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…
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Mosquitoes in Thailand: 12 tips and tricks for total warfare
Are there mosquitoes in Thailand? Oh you bet there are. It’s the tropics! 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. In addition to using quality mosquito repellent, there are lots of ways to prevent mozzie bites. Here are 12 ways to enjoy Thailand mosquito-free:
1. The easiest, laziest way to protect yourself
Absolutely the best trick in the book – put mosquito protection ‘up your sleeve’! All three of the mosquito-repelling bracelets and wristbands pictured are totally natural, and DEET-free.
Your choice here is only aesthetic – the braided bracelets are most popular and blend into the background of any outfit. The microfiber wristbands are really soft, and a good idea for kids, babies and sensitive-skin wussies. Their protective magic lasts between 10-15 days.
2. Go ‘Incognito’ against Thai mosquitoes
My favourite: Incognito Anti-Mosquito Spray
Do you 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.
How to prevent mosquito bites in Thailand? As when escaping a crocodile on foot… you don’t need to out-run him, you just need to out-run someone else. As such, my first recommendation is to go ‘Incognito’ against Thai mosquitoes.
Incognito, in my opinion, is THE best mosquito repellent for Thailand, by a wide mile. I absolutely swear by this stuff – it’s DEET-free, and, in my ongoing, 2+ year Incognito
love affair test phase, I’ve found it works perfectly against Thai mosquitoes *and* house flies.
(FYI – I’m not sponsored, paid or perked in any way to promote this, or any product, – I “discovered” Incognito on Amazon and buy the stuff in boat-loads as a normal customer turned raving fan).
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!
A U.S. equivalent that’s also natural (and has similarly rave reviews), is Beat IT! All Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent. Incognito insists it offers clinically proven malaria protection, while Beat IT! promises to work against even Florida’s mosquitoes. If you can’t be swayed to the Whole Foods netherworld, Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent has stronger chemicals (20% Picaridin), but no DEET. Of any ‘middle ground’ (not-totally-natural, but DEET-free) mosquito repellent – this one is most popular with my readers, though I haven’t used it myself.
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 mosquito-bitey part of Thailand.
3. Lather your loofah …
This one’s weird – but it one thousand percent works! Start your mosquito war before you leave for Thailand: hit the shower, and lather up a loofah. Exfoliate your skin with one of these beauties – a loofah with a citronella, mosquito-repelling bar of soap inside. Again, it’s from Incognito – so it’s 100% natural.
4. Apply your armour (or just wear some clothes)
Is there any special 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.
5. Safeguard your space (and your sleep)
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 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 blog readers (I haven’t tried it myself). As well, leave your fan circulating, and the air-conditioning on while you sleep at night.
6. To DEET or not to DEET?
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), I myself am terrified of the stuff. My (totally non-medical opinion) is that if it bleaches clothes on contact… what toxic things does it do to you? The DEET choice is up to you and might depend on where in Thailand you’re headed (a few parts of Thailand have malaria, mostly along the Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysian borders – though not in main tourist destinations like Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui).
If you want to persevere with DEET, without melting your flip-flops, look for a lower percentage (10-30%). These repelling wipes would be preferable, as you’ll have greater control in application versus a spray.
Alternatively, get the convenience of ‘wipe-on warfare’ without the DEET, in either of these options – one is totally natural with citronella oil (the patches attach to your clothes), and the second is a “little of column A//little of column B” with 20% Picaridin.
7. Get squeaky clean (but don’t add scent)
Again, Incognito to the rescue with an anti-mosquito citronella soap and a mosquito-repelling hair and body wash. Once you’re squeaky clean, consider a triple-threat combo with Incognito’s repellent deodorant.
8. Mosquito coils?
Restaurants and bars in Thailand often burn mosquito coils at ground level, especially in the evening. 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. To stick with the holier-than-thou zero-toxicity, no animal-cruelty theme, try Incognito’s easily packable citronella incense sticks.
9. Choose your hotel wisely
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. 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’. Some eco resorts use only natural methods, while others regularly blast every square inch with a repellent fog.
You 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 you’re winging your itinerary and want to know you’re covered for any circumstance, this travel mosquito net packs to about the size of a dinner plate or frisbee.
10. Handle mosquito bites like a pro
Should the unthinkable happen – and you get bitten, these are favourite methods for stopping any discomfort. (If you do get bitten after taking all of the above precautions? 10:1 it happened on a Bangkok canal tour – battleground zero for mosquito warfare!)
What are mosquito bites like in Thailand? In my 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 a few times in 14 years), I’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 I gleaned from ‘tinternet’, I 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 into Thailand!). Any of the above would make a neater and certainly more convenient solution.
How to treat mosquito bites in Thailand? While it looks like a toy, the Zap-It Bite Relief device gets consistent five-star reviews. I was scared to try it – expecting self-inflicted electrocution. I can vouch that it’s 100% painless, very effective, and weirdly compulsive.
11. 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 – I admit – very satisfying pop. Extra points if it sparks.
Electric mosquito rackets are banned in both carry-on and checked luggage on Bangkok Airways (and presumably other airlines as well). Use the one on Amazon for practice at home, and plan to leave any Thailand racketry behind when you leave.
12. 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. To start topping up in advance, I can recommend the following unlikely combinations: Marmite + marmalade, or Marmite + avocado.
Mosquitoes in Thailand: Your FAQs
Is there malaria / dengue fever in Thailand?
Yes, malaria is known in parts of Thailand, particularly rural northern areas and border regions (see map). Dengue fever occurs across a wider region. Take greater precaution if headed to Thailand’s ‘back and beyond’ as mosquitoes in such parts of Thailand can carry malaria, dengue fever and other diseases you definitely don’t want. For the best precautions specific to your travel plans, I recommend checking with your country’s health authority for their current (and expert) advice. Here’s World Nomads on the subject:
For some good news, many popular Thai tourist destinations (including Phuket and Koh Samui) are malaria-free. Much is being done to reduce the incidence of dengue fever. I stress that the chances of getting dengue on Koh Samui, or elsewhere in Thailand, remain small. However, always tend with caution, use bug spray religiously and make sure you’ve got good travel insurance before your departure.
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 a precaution, right?
What’s the situation with Zika in Thailand?
I’m a 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.
When is mosquito season in Thailand?
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?
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.
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), I really recommend 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.