Monday, August 3, 2015

Tips for Backpacking Across Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is known to be one of the most exhilarating, vibrant and complex areas in the world. Southeast Asian countries include Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. Serene beaches, high mountains, lengthy rice paddies. These are usually the things that come into mind whenever you mention Southeast Asia. If you are looking for an adventurous journey filled with marvelous views of nature, Southeast Asia is the top backpacking destination for you. To truly enjoy your time backpacking around this region, here are a few tips:

List down your start point and end point: Estimate your number of days per country so you can decide which tourist spots to go to. You can choose to start from Myanmar-Thailand-Vietnam-Cambodia-Malaysia-Singapore-Indonesia-Philippines or the other way around. Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are neighboring countries and you can reach each destination by bus or ferry.

Prepare your budget: Southeast Asia can be very cheap. There are a lot of budget accommodations such as hostels and guesthouses and the typical cost per night can be around $10-$20. Cleanliness of the hostel is not definite and you would probably have to share the room with someone else. As for food, hawker centers are common around Southeast Asia. Expect to find delicious food from $1-$3. Airfare and transportation included, a budget of $3000-$4000 would be ideal.

Immerse with the locals: The best way to experience a country is through immersing yourself with the locals. With an estimate number of 600 million people in Southeast Asia, not everyone you meet will be nice. Expect to get ripped off at least once in your whole journey. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole country is filled with bad people, in fact, there are locals who can help you find the cheapest deals and most exciting adventures. You just have to be alert and not too trusting. Southeast Asia is filled with diverse cultures and different religions; you also need to be respectful of their beliefs. 

Relax and be adventurous: The whole point of backpacking is to relax and have fun. Do not be afraid to take risks. Look out for activities like bungee-jumping, spelunking, whitewater rafting and so on. Each country you go to has something unique to offer. Bangkok is known for cheap shopping deals and happening nightspots. Singapore is good for sight-seeing, theme parks, and food trips. Philippine beaches are famous around the world for its exotic beaches. Cambodia is popular for the Angkor Wat. The rich war history for Vietnam is a thrilling adventure to explore. The view from Indonesia’s Mount Bromo is a sight to behold. A local guide and a travel book would be of great help if you want to veer away from the usual tourist spots and explore the lesser known areas.

Pack the basic necessities and budget-friendly options: The point of backpacking is to pack as less as possible. A heavy luggage is not applicable when you have to transit between two countries on a run-down bus. Most bus journeys would take up around 4-5 hours. It is best to pack light clothes since the weather in Southeast Asia is mostly tropical. When you are hiking on a mountain in Indonesia, a best value backpacking stove is a good option to save on food, for selecting a backpacking stove you can see the propane backpacking stove reviews. At the same time, it needs to be portable and easy to use.

Bring an easy and light camera: The weight of an SLR matters especially when you are backpacking. It is best to use a camera that’s easy to carry around and can also withstand different weather and environment changes. If you can leave the heavy SLR at home and bring a more portable one instead, it will save you from the hassle.

Do not be grumpy pants and inject spontaneity to your adventure: There are a lot of mishaps you can encounter when backpacking. You can get food poisoning, miss out on your bus, get injured while hiking. If things don’t go your way, it is best to just laugh it off and continue on to your next journey. The point of backpacking is the experience as a whole and the little details will eventually not matter.