Travel advice

Hygiene, vaccination and precautions for Thailand

Travel advice

Besides the heat, you will be exposed to all sorts of tropical diseases in Thailand. To minimize your risk of getting ill, you should keep in mind the following information.

If you are not used to Thailand's tropical climate, you may find it difficult to adjust to the heat. However, it is easy to acclimatise if you know what to avoid and how to get your body used to the new environment.

Food hygiene in Thailand

The food in Thailand is wonderful and you should definitely opt for Thai cuisine instead of the heavy farang (foreigner) food. Eating is a big part of the Thai culture and if you take certain precautions (especially a hepatitis A vaccination), you will run little chance of any serious ailment.

Thai food is usually spicy and some spices help to preserve food from a rapid onset of bacteria. However, spices can also cause stomach upsets if you're not accustomed to eating them on a daily basis. Once you get used to eating the spices though, it will benefit you a lot more than eating farang food.

Some expatriates report that shellfish such as mussels, oysters and clams should be avoided, as they have had a bad experience with such dishes. However, many people have had bad experiences with shellfish worldwide.

Water hygiene in Thailand

Do not drink the tap water in Thailand and avoid ice cubes. Though it is said to be clean in many places, and some people drink it, you could experience several problems. Leaking pipes can transfer by-products of dead bacteria, and viruses in your water tap can affect your immune system and cause diarrhoea. Nearly all ex-pats get diarrhoea in Thailand upon initial arrival until their bodies acclimatise.

Most people use tap water for brushing their teeth.

Eating in a restaurant in Thailand

There are many intestinal parasites, bacteria and viruses which can be transmitted via food, water and eating utensils. Usually, the most serious one is hepatitis A. You should check glasses and eating utensils before using them to make sure they are clean.

Sun exposure

One of the pleasant things about Thailand is that it is sunny almost every day. You should wear sunscreen with a rating of 30+, a hat, and at least a t-shirt - even if you sweat. In the tropics, the sun is nearly directly overhead and harsh on the skin. Be especially careful between 10:00am and 2:00pm. Even during the rainy season, the days are sunny (the downpour is usually only in the evenings). Your immune system can be significantly affected by the sun and you will be vulnerable to other infections.

Many farang who first arrive in Thailand forget to drink plenty of water and feel weak without noticing that they are dehydrated.

Mosquito related illnesses in Thailand

Mosquito bites are a problem in all exotic countries. Thailand is not a hugely mosquito infested country but there are still occasional reports of expatriates or travellers getting a mosquito borne illness (such as Malaria, Dengue Fever or Japanese Encephalitis). Symptoms of these diseases usually show up after an incubation time of several days. A malaria vaccination is highly recommended before travelling to Thailand.

How to minimize mosquito bites in Thailand

To avoid mosquito bites and the chance of getting mosquito related illnesses you should consider the following:

  • Apply anti-mosquito lotions and sprays
  • Cover your body with clothes, including thick socks (even if you wear sandals)
  • It is said that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colours, so white clothes and nightwear are recommended
  • Do not apply perfumes and colognes
  • Request mosquito coils at restaurants
  • When travelling always take your mosquito net with you

Further reading

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