5 Tips for Backpacking in Asia
Planning a trip to Asia for the first time can be a daunting experience especially if it is your first time visiting this region of the world. With so many places to visit and activities to do, researching an adventure can be a little overwhelming but we have put together 5 good tips for backpacking in Asia...
1. Wise Up on the Culture
However well and good it is to know the sights you want to see throughout Asia,it is extremely important to remember that it isn’t just a new continent you are travelling to, it's a new way of life too. Asian culture is very different to Western culture and in order to get the most out of your trip and not risk offending any locals, it is both respectful and beneficial that you wise up on what is and isn’t acceptable.
For example, little things such as taking your shoes off before entering someone’s home or a public place, not pointing your finger, not crossing your legs and not showing shoulders or mid drift (talking girls here) can make all the difference when it comes to charming locals and living life the Asian way. After all, isn’t that what you came to do?
2. Time it Right
The timing of your trip depends on what you value most and wish to experience on your travels. Chances are, this is a once in a life time adventure so you can't afford to miss out on anything. Whether it’s letting your lantern fly at Chaing Mai’s Yi Ping floating lantern festival or dancing till sunset at a full moon party, you need to make sure you are in the right place at the right time in order to participate in these activities. No traveller likes to be confined to a deadline date or laiden with itinerary – but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Similar to this, weather wise it is important to remember that Asia has a wet season full of monsoons, floods and mudslides. If you’re planning on scuba diving or hitting the beaches it’s best to check out when dry season is so you get a good visibility and sunshine! In most cases, the best time to visit a country is between November and March. That being said, a bit of rain can never really ruin anyone’s travels – it just adds to the experience.
3. Don't Freak Out the First Night
Relax. Whether it is your first time travelling alone or not, the chances are your first night in Asia is going to be a huge culture shock. You’ll get them good old travelling jitters and question what on earth you are doing and how the heck you are going to survive. Take comfort in the fact that if the six other people in the hostel beds surrounding you aren’t feeling these emotions too, it’s probably because they felt them last week.
It’s important to know that travelling isn’t all smooth sailing, rock up on beaches, climb a mountain, jump of a waterfall, visit a temple, easy living. Theres a hell of a lot of bumps in the road! (Quite literally in Asia’s case). The best advice anyone can give any backpacker is that don’t let the scary nights, the rough sleeps and the adaptation process put you off. Come home because you’re ready, not because you are scared.
4. Pick a Good Starting Point
As previously stated, the first night is bound to be a little bit nerve racking and full of doubts and anticipation. For this reason, it’s important you pick a starting country that you can settle into as easy as possible. This means somewhere you can navigate well, get a bed for the night with little fuss and hopefully meet other lone travellers like yourself! Capital cities and tourist hotspots are ideal for finding comfort until you get your bearings and are ready to brave Asia.
5. Embrace it All
Travelling isn’t a time for worrying about what could go wrong, it’s a time to start saying yes and just going with it. Accept the invitation to carry on to a country with a new found friend, eat the god damn scorpion, ride the moped and stay up all night on the beach under the stars no matter what time you have to be awake in the morning. It’s such a cliché but time flies by and before you know it your back in the real world with an office job and normal routine to conform to…embrace the crazy whilst it’s there.
By Jess Readett