Healthcare and medical care
The standard of treatment in Thailand has improved significantly over the last 20 years, with several hospitals on par with international standard. Especially in Bangkok, the hospitals are quite good, and the more expensive hospitals have a very good reputation. The foreign and Thai doctors who work at the hospitals have been trained either in Europe or the United States.
The availability of healthcare services varies across Thailand. The Chiang Mai, Samui and Pattaya regions also offer comprehensive first aid services as well as routine and long-term treatment.
Most of the doctors in tourist areas speak English. Doctors are usually available quickly, and the price level is reasonable from a Finnish perspective. The prices vary, however, and you should check them on site. Note that there will usually be a separate charge for each examination, procedure or medicine. Most doctors are specialised in a specific field. A general practitioner is not necessarily easy to find. Only basic healthcare is available outside the tourist areas.
In Bangkok, high-quality private hospitals include, for example,
- Samitivej Hospital
- Bangkok Hospital (member of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services)
- Phyathai Hospital (several hospitals in Bangkok)
- Bumrungrad International Hospital.
In the Pattaya region, high-quality healthcare services are available, for example, at
- Bangkok Hospital Pattaya
- Pattaya Memorial Hospital.
In Chiang Mai, at least the Chiangmai Ram hospital offers high-quality treatment.
In Phuket, at least the following provide international-standard treatment:
- Bangkok Hospital Phuket
- Phuket Provincial Hospital.
In general, the Bangkok Hospital chain has a high standard of quality, and its hospitals are available across the country (alongside Pattaya and Phuket, they can be found in Hua Hin, Koh Samui and Rayong, for example).
In larger urban areas, the doctors working at the hospitals commonly treat patients at small private clinics in the evenings. Receiving treatment is usually quick and effortless at these clinics. The price is also usually lower than in a large private hospital.
Travellers to Thailand should definitively purchase comprehensive travel insurance. In case of illness, the trip home will be expensive and difficult to arrange without private travel insurance. Treatment is usually not started before the insurance company issues a confirmation or an advance payment is made. The hospitals often require payment in cash. Private and state hospitals usually also accept credit cards. Always take your insurance documents (insurance card) with you on the trip.
Dental services in Thailand are mainly of good quality. In Bangkok, for example, there are many good, large dental hospitals and clinics. Dental care is usually also available in ordinary hospitals, in both the private and public sector. There are usually queues in the public sector. Both dental care and other healthcare are available at highly varying levels and prices. High-quality dental hospitals in Bangkok include BIDH (Bangkok International Dental Hospital) and BIDC (Bangkok International Dental Clinic).
Be aware that ambulance services are not fully developed in Thailand. Based on a call to the emergency number, a local rescue unit will be sent out. The unit may operate under a volunteer organisation. The larger hospitals, both private and public, sometimes have ambulances where emergency treatment can be started immediately. However, due to the frequent traffic jams, ambulances are rare, especially in Bangkok. Motorists and motorcyclists do not always give way to an ambulance, slowing down the arrival of the ambulance.
When the emergency fulfills the criteria established by National Institute for Emergency Medicine, the emergency service is free. If you are registered at a particular hospital in Thailand, you should save the pre-hospital emergency care numbers of that hospital.
If you suspect that your prevailing medical condition may require emergency treatment while staying in Thailand, it is recommended that you stay near one of the hospitals. This will ensure that you receive timely treatment when necessary.
The standard of the pharmacies varies. Hospitals usually have pharmacies connected to them, and it is a good idea to purchase your medicines there when seeing a doctor. The selection of medicines varies according to the standard of the hospital and pharmacy. The pharmacies commonly offer expensive original products and less expensive generic substitutes. Some medicines may be very expensive in Thailand, especially original medicinal products. In remote areas, the availability of medicines is less certain.
Please note that doctors in Thailand may prescribe more medicine for treating an illness than their colleagues in Finland would. Unnecessary medicine may be prescribed even for minor discomfort. If you receive a large amount of medicines or you suspect that medication might not be required for your ailment, you should maintain a critical attitude towards the medication. If necessary, also get a second opinion.
If you bring medicines into or out of Thailand, you should check the list of prohibited medicinal substances available, for example, on the website of the Royal Thai Embassy, Helsinki, Finland. You must take with you a medical prescription in English for any medicines subject to authorisation. Check the need for authorisation with the health authorities of Thailand and, if required, request them for written permission in advance if you bring such medicines into the country.