Travelling through Southeast Asia is exciting and for many, it’s one to tick off the bucket list. However, it can seem like an entirely different world, so it’s wise to be as prepared as possible before getting on the plane. Preparing yourself mentally and physically for your trip will mean you’ll be able to enjoy it as much as possible. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Expect Jet Lag
Travelling to Southeast Asia will mean you’ll probably suffer from some jet lag. Not only is there a huge time difference, but there’s also a significant temperature and humidity difference. It’s a lot for your body to adapt to in a short amount of time. It can come as a shock to your body and you may not feel on top form for a few days. The key is to remember that jet lag is a possibility and take those first few days to rest. So, don’t go planning any extreme activities for the first three to four days of your trip.
Eat Some Yoghurt
It may sound like idiotic advice but eating some local yoghurt shortly after you arrive could be one of the best things you can do. There’s often no avoiding getting sick when you travel to a location so different from the one you’re used to living in. Your body will have to absorb a lot of things it’s not used to because you’ll be exposed to things that are completely foreign. The local yoghurt can help settle your stomach into this in a healthier way.
Follow the Locals
When it comes to eating out, follow the trail of locals. The busiest restaurants are busy for a reason. The locals will always know the best places to eat, like in toa payoh. The locals are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet, so don’t be afraid to try to engage in conversation and ask for suggestions. If you’re willing to travel off the beaten path, you’ll probably find some hidden treasures outside of the well-known tourist areas.
Don’t Worry About Quality
It can be easy to worry about the quality of the food your served. After all, no-one wants to get sick during their entire trip. If you’re prone to getting sick while trying new foods, it could be wise to avoid street foods. However, restaurant standards are usually quite high, so you don’t need to be as cautious as you may think. You can also drink beverages that have been served with ice. Although it’s wise to consume bottled water while abroad, the ice served is generally purified beforehand.
Beware of Copies
When you’re travelling through Southeast Asia, you aren’t going to pick up a Rolex for a few coins. The genuine article would cost you near enough the same amount as your trip, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re getting a bargain because you’re in a foreign country. If you don’t mind buying copies to take home to family and friends, make sure you do some bartering and get yourself a good deal. But, never be fooled by the stories the salesmen will try to tell you.
There’s No Such Thing as a Refund
Life in Asia is fast. So fast, your money will be gone in the blink of an eye. Be sure you want to make a purchase before holding your money out. Once your cash leaves your hands, there’ll be no returning it. If you want to buy from local markets or stores, keep your cash safe in your wallet and your wallet safe in a bag close to you. Don’t bring out your wallet until you’re ready to buy an item and have already agreed on a price.
Sudden Deafness is a Thing
If a little old lady or sweet young boy approaches you to buy something and you decide you want to, make sure you give the exact money. These sellers are fantastic at developing sudden deafness if you want to chase them for change. So, handing over a fifty bill for something that cost five could mean you unintentionally lose forty-five for your troubles. Street sellers can be highly manipulative and tend to prey on traveller’s good will.
Do your research before jumping into local transport. Knowing how much a taxi or tuk-tuk will cost is half the battle when you’re trying to get around. Getting in a taxi without first agreeing to a price could see you bankrupt when it’s time to get out, even if you only travelled a few minutes down the road. What a taxi driver charges as 200 could drop to 50 if you know what the trip is worth and not to be manipulated by this kind of public transport.
Arguing Will Get You Nowhere
If you find yourself in a sticky situation, try not to escalate it. The culture of Asians will allow you to diffuse a situation more successfully by creating a joke and smiling, instead of getting irate. Arguing isn’t the way to get what you want when travelling in Southeast Asia. If there’s something that can’t be resolved and it’s important it is, report the situation to your hotel staff or the local authority.
Get Your Shots
You’ll need to go for a few vaccinations before travelling to Asia, at least six weeks before your travel date. However, there are still some things you can pick up that you won’t be vaccinated for. Mosquitos are notorious for carrying hundreds of different diseases, so you’ll need to take a DEET-based mosquito repellant and make sure you sleep surrounded by a mosquito net at night. If you find that the mosquitos are particularly attracted to you, ask the locals for their advice on keeping them at bay.
When you’re on vacation you want to let your guard down and relax. However, it’s important to keep your wits about you and remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.