25 pieces of Asia advice

Since I went to Asia for a month last year, a few friends have asked my advice. I only spent a month there so I’m not much of a pro, and it was my first big adventure so I played it safe a lot of the time, but I did learn a few things. No doubt people will disagree about a lot of this, but here’s my personal opinion on backpacking in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.

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The sunset from Rawai Beach pier, Phuket.

  1. Malaysia over Thailand, in general. Less touristy, and therefore more welcoming. The latter still has some lovely sights though.
  2. More specifically, Pulau Perhentian has far more to offer than the more obvious party island options e.g. Koh Phan-Ngan. The snorkeling there is amazing as well (see pic.).
  3. Saying that, Phuket (especially Phuket Town) is actually quite nice. And seeing the sunset from Rawai Beach pier really takes your breathe away (see pic.).
  4. Lub-D in Bangkok is up there with my favourite hostels, as well.
  5. Make your stopover in a random airport into a weekender. Hong Kong was a perfect prelude.
  6. Pui O is a great beach in Hong Kong; I didn’t realise you’d be able to find peace so close to the big city.
  7. Getting the balance between beach and city and all that’s inbetween is important. Love a bit of variety.
  8. Air conned sleeper trains are essentially freezers; pack a jumper at least.
  9. Don’t over-rely on public transport.
  10. Subsequently, prepare to have your patience tested.
  11. Don’t think too much about what you’re eating – I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as free-range. But that’s just part of their culture.
  12. Keep your wits about you, safety-wise, especially in Bangkok.
  13. Ang Thong National Marine Park, off Koh Phan-Ngan, is definitely worth a trip.
  14. If you’re gonna make a fuss about the toilet situation (culture shock!), travel with loo roll and hand san. Or just man up.
  15. Other essentials; padlock, eye mask, bum bag (for real)…
  16. Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary is a far better place to see/ride the animals than a zoo.
  17. Save yourself the embarrassment of having to act out the word tampon or diarrhea to some poor innocent pharmacist by travelling well prepared!
  18. On a similar note, take that immodium before it’s too late!
  19. One temple a day is more than enough. Check the dress codes beforehand as well!
  20. Malaysia’s Taman Negara is a great place to relax, but a couple of days should be enough if you aren’t into hiking. The swimming area, Lubok Simpon, is really relaxed. Durian Chalets is a super rustic, basic but cheap place to stay.
  21. Getting advice from locals or, in our case, expats (in HK and KL) was a great benefit, discovering places we wouldn’t otherwise have found. If you don’t know anyone, maybe hit up Couchsurfing?
  22. Mmmmm Pad Thai!
  23. My friend from home who I stayed with in KL wrote a great blog about his year there, and some crazy weekend trips.
  24. Factor in the costs of injections, tablets and travel insurance when you’re budgeting.
  25. Be spontaneous! And as with all travelling, the more you put in, the more you get out.
Snorkeling off the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.

Snorkeling off the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.

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2 responses to “25 pieces of Asia advice

  1. Pingback: South East Asia month (2012): the basics | Europalust·

  2. Pingback: Exciting news: Zoë blogs! | Europalust·

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