First-Timers Guide to Asia
First-Timers Guide to Asia
You’re going to have an amazing time, but just remember, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto”. Your journey to unearth all the magnificent parts of Asia will be nothing short of a life changing experience. However, if you’re a first-timer and not sure what to expect, here’s a few tips from the experts on what to embrace and what to avoid.
For most of us, this is hard to get used to. Here’s a tip: Fake a walk off and feign disinterest. But keep it fun, light and most of all respectful. Throw a random number out and go from there (don’t offer $500 for a $10 watch though – be careful!), the worst they can do is say no and you keep on walking.
2. Street Food
Rely on your local guide for this one – if it’s being cooked in front of you – it’s usually okay to eat. If you order and it comes from somewhere else, use your gut and decide. If all else fails, have a banana – they’re a safe bet.
Wet wipes, hand sanitiser & toilet paper are a must-carry item in your day bag. Most large shopping centres will have western style toilets, however if you’re visiting local villages, markets and communities; these are going to be hard to come by. Be prepared for some toilets to require squatting – build those leg muscles.
4. Local Lingo
Practice ‘Hello’ & ‘Thank you’ – this will go a long way when it comes to bartering & public transport. Plus, who doesn’t love it when other people use their manners – it’s refreshing. If you can throw in how to order your favourite food – you’re onto a winner.
5. Taxis & Public Transport
This is where Tour companies are the experts because it’s all organised for you and there is no stress of having to wait to get to where you are going. But if you aren’t that organised, make sure you use a reputable Taxi service or better yet, pre-book transfers with your travel agent, so you have peace of mind everywhere you go, and with ease. In some countries scooters & tuk-tuks are used to zip around city centres, you can book many of these as part of local half or full day tours.
6. Tap Water vs Bottled Water
Bottled Water is 100% the healthiest way to consumer water in Asia and you will need it – it gets pretty darn hot there. Tap water can tourists to becoming sick, so you’ll find boiling water in your hotel isn’t so uncommon – especially when the humidity is rising. You are also able to purchase water purification tablets from local chemists before you head overseas – these can help eliminate any nasty bugs. If you do purchase bottled water, be sure to check the twist top seal hasn’t been broken yet.
7. Animal Experiences
Responsible tourism is essential in this part of the world so make sure you’re not engaging in Tiger Temples, Elephant Rides or providing income to the mistreatment of animals. On the Go Tours are so passionate about sustainable travel, they actually stopped all animal experiences and helped the locals who lost business from it, rebuild and find new income through sustainable channels – amazing! You can still visit animals and lend a helping hand in many rehabilitation sanctuaries all around SE Asia. These have been set up to protect many species with travellers able to help wash, feed and assist with rehabilitation.
8. Download the MyTravel App
Available on iOS and Android, this offline travel assistant has real-time flight alerts, risk management, in-app messaging and several useful features. Users can go to their destination guides for restaurant recommendations, attractions, shopping and more. Travelers can share their photo and entries from the trip journal, as well as email their trip expense report from the useful in-app expense tool.
Pack light! Asia is humid, muddy, dirty & beautiful but it’s not designed for long, white pants and jumpers. Pack light-weight shirts, dresses and pants, as well as 2-3 pairs of walking shoes! For some landmarks such as temples and shrines, local customs need to be respected. For this, make sure you carry a light weight shawl or scarf to wrap around shoulders or exposed skin when and where necessary.
Exchange it before you go, tell your bank you’re travelling (so they don’t cancel your card) & most of all – only use ATM’s recommended by your Tour Guide. This way you know your information is safe, the location is safe & your holiday can go on as planned! Local markets and communities may not have EFTPOS facilities, so make sure you also carry some cash, preferably in smaller denominations.
Asia is breathtaking with so many incredible twists and turns and local delights waiting to be unearthed – it must be seen to be believed. Take care, trust your gut & above all else – have a great time.
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