Dengue in Paradise: My Experience with Dengue Fever in Koh Phangan

What is dengue fever?

Dengue is a virus transmitted by mosquitos.

There are four types of dengue fever, but an infected person only gains immunity to the one they recover from. Meaning, it's possible to contract dengue four times.

Generally, symptoms include muscle, joint and bone pain, nausea, vomiting, eye pain, rashes, and headaches.

Most people recover in a week, but effects can last much longer.

Dengue fever can be lifethreatening and medical attention should be sought.

My dengue fever experience

I was on the island of Koh Phangan when I fell ill with dengue fever.

It was mid-2020, I was locked down in Thailand with my girlfriend, Ashley, due to the COVID19 pandemic.

Right before dengue crept in to kick my butt, I'd had two wisdom teeth surgically removed, so we chalked the sickness off to my recovery.

Travel hammock with mosquito net

My symptoms

I quickly developed a high fever of 104 F (40 C) and aches that replaced quiet nights with painful bellows.

I've never ached the way I ached with dengue fever.

The wisdom teeth surgery was still throwing us off. It had been a nasty surgery and left my face numb with nerve damage. Could this amount of pain really be from the surgery?

I developed dizziness, no appetite, and restlessness. It was the sickest I'd ever been.


Visiting a doctor in Koh Phangan

Of course, we were amid a pandemic and thoughts turned to COVID.

I lunged myself onto the on the back of our motorbike and Ashley weaved my weak body through our little paradise. But in my state, everything about paradise hurt.

We arrived at First Western hospital.

I didn't stand a chance of entering the hospital with my COVID-like symptoms. Instead, I was placed in a small boxed room outside, where my blood was tested.

An hour later, I was confirmed positive for dengue.

There was nothing the hospital could do for me except monitor me and ensure my fluids were up. It was recommended I stay overnight but is was 30,000 baht ($1000 USD) a night. My travel insurance had expired, and I didn't have the funds to cover that kind of expense simply for monitoring.

Instead, I returned each morning for platelet count. When platelets increase, it's a sure sign you're on your way to recovery.

Four days of platelet drops, one rash, and $600 later, my platelets finally started to increase and I no longer needed the hospital visits.


Travelers' mosquito net

Hospitals in Koh Phangan

One mistake I made while ill with dengue was going to a private hospital. Government hospitals are far more affordable. However, if you have travel insurance you'll be covered for private. I recommend World Nomads for the best coverage for travelers and digital nomads.


Hospitals in Koh Phangan:


Koh Phangan Hospital

Located: Outside Thong Sala

Type: Government

Get directions.


First Western Koh Phangan

Located: Thong Sala

Type: Private

Get directions.


Bandon International Hospital

Located: Baan Tai

Type: Private

Get directions.


Phangan International Hospital

Located: Baan Tai

Type: Private

Get directions.


If you believe you have dengue you should contact a medical person or facility to get a professional opinion.

Dengue is extremely common in Thailand, but should be taken very seriously.

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