South East Asia is definitely one of the most popular first time backpacking destinations. But there is no perfect way to backpack around it, but rather a long way to discovering how you like to travel. If I was given the chance to go back in time,here are a few things I would tell backpacking Sally before she went off on her trip to Asia…
1. Almost everything is negotiable. Get haggling.
2. Requesting that meal ‘Thai Spicy’ is never a good idea.
3. The hostel beds right next to the night clubs are cheaper for a reason.
4. Factor 30 is the lowest SPF you should wear. Ever. Especially on your face. You want to stay young and beautiful!
5. Pack a lot of moisturiser. Most of the brands in Asia contain bleach and whitening agents. Not a good look with a tan.
6. You can use Google Maps offline on your phone. Just preload the map you need while you are connected to wifi, then the GPS will be able to geolocate you even when you’re offline.
7. Do not drink beer every night and expect to stay skinny.
8. Thailand’s health care system is considered one of the best in the world. Do not be afraid to use it, if needed. If you feel unwell, go to a pharmacy, they are amazingly helpful.
9. Add 2 hours onto your ETA when taking trains or buses. If your time of arrival states 2pm, you will be there after 4pm.
10. You do not have to book hostels in advance. Unless it is Full Moon party or Songkran or any other huge event.
11. Know how to survive in the Big cities.
12.Expect to get ripped off now and again. No matter how much of an experienced traveller you are, it will happen.
13.Pack Light. 12kg is plenty!
14. Eat where the locals eat. But do not forget point 2.
15. You do not need a hair dryer or straighteners or any other girlie crap. This applies to the boys too. Yes I met a few boys travelling with hair straighteners. Why! (Oh but take nail varnish… It will make you feel pretty when you have not washed your hair for 4 days!).
16. Do not ride the elephants or visit the tiger temple. Be a responsible tourist. There are so many kinder alternatives.
17.Chill out and go with the flow. Stop worrying. Not everyone is out to scam you. have your wits about you and enjoy the ride!