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Dealing with a food allergy in Krabi

A dish of Pad Thai from a street stall in Krabi
Peanuts are often used in Thai dishes like spicy salads or pad thai
Dairy and wheat intolerance are fairly common these days in western society; it may be a relief for sufferers to know that in Krabi, it will be relatively easy to avoid such foods. Thai food is almost exclusively based on gluten-free rice and rice products, and is completely lactose free (no dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt or cream are ever used in Thai cookery).

In addition, many Thai people are also lactose intolerant, so products like soy milk and coconut milk are widely available, even in basic convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

Small amounts of wheat can be found in soy sauce and in tempura batter (usually a mix of corn, rice and wheat flour), so if you are particularly sensitive, you should avoid dishes using these; most other rice and noodle dishes are safe to consume.

Eggs, however, are widely used in Thai cookery – even when not specifically mentioned on the menu. They can for example be added to a “vegetable stir fry” or “chicken fried rice”, so carrying information about any allergy with you in Thai (see below) is a good idea so that your waiter can inform the kitchen if necessary.

Most Krabi restaurants also serve a selection of western food, and these will tend to be with dairy or wheat – e.g. pasta, pizza, baked goods. They may also use products (sauces, bread etc.) that may have been produced in a factory with nuts (Thai manufacturers are not obliged to disclose this information), so these are best avoided.

Both peanuts and cashew nuts (a tree nut) are very common in Thai cookery; both can be avoided by staying away from any kind of spicy salad (including som tam), pad thai noodles, satay, and Penang or Massaman curries, which are the main dishes to use them. Note that many street food stalls serving noodles or noodle soup will also have ground peanuts as a condiment sitting on the table. Sesame (oil or seeds) is not used very often – it is more in sweet things – but again, carrying the information with you should be fine.

If you, or your travelling companions have serious food allergies (nuts, spices etc.), that may lead to anaphylaxis it will be absolutely essential to carry epinephrine shots with you; the nearest medical facilities to the beach areas will be too far away to treat urgent cases without the initial emergency medication.

Medical facilities for example on Railay, Ton Sai are very basic; for post-shock treatment you would need to go to Ao Nang or Krabi Town. The former is a 15 minute boat ride; the latter is a boat ride + 20 minute drive. From the islands, where the situation is similar, count on at least 1.5 hours to get to a proper hospital.

Thai phrases to print:

ฉันเป็นโรคภูมิแพ้ …………………………. (ขั้นรุนแรง) – I am (very seriously) allergic to:
(copy and paste the relevant items below in the gap)

ถั่วลิสง – peanuts

เม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์ – cashew nuts

เมล็ดงา – sesame

ผลิตภัณฑ์นม (แล็กโตส) – dairy products (lactose)

ไข่ – eggs

กุ้ง – prawns

หอย – shellfish

ข้าวสาลี – wheat

Last updated: October 24, 2016