Southeast Asia is for me one of the most magical regions on earth. The countries here are full of stunning beaches, historic temples, lush green jungles and unique cities.
My Southeast Asia travels in the last few years have taken me to , , Singapore, , and . Destinations and countries that could not be more different. I have learned a lot and gained a lot of experiences that I never really thought about before.
Southeast Asia Travel: What do I need to plan before my trip?
Choose a few countries or cities for your route and stick to them, especially if you are only traveling for a few weeks. While it is tempting to visit many countries and cities on a single trip to Southeast Asia, it is extremely rewarding to experience the culture of a single country and or just a handful of places.
Always make sure that you are informed about all current visa regulations and possible vaccination recommendations. If you're prepared, you'll save yourself time and hassle.
If you are planning a trip to Borneo I have an overview article for you here:
I've also put together an itinerary for Bali for a short trip:
Southeast Asia Travel: What are the visa requirements for my trip?
Some Southeast Asian countries require that your passport still has at least six months validity or a certain number of blank pages – and the requirements seem to be changing all the time. For example, for some time e-visas for some entry points in Myanmar were not available online.
Meanwhile, Vietnam recently changed its visa requirements and now citizens from several European countries no longer need a visa to enter and can spend up to 15 days in the country in the Lang.
If you need a visa upon arrival at one of the selected destinations, you should have U.S. dollars and passport photos of yourself at hand. Many (not all) airport visa offices have ATMs, currency exchange facilities and photo booths – but all at disproportionate prices.
You can find everything about the current visa regulations on the page of the .
Southeast Asia Travel: What to pack for my trip to Southeast Asia?
When visiting Southeast Asia, try to carry light luggage and laundry everywhere you go, rather than wandering around with an overweight backpack or heavy rolling suitcase. In all Southeast Asian countries you can have your clothes washed, dried and ironed in less than 24 hours for a few dollars. You can buy extra clothes and toiletries cheaply at all the street markets.
What you should definitely pack? For visiting temples, you will need appropriate clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. Also arm yourself with a small first aid kit, flashlight, earplugs, hand sanitizer and tissues (because squat toilets usually don't have toilet paper).
And since hotels often never have enough outlets, you may want to bring a multi-plug with multiple outlets that you can use to charge your electronics all at once.
You can find a detailed packing list for your trip and many recommendations here:
Southeast Asia trip: Do I need to get vaccinated before my trip?
Before traveling to individual countries, check their vaccine requirements and recommendations and then actually get vaccinated. Many insurances participate with differently high subsidies in yours . DAK-Gesundheit is your partner for questions about travel vaccinations and covers up to 90% of the costs.
If you're worried about the cost beforehand, you should also be aware that while you can get vaccinated abroad, it's very bureaucratic and inconvenient.
If you're traveling to an Asian country, tetanus and rabies vaccinations are a good idea, as you're likely to come into contact with rusty objects and stray dogs. In addition to the required vaccinations, get a strong mosquito repellent (preferably a local one from the pharmacy), as this will protect you from dengue fever and malaria. It may also be a good idea to take a malaria standby, depending on what region you're traveling to.
Southeast Asia Travel: Where do I change money for my trip?
Airports and banks in Germany often charge horrendous fees for exchanging money. So if you wait until you arrive in Southeast Asia to change money, you will usually get a reasonable exchange rate. Note, however, that Southeast Asian hotels generally offer terrible exchange rates. Therefore, stick to banks (best solution) or other places where "money exchange" is advertised.
Be sure to change a good amount of cash, as street market vendors, cab drivers, and smaller restaurants may not accept credit cards. Generally, however, it is easiest to pay with a credit card wherever possible.
Southeast Asia Trip: Should I give money to the begging children?
I know it always eats at my heart too, but the more money the begging kids make off the tourists, the more their parents see them as a source of monetary gain and are no longer sent to school.
If you want to provide real support to children in Southeast Asia, you can buy the kids a meal. Some restaurants, for example in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, train disadvantaged young locals to be cooks and waiters, and many restaurants also donate money to other programs. Here it is simply worthwhile to do a little research beforehand.
You are looking for the best food in Southeast Asia? Here you will find:
Travel to Southeast Asia: How can I travel responsibly?
When exploring your region, be sure to look for local offerings: Cooking classes, scuba diving classes, yoga vacations, jungle tours, village visits and more. However, inform yourself about the operator before you book to ensure that your tourist money is used in a socially responsible manner.
A no-go is elephant riding or questionable camps in which animals are exploited in poor conditions only for the tourists. Even eating the famous cat coffee in Indonesia is extremely unethical, as the animals are simply tortured.
In many regions, by the way, it is also advisable to switch to local means of transportation, such as bus or train, because a bus ride sometimes takes barely longer than a flight, if you add check-in and time at the airport.
Southeast Asia trip – Can you recommend anything else?
Have you ever been to Southeast Asia? Have a few tips up your sleeve?