Samui Wining & Dining
MUM, I’M BORED!
Travelling with kids? Here’s a few outdoor activities to keep them entertained on Samui.


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“What can we do? I’m bored! Take us somewhere fun!” What parent hasn’t groaned at the sound of their kids uttering these phrases while on holiday. Now while Mum and Dad might be quite happy to read a book for hours on end, swinging in a hammock between two coconut palms, children generally need to be entertained, and few can entertain themselves for long.

      Sure, you can bring the ‘electronic babysitter’ along – that would be the iPad – but really, being on holiday is about spending time together as a family, and doing things you wouldn’t usually get a chance to do back home. Being on a tropical island means that the weather is good most of the year, and so there’s a lot of scope to enjoy outdoor activities.

       ‘Beaching it’ means something different to everyone. To some, it involves lazing on a sunbed and topping up the tan. To a kid, this is borrrring! So if you’re determined to soak up some rays, be sure to stock up on a few props to keep the little ones entertained. On the main beaches you’ll see vendors patrolling up and down, selling beach bats, buckets and spades and inflatable water toys. Isn’t it worth it to spend a few hundred baht to keep them busy so you can enjoy the peace and quiet? And remember that you can catch as much of a tan building a sand castle with them as

reading your book, and your efforts will be much appreciated.

          And staying on the beach, why not rent a kayak for the older children? It’s around 200 baht an hour, and usually life jackets are provided. Little ones will need supervision of course. Aquapark Chaweng will please kids of all ages and parents will enjoy the change of pace too. Here, giant inflatable obstacles are anchored in the water in front of Monkey Bay Beach Bar. At 200 baht an hour or 350 baht for a half-day, it’s well worth it. Life jackets are provided, and there are staff to supervise. The beach in front is great with large trees for shade too, so it’s easy to keep an eye on the kids while they negotiate the obstacle course.

          Sticking with watery fun, Coco Splash waterpark in Lamai is good for younger and preteen children, with an assortment of slides and play areas in the water. There’s a restaurant and several salas for parents to relax in while the kids do their thing. Samui has several boat trips either around the island or to the Angthong National Marine Park. As Samui’s waters are calm most of the year, boat trips are good for children too. Many of the companies offer discounted rates for children, or even let them tag along for free.

          If your kids are into creepy-crawlies, take them to the Samui Butterfly Farm, opposite Centara Villas in the south of the island. It’s located on a steep hill, in a pleasant floral garden, covered by a high net to contain the flying insects. The farm breeds its own butterflies, and has a fair selection of caterpillars, cocoons and adult butterflies. Try to go early in the morning, as it’s a steep climb to the top and can get very steamy. Also at the top there’s a small bee-keeping display and a souvenir shop.

          Located 635 metres up Khao Pom Mountain, above Lipa Noi, Paradise Park Farm makes a pleasant family excursion. The drive up can be a little hairy, so make use of the pickup service from the main road if you haven’t hired a 4x4. Walkways and trails wind through 20 acres of tropical mountain forest, where temperatures are considerably cooler than the rest of Samui due to the higher altitude. The park’s restaurant and infinity pool share endless views over the west coast and to the Five Islands. Interesting residents include the tiny hedgehogs, deer that harass you for food and Coco The Monkey who has a pet guinea pig that he likes to brush. Spacious aviaries are home to a variety of colourful birds that keep up a constant rowdy chorus.

          But if your little darlings are into larger beasts, why not take them elephant trekking? This is a pleasant way to encounter these animals that were once employed in Thailand’s logging industry, and trekking is offered in several locations on Samui. The most popular locations are either at Namuang One Waterfall, or Wat Hin Lad in Nathon. Sit in specially designed seats strapped to the elephant’s back and explore the jungles and rivers of Samui’s interior on these sure-footed pachyderms. Trekking is often incorporated into the many safari tours operated on the island. Standard rides last half an hour, but longer ones are available too. Jungle Safaris cover several adventure activities and sight-seeing, with half and full-day packages available.

          Keep your eyes and ears open for community fairs, usually hosted at temples to raise funds. It’s hard to know when and where these fairs will be held, but look out for large banners and blinding decorative lights pointing the way. Watch for the stream of locals parking their scooters at the entrance, listen for festive music, and follow your nose towards the aroma of edible goodies mingling in the air. The usual market food vendors are in abundance, as well as stalls selling everything under the sun. Children throw darts at balloons in the hope of winning oversized fluffy toys, or fish in tanks of water for prizes. Fairs take place in the evening to avoid the heat and there’s usually a stage for local celebrities and impromptu performances.

           If your idea of a retirement fund is setting your child up as a world-class golfer, get them hooked on the sport with mini golf, or the more unusual football golf. Samui Football Golf is set amid a coconut grove near Choeng Mon Beach, the fairways and greens offers a fair amount of shade, but an early morning or late afternoon start would still be recommended. Regular golf rules apply, but instead of using clubs, a football is kicked from hole to hole, making a fun family day out when you tire of the beach. Balls are provided, so no kit is required. The grounds of the 18-hole, par 66 course are well maintained, and the course is easy to follow. Samui has several options for mini golf enthusiasts. Two of these are in Choeng Mon – one at the Arayaburi Resort and the other on route 4171 leading into Choeng Mon. Treasure Island Mini Golf is attached to Gringos Mexican Restaurant in Chaweng, just off the beach road.

          On a more spiritual note, many children find the colourful temples interesting, particularly Wat Plai Laem, where they can feed the thousands of teeming catfish, or take a ride in a swan-shaped paddleboat.

          Sure, Samui may not have big outdoor amusement parks like Singapore or Hong Kong, but there’s still plenty to entertain kids. If you give them a chance, you’ll see that children are more open to trying new things than you may expect. And if you tire them out in the day, you might just get some much needed peace and quiet in the evenings. Well, you can only hope…

          

 Rosanne Turner

 

 


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