Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city for those who want to experience the beating heart of Thailand’s history and culture. The city was founded in 1296 as the capitol of Lanna kingdom – a state centered in present-day Northern Thailand from the 13th to 18th centuries. Surrounded by mountains and jungles, Chiang Mai is naturally beautifully – add in the hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples that are built within it, and you have the best of nature and culture in the one spot.

Chiang Mai Old City, Thailand

Many travellers, including ourselves, visited Chiang Mai to see the Old City area, which is surrounded by an actual moat and still retains pieces of walls – a reminder of its important history as a centre for culture and religion in northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai Old City, Thailand

The majority of the ancient monuments in Chiang Mai were ruined over the years, through earth quakes and wars, and what we see today in the city is the result of an extensive restoration project by Unesco and the Japanese government in the 1990s.

While there are hundreds of temples to visit, you can’t (and probably don’t want to) see them all. Here are the five that our family enjoyed visiting the most. (See the end of the post for tips on visiting the temples with kids.)

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Suan Dok
This monastery was build on a flower garden in 1373, and features a large, gilded chedi, that lies behind a sea of white memorial chedi that each honour a member of the Thai royal family.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Suan Dok was the furthest temple away from where we stayed, so we had it first on our list to visit one day, and caught a red bus from it to the old city.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai
Location: outside of the moat

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Phra Singh
The 14th-century Wat Phra Singh is perhaps the most popular temple to visit in Chiang Mai owing to it’s lavish exterior.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

The temple is also an important religious site, attracting a large amount of worshippers both to the main building and also inside Wihan Lai Kham, a small chapel in the rear of the temple grounds that houses a famous Buddha image known as Phra Singh (Lion Buddha).

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Location: inside the moat

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang MaiWat Chedi Luang
Built in the 15th-century, Wat Chedi Luang has a towering Lanna-style chedi which was once possibly the largest structure in ancient Chiang Mai.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang also once held the famous Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha) that has since been removed for safety reasons. A jade replica of the Buddha sides in its place, a gift from the Thai king in 1995 to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the chedi.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai
Location: inside the moat

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Pan Tao
This temple carved from teak wood dates back to the mid 1880s and was formerly part of a royal palace.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Take a stroll through the gorgeous compound, full of fluttering orange flags, and look for the striking peacock and dog image on the temple’s facade – it represents the astrological year of birth of the royal resident who once lived here.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Location: inside the moat

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai
Wat Chiang Man

Our favourite temple, Wat Chiang Man is the oldest in the city, created by its founder, Phaya Mengrai, around 1296.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

The temple is tucked away in a corner of the old city, off the beaten path, so doesn’t see as many tourists as Wat Phra Singh or Wat Chedi Luang.

In front of the ordination hall lies an impressive chedi on top of a stone slab, carved with dragons, elephants and an engraving from 1581 that is the earliest known reference to the city’s origin.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s oldest temple was established by the city’s founder, Phaya Mengrai, sometime around 1296. In front of the ubosot (ordination hall), a stone slab, engraved in 1581, bears the earliest known reference to the city’s founding. Inside the hall lies a Buddha image cast in 1465, making it the oldest-known image created by the Lanna kingdom.

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai Location: inside the moat

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

Visiting temples with children
We took our five-year-old with us to Chiang Mai and she really enjoyed our temple treks. It was a great opportunity to discuss religion, Buddha, faith, prayer and so forth. The temples are all in use and have many Buddhist visitors who come to pray in them, so if you’re visiting with your kids, please ensure they are respectful to the religious meaning and use of them. This means keeping a close eye on what they’re up to and touching, making sure they speak in soft voices and not letting them run around. Kids should also dress appropriately – so same rules for kids as for adults, which is cover your knees, and, in some temples, also cover your shoulders.

I would advise mapping out the temples you want to visit and seeing them in order from furthest from your hotel to closest – that way if your kids get sick of seeing temples and you want to call it a day early, it’s fast to get home and easy to resume the following day where you left off.

When to visit Thailand
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Scarf to cover shoulders if visiting temples
Loose, light layers
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles
Comfortable walking shoes

Thailand Travel Guide: 5 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai

What to wear
The Thai people tend to dress quite conservatively. Tourists can wear shorts and tanks tops, but avoid showing too much skin when you’re not at the hotel. If you’re visiting a temple, wear pants or a skirt that covers your knees. Some temples will also require shoulders being covered.

Money in Thailand
1AUD is about equal to 30THB. A plate of Thai food at a local restaurant will cost about 50-60THB.

Tuk-tuk, Chiang Mai

Getting around: common forms of transport
Red buses: We caught one and it cost 40THB for the three of us. It’s basically a small bus with the back area wide open. Please jump on and off when they need to.
Tuk-tuk: Around 100THB for a short distance. Ask for the cost in advance and wedge kids in the middle, tight.
Taxi: Arrange the amount in advance. Call for a taxi from hotels.

Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai

Where to stay
We loved our stay at the Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

The Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai smells like heaven. There is no other word for it. As we walk in from the hot Chiang Mai street outside, the blast of air conditioning hits us, fragranced sweetly with we-have-no-idea-what, but boy does it smell incredible. We take a deep breath, sigh, and know that we are going to love this hotel.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

A 5-star hotel situated perfectly near to Chiang Mai’s old city and night bazaar, the Shangri-La is paradise for the weary traveller. Decorated beautifully in a contemporary Northern Thai style, the hotel is luxurious, elegant and feels completely indulgent.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Our room is the most basic available, with a king bed and rollaway. It’s spacious, bright and airy, with a gorgeously big bathroom including shower and full-size bathtub. The complimentary wi-fi is fast and easy to use.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The package we booked includes daily buffet breakfast, which we enjoy every morning in Kad Kafe, an impressive room with soaring ceilings and bold lighting fixtures.

HOtel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The buffet offers a wide assortment of Western and Asian cuisines, with our favourite stations being the made-to-order omelettes (mine), the made-to-order noodle soup (the husband’s) and the pastry and pancakes (the child’s).

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The chef in charge of the pancakes makes Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes for my daughter every day and she almost squeals with excitement – especially when he adds a bow one morning and turns it into Minnie Mouse for her.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The staff offer us endless delicious drinks – tea, coffee, hot chocolate and special Thai juice made from a local flower that is especially good to get the digestive system going in the morning.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

One of the chefs pops by our table with local dishes to sample – sticky rice wrapped up in leaves. They offer Cheese colouring in sheets and crayons to occupy her while we are savouring our meals. The food is delicious, the atmosphere relaxing, and we are in heaven.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you’re planning on dining frequently at the hotel during your stay, you can select the Children’s Meal Plan, which gives kids under the age of 6 complimentary buffet meals in All Day Dining and Pool Cafes when accompanied by a paying adult, up to a maximum of 2 children. In excess of 2 children under the age of 6 and for all children above 6 and below 12, a 50% discount of the buffet price will be given.

shangri-la-2-4

The Shangri-La is known for it’s gorgeous pool, so we head there as soon we can to check it out. The one large pool is set in grounds with plenty of lush greenery surrounding, giving it a distinctly jungle feel.

shangri-la-4-3

There is a large shallow end in the pool, perfect for our preschooler, and a small kiddie pool nearby for babies and toddlers. If you’re not the designated swimming parent, choose from plenty of plenty of beach chairs to relax in.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

If the weather turns foul there is a decent sized kids playroom inside the hotel. There is no child minding, however – the room is available for parents to take their kids and stay with them while they play.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

We use the hotel as our base over the next two days to explore Chiang Mai. It’s about a 25 minute walk to the Thapae Gate of the old city, which is now pedestrianised and most people’s starting off point for exploring the historic part of Chiang Mai. With little legs in our part, we catch a cab to the gate and walk from there (160THB or about $6AUD). To get back to the hotel, we catch a tuk-tuk (100THB or around $4AUD).

The hotel is also close to Chiang Mai’s airport, so on our last morning we take a quick 15 minute cab trip to catch our plane home. Three nights wasn’t anywhere near long enough to explore this gorgeous city.

Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand Hotel Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Shangri-La Hotel
89/8 Muang, Chang Klan Rd, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
Shangri La Hotel Chiang Mai, Chang Khlan, Chiang Mai, Thailand
We booked their current best rate package including room plus breakfast, from 4,500 THB per night. This offer is available from 4 Mar 2016 through 20 Dec 2016. Rates are subject to 18.7 % service charge and government taxes.

This post contains affiliate links. If you book a room through my link I will receive a small commission. Our stay at the Shangri-La was self funded. Thanks for supporting me and my site!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Thailand Travel Guide: Phuket With Kids

Thailand: Phuket With Kids

Thailand is famous for it’s stunning beaches, beautiful hospitality and enriching culture. In recent years Thailand has become a popular place for families to vacay – a part of which might be attributed to how strong the Aussie dollar is against the Thai Baht. In Thailand, it’s very possible to stay at a 4 or 5-star resort for a fraction of the price of a similar hotel in Australia.

In addition to being an affordable holiday, Thailand is very welcoming to families. We visited Phuket with our five-year-old and found plenty to see outside of the resorts that spanned nature, culture and religion, all in just a few short days.

Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Beaches
There is no doubt that the beaches in Thailand are just stunning. White sand and clear blue water – just heavenly. Depending on the time of year you visit swimming at the beaches may or may not be an option. During the wet season, box jellyfish are more prevalent, so keep a look out. Some of the Phuket beaches are also known for heavy rips, so be safe when you swim.

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

Big Buddha
It’s hard not to notice Phuket’s Big Buddha from around the island. The imposing 45 metre tall statue and temple sits on top of is one of the the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata and is one of the island’s most important and revered landmarks.

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

The view from the top of the hill is also stunning, making it a popular place to watch the sunset.

Phuket Old Town, Thailand

Old Phuket Town
Take a stroll through Old Phuket Town to discover shrines, temples (Buddhist and Chinese), beautifully preserved ‘shophouses’ and little cafés. The town was built during Phuket’s tin boom of the 19th Century and has several excellently preserved, grandiose Sino-colonial mansions once lived in by the tin barons over a hundred years ago.

Phuket Old Town, Thailand

While you will need to hire a car to get to Phuket Old Town, it’s small enough to walk around in when you get there. If it’s raining or too hot, the Phuket Trickeye Museum is a fun place to stop by in Old Phuket Town with kids.

Wat Karon, Phuket, Thailand

Wat Suwan Khiri Khet (Karon Temple or Wat Karon)
Wander through the main road in Karon and you’ll find the stunning Wat Karon. This relatively new temple is a stunning place to visit any day of the week. We met kind monks who introduced us to one of their chickens, George.

Wat Karon, Phuket, Thailand

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, from 4pm the Karon markets pop up inside the compound.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Day trip: Phang Nga Bay
The islands surrounding Phuket are just gorgeous. We took the Two Sea Tour sea kayaking around Phang Nga Bay. You can read more about it here.

What to avoid:
Please don’t ride elephants, watch an elephant show or have your photo taken with an animal on the street (such as monkeys). These animals are treated cruelly and participating in these activities enables the businesses to continue to run. More info on animal cruelty in Thailand here.

When to visit Thailand:
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack:
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Scarf to cover shoulders if visiting temples
Loose, light layers
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles
Comfortable walking shoes

What to wear:
The Thai people tend to dress quite conservatively. Tourists can wear shorts and tanks tops, but avoid showing too much skin when you’re not at the hotel. If you’re visiting a temple, wear pants or a skirt that covers your knees. Some temples will also require shoulders being covered.

Money in Thailand
1AUD is about equal to 30THB. A plate of Thai food at a local restaurant will cost about 50-60THB.

Getting around: common forms of transport
Red buses: We caught one and it cost 40THB for the three of us. It’s basically a small bus with the back area wide open. Please jump on and off when they need to.
Tuk-tuk: Around 100THB for a short distance. Ask for the cost in advance and wedge kids in the middle, tight.
Taxi: Arrange the amount in advance. Call for a taxi from hotels.
Hire car and driver: We hired a car and driver to take us to Old Phuket Town and Big Buddha. It was quite pricey, at 700THB an hour, with a minimum of three hours plus the fourth hour for free.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Where to stay:
In Phuket we were hosted at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort for three nights, and the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa for three nights. Both hotels were gorgeous, 4-star properties.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Hotel Review: The Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

For first timers to Thailand like us, the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort is a great place to stay. The 4-star resort is a short walk from Surin Beach, a quiet beach area about 25 minutes from Phuket airport.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

The resort is large without feeling overwhelmingly huge – it’s big enough to have a lot of great facilities, but small enough to get to know the staff and for them to learn our names.

The 254 rooms, ranging from standard rooms to two-bedroom suites, are airy and light, with polished wooden floorboards, tea and coffee making equipment, mini fridges, flat-screens and free WiFi.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We arrive after a long flight from Sydney, extremely tired and ready to lie down. The staff meet us at the lobby with friendly, welcoming smiles, a special welcome drink and the sweetest smelling flower bracelets. It’s clear from the start that the caring staff at the Surin Beach Resort will do anything they can to make our stay happy and memorable.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

In our rooms await surprises that make us forget our exhaustion. Adorable towel animals on the beds, pastries to revive us and a little surprise for Cheese to excite her about the activities that await her the following day.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Our room is huge – so much space for our luggage, and then even more for us to all spread out. We have a poolside terrace suite that has direct pool access and a sitting area that doubles as a second bedroom. It’s light and bright and has very powerful air conditioning.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort
Photo © Matt Burns http://www.southeastasiaimages.com S.E.A Images Co Ltd

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

While we have the option of dining at one of the hotel restaurants, we order from the 24-hour room service menu because we are too tired leave our room.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We are up before sunrise the next morning and are the first to the breakfast buffet. It’s an incredible spread that includes food of various ethnicities – something to make everyone feel at home.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We sample dishes from every table. The “Popcake” mini pancake machine is a favourite with my daughter, while I love the fresh fruit, yoghurt and eggs. Alec tries the Asian breakfast options and loves the noodle soup, and we all try the donuts (who can resist?!).

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Since we’re done with breakfast by 7:30am, the pool is the next stop. We spend almost five hours straight in the various pools, swimming, playing and enjoying the slides. The pools are just gorgeous – large enough to accomodate lots of people without feeling crowded, and of varying depths so kids of all ages can find an area suitable for them and their swimming abilities. While there is no actual shade cover, the plants surrounding the pools throw plenty of shade so we never feel too hot.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We are supremely waterlogged after the morning and we take Cheese in the afternoon to the kids’ club, called Kids’ World, for activities that don’t involve getting wet. The staff are delightful, incredibly sweet ladies who are very accomodating and help us find fun things to do.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

There are scheduled activities hourly every day for kids to enjoy, and we try nail painting (Cheese gets cupcakes painted on her nails) and then painting on what I think was rice paper, which was our favourite.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

The facilities include an area with computers and games, a TV room with bean bags to relax in, and a large upstairs section with a ball room, soft play area and craft tables. Kids can be dropped off at the kids’ club, or parents can accompany their kids to play and relax together.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

While Cheese and her dad continue to play games at the kids’ club, I take a well-earned break at Breathe, the spa facilities at the resort. I choose a 90 minute relaxation massage that is such heaven that the time just races by (900TBH or $33 AUD). It’s completely affordable bliss and I wish it would last forever!

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We stay three nights in total at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort, and during our stay we enjoy dining at their main restaurant, Asia Alive. The head chef, Jason, is a friendly American who is happy to chat about the local dishes, and is especially accomodating to vegetarians, which I highly appreciated.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

On our last night we enjoy delicious two-for-one Mai Tais at happy hour while Cheese watches a Barbie movie in the kids’ entertainment area next to the bar, followed by divine local dishes at the restaurant – spring rolls, deep fried corn fritters, Pad Thai and a beef and asparagus dish that had my husband swooning.
Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Cheese chooses a Pokemon-themed dish that was a cleverly disguised plain pasta noodles and tomato sauce with parmesan cheese on the side, and was presented with an incredible dessert that looks like a monkey.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Other dining options include the Champion Bar & Grill (which serves American-style food like burgers and has a pool table that we can’t keep Cheese away from), and the Board Walk Pool Bar, which has a great range of light meal options great for lunch and afternoon hunger attacks.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

If you desperately need something light or sweet to keep you going, there is also the food store in the lobby, which serves pastries, salads and other take away food, plus has a variety of toiletries for sale that travellers usually forget to pack.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

The Novotel hotels pride themselves on being family-friendly, and this Novotel was no exception. For 299THB per child per day ($11AUD), kids at the resort can enjoy an all-inclusive kids’ menu, smoothies and soft drinks, a welcome surprise and daily treats (we found milk and cookies to wish us sweet dreams one night!), kids’ club and in-room kids’ movies and daily kids’ activities at the hotel including handkerchief batik painting, jelly candle making, photo frame making, hair braiding and bracelet making.

While a lot of guests enjoy staying at the resort and don’t feel the need to go anywhere else, the resort offers a free daily shuttle to Patong, the largest area for dining, shopping and entertainment – one round trip per day with pick up at 11am and return at 4pm (Advance reservation is recommended).

Surin Beach, Phuket

If you want to get some beach action, Surin Beach, across the road from the resort, is a very quiet spot with stunning clear water and soft sand. It’s too dangerous to swim while we are there, unfortunately, due to the large waves, but it’s still a gorgeous, quiet spot.

If you’re after a quiet taste of Thailand, with plenty of amenities and at an affordable price, then the Novotel Phuket Surin Resort can’t be beat.

Our stay was over far too quickly, and we were sad to leave such a friendly and welcoming resort.

When to visit Thailand:
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack:
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Loose, light layers that offer additional sun protection and also cover knees and shoulders if you are planning on visiting any of the temples.
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles

Thinking of visiting the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort? See their current promotional offers here.

Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort
106/27 Moo 3, Cherngtalay, Talang, Surin Beach, 83100 Phuket, Thailand
PHONE +66 76 303 300 FAX +66 76 300 303
E-mail : info@novotelphuketsurin.com
novotelphuketsurin.com

Thank you to the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort for hosting our stay. All opinions are my own. Additional images thanks to the Novotel.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Phuket Day Trips: Kayaking in Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phang Nga is a shallow bay spanning 400 km² in the Strait of Malacca, between the island of Phuket and the mainland of the Malay peninsula of southern Thailand. A large section of the bay has been protected as the Ao Phang Nga National Park since 1981.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

While many visitors know this area as “the place with the James Bond Island” there are actually 42 islands in the bay, many of which are more spectacular than the movie set location and well-worth visiting.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

We discovered geological formations that awe awe inspiring: soaring limestone cliffs, secret caves, forested wetlands, mangroves and wildlife galore. Mudskippers, fruit bats, fiddler crabs, monkeys, kingfishers and sea eagles were just some of the wildlife we encountered during our day at sea.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

In order to see this beautiful part of the world, a boat is obviously required. We chose the highly rated tour group Two Sea Tours – a company unique in this particular tour with their extremely early departure time. The majority of tour groups leave mid morning and all arrive at the same locations at the same time, making them crowded. In contrast, we were picked up at our hotel at 5:30am. By 6:30am we were speeding through the emerald-green waters, watching the sun rise.

Two Sea Tour owners Mam and Philippe both have extensive experience in the travel industry – which is evident in their very-well thought out tour of Phang Nga Bay. While the boat is registered for 55 passengers, the maximium they will take out at a time is 16, so the boat and also the stops on the way, are never crowded.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Our first stop was Panak Island, where we canoed with our guide, Suk, a local Thai national, through caves filled with fruit bats to an internal lagoon. The silence in the lagoon hung like a mist on us – to say you could hear a pin drop would be an understatement.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

In hushed awe we paddled through the lagoon, each wondering, “Are we on a film set? A new Jurassic Park movie, perhaps? How was it possible that such a stunning and solitary place on Earth existed?”. With mud skippers flapping in the shallow water around us, and a brightly coloured fiddler crap marching among them, it felt like we had jumped back into a time from long ago.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

The second stop on our sea kayaking adventure was Hong Island, kayaking past the spectacular limestone karsts that jut vertically out of the water into another private lagoon. Our private paradise was occasionally disturbed by the odd person or two with a private boat, but we pretty much had the bay to ourselves.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Stop number three was Khao Ping Gan, also known as “James Bond Island”. The famous rock, Koh Tapu, only briefly featured in the 1974 film, The Man with the Golden Gun, but it was long enough to attract a steady influx of daily visitors ever since.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

A quick walk around the island is long enough to spend there, and within half an hour we are speeding off again on our boat, enjoying a delicious, freshly cooked Thai buffet lunch, on the way to our last stop for the day, Lawa Island.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Lawa Island is a tiny, remote island jutting out in the bay with a private sandy beach for us. We spend a peaceful hour swimming, canoeing and watching a wild monkey stalk his way up and down the beach in search of snacks.

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

We are back at our hotel at around 2:30pm, tired from our early start, but with eyes full of the breathtaking scenery we witnessed during our day.

What memories to be made, indeed.

This is Thailand as we had hoped to find it – a small slice of paradise leaving us speechless with wonder.

Phuket Day Trips: Two Sea Tour of Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

More info:
We booked our tour directly through Two Sea Tours twoseatour.com.

Fresh fruits, snacks, pastries, cookies, soft drinks and water were provided (free) all day.

If giving a tip (and we recommend that you do), the suggested amount is around 200 to 500 baht with a minimum of 100 baht.

Tour price: for 2 adults and one child in one canoe, 10,400 TBH ($390AUD)

Where to stay:
In Phuket we stayed at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort for three nights, and the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa for three nights. The tour picks up from both hotels.

Thanks to Two Sea Tours for use of the additional pics.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

When choosing a Phuket hotel to relax and indulge with the family, the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa is an ideal choice.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

This beautiful Phuket resort has a fantastic location for travellers wanting to be close to tourist attractions such as the Big Buddha, but far enough away to feel like you’re staying in a small village. Really, it’s the best of both worlds.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa is about an hours drive from Phuket airport, 10 minutes from Patong, and directly across the road from gorgeous Karon Beach. The low-rise resort sprawls around three pools, with a distinctly jungle-feel to it thanks to all of the gorgeous plant life.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Our Plunge Pool Suite was just divine. We had a main bedroom with a king bed plus tent for the little one to play in, overlooking our own private plunge pool. Swoon.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The connecting living area had a rollaway bed for the kiddo to sleep in, but she often ended up sleeping in the big bed with us.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The little details told us loud and clear that families were incredibly welcome at the resort. The tent in our bedroom was filled with toys for our daughter to play with, she found a little treat on arrival and discovered a scavenger hunt trail to get her busy around the resort.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Phuket is crazy hot when we visited, so the powerful air conditioning was very welcome! Our room also featured a massive bathtub, rain shower, free wifi and tea and coffee making facilities.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Each morning of our three-night stay we enjoyed breakfast at the Horizon Cafe, where a buffet served up Asian and international cuisine.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

My fave was the omelette station, but I also couldn’t resist the pancake machine. There was a wide variety of food to try: pastries, bread, brioche, muffins, yogurts, cereals, fruits, salad, cheese, pancakes, crepes, sushis, congee, stir fried noodles, fried rice … there wasn’t enough time to try it all.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The resort has five restaurants including the Horizon Cafe. During the day, we enjoyed lunch at Joe Kool’s Poolside Grill, where our choices include traditional Asian cuisine or more Western fare – perfect for fussy little eaters like our daughter.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

One evening, we indulged in a fancy dinner at TAi restaurant, where we were served upmarket, traditional Thai cuisine.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

While the husband and I love all the Thai food our fussy daughter is happy to dine on fish and chips, pasta and very cheesy pizza.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

We dined almost every meal at the resort and thought the prices were extremely reasonable. An average adult meal would cost around 250THB (around $10AUD), and we were extremely happy with the quality of the food, as well as of the resort itself.

As you can’t drink tap water in Thailand, the hotel provides plenty of complimentary bottled water in the rooms every day. If you dine at any of the restaurants, however, and ask for water, you’ll be charged 45THB for it. A small amount, but you can also just carry the bottles from your room around with you for free.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

There are three gorgeous pools to keep visitors cool. The main pool, the Lagoon, has a swim up bar and fun activities during the day such as the “walking on water” blow up balls, or water volleyball.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Oasis Pool is quiet, set in a secluded area with a jacuzzi.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Lastly there is the Kids’ Pool, where a twisting waterslide and mushroom shower have been built to entertain the little ones. The slide is sadly closed for renovation, but the pool is so shallow that it’s still a fave.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

When the heat gets too much, there is the fantastic kids’ club, Kids World, to provide entertainment.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Parents are welcome to join their kids, or drop them off if they are over four years of age.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Daily scheduled activities run to keep kids amused, such as umbrella painting, fan painting and pop up card making – or kids can just play with the toys, take time out watching a movie and play video games (this was a huge hit with the dads!).

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Kids who enjoy cooking can try a pizza making class. We’ve been cooking a lot at home so this was a fun activity to try. Cheese made her own pizza from kneading the dough to putting on the toppings, placing it in the oven, and then, of course, eating it when it was done.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Novotel hotels pride themselves on being family-friendly, and this Novotel was no exception. For 299THB per child per day ($11AUD), kids at the resort can enjoy an all-inclusive kids’ menu, smoothies and soft drinks, a welcome surprise and daily treats, kids’ club, in-room kids’ movies, and daily kids’ activities at Kids World.

We found this to be a particularly good deal as it would cover our daughter’s lunch and dinner plus any snacks/drinks she wanted during the day.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

It’s not a relaxing holiday without a visit to the spa, and the Novotel’s In Balance Spa was just what I needed. After choosing my oil from one of five “scents” (I went with relaxing lavender) my 90-minute stress relief massage flew by. At 1600 TBH ($60AUD) it’s an incredibly reasonable deal.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

Our stay at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa was over way too quickly. It’s such a gorgeous spot with so much to do that it’s easy to see why so many families with little kids come to enjoy themselves and never leave the resort! If you do, however, feel like exploring there’s plenty to see.

Places of note nearby:

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & SpaWat Suwan Khirikhet

Karon Night Markets

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa
Karon Beach (with playground)

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa
Karon village

Patong is a short car or shuttle away

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

Big Buddha (depending on traffic, 15-30 minutes drive)

Old Phuket Town, Thailand

Old Phuket Town (30 minute drive)

We rented a car through the hotel to take us to Big Buddha and Old Phuket Town. The cost was 700THB per hour, with a minimum of three hours required for booking, and the fourth hour free.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

When to visit Thailand:
We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack:
Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Loose, light layers that offer additional sun protection and also cover knees and shoulders if you are planning on visiting any of the temples.
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles

Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa
568 Patak Road, Karon, Muang Phuket, Phuket 83100
Tel: +66 (0) 76 358 666
Fax +66 (0) 76 358 645
E-mail: H8825-RE@accor.com
Website: novotelphuketkaron.com

Thinking of staying at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa? They are currently offering this this half board promotion.

Thank you to the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa for hosting our stay. All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at Epcot’s Royal Sommerhus

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The brand new Royal Sommerhus has opened at Epcot in Walt Disney World as a permanent home for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

We visited the Royal Sommerhus five days after it opened, and perhaps because it hadn’t been advertised or promoted anywhere that we saw, it was really quiet, especially compared to the Mickey and Friends character meet and greet, which had a very long line and a 25 minute wait.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Expecting a long line like we found in Disneyland on our last visit, we bolted to the Royal Sommerhus as soon as the gates opened, and found … a 10 minute wait at 9:15 am. We walked past the house several times during the day and the wait time was never over 10 minutes, making it officially the fastest place to meet Anna and Elsa out of Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Disney Cruises.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The Royal Sommerhus is located between Mexico and Norway in the World Showcase section at Epcot in WDW, just before the new ride, Frozen Ever After. The house is set up to appear like Anna and Elsa’s home. The queue to meet the characters winds through the house, past their bookshelves, lounge, fireplace and staircase. The attention to detail is amazing.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

The meet and greet takes place at the end of the walk through the house, with seperate sections to meet each character.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Anna was first when we visited, and then Elsa.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

Each character spoke with Cheese briefly and then posted for pictures, both for the Disney official photographer, and also for me. While there is no pressure to buy the photos and you can absolutely take your own, I like to take photos on my own camera and also have the photographer take a few, so at the end of the day if mine don’t work out I have a back up in the Disney photographer’s images so I always get a great pic.

Meeting Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus Epcot via christineknight.me

At the end of the meet and greet guests are ushered into the very well stocked gift shop, filled with Frozen merchandise.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

With hundreds of stunning beaches running up and down the NSW coast, it’s hard to choose which one to visit.

On a sparkling Sunday we chose Palm beach, the northernmost suburb of Sydney, for a day trip. It’s an hour’s drive from the Sydney CBD, making it the perfect spot to get away from the hustle of the city without an epic drive to get there.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

Palm Beach is often called the “jewel” of the Northern Beaches. Situated on a peninsula it has a gorgeous combination of lush evergreen bushland, beaches with soft golden sand and surrounded by the bright blue Pacific Ocean on one side, and calm Pittwater waterway on the other.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

The beach might look very familiar if you watch a lot of soap TV – in particular Home & Away. The show has been filmed on location here since its beginnings in 1988. As a result the beach has been a popular tourist attraction, particular for Brits.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

There’s plenty to do at Palm Beach to spend a gorgeous day outside. The main beach is soft and inviting – be sure to swim between the flags, or take kids to the south end to paddle where the water is most shallow.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

If swimming in the waves isn’t your cup of tea, try a dip in the 35m ocean pool. It’s perfectly designed for both lap swimmers and also paddling with children in the shallow end.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

For more exploring, follow the path around the pool where there are rock pools to be found. Be careful with the timing of your rock pool walk, however, as it can be unsafe when the tide comes back in.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

When it’s time for lunch there are a few cafes to try. We enjoyed a late breakfast at 2108 Espresso, with an Aussie standard dish of toasted sourdough, avocado, fresh tomato and feta for $14 (eggs an additional $3).  For the kids there is a grilled cheese toastie and babyccino with a cute blue marshmallow.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

For dessert, we decided to give the cafe next door that serves scooped ice cream a miss and go old school with Gaytimes.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

To walk off the ice cream there are a few options for the afternoon. Nearby is a large grassy park with a sprawling playground. While there were picnic tables in the park we didn’t spot any bathroom amenities, and the playground equipment didn’t have much shade.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach

The more athletic option for the whole family is to take the scenic 1.2km walk from the beach to Barrenjoey Head to visit the historic lighthouse that sits on Sydney’s most northerly point. It’s a 25 minute walk each way so take water and go to the bathroom before hand (no bathrooms at the top!). From the top you’ll have a great view of Broken Bay, the Central Coast and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach Sydney Day Trips: Palm Beach


Get Directions
 to Palm Beach

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Sydney’s Best Eateries: The Tramsheds, Harold Park

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The sleepy inner west suburb of Forest Lodge has been undergoing a massive development over the past year or so, particularly with a mass of apartment buildings going up around the Harold Park area. We’ve been driving past frequently watching the development spread and wondering what kinds of businesses would be opening nearby to services the burgeoning community.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The answer is the Tramsheds at Harold Park. The old Rozelle Tramway Depot, originally built in 1904, has been beautifully refurbished to create a place for locals in this growing area a place to meet, eat and fulfil other vital day-to-day needs.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

While the Tramsheds was obviously built to satisfy the need for services in this area (where previously there has been none), it’s also a gorgeous destination for people all over Sydney to drive to and enjoy as an outing.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The building is home to a variety of businesses, the majority being food-related, but also including a medical centre, nail bar, hair salon and supermarket. There are grab-and-go type of outlets and seating areas that look a bit like an upmarket food court, as well as table service cafes and fancier restaurants. Something, really, for everyone.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

When driving to the Tramsheds, be aware that if you park inside their parking lot it will cost you. Under 1 hour is $3, between 1 and 1.5 hours is $8. 1/5-2 hours is $13. A bit steep in my opinion, so we exited before taking a ticket and found street parking across the street – free for two hours.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

Inside the Tramsheds you’ll notice a full-size restored tram as the centrepiece to the building. If you want to go inside, enter through the door for the Butcher and the Farmer cafe that is on the outside, next to the main entrance.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

If your kid is particularly enamoured with the tram you can eat inside it on the tiny tables. We found the tram to be fantastic entertainment for our daughter while we waited the 20 minutes for our table in the cafe.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

As we visited on the 2nd weekend after opening, I expected that it would be somewhat chaotic, and that it was. It felt to us like the staff are still finding their feet. I’m sure that in a few weeks they will have settled into a routine and the whole centre will be running smoothly.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

We chose to dine at the Butcher & The Farmer mainly because it was next to the tram. The waitstaff seemed a bit overwhelmed at the large amount of people who had come to dine, but were friendly and helpful during our stay.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The breakfast menu we ordered from was on the small side, but had all the types of food we would regularly want to order – wholesome food with enough vegetarian options for me to choose from, and something plain for the fussy five-year-old. (It’s worth noting the adorable Splashlings toys that accompanied us – they’re so great for taking out dining.)

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

My husband and I both ordered the Avocado, Tomato & Meredith Sheep’s Feta (with basil on farmer’s toast, $16), plus a coffee for the hubbie ($3.5).

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

We ordered the little one the Poached Eggs (on farmer’s toast, $12) which they obligingly scrambled for her when we asked, plus a Blueberry, Strawberry & Raspberry Smoothie (with yoghurt and milk, $8).

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The avocado on toast dishes hit the spot. Fresh soft bread, creamy avocado, tomatoes bursting with flavour. The coffee, according to my java-addicted spouse, was excellent, and he was thrilled with how large it was. Our daughter’s smoothie was similarly massive, so best shared between two. Her scrambled eggs were absolutely delicious – so good it’s a shame they’re not on the menu.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

I did think the dishes were a tad bit expensive for what they were, however. Similar dishes cost a few dollars less in other up-market cafes in the inner west.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

We strolled around the rest of the Tramsheds to check it out and were impressed with the various businesses we saw. At the moment, they include:

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney
Bekya
Middle Eastern spiced grilled meats, vegetables and exotic salads.

Belle’s Hot Chicken
Famous fiery chicken and natural wines from Australia and abroad.

Bodega 1904
Serving up simple and delicious Latin American and Spanish inspired tapas.

Boxing Works (gym)

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

Butcher and the Farmer
A paddock to plate restaurant, retail butchery and takeaway.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney
Canteen

Takeaway coffee and pastries.

Chambers Cellars (bottle shop)

Dust
A new bakery, pizzeria and mill.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, SydneyFish and Co.
Connecting diners to the ocean, with a food story showcasing sustainable and local seafood.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney
Flour Eggs Pasta
Fresh authentic pasta made the original Italian way.

Garçon
By The Little Marionette, the perfect place for your morning coffee or afternoon pick me up.

Gelato Messina
My fave gelato of all time. Choose from 35 flavours on their regular menu, plus 5 daily specials.

Harold Park Medical Centre
A family medical practice open 7 days a week for appointments or walk-in consultations.

Mama’s Buoi
An authentic Vietnamese restaurant.

Moe & Co. (hair salon)

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, SydneyMy Donut Box
We love their Nutella-filled donuts.

Naked Foods
Organic bulk foods, nuts, seeds and spices.

Osaka Trading Co.
A modern Japanese menu with a seafood focus.

Sir Chapel
An Old World England-themed bistro and brewery.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney
Supamarket
Local, market and farm fresh produce, a delicatessen and daily supermarket staples.

The Depot Nail Bar

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

One final note about the Tramsheds: they have the fanciest parents’ bathroom I’ve ever seen. It’s massive, clean and, dare I say it, almost elegant! An absolute winner for all the families.

The Tramsheds, Harold Park, Sydney

The Tramsheds
1 Dalgal Way
Forest Lodge, NSW 2037
Hours: Daily, 7am-late
Phone: 02 8398 5695
Online: tramshedsharoldpark.com.au
Get Directions
Access: The building is fully accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. The path leading to the Tramsheds, however, has some steps on the footpath, so strollers and wheelchairs will need to go up the main road instead. The cafes we dined in had tables that were very close together so not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. The rest of the Tramsheds, however, had wide spaces and seating that looked much more suitable.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Cathy Freeman Park + Olympic Cauldron, Olympic Park, Homebush

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

Have you ever wondered where the famous caldron from the 2000 Sydney Olympics ended up once the games were over? The answer is it didn’t go very far at all.

After the magical opening and closing ceremonies (who can forget Cathy Freeman lighting the cauldron and it rising through the air simultaneously dripping with fire and water?) the cauldron was taken down and moved just a few hundred metres to its permanent home – in the appropriately named Cathy Freeman Park.

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

Located very conveniently next to the Allphones Arena, Cathy Freeman Park has 2 playgrounds – one for young kids and one for older – huge shady trees and easy access to bathrooms and cafes.

 

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

We often end up in the park when attending a show at the Allphones Arena – it’s great to burn off energy after a long drive before needing to sit still for a long time while watching a show.

Cathy Freeman Park & Olympic Cauldron, Sydney Olympic Park

The cauldron is a popular feature for tourists and kids, who particularly love running underneath it in the puddles, and trying to judge when the fountain is about to turn on. There’s always one kid who times it poorly and gets absolutely soaked. Bring extra clothes in case this is your kid!

Cathy Freeman Park
Online: sydneyolympicpark.com.au
Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
Get Directions

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.