Banking is a piece of cake in Phuket. There are banks and ATMs everywhere. If you’re ever stuck for an ATM, chances are you’ll find one at one of the many 7-Elevent stores dotted around town. Almost all ATMs accept foreign cards, so you shouldn’t run into any problems. Most stores accept credit cards, although the smaller shops often don’t. Central Festival, Tesco Lotus, Jungceylon and Big C all have various banks. Big C in Phuket Cityalso has a Western Union.
If you need to change money, it’s best to avoid hotels. The exchange booths at the airport and around Phuket are also not recommended. You will be much better off withdrawing money from an ATM as you will get a better exchange rate. Otherwise, try the banks at malls if you must change hard cash.
Phuket has a major problem with the Internet. Connections are often slow and can cut out at any time. There are numerous Internet cafes in Phuket. You might find that a lot of them are filled with students playing incredibly loud videogames. Keep looking and you will find somewhere quieter. Most of the guesthouses around town have Internet connections. Typically, an hour online shouldn’t cost much more than about 40 baht.
Wireless Internet is possible, but it’s not the norm yet. There are a few places where you can get hooked up. Avoid places like Royal Phuket City hotel, where you’ll have to pay 100 baht for half an hour. The bookshop in front of Daeng Plaza Hotel on Phuket Road has free Wi-Fi. There are far more, better places for Wi-Fi in Patong than the rest of the island.
There are several hospitals in Phuket. The main one, which is also the most expensive of the bunch, is Bangkok Hospital Phuket on Yaowarat Road. As standards go, it is exceptional, but unless you’re insured, you may end up with a huge bill. Also on Yaowarat Road is Vachira Hospital Phuket.
Phuket International Hospital is another choice, located between Big C and Tesco Lotus on the bypass road. Mission Hospital Phuket is located on Thepkrasattri Rd. Phuket International Hospital can be found on Chalermprakiat Ror 9 Road. On Phuket Road, there is Phuket Ruampaet Hospital.
Patong Hospital is a government hospital that has been around for more than 20 years. Patong Hospital is located on Sai Nam Yen Road.
Bear in mind that private-hospital rooms are like hotels — and they come with the price tag to match. Unfortunately, Phuket does not yet have a centralized ambulance service. Most people will either make their own arrangements or use a taxi or tuk tuk. Obviously, this isn’t always possible. Most of the hospitals have their own emergency numbers and will send someone out to an emergency if you call them. This will be for a fee, obviously.
Paracetamol and throat tablets can be bought in 7-Elevens. If you need something else, there are more pharmacies in Phuket than there are convenience stores. They are quite literally everywhere. Be wary of being given medicine you don’t need. The pharmacists are generally pretty clued up, but if you think you are seriously ill, head straight to a hospital. The doctors in Phuket are good at what they do.
If you get in trouble and need the police, call 191, but bear in mind that the person on the other end of the line might not speak English. Another option is to call the tourist police on 1155 or 1699. Another number to keep just in case is that of the Phuket Tourist Rescue Session, which is 076 383907-9.
The most common reason why people end up in hospital while in Phuket is through motorcycle accidents. There is an old statistic that states that someone dies in a motoring accident in Phuket every 36 hours. If you want to take the risk, motorcycles can be rented from various places in Phuket for about 200 baht a day. If you want a bike for a bit longer, they can be hired for about 3,000 baht a month. Most of the bikes are manual, however, so if you can’t use gears you may need to shop around.
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Phuket hospital listings and useful contacts
Bangkok Hospital Phuket, 2/1 Hongyok utis Road, Phuket City. Tel:076-254421. Fax: 076-254430. Web: www.phukethospital.com
Vachira Hospital Phuket, Yaowarat Road, Muang, Phuket. Tel: 076-212150. Fax: 076-217184. Web: www.vachiraphuket.go.th
Phuket International Hospital, 44 Chalermprakiat Ror 9 Road. Tel: 076-249400. Fax: 076-210936. Web: www.phuket-inter-hospital.co.th
Patong Hosptial, 57 Sai nam Yen Road, Patong Beach, Kathu, Phuket, 83150. Tel: 076-340444, 076.342.633–4, 076.344.225. Web: www.patonghospital.com
Phuket Ruampaet Hospital, 340 Phuket Road, Muang, Phuket. Tel: 076-217964. Fax: 076-216179.
Phuket Tourist Police, 100/31-32 Chalermphakeat R.9 Road, Rassada, Muang, Phuket. Tel: 1155, 1699, (076) 254 693, (076) 225 361, (076) 355 015. Web: www.phuket-tourist-police-volunteers.com
Phuket Tourist Rescue Session. Tel: 076 383907-9.