Preparing for your Trip to Phuket
Health Insurance, Immunizations and Pharmacies
The following information was provided by Phuket International Hospital. While no one is suggesting that you take your health lightly, bear in mind the tendency for doctors to err on the side of caution.
Of course you should take some precautions before going abroad but beyond the basic preperations dictated by common sense, you will have very little to worry about in Phuket. Phuket has a number of world class hospitals, staffed by highly trained professionals equipped with the latest technoolgy.
All visitors to Phuket should be adequately covered by health insurance, which includes medical evacuation back to your home country. This insurance should be purchased before you leave home, as it is difficult once you arrive in Phuket to secure local health insurance unless you intend to reside or work here, and have the appropriate visas. Most of the private hospitals have contractual arrangements with the major health insurance companies and if you need hospitalization, they will arrange direct billing on your behalf.
Phuket has many pharmacies, either attached to hospitals or scattered throughout the community, and these pharmacies stock an impressive range of medications. By law, all pharmacies should be under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist, and the importation and manufacturing of medications is regulated by the Ministry of Health.
For the tourist, getting access to medication is generally not a problem, unless your prescription drugs are rare. If you are taking prescription medication, bring an adequate supply with you. If you lose or misplace your medication, the local pharmacy should be able to source these for you. Insist on getting medication made by a reputable manufacturer, preferably the same company that manufactures your home medication.
Do not accept substitutes from the local pharmacy, even if the pharmacist tells you it is the same drug. If in doubt, consult a doctor at one of the major hospitals. Smaller pharmacies, and some hospitals, will often dispense medication in a small plastic bag, often with the details of the drug and how to take it written in Thai. Again, if in doubt, ask to see the original bottle or container, and have the pharmacist write out the details in English.
Things to Consider
- Before your travels, if you do have a health problem, ensure that you have discussed it with you family doctor at home and that he is aware that you are traveling overseas.
- Keep a photocopy of your passport in your wallet or purse.
- Write on the photocopy of your passport your health insurance emergency telephone number and your policy number. Consider including contact details of your next of kin or some other person to contact in an emergency.
- Before leaving home, make sure your immunizations are up to date.
- Keep a list of the name and dosage of your medication.
If you're traveling to Phuket, consult your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your journey to discuss what vaccinations are suitable for you. Phuket International Hospital recommends the following vaccinations (as appropriate for age):
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Tetanus-diphtheria booster if needed
- Measles booster if needed