Majority of the time, Phuket is a pretty safe place to visit but most of the really harmful situations arise out of the heavy-handed nature of some of the scams and ripped off tourists all ignited under the duress of Thailand heat, a few drinks and a deal
Then there's the naked Europeans flaunting it on the beach, gnarly jet ski operators, drugged iguana handlers and possibly the strangest beasts of all, the tourists that flock to Phuket in swarms. Beware these intoxicated creatures.
At it's worst, Phuket can turn from a colorful travel experience to your worst overseas nightmare. A drunken walk down the wrong lane, blowing your top at a taxi driver over a fare, getting scammed on a motorbike rental, or getting caught in a rip in the ocean. Harm can definitely have its way with you but if you use some common sense, the memories you leave with can be good ones.
A simple guideline to stay safe in Phuket is to remember the old travel mantra: "Would I do this at home?" For example would you:
Phuket probably isn't like your hometown at all, but we hope you get the sentiment.
It won't keep you out of all trouble but just stop, have a think and you'll probably steer clear of violent or life-threatening situations during your stay in Phuket.
The really great thing about Phuket, however, is the Tourist Police. A mixture of Thai and foreign nationals, these guys can be called in an emergency or even good people to speak with if you have any questions about your safety or how to go about things whilst in Phuket.
Cheap, easy-to-maintain and miserly on fuel, tuk-tuks were once the only mass transport option for an impoverished nation. As tourism boomed they became the quirky iconic symbol of the nation, and drivers soon realized there was more to be made out of carting foreigners than produce.
You’ll still see some being used in the traditional manner, but generally, they’re a part of the tourism trade these days and the drivers are out to make as much money as possible. There are ways you can avoid getting scammed by tuk-tuk drivers and if you have conflict over the fare, get in touch with the Tourist Police.
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes disputes over a taxi fare have ended in violence. Call the Tourist Police on 1155 or go here for more information.
Mafia controlled jet ski operators or motorcycle hire companies in Patong will stand over unsuspecting travelers for "damage" to the rented equipment. Jet skis were banned by the Governor of Phuket in 2014, however, enforcing the law rarely happens.
It's probably best to give both of these a wide berth, but if you do decide to rent one, take photos of the existing damage before you head out. And if you are planning to hire a motorbike, always wear a helmet.
There are multiple versions of this old chestnut, but generally, travelers are asked to complete a tourist
Upon collection of the trip, punters are then subjected to a hard sell about a property time-share type deal. Not quite what you had in mind for your afternoon sightseeing trip.
We know you've already loaded the following into your travel lexicon as phrases that should automatically trigger your Spidey-Senses:
Not saying occasionally you can't get lucky, but most of the time, face it - it's probably just another scam.
Arriving in Phuket is a lot like arriving at any other Asian destination: You will be greeted by a teaming hoard of dodgy looking operators trying to strong arm you into a taxi. Chain-smoking guys in flip-flops, eye patches wearing stained trousers.
Everybody has to make a living, but some of these guys are far more innovative in their attempt to extract a commission by taking you to a hotel or guesthouse you haven’t booked or extracted a fare from you that will make your eyes water once you do the conversion.
Ignore the driver's advice about your booked hotel being closed, and that he can take you to a hotel owned by one of his mates that can do you a far better deal.
Book your accommodation in advance, and ask the hotel to arrange for a driver to meet you at the airport.
Phuket is pretty safe for the girls. The usual rules for solo female safety apply:
Women also need to observe some cultural factors that may seem contradictory in a country where skimpily dressed bar girls are commonplace.
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Are the Thai police reliable and approachable? Can you bribe your way out of anything? Read these tips for staying on the right side of law enforcement.
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