I've so many questions! Myself and my bf are heading to thailand in jan for 6 weeks (leaving this day 8weeks whoooh!) and then heading onto Aus and NZ. We've had all our jabs etc (only Polio left) but I went to the doc last week for Malaria tablets and she told me that she couldn't give them to me until I had given her my set route. She wants me to visit all the malaria areas together. We really don't have a set route as we were just planning on flying into Bangkok and then making our way to Singapore maybe spending a day or two in Vietnam and Camb. Just wondering if anyone could offer any suggestions or advice?
Thanks for all the help!
Hi Aom -
It really would help if you could be a bit clearer with your itinerary, as malria risks vary from place to place, and from rural to urban areas. Also - going all the way over to Cambodia or vietnam is a big detour just for "a day or two". Unless you're going to fly, (and in my view then flying when you could go overland is tantamount to environmental crime) it'll take you a day or two just to get to Phnom Penh from Bangkok, and then obviously more to get to Vietnam. So I'd either suggest that you give yourself a bit more time to explore these two beautiful countries, or cut them out of your itinerary.
But as malaria goes - the risk of malaria is low in most areas of Thailand, and you are only at significant risk in the areas that border Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. There is a risk or malaria in most parts of Cambodia apart from Phnom Penh, and in Vietnam the only malaria free areas are Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. In malayasia, malaria is limited to the rural areas and most urban and coastal areas are malaria free. There is no risk of malaria in Singapore.
So basically the Cambodia and Vietnam are the two highest risk areas, but please don't let this put you off visiting them, as the beauty of these two countries and their inhabitants far outweigh any risks (in my view!).
There is also a lot of information on this forum about different types of malaria medication, and the pros and cons of each type, including debates about whether to take them at all. I would recommend that you search the forum, and do some research of your own, before taking this decision.
Yeah, I was kind of wondering what you are going to do in Cambodia and Vietnam for a day or two. If you have less than a week in each, I would also say don't bother. Though it is worth heading into Cambodia just to see Angkor, but even that require 4-5 days of your time.
I'm no doctor, so this is unprofessional advice, but if you are only going to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, there is probably no need for Malaria tablets. Last time I had checked, Thailand had declared itself Malaria free, though like the last poster mentioned, there is still Malaria in some of the border regions. But the places you'll be going as a tourist are almost surely safe. I've never taken them for these regions, and honestly I don't think I've ever met anyone who has, unless, of course, they were also heading to Indochina in the near future. Acutally, many, if not the majority of, travellers don't even bother for Vietnam and Cambodia. I think that's silly though, and I've taken them for these regions. They seem to have the attitude of "well, my cousin sally, my friend Bob, and some guy I ran into on Koa San Road told me that they went to Vietnam and didn't get malaria. So it must be safe". But everyone's safe until they get it. If you are going to spend any time in these countries, I would recomend taking some pills.
Malaria pills are also quite readily available in Thialand for a fraction of the cost, and there is no need for a prescripition. Some question the quality of the pills, but that's a whole other debate in itself. If you buy them at a Thai boots or somewhere like that, they should be fine.
Know I've been a bit vague but to be honest I rly didn't have a clue we'd need that long for Vietnam and Camb. The whole travelling thing is new to me. The longest i've been away was a week's sun holiday! shameful I know. Thanks for all the advice. The obvious option so seems to be to cut those two out of the route.
Unless you are travelling to remote areas in Sabah & Sarawak (bordering Kalimantan), there is hardly a need for you to take malaria tablets...In mainland Malaysia, malaria is hardly a problem.