Phuket has a fairly laid-back island vibe, but as parents, you’ll need to be alert to a few safety issues you may not encounter in your normal setting at home.
There are no major health and safety risks in taking kids to Phuket to be worried about, but rather a few things you might want on your mental checklist to keep everyone happy and healthy.
Here are 10 things we’d keep on our health and safety checklist for Phuket, plus we share where to seek medical assistance, from minor ailments to major emergencies.
1. Water and Beach Safety
Phuket is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, but parents should be vigilant about their children’s safety in and around the water. Always supervise children while swimming or playing in the sea, and be aware of strong currents or rip tides that can pose a risk.
While Phuket’s beaches are beautiful, some may have strong waves, undertows, or rocky areas. Always swim in designated swimming areas with lifeguards on duty, and follow any warning signs or flags indicating unsafe conditions.
Note, many beaches do NOT have lifeguards; if they do, they are probably not as vigilantly patrolled as your home beach.
2. Sun Protection
The tropical climate in Phuket means strong sun exposure. Make sure to apply and reapply sunscreen with a high SPF, provide protective clothing like hats and sunglasses, and seek shade during peak sun hours to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Keep children well hydrated with bottled water throughout the day.
3. Food & Drinking Water
Be cautious about the food and water your children consume in Phuket. Stick to bottled or boiled water, and avoid street food or raw/undercooked foods to prevent food poisoning.
Always carry hand sanitisers with you for a quick scrub-up before/after eating anything.
4. Mosquito-borne Diseases
Phuket is in a region where mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus are still prevalent. In most situations, mosquito bites are simply a nuisance, but it’s best to be aware of the dangers and risks.
Use insect repellent spray or insect repellant patches/bands; dress children in long sleeves and pants where possible, and ensure their accommodation has proper mosquito screens. Avoid sitting around still bodies of water in the evenings when mosquitoes are most prevalent.
Although you can buy mosquito repellents in Phuket, you may want to take your favourite brands with you and after-bite treatments.
5. Traffic Safety
Phuket’s roads can be chaotic, with different driving practices compared to Western countries. Be cautious when crossing roads, use designated pedestrian crossings, and avoid renting motorcycles or other motorized vehicles with children due to safety concerns (unless you really know what you’re doing and have helmets for everyone).
6. Security of Personal Belongings
Like any tourist destination, Phuket can have theft and pickpocketing issues. Keep a close eye on your children and their belongings, and use hotel safes or lockers to store valuables.
7. Fair Hair Touching
Not a huge safety concern per se, but in Thailand (and much of southeast Asia), it seems others feel well within their rights to touch fair-haired and skinned children on the head. Some say it brings luck; others are just genuinely curious about their colouring.
In some instances, Thai people may show affection or curiosity by gently touching or ruffling a child’s hair, regardless of their hair colour. This is typically done with good intentions and is not meant to be disrespectful or offensive.
Cute at times but generally a bit of a nuisance, especially in the day and age where we’re all hyper-conscious of germs. Blonde hair is often seen as unique and interesting in Thailand, and many Thai people may be curious or fascinated by it.
However, personal boundaries and comfort levels may vary, and parents or guardians need to communicate their preferences to others if they do not want their children’s hair touched. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline or express your preferences respectfully and politely.
To say “Please stop” in Thai:
- “หยุดหน่อย” (yùt nòi) as a direct command to stop or pause.
- “กรุณาหยุดหน่อย” (grù-naa yùt nòi) for a more polite request to stop.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to teach children about respecting personal boundaries and seeking help from a trusted adult if they feel uncomfortable in any situation.
8. Respect of the Local Culture
Phuket has its unique culture and customs. Teach your children to respect local customs, traditions, and dress codes, and be mindful of appropriate behaviour in temples or religious sites.
9. Animal Interactions
Phuket has various animal attractions, such as elephant rides and animal shows. Research and choose responsible operators that prioritize animal welfare and safety. Educate children about responsible animal interaction, and avoid activities that involve mistreatment or exploitation of animals.
We are continue to research and work on a guide for you to the most ethical animal-based experiences in Phuket. Please check back with us soon.
10. Be Prepared For The Unexpected
Familiarize yourself with the location of the nearest hospital, embassy/consulate, and emergency services. Keep important documents like passports, travel insurance, and emergency contact information readily accessible.
While you will not likely lose a child, make sure they know where you are staying. It’s hard to have usual safety measures like GPS tracker watches or a phone number written on them like you may do in a crowded city if they’ll be spending most of their time at the beach!
Medical Insurance in Phuket
It’s important to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies while travelling in Phuket or any other destination. In case of a medical emergency, it’s advisable to seek medical attention from a reputable and accredited healthcare facility.
In case of serious emergencies, calling the local emergency services (dial 1669 in Thailand) for immediate assistance is recommended. We share a list of all the emergency numbers you will want up your sleeve over here.
For those seeking to stay longer in Phuket, you can take out a medical insurance policy with the likes of Bangkok Bank (which comes with the added bonus you can open yourself a local bank account and get a debit card for making payments in THB!).
Hospitals and Clinics in Phuket
Should the worst occur and you need to seek medical treatment, it is helpful to be aware of your nearest hospital or clinic.
- Bangkok Hospital Phuket: Located in Phuket Town, Bangkok Hospital Phuket is a private hospital known for its modern facilities and international standards of care. It offers various medical services, including emergency care, general surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and more.
- Patong Hospital: Located in the popular tourist area of Patong, Patong Hospital is a public hospital that provides medical services, including emergency care, outpatient services, and general medical care.
- Vachira Phuket Hospital: Located in Phuket Town, Vachira Phuket Hospital is a government-run hospital and the largest public hospital in Phuket. It provides various medical services, including emergency care, outpatient services, and specialized care in different medical fields.
- Dibuk Hospital: Located in Phuket Town, Dibuk Hospital is a private hospital that offers medical services, including emergency care, outpatient services, and general medical care.
- Mission Hospital Phuket: Located in Phuket Town, Mission Hospital Phuket is a private hospital that provides medical services, including emergency care, general medical care, and specialized care in different medical fields.
In addition to these hospitals and clinics, there are also numerous smaller clinics and medical facilities scattered throughout Phuket, particularly in popular tourist areas such as Patong, Kata, Karon, and Kamala. These clinics may provide basic medical services, such as first aid, minor injuries, and common illnesses.
Pharmacies in Phuket
In Phuket, as well as in most parts of Thailand, pharmacies are commonly referred to as “อาหารเสริม” or “เภสัชกรรม” in Thai language, which translates to “Ah-haan Serm” or “Phesakon” respectively in English.
Pharmacies in Phuket can typically be identified by a green neon cross sign, which is a common symbol for pharmacies in Thailand. You will find familiar brand names such as Boots in the larger tourist towns.
It’s important to note that pharmacies in Phuket may have different operating hours than pharmacies in other countries. Many pharmacies in Thailand, including Phuket, may be open late into the evening or even 24 hours a day. They typically sell over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements, personal care products, and health-related items – though you may find a wide variety of sunscreen and games through to tourist tat!
It’s important to note that some medications available over-the-counter in other countries may require a prescription in Thailand – and vice-versa – so it’s advisable to consult with a pharmacist or a healthcare professional before purchasing or taking any medications in Phuket.
Pharmacists in Phuket, as well as in Thailand, are typically knowledgeable about common ailments and may be able to provide advice on over-the-counter medications and basic healthcare needs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that language barriers may exist, as English may not be widely spoken in all pharmacies, especially in smaller or more local areas.
A basic understanding of Thai or a written translation of the medication or condition you need assistance with can be helpful.
Exercising caution and only purchasing medications from reputable and licensed pharmacies in Phuket is important. Be sure to check for the Thai FDA (Food and Drug Administration) seal or logo on medication packaging, and avoid purchasing medications from street vendors or unauthorized sources.
If you are staying longer term in Phuket and you require prescription medication, it’s advisable to bring a valid prescription from your home country or consult with a local healthcare professional to obtain the necessary prescription in Phuket.
Consulates and Embassies in Phuket
Phuket does not have any embassies. However, there are consulates and embassies of various countries located in the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok, which is approximately 840 kilometres (520 miles) away from Phuket.
If you encounter an emergency or require assistance from your home country’s consulate while in Phuket, you would typically need to contact the relevant embassy or consulate in Bangkok.
These embassies and consulates can provide services such as passport issuance, assistance during emergencies, consular assistance for citizens, and visa-related matters. It’s important to have the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in Bangkok before your trip, and keep it handy in case of any need for assistance while in Phuket.
Please note that embassy and consulate information may change over time, so it’s always advisable to verify the current contact details and services offered by your country’s embassy or consulate in Thailand before your trip. You can typically find this information on the official websites of your home country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Department of State.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to register with your home country’s embassy or consulate in Thailand, especially if you are staying in Phuket for an extended period, to receive updates and alerts about any travel advisories or emergencies.
Final Notes on Safety in Phuket
It’s always essential to be proactive about safety when travelling with children, and research and plan ahead to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Phuket or any other destination. It’s also good to consult with a medical professional or travel advisor for specific advice and recommendations based on your child’s age, health, and individual needs.
Note that local laws and regulations may change, so always stay up-to-date with the latest travel advisories and follow any local rules and regulations.
Have a safe and enjoyable trip to Phuket!
© Mama Loves Phuket 2023