Swim at your own risk

IF you have spent a tiny bit of time online, reading news about Phuket, you may have stumbled upon some news about tourists drowning in one of Phuket’s beaches. It happens again and again, yet very little seems to be put in place to solve this issue.

I thought I would share with you some of the tips you should be aware if you’re tempted to have a swim in the Andaman Sea.

Many people argue that the current lack of lifeguards on Phuket beaches is the only cause of those recent drownings, but I do believe that, while there should be lifeguards present, common sense (or in this case, lack thereof) is what’s making the problem worse.

Know your limits

If you do not know how to swim, and somehow decide that venturing 50 meters far away from the shore is a good idea, think again! With the waves pushing you away from the shore once you reach a certain distance, it can become very complicated to swim back to safety again.

Have fun where your feet can feel the ground and do not try to go too far. Remember: most of us have a high-esteem of our capabilities, but sometimes it is best to just play safe.

Rip currents

A rip current, or a rip for short, is a strong, localized, and narrow current of water which moves directly away from the shore, cutting through the lines of breaking waves like a river running out to sea. You may be playing in the water and at some stage, feel like you are pushed away from the shore as it becomes more and more difficult for you to swim against the current.

If this happens to you, do NOT try to fight the current. Instead, try to swim on the side, perpendicular to the direction you are going, until you stop feeling being pushed away. Once in that zone, it is easier to swim back to the beach. Make sure to warn other swimmers if you spot a rip current on the beach you are staying at.


While most of the jellyfish you’ll encounter in Phuket are rather harmless (though the sting hurts, I know), sometimes you can be confronted with a more severe species, such as the Portuguese Man-o-War for example.

If you get stung by a jellyfish, rush back to the shore as quickly as you can and ask the nearby restaurants for help. Most of them carry first aid kits specifics to jellyfish stings nowadays.

You may think that you should apply vinegar on the wound, but please be reminded that different species of jellyfish require different treatments. The best is to wait for an ambulance to drive you to the closest hospital.


I’m sure you’ve already come across swimming flags located on the beaches. When a flag is red, it means “DO NOT GO INTO THE WATER”.

Somehow, this instruction is not clear, as many people think that it is OK to dive in the sea while the red flags are up. These are here for a reason!

A yellow flag means “STILL DANGEROUS, DON’T GO TOO FAR”. Good swimmers should exercise caution, while I suggest bad swimmers stay on the beach sipping a coconut or two.

If you follow those practical tips, you’ll have nothing to worry about when swimming on the island.

By Nattha Thepbamrung