Thailand is a welcoming destination for all travellers. And with such a diverse range of things to see and do throughout the country, Thailand appeals to all age groups. From backpackers to families to mature travellers, the Land of Smiles offers so much. While age is no barrier to enjoying an amazing time in Thailand, there are some considerations for more mature and older travellers. Some of the advice here applies to all travellers regardless of age, but is particularly relevant for older travellers.
Health advice for Thailand
There are no specific vaccination requirements for Thailand (including Covid-19), but check the information here for more advice.
If you need to bring any medication to Thailand, obtain a letter from your doctor to carry with you. To avoid any potential issues at customs, keep medication in the original, labelled container. You should also check your airline’s policies on any prohibited medicines especially if you are transiting via another country where rules can be strict (e.g. Dubai).
For minor ailments, you can find pharmacies in cities and resort areas throughout Thailand with many Thai pharmacists able to speak excellent English. For anything more serious, Thai hospitals are generally very good, but you will need to pay for any treatments. It’s advisable to have travel insurance in place and check what it does and doesn’t cover.
Thailand’s tropical climate can be a joy, but it can be tiring. Always keep hydrated. Carry bottled water with you and when you’re out and about, stop regularly for refreshments. Don’t try to do too much in one day or cram too much into your Thailand itinerary.
If you wear glasses, it’s a good idea to either bring a spare pair with you or bring a copy of the prescription. Glasses can be good value in Thailand so you can have a pair made while you’re here.
Culture and etiquette
In Thai culture, it’s normal to show respect for the older generation. Don’t be surprised, or offended, if people show you more respect simply because of your age. It’s also part of normal Thai small talk to ask someone’s age when meeting for the first time, so again don’t be offended if Thai people ask how old you are.
Thai people use family terms so somebody younger may be called nong (younger brother/sister) or pee (older brother/sister) if older. A common term of endearment for middle-aged people is loong (uncle) for men and pa (auntie) for women. If a Thai person calls you loong or pa, treat it as a compliment. You may also hear people calling you mama or papa, which again is a term of endearment so take it in good spirits.
Travel in Thailand
Just because we’re getting older doesn’t mean we’ve lost our sense of adventure. At the same time, things that we did easily enough in our prime, aren’t always as easy once you get older. If you do have mobility issues, be realistic when deciding how and where to travel. Some smaller islands and beaches are only accessible by longtail boat and climbing in and out of them or clambering onto a floating pier can be awkward.
Thailand is well-connected with internal flights and the added comfort and convenience can be well-worth any extra expense compared to long-distance buses. Although you might want to skip any overnight bus journeys, the overnight sleeper trains (e.g, on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route) can be a fantastic travel experience regardless of age.
The best itinerary for you will depend on which month you are visiting Thailand and how active you are. There aren’t really any destinations that we’d say older travellers should avoid, but at the same time read up on the destinations you are intending to visit to get a better idea if it is really going to suit you or not. For ideas on itineraries check out these articles:
- 2 weeks in Thailand: Itinerary for first-time visitors
- 2 days in Bangkok: What to see and do in 48 hours
- How to choose your ideal Thai beach holiday
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