Phuket, the amazing island that has fairly gained the name of “The Pearl of the Andaman Sea”, its beauty has no point of discussion, and this island has got into the heart of many travelers based on the incredible time they spend on Phuket’s charms. Thousands of tourists travel every year from all over the world to visit this paradise located in the south of Bangkok city.
Despite the fact that Phuket is an island; it is joined to the mainland of the country by a long road all through the peninsula. Moreover, this majestic place also counts with its very own airport; that’s why getting there will never be complicated. Additionally, ferries and fast boats are excellent options to travel to Phuket.
On the other hand, you need to be aware of certain things; on top of them is your security, to make sure your vacation trip to Phuket will be all about making good memories.
Yes, your safety consideration must begin way before arriving at the island. Not only the budget is important while doing the booking process, several other facts should be considered as well. First of all, be sure that you and the people traveling with you have all the necessary documents to go there without having any trouble; a valid passport is absolutely required, and driving license in case you were thinking of renting a car or a motorbike.
Pick the most suitable way of transportation; an overland journey, taking a flight, or boarding a ferry are all acceptable. The main differences between them are the prices and the travel length. Be sure you book your tickets with enough time of anticipation, as Bangkok receives tons of tourists in high seasons, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to get there or having to pay higher prices for late booking.
The same happens when choosing the hotel where you are going to stay, reviews on the internet can be very helpful; location is the main key, some areas are safer to stay than others. In addition, you can give a call to the hotel and ask a member of the staff how the rooms are, if they count with security boxes, if they have security guards, and any other concerns you may have.
Keep in mind that you do not really have to carry along your expensive items to enjoy your trip to Phuket, packing only the necessary things is an acute way to avoid any trouble. If your hotel room counts with a security box, the very best option is to keep all your important belongings there; jewelry, cash, and identity documents. In case it does not have it, pack your documents and carry them always close to you. Also, check doors and windows locks before leaving the room during the day.
Respect the Culture
As in this part of the world, religions and cultures are very strong; the last thing you want is to be disrespectful to local traditions. Actually, these types of topics are usually avoided between visitors and locals, as they can be really delicate both parts prefer to stay away from confrontation about beliefs.
Moreover, it is not all about beaches in Phuket. This island has a very rich culture, with Portuguese and Asian influences; all well combined with the majestic Buddhist temples spread on the island, visiting some of them are totally worth it. However, some considerations must be followed: smoking in temples and areas nearby is forbidden. Also, it is not possible to get into any of these temples without having the shoulders covered by clothes; tank tops are not a suitable option. With women, rules are stronger, as they also must wear long pants or skirt.
Be Aware of Traffic
As almost every other city in the area, traffic is chaotic; even locals admit they drive like crazy. There are several pieces of advice you need to be aware of once you arrive in Phuket. First of all, at the airport or pier, it depends on the way of traveling you pick; tons of dodgy operators will be trying to catch you in order to convince you to let them drive you to the destination.
However, a big part of them are not honest people at all; they may say that the taximeter is not working, so they can set insulting high prices. Taking longer alternatives to get to your hotel is another common tactic; what you should do is reject them with a gentle “no, thanks” and keep walking outside wherein better drivers are waiting; look after established brands, cabs with a specific color or logo as they are more trustable.
In case this is your first time on the island, renting a car is far from being your very best option; here no one respect traffic signs and big lights which make driving a really hard task. Car rentals are available on the island, wide budgets will be required. Some establishments even offer driver services or you can simply drive yourself.
Additionally, the rate of traffic accidents in which tourists can get involved is very high; from light injuries to death. Based on this fact, travel insurance would be an excellent acquisition in case something bad happens; even some renting cars may actually ask for the insurance as a requirement for renting the vehicle. Motorbikes are a very common way of transportation; if you have experience, you can rent one to move freely through the city, always use a helmet.
On the other hand, there are the popular Tuk-Tuks; one of the most convenient ways to get around the island. Tuk-Tuks are nowadays considered as an icon of the country. In the beginning, they became really popular has been the cheapest way of transportation, yet locals realized that they can obtain easy money from tourists by renting Tuk-Tuks or offering the services. First, discuss the price before agreeing, never get into one without talking about money; if you don’t do it, drivers will take advantage of it and raise the prices considerably.
Boating is very useful in Phuket; boat trips around the island are an amazing way to discover all the astonishing bays of this gorgeous place. Nevertheless, boating accidents happen more often than they should; regulations in the marine aspect are not as strong as they must be with something as important as it is. Also, the combination of drinking and then navigating is a very bad one, drunken drivers have caused several accidents on Phuket’s bay. From soft injuries to drowning have unfortunately occurred in boating accidents; always wear lifejackets, if you cannot find one, ask the responsible person for it. If booking a trip with a company, research about reputation first; cheaper options frequently mean less experience and skills from the staff.
Sadly, accidents wherein boats end in the sand, crashing with everything and everyone, do not only happen in movies; actually, it is more frequent than it should. It seems that the government cannot handle this situation and, in consequence, private industry has taken its own preventions. Some hotels with beachfront views have opted to include red stripes on the beach in order to offer swimmers a safe place to enjoy without being injured; lifeguards are part of the prevention plan as well.
Beaches in Phuket can take your breath away in few seconds; the flawless combination of sheer blue water and golden sand is just unbelievable. Southern beaches of the island are more commercial, and consequently, crowds can be easily found; the northern area has its beauty too, yet it receives less tourist, give them a chance and you will not regret. In there, all seems to be about fun and relaxation, nothing to concern about. However, some alerts can help you to avoid uncomfortable situations.
The main beaches in the island already count with lifeguard services in these days, which is absolutely important and really helpful. In the same way, flags are used to delimitate the areas in which you can or cannot swim, always thinking about your safety. If you see red flags around the bay, do not get into the water. Keep in mind that some beaches, especially the smaller ones, may not have the flags and be considered not safe for dive; get informed by locals first.
In the époque of monsoons, from May to October approximately; weather and waves can change very quickly. Rains in the island are very strong; after a heavy rain, some beaches can get really trashy and bad smelled, mainly the ones in Patong area.
High tide may get tricky; always pay attention to lifeguard’s instructions and red flags on the area. By the way, if you are a girl and were wondering if you could get suntanned in topples in any beach of Phuket, let us tell you that even when this practice is not forbidden by any established law, yet locals may feel offended.
Thai regulations are stronger when speaking about illegal matters, as they are supposed to be. In case of cigarettes, the government through the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources found out that one of the main causes of dirtiness on the street and beaches came from cigarette butts.
Based on the reason mentioned before, smoking cigarettes in public areas is forbidden and local policemen are very strict when looking after the law enforcement. Some of the areas wherein you are not allowed to smoke are religious temples from any kind, hotels, restaurants, and schools, hospitals and around them; other tourist attractions and public spaces including beaches of course.
By breaking this law, the fines you may get are considerably elevated, even up to a year in prison. However, not everything is about bad news for smokers; there are designated places for smoking purposes. They are located inland, relatively far from the bay and trash can are all over the place to ensure people put there the cigarette’s butts and not throw it away.
On the other hand, things do not get better for drug dealers. Thai regulations are very thought in this area, as they work really hard to keep the zone drugs free. Sadly it is not like that yet they still improving. Drugs are absolutely illegal in Phuket Island; as in the whole south-east part of Asia, a series of regulations are being promoted to ban drugs. On the streets, illegal substances can be impressively easy to find, especially around nightclubs in Patong area.
Soft drugs like mushrooms and marijuana are very cheap, aiming for the attention of young travelers. What we recommend is to stay completely away from this type of purchases; if being caught by a police officer, the consequences can be really hard to carry. From extremely expensive fees to jail life sentences.
Do not forget that if you get caught by an officer for consuming or possessing drugs, your embassy may not be able to help you get out of that big mess and, that situation is far from being the best to end a wonderful trip.
Having a night out in Patong beach is absolutely part of the experience; going out till dawn to dance and drink in some of the many bars of the area. Nevertheless, precaution plays an extremely important role in there. Drink spiking has become a very famous technique to lead to theft acts.
Be aware that you should not take your eyes away from your drink; it could be good if you can stare how your cocktails are prepared and served. There are people around bars observing tourists, looking for a chance to pour some drugs on the glasses and then, follow victims to their hotels or catch them on the streets back to the hotel and take away their personal belongings.
Soi Bangla road is the main place where this type of activity occurs, the main victims are lone travelers, as groups are harder to be attacked yet it's not completely safe.
These ladies work in different areas; some of them just work at bars for entertainment purposes, there is even a Ladyboys cabaret in the street. Some others practice prostitution, offering to accompany you back to your hotel room. A third group uses the Katoeys stereotype to perform theft acts; they will try to seduce the tourist by being nice. In addition, keep in mind that this entire are advises, they don’t have to be taken too seriously, yet you can find a really good person behind all the makeup and girly clothes. In the same way, some of them can be very aggressive if rejected by their condition.
Pickpocketing and some other hefting forms
Yes, crowded streets are the perfect spot for pickpocketing acts. Imagine how hard should be to follow a person who took your wallet from your pocket by running through a multitude? Almost impossible; based on this, keep your belongings always close to you, distribute your cash among your pockets, wallet, and bags. Use your backpacks in front of you instead of the back part, by doing this; the task of taking your things from you will be harder.
A few robbers walk around the streets looking for a visible iPhone or easy cash to pull away from you; it often happens with motorbikes, while you walk around the shops and bars, robbers in motorbikes pass by your side and snatch your bags as they speed by on their bikes.
By the way, confronting a theft is never a wise option, violence has raised a lot in the recent years and some visitors have been injured while trying to avoid a robbery. Violent crimes and assaults rarely happen in Phuket, which speaks really well about the security in the island, yet precaution is always required.
Tuk Tuk and Jet Ski renters can get really mad and abusive too if they feel don’t get enough money from you. From time to time, they try dishonest techniques to make the tourist pay more than usual by standing over people for “damaging” the vehicles. If you get involved in one of this kind of situations, the very best option is just not arguing with them.
If you felt you're in danger or in a trouble in any moment of your stay in Phuket, police officers are always available to solve your concerns; actually, they are also known as “The good guys” hospitals are open for tourists too. Several consuls and embassy offices work in the area in case you need something from them, not related to drugs concerns though!
Phuket is one of the most popular destinations of the area; almost everything you hear about this magical place is good memories and adventure. Thai people are really nice and kind, they do their best to please all your desires. By following these recommendations, your trip to Phuket will be all about good memories.