Southeast Asia is one of the most amazing, beautiful and accessible regions for independent travelers in the world. It has an amazing mix of volcanoes, rainforest, rice fields, beaches, and coral reefs.
You could spend all day exploring thousand-year-old Hindu ruins and enjoy a night at a rave on the beach. You could even attend a Buddhist alms-giving ceremony at dawn and go whitewater rafting in the afternoon.
There is plenty to do in Southeast Asia for anyone to be hooked for months. Can’t wait to set out, but scared you don’t know anything about backpacking? Don’t stress it, through this article, we have 10 tips to help you before you set out.
Check The Weather
Make sure to plan around the weather. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a storm, which leaves you stuck in your room all day.
Southeast Asia sits within the tropics. The region is broadly characterized by a hot and humid climate that rarely changes throughout the year. People tend to think the weather in Southeast Asia only varies during the two annual monsoons.
However, each country has myriad microclimates. Therefore we suggest you research the weather before making any plans.
First-time backpackers usually make a common mistake of over-packing. Pack only your essentials with you.
Having only one bag will make save you more if you plan on taking budget-friendly flights. AirAsia, Jetstar, and Scoot are popular favorites by many people because there’s no need to pay an extra fee to check in any additional bags. It’s also most likely that you will fill the now empty spaces in your backpack with souvenirs.
We suggest you do your night market shopping at the end of your trip to ensure you won’t have to carry around your shopping throughout your whole journey.
Give The Street Food A Try
Southeast Asia’s best dishes aren’t fancy but are found very conveniently along the streets. The region is overflowing with tasty street food which is sold at hawker centers, night markets, and small road cafes.
For only a dollar, you can get delicacies like Penang’s signature laksa dish, or a generous bowl of Tom Yum soup. Street food is not only inexpensive but it’s also a fantastic way to discover the region’s food culture.
Perhaps you have an option about eating food which is sold along the roadside, but you can be assured that there is no reason to be concerned!
Watch Your Wallet
Depending on where you travel will determine your daily budget. Your cash limit will also depend on how comfortable you want to be.
You can survive on as little as $20 a day in some Southeast Asian countries. However, this cash will be spent on very basic accommodation. You will also be eating at simple food stalls and traveling on local buses. Consider thinking about where paying a little more will really benefit your journey experience.
Get To Know The Locals
What better way to experience the amazing culture of the country than by talking to the locals themselves? Most are friendly people.
They are usually more than willing to take you by the hand and lead you to your destination. The locals may even give you recommendations for the best places to visit. They may even inform you about the best resorts in their country.
Before you set out, learn a few basic conversational phrases in the language of the locals. If you don’t want to learn then make Google Translate your new best friend. Understanding the various views of Southeast Asia through the eyes of its own locals will definitely be a memorable experience!
Dare To Get High
Not that kind of high!
In our opinion, every tourist should make an effort to hike at least one of the beautiful mountains. A great thing to do is get up before dawn to watch the sunrise from Indonesia’s Mount Bromo.
This will increase the pleasant Southeast Asia experience. By hiking up the mountains, you will be able to admire the beauty of the region.
Avoid The Tourist Traps
When speaking of tourist traps we referring to flee market attractions. These attractions have been overhyped and misrepresented online.
They are extremely overcrowded. The items are also overpriced. Did you know, the prices are generally marked up to triple the rate that it would be marked anywhere else?!
As a first-time backpacker, before embarking on your journey, search for other shops to visit for your Southeast Asian experience. You are more than likely to come around to other shops near-by which are free of such scams.
Take Local Transport
Taking local transport across Southeast Asia is generally good value for money compared to public transport in the West. It is often one of the highlights of a trip according to many tourists.
Local transport between neighboring countries is also quite easy. You just need to have the right paperwork and willing to exercise your patience.
Avoid The Taps
Drinking the tap water might not be a wise choice as it is generally not safe to drink.
We suggest you stay safe and buy bottled water instead. Bottled water will prevent you from getting sick and is available everywhere.
The last thing you want is to get ill during your journey!
Keep Your Health In Check
Speaking of health, It can take a while for wounds to heal properly in Southeast Asia. A cut that would heal properly within a week in Europe might still not be closed in Asia after a month.
This is because of tropical flesh-eating bacteria. It actually sounds a lot worse than it is, but we recommend putting some iodine antiseptic such as Betadine. Apply it on all wounds. It will kill the bacteria and allow your wounds to heal fast. If you want to know more about tropical flesh-eating bacteria, check out abc.net.au.
Southeast Asia is, without a doubt, a beautiful region. With these 10 tips, you can be ensured to backpack to Southeast Asia with little hassle. Enjoy your trip and travel safely!