When traveling to southeast Asia, there are a few tips that you should know, that will help you prepare and ensure a smoother journey:
1. Always have USD – If you ever run out of the local currency, USD is likely to be accepted. Most borders require that you pay for your entry visa in USD as well. Get some in your home country and bring it with you. Remember that some countries (like Cambodia) also dispense USD, as well as the local currency.
2. WiFi is almost everywhere – Free WiFi is honestly way easier to come by than expected, and for the most part it is decent. However, SIM cards are super cheap so you’re not breaking the bank buying them. And if you’re worried about getting lost, download Maps.me, an app that doesn’t need an internet connection to access mapping tools!
3. Don’t be afraid of street food – Asia is the home of the world’s tastiest cuisines, and the really good news is that the cheapest is often the best. There are so many markets and roadside hawker’s – unbeatable places to try the many local specialties. Night markets are great for tasting different dishes at extremely low prices – sizzling woks full of frying noodles, swirling clouds of spice-infused smoke and rows of glistening fried insects all make for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
4. Agree on a taxi price before you get in – Never get into a tuk-tuk, taxi, motorbike, tricycle or songthaew without agreeing on a price (or starting the meter in the case of a taxi). When possible, ask a local first how much the fare should be, so you know if you’re being overcharged. If you don’t you’ll suddenly be expected to pay a ridiculous amount.
5. Have at least 6 months validity on your passport – Most countries require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport. Otherwise they can deny you entry. The same goes for having blank pages. Have a minimum of two blank pages when entering a country.
6. Always have toilet paper – Just when you really need it, there is never any around! So, stock up and carry toilet paper or tissue paper wherever you go. Besides being necessary in public bathrooms, it can also substitute for a napkin, something that is often not supplied in restaurants.
7. Watch out for snatchers – For ladies it’s recommended to carry a bag that you wear across your body. And don’t forget to hold onto your phones and cameras tight! Snatchers are usually people on scooters who will grab your bag or whatever is in your hand quickly while you’re out walking, in a tuk-tuk or on a bike.
8. Bring sunscreen from home – It is ridiculously expensive in SE Asia. It’s one of the few things that’s worth using the extra space in your bag for.
9. Pack a scarf to easily cover up – 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.
10. Pack appropriate clothes– Please respect the locals and don’t only pack skinny tanks, short shorts, and crop tops. It’s fine to wear shorts and tanks whilst at the pool or beach, but this is not your home, so dress according to their standards when visiting cultural sites, palaces, government buildings and places of worship.