In recent years, Phuket has become a popular destination for more than 30,000 expats from all over the world (although numbers vary widely by source), who have swapped fast-paced urban living for a more relaxed lifestyle.
The healthcare service available to expats in Phuket is of a high standard. Medical staff is highly trained and hospitals provide first-class medical facilities. Private medical care in Phuket is reliable and comparatively affordable, and Phuket International Hospital is regarded as one of the best hospitals in Thailand.
It is essential to arrange private health insurance when relocating to Phuket, as some hospitals and clinics may not be able to treat you without it. There are an abundance of local and international health insurance companies available, and it is important to do thorough research as policies and costs will vary.
The quality of dental care available in Phuket is also excellent, and the majority of dental staff are experienced in dealing with foreign patients and speak a good standard of English. Prices are generally very affordable, but it is worth doing some research or asking friends first.
Phuket International Airport is located to the north and is currently undergoing a 5.7 million Baht extension, including a new international terminal. This is scheduled to complete in April 2015.
Traveling around the main areas of Phuket is fine and expats and residents typically choose to get around by scooter for small trips. Tuk-tuks, taxis, and songthaews are also popular with commuters. Getting around the more remote areas of Phuket can be more difficult.
Cars drive on the left in Phuket, but it is not uncommon to see motorbike drivers weave in and out of traffic, so it’s important to be vigilant of your surroundings. The main road networks are generally very good and traffic rarely gets congested, but smaller roads can be narrow and have potholes so it pays to drive slowly and be cautious.
If you plan on buying or renting a car then it’s essential that you get an international driving permit for a small fee, as it verifies your driver’s license and has your photo attached to it. It means you are eligible to drive in Phuket.
There is no direct rail service in Phuket and the closest train station is Phun Phin railway station in in Surat Thani.
Phuket is generally a safe place to live and work and reports of violent crimes are rare, but it’s a good idea to avoid rural roads and areas at night. As with any place that is not familiar, it’s important to be vigilant when you are out and to ensure you keep an eye on your belongings in busy areas. Should you need police assistance, the hotline is 191.