Tommy Walker first left England back in 2012 and has been backpacking and living away ever since. He has backpacked South East Asia, India, South America, Mexico and Cuba, lived in Australia and New Zealand whilst mini trips to Europe and Oceania too. Tommy has had stints in Melbourne, Auckland and Bangkok.
Tommy’s adventures have been the likes of roaming through India, revelling in Bangkok, hiking in Colombia and scuba diving in the Galapagos. Tommy has headed off the beaten track to places like Cuba, Guyana, Venezuela, Myanmar, India, Trinidad & Tobago and Paraguay.
Travel is the only venture you can do in the world that brings you close to a someone you’ve never met before and go on to enjoy the best moments together during your trip. The social side of travelling can be surreal, and it’s not unusual you can meet friends for life. You can ask any traveller, especially the solo ones. You will hear amazing stories. It’s the people you meet that can turn a trip from cool to extraordinary. But what is the big hype about travel reunions?At some point though, unfortunately, we all have to move on and do our own thing. Some keep going, some stay, but most of us go home. Despite this, it’s super easy to stay in contact with our travel friends through social media – and it is the technology that is the catalyst for all travel reunions.Some people are just naturally wired to forget about the people they met on the road, while others (like me) can’t wait to meet their trip buddies again. Check out ten reasons why travel reunions are essential for travellers.
1.Establish worldly friendships
When you meet people travelling, it happens in quick time, and before you know it the time comes to part ways. The travel bond has been created and forever in your memory. Reuniting allows the worldly friendship to establish itself. It evolves from being solely a trip meet up to sustained the feeling.
2. The urge to travel again
Not everyone can travel all the time, so what you might find is that your travel reunions take place while one of you is ‘back into reality’ again, perhaps working or studying. Reuniting for however long will give you the urge to go travel again. Why is that important? Because travelling is amazing!
3. Epic meetings
We can’t reunite with EVERYONE we meet while travelling, and if we did it would take some effort. So for the time, we decide to join with our best traveller friends, the reunion is epic. Funny stories, plans, and probably a few drinks in between. Epic!!!
4. A different perspective
If you’re chatting about your past travels together, then it’s always interesting to hear the view from your travel friend with whom you’re reuniting. There are bound to be some bits you forgot about or something you experienced in a different way to your friend. The reunion allows you to combine both memories into one tale, giving it a more extended better version to relate too in the future.
5. An excuse to travel
If you’ve found yourself a ‘new sister from another mister’ or had a little bit of a bromance with someone travelling, it’s an excuse to see one another again. Especially if you’re from different countries, why not see somewhere new and reunite with your travel buddy? It makes complete sense!
6. Reunions show commitment
To reunite with someone there has to be a certain level of commitment to make it happen. If you’re travelling to their country, or them to you, it isn’t just an easy feat. To many people, it takes a significant effort. But in reality, if it’s worth it, then this only bodes well for your reunion. Being determined will work well for you!
7. Remembering old memories
Reuniting with our traveller friends always brings back the conversations of old memories. That’s part of what travel reunions are about! Savouring travel tales puts us back in the moment, at least within our minds. It might be the memory of what it was like to be on that beach in the Philippines or hiking the mountains in Nepal or drinking them shots in Bangkok. Whatever it is these can never be taken away. Memories and experiences are forever!
8. Creating new ones
“Reuniting with your travel buds is amazing, you share memories, but at the same time you create new ones.” And maybe this is what makes reunions so unique. You’re in a constant state of good thoughts. We all feel good when we fond memories to look back on while at the same time looking forward to the new experiences!
9. The power of social networks
Without social media and travel apps, how long would we keep in contact with the random people we meet travelling? It wouldn’t be as easy as it nowadays. Reunions via social media show you have an innovative and forward-thinking approach. You don’t rest on your laurels to ‘see’ each other through social media; you go out there and make the reunion happen.
10. Proof that it’s never goodbye
How many times have you heard the saying from one traveller to another, “It’s not goodbye, its see you later.” Well, travel reunions are living proof that this is the case. We can get emotional leaving good people we’ve just met, we can have a lot of feelings boiling when going back to the real world after travelling, but reunions challenge them emotions. They show that travel opens the door to many possibilities and that the good times are never over.
How was your last travel reunion? We would love to hear from you about the time that you met old travel buddies
Southeast Asia is one of the most marketable destinations for all kind of travellers. It offers so much in value and variety that in recent years tourism has sky-rocketed. Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen at least one mesmerizing photo of the beautiful places in SEA, enticing you with its white-sanded beaches, intricate temples, Buddha statues, the luring green jungle and the natural coconuts ready to sip on. Making it a traveller’s dream!!
There are hundreds of places to visit over there, if not thousands, that offer its visitors some form of inspiration. Unfortunately, some travellers have limited time, so for them making the decision of which places they shouldn’t miss out on their trip becomes a very complicated and stressful situation. To help release some of that stress, we decided to put together a list of all of the places that stand out from the rest and are a ‘must visit’ in Southeast Asia.
Take a look at the ‘Top 7 Inspirational Places to Visit in Southeast Asia’ that will make you want to pack up your bags right now!
Borneo is special because of two things: the rainforests and the friendly orangutans that live in there. Orangutans share 96% of human DNA making them one of the most intelligent primates, and seeing these interesting creatures in the wild can inspire any traveller. Wildlife is unique in parts of Asia, and these amazing orangutans top the lot!
Unfortunately, the rainforests in Malaysia are being destroyed for the search of natural resources; such as palm oil, so their native beauty is slowly diminishing. We hope deforestation stops soon, as the orangutans need their natural habitat to live and reproduce. If you want to go a step further you can sign up to volunteer with them -which includes feeding them first hand.
2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is often the postcard photo of Southeast Asia. With its intricate design and spread out structure these ancient ruins inspire the most to travel to Southeast Asia. Especially if you’ve witnessed the sunrise or the sunset peeking above its pillars.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious sites in the world and also one of the most visited – with over 2 million visitors each year-. If you’re looking for cultural kicks and true insights of the history of Cambodia, exploring the incredible ruins of Angkor Wat are a must-see in Southeast Asia.
3. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Vietnam has a reputation of being fast and furious with its millions of bikes and raw and ready culture, but the archipelago of Halong Bay couldn’t be further away from that. Based in the North of the country, Halong Bay offers a set of idyllic limestone islands, topped with rainforests. The laid back and exotic nature of these islands are perfectly complemented with emerald waters, making it an inspiring view for any cruise or boat trip.
If you decide to visit this beautiful place,Cát Bà National Park is a particular hotspot.
4. Rice Terraces, Philippines
Thousands of years old, these UNESCO Heritage certified rice paddies and terraces are like an array of rural steps made for giants. With rows and rows of weaved green platforms in Banaue, situated in the Philippines north, the rice terraces are a must visit. Despite their beauty, still the majority of travellers in the Philippines, who choose the unspoilt white-sanded islands instead, often overlook them. If you’re a bit of an outdoorsy traveller and love a good hike, just seeing the photos of the rice terraces will immediately give you wanderlust.
5. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
Indonesia is most known for its holiday destination hotspot Bali, with the surrounding Gili Islands a treasure to visit. However, Indonesia is home to 220 million people and certainly has a lot more to it than that. Often seen as the most difficult yet worthwhile hike open to visitors in Southeast Asia, Mount Rinjani offers world-class views. With the peak far above the clouds near, it’s a popular activity to witness the sunrise here. An active volcano based in Lombok, the elevation reaches nearly 4,000 m and is the second largest volcano in Indonesia!
6. Krabi, Thailand
Any list describing the wonders of Southeast Asia wouldn’t be complete with mentioning some of what Thailand has to offer. The country that opened the door for Southeast Asia travel in its modernity, Thailand has many places that inspire and is normally the first stop people go to. With a more commercial outlook than it’s neighbours, it’s easily the most visited. Famed for its Thai islands in the south, the province of Krabi has many a wonder to inspire. With a white-sand stretch of beaches such as Railay, crystal clear waters for snorkelling and scuba diving with a plethora of marine life, and limestone rocks that match of Halong Bay, Krabi will be the place you’ll often see on the front of the brochure.
7. Bagan Temples, Myanmar
With Myanmar opening to visitors only as recent as 2011, it’s recent surge of travellers have only begun to gather pace in the last couple of years. Even though the number of tourists hasn’t reached the heights as expected, the potential is definitely there. The country has limited the access for visitors to a lot of places, however, there are in total 4400 temples and pagodas open to anyone to freely explore. Probably the most sought for sights in the whole country are the Bagan temples, where if you manage to get a good view from the heights, the stunning backdrop of the temples provide a view of the magnificent intricate brick structures, as well as an insight into the history and size of the empires that once ruled this area.
Southeast Asia (SEA) is a region full of many wonders. Humbling religions, exotic wildlife, blissful beaches, hectic cities and mouth-watering food make some of the elements of why Southeast Asia is one of the #1 places to visit as a traveler.
For years, many solo travelers have picked Southeast Asia shores as their travel destination and it has been said, it’s kind of perfect. People back home may wonder why, what makes Southeast Asia perfect for solo travelers?
Well, the social scene and places to party in Southeast Asia is awesome.
For some solo travelers, the best icebreaker to meet other like-minded travelers is to party, and Southeast Asia isn’t short of that. But which are the best spots to have a party? Well, if you all partygoers are ready to take notes,
Here is my list of the “The Top 10 Party Destinations for Solo Travellers in Southeast Asia” divided per country:
Also known as the gateway to Southeast Asia, the Thai capital is most travellers’ first port of call when travelling the region. With it’s bustling nature and 24-hour nightlife, nights out in Bangkok can get crazy.
The most notable place in there is Khao San Road, an age-old backpacker strip with loud music, street bars and nightclubs. Now, if you’re looking for pre-drinks in one of the most sociable hostels in the whole of Southeast Asia, Nappark Hostel is a wonderful place to start.
This Thai southern island seems to be on many traveller’s bucket list thanks to its monthly Full Moon Party. With tens of thousands of travellers hitting Haad Rin Beach at once, your odds of meeting other solo travellers to party is quite high. So if you’re a solo traveller at the beginning of the night, there’s no doubt you’ll meet new friends here.
There are many clubs and pop-up bars when it’s Full Moon time, all laced with alcohol-induced buckets, so for that, there’s no better place for a party. However, do be careful when drinking from the pop-up bars stalls here. Cheap alcohol can be dangerous!
Koh Phi Phi
Often advertised with its popular Maya Bay situated inside a limestone cliff lagoon. This iconic beach was the set of Leo Di Caprio’s movie “The Beach”, released way back in the year 2000.
But Koh Phi Phi is not only an amazing place to visit during the day, the island itself is a party-mad kind of place. With bar crawls, beach parties and a constant vibe, Koh Phi Phi is carnage. You’ll never have problems meeting travellers here.
The capital of Vietnam is that kind of charming and cosy city with cool quirky bars popping up everywhere. Here, “The Old Quarter” is one of the most visited places by travellers, full of outdoor bars, seats and $0.50 cent rice beers!! Making it the perfect spot to meet others.
Although some companies put bar crawls on, which seems a little too much, it’s not difficult to meet fellow travellers in Hanoi. Stay in and around the Old Quarter, or head to some popular hostels and you’ll no doubt meet people.
Just past halfway down Vietnam, Nha Trang is a place that people love to visit and have a party. With tons of investment going on, travellers are flocking over there more than ever.
Vin Pearl Waterpark is popular for travellers, as well as the beaches so you’re bound to bump into a fellow traveller over a beer or two!
If the Thai islands are too much for you, the Cambodian Islands tend to have a better balance. Islands like Koh Rong can attract many solo travellers due to the place being less built up, fairly new to the traveller’s scene, and generally give you a more local vibe.
With a pretty active nightlife most days of the week, meeting fellow travellers here is easy. Just go out to the beach and make friends!
Although this city is the home of Angkor Wat, the world’s most visited religious site, Siem Reap’s small party scene still gets praise from travellers.
After spending the day wandering around the intricate pillars of Cambodia’s #1 attraction, Pub Street is the place where solo travellers tend to roam around. Spend a few days here, seeing Angkor Wat during the day, and mingling with other travellers over Angkor Beer at night.
The #1 island hotspot, is always buzzing with solo travellers. But despite partying travellers coming daily, the stunning white sand is kept impeccably clean across its main front.
Once in Boracay you might want to consider visiting the Frendz Resort, which many would say is still the best hostel to make friends. With vibrant live music and located just a stone throw away from the main strip, fear not solo travellers, you’re going to meet people here.
Aussies tend to love taking a trip to Bali for their holidays, like what Spain is for Brits or Hawaii to Americans. However, Bali is more than just an Aussie beach destination to other travellers. Kuta in Bali is a full-lit up place full of bars and parties.
If you stay fairly central in Kuta you’ll soon realise you’ll be near many fellow travellers, many of them solo. Kayun Hostel is a good place for that, and if you want to party, there is no doubt Skybar will be at some point in your itinerary.
Out of the three islands in the Gili’s, Gili T is the one that is full of solo travellers who love to have a party. Although the events are generally shared between all the bars and clubs on the island so everyone gets their fair share of business (3 or 4 times per week), Gili T is a rocking kind of place when it gets going.Cars don’t exist
Cars don’t exist on the island, but it can be cycled from side to side in around 30 minutes, so you won’t have to cycle far before you bump into another fellow solo traveller. So just get ready for “beach time during the day and party on the night”. This is generally the way to go here!
If you’re about to become a fully-fledged backpacker around Southeast Asia, you’ll probably become a guest of hostels from time to time. For some, sticking to a budget is essential when travelling SEA, so hostels can be a fantastic way to save a buck or two.
Now, if you’re just being introduced to hostel life by travelling around SEA, you’re in luck as the hostels here provide great value for money, and are another perfect way to meet other travellers. It’s no secret that Southeast Asia is a well-trodden backpacker region, so you’ll certainly meet many other travellers of all types staying in hostels.
To stay prepared, we’ve got the lowdown on how to manage hostel life in Southeast Asia.
1. Prepare to be social
One of the main reasons on why travellers choose to stay in hostels (apart from it’s cheaper) is that it allows you to meet fellow travellers on the road. From nationalities all around the world, it’s one of the most invigorating multicultural experience you get from travel.
In Southeast Asia, the hostels are amazing social hubs. Not only will you meet travellers with all kinds of stories, you could potentially find a travel partner. It’s always good to have worldly friends to share the experience together. In Southeast Asia, everyone seems to get along well with everyone, so you’ll have no problem meeting fellow travellers here.
2. You might get stuck
You’ll probably end up falling in love with a hostel or two during your trip, so much that you’ll stay longer or temporarily decide to live in there. Some hostels just have great vibes and location that make them a perfect stop to get your bearings for a while. A good example is Nappark Hostel in Bangkok, famed for its location and great social life, a place many get stuck.
Normally, hostels will offer accommodation and food in exchange for your working skills. So, don’t be afraid to ask the staff about becoming part of their hostel family.
Almost everyone is looking to have a good time, most people are open minded and keen to chat. So, keeping up with the usefulness of social networks for travellers like Travello, or social media sites like Facebook, you can always keep in contact with those friends wherever they are.
More and more party hostels are cropping up in some quarters of the world, especially in Southeast Asia. Party hostels serve a purpose, offering new, fresh faced and novice travellers the best way to interact, via parties!
Some hostels will be full on, so prepare yourself for constant nights of drinking, games and shenanigans – where you’ll have the best opportunity to meet fellow travellers. Drinking buckets, playing beer pong or flip cup are the standard in some over the top party hostels. So, if you are looking for a good night sleep, party hostels are not your best option.
5. Alternative Hostels
In Southeast Asia party hostels are not the only option when travelling, there are other kinds of hostels too, and you might prefer them. Quieter, quirkier or just downright basic hostels. Whether it’s purely for a financial save in a hostel that ‘does the job’, a hostel based in an old antique like building with a laid-back vibe, or an Eco-hostel in the middle of a jungle – hostels differ and are many.
These kinds of hostels are more for the actual relentless travellers, for digital nomads, or people who want to make a more personal connection or have a good night sleep. In these hostels, you won’t find people partying all night and going hiking the next day.
6. Privacy is limited
Most hostels offer private rooms, but usually the prices are way over budget for some solo travellers. So, if you’re staying in dorm beds, your privacy can be very limited. This is one thing about hostels that can annoy some, but that’s part of the hostel life, and the reason why they are the budget option. And in some, even if you do end up in a private, some may have shared showers. But just see this as part of the travelling life, and a way to save money to travel further!
7.Hostels can normally arrange everything
One thing that may cross your mind when arranging your trip is “How do I book or see anything?” Well, nowadays hostels aren’t just a place to stay for the night; they are your very own booking agent. Speak to reception and tell them what you want to do, they’ll either arrange it for you, or at least point you in the right direction. In Southeast Asia, there are tour agents everywhere, but it might be more convenient to go through the hostel first.
8.Lock up your valuables
Talking about safety issues, being in hostels does expose you to everyone, so it’s important you lock up your valuables. It’s unlikely but certainly not uncommon to hear stories of theft, so get a padlock, a secure bag and take advantage of the lockers provided! Or if you prefer, just sleep with your bag under your pillow. It’s sometimes true that the local workers feel aggrieved at wealthier foreigners, so just don’t flash the cash and keep humble. Southeast Asia is cheap for westerners but for the people who live there, things are different.
It gets hot and humid in Southeast Asia, so sleeping can be a problem for some. Make sure you’re in an air-conditioned filled room, or the fan is on full blast.
If you’re not a heavy sleeper, bringing some earplugs might be a smart move. Hostels have people checking in and out at all hours, so if you’re woken by just the slightest of noises, take precaution. Either go to sleep early, bring earplugs, listen to some music or sink some red wine to get good nights sleep!
Choosing a hostel that has a good location is key in Southeast Asia. You’ll see many advertised, some cheaper than others, but in all honesty, location is key when you’re travelling. For example, staying on Khao San Road means you won’t sleep until 2-3 am, as the party doesn’t stop until then. The smart move is staying a couple streets away, so you get the best of both worlds. Although tuk-tuks, Uber, taxi’s and motorbikes are the cheap option to get around in Asia for westerners, Southeast Asia is a mixed bag of a place, and getting around might be more of a struggle than you think!
Hostel life is an amazing experience for all type of travellers, and a great way to save some money while travelling. With these tips and insights you can make sure your next trip around Southeast Asia runs smoothly.
And if you want to connect and meet other travellers before your trip, just download Travello App on your mobile and join the Backpackers Asia Group in and start connecting with other like-minded travellers.
Nowadays, people choose to travel in so many different forms. Solo and independent travel is seen as the most adventurous option. However, there are other ways to travel that can be adventurous but make you feel safe at the same time. That is “group travel”, a trend that is catching on of late in Europe.
Some of you might be reading this and may quickly dismiss the possible notion of group travel, but it doesn’t matter how stubborn and independent you are, group travel, especially in Europe has some great benefits.
Europe provides invaluable history, a rich amount of culture and a variety of different paths and routes to choose from. But saying that, most of Europe doesn’t come cheap, so it’s important to make the most of your time there. So, if you’re thinking of heading to the capital continent take a quick read of why travelling Europe is a lot more fun in a group.
Here are the “Top 10 Reasons why travelling is more fun with a group”
1. You’ll Save Money
“Group travel means sharing cost”
In Western Europe, such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, prices for the must-see attractions, as well as all your commodities can be expensive. Europe isn’t the cheapest place to travel, especially when you compare the prices with Southeast Asia or parts of Central and South America, so saving a dollar or two goes a long way. Group travel means sharing costs, so you’ll be able to see more and travel for longer.
2. Eating Out Becomes Better
“Sharing makes the costs cheaper”
It depends a lot on your personality, but for some eating out alone sometimes isn’t the most amazing of experiences. With Europe having countries that produce some of the best food in the world, trying those delicious cuisines is a must for anyone.
The eating part of travelling in groups becomes an experience. Sharing plates make the costs cheaper, but the food options larger. And if you’re in Italy, getting a couple of traditional pizzas to share will cost each person next to nothing. It maybe a pain to settle the bill in a large group especially if everyone wants to pay separately, but at the end of the day, eating isn’t just a necessity it becomes a fun experience.
3. Better Options For Accommodation
“Pay the same amount for a shared private with your group”
If you’re on a budget, travelling solo or with a friend. You’ll probably go to a hostel to save some money. Accommodation prices for private rooms in Europe are always a tad high for budget and independent travellers. But, if you’re group-travelling Europe, you could get a couple of private rooms for the night and share the costs for the same price!
If you can pay the same amount for a shared private with your group, why not!
4. Less Language Barrier Problems
“Asking for directions to locals won’t be difficult”
The more people in your group, the higher the chance that at least one of them knows a bit of the local language. And if we also consider the demographics of each traveller in a group, at least one savvy traveller will do a bit of learning and research before they go overseas. This means fewer problems for you asking for directions or something else from the locals, and having a better and smoother all-round travel experience.
5. Offbeat Travel Won’t Seem As Scary
“Travelling alone could be scary for some”
If you’re keen to go off the beaten path in Europe, or perhaps over to some countries in Eastern Europe, doing it in a group won’t seem as daunting. You’ll all be in the experience together, so if there are any unforeseen problems, you can work it out as a group. Going alone might be scary for some because you’re all alone, but group travel minuses that issue.
6. Being A Loner Won’t Happen
“You’ll always have someone with you”
In Europe, the number of different trails and routes you can take are many. You can start from London and head west into France, or maybe from Greece up to Eastern Europe. Unlike well-trodden paths in Southeast Asia and parts of South America, where they have the ‘banana pancake route’ or the ‘gringo trail’.
Europe is a little more complex than that. So, if you’re travelling in a group you’ll always have your fellow travel friends, meaning your courage to go to places will be unlimited, because you’ll always have someone there with you.
7. Travelling From A to B Won’t Suck As Much
“You’ll have a familiar shoulder to sleep on”
We’ve all had that experience of that long bus or train journey sitting next to a stranger. This situation can be a bit uncomfortable and awkward sometimes. But if you’re with your travel group in Europe, when them Inter-rail journeys take place or the buses over boarders, you’ll have their shoulder to sleep on and their company to keep your journeys as amicable as possible.
8. Nights Out Will Always Be Lively
“A good night out will always be buzzing”
Group travel anywhere can become almost like a family, and when the days have been long, a good night out will always be buzzing. In Europe especially, where you’ve got some of the best bars and nightclubs, going out in a group will be something you can do with ease. No one likes to be alone in the dark at night in a foreign country, but as long as you keep an eye on each other, nights out in Europe will be a doddle!
9. Someone Will Always Be There To Take Your Photo
“Your travel group friends will be there to get you in the exact frame”
Must of us love getting our photo taken when we travel. With social media at every turn, we like posting photos of our whereabouts to share with family and friends back home. So, instead of awkwardly asking a stranger to take a photo, which may turn out pretty bad, our travel group friends will be there to get you in the exact frame you seek.
10. Museum And History Days
“Take advantage of group discounts”
Some places give discounts to groups, so why not planning some sightseeing together. Trailing around in a group can also be more fun, and you’ll learn more of what each person thinks about the attractions you are witnessing. On the flip-side, let’s face it, not everyone is a history buff. But if you’ve had enough of your cultural kicks, you can happily let the group go without you whilst you kick back and have some time for yourself. I mean, of course go visit the Colosseum or the Louvre, but if you’re not feeling something one day, regroup later.
If after reading this list you decided to join a group or create your own for your next trip to Europe, just go to the “Groups” tab in Travello App and join the Backpackers Europe group to meet some travellers like you. Or you can also create your own Meetup withing the app and invite some people to join you in your next adventure.
With all the highs that travelling Southeast Asia can bring, it’s important to be well aware of the different cultural expectations, rules and tricks that might turn them highs into lows. With all the talk recently about the ‘begpackers’ busking for money in Bangkok and Singapore specifically, and even further afield, in Colombia where an Australian woman was caught with copious of amounts of cocaine at the airport; it’s something that you might want refreshing on.
Southeast Asia is normally many traveller’s first long term travelling destination, and with the culture being mostly warm, humble and let’s say a little less lawful, it does beg the question what are the laws that would get you in hot water? Before we get into that, we all like to have a good time, but you know yourself, responsible travel is key, or otherwise you might find yourself on the front page of the Daily Mail or Herald Sun.
As we mentioned on our last blog here which described some general travel safety precautions, we wanted to give you the run down more specifically, on a country by country basis. We have also provided a couple links for each country to the current travel advice warnings.
However please note, as you all know we live in some unpredictable times in terms of things like terrorism, civil wars, general unrest, kidnappings and other attacks, so although it is advisable to adhere to the warnings and advice given so as to not put your self in unnecessary danger, unfortunately the world is not predictable, danger can be present anywhere so always travel smart.
Laws, Customs, Do’s & Don’t
Be aware of special invites to parties, scams including transport, firearm activities, money exchanges, ATM reliability & mosquito diseases. There are many parts of Cambodia that still has unexposed live land mines, so always adhere to the signs and advice and never stray from the designated paths. They are doing their best to clear these land mines one by one every year, in fact they are currently successfully using specially trained rats to locate the mines by sniffing out the TNT and are able to sweep a section of land the size of a tennis court in just 30 minutes.
Snatch and grab crimes in Cambodia are common. Keep your bags to your front and away from the roadside. Always hang onto them. We’ve seen the sneakiest of theft, especially at night.
Observe the general Southeast Asia common courtesy customs that we have previously outlined in our previous blog too
As you might of seen, the dealing, use or production of drugs in Indonesia goes hand in hand with the death penalty if caught. Despite many protests from governments and embassies, Indonesia enforces strict laws against drugs. Especially in Bali, a tourist haven, police will often raid venues and might carry out possible urine or blood tests to see if you’ve used drugs. There is a problem with drug trafficking in Bali especially so please keep aware.
Diseases in Indonesia, such as Rabies and Dengue Fever have caused concern and deaths in recent years. Stay away from stray dogs, do not look them in the eye and keep away from groups at night. Most will ignore you but some may be in a foul mood. Be monkey aware too, learn about their behaviours before you arrive, in general though don’t smile by bearing your teeth to them, as bearing teeth is their sign of aggression.
Dengue fever can be less likely if you use mosquito spray, wear loose clothes, don’t drink wild water and use nets and coils as protection whilst always stay away from heavily infected areas as much as possible.
Terrorism in Bali has been well documented especially with the 2002 Bali Bombings that killed over 200 people. Terrorists Islamic groups are a threat across the whole of Indonesia so please report and/or keep away from any obvious or imminent danger if in the event it was to arise.
Avoid attempting to embarrass an Indonesian by shouting or being argumentative, keep things private & reserved, remain calm and don’t take aggressive stances like with your hands on your hips in frustration.
Dress modestly near and in religious temples goes without saying, always show respect. Don’t use your left hand to touch or give things to others, as it considered dirty due to local hygiene practices.
As a foreign visitor it is prohibited to partake in any sexual relations with a Laos local. You can either be fined or in drastic events imprisoned, so don’t be put off if you’re not flavour of the month by some.
Women are to be extra vigilant in their appearance, which includes covering shoulder whilst swimming in waterfalls and at temples.
Photography or visiting military sites is also prohibited, and can result in detention. We all like to go off the beaten track, but in Laos things roll a little bit different.
Like Singapore and Myanmar, it is also illegal for any homosexuality acts in Malaysia. Drug offences apply too and trafficking incurs a death penalty.
Dress modestly is key in Malaysia, it might be hot but that isn’t an excuse. The country is multicultural but majority Muslim which has many local traditions and expectations that you might not be aware of.
Terrorism has taken place here, even just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur as recent as in 2016. Be well aware of this can take place at any time but the likeliness is low.
Health wise, dengue fever has recently saw an increase in the last two years, take the right precautions including spray, nets, coils, loose clothing and avoiding rural areas.
Pirates have once roamed the coasts of Malaysia and kidnapped tourists in the early 2000’s. This isn’t as much of a problem now, but be aware if out at sea or close to eastern Sabah coasts, especially in non tourist or over populated areas. Honestly, most countries won’t pay out any ransoms to pirates anymore so if you do get in this sort of situation, you won’t be looking for any treasure on Skeleton Island. Keep aware at all times off the beaten track.
Myanmar is the most recent country to open it’s doors to travellers and it is only now you are seeing the tourism facilities developing. It is not uncommon to not see ATM’s. Food and water are questionable too. Hostels may not be everywhere, so hotels might have to suffice. You can hire electric motorbikes now to get around such areas like Bagan. Be careful at night in cities like Yangon, where the streets are dark and eerie with all sorts of pollution.
Homosexuality is illegal in Myanmar, and there have been instances where visitors have been imprisoned for committing homosexual acts. Although this is difficult to believe in 2017, some countries are very different to Western expectations.
If you have tattoos, having any religious design below the waste can be a religious offense, which in Myanmar is enough to be prosecuted. Make sure you cover up anything you might have that might be offensive.
You should have some caution in Myanmar due to civil unrest, but you’ll be okay within Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nay Pyu Taw and Inle Lake. Ngpali Beach has seen some clashes with locals and police. Corruption is rife in Myanmar too.
If entering on a tourist visa to the Philippines, it’s very likely you’ll be asked for your outbound ticket. Most airlines won’t let you into the country without it. Also, police may stop foreigners for identification so make sure you have relevant forms of I.D to provide.
Recent changes have encouraged anyone dealing or using drugs to be killed on the spot, especially if there is a resistance involved. Drugs are in particular severe in the Philippines and there have been millions of deaths already because of drug problems.
Unfortunately despite the Philippines being one of our favourite countries, the risk of terrorism and kidnapping is real. Even in Manila, the capital, there is risk that likely is to affect tourists if actioned. Spin off and affiliate groups to Islamic terrorist organisations can affect anywhere but have mostly focused on areas of Mindanao, Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga Peninsula. There have been explosive devices and terrorist attacks even in Makati, close to Manila.
Kidnapping is also a real concern in the Philippines, so be sure not to stray away too off the beaten track in areas known for dangers. These include provinces of Sarangani, North & South Cotabato, General Santos City, Sultran Kudarat, Lano del Sur & del Norte, Iligan City and Pangutaran Island.
Singapore is particularly strict with certain laws that can be rewarded with fines, arrest or imprisonment. They even still carry corporal punishment which is an old school method beating with a ratten cane. Mocking, singing, fake I.D, spitting, homosexuality, connecting to unauthorised WIFI, feeding pigeons, not flushing the toilet, smoking in public, being naked, selling gum and littering are all offences in Singapore.
Like many countries in Asia as mentioned, drugs is a no-go and can result in the death penalty.
Since April 2015, it is illegal to drink alcohol in a public place between the hours of 10:30pm and 7am. Only places with a permit can distribute and allow the consumption of alcohol.
Littering in Thailand can be awarded with a 2,000 Baht fine, and it can be an easy arrest for the Thai police. Also, fines for riding a scooter WITHOUT a helmet exist too, so always wear a helmet as accidents happen.
Did you know the legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 years old? Also, it is illegal to drink alcohol in temples or places of worship, pharmacies, public offices, education institutions, petrol stations and public parks.
Very harsh punishments are handed down if you are to disrespect, mock or deface any images of the King of Thailand. Even online, you can be arrested and sent to jail. Any other purposeful acts like damaging the Thai flag or stepping on Thai Baht can also lead to being arrested.
In Vietnam, gambling is illegal apart from in government-licensed casinos. Any disobedience to this can result in heavy fine and imprisonment. Drugs are available in Vietnam but don’t let it fool you because they are illegal with severely and fatal punishments.
Taxi’s in Vietnam can be particularly dodgy, and can rake the metre up high without you noticing. Everyone gets ripped off in Vietnam at some point. Likewise when renting a motorbike, never rent from someone on the street, they have been known to follow you and “steal” the bike back with spare keys!
Contributing or participating in any political actions against the government, or engaging in religious gatherings and actions i.e protests will result in legal actions against foreign visitors that usually means deportation. This includes online actions too, such as blogging.
Southeast Asia (SEA) is the home of tropical beaches, green verdant jungles, fascinating cultures and amazing food. The affordable prices attract hundreds of backpackers who embrace these lands, and because of its beauty and history all kind of tourists are flocking to the shores of Southeast Asia. Whether you’re on a trip for 2 weeks or 10 months, SEA is arguably one of the best places to visit.
However in all countries across SEA, laws and regulations vary, so if you want to enjoy your trip and be safe you might want to know a general overview of how things run in this part of the world. These are of course just broad general tips and advice, always use your common sense too and be respectful of others, especially the locals. We have a more in-depth country by country guide coming up next too.
Here are some basic pointers to know if you choose to visit Southeast Asia:
Overstaying your visas could potentially lead to fines and being banned from returning to that country. The longer you overstay the worse is the punishment. Southeast Asia is amazing; and you truly don’t want to ruin your trip!
Dressing appropriately is expected when visiting all religious and cultural sites in Southeast Asia so make sure you are not bearing too much flesh, specially shoulders and knees. Even though the weather is super hot, wearing appropriate clothing is very important in the vicinity of cities, cultural sites, religion monuments and even some natural attractions. In Thailand for example, it is not allowed to drive WITHOUT wearing a shirt!
Religion and Law
Disrespecting countries monarchies, flags, monuments and even money is a big NO NO, like it would be in any country. However the punishments here are severe, that can lead to arrests, imprisonment or even death. Even taking photos of military sites or being too close to a border crossing is prohibited in most countries.
Touching people’s head, mocking locals, being overly loud, general disregard, disrespect or any type of bullying is extremely offensive and not warranted in many South East Asian countries. Visitors need to be aware that they are in a new country and should respect laws and expectancies that are sometimes completely different from some Western standards. For example:
Ask permission when taking photos of people
Remove your shoes before entering a house or temple
Do not touch monks
Accept gifts with two hands
Be mindful of your public displays of affection to your partner
Due to the rise and rise of tourism there is more competition for businesses and unfortunately some of them are taking quick short cuts that can trick you out of your money. Be extra careful when visiting tourist sights that are popular such as Angkor Wat, Bagan Temples, the Grand Palace and Tea Ceremonies.
Also if you are asking for a tuk-tuk ride or a taxi make sure you negotiate a fair price and itinerary, and/or put on the price meter. Don’t be too easily swayed by strangers and follow your instinct. Unfortunately travellers get scammed in Asia and you need to be aware of that.
Malaria and Dengue Fever do exist in Southeast Asia, in some places more apparent than others. Always use mosquito spray especially in rural and jungle area and always consult your travel clinic first. You can arrange appointments and consultations prior to your travels.
This one goes without saying, it’s pretty well known. Southeast Asia has a strict policy against drugs; wether is the production, supply or use. So the best thing to do is to steer clear of any contact with illegal drugs, as the wrong use can result in arrest, imprisonment or even the death penalty.
Just to give you an example here is the statement from the Kingdom of Thailand website: ‘Violators of laws related to illicit drugs e.g. having and holding for use, or being a producer, seller or transporter are subject to the death sentence.’
NEXT SOUTHEAST ASIA BLOG FEATURE:
Stay tuned for the next update in this series – A travel safety guide by each specific country across SEA.
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Solo travelling to many is the only way to travel. Coupled with those pre-trip nerves, your courage to go it alone to far-away places will be rewarded with some of the most satisfying experiences that you will ever muster.
Your hard work of doing what you want based on how you feel and when you want will pay off, you meet new friends and you will push your independence all whilst travelling vastly into your unknown world. Travelling solo really does bring out the best in you, as you’re constantly pushed out of your comfort zone and that not only benefits you on your travels, but also in the rest of your life too.
You’ll learn that being content in your own company becomes hugely revitalising, something that only you can be proud of. You will be revelling in your own success in parallel with some of the best days of your life. Yet, despite all the props that come with solo travelling, everyone has to prepare still.
Southeast Asia is a great place to begin solo travelling. The warming culture, social travel scene and affordability (to western costs) are all major factors in why year after year for many, many years, solo travellers choose to unravel their journey here. If you’re a first timer in Southeast Asia we’ve put a quick checklist together for you to consider.
Try To Reassure Your Family
Most families and friends will think you’re crazy for going travelling to Asia alone, to many it will be unheard of. Yet, you’ve made the decision to do it, so just reassure them a bit more you’ve done your research (like reading this article) and you have plans in place. When you’re out on the road, they’ll no doubt get a load of your travel photos anyway, and the odd Skype once in a while doesn’t hurt, to let them know you’re alive.
Book Your Flight
First things first, make that first step and book your flight; don’t wait, you’re travelling solo remember, the longer you put this off the more doubt will set in. This is all on you. It really depends which way you come from, but most travellers begin at Bangkok in Thailand, as it’s seen as the ‘gateway to Southeast Asia’. If you’re on an open ended trip, for example if you are heading out to Bangkok Koh Phangan or the other islands of Thailand, then you only need to book a one-way flight. That might sound scary but exciting too! You’ll be journeying into the unknown with no time limit of when you’ll be back. That is what travelling is all about.
Stay In Hostels
Before you fly out, booking your first few nights accommodation is pretty standard. After that play it by ear as plans always can change, especially if you meet new travel friends along the way. Hostels are the perfect way to meet other travellers, many of who will be solo like you. If you do make it to Bangkok we recommend Nappark Hostel or the soon to be opened Mad Monkey Bangkok. Why? Because these places will have plenty of solo travellers like you, ready to meet and travel together.
Join And Network In The SE Asia Facebook Groups
If you are looking for a huge network of other travellers that have either passed through Asia or are about to then you can find them in multiple Facebook groups for Southeast Asia. These members and travellers are just like you, solo and ready to take the lead into Asia. Post questions (be specific) about which hostels, what attractions to see or simple ask if anyone wants to meet up. You’ll get answers quickly if not instantly. South East Asia Backpacking and Southeast Asia Backpacking are two of the largest groups of their kind on Facebook right now.
Download Travello & Join The SE Asia & Solo Travel Groups
One of the limitations with Facebook Groups though is that it’s not always easy to quickly see and interact with just those travellers that are there right now or about to arrive. So this is one of the best features and benefits about Travello, you can see who is nearby right now, it also notifies you when other travellers have arrived to your destination too. As long as you’re connected to the Internet, you’ll have no trouble at all from meeting other solo travellers that are nearby right now. This is perfect for solo travellers, because you can pick and choose whom you want to meet or if you want to meet at all. One of the great things about going solo is that YOU decide what you want to do, but at the same time you can meet new people to share your travel experiences too! Like Facebook, its also a travel community, so join the conversation on the feed to post your own photo, video or text updates or post your own questions or advice as well.
Get A SE Asia Travel Guide (Online / Book)
It’s always good to carry a paperback travel guide with you, and if that’s what you’re going to do, Lonely Planet or Rough Guides will give you all the basics plus the nitty gritty information. Even if you don’t follow it word for word, you still have a nucleus base of information that gives you a foundation of where to start or where to end up. With all the wealth of information online with blogs, articles and e-books, such as Adventure In You these are also worth considering today too. Reading valuable information as a solo traveller enables you to make your own choices as and when you want.
Tell Your Bank
Nowadays, banks can block cards for the most trivial of use internationally, so it’s important you let them know of your plans. What you can also get is travel cards that reduce costs for withdrawals and transactions too, which saves you money in the long run. You aren’t sharing a bank account with a partner or costs with a friend, so it’s important as a solo traveller you tick this off the list prior to travelling.
Arrange Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is key to travelling anywhere, but in Southeast Asia, where laws and facilities are not the same as you might expect at home, it’s vital to cover yourself. Whether your airline loses your bag, you get things stolen or injure yourself on an exciting excursion; it’s good to know you’re covered. How bad would it be NOT to go with travel insurance, solo and end up losing all your money or luggage, knowing your all alone and have no cover? It would be the worst. There are many insurance companies that will cover you depending where you are from, such as Covered2Go Travel Insurance,World Nomads and InsureAndGo.
Consider Getting Your Southeast Asia Travel Vaccinations
Because you’ll be travelling throughout countries that have environments that can impose diseases and viruses foreign to you, as well as practices and facilities being a little less strict, getting the necessary travel vaccinations is something to definitely consider as a priority. Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Japanese Encephalitis and Tetanus vaccinations are all common vaccinations to get prior to your travels, with malaria medication purchased in form of oral tablets. Most of the time you will go to your own local travel clinics depending which country you are from. Addition to that, don’t forget to take your common sense with you though too! Think of clothing cover, repellents, water/drinking safety, food and personal hygiene as an example. All very important to not get lax on those, as it can dramatically cut short your solo adventures!
Packing without anyone else packing with you can sometimes be a little confusing. What to take? How many clothes? How many shoes? Well, Southeast Asia is warm even when it rains; so don’t worry about packing too much. Asia isn’t a place to take expensive clothes because they’ll just get outworn and out-washed. Keep things light, t-shirts, singlets, shorts etc, with a pair of long pants, trainers and hoodie or jacket. If you’re taking a backpack, which we recommend because of how mobile you can be, nothing more than a 60L backpack is required as the average traveller, you really won’t need to take that much! Solo travel is not a fashion parade, keep it simple and efficient, buy local if you have to as it will be way cheaper than a big shop before you leave.
Take The Necessities
For Asia, bringing SPF, Mosquito spray, malaria tablets (prescribed) are all necessary. You’ll be in hot weather and the sun can be relentless here. In rural areas, mosquitos can be rife, and with dengue fever and malaria common in some parts like Cambodia and Myanmar, it’s important you take precautions. Don’t forget your shades, a hat, and a pair of comfortable footwear like flip-flops or sandals. You’ll be taking photos probably, so remember to pack your GoPro, camera or smartphone, but that goes without saying.
The best thing about traveling around Europe is how convenient and easy it is to travel from one destination to another, jumping from one culture to the next. In other regions around the world the foundations of the culture and ways of life normally all tie in with each other. Where as in Europe, you could be a couple hours away from a place that is so different to where you’re situated.
The Latin flair of Spain and Portugal isn’t too far from the shores of the UK, Amsterdam, Belgium and Germany, that’s the beauty of Europe, the variety and the history of each nation. Yet, as much as Europe is a place we all can find somewhere we want to travel and to visit, the costs in Europe are remarkably higher than other typical budget traveller destinations, especially Western Europe.
Now, we all know there are must see’s all around Europe, but it’s the cost it warrants to travel, live, eat, sleep and everything else that can become more difficult. We want to travel as long as possible, so with that in mind, we thought we’d come up with some Europe hacks for you to keep your budget tight, but make the most out of your trip.
These are the best travel hacks for making your way all around Europe on a budget this summer.
1. Sign Up To The Free Attractions
Free walking tours are a great way for you to learn the foundations of a place. You get the chance to do some sightseeing and make friends in the tour too. Plus, getting your bearings is always good with someone who knows where and when to go leading the charge. Also, any other free attractions such as visiting an old church, a viewpoint or a beach are always possible to see without cost.
2. Limit Big Tours, DIY
That being said, tours normally come at a price so if you don’t need to go with one, don’t. Travel is about exploring, and doing it yourself is one of the most liberating experiences. If you can take local transportation to a major attraction to save money rather than paying more on the tour, do it! In Europe things can be expensive, and if you do it more often than not this week, you’ll travel longer. However, for sure, sprinkle in the odd group tour if you can stretch the budget if you dont really want to do any planning or just want an easy way to meet and hang out with a large group, just understand what you will be sacrificing with that money though.
3. Don’t Visit Everything
Do your research before; you don’t have to visit every place you’ve read about, as then it only becomes a bucket list journey. Know what you like, what you’re keen on and what you’ve got budget for.
The Colosseum in Rome, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London; these are all monumental attractions that are on anyone’s travel bucket list, no matter what kind of traveller you are. Just bare in mind that some attractions sound better in a listicle rather than what they actually are, but if you want to see the main attractions then keep to that, this experience is for you.
4. Stay With Worldly Friends
In today’s day and age most travelers have a friend or two from destinations afar. Why? The world is more interconnected; people are moving abroad and traveling more. So if you’re in Munich for the weekend and your German buddy whom you shared drinks with one time lives there, hit him up! You get to see things the local way, free of charge and have a friend to go with too!
5. Try Couchsurfing
If your pool of friends isn’t that vast yet, then Couchsurfing is a more official way of staying with locals for free. You get to meet someone new, and hopefully if they’re a good host they’ll take you to some of the budget friendly places you won’t have any idea they were there.
6. Download an App to Meet People
Travel apps nowadays are extremely helpful; they can save you money and time with your experiences whilst on the road. If you want to meet other like-minded travelers with a similar trip, Travello puts you in touch with people near you. You can make contact with them and see what plans they have.
7. Eat Street Food or Cook For Yourself
Eating out in Europe can be a bit pricey, especially if you’re on a tight daily budget. Nibbling at street food sandwiches or baguettes for 4-5 Euro’s will keep you going, but if you have time, you can cook for yourself at the hostel. Pasta is always the easiest dish, and keeps the costs way down too!
8. Pre-Drinks Always
If clubbing is on the agenda, which in a lot of the cases it is at some point during your travel in Europe, it’s best to pre-drink before the main event. European drinks prices in bars can be high depending where you go, so if you need to stick to a budget, finish off some cheap wine before you go out. You’ll save money doing this for sure.
9. Use Car Share Services
One good thing that you can access whilst traveling Europe are car-sharing services such as Bla Bla Car. Things might get a little squashed in a car full of strangers, but the cost will be a lot lower when traveling around a country, or crossing into another.
10. Bus It Instead of Interrail
Bus companies such, as Flixbus, are ideal for traveling Europe. These services run regularly all day and night in most European countries, and also offer a consistent hop on-hop-off service at cheap rates. Although the Interrail has historically always been cemented as part of a travelers Europe experience, being more practical has to be considered if you’re traveling on a budget.
11. Work In a Hostel For a Bit
If you fell in love of a country and want to see more of it, there is no better way to do it than working in that place so you can really explore its environs. Hostel working normally comes in exchange for accommodation and food, which covers some major costs. At the same time you’ll meet other travelers, locals and get to see the best pockets of the place you fell in the love with in the first place.