Phuket is one of the most popular places for an island holiday in Thailand but 10 days in Thailand (which is how long most people go for) is only just enough to get a taste of what Southern Thailand has to offer. Unlike most holidaymakers, flying to Phuket with a vague plan and four young kids in tow was quite an adventure (sometimes, it was downright scary!). Our one month Thailand itinerary exploring the beaches and islands of southern Thailand allowed us to thoroughly explore Phuket, Ao Nang, Krabi, Koh Lanta and other islands in the south.
Although we had visited Phuket and this region before, it was more than 15 years ago. So while reminiscing our backpacking days, we jumped in feet first and set about discovering the gems that South Thailand had to offer. The south is home to several famous landmarks in Thailand. If you don’t have the time to spend a whole month in Thailand, here’s our suggested Thailand itinerary (10 days).
- Thailand Travel Tips
- Thailand Itinerary – 10 Days
- Regions visited on this Thailand itinerary
- Day 1 and 2 – Khao Lak
- Days 3 to 5 – Ao Nang (Krabi)
- Days 6 to 7 – Koh Lanta
- Days 8 to 9 – Koh Phi Phi
- Days 10 – Patong Beach
- Our One Month in Thailand
Thailand Travel Tips
Phuket International Airport
You can make all the plans you like but flights can often be delayed, especially if you’ve booked a discount airline.
Our flight out of Denpasar was delayed, thanks to a power outage and our plans to spend a few fun hours in Singapore’s Changi Airport en route were no to be.
Instead, we got to spend all of five minutes transferring through Changi and arrived in Phuket feeling dazed and confused at 11.30 pm.
Unfortunately, our luggage didn’t get the same whirlwind treatment and we did, so we arrived in Phuket without our bags.
It was a long, hot 12 hours waiting for our swimwear to arrive before we could use the pool.
Visas for Thailand
Passport holders from most countries will not need a visa for entry into Thailand, so this makes immigration a breeze.
Phuket is a large airport and arriving with tired kids, we were happy to be ushered through a ‘family’ line to get our passports stamped.
Vaccinations for Thailand
Our vaccinations from our stay in Bali would carry us through to Thailand, these included Typhoid and Hepatitis A.
Again, we reminded the kids frequently not to drink the water out of the tap and carried hand gel.
If you are planning a trip to Thailand, visit your Travel Health Clinic or doctor three months before your trip.
The one thing I always make sure I book when travelling with kids is an airport transfer.
Negotiating with airport taxi drivers is something I wish to avoid.
Our transfer was to take us up to Khao Lak (it cost us about 1500THB), over 70 km away from Phuket International Airport so we arrived at our accommodation around 1 am.
Phuket Airport is 32 km north of Phuket Town itself.
Thailand Itinerary – 10 Days
Regions visited on this Thailand itinerary
Although this is a 10-day itinerary, you could easily stretch it out to two weeks or three weeks or even spend a month in Thailand by adding extra days in the places you love best.
The main places visited on this itinerary is southern Thailand but if you have more than 10 days to spend in Thailand, I’d suggest adding extra days as follows:
- Phuket – spend more time here if you want to shop, visit attractions and have a choice of lots of beaches and resorts. There’s also a good choice of excellent Thai cooking classes in Phuket.
- Isaan in northern Thailand is the place for Khmer culture and amazing temples.
- Khao Lak – stay longer if you’re looking for a relaxing vibe.
- Ao Nang/Krabi – spend more time here if you like busy tourist towns with lots of cheap eats and well-priced hotels.
- Koh Lanta – stay here for a week if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and an island lifestyle.
- Phi Phi – spend more time here if you want to party.
Day 1 and 2 – Khao Lak
Khao Lak is a small seaside resort town on the west coast, just north of Phuket, which was decimated during the 2004 Tsunami so it’s great to see its recovery in full swing.
The best time of year to visit is December to March.
Where to Stay in Khao Lak
There are many beautiful beaches to choose from, all lined with upmarket resorts and low-key guesthouses.
With a big family, we always stay where we can get a family room for a budget price and paid only A$80 per night (including breakfast) for six beds in a cute little family cottage at Khao Lak Relax Resort.
Motorbikes were needed to get around here but there was a beautiful beach less than 1 km away which was perfect for sunsets.
Visit White Beach, Khuk Khak, and Memories Beaches for stunning white sand and crystal clear water.
It is an idyllic place, where the beaches are lined with shady trees, restaurants and massage stands.
Things to do in Khao Lak
A trip to the Similan Islands is the best thing to do from Khao Lak. Spending a day snorkelling on the rich coral reefs beautiful National Park beaches out in the Andaman Sea is like a dream come true and the fish life is abundant but so are the tourists.
Note that the National Park is closed from May to October.
The tsunami museum is disappointing.
It was very difficult to find and there is a big police boat sitting on a concrete slab with a couple of huts selling souvenirs with gruesome photos nearby asking for donations.
It sort of looks as though they are working on improving the memorial, but at present, I would skip it.
Enjoy a sunset at the many picturesque beach bars – overlooking the water for a sunset with a cocktail in hand while the kids play in the sand is my favourite thing to do.
Khao Sok National Park
Visit nearby Khao Sok National Park, only one hour away, famous for its gibbons which you can hear howling in the early evening and morning.
Phang Nga Bay
A day trip to nearby Phang Na Bay to see the iconic ‘James Bond Island’ is another popular activity.
One week in Khao Lak would be a perfect amount of time to spend in this pretty place.
The town has a relaxing, a tropical vibe and there are just enough activities to keep you entertained.
Days 3 to 5 – Ao Nang (Krabi)
How to get to Krabi
We organised a private van transfer from our hotel in Khao Lak to our Airbnb farm stay
in Ao Nang.
A big, comfortable, air-conditioned 12-seater van cost 1400THB and the trip took about 1.5 hours.
We arranged this transfer through our hotel but you could also use 12GoAsia to
check and compare prices.
Ao Nang is another beachfront town situated just outside of Krabi.
From Phuket, you can get a direct ferry transfer here or fly directly into Krabi Airport.
This bustling place is pretty touristy.
There is a McDonalds, Coffee Club and Boots all on the waterfront along with fantastic seafood restaurants all vying for space along the top of the beach.
Where to Stay in Ao Nang
We stayed at a farm stay just off the beach – this place was quite a unique house with many cats, chickens and even baby goats.
There were also geckos the size of small crocodiles, so perhaps this would not suit everyone.
You need a scooter to get around and it was 4 km from the beach but breakfast was included.
It was a beautiful and relaxing homely place.
When you travel around for a long time, you need places like these, a home away from home. Check it out for yourself here.
We found the cheapest eats in Ao Nang in the streets off the beachfront or around the corner at Noppharat Thara Beach.
What to do in Ao Nang
Explore the islands
Boat trips from Ao Nang are the most popular activity and we did an amazing four-island
snorkelling tour. You can read our full review of it here.
Zip lining was a fun activity for the kids, as well as a tour to Hong Islands.
If you are only staying in Ao Nang, this is a great place to base yourself for a tour of the famous Phi Phi Islands with day trips via speedboat leaving regularly.
Make sure you visit Railay Bay with its beautiful beach and towering karst cliffs and explore the Princess Cave.
Days 6 to 7 – Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is my favourite part of Southern Thailand as it’s perfect for relaxing but there’s also heaps to do.
How to get to Koh Lanta
You can either get a private speedboat transfer or a public ferry.
We went with the ferry (because it was cheaper) and the pleasant journey only took 1.5 hours across a calm sea.
Arriving at the Saladan Pier was pretty chaotic and you have to pay 10 THB per person just to exit the pier.
There is a bridge over to Koh Lanta so you can also access it by car transfer from Ao Nang or Krabi.
Where to Stay in Koh Lanta
There are many different beaches to choose from down the west coast of the island, as well as Old Town on the east.
The west coast has beautiful beaches with endless views of stunning sunset vistas.
Our picks for the top beaches would be Long Beach, Kantiang Bay, Bamboo Bay and
Khlong Nin Beach.
What to do in Koh Lanta
Our favourite thing to do here was to relax and enjoy the beautiful ocean.
We visited in April, which is the hottest time to be here, so chilling in between the ocean and the pool was our favourite activity.
Renting motorbikes and exploring the island was another great way to spend our time.
From Long Beach, all the way down to the National Park at the southern tip only takes about 45 minutes.
Alternatively, head on over to Old Town for lunch. It is a beautiful historic wooden town
overhanging the ocean and filled with amazing seafood restaurants.
You can also arrange snorkelling trips from here, as well as day trips to Koh Phi Phi.
Days 8 to 9 – Koh Phi Phi
Now, we last visited Koh Phi Phi over 15 years ago, in 2004, just before the tsunami.
It was certainly a different place with much (over) development occurring in the years since.
The island has become so popular, in low season it was a struggle getting off the pier and such a contrast to our quiet days on Koh Lanta.
However, the beauty of Koh Phi Phi still remains underneath all of that and it is a wonderful place to visit, if only for a couple of days.
How to get to Koh Phi Phi
A ferry from Koh Lanta’s Saladan Pier cost us 350 THB per adult and took one hour.
In the low season, many of these public ferries do not run between Phuket, Phi Phi, Ao Nang and Lanta.
Where to stay on Koh Phi Phi
The eastern end of Loh Dalum Bay is the party zone so if you are like me, you want to stay as far as possible from that.
We were at the western end of the village and could not hear any thumping music.
There are some wonderfully remote resorts as you go around the easternmost point on private beaches which would be amazing.
What to do on Koh Phi Phi
A long tail boat trip is the number one thing to experience on Koh Phi Phi. A half or a full day tour will set you back between 1500 to 3000 THB per boat.
Depending on the weather, the skipper will recommend visiting Koh Phi Phi Lei and Maya Bay (the scene from the movie The Beach), Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island.
Choose your activity from snorkelling, diving or swimming with monkeys.
Tip: Agree on your destinations and price before getting on the boat. You can negotiate with the captain to get a better price.
Days 10 – Patong Beach
Spend the last couple of nights in Phuket to be close to the airport.
Patong is known as a party place, famous for Bangla Road and ladyboys.
How to get to Patong
An onward ferry from Koh Phi Phi cost 450 THB and took us 2 hours. Then we arranged a private driver to take us to our hotel at Patong in a van for a further 700 THB.
Where to stay in Patong
There are many different beaches to choose from in Phuket and it is a great place if you are looking for a package holiday.
There are famous hotel chains, and huge seaside resorts perfect for families.
Patong and Karon are the most popular and busiest beaches.
We stayed in a little hotel right on the beach with wonderful views of the street and the beach below.
It was called Patong Marina Hotel by Lofty and was the cheapest family room we could find in the area.
Things to do in Phuket
Phuket is one of those places with a huge list of activities. Here are some things to tick off your list if you’re planning on staying longer.
- Watersports on the beach including surfing and parasailing
- Phuket Shooting Range
- Partying on Bangla Road
- Upside Down House
- Phuket Aquarium
- Splash Jungle Waterpark
- Patong Boxing Stadium
- Bungy Jump
- Kidzoona and Molly Fantasy
Or you could relax in your resort, put the kids in the kid’s club and have the kind of holiday that you desperately need.
Our One Month in Thailand
Our plane left Phuket Airport en route to Cambodia at a bright and early 6.40 am, so we had to leave our hotel by 3 am.
It was a mission with our bleary-eyed kids but travelling is a mission, however, the rewards of travel with kids make it all worthwhile.
Now, as I sit in Chiang Mai Thailand and write all of this, it feels like a dream.
We sold up everything we had in Australia to fulfil our dream of travelling the world with our family.
After visiting many countries together before we had kids, we just couldn’t put our travel
bug to rest.
Instead, we rearranged our lives in order to make it happen.
Southeast Asia is the best place to travel with kids!
Looking for a do-it-yourself itinerary? Check out these:
- Japan Itinerary
- Osaka Itinerary
- Nagoya Itinerary
- Hong Kong Itinerary
- Macau Itinerary
- Sri Lanka Itinerary
- Philippines Itinerary
- Taiwan Itinerary
- Bali Itinerary
- San Francisco Itinerary
- Oahu Itinerary
- Sweden Itinerary
- Balkan Itinerary
- Tasmania 3 Day Itinerary – The Convict Trail
- Tasmania Itinerary – The Tasting Trail
If you want to see more of what Kris and Brian have been getting up to so far on their long term travels through Southeast Asia with four kids aged between two and nine years old, check out their family travel blog Gadsventure.com.