The Challenges of Staying Wholesome in Thailand

The Challenges of Staying Healthy in Thailand

Shifting to a brand new nation doesn’t come with out challenges and Thailand isn’t any exception. Though we satisfaction ourselves in adjusting to life’s curveballs and efficiently constructing a life right here, we’ve had our fair proportion of ups and downs relating to staying wholesome within the nation we now name residence.

We thought to jot down a put up about our expertise as a result of we had been just lately interviewed by Aetna Worldwide. We discuss how we sustain a wholesome way of life overseas, each mentally and bodily, in addition to our experiences with Thailand’s well being care system.

Writing that article actually acquired us excited about our bodily and psychological well being and what we do as expats to remain wholesome in Thailand.

Under, we’ve addressed our largest challenges to this point and the way we keep on prime of them. We contact on adjusting to the local weather, consuming a nutritious diet, exercising, integrating into the expat neighborhood, and getting medical remedy.

Hopefully, by shedding some mild on our experiences, you may achieve a greater understanding of what life will be like overseas, the great and the unhealthy.

Adapting to a warmer, smoggier local weather

One of many the reason why we selected to maneuver to Thailand was its year-round tropical local weather. If you happen to’ve ever been to the Mid-Atlantic in America and skilled the bleak, damp days of fall and the frigid, miserably darkish and moist days of winters, you’ll perceive why.

In hindsight, we thought we had been prepared for Thailand’s warmth and humidity. In spite of everything, Chris spent half his life overseas, which included summers in Bahrain’s sizzling deserts and Sicily’s scorching seashores. I grew up with Maryland’s uncomfortably muggy summers, which my grandfather matter-of-factly described the air like “respiratory a bowl of pea soup.” However Thailand has a disturbingly excessive degree of warmth and humidity that we took ceaselessly to get used to. 

Simply after we moved, we felt zapped of our power and enthusiasm to discover, so we hardly ever needed to be exterior. And this was throughout non-peak hours when the solar wasn’t blazing. With time, (we’re speaking just a few years), we’ve acclimated to Thailand’s local weather that’s far totally different from the 20°C temperature of our workplaces again within the day!

Among the finest bits of recommendation we inform beginner expats is to not use the air-con such as you did earlier than you moved to Thailand – i.e., on full blast and left on on a regular basis. Not solely will you by no means wish to step foot exterior because of the 10+°C diploma temperature swing, however your electrical invoice might be outrageous. Though Chris and I nonetheless struggle over the thermostat ranges (he likes it at 25°C whereas I prefer it at 27°C), our our bodies have positively adjusted to Thailand’s hotter local weather. We’re rather more comfy at open-air eating places, parks, markets, and different areas with out of doors gatherings than after we first moved right here.

On a extra critical matter relating to the climate, we had no thought previous to shifting to Thailand that dangerous smog blankets the entire northern half of the nation. This occurs for almost six months of the 12 months! Starting as early as late November and stretching into Could (with absolutely the worst in March and April), yellow smoke-filled skies are the norm. That is Thailand’s smoky season.

Many expats and Thai authorities dismiss the smoke from autos and burning farmlands as merely a visible inconvenience. Uninformed locals name it fog! Nonetheless, the microscopic smog particles (measurement PM 2.5 and smaller) are extraordinarily unhealthy. These teeny tiny particles have been identified to negatively have an effect on the cardiovascular and respiratory programs.

With rising frustration, we watched and smelled the burning season begin earlier and last more, 12 months after 12 months. We wore N95 face masks after we went exterior. We put in air filters in our AC items and purchased an air air purifier with a HEPA filter.

Even so, inhaling Chiang Mai’s polluted air damage us. The PM ranges commonly went into the “very unhealthy” 200s ranges. We had been trouble by the uncomfortable side effects, which went past an inconvenient runny nostril or an itchy cough. They had been debilitating at instances and had us actually involved, too. We acquired cabin fever as a result of we had been caught inside our home for months at a time, too!

Consuming a nutritious diet

One of many causes we selected Thailand over different nations to maneuver to is that we actually just like the style of Thai meals. We love that it’s filled with herbs and spices, uncooked salads, grilled meats, and a spread of recent, tropical fruit and greens.

Years again, after we had been deciding on which nation we needed to stay overseas in, it was necessary to us that we appreciated the native delicacies. An enormous a part of what makes us comfortable is consuming out and experiencing new meals in addition to sharing good foods and drinks with associates.

Eating Healthy in Thailand

What we weren’t ready for after we moved to Thailand was the outstanding use of syrups and salty bouillon in drinks, sauces, and broths. Generally, we’re pissed off with the meager protein parts and low fiber content material within the common Thai stir-fry or curry. And the few glugs of palm oil added to each dish? No thanks.

To be honest, meals excessive in salt, sugar, and oil is commonplace when consuming out irrespective of which nation you reside in. These components are what make restaurant and store-bought meals style so good!

After our first 12 months consuming nearly solely Thai meals, the joy of eating on 30- to 60-baht meals from meals stalls and our neighborhood Thai eating places wore off. We re-evaluated our consuming habits after gaining weight and feeling sluggish. Now, we eat out often and cook dinner most of our meals at residence.

After we do eat out, it’s seldom and we’re extra picky with the place we eat. We’re comfortable to see a progress of eating places providing menus with sustainably grown, vegan, vegetarian, natural, uncooked, and complete meals. Though this wasn’t like that in Chiang Mai after we first moved there in 2013, the variety of health-conscious companies have grown in response to clients’ calls for. It’s superior! We’ve additionally seen them or heard about them in different main expat-friendly cities comparable to Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya, and Koh Samui.


Again within the US, we had been adamant gym-goers. We commonly, if not religiously, tackled free weights, machines, and the occasional intense group class. It was a solution to launch power after sitting in our workplaces all day.

After we moved to Chiang Mai, all of that modified. After spending plenty of time looking for gyms (again in 2013 when just a few had been listed in English and the remaining had been in Thai), we had been upset. The gyms’ weights and machines had been dated and wanted restore, reupholstering, or only a good ol‘ scrub-down.

Prior to now 12 months or two, gyms have actually popped up partly to foreigners’ calls for. It’s been an unimaginable transformation in Chiang Mai, though we’re positive that bigger expat-friendly cities are already years forward of the sport. Now, there are a number of high-end fitness center choices full with lessons and good high quality machines and weights. We joined two totally different gyms over the span of 4 years and we’ve been comfortable getting again into our exercise routine.

In between fitness center memberships, we began doing extra out of doors actions. Chiang Mai has a powerful collection of issues to do exterior, each within the metropolis and the encircling countryside. Through the years, we’ve performed badminton, did yoga, walked, ran, swam, rock climbed, and hiked. We additionally had associates who did tai chi, self-defense, in addition to danced, performed hockey, bicycled, and kayaked, amongst different actions. Many golf equipment will be discovered on-line and meet commonly.

Sadly, Thailand’s smoky season put a damper on our train routine. We knew we had been compromising our well being if we did any out of doors actions between February and Could. What we didn’t know till early 2018 was that the PM 2.5 ranges indoors are almost as excessive as these which can be outdoor! Until the fitness center’s home windows and doorways are correctly sealed and the room is supplied with air purifiers (which is extremely unlikely – we’ve not as soon as seen or heard of a fitness center with one), you’re harming your coronary heart and lungs with the precise pollution you’re attempting to keep away from.

Being a part of a neighborhood

The consequences of residing far-off from residence, in a rustic whose tradition is starkly totally different from the place we grew up, are two-fold. There are the consequences brought on by abandoning one neighborhood in addition to results when integrating with a brand new neighborhood.

As many new expats are, we had been thrilled with the prospect of residing overseas. And that lasted fairly a very long time as a result of it took a number of years for us to started to overlook our households and associates. Fortunately, it’s simple to communicate. We make it a degree to remain updated with family and friends over electronic mail, Fb, and the occasional telephone name or video chat. We additionally sit up for taking our journeys to the US and make our rounds seeing as many individuals as we will.

Chiang Mai has a really massive expat neighborhood, which has grown significantly even within the 5 years since we moved there. You will discover expats which can be retirees, academics, non-teaching staff, digital nomads, spouses of Thai residents, missionaries, brick-and-mortar enterprise house owners, and some others. Most individuals can quiet down into one or two of the teams and develop lasting friendships.

Our distinctive state of affairs made it just a little tough for us to suit into any group. Plus, Chiang Mai is a really transient metropolis, and many individuals don’t keep for greater than a 12 months or two. With out going into specifics (we’ll save that for one more put up), it’s been tough for us to make and preserve associates, however not unattainable. Nonetheless, we expect that most individuals are in a position to rapidly settle into communities, particularly within the expat-friendly cities.

Getting medical remedy

We love that Thailand offers medical remedy for a fraction of what it used to value us again residence. There are a great deal of tales on-line the place folks have flown to Thailand, had surgical procedures, stayed per week, and flew again for lower than the worth of what’s they’d pay of their residence nation. For us Individuals, Thailand’s costs are between 15% and 25% of US costs! Right here’s just a little comparability chart.

Notice: Costs in Thailand paid in Thai baht (1 USD = 33 THB)
Merchandise Worth within the USA Worth in Thailand
Hormone Injection 78 USD (remedy)
100 USD (session price)
25 USD (administer price)
12 USD (remedy)
3 USD (administer price)
20g 0.025% Retin A Cream 148 USD 4 USD
Routine Tooth Cleansing 100 USD 12 to 14 USD

One other factor we like about Thailand is that we don’t must have a prescription for some gadgets again residence. For instance, we will purchase Retin A from the pharmacy and get in touch with lenses from the optometrist with no prescription in hand. We love the comfort!

Concerning medical insurance, signing up it’s a private resolution. If you happen to do select to have medical insurance, there are numerous native and worldwide corporations to select from. You can too use traveler’s insurance coverage to cowl you in the course of the first few months of settling into your new residence. Nonetheless, Thailand’s medical costs are improbable for individuals who desire paying out-of-pocket.

Nonetheless, not all medical therapies can be found in Thailand. There are life-saving or life-changing medicines, specifically narcotics and psychotropic medication, which can be strictly regulated or downright forbidden in Thailand. We’re lucky that we don’t want these medicines, however others will not be so lucky. Simply final month we had a reader electronic mail us about her battle to search out Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and T3, a thyroid remedy. Until she flies again to her residence nation or manages to have the remedy shipped to her from abroad, she will’t get what she wants.

For anybody who’s excited by different drugs, there are communities working towards these therapeutic strategies throughout Thailand. The truth is, since residing in Chiang Mai, we’ve realized rather a lot about crystal therapeutic, reiki, acupuncture, vegan and uncooked diets, purposes of important oils, yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, amongst others. We had heard little or no, if something, about these whereas we had been residing in Northern Virginia. It’s positively very eye-opening.

For a extra complete wellness overview, test Aetna Worldwide’s Wellness Survey 2018. It interviews greater than 30 households from throughout the globe and offers a broader perspective exterior of residing in Thailand. It’s fascinating to examine others’ experiences. On the finish of the day, there appears to be a normal consensus about wellness, no matter the place you select to stay.

Disclosure: This put up is delivered to you by Aetna Worldwide. We shared an sincere recap of our challenges to be able to make an knowledgeable resolution about residing in Thailand as an expat.

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