Backpacking in South East Asia for Beginners
Tips to help you out
So, you’re planning to head off on that well-trodden backpacking trail, taking you from perhaps Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, passing through misty mountains, stunning rainforests, beautiful temples, and meeting endless friendly faces and wildlife along the way? Lucky you!
Despite this amazing adventure you’re about to embark on, you could be forgiven for perhaps being a little apprehensive and wondering where to start with the whole thing. You wouldn’t be the first, and you wouldn’t be the last, so there are plenty of hints and tips out there to help you get on the backpacking road.
Here’s a few you should take notice of.
- Research your route – You might think that flying by the seat of your pants is a spontaneous and fun thing to do, but this is what pulls people into problems. I’m not suggesting you mark it all down in ink and stick to it, but at least have a rough idea where you’re going, in what order. Of course you can change it as you go, but a rough guide will always help you.
- Think when to go – November to April are the busiest months, but that is also because the weather is the best. This is when it’s not too hot, not too rainy, and perfect for getting around.
- Time your visit for events – If you want to head to the legendary Full Moon Party in Thailand, or another event that takes place at a certain time, make sure you research accordingly and time your visit to coincide, so you’re not missing out.
- Budget – Accommodation and food are cheap in this part of the world, but you need to make sure you spread your money out evenly, so you’re not rich at the beginning, and extremely poor at the end.
- Eat like a local – Stick to street food and local delicacies and you’ll find your money goes further. If you head to restaurants aimed at tourists, and eat the food you eat at home, then you’ll find inflated prices, and you’ll run short of cash.
- Pack wisely – The term ‘backpacking’ should give you a clue, because everything you bring you have to carry. Pack lightly and give it plenty of mix and match thought before you leave.
- Leave the valuables at home – This is a safety and security issue, so don’t carry major valuables, don’t keep too much cash on you, and don’t go around waving your brand new iPhone in public.
- Get backpackers’ insurance – Don’t go booking ordinary travel insurance, as you might find that you won’t be covered in the event of a claim. Some polices have restrictions on how many borders you can cross, how many countries you can visit, and how long you can go away for – specialist backpacking insurance was designed for a reason.
- Research your visa requirements – Backpacking means crossing many borders, which may pull visa requirements into the fray. Check what you need for each country you’re planning on visiting in good time, and do the necessary.
- Health matters – Check with your doctor if you need any specialist immunisations for your travels, and anti-malaria medication. Also make sure that your regular immunisations, such as tetanus and polio, are up to date. It’s not worth taking the risk to go without.
All that’s left to say? Enjoy your adventure!