9 unusual travel tips for Southeast Asia

Are you traveling to Southeast Asia anytime soon? Then perhaps you could use some of these unusual tips for your big trip.

1. Don’t use hand sanitizer

What? Isn’t it the opposite? Actually, this might be a coincidence, but I noticed that the more you use it, the sicker you get. I stopped replacing hand sanitizer with washing my hands and just made sure to always wash my hands thoroughly with soap. If you don’t have a place where you can wash your hands, it’s of course always better to use hand sanitizer.

2. Splurge from time to time

Backpackers are always choosing the cheapest option because you’d rather spend your money on experiences rather than things like accommodation. But sometimes it’s worth it, if it’s just to keep your sanity. Southeast Asia is known to be a place for budget-loving travelers so splurging often means just paying a few extra dollars for a much nicer room. For a much nicer hostel, you can pay up to 10 USD. Although not guaranteed, but checking in to a more expensive place can ensure you get a better night sleep because it’s usually not as crowded or loud. The cheaper hostels often turn to party hostels because it attracts a certain type of people, but those people usually tend to avoid the more expensive hostels.

3. Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist from time to time

You might think those elephant pants look stupid, but try wearing them and you’ll see why they’re so popular. It’s not because you look good in them – because you definitely don’t -, it’s because they’re comfortable and light to wear when the sun is scorching and you need long pants to enter temples. Some tourists are so scared of looking like just that – a tourist, that they often forget to just go with it and have fun. Embrace it! Throw up a peace sign while taking photos, jump on the beach, and wear those typical elephant pants. No one will really judge you and if they do, they’re probably just a bit jealous.

4. Don’t be afraid to be alone

Yes, traveling is all about meeting people and all that, but what about taking some time for yourself? Whether you’re a solo traveler or traveling with friends, you’ll need that time alone. When you’re at home, you probably take some time off just for yourself. If you’re planning on traveling for months, you will need it as well. Some places are best enjoyed alone too.

5. Come up with original questions

When you meet someone new, it’s normal to ask the the very normal questions that we always ask travelers: “Where are you from?”, “where have you been?”, “where are you going?”, etc. After a while, you’ll get sick and tired of asking and receiving the same questions over and over again. But why not dare a little and ask more original questions? Ask the questions that you genuinely care about the answers. It’ll make for a much more interesting conversation.

6. Try the bum gun 

Just embrace it, don’t fear it. Not only will it get you clean, you’ll also save loads of toilet paper. There’s a bum gun in almost all bathrooms in Southeast Asia since the toilets don’t go well with toilet paper and it’s a good way to save on paper.

7. Rest outside instead of inside

I’m not talking about taking a nap on a bench in a park. Instead of locking yourself in your hotel room to decompress, why not take advantage of the fact that you’re somewhere new and exciting. Journal in a coffee shop, read in a park, or go to a temple and reflect. There’s more than napping!

8. Don’t refrain on buying things

It’s never fun to carry around too much with you and that’s why we often pack very lightly. But are you really going to travel around for months without bringing anything home? And if you see something that you really like, are you really going to skip buying it just because you’re scared of carrying it around? You’ll probably never be able to buy this product again so why not just do it now? You’ll be glad when you’re home and have this specific item with you that will forever remind you of your trip to Southeast Asia. Besides, it’s not like you’re carrying around your bag all the time either. We usually just carry it when we’re going to a new place and then drop it off right away at the place we’re staying.

9. Don’t mistrust strangers too much

Although you shouldn’t trust just about anyone, it’s also not good if you go and suspect everyone of trying to scam you or something. Strangers are usually kind, helpful and respectful. During my trip to Southeast Asia, I relied on strangers help in many situations. There were times my phone died and I couldn’t find home so I had to ask people to help me, when I had to borrow internet from strangers, when I fell with my motorbike in Vietnam and strangers immediately stopped and took care of my wound (thankfully it wasn’t a big injury). We’ve been taught to be suspicious towards strangers, but perhaps we should give people a bit more credit? You might even find a new friend along the way.