Is Malaria a Serious Danger When Travelling in Southeast Asia?

When you are planning your trip to Southeast Asia, there are a number of things that you need to keep in mind – such as booking your flight, choosing your accommodation, planning your itinerary and choosing the perfect pair of sunglasses to wear while relaxing on the beach. However, while you are planning for your trip don’t forget to also think about your health.

What you need to know about Malaria in Southeast Asia

Travelling in this part of the world comes with some health risk in terms of contracting Malaria. Malaria is an infectious disease that is transmitted by mosquitos. You can catch malaria by being bitten by an infected mosquito, which will introduce the disease into your circulatory system. The symptoms of malaria can be very severe and can include headache, fever and even coma or death.

Although many of the countries in this region are classified as “malaria risk” countries, this is not a reason to cancel your trip! It simply means that you should be informed about malaria in Southeast Asia before you go so that you can stay safe. The risk is very low in most of Thailand and the major tourist areas. However, if you will be visiting the rural areas of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar there is a higher risk so you should take all possible precautions to avoid getting bitten.

Malaria in Southeast Asia: Mosquito coils can help keep these pests away.
Mosquito coils can help keep these pests away. – photo credit: Kevin Harber. via photopin cc

Malaria Tips You Should Know

Here are some important things that travellers should know about Malaria while travelling in Southeast Asia:

  • The risk of contracting malaria in Southeast Asia is very low to non-existent in large urban areas such as Bangkok. Also, malaria doesn’t usually exist at higher altitudes.
  • The malaria in Southeast Asia risk varies with the seasons. In the wet season, there will be more mosquitos so your risk will be higher.
  • If your accommodation doesn’t have windows with bug screens on them, make sure that you are sleeping with a mosquito net over your bed.
  • When you are trekking in the jungle, always wear long pants and long sleeves with closed toed shoes.
  • Avoid spending a lot of time near places where there are many mosquitos, such as swamps, standing water and garbage dumps.
  • Spray yourself with insect repellent anywhere your skin is exposed. The repellent that contains DEET is the most effective.
  • There is no vaccine for malaria, but there are a number of different types of pills that you can take daily or weekly to protect yourself. However, some of these pills have side effects that include psychosis and disturbing dreams, so ask your doctor what is best for you.
  • Remember that if you are wearing sunscreen, you should apply the sunscreen first. The repellent will not work if you cover it with a layer of sunscreen.
  • If you experience flu-like symptoms within 6 months after returning from your trip, you should always inform your doctor about where you have been traveling.
Malaria in Southeast Asia: Mosquito Netting
Mosquito Netting – photo credit: gullevek via photopin cc

As long as you are aware of the precautions, fear of malaria should never be a reason not to enjoy the pleasures of travelling around Southeast Asia. These are just a few helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes to preventing malaria on your travels. Of course, remember that I am not a doctor – so it is recommended that you consult your medical professional for advice in choosing any medications.

About Kelly Dunning


A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word. She and her English boyfriend Lee run, packed full with travel guides, stories and inspiration for those who dream of travel. They have been location independent and travelling the world digital-nomad style for the last three years, with no address, no car and no fixed schedule.

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One Response

  1. Tropical Travel Health: What You Should Know | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] repellents, pain killers and antiseptics should be within arms’ reach at all times. If you’re traveling to a malaria-prone country, be sure to bring anti-malarial tablets. Start taking the tablets before entering the malarial zone […]


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