Thailand Travel Tips
We understand that foreign countries can be confusing. To help you better understand Thailand we have provided some advice on local customs, laws and general behavior.There recently was a political situation in the Thai Capital of Bangkok. Should you travel to Bangkok it is advisable to obtain at least travel insurance cover as there were reports of rioting throughout the city. Please consult your governement for an update on the current situation prior to departing on any journey to Thailand.
Religion and the Monarchy are the two cornerstones of Thai society. The National Anthem is usually played twice a day through out Thailand. It is considered an insult to the royal family if you do not stand during the National Anthem. It is also a crime to make derogatory or negative comments about the king or royal family. Doing so can carry a prison penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
There have been outbreaks of Bird Flu (Avian Influenza) in China, and throughout the rest of Asia, which have resulted in a small number of human fatalities. You should ensure that all poultry dishes are cooked thoroughly and avoid places where you may come into contact with wild or domestic birds
Do not sit down with the soles of your feet facing anyone. This is the worst type of insult that a person can give in a social situation. The feet denote low social status, and showing your soles implies that you do not find the person you are seeing worth talking to.
Do not traffic or use drugs in Thailand. This is a serious offence and can be punishable by death. However, please be aware that the number of drug related crimes (i.e. drink spiking and date rape) is on the rise, it is advisable for women to be especially cautious
All tourists are required to have their passport on their person at all times. In the past there have been some arrests because of this.
Visas to enter Thailand are only available through a Thai consulate, embassy or immigration officer. Visas obtained through travel agencies are likely illegal. Having an illegal visa may mean deportation from Thailand, and prohibition on entering the country again.
There are a number of health alerts in Thailand. Avian flu, Japanese B Encephalitis, Dengue fever and Malaria are all currently listed as Thai health threats. Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and be aware of emergency contacts in the event that you become ill.
Do not accept transportation from unlicensed buses or taxis as these can pose a safety threat. Unlicensed taxis will always have a black and white license plate as apposed to the yellow and black license plates that can be found on legitimate transport.
Thai food is characterized by its predominantly sweet and sour taste and its fiery spice. Thai cuisine is popular among many people around the world for a number of different reasons, and recent studies have suggested that Thai cooking may actually be one of the healthiest types of food in the world.
All dishes served in Thailand begin as a number of fresh herbs and spices, these normally include onions, garlic and galangal (ginger). Turmeric, coriander, lemon grass, and chilies are then added and the dish is usually garnered with coriander, basil or spring onions. Soups and stews are extremely prevalent and fish or meat is usually added to give the mixture some consistency, however most Thai dishes will always have a traditional herb and spice base.
Some of these ingredients are not used very often outside of Thai cooking. Galangal is a prime example of this. Galangal is a close relative of the ginger root and is mainly found in South and South East Asia and it is used fairly often in Chinese medicine. Galangal is known to alleviate abdominal discomfort, ease the digestion process, cure hiccoughs and cure diarrhea.
Many Thai foods can help alleviate and stop symptoms for a number of conditions, take Tom Yum Gung for example; it is a spicy and sour soup that is served with shrimps and contains all of the above ingredients. The Universities of Kyoto and Kinki in Japan along with Thailand’s Kasetstart University have been studying the health affects of eating this soup. Initial studies have shown that Tom Yum Gung could be very good in helping to stave off cancer. The levels of south Asian's with cancer is extremely low when compared with the rest of Asia and many western countries. Scientists have attributed this to a diet consisting of many health positive ingredients.
Medical Tourism in Thailand
Many people who need treatment are going outside of their home country to find it, a recent news article has reported. The top destinations for this new “medical tourism” are Thailand, India, Malaysia, and Singapore.
The rise in foreign nationals going overseas, and especially to Asia, to seek medical treatment can be attributed to rising medical costs in the western world. With comprehensive cover, five star hotel style accommodations and a discounted price tag, medical tourism is starting to catch on.
Newsweek has reported that the number one medical tourism destination in the world is the Bumrungrad International hospital in Bangkok. The important issue to remember here is this; although medical treatment in Thailand is cheap by western standards it can still cost a lot of money. However, many Thai hospitals have come to the realization that they are going to benefit from their cheaper prices and receive more patients; because of this hospitals in Thailand have become increasingly adept at dealing with major international insurance companies. At many medical facilities in Thailand direct settlement is now being used more and more.
Many hospitals in the medical tourism hot spots say that patients do not seek treatment at their facility because of the monetary factor but rather because of the high quality of service and care that they can provide. Most of these hospitals have doctors and staff that have been trained in western universities and are able to provide the same, if not better, care than patients will receive in their home country.