How to have a family-friendly island holiday in Koh Samui

Fire dancing, zip-lining… football golf! With a wide range of activities for kids and parents, Koh Samui is the perfect Thailand getaway for families.

Ang Thong National Marine Park
  • Georgina Roynan
  • March 2020

Mummy blogger and family travel writer Marianne Rogerson gives us her insider knowledge on 6 top ways to keep the kids happy on family-friendly Koh Samui.

Visit Ang Thong National Marine Park

My family is pretty active, so taking a trip out to Ang Thong National Marine Park with Samui Boat Charter for a fun day of island hopping, swimming and snorkelling is always top of our list. The 42-island archipelago was featured in Alex Garland’s cult novel The Beach.

Go zip-lining

Zip-lining is also a favourite activity for my adrenaline-junkie daughter, and Canopy Adventures has a brilliant jungle course with 15 cable rides that race for two kilometres through the jungle.;

A young girl zip-lining through a green forest
Kids with a thirst for adventure will jump at the chance to zip-line through the jungle.

Try football golf

Imagine golf but fast and furious – and with balls the size of watermelons. That’s a rough approximation of Football Golf, the craze sweeping Koh Samui. The aim of the game, said to have originated on the island, is to manoeuvre a soccer ball into a hole in as little “strokes” – or kicks – as possible, over 18 holes. Catch a pick-up truck to the course for some intra-family rivalry and after completing it, which takes about an hour, wander round the coconut plantation on-site.

Watch fire dancing at Coco Tam

The art of fire dancing is originally Māori but has become somewhat of a tourist staple in Koh Samui. Fire shows happen most nights on the island, and if you’re looking to make an evening of it, head to Coco Tam’s bar on Bophut Beach for post-dinner family time. Parents can chill out on beanbags while kids play in the sand and everyone loves the swings at the bar. Try the truffle and burrata pizza from Coco Tam’s X Peppina over the road, then head to the bar for a Dark Passion cocktail for adults and a lychee mint mocktail for the kids. The fire shows typically start from 10pm, so make sure you grab an afternoon nap first.

Three fire-dancers in Koh Samui
Watching fire-dancing is a great evening activity for all the family.

Stay at Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort

I always recommend the Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort to families. The beach is a quiet haven, with calm water, perfect for young kids. The resort has a gorgeous pool facing out to sea, with shallow areas for the littlies to play, as well as a swim-up bar for mum and dad. There’s also a kids’ club with outdoor play area, indoor activities such as Muay Thai and plenty of space to run around in the landscaped gardens.

Children wearing chefs hats at a cooking class in Koh Samui
The family-friendly Anantara Bophut Koh Samui Resort offers plenty of activities for kids including cooking classes.

Where to go for shopping in Koh Samui

Shopping in Koh Samui is mainly centred around the markets, such as those at Chaweng Beach Road and Chaweng Walking Street. At Fisherman’s Village night market, open from 5pm-11pm every Friday, the sleepy streets of Bophut come to life with market stalls and a fun, festive atmosphere. My kids love browsing for cheap jewellery, bags and clothing – and my daughter always seems to leave with another pair of the ubiquitous “elephant pants”. For high-street and fashion options, Central Festival is the best mall on the island and is equipped with a playground and cinema.

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