Our guesthouse is on the outskirts of the small sleepy riverside town of Phon Phisai in rural NE Thailand far from the main tourist centres. I have lived in many places in England, Africa, Australia and Thailand and Phon Phisai is the safest I have experienced. The local people are friendly and their Buddhist religion teaches gentleness and respect. Foreigners cannot enter the community without help from locals due to the language barrier. We give our guests access to the community and local customs.
The best source for advice on travelling for holidays in Thailand will be the websites maintained by your home country's consular departments. In Australia its http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Thailand.
If you need help at any time during your holiday, whether it's in your room. the village or exploring Phon Phisai just ring us on the mobile phone we provide you with for your stay with us. Thailand has very good mobile coverage so assistance from us is always just a few minutes away.
The Province of Nong Khai is off the tourist track. Its not at all like the tourist centres of Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya which are populated by bars, discos and go-gos with some organised and some petty crime. Nong Khai is a sleepy capital city with little crime.
Phon Phisai is even quieter. Very much a Thai town for the Thais.
In over a decade of living in NE Thailand (on and off) I have experienced almost no crime at all. About eight years ago somebody who said they were a customs agent got me to pay too much for clearing a desktop PC through customs. About the same time a man who said he was a Government tourist agent got us to go by bus from Bangkok to Phuket instead of by train, which took all night and the next day instead of overnight. About 5 years ago a policeman made us bribe him when he claimed we had a faulty number plate in Bangkok.
Here in Phon Phisai, I don't walk around with my wallet sticking out of my pocket and I lock the car. We have bars on the windows but so do all Thai houses. In my opinion you are most likely safer on holiday here than you would be in your own country.
However you should make sure you have travel insurance for your holiday, just in case.
This is a concern around the world now although the likelihood of becoming involved in a terrorist attach is extremely low. In the deep south of Thailand around the Malaysian border is subject to attacks by Islamic separatists, and should be avoided. However, in Nong Khai, we are a long way away from the these areas and as there are few tourists it is very unlikely that the NE would be targeted. Look at the map in our Getting here section to see what I mean, Thailand is a bigger country than you might think and its two day's travel by road to Phuket and another day to get further south.
Even in the villages, Thailand has a high standard of health with nursing posts. The towns have public hospitals which are almost free to Thai people. For foreigners there is a good private hospital in Phon Phisai and in Nong Khai the Wattana Hospital (http://www.wattanahospital.net/)is the best in the region. It is the recommended hospital for the whole of Laos. You can be sure of good high class medical treatment which is extremely cheap by International standards. However, make sure you have travel insurance for your vacation. Some hospitals require a guarantee of ability to pay before treating you and your travel insurance will provide this.
As you know, it's common to have tummy troubles when you travel. I don't know whether I am lucky or my gut has acclimatise itself after repeated visits to Thailand but I rarely have problems. I eat at all the roadside stalls as the food is often delicious, I recommend that you don't worry about it, just enjoy yourself and if you are unlucky, you will have an en-suite toilet and we will help you anyway we can. Personally I just take Imodium which we can supply. This is very effective the only problem is that it reverses the condition too completely.
Mosquitoes and other insects
We have mosquitoes in Phone Phisai and a small flying insect which I think maybe a sand-fly. The latter has a tiny bite which wears off in 20 minutes. I sometimes get a few mosquito bites but they are not much of a problem. The mosquitoes in Perth, Western Australia are definitely worse. The mosquitoes and sand flies only a nuisance around dusk. At that time I sit outside to enjoy the sunset over the river with a mosquito coil burning which drives most of them away. I wear shorts but if you are really worried about them wear long trouser and long sleeved shirts. Insect repellent is available if you need it.
You can get advice from your country's consular website on any immunisation (or boosters) you may require before travelling. Some countries warn of malaria Thailand, and there may be some in the mountainous border regions but Thai doctors and pharmacists have consistently told me there is no malaria in Thailand so I don't worry about it. The same goes for all the other nasty diseases. I don't take any special health precautions.
I have a very good dentist in Nong Khai who does all my dental work. His surgery is up to the standard of any Western dentist and his charges a fraction of the cost. If you require dental work during your holiday we can arrange an appointment for you which could pay for your whole vacation.
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