5 tips for traveling in Southeast Asia
From the shifts in temperature to the unique culinary treats, there's a lot you may experience in a tour of Southeast Asia that could catch you off guard. Before you set your sights on the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos or any other location in this region of the world, take a few tips with you.
1. Dress for the elements
Many areas in Southeast Asia can reach sweltering temperatures. Moreover, it can be very humid. You'll want a generous amount of light clothing options because you may change outfits more than once per day, the Huffington Post suggested. However, the nights tend to cool off a fair amount, so don't leave that light jacket at home. If you don't pack enough light clothing in your suitcase, don't worry. Clothing can be very cheap in Southeast Asia.
2. Prepare for unfair taxi fare
Taxi service isn't the best in many places in Southeast Asia, but travelers in Kuala Lumpur might have it the worst, according to CNN. Here, the taxis consistently rank on the world's worst lists. Try your best to dodge the fare by focusing on public transit. Better yet, you can still go for a cab ride if you request meter usage or haggle with the operator. The drivers may refuse to turn their meter on, so don't be afraid to insist.
3. Be conscious of the culture
Unless you've traveled in Southeast Asia frequently, you're bound to run into some customs you may not be familiar with. For those situations, it's important to be observant and polite. Customs can dictate how you should behave but can also decide what is polite to wear. The Huffington Post recommends looking to the locals for clues about suggested garb. Some places may prefer that you take off your shoes upon entering, and many temples request that visitors cover their arms and legs. Those inexpensive clothing shops can save you a lot of glares during your travels.
4. Become a better barterer
Even if the clothing isn't as cheap as you would like it to be, you can always try your hand at bargaining with the locals. It's a common part of shopping in many Southeast Asian countries, and it can be an entertaining way to interact with the people. Remember to carry a few small bills to use for shopping or to grab a bite to eat, and don't forget to tip the locals.
5. Watch your table manners
Oftentimes, the people in Southeast Asian countries prefer family-style meals compared to individual dishes, according to CNN. With that in mind, you can still order your own dish, but make sure to offer some of your food to your company if your meal arrives first. Most of the time the locals will decline and tell you to go ahead. On the other hand, if you indulge in the family-style dish, proceed with caution when the food runs out. It can be considered rude to take the last piece of anything too quickly. Take your time and politely request the last bite if you really want it.
You may experience a little culture shock, but adjusting to the different culture takes time. Don't worry about acclimating to the environment as well as the customs. For a real change of pace, you can try a tour through East Africa. Here, you won't have to worry as much about unfair cabs and table manners, but you may have to adjust to the diverse wild life and various natural environments.