Thailand is the ideal South East Asian destination for families, combining a tropical climate with superb beaches and a child-friendly culture. Kids are never bored – plus it's reassuring to know that the more sophisticated resorts are well-equipped with good amenities and first class medical facilities, should you need them.
Staying healthy in Thailand
To avoid the most common travellers' illnesses, visit your doctor before you go to find out which vaccinations you need; use mosquito nets and insect repellent; keep everyone well-hydrated; and reapply high SPF sun tan lotion frequently. Don't forget to protect your own eyes and your children's eyes with good quality sunglasses, and wear a wide-brimmed hat to avoid heat stroke. Even though Thailand has some excellent medical facilities, we'd all rather not have to use them during our holidays – and remember, if you do need any medical treatment, you'll have to pay for it. Just in case, make sure your entire family is covered by comprehensive travel insurance -- including adequate medical cover.
Taking a baby or young children?
Perhaps the most commercial of Thailand's beach destinations, the large island of Phuket is the obvious choice for families. If you prefer quiet holidays, however, it would be a mistake to dismiss it outright if you've only seen a few photos of the most popular resorts. Despite being a mass tourism destination with its own international airport, Phuket has managed to retain plenty of its natural beauty and charm, and there are secluded spots to be found if you make the effort to venture beyond the busiest resorts. Do some homework to find a few beaches that will suit your tastes -- whether you're after large, lively beaches or peaceful, uncrowded bays. Wherever you choose to stay, you'll never be far from a good range of tourist attractions to keep the whole family entertained, and the island's medical facilities are on a par with those in Bangkok (which, on the whole, are very good).
Whether you're splashing about in the warm sea, enjoying a game of mini golf at Dino Park, or taking a day trip to one of the island's tourist attractions such as the Splash Jungle Water Park, Phuket offers a fabulous family holiday destination, and a 'soft' introduction to Thailand.
Taking older children and teenagers?
Also on the western coast of Thailand, in the spectacularly beautiful Krabi region, Railay Beach is a little peninsula lapped by the warm Andaman Sea, lush jungle, and towering limestone cliffs that attract rock climbers from across the globe. With fantastic beaches and a laid-back atmosphere, Railay attracts a good mix of independent backpackers, couples and families.
Ideal for those holidaying with older children, the area offers a whole host of exciting activities including sea kayaking, boat trips to outlying islands, jungle and elephant trekking, quad bike riding, rock climbing, scuba diving and snorkelling. The main hub of activity is around West Railay Beach, lined with lively restaurants and shops, while nearby beaches offer a quieter escape.
When to go
Both Phuket and the Krabi region get busiest in December and January when the weather is at its most pleasant, but to escape the crowds try to plan your trip a little outside of these peak months. February and March are good times to visit - but try to avoid May to October when the monsoon season hits the western coast of Thailand, often bringing heavy rains.