Many people have a fear of spiders, snakes, and centipedes so much so that it makes their time in Thailand very difficult. Let's face it, Thailand is filled with insects and reptiles. They could be in any bathroom, bedroom, in fact, in any room of the house. However, many people are afraid of insects that do no harm.
Spiders in Thailand are generally pretty harmless. Most people are afraid of the really big ones, measuring several centimeters across. These cane spiders are harmless. They don't bite, in fact, they are very useful, evenif very ugly creatures. They actually catch and eat those big flying cockroaches. So, don't kill one when you see it in your bathroom. Invite it in ! Point out the cockroaches and tell it to have lunch !
Centipedes are, however, a very different story altogether. These are the bright orange and purple insects, about 10 centimeters long (usually smaller) with bright orange legs that stick out the sides of the body, looking almost like hairs. These bite, and hurt. It won't kill you, but it can make your holiday miserable. The bitten area can swell up and throb painfully for up to a week. Some people don't react, most do. These are not the same as the dark purple millipedes, also about ten centimeters long. They are harmless. The legs are tucked neatly under the body and the shell is hard. When attacked, it rolls up into a little ball.
Finally, snakes. There are many species of snakes in Thailand but the ones you have to worry about on Koh phangan are the cobras and king cobras. King cobras and regular cobras both flare out the sides of the head when threatened or ready to attack. The regular variety of cobra has a short body while the king cobra has a long thin body. Cobras generally do not go near the beach, they do not like sand. They like brushy areas, usually living in dense undergrowth. However, in extreme heat they will go looking for some cool, damp area. They often show up near streambeds, sometimes in people's bathrooms ! If you see a snake, back quickly and quietly away. Most snakes do not want to be near you either and will only attack when provoked. They will slither quietly away given the chance. However, if you see a snake near your bungalow make sure to inform the owner. He or she can tell you if it's a cobra or some other snake.
Cobras are generally brownish, not much pattern with fairly thin bodies. Pythons are lovely bronze creatures with a beautiful skin. Favourite for purses and shoes for years, they are now protected. Finally the tree snake, a green snake that looks very much like a grass snake in Europe or North America, these are harmless. Pythons are also no threat, they will bite but only when cornered. You can look, but don't get too close.
All in all, if you are careful, check your shoes before you put them on, shake out your towel, make lots of noise if you are walking through a forested area, you can avoid being bitten by Koh phangan's "critters".