The standard of hygiene in first-class hotels is in general o.k., but you should not drink the tap water (though it can be used for teeth brushing). The better hotels provide bottled drinking water for free. You should be careful with the food from foodstalls or in simple restaurants. Eat only things that have been thoroughly cooked and are served really hot. The large amounts of chili that are part of nearly every Thai dish may have a disinfecting effect, but you should not rely on this! (The people themselves are nearly always neat and clean, but sometimes they use dirty water for dishwashing, etc.) Phuket is in general malaria-free, but consult you doctor before your trip. (You can look up details about Prevention of Malaria Infection at the website of the University of Leicester). Vaccinations against tetanus, hepatitis, and salmonella infections are also advisable.
Always carry a bottle of water when you go out for walks or hiking tours (e.g. in the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park).
Thai Cuisine is very spicy and includes curries, stir-fried dishes, interesting salads (e.g. a salad made of pomelo with shrimps), and of course many rice and noodle dishes. The local cuisine of Phuket specializes in seafood: several kinds of delicious fish that are served grilled or steamed, crabs, shrimp, and even lobsters (the Phuket lobsters are famous!)
A large variety of sweets, most of them based on rice flour and coconut milk are produced. If you have a "sweet tooth" Thailand definitely is your place! A favourite Thai dessert is Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango, or you can try a platter of sliced local fruit like pomelo, melon, pineapple, rose apple, papaya, etc. (By the way, Thai food recipes can also be found on the Internet).
Thailand is generally considered a safe country and for tourists, Phuket is a safe place. Of course there is criminality, but it is unlikely that you will encounter it. The worst that could happen to you is that you get pickpocketed. Something else that happens quite frequently is that touts wait in front of major sightseeing spots, approach the visitors and claim that the temple etc. is closed. Instead, they offer to take you to a jewellery or carpet shop where, you guessed it, sensational "special deals" are available - only today, of course. Just ignore these people.
As everywhere, of course, it is better to avoid carrying large amounts of cash; credit cards or traveller`s cheques are preferable.
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