Asia is packed with more than 50 countries, a kaleidoscope of different cultures, and ample opportunities for adventure.
But it also presents a number of potential hazards that could turn your visit to the largest continent into a visit to the nearest health clinic. Proper preparation can go a long way toward ensuring your travel to Asia is healthy and safe, and the following tips can help.
Vaccinations are one of the easiest ways to avoid illness while traveling, with several on the list for travel to Asia. Routine vaccinations are those received over your lifetime whether you travel or not, and a number of others are recommended and/or required.
Vaccinations should ideally be administered four to six weeks prior to your departure date.
These vaccinations are administered over your lifetime, and a trip to Asia is an ideal time to ensure yours are up to date. Routine immunizations include:
- Annual flu shot
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Tetanus-diptheria-pertussis (Tdap) to protect against lockjaw, diphtheria and whooping cough
- Varicella to prevent against chicken pox
Recommended and/or required vaccinations:
Additional recommended vaccinations that fall under the tips for traveling to Asia include:
- Hepatitis A, which can be transmitted through contaminated food and water
- Hepatitis B, which can be transmitted through contaminated needles, blood products and sexual contact
- Japanese Encephalitis, a vaccine recommended for travel to rural areas or trips lasting more than one month
- Malaria, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes; prevention medication may be taken before, during and after your trip
- Meningitis, a serious bacterial illness
- Polio, an adult polio booster supplements the polio vaccine received as a child
- Rabies, which is transmitted through infected animals and recommended for extended stays with outdoor activities
- Rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea
- Typhoid, which can be transmitted through contaminated food and water
- Yellow Fever, with certain countries requiring proof of the vaccination if traveling from a country with a risk of yellow fever virus transmission; the U.S. is not on the list of at-risk countries
Your doctor can help you make the final decision on chosen vaccinations based on your health status and history, length of your stay and the specific countries you’ll be visiting.
Other Tips for Traveling to Asia
Mosquitoes can be much more than an annoyance in Asia, with the potential of carrying Dengue fever or Chikungunya fever. There is no preventative vaccination or medication for either disease, making it imperative to use repellent to avoid mosquito bites.
Travelers’ diarrhea is a common trip spoiler, and you can pack an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor or medication such as Imodium just in case it hits.
Other recommended items include:
- Small first aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Sunblock and after-sun cream for treating sun burn
- Insect repellent
- Tiger Balm for treating insect bites
Food and Drink Tips for Traveling to Asia
While you want to stay hydrated in Asia’s constantly humid climate, you don’t want to drink unpurified water. Also be wary of consuming unpurified water in the form of ice cubes, fruit shakes, raw fruit and vegetables washed in dirty water, or when brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
The safest food bet is to eat at restaurants and booths that are hugely popular. People would not keep eating from the same source if it were making them sick. A high turnover rate also means the food is likely to be fresher.
Meat in Asia can be different than meat you find in the U.S. One traveler likens the meat to scraps that are usually tough and recommends eating vegetables whenever possible.
With proper preparation, vaccinations and a menu that includes purified water and trusted foods, your trip to Asia has a solid chance of being an adventure to remember for all the right reasons.
For up to date visa information for each Asian country, view Swift’s visa page. It will tell you requirements for traveling.