Traveling tips for those headed to Asia

Asia is an unfamiliar destination. With a little prep, travels will be enjoyable.

Asia is unfamiliar territory, a place shrouded in mystery. The unknown, the excitement and the adventure all contribute to the allure of Asia. So, what can you expect from Asia and your accommodation?

You can go on elephant rides in the rain forest, whitewater rafting through quaint villages, learn about Asia’s ecotourism industry and even help protect the Asian tiger and rhinoceros. Asia is one of the most exotic destinations in the world, inhabited by some of the happiest and friendliest people.

Asia is the tropical sun and arctic temperature rolled into one, so make sure you check the seasons with the timing of your travel. You don’t want to be caught trekking through the highest mountains on Earth in a singlet and shorts.

The beaches are where the rain forest meets the ocean. The movie “The Beach,” with Leonardo DiCaprio, was filmed here; the actual beach itself lies amid these islands. You may not encounter a secret map on how to get there, but the journey and the smiles you receive will be well worth it.

Sex tourism exists and is a large part of the tourism industry, especially in Bangkok, Thailand. It is less restrictive and the rules imposed on clients in Europe are not enforced in Asia. This means that the red light district of Bangkok surpasses even Amsterdam, Netherland’s unrestrictive activities. But, unlike Amsterdam, Asia has tough anti-drug laws which include going to jail for possession of marijuana.

Most street signs and notices will be written in both the local language and English, but beware the translations to English may not be exactly the same as the local version.

Many people from an English-speaking background work in the local hotels, especially in the five-star and more expensive hotels. The cheaper hostels normally have a young person employed who can speak English, many of them tourists themselves.

Ensure you take a business card or other form of brochure from the hostel where you are staying when you go out. You can then give this to your taxi driver on your way back to the hostel. Just show the driver the card, point toward the hostel’s address and enjoy the bumpy ride. This will overcome differences in pronunciation of the hostel and any other language difficulties.

The main cities are occupied by numerous people who speak English; it is when you leave these more populated areas that English will become increasingly scarce. So, be sure to book your accommodation and tours before you leave to ensure you get the type of accommodation you desire and don’t get ripped off.

Top five travel tips for Asia:
1. Don’t drink the tap water, it can make you sick. Try San Miguel or Tiger Beer instead.

2. Keep a lookout for tour groups with an English speaking guide. Sneak into the group to save money.

3. Take the hostel brochure or business card with you. This will help the taxi driver find your bed when you’re drunk and have forgotten all those newly learned language skills.

4. Make friends with the locals. If you are lucky and find one who speaks English, they may be kind enough to show you hidden parts of Asia known only to the locals.

5. Book your hostels and tours in advance to ensure availability and value.

Liam Austin is director of ozeworld.com. Please send comments to [email protected]