Are you coming to Thailand with the glum knowledge that you’re a walking mosquito magnet? Mosquitoes in Thailand are a big question if you’re new to the tropics or coming with children. Protecting yourself is easy, once you know a few local tricks (and what to bring with you). Let’s make sure Thailand’s mosquitoes are firmly uninvited from your holiday. Here’s what you need to know…
Mosquitoes in Thailand: Top 4 FAQs
#1. Are there mosquitoes in Thailand?
Oh you bet there are. It’s the tropics! Mosquitoes in Thailand love still water and humid, airless environments. On the contrary, they can’t fly in a breeze. This often makes the beach twice as nice. Note that many hotels in Thailand spray for mosquitoes, so you’ll find them much less a problem in your hotel than ‘out in the real world’. Select eco resorts use only natural methods, while others regularly blast every square inch with a repellent fog.
#2. Do I need mosquito repellent in Thailand?
As a piece of fresh meat, yes. YES. Left to cavort as they like, even one mosquito can inflict a dotty red mess on your legs. The few seconds it takes to apply some bug spray will ensure your trip is so much more enjoyable.
TIP! We absolutely swear by Incognito Natural Mozzie Spray – it’s DEET-free, not tested on animals, and, in our ongoing, 18+ month Incognito
love affair test phase, we’ve found it works perfectly against Thai mosquitoes *and* house flies [see our full review + more tips]
#3. How bad are Thailand’s mosquitoes?
Your experiences with mosquitoes in Thailand will vary, depending (A) where you’re coming from, and, (B) where in Thailand you plan to spend your time. If you’re used to the tropics and/or mosquitoes – there’s nothing unusual about the number and ferocity of Thai mozzies. However, if you can usually eat dinner outside without mosquito interruption, then they’ll seem a greater nuisance. On Koh Samui, mosquitoes can be an occasional pest but they’re not a plague. We’re not talking swarms here, just a greedy few.
#4. When is mosquito season in Thailand? Are there mosquitoes in [month]?
There’s either no mosquito season in Thailand, or it’s always mosquito season. The temperature, humidity and availability of fresh tourist meat is quite to their liking all year round. They might amp up their numbers in rainy season but who’s counting?
How to prevent mosquito bites in Thailand?
In addition to using quality mosquito repellent, there are lots of ways to prevent mozzie bites. As when escaping a crocodile on foot… you don’t need to out-run him, you just need to out-run someone else.
Tip #1. Start in the shower
- Incognito Luxury Loofah Soap (+ U.S. version)
- Incognito citronella deodorant
- Incognito citronella + coconut soap
Start your mosquito war in the shower, and lather up a loofah. Exfoliate your skin with one of these beauties – I’m currently on my second one and love it. What’s the science? Exfoliating your skin eliminates chemical combos from perspiration and the dead skin cells that attract mosquitoes to you … gross but true.
Tip #2. Put protection ‘up your sleeve’
- multi-colour waterproof bands (10-pack)
- invisabands (6-pack)
- braided bracelets (+ various colour options)
- microfibre bracelets
You’ll hear people swearing by full-strength DEET for avoiding mosquitoes in Thailand – isn’t it best? After DEET bleached our clothes (and a pair of black flip-flops), we ourselves are terrified of the stuff. Our (totally non-medical opinion) is that, if it bleaches clothes on contact… what toxic things does it do to you? The choice is yours and might depend on where in Thailand you’re headed (a few parts of the country have malaria). If you want to persevere with DEET, look for a lower percentage (10-30%). For a natural option, consider any of these bracelets (infused with natural oils and non-toxic deterrents). Whether you want waterproof, a choice of colours or soft microfibre – mosquito-repelling bracelets are perfect back-up if you forget to apply bug spray.
Tip #3. Protect your space (and your sleep)
- Mosqui-Go Duo (fits Thai plugs and voltage)
- Incognito Anti-Mosquito Incense Sticks
- Incognito Anti-Insect Room Refresher
There’s nothing worse than waking up to the sound of a mosquito near your head. Especially when you’re jet-lagged. If you’d like a repellant to work in your hotel room overnight, Incognito offers two totally natural options: easily packable incense sticks and, for longer trips, a room refresher that lasts 6 weeks. The highly reviewed Mosqui-Go-Duo is travel plug-in that fits Thai plugs and is the right voltage. It’s extremely popular with our readers (we haven’t tried it ourselves). As well, leave your fan circulating, and the air-conditioning on while you sleep at night.
Mosquito nets? Adults shouldn’t find mosquito nets necessary – unless you’re staying in an extremely basic bungalow (thatched walls or roofs) or are otherwise open to the elements. If Thais have deemed it necessary, it will be provided.
Mosquito coils? Restaurants and bars often burn mosquito coils at ground level. If you’d like to use coils on your hotel balcony, you could ask housekeeping for a few (if they’re not already provided), or buy your own at any 7-Eleven. They’re definitely not ‘natural’ but they do work.
Tip #4. Eat more B vitamins
Folklore (not actual science) suggests that Marmite and Vegemite (or any increase in B vitamins), as well as eating local ingredients (curries, etc) make you less appetising.
Tip #5. Get a bat, go to battle
For another chemical-free option, older kids (and man-boys) might love a mosquito bat – a masochistic sport you may or may not want to encourage. Available at most shops, including Tesco, it dispatches a mosquito with a – we admit – very satisfying pop. Extra points if it sparks.
Other than that, we can’t recommend Incognito’s anti-mozzie product line highly enough. (Not only does the stuff work – REALLY work – but they’re a totally ethical company, too – no animal testing, solar-powered offices, electric vehicles, 10% of profits to environmental charities and on and on. Seriously the good guys!)
How to handle mosquito bites in Thailand?
- Multi-Purpose First Aid Balm
- Zap-It Mosquito Insect Bite Relief Device (+ U.S. version)
- After Insect Bite Patches, After Bite Insect Bite Remedy (+ U.S. version)
- Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream
What are mosquito bites like in Thailand?
In our experience, Thai mosquito bites don’t itch as much as North American mosquito bites but turn into fairly significant red dots that can last for a week or more. On very rare occasions (just 2-3 times in 13 years), we’ve either had a bad reaction to a bite (or have been bitten by a meaner insect than a mosquito) and developed a large red welt. Using a tip we gleaned from ‘tinternet’, we applied a paste of water and bicarb/baking soda to the bite and found it was significantly reduced by the time the paste had dried. To do the same, please buy your bicarb/baking soda locally (don’t bring a bag of random white powder in to Thailand!). Any of the above would make a neater and certainly more convenient solution.
How to treat mosquito bites in Thailand?
A small tube of hydrocortisone cream is great to have in your travel bag in case you’re bitten (it’ll take away the redness and itching). While Thai pharmacies are generally excellent, hydrocortisone cream is incredibly hard to find in Thailand (locals use Tiger Balm, which is definitely soothing but we find it does little for the redness). While it looks like a toy, the Zap-It Bite Relief device gets consistent five-star reviews.
Using mosquito repellent in Thailand
What’s the best mosquito repellent for Thailand?
In our opinion, it’s Incognito Natural Anti-Mozzie Spray (+ U.S. version) by a wide mile. See our full review – 18+ months of no mosquito bites. Zero. An equally natural U.S. equivalent, with similarly rave reviews, is Beat IT! All Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent. Incognito insists it offers clinically proven malaria protection, while the latter promises to work against even Florida’s mosquitoes.
When to wear mosquito repellent in Thailand?
The mosquito that carries dengue, the Aedes Mozzie (rhymes with Hades), does fly during the day but is more likely to bite in the early morning and evening. Mosquitoes tend to be most active at everyone’s favourite time – sunset. It’s so pretty you remain blissfully unaware of the chomp-chomp-chomp happening at ankle level. Going out for the evening? Sunset cocktails? Mozzie spray as you walk out the door.
TIP! Get in the habit of applying bug spray when you go outside – especially around your ankles and knees. Double up on your insect repellant when heading away from civilisation or towards adventure: any hiking, zip-lining, bike tours, etc. Experience has taught us to nearly empty the bottle on any exposed skin before taking a Bangkok canal tour – it might be the most bitey part of the whole country.
Where to buy DEET / mosquito repellent in Thailand?
Though local lemongrass formulas and ‘Off!’ brand sprays are available across Thailand (including every 7-Eleven and corner shop), we really reccomend that you bring at least some repellent from home so you’re ready right away (especially if you’re staying more than a short walk from a chemist/pharmacy). Do you have sensitive skin and/or will be coming to Thailand with children? If so, pack your own preferred brand of repellant that you know to be suitable. You’ll always be able to find some mosquito repellent in Thailand, though the selection is far greater in Western countries. It’s often cheaper, too.
Malaria, dengue, zika and Thai mosquitoes
Is there malaria / dengue fever in Thailand?
Rural northern areas: Take greater precaution if headed to Thailand’s ‘back and beyond’ as mosquitoes in such parts of Thailand can carry malaria and dengue fever. That said, many popular Thai tourist destinations (including Koh Samui) are malaria-free. Much is being done to reduce the incidence of dengue fever. We stress that the chances of getting dengue on Koh Samui, or elsewhere in Thailand, remain minuscule but always tend with caution and use bug spray.
Is there malaria / dengue fever on Koh Samui?
Koh Samui does not have malaria. There are reported cases each year of dengue fever, or “dengue-lite” with similar symptoms of headaches, fever and fatigue. While it’s a rare occurrence (your experience is a million-to-one likely to be just a few red or itchy bites), you still wear your seatbelt as precaution, right?
What’s the situation with Zika in Thailand
Totally not a doctor and this totally isn’t medical advice, but here’s what the CDC currently has to say about Zika virus in Thailand.
Clothing for avoiding mosquitoes in Thailand
For your day-to-day beach resort holiday, there’s no reason to adjust what you’ll wear in Thailand (though light colours are said to be less appealing to a mosquito selection panel). In a quick list, see:
Do you need long sleeves or trousers?
For a beach or city holiday, don’t pack them especially as mosquito combat. It’s not necessary and you’ll be truly uncomfortable. The exception: if you’re heading off towards “nature” all exploratory, in which case balance the added mosquito protection against the need to stay cool. If you have light-weight ‘outdoorsy’ gear that will keep your arms and legs covered, by all means! At this point you’ll want to add socks and closed-toed shoes, as well.
TIP! Don’t smell so nice. Avoid aftershave or perfume; instead, use unscented soap and deodorant. Again, Incognito to the rescue: choose between an anti-mosquito citronella soap or (my favourite) the loofah + soap version.