Thailand is thought of as one of the safest and least violent countries in the Asia Pacific Region. Although visitors may run across the occasional scammer, Thai people are on the whole gentle, non-confrontational and law-abiding which contributes to a feeling of security for foreign visitors. Koh Chang is no exception to this and visiting tourists quickly grasp that there is no need to feel threatened or under stress in such an ambient location.
Thefts are rare on Koh Chang and people visiting the island only need to take the same basic precautions that they would when going anywhere on holiday. Putting valuables away and not leaving them lying around as well as locking room doors are usually adequate precautions.
When venturing out in the evening shouts of ‘where you go’ may emanate from small beer bars which can be answered with a friendly smile. This is the nearest that a Koh Chang visitor will usually come to hassle or violence, although insulting and making a young Thai male lose face in front of his friends after he has been drinking is not a good idea.
In the unlikely event that problems do occur, there are police boxes dotted around Koh Chang and a main station at Baan Khlong Nonsi. Tourist police officers can be found at Kai Bae Beach.
The Tourist police can be contacted on Tel: +66 39 557 382-3 while there are a couple of international medical centres at Koh Chang International Clinic and PP International Clinic plus a Government Hospital on the northeast coast in Dan Mai.
Health in Koh Chang
Although Koh Chang does not have the same choice of medical establishments as say Bangkok and Pattaya, there are adequate facilities where qualified professionals, most of whom speak English quite well, can treat non-life threatening injuries and illnesses. There are a private 24 hour clinic, a small government hospital as well as several doctor’s surgeries and well-stocked pharmacies at villages on Koh Chang.
Diarrhoea: The most serious problem that most people coming to Koh Chang will suffer is a case of diarrhoea. This is often brought on by spicy dishes, fresh seafood or a change of water. Restaurants which display the logo ‘Good taste, clean food’ at their premises have passed an inspection by public health officers. A small pack of tissue is a useful thing to have in a daypack. Immodium or activated carbon tablets can be purchased cheaply at pharmacies, which will counteract diarrhoea.
Malaria: Until the early 1990s, malaria was rife on Koh Chang and many island residents had the virus. Since then authorities on the island have regularly sprayed it with chemicals to kill mosquitoes. While some hotel owners claim that malaria has been eradicated, there are a few cases reported every year. People can help safeguard themselves from the disease by keeping their bodies covered at night and using DEET-based insect repellents.
Avian influenza: This disease, more commonly referred to as bird flu, reached a peak in 2003 but has largely died down since. The only cases of infected people in Thailand were those who dealt with poultry on a daily basis.
Rabies and dog bites: There are quite a few stray and unconfined dogs on Koh Chang, which are mostly not aggressive, but as rabies does exist in Thailand are best avoided. That cute dog may not take kindly to being stroked and may bite. While the dog may not be rabid, any bite needs rabies injections, cleaning and dressing.
Dehydration: The humidity on Koh Chang can quickly dehydrate people, especially if they take part in a physical activity or have drunk alcohol. Dehydration can give a feeling of fatigue and a fever as well as breathing problems. Drinking lots of water and wearing a sunhat in the middle of the day are the best ways of avoiding dehydration. Those who do become dehydrated can rehydrate by drinking electrolyte beverages and water. Koh Chang’s tapwater is not potable and tourists should always use bottled water.
Other maladies: Other diseases that visitors should be aware of are dengue fever, also a mosquito-borne ailment but potentially more serious than malaria, HIV and Hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A is contracted from unclean food and drink and care over intake will usually negate any risk of catching it. The B strain is most often picked up by indulging in unprotected sex with a person carrying the disease.