There are many horror stories about travelling in South East Asia (SEA): from weather to traffic condition. But beyond it, SEA is a beautiful region; you can find beautiful beaches in the Philippines and Indonesia, Temples in Vietnam, Brunei, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and a good digital hub Singapore and Malaysia.
Because of the influence of media – stories like the mystery of the unknown, people have very strong views on what the SEA is like, most of them negative and pertaining to safety.
When people think of the region they think of drug and human trafficking. People think that it is unsafe to travel. Also, travelling in the region is more challenging that the other parts of the world (literally speaking the Philippines Traffic is the 9th and Thailand at 10th worst in the world having that you may anticipate some troubles visiting around the metro.
Moreover, expect that some places in the region have a slight different in terms of attitude towards tourist.
Despite of many horror stories about traveling in the region there is always a good side for it, just always be wise to take simple precautions to avoid getting into trouble. Here are some tips for staying safe while travelling around the region.
Always Walk with Confidence
As a traveller, you’ll arrive in new places all of the time. For the first day or two in a new destination, you are particularly vulnerable to being seen as an easy target. Target for robbers, scammers and other bad elements that just looking to get more money/valuables from tourist. To avoid being caught, walk with an air of confidence in new places, even when you just arrive with your backpack on your back. Stand up straight and if some people hassle you… pretend that you have somewhere to go. And if you are seriously in trouble, walk up to another foreigner and pretend to be friends. 99% of the time they will understand and help you.
Relax when you arrived in a new Place
Take a minute to an hour to adjust to the new place. Look around and adjust, maybe even buy a coffee and have time to do it. After a rest, you’ll be more alert and relaxed and be less vulnerable. Before leaving your hotel or any of your chosen accommodation, always be ready to know where exactly do you want to go. Make some notes about routes and places, be confident to commute than having a cab because riding a cab makes you more vulnerable to be trick by local drivers (you can eliminate this risk by having an appointment to a reputable taxi company). Look bus stops or train stations, their schedules and rates. Also, get a back-up map and use your hotel’s wi-fi to download some maps cache (create a walkthrough to the places that you want to visit w/ internet) and try to manipulate it without internet (basically phones can grab it as cache).
Learn the Language
Many people have respect for you, when you make an effort to speak their language. They may also think that you have a local friend so might go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Try to learn by downloading podcasts to listen to on long bus rides or by making friends with locals who speak English.
It doesn’t matter how much of the language you know, many people will be so proud and happy to hear you utter “Thank you” in their mother tongue.
Let people know where you are at all times
The more people who recognize you and know where you are going in your hostel, the more likely they are to worry about you if they don’t see you for a while. Try to make friends in the hotel and tell them what activities you will be doing on that day, hopefully they would spread the alarm if something happens to you and you’re not back at night.
You can always try to update my Facebook, Foursquare or any apps that can recognized your location as much as possible and to let people at home know where you are and if that area has no internet for a while.
Always wear a smile on your face and walk during day time
Many people in SEA region react very strongly to people who become aggressive. It’s hard to stay calm, when you have people surrounding you to sell you things.
Have a smile on your face, so people react more kindly to you and just say ‘no’ with a smile on your face and a shake of your head. Also, it is advantageous if you get a tour during daytime, because you can clearly see places and direction more easily.
On accommodation: Read Carefully about Online Reviews
Stay in places that have high ratings on sites, such as TripAdvisor, and those that have a reputation for being safe. If the room does not seem secure, don’t stay there. Accommodation is plentiful and cheap in South East Asia so you are bound to find somewhere secure easily.
Trust your instinct
If all are failed trust your intuition and gut feelings at all times. From directions and dealing with other people. If you need to get out of a situation just lie and make up an excuse. The good thing about being a traveller is that you are anonymous, no one knows who you are and you should use that to your full advantage to lie if you need to get out of a bad situation.
Obvious safety tips
Here are some tips that you may have heard many times before. It’s always good to have a recap once in a while though:
- Don’t flash your valuables about;
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers in bars;
- Lock your valuables in lockers when you can;
- Wear your bag over your body to avoid bag snatchers;
- Wear clothes that are appropriate to the country you are visiting;
Don’t let anyone’s opinions put you off travelling in the region. Just like a said before there are a lot of good places here in the region.
If you are not still confident about travel in the region you can start by getting a good discounted travel deal from our website. Which usually includes travel packages.