Health Tips For South East Asia

10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia (Cambodia)

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10 Health Tips When Travelling Through Cambodia
Raise your hand if you’ve never been sick while traveling… yeah I didn’t think so. We’ve all been there! Hugging the toilet with your hair pulled back... Lying on the shower floor for hours... Creating a blanket cave that you never want to leave... Yep. I know how that feels. Never again with these 10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia.

Recently I went through the same, and what felt like much worse, after a seafood fried rice didn’t agree with me. But sometimes the worst part is you’re limited to the time that you have to spare while traveling. You want to enjoy every moment, explore as much as you can of your new-found exotic land, or never move from that deckchair on the beach.  Here are some things that I have stuck by whenever struck down during my year in South-East Asia. (In no particular order)

10 Ways To Stay Healthy While Traveling in South-East Asia

1. Drink Lots of Water

​Probably obvious, but it is easy to forget when nothing wants to stay in your belly. Even if you’re not sick, I would advise upping your daily water intake whenever traveling. You’re going to be walking, in the sun, drinking and stressing a lot more than usual. So keeping your fluids up is a good practise. I usually grab myself a 1.5L water bottle whenever I’m heading out for a touristy day around Phnom Penh, and try to fill it up wherever I stop for lunch. If you are sick and are struggling to even keep water down, get a straw and slowly, regularly sip the water. It won’t be so harsh on your stomach.

Energy Drink in Cambodia

2. Get an Electrolyte Solution

​​Having one bottle of electrolyte solution, one plain bottle of water and interchanging between the both is a great way to quickly get those fluids back into your system. No matter what illness, this will help. It will bring your energy levels back up and give your immunity system the best fighting chance. I personally take Hydralyte with me everywhere I travel. In Cambodia you’ll find a product called ‘Royal D’ which also has vitamin C added. It comes in many flavours and is sold nearly everywhere, by individual sachet or by box. Be aware though, that if you drink too much it can have the opposite effect, so please only take when necessary. ​​

3. Stop and Sleep

Most people will respond to travel bugs in a ‘don’t worry, I’ll get over it, let’s keep going’ kind of attitude.
It is ok to stop. Take a day off from your adventures and just sleep and relax. One day off is much better than 5 miserable days where you can’t fully enjoy anything. Even as an expat, most bosses have dealt with this situation before and will agree. Don’t feel guilty, it’s your best option. 

4. Get A Massage

After 4 days of not eating, I finally gained enough energy to go venture outside my bedroom and see the sun. After being hunched over on the toilet and curled in a ball under the blanket for so long, I needed to open my body back up. I wasn’t about to go for a jog or do some extreme yoga, so I settled for a massage. I usually go for a massage after not feeling top notch, to get everything flowing nicely again. I’ve tried many massage places in Phnom Penh (the good, the bad, and the super ‘what was I thinking?!’ dodgy) and have finally found the one! Bodia Spa in Cambodia is amazing! I cannot recommend it higher! The atmosphere, staff, products and services are always above expectation. I recently signed up for their membership card. For an initial $5 this card gives me a massive 35% off any service and 20% off their all-natural products. Their riverside branch, near the National Museum, is newly renovated and ready to serve you! Iced tea, cold cloth and 100% relaxation await you!

5. Seek Medical Attention

This applies prior to leaving your home country and if you do fall ill while away. Always consult your regular GP before traveling, to see if any vaccinations or medications may be necessary as preventatives. E.g. Malaria tablets are recommended if you are travelling anywhere in Cambodia other than Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. As for seeking medical advice in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I would only recommend one hospital – Royal Phnom Penh Hospital. It is run by the Thai government and has Thai and American doctors and surgeons. They also have a helipad and being an international hospital, if anything serious occurs, you can be airlifted to either Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh. My third month living in Phnom Penh, I got Tonsillitis and went straight to this hospital. All staff were very professional and the whole facility was very clean and well-run. I would not trust any other place for reliable medical advice. It is the only place I would recommend for this list of 10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia. The system in Cambodia is extremely corrupt and most doctors just buy their way through university, or pay for a fake certificate.
You can however buy any drug you need at any pharmacy – no prescription needed. Me being captain cautious, I brought over a year supply of medical supplies for all the ‘just in cases’, only to find out I could buy it all here for a quarter of the price.

6. Get Health Insurance

Giant Crab in Kep, Cambodia

To back up the last point… Please! Please! Please! If I hear another moto-renting backpacker reply with ‘nah I’ll be right’, when asked if they have health insurance… I’m going to cry! It is such an easy thing to do. One payment and you can forget about it. It is not a waste of money. That dodgy helmet you paid an extra $2 for is more of a waste than health insurance! *breathe*…. Your trip, no matter where you go or what you do in the world, will be much less stressful knowing​ that if anything happens, you’re financial and medical issues will be taken care of. I don’t think I’ve met any backpacker who has a spare $50,000 to throw around if they need to be airlifted to a neighbouring country for emergency surgery.

7. Eat The Vegetarian Option

10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia
10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia
10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia

Above, is me, taking my own advice... NOT! Enjoying exotic foods and trying new things is all a part of travel, but sometimes your health is more important. Deep Fried Tarantula from a market in Phnom Penh was pretty safe though, i guess, maybe, ok i have no idea! But referring to the last photo, it was a delightful surprise to find that it tasted exactly like soft shell crab! Anyway, back to the actual staying-off-the-loo-and-feeling-like-crap (pardon the pun) advice at hand... Eating the vegetarian option is something I always recommend to people with a sensitive stomach or who don’t usually eat a lot of meat. Most street food in South-East Asia is super fried or boiled so most things are hopefully killed off, such as the bacteria in the water. But the chance of getting clean meat that hasn’t been sitting in the sun all day is extremely slim. Most people usually have no issues, but if you’re particularly sensitive, I wouldn’t risk it.

8. Carry Hand Sanitiser

​Basic hygiene, in most of Cambodia, is not regularly practised. Hand Sanitiser is cheap as chips, doesn’t take up too much room in your bag and can also double as an emergency antiseptic application for any small cuts or grazes. I don’t go anywhere without it!

9. Wear a Mask

Why? Because it’s fun! Ok, no it’s not, at all, but it will save you a tonne of discomfort! I recently heard a rumour that Phnom Penh is ranked as one of the worst cities to live in, pollution wise. I had a cough for 3 months straight, so I would put money on this being true. There are two different masks you can get – the thin blue medical-looking masks, or the thick fabric type. Both work well but I find the fabric ones work much better. Every tuk tuk and moto ride, on it goes! It was the first gift my family received when they came to visit me and they were quickly very grateful.

10. Stay Positive!

10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia

Always! Keep your head up and a smile on your face! Mindset plays a huge role in overall health. So this 10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia list wouldn't be complete without a mention of mental health. 
Life’s an adventure; it would get pretty boring if it was perfect all the time. Enjoy every bump, trip, rise and plateau.

Have you travelled through South East Asia? Along with these 10 Health Tips When Traveling in South-East Asia, what did you learn along the way? Let me know in the comments!

Check out my full list of travel tips and hacks >>>

All opinions and views expressed in this guide are entirely my own. Affiliate links appear in this article. If you see something that interests you, please use these links. It helps support my continued free content at no extra cost to you.


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