Travellers to Borneo tend to worry about contracting infectious diseases, but infections are not nearly as common here as you might think and rarely cause serious illness. Malaria does exist, but is usually limited to isolated areas.
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Before You Go
Even if you're fit and healthy, we don't recommend travelling without insurance. Extra cover may be required for adventure activities such as rock climbing, caving or scuba diving. If you're uninsured, emergency evacuation can be expensive; bills of more than US$100,000 are not uncommon. Travel insurance is available online from www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance.
Most vaccines don't produce immunity until at least two weeks after they're given, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure. Ask for an International Certificate of Vaccination (known as the 'yellow booklet'), which will list all the vaccinations you've received.
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever will be required only if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone (parts of Africa and South America) within six days prior to entering Brunei. If you're coming from Africa or South America, check to see if you require proof of vaccination.
The World Health Organization recommends the following vaccinations for travellers to Borneo:
- Adult diphtheria and tetanus
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Measles, mumps and rubella
Recommended for longer-term travellers (more than one month) or those at special risk:
- Japanese B Encephalitis
In Brunei Darussalam
Availability & Cost of Healthcare
There are good medical facilities, charging reasonable rates, in Bandar Seri Begawan. As you head into the hinterlands, however, you'll find limited medical facilities.
In Brunei you will have no problem communicating with doctors and nurses in English. Pharmacists also tend to speak English – this can be important, as many medications are marketed under a variety of names in different parts of the world.
Never drink tap water unless you've verified that it's safe (many parts of Brunei have modern treatment plants). BSB's tap water is considered safe to drink.