Travelers flock to Southeast Asia, one of the hottest destinations of 2017, en masse year after year, seeking to escape and explore a part of the world that remains as untamed, exciting and beautiful as ever. However, there’s a few things to bear in mind before heading out there – here are just six tips to ensure you have the Asian adventure of a lifetime.
Expect to haggle
When travelling in Southeast Asia, one of the things you’ll find yourself doing the most is haggling. Vendors often hike their prices up if they can tell you’re a tourist, but be confident and approach them with kindness to try and negotiate the costs down to a sensible amount.
Don’t be afraid to try your hand at haggling – many if not all vendors will expect you to try and negotiate. So long as you’re calm and respectful, you’ll find yourself walking away with more money in your pocket than if you’d have accepted the original price.
Watch your belongings
Avoid being the tourist who winds up losing everything, especially when your jetlag is bad. Certain areas in Southeast Asia are renowned for theft, especially the act of “bag-snatching” – watch out for the suspicious looking people on bikes, as they may ride past and grab your bag from you when you least expect it.
And if you manage to lose your things after neglecting to look after them, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to claim for them. TINZ details how if you’re generally not careful with your belongings and they wind up missing, you’re unlikely to be covered for it.
Respect the culture
Although locals won’t expect you to know the ins and outs of their cultural practices, it’s important to respect them and try to adapt your behavior as such. In Thailand, for example, expect to stand still and pay respect to the national anthem twice a day when in public.
In fact, Thailand is perhaps the country you’ll find has the most prominent cultural values. Greet locals with a wai – putting your hands together in the form of a prayer – in order to avoid any uncomfortable interactions.
Tuck into local delicacies
Don’t be afraid to try some of the most popular local dishes – after all, they’re an easy way to immerse yourself in the culture of certain countries. Make sure you try a traditional bowl of pho when in Vietnam, the noodle broth being perhaps the most popular meal in the country with locals and tourists alike.
Southeast Asia boasts some of the strangest dishes in the world, too. Fried bat is a dish that you’ll find throughout the region, as is durian – known by some as the King of Fruits, others compare its scent to that of rotting garbage. We dare you to try a piece if you’re brave enough!
If you don’t want to be ripped off, don’t get into a taxi. Many drivers have tricks that will leave you out of pocket if you’re not careful. Look for a meter in the front of the vehicle so that prices aren’t made up out of thin air, and be stern with the driver about where you’re going and how you want to get there.
Haggling with drivers is common practice in some areas, but to avoid any form of confrontation or potential conflict, opt for different methods of travel. Buses are a safe bet, as is walking – and with the latter, you may quite literally stumble upon somewhere new along the way.
Interact with the locals
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to strike up conversation with locals when in Southeast Asia. They’re often friendly, accommodating and eager to hear about your travels – locals even sometimes offer a place to stay if you’re on a tight budget. So long as they’re trustworthy and you feel comfortable, it’s the perfect way to experience an authentic slice of culture.
Southeast Asia is arguably the most exciting and rewarding part of the world for any budding traveller to explore. So long as you’re safe, sensible and following the tips above, you’re sure to have an adventure like no other.
Do you have any tips of your own? Be sure to share them below!