Booking somewhere that suits you as a couple is a whole different kettle of fish to finding somewhere that meets all your family’s needs. It’s definitely worth booking ahead to get what you want if you’ve got children in tow, especially in high season when places fill up quickly. Here are my tried and tested family-friendly places to stay in Thailand…
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About halfway down the coast, on Khlong Nin beachfront, is this family-friendly joy – by far my favourite place to stay on the island. Clean and spacious with comfy beds, great bathrooms and idyllic views, the family bungalows overlook the pool, beach and restaurant – meaning you can put your little’uns down for a nap, whack on the monitor and sneak in some sunbathing and swimming, safe in the knowledge that you’re right outside with your room in full view. Lanta Miami’s grounds are pretty, well kept and separated into several different eating areas, making it feel like you’re mixing it up, even if you end up eating here most days. The raised pagodas with low tables make great ‘contained’ entertainment areas for kids while eating and there’s plenty of bars, restaurants, ATMs and minimarts around Klong Nin beach as well as a 7/11 about 1km away. You’re also quite close to Mu Ko National Park here and you can hire a car from reception and go exploring at your own pace. Come evening, grab a Happy Hour Mojito from Mr Love’s onsite beach bar and wallow in paradise.
I’d read online that this place was THE most family-friendly place on the island so was interested to try it for a night before we headed back to Bangkok. The resort is geared up specifically for families -TUI run holidays here – and for the convenience, you sacrifice a lot of the rustic Thai beach charm. Saying that however, there are some huge pluses if you pop in for a night or two. Choose a room that backs on to a ginormous swimming pool complete with water slide, swim-up bar and elephant fountains and you’re family entertainment for the day is sorted. The novelty of opening the patio doors and jumping into a pool doesn’t grow old and there are safety catches on all doors to stop kiddos escaping. Kids can boogie the night away at the children’s disco and swim their hearts out at more pools near the beach. There’s also a babysitting service so you could squeeze in a cheeky date night. Breakfasts are immense with foods spanning several continents – load your plate with dim sum followed by an English fry up, noodles, salad or cereal – you’ll definitely find something for all palettes here (and be able to siphon off a bit for the young’uns lunch too). Venture out along the silky sands of Khlong Dao beach for bodyboarding and more food options or grab a Tuk Tuk to Saladan market for a spot of shopping.
Railay Beach – accessible only by boat – is a magnet for the tourist hordes and it’s not hard to see why. On the west side, magnificent towering limestone cliffs encircle the bay, a fleet of long tail boats bob in the water and you’re perfectly positioned for sunset. Rock climbing, diving, boat trips and a whole host of other activities are on offer for adventure lovers, although the downside is the noisy boats and crowds mean you won’t feel like you’ve discovered your own slice of Thailand. It’s a fantastic spot for a short layover before heading to the islands (ferries depart to surrounding islands such as Koh Lanta from the beach) and the views are picture-perfect. The staff at the hotel are unfailing in their friendly welcome and adoration of children. Monkeys hang in the trees, there’s a small children’s play area, a beachside restaurant with buffet breakfast and a delicious pool overlooking the bay. Some family villas have their own jacuzzi pool, which is nice to loll in if you have sleeping babes inside the villa, however there was a strong smell of drains in places, which can be a little offputting! Choose from oodles of eateries up and down the beach as well as a little shopping avenue for clothes and essentials.
Convenient for an airport stopover, yet with a boutique-y vibe, this hotel offers humongous family suites at affordable prices. An enticing sitting area and pool gleam orange in the setting sun and replenish the soul after a long-haul flight. There’s a small restaurant onsite, helpful staff and a sky train stop right outside. Watch out for mosquitoes though, come evening, the bitey bloodsucking nuisances are rife.
Made famous from the movie, The Hangover 2, this hotel has got the five star experience down to a capital T – stay here and you’ll feel like you’re a Hollywood celeb yourself. Seek out a good deal on websites like Expedia beforehand and an enormous apartment with jaw-dropping views is yours for the price of an average UK B&B. Ours, on the 21st floor, had wall to wall windows gazing over the sprawling city, a kitchen (with washing machine and tumble dryer!), dressing room, dining area, bathroom and a double room with ensuite…in a word, epic. Don’t be put off by the outdoor balcony balustrades with kids – the patio doors remain locked unless a member of staff is present to rule out that danger. Food and drinks are very pricey, so indulge at the INCREDIBLE buffet breakfast to stock up for the day, pop across the road to the 7/11 and make use of your kitchen or stroll to restaurants nearby. For daytime entertainment, there is a park nearby, or ask the hotel to drive you (for free) in their golden Tuk Tuk to a boat stop just down the road for a tour down the river. There are endless ways to treat yourself: order room service (it really exceeds expectations), grab a massage or organise a babysitter with the concierge and head skywards for a date night at the rooftop skybar, watching Bangkok glittering below.
About a 20-minute Tuk Tuk ride away from Koh Lanta’s Saladan port, this small cul de sac of characterful bamboo huts looks wonderfully eco in appearance – if not always by nature (we didn’t see huge evidence of their green credentials). A smattering of hammocks, unpretentious shorefront bar, sandy restaurant and chorus of frogs at night fuel the relaxed, rustic hideaway vibe. It’s quiet and shady thanks to lofty trees – a welcome relief for hot bubbas. You’re smack back on Long Beach, a glorious stretch of palm-fringed golden sand and calm waters, so vast that even in busy peak season, the beach still feels fairly quiet. There’s also a laundry service, Western-style food on the menu for fussier eaters and lots more little bars and restaurants a short stroll away. Treat yourself to a massage while your little one has their hair braided or nails painted next to you – total parenting win!
On the downside, Eco Lanta only possess one high chair and cot, so if there’s more than one baby staying here, be prepared to share or do without. There are a few loungers (which you’ll need to bag early) and deck chairs dotted on the beach, but no beach towels are offered. Mosquitoes are rife here, possibly because of the stagnant water feature in the centre of several of the huts. We were eaten alive in the first couple of days so be sure to put your nets down at night and take plenty of repellent. The huts are constructed with varying levels and steep steps, which can be a bit of a challenge if you’ve got tottering toddlers. Overall it was a lovely place to stay, but the service and guest extras could do with a bit of a polish in order to feel like you’re getting value for money.