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.

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

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