Asia is the largest continent and has a lot to offer to travelers.
Some of its countries, however, tend to be the go-to place for people from all over the world, be it first-time travelers, adventure enthusiasts, or online entrepreneurs looking for more freedom and a cheaper lifestyle.
Over the last few decades South East Asia has become one of the top destinations, mainly because of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and more.
Each of these countries can offer you breath-taking views, some of the best beaches in the world, cheap food and drinks, easy access to regions nearby, nightlife, history and culture, business-friendly environment, and even a luxury lifestyle on a budget.
If you’re going there for the first time, though, it’s worth considering some things before you hop on the plane, so that you can make the most of your holiday.
Here’s what you should think through:
First Time in South East Asia
1. Do anything you can to stay longer than 2 weeks.
The standard vacation time is 2 weeks, but to visit a new continent, get to know more than one of its best countries, and not be exhausted or overwhelmed all the time, you’ll need a bit more than that.
I’m doing 5 weeks only in Thailand this March, for instance, and that too can mean a busy schedule if you want to see the popular temples, spend time at the beaches, visit some famous islands, relax, go to some cities on the north that have a lot to offer too, see how the locals live, try some water sports, and see everything worth seeing.
That’s why you can often hear about backpackers who spend half a year there. Some risk-takers save some money, quit their job and go travel Asia for a year or so.
If you don’t want to be in a rush all the time and feel like you’re being busy, rather than enjoying your travels, make sure you stay longer than 2 weeks.
2. Choose a destination and book early.
Big journeys like that should be booked in advance.
Going to Sri Lanka during the holidays? Then work with a travel company that provides holiday packages.
Flying to Thailand for a few weeks next season? Great. Book a hotel near the airport in Bangkok for your first night so that you can get a good night’s sleep and handle jet lag, before you head to Phuket or any island you’ve looked up that seems like the perfect fit for your vacation.
If your chosen destination is Singapore, book your accommodation now and even stay a week in Malaysia with a friendly Airbnb host who’s keen on meeting travelers and showing them around.
3. Learn the basics.
If you’re traveling to Japan, you should learn to bow when greeting someone. It’s a common thing there and you might see people doing it while talking on the phone too.
When visiting a Buddhist temple in Thailand, you might end up being dressed inappropriately without doing a quick research first.
If you don’t learn a thing or two about the weather of the country you’re traveling to, you might end up going during the rainy season, or when prices are higher than usual.
So do your research. There’s a lot of interesting stuff you’ll come across online and will be glad you did it when preparing luggage, or once you get there and feel better prepared.
Of course, feel free to talk to anyone you know that’s been to any Asian country. Connect with regular travelers online too. They’re all open to giving you advice and directions, and making new friends along the way.
All this will help you prepare mentally for South East Asia too.
What else can you do before you head to Asia for the first time?