How to Take Your Dog From Chiang Mai to Trat

Transportation and accommodations can be frustrating to find for pet lovers in Thailand. Here is what Zala and I discovered on our journey to the opposite end of Thailand.

Bangkok Airways is the only airline that will fly 45kg of (Dog+Crate) as checked luggage. Bangkok Airways has always been real great about keeping Zala out of the sun and minimizing her time in a crate the best they can. And as a bonus, I get fed a full meal and as many drinks as I can hold during a 55 minute flight. Meal price is included in the ticket with 21 meal options to chose from ranging from Muslim meals prepared in accordance to Halal rules to gluten free.

Unfortunately, only Bangkok Air’s airbus 319 and 320 can transport Zala’s large crate. The ATR 72 is the only airplane that flies from Bangkok to Trat, and it will only accept a 80 cm long x 45 cm wide x 65 cm crate with a max combined weight of 20kg. Bangkok Airways is the only airline that flies from Bangkok to Trat.

From Bangkok on down, the journey must be completed on the ground.
There is no train.
The cheapest transportation service is the bus. According to a few reviews, individuals have taken cats and puppies in small crates and stowed them below with the luggage.
This is not an option for a 70lb Dutch Shepherd.
The next option is to rent a car. To my knowledge, there are no car rental options in Trat. Any car rental would need to be returned to Bangkok or Pattaya. This is not great option for those choosing to stay in Trat for a long period of time. The drive is at least 5 hours long.
The last option, and most expensive, is a van service. Renting a vehicle with a driver is common in Thailand. You can even rent a songthaew for a day if you wish. The only driver service I found that was willing to transport my big dog + luggage was Bangkok Beyond.

My driver (Tony) was waiting for me at the airport with my name on a sign. I had an entire minibus at my disposal. Zala was allowed out of her crate, and she got to hang her head out the window and enjoy the ride all the way down to the bottom of Thailand. I was given complimentary drinks and essentially free rein to ask for bathroom breaks and meal stops as I pleased. If I had not been anxious to get to Trat before nightfall, I may have taken advantage of this luxury.IMG_0379

The cost of this van service was 5550 baht. This is a lot of money to pay in Thailand for a simple trip from Bangkok to Trat. But the cost of a plane ticket including all my excessive luggage (Zala) is roughly the same amount as the van service and this was a trip my dog got to enjoy instead of being cooped up in a stuffy box.

Your options are a bit more limited in Thailand, but it can be done. I honestly believe Zala and I enjoyed our van journey more than we ever would by skipping over in a plane.

How To Select The Perfect Travel Dog

From our struggles to our triumphs, Zala and I have learned the harsh reality of navigating the globe with an International Dog. Size, weight, and breed are very important factors to consider before you select your future travel companion.

Small dog breeds are the easiest to travel with. Many airlines allow small dogs (and cats) to fly in the cabin with their passenger. Quite a few hotels allow small dogs or are easily persuaded to make an exception. Many trains, buses, and metros (particularly in Europe) allow small dogs to ride free if they remain in their carrier. Little dogs often slip under the radar (pun intended) and are allowed places no other dog can go. For example, the opera in Monaco is open to dogs under 5lbs. Our friend Montecristo Travels is a fantastic resource for individuals who wish to travel with their small dogs.

Medium dog breeds can be transported in a cost effective manner contrary to popular belief. I distinguish between medium and large breeds because many airlines have a weight cut off at 32kg for pets transported as checked luggage. A travel blog called Let’s be Nomads has flown their Entelbucher Mountain Dog for free on airlines that allow pets to be counted towards the checked luggage allowance. When traveling to off the beaten path destinations, expect the aircrafts to be smaller and transportation options to be limited for big dogs. For example, Bangkok Airways cannot accept dog crates exceeding 80cm x 45cm x 65cm on their ATR 70 aircraft. Also, certain cities are starting to implement policies again large dog breeds. Beijing and Shanghai only allow one dog under 14inches tall per person within the city.

Large dog breeds are the most challenging dogs to travel with. This is the category my 70lb Dutch Shepherd fits into. There are not many resources available for travellers with large dogs simply because most people believe it cannot be done. Airlines that charge by weight are not reasonable for travellers on a budget. The best option for big dogs are airlines that charge a flat rate such as Airfrance, KLM, Delta and a few others. The purpose of this website is to not only to provide a fresh perspective on travel destinations but to become a resource for travellers with large breed dogs.

Traveling with a big dog requires extra work and the ability to think outside the box. This may mean part of your journey may be by air and the other part by ground due to airline restrictions. You may watch a small dog ride for free on your train ride from Lyon to Milan knowing your dog’s ticket cost the same as yours. Accommodations will be difficult to find in certain cities and countries, but writing personable messages and providing dog references can sway guesthouses and hotel owners. Zala and I have had the most success finding accommodations via unorthodox places such as airbnb, couchsurfing, and Facebook. Yes, Facebook, it is our secret to finding accommodations in Thailand. Many small guesthouses do not have websites, but they do have Facebook pages.

Dog breed is also an important factor to consider. Certain dog breeds are more limited than others.  Snubbed-nosed dog breeds such as boxers, pugs, and bulldogs are not allowed to fly on several airlines.

These dogs are prone to breathing complications due to their short muzzles. They do not breathe as efficiently as dog breeds with normal length snouts which makes cooling off when overheated or stressed more difficult. Short nosed breeds are more vulnerable to changes in temperature and air quality in a cargo hold. Although the they receive the same quality of pressurized air as passengers in the cabin do, air circulation is not as ideal for a dog inside of a crate.

Because these breeds are statistically more prone to health complications or even death on air flights, some airlines do not allow these breeds on board. Travellers with a snubbed-nosed dog will be limited in airline choices. Do not let this stop you from owning and traveling with a dog that fits within this category. Just be aware of the individual limitations of your dog and always put their health and safety first. If your dog is easily stressed or has known breathing problems, do not put your dog at risk on a flight.

“Aggressive” dog breeds are restricted and banned in many countries. Some airlines simply will not fly breeds that carry this label regardless of the importing country. These lists vary but always (sadly) include Pit Bulls. Pit Bull is a generalized term for breeds labeled as Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, and any mix breed that matches the phenotype (appearance) of a Pit Bull. In addition, accommodations around the world may have restrictions against these breeds. Below is a basic list of restricted dog breeds. Please be aware this list varies among different countries, provinces, and states.

Pit Bull
Doberman
Mastiff
Dogo Argentino
Fila Brasileiro
Presa Canario
Rottweiler
Japanese Tosa

Owning a dog that is labeled as aggressive can make travel complicated, but be aware some countries merely have restrictions on the breed. This means extra paperwork and acquiring a license for your dog in countries such as Spain. Dogs such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are often listed among the top dog breeds reported for bites. Poodles and Dalmatians are known as aggressive dog breeds yet none of these breeds are put on these ban lists. Be informed and take care not to get wrapped up in the media circus surrounding some of these “dangerous” breeds. Support punishing the deed not the breed. Most dog attacks are a reflection of the owner not the dog breed itself.

I want to give a special thank you to one of our readers who posed this question to us. I hope this provides insight to those hoping to travel with their dog and also those who are looking to select the perfect companion to explore the globe with.

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How to Import Your Dog to Thailand

Import permits and forms to file, 30 day quarantine, numerous vaccinations, and the horror stories of individuals being charged outrageous import fees with the looming threat of their pets being taken to quarantine.

Breathe

Smile

Traveling to Thailand with a dog is easier than it looks.
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The most accurate source for Thai import/export is the Thailand Department of Livestock Development website found here.

Whether you are arriving from the United States, Canada, or the European Union the requirements are the same.

  • Health Certificate, in English, authorized by the veterinary official of the exporting country.
  • Rabies Vaccination no less than 21 days prior to departure.
  • Leptospirosis Vaccination no less than 21 days prior to departure or a negative test result within the 30 days prior to departure (Leptospirosis is combined with the Rabies vaccine given in France).
  • Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus Vaccinations no less than 21 days prior to departure (normally these are already completed during puppyhood).
  • 30 day quarantine at owners expense (not enforced).

If your dog is not allowed as carry-on, find an airline that will allow pets as checked luggage instead of cargo. Cargo fees can add up fast on a long distance trip to Thailand if coming from the United States or in my case, Paris. I have talked to several individuals who successfully flew via Thai Airways. They also paid close to $1000 for a medium-large sized dog. Air France, KLM, and Delta have teamed up, and they all have a flat rate of 200 EUR/CAD/USD for pets flying internationally as either carry-on or checked baggage. For those traveling with a large dog, this price can’t be beat. Our airline of choice this trip was Air France because they run direct flights regularly from Paris to Bangkok. For those interested in taking a dog through Paris CDG airport, see my article on the topic here.

After you have gotten through customs for bipeds at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (the lines can be quite long), pets that did not fly as carry-on will be at Z3 Oversized Baggage. Directly across from the oversized baggage claim is an exchange booth. I advise you take a moment to exchange some cash to help speed up the next few steps required to import your pet. There are two offices for animal customs in the Suvarnabhumi Airport, both are located at opposite ends by baggage claim 9 and 10. The primary office is located on the same wall as the oversized baggage claim.

I was met by three stern faced officials. Remember this is Thailand. Smile. I gave them a cautious smile and a respectful nod, and their faces lit up. Contrary to numerous sources on the internet, all paperwork can be done upon arrival in Thailand. I did fill out my Form No 1/1  in advance to save time (I had a connecting flight to Chiang Mai to catch!). None of these individuals seemed able to speak English, but I continued to throw beaming smiles in their direction, and they bustled through my paperwork. I was given three different forms requiring my signature, and I was asked for Zala’s health certificate. In the European Union, health certificates are filled out inside of the pet passports. Ask your veterinarian to print a separate health certificate form, these officials were not familiar with pet passports. The process may have taken 15 minutes, I paid a 100baht fee, and Zala’s vaccinations weren’t even checked!

The next step was to walk across to customs for bipeds with Zala’s two freshly stamped pieces of paper authorizing her entry into the country of Thailand. The customs official immediately demanded 1000baht from me. When I asked why, a finger was pointed to Zala’s paperwork and I received a look of exasperation. Afterwards, I researched what this fee is based off of, and this is what I found from the Thai DLD website.

“The importer must pay an import fee as prescribed by
the Ministerial Regulation, which was issued in accordance
with the Animal Epidemics Act B.E. 2499 (1956)”

The officials get to make up the import fee. Remember to smile, this fee can be dodged if you wish and this information can be found on the Thai DLD website, but 1000baht is roughly 30USD, not worth fighting in my opinion. And that’s it! Welcome to Thailand.

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Pack List for an International Dog Flight

A Dog Crate That Meets IATA Standards.

I fly my dog around the world. Between finding an affordable flight, organizing vet appointments and sifting through import paperwork, the last thing I want to worry about is if my dog crate is allowed or not. Some airlines are stricter than others. I bought a dog crate with all the bells and whistles that meets the requirements of every airline I have come across. You can check the IATA standards for dog crates here. I bought a sky kennel, and I am very satisfied with it.

Extra Copies of Paperwork

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Every airline is different, but Icelandair’s cargo division attaches the health certificate to the dog’s crate. Upon arrival in Paris, Zala’s health certificate was no longer attached to the crate. Although technically only the original can get your dog into the country, I thankfully had a copy and got my dog’s clearance to enter France.

A Cheap Dog Bed

Don’t put your $100 orthopedic dog bed in the your dog’s crate. After a 10-15 hour flight, you can’t blame a dog for getting bored or frustrated and chewing up their bed. If your dog has an accident, you want a dog bed you will have no hard feelings about throwing away. I have never had either of these incidents occur with my dog, yet. It is best to be prepared. I keep Zala’s Ruffwear Highlands Bed in my carry on luggage as a spare, just in case.

A Water Bowl

A collapsible water bowl is a good thing to keep on hand. Some airlines allow water dishes inside of your dogs crate, but you have no way of knowing if it will survive the flight. Zala destroyed one of her two dog dishes on her trip from Seattle to Paris. As soon as my dog gets out of customs, I pour her a drink. Usually our journey continues by train or a connecting flight so Zala has to recharge on the go. A collapsible bowl takes up very little space in my carry on luggage, and I can smash it into any pocket in my pack while I am hustling to catch my next train or flight. I carry a Ruffwear Collapsible Bowl everywhere I travel with my dog including restaurants, cafes, trains, car trips, and any hiking adventure.

A Leash

I never go to an airport with my dog in her crate. I keep her leashed and by my side until the moment I turn her over to oversized luggage.  Get a leash  with a loop handle to easily half hitch around a chair leg. A simple hack for easy tie up is to use a carabiner for fast clip and unclip. Zala and I have spent a lot of time lounging within and outside of terminals.

A Muzzle

Small dogs get a get out of jail free card on this topic, but big dogs should wear a muzzle inside airports and on public transportation. Big dogs scare a lot of people, and I believe I am able to walk Zala freely throughout airports because I muzzle her. This isn’t to say that when we find a nice place to sit I don’t take off her muzzle because I do. I simply don’t put security guards and officers in a position where they need to tell me to crate my dog. I don’t want to give the public a reason to file a complaint because this will only create more rules and restrictions for future pet travel. I use a simple mesh muzzle that slips on and off easily and can be crumpled in my pocket. Be careful, this style of muzzle does not allow a dog to pant and can cause overheating in hot climates. Invest in a basket cage muzzle if your dog will be wearing a muzzle for long periods of time or in hot climates.

Dog Food

If possible, pack enough dog food to mix and smoothly transition your dog into a new brand in your future country. It can be difficult to consistently use the same brand throughout the world. The one dog food brand I have seen consistently from the United States to Western Europe to Southeast Asia is Pedigree.

Favorite Toy

It may not seem important to you but in a dog’s world this is a big deal. A favorite toy from home has a calming effect on dog’s adjusting to a new home/country. Zala has taken her Extreme Kong across the world with her. It is the equivalent of a pacifier when she is anxious. I am a big fan of Kongs because they can be stuffed with goodies while you are away and provide some mental stimulation for your dog. I’ve even freezed things inside of it. Zala has been obsessively chewing on her black kong on a daily basis for two years, and it is still in one piece.

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Domestic Dog Flights in Thailand

Watch for changes and additions to this list as we find and experience more airlines.

Bangkok Airways

Pets will be charged 80 baht per kilo.

The maximum weight (dog+crate) allowed is 60kg.

The maximum crate dimensions are 100cm long x 60cm wide x 75cm high.

Thai Airways

Pets are charge 6 euro per kilo.

The maximum weight (dog+crate) allowed is 32kg.

This information was provided by e-mail from a representative of Thai Airways in Paris, France.

Nok Air 

Pets not exceeding 15kg (dog+crate) will cost 200 baht.

An additional charge of 200 baht will be applied to pets exceeding 15kg.

The total weight must not be over 30kg.

All information is for dogs traveling as checked luggage. Rates and regulations for dogs traveling as cargo may vary. Zala and I have successfully travelled via Bangkok Air. It was the best experience we have had with an airline.

Navigating Paris CDG Airport with a Dog

Paris CDG

Paris CDG

An entire book could be written on navigating the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. This article will map only the information I know from personal experience. The thought of finding your way with luggage, a crate, and a dog in tow can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are traveling solo, but Zala and I made it from Paris, France to Chiang Mai, Thailand and I’ll tell you how we did it.

It is best to prepare in advance and print out a map of the airport, you can find a basic layout map here. Zala and I arrived via the TGV train. In France, a dog ticket is half the price of your adult ticket, and dogs are required to be leashed and muzzled on the train. I have a 65lb Dutch Shepherd, and I have found that it is easiest to take a seat next to the luggage instead of my assigned seat if the train car (voiture) is crowded. Most trains to Paris are. My leashed dog walked alongside me from the train up until the moment I sent her away as luggage. Do not feel obliged to keep your dog in his/her crate while navigating around terminals and shuttles, you’ll only give yourself a headache and a backache.

The TGV train arrives between terminals 2D and 2F. If you feel like gambling and taking the train the morning before your flight, check online for any ongoing train strikes that may cause you unexpected delays. In my case, there were train strikes the days prior, and I chose to arrive in Paris the evening before my flight. There are numerous choices for hotels around the airport, but the cheapest option, actually within the airport, was Ibis Hotel.

To get to the Ibis Hotel, there is the CDGVAL shuttle that stops at all three terminals. From the TGV station, you need to take the lift up to the 4th floor. From there, simply follow the signs and take yet another lift. The Ibis and Hilton are located next to terminal 3. There is plenty of grass outside of terminal 3 and the Ibis Hotel for pet bathroom breaks. The pet fee for the Ibis Hotel was 5 Euros current as of March 2014.

AirFrance was our airline of choice this trip. AirFrance departures are located in terminal 2F. Going from terminal 3 to terminal 2F with a large dog crate, two duffle bags, and an excited dog took no longer than 20 minutes. A forewarning, trolleys are blocked from going on the lifts that go up and down to the CDGVAL shuttle. This leg of the journey will require extra time and manual lifting if you do not have help. After that, there are the long stretches of walking that the Paris CDG is famous for.

Individuals checking in with a dog will receive their boarding pass after they have paid and checked-in their dog, so don’t bother with the ticketing machines. Dog check-in should be done several hours in advance. My flight was at 1:50, and I checked my dog in at 11:00. To start, check your dog and any extra baggage in at the luggage counter. The attendant will inspect the cage, give you a waiver to sign, and put your baggage sticker on the crate. To my surprise, my dog’s health certificate was never checked. Afterwards, you will need to go to the ticketing office to pay for your dog’s fee (200euros to Thailand) and get your boarding pass printed. Finally, you will need to travel further down the terminal to #5 to drop off your oversized luggage dog.  It took well over an hour before she was actually crated and we said our goodbyes.

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After you have finished with the dog, it is your turn to go through the grueling process of customs. I will mention, yet again, how important it is to give yourself plenty of extra time. My gate was changed from terminal F to hall L. An entirely different hall with a lot of extra unplanned walking to get there! But if you do have extra time, terminal 2 has enough to keep you amused during your wait; including video games, wifi (first 15 minutes are free), and massages.

Upon boarding, there is a waiver to be handed to the stewardess. My boarding pass did not scan properly until I handed this waiver to her. This paper essentially said that my dog’s crate complied with the safety standards of AirFrance. After that, it was smooth flying on a direct flight, and my dog was waiting for me in Z3 oversized luggage at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. See my post on Suvarnabhumi Airport for information on collecting your dog, getting through customs, and catching another flight on a Thai airline.

Flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand

5 Tips for International Pet Travel

 Traveling for the first time is intimidating. Traveling for the first time with a pet can be daunting. It is important to know how to sift through information and not get misled by the poor information spread throughout the net.

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1) Do yourself a favor and get your dog microchipped NOW. The only vaccinations that count on your dog’s health certificate are the ones given after your dog is microchipped.

2) Get your dog vaccinated for rabies directly after he/she gets her microchip. The bare minimum of every country around the world is a rabies vaccination and microchip. In general, it is a 21 day wait after the vaccine was given before your dog can travel out of the country.

3) Buy a dog crate that meets airline standards. Some airlines are stricter than others. Sky Kennels by Petmate meet the standards of essentially all airlines. Their crates also include all the stickers and accessories you may ever need. Buy it for your dog now so they can sleep and adapt to their crate.

4) Check the embassy/consulate page of your destination country for pet requirements. Double check this information with your destination country’s Department of Livestock. Like mentioned above, only let other websites serve as general guides. Much of the information given is not exact and rules change often.

5) Check the cost of your pet’s ticket BEFORE you buy your airline ticket. Just because the airline accepts pets, it does not mean you can afford their price. Know if your pet will fly as cabin baggage, checked baggage, or cargo. Please see my post on International Dog Flights for more information.

If you do this prep work before you start planning trip dates, you will save yourself time and a headache.

Also see my post on cheap dog friendly airlines.

Feel free to comment below with questions. I will be happy to answer.

International Dog Flights

 Flying around the world with a dog can get complicated and expensive. I am going to break it down.

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Who Can Fly?

If you have a snub nosed breed, you are going to have a more difficult time finding an airline than most dog owners. Breeds known to have breathing problems are a higher liability. Don’t let this dishearten you. You will simply have to put an extra effort into finding the right airline.

Some countries prohibit ‘dangerous’ breeds, therefore, airlines may not fly your breed of dog to certain countries. These lists usually include Mastiff and Bully breeds. Sad but true. I’ve never seen any Shepherd breed put on these lists.

In addition, pregnant, sick, or injured dogs are not generally not allowed. Some airlines have age restrictions if you are flying your puppy.

Cabin, Checked, Cargo

First, determine if your dog can fly as cabin baggage, checked baggage, or cargo. Rule of thumb, the price goes up as you go down the list. Unless you can prove your dog is a service dog, you have a doctor’s note or your dog is purse sized; let go of the hope your dog can ride in the airplane cabin with you.

Some airlines accept pets as checked baggage. Check before you buy your ticket. Certain airplanes can carry pets and some cannot. When you find the ticket you want to buy, write down the plane number and make a phone call to the airline inquiring about that specific plane to be sure. In general, the cut off weight for dogs as checked baggage is 32kg(70lbs) combined weight of your crate and dog. There are a few airlines that will allow pets to count as checked baggage and fly free but not many. Everything else gets put into cargo. Count on this costing the most. This is usually calculated by distance x weight. Many airlines then double or triple this price if it is a live animal.

Also be aware, some airlines have time and/or temperature restrictions. They will only fly your pet for so many hours and if the temperature raises to a certain point that day they will not accept your pet. Ask if they have these restrictions before you buy your ticket.

On the bright side, there are airlines such as KLM that have flat rates for pets. I have found when flying a large dog these airlines are the best option. I have posted a growing list of personal reviews and research of airlines for cargo sized dogs.

Also see my 5 Tips for International Pet Travel