With cheap international airfares and a strong Aussie dollar, Australian families are flocking to Asia for holidays. Here’s a look at how to enjoy Phuket with your teens.
Teen alert: There are plenty of activities to keep teens busy on Phuket – from kick boxing to white water rafting and snorkeling. Don’t (as I did) show your teens The Beach to set the scene – two guys get mauled by a shark, and Hangover 2 is also a dubious choice!
Our recent holiday to this popular Thai island got off to a bad start when my teenage son’s backpack was stolen. With it went his iPod, phone, etc. It served as a lesson on personal security. On the upside, it also meant we didn’t have to endure gaming at meal times. Instead, we rediscovered the art of conversation and enjoyed a wonderful family holiday.
Stay: We stayed at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa on Mai Khao beach, which is rated the top family hotel on Phuket. It deserves the reputation for its beautiful location, tropical landscaping, amazing facilities, wonderful service and great restaurants. We particularly enjoyed Ginja for Thai meals and Blue Bar for sunset cocktails (half price from 5-6 pm). The resort offers an extensive program of activities. I loved the yoga sessions and our sons (reluctantly) tried salsa dancing and kick boxing. You can get a beach massage for $10 an hour and a cute baby elephant visits the resort daily with his mahout.
The resort is on the northern tip of the island, which makes it quite remote from the main tourist precincts. That’s good if you want a quiet holiday but inconvenient if you’re hoping to do lots of shopping and partying.
See: You’re never far from a beach on Phuket, but for the best snorkelling, take a boat to the surrounding islands. The Phi Phi group was made famous by The Beach, starring Leoardo DiCaprio. Maya Bay, where the movie was filmed, is stunning, but expect to share this piece of paradise with lots of other tourists. About 200 tour companies ply the waterways here. We were looked after by a great crew on the Sea Angel Speedboat.
A trip to the mainland is also a good option for teens. We visited Phang Nga for a short
elephant trek, ATV ride and some white-water rafting. Rafting through the jungle was definitely the highlight. www.islandsafaritour.com
Tours are a fraction of the listed price if you book them at one of the many tour offices in Patong.
Eat: Phuket is famous for seafood, but I love the green papaya salad (a specialty of the Thailand’s north). Keep a glass of water handy because salads only come one way – fiery!
Flights: We flew with Air Australia (formerly Strategic), a budget airline with direct services
out of Brisbane and Melbourne (Fares from $429 each way). Beware: you’ll be paying for everything once you get on board – meals, snacks, drinks, blankets. It will also cost extra to reserve your seat in advance. Our flight had no inflight entertainment, so make sure you pack your own. There was nothing Australian about our flight (apart from the passengers). The plane and crew were chartered from Atlas Air.
UPDATE: 17/2/2012 AIR AUSTRALIA has gone into voluntary administration. See details here.
For a complete list of flight and hotel options check out Webjet.
Also check out Trip Advisor for independent hotel reviews.