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Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

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The Netherlands
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Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

I just returned from Cambodia where we stayed for 7 days in and around the Siem Reap area. Before we went I read a lot about taking malaria pills such as Malarone or Doxy. What I noticed was that many people, just like us, are not sure if they should take the pills or not bother with it. Even our local travels clinic gave contradicting advice. I just wanted to share our personal experience so it can maybe help in the desicion making. I'm not a doctor, just a traveler :)

We decided to take Malarone because we wanted to keep our options open regarding the places we would visit. If we were sure we would only stay in Siem Reap and the main temples in the Angkor area we probably wouldn't have taken them. I was glad we did cause during our trip we ended up traveling to higher risk malaria area's 3 out of 7 days.

We visited the parents and other family members of a friend we made during our trip which gave us a unique opportunity to explore the rural way of life in Cambodia. This village was a quite a long drive from Siem Reap and not in the malaria safe area. Things like this you can't plan at home and just cross your path while traveling :))

Also I wanted to shed some light on what the "Angkor area" most travel clinics talk about actually is. When they say there is no malaria at Angkor Wat they mean at the main sites. These are the temples closest to Siem Reap and the most visited ones (Angkor Wat temple, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, etc). (I noticed that most doctors working at the travel clinic have never been to Angkor and don't even know exactly where all these temples exactly are). This main area is considered malaria safe as far as my information goes. There are also more remote temples that are from the same Angkorian period and for some you can even use your Angkor daypass. We visited for example Koh Ker and Beng Maelea. There are a lot more bugs at these temples and they are not in the malaria safe area. Koh Ker is about 2,5 to 3 hours from Siem Reap and Beng Maelea is halfway. So when planning your trip think about what temples you want to visit and how far away from the main temples these are.

We visited Angkor and Siem Reap in April, during the hot season. It was 40 degrees Celcius and that meant sweating A Lot!! We applied mosquito repellent (Deet) to make sure we wouldn't get dengue or other mosquito borne deceases you can't prevent by taking pills or injections. But what happened was that it washed off by the sweat very soon and we had to reapply very often. Of course we did get bitten and you can never prevent that 100%, but we didn't get sick. But I'm pretty sure that if we would have only relied on Deet also in the not malaria safe areas it would have caused a bit of stress for me cause you can't prevent sweating!

Personally next time I'd visit Cambodia for a week or longer and not have a clear idea what places we want to visit, I'd take malaria pills again. If I'd do a pre planned tour for lets say 3 days and only visit the main temples or if I was sure I'd only visit some main temples for 2 or 3 days and stay by the pool in Siem Reap for another couple of days, I think I'd rely on Deet. But this is based on my personal experience! I'd advice anybody to visit a travel clinic or doctor before making a decision about malaria pills. But I do hope I was able to give some information that makes the decision easier or to discuss with your doctor.

Cambodia is an amazing country and I absolutely loved it!

The Netherlands
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41. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

Thank you for sharing that website! It is very informative.

Kurashiki, Japan
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42. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

And I side with the authors of that, I have never taken anti-malarials in my 20+ years of traveling around Southeast Asia.

The Netherlands
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43. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

I don't agree with point 8 in the article, saying you'd better buy your antimalarials in Asia. In some Asian countries there's a big problem with fake drugs. If you decide take malaria meds i think it's wise to make sure you get ones that are effective so you don't have a false sense of protection.

Kurashiki, Japan
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44. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

You can buy medications at reputable drug chains like Boot's and Watson's, they are all over Bangkok. I'm sure that's what the authors were referring to.

The Netherlands
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45. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

Maybe, but they don't say that :) I think it's kind of reckless to go to the nearest pharmacy in Cambodia and buy malaria meds. I suggest to do a good deal of research on what to buy where when it comes to drugs, especially when it's your first time to the country.

I bought the pills in Holland and my health insurance covered all of it. They wouldn't have covered it when i had bought them in Asia. So that's also something to consider.

Kurashiki, Japan
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46. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

You're right, they should have stated that. I guess they figured that only seasoned travelers read their site(which is usually the case) that they would know better. :-/

The Netherlands
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47. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

Yes probably you are right :) I like the website a lot apart from that one point. Thanks for sharing it.

Telford, Shropshire
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48. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

Thanks for the interesting link to the Travelfish report Maneki-neko. It makes a lot of sense to me, but my wife is still very worried about taking any risk. I didn't realise that pharmacies we recognise in the UK also operate in Bangkok. Does anyone know the cost of Malarone in Boots, BKK please?

lewes uk
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49. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

Hi,

You can't buy malarone in Thailand, Cambodia etc. Boots or no Boots, it's prohibited from sale to prevent drug resistance and only available for treatment. If you want to use it you have to buy it in the uk.

Cheers

Kurashiki, Japan
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50. Re: Taking Malaria pills in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap 2013?

You can very easily purchase doxycycline over the counter, the Boot's drugs in town as well as the stores in the airport all carry it.