Health and Safety
There are 5 major hospitals on Koh Samui, 4 private and one government.
The local government hospital in Nathon is obviously the cheapest option on the island. This does not mean the staff are any less qualified than those in the private hospitals, they are equally qualified. It just means you’ll be waiting a lot longer to see a doctor and little English is spoken by staff.
4 other major hospitals, Bangkok Samui, Bandon and Thai International are all found around the ring road at the back of Chaweng. Samui Hospital is at the northern end of Chaweng Beach Road. These hospitals are modern, with English speaking local and foreign staff.
Bangkok Samui is the 5-star hosptial on the island. This is a world-class facility, with world-class prices. Most travel insurance policies do not cover the type of expense you’ll incur for a stay or treatment at Bangkok Samui. If you intend on hiring a motorbike in Samui, make sure you purchase an insurance policy that will cover your expenses at this hospital. Any head injury cases are immediately referred to this hospital, as the only neurosurgeons on the island are based there.
If it’s just a minor problem, there are many small GPs around tourist areas that are well qualified and inexpensive.
See Useful Telephone Numbers for hospital details.
Slightly comical, but a coconut falling from a 60 foot tree can do some serious damage. Samui is known as the "Coconut Island" over 2 million coconuts are harvested per month from the trees here. There are a lot of coconuts hanging about everywhere, so don’t spend too much time standing under one and definitely steer clear from a whole day sun baking under one.
We’ve touched on this in getting around, with particular attention paid to hiring a motorbike or scooter. Samui’s infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired, as does the quality of driving on the island. The roads are in need of some serious upgrades, with many potholes, bumps and dips all over the island.
Local cement truck and mini-van drivers seem to have a death wish and are not concerned whom they take with them.
Tourists tend to leave their brains at home when travelling and that’s fair enough in many ways, that’s why we go on holiday. Unfortunately if you are going to hire a car or motorbike here you need to have you brain clear and switched on.
Samui has the highest road fatality rate in the whole of Thailand. This is on an island that has only one main road that circles the island and can be circumnavigated in 1 hour. If you are a novice driver or motorbike rider consider using public transport rather than a hire vehicle. If you are going to drive always wear a seatbelt. If you are going to ride always wear a helmet. Please do not drink and drive.
The number 1 reason tourists visit Samui is the wonderful beaches. The weather’s hot, the waters warm, and for many this is where they want to spend most of their days.
If you are going to spend time on the beach, out in the sun or even under cloud, wear sunscreen! It is such a logical process, the sun is strong here, you will get burnt, maybe even suffer heat stroke. Why spend your precious holiday time stuck in bed watching Thai soap operas when all this could have been avoided by applying a little cream to your body every few hours. Do not spend prolonged time in the sun, have a break in the shade, drink some water and reapply sunscreen. Sunscreen does not stop you from getting a tan, even with factor 50+ on!
For most of the year, the sea around Samui is irresistibly inviting. Calm, turquoise, shallow waters look safe as ever. Please be aware from January to April there can be some strong under currents and rips in and around Samui beaches. Always swim with caution, be aware of your location with regard to the land. Always try to swim with a friend or make sure your friends on the beach know you are entering the water. Don’t swim while under the influence of alcohol. Some hotels display flags that represent the type of conditions currently in the sea, check them out before entering.
There are no lifeguards on Koh Samui beaches.
Rather than a serious health risk, mosquitoes are more of an annoyance on Samui. In some rural areas of Thailand mosquitoes carrying malaria can be a problem. Not on Samui, we are Malaria free. However, we are not Dengue Fever free. Dengue Fever is a disease that can be transmitted by a single female mosquito bite. Symptoms include; vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, joint and muscle pain. If you are experiencing such symptoms then seek medical help. It’s usually at night when the mosquitoes are biting. There’s plenty of shops stocking mosquito repellents, make sure you spray it on liberally before going out and they’ll most likely leave you alone.
Something you’ll notice while staying on Samui is the stray dogs wondering the beaches and streets. Many of them are wearing collars, this is to signify they’ve been spayed and had their shots. This is done by a local organisation called Samui Dog Rescue, a volunteer organisation that has done a fantastic job looking after the animal population, specifically the dogs. Rabies was once an issue, but thanks to the Dog Rescue team it has been all but wiped out.
The dogs on the whole are not dangerous. They are friendly creatures and generally reflect the Samui style, laid back, not too bothered and love a bit of attention.
If you come across an injured dog or cat, puppies or kittens looking lost, please contact Samui Dog Rescue.
We do have snakes here on the island, but due to development most of them have been pushed back in to the depths of the jungle, it’s highly unlikely that you will come across one. If you do come across a snake, leave it alone and move in the opposite direction. Unless cornered they will get out of your way. Treat all snakes as possibly being dangerous. Some snakes on Samui are poisonious, in fact fatal. Samui is home to the King Cobra, Monocellate Cobra and Pit Viper, all deadly venomous snakes.
If you do happen upon a snake on your property or find a snake injured in the wild, please call Samui Snake Rescue & Removal on; +66 (0)89 6635085