Monday, 14 March 2011

Thailand

General Information
Royal Palace Bangkok
Thailand is an exciting country where western ideas are embraced and absorbed into a rich oriental culture. Bangkok is a vibrant city that never sleeps. This is in high contrast to other parts of the country that are laid back and where time even seems to have come to a halt. On this trip we spent time in Bangkok and on Phuket Island.

For more information on Thailand check out the website of the Tourism board

Although Thailand is “westernized” the amount of English that is spoken is sometimes not enough for you to be able to communicate your needs & wishes in restaurants and to street vendors. So if you decide to go on holiday here it might be a good idea to make or to purchase a travel translation card that includes a picture of the allergen(s) that you react to. This is the link for the allergy dictionary English - Thai.

Tip: Our kids don't wear medical bracelets. When visiting Bangkok’s busy areas such as shopping malls & markets we wrote our phone number & an allergy warning on their arm just in case they got lost.


Shops
Bangkok is a shopping Mecca and if you wish to cook for yourself there are many international shops. Phuket is less cosmopolitan but still has a couple of well-stocked stores, which are mainly located in Patong and Phuket town.

We used the following shops that also have a small range of products that cater specifically to the needs of people with an allergy.

Store
Location
Various locations. We shopped at the one close to the Mayfair Marriot in Bangkok.
Various locations. We shopped at the one in Patong on Thit Bicentennal road. The Carrefour is located inside Jung Ceylon, a large shopping mall.


We also went to the other hypermarkets such as Tesco on Phuket Island but found that many products contained traces of allergens.

Tips:
*
Many international brand products that you use at home have been produced in Asia and may contain (traces of) allergens.
*
Labeling of local brand products is often incomplete or incorrect.
*
Soymilk often contains dairy in this part of the world.

Medical Care
The level of medical care is high and the service is often even better than in Europe and the USA. We used the clinic at the Laguna in Phuket and even though it was small it was well equipped and the staff was knowledgeable & helpful.

The following medical facilities were recommended to us:
Name
Location
133 Sukhumvit 49, Klongtan Nua, Vadhana, Bangkok.

2/1 Hongyok Utis Road, Muang District, Phuket.

Laguna Bangkok Clinic
Canal Village, Laguna Phuket. This is an outreach clinic of the Bangkok Hospital. They have a 24 hr IC-Ambulance service. This is a map of all their clinics on Phuket.

Tip: The emergency Telephone Number for Thailand is: 191
* this information can change so always check before you travel.


Hotels & Restaurants
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay and eat in Thailand. Prices are usually very reasonable and the service is always with a smile.

Bangkok
In Bangkok we opted for an apartment hotel in a nice/ safe district that was conveniently located close to the Skytrain. We stayed in the Marriott Mayfair. The apartments are well furnished and the kitchen area is spacious and well equipped. There is a small supermarket just around the corner where we also found products that cater to people with an allergy. If you don’t feel like cooking, there are quite a few restaurants in the area as well as some international brand coffee shops.

Phuket
Sunset over Laguna Phuket
In Phuket we went through a private owner and rented a spacious 2-bedroom apartment at the Laguna Resort overlooking the picturesque lagoon. We enjoyed staying in the resort, as it was family friendly, has a good clinic & is away from the main tourist crowd. You can also book a room/ apartment with the Laguna Resort itself but this is a more costly option.

There are a few tiny supermarkets in the Laguna but for the Carrefour you need to go to Patong, which is about 30 minutes drive away. The Laguna resort has restaurants serving international fare that are located in the hotels and along the beach. Some of the restaurants along the beach have open kitchens so if you like you can even watch them prepare your meal. We can recommend Tum Seafood (on the beach) for their super friendly staff and fresh fish and Albatross Restaurant (in Canal Village) for its romantic setting along the bank of the lagoon.

Tip: When ordering fresh fruit juice make sure you watch them make it as sometimes sweeteners and other flavor enhancers that could contain allergens, are added.

Do you know of a restaurant, supermarket or place to stay that caters to travelers with an allergy? Make sure to share the details with us in the comments section below. Be as specific as you can and if possible add a web link.

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