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Health and Safety

Road Safety

Road traffic sign
Traffic sign
Easily the single most dangerous activity on Koh Samui is driving or riding on the back of a motor bike. If you choose to rent one (and especially if you are inexperienced), take precautions to minimize the risk of injury or worse.

Beach and Water Safety

sun cream
Sun cream
Many people's holidays are ruined from too much sun. Samui's hospitals see many cases of heat stroke and severe burn caused by poor judgement. Limit your time in the sun, especially when you first arrive, and use sunblock. If you think there may be a chance you will fall asleep on the beach, choose a shady spot under a palm. Even a cloudy grey sky will not save you from getting severe sun burn unless you take necessary precautions.

Don't swim in the sea alone, especially if you are not a strong swimmer. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT swimming in the sea if you have been drinking alcohol.

WARNING: During the months of January through April, extremely dangerous rip currents come and go, especially at Chaweng beaches. People lose their lives every year on the worst days. Look for the flags that responsible hotels display when conditions are dangerous. If they are red, use EXTREME CAUTION or better yet, do not swim.

Apart from these warnings, the Samui sea is generally safe.

Food and Beverage Hygiene

Clean Food Good Taste sign
All restaurants and nearly every food vendor serve safe bottled drinking water and clean factory-made ice cubes. Vegetables are washed in tap water but safe when cooked. You may want to avoid eating raw ones. If in the unlikely event that you develop some intestinal discomfort, a visit to a clinic or pharmacy is likely to provide quick relief in the form of medication that will work within hours.

Night-time Activities

The atmosphere is so relaxed, and the people are so warm and friendly, that it's easy to let down your guard on Samui. This is especially true if you have had a few drinks. Though exceptionally safe by world standards, like any tourist area, Samui has its petty criminals. These individuals are most often present late at night, especially in some of the entertainment areas. This is not to say these places are unsafe, simply remember your common sense, exercise the same caution you would at home, and it is very unlikely you will be victimized.

If a friendly and attractive stranger pulls up beside you on a motor bike while you are out walking at night, and offers you a ride, DON'T GO.

Many people - men especially - may find it is very easy to make attractive new friends in the bars and discotheques. Bear in mind that some of these people will expect you to pay them for their company if you go out for the evening. The majority of them do not have criminal intentions of any kind, however there are occasional incidents and misunderstandings. If you choose to take a new friend (whether a local or a tourist) back to your hotel, no matter how kind-hearted she or he may seem, safeguard your valuables!

Mosquito repellants
Mosquito repellant
Mosquitoes - although they are not abundant, can be troublesome, especially as darkness falls. So it is best to spray on plenty of insect repellant. Wear light coloured clothing as mosquitos are attracted to dark colours, also if you are staying in an non air-conditioned room it's a good idea to use a mosquito net.

Medical Care
There are several hospitals on the island, at least two of which are staffed with English-speaking personnel to handle foreign patients. They are both in the Chaweng area. There are also a number of small clinics and pharmacies in every village. The hospitals are well-equipped to handle most minor injuries and illnesses. However if you have a serious medical condition or develop one while on Samui, or if you have a bad accident, you may have to travel to Bangkok or Phuket for treatment.

Coping with the heat
Prickly heat powder
Prickly Heat Powder
It normally takes a couple of days to acclimatize yourself to the heat and humidity of Thailand. It is advisable to not over exert yourself for the first few days and make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, and avoid being out in the mid-day sun. It is best to wear light loose clothing preferably cotton. Perspiration trapped beneath the skin can cause an itchy rash called prickly heat, you can buy a talcum powder for this that contains a cooling agent.

Communicable Diseases
There have been no outbreaks of any serious diseases on Samui in recent years. Always practice safe sex to avoid contracting hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases. In the unlikely event you are bitten by a dog, see a doctor immediately.

There are many well-stocked pharmacies in most tourist resorts on Samui. Boots the UK drug and cosmectic retailer opened a store in Chaweng in 2001, they have a pharmacist on duty from 11am-11pm. All pharmacies supply up-to-date medications and will dispense antibiotics and other drugs over the counter without prescription. The pharmacy sign is easily recognised as it is standard throughout Thailand.

Tourist Police
Police Car
Tourist police patrol car
There is a tourist police station in Nathon. Officers patrol Chaweng on bycycle in the evening, where they are on hand to deal with tourist related complaints and emergencies. All tourist police officers speak some English and are happy to act as an English speaking liaison.
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