Travelling around South East Asia can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time there. But fear not, we’ve got all the info you need to know. From essential transport info to when to go, these are the South East Asia travel tips that will make your trip a whole lot easier.
Tips For First Time Travellers in South East Asia
1. Don’t Try to See Absolutely Everything
Whether you’re travelling around for three weeks or three months, our top tip is to not try and squeeze in too much. Do you really want to be rushing around from bus to plane to train just to tick off a few more destinations? You will have a much more enjoyable (and authentic) experience if you stick to less places but get to know them better.
2. Buy a Local Sim Card for Each Country
Take advantage of the SIM card stalls you see at the airport and buy one so that you have 3g data. It should only cost about US$10. You’ll avoid any costly roaming fees and having to hunt down WiFi passwords everywhere you go.
3. You Can Still Enjoy Great Weather During ‘Rainy Season’
South East Asia’s rainy season is mostly around May/June to October, and most people think that it’s raining all the time during the monsoon season. While it can rain a lot, mostly it’s just one heavy downpour a day for an hour or two and then it’s back to clear blue skies and sunshine.
Hotels and flights are often much cheaper in rainy season too, so you’ll save money.
4. Download the Grab App to Your Phone
The Asian version of Uber, Grab is the easiest way to book a car taxi or motorbike taxi. Wherever you are, simple go onto to the app and input your location. It’s cheaper than a private taxi that you would hail on the street and you can also pay via your credit or debit card.
This is easily one of the best South East Asia travel tips you need to know!
5. Bring Snacks and Entertainment for Long Journeys
You can buy some snacks on longer train journeys, but it’s mostly just instant noodles. If you’re going to be taking a long journey we suggest bringing your own food and snacks. While some newer trains do have WiFi, this is still rare. So load up on those podcasts and bring a book.
6. Respect Local Customs and Buddhist Culture
In general, this is a Buddhist area, so the people are modest and gentle people. Remember this wherever you go and dress appropriately if entering a temple. Don’t get angry or raise your voice, as this won’t solve anything – just making any issues potentially a lot worse.
7. Avoid Animal Tourism & Book Eco-Tourism Activities
When looking for things to do in South East Asia, focus on community-run tours and companies that directly support locals in the area and promote sustainable travel. You might see tours that bring you to tiger farms, monkey photo ops and elephant trekking, but the animals are exploited and it’s harmful.
Do your research, especially with elephant “sanctuaries” – make sure the money raised is directly helping rehabilitation efforts and there is zero elephant rides.