It’s no secret that vaccinations for Southeast Asia are import to get before you travel. But which jabs do you actually need?

The dreaded vaccinations. Although not at the top of most peoples pre-travel checklist, they are essential for peace of mind when backpacking around the continent.

Note: Many need to be injected many weeks prior so they come into effect before you touch down. Especially if you require a course of injections that need to be spread over a couple of weeks. We advise going to speak to your local doctor’s surgery as soon as possible before you leave!

It is likely that you will probably have received some sort of vaccinations during your life. If you don’t have a list somewhere, you should be able to receive a list of everything you’ve had from your doctor.

MORE: Best free apps for travelling Southeast Asia

What is required for Southeast Asia

It can vary from country to country however there are general vaccinations that should cover you for most of Southeast Asia.


The majority of you would have received a measles, mumps and rubella jab when you were a child, so it’s not something you should worry too much about. However, if you have not had the MMR jab yet, it’s worth getting, especially when travelling abroad.


A vaccination that you probably should have in your system already. It is usually advised to get a booster jab before you go. Tetanus is contracted through cuts and burns and as the correct treatment may not be readily available in a lot of places, the vaccination is essential.


Found commonly in overcrowded poorer areas. If travelling to Southeast Asia, you are more than likely going to be mixing it with the locals if you want the true experience. So Diphtheria vaccination or booster is strongly advised! 

Hepatitis A

One of the most important vaccinations for Southeast Asia. Hep A is contracted through the consumption of contaminated food or water. It is very high risk in areas where sanitation is not at a brilliant standard. Unfortunately a lot of places around Southeast Asia, especially the more rural areas, this will definitely be the case so be sure to get vaccinated.

Tap water can be a huge factor in contracting illnesses such as Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

A slightly lower risk level than Hep A, Hep B is contracted through infected blood or sexually transmitted. If you are going away for a long period of time, it is advised, in case you need medical treatment whilst you are travelling.


Again, highly recommended for most places in Southeast Asia. Similar to Hep A it is passed through food and drink so is really essential.

Japanese Encephalitis

A nasty disease spread by mosquitos. The risk areas vary around Southeast Asia, so it’s best to check if the disease is present where you intend to travel. It would be advised to get the jab if the risk is high. We, however, travelled without this particular vaccination. But, we did take precautions against mosquito bites to reduce the risk further.

MORE: What to take travelling to Southeast Asia

Non-essential vaccinations for Southeast Asia

This is a tricky subject that may be argued differently depending on who you talk to. There are a few more precautions you can take for other diseases that are present in the region. We personally opted out of any medications that were not deemed fully necessary for where we were travelling.


Contracted through the saliva of infected animals. Before we travelled to Asia we had heard scare stories of rabies. However, we decided not to go through with the injection after consulting a doctor in Australia. Even if you are to receive the vaccination you would still need to seek medical help if you are bitten.

The best advice to avoid rabies is to simply avoid direct contact with animals whilst you are in Southeast Asia. Don’t pet stray cats and dogs and keep your distance from monkeys. They may look cute, but they are wild animals that can turn nasty at any moment.

Monkeys can carry rabies bacteria in their saliva


Malaria is indeed present in parts of Southeast Asia. Although most areas are low risk, some doctors may advise taking anti-malaria drugs prior to travel and whilst you are there. We personally chose not to take these tablets as they can have bad side effects that we felt were not worth it considering the level of risk.

Minimising your risk of mosquito bites is essential. Using repellants with a high deet percentage, covering up at dusk and using mosquito nets will go a long way in preventing your chances of contracting malaria.

MORE: Our Thailand Cambodia border crossing experience

Dengue fever

Unfortunately, there is no vaccination currently available to prevent dengue fever. This disease is again passed through mosquito bites. The mosquitos that harbour the virus are unusually more active during the day time. So, be sure to wear insect repellent throughout the day and not just in the evenings.

Asian tiger mosquitoes can carry many diseases, including Dengue fever

Our advice

To make it clear, we are not medical professionals. The vaccinations and precautions listed in this article are just advisory. These are the measures that we took after talking to various nurses and doctors.

We had only one health issue during our time in Southeast Asia which came in Bali. Lorna suffered the dreaded Bali belly and was sick for a week. However, we were not affected by anything too serious.

Other than the mandatory injections it is up to you what measures you take. One thing for sure, it is always good to have peace of mind when you are in a completely foreign environment and unsure about the medical care that is available to you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

*Disclosure* Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we will receive a small commission for every purchase made. Thank you for supporting us!

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Hi, we're Matt & Lorna. Two travellers on one path hoping to share some of our experiences with you.

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