Southeast Asia in detail

Planning Tips

Resources

  • Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/southeast-asia) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.
  • Travelfish (www.travelfish.org) Popular travel site specialising in Southeast Asia.
  • Agoda (www.agoda.com) Regional hotel booking website.
  • Bangkok Post (www.bangkokpost.com) In-depth analysis of current events in Southeast Asia.

Top Tips

  • Learn the scams: phony guides, dodgy transport, touts.
  • Roads are crazy; drive defensively and cross the road even more carefully.
  • Most supplies (mosquito repellent, umbrella) can be bought locally.
  • Take your cue from the locals when it comes to appropriate dress.
  • Take digital pictures of important documents and cards in case of theft or loss.
  • Tell your bank where you are travelling, and keep their phone number handy in case they block your card.
  • Know your passwords! Many websites run security measures when accessed from a new location.
  • Keep your passport and other valuables in a hidden waist pouch or similar beneath your clothing.
  • Watch your bags while out and about; grab and run is a common form of theft.
  • Pay for accommodation first thing in the morning, or the night before if leaving early.

Pre-departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Check if you need any visas before arrival.
  • Organise travel insurance and an international driving permit.
  • Visit a doctor to get any recommended vaccinations.
  • Inform your bank and credit-card provider of your travel plans.
  • Check your mobile phone is set up for international roaming.

What to Take

  • A week's worth of lightweight clothes
  • Rain gear (jacket, breathable poncho, dry pack for electronics)
  • Comfortable sandals and walking shoes
  • Earplugs
  • Medicine/first-aid kit
  • USB drive for storing digital copies of documents and photos
  • GSM mobile phone
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Sunscreen and heavy-duty deodorant

What to Wear

In general, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes are the most comfortable option. Swimwear is pretty much essential, but only appropriate for the beach. Shorts are ideal for the climate, but may be frowned on in rural areas; loose-fitting long cotton trousers work everywhere.

Bring comfortable thongs (flip-flops) or sandals – they're easy to slip on and kick off when entering homes, hostels and religious buildings – along with comfortable walking shoes (sneakers are generally fine) for hikes and motorcycle rides.

Wear clothes that cover down to your elbows and knees for visits to temples, mosques and rural villages. A sarong can be purchased locally and is handy for quick cover-ups. Bring a jacket or fleece for cool temperatures in the mountains and on heavily air-conditioned buses.