What Are the Health Risks of Traveling to Thailand?

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Thailand is a popular travel destination with beautiful beaches, delicious food, and vibrant culture. Millions of tourists from across the world visit it every year because of the unique experiences it provides to adventure- and relaxation-seeking travelers. If you’re considering visiting the country, there are certain things you need to know, especially those revolving around health risks. This article sheds light on safety in Thailand, some of the most common health risks associated with visiting, as well as how to prepare for the trip.

How Safe Is Thailand for Travelers?

Thailand is the number one vacation spot for most travelers. The country has so much to offer: from stunning beaches and islands like Phuket and Koh Samui to vibrant cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The local people are friendly and hospitable and are known for making visitors feel at home. However, many people looking to visit the country always ask one big question: Is Thailand safe to travel to? Well, it is generally safe, but certain precautions must be taken to protect your health and properties. For example, while the country is generally safe from violent crimes, petty ones can occur.

Further in this guide, several possible risks of traveling to Thailand will be covered. So, if you are planning a trip and are concerned about your safety, this guide will be of great value to you.

Thai Culture and Etiquette

To fully appreciate Thai culture, it is important to understand certain local customs and etiquette. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when visiting the country:

  • dress appropriately: It is important to dress appropriately when visiting certain destinations, such as temples or other religious sites. Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country, so be sure to avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting clothing and cover your shoulders and knees;
  • respect for the Royal Family: The monarchy is held in high regard in Thailand, and the locals expect tourists to do the same. Disrespecting, disregarding, or criticizing the family is considered a serious offense, and it can lead to imprisonment. To be on the safe side, avoid engaging in political conversations completely;
  • wai: If you’re wondering what this 3-letter word means, it is a Thai traditional form of greeting in which the hands are placed in a prayer position at the chest level to show gratitude and respect. If you’re walking the street and someone “wais” you, be sure to return the gesture;
  • removing shoes: Before entering any sacred area, temple, or home, it is important to take off your shoes. In places where necessary, you are likely to see a sign indicating whether or not to take your shoes off;
  • food etiquette: Thailand has many great foods, but there are certain things that you should observe when serving a meal. For starters, you should wait until everyone is served before eating – it is considered polite. Avoid using your fingers to touch any food you’re served. Also, it is better to use a fork or spoon instead of chopsticks.

If you want to have a more meaningful experience in Thailand, try to adopt as much etiquette as possible and respect the culture.

Health Risks in Thailand

There are some potential health risks to be aware of when visiting Thailand. Some of the most common ones include insect-borne diseases, animals and illness, person-to-person infections, food and drink, air and water quality, and natural disasters and climate. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail [1].

Insect-Borne Diseases

Thailand is known to have several diseases, such as Zika virus, dengue fever, and chikungunya, borne by mosquitoes that are typically more active during the day. Be sure to use insect repellent before stepping out. Wearing long-sleeved shirts & tops and sleeping under mosquito nets are also great.

Animals and Illness

Thailand is home to many animals, such as dogs, monkeys, and snakes, that can transmit diseases via biting or scratching. It is always wise to avoid contact with stray animals and to seek urgent medical attention if bitten.

Person-to-Person Infections

Tourists can be exposed to infectious diseases such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), hepatitis A and B, and tuberculosis, among others. Consequently, it is important to avoid sharing needles and to practice safe sex at all times.

Food and Drink

Thailand has a lot of delicious street food, but it is advisable to be careful with them to avoid suffering from food poisoning and other gastrointestinal illnesses that can result from eating contaminated food. Also, it is wise to stick to bottled water, avoid ice cubes made of tap water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood or meat.

Air and Water Quality

If you are visiting Thailand during the dry season, it is important to be aware of the possibility of air pollution. It is advisable for tourists, especially those with respiratory issues, to avoid outdoor activities during times of high pollution and put on face masks before stepping out. Note that tap water is not exactly safe to drink in the country. Some locals often boil it and cool it down to drink later, but it is inadvisable to do so. Always buy filtered water from dispensers or bottled water to be on the safe side.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Thailand is prone to natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and flooding. Consequently, it is important to stay informed, keep track of weather and emergency alerts, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Generally, there are a lot of health risks associated with visiting Thailand. However, by taking necessary precautions and adopting good hygiene, travelers can minimize the risk of falling sick and enjoy the trip.

What Are the Main Safety Issues in Thailand?

Thailand is a wonderful travel destination, but there are safety concerns you have to be aware of before embarking on a trip to it. One of the biggest ones is a crime. It is not uncommon for petty theft such as bag snatching or pickpocketing to occur in tourist areas. Consequently, it is important to take certain precautions to avoid being a victim. Avoid unlicensed taxis, avoid carrying large sums of cash, and be cautious of scams [2].

It is worth noting that from time to time, political unrest often takes place in the form of protests. While these protests are typically peaceful and visitors are rarely affected, it remains important to always be aware of demonstrations and avoid such routes. Transport accidents are also a thing; it is advisable to always put on a seatbelt whenever you’re in a car or a helmet whenever on a motorcycle. Also, be aware of problematic regions such as Yala, the Sungai Kolok crossing into Malaysia, Narathiwat, Pattani, and other southernmost regions in Thailand [3].

Generally, Thailand is a safe travel destination. However, as with all other countries, it is important to take necessary precautions and exercise common sense to stay out of trouble and enjoy the trip.

What to Do in Case of an Emergency?

While Thailand is generally considered safe, it is always important to be prepared for emergencies. Here are some tips on what to do if you find yourself in an emergency while visiting the country:

  • stay calm: Panic worsens a situation and prevents you from making good decisions on the fly. So, whenever you find yourself in an emergency, take a deep breath, stay calm, and assess the situation before acting;
  • contact your embassy or consulate: If you find yourself in an emergency and in need of assistance, consider contacting your country’s embassy or consulate first. Whether it has to do with an arrest, injury, or a serious illness, they can help you resolve legal & passport issues, locate the closest hospital, or return home if need be [4];
  • know the emergency numbers: The emergency numbers in the country are 1669 for the ambulance, 191 for the police, 199 for firefighters, and 1155 for the tourist police [5]. Be sure to have these numbers written in an easily accessible place or saved on your phone;
  • report crimes to the police: The police in Thailand are known to be very helpful to tourists. So, be sure to report immediately if you are a victim of a crime such as assault or theft. However, it is worth noting that the legal system may work quite differently from what you’re used to in your home country.

The key to staying safe and enjoying your stay in Thailand is to be aware of your surroundings and prepared for possible eventualities. 

Medical Services and Medicines in Thailand

Thailand has both private and public hospitals, many of them with English-speaking staff. It has high-quality medical services and medicine available – the reason it is a popular destination for medical tourism.

Public hospitals are generally more affordable, but they do not often have the latest facilities or medical equipment. On the other hand, private hospitals typically have state-of-the-art technology and medical equipment. However, take note that the cost of receiving treatment in such places can be high; this is why it is important to get travel insurance that covers your medical expenses before visiting the country.

At this point, it is worth noting that certain medicines considered legal and sold over the counter in your home country may not be classified the same way in Thailand. Consequently, it is important to check that medication is licensed and buy it from reputable pharmacies. For instance, if you decide to buy modafinil in Thailand, you can get it from pharmacies such as ModafinilXL or HighStreetPharma, as they have a proven track record of satisfying customers. However, be sure to consult your doctor before starting treatment with any medicine.


Always do your own research and only seek treatment from reputable healthcare providers.

How to Prepare for the Trip?

Preparing for a trip to Thailand involves several important considerations; travel insurance, getting the right vaccinations, and a well-stocked travel kit with medicines are some of them. For starters, it is important to get vaccinated to protect yourself from diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis A & B before visiting the country. Make sure you purchase travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, loss of important personal belongings, and trip cancellations.

Packing a travel kit with medicines for prevalent illnesses, such as diarrhea and motion sickness, and insect bites is an excellent idea. However, be aware of the restricted medications, as the country has strict import laws. Be sure to carry your doctor’s prescription for necessary medications along with you while visiting this place.


As with every other country, health risks, including mosquito-borne diseases, air pollution, food, and waterborne illnesses, can result from visiting Thailand. However, the risks are no problem at all if necessary precautions such as practicing proper hygiene, avoiding high-risk areas, and getting vaccinated are taken. As long as you stay informed and take reasonable measures, your experience will be memorable. Just be sure to do your own research, plan properly & ahead of time, and keep an open mind.


  1. Thailand Travel Advice & Safety. Retrieved: February 19, 2023. Smartraveller.gov.au.
  2. Is Thailand Safe for Travel? (Insider Tips). By Clair Cathryn. Retrieved: February 19, 2023. Thebrokebackpacker.com.
  3. Safest Places to Live in Thailand for Expats and Retirees. Retrieved: February 19, 2023. Internationalcitizens.com.
  4. Is Thailand Safe for Travelers in 2023? By ViaHero. Retrieved: February 19, 2023. Viahero.com.
  5. Travel Advice and Advisories for Thailand. Retrieved: February 19, 2023. Travel.gc.ca.




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