Thailand is a palette of delights for travellers of all stripes. Known as the Land of Smiles, the country is a hotspot destination for thousands of Italian travellers each year.
Nothing cures the ails of a North Italy winter like a visit to one of Thailand’s hundreds of tropical islands. This is perhaps the image most travellers have of the Southeast Asian country: sandy beaches mingling with turquoise waters. You could ‒ and many do ‒ spend an entire trip in Thailand hopping from one island to another.
Not to be skipped, though, is Thailand’s city experience. The country’s capital city, Bangkok, is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top travel destinations. From major temples showcasing unique and beautiful Thai architecture to world class shopping (not to mention the unique floating markets), Bangkok’s urban playground is one-of-a-kind.
Or perhaps you’re looking to escape the city life by venturing to northern Thailand for an adventurous experience trekking or motorbiking through the region’s hills and valleys. Northern tribal villages have been influenced greatly by neighbouring Myanmar and Laos and offer a distinctly unique cultural experience from the rest of Thailand.
Whether you’re looking for religious reverence in any of the country’s dozens of Buddhist temples, a party on one of many tropical islands, or an immersive cultural experience, Thailand awaits your visit.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) recommends seeing a travel medicine specialist at least six weeks prior to travel to Thailand. In addition to ensuring your routine vaccinations are up to date, you may wish to consider the following vaccinations:
- Japanese Encephalitis– An endemic across Thailand, the highest human transmission of Japanese encephalitis occurs in the Chiang Mai Valley. Other human cases have been reported in the outskirts of Bangkok and the southern coastal regions.
- Rabies– Thailand has one of the world’s highest rates of rabies. The illness is spread through the scratch or lick of an infected animal. In Thailand it is most commonly transmitted as the result of an infected canine.
- Yellow Fever– a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required if you are travelling through an airport or country where the disease occurs, primarily parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South America.
- Typhoid– a bacterial infection caused by consuming contaminated food and water. The risk of contraction is highest for travellers staying or living in rural regions or smaller cities.
- Hepatitis A– spread to humans by eating contaminated food and water. Bangkok is one of the best destinations in the world for street food, and this vaccination is definitely recommended if you plan to enjoy any local Thai dishes.
- Hepatitis B– a liver disease spread through sexual intercourse, an infected needle or piercing tool, or exchange of bodily fluid. The most common method of transmission in Thailand is through unprotected sex.
Thailand is considered a high-risk destination for tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that affects the lungs. Most travellers will be at low risk, though your chance of exposure is higher if you are working in homeless shelters, orphanages, schools, hospitals, or visiting friends and family in a less-travelled region of the country. Your Health Travel Medicine Clinics can provide pre and post-travel testing for tuberculosis.
There are several insect-borne diseases found in Thailand:
- Malaria– while the risk of contracting malaria in Thailand is low, a travel health specialist may recommend antimalarial medication based on your itinerary.
- Dengue Fever– no dengue vaccine is available, only prevenative care like mosquito repellents and protective clothing. While generally mild to moderate, dengue can be very dangerous especially for certain at-risk groups. Speak to your travel health specialist about what precautions you should take when traveling.
- Chikungunya– this disease generally has mild to moderate symptoms but can cause pains similar to arthritis throughout the body that can last for months.
The PHA recommends mosquito bite prevention as the best form of protection while in Thailand. Schedule an appointment with a International Health Passport travel specialist to learn more about mosquito-borne diseases in Thailand and how to prevent them during your trip.
Thailand is an excellent travel destination ‒ if you know which part of the year to visit. While winter months are dry and hot, the rainy season caused by the Southwest monsoons means much of the year can be quite damp. Here is the climate in three major tourist destinations:
Bangkok: Bangkok has three seasons: hot, rainy, and cool, though chances are you will never be truly chilly in the capital city. Lows in December fall around 22° Celsius and the highs in April reach 35° Celsius. September is the wettest month of the year.
Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai has warm temperatures year round, though the evenings can get quite cold during the dry season. Temperatures range from 15° Celsius to 36° Celsius, though daily averages are usually closer to the 30° Celsius mark.
Phuket: Phuket is the largest of Thailand’s islands. December to March are the best months to visit the island, as the remainder of the year is often rainly. The temperature on Phuket Island and in the province remain consistent year round, and range from 25° Celsius to 32° Celsius.
The rainy season in Thailand lasts from June to October and can lead to flash flooding and landslides. Severe country-wide flooding in 2011 led to more than 800 deaths, and caution must be exercised if you plan to travel during this time of year.
There has been political instability in Thailand since 2014 when the long-time monarchy was disbanded. Since then, the country has been under the rule of a military group called the National Council for Peace and Order. Tourist visits to Thailand have dropped considerably since this current period of political instability began. While the situation has improved in the recent year, travellers should still avoid large public gatherings and political demonstrations. The Thai military has the right to prevent or shut down these gatherings, and force has been used in response to violence.
In 2015 the Italian Government issued a series of regional travel advisories for the southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, and Songkhla. Italian travellers are recommended to avoid these areas as the result of unpredictable violence that may target Westerners.
Bag snatching is prevalent in parts of Thailand. It is essential to keep shoulder bags and backpacks close to your body, particularly in busy market areas. Incidents of bag snatching from passing motorbike drivers has been reported by Italian travellers, and you should be wary of someone who walks into or very close to you ‒ thieves have been known to use these distractions as an opportunity to pickpocket tourists.
Transportation wise, taxis are generally the safest way to navigate Thailand’s urban centres. They operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fares should always start at 50 Thai Bhats. While riding in a tuk tuk is an essential Thailand experience, ensure you negotiate the fare ahead of time and do not let drivers stray off route to take you to a local shop or other tourist destination.
It is essential for travellers to carry a form of identification on them at all times. Make several photocopies of your passport including your Thai arrivals card to ensure you have a document to show police or military if you are stopped in the street. Your physical passport as well as other credit cards and identification are best kept locked in a hotel safe.
As a general safety tip, ensure you always carry a business card for the hotel, hostel, or guesthouse where you are staying. Make sure the accommodation location is written in both English and Thai so you can show a taxi driver if you can’t find your way home.
Many travellers are attracted to Thailand’s party atmosphere. While a night out can be a memorable experience, Italians should be aware of the risks that can occur. Travellers should always keep their drinks in sight and never accept drinks from strangers as spiking does occur.
While recreational drugs of all sorts are common in Thailand, they are illegal and their legitimacy and chemical content cannot be monitored. Travellers are recommended to avoid all drugs, and punishments and side effects can be severe. Note that you can be charged with possession even if you are under the influence of an illegal drug.
When heading out for the night, it is suggested that female travellers bring a scarf or button-up shirt to cover exposed shoulders. Over-revealing clothing can unfortunately lead to unwanted attention from new male friends.
In addition to your clothing, guidebook, and any medication recommended by your Passport Health Travel Medicine Specialist, here are a few additional items you should consider packing:
- Motion sickness medication: There are plenty of ways to travel and see everything Thailand has to offer. From bus to sleeper train, tuk tuk to boat, pack motion sickness medication to ensure you’re not too queasy to enjoy the sights. Investigate a drowsy-free option so you can stay alert and aware for all of Thailand’s adventures.
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen is available in Thailand ‒ at a price. Internet reports have placed the price tag at up to $20 a bottle, so ensure you’re packing a quality brand from home.
- Clothing that can cover you up: Though your trip to Thailand may be dominated by beachwear and tank tops, it is important to also pack a more modest cover-up. Many of Thailand’s most famous landmarks have religious significance, and travellers won’t be allowed in without covering their shoulders. A shawl or a light-weight sleeved T-shirt is recommended. If you anticipate paying a visit to any of the country’s famous Buddhist temples you should also ensure your shorts or skirt is long enough to cover your knees.
- Crocs or easy to clean sandals: Pack footwear that is light, breathable, and waterproof. Several brands make attractive, easy to clean flats, sneakers, and utility sandals which will be perfect to get you through a day at the beach or a stroll in the city.
- Folding umbrella: Thailand can experience intense periods of rain and sunshine. Packing a collapsible umbrella will mean you’re prepared for both conditions, and a cheap umbrella can always be left behind or given to a local at the end of your trip.
All Italians visiting Thailand should register with the Embassy before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
Embassy of Italy
CRC Tower, All Seasons Place
87 Wireless (Withayu) Road, Lumpini
You may download the map or follow the coordinates: 13°44'19.67" N, 100°32'52.73" E.
Tel.: +66-2-250 4970
Visit the Embassy website prior to your departure.
Italians arriving to Thailand by flight do not need a visa if they plan to stay in the country for 30 days or less for tourism purposes. To be eligible for this 30-day period you must have an airline ticket out of the country and an Italian passport that is valid for six months following departure. If you are travelling overland from a neighbouring country, Italians are only permitted to stay as a tourist for up to 15 days.
There are three and six month tourist visas available to Italian travellers.
If you have any questions about travelling to Thailand or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your Internationial Health Passport travel clinic alternatively call +39 392 0056499 today.