Those nasty little buggers, the bed bugs. It really feels like the end of the world if you sleep in a bug infested bed. Just writing about them makes me itch all over. After one bad hotel, it’s so easy for them to get in your bags and then those bloody things just go with you from bed to bed, laying their eggs in the zippers and creases. Shudders. Unfortunately, South East Asia is a breeding ground for them and you need to take precautions as you travel around.

(I had way too close of a call in Malaysia and was eaten alive in Thailand!)

#1 ALWAYS Check the Bed

(If you can, read reviews online to see if other guests experienced bed bugs)
Checking the bed and pillow before you move in is essential. Even in a 5 star hotel! We checked into what seemed like a decent budget hotel. I looked at the photographs of the room and could see the place had new linen, looked good and offered great services including free wifi, breakfast, tea and coffee. Around 9pm the nasty creepy crawlies started to come out the pillow!

What are some signs of bed bugs?

Look at the creases of the bed, any black or brown bugs hiding. Young bed bugs can be translucent brown and very fast. If you see blood stains on the bed, like from mosquito, this is a sign of bed bugs. Look on the walls for blood streaks.

What to look for in a hotel?

None of the above signs. Beds with plastic around the mattress should be pretty safe.

What do you do if you see a bed bug in South East Asia?

Pack up your things immediately and GTFO. Doesn’t matter the hour, just move to a different hotel. Tell the management, ask for a refund and move on. They might not give you a refund, maybe just half of what you paid, but if it was only $5 in the first place, just go. We left at 10pm and I would rather sleep on the streets than in a bug infested bed. It’s not worth the terrible long night of sleep and you have a high risk of “catching” them and bringing them along with you. In addition, getting rid of them can be a stressful and difficult task.

Take these precautions:

Keep your bags zipped up and away from the bed

Don’t leave your clothes out or your bags unzipped

Put a plastic cover over your bag


Spray lavender on your bags this is a great natural bed bug deterrent. We picked up lavender essential oil, along with tea tree and eucalyptus at a market in Thailand. We put in a spray bottle, couple drops of each, and diluted with clean water. Shake and spray your bags, bed, zippers, and body for extra care.

Vacuum Packed Bags

Keep 90% of your clothes in vacuum packed bags leaving just a couple outfits out to prevent the spread of them if you do catch them.

What do you do if you get bed bugs in your bags and clothes?

You need to wash everything including your bag in hot water as well as using a hot dryer. It could take a couple washes. If you can’t use a hot dryer on your clothes and backpack, drown the items and then hang in hot sun for a couple of days. They hate direct sun and will die with extreme heat exposure. Spray lavender generously.

How to decipher between a bed bug bite and a mosquito bite?

Bed bugs bite in clusters, usually on the arms, shoulders, legs, stomach. The marks don’t have the puncture dot in the middle like a mosquito bite. Bites show up 24-48 hours after being bitten and you won’t feel it when you are being bitten because the bugs first inject an anesthetic in the area. For me, the bites are 10x itchier than mos bites. However, not everyone reacts to bed bugs bites. Around 30% of people have this reaction.


They don’t react to bug spray. Only lavender, heat and sun.

When you go back home from South East Asia…

…Quarantine your bags in the garage and then take the described steps to ensure you don’t take them into your home!

Since seeing these bed bugs and being bitten one night, I’ve had a psychological aftermath. For weeks I still feel itchy, although there are positively no bugs and we are staying in nice places. I’m obsessively checking the beds and I feel a little crazy. That’s the worst part about these guys, many people who have experienced bed bugs will have some psychological experiences after!

You can avoid bed bugs in South East Asia if you are adamant in checking the beds and spraying lavender!