Whether you’re a traveler that enjoys winging it or planning everything to a T, the safety of a destination is on the minds of many.
I spent two weeks solo traveling through Phuket. Like you, I was wondering, “Is Phuket safe?”
Phuket is very safe as long as you take some basic precautions. As a solo female traveler, I felt welcomed and comfortable exploring the island alone. I’ll share a combination of my experience and facts to help paint a clearer picture of safety in one of Thailand’s most popular islands.
Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliates that I use. If you make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you.
First Things First: A Disclaimer
I spent two weeks in Phuket, and overall, I had a positive experience safety-wise.
But the information I share here, with the exception of statistics from linked sources, is my personal opinion based on my encounters.
Everyone has unique experiences that shape their perception of any given destination.
So, take what you want from this article and leave the rest. And above all, never let your guard down just because I or anyone else tells you that a destination is safe.
Trusting your gut and following basic safety practices are vital to improving your security in any destination.
Safety in Phuket: What the U.S. Department of State Says
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) gives the A-OK to tourists wanting to visit Phuket. It doesn’t mention Phuket in its travel advisory, a positive thing for hopeful travelers.
Phuket isn’t the only destination in Thailand the DOS views as ultra-safe; the entire country receives a Level 1, the best safety rating.
For context, below are the DOS’ four safety categories.
|1||Exercise normal precautions|
|2||Exercise increased caution|
|4||Do not travel|
The only portion of Thailand that the DOS lists higher than a Level 1 is the Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla provinces, which are currently a Level 3.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about mingling with these provinces in Phuket.
Safety in Phuket: What the Statistics Say
So, the DOS says that Phuket is safe, but is Phuket safe according to other sources?
Numbeo is a crowdsourcing platform that combines travelers’ experiences and data from high-authority sources to determine the safety of a destination. According to them, Phuket is more safe than it is dangerous.
But there are some troubling data points.
While several violent crime categories rank as “low,” the “crime increasing in the past 3 years” category is listed as “high,” and the “problem with corruption and bribery” category is listed as “very high.”
According to Numbeo, people worried about being insulted because of their skin color, gender, religion, and ethnic origin have a very low chance of encountering safety-related problems.
Visiting Phuket as a Solo Female Traveler
I had an extremely positive experience during my 2-week Phuket solo trip. While the men in Phuket were slightly more forward than my experience in other parts of Thailand, they still stayed in the respectful lane.
I felt comfortable walking around in summer Western clothes, and street harassment was virtually non-existent when taking daily walks down the highway from my accommodation, Selina Phuket, to eat at nearby vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
My experience in Phuket was similar to that during my 5-month Southeast Asia trip; I couldn’t believe how safe I felt as a solo female traveler everywhere I went.
Safest Districts in Phuket
Most of Phuket is very safe. So, it’s more about assessing the most popular districts rather than the safest ones. They include:
- Patong Beach
- Phuket Town
- Rawai Beach
Most Dangerous Districts in Phuket
Most districts in Phuket aren’t outright dangerous; it’s more about when you’re there. If you’re strolling around on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll likely be fine. But wandering inebriated after midnight makes you a target for crime.
That said, Kata Viewpoint and Saphan Hin are two places tourists should avoid at night.
Furthermore, you should practice heightened awareness in crowded areas in any part of the island, as pickpockets may be around.
Is Phuket Safe at Night?
As mentioned above, Kata Viewpoint and Saphan Hin are worth avoiding at night.
As you would in any city, stick to well-lit and populated streets if you go out at night. Taking a Grab instead of walking at night is also recommended if doing so would require you to pass through desolate areas.
Common Scams in Phuket
Jet skis are a notoriously risky rental option and a common scam in Phuket. Certain locals are known for demanding money for jet ski damages that were previously present.
Timeshares are notorious for being sketchy, but some people in Phuket take it to another level. They’ll promise prizes or coupons in exchange for 90 minutes of your time sitting through a talk about timeshares. The issue? The prizes and coupons are often fake.
Is Phuket Safe for Families?
Phuket is very safe for families. However, you should be careful which beaches you take young children to, for the waves on the island’s west coast can be extremely rough. That’s especially the case during the rainy season.
Is There a Drug Problem in Phuket?
As in so many tourist hotspots, illegal drugs are present in Phuket.
That said, marijuana is legal for tourists to smoke who are at least 20 years old. In 2022, Thailand delisted parts of the marijuana plant as a narcotic.
Are Protests Common in Phuket?
Protests aren’t very common in Phuket. But of course, they can happen; periods around elections are often when there’s a higher chance of encountering a protest.
Transportation Safety in Phuket
Is Phuket safe in terms of transportation? Overall, it is. However, finding and being able to afford transportation is often a bigger issue than safety itself.
Is it safe to take a Grab in Phuket?
Grab is pretty much as safe in Phuket as it is in other Asian countries. The most dangerous Grab option is a solo traveler riding on the back of a scooter, for the chance of injury increases with a scooter if you get into an accident.
Is it safe to take a street taxi in Phuket?
Generally speaking, it’s unlikely you’ll experience violent crime by taking a street taxi in Phuket. However, the chances are high that you may get ripped off (and I’m talking from the already mind-blowing high price starting point for Phuket).
For this reason, my preferred way to travel was via Grab. Yup, I took my chances on the scooter to save cash…and because ya gotta live a little.
Is it safe to take the metro in Phuket?
There’s no metro in Phuket. Moving on.
Is it safe to drive in Phuket?
Phuket is safe enough for tourists to drive. Yes, people drive crazy. And, yes, they drive on the left side of the road. However, once you get out of Phuket Town and other populated town centers, driving around Phuket is pretty straightforward.
Is it safe to take a bus in Phuket?
Public buses and tuk-tuks run short routes in limited parts of the island. Read: The populated areas, like Phuket Town. I personally wouldn’t rely on getting around Phuket via bus or tuk-tuk.
Is Phuket Safe for Independent Touring?
Phuket is very safe for independent touring. As a solo female traveler, I signed up for tours via GetYourGuide, which is my go-to option for booking tours as a solo traveler since they have a range of affordable group tour options.
Air Quality in Phuket
Phuket will feel like you’re breathing 100% purified air if you arrive there from most cities in Southeast Asia. The air quality is typically good year-round, in great part due to the island’s geographical location.
You can keep an eye on the specifics of Phuket’s air quality forecast on IQ Air.
Earthquake Safety in Phuket
Major earthquakes in Phuket are unlikely but not unheard of. According to Volcano Discovery, Phuket experienced two earthquakes in 2023, the largest of which was a 3.2 magnitude.
Tsunamis in Phuket
It’s rare for a Tsunami to hit Phuket. That said, the island isn’t immune from major tsunamis; in 2004, a tsunami hit Phuket’s west shore, taking 230,000 lives among all the countries it struck.
Beach Safety in Phuket
The west side of Phuket is notorious for strong waves and rip currents, especially during the rainy season. That includes the popular Patong Beach.
You should never leave valuables on the beach while you swim in the ocean, for pickpockets may take advantage. It’s also vital not to walk on desolate parts of the beach; criminals may be around.
Phuket has a tropical monsoonal climate. Tropical cyclones typically happen between April and November.
Is the Food Safe in Phuket?
The street food is generally safe to eat in Phuket, particularly if you’re choosing vegetarian/vegan options.
If you want to eat meat or seafood, they should cook the food in front of you. Frequent customers are also a good sign that the street food stand has a high turnover rate. So, the food might not be sitting out in the heat quite as long.
Is the Tap Water Safe to Drink in Phuket?
Tap water isn’t safe to drink in Phuket. Many hotels offer free tap water on the property, as was the case at Selina where I stayed.
Is Phuket Foreigner-Friendly?
I found Phuket to be very foreigner-friendly, which was a theme during my Thailand trip.
How Dangerous Is Phuket?
Phuket is very low on the dangerous scale. As long as you take basic safety precautions, you can expect to have a safe and fun vacation.
How To Stay Safe in Phuket
Below are some basic safety precautions to take in Phuket. As you’ll see, there’s nothing unique about them—it’s wise to practice these tips regardless of where you travel.
- Take a taxi at night
- Don’t walk around showcasing expensive electronics
- Only take out money from ATMs inside a bank
- Never carry around all your credit cards and cash
- Use a money belt
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry
- Ask locals for advice
- Don’t leave an opened drink unattended
- If you’re going to get inebriated, do so with a trustworthy sober companion
Finally, trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
The Bottom Line: Is Phuket Safe for Tourists?
Phuket offers excellent safety for tourists.
I enjoyed my solo trip, though I was ready to leave the island after my two weeks were up; a lack of affordable transportation is one of Phuket’s biggest downsides. But I’d take that downside in paradise any day over an unsafe destination.
Do you have questions about safety in Phuket? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.