Thailand is seen by many Australians as a dream holiday destination, with the country attracting some of the highest number of Australian tourists each year – over 380,000 Australian’s holidayed in Thailand in the period from June 2016-June 2017.
Thailand’s culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism, with 95% of the population practicing the religion. This is also reflected in the amount of Buddhist temples spread all throughout Thailand – there are over 40,000 temples in Thailand alone, some dating back centuries. For the Thai people, temples are a central gathering place, a place to prey for good health and fortune or to speak with the monks. If you’re visiting as a tourist, these are some of the most beautiful and elaborate structures you will see.
Thailand’s exotic islands boast some of the world’s most stunning beaches – think crystal clear water filled with coral and colourful reef fish, made even more amazing with the beautiful scenery. If a beach escape is what you’re after, visit the island of Phuket. In addition to having some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, Phuket is known for the vibrant nightlife.
If you’re a bit of a party animal, don’t miss out on taking part in the Full Moon parties at Haad Rin beach. The all-night beach party takes place on the night of every full moon and attracts thousands of tourists each month with endless drinks and a whole night of dancing.
When planning your trip to Thailand, it’s important to consider your health and understand your risk of contracting foreign disease and illnesses.
Speak with your healthcare professional about how you can best protect yourself prior to your departure.
Before you go to Thailand
All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine vaccinations before heading off to Thailand.
These vaccines include:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- Poliomyelitis (polio) vaccine, and
- Your yearly flu (influenza) shot.
There is an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A and typhoid in Thailand, both of which can be contracted through contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. People are exposed to the virus generally through food or drink contaminated with faeces (poo), however, close personal contact (e.g.
Depending on where you are staying and what activities you have planned, the following vaccinations may be recommended for you by your doctor:
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
Talk to your doctor about what vaccinations or medications are recommended.
In 2017 there were 6,122 cases of hepatitis B recorded in Australia, of which 142 cases were “newly acquired” and 5,980 cases were “unspecified” in regards to the time lapse since first infection.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a viral infection of the brain spread by the bite of a particular type of mosquito.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes life-threatening parasitic infection spread by the bite of certain mosquitoes (i.e. the female Anopheles mosquito).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all travellers are up to date with their routine vaccinations; measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, influenza and pneumococcal. These vaccinations are given as part of the National Immunisation Schedule (NIP). In some cases, you may need a booster or re-vaccination against a disease to ensure you still have immunity.
In addition, protection against hepatitis A and typhoid is advisable for most travellers to Thailand, and if you are planning to venture outside of the tourist areas and major towns and/or cities, your doctor may recommend that you be vaccinated against hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis and rabies.
Speak with your healthcare professional 4-6 weeks prior to your departure to ensure you’re adequately protected.
It is best to consult with your doctor or travel health clinic at least 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. They will be able to advise you about any vaccinations that you may need for your trip well before you leave, based on your specific travel plans.
What your doctor will need to know:
- When you plan to travel (time of year/season)
- The duration of your trip
- The regions of South Africa you are visiting
- Your planned activities (i.e. if you are going on safari or visiting remote and/or wilderness areas)
- If you will be in contact with animals
- If you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
Your doctor may also conduct a general health check-up. This may be needed for your travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
If you are not up-to-date with your routine vaccinations or if the doctor believes you may be at an increased risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable disease, then they may recommend you get a booster or be revaccinated against a particular disease.
There is no risk of malaria in the major tourist resorts or cities, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya. However, malaria can be in rural areas, particularly near the borders with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
If you’re unsure, speak with your healthcare practitioner 4-6 weeks prior to your departure about your travel plans and they will be able to advise whether or not you should be taking anti-malarial medication.
Malaria is spread by the bite of a particular type of mosquito. The best way to prevent malaria is to avoid mosquito bites altogether. Preventative measures you can take include protecting yourself with insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs, and staying in accommodation that has air conditioning, fly nets or screened windows provided.
In order to advise correctly, your doctor will need to know a little more detail around your travel plans, such as where you are travelling, the time of year and the activities you have planned.
Visit your healthcare professional 4-6 weeks before travel to see if medication is needed for you.
Some health insurance companies provide coverage for vaccinations. You will need to contact your health insurance provider to see what they cover.
When you see your doctor regarding your trip, Medicare may cover the total cost of your consultation fees (if it is a bulk billing practice), or otherwise a portion of the cost. However, if you need to be vaccinated, Medicare will not cover the cost of the vaccines themselves.
The standard of healthcare facilities in Thailand vary quite a bit to what we have here in Australia, so it is important you a prepared before heading off on your trip.
- Register your trip with Smart Traveller
- Make sure you have enough of your regular prescription medicines;
- Ensure you’re up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
- Take out travel insurance - to cover you and your family for medical and other costs resulting from unexpected incidents and accidents
- Put together a travel kit with medication for pain, diarrhoeal medicine, oral rehydration salts, antiseptic lotion or ointment, adhesive bandages and other wound dressings, insect repellent, sunscreen, latex gloves, thermometer, motion sickness medicine, water purification tablets and compression stockings
- The tap water is Thailand is not safe to drink. Only drink bottled or filtered water and check the seal on water bottles. Tap water used for drinking, burshing your teeth and making ice cubes, should first be boiled.
- Traveller's diarrhoea is common in Thailand. The best method to protect yourself is to ensure you wash your hands regularly. Where possible opt for fully cooked fresh food and only eat fruit that you peel yourself.
- Avoid mosquito bites, , as malaria is considered a risk to some travellers in Thailand, particularly those visiting rural areas. There is currently a risk in Thailand of Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever and zika virus which are also transmitted by mosquitoes.
Speak with your healthcare professional about whether or not you might need medication for malaria, 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. You can further protect yourself with insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs, and staying in accommodation that has air conditioning, fly nets or screened windows provided.
- Rabies is not a major risk to most traveller’s in Thailand. However, if you’re planning to travel the more remote areas or take part in outdoor activities that may expose you to animal bites, you may wish to consider pre-exposure vaccinations. Your doctor can advise whether vaccinations are required for your trip.
- Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS.
- Diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B can also be spread through fluids such as blood and semen. To protect yourself, do not inject drugs, do not share needles or devices that can break the skin including those used for tattooing, piercings or acupuncture. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis B.
Sources & Citations
- Worldometers, Thailand Population (live). Available at: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/thailand-population/ [accessed 29 May 2018]
- Australian Government, Austrade. Outbound Tourism Statistics. Available at: https://www.tra.gov.au/research/australians-travelling-overseas/outbound-tourism-statistics/outbound-tourism-statistics [accessed 29 May 2018].
- World Health Organization. International travel and health. Vaccines. Available at: http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/en/ [accessed 29 May 2018].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health information for Travelers to Thailand. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/thailand?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001 [accessed 29 May 2018].
- Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Smartraveller, Thailand. Avialable at: http://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/asia/south-east/Pages/thailand.aspx [accessed 30 MAy 2018].
- Finder, Travel Vaccinations – Can I claim travel vaccinations on my private health insurance? Available at: https://www.finder.com.au/travel-vaccinations [accessed 29 May 2018]
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advise, Thailand. Food & Water Safety: Overview. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/thailand/risk/food-water-safety-overview [accessed 30 May 2018].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advise, Thailand. General Health Risks: Sexually Transmitted Infections. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/thailand/risk/sexually-transmitted-infections [accessed 30 May 2018].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malaria, Resources. Traveling? Make Sure You Protect Yourself from Malaria. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/resources/pdf/travelers.pdf [accessed 21 May 2018].
- Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Traveller’s Health Pack Smart. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/pack-smart [accessed 16 July 2018].
SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0163 - Date of preparation July 2018