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Safety in Phuket

Kingston730
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Safety in Phuket

My husband and I are preparing for our first vacation in Phuket with two nights in Bangkok. I have had a few friends warn me about pick pockets and purse snatchings while touring/sightseeing. Has anybody had any problems with this in these two areas? Is this very common and should we be wearing money belts?

Phuket, Thailand
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1. Re: Safety in Phuket

Hi - I work as a volunteer for the Phuket Tourist Police, so maybe I'm well-placed to answer this question.

Pickpocking and purse-snatching is no more a problem in Phuket than it is in any other tourist destination. But there will always be some opportunist thieves around!

A moneybelt worn under your shirt is a good idea when visiting any busy tourist destination or crowded area - this applies not only to Phuket.

If you carry a handbag, make sure that it is zipped shut -it's very easy to be distracted and your valuables could be gone in a few seconds. Likewise, when visiting bars and restaurants, do not place your handbag on the seat next to you where you might not have 100% visibility of it at all times. (Better to place it on the floor under your feet and 'trap' the handbag strap around your chair-leg).

'Elite' pickpockets from South America who use knives to slit open handbags are NOT commonplace in Phuket.

There have been incidents where bags/gold chains have been snatched whlst the owners have been riding motorcycles, often causing the bike to crash with serious consequences. The commonsense answer is not to display gold chains/watches and hold your bags close to you.

A far mor common problem (several incidents are reported most weeks), seems to be theft of money from hotel room-safes (ie the safe inside the guest's bedroom, where it's fairly clear that it's an inside job since the hotel staff have the masterkey).

I would not recommend that you use the room-safe in your hotel room. Use the reception safe if this is available. If not, then it's more prudent to carry your important valuables in a moneybelt under your shirt at all times.

So use your own commonsense and you should be fine!

Simon

Kingston730
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2. Re: Safety in Phuket

Thanks for the advice Simon. Much appreciated!

melbourne australia
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1,020 posts
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3. Re: Safety in Phuket

The problem with a money belt is that you are like a flashing beacon whenever you go to take money out. It's awkward and takes too long, and everybody watches you and thinks "hey, he must have a huge stash in there, maybe I'll rob him instead". Money belts, IMO, are more trouble than they are worth.

We mostly just kept our money split in two different pockets so chances were you wouldn't lose the lot if your pocket was picked. Also I'd have my wallet obvious, with no money or cards in it, as a bit of a decoy. Don't know why I bothered, it never got taken.

Gets down to luck in the end. The amount of times I had to tell my wife to not leave her handbag wide open whilst shopping... never had anything stolen from it. Then on an empty Patong beach, turned our backs on the beach bag for no more than 2 minutes, had money stolen from the bag. It wasn't many baht, but it still annoyed.

Perth, Western...
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4. Re: Safety in Phuket

The places I've been warned by a Thai people to be careful of are the markets like Chatuchak and Sampeng in Bangkok. I have been warned that they will slit bags there as well. In my multiple visits there, I haven't had any problems, but I do tend to carry my handbag at the front of me with my arm over it and the strap over my shoulder. This also helps to get through the crowds.

australia
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5. Re: Safety in Phuket

common sense & dare is always recommended, we never took a money belt/bum bag as i found them awkward, shorts or pants with a zip or button helps keep things secure & dont walk around with all your cash with u, in all my overseas travels i have only been pick pocketed once at disneyland in the USA stay alert there are pickpockets everywhere not just Thailand

Rawai Beach, Phuket
Destination Expert
for Phuket
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895 posts
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6. Re: Safety in Phuket

As for the poster (above) who said money belts are a waste, I have been using money belts for about 12 years now and lived in Phuket for the past 7.

I usually wear a money belt.

I never had a problem because of it.

I never felt like someone was going to rob me of my money. Actually i feel much safer with it than when i take a wallet which i feel that i could possibly lose.

I have a feeling the poster above has not used one, or at least not very often in a crowd.

I use Eagle Creek Money belts as they are strong yet slim enough that no one knows i am wearing it but me.

Surfers Paradise...
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7. Re: Safety in Phuket

Hi Kingston730,

We did not encounter any pick pocket problems but we did get scammed by a very helpful"tourist police" lady in Bangkok. We got taken to a jewellery store instead of a shopping centre by a tuk tuk driver under instruction from this lady!! Under threat of violence he quickly returned us to our original point and we left him shaken and stirred!! Beware.

kind regards

Gary

Phuket, Thailand
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61 posts
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8. Re: Safety in Phuket

Possum52, it is Thailand's shame that the authorities allow 'scammers' to operate in this manner. It seems to be a particular problem with people who offer you the chance to buy low-cost diamnonds.

If it sounds too good to be true - then it probably is!!

Simon

Surfers Paradise...
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9. Re: Safety in Phuket

Hi Simon,

the lady had all the id and official looking stuff and she said she new a shopping centre that would be open early. We were not offered nor looking for jewellery, just a shopping centre that was open. We got neither. But we did get wiser.

Gary

Sunderland
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408 posts
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10. Re: Safety in Phuket

I've just posted a trip report on the Bangkok site for our 3 days there 2 weeks ago (as well as a report on Phuket posted on here).

I "lost" my digital camera at Chatachuck market - can't say it was stolen but I find it hard to believe I lost it. It was in my shorts pocket (front over-knee pocket with flap and velcro) one minute and gone the next. In hindsight I don't know what I was thinking of even taking it in the first place. Still, you live an learn.