It’s not what you normally want to think about on holiday, but sometimes you just need to see the doctor. Dengue fever, infected wounds, and motorcycle muffler burns seem to be unintended souvenirs for some in the kingdom. Luckily, Bangkok is an oasis of world-class medical care. Expatriates in the region normally choose Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore for their medical needs, with Bangkok being the least expensive with high standards of care.
Emergency care in the provinces is often competent but basic — Phuket and Chiang Mai both have excellent hospitals, but for anything complicated patients will be transferred to Bangkok. Travellers to Thailand should always, always have medical travel insurance. Most hospitals will deal directly with your insurance company and ensure payment, however you may have to pay an estimated deposit before service will be given (even if you are ill — it’s just part of the way things are done here).
All international-standard hospitals accept credit card payment. If you are insane and do not have medical travel insurance, you will be required to pay for treatment. It pays to shop around: just because your condition has been stabilised at one hospital doesn’t mean you need to continue treatment there. Call around and get quotes for treatment from other hospitals before slapping down your credit card — it can save thousands of baht (and often your current hospital will make a counter offer — it can seem distasteful, but it is the way it is done, so be ready for it).
The three best hospitals in Bangkok in terms of service, value for money, and levels of English spoken are as follows:
33 Sukhumvit Soi 3, Sukhumvit Rd
T: (02) 667 1000
Bumrungrad is equivalent to a five-star hotel, with movies on demand, room service, and some some of the best medical care possible. It is possibly the most expensive hospital in Thailand (although a lot depends on treatment required), but compared to Western prices it is still often quite inexpensive.
9/1, Convent Rd
T: (02) 686 2700
BNH has a convenient Silom location and excellent services. Its travellers clinic is an excellent resource for people transiting to undeveloped areas of Asia who might need vaccinations and malaria medicine.
133 Sukhumvit 49
T: (02) 711 8181
Samitivej is located near Thong Lor, and has excellent standards. Prices tend to be lower than Bumrumgrad or BNH, but quality of care is not.
By Brock Kuhlman
Last updated on 7th February, 2012.