How do you choose the perfect island for family holidays to Thailand?

Last updated 18th April 2024

There are a lot of Thai islands to choose from, 1430 to be precise, so where do you even begin choosing ‘the one’ for a holiday to Thailand? Start here, with our favourite islands for families, and winter sun too, of course.


Koh Samui island, Thailand

Koh Samui, south east Thailand

For some jaw-dropping tropical beauty, Koh Samui is a good choice for a family holiday to Thailand. It’s around half the size of Phuket but still large enough to offer plenty of things to do with the family. Despite receiving around five million visitors a year, it has managed to avoid the wild backpacker reputation of some Thai islands, and is considered to be one of the country’s most child-friendly destinations.

The beaches go on for miles, and there are plenty to choose from. Chaweng Beach boasts super soft white sand, while Choeng Mon has a quiet atmosphere and village feel. When you’re tired of the beach (if that’s possible) there are plenty attractions to visit and enjoy, too.


Floating Buddhist Temple, Koh Samui

Some of the best include the Secret Buddha Garden, where you can discover little houses and sculptures in the cool of the hills. Paradise Park Farm offers a chance to get up close with various animals and birds, alongside breathtaking views from one of the highest points of the island. And all over the island are vibrant markets, elaborate temples and endless opportunities to explore.

 Where is Koh Samui: on the Eastern side of the Thai mainland in the Gulf of Thailand

When to go to Koh Samui: visit from December to March for dry, sunny weather. Expect average December temperatures from 24° to 27°

Find family winter sun holidays to Koh Samui


Walking Street Night Market, Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, south west Thailand

Thailand’s largest island and probably its most well-known is Phuket. Covering more than 500 square kilometres, the island welcomes more than five million visitors each year, attracted to its swathes of beaches, pretty mountains and endless tourist attractions. It’s also super accessible, with connections from Bangkok taking around an hour and 20 minutes, and plenty of direct flights to the island too.

No matter what your budget, there’s something for everyone here, from high end resorts to cute guest houses. And there’s plenty to do too, including water parks, beaches, elephant sanctuaries and various cultural experiences. Phuket FantaSea is a must-do with kids, with nightly theatrical performances, shopping, and one of the largest buffet restaurants in the world.


Choose Phuket for an iconic beach holiday to Thailand

With Phuket as a base, families can enjoy day trips to neighbouring islands in the Andaman Sea, including the famous Phi Phi islands, Phang Nga bay (including James Bond Island) and to the stunning Khao Sok National Park with its waterfalls and bat caves. Whether you’re staying a week or a month, you won’t run out of things to do in Phuket.

Where is Phuket: off the west coast of mainland Thailand in the Andaman Sea

When to go: December to March is best for settled weather, with average December temperatures 26° to 32°

Find your family winter sun holiday to Phuket 


Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay

After earning its stripes as a backpacker party resort, Koh Phi Phi has mellowed a lot in recent years. There are still nightly parties on the beach with fire twirling, but you’ll find the crowd to be older with plenty of families in the mix. As an island, it’s got it all – stunning beaches, a compact little town with everything you need and a long list of things to do.

If you have some water babies in your life, Phi Phi is the perfect place to introduce them to snorkelling. You can do so right off the beach, or take a boat out to one of the many fabulous locations nearby. Many snorkelling spots are quite shallow and very kid-friendly, so it’s a great place to get a taste of the underwater world.


Monkey Beach, Koh Phi Phi

From the island, you’ll also find opportunities to kayak around in the crystal clear waters, or take a boat and hop around some of the nearby islands too. Monkey beach is a firm family favourite, with beach swings and, as you might expect, plenty of monkeys. Phi Phi is an island where you can’t help but chill and reconnect.

Where is Kho Phi Phi: in the Andaman Sea, right in the middle of Phang Nga Bay

When to go to Koh Phi Phi: driest from November to April, with average temperatures of 25° to 30° in December

See our recommended family resort in Koh Phi Phi


Pier, Koh Lanta island, Thailand

Koh Lanta, Strait of Malacca

They say families can’t have an island holiday to Thailand without considering Koh Lanta. Well-known as one of the most family-friendly islands, you’ll find a warm welcome at every stop in Koh Lanta. Don’t be surprised if the restaurants, beach bars and massage salons have toys or some sort of entertainment for the smaller guests – that’s just the Lanta way.

Klong Dao beach is a firm favourite with families, with warm, shallow waters perfect for little ones. The sand is firm enough for building, and the restaurants and bars fringing the beach offer toys, slides and plenty of kid-acceptable food on the menu.


Koh Lanta beach restaurant

Away from the beach, Sala Dan offers some frugal shopping opportunities in its lively markets, and some wonderful seafood served on the pier. Lanta Old Town boasts beautiful traditional Thai wooden houses and temples to explore. If that’s not enough, there are also opportunities for jungle trekking and snorkelling from the island.

Where is Koh Lanta: in the Strait of Malacca off the west coast of Thailand, between the Phi Phi Islands and the mainland

When to go to Koh Lanta: November to early May is best for families, with average December temperatures 25° to 31°

See our recommended family resort in Koh Lanta


Long Pier, Koh Chang Island, Thailand

Koh Chang, south east Thailand

The third most popular island (and also the third largest) after Phuket and Samui, Koh Chang takes its name from the iconic mascot of Thailand – the elephant. Given its size, there is plenty to do, but it’s a bit more laid back and touristed than its two larger siblings. Peppered with stunning waterfalls and with some of the best snorkelling and diving in Thailand, it’s a true tropical paradise just waiting to be discovered.

Although, as with any island holiday to Thailand, you can guarantee fabulous beaches and warm, clear waters. Klong Prao is one of the best for families, with shallow, calm waters and wonderful restaurants fringing the beach. A day out to Mu Koh Chang National Park lets you explore the jungle, which includes the impressive Khlong Phlu waterfall, perfect for photos and swimming.

Hopping to some of the neighbouring islands can be a great day trip too, with Koh Wai a popular choice. There are no cars, no roads and no crowds here; just pristine beaches and fabulous snorkelling, and the speedboat ride to reach it is sure to elicit some giggles. Families can also rent kayaks and paddle to neighbouring Koh Man Nai, where you’ll be able to collect beautiful seashells right off the beach.

 Where is Koh Chang: in the far east of the Gulf of Thailand, near the Cambodian border

When to go to Koh Chang: November to April are the coolest months for kids with average temperature in December 25° to 29°

See our recommended family resort in Koh Chang

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