Currently planning a trip through southeast Asia? That is so exciting – and we are happy to help! Being Australian pretty much guarantees we have been to SEA at least once (or in our case over six times) and we have learnt a thing or two every time we visit.
Here are a bunch of tips and travel hacks to prepare for a fun and hassle free trip around South East Asia!
1. Check visa requirements
Luckily southeast Asia is as easy as it gets when it comes to getting visas. There are only a few you have to get ahead of time and most of them can be processed in 5 days or less. We suggest checking on the embassy website of the countries you will be visiting just to make sure you are prepared for any documentation and/or costs that may come with getting a visa.
2. Respect their culture
There are many different kinds of practices in each country and while you’re there, it’s always a good idea to try to learn these customs to show that you respect their culture. In turn, they’ll be more open to showing you their way of life.
3. Drink bottled water
Drinking tap water or having ice in beverages is not always a good idea when you are travelling through south east Asia. Getting sick from the water is super painful and can be such a damper on a once in a lifetime trip. Our advice is to not risk it and always drink bottled water. We even brush our teeth with bottled water for extra security.
4. Learn a few local phrases
I think this is a useful thing to do in any foreign country you visit. Being able to say hello, goodbye and thank you in the local language really means a lot to the local people.
5. Get used to haggling
If you don’t haggle you will overpay for everything. We suggest starting low, and you can usually tell by the way they react if you’ve gone too low. If you don’t want to go any higher then just walk away, they will most of the time give in an accept your offer as long as you are being reasonable.
6. Research taxi fares before you arrive
We found that a big scam in southeast Asia is with taxi’s ripping people off. We suggest having a google before you arrive and read up on how much a taxi should cost before you jump into any cab. We also suggest to agree on a taxi price before you go in, this is the same for tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, tricycles, etc.
7. Pack a scarf
This is essential when visiting temples. It’s too hot to always be covered, but you’ll need your shoulders, chest, and knees to be covered when visiting temples, so carry around a scarf to easily cover up when needed.
8. Don’t be afraid of street food
Some of the best food we have had during our southeast Asia travels has been the street food. If you are a little nervous why not stick to vegetarian options as that will lower your risk of getting food poisoning. We have spent months here in SEA and haven’t fallen ill once from the food*knock on wood*. Another quick tip, eat where the locals eat – the more people at a restaurant or food stall the better. People don’t eat where they’ve gotten sick before!
9. Be prepared for the squatty potty
Most hostels and hotels will have western toilets, however when you are out and about be prepared for the squat toilets. They also never seem to have toilet paper, and rather a bum gun – so be prepared!
10. Don’t expect normal safety standards
Everyone has those “OMG I am going to die” moments while travelling through SE Asia. They drive a little too fast, go a little too close to the edge & seem to never wear life jackets on boats – sometimes you’ve just have to hold your breath and hope for the best.
11. Visit as many temples as possible
When travelling through southeast Asia you can never visit too many temples. All are unique and special in their own way, so make sure you explore as many as you can.
12. Travel by plane
Traffic in southeast Asia is terrible, and unless you are getting a sleeper bus, travelling can be really uncomfortable and tiring. Shuttle buses are normally packed to with brim people and their luggage, and the driving is insane (be prepared for a lot of honking). We think it is way better to cover longer distances by plane.
13. Don’t forget to pack mosquito repellent, sunscreen, toilet paper & hand sanitiser
These are the 4 things that will come in handy during a trip through southeast Asia – trust us!
14. Go with the flow
Learn to go with the flow and just say yes – people are much more laid back in Asia. Don’t get caught up with things being late or with schedules. Just expect things as they are or you won’t enjoy your trip as much as you should be.
We are currently travelling through southeast Asia over the next few months. Go subscribe to our YouTube channel for oodles of travel tips & advice.
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