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5 top Tips for backpacking around SE Asia

  • 28
  • 09
  • 2016

So you’re thinking of backpacking around one of the most glorious places on earth – SE Asia. With such a rich abundance of stunning locations including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, and  Malaysia, to name but a few, it’s no wonder this part of the globe is such a hit with travelers.

Before setting off on your trip take into account some of the following tips to make your journey easier.

Pack light and don’t pre-book

You may have a huge backpack prepared for your travels around SE Asia, but be prepared to take fewer items than you thought – pack light! You will be able to get anything you need in Asia which you may have left at home, so don’t panic. In addition, it will most likely be cheaper. Leave at home the thick bedding and towels, as these things will be provided at your accommodation.

Backpackers SE Asia

Photo credit: Shutterstock

When it comes to accommodation, SE Asia couldn’t be easier. There’s no need to trawl through pages of hotels and hostels online before you travel. You will meet other backpackers and find much better deals and choices once you are there. One of the biggest regrets of backpackers is pre-booking accommodation. Remember, when you pre-book, you’re only seeing photos that are often glamorized to look better than the real thing.

Transportation is easy

Another thing not to panic about before your arrival is getting around the area. There are extensive bus and train routes throughout Asia. They don’t need pre-booking. Public transport is cheap. Regional airline tickets are even cheaper if you buy them once you’re in the area.

If you feel as though it’s all a little overwhelming, you can, of course, opt to use one of the many agencies that are available in pretty much any SE Asian city. They advertise in English and are easy to spot. They can swiftly arrange your transfer from point A to B in no time, meaning there’s no worrying left for you!

Tourist buses SE Asia

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Invest in a tablet

Leave the bulky laptops at home and invest in a nice little portable tablet. It’ll be perfect when you’re on the move and won’t weigh as much or take up as much space as a laptop. A tablet will allow you to keep up to date with all of your engagements, events, social media. In addition, it will give you the means to research your travels while you are actually traveling.

Don’t worry about wifi. You can take advantage of the ubiquitous cafés and bars which often offer free wifi.


Asians love to bargain. It’s part of their heritage, and you are always expected to bargain when purchasing just about anything. You’ll know right away when you shouldn’t bargain because prices will be listed on everything.

Go for the best price you’re willing to pay and don’t be shy about offering much less than what the seller asked for. It’s customary to do so. If you don’t bargain, you run the risk of being overcharged and severely ripped off, so don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Be prepared to walk away. Don’t worry. The seller will call you back if  a deal can be struck.

Be aware of dress etiquette and respect it

Temple SE Asia

When traveling to SE Asia, please be aware of local dress etiquette so that you don’t offend locals. You may see other tourists in shorts and tank tops, but that kind of dress (or undress) can be considered unrespectful in some cultures. So do a little research about the country you’ll be visiting. Remove your shoes when entering temples and cover your knees and shoulders. Use your judgements and instincts and use your tablet to read up about local and cultural customs.

Remove your shoes when entering temples and cover your knees and shoulders. Use your judgment and instinct and use your tablet to read up about local cultural customs.


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