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.