48 tips you should know before backpacking in South East Asia

JUAN MARTINEZ

May 29, 2016

48 tips you should know before backpacking in South East Asia

Before your travels

    • Check the visa requirements for your country in the countries you are traveling to.
  • Start your travels in big cities.
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Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
  • Check if an AirAsia ASEAN Pass fits your travels (This allows you to take 10/20 flights for 160/290 USD  within 30/60 days).
  • South East Asia on a Shoestring from Lonely Planet is worth its price.
  • Check in advance which vaccines you need.
  • Take a small medicine kit with you.
  • Hostels and guesthouses offer washing services everywhere. Take clothes for a week and travel light.
  • Get a credit card without foreign fee.
  • Have some cash (EUR or USD) with you for emergencies.
  • Take a couple of locks with you.
  • Don´t bring toiletries. Instead, get them at a local supermarket on your first day.
  • Carry a copy of your passport with you.
  • Have a copy of your passport, ID´s, credit cards and other important documents in a cloud.
  • Book a multi-stop flight or travel in circles to make the most of your trip.
  • Get some information at WikiTravel on how to get from the airport to the center. They have complete guides about this matter.
  • Take a small backpack for day trips.

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During your travels

  • If you are traveling in low season, don´t book accommodation in advance. Simply write down a couple of addresses beforehand and check them out once you are there.
  • Draft a sketch of the route you want to travel.
  • Start at the most expensive destinations (Singapore or Malaysia). This will help you balancing your budget better.
  • Don´t spend much time in big cities. –  2 or 3 nights in Bangkok or Singapore should be enough.
Singapore gardens by the bay
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
  • Avoid drinking every day. South East Asia is full of travelers drinking the whole time; try not to be one of them.
  • Get a PADI certificate in Koh Tao or Koh Phi Phi or El Nido.
  • Don´t worry too much about street food.
  • In cities like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur you should act like a local when you are getting a cab. Simply get in the car and don´t ask “how much”. If the taxi does not start the taximeter, just tell the driver that you will take another cab.
  • Drink at least two bottles of water a day.
  • Drink the tap water in Singapore. It´s free and clean.
  • Wanna go partying in Singapore? Go on Wednesdays, many clubs have free entrance and even free drinks for the girls.
  • Drink natural juices every day. You will miss that back home!.
  • Book your bus tickets at least a couple of days in advance. Especially if you are traveling in high season.
  • Compare tour prices. It will help you save some money after a couple of months.
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Kuang Si in Luang Prabang, Laos
  • South East Asia is extremely safe! However, avoid being alone and under alcohol influence in dark places.
  • Respect the culture! Don´t go to temples in tank tops and short skirts, save those for the beach parties.

Luang Prabang, Laos

  • Hostels in big cities are great places to meet people if you are traveling alone.
  • Save money and time by taking overnight buses.
  • Use the slow boat to travel from Thailand to Laos by land. It is worth the long journey.
  • Book your accommodation based on two aspects: Cleanness and location.
  • Leave your passport and credit cards in the safe back at the hotel ALL the time.
  • DON’T get a motorbike if you have never driven one before. There is a stupidly big chance that you will have at least a small accident and pay money you will need later.
  • Be careful if you are taking drugs. Most South East Asian countries have very severe sentences for drug traffickers and consumers. (Especially young uninformed travelers)
  • Get an underwater camera.
  • Bring a travel adapter.
  • Don´t abuse the power of bargain. What for you is simply a latte in the morning is for them a meal for their families.
  • Watch the sunrise in Bagan, Angkor Wat or Borobudur. It will be worth the early wake up.
  • Go to at least one big party at the beach. (The Full Moon Party is very crowded and well liked).
  • Try new food. It´s the only way to know if you like it or not.
  • Take local transportation instead of pre organized trips. You will support the local economy.
  • It´s not a crime to eat Western food during your travels.
  • Do many outdoor activities – Climb, swim, wander more.
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    Morning Yoga in Luang Prabang, Laos

  • And again… Report home continuously! You don’t want your mom posting your photo on Facebook claiming that her son has been missing for a couple of weeks.

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