Everything you need to know before tackling Southeast Asia


Before you head off, go to your local GP. They’ll give you the lowdown on which vaccinations you’ll need depending on where you’re going. The most common vaccinations are for hepatitis, typhoid and yellow fever, but it’s also recommended to take antimalarial medicines. If you’re not vaccinated, you risk getting sick, so make sure you’ve got up-to-date travel insurance.

Photo by Tung Minh on Unsplash


Buses are the cheapest option when travelling across SE Asia. They’re cheap, crowded and often unreliable, but if you wanted something more relaxing you would’ve stayed at home, right?

Carry toilet paper and hand sanitiser

There are plenty of toilets across SE Asia, but most of them don’t supply toilet paper. Bring your own, as well as air-drying hand sanitiser, so you’re not caught out. Also, be prepared to squat. Most of the toilets across Asia are squat toilets, meaning you squat over a toilet rather than sit on one. Hey, it’s all part of the experience!

Photo by Tran Phu on Unsplash

Have fun haggling

Haggling is a dark and mysterious art. It’s a sport played by the most adventurous, but it’s a sport that not many win. Across Asia it’s all good for you to haggle your days away, but there are a few rules to take note of. Be polite, start off at half of what the merchant starts with, don’t go over the top and, most importantly, get yourself a bargain.

Don’t get caught by scams

Many tourists travel to SE Asia in search of adventure. With all this excitement and nervous energy, travellers can often get caught up in something I call ‘travel blindness’. Travel blindness is when common sense goes out the window and all inhibition is lost. You’ve gotta be careful, because there are people who prey on those experiencing travel blindness. Across Asia there are plenty of scams to watch out for. If you’re careful and you’ve got some street smarts, you’ll be fine — but watch out for them.

Where to stay

Hostels are going to be the cheapest option across SE Asia. However, sometimes what you see online isn’t what you get — it’s best to contact the hostels directly or to book through a travel agent. If you’re keen to go your own way and plan as you go, talk to other travellers or get some good advice from TripAdvisor.

Photo by Sam Beasley on Unsplash

Don’t rush

This part of the world is particularly chilled out. When a bus says it leaves at 12.30pm, chances are it won’t leave until 1.15ish. Don’t stress, because that’ll only add negativity and bad vibes to your trip. SE Asia is the capital of chill, and the culture is so relaxed. It isn’t because the people are lazy or complacent; it’s simply within their culture to take things easy. Take your time and enjoy the trip.


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Keegan Thomson

Keegan Thomson

Journalist. House sitter. Foodie. Global gallivanter with my wife. Follow our publication — Backpack Gallivants. Email: keeganthomson93@gmail.com