Do you REALLY need a rabies vaccine for travelling in south east Asia? The answer, unfortunately for your wallet, is yes.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a fatal disease, spread by the bite or a lick of an infected animal, most commonly a dog or monkey.

You may not think you’ll get bitten by a dog while travelling, but the reality is this: stray dogs are everywhere.

In some countries, such as India and the Philippines, they are aggressive. In others, they are all-too-familiar, play fighting with you or licking your hand. They also have a tendency to sleep in the middle of the pavement – so the likelihood of accidentally stepping on one is high!

Is it only spread by dogs?

No. Monkeys are another animal to be cautious of. They may look cute but if they feel threatened, or you get too close, they have a nasty bite. It can also be spread through cats, bats, foxes and racoons.

We didn’t get rabies shots before we went travelling and we regretted it! Rabies vaccines in some countries, such as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are extremely expensive. Plus you’ll need three injections over the course of three weeks in order for it to be effective.

What to do if you’ve been bitten

Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and get immediate medical help. Leave the wound open and apply alcohol or disinfectant. For more information visit the NHS rabies page.

Where can I get a cheap rabies vaccine?

According to medical professionals, Vietnam and Thailand have the cheapest vaccines, so if you’re passing through either of those countries, it’s worth getting them. That’s what we did!

The ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ debate rages on but we strongly advise you to get your rabies vaccine before travelling to Asia!

Yes, it’s expensive and you might want to take your chances, BUT if you get bitten by an infected animal and don’t receive treatment within 24 hours, there’s a high chance you’ll die.

NEXT: Medicine checklist for travelling>>