Health MattersIf in doubt, consult your doctor and be sure to carry travel insurance. If you are contemplating sports like caving, kayaking and climbing make sure it covers them.
Contrary to popular belief it isn’t the risks of malaria and other infectious tropical diseases which predominate in Thailand, it’s the roads. In particular there is huge carnage amongst the swarms of motor scooters and motor cycles, most of whose drivers fail to wear crash helmets and practically never use leathers. So even a modest tumble on hot tarmac or concrete can cause grievous injuries and the death toll is huge - the leading cause of premature death amongst the young and middle aged population.
So the sound advice is don’t hire a scooter or motor bike but, if you do, be sure to get a really good helmet and dress as protectively as you can. It's certainly great fun and maybe the best way to explore at your whim but up here the roads are definitely testing and many motorists from the flat south have never driven on mountain roads before, so anticipate appalling drivers round the bend.
The sun is strong at any time of year though lacks the searing heat of the coast. Always use a hat, long sleeves and trousers are advisable and plenty of sun cream.
Mosquitos are more or less absent during the cooler winter days when the night time temperature can average below 10ºC for several months. They do appear as the temperatures rise in March and persist through the summer. They are most aggressive at dusk and sensible precautions include socks, long trousers and shirts and plenty of repellent on all exposed skin areas from an hour before dusk. The bedrooms at Kanlaya’s are mosquito-proof and the beds have romantic and effective mosquito nets that wrap right around. Malaria in the district is rare and mainly presents amongst Burmese refugees with chronic infections. We don’t use anti-malarial prophylactics, but your doctor is the right source of advice on this subject.
Dengue fever is also mosquito-bourn by species active during the daytime and is most prevalent in urban areas with poor sanitation, especially poor drainage and where there is stagnant water. We take care to eliminate any source of stagnant water and populate the courtyard rills with mosquito-eating river fish and a large population of frogs and toads. Again good avoidance practice is recommended anywhere in Thailand.
It is dangerous to probe holes in the rocks and trees or to turn over logs or other ground cover, all of which may harbour snakes and scorpions. As a general rule, good hiking boots and long trousers should be worn in the jungle. There is a modest risk of leeches attaching to the skin in the deep jungle but, if they do, they quickly engorge and drop off.
Enteric infections are relatively few even with street-cooked food probably because almost all food is fresh and cooked at point of consumption. Fresh salads from unknown sources are not recommended because of the risk of faecal contamination.
Hepatitis and STDs are widespread and infectious and any risky contact should be avoided anywhere in Thailand.