Tourist towns are well-stocked with English speakers, though bus drivers, taxi drivers and market vendors tend to be less fluent.

Southeast Asian languages are tonal, which can be tricky for speakers of European languages, but being able to speak some basic phrases in the local language (greetings, numbers and basic phrases for shopping) will help smooth the way. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar all have their own written script, so it pays to write down destination names in local characters so you can check bus and train departures.