With food to die for, a rich and varied culture, budget friendly accommodation, and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches it is easy to understand why millions of travellers visit Southeast Asia each year. And with almost 30 million visitors to Thailand in 2015 alone, travel in the region couldn’t be easier.
1. Notify your bank before you travel
Though a traveller’s heaven, Southeast Asia is a hot bed for credit card fraud and many banks will automatically block your credit and debit cards is they suspect suspicious activity. The last thing you want is to be stuck without access to your money. Contact your bank before you depart to ensure they are aware of where and when you’ll be travelling. While you are speak with them, aks for the best phone number should you need to contact them while you are away.
2. Pack a scarf
Question: When is a scarf more than a scarf? Answer: When travelling. Not only will a scarf dress up a casual outfit, it can be used a blanket when flying, a makeshift pillow, and a sarong at the beach. If it starts to rain, scarfs make a fantastic umbrella and when visiting temples a scarf will provide necessary modesty covering your legs or shoulders. Don’t own a suitable scarf? That’s okay, pick one up for only a $2 on your travels.
3. Multiple business cards for your accomodation - give to drivers
When checking into your accommodation, ask for some business cards which include their address. It’s great to hand to drivers who don’t speak the same language or don’t know the location of your hotel. Plus, because the business card will also have the phone number of the accommodation if you do get lost you know who to call to find your way back.
4. Scan your documents - keep them on your phone/email
Scan your passport, visas, tickets, and itinerary. Email a copy to a trusted friend or family member, save a copy for yourself on google drive, and print a copy to keep in your hand luggage. You never know what will happen, and if you have your bag stolen you’ll be able to access a copy of your ID and itinerary.
5. Pack light
Generally speaking South East Asia is hot, humid and depending on the time of year, prone to rain. Pack light, loose, cotton clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You won’t need to pack much as it’s cheap and easy to find a laundry service on the road. It’s best to to underpack than overpack, as you’ll be able to purchase clothes if needed.
Clothing aside, it’s important to bring any medication you need but toiletries like shampoo, conditioner and body wash can be purchased easily in Southeast Asia.
6. Find the local supermarket and buy snacks
Not only will buying snacks and drinks at your local supermarket save you money, but chances are you’ll discover a new favorite snack.
7. Ask your hotel for the airport transfer
Airport transfers might cost you more then a taxi would to your accommodation, but it is well worth the investment. You will be greeted at the airport by your hotel’s driver who will ensure you reach your destination quickly without having to barter the price of the fare or getting lost. On the drive, ask your driver the best place to exchange money and if there is anything they recommend you do while on holidays.
8. Eat local food - it’s cheaper
Eating local food is not only cheaper, it is delicious and easier to come by then lasagna or a burger. Not sure where to eat? Ask someone at your accommodation for a recommendation or look for a venue popular with locals. Or, better yet, ask one of your fellow travelers. Not only will they give you the name of a great restaurant they will likely give you a list of other places to eat at and things to do.
9. Travel insurance
Don’t think you need travel insurance? That’s okay, I’m sure you have a spare $50,000 if you are injured in a car accident. Oh, you don’t have a spare $50,000? Then you need travel insurance.
Travel insurance is there for you when your luggage is lost, your dad gets sicks and you need to fly home, you get food poisoning, and your laptop is stolen; it is the one thing you can’t afford to travel without.
10. Go with the flow
Tours, whether it is a tour of markets, snorkeling or hiking a mountain, are easy to come by. Not only that, but because they often don’t sell out you’ll pay less then you would have if you had booked ahead and you may even be able to barter the price especially if you are part of a group or there is a lot of competition.
When it comes to accommodation it is wise to book if you’re only travelling for a couple of weeks and won’t be moving around, but if you are planning on travelling for more than six weeks book while you’re on the road. Not only will it be cheaper, but you’ll be able to inspect your accommodation before you book . Just make sure you have a couple of nights booked for when you first arrive as immigration may require an address for your visit.