5 Things to Avoid When Traveling in Southeast Asia

February 26, 2018

Southeast Asia is one of the world’s busiest regions in terms of tourism, with many travelers flocking to Thailand, Cambodia and Bali amongst the multiple other gorgeous countries on offer. However, traveling here will require you to be on the lookout for certain things to avoid. Here are five of them: 

Riding in taxis

One of the most common – and potentially the most dangerous – mistakes people make when travelling in Southeast Asia is choosing taxis to get to their destination. Often, as unfortunate as it is, drivers will employ multiple dodgy tactics to get more money from you than they should. 

Whether it be the classic “broken meter” trick – arguably the most common of them all – or telling passengers their chosen destination is closed and effectively trying to get them to go elsewhere, you may be better off choosing a different mode of transport. If you do choose a taxi be sure to agree on a set price before you even get in the vehicle, but remember that Uber is often a safer bet if the service is available. 

Opportunistic Vendors

Another mistake travellers often fall for in Southeast Asia is failing to haggle in marketplaces. It has become commonplace between tourists – it works, as vendors are so used to people trying their hand at it. So, don’t hesitate to give it a go yourself, as it has almost become part and parcel of the experience. 

When haggling, be sure to remain calm and collected, as locals often aren’t fond of a hostile or aggravated attitude. If you’re successful in your attempt, you could see yourself scoring a massive reduction off the original asking price – which is quite often made up on the spot when the vendors assume you to be an unwitting tourist. 

Eating spicy food right away

Don’t indulge in the cuisine as soon as you arrive. Instead, ease your way in with the food – many dishes in Southeast Asia are quite spicy, and could easily throw you off should you refuse to hold back. Avoid the hot curries and chilli-based dishes, and instead work your way up to the hottest of them all. 

The dreaded “Delhi belly” is most certainly a real concept, and plenty of travelers before have had to suffer it so you don’t need to. Instead, start off easy. Trust us – your stomach will thank you for it. Medical treatment can cost upwards of $50,000 in Thailand, so you’ll want to steer clear of falling ill. 

Money exchangers

If there’s one thing you do in preparing to travel, make sure that changing your money up is one of them. Leaving it until you’re abroad will likely be a major problem when it comes to finding a money exchange, as in Southeast Asia they’re unfortunately often fraudulent and dangerous. 

Exchanging your money before you go is the best idea, as you’ll be avoiding any chance of being scammed. Tactics employed at money exchanges in Southeast Asia include giving you much less money than you paid for without you even realising, or changing exchange rates so you simply cannot find a good deal. 

Disrespecting the culture

One thing you’ll notice almost immediately when travelling through Southeast Asia is just how prevalent culture is in every part. Whether it’s religion or history, the cultures you experience are very important to the locals – and if you disrespect them, whether it be intentionally or not, it won’t go down well. 

In Thailand, for example, insulting or disrespecting the monarchy will result in a lengthy jail sentence. And don’t forget to bow when greeting others in Japan – failure to do so will most likely lead to a rather frosty encounter. Cultural traditions are crucial in Southeast Asia, so ensure you’re brushing up on your knowledge before you arrive. 

Do you know of any more things travelers should avoid in Southeast Asia? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This is a guest post.

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