Monkeys In Southeast Asia: How We ‘Almost’ Got Bit By Some Furry Creatures

Each country has their own unique issues…most not involved around a toupee and a wall. In SE Asia there’s some key information you need to know regarding safety with wild animals, especially monkeys! This could save you a lot of time, money, and prevent a ruined summer vacation.

Today we’re focusing on rabies. What are rabies?

It’s something you DO NOT want!

In order to decrease chances of contracting this disease you’re advised to keep clear from bats, street dogs, and monkeys.

You’d think it’s easy…

Keep reading

Morgan and I encountered bats once, street dogs daily *except for Singapore*, and wild monkeys in four separate locations.

We love monkeys. Some are cute and fun to play with. But, that sweet gentle looking animal has temper problems…they can be aggressive, pull your hair, steal your sunglasses and your phone…while whipping you in the face with their tail.

Fun, right?

Over 10 months, we saw multiple tourists regret taking selfies with monkeys. These little sneaky creatures have no shame and clearly didn’t learn the importance of sharing is caring.

The four locations we encountered wild monkeys are listed below:

Monkey Island, Thailand 

It’s common for tourists to hire shuttle boats or join booze cruises that include this location. Our first time visiting we could walk on the beach and take photos with the monkeys on our shoulders, backs, etc. Our second time around, nine months later, we were not allowed to leave the boat.

Want to know why?

Too many tourists were bit. If you’re bit, you’ll pay $1000 for a round of extremely painful rabies vaccinations. Whether or not the monkey looked healthy, it doesn’t matter. Unless you somehow catch that same monkey for testing, you’re out of luck. *Although rabies vaccinations are cheaper in SE Asia, this is the potential price our guide explained to us.*

Of course, thinking we’re invincible, we took photos with the monkeys and allowed them to climb all over us.

This didn’t last long.

Unfortunately, someone in our tour group was bit. Monkeys are especially aggressive at this location because they depend on tourists for food. When tourists only provide warm beer and sunscreen the monkeys will go ape shit (pun intended).

Pangkor Island, Malaysia 

These monkeys win The Most Energetic and Clever Award. No matter the time of day, you will see them swinging around and chilling at the beach. In the early morning, you’ll see them rummaging through the beachfront restaurants and cafes. Especially Daddy’s Café.

Wait until you see a monkey find a candy bar or something shiny. That unlucky furball will attempt to ferociously eat or climb away from the stampeding horde of others trying to steal that newfound treasure.

As long as you stay out of their way, you’ll have no problems.

Batu Caves, Malaysia

Once you walk up the steep stairs and enter the main cave, you’ll see monkeys climbing along the walls. There are locals who hand out snacks for purchase. If you want to feed the monkeys, purchase the snacks and hold out your hand. A monkey will walk on its tiny hind legs towards you, grab the treat, and climb back up the wall.

Although we wouldn’t recommend this…we left without any bites!

Bali, Indonesia

Probably the most fun you’ll ever have with monkeys. At the Monkey Forest in Ubud, you’ll encounter thousands of well nourished creatures with security guards monitoring every turn. Try to not look at the monkeys in the eyes. While it’s tempting, it makes them feel threatened.

At this location it is safe to interact with them, feed them, and take photos. This is a must do activity while in Bali.

Now on to bats…

Our experience was somewhat unexpected…we came across hundreds of bats while touring a museum.

Unaware of the hanging winged mice above our heads, it took us a couple minutes before we realized the loud screeches were coming from indoors opposed to out.

Imagine looking up and finding yourself face to face with one of the three things your doctor told you to avoid…

They wouldn’t have harmed us. But we still ran…fast.

Let’s talk about dogs!

With street dogs you won’t have problems. It’s unfortunate how poorly these animals are treated. There are thousands of sick and helpless dogs roaming the streets being shunned by tourists and locals alike. Sadly, this issue is only getting worse.

We befriended multiple doggos during our travels, especially in Malaysia. It came to a point where the same pup that followed us home would be there in the morning wagging its tail with a big ole smile.

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While you read this post, you might be confused with the message Morgan and I are trying to send. Clearly, we were told to avoid these animals and in most cases, we deliberately fed or spent time with them.

Weird right?

  • Dogs: While there is an abundance of street dogs in SE Asia, if you’re aware of rabies symptoms (mentioned below), you can still give a little love to these dogs and be okay. Just wash your hands after.
  • Bats: If a bat bites you, you have some awful luck. Chances are you will rarely see one flying around at night.
  • Monkeys: Interacting with monkeys is at your discretion. Out of the four locations mentioned, we can advise that the safest place is the Monkey Forest in Ubud.

Common rabies symptoms include: a dropped jaw resulting from muscle paralysis, disorientation, and foaming at the mouth. For more info click: Here

We want to help people feel prepared for their travels. If a travel topic falls under safety, scheduling/planning, and sites to see…We have you covered!

Check out these related posts: Phuket IslandBali: Places To Stay, Bali: Places to Eat, Bali: How To Get Around, Bali: Top Things To Do, and General Travel Hacks

Hopefully this post saved you an unwanted hospital trip or at least basic information prior to a doctor’s visit.

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– Kyle

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