Assuming you follow a routine of good hygiene and skin care, you should have no problems in Asia. The following points are intended to help ensure a healthy journey.
Food and Drink: Apart from in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and some hotels, mains water is not fit for consumption. Water in thermos flasks and in your room has been boiled and is therefore drinkable, although make sure that it is replaced regularly. Mineral water is widely available. Soda water is a good alternative. If you order a drink, request that no ice cubes be added, as these are usually made straight from the tap and are not safe. In most tourist hotels however, the ice cubes are made from pre-boiled water and are therefore safe, although you should enquire whether this is the case. In small eating establishments, you are advised not to eat pre-prepared salads or pre peeled fruits. You are better off eating in busier restaurants, as this is usually a sign that the produce is fresh and hygienic. Only eat ice cream in expensive restaurants. Always wash your hands thoroughly.
Sunshine and heat :Sunburn is a frequent cause for health problems. Sunburn and sun/heat strokes are easier caught than you may think. You should therefore avoid the sun during the hottest hours of the day, always wear a hat and good sunglasses when you are walking, and use a good suntan lotion when sunbathing. The latter can best be brought along from home, where the choice of product is much larger and prices are lower. At high temperatures the body’s need for water increases very rapidly, as does its need for salt. Make sure you drink enough when the heat is extreme and you will simply have to take it very easy during the hottest hours of the day. Make it a habit to treat wounds, however small, with something like iodine. Infections can occur and spread rapidly in the tropics, so take as much care as possible with scratches and insect bites.
Diarrhoea :Next to sunburn, the most common health problem is diarrhoea. Travellers are often hit by it after they have been on holiday for only a few days. In most cases it is innocuous and caused by the change of diet, the heat or harmless bacteria, against which the body will soon develop its defences. The main risk is dehydration, especially in children. It occurs when the body loses more fluid, salt and sugars than it receives. The result is a feeling of listlessness and weakness. It can be prevented by drinking a solution of water and ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution). It is sold in bags at the pharmacies and contains all the minerals and sugars that are evacuated with diarrhoea. Instead of this solution you can also take noncarbonated soft drinks or heavily salted broth. For many people, Coca Cola has a constipating effect in the first stages of diarrhoea. When the diarrhoea is accompanied by high fever and/or bloody defecation it is sensible to consult a physician. When the diarrhoea lasts for more than a few days without the above-mentioned symptoms or when you have to travel, you may take Imodium (or Diacure) a couple of times. It is an opium-like preparation that prevents bowel movement for a number of hours.
Insect Bites: Insect bites are impossible to completely avoid in Asia, although there are several steps you can take to minimise the problem. Many hotels provide mosquito nets upon request (airconditioned rooms don’t need mosquito nets), and electric mosquito repellers are often placed in rooms. The ‘mosquito coil’ is also useful, which is green, spiral shaped incense that can keep the mosquitoes at bay for up to eight hours. You can request these for under your table in restaurants. It is also useful to wear long trousers and a high-collared, long sleeved T-shirt in the evenings. Citronella and other insect repellents have an effect, but don’t expect miracles from them. A useful first-aid kit for the tropics could include plasters, bandages, cotton wool, scissors, a thermometer, iodine, painkillers, O.R.S. packets (Oral Rehydration Solution), Imodium, sun cream, earplugs, tweezers, an insect repellent and itch-relief creams. If you must regularly take prescription medicines, bring an exact description in English (not the brand name, but necessary ingredients and dosage are necessary). Bring twice the amount of these medicines that you will need for the duration of the trip, and store the two supplies separately so that you have a backup supply.
The following information is recommended for trips to this particular area, although the information is subject to change. Furthermore, necessary vaccinations are influenced by personal factors such as previous vaccinations, sensitivity to certain medicines, pregnancy, age etc. For this reason ALWAYS consult your GP before travelling. The latest information regarding necessary vaccinations can be found on the internet, or you can contact your GP. We can give no further advice by telephone. The recommended vaccinations are DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis), typhoid and jaundice. You are also advised to follow a course of malaria pills.
Further information to ensure a pleasant trip
Give your body time to adjust to the time zone and the conditions. Avoid physical exertion and don’t plan everything to the last detail. Relax on the first day. Getting up early is a good idea as the morning temperature is usually the most pleasant in warm countries. For this reason, the local population are also used to getting up early. If you can adjust to their rhythm, you will see the most of the country. If you are sufficiently rested, you will take in the new experiences better and will have more energy.