Getting sick is always a trouble, getting sick in a foreign country makes it double. You not only feel unwell but have to struggle with the language barrier and all the medicines have unknown names. So here is a brief list of what Thai pharmacies have on offer for the most common cases.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational propose only. Consult a doctor or a pharmacist before using any of the medicines presented here (both doctors and pharmacists usually speak decent English). And make sure to have health insurance. Otherwise, medical treatment can be really costly.
For simple drugs like paracetamol, go to the nearest 7-Eleven shop or any minimart next to your home. But if you need something like nasal drops, then there will always be a pharmacy around the corner. Just remember, that Thai pharmacies are not 24/7. If you are unlucky to have an upset stomach at night, calling an ambulance is the only option. Sad but true.
How does one even catch a cold in a tropical climate? Easily. The keyword is air conditioning. In shops, in restaurants, in public transport, in cinemas, and many other places, aircon blasts mercilessly, seriously increasing the risk of catching a cold.
Paracetamol – The most common anti-fever drug comes under a variety of brands in Thailand such as Sara, Tylenol, and many more. The medicine is available in tablets for adults and as a syrup for children. You’ll find it in 7-Eleven and all pharmacies. Just ask for paracetamol and they will tell you what brands they have on offer. Actually, it's always wise to name the active drug substance when asking for medicine in Thailand.
Makham Pom – A plant-based syrup for caught and sore throat (sweet in taste and effective). Pharmacists advise taking a teaspoon three times a day.
Kamillosan – Another plant-based medicine against sore throat and cough. Available in tablets and as a syrup.
Tiffy – A combined medicine against the common cold. Includes paracetamol to relieve fever and headache plus some antihistamines for your nose. Just like Fervex or whatever brand is available in your country.
Otrivin – A nasal spray available at every pharmacy and crucial when you have to deal with a sudden common cold. Both adult and child versions are on sale. Ask the pharmacist.
Thai Inhalers – Portable inhalers with ointment based on eucalyptus, menthol, and other natural ingredients. Good against the common cold, though Thais mostly use them to soothe the discomfort of motion sickness or just to get an energy boost when tired.
Well, you might have heard that back in the day Thai pharmacies could sell you all sorts of powerful painkillers. But first, it's not the case now. Second, we are ready to talk only about legal over the counter drugs. So here are the top two.
Paracetamol – As said above, it is available even at your nearest 7-Eleven. Headache? Fever? That is your first choice. For more serious cases, please consult a doctor.
Ibuprofen – The creator of the drug initially tested it to cure his hangover (and was happy with the result), but it can do more. The medicine is available at every pharmacy under a huge variety of brands.
Upset stomach, food poisoning, travelers' diarrhea... Well, let's not describe the symptoms as we all know what they look like. And here are the remedies of Thai medicines.
Gratai Bin – Colloquially known as “the white rabbit”, this one is what you better have in your house. Absorbs toxins, restores digestive balance, and returns you to life after a visit to not quite your eatery.
Motilium – Good old domperidone, if it tells you anything. Used to treat nausea and vomiting. But better consult a doctor or a pharmacist.
Activated charcoal –Your first line of defense in case of a food poisoning. Ask for it at any pharmacy.
Dimin – An effective remedy for the prevention and elimination of the manifestation of seasickness and air sickness, as well as nausea and vomiting. Sold at every 7-Eleven.
Hydrogen peroxide – You know it. Just make sure there is a bottle in your house.
Betadine – The most common local version of the old, good iodine solution. But please, do not apply directly to the wound.
Pises Powder - An antiseptic powder for wounds and abrasions. Good in Thai climate due to high humidity impairing healing of the wounds – helps keep the wounds dry.
Bepanthen – A multi-purpose antiseptic cream that helps protect damaged skin from infection and also assists in the treatment of cuts, abrasions, insect bites, stings, and sunburns. A must one to have.
Having an allergy is bad (the author of this article knows this from his own experience). Yet there is also good news – in Thailand, you can find all the most common antihistamines.
Telfast – One of the most powerful antihistamines with fexofenadine as the active component. Available in various dosages up to 180 mg of the active thing.
Zyrtec – A milder anthihistamine based on cetirizine. May cause drowsiness, so be careful.
Loratadine – Another one known around the world and available in Thailand.