Backpacking Southeast Asia is full of surprising twists and turns for both new and well-seasoned travellers. With these travel tips, I promise you will be more prepared and know what to expect for your trip to Southeast Asia.
1. Always have toilet paper – This is seriously a must, there is never any around.
2. Research if there will be an ATM – There will be ATMs in most touristy hotspots but on the islands, they could be hard to find.
3. Research scams – A lot of scams in SE Asia are common, so make sure you know what to look out for. Most have to do with cabs, renting scooters, and crossing borders.
4. Weather! – Unfortunately, the weather is not always perfect, sunny and warm in Southeast Asia. You’ll definitely want to avoid monsoon season, especially if visiting an island.
5. Don’t be afraid to eat street food – The street food is incredible and more times than not more authentic to the country you are in.
6. Agree on a taxi price before you get in – If you don’t, you’ll suddenly be expected to pay a ridiculous amount. This is the same for tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, etc.
7. Don’t expect anything to be on time – People in Asia are a lot more relaxed and don’t care about time like we do in the western world.
8. When renting a scooter take lots of pictures before leaving the rental place – Whenever renting anything in SE Asia always take pictures of everything. Including close-ups of the scratches/dents so that they can’t blame you for anything and try to charge you.
9. Learn some Basic phrases – Learning how to say hello, thank you, yes and no are a good start and people really appreciate it when they see you trying to speak their language.
10. Always keep your calm – Never, EVER get angry with a local, raise your voice, or get up in their face. This is not how things are handled in Asia. Trust me, you will never win. The locals will help the locals out, not you. When and doubt just walk away.
11. Always have hand sanitizer – Just like toilet paper, you won’t find soap in most bathrooms.
12. Splurge and pay the extra couple dollars for air conditioning – Seriously, you’ll thank me later. Fans just blowing around hot air will not cut it when you’re trying to sleep.
13. Don’t plan everything before you go – Have the first week or two planned but after that decide as you go. Ask for recommendations from other travellers you meet, maybe even travel around with some new friends for a few days.
14. Never leave your stuff unattended – This is the most important thing when you’re travelling.
15. All things whitening – We want to be tanned, but in Asia they want to be as white as possible. So, watch out when buying products such as sunscreen and moisturizer, as most will have whitening agents in them.
16. Say YES – You will get some far-out opportunities and you just need to take them. Take chances and have the time of your life.
17. Don’t expect western safety standards – You will have so many “Holly S***” moments Travelling Asia, you just have to laugh it off and enjoy the ride.
18. Be Prepared to sweat ALOT – it’s inevitable.
19. Travel through the night – Yay for night Trains! Thailand travel is easy because it has the best trains for overnight travel because in second class you get a full bed. By traveling at night you’ll save on accommodation and have more time to do things during the day.
20. Get used to haggling – If you don’t haggle you will be overpaying for everything. Some things you can’t haggle for (like food), but use your skills while at markets, shops and with transportation. Start low, you can usually tell by the look on the locals face if you’ve gone too low. And don’t be afraid to walk away, most will give in and accept your offer. If they don’t then you’re probably being unrealistic.
21. Bring sunscreen from home – It is ridiculously expensive in SE Asia. It’s one of the few things I recommend bringing that are worth using the extra space in your bag for.
22. Eat where the locals eat – The more people at a restaurant or food stall the better. People don’t eat where they’ve gotten sick before. Plus, you know it’s tasty.