Is Koh Samui a good destination with kids? Most definitely. 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 – as long as they’re well-behaved! Ensure a perfect and stress-free holiday to Samui with children, using our helpful suggestions and activity ideas. 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? Learn what to bring and what children wear…
- Where to eat? Discover the best kiddie food options on Samui…
- Is it safe? Get to know a few sensible safety and culture tips…
Where to stay on Koh Samui with kids?
What’s the best beach for kids, toddlers and babies 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! The easiest way to choose a beach is to use our baby, The Koh Samui Guide, to learn the pros/cons and suitability of all of Samui’s main beaches – plus island locations and general proximity. Then, whether making hotel choices or planning day trips and nights out, we’re certain it will help you make the utmost of your Samui holiday together.
What are best hotels for children on Koh Samui? Once you have your preferred beach (or a short-list of beaches), get to know our favourite family-friendly Koh Samui resorts, listed below. Start with this crucial intro (learn to decipher star ratings, the definition of ‘child-friendly’, and why you won’t find big water slides at hotels on the island), then peruse at your leisure!
For simplicity’s sake, the locations below are fairly broad interpretations. Where some hotels sit in remote bays or on very small beaches we’ve grouped them with the closest big beach nearby (it’s all explained in each hotel’s details).
Southwest / West Coast (Hua Thanon, Laem Set, Na Muang, Taling Ngam, Lipa Noi):
Conrad Koh Samui
InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort
ShaSa Resort & Residences
+ more options: Hua Thanon, Taling Ngam, Lipa Noi hotels
Rather browse family-friendly hotels by price? No problem! Use our full list of family hotels, helpfully segmented into price brackets.
What’s the best hotel kids’ club 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 we had to pick?
- Kids For All Seasons at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
- Planet Trekkers kids’ club at InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort
+ Honourable mention: It’s not a kids’ club but your children might equally love The Secret Garden at Belmond Napasai: get ready to befriend goats, pigs, geese and bunnies galore.
Which hotel has the best kids’ pool 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:
- Banyan Tree Samui: it’s big, and in its own area
- Tongsai Bay: has a beautiful adults-only pool + a beach-front family pool
What’s the best Koh Samui hotel for teenagers? Whether that means tons to do, the freedom to explore on their own, or the guarantee of their own bathroom – consider the following:
- Any of the Bophut hotels are in easy walking distance to Fisherman’s Village
- Poppies Samui is on the southern edge of Chaweng but still walkable
- Santiburi Beach Resort, Golf & Spa offers tons of water-sports and activities
- Vana Belle villas have lots of space and privacy for all guests
Koh Samui green hotels? Let’s quickly look at the best hotel for ‘green’ families on Koh Samui. It’s a tie between Tongsai Bay and Six Senses Samui – both are very eco resorts, though with distinct ambiance and differing green practices. If you avoid chemicals – these are your new fave hotels!
Things to do on Koh Samui with kids
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: Things for families to do on Koh Samui
- Get cooking: Koh Samui’s best family cooking classes
- Samui’s star attraction: Tips for visiting Big Buddha
- Volunteer: Make furry friends at Dog & Cat Rescue Samui
The best Koh Samui day trip for 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 with babies or young children as it’s a long day in strong sun and occasionally rough water. Check that your tour operator provides children’s life jackets. Reputable ones do! (We cover 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. *See our tips for what to bring for enjoying Koh Samui’s beaches, below.
Can children ride elephants on Koh Samui? Full disclosure – we’ve been accused of being preachy about not riding elephants in Thailand. We’re okay with that – we’ve done our homework and utterly defer to the experts (who have this to say).
TIP! If you research only one thing before visiting Thailand – 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 two fantastic elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and both are very welcoming to children. While neither are on Koh Samui, if your animal-loving family is planning a broader Thailand travel itinerary, definitely 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.
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. Things to pack might include:
- Plug-in repellent diffuser: Mosquito-Go Duo (fits Thai plugs)
- DEET-free mosquito repellent spray: Incognito Anti-Mozzie natural spray
- (and/or) DEET-free repellent wipes: Xpel Kids Wipes (or wrist bands)
- Hydrocortisone cream: Galpharm bite relief (1% hydrocortisone)
- (Maybe) mosquito net for a crib: Clippasafe Cot Insect Net (fits travel cots)
Note that your family’s experience with mosquitoes in Thailand will depend where you’re staying. Many Koh Samui resorts spray for mosquitoes or use other deterrent measures. Our detailed hotel tips, linked at the start of this guide, indicate which hotels might particularly require bug spray. If it’s a big concern, see our very honest appraisal of what to expect from mosquitoes in Thailand, as well as Koh Samui more specifically.
We 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, we also suggest packing a tube or two of hydrocortisone cream to quickly relieve any redness from bites.
#2. Sun protection: We highly recommend bringing 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:
- UVP 50+ clothing: Sun Busters hat, Surfit shirt, Jakabel shorts
- Pop-up beach tent: Babymoov Anti-UV Tent (+ travel bag)
- High SPF, water-resistant sunscreen: Green People SPF 25
- Kids’ sunglasses: Baby Banz (UV 400, ages 0-2 years)
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!.
NEW! We’ve just added a massive list of our favourite natural toiletries for Thailand, including sunscreen for your family (and makeup for you). Everything is non-toxic, cruelty free, and tried-and-tested in Thailand’s heat and humidity.
#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 adults who love beach tennis more than anything, we’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 a better quality, non-wooden option to bring from home (this neoprene option would fit both requirements). Prefer to dispense with the bat? The Waboba Ball, of Aussie extraction, actually bounces on water. Perfect for the pool and the beach alike.
- Swimming and diving game: Toypedo Bandits
- (and/or) Underwater Play Sticks
- Bounces on water: Waboba Ball
- Water-resistant: Neoprene Beachball
TIP! 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!
Koh Samui with kids (Faqs)
Is Koh Samui safe for kids? To our minds, 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? Learn exactly how to prepare for Thailand (including crucial packing and dress code tips).
Swim suits? 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.
TIP! 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.
Shoes? 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). We prefer Crocs sandal options to kids’ clogs as they’re just as easy to remove, but you don’t need to check inside it. (Tropical insects need homes too – but they don’t need to squat in your family’s shoes). For older children, flip-flops are ideal. Other shoes required? Probably not, but double-check the recommended adult versions of the best shoes for Thailand.
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 new mall, Central Festival, and at Tesco. We can’t vouch for quality or sizes, nor is there a particularly wide range of sun hats or swimsuits.
TIP! Prepare for your visit with bedtime stories about Thailand: Any of these wonderful children’s books about Thailand will make great reading in advance, on the plane and during your vacation. Enjoy!
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.
TIP! A fresh Thai coconut packs more Vitamin C than orange juice, and is a delicious way to get ample electrolytes in hot weather.
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.
We guarantee this is just the start of outrageous excitement – now let’s get planning your best holiday yet. Enjoy!
Some photos used under license from Shutterstock.com