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
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
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
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!
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
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
Coping with the heat
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.
Prickly Heat Powder
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.
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.
Tourist police patrol car