Many Asian countries have recently become the perfect destination for those travelers who look for an unforgettable trip.
From the wonderful beaches located on Thai islands, to temples in Cambodia and Burma; and culture and crowded cities in Vietnam.
In order for you to make the most of your first experience with Asia, we provide 8 tips for first time travelers to the continent.
8 Tips For First Time Travelers to Asia
Leave your prejudices at home
Since south-east Asia is a favourite destination, you may have heard thousands of pieces of advice from different traveler friends who have been there already.
It’s great to be guided, but don’t travel with preconceived ideas or expectations. Make your own conclusions once you’re at your destination. This way you’ll be able to enjoy your personal trip avoiding being disappointed because you’ve imagined it in a different way or it really wasn’t like what you’ve heard. Travel with an open mind!
Check Your Vaccination Plan and Visas
Documents and preparations are surely important when traveling to some Asian country. Unfortunately, there are visas and borders that complicate the entrance, so we have to adapt ourselves and be cautious. Get informed about which vaccines are mandatory to visit certain countries and your visas are up-to-date. Some of them might be previously requested from the origin country.
Enjoy Authentic Gastronomy
Leave fast food and restaurants offering “western menu” and go deep into the country’s culture enjoying their street gastronomy with economical prices and really special flavours. Taste lots of traditional dishes and fall in love with their cuisine.
Again, travel with an open mind and be ready to try out different dishes.
Respect Local Culture
Asian south-east is an area of contrasts with a wide range of religions and a culture really different from what we’re used to in The West. Being respectful is a part of the experience. Go into the temples according to their rules, cover your head up with fabric if required, don’t practice top-less nor nudism and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at your city; it could be an unnecessary lack of respect easily avoidable if we act according to common sense canons.
Learn to Haggle (and Enjoy the Experience)
Haggling is a part of the trip in these destinations. Don’t take offence and join the game with a smile on your face and be patient. If you learn to do it properly you will enjoy the experience and you’ll want to haggle prices even back in your country.
Be aware that the starting price is over double the fair amount. Therefore, the ideal haggle is paying half the initial price so you both win with the operation. It’s extremely important to shop with patience and without any rush because the agreement process is not a quick issue.
Don’t Believe All You Hear
Although many people come to you trying to help, most of the time they’ll want something in exchange because that’s what they do to live. They’ll say they will take you somewhere for free; or they’ll guide you to a shop that belongs to their uncle/brother/brother-in-law in order for you to buy something there; or they’ll tell you your Hostel is closed because they run another lodging and they want you to stay there
Always distrust, but don’t let that spoil your trip. Just use your common sense and enjoy the experience.
Don’t Make Closed Plans
It’s great trying to enjoy your trip to the most, but we often want to go extremely fast and we don’t enjoy a wonderful “lassi” in a bar with breath-taking views, or a fascinating sunset with a beer, because we have to check the next point off our checklist.
If you like some place, stay there, enjoy it.
Don’t be Obsessive About Your Particular Checklist
Closely related to the previous point, it’s good having an idea about your trip and about what you want to do or you’ve been told to do in the destination: riding an elephant, scuba diving with PADI course included, trekking through dense jungles, boat travels…
For sure, all these experiences are incredible. But don’t feel forced to do something you don’t really want to just because it “has to be done”. Feel free, do whatever you want to do and travel for your amusement. You’ll enjoy your travel through Asia much more