Health & Safety hints
Chicken Flu has resurfaced but only in remote or poultry farming areas where overseas travellers are unlikely to travel to. Please see current news from your local health department if you intend to visit such areas.
SARS is currently not known to be a problem in Thailand
Thailand is a safe country to visit from both the health and personal safety aspects.
The following notes can help you prepare but we do recommend a visit to your doctor if you
are in any doubt
Before you travel
- Evaluate whether you are fit to travel.
- Check to see if your inoculations are up to date and visit a doctor if you are either
unsure or in need of booster "jabs".
It is a good idea to consult your doctor as to his recommendations on anti-malaria
pills although only a few of the most remote border areas are considered malaria zones by
local health authorities.
What to tell the doctor.
You should inform your doctor of the following'
- allergies to drugs, etc.)
- medication (disclose everything but esp. important are steroids and anticoagulants
- chronic illness
- HIV infection.
Special precautions may be necessary for these travellers and for children.
Sexually active visitors should always practice safe-sex and use condoms whether their
partner is local or a fellow traveller.
Most expatriates or over five years do not take any special anti-malaria precautions
unless they choose to work in remote jungle areas.
Health care is surprisingly good in the country and many medical staff in the major
cities such as Chiang Mai have been trained in the US or the UK. Dentist and specialist
doctors are skilled and very good value. Some people even use their holiday
experiences to brush up on their dental care!
Food & Drinks
Ice is best avoided in smaller foodstalls unless it is cylindrical with a central whole
which should mean it is manufactured to government controlled standards and therefore safe
to drink. Shaved ice and other stall specialities, though delicious, are probably OK but
better to leave them in case of contamination.
Eating is a delight in the country with more meal choices and styles in each region
(see the food section for more details). Stall eating is generally OK and some of the best
food in the country can be found at inexpensive market carts. Check the tables, eating
utensils, the hands (as well as the personal hygiene of the cook) to determine if the
place pays enough regard to cleanliness. If they are clean then there is a good chance
that it is safe to eat there.
Avoid food that has been left out in the sun for long periods of time, especially fish.
Most Thai food is cooked at very high temperatures which kills bacteria.
Fruit should be peeled before eaten and vegetables thoroughly washed before consumption
to remove any pesticide residue.
Local beer is fine as is tea and coffee practically everywhere. If you are paranoid
about eating outside then any 2 star + hotel should have a selection to keep you
nourished. Those adventurous enough to try stall food are sure to find an amazing array of
choice and some delicious experiences.
Violent crimes against tourists are so rare in Thailand that they make international
news. Having lived in the country for over 26 years I have never felt unsafe in any area,
regardless of it's wealth level. Most crimes are petty such as pick-pocketing, credit card
fraud and bag snatching. Even these do not pose a serious problem with a vast majority of
Some druggings have been reported on trains and buses but guide books tend to overplay
these rare occurrences. It is, however, prudent to refuse candy and drinks from strangers
and caution is advised when approached by over-friendly touts. A good general rule of the
thumb is to consider why a complete stranger suddenly approaches you and starts a
probing conversation then they are probably not just being inquisitive and are after
information on you so they can use this to "press the buttons" that get
Solo women travellers should avoid beaches at night and take general precautions to
ensure that they are not left exposed to attack.
Jewellery frauds are common, esp. in Bangkok and, whist good value, gems are not "half,
a quarter, etc" price than your own country. If you are not an expert avoid the
temptation of trying to become an immediate jewellery mogul by spending large sums of
money on phoney stones. Scams involve touts mentioning "Buddhist holiday
specials" or the like mainly turn out to be little more than out of the way
stores with inflated prices. Be polite but firm if approached.
Hotel tuk-tuk's and taxi touts are to be avoided at all costs as there low fares are
nearly always offset by trips to fraudulent jewellery shops. Do not use either of these to
take you on tour as there is a chance of being left in the middle of nowhere while your
camera travels back to the drivers home.
There is no need to be paranoid and saving every possible Baht whist on holiday is
hardly the objective. Prices are cheap and great value, even if you are probably not going
to get the very best bargain in the Kingdom. Relax and enjoy the country which is really a
On last pointer. Avoid the cheapest possible price, whether it is a tour, air ticket or
boat trip. If there is a marked difference between one seller and the rest of the group
then there is good reason to be suspicious. Better to pay the middle-price and
get a reliable deal than go for rock-bottom.
See Women's and Kids travel for more info. on related issues.
Disclaimer: The information above is not meant, in any way to be an exhaustive study of travel health or safety. Regard all warnings from fellow travellers or qualified officials as important and noteworthy.