Our on-staff experts share their tips for getting the most out of your trip to this up-and-coming region.
When it comes to clothing: layer, layer, layer
“Be prepared to endure some heat,” says Assitant Customer Relations Manager Ashley M., who traveled to Thailand in 2012. It’s also recommended to bringing lots of light layers, as nights can get cooler. Plus, steamy daytime temps mean you’ll probably want to change into fresh clothes quite often. Luckily, clothing tends to be inexpensive if you need to pick up additional items along the way—just be aware that sizing tends to be much smaller than in the U.S.
Tap into local customs and culture
“Pay attention to the local etiquette,” says Area Manager Kandi A., whose job at Go Ahead has taken her to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and more. For example, it is important to remove your shoes when entering a temple, but be sure that your arms and legs are covered. Look to the locals for outfit inspiration—in Myanmar a traditional longyi can be a great way to keep cool but covered while sightseeing. As far as sourcing this traditional garb, “shop in the night markets of any major city or town,” suggests Product Development Manager Lael K.“The night markets also have food, handicrafts and lots of other inexpensive goods.” Kandi also recommends taking advantage of local transportation: “Tuk-tuks are a great way to get around—just have the name of your hotel on hand for a quick and cheap ride back at the end of the day.”
Bring small bills—and be prepared to barter
“Bargain!” Ashley insists, “You might feel weird about it, but travelers shouldn’t. It’s fun and part of the culture. Don’t pay more than you have to!” Kandi agrees, and suggests bringing a fair amount of USD in small bills for shopping, buying bottled water and tipping locals.
Let comfort be king
In order to stay comfortable on tour, sun protection is a must. Bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of SPF if you don’t want your trip ruined with a burn. Additionally, Ashley recommends bringing wet wipes: “They are great for wiping off dust or sweat and come in handy when you run into eastern-style bathrooms.” And for the ultimate in comfort and relaxation, Lael says, “Get a massage. They are deep tissue, inexpensive and incredibly gratifying after a long day of traveling.”
Try the food
Ask your Tour Director or hotel concierge to recommend the best local cuisine to get a real authentic experience. If you are adventurous enough to sample the street food, Lael recommends visiting the busiest stands that only serve cooked or fried food for better quality assurance.
Do you have tips for traveling in Southeast Asia? Tell us in the comments!