Thailand is a common first destination for people’s South East Asian adventures. You’re more than likely going to fly into Bangkok and spend a couple of days in this crazy city. We hope this page can offer some basic tips and tricks to ease you into your trip and help you stay healthy in Thailand.
Common health issues and how to avoid them
Before we give you a full run down of our tricks, it is worth pointing out some basic issues you might face here in Thailand. it’s all well and good fuelling your body with healthy food but this effort will all be wasted if you come down with a bug. Take it from someone who spent two days in Koh Phi Phi stuck in a grotty hotel bathroom that you do not want to pick up a nasty bug while you’re here! So how can you avoid this?
- Don’t drink tap water. It may sound basic but this is pretty fundamental. We have never had any issues with small things like brushing teeth with tap water but would recommend avoiding any more extensive uses of tap water.
- Ice. Make sure that the ice in your drinks has holes in it, this is the way to tell that it is bought ice made using filtered water rather than cheap tap water ice. The main culprit here are those sneaky fruit shakes. Make sure that you check that they aren’t using crushed ice as this is usually a sign that it is made with tap water. Generally, the use of home made ice has become increasingly uncommon in Thailand, but it is always worth checking.
- Eat in places that are busy. If somewhere is empty, the meat and rice (one of the most common causes of food poisoning is rice which has been left at room temperature) will have been sitting around for hours. Sometimes this even means that the busy street food stall is a much safer bet than the nice looking but empty restaurant next door.
- Although we’ve eaten it plenty of times (and still do), watch out for cut fruit sold in the street as it is sometimes washed with tap water.
7/11 has regularly been our saving grace during our time in Thailand. Sometimes you don’t fancy going out for every meal or you just need a quick snack. Some of our most regular purchases are:
- Ready boiled eggs. Go to the fridge and you will see a plastic container with two eggs that are still in their shells. Make sure you check that these are the ones that are boiled or you might be in for a bit of a surprise! These make great snacks, quick breakfasts or post gym protein boosts. Expect to pay 25p for two.
- Protein shakes. We were far too excited to find that 7/11 now stocks Meiji protein shakes. For only £1 you can grab a ready made protein shake with around 25g of protein. Since we arrived, Meiji have increased their product lineup and you can now also get reduced sugar, lower calorie and L-Carnatine options. Great for those of you keeping up with the gym on your travels.
- Brown rice and frozen veg. If you have a microwave in your hostel or hotel then you can buy brown rice (or riceberry) ready to heat up. Have this along with a couple of boiled eggs or a tin of tuna and some frozen veg for a simple and health meal. This is perfect for when you are craving some simple and nutrient packed food.
- Tuna. One tin is around £1. Not much more to say.
- Yoghurt and cereal. If you are fed up of eating out for every meal, we have found that eating breakfast in your hostel or hotel really makes you feel better. You can buy natural yoghurt and a variety of cereal which is sold in most 7/11 shops.
- We have highlighted some of our common purchases but the list really does go on. You can buy everything from chia seeds to multivitamins!
We have found it hard to get enough fibre in our diet whilst travelling and have discovered that fruit is an invaluable source. Load up on dragon fruit and you’re sure to receive a helping hand if you are having fibre deficiency problems (maybe just google that one).
We love to eat as much watermelon as we can when we are travelling. It really helps me with post workout muscle soreness.
Seafood and Fish
The meat is rarely high quality in South East Asia and so Callum chooses not to eat it when we travel (I’m a pescetarian and so never eat meat). We do take advantage of the huge amount of fish and seafood on offer as a source of protein. In Bangkok we enjoy nothing more than ordering an entire barbecued fish for only 300 baht (roughly £6). We eat seafood when we are visiting the islands and in Chiang Mai you will find tofu almost everywhere and so we have not found it a problem to go meat free whilst travelling.
Getting your greens in
This is always more of a struggle than we think it will be. If you order vegetables they will be covered in various salty sauces. We tend to order morning glory as we find that this is the best option. The reason we try to cook for ourselves as much as possible is because of the struggle to get vegetables into your diet when eating out. Check out our pages on specific locations to find cafes and restaurants which do manage to incorporate vegetables into their menu!
Accommodation with cooking facilities
Around 3 weeks into our trip we decided to try and stay in places which offer cooking facilities. We have found the best way to find these is through Airbnb, although this might not be the best option if you are looking to make lots of friends in hostels on your trip. Just having two hobs and a fridge has allowed us to cook some great and healthy meals. We now try to eat 2 meals in per day and go out for lunch or dinner. When visiting the Thai islands, this has not only allowed us to eat more healthily, but has also decreased the amount we are spending on food significantly. In most places we have visited there has been a supermarket within easy reach, although on the islands having a scooter has really helped access bigger shops.
Thailand is full of brand new shopping centres and most of these contain at least a floor’s worth of subsidised food outlets. These are a great place to go for a cheap meal in a clean environment. If you are vegetarian, there is often a specific vegetarian stall offering a variety of veggie dishes. You’ll find all the classic thai dishes as well as some western food and fruit stall in most centres. Expect to pay around £1.50 for a meal.
We have attempted to continue our workout regimes whilst travelling. Thailand is very well equipped for those looking for gyms or spaces to workout. If you don’t mind the heat then most local parks will have an outdoor gym or workout space, and most cities have an abundance of cheap pay per day gyms. Check out our location specific pages to see where we worked out.