Becoming ill, or picking up an injury, can completely ruin a holiday so it is suggested that visitors take action to look after their health during their trip. There is no reason for people to become so obsessed with safety that it interferes with their ability to relax. A few reasonable health precautions should suffice to ensure a safe trip.
Phuket is a Safe Destination
The vast majority of visitors to Phuket never experience any serious health problems during their stay. It is considered to be a safe destination and suitable for families as well as solo travelers. So long as people take reasonable precautions they should not experience any health problems. Those individuals who already have a pre-existing condition before arriving on the island should take whatever action will be needed to manage this during their stay. It is also recommended that visitors have the necessary vaccinations and purchase some travel insurance.
Common Health Problems in Phuket
The most common health problems experienced by visitors to this part of Thailand include:
- Stomach upset is probably the most common health problem for visitors to Thailand. This most often occurs because of overindulgence in alcohol or eating food that the individual is not familiar with.
- Scrapes and more serious injuries due to riding a motorbike.
- Dehydration can be a problem. People need to ensure that they regularly consume water throughout the day.
- There are different forms of hepatitis infection that people can pick up in Thailand. The most dangerous of these is hepatitis B, and it is advisable that people are vaccinated for this before they arrive.
- Dengue fever caused by mosquito bites is a possible risk.
- Sexually transmitted disease is another possible risk.
Healthy Food in Phuket
Thai cuisine is now famous around the world for its interesting flavors. There is a relatively good standard of cleanliness in most restaurants and most visitors who eat street stall food will never have any problems. One of the great joys of visiting Thailand is experimenting with the local dishes so it is highly recommended that people do so. There are steps that the individual can take to ensure that they stay healthy while eating in Phuket such as:
- Look for eating establishments that have the clean food good taste sign. This is an award giving by the Thai Department of Health and the Thai Tourism Authority.
- It is best to go to those restaurants that appear popular and busy. They are unlikely to be so well liked if they have a record of food poisoning.
- It is important to avoid eating poorly cooked or undercooked shellfish, as this can easily lead to food poisoning.
- When dealing with street vendors observe their hygiene practices. If they do not have somewhere to wash their hands then this is a bad sign.
- There are certain popular Thai dishes that visitors may want to avoid because they involve raw fish or meat. This includes dishes such as laap (chopped meat salad) and yam (or yum) (glass noodle salad).
- Be sure to wash all fruit before eating because the outer skin may have contaminants.
- It is a good idea for people to take a multivitamin during their stay in Thailand. They will be eating a strange diet and so will be less sure about how to obtain all the nutrients they need.
- Those individuals who have any allergies will need to check the ingredients of any food they plan to eat. These days there are even smart phone applications
Drinking Water in Phuket
It is advisable to only ever drink bottled water during a stay in Phuket. Some of the more well known restaurants and hotels will have their own water treatment devices, and these are usually safe enough to use. Many of the local Thais will collect rain water and use this for drinking, but this can become contaminated and so should be avoided by visitors. It is also advisable to use bottle water even when rinsing off toothpaste from the mouth.
Stay Healthy in the Sun in Phuket
One of the biggest health dangers that visitors are likely have to face during their trip is the possibility of sunburn. This is because the ultraviolet rays are more intense in the tropics. Even when it is cloudy with no visible sun it is still possible to get burnt. This type of burn is not only uncomfortable, but it can also lead to skin cancer. People can stay healthy in the sun by:
- Make use of the sun umbrellas on the beach. These are usually cheap to rent and can help people avoid a great deal of pain.
- Using sunscreen to protect against sunburn is highly recommended – start off with SPF 15. It is important that people avoid absorbing too much sun cream into their skin because this could actually increase the risk of skin cancer.
- It is usually recommended that people apply sun cream 30 minutes before they go in the sun. If people are going to be in the water then they may need to reapply.
- It is particular important to be careful when riding on deck in a boat. The sea breeze provides false comfort, but the ultraviolet rays can actually be more intense in the ocean.
- There is a saying about mad dogs and English men in the afternoon sun and applies to all visitors to the tropics. Try to avoid too much exposure to the sun between 10 am and 3pm as this is when the ultraviolet rays will cause the most damage.
If people do become sun burnt it can be extremely uncomfortable. Many of the locals use Aloe Vera for treating these burns and it can be effective – there is usually at least one vendor selling Aloe Vera on the more popular beaches.
Riding a Motorbike in Phuket
Riding a motorbike in Phuket is probably the most dangerous thing that people can do. There are always tourists walking around in bandages because of accidents they had while on a motorbike – these are the lucky ones to be still walking. It is very easy to rent a bike and riders can feel a bit invincible because they are on holiday – they will take risks that they would never consider taking at home. It is not recommended that people ride a motorbike for the first time in Phuket. If people do still want to hire a bike there are precautions that they should take including:
*When people go to rent a motorbike they should fully check it to ensure that it is in good working order. * It is important to wear a quality motorbike helmet. Many of those who rent bikes will offer helmets that are not adequate enough to protect the head – all they do is offer a false sense of security. * Never ride a motorbike while under the influence of alcohol. * Many people ride a motorbike while wearing shorts and t-shirts. This is not recommended as it offers no protection in the event the individual comes off the motorbike. * It is important that people ride their motorbike defensively. The Thai roads can be chaotic and so it is best to be always ready for the unexpected. * Potholes can be a huge problem on Thai roads so care needs to be taken to avoid this. Those who are riding their motorbike at high speeds will find it much harder to avoid these potholes. * It is best to avoid those roads in Phuket that are not well paved. Riding the motorbike on sand is particularly dangerous.
The surf and currents can be strong, and tourists have drowned when lifeguards were not present (specifically at night). Always take the ocean seriously. It can be fun to play in but when there are stormy conditions, do not take the risk.
Drinking Alcohol Safely in Phuket
Many people who visit Phuket will drink a great deal more alcohol than they normally would at home. This can be fine so long as they take reasonable precautions. It is a good idea to have at least some days during the trip that are alcohol-free. Drinking too much alcohol can not only lead to horrible hangovers, but it can also take much of the enjoyment out of the trip.
Mosquito bites can be a real nuisance, but there is an even more sinister risk from these pests. They can spread diseases such as:
- Dengue fever
- Japanese Encephalitis
Phuket is considered to be relatively malaria-free. Some visitors have contracted dengue fever, and this can require hospitalization. It is important that people do what they can to avoid mosquito bites. This may include wearing long clothes in the evenings and using repellant.
Note that for Dengue there is not currently a vaccine available (as of 2012) but Thai medical researchers have made certain discoveries which may result in vaccines available in the future. There are actually four strains of Dengue, and those who have contracted Dengue once are thereafter somewhat immune from that particular strain.
Hospitals in Phuket
There are a number of hospitals in Phuket including: