Five tips for staying healthy and safe when travelling in Thailand

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Five tips for staying healthy and safe when travelling in Thailand

With Thailand's stunning islands, fast-paced capital and array of world heritage listed cultural sitesii, it's no wonder that over 600,000 Australians visited Thailand in 2012-2013i. Thailand not only offers delicious food, tropical scenery and diverse experiences; it is also home to hospitable people and a fascinating culture. However, it's important to be aware of certain health and safety risks before heading off on your Thai adventure, so you can avoid them while you're there.

Over 600,000 Australians visited Thailand in 2012-2013.

Get vaccinated

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading (DFAT), Thailand poses a health risk to travellersiii because of the number of infectious tropical diseases that exist in both rural and urban areas. It's vital to visit your GP, and receive vaccinations as well as medications before departing from Australia to protect yourself from becoming infected. Malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and Hepatitis Aiv are particularly common in rural areasiii, and although exposure to these can be avoided, vaccinations will provide an extra safeguard against infection.

Be mozzie-smart

Part and parcel of Thailand's tropical climate and landscape are insects such as mosquitoes, which carry infectious disease. Protecting yourself in exposed areas, particularly in rural regions, is crucial in reducing the risk of infection. Regularly applying insect repellent and wearing loose fitting clothing that covers your entire body is especially recommended to prevent mosquito exposure. In your accommodation, ensure there are mosquito-proof nets and screens, and keep windows closed whenever possibleiii. Dengue fever is a high-risk disease spread by mosquitoes in Thailand as well, particularly during rainy season. Since it cannot be vaccinated against or treatedv, the above stated precautions are crucial in reducing the risk of contracting the disease.

Beware of the dog!

Thailand is home to a range of exotic creatures, big and small, such as monkeys, elephants and tigers. However, in Thailand many animals such as dogs, bats and monkeys are likely to carry potentially fatal diseases, like rabies. Simply avoiding contact by not patting, playing with or feeding these animals will reduce your risk of contracting rabies through bites or scratchesiii.

Dogs, monkeys and bats are likely to carry potentially fatal diseases such as rabies in Thailand.

Watch what you eat and drink

A mouth-watering chicken satay stick or fresh Thai salad filled with that unique combination of Thai herbs and spices will taste fantastic in their country of origin! When you're out and about, be savvy with what food you choose to eat, as food poisoning or food-borne disease may occuriii. For example, avoid eating raw fish or meat, and exercise caution when eating street vendor food. Remember that water may be unsafe to drink in certain places, so choose treated or bottled water, request drinks without ice cubes and avoid eating fresh produce that has been washed with tap wateriii.

Stay safe

Crime levels in Thailand are higher than in Australia, with robbery and assault being commonly reported by foreigners. Since pickpocketing and bag snatching occur quite frequently, make sure that your valuables are stored safely in your accommodation before heading out, or keep them hidden in your bag. When in a crowded place, keep your belongings close to your person and never leave them unattendedvi .

Another safety precaution for your trip to Thailand is taking out travel insurance. Travel insurance is able to cover medical expenses incurred overseas, allowing you to access medical advice and treatment more easily when you need it. This is especially useful in an emergency, where medical consultation may be required without delay. In Thailand, the standard of medical facilities varies according to region. Private hospitals in Thailand require confirmation of health insurance cover or a guarantee of payment before admission. In the case of medical evacuation to another destination, the costs can be quite substantial.

iAustralian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Jun 2013, viewed 11 April 2014,

iiUNESCO, Thailand, viewed 11 April 2014,

iiiSmartraveller 2014, Thailand: Health, Australian Government, viewed 11 April 2014,

ivWorld Health Organization, Hepatitis A, viewed 16 April 2014,

vWorld Health Organization 2014, Dengue, viewed 11 April 2014,

viSmartraveller 2014, Thailand: Safety and security, viewed 16 April 2014,