Like with any holiday destination, it is important to be aware of the local dangers and to keep yourself and your belongings safe. Koh Samui is just as safe as any European city – the island has some of the friendliest and most helpful locals that you will ever encounter – so no one should feel unsafe during their stay. That said, accidents can happen so visitors should exercise the same caution here as they would at home.
Pick-pocketing and Petty Theft
This is not considered a real problem in Koh Samui, but the island is a place where tourists out-number the locals. Theft in busy places such as the full moon parties is more likely to be committed by foreigners than locals. When visiting a busy place such as a nightclub, bar, shopping centre or marketplace it is advised to bring only the money that you intend to spend and nothing else. In general it is not a good idea to walk around with an open handbag. Valuables, passports and other travel documents should be kept in a hotel safe but it is a good idea to keep a copy of your passport on your person.
Scooters and motorbikes are the most common vehicles on Koh Samui and are the cause of most road accidents. When riding a scooter, be sure to wear a helmet and keep an eye out for dogs running out into the street as well as any other hazards. Be aware of sand on the road, as most accidents occur when the driver loses control in loose sand. Riders should also beware of the ‘Samui Tattoo’ – a burn on the leg calf caused by hot exhaust from the scooter.
Safety When Walking
While most areas are well lit by street lighting, the overall public lighting at night can be sporadic, leaving pedestrians invisible to drivers. In some places this can be exacerbated by potholes and erstwhile traffic. Visitors are advised to wear bright clothing at night and to carry a torch in their bags. Women are especially advised to walk in groups after dark.
As with any other beach holiday, protection from sun damage is very important. Be sure to stay hydrated, wear a sun cream with a high SPF factor and in particular apply it to the back of the neck and ears when snorkeling. When enjoying water sports such as kayaking, always ask for a water jacket. Remember to pay attention to the flag warnings before stepping into the water. The sea may appear calm, but underlying rip currents do exist. During monsoon season waves can get very high so do not venture out if you are not a strong swimmer.
Unfortunately this is one of the bigger problems in Thailand, but they are easy to avoid when you take the right precautions. When renting a car, scooter or a jet ski, it is wise to take pictures of their condition before taking them out for a ride. It is not unheard of to be overcharged for damages that were caused by previous users. It may be better to rent these through your luxury villa in Koh Samui instead of with an independent seller. Do not assume that someone is not scamming you because they are not from Thailand; foreigners are just as likely to be scammers as the locals. Never take anyone up on a “great deal” – there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Koh Samui is a wonderful place to visit and is well known as being a very safe and friendly holiday hotspot. Like with any trip abroad the best thing to do is be cautious and exercise common sense.