Avoid packing blunders and temple fails with our handy top tips for travelling in South East Asia. Our Travel Specialist, Brittany has roamed far and wide across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and has come up with her best pointers to help you make the most of your Asia adventure.
1. Always travel with a sarong. No matter where you go or how hot it is outside, you may get the ‘lucky’ seat where Arctic strength air-conditioning freezes your eyebrows. Also it makes a great pillow, blanket, towel, skirt, shirt, dress, hair wrap, shade… the list goes on.
2. If you are going sightseeing in the heat, but may visit temples, have knee-length shorts or skirt on and keep a thin cardigan or t-shirt wrapped around your waist. Not only will you be respectful and properly dressed if you come across a beautiful temple to explore, but having your pockets covered will stop things falling out/or being taken out. (FYI: Covering your shoulders in a sarong is not considered enough in many temples including at the Royal Palace in Phnom Pehn, they will require a blouse or cardigan on top, and knee-covering skirt or shorts.)
3. Keep a small packet of tissues in your pocket- it will come in handy.
4. If you go to the weekend market in Bangkok and you find something you like, buy it there and then. At the biggest open market in the world boasting 15,000 stalls in a labyrinth configuration, you may have a hard time finding that item ever again.
5. If you really want to taste Vietnam, why not take a seat on a corner food stall with the locals – pull up a plastic stool and wait for the local treat to be brought over. It’s a small snack but it is usually delicious and only about £1.
6. Pack light – really, really light. You are going to Asia not Mars, so leave your big bottles of shampoo behind, and if you run out just buy a local brand. Also the country is filled with markets and malls, so why not treat yourself to a new outfit or two?
7. Getting something tailored doesn’t necessarily mean making it from scratch, why not bring your favourite dress and have a perfect copy made? It will be just like the original, but fit you even better!
8. Have a bottle of water with you at all times, even at night. There is nothing worse than waking up parched, and the nearest drinking water being at a shop around the corner.
9. Haggle within reason. Keep in mind that your holiday probably cost more than their average salary (£1450) so when getting that price right down, be polite and remember that a few quid to you will buy a beer, and a few quid to them will buy nappies for a week.
10. And remember T.I.A. – This Is Asia! So nothing should be like home – the organisation will seem bizarre, and if things don’t go exactly as you plan just shrug it off, take a photo, have a laugh and remember to say THIS IS ASIA!