Travel health & vaccinations
For most travellers, a common-sense approach to your health whilst abroad will ensure a trouble-free visit, and the chances are that you will feel far healthier and fitter after your holiday than before it. Food in South-East Asia is both nutritious and healthy, with an emphasis on rice and noodles accompanied by fresh vegetables, meats, seafood, and an abundance of fresh fruit.
Travelling with children
Please consult your GP or family doctor for further information on how best to protect your family against illness when travelling abroad.
Before you depart
Whilst planning a trip to Asia, it is important to consider the possible requirement for vaccinations and immunisations. Most importantly, we stress that you should contact your doctor or medical practitioner well before you depart, since you may well require vaccinations for your trip. If you have travelled recently and believe that you are already up-to-date with your vaccinations, it is still worth checking as vaccinations have a varying life span. You can use a specialist vaccination clinic for this service; however they can be expensive, and may recommend vaccinations that are not essential for your holiday.
There are also a number of useful websites that can assist you with your research at this stage. Amongst our favourites are:
There is a very varied level of medical care across the Asian region. Some countries can quite rightly boast hospitals that put many of our western hospitals to shame, while others lag far behind.
That said, in an emergency you are unlikely to be more than a day’s travel from a well-equipped hospital, and you are advised to inform your guide immediately if you are feeling unwell. Illnesses detected in their early stages can usually be effectively treated with no long lasting effects.
Please note: treatment abroad can be expensive, and you must arrange comprehensive travel insurance prior to departure.
This medical advice
We do consider ourselves to be experts in many things Asian, but we are not medical professionals, and have not undertaken the many years of training required to allow us to claim to be so.
The contents of this page are intended as a guide only, and do not replace the need for you to seek your own medical advice and care in certain circumstances.
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Recommended vaccinations for all travel to Asia
The following is a summary of the vaccinations usually recommended for travel in Asia.
Before you depart
Since 1940 children in the UK have been routinely immunised against diphtheria. However both adults and children are advised to check with their doctor if booster vaccinations may be required.
Since 1961 children in the UK have been routinely immunised against tetanus. However both adults and children are advised to check with their doctor if booster vaccinations may be required.
- Hepatitis A
Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended before travelling to Asia.
Typhoid is extremely rare but does occasionally occur in the UK, with about 25 cases reported per year. Due to its rarity it is not usual for UK residents to be routinely vaccinated, but it is common in Asia and therefore vaccination is recommended before travelling.
The most commonly asked health-related question concerns malaria and whether or not to take anti-malaria tablets… the only answer we can (legally) give is to consult your GP and follow their advice on malaria precautions for your holiday.
Possible additional vaccinations
The following are less frequently advised and can often be specific to a particular region or area of a country.
Cholera is a rare condition, confined to areas with poor sanitation and water hygiene. Mass outbreaks occasionally occur as a result of civil strife or natural disaster, for example in refugee camps, due to the resulting overcrowding and poor access to clean water. Advice to travellers is to drink clean water, maintain good personal hygiene, and consult your GP if in doubt aboutwhether you need should have a cholera vaccination.
- Poliomyelitis (polio)
Since 1955 children in the UK have been routinely immunised against polio and since 1988 there have been no reported cases of polio in the UK. It is extremely unlikely therefore that a polio vaccination will be required.
You are advised to consult your GP as to whether you are already vaccinated against Tuberculosis, or if vaccination is advised prior to your trip.
- Japanese encephalitis
Japanese encephalitis is a relatively rare disease, with only 2 reported cases of UK travellers contracting the illness in the last 29 years. In most occurrences of the illness the effects are mild, including headaches, fever and a high temperature. In about 1 in every 200 cases, the symptoms may be much more serious and can lead to death. Advice to travellers is to do all possible to avoid mosquito bites, and consult your GP if in doubt about whether you need should have a Japanese encephalitisvaccination.
Whilst the UK is considered rabies-free, it exists throughout the world including Asia, in animals including dogs, cats, monkeys and bats. It is therefore advisable not to pet or stroke unfamiliar animals whilst abroad. It is possible to take a pre-exposure vaccination against rabies, which slows the development of the disease should you be bitten or scratched by an infected animal. You should consider the vaccination if you are travelling in a remote area where you will be more than 24 hours from medical help. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal please seek immediate medical assistance.