How to Choose between Traveling in Asia or South America
So you are planning to go traveling or backpacking and you trying to decide, Asia or South America? There is no possible way that anyone can suggest one culture to another, there just isn’t. Within every culture you find something new and weird, something that is completely different from anything else you've seen. Variety is the spice of life, so making a choice between backpacking in Asia or South America is extremely difficult. However, Colton Craft makes the decision easier as he gives you a few pros and cons of each continent to help guide you to an answer.
No matter what part of the world you come from, you are foreign to any type of Asian culture, be ready for a wild ride. In my experience, South East Asia (specifically Thailand and Japan) was a sensory overload every twist and turn. The vast complexity of the languages, the fast paced and jam packed lifestyles, and the oddly delicious food creates a tractor beam of complex sensory messages that is inexorable to hide from. Smells you've never smelt, food you've never herd of, and art you've never imagined all thrive within the Asian cultural lifestyles.
My stay in South East Asia was primarily occupied in the country of Thailand. I like to refer to it as the “Grown Man’s Disneyland”, something that I think anyone can readily justify thats either heard stories or been to the Khao San Road in Bangkok. Really, anywhere the 20 something vagabonds aimlessly roaming the planet seek refuge is a place where you can be ensure a good time will be had by all. Not only is Thailand dirty cheap for just about anyone, but because the country itself thrives on tourism, the general public (in my experience) was very welcoming and willing to take any money I had.
Be prepared to bargain and batter at every street light, be prepared for the runs from the unavoidably delicious street food, but most importantly be prepared for the journey that you are about to embark on. Along with Ibiza, Spain and the underground clubs of the Eastern Europe, those who come to Thailand know how to party. That being said, always remember that yes, anything can happen so take precaution and use your head. Carry a level head, and an open mind.
As far as activities, you’ll be mind boggled until the end. Take your pick at partying and exploring the South China Sea, or head north to the deep jungle and embark on a jungle tribe through native villages. Visit elephant sanctuaries, eat something weird,see something weird, hell do something weird. You can visit the hundreds of night markets in almost any town, get a sensual Thai massage, or a Nuru Massage (if you're brave enough). Most importantly, make sure you attend at least one Lady Boy Show, I can attest it will be something that you will never forget.
The Advantage I give to South East Asia, is the fact that only those who really want to be shocked, and aren't afraid of stepping out of the comfort zone tend to arrive here. The language barrier is next to impossible, all the native food looks a fuzz scary, and there are people EVERYWHERE. But the thing is, you’ll fall in love with it, only if you let yourself. I often find myself reminiscing to my adventures in Thailand, not only because of the people I had the pleasure of sharing my adventure with, but the country and culture as a whole was just too easy to fall in love.
Travel opportunities in Asia:
- Tours in Asia
- Scuba Dive in Asia
- Gap Year in Asia
- Volunteer Work in Asia
- Jobs in Asia
- Intern in Asia
- Study Abroad in Asia
- TEFL Courses in Asia
- Teach English in Asia
One thing we really have to remember when thinking about travel in South America, is the fact thats its HUGE! The country of Brazil itself its the 5th largest country in the world, and Argentina isn’t too far behind. From top to bottom though, South America may was well be divided into completely different worlds. Up near the equator you have the much more tropical and abundant life that exists in the Amazon Basin and thrives along the Northern Coasts.
South America as a whole and like North America boasts a vast amount of geologic and natural history and beauty. Alone with the many ruins and structures that survived the early rulers, the Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs. As you venture down you the basin and track along the Andes Mountains, you encounter Bolivian Salt Flats, The Atacama Desert, and eventually, Patagonia the gateway to the Antarctic. Staggeringly high cliffs, towering and dramatic waterfalls, fast flowing rivers, and the love for Guinea Pig and Steak have infested this entire continent.
Every country holds a vastly different set of values and beliefs. I was fortunate enough to visit Peru, Chile, and Argentina during my stay, and every single culture was wildly different from the next even though a common language was shared. If you're looking for nature on a grand scale, you have most certainly venture to the right continent. South America is home to the second largest mountain range, the deepest canyon, and the one of the oldest forests in the world! The unforgotten beauty of Tierra Del Fuego in Patagoina, the unrivaled Iguazu Falls, and of course the scrumptious food to wash it all down.
South America is not only a place for people watcher’s and fun, but its also home to the adventure and thrill seekers who are constantly looking for the next mountain or river to conquer. The spirit of discovery and the numerous Spanish Explorers live on in South America along with the spirit of tradition and nativity. The Continent is so big that it’s even home to its own “Paris” of the south in Bueno Aires. The one problem that remains for South America is the lack of transportation. To really get anywhere, you can either bus or fly. Because every country is so back and diverse in culture and geography busing can really eat up a lot of your free time, and is somewhat dangerous. Astronomically easier, and exponentially more expensive is the option to fly you way around the continent (my choice).
If I may recommend, I would say that if you do make the decision to visit South America, make sure that you spend a somewhat extensive amount of time in each country, or plan accordingly if you decide to go airport hopping like I did. Because much of South America remains to be somewhat “dangerous” for tourists, it provides a rush, an edge that I have yet to find anywhere else. Like I said, for those “thrill seekers”, South America is the perfect place for you have the opportunity for a thrill at every corner of your journey.
Travel opportunities in South America:
- Tours in South America
- Scuba Dive in South America
- Gap Year in South America
- Volunteer Work in South America
- Jobs in South America
- Intern in South America
- Study Abroad in South America
- TEFL Courses in South America
- Teach English in South America
- Spanish Language Courses in South America
Either region of these regions of the world will leave you thirsting for more once you’ve left. Just as any good adventure should. Both South American and Asia are cultural juggernauts in the sense that they can offer a new and unique perspective in just about any aspect of life that you can think of. Whether it be food, religion, philosophies, or ideologies. You’ll be making a good choice with either destination, just make sure it’s what you want!
By Colton Craft