There are at least 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia and if you don’t follow them, you might cause yourself some problems. This part of the world is very different in many ways compared to the western world and you should definitely know what to watch out for. Some of the things are common sense and some depend on what kind of character you have.
If you start by following the mentioned 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia, you will cover about 75% of major issues, that people have on this continent. Southeast Asia is very special and you have to behave differently in order to live smoothly and enjoy your travels.
6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia
Dont be shy
The first part of the 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia is more of a characteristical one. A big part of travelling is having fun and living life to the fullest while you are on the go. Being shy is not very helpful in this case. Especially in Southeast Asia you can have a blast, if you are open minded and outgoing. Locals and other backpackers are way more attracted to you, if you come up and talk to them. Staying in your own corner all the time will not bring you any further.
Being introverted is definitely not a bad thing, but sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone while you travel in order to make experiences you will never forget. A local, that I met in Mui Ne while I travelled through Vietnam, once told me a Vietnemese saying – „open heart, open mind“.
This is such a simple quote, but it is so true and it can be adapted to many situations on a journey through Southeast Asia.
Avoid shabby restaurants
The second point of the 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia is just common sense in my opinion. Street food vendors and restaurants are generally a good place to go to. But you have to be a little careful in Southeast Asia, because the hygenical standards are sometimes not as good as in western countries. This is why you should avoid shabby restaurants. You don’t want food poisoning. Trust me! 😉
Rather eat street food, because it’s fresh and cheap. Don’t stop for a bite to eat at restaurants, which are almost empty. Your best option is always eat at restaurants where the locals eat. They know where to go. The places they prefer are always cheap and the quality is very good.
Watch out for scams
Don’t forget the third one of the 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia. As bad as this might sound, but tourists and travellers are a great target for scammers. This happens everywhere in the world, but especially in Southeast Asia it’s completely normal for lots of locals, who work in the tourism industry.
It can happen to you in many different situations. For example at scooter rentals, where the vehicles are incorectly prepared or at currency exchange companies, which give you a completely wrong amount of money.
A lot of times taxi drivers take the wrong way to get more money from you or they pretend not to speak good English, so that they can say that they did not understand you.
There is a lot more to watch out for. So, be aware.
Avoid dark alleys at night
The 4th point of the 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia is very important, especially for women. It doesn’t matter, if you are alone or with a friend. Try to avoid dark alleys at night.
I once have been approached by a couple Indonesians in Bali while walking back to my hostel at night after a party. They did not stop asking me, if I want to use their Tuk Tuk to get home. I denied a couple times until they got angry and tried to start a fight. Luckily I could ran into a bar and stayed there for about an hour until the situation calmed down.
This can happen to you at any time. I am not saying this to scare anyone. It’s just to tell the truth. Especially in poorer regions this can happen to anyone, even, if you are „Bruce Lee“ 😉
Never hand out original documents
Make sure to keep the 5th rule of the 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia in mind. This is really important. Never ever give your original documents to anyone in Southeast Asia, except to the staff at the airport or to the police. If any person, who works in the tourist indurstry, wants to have your passport or something similar, just give them a copy.
Because, once you have given them what they want, they can use it against you to get money from you.
I gave my passport to a motorcycle rental once. The motorbike they gave me was prepared to break down. When I told them that it had a problem, they did not want to give me back my passport until I payed them. I ended up getting my passport back and not paying any money, because I negotiated something else, but it is a good example why you should only hand out copies.
Never accept the prices
The prior point leads me straight to the last one of the 6 things to avoid in Southeast Asia. Never except any price or situation in Southeast Asia, which is not in your favour. Always negotiate. Everyone in this region, especially in poorer places, is open for negotiations.
It almost seems like the locals want to negotiate with you, because the first price you get anywhere will always be way to high. They offer their products for western prices, which is your chance to negotiate and get a way better price.
I always recommend to retaliate with 1/5 of the offered price. Some people might get angry and others might not talk to you anymore. But, because you could easily go somewhere else to buy the same products, they will come back at you with a way lower price.
If they don’t, just walk away and they will most likely run after you. And if that does also not happen, then just buy somewhere else… 😉
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