March is a great time to visit Phuket! The rains have not yet come and prices are competitive. For locals it is a great excuse to take a mini break before the monsoon sets in. There are many smaller islands surrounding Phuket. They may be only hours away yet you will travel back to another time. A time when there was no traffic, shopping malls, beach clubs and bars. In addition the prices are from yester-year too! So where to go?
One nearby island is Ko Yao Yai, known as “big long island“. It has been described as the last paradise of the Andaman Sea. Ko Yao Yai is a beautiful, authentic island and not very developed. There are numerous boutique bungalows that are of a very high quality. The surrounding roads on the island are flat and in good condition so if you do want to cycle or bike ride this is a scenic and uncongested route.
Nearby Ko Yao Noi known as ‘small long island’ is smaller but slightly more populated. It also has more upmarket hotels. Both islands are stunning and as they are nestled between Phuket and Krabi they make a long tail ride to Phang Na bay an easy option. Ferry boats to both islands depart Phuket from Bang Rong Pier and Chianwanich Pier. Or ask your hotel or bungalow to arrange a transfer.
Another lesser known island is Ko Kho Khao. Here you won’t find mass tourism but you will find some great accommodation deals. I have stayed at a beach pool villa for less than 4000THB. The great thing about this island for families is that you can get a car ferry across to the island and drive directly to your hotel! No need to unpack kids, bags, prams and toys. You just drive aboard and straight to your hotel. My children thought the car ferry was one of the best parts of the trip! The beaches here are truly lovely and it is a great island to explore. To get there head north from Khao Lak towards Takuapa and turn left after the 82 kilometer stone. Follow the main road to the ferry area at Nam Khem Village Pier. Take the sand and pool toys, snorkeling gear and get ready to do very little but relax!
This might sound silly but do young children need to travel in car seats like here in Australia? We will be arriving in Phuket in August and our youngest will be 11 months old?
A good question; if a child seat in not required by Thai law, then is it okay to have an unrestrained child in the car? It is wonderful to adhere to the customs and ways of a country when travelling. However a parent must consider their own standards. Unfortunately here in Thailand the law does not state the need for a child restraint but in many other countries of the world the law is now changing to reflect knowledge that injuries to children can be significantly reduced by using a suitable child restraint. The World Health organization states that children under 11 years should have an appropriate car restraint.
It is amazing to see how many children are not wearing seatbelts or in any sort of child restraint. It is common place to see children sitting in the front seat, on passenger’s knees, standing up in the back seat or playing between the seats- even in the back of a pickup. When people holiday they sometimes relax and forget the precautions they would use at home. Local expatriates often relax into local ways.
Regardless traffic on Phuket has intensified and fatalities do occur. Children should not sit in the front seat of a car, nor the back of a pick-up and they should wear the correct safety restraint. Car seats can be expensive to purchase on Phuket so if on holiday bring your own. Many countries prohibit the resale of child restraints however there is quite a large ‘pre-loved’ market on Phuket due to the transient nature of expatriates. Check out Phuket’s local buy and sell sites hosted on social media.