Southeast Asia has long been a favorite for travelers. With warm weather, low prices, and an incredible mix of different cultures and cuisines, what’s not to love?
After months of lockdown, we’re all ready for our vacation. Before you book your tickets and get your bags packed, here are a few key tips for staying Safe in Southeast Asia.
Before We Get Started
Southeast Asia is one of the safest places in the world to travel. Crime rates towards tourists are generally quite lower. But, as with anywhere, some people are looking to exploit some confused tourists.
Take your time, be smart, follow these tips, and you’ll just about be able to guarantee that nothing happens to you.
1. Get Travel Insurance
Hospitals in the region are quite good and affordable! The danger isn’t so much Southeast Asia, but you.
Many people traveling here enjoy scuba diving, jungle treks, motorbike rentals, and other fun activities. With all this added fun comes a little risk.
With insurance, you can get in and out of doctor’s offices quickly and affordably. You can also get policies that extend to non-health problems like flight cancellations and lost luggage—which is just perfect if you’re headed off the beaten path.
2. Be Careful With Public WiFi
Just about everywhere in Southeast Asia has public WiFi. And it’s usually quite fast too! However, as much as you want to save a few bucks, you need to be careful.
Public WiFi is dangerous everywhere. But you’re more likely to use it while traveling. There may be malware on the network, and you don’t know who might be watching you.
While using public WiFi at restaurants, cafes, airports, hotels, and everywhere else, use a VPN.
What is a VPN? A VPN or virtual private network encrypts and anonymizes your internet connection, greatly enhancing your privacy and security. Whether you’re in Southeast Asia or at home, be sure to always use one!
3. Be Careful About Renting A Scooter
Renting scooters in Southeast Asia has long been a tradition. But it can be very dangerous! Aside from crashing into a car, you might have to drive on a different side of the road, navigate trick terrain and watch out for stray dogs.
On top of it all, then there are other foreigners driving scooters to worry about! We’re not saying avoid this Southeast Asian pastime but go way outside of the city and practice somewhere out in the countryside. Go slow and wear a helmet. Even if you see locals not wearing one, trust us, you’ll be happy you did if something goes wrong!
One more tip—be careful about rental agencies. Thanks to the internet, things are much more transparent than in the past. But there are still ones that may try to rip you off.
4. Currency Exchange and Rates
If you’re hopping quickly between countries, it may be hard to keep track of all the different rates. Start by downloading a currency app like XE onto your phone, so you always know the rate.
In general, airports and banks charge excessive fees for exchanging currency. You’ll get a better deal if you go to a “money exchange.” Surprisingly, many of them are quite honest and won’t rip you off. You can find ones that will charge you within 5-10% of the real rate.
Since cash is still king in many places in Southeast Asia, you’ll need to make sure you have enough on you at all times. You can also skip the hassle of currency exchanges but getting a no-fee international debit card. Just make sure that it also includes ATM fee rebates since, in places like Thailand, the usage fee is almost $7!
5. Choose Your Countries and Locations Wisely
Each country in Southeast Asia is simply amazing. But there are some troublesome areas, even in the safest ones that you’ll want to avoid.
To start, don’t overbook yourself. Southeast is massive and stretches from Myanmar through Indonesia. More is less. Focus on a few countries and dig in where you can.
Likewise, pay attention to travel advisories, keep up with the latest news, and ask other travelers. They’ll be the first to tell you where is safe and where isn’t.
Finally, make sure you always know how you’ll arrive and depart somewhere. While hitchhiking is pretty common and can be a fun way to get around, you do need to know how you’ll get back from some of the more far-flung places.
How to Stay Safe On Your Southeast Asian Adventure
Southeast Asia is the best. Whether you go in the dry season or rainy season, it’s truly magical. Follow these tips, and you’ll have the best vacation possible.