be reckless endangerment – which might void your policy.
1. Travel insurance for Thailand: Before going near any animal in Thailand, make sure you (A) have travel insurance and (B) that you’ve double-checked your insurance policy’s fine-print.
2. What is and isn’t covered: World Nomads is especially upfront about what is/isn’t covered by their policies and is happy to answer any “what-ifs” by phone or email.
What to bring to Koh Samui with kids?
1. Mosquito protection
Thailand’s mosquitoes are ready and waiting! Luckily they’re not at all discriminating, so easily make sure they bite someone else’s kids. Note that your family’s experience with mosquitoes in Thailand will depend on where you’re staying. Many Koh Samui resorts spray for mosquitoes or use other deterrent measures. My detailed hotel tips indicate which hotels might particularly require bug spray.
Above all, I really recommend the Incognito brand of mosquito repellent for both kids and adults, and consistent reader feedback reinforces this. Why this bug spray? It’s as ‘green’ as can be and is 100% DEET-free. As it’s quite hard to find on Koh Samui, I also suggest packing a tube or two of hydrocortisone cream to quickly relieve any redness from bites.
2. Sun protection
Definitely bring your own sun protection for your children (and for babies and toddlers especially). Depending on their ages, sun sensitivity and your planned activities, this might include UPF 50+ clothing, high SPF and water-resistant sunscreen, kids’ UVA/UVB sunglasses and, for babies, a pop-up beach tent.
Sun-protective clothing is especially clever, as it (A) saves creases and corner bits from sunburn and (B) means you don’t have to slap on sunscreen on the hour, every hour. Keep your babbies safe in Koh Samui’s v-e-r-y strong sunshine – do err with caution!
3. Pool and beach toys
If your kids love to spend all day in the pool, toypedo bandits and a pack of dive sticks will provide hours and hours and hours of entertainment. As an adult who loves beach tennis more than anything, I’ve learned two things about the tennis sets available on Koh Samui: (A) Their shelf-life is about 2 games, max, before the handles break. (B) The thwack of wooden bat on hard rubber ball seems to annoy people. To achieve both champion play and pacified international relations, you might find better quality, non-wooden options to bring from home. Prefer to dispense with the bat? The Waboba Ball, of Aussie extraction, actually bounces on water. Perfect for the pool and the beach alike.
Bring any and all swimming gear, float devices, pool toys and sun protection with you from home. Other than buckets, spades and a few inflatable pool toys (usually a blow-up shark or a bright pink lilo/pool raft), there’s limited selection and patchy availability of pool toys, swimming stuff and beach games on Koh Samui. Not a hunt you want to spend your holiday time pursuing!
4. Rainy day activities (+ avoiding strong sun)
It can rain at any time of the year on Koh Samui – and rain is especially likely during two of the island’s peak periods: Christmas/New Year and in July/August summer holidays. While there are a million reasons you might love a tropical storm – whining children isn’t one of them. Bring activities – good ones!
Koh Samui with kids (FAQs)
Is Koh Samui safe for kids?
To my mind, the biggest safety considerations for Koh Samui with children are (A) staying safe in the sun and (B) traffic, if you choose to walk along the main roads at any point. To offer peace of mind in your holiday, The Koh Samui Guide offers safety tips throughout, as well as flagging potential cultural missteps.
What should children wear in Thailand?
The best answer combines dressing for both a tropical climate and a modest culture. For day-to-day clothes, shorts and T-shirts are perfect and exactly what Thai kids wear when not in school uniform. Want a total cheat-sheet?
Thai children tend to swim in their clothes but Western children’s swimsuits are fine. As with adults, both children and toddlers should wear swimming clothes on the beach. You never see Thai children undressed in public, even when swimming. *Women should never sunbathe topless in Thailand.
Koh Samui with a baby? Culture alert!
A cautious note about nudity and breast-feeding: Thailand is a very modest country. While children and babies are beloved and welcome everywhere, please respect this buttoned-up culture and note that breast-feeding should be done out of public view, as discreetly as possible.
The best shoes for kids on Koh Samui are – drum roll – Crocs sandals. They’re easy to take on and off when entering shops, don’t need socks, and can stand to get wet. (Is the adult version equally suited? Well, yes, but grown-ups have a fashion police). I prefer Crocs sandal options to kids’ clogs as they’re just as easy to remove, but you don’t need to check inside. (Tropical insects need homes too – but they don’t need to squat in your family’s shoes). For older children, flip-flops are ideal.
Can you buy kids’ clothes on Koh Samui?
If you forget something, you can find basic children’s clothing for sale at tourist T-shirt shops in all of the beach towns, as well as a larger selection at the island’s mall, Central Festival, and at Tesco. I can’t vouch for quality or sizes, nor is there a particularly wide range of sun hats or swimsuits.
Food for children on Koh Samui?
You’ll easily find food for picky eaters and adventurous children on Koh Samui. Got picky eaters? You’ll have no trouble finding staple Western food (including fast food, pancakes and burgers), plus healthier bits like plain yoghurt, made locally on Koh Samui. Gorgeous Thai fruit, including fresh-from-the-tree bananas, are no problem either! Angela’s Diner and Bakery in Maenam is a firm favourite for carbs: sausage rolls, sandwiches, cakes and pastries.
Best family restaurants on Koh Samui? Kids’ menus?
Enjoying meals out and restaurants with kids on Koh Samui is not a problem. In fact – it’s encouraged! The staff will probably make a huge fuss over any cute and cheeky child. Most restaurants offer children’s menus. A few, high-end fine-dining establishments specify that ‘screaming children will not be tolerated’ but that well-behaved ones are always welcome.
Everything else Koh Samui
We guarantee this is just the start of outrageous excitement – now let’s get planning your best holiday yet with The Koh Samui Guide. Enjoy!
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