You should definitely travel to South East Asia, with never-ending greenery and crystal-blue oceans. The beautiful cesspit of nature, culture and history is sure to get your heart racing. It will be the breath of fresh air that you desperately needed. If you are already imagining yourself chilling in a bamboo beach hut, you might want to read on. Here are tips that will help your first trip to SE Asia better than you could ever imagine.
Plan around the weather
This region has a notorious reputation for skin-burning heat waves and it is advised to travel during the winter months. The weather is soothing and humidity is at minimum. Travel will be much easier, especially if you are looking to avail local transport. Be warned that you will also be fighting it out with other tourists for lodging between December and February (peak season). You can also go against norms and travel during the summer months for cheaper rates on everything so be sure to check out some travel websites like TripAdvisor and HolidayMe to find the best deals.
Travelling to a new and distant land often makes us nervous and we end up taking anything that we might need during the trip. You can probably get almost everything that you need once you get to your destination. The quality might not be the best but it will make do for the trip and you can dispose them before you go back home. It is important that you know how to pack as light as possible. skip packing towels and sleeping bags as they come with the room or can be hired on rental. Take light clothes that are easy to pack. Dress shirts and formal attire should be kept to a minimum.
Do not plan
Booking ahead is highly overrated. You can find accommodations just by walking down the streets of the city, unless it is peak season. Everything from tours, sightseeing to train and bus rides do not need to be pre-booked more than a day of the actual journey. You can always contact a tourism agency but the best experiences stem from self-discovery, with guidance from people who has been to SE Asia before.
Mix with the locals
credit: Holger Mette
South East Asia is home to around 600 million people and there are hundreds of cultures and languages and multiple religions that divide but yet also combine the people of this region. They are willing to help you with almost everything you need. Be it directions to the temple you have been looking for the last hour or deciding what to eat for lunch at the local market. It is also very important that you follow their rules of etiquette while visiting. This means taking off your shoes when entering temples and mosques and covering up when travelling through orthodox Muslim areas.
PS. Do not hurt their religious sensibilities.
Stay away from scammers
This regions has hordes of tourists coming in and have special setups to facilitate foreigners. You will be ripped off if you are not aware – whether buying overpriced t-shirts at the beach or a cheap tuktuk ride around town, do not let scammers ruin an otherwise amazing experience. Research about your destination beforehand and understand what to expect there. Take a stock of all your belongings every time you stop, especially after a lengthy ride.
Eat from the land
It is easy to be afraid and squeamish when you try the local food but fear not. You will have the option of trying some of the world’s finest cuisine at jaw-dropping cheap prices. Night markets are the perfect spot for trying out local delicacies and your trip will not be complete if you do not try the local cuisine. If you have fears of catching a stomach bug, consult the locals for the best eateries in town. This will minimise risk and make sure you have an authentic local experience. Drinking local water is not a good idea but bottled water is cheap and readily available so do not worry.
Make an effort to climb one of the many spectacular mountains or stroll down beaches in Thailand and Malaysia for an unforgettable experiences. It is also a thrill seeker’s paradise with options of diving, parasailing, scuba diving and many more exciting activities on the itinerary. There are many religious attractions. Ancient temples and beautiful mosques are abundant in nature and each of them has the power to make you speechless.
But more importantly, relax and have fun! It is a vacation and there is nothing to worry about. South East Asia is one of the most happening places in the world. Expect delays and be prepared for a bumpy ride. You will come back home with mementos and memories to last a lifetime.