Thailand welcomes hundreds of thousands of medical tourists each year, many of which travel for Vitrectomy procedures. Medical Tourists travel from all across the globe, particularly from the local SE Asia region, Australia, US, Middle East and an increasing amount are traveling from China. An outstanding private healthcare system combined with a hot tropical climate and competitive prices means that Thailand is now the third most popular destination in the world for medical tourism. The most popular procedures tend to be cosmetic surgery (breast augmentations, gender reassignment surgery, and CoolSculpting to name a few), cardiac surgery, orthopedics, and urology.
Popular Parts of Thailand
With a population of just under 70 million people spread across an area of around 500k square km, Thailand’s most popular regions/cities include Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Koh Samui, and Hua Hin. The capital city Bangkok is one of the most visited cities in the world, whilst Thailand as a whole receives over 30 million tourists each year, the vast majority of these will enter Thailand through Bangkok.
As Bangkok is the only urbanized region mentioned, all others are centered around island/beach life, with the exception of Chiang Mai, set in the northern Thailand jungle.
Weather and Climate in Thailand
Known for its truly tropical climate and scorching temperatures, Thailand, in general, is hot and humid all year round. The coastal locations do benefit from the cooling sea breeze, a luxury urban Bangkok is denied. Average temperatures range from 28°C (82°F) up to 35°C (95°F). However, during the Hot Season (March to June), temperatures can top 40°C (104°F).
The infamous Rainy Season tends to start in July and continue through to October; during this time expect heavy rainfall, often amounting to flooding in some areas. It will remain warm to hot but humidity levels will rise and the mosquitos will come out to play!
November to February is often referred to as the Cool Season when less rain is expected and the temperatures tend not to rise above 35°C (95°F).
From a tourist perspective; High Season lasts from November to March and Low Season April to October. But be aware of the Shoulder Seasons of April to June and September to October, when Thailand is less impacted by the Rainy Season and less busy with tourists – these can be the ideal times to visit.
In a nutshell, Thailand is a Shorts and T-shirt Country, you’re never really going to be cold, so pack light; shorts, t-shirts, vests, skirts, singlets, and light dresses. Maybe pack jeans and shoes if you’re planning on going to a swanky roof-top bar in Bangkok or to a temple where flip-flops are not acceptable.
Don’t forget mosquito spray as the little pests can get everywhere; big ones and little ones! Always protect against the sun; high factor sunscreen and UV-protective sunglasses. The usual medications found at home should be available in most pharmacies.
Getting around in Thailand
With the Suvarnabhumi International Airport being serviced by some of the world’s major airlines, tourists can fly into Thailand from almost anywhere in the world, sometimes with a connection along the way. All the popular regions have their own international airports, with the exception of Pattaya, which is just a 90-minute taxi ride from Bangkok. However, arrival destinations are slightly limited outside of Bangkok, but the likes of Emirates and Qatar Airways will fly into Phuket International Airport. The rest, mostly fly in from local countries on budget airlines, including Scoot, SilkAir, AirAsia and Lion Air to name a few.
For domestic flights, the airports are nicely linked in Thailand with flights from as little as $45 USD one way. There are several budget airlines servicing these routes, including Thai Lion Air, AirAsia, Nok Air, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, and Thai Smile.
The train allows for even cheaper travel within Thailand and is far more comfortable than spending hours sitting on a bus. Bangkok has the BTS, or Skytrain, which allows for fast transfer from the airport into the city. Given the traffic in central Bangkok, the BTS offers a great alternative to being stuck in traffic jams.
Taxis are great, however, be sure to confirm the price before you begin your journey or better still, insist the ride goes on the meter – that is how you guarantee the cheapest and fairest price. But expect traffic in the city and any built-up areas.
Tourist Visas in Thailand
Whilst Thailand is most welcoming of tourists from all over the world, travelers should check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand for confirmation. Those with a UK, US, German, Australian, Singaporean passport, for example, do not require a visa when entering and can stay for up to 30 days. Whereas Chinese and Indian passport holders are required to apply for a visa on arrival, which lasts up to 15 days – for more information, click here.
The Thai Baht (THB) is the local currency and $1 USD will get you 30-33 THB, or in other words, 1,000 THB is worth approximately $32 USD.
ATMs are readily available across Thailand and accept virtually all major bank cards (Visa, Mastercard). Credit card payment is accepted in most established restaurants and outlets, with the more local food vendors, for example, only accepting cash. Tipping is common as service is not included at restaurants, anything around 10% is fine.
Thai is the local language but due to the extremely well-established tourism industry in Thailand, English is spoken by most locals who work with tourists and often signs will have an English translation.
Buddhism (95%) is the primary religion throughout Thailand, with a large Muslim population (4%) mostly focused in the south. The Royal Family is deeply revered throughout the country and should never be disrespected, such behavior is severely punished. Pointing with your feet and touching another person’s head is considered extremely rude.
There are many public holidays in Thailand, which aren’t always on the same day each year, including Songkran (Thai New Year), which is celebrated in mid-April, Labor Day and Coronation Day in early May, Asanha Buja in July and Constitution Day in December.