As we were preparing for our trip backpacking around Southeast Asia we started to do some research on the travel vaccinations that we needed to keep ourselves healthy during our adventure. Our hearts sank when we heard how much it would have cost to consult with a doctor and get our shots at a travel clinic in Canada. Thanks to a brilliant post by fellow travel blogger Johnny Vagabond we got our immunizations in Bangkok at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute instead and saved nearly one thousand dollars!
Remember that scene in The Hangover 2 when Phil gets shot in the arm and treated at a clinic in Bangkok? He walks out with his arm bandaged and a bewildered look on his face saying, “That only cost ten dollars!”
It’s a funny scene, but it is based in reality because if you are used to high medical costs at home you will be amazed at how much more cheaply you can get your travel immunizations in Bangkok. We were immunized at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute for a fraction of what it would have cost back home. The facilities were clean and modern, the doctors spoke English and were friendly and the vaccines were pre-packaged Red Cross supplies identical to what you would get in any hospital in the Western World.
Considering we were getting jabbed in the arm (which is never fun no matter what country you are in) the experience of getting immunizations in Bangkok was pretty much painless and simple. To make things just a bit surreal, we were even filmed for a promotional video marking the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute’s 90th Anniversary!
Tips for Getting Immunizations in Bangkok at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
Here are some tips that will make your visit go more smoothly:
– Be sure to take cash with you as the medical center does not accept credit cards. However, if you forget there is an ATM only a few meters away from the side of the building.
– Bring your passport with you, they will need to see it.
– If you can, find out your medical history and what vaccinations you already have before you go. However, this is not essential because there is an option to check “Not Sure” on the paperwork.
– You will need to know which countries you plan on visiting during your trip so that the doctor can tell you which diseases you will be at risk for.
– The institute closes at lunchtime for one hour between noon and 1pm so time your visit accordingly.
– You will need to wait for 15 minutes to ensure that you do not have an allergic reaction to the vaccine and after that you will be good to go.
– Your arm might feel a little sore afterwards, so take it easy and get lots of rest that evening.
– If you have time, check out the snake farm directly behind the building. There are some pretty amazing snakes including huge pythons!
How to Get There
The Number 15 bus leaves from near Khao San Road and takes you almost to the door of the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. Using Google Maps it is easy to find your way there on the Bangkok public transit system from anywhere in the city. Simply search for this address:
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama 4 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 (662) 252-0161-4
What It Cost to Get Immunizations in Bangkok
Registration Fee: 20 Baht = $0.65 CAD
Vaccinations for Typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis: 805 Baht = $25.95 CAD
Total: $26.60 CAD Each
What It Would Have Cost Back Home in Canada
When we were looking to get our shots in Canada, we spoke to a travel clinic in St. John’s Newfoundland. We were told that we had to pay $60 each just for the doctor’s consultation to find out which shots we needed. Even though we were traveling together and the shots required would have been identical, they wouldn’t let us both sit in on the same consultation.
After that, the cost of the Typhoid vaccination would have been $45 each and the two doses of Japanese Encephalitis vaccine would have cost $210 each. I don’t know if Lee’s shots would have cost more because he is not Canadian, but if we learned anything from the broken wrist incident, they probably would have.
However, even if they were the same as my costs, this is what our total bill would have come to if we had not gotten our travel immunizations in Bangkok at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute:
Doctor’s Consultation – $60 CAD
Typhoid – $45 CAD
Japanese Encephalitis Dose 1 – $210 CAD
Japanese Encephalitis Dose 2 – $210 CAD
Total: $525 CAD Each
That’s right, we could have stupidly spent $1050 between the two of us on vaccinations in Canada if we hadn’t found out that we could get the exact same immunizations in Bangkok for approximately $26 each.
We are even considering going back to get some other vaccinations for common tropical country diseases such as Yellow Fever. Our logic is that a Yellow Fever shot lasts for 10 years and there is a good chance with our world-wandering lifestyle that we will end up in a Yellow Fever risk country in the next 10 years so we may as well get the vaccine while it is cheap!
If you are venturing to Southeast Asia, save yourself hundreds of dollars and get your immunizations in Bangkok. You’ll have so much more money left over to spend on spicy Thai curry, amazing foot massages and private bungalows on white sand beaches!