Planning a short family getaway doesn’t need to be stressful with Agoda. Here’s a simple guide to help you out.
Booking a short family vacation can feel like a daunting task, but modern day booking apps have made the experience much easier. From secluded home rentals to private drivers and activities for each day — you can often plan your entire trip on one app.
For this survival guide, we’ll be using Agoda to book everything needed for the perfect three-day family vacation in Koh Samui, including the flight and activities. This is a general guide, but Agoda’s platform allows users to tailor their plans by filtering for amenities, facilities, and even local transportation (vans, cars, buses, ships)—among other requirements. Play around to get the best results!
Accommodation and Transportation
Where you stay and how old your children are will affect the type of accommodation and transportation you need. While it can be tempting to book a stay at an all-inclusive luxury resort near the main town on the island’s northeast, be wary that these areas bring with them larger crowds, packed beaches and higher prices.
When traveling with families of three or more, opting for a private stay in a locally owned villa or apartment often provides just as much comfort as a ritzy hotel in town, but with the added peace and quiet needed to make family travel less hectic.
Agoda Homes, which allows travellers to easily book stays in private apartments, homes and villas, has a huge range of options across the island. Take for example Laemsor Residence in Koh Samui’s Na Muang district. Sitting just 40-minutes away from the main town, it’s well within driving distance of key attractions, but its somewhat secluded spot on the lower southern side of the island means your beachfront villa feels truly private. It’s also pet friendly if your family unit includes a furry companion. Many of these private stays also include service staff on site (some even have a in-villa chef!) so you’ll still get the full hotel experience.
Any stay on Koh Samui will involve a lot of driving around. Thankfully, most scheduled activities booked through platforms like Agoda include a shuttle service from your accommodation to the activity site and back.
But you will likely also want to visit restaurants and other sites around the island that are not part of a pre-planned itinerary. Although private drivers might sound expensive (B3,000/10 hours), they can be a helpful aid to your experience — on-call to take you anywhere, pick up items for you, and recommend places to eat and see.
Day 1: Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Visit
Thailand’s national animal and its use in the tourism industry has been the topic of a lot of controversy over the past decade. Many practices like elephant rides, human-to-elephant interactions, and circus acts have been exposed for the damage they do to the wellbeing of these majestic creatures.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy elephants up close during your Samui visit. The half-day ethical elephant observation tour from the Samui Elephant Sanctuary provides the perfect combination of education, interaction, and family fun without causing harm to the animals. Here, six retired female elephants roam a wide-open jungle territory, swimming in ponds, bathing in mud, and playing with friends.
During your first day, it’s best to book an afternoon visit to the sanctuary so there is time to settle into your accommodation before heading off on the day’s trek. The experience at Samui Elephant Sanctuary includes plenty of education on elephant welfare and insights into the day-to-day activities of their caretakers. You’ll help make “elephant sushi” and learn how to safely feed the elephants on site. As you journey around the sanctuary, you’ll learn each elephant’s personal story, funny anecdotes about their personalities, and some of the hardships they faced during their previous lives. There are tons of safe photo opportunities along the way, and the day ends with a delicious Thai sharing meal for all guests.
The trip ends around 4:30pm. After a long day of travelling, now is a good time› to pick up a few necessities and head back to the hotel for some rest.
Day 2: Speedboat Tour to Pig Island
Pig Island is exactly what it sounds like: a small island about 10-minutes away from the mainland inhabited with portly, furry and funny friends. The animals are perfectly safe to interact with (although they get a bit grumpy with each other over food) and mostly just waddle and sniff around.
The best way to experience the island is through a speedboat island-hopping tour. The speedboats, which can be easily booked privately or as part of a group, get you to the other islands in the blink of an eye.
Before hitting Pig Island, you’ll make a quick stop at a nearby coral reef for an hour of snorkelling among schools of fish and other beautiful marine life. The water in this part of the island is shallow, and life jackets are provided if you or a member of your family are not comfortable swimming in the open water.
Once making it to Pig Island, you’ll have a range of things to do: feed the pigs and take selfies; group kayaking along the coastal beaches; and hiking up a small mountain to take in the serene panoramic views (and more selfies). Most trips to the island also include a group meal with classic Thai dishes like pad krapow and fried chicken.
Once you arrive back on the mainland around 3:15pm, it’s the perfect time to head into town for a bit of shopping and then wrap up the day with a breezy dinner. The Organic Farm Coffee Shop on the southern side of the island offers great Thai food made with ingredients grown on site (they will point them out in the nearby fields after you order) and its location high in the mountains means you’ll get one of the best sunset views on the island. Some of the elevated seating areas are not safe for toddlers, so ask to sit in one of the ground-level spaces if you have wee-little ones.
Day 3: Final activities before heading home
Try to get an afternoon or evening flight out of the island if you can. This will give you time to get ready for departure and spend a few extra hours getting some last-minute shopping or activities in.
Certain airlines run flights to and from Bangkok and Koh Samui all day - most of which are bookable on Agoda.
Zip lining can be a great end-of-trip activity for the entire family. It’s exciting, safe for all ages, and only takes about an hour of time. You’ll get panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and mountain ranges as you zip through dense forests, and over flowing rivers.
ATV tours are some of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the island. It’ll take about an hour or hour-and-a-half to complete the journey, which will see you traverse through hidden farmlands, up mountain ranges, and through waterfalls. Many trips culminate with a cafe stop in a nearby mountain to enjoy a cool drink with a view.
Agoda is an all-in-one travel planning app for families who want the best out of their experience without the hassle of arranging every little detail. Visit https://www.agoda.com/ to get started!