6 things to know before you travel to Southeast Asia

Travelling to Southeast Asia is an amazing opportunity. With countries like Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia, there’s an abundance of adventures that await those travelling there. It’s a popular destination too – known for fantastic beaches, impressive hospitality, amazing fresh food, unique cultural experiences, and much more. But the way of life and local customs can be quite different compared to what you’re used to. So what can you expect when you visit Southeast Asia? Here are 6 things to know before you travel to Southeast Asia :

  1. Haggling is common
6 things to know before you travel to Southeast Asia
Haggling in Market

The first price you’re offered for goods and services normally isn’t the best price. Haggling can be more beneficial in Southeast Asia than in most places in the world – it’s just one of the things you should know about travel in the region, according to the Huffington Post.

When things don’t have price tags or places don’t openly advertise what services cost, the opening price will normally be quite high because it’s obvious you’re a visitor with cash to burn. Get practicing how to haggle well to get a good price.

  1. Petty crime is also common

Unfortunately, petty crime is also common with opportunistic thieves targeting tourists and running off with your belongings before you’ve even noticed. Be vigilant when you’re travelling in Southeast Asia and keep a close eye on your stuff.

  1. Travelling around can be a bumpy ride
6 things to know before you travel to Southeast Asia
Tuk Tuk

Some of the common ways of travelling around Southeast Asia include tuk tuks, trains, buses, and motorbikes. But there are some things you ought to know, according to 1cover’s Thailand guide, that are applicable across the region:

  • Expect a bumpy ride and limited protection on a tuk tuk
  • When there’s no meter, agree a price before you leave
  • Trains are one the safest ways to travel, but be wary of thieves on overnight trains
  • Buses can be unreliable and don’t follow the same strict safety laws as elsewhere in the world
  • Motorbike taxis can usually be spotted by the driver’s orange vest – they tend to be the quickest way to get around crowded cities
  1. Expect locals to strike up conversation with you

Throughout Asia, it’s common for locals to compliment westerners on their appearance and how good you look. It’s strange at first – but you do get used to it, just make sure you’re always polite.

  1. It’s cheap

Once you reach Southeast Asia, staying here, travelling around, eating well, and getting involved in activities is pretty cheap. As just one example, Nomadic Matt breaks down what you can expect to pay for a room:

  • Dorm rooms for as little as $2-5 USD in parts of Cambodia and Laos
  • In Thailand, you will typically pay $6-13 USD per night
  • In Vietnam, expect to pay $5-8 USD
  • In Indonesia, between $8-10 USD
  • Throughout the region, you typically expect to pay around $15-20 per night for a private room with air conditioning
  • Prices are higher in the cities and touristy areas and lower in rural areas

Budgeting $10-20 USD per night for accommodation is pretty safe no matter where you go in Southeast Asia. What a bargain.

  1. You’ll meet loads of other people travelling
6 things to know before you travel to Southeast Asia
Hostel Experience

In Southeast Asia, you’re never far from like-minded travelers, especially if you’re staying in hostels. In no time, you’ll be chatting with someone on a similar route to you. You can share tips and recommendations and maybe even organize another meet up.

Have you visited Southeast Asia? Share your experiences with us.

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Danish Akhtar

Hey, my name is Danish Akhtar and welcome to my website. I have been traveling the world since 2012 and finally decided in October 2015 to make this website to share my experiences around the world. I hope to not only give you tips, tricks and my personal insight for your own travel but save you time and money when you travel next So a little about my story, I was born in Nagina, a small town in Utter Pradesh India. I Passed out from University of Delhi in 2012 and decided that I needed to get some sort of career in that I can travel the world and could earn some smart amount. So that I m here working as assistant manager in a travel company beside that writing my experience of travelling which can help people.

20 comments

Carmen Baguio

Great tips! We want to travel this area in the next couple years. Pinning this for later.

Magretha Palepale

Southeast Asia is another world! I love the hustle and bustle, but yet most people are so friendly. Thanks for your post.

ada

I travelled to South Asia last year for the first time and I can agree with everything you said here. Unfortunately I stayed in hotel so I haven’t meet too many other travellers which is a bummer but I made some local friends. 🙂 and tuk tuks are great, I wish they have them in Europe 🙂

Only By Land

Some true points here, I love haggling, and you must haggle for tuk tuks! The people are very friendly but like you say petty crime is common too.

Nisha

Yes, you are so right! Southeast Asia is another world. Coming from India, I can see huge similarity there and I feel a part of it. 🙂 Nothing unusual. 😉

Soumya Nambiar

Interesting tips. I haven’t been to South East Asia yet and this would come in handy. Haggling is quite common in India too.

Reebex | Recovering Hippie

I L-O-V-E haggling! It’s the best bit about being away! I still do it in the UK (or try to at least) it’s surprising how receptive people are if you try your luck!

Bruce Schinkel

Thanks for these great tips … it’s always a good idea to know some of what to expect before you go to a new region of the world, and this will definitely help!

Leechris

I am living in Asia – south east and yes visiting and staying for months here for foreigners is really cheap. Fares, food and shopping is cheap and proud to have the best beach in the world – el nido palawan philippines

Melanie

Though I can tend to get car sick riding in a Tuk tuk seems like such an adventure to me! Thanks for the tips and I hope to get to check it off the bucket list someday!

Denis Roubien

I admit I was very interested in and surprised by what you reveal here. I would have sworn for example that haggling is more beneficial in the Middle East than anywhere in the world.

Bob

I would also add Street food and Food Markets. Also in the really popular tourist destinations scams are prevalent.

Carol from Wayfaring Views

I just came back from Colombo Sri Lanka and had some crazy Tuk Tuk rides. It’s like taking a roller coaster

Dave (Silverbackpacker)

You missed the Philippines off your list. !!!!!! Its certainly a different world here in SE Asia from the one we know back in the UK but you just need to remember that most people are friendly. Look after your bags and dress with respect whilst visiting the various points of interest.
Crime is no more prevalent than back home in the UK.

sophie

I am planning to travel solo this time to southeast asia, but I have heard alot about the crime scenes and that’s what haunts me. Still I think it won’t be very bad experience by hoping that situation might have changed now.

Edgar

After leaving Thailand and India, I would try to haggle elsewhere and of course it didn’t work. And traveling by tuk-tuk was so much fun. Boy do I miss it.

One Tech Traveller

thanks for the tips! I’ve travelled to quite a few far east countries and agree with this. meeting other travellers is common if you stay at the right places and can be very cheap to do many things which is great.

Raksha

I have been to South East Asia and I agree with all your points. Tuk-tuk drivers can really pester you sometimes for the ride even when you are not looking for it 😀

Cebu Tours

Hello Alyona! Great Article! You visit Philippines too.
And speaking of Philippines, you try Bohol or Cebu.
It’s so nice there. If you need help.
Just check out our website. Thank you!

    Danish Akhtar

    i love Philippines and will visit for sure…

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