If you are a travel enthusiast, backpacking or traveling across South or Southeast Asia is probably on your bucket list. After all, you would be able to get a glimpse of some of the most beautiful natural sights in the world, eat delicious food, and soak up many different cultures. While such a trip is sure to be quite an experience, it is still best to be prepared for what to expect when you do visit these countries. This globetrotter’s essencial Southeast Asia travel guide will tell you everything you need to know to enjoy your trip.
Know The Right Time to Visit
There are two main points to keep in mind when deciding when you should travel to Asia. The first is the weather. Now, it is best to avoid the monsoon season unless you want to spend most of your time indoors. Depending on where you are going, travel can also be quite limited, as the chances of flooding and landslides increase exponentially during this period. At the same time, keep in mind that during certain times of the year, it can get quite hot and humid as well. So it is best to stick to months where the weather is mild which is mainly from November to February, except for the southernmost countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The second factor to take into consideration is peak season, which tends to coincide with Western holidays like Christmas, summer vacations or the Chinese New Year. This is the time of year when most areas will be absolutely filled with tourists. As you can imagine, this means that you will often find popular sites extremely crowded. Not to mention, the cost of hotels and tickets will also increase dramatically.
Street Food is the Way to Go
There is no denying that countries such as Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka have tons of offerings when it comes to street food. While you might find some unusual street bites in the streets of Vietnam, there are always new and exciting flavors to try around the corner. So, rather than holing up in a restaurant, head outdoors on a culinary adventure. This way, you will get to sample freshly cooked, delicious treats that are as authentic as it gets.
TAKEAWAY: For the most part, these instantly prepared foods tend to be rather safe – especially where there is heat involved. However, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to stay away from peeled fruit and anything else that may look like it has been mixed or washed with tap water.
Be Prepared for Friendly Interactions
It may come as a surprise to you just how friendly locals in Asian countries can be. As a result, you will be treated to smiles from complete strangers on the street. People will also be a lot more willing to share their food with you. Then again, be prepared to be approached often by people who want to take pictures with you. While most of these interactions are usually harmless and in good fun, you should be cautious at the same time. Furthermore, always keep a tight grip on your personal belongings.
Life tends to be a lot more laidback in Asia. So, you will find that most people don’t stick to schedules, especially when it comes to transport and leisure activities. This does take some getting used to, especially if you come from a country where everything follows a timetable. The best thing is to just relax, try not to stress out, and go with the flow.
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South and Southeast Asian countries often boast a blend of various cultures and religions. Now, in many instances, you will not have to change your behavior and dress too much, but it is important to still understand what rules apply. For instance, if you are heading to a more rural area, remember to dress modestly as most people, especially women, don’t show as much skin as they do in the West. The same thing applies to when visiting places of religious importance such as temples. There, both men and women may be expected to cover their legs and most of their arms. In certain instances, you may need to cover your head too. The other thing to keep in mind is that public displays of affection may not go over too well in these regions as well. So, you should be cautious about the way that you behave.
Prep Yourself for the Driving and Traffic
In many Asian countries, driving is practically an extreme sport. So, you may experience a few heart-stopping moments for the first few days. You will often find vehicles swerving across your path or trying to overtake your vehicle at inopportune moments. Even if you are in the passenger seat, you must prepare yourself for this kind of madness. Then, there is the matter of traffic. You will probably experience the worst kind of gridlock in Bangkok, but it doesn’t necessarily get better elsewhere, especially during rush hour. As mentioned above, it is just a matter of being patient and for better or worse, trusting your driver to get you to your destination.
The points mentioned in this Southeast Asia travel guide are some of the things you should keep in mind if you want to travel across this exotic region anytime soon. If you follow our advice, you will be prepared for anything and will have an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience.