Funny how people back home still think that Southern Thailand is like it was during World War II, remote and without modern services. One of the first things asked when I return from Phuket by my pals is "did you get sick?"
And of course the answer is invariably NO! Of course the possibility is always there to get a case of the "runs," or to be more clinical, contract traveler's diarrhea, but I always make sure that I drink only bottled water, and never water from a tap. I also don't use a lot of ice unless I know that the ice was made from bottled water.
And if I ever see bartenders shoveling chipped ice into my drinks, I ask them to stop. Ice chipped from large blocks is more likely to have baddies in the end product then not.
Some of the other things that I do on Phuket to stay healthy is to drink lots and lots of that clean bottled water. Staying hydrated on the beach is one of the best things you can do for your health, and even your skin. Of course sunscreen is a must, as is a good set of sunglasses, all of which is easily found for fair prices in the markets.
As for food, I love Thai food and I love trying new dishes, all the time! So I just make sure that the food I purchase from carts and small stalls looks and smells fresh. Most of the time the ingredients used are sitting right there in front of you...just have a sniff and a look!
The things to watch for are refrozen shellfish, seafood, and ice cream. Those are foods that can cause a tummy ache in my experience on the island, but only if it's been refrozen and is not freshly caught that very day.
Another thing to watch out for is a dog bite, although most Thai street dogs are lazy and can't be bothered, as long as you don't bother them. As they say, "let sleeping dogs lie" and you should be fine. If bitten, you will have to get a rabies treatment but the incidence of actual rabies contractions is very low.
In fact, the only illness I have ever had on Phuket was due to my own stupidity. Too much booze the night before and then wind surfing in the morning turned my hangover into a nasty bump on the head, but I was not following the basic safety instructions and I was lucky that I did not involve any of the other swimmers in the area.
So be on the lookout for fools like me whenever you are in the water!
Oh, and one last thought, as there is a slight chance of catching a real disease like hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, tetanus, tuberculosis, typhoid, and what not, make sure all your vaccinations are up to date before leaving home - and then you will be just fine!
The author has lived and worked on the Andaman island of Phuket for the past 5 years, and runs a local car rental business offering Patong Car Hire
and Phuket Airport Car Hire
. Users of CarHirePhuket.com can quickly compare available car hire packages from local and international car rental companies at over 35 locations throughout Thailand.