Thailand is famed for the gentleness and the welcoming smiles of its citizens. And even though there are occasional violent acts and touts that harass tourists, Thailand is consistently rated as one of the safest countries to visit in Southeast Asia.
Koh Phangan tends to follow this general trend and is a fairly laidback location where residents welcome tourists and ensure that their vacations run smoothly with no untoward hassles.
Safety in Koh Pha Ngan
Property thefts do happen on Koh Phangan, but thankfully incidents occur infrequently. Using common sense in locking away valuables in your hotel room, or securing wallets and purses safely about one’s person is always a good idea to avoid opportunistic thefts.
One of the main safety hazards for holidaymakers on Koh Phangan is having an accident on a rented motorcycle. Thai road safety is not on a par with Western standards and locals may do things on their motorcycles that are unseen outside Asia. Tourists need to be careful on Koh Pha Ngan’s roads if they rent a bike and to leave it at the hotel if they plan on indulging at the island’s renowned nightlife venues.
The other main problem for Koh Phangan visitors is drugs. Although the island is infamous for drugs such as marijuana, they are illegal under Thai law and police officers take a dim view of tourists caught indulging.
There is a central police station close to the venue for the island’s legendary Full Moon Party at Haad Rin Beach. In town there is an office for Tourist Police officers and there are also a number of police kiosks scattered around.
Another issue which is unfortunately very prevalent on the island is jet-ski touts extorting money from tourists who return with phantom ‘damage’ sustained. There is a mafia on the island which controls such practices, and until the tourist police get a handle on the situation we must advise people not to rent jet-skis at all.
Tourist Police: 1155
Royal Thai (standard) Police: 191 or 077 377 114
Koh Phangan hospital (Thongsala): 077 377 034
Health Risks in Koh Phangan
There are no major health risks involved in visiting Koh Phangan. Taking care on motorcycles, not eating food or drink at restaurants that look unsanitary and covering up for protection against the midday sun and mosquitoes at night will ensure that most visitors stay healthy.
Thailand and Koh Phangan are tropical and people should check with their doctor what vaccinations are needed before travelling. There are a number of medical care facilities here as well as chemists that stock medicines for most minor ailments.
Diarrhoea: Many Koh Phangan visitors get a bad stomach and slight diarrhoea during their visit. This is not a major problem and is usually brought on by spicier food or the difference in drinking water. Eating at restaurants showing a ‘Good taste, clean food’ sign shows they have been vetted by food safety inspectors. Activated carbon or Immodium tablets will often clear up the more persistent cases of diarrhoea.
Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can quickly lead to dehydration and people should protect themselves from this by making sure they consume enough liquids and wear a sunhat when going out in the early afternoon. A symptom of dehydration is fatigue but an electrolyte beverage and water will soon sort this out.
Malaria: Although there are isolated cases of malaria reported in southern Thailand, people who cover up at night and use mosquito repellents can usually protect themselves from this disease. People developing a fever during or after a trip here should see a doctor.
Dengue fever: Like malaria, dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes an is potentially a killer, but can be protected against by taking the same basic precautions.
Rabies: There are stray dogs on Koh Pha Ngan and tourists should avoid them as, even though they probably do not have rabies. A bite will require rabies jabs and treatment for possible infection.
Bird flu: Since it peaked in 2003, there have been few cases of avian flu and those have only involved people working or living with poultry.
HIV and hepatitis: Hepatitis B and HIV can be contracted by indulging in risky sexual activities, while Hepatitis A can be picked up from contaminated food and drink. Always use a condom if enjoying a fling on Koh Phangan.