Doing Southeast Asia Right as a Backpacker

Southeast Asia is a wonderful place for backpackers and it should be no surprise that is becoming one of the most popular. Anyone thinking of travelling anywhere for any length of time needs to do some investigating first about the area they are about to backpack round. Being prepared is part of the secret for a successful trip, and you should be ready for any eventuality. Then you can backpack without stressing over little things, because the big thing that matter, you will have taken care of.

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Don’t Pack Too Much

It is very easy to pack too much but you should remember you have to carry it wherever you go. Generally, about one week’s clothes plus your travel essentials is enough and that should fit in a carry on bag and save you any additional airline baggage allowance fees on your flight.

Do not try to carry sleeping bags, pillows or mosquito nets. They are extras you will probably not need. The lighter your bag is the easier it is to carry and the fewer things you have to lose.

You should include a hoodie and a pair of trousers though. The climate of Southeast Asia is very hot and humid, but it can change very quickly. If you go trekking in the mountains, hill stations or to any heavily air-conditioned environments, you will need warmer clothes.

Including a rain jacket is also a good idea, as torrential rain can appear out of nowhere, The rainy season is at different times in different parts of the are, and you can avoid a lot of it by moving to somewhere else.




Hostels are cheap and fun, with most of them being calm and welcoming. There are some, particularly in Thailand that have a party atmosphere though and these offer a welcome change for backpackers.

Guesthouses, hotels and B&B’s all provide good value for money, but if you are going to be somewhere for a while, why not treat yourself and rent an apartment, like this setia alam property once in a while. This can make you feel much more part of the local community, and have none of the restrictions of the other places such as times for meals, or locking doors.

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Be Flexible

It’s good to have a general plan, but don’t spoil your trip by sticking to it rigidly. If you really like a place and want to spend longer there, then you should. Likewise, if you are not too keen on a particular spot, you should be able to move on sooner than planned. Flexibility is important for you to maximise the experience of backpacking in Southeast Asia. This can mean you have to find somewhere to stay when you just turn up in a place earlier than you expected, but this is not normally a problem and you will most time find a place to sleep.

You can barter the price, and this is exactly what you should do. When you book online you do not have this option. But standing face to face with a hotel receptionist or guesthouse owner, it is much easier to do and is almost expected.


Put Your Smartphone Away

Backpacking is a great opportunity to break the habit of constantly being on your phone. You will miss so much if you do not put it away. SIM cards with cheap Internet data are widely available and you can keep your phone in your bag in case you need it. Experience you trip offline and you will enjoy it so much more. It can be a really fun experience finding things out as you go, rather than just looking everything up on Google or something similar.

It is a chance to leave everyday concerns behind, and to make the most of the wonderful places you are exploring.


Getting Around

Public transport can be a nightmare, although it will get you to most places you want to go. Buses have a timetable to run to, but very rarely stick to them. They will move on when they are full, even if that is an hour later than scheduled.

Trains are more likely to run on time, but you will be very lucky to find a seat and may have to stand for your whole journey. Tuk-tuks and taxis are plentiful, but you should agree the fare to your destination before getting in. Their meters go up very quickly and they do not always take the shortest route, Pay a set amount for the best service in these.

Another option that is very popular with travellers is to hire a scooter. They are usually about £5 a day and give you the freedom to get off the beaten track at your own pace. Just be aware that in the cities traffic can get a bit chaotic, and scooter accidents are the thing that is most likely to be the cause of a traveller being injured. The roads are not to the standards of the ones in the UK, so you should ride at slower speeds to be safe.


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Street Food

Southeast Asia is famous for its street food, and it is a delight not to be missed.  Generally, it is fried and very safe to eat, but if you are uncertain, watch them vendor cook it. You have to remember that the locals eat street food all the time because it is very tasty and cheap. There are not hundreds of them ill because of it, and you should be perfectly safe too. In fact, walking around one of the night markets, that most big cities have, with a dish of street food can be a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend an hour or two.

Asian food, whether you buy it in the streets or in a restaurant is a great way to cut your food bills. Things like hamburgers and pizza are there to buy, but they are expensive in comparison. They can also seem pretty tasteless after the delicious Asian food.


Don’t Drink Tap Water

There are some places you will visit where the tap water is unsafe to drink, so better to be safe than sorry, do not drink tap water wherever you are. Bottled water is available without a problem; just make sure the bottles you buy are sealed before drinking from them. You need to be careful with fruit juices as well, as some traders mix these with tap water.


Insect Repellents Are Vital

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Insect repellents are vital to ward off any onslaught of mosquitos. Some of them carry malaria, so you do not want to be bitten by them It is not a bad idea to have some antiseptic cream in your bag as well. If you get a minor cut or graze, it can take a lot longer to heal without it.


Be Aware Of Local Traditions


You should be aware of the local traditions wherever you are in Southeast Asia. If you do something wrong you could deeply offend the locals, who are actually some of the friendliest people on the planet. But they would be upset if you did not remove your shoes before entering their temple and if your knees and shoulders are not covered within its religious confines. Local traditions mean a lot, and you should make the effort to find out what they are and abide by them.


If you decide to go backpacking in Southeast Asia you could have the experience of a lifetime, if you do it right. You will learn so many new things and meet some amazing people on your travel. Discover the places away from the main holiday resorts to experience the true culture of the area, and that is something you will not regret.


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