Phuket or Koh Samui for Families with Grown Ups

Planning Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. What will convince the young and what appeals to the older generation? A beautiful, quiet Thai mansion with direct access to the beach may be on everyone’s bucket list. Excursions into nature and cultural exploitations appeal most probably only to one part of the family, parties and shopping to the other. Illusory dreams to make all happy? Nope!

A few weeks ago I heard of Thai mansions on the website Luxury Retreats – Villa Rentals & Vacation Rentals for the first time. I’d been contemplating for awhile a holiday in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. Could one or both of the islands match the needs and wishes of our grown ups? Thai holidays are a good bet to convince young adult family members to fit a family reunion into their busy schedule.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Sunset, Phuket, by Tawan Rapipong (Unsplash)

Thai Holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for Families with Grown Ups

We are empty nesters and our kids live spread over three continents. The grandparents and extended family live in different countries as well. Our adult kids have a work-related busy schedule, meanwhile the older generation is busy with their own, no less occupying activities.

On our latest travels through the United Kingdom, we house sat for a family in Scotland during winter time, whose kids live and work in the south of England.

They went for Thai holidays with their grown ups and best friends..

Their family reunion was a huge success! Many happy party pictures with sundowners on the beach reached us on our mobile.  Meanwhile we battled the stormy winter weather in freezing Scotland. They liked their Thai holidays so much that they booked their next family get together for the next year right away, after returning to the United KIngdom.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Night Market, Phuket Town, Ian Mackenzie (Flickr)

Holiday Requirements for Families with Grown Ups:

  1. Destination reachable with cheap flights  √
  2. Tropical temperatures √
  3. Stunning beaches closeby √
  4. Beautiful nature √
  5. Culturally interesting places and events √
  6. Various activities from water sport to spa-treatment √
  7. Bars and shopping opportunities √
  8. Spacious luxury villa or a Thai mansion to rent √
    • Private pool in beautiful garden
    • Sufficient bedrooms and common space for all
    •  Functional kitchen for joint cooking
    • Quiet setting but not too far from the hustle and bustle of parties if desired.

Based on this checklist I will point out if I’d rather choose Phuket and Koh Samui for families with grown ups.

Koh Samui for Families with Grown Ups

White sandy beaches fringed with coconut palms surround the second largest island of Thailand. Rainforest covers the mountains in the interior of this tropical island. It is situated south of Bangkok, off the east coast of Kra Isthmus.

Koh Samui’s Beaches

Most of Koh Samui’s fifty kilometres of coastline consists of white-sandy beaches which make it one of the most popular destinations in Southern Thailand. You’ll find lively beaches with lots of entertainment or secluded ones for a relaxing day, reading a book in the shade of a palm tree.

Or maybe you choose to rent a Thai mansion with private beach access..

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Swing on the beach, Koh Samui, by Yoori Koo (Unsplash)

Activities on and around the island of Koh Samui

Koh Samui’s Cultural Sights

If it’s a mummified monk at Wat Khunaram, the red temple of Wat Sila Ngu, the temple with the best views at Phra Phutthabat Chamlong Khao Hua Chuk, the twelve meter tall, sitting golden statue of Buddha on the tiny island Wat Phra Yai just off the coast of Koh Samui and others. There is plenty architectural and cultural heritage to discover.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Wat Plai Leam, Koh Samui, John Cook (Flickr)

Nature and Parks of Koh Samui

The mountainous interior offers walks and some more demanding hikes to waterfalls. At the coast you’ll find some weird shaped rocks, gently called Ta (Grandpa) and Yai (Grandma) by the locals, with a folkloric story to them. From Koh Samui it’s worthwhile to do a day trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park.

Water sport activities in Koh Samui

The water is warm and the temperature pleasant all year around. Best conditions for almost any kind of water sport. To explore the underwater world you will find plenty snorkeling and diving opportunities. If you’d like to keep your head above water, you can rent a kayak, do stand-up paddling, rent a motorised boat or whatever you may wish.

On my research I found another place in Thailand which would also tick the boxes for a family reunion which makes all of us happy.

Phuket for Families with Grown Ups

Like Koh Samui, Phuket is a mountainous island covered with rainforest with some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches.

Beautiful seaside Thai mansions are available to rent for big family reunions like ours.

The young will find plenty party opportunities with nightclubs, bars and discos for example at the main resort town Patong or in Phuket Town. The old shophouses may also entrap the girls, when we’d rather enjoy a Thai massage while admiring the sea view.

Phuket’s Beaches

Along the west coast are almost indefinite sandy beaches. Some of the coastline around Patong attract party crowds, while others more to the north, offer more remote and quiet stretches of beach.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Raya Island, Phuket, Nicolas Vollmer (Flickr)

Activities on and around the island of Phuket

Phuket’s Cultural Sights

Phuket offers some pretty impressive Buddhist temples which shouldn’t be missed on a tour around the island. In Patong you’ll find Wat Suan Khiri Wong Temple. It is the centre of local Thai Buddhism. Throughout the centuries a large Chinese community migrated to Thailand. You’ll find as many Chinese colourful shrines as Wats in Phuket.Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.

Nature and Parks of Phuket

Khao Phra Thaeo National Park

In the north of Phuket Khao Phra Thaeo National Park is waiting to be discovered. The Park covers approximately 2,200 square kilometres and hosts Phuket’s last virgin rainforest. It is also home to Phuket’s Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre. Hiking trails in the national park lead to the spectacular Ton Sai and Bang Pae waterfalls.

Sirinat National Park

A long stretch of remote sandy beach lies in the north of Sirinat National Park, a nesting ground for protected sea turtles. They were the original reason to establish this National Park with about ninety square kilometers of beach, mangroves and coastal forest in the north of Phuket.

Similan Islands National Park

If you are into diving, this is the place to go. Similan Islands National Park is an archipelago with nine small islands.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Sleeping Monkey, Koh Samui, by VITALIY ANOKHIN (Unsplash)

Water sport activities in Phuket

Along the west coast of Phuket you’ll find an abundance of water sport activities to choose from. Boat tours from Phuket include all kinds of activities under and above water.

First on my bucket list would be to visit Similan Islands National Park.

It’s one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.

Which is better, Phuket or Koh Samui?

The amount of options for a family reunion on Koh Samui and Phuket is abundant. The decision which of the islands to choose for our Thai holiday might depend on available flights and accommodation. I couldn’t say if Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups is better. Younger and older generations with varying interests and desires find their needs met on both of the islands. It’s always possible to come back the following year to visit the other island.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.
Kayak Trip, Koh Samui, Jeroen Beltman (Flickr)
Read here about the Seychelles and Mauritius, which may also be great for family get togethers.

Do you know of suitable holiday destinations other than Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups? Please add them in the comments.

This article is sponsored by Luxury Retreats, Luxury Villa Rentals & Vacation Rentals.

Thai holidays in Phuket or Koh Samui for families with grown ups. How to organise an unforgettable, happy family holiday on a tropical island in Thailand.

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months

You want to know how to stay longer in Europe than three months with a Schengen visa? Or, want to apply for a long-term visa and travel Europe unlimited? Here you will find how we managed to get a long-term visa in France and how to get a residence permit.

Applying for visa’s is such a pain. Every time we traveled to Europe during the last few years we had to get a Schengen Visa. The amount on paperwork and fees was extensive! And, what are a little quarter of a year when you want to see large parts of Europe?! We needed to find out, how to stay in Europe longer than three months!

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months With A Multiple Entry Schengen Visa

The EU and a few additional countries made up the Schengen Zone Visa System. Non EU citizen can spend a total of 90 days within half a year in the Schengen Zone Countries with the exception of England, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

Map Of The Schengen Area

There is no way you can extend your Schengen visa. After you stayed a maximum of three months in the Schengen Area you HAVE TO leave.

But, no worries! We figured out how to stay in Europe longer than three months! Check out which country or countries outside of the Schengen area admit you easiest with your nationality as by visa and what duration you are allowed to stay as a tourist.

We decided in 2015 to apply for an additional visa to visit Great Britain, because the UK visa is for half a year and the country is big enough to enjoy for that amount of time. Also Ireland is just a short ferry trip away. For South Africans like George, no visa is required for the first three months.

Of course you can do the same with a total of three months visit of Croatia, enjoying the countries stunning Adriatic coastline, a trip to Bulgaria or an extended stay in Romania. After three months you can return with your multiple entry Schengen visa and continue your European journey within the Schengen area for another three months, before you have to leave again.

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months With A Long Term Visa

I have to admit that the solution to stay in Europe with a Schengen visa for more than three months is not very flexible and quite exhausting. You have to check your schedule meticulously so not to overstay your Schengen visa. Possibly you need to apply for additional visas for countries outside of the Schengen area. We got tired of doing the whole visa application marathon over and over again and searched for an other solution of a long term visa for Europe.

Which Countries In Europe Allow Tourists To Stay Longer Than Three Months?

Although in the same visa treaty zone, visa requirements vary from country to country. Only a few countries offer long-term visas and these are the countries you have to go for. Because of my ties to France with a holiday home we decided to try France for a long-term visa. At the time that we were looking for a stay in Europe longer than three months, also Sweden and Italy offered long-term visas for tourists. Spain and Portugal were an option for retirees.

Visa requirements change occasionally.

To find out how to stay in Europe longer than three months, you will need to check the actual visa information of the respective countries. It is more likely that requirements will become stricter in the future.

How To Stay In Europe Longer Than Three Months: Get A Long-Term Visa For France

Get ready for a lot of paperwork for the French visa application! Normally it’s required to apply from the relevant French embassy or consulate in your country of residence. It is not possible to come to France without a long-term visa and then to apply within the country for a residence permit. The French authorities will require such persons to return to their country of residence to apply for the appropriate visa.

Exceptions are made though, for example if you are accompanying a relative who is an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen. In this case the visa is free-of-charge and you can apply directly for a provisional residence permit (carte de séjour) at the local préfecture in France within two months of your arrival.

An extensive guide in English what long-term visas are available in France and to what requirements you find on EXPATICA.

Requirements For A Long Stay Visa For France

The French embassy or consulate in your country of residence needs following documents and papers:

  • Passport signed and valid 3 months after the last day of stay + 3
    photocopies (The consulate will not keep the passport, only the
    copies)
  • 4 Application Form Long Stay Visa
  • 5 identity photographs (3.5 cm wide / 4.5 cm high)
  • Financial guarantee* such as:
    – formal letter of reference from your bank showing
    account numbers and balances or recent bank, savings or
    brokerage account statements (3 copies)
    – if you wish to retire in France, proof of sufficient income:
    pension, dividends, savings, band and brokerage account
    statements (3 copies)
  • Proof of medical insurance with coverage valid in France (3 copies)
  • Police clearance: document obtained from the Police Department of
    the place of residence with no criminal record (3 copies)
  • Letter certifying that you will not have any paid activity in France
  • Visa fee

More documents may be required due to your individual situation and changes.

*Proof of Financial Resources

Proof of financial resources or support can take the form of bank statements, letters from banks confirming arrangements for regular transfers of funds, letters from family or friends guaranteeing regular support or a “certificat d’hébergement” from a French family or friends with whom you will be staying in France. (Letters and documents should be notarized).

How to apply for a provisional residence (carte de séjour) permit in France

George is South African passport holder and entered France with a Schengen visa. As mentioned above, he was able to apply directly for a provisional residence permit (carte de séjour)  at the local prefecture because  I’m a Swiss citizen. Most of you won’t have that option and have to start the visa process in your home country, unless you get married or PACSed with an Europeen citizen.
You need the following basic documents (others may be required in individual cases):
  • Valid passport with long-stay visa (with photocopy of passport title page and French visa page)
  • A Birth Certificate or equivalent. George couldn’t get a birth certificate from South Africa in time. We provided proof that we had applied for it more than half a year earlier
  • Three black & white passport-type photographs (3.5cm x 4.5cm)
  • Proof of financial resources (applicable in all cases)
  • Medical Insurance/Medical certificate issued by a doctor approved by the French Consulate; full translation of a medical insurance made by a sworn translator (in some cases)
  • Proof of place of residence (utility bill or confirmation of the mayor, where you live)
  • For those who are married, a marriage certificate or if married in France “livret de famille”.
  • proof of French bank account (in some cases)
  • Two self-addressed and stamped envelopes.

If the authorities want more documents they’ll return all your transmitted papers to you and you will have to add the required information to the pile to return it by mail. It sounds awfully complicated but it’s how the authorities keep all the documents together.

It’s important that you add always a sufficiently stamped, big envelope to proceed.

The Préfecture in Mâcron which belongs to the department where we live, was pretty well organized with friendly employees and average waiting times. But then, we are used to the worst organized governmental offices in Africa and are easy to please.

Travelling Europe unlimited

Now you know, how to stay in Europe longer than three months. It is possible but it needs quite a bit of preparations. With a Schengen Visa or any long-term visa for an European country and Switzerland you are able to travel the whole of Europe unlimited! Most of the countries don’t have border controls anymore and you are allowed to stay as long as your visa for the other European country lasts. The visa is worthwhile the effort. And with every time you practice to apply for visas, you’ll get faster!

Read what beautiful places in Europe you will be able to visit. The anticipation will decrease the annoyance of the visa application process!

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seychellen-ferien-2

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