If you happen to fall ill or have an accident or injury during your Songkran adventure, you’d be pleased to know that Thai health care is generally pretty accessible, low cost and of high quality. Here, we tell you what healthcare is like in Thailand, what you can expect to pay, followed by some general healthcare tips.
(See also “Songkran Road Toll 2014“)
Healthcare in Bangkok
Bangkok is home to a number of private international hospitals which cater to locals, expats and foreigners. The three most popular hospitals are Bumrungrad, BNH and Samitjev. The nursing and support staff at all these facilities are multilingual. The doctors are fluent in English and many have been schooled at the top medical schools from around the world.
Healthcare Elsewhere in Thailand
There are also large international hospitals in Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Samui, which specifically market to and cater for international tourists and foreign residents. Although the hospitals in these cities don’t have the same range of specialists that are available in Bangkok, they have capable facilities and qualified doctors to treat just about any common illness and injury.
The Price of Healthcare in Thailand
It is surprisingly affordable to get treated in a Thai hospital – especially considering some of these hospitals look more like five-star hotels. For a general check-up you can expect to pay around $20, excluding the costs of any special tests, medications or procedures. If you have to visit the emergency department, the price will typically be under $100, again excluding extra costs. This website at Bumrungrad [https://www.bumrungrad.com/en/realcost-thailand-surgery] gives cost estimates for common procedures to give you a sense of what you can expect to pay.
Tips to Stay Healthy
Be aware of the sorts of illnesses Thai tourists are likely to get and what you can do to protect yourself against them. Traveller’s diarrhoea is the most common sickness Thai tourists suffer. Other common illnesses include heat exhaustion, severe sunburns, jellyfish stings and road trauma.
Beware the Mosquitos
Despite what many believe (including some doctors), malaria is not a threat in Thailand. Malaria is rarely seen in many parts of Thailand. What is more common is Dengue fever, another serious disease transmitted by mosquitoes that urbanites are susceptible to. So be sure to protect yourself against mosquitoes particularly during the wet season (pack the Aerogard).
Pharmacies and Prescription Medicines
Thailand chemists have much looser laws around prescription drugs. Many of the drugs you’d normally need a prescription for back home can be obtained over the counter in Thailand such as antibiotics. But opiate pain killers or mood altering drugs cannot be dispensed by pharmacies in Thailand. If you need to get a prescription repeat while in Thailand, ensure you take a doctor’s note and know the generic name of the drug, as the brand name will be different. You may need to visit a hospital and be seen by a doctor to get a repeat for some drugs.
Check your travel insurance to ensure that you are covered by medical emergencies overseas and the amount you’re covered for. Most insurance plans cover emergency care, even if there’s a high deductible, but don’t cover extreme measures such as medical evacuations back to your home country.