Visit your GP or travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before departure to ensure you have all the necessary vaccinations and that they are up to date.
Many travellers experience stomach upsets in Asia. These are not usually serious, but do be prepared, and bring medication including rehydration and diarrhoea remedies to ensure this disrupts your trip as little as possible.
Familiarise yourself with the dangers of altitude sickness, especially if you are trekking in remote areas.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, or emergency medical evacuation. If you do need to receive medical treatment in Asia, up-front payment may be required even if it is covered by your insurance.
The quality of hospitals varies greatly from region to region – ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance, which covers emergency medical evacuation as you may not be able be treated locally. In Indochina for example, Thailand’s private hospitals are excellent, while Vietnam’s cities provide decent basic healthcare. If travelling in Cambodia or Laos, or in any rural area, health services are extremely limited.
If you will be travelling in rural areas, where getting hold of medicines can be difficult, it’s worth taking a first-aid kit with you. Include bandages, plasters, painkillers, rehydration sachets, medication for upset stomachs and antiseptic cream.
Only drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes. Do not eat fruits or vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked. Avoid cooked foods that are no longer piping hot, as well as undercooked meat and fish.
Apply insect repellent to skin and clothing to avoid being bitten: wear long sleeves, long trousers, hats and shoes (rather than sandals), and for rural and forested areas, boots are preferable, with trousers tucked in, to prevent tick bites.
The high levels of air pollution in some cities, including across China, Kathmandu and Indonesia, can aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are usually the worst affected and it is worth buying an anti-pollution facemask if you’re going to be spending time in cities.
Don’t underestimate the strength of the sun during Asia’s spring and summer months. Temperature and humidity can take time to adjust to, so apply sunscreen regularly, wear loose clothing and drink lots of water. The sun is also particularly fierce at high altitude – even when the air is cold, making it especially dangerous.