Jamie's Phuket Blog

Jamie's Phuket Blog - The Original Phuket Travel Blog since 2006

Top 10 Family Resorts in Phuket

Several times on the Phuket blog, I have blogged the Top 10 Hotels in Phuket, the list being based mostly on TripAdvisor rankings (for want of anything better). The hotels in the most recent list are all styles and all over the island, but mostly 4 - 5 star resorts .. I mean it's a list of the best hotels, so you'd expect them to be classy! TripAdvisor is not perfect, anyone can leave a review, there's no way to check if the reviewer actually stayed at the hotel, but I would hope that on average things even out, though results can be skewed by smaller hotels which actively pursue TripAdvisor reviews. A hotel might be great, but get less reviews simply because they don't ask guests to leave a review. Anyway, we digress... Blog readers gave me some suggestions to do some different "top 10 hotel" lists for families, couples or low budget hotels. So here goes...

On this page you'll find a list of the Top 10 Family Resorts and Hotels in Phuket, again based on current TripAdvisor rankings. For each hotel there are links for checking rates online, for booking and availability. For each hotel there's also a link to reviews on Agoda (where available) - and only people who have booked the hotel through Agoda can make the review (I use Agoda.com myself and leave reviews). With all the reviews on Agoda and/or TripAdvisor, you get a very wide range of opinions. Sure there may be other good family friendly hotels that are not on this list, please do send me a message on Facebook if you have stayed in a good family resort in Phuket, every opinion counts!

Top 10 Phuket Family Resorts

1. Andara Resort and Villas (Kamala Beach)

Andara

A 5 star resort, on the hillside near Kamala Beach with luxury villas. I'm a bit surprised to see this rated as the top family hotel, but it does provide relaxation in comfort for the whole family, and since it's individual villas with private pools, suits families as well as couples. Andara resort is not right on the beach - it's on the hillside. Many of the villas have great seaviews.

Andara Resort & Villas - Information and Booking
Andara Resort & Villas - Reviews


2. Rising Sun Residence (Chalong)

Rising Sun Residence

Rising Sun Residence is also not a beachfront hotel - it has 12 villas in the hills of Chalong overlooking Chalong Bay and Chalong Temple. There are seven 3 bedroom villas - some of these have a private pool and jacuzzi, kitchen and large living room. There are also five 1 bedroom villas arranged around a large pool with sun deck and jacuzzi. Long way from the main beaches, more of a "home away from home" and would be a good idea to rent a car if you stay here.

Rising Sun Residence - Reviews and Booking


3. Kantary Bay Hotel (Cape Panwa)

Kantary Bay Hotel

The Cape Panwa area is south of Phuket Town, well away from the main Phuket beaches, an area that we really like. Kantary Bay Hotel is right by the Phuket Aquarium, and the hotel has studio, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom suites. All suites have a living room and kitchenette. Seeing a trend here? Family hotels are not the standard "room" - it's nice to have something more like an apartment so you can be a bit more independent.

Kantary Bay Hotel - Information and Booking
Kantary Bay Hotel - Reviews


4. Pacific Club Resort (Karon Beach)

Pacific Club Resort

The Pacific Club Resort is a long time favourite and seems to often rank highly, despite (again, that's 4 out of 4 so far) not being by the beach. It's about 10 minutes walk down the hill to the sands of Karon Beach. The hotel is in the hills, with seaviews and green views. There are normal rooms and also 1 and 2 bedroom suites. The restaurant is also meant to be very good and I must try it one day!

Pacific Club Resort - Information and Booking
Pacific Club Resort - Reviews


5. JW Marriott (Mai Khao Beach)

JW Marriott

I think everyone knows the Marriott brand? Actually there are 2 different hotels in the top 10 - Marriott Beach Club and the JW Marriott Resort, so I combine them here. Marriott is at Mai Khao Beach - north of the airport and a long way from the main tourist areas or Phuket Town (like 40 - 50km away). A place to relax. Mai Khao Beach is very uncrowded. I'd advise on car hire if you stay here to get out and explore, especially as dining options nearby are limited.

JW Marriott - Information and Booking
JW Marriott - Reviews


6. Cape Panwa Hotel

Cape Panwa Hotel

Another hotel at Cape Panwa - the Cape Panwa Hotel is an older hotel, has a little private beach and I knew the guest relations manager, Tim. He was very helpful arranging trips and knows plenty about Phuket, though he's now working in Bangkok. The hotel has a variety of suites of different sizes, many with seaviews, and the Cape Panwa area is very nice.

Cape Panwa Hotel - Information and Booking
Cape Panwa Hotel - Reviews


7. Serenity Resort and Residences (Chalong Bay)

Serenity Resort and Residences

Chalong Bay is not a swimming beach, but great views and actually a good central location for getting around Phuket. Serenity has simpler rooms up to huge 2 - 3 bedroom suites, with seaviews, kitchens and some with private pools. You're not far to drive from here to Kata or Rawai beach and only 20 minutes to Phuket Town too. The pool suites are expensive / luxurious. The simpler rooms are a good deal and kids under 5 stay at no extra cost, good if you have smaller kids.

Serenity Resort and Residences - Information and Booking
Serenity Resort and Residences - Reviews


8. Banyan Tree (Bang Tao Beach)

Banyan Tree

The Banyan Tree - definitely luxury. You're looking at 1000 US$ per night, but go on, you're worth it! I'm amazed that this place makes the list, must be a few rich TripAdvisor readers! The 2 bedroom pool villas look amazing. I'm going to stay here if we win the lottery! Just for a night....

Banyan Tree - Information and Booking
Banyan Tree - Reviews


9. Twinpalms (Surin Beach)

Twinpalms

Twinpalms has now been open 8 years and is one of the best places around the Surin area, which despite rampant hillside development manages (on the beachfront) to retain a laid back feel with small restaurants and bars. Twinpalms has less than 100 rooms, some of which are huge duplexes and penthouse suites. It's those 2 bedroom suites that are great for families. Twinpalms also has its own semi-private beach club right by the sand.

Twinpalms - Information and Booking
Twinpalms - Reviews


10. Holiday Inn Resort (Patong Beach)

Holiday Inn Resort

Holiday Inn has been around for ages, and is the only Patong beach hotel to make this list. The resort has lots of kids activities and family rooms and the south end of Patong is quite family friendly away from most of the bars and noise. Holiday Inn also recently opened at Mai Khao beach with the resort also specifically catering to kids. Holiday Inn has not only family suites but these things called Kids Suites - kids will love it!

Holiday Inn Resort - Information and Booking
Holiday Inn Resort - Reviews


Hope this list of family hotels is useful! For Phuket hotel bookings, I always recommend looking at Agoda.com first and last - it's what I use. Any questions about hotels or Phuket in general, please do ask on my Jamie's Phuket Facebook Page. See you in Phuket!

Things to do with kids in Phuket
Top 10 Hotels in Phuket 2017
My Phuket Hotel Suggestions
Phuket Hotels - Book Online @ Agoda.com





The Big Chicken Restaurant

The Big Chicken has been a favourite place of mine to eat since 2008. This blog post was originally posted back then, but it has now been updated. We used to eat there a lot, since it's pretty close to our house, prices are good .. very convenient for us, but a couple of weeks ago we realised that we'd not eaten there for maybe 2 years, as we have found other favourite places and sometimes the older places get forgotten. If you drive on the normal bus route between Patong and Phuket Town, after passing through the area called Tungtong, and passing the Phuket Country Club you'll see a restaurant that is also a local landmark. Everyone knows where the Big Chicken is! You can't miss it. There is a big chicken outside.

Big Chicken Restaurant

The actual name of the restaurant is Krua Tungtong. Not sure how many years it's been open, must be at least 20 years. I remember the first time we ate there - we figured it was a slightly fancy local place as the decor is quite decent (I mean wooden chairs instead of plastic!) and there always seemed to be nice cars parked outside. We thought it might be a bit more expensive than some other local places. Well, yes, a little bit, of course there are places to eat for 40 Baht, but although many of the customers do often seem to be well-off locals (with a fair few local foreigners) the restaurant is quite cheap. Thai dishes go for 80 - 120 Baht. You can get simple things like fried rice or chicken fried with garlic for 50 - 60 Baht. It always seems to be busy, and with a good trade you can keep the prices down.

Big Chicken Restaurant

(above) At the Big Chicken in 2016

Big Chicken Restaurant

(above) And my family eating there in 2008! It's hardly changed at all. Same decor, decent food at a good price. After a bit of a gap, I think it'll be back to being a regular place for us. You see, with this kind of restaurant, we can eat out as a family and the bill might come to 700 Baht. Can be less. Can be more. Depends of course what you order and how much you eat! I think our last bill was 790 Baht, but that included a couple of beers and a lot of food!

Tom Yum Gai

(above) Tom Yum with chicken and lots of mushrooms. My kids like to order it with extra mushrooms.

Chicken and lime sauce

(above) Chicken with lime sauce (like mayonnaise with lime) served with fried seaweed. Yum! Good if you don't like spicy food.

Aside from normal Thai food, they have a long, long list of Isaan food (northeast Thailand), and (they say) Vietnamese food. Having never been to Vietnam I can't say if this is authentic, but I had a "Vietnamese" noodle and sausage soup which was very tasty (and only 70 Baht!). The menu is about 10 pages. There's also a healthy supply of grilled chicken (Gai Yang) - which I guess is the house specialty and is why you find a 30 foot chicken outside! And grilled pork (Moo Yang) which I think is very good. A simple dish I like is Moo Yang with fried sticky rice.

Gaeng Om

(above) Gaeng Om, a kind of Isaan spicy, herby soup. You have to try something different sometimes!

Laab Neua (Laab with Beef)

(above) Laab with beef. Super tasty. I have also had the laab with fried fish and want to try more. The menu has a whole page of laab options!

Sometimes local restaurants open and close within a couple of years. There are at least 8 that I have blogged in the past that have closed down. Big Chicken is an old time favourite, very popular and I can say, to the best of my memory, that I have never had a bad meal here. Simple and tasty and here to stay.

More of our favourite places to eat in Phuket...

Laem Hin Seafood
Kopitiam in Old Phuket Town
The Beach Bar
Dairy Hut
More Phuket Restaurants

Big Chicken - Location Map





Another Trip to Krabi!

After many years of avoiding Krabi, we've done 2 trips this year! We had 2 nights in April (See : Holiday in Krabi) and we liked it! So we decided another 3 day/2 night trip in July would be a good idea, trying some new places and re-visiting others. And we enjoyed it again, so we're planning yet another trip! We decided a midweek trip is best, as some of the local attractions like the Emerald Pool get quite busy with locals at the weekend, so we drove from Phuket to Krabi on a Monday. From our house it's about 2 ½ hours, but we took a little detour via Phang Nga, as I'd read about a viewpoint north of Phang Nga Town .. This turned out to be nothing special really, but even with the detour and lunch on the way we still arrived in Krabi Town by 1pm. The hotel we'd stayed in last time (Just Fine Hotel) was actually fully booked, quite a surprise! So we booked a place just over the street called River View Hotel, 1000 Baht per room per night including breakfast. And we did have a river view (out of the side window)!

Krabi River View Hotel Room

Krabi River View Hotel

(above) Krabi River View Hotel can be booked online here. There are some slightly more expensive rooms facing the river. Our room was decent enough and we got eggs, toast and bacon for breakfast :) The first afternoon we had no real plan, just relax and wander around Krabi Town, along the river. It's really quite pleasant, although it does lack the old town style of Phuket Town. But it has the river to make up for that!

The Crab Statue by the river, Krabi Town

(above) Black Crab statue by the river, Krabi Town.

Wat Kaew in Krabi Town

(above) Wat Kaew in Krabi Town

Durian at Krabi Town Market

(above) Durian for sale in Krabi Town market

For dinner, I had been given a recommendation by several people for the same restaurant - you must try "Ruen Mai"! It's outside town on the way to Ao Nang and the sign is easy to miss. We got there early, I think it might be best to eat there after dark, as it looked prettier when the lights were turned on just when we were leaving! I could tell from the clientele that this was a restaurant for well-to-do local folk, and the prices confirmed this! A little bit over our normal budget, all very tasty, but I think we preferred the Anchalee Restaurant that we tried in April.

Ruen Mai Restaurant, Krabi

Tom Som Pla at Ruen Mai Restaurant, Krabi

My boy at Ruen Mai Restaurant, Krabi

(above) At Ruen Mai Restaurant

Day 2 ... After breakfast at the River View Hotel, we drove east to the Emerald Pool. We visited here already in April, but it was a Friday afternoon during Thai school holidays and, although very pretty, it was certainly quite busy. So this time we went earlier, arriving there about 9:30am. It actually opens about 8am, and on our NEXT visit we'll go super early! Arriving early means you miss the tour groups who will always be at tourist attractions from about 10:30am - 3:30pm. After paying the entry fee (200 Baht for the dirty foreigner who has lived here 18 years, working, paying tax ... and 20 Baht for Thai people). We took the quicker 800 meter walk to the Emerald Pool this time rather than the scenic 1400 meter route we took last time. Arrived at the beautiful green clear waters .. we were not the very first there, but almost. I counted just 4 other people.

Emerald Pool Krabi

Emerald Pool Krabi

Other visitors started to arrive and after about 45 minutes we walked back to the entrance. And I think along that 10-15 minute walk we passed about 100 people heading towards the Emerald Pool. If you want to see a tourist attraction without tourists - get there early, or get there very late when all the tours have gone home!

A Quick Visit to Koh Lanta

After the Emerald Pool we thought about driving as far as Trang Town, about 100km .. maybe a bit far. Or maybe just back to Krabi Town. We planned to visit Railay Beach the next morning ... so what to do this afternoon. I looked on the map and realised that Koh Lanta was not too far away - only about 50km from the Emerald Pool to reach the ferry over to Koh Lanta Noi island, which is then connected by a bridge to Koh Lanta Yai. I have wanted to check out Koh Lanta for a long time, so we took a drive with the idea of taking a quick look at Lanta and (if we liked it) planning a longer trip later. I always thought Koh Lanta was a long way to drive from Phuket, but I think we could reach the ferry in about 3 hours. Or of course you can get a ferry from Phuket!

We got to the Lanta ferry by about 12:30, only a short 10 minute wait, drive on to the ferry, it's inexpensive, and the ferry takes about 20 minutes over to Lanta Noi island, which you drive across in a few minutes, then over the bridge to Lanta Yai. I have read that in peak season, at peak times, there can be a big queue for the ferry.

Koh Lanta Car Ferry

Welcome to Koh Lanta

(above) Car ferry to Koh Lanta .. Welcome to Lanta Island .. Island of Happiness, they say! We only had a few hours for a quick look around, and I wanted to try the east coast first - not much in the way of beaches, but there is an "Old Town" and the road carries on almost to the southern tip of Koh Lanta, so we headed south .. also, we needed lunch, and we figured the old town would be a good place to try!

Koh Lanta East Road

(above) Koh Lanta Road to the old town. Much of the 25 minute drive looked like this. Very quiet. Very little traffic. A few tourists on mopeds.

Right as we hit old town, we saw a promising looking old noodle shop, and they also had "Khao Ka Moo" (rice with steamed pork leg). Big portions and tasty.

Lunchtime Noodles in Koh Lanta Old Town

A big plate of Khao Ka Moo

(above) A simple lunch in Koh Lanta Old Town. There did not really seem to be much to the old town, quite a few souvenir shops, but no tourists, a few small restaurants, a few actual houses and a Chinese shrine. My daughter and I took a walk along the street. Wife and son were lazier and drove a few hundred meters to meet us!

Koh Lanta Old Town

Koh Lanta Old Town Chinese Shrine

(above) Koh Lanta Old Town

We followed the east coast road as far south as possible with some very nice views, then double back past town, to where a road heads over the hills to the west coast. The hills in Koh Lanta are quite high, up to about 400m above sea level. If there are any hiking trails, I bet there would be some amazing views.

Koh Lanta View, South East of the Island

(above) East coast of Koh Lanta

Now the west coast turned out to be a bit disappointing. The beaches we saw very very dirty. I know it's low season, I know the wind blows trash onto the western shore, but it seemed like no effort had been made to clean up. And it was also very difficult to get to, or even see the beach, as all beachfront land was occupied by businesses, hotels, restaurants. The whole place seemed rather neglected. Has to be better in high season and, I don't know, maybe we'll try again when the winds blow the other way. We spent about an hour driving up the west coast with a few stops.

Klong Nin Beach, Koh Lanta

(above) Klong Nin Beach, Koh Lanta

Klong Dao Beach, Koh Lanta

(above) Klong Dao Beach, Koh Lanta

Then a quick drive back to the ferry and about 1 hour drive back to Krabi Town. And rather than a "nice" restaurant we walked around town and found some very tasty chicken noodles for dinner. Always happy when we can get tasty, cheap street food and the dinner bill is less than 200 Baht for the family!

Visiting Railay Beach and Phranang Beach

Day 3 ... And we did a lot before heading home to Phuket! I really wanted to visit Railay Beach. In all these years I have never been there. My wife was not too bothered. Just another beach? Well, I can say we really liked it and if we're planning yet another Krabi trip, Railay is on the list again. From where we stayed in Krabi Town at River View Hotel, we had to walk just a couple of minutes to get a longtail boat from the river to Railay Bay. Price easy way 150 Baht per person.

Longtail boats from Krabi Town to Railay

(above) Longtail boats by the river in Krabi Town. The trip to Railay took about 30 minutes in calm seas. Boats arrive at a large floating pier which is at Railay Bay East - not much of a beach here, more mangroves. To reach West Railay it was a few minutes walk down a narrow alley, a gap between hotels, a bit smelly in places. We bought water in a minimart - everything double the normal price because everything here has to be brought in by longtail boat. Small bottles of water - 20 Baht.

Longtail boat approaching Railay Bay

(above) Approaching Railay from Krabi Town

I took a LOT of photos this day, and I'll do a separate blog post about Railay and Phranang Beaches. As soon as we got to Railay Beach, we were confronted with a spectacular view and lots of people unloading supplies by hand from longtail boats. Plenty of work goes into that 20 Baht bottle of water!

Unloading supplies at Railay Beach West

(above) Hauling supplies up the beach at West Railay

Railay Beach Krabi

Railay Beach West

(above) Raily Beach (West). It gets lots of hype, so I was expecting something less, but it really is gorgeous. My boy just had to run around in joy :) Now, we got there fairly early, about 10am. I have heard that it's busier in the early afternoon as lots of people arrive from Ao Nang, more from Krabi Town, some from Phi Phi too. Just like the Emerald Pool, getting there before the crowds is a big help! There are of course hotels at Railay Beach - have a look at Agoda. We might look into staying there next time.

We had limited time, and had only planned a quick look around before heading back to town and checking out of the hotel, but this really is a beautiful place. Another trip is needed! From West Railay, we walked back to East Railay and then took another pathway heading to Phranang Beach. This path winds around caves and stalactites for a couple of hundred meters, arriving at Phranang Bay which is truly wondrous .. and already quite busy when we got there at about 11am.

Phra Nang Beach, Krabi

(above) Phranang Beach - click photo to see a bigger version (opens in a new browser window)

Phranang is a place we could stay for a while, bring some drinks and snacks, take a swim ... next time. There are a couple of points of interest here. I know there is a viewpoint that needs a bit of climbing to reach. We did not have time for that. But right there on the beach is a cave featuring an unusual shrine to the princess of Phranang cave. Offerings are made here in the form of lingams ... phallic symbols resembling the male organ. This is said to bring luck, prosperity and fertility to the local people.

Phra Nang Cave, Krabi

Phranang Cave

Phranang is also well known for rock climbing. Krabi is the place to be if you want to learn/try climbing, or if you are an experienced climber. Just along the beach from the cave we found many climbers and ropes.

phra-nang-climbing

(above) Rock climbing at Phranang, Krabi

Revisiting Tiger Cave Temple

Our longtail boat was waiting at East Railay and we headed back to Krabi Town at midday, checked out of the hotel and thought about driving back home to Phuket. But first .. I wanted to visit the Tiger Cave Temple again. Last time we hiked up the 1,237 steep steps to the top of the temple, amazing view from there. But I realised that we had not actually seen the cave after which the temple is named. Apparently tigers used to hang out around here and locals would hear them. But according to what we read, some Monks went to live in the cave in 1975 and since then no tigers have been seen. I don't think there are any wild tigers around these days. The last wild tiger caught in Phuket was back in the 1960s.

Tiger Cave at Tiger Temple, Krabi

Cave at Tiger Temple, Krabi

(above) Exploring at Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi

And then, right at the far end of the temple, we decided to have a look at a big statue of Guan Im, the Chinese goddess of compassion .. and past her was a steep stairway with a sign saying "Wonderland". Say what? Wonderland? Did we want to hike up? Well, OK .. about 100 steps up, enough to get sweaty in the middle of the day. And then .. steps going back down the other side into the jungle. With caves. There's a pathway which loops around passing 4 or 5 different caves, plus this is where some of the monks live.

Monks House at Tiger Temple, Krabi

(above) Monk accommodation in the jungle

Cave at Tiger Temple, Krabi

(above) Shrine and Buddha in "Wonderland" at the Tiger Cave Temple

Huge Buttress Roots

(above) And we were also very impressed by giant jungle trees with the biggest buttress roots I have ever seen! So, yes it was worth getting achy legs going up and down the steps to this area! We did not leave Krabi until after 4pm, making it a full day and a full 3 day trip. But now we've done a couple of these trips, Krabi seems much closer to us in Phuket. The drive is not too long - maybe a bit far for a day trip, but a weekend trip, just 1 night would certainly be possible. Not sure when the next trip will be, but soon.

More about the Emerald Pool
More about the Tiger Cave Temple
Trip to Krabi in April 2017
Tours and Excursions in Krabi with Easy Day Thailand
Krabi Hotels @ Agoda.com

Krabi Area - Location Map