You’ve suddenly got an awful case of food poisoning from the dodgy som tum you probably shouldn’t have eaten the day before. But you’ve got no clue which hospital will be able to properly treat you or how much they might charge you for the treatment.
If this situation resonates with you in any way, then you’re in need of some expert tips on visiting hospitals in Thailand. Health hazards are plenty in the country, and to help you stay safe during your time in the Kingdom, here are 5 tips for expats visiting hospitals in the Land of Smiles.
1. Choosing the safest hospitals
Hospitals in Thailand can be either hit or miss. If you end up going to the right hospitals, then you are guaranteed to get some of the best healthcare services in the world.
But if you make the mistake of choosing a low-quality hospital, your medical problems may not get better at all.
Here are 3 things you should know when choosing the safest hospitals in Thailand:
- Skip non-branded clinics
- Only visit well-known public hospitals (but be prepared for painfully long queues)
- Get to know private hospitals near you
Skip non-branded clinics
Non-branded health clinics are located all over Thailand, especially in Bangkok. Although they may be able to offer proper treatment, they are highly unrecommended as there are many clinics that employ unqualified staff and use poor medical equipment.
These clinics will generally look older, smaller, and they won’t have any English-speaking staff around.
Only visit well-known public hospitals (but be prepared for long queues)
Smaller public hospitals in Thailand often lack proper equipment and staff. For expats, this means that there will likely be a language barrier when visiting public hospitals in the country-side or suburbs.
On the other hand, Thailand’s top public hospitals do offer world-class medical treatments. These hospitals also house some of Thailand’s top medical experts, meaning that complicated surgeries and other treatments can be safely performed at these public hospitals.
However, as these are still public hospitals, the level of hospitality can be much lower than in privately-owned hospitals. Furthermore, top public hospitals in Thailand are always packed with queues of locals waiting to be treated for little to no cost.
For expats, this means that you’ll need to be prepared for extremely long waiting times and potentially sub-standard customer service.
Thailand’s top public hospitals include:
- Siriraj Hospital
- Chulalongkorn Hospital (no English website)
- Ramathibodi Hospital
- And more
Get to know private hospitals near you
Private hospitals will cater their services to expats, offering English-speaking staff and great hospitality.
Fortunately, quality private hospitals can be found in most major cities in Thailand. In the next tip, we’ll take a deep drive into Thailand’s top private hospitals that fuel the country’s booming healthcare tourism industry.
2. Know where the best private hospitals are located
Here are some of Thailand’s leading hospitals in Expat-rich areas like Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Krabi.
- Bumrungrad International Hospital: As a leading medical hub in Southeast Asia located in Bangkok’s city center, Bumrungrad provides premium healthcare services mainly catered for expats.
- Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital: As Bumrungrad’s main competitor, Samitivej also provides premium-grade healthcare services for expats from around the world. It’s located near the affluent Thonglor road and also specializes in offering services to the Japanese community in the area.
- Bangkok Hospital: Bangkok Hospital has expanded its brand to various cities in Thailand. Like Samitivej Hospital, it’s part of the BDMS healthcare network, Thailand’s biggest network of hospitals.
- Vichaiyut Hospital: Situated in Bangkok’s Rama 6 road, Vichaiyut is a reputable private hospital among locals. The hospital also offers expat-catered services along with a myriad of specialized medical equipment.
- Chiangmai Ram Hospital: If you’re living in the northern capital, Chiangmai Ram Hospital is the go-to for most expats. The hospital has English-speaking staff and offers healthcare services that are unrivaled in the northern part of the country.
- Bangkok Hospital Phuket: Bangkok Hospital’s Phuket branch may sound confusing to expats at first. It’s called Bangkok Hospital, but it’s in Phuket. But don’t be misled by the name, Bangkok Hospital Phuket offers the best healthcare services for expats in the island-province.
- Krabi International Hospital: Krabi International Hospital offers one of the newest and up-to-date medical facilities outside Bangkok. Established in 2014, the hospital has quickly risen to prominence as an expat-friendly hospital in the international city of Krabi.
3. What to do once you’ve arrived at the hospital
Once you’ve decided which hospital you are going to visit, these are the things you’ll need to keep in mind before visiting:
If you’re driving to the hospital, you may want to leave extra early as hospital car parks can become fairly packed. Even the best hospitals in Thailand are struggling to find appropriate parking spaces for their patients.
Top-tier hospitals like Bumrungrad and Samitivej will offer free valet parking services. So clear your car of any valuable belongings before visiting.
When visiting a hospital for the first time, you’ll need to register as a patient at the hospital. To be able to register, be sure to bring your passport.
If you are visiting a public hospital or a lesser-known private hospital, it’s also recommended to bring a translator along as there may not be English-speaking staff available.
If you’re getting admitted to a hospital for inpatient treatment, you’ll be presented with a range of room options. In most private hospitals, there will be private room options available. The room prices are usually displayed online, so be sure to check them in advance if you are booked for an inpatient treatment.
4. Know the emergency hotlines
If there’s a medical emergency, call 1669 immediately. This is the public hotline for ambulance services.
However, public emergency services in Thailand can be unreliable. Sometimes the line might be so busy that no one picks up. Other times, the response time may be too slow for emergency situations.
That’s why it’s also important to remember the emergency contact numbers of private hospitals near you.
Here are the hotlines of the top private hospitals:
- Bumrungrad International Hospital: 1378
- Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital: 02 2022 2222
- Bangkok Hospital: 1724
- Vichaiyut Hospital: 0-2265-7777, 0-2618-6200
- Bangkok Hospital Phuket: 07625 4425 ext. 1060 – 62
- Krabi International Hospital: 075 626 555
5. Be prepared for expensive medical bills
If you want quality healthcare services in Thailand, you’ll have to be prepared for hefty bills. Although private treatment in Thailand is relatively cheaper than in western countries, major inpatient treatments can still put a real dent in your savings.
Here are a few ways you can avoid expensive medical bills:
- Only visit premium-grade hospitals for serious treatment
If you live in Bangkok, the chances are that there are more than one hospital near where you live. One way to help you save money is by opting for a cheaper hospital when it comes to less serious treatments. Outpatient treatments can range from just a few hundred baht to well over several thousand baht, depending on which hospital you visit.
- Stay healthy in Thailand
The two most common causes of hospitalization in Thailand are motorcycle accidents and food poisoning. If you’re living in Thailand, avoiding extremely spicy street food and motorcycles is a good start to stay safe in the country.
- Get private health insurance in Thailand
Finally, getting expat health insurance in Thailand is a great way to achieve financial security when an unfortunate medical issue occurs. This is because health insurance means that you won’t have to pay full out-of-pocket prices each time you visit the hospital.
With the help of experts like Pacific Prime Thailand, you’ll be able to compare different international health insurance plans throughout the country without any additional charge. If you’d like to know more, feel free to contact the team at Pacific Prime for a free consultation session today.