Everything a Pet Owner Needs to Know about Traveling to Thailand – by Foreign Correspondent Zala!
I want to thank Zala (and her Mom Mich!) from Untamed Travellers for signing up as a Montecristo Travels Foreign Correspondent! We are SO excited to have her on board. This is the first of her special reports for this blog and we could not be happier. We now have a BIG dog perspective! YAY!
Zala walks the talk and speaks from first paw experience. She is already a fantastic addition to the team and we are certain that her reviews and unique “Dutch Shepherd” perspective, will quickly become a favourite with our Readers. Welcome Zala!
For us, any country that states a 30 day quarantine on their dog import regulations immediately gets a line through, not under, their name. But Thailand is the exception! And I am so grateful to Montecristo for the opportunity to tell you how to fly to and within Thailand and how not to get quarantined so that you may enjoy every day life in this peaceful tropical paradise. *tail wag*
Prior to any international travel, dogs should have:
- their microchip,
- rabies vaccination,
- series of three (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus),
- and a travel worthy pet crate.
If you have already completed this prep work, then travel to Thailand is going to be a breeze; because the only additional vaccine needed to gain entry to Thailand is Leptospirosis or a negative test result within 30 days of travel/importation. After that, all you need is your international health certificate and you are ready to go!
There are no forms that need to be sent ahead. They can all be completed upon arrival in Thailand, but if you prefer to be one step ahead, you can fill out your No 1/1 form in advance.
Landing in Thailand
Once you have arrived at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, and your human(s) has collected their checked luggage, pets that did not fly as carry-on like my friend Montecristo would, will be waiting for their owners at Z3 oversized luggage next to the baggage claim.
Your biped(s) will just pick you up and go directly to animal customs. The main office is located across from baggage claim 9 and 10 on the same wall as the oversized luggage claim. There are several forms that will need your signature, the rest is filled out by the official. If you are a dog that has a European Union (EU) passport, ask you veterinarian in advance to print a separate health certificate sheet. I found that the Thai officials were unfamiliar with the health certificate located within the EU booklet.
The process is fast and costs ฿100 which is about US$3.00. Your human will receive 3 stamped sheets of paper that verify that you have been granted entry to the country of Thailand. Included is a card with information for when your human decides to export (leave with) you. Thailand requires an export license to take an animal out of the country.
Then you take your paperwork to customs for your biped(s) to declare you as baggage and pay an additional fee. Not sure how I feel about being declared as baggage… I think I should be offended but … *shrugs shoulders*. As a big dog, I cost ฿1000 which is US$30. There are loop holes available to avoid the import fee and this information can be found on the Thailand Department of Livestock Development website , but in my opinion the cost isn’t worth fighting.
If your paperwork is in order and you pay your dues, the topic of quarantine isn’t even mentioned. My mom and I had a connecting flight with Bangkok Airways to catch after we got out of customs. And suffered no real delays.
In Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, level four is where domestic departures are located. On none of these levels did I find a patch of grass outside of the terminal, so be warned …your only option is concrete. On the plus side, I walked uncrated but muzzled throughout the airport. We were an unusual sight, and camera flashes followed us like we were celebrities. I think I liked having my personal paparazzi.
Flying Within Thailand
Thai Airways and Bangkok Air are the primary airlines for domestic flights in Thailand. We flew with Bangkok Air because it is the only airline that accepts 40kgs (Dog + Crate) as checked luggage. They charge ฿80 per kilo.
I was weighed at the luggage counter, and we were told we could wait together in the lobby until 11:30 (our flight left at 12:10). After I was dropped off at oversized luggage, Mom paid our fees and took herself through customs. I would see her again in Chiang Mai.
Bangkok Air was the best airline we have ever experienced! Mom told me about her experience.
This airline boasts itself to be a boutique airline. On a 55 minute flight, she was fed a full meal and offered an endless supply of drinks while she watch a bizarre Thai comedy. The best part was that after we landed, the staff actual sought Mom out and brought me to her before all the other baggage arrived! I can’t express what a relief this was for her (and me!) knowing that it is over 100 degrees outside, and the last thing anyone wants is a dog left in the sun trapped in a box. Paws up for the nice Thai service!
Getting Around Chiang Mai
Outside of the terminal, there are numerous taxis. The first person Mom asked coincidentally had an SUV and was willing to take me… “the big dog”. I have been told that sedan sized taxis will accept small dogs if they remain crated and on the floor.
There is no formal form of public transportation in Chiang Mai; the songthaews are the primary form of transportation. A songthaew is a red truck with a topper and bench seats in the back. You simply wave one down and ask if they are going in the direction you want. If you wish to take your dog on a songthaew ride, watch for an empty songthaew and be prepared to pay extra because the driver will only be able to transport you, since no Thai will get in a songthaew that has a big dog in the back.
Tuk Tuks are another option, but they are normally overpriced. Mom didn’t ask to take me, her big Dutch Shepherd in the back of one yet. I hope she does. It’s a tourist experience for sure… but it looks like fun!
Where to Stay
Mom tells me that finding cheap online housing that accepted a dog was near impossible. Her choice to go to Chiang Mai was primarily because she was unable to find affordable pet friendly housing in Bangkok or Phuket. But do not despair, there are several high price luxury hotels that do accept pets, but they were not an option for us budget wise.
So where did we end up? We stayed at Baan Ouikum Apartments in Old Town, Chiang Mai next to the moat. The owners have two apartment buildings in Chiang Mai, and they have two huskies of their own. They were an excellent resource for pet friendly information, including tips on handling the overwhelming amount of stray dogs that roam the streets.
Walking, Sightseeing and Eating
On our first walk in the city, Mom and I were rushed by three, high hackled dogs that came out of the courtyard of a temple. Not what we were expecting to come out of a Buddhist temple! As it turns out, most temples have several dogs that will take up residence. Most stores and homes will also take in a stray or two.
So yes, I can go everywhere, but I am encroaching upon someone’s territory every step of the way.
The best way to handle strays is for you and your human to take a confident step forward and get your human to threaten to throw an object. This will send them scurrying in the other direction. Mom slaps her water bottle against her leg and gets prepared to douse any bold males who approach me. I ummm… happened to be in roaring heat upon arrival in Thailand. Bad timing … I know.
It really doesn’t take long to figure out the best form of body language to deter strays. And, this is only necessary when you are new to the neighborhood. After a few days, our neighborhood dogs would give us a few mild barks at most. These dogs are socialized and I usually do not fear an attack, but I do have concerns about the spread of disease from close contact. So be cautious.
Thailand’s tropical climate is ideal for eating meals outside, and every restaurant and cafe has some form of a patio. You and your best friend can share meals together daily. If you wish to have a true Thai experience and save some money, there are countless street carts selling all varieties of cheap traditional Thai cuisine. You and your dog can go for a walk, explore the Thai way of life, and eat freshly made local food as you go. Locals are not used to seeing a dog on a leash, so don’t be surprised when people point and take your picture while walking down the street. If you are in a carrier or sling bag, I am certain you will be swarmed!
In Review: Southeast Asia is very different from the Western lifestyle, especially for pet owners. Be prepared to put in extra time to find accommodations and transportation for your pet, especially for a large one. It IS possible for those who are willing to put in the effort. In my opinion, bringing your dog with you to a tropical paradise is worth every struggle.
เป็นไรไหม (Mai Pen Rai)
…Don’t worry, it will be ok.
About Our Foreign Correspondent: Zala is a Dutch Shepherd who belongs to Mich, a woman who has traveled extensively along the Rocky Mountain in the US, rambled through the Rhône-Alpes and Côte d’Azur of France, and spent weeks wandering through the narrow streets of Italy. She and her faithful shadow, Zala are currently exploring the streets and temples of northern Thailand.
Mich and Zala love nothing more than to spend their time seeking out the hidden gems beneath the film of tourist attractions and cheap cultural imitations. You can follow their adventures on their blog Untamed Travellers!