This selection of Phuket Tips and FAQs seeks to answer all of those niggling questions that arise when it comes to booking your first holiday in a new destination. Our list also includes the stuff that’s good to know but might not have considered when it comes to packing or planning. In most cases, you’ll find more detailed information on each topic explained on our website, but this is the place where you’ll find all the basics and essentials in one convenient place.
For the most part, Thailand is a safe, modern country, particularly around the popular tourist destinations like Phuket. Tourist-related services are conveniently placed throughout the island and there are relatively few unusual regulations to be mindful of or issues to be concerned about. However, it is always best to be prepared and fully-informed, so take a look at these answers to frequently asked questions and see if there’s anything you’ve missed.
Water: Do not drink from the taps. Always use bottled water.
Ice: Always made with clean water. Perfectly safe.
Swimming: The sea can be very rough during low season (June-August), with very dangerous rip tides. Do not enter the sea if a red flag is flying.
Mosquitos: Dengue Fever does occur in Phuket, but is not common. Malaria is rare to the point of non-existence. Avoid getting bitten by using insect repellent, and covering up at night.
Drugs: The penalties for all drug-related offences are very severe.
Driving: Be very careful on the roads - accidents are common.
Emergency: In case of an emergency, dial 191 for police, 1155 for tourist police and 1669 for ambulance.
Customs and Etiquette
Temples: Dress appropriately – cover your shoulders and legs at least to the knee. Remove your shoes and hat before entering temple buildings.
Buddha: Images of Buddha are highly regarded in Thailand. Purchasing statues and getting Buddhist tattoos (if you are not Buddhist) is disrespectful, and sometimes even illegal.
Royalty: The Thai royal family is also very respected and public criticism of them is illegal. The national anthem is played on the radio at 08:00 and 18:00 and before movies in the cinema, where you will be expected to stand for it.
Feet: Gesturing with your feet is considered very rude.
Buddha Days: Alcohol cannot be purchased on certain religious holidays, commonly referred to as “Buddha Days”.
Alcohol Sale: Convenience stores will only sell alcohol between 11:00 - 14:00 and 17:00 - 24:00. Entertainment venues will sell it at any time.
SIM cards: Available at the airport and convenience stores across Phuket, generally for 50 baht. You will need to register the number by showing your passport.
Electricity: 220 Volts, 50 Hz. Type A, B & C (USA-style) plugs.
Currency: US$1 = 30 baht.
- Widely available all over Phuket, accepting international cards and providing instructions in several languages, including English. Thai ATMs eject cash before returning your card.
- Most market vendors will haggle and respond well if you are polite. It is not possible to haggle in convenience stores or shopping malls.
- Not necessary, but always appreciated.
- VAT is 7%, but can be reclaimed at the airport on some goods, although you must show your passport at the time of purchase.
- Left-hand side traffic.
- You will need an International Driving License to rent a car or motorbike.
- Cars are metered. Motorbike taxis are not. Motorbike taxi drivers wear brightly-coloured vests.
- Congestion is common in built-up areas, particularly Phuket Town and Patong, and around major attractions and shopping malls.
- Aside from taxis, there are tuk tuks, local buses (songtaews) and minibuses.
Getting to Phuket
- Nationals from most western and Middle Eastern countries can enter Thailand without a visa and stay for up to 30 days.
- Others will need to apply for a visa from their local embassy.