Thailand Travel Advice: The Ultimate Guide

Thinking too much about travel advice and safety will just ruin your vacation — you need to relax and enjoy your well-earned holiday weeks. Just keep these tips in the back of your head, and you will have an awesome time in Thailand.

Advice on food and drinking water

Traveler’s diarrhea is a stomach and intestinal infection that commonly causes loose stools and abdominal cramps. It’s caused by unhygienic handling of food or drinking contaminated water. Traveler’s diarrhea usually isn’t serious, but very unpleasant.

There are a few tips that you can follow to reduce the risk of getting a tourist diarrhea on your vacation:

  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat, fish, and shellfish.
  • Stick to fruits that you can peel yourself.
  • Avoid water from the tap; drink bottled water as long as you break the seals on the containers yourself.
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
  • Wash your hands before eating and after toilet use.

Traveler’s diarrhea can cause nauseous, vomiting, abdominal cramps and sometimes fever. The fluid and salts that the body loses due to diarrhea and vomiting need to be replaced. Royal-D Electrolyte Beverage is highly recommended and can be found in 7-Eleven stores and pharmacies in Thailand.

When it’s hot, you need to drink more than usual, and drinking electrolyte beverages are great to stay hydrated.

Sun protection

In Thailand, you should protect yourself from the sun — never underestimate the power of the sun in the tropics. Getting badly sunburnt on the first day on the beach can ruin the rest of your vacation.

Wear sunscreen and a sun hat or cap. When the sun is the most intense, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m, you should be extra careful. Small children should not be in the sun at all during the most intense hours of sunshine. And let your kids wear sunglasses.

Safety at sea

During the rainy season (May – October), also known as monsoon season, you should be extra careful while swimming due to rough seas with strong rip currents.

Here is some advice for off-shore activities in Thailand:

  • Always respect red flags, meaning no swim.
  • Avoid swimming alone.
  • Stay close to the beach.
  • Don’t swim if you’ve been drinking too many Singha beers.
  • Always use life jackets when taking a boat trip, whether in the sea or river.
  • Jellyfish can come close to the beach, especially during the rainy season. Most are harmless, but some are fatal. It’s best to avoid all jellyfish for safety reason.

If someone is stung by a jellyfish, stay calm and take the injured from the sea and keep them still to reduce the spread of poison. Do not wash or scrub the affected area — treat the area with ammonia or vinegar. Hotels and beach restaurants have been ordered to keep bottles of vinegar easily accessible as part of their First Aid preparation. Seek medical attention.

If you are caught in a rip current, it’s important to stay calm. It won’t pull you under; it will pull you away from shore. Do not fight it and swim against it, swim parallel to the shoreline and when you are out of it, swim back to the beach at a 45-degree angle away from the rip current.

Traffic advice

Most traffic accidents in Thailand involve scooters and motorcycles, but accidents with cars, buses, and minibuses are also not uncommon. In Thailand, you will see people driving scooters everywhere — many without helmets, and some with the whole family of five on the same bike. You will witness the most bizarre things on the roads, so it’s no wonder that the WHO rates Thailand as the world’s deadliest country for motorcyclists.

Exploring the surroundings on a scooter is lovely, but be careful and always use a helmet. Also, make sure what type of insurance that is included in the rent of vehicles and never surrender your passport – if they don’t accept a photocopy, try someone else.

Other advice:

  • Do not sit at the front of the bus.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the driver to slow down if it goes too fast.
  • If possible, take the train instead of bus and minibus.
  • Avoid night driving.
  • Remember that people drive on the left side of the road in Thailand.
  • Be very careful when crossing roads, especially in Bangkok. Look both ways!

Healthcare and insurance

Medical treatment in private hospitals in Thailand can be very expensive — make sure you have adequate travel insurance. Almost all of the private hospitals in Thailand have an International Liaison Department whit English-speaking staff.

Protection against sexually transmitted diseases

If you’re planning on having some fun with the ladies (or men) — use a condom. Thailand has one of the largest HIV prevalences in Asia.

Don’t do drugs

Doing drugs in Thailand is some serious stuff. If you get caught with drugs, you are not only risking a long prison sentence, you will end up in a horrible prison — nothing compared to the ones in the western world.

Hotel safety

The advice below may seem obvious to you, but many people forget about it.

  • Never leave valuables in the room unless a room safe is available. Use the hotel safety box.
  • Make sure the bolt lock or safety chain is working.
  • Always lock the door, even during a short absence.
  • Don’t leave balcony doors and windows open – thieves can jump from balcony to balcony.

Research and book your hotel online; agoda.com is the best hotel booking site for people planning a vacation in Thailand and Asia.

Mosquito advice

Are you a mosquito magnet like me? It’s true that some people attract more mosquito bites than others. There are a few tricks you can use to make those bastards leave you alone:

  • Use mosquito-repelling bracelets.
  • Use anti-mosquito spray.
  • Wear neutral-colored clothing like beige and light grey.
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, and socks in the evening.
  • Sleep with an air conditioner or a fan. (Who doesn’t do that in Thailand?)

Dengue fever is transmitted through the bite of infected female mosquitoes during the daytime. Dengue fever in Thailand is most prevalent during the rainy season with higher risk in northern Thailand. Japanese Encephalitis is another disease transmitted by mosquitoes, mainly on evenings and nights.

Recommended Vaccines

The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccines:

All travelers

  • Routine vaccines: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Most travelers

Some travelers

Avoid petting dogs and other animals

There are lots of stray dogs in Thailand, and If your an animal lover like myself, you may want to give them some love. But you’re best off not petting them as some have rabies which is a deadly infection, and being bit by a stray dog can be dangerous. Dog bites are not uncommon among tourists; in one study, 13 dog bites per 1000 people visiting Thailand occurred.

If bitten, scratched, or licked on an open wound, immediately wash the wound with soap and water. Seek medical treatment directly to receive a post-exposure vaccination. Also, avoid feeding monkeys for the same reasons.

Temple etiquette

Visiting temples in Thailand is a must do, but show respect. The number one rule of etiquette is to dress modestly. Cover your shoulders and knees; longer shorts, pants/trousers, knee-length or longer skirt and choose any shirt that fully covers your shoulders.

Other etiquettes:

  • Remove your shoes and leave them outside the temple.
  • Remove hats and sunglasses.
  • Walk around sacred objects in only a clockwise manner.
  • Don’t get in the way of local people who are there to worship.
  • Don’t touch sacred objects in the worship area.
  • Don’t be loud, show respect.
  • Don’t point at images of Buddha.
  • Don’t pose for a photo or selfie with your back turned to a Buddha image.
  • Stand up when monks or nuns enter the room.

ATM machines

ATMs located inside of bank branches is safer than the ones on the street. If you must use one on the streets, like those outside the 7-Eleven stores, make sure you cover the keypad as you enter your PIN and don’t walk away counting your cash.

In Thailand, the card comes out of the ATM after the money (opposite than in Europe), so it’s easy to forget the card, and by the time you find out, the machine has already swallowed your card — it happened me on my first trip to Thailand. I also got skimmed, but luckily my bank covered the stolen money. I learned my lesson and never had a card issue since then.

Provinces to avoid

The Thai Government has warned tourists not to travel to the four southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani, and Songkhla due to ongoing politically-motivated violence.

Emergency calls

Police
Tourist Police
Fire
Ambulance and Rescue
Private Air Ambulance
Highway Police
191
1155
199
1554
02 586 7654
1193

 

Don’t let this post scare you; Thailand is overall a safe place to travel. Like anywhere else in the world, you need to be cautious.

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