A Swim in the Waterhole Below Klong Chao Waterfall

Within the tropical rainforest of Koh Kood, is a natural cascade with an alluring freshwater swimming hole. The flowering trees drape around the pool and are alive with the movements of countless black and white butterflies. Two ropes hang above the water waiting for someone to leap in. The edges of the pool have a perfect rock shelf at seating level. An ideal place to peacefully float and listen to the constant hum of jungle life.

The waterfall is easy to reach. Most of the journey is paved for easy access by bicycle or motorcycle. The road that leads to the waterfall turns at P.D. Guesthouse. The path continues through jungle and groves of rubber trees. Their stripped trunks and little bowls are a sight of interest for those unfamiliar with the process of rubber tapping.

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The destination is well signed and impossible to miss.

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The waterfall can also be accessed by kayak but expect some hiking where the water shallows close to the waterfall.

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After the road ends it is about a 10 minute walk on a level clear path.

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Enjoy your swim in tropical paradise!

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Travel to Koh Kood Island with a Dog

The city of Trat is the start point for most travellers heading to their island in tropical paradise (for information on how to transport a dog to Trat click here). All guesthouses are able to book boat tickets, but tickets can also be booked from the offices located near the Trat Market. A ticket of 350 Baht includes taxi service from Trat to the pier, the ferry ride, and taxi service to your guesthouse/resort in Koh Kood. The two primary ferries to Koh Kood are the Ko Kut Express and Ko Kut Princess (Koh Kood and Ko Kut are the same name for the island). Songthaews (converted truck bed with bench seats) are the common form of taxi service in Thailand. Dogs are allowed on songthaews at the discretion of the driver and attitude of the other passengers. To date, Zala and I have not had an issue.

On the Ko Kut Express

On the Ko Kut Express

The Ko Kut Express allows dogs with the exception of holidays and weekends during high season due to crowding. Have your guesthouse check in advance. Zala rode free of charge.The trip from the main land to Koh Kood is an hour. Be prepared for photos and looks of fascination from fellow passengers. Songthaews will be waiting at the pier to take passengers to their guesthouses and resorts. The trucks get packed tightly with people so, as always, know your dog’s threshold before you put them in this situation.

Many high end resorts such as Peter Pan Resort allow dogs. A few budget friendly guesthouses such as PD Guesthouse and Mata Guesthouse also allow dogs free of charge (no dogs allowed at Cozy Guesthouse). The island has a large population of stray dogs. They are an unavoidable part of island life. PD and Mata guesthouse in particular have a large pack of strays. Please see my article on walking a dog in thailand for advice on handling stray dogs.

Koh Kood is still relatively undeveloped and untouched. Be sure to bring enough cash for your entire trip. There are no ATMs on the island and only the big resorts accept credit cards. Dog restrictions do not exist. Your dog is free to explore the white sand beaches off leash with you and join you for meals. Enjoy your stay in tropical paradise!IMG_0569

 

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 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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How to Safely Walk Your Dog in Thailand

IMG_0128In Thailand, a dog has a different connotation than many western countries. A pet dog in Thailand usually is a stray that gets food from a home or store front and therefore casually spends its days lounging around that area. At most, these dogs may get a worn collar, but a dog on a leash is a rare sight. A large leashed Dutch Shepherd led by a white farang (foreigner) is a sight worthy of stares and even photographs.

Many homes, temples, and stores are the place of residence for several soi dogs. Usually they form packs of 2-3 dogs, sometimes more. Even if the home front is fenced, these dogs will simply jump over. They are very territorial and a daily part of life when living in Thailand, especially for pet owners. It can be very intimidating when a pack of barking, high hackled dogs come rushing toward you and your dog.

The fact is, every stray soi dog has been hit, kicked, or had a stone thrown at it throughout its life. These are dogs that have learned the art of survival. Although territorial, they take care not to get injured because this can mean life or death to them. These situations can be smoothly handled if you remain confident and in control.

When traveling down a new street, carry a stick or (my favorite) a water bottle. When a pack of stray dogs come rushing up, use a confident voice and raise your hand as if to throw or drag your stick against the ground. These dogs know a faker when they see one, empty handed threats mean very little to them. Do not yell or get agitated. This will only excite the dogs, and you will lose respect with any local Thais within ear shot for ‘losing face’. This will deter the majority of strays, for those brave few that continue coming (my dog came in heat upon arrival in Thailand), I will give them a splash of water from my bottle. They will never forget and will leave you alone from there on out. I do not actually throw objects or attempt to harm these dogs, a mere threat is more than enough to set boundaries.

If you walk the same area regularly, these dogs will accept you within a few days. Furthermore, stray dogs can have better socialization skills than most house dogs. I don’t fear my dog being attacked as much as the transfer of disease or illness from close interaction. If you are someone who abhors the use of a leash and feels confident in your control over your dog, this is the country for you. Locals who actually do take their dogs on walks usually don’t have them on a leash.

Owners with small or fearful dogs should take extra care in new neighborhoods. I have had a few instances with small shop dogs lunging out and biting at my dog. My dog is now accepted in the neighborhood, and we can walk peacefully around followed by nothing more than a few halfhearted barks. It also helps that Zala is bigger than all the dogs around her. As stated earlier, these strays have learned the art of survival and will not take on a fight without cause, especially with a dog that is a head taller. I will add that my Dutch Shepherd not only scares the local strays but also the local Thais of the area. Keep this in mind when you bring a large dog with you to restaurants and coffee shops.

Although a dramatic change from dog walking lifestyle in western countries, bringing your dog to Thailand can be done if you remain actively aware of your environment and take extra care in reading the dog behavior around you. This experience may actual strengthen your bond with your dog as you will be assuming the role of pack leader and protecting your dog from others. Best of luck and be aware of your dog’s personal tolerance of this kind of environment and always keep their safety first.

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