When I told my Mum I was going to Thailand on holiday she had a little panic about it because I have a peanut and nut allergy. Here’s my experience travelling around Thailand with an allergy.
First of, if you’re are considering not going to Thailand purely because of your allergy I would seriously reconsider. Of course everyone’s allergies are different, some are more severe than others – I am mainly allergic to peanuts (and have a severe reaction if I would eat one) but still have to avoid all other nuts (apart from coconuts) as I don’t know what else I could be allergic to.
There’s some kind of myth that Thailand is full of nuts and everywhere uses peanut oil and so on. I didn’t actually experience this, of course they do like to put peanuts in some traditional dishes like pad thai, curries, and papaya salad but in almost all of the restaurants where I ate they were very understanding of my allergy.
The flight to Thailand
A worry I did have was the 10 hour flight to Bangkok with the food. When I booked the flight (I used Thai Airways) you had the option of saying you were vegetarian but there was no allergy option available. I packed some snacks just incase I wasn’t able to eat anything. The first meal we had was pasta with a suspicious looking sauce. I couldn’t figure out what the sauce was (neither could my boyfriend) and the air stewards could also not say what it was. I left the pasta but for every meal you also get a breadroll with butter, and then either a salad or fruit salad or a pudding so I still had something to eat anyway. I had also read that they often give peanuts as snacks to everyone – this however was not the case. We got little snacks but they were like little crisps with no nuts or peanuts in. The other meals were completely fine and I was relieved that I could eat the plane food!
The one thing you need to do:
Write an allergy card. It helped me so much in Thailand and I was a lot less paranoid of being served nuts. I researched a bit on the internet and found great forums where people had done this before. Even if your allergy (whatever allergy it is) isn’t severe, I would still recommend you write on your card that you could die if you eat it. That way they will take you seriously.
This is what my allergy card looked like (which was actually just a piece of paper that I kept folded up in my bag):
I found the translation on a forum and then added the photos myself. Click here for a super helpful forum that has a few translations on it.
I gave this to every single place that we ate just to be on the safe side. In basically every restuarant they took it straight to the chef, or the chef came out to speak to me which also let me relax; there was only one restaurant in the whole of the two weeks where I thought oh god they have no clue. I read on a different blog that a guy put “suspicious noodles” on his wrist to see if he would react and on that occasion I also took his advice – only letting the food touch my lips for a moment to see if I would react. Nothing happened and I had no reactions throughout my whole trip.
I also took part in a cooking class (lasted about 4/5 hours) and the woman was so flexible about the nuts. We made a certain dishes that always have peanuts in but she made sure there was no cross contamination.
On another note I didn’t eat at any small stands that are dotted around the streets, I always ate at restaurants. So I can’t comment on how well the stands are at understanding you have a nut allergy.
All in all I was also a bit nervous going there but my two weeks there was actually great! I could enjoy all the thai cuisine and had no worries (apart from that one restaurant).
Have any other questions about allergies in Thailand? Write me a message 🙂