Backpacking in Asia is a crazy adventure. You’ve seen your friends on Instagram boasting on the beaches of Thailand, so now you want to follow in their footsteps, but what is it really like to wear a backpack whilst walking in is 30 degrees heat? What do you do when you’re all alone and half way across the world? Do you think you could handle it? If you’re thinking about backpacking in Asia here are the ten things you should know before you go.
1. Independence is key
If you’re thinking about backing then you’ll have to learn to be independent. Travelling can be dangerous, especially if you’re doing it solo. Asia is renowned for its backpacker friendly atmosphere, but you still need to be careful. You are nobody’s responsibility, so you have to learn to take care of yourself. You may make friends along the way, but these friendships will never be long-lasting. Unless you are very lucky and happen to find a friend who actually lives near you home town. Being independent means you are less likely to become emotionally attached.
2. You will probably get sick
There’s no doubt about it, if you’re visiting Asia you’re going to experience a funny tummy. Of course if you stay away from local food and drink you should be ok, but where’s the fun in that? Part of the experience is getting involved in the culture and trying different delicacies. I’m not saying you’ll have to chow down on a tarantula, but everybody should taste Asian street food. Grab yourself a Pad Thai or Bah Minh on the streets of Vietnam. It might take time for your body to get used to your change in diet, but trust me, it’ll be worth it!
3. You may be ripped off
It’s easy to get ripped off when travelling in Asia. Of course if you are travelling from the U.K everything’s seems extremely cheaper, this makes it difficult to notice when you’re being overcharged. For example you may pay 1000 baht for a meal in Thailand and think this is reasonable, but in reality paying the equivalent of £20 for a meal in Asia is extortionate! Always check price lists and be careful when using taxis. Taxi drivers in certain parts of Asia may overcharge you, they often forget to turn on the meter, just politely remind them. It’s also easy to confuse certain cash notes. For example 100 baht can be confused with 1000 baht. Always make sure to count out your money correctly.
4. It will be dirty
When packing for Asia leave your best clothes at home. This side of the world just isn’t as clean as the U.K. You’ll find yourself walking through dusty roads or riding in the back of a rusty tuck tuck, but don’t let this put you off! Asia is a spectacular continent, it’s worth ruining a few t-shirts.
5. Be careful on the road
Crossing the road is Asia is definitely different to how we do it in the U.K. You won’t see many sets of traffic lights, especially in Vietnam. You have to be very vigilant, cars will not stop for you they will go around you, walk carefully. If you do decide to take a taxi be careful that it’s not just a regular car, take down a registration and check that they have a badge, send your location and this information to a friend, you can never be too careful when you are on your own!
6. You won’t get much sleep
If you’re backpacking you’ll most likely be staying at hostels. If you’re sleeping in a dorm room, expect little or no sleep. If you’re a party animal, this probably won’t phase you. However if this bothers you there’s no stopping yourself from getting a private room. Hostel world have some amazing deals, you can a private rooms for as little as £6. This is definitely something to keep in mind while backpacking in Asia.
7. Don’t use your phone in the street
When backpacking its inevitable that you will get lost at some point, I mean isn’t that the whole point of exploring? Sometimes when were lost we turn to Google maps on our phone, but this isn’t a great idea. Standing in the middle of a busy street staring at your phone screen is asking for trouble. You are immediately vulnerable because you are not being aware of your surroundings. If you are a solo traveller and you look lost somebody may take advantage of that. It’s also quite common in Asia for people to steal your phone, they often drive past on scooters and snatch it from your hand, be careful.
8. Beware of overpriced tours
What you will often find in Asia is you will pay for a tour then later found out somebody else got the same tour for a better price. Quite often hostels will overprice tours, you may be best to book independently or speak to a few people and shop around before you agree a price. This is definitely something you need to watch out for while backpacking in Asia.
9. Don’t forget your sun cream
It’s very easy to forget the sun cream when you’re in Asia. It looks like a cloudy day, there’s no sun in the sky so you think you’ll be ok, but you’re wrong. The sun doesn’t have to shine for you to get burnt. The weather is often humid and you will sweat, meaning you need to keep topping up that lotion, unless you want that start looking like a cherry tomato!
10. Be careful of animals
Asia is full of stray cats, dogs, monkeys, you name it! You may think it’s a wise idea to go over and pet that cute pooch, but it won’t be fun when you’re being rushed into hospital. Make sure you get all the necessary vaccinations before travelling in Asia. Also make sure you have travel insurance. STA travel agency do some great backpacker insurance deals, Check them out.