Visiting Thailand for the first time. What recommendations do you have for avoiding illnesses. Do I really need to avoid all water and fruit?
You should be fine:) Its all overblown imo. Its impossible to totally avoid the city water. Things like brushing your teeth, icecubes, etc. will happen almost without you knowing. I didn't eat much raw veggies there, but fruit was no problem at all.
My wife and I spent two weeks in Thailand for our Honeymoon in April 2015 and split the time between Phuket and Bangkok. We ate street food at will and even ate in a very dark corner of Chinatown in Bangkok where not even Thai was spoken. We had zero issues. I do recommend bottled water but otherwise, enjoy yourself and don't be scared.
Also, I learned from a Doctor long ago prior to driving the Baja 1000 that a great prophylactic is to carry Pepto Bismal tablets and chew one every morning and night. You can also purchase charcoal tablets in Thailand at any pharmacy and use them the same way.
If you happen to pick up a bug, there are pharmacies everywhere. Visit one and consult with the pharmacist and they'll provide you with what is needed (even pharmaceuticals that you would have to have a prescription for in the USA).
We ate fruit the entire time in SE Asia and never had any problems. The pineapple is SO good! Regarding street food, we followed the advice to always eat hot food and go where there is a line. This served us well. The only time we experienced a problem was in Luang Prabang, Laos when we did not heed that advice and ate from a buffet which came highly recommended. 500 mg of Cipro, twice daily for 5 days cured that mistake. ;-) btw, you should travel with Cipro (just in case!) which is readily available at any pharmacist in Thailand as a bad stomach is probably not a matter of if, but rather when. Don't fear the food just eat responsibly!
2. Stick to the old adage "if you can peel it then you can eat it." Bananas and oranges good, lettuce and strawberries bad.
3. Avoid eating raw foods such as salads and fresh vegetables, raw fish or raw eggs, and avoid smoothies, freshly mixed fruit juices and ice.
4. Order your meat well done.
5. If you're into street food, try to stick to the vendors that have long lines of locals. That ensures the food is cooked to order and not left sitting out for long.
6. Don't swim in the hotel pool. Public pools are unsanitary no matter where you go.
7. If you do get sick and the muddy brown river starts a flowin', don't take any medicines that stop the process. Your body needs to flush out the pathogens. Just keep hydrated, stay close to the toilet, and let it run its course. If you have a fever then it's time to go see a doctor.
8. Thailand's health care system is pretty much as good as any Western country's, except in the most isolated rural areas. Anyone in Burma, Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia with the means will go to Thailand for medical treatment. If you need medical attention you're in good hands.
Avoid water. Brush teeth with bottled water. Be careful with seafood dishes as well. Fruits with skin are fine. The bacteria is different and unless your stomach is super strong, I would be careful. I got sick there for a full 3 days. If anything happens, go straight to a clinic. It should cost no more than $10 for treatment. Do not get the on-call, global doc provided by the hotel... they cost around $400.
Nope, please do not avoid all water and fruit. Wash your hands often! Bring your own water bottle, buy the big jugs of water and refill from there for your daily wanderings. There are the bottle-less vending machines also to refill your water bottle at. Did I mention it is a good idea to wash your hands often...? Happy Travels!
Maybe avoid raw leafy greens, as they may be washed with sub-par water, but no problem with fruit, especially peel-able fruit.