We had not been back to Thailand since we first visited Bangkok and the north of the country as a couple in 2006. Visiting the more touristy southern beaches was never a priority even then. However, when we came across cheap flights to Thailand during the school holidays, we could not resist going back to the country that we had such fond memories of, even though we were less excited about heading to the south of the country.
Visiting the beach resort island of Phuket did not appeal to us as it seems too much like the tourist beaches of Bali, which we have always avoided. However, Thai food was calling, as was the opportunity for the kids to experience another culture, as well as the hot days, spicy food, vibrant streets and friendly people.
We booked to stay for a few days in Kata Beach, a family-friendly coastal area, then move on to experience more culture and history in Phuket Old Town. We flew to Phuket via Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which was a long travel day including a 3.5-hour transit at KLIA2. A delay in KL meant we arrived even later than expected, it was already dark, and on top of that, a 1.5-hour taxi ride to our hotel in busy traffic and pouring rain.
We stayed at PGS Hotels Casa Del Sol, a large resort-style hotel in Kata Beach. We felt pretty fancy with poolside rooms, though unfortunately, the parents and kids rooms were not adjacent. We were able to step off our balcony into the water, and swim up to the main pool. They had a kids play pool area and pool bar – something for everyone.
Reviews online had prepared us for the high number of Russian tourists at this hotel. One of the things that appealed to us was the buffet breakfast, always a great way to start the day. There was a good selection of western and Thai food, and even some Russian food to try.
Immediately in front of our hotel were cafes and other shops for massages, hair braiding, and tours. The area was not too busy, a nice friendly vibe, and we could easily head back to the peaceful hotel grounds whenever we wanted.
We made the most of the cheap services on offer. Clare had a massage, Olive had her hair braided, and the boys dipped their feet for a fish spa.
It was about a 10 minute walk to Kata Beach from the hotel, although it was rather a hot walk. The beach was beautiful, and obviously why people come here. We helped ourselves to a recliner seat and umbrella, and just pretended we did not know that you had to pay for them.
At the top of the beach to the left is great for kids. There is a great shadow from the trees, rocks to climb and a basic restaurant. This quiet section of the beach is great for snorkelling too. We hired some gear for a couple of hours, the boy’s first introduction to snorkelling, and they loved it. When the rain came, we stepped up into the restaurant nearby for some lunch.
There were plenty of eating options near our hotel. There are restaurants along the road in both directions from the hotel and food stalls near the beach offering Thai food and drinks, of which many of them are made for tourists, so a little bit more expensive than we expected, and not quite the burst of Thai flavour we were hoping for. We needed to find some more authentic local food!
Twice we ventured to the Kata walking streets night market at the other end of the beach, for more authentic flavours. The food hall layout provided lots of options for us to try a range of Thai dishes and to find suitable meals for the kids.
Our few days here at the beach was a great holiday enjoyed by all, though after a couple of days we were ready to move on and see more of this island. We are off for a change in pace in Phuket Old Town.
What we did not do: A popular trip from around Phuket is to take a boat to one of the islands. Most popular is a day trip to the Phi Phi islands, but a cheaper and closer one that we would have done if we had another day here was to go out to Coral Island or Bon Island. You can take a local longtail boat from Rawai Beach. Another thing that would have been good to do with the kids was the nearby Dino Park Mini-Golf in Karon.