BASICS EVERY TOURIST SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HEALTHCARE IN THAILAND
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Updated 3rd October 2021 to include Covid Travel Requirements
This article is continuously updated.
Healthcare in Thailand is of a great standard, particularly in large cities such as Bangkok. Many private hospitals offer both comprehensive medical treatment alongside resort-style holidays for foreigners, making it an increasingly popular destination for medical tourism.
COVID TRAVEL NOTICE: Thailand is subject to travel restrictions during the current pandemic. See below for more information.
Medication and Treatments Are Cheaper
The biggest attraction for healthcare in Thailand is that both treatments and prescription drugs are cheaper than in Western countries. Many healthcare practitioners and pharmacists can also speak English, being very accustomed to foreigners receiving healthcare there.
Some of the most cost-effective procedures that people travel to Thailand for are cosmetic surgery, eye surgery and dental care. One can also easily identify a pharmacy with a white sign that contains a green cross and lettering on it. Independent pharmacies are often cheaper than buying from a pharmacy inside a hospital.
Thailand is Full of Top Specialists
Interestingly unlike many medical tourism destinations around the globe, it is by far easier to arrange to see a specialist in Thailand than it is to see a general practitioner. This makes it more attractive to those who are seeking budget-friendly surgeries or world-class treatment for specific disorders.
Private Hospitals Are the Better Option
While public hospitals are generally cheaper than private hospitals when considering healthcare in Thailand, the private ones are still the better option. Public hospitals tend to have long waiting lists and occasionally are lacking the latest medical infrastructure and equipment. If you still wish to go to a public hospital, make sure it is one in a large city center like Bangkok, which will increase the likelihood of receiving better medical care. Rural areas are usually lacking in quality, staff and medical facilities.
Emergency Insurance Helps
Thailand does not often use ambulances during an emergency, especially in big cities where the healthcare is better. This is because traffic is an issue and as a result, public organizations volunteer to take people to hospitals when there is an emergency. It is a good idea to invest in some insurance in the event of an emergency like this, as you may need to pay for an unexpected taxi fee or medical procedure whilst there that wasn’t in your budget.
Hazards to Be Aware Of
While healthcare in Thailand is of excellent standards, there are a few health hazards to be aware of while you visit.
The tropical climate makes Thailand ideal for the spread of mosquitoes, as well as the viruses and bacteria that they often harbor. These include:
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Dengue Fever
When traveling for healthcare in Thailand, it is important to bring mosquito repellants and take precautions not to get bitten. If you show any signs of coming down with a flu, cold or fever, seek the attention of a doctor immediately.
The other health hazard to be aware of is the quality of the water. There is a high risk of contracting water borne diseases such as Cholera and Leptospirosis in Thailand and therefore you should only drink bottled or pristine filtered water. If you are visiting an area that experiences flooding, take extra precautions to avoid getting ill.
COVID Travel Requirements and Restrictions for Thailand
During the current pandemic, Thailand has been one of the first few Asian countries to re-open its borders to tourists boarding semi-commercial flights. Currently, covid-free foreigners of any nationality are welcome to visit! Nevertheless, flights to the country have been limited.
It’s important to note before booking your flight that there are only a select few airports accepting travelers currently, depending on one’s vaccination status. Those not fully vaccinated will need to first enter via Bangkok and quarantine there. Vaccinated persons may choose to enter Bangkok, Phuket or Samui (see details below).
Thai Travel Requirements
Visa: A visa is mandatory for entering Thailand, unless one is eligible and applies for the visa exemption program. There are many types of visa that one can apply for, including those for tourists, business officials, family of Thai citizens, those intending to stay for 5-20 years and more. It’s best to consult with your local Thai consulate if uncertain of which visa applies to you.
Foreigners from 64 countries may be eligible for the visa exemption program, if planning to visit purely for tourism purposes. Visa exemption qualifications demand that each applicant has a valid passport, only intends to stay up to 30 days, has proof of funds of at least 10 000 TBH (±USD$297) for their stay, and has a return ticket allowing them to leave within the time allocated. The length of stay may differ for some of the eligible countries.
Thailand used to offer visas upon arrival to foreigners of select nationalities. This policy has been cancelled and is no longer valid.
Certificate of Entry (COE): A COE is an approval letter from the Thai Embassy that allows for a foreigner to enter the country onboard a chartered flight, semi-commercial flight or a repatriation flight. Anyone planning to enter Thailand during the pandemic is required to have a COE.
In order to apply, the traveler needs a valid passport, a valid visa (excl. the visa exemption program, see above), a copy of their COVID-19 insurance policy (see below), a copy of their confirmed flight booking, and a copy of their booking confirmation at an approved hotel. Applications that are not in the correct format will be rejected. The process typically takes 1-3 business days. Links to the application and more information can be found about the COE here.
Testing: An official RT-PCR test with a negative result is required 72hours before taking your trip to Thailand. This is to confirm that you don’t have COVID-19. A copy of the results will be required alongside the above documents in order to enter Thailand.
Certain airports may demand that one be fully vaccinated and undergo a prepaid test upon arrival, including those in Samui and Phuket.
Mandatory Medical Insurance: All foreign visitors will be required to have medical insurance of up to USD$100 000. This is to cover for medical emergencies and/or COVID-19-related treatment. At the very least, the insurance must cover for the length of the stay.
ThailandPlus App: Every visitor is required to download the ThailandPlus App before traveling to Thailand. The app keeps a record of the person’s COE, personal details and helps authorities keep track of COVID-19. The app can be used as a form of documentation while in Thailand. Details on how the app works can be found here.
Quarantine: Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals will be required to pre-book a stay at one of Bangkok’s qualified ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) or SHA+ hotels for a 10-day quarantine period. After this time, the visitor may explore other regions in the country.
Fully vaccinated visitors are able to “quarantine” by taking a holiday in some of Thailand’s best tourism locations, including its beautiful islands. Seven days of sun and fun before one is allowed to venture to the mainland! (See the Phuket Sandbox program below.) This twist on conventional quarantine procedures captures Thailand’s friendly reputation and excellence in hospitality.
There are several other quarantine packages available for fully vaccinated individuals, all of which currently include:
- Alternative Quarantine Program – This is suitable for those flying to Bangkok airport and demands that the vaccinated individual quarantines at one of Bangkok’s certified ASQ hotels for 7 days.
- Phuket Sandbox Program – Vaccinated travelers from 78 countries are eligible for Thailand’s Phuket Sandbox program, which by-passes the conventional quarantine imposed on all other travelers. The person needs to have been staying in the country for at least 21 days prior to visiting Thailand and must enter Thailand via Phuket directly. Children under the age of 18 that are traveling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians are also eligible.
One is required to book at a SHA+ hotel in Phuket for at least the first 7 days. After 14 days, one will be allowed to travel to other locations in Thailand. In addition to the above requirements, one will need to pre-book a covid test to be taken in Phuket upon arrival as well as provide proof of vaccination.
- Samui Plus Sandbox Program – Like the Phuket Sandbox, the Samui Plus Sandbox program allows for fully vaccinated visitors from 78 countries to avoid quarantine; provided they spend their first week in Samui. Candidates need to have been staying in the eligible country for a minimum of 21 days. Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 are welcome if accompanied by fully vaccinated parents or guardians.
Travelers will be required to book at an SHA+ hotel and stay in the hotel grounds for the first 1-3 days. After this time, the traveler may visit other locations in Samui via a tour program. After the first week, visitors may visit other islands in the area including Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, as well as booking in at SHA+ hotels there. As with the above program, one is required to pre-book for covid testing in Samui. All other Thai entry requirements are applicable under this program.
Thailand is planning to gradually introduce additional programs over the next few months in order to open up more of its provinces to foreign travelers. Chiang Mai, Chonburi (Pattaya) and Hua Hin may offer their own sandbox programs as of November, with more to follow in December and January 2022.
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
Additionally, Thailand has approved of Covishield and Sputnik V, however other countries may not approve as these vaccines are not WHO compliant. Thailand will approve of those who have received mixed vaccines, provided they comply with WHO standards.
A vaccine card or official certification will be required as proof to the relevant Thai authorities. This needs to include: your full name, date of birth, passport/ID number, nationality, date of vaccination(s), vaccination(s) received, vaccine manufacturer(s), and the organization administering the vaccine(s). 
It is also important to note that vaccinations taken more than 12 months before travel to Thailand will not be accepted.
Inter-Province Travel in Thailand: It’s important to check inter-provincial travel requirements and restrictions before visiting, if one intends to visit other areas in Thailand. Different travel rules may be in place for each province.
Breaking covid restrictions can result in fines of up to 20 000 TBH (±USD$593).
Healthcare Providers in Thailand
TRIA Medical Wellness Center is located in Bangkok, Thailand in an urban spa retreat environment. It is also one of the world’s leading Integrative Medicine facilities.
Piyavate Hospital, the internationally renowned private hospital in Bangkok, Thailand provides a comprehensive list of the highest standards of healthcare.
Located in Thailand, Thanyapura Integrative Health & Wellness Centre is home to the finest sports facilities, integrative health centre, mindful services and expert coaching, plus much more.
Bangkok hospital is one of the best medical care centers in Bangkok. The hospital has experienced specialists doctors including dermatologists, orthopedic doctors, Hair Transplant Doctors, and many more.
Bumrungrad International is a multi-specialty hospital located in Bangkok, Thailand. The hospital offers state-of-the-art diagnostic, therapeutic and intensive care facilities providing some of the best medical care in Bangkok.
APEX Medical Center is a private elite center providing the best treatments for anti-aging and wellness treatments, plastic and cosmetic surgery, dental treatments and hair restoration.
To search for Healthcare Providers in Thailand providing COVID-19 Vaccine, please click here.
For healthcare in Thailand, please visit Mya Care for a range of hospitals and doctors across all specialities.
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