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 recent years have taken me to , , Singapore, , and. Destinations and countries that could not be more different. I learned a lot and gained a lot of experiences that I never really thought about before.
Southeast Asia Travel: What to plan before my trip?
Pick a few countries or cities for your itinerary and stick to them, especially if you are only traveling for a few weeks. While it is tempting to visit many countries and cities in 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 the latest visa requirements and possible vaccination recommendations. Being prepared will save you time and hassle.
Should you be planning a trip to Borneo I have a review article for you here:
I have 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 your passport to have at least six months of validity remaining or a certain number of blank pages – and the requirements seem to be constantly changing. For example, for some time e-visas were not available online for some entry points in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has recently changed its visa requirements and now citizens from several European countries no longer need a visa to enter the country and can spend up to 15 days in the country.
If you need a visa when you arrive at one of your chosen destinations, have US dollars and passport photos of yourself ready to go. Many (not all) airport visa offices have ATMs, currency exchange, and photo booths – but all at disproportionate prices.
You can find everything about current visa regulations on the page of the .
Southeast Asia Travel: What do I need 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? When visiting temples, you will need appropriate clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. Also arm yourself with a small first aid kit, a flashlight, earplugs, hand sanitizer and tissues (because squat toilets usually don't have toilet paper).
And since hotels often never have enough electrical outlets, you should bring a multi-plug with multiple outlets that you can use to charge your electronics all at once.
A detailed packing list for your trip and many recommendations can be found 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 different high subsidies in your travel costs . DAK-Gesundheit is your partner for questions about travel vaccinations and covers up to 90% of the costs.
If you are worried about the cost, be aware that you can get vaccinated abroad, but it is very bureaucratic and inconvenient.
If you are traveling to an Asian country, tetanus and rabies vaccinations are a good idea, as you are likely to come into contact with rusty objects and stray dogs. Get a strong mosquito repellent (preferably a local one from the pharmacy) in addition to the required vaccinations, as this will protect you from dengue fever and malaria. A malaria standby medication may also be useful, depending on the region you are 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. So 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, though, it's easiest to pay by credit card wherever possible.
Southeast Asia Trip: Should I give money to begging children?
I know it always eats at my heart too, but the more money the begging children make from 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 children a meal. Some restaurants, for example in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, train disadvantaged young locals to become cooks and waiters, and many restaurants also donate money to other programs. Here it is simply worth doing a little research beforehand.
You are looking for the best food in Southeast Asia? This is where you'll find it:
Southeast Asia Travel: How to travel responsibly?
Be sure to look for local offerings when exploring your region: Cooking classes, scuba diving courses, yoga vacations, jungle tours, village visits and more. However, check with the operator before you book to make sure your tourist dollars are being used in a socially responsible way.
A no-go is elephant riding or questionable camps where animals are exploited in poor conditions just for the tourists. Also, eating the famous cat coffee in Indonesia is extremely unethical, as the animals are simply tortured.
By the way, in many regions it is also advisable to switch to local means of transport, such as bus or train, because a bus ride sometimes hardly lasts longer than a flight, if you add the check-in and the time at the airport.