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Thai Food - Should I avoid it

edited February 2009 in - Thailand
I am from Poland and have an epic journey planned to go to Thailand with my Mother in December 2009. I must admit that I am a little bit scared of the food and have been doing heaps of research about the cournty. I am concerned that she will get sick and I will have to take care of her!!! I have heard that it's healthy, and heard so much about the flavours... - there is a post about the classic dishes on the second site. I have grave concern about the heat in Thai food. The spices, the chilli as in my country - there is not much heat!
Should I take any precautions for my trip, i.e. antibacterial loctions and hand wash? Or will it be fine? I really wanted some feedback from someone who had been there.


  • edited 2:18PM
    personally I have lived in Thailand for 7 years and went back there last summer... The food is great and some dishes can be extremely spicy but with some english ability most people would be able to warn you for the spicy food.

    About the safety of food and water it depends on where you go in Thailand. Antibacterial hand soap is always a good idea and avoiding tap water in most places can also avoid bacteria (and tap water in Thailand doesnt taste that great...)

    Have fun
  • edited 2:18PM
    There are plenty of non-spicy culinary choices in Thailand and as Dion mentioned, most restaurant people will try to steer you towards non-spicy foods if you ask. Some very simple Thai words to remember: phet mai ? - is it spicy ? ... and mai phet - not spicy (pronounced like the english words, pet & my).

    Washing your hands with soap & water is sufficient before eating, you don't really need to carry around anti-bacterial products. We only carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer when we are cycling deep into the countryside where we know we won't find running water at the roadside food stands. Tourist oriented restaurants in the cities have bathrooms with running water and soap.

    Drink only bottled water and it is best to use bottled water for brushing your teeth to be safe. Ice in drinks is OK, as commercially made ice is done with purified water.
  • edited 2:18PM
    Generally speaking, there's no danger from eating spicy foods, but there are concerns about food preparation and hygiene. Roadside vendors don't have access to running water and therefore have no means of maintaining personal hygiene while trading. Neither do they have any means of heating the water they carry with them, so the danger of contamination is quite high.

    Although cafes and cheap restaurants are safe to eat in, meat is often bought from local markets which don't have any refrigeration and the danger of infection by such viruses as E.Coli is ever present.

    Having said that, on the number of occasions I've travelled to Thailand, I never once contracted food poisoning and can definitely recommend a visit to the country even if you're going to be travelling with your mother.
  • edited 2:18PM
    The street food in Thailand is great, really tasty and good value. However, no matter what you do your body will be encountering unfamiliar bacteria and other organisms - and this may cause you to get upset stomach or infection. This is nothing to be afraid of and is easily and quickly treated. Take a general purpose anti-biotic with you, and this can wipe out any bacterial infection pretty quickly.
  • edited 2:18PM
    You didn't mention the level of accomodation you'll be using on your trip; 4 & 5 star hotels or on the cheap. The good hotels should be completely safe regarding food and drink. If eating outside in small restaurants, markets or from sidewalk stalls your chances of picking up a stomach bug is almost certain. Just prepare for it with a supply of antibiotics and a good anti-diarea medication. Don't trust ice in your drinks except at the best hotels. It may be from purified water, but the problem comes in it's handling and storage after leaving the ice plant. Drink sealed chilled beverages, they refresh even without ice. Today, one should also take advantage of the convenient hand sanatizers you can carry in your pocket. Good hand cleaning practice is one of your best defences. I traveled throughout this region over a period of thirty years, ususally on the cheap, always got a bug, but always recovered and didnt' let it ruin my adventures. Have a great trip.
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