Health & Safety

General advice on health and safety in Asia

Here you find some general information about vaccinations, health care services, safe driving, and natural disasters in Asia. More detailed safety information can be found in the Asia Exchange Guide for each destination, which you will receive after being accepted to one of our study abroad programs.



Make sure that your vaccinations are up-to-date before going abroad.

The essentials:

  • MMR
  • Diphtheria-tetanus

Consider also:

  • Hepatitis A and B

Other vaccinations are usually optional and their necessity depends on the final destination, the length of the stay and other destinations you may plan to visit.

Vaccinations always depend on the individual, too, so remember to consult your physician. Inform your doctor if you are planning on spending long periods of time in rural areas or travel to very remote destinations.

Some vaccinations can also be bought in Asia and more affordably than in your home country (Japanese encephalitis and Malaria, for example). Keep in mind though, that it might take a while for the immunity to develop. Ask your doctor for more information.


Especially in the larger cities and tourist areas, health care services are of Western standards and most hospitals have employees who speak fluent English.

The most commonly encountered illnesses for travelers are stomach flu, dehydration and cold caused by the excessive use of air conditioning. It’s easy to avoid these by taking care of hand hygiene, choosing your restaurants carefully, drinking enough fluids (bottled water and sports drinks) and not turning the AC on too high. Tropical countries also have some more exotic illnesses and the local health care providers will have the best knowledge about them.

In Asia, there are more non-prescription medications available at pharmacies than in most European countries. The pharmacy staff can also help find a cure for the most common tourist illnesses.

Safety in Asia

All our study destinations are very safe. Violence, in general, is rare, especially towards foreigners. Mutual respect is important. The greatest danger can be the heavy traffic which can be quite different from what you’re used to at home.


Many Asian countries have left-sided traffic, but it doesn’t take long to get used to it. The traffic culture is different from Europe and North America and can seem completely chaotic in the beginning. Still, the traffic flows according to its own rules. Traffic jams are a part of everyday life, but metros and sky trains help ease traffic in larger cities.

Scooters are a popular form of transportation, especially in Bali and Phuket. Many exchange students choose to ride a scooter, even if they hesitate to do so in the beginning. Our students have only had a few minor accidents, but if you choose to ride a scooter, proceed at your own pace and remember always remaining calm and alert while riding.

Driver’s License

Riding a scooter, a motorcycle or a car abroad most often requires either a local driver’s license or an international driver’s license. You can get a local license from the local authorities, while an international license can be acquired in your home country.

Not all travelers get one of the above-mentioned licenses. This could, however, cause difficulties if you have an accident and try to claim your insurance company.

Acquiring an appropriate driver’s license is recommended mainly for two reasons
  • The local authorities expect drivers to have a local or an international driver’s license and they might give a fine to drivers who don’t carry either one of the licenses.
  • In case of possible accidents, drivers may be expected to present an appropriate driver’s license to both the authorities and their own insurance company. Not having a driver’s license may affect how much your insurance company is willing to compensate for injuries or material damages.

Ask your insurance company for more information regarding driving abroad.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can be one possible cause of worry for students and their families. It’s important to keep in mind that as a continent, Asia is huge. If, for example, an earthquake takes place in Sumatra, Indonesia, it’s as far away from Bali as England is from Russia. Bali and our other destinations are not located on the boundaries of tectonic plates, and earthquakes and volcano eruptions are very uncommon in the areas.

At the beginning of each semester, Asia Exchange asks students for their local contact information in an emergency.

How to prevent culture shock


Travel Vaccinations for Asia