10 Things to Know Before Travelling to Southeast Asia
Travelling through Southeast Asia is a popular way to get to know the culture, languages and people in a diverse part of the world. Although it can be a truly wonderful adventure there are some important things to consider before embarking on your journey. Here are ten important things to know before travelling to Southeast Asia and embark on what may be one of the most unusual holidays you will ever take:
1. Personal space might be defined differently:
If you are used to having your own space everywhere you go, you might be surprised at how closely people will stand to one another in buses, lines or stores. Remember that standing close to others is not typically regarded as rude and simply part of the culture.
2. Negotiating is standard:
In much of the West prices are predetermined and set in stone. In Southeast Asia it is wise to try to negotiate or haggle the prices of most things in order to get the best deal and avoid being ripped off.
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3. Accommodation can be scarce:
Most travellers will have no problem booking hotels or hostels at the last minute during their trip. However, you might want to organize your accommodation in advance to ensure that you have a place to stay in smaller villages or towns.
4. Health can be a concern:
Although most areas in Asia are completely safe for travellers it might be worthwhile to ask your local doctor about which vaccinations can protect you as you travel abroad. Just a few immunizations will give you peace of mind for extended travel in Southeast Asia.
5. Street food is delicious:
Visitors from developed countries may not feel completely at ease dining from street vendors in the likes of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh. However, these street vendors provide truly delicious cuisine for incredibly cheap prices. Expect to pay as little as one dollar for savoury pancakes, sausages on a stick, baked pork buns or any of the other regional specialties available.
6. Living like royalty can be cheap:
Many destinations in Southeast Asia are relatively cheap for travellers. This means that it might be worthwhile to spend a few days living like a king, even on a smaller budget. Enjoy villas with pools, upscale dining and more for very reasonable prices in places like Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bangkok.
7. Avoid driving:
If you are used to renting a car as a way of getting around while on vacation, then you need to readjust your mindset for Asia. Driving can be expensive and challenging on the streets of Southeast Asia. Whenever possible try to stick with the efficient and affordable public transportation available in every city.
8. Be wary of taxi driver recommendations:
It might seem logical to ask your taxi or tuk-tuk driver in a Cambodian or Laotian city for advice on the best hotels or restaurants in the area. Keep in mind that these drivers work by commission from area establishments and will send you places that may not be in your best interest to ensure that they make their commission.
9. Remember the exchange rate:
Most cities in Southeast Asia will have banks, ATMs and currency exchanges for visitors. Try to write down the exchange rate before you leave your home country to make sure that you are not being swindled during the exchange process.
10. It is possibly to live very cheaply:
For those travellers who want to enjoy extended holidays on small budgets, Southeast Asia is the ideal choice. Living like a local, taking night buses for transport, eating at regional markets and sleeping in guesthouses mean that you can get by on under $10 a day while in Southeast Asia.
Take into account the ten tips above to maximise your enjoyment of your trip to Southeast Asia.