Health

When you first arrive in Bangkok, slow down. Your body needs some days to adjust to the higher temperatures and new humidity, so gradually increase your daily activity and exposure to the sun. This will help build up your defenses, provided you drink plenty of water.

FACTS

  • Emergency Services phone numbers are 191, 1669, 1554
  • Always check current details about vaccinations and other medical details from up-to-date source like CDC website
  • Malaria and rabies are rare in Bangkok
  • If you have medication with you, bring English translated prescriptions with you (for customs and emergencies)
  • Do not touch street dogs and cats if possible
  • Even though the cost of medical treatment in Thailand is low however accident insurance is strongly recommended

Increase fluid intake to prevent dehydration, drink water and fruit juices, which are best for it. Pouches of re-hydration powder are available at pharmacies for a low cost. When mixed with water the powder forms a refreshing drink designed to re-balance the levels of minerals in the body. A common mistake is to set air-conditioning too cold in hotel rooms when the temperature difference only makes the situation worse. Setting air-conditioning to approximately 27° Celsius is cool enough, and it is preferred to use a fan instead of air-conditioning. You can get the flu/cold in tropical weather.

Vaccinations

Visit your health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect. At the current time there is no compulsory immunization required for Thailand. Medical opinions also vary as to which immunizations are advisable. The following vaccines are generally recommended for travelers:

  • Polio
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Rabies

Be sure to check updated information about required vaccinations from medical professionals before traveling.

Pharmacies

A pharmacy can be found on most streets in Bangkok. They sell a wide range of products, both local and international brands. However, they may not have your particular brand. If you have any special requirements it is a wise to consult your doctor at home before traveling and bring adequate supplies with you, or make sure you know the generic name for any medication that you may require. In some cases pharmacies are able to sell you medications that would require a doctors prescription in your home country. If the pharmacy does not have the medication you need, hospital pharmacies have a much wider range of medicines.

Medical services

General medical professionals, dentists and opticians are readily available.  Doctors and other medical staff in the larger hospitals generally speak good English. Public hospitals are quite decent but private hospitals usually offer better service and speak better English.

Most general medical professionals work at polyclinics, which offer walk-in service throughout the day, except nighttime. These clinics offer a wide range of services, including laboratory tests. Lab results are known within a very short period of time. Currently, the fee for seeing the doctor is around 100-500baht at these polyclinics. Hospitals also offer walk-in service where you can see a general practitioner during the daytime. Many also offer 24-hour emergency room service. Hospitals are divided between public and private hospitals. See different options in the Health section.

Medical tourism

Bangkok is a popular destination for medical tourism since treatments are at a fraction of the cost charged in many countries. You can get a wide range of treatments in Bangkok, from dental to cardiac surgeries. Sure enough, cosmetic surgery is a popular option because of the low cost.  The most famous hospital is Bumrungrad Hospital, which attracts almost a half million foreign patients per year. There are other hospitals which specialize in serving tourists. Private hospitals in Thailand are high quality with international standards. Most doctors are trained abroad, in western countries.

Food and water

Diseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travelers. Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles.  Avoid tap water and fountain drinks.
  • Street vendors generally sell clean food because it is fried, cooked or boiled when ordered. Fruits and salads are more risky if they are sold cut.

Thailand has two types of toilets. Most common in the Bangkok is a western style toilet and the other one is a traditional “hole in the floor”, squat toilet. Western style toilets in Thailand have very poor plumbing meaning that all used toilet papers should be put into bin or trash which is near the toilet seat. Do not put the papers into  the sewer, it will block easily. If you come across the squat toilet, don’t be afraid. Follow these tips:

  • Bring your own toilet paper
  • Use the small cup or bucket to put water into toilet
  • Do the “business” while squatting
  • Flush the toilet with the cups or buckets of water