Published 20th April 2020
There’s a whole, amazing world out there, of course you want to see it! But the real question is, where do you start? Throwing yourself into new places and cultures gives you a whole new outlook on life, but travelling for the first time can be a daunting experience. You want the right mix of safe and adventurous, new and exciting but also easy to get around, so look no further than South East Asia! Keep reading to find out exactly why the region is perfect for first time travellers.
We all know that South East Asia, particularly Thailand, Bali and Vietnam, is very popular with young backpackers, but what does that actually mean for you? The tourism industry in these places is already developed so everything you could possibly need will probably already exist. From tourist buses between cities to sightseeing day trips, the infrastructure that’s already in place makes it really easy to have the trip of a lifetime.
Need to figure out how to get from Bangkok to Phuket? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! And you’ll also have the luxury of having several options rather than being stuck on the only bus out of town that week! Currency exchanges, ATMs and western restaurants are all readily available and there is no shortage of tour operators to book trips, transport or activities, although chances are, your hotel will be able to arrange it all for you anyway!
Heading to a new country for the first time can be daunting and not knowing the language can make it even harder. Luckily, in lots of South East Asia, English is quite widely spoken. In major cities and tourist destinations, you’ll find that restaurants and bars have English menus as well as many shops with English speaking assistants. Additionally, lots of signs and place names are written in both script and the latin alphabet, and numbers are written the same in both languages making things like working out prices easy!
It’s still very useful to learn some basic words such as hello, please and thank you. This little bit of effort will go a really long way and the locals will really appreciate it.
One of the best things about South East Asia is that it’s so cheap compared to the West. Of course, it is still possible to spend a lot of money, with western food and other luxuries being much more expensive than choosing local products, but eating like a local is just part of the fun right! You can easily spend no more than £5 on a Thai dinner in a restaurant complete with a beer or two.
To keep the cost down even more, look out for happy hour deals, try eating the restaurants away from the main streets, and learn how to haggle in the markets. Vendors will often raise the price for westerns so next accept the first price you’re given, or those fake designer clothes will cost you more than they should.
With such an established backpacking scene across the region, it couldn’t be easier to meet new travel buddies! Whether it’s at the hostel, in a bar or whilst out exploring, you’re never short of opportunities to find like minded-people to share your journey with. This is great is you want some new ideas on what to do, some company during activities or even someone to join you on your onward travels!
Another great way of meeting people to South East Asia is to join a group tour such as Camp Thailand. This will guarantee you to be with a great group of people who all want to get stuck into new experiences! It’s the perfect way to travel for the first time as all of the confusing planning will be taken care of for you and you’ll have reps to show you all of the local hidden gems!
No one wants to go halfway around the world for it to just feel like home now do they?! South East Asia provides an entirely different culture, lifestyle and experience from western life, which is really what travelling is all about!
Temples on every corner allow you to learn about Buddhist culture and customs, whilst the bustling street markets give you an insight into local life. Even things like weather, landscapes and wildlife couldn’t be more different from home! Enjoy warm weather all year round whilst relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world as monkeys play in the trees above you. This distinct separation from your everyday life is what makes travelling so interesting. You’re guaranteed to never be bored!
Whether you want to post your amazing holiday pics or combat homesickness with a quick FaceTime, staying connected while you’re away is important. That’s why it’s so great that you’ll find WiFi almost everywhere in South East Asia. Most restaurants, bars and hotels will have free customer WiFi and even some cities have their own free networks!
For those who are even more addicted to their phones, it couldn’t be easier to buy a local SIM card for your phone. There are multiple stands at most big airports across the region offering a variety of deals and you’ll usually be able to pick up a SIM for under £15, often way cheaper if you’re only visiting for a short time. Be aware though that you will usually have to change SIM for each new country you enter and they are only valid for a certain period so make sure you stay on top of replacing them.
South East Asia is such an interesting and diverse region, you can spend months there and see something completely different every day. Relax on the beautiful white sand beaches of the Thai islands, watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat or take a cruise along Ha Long Bay. You can snorkel, shop, hike, meet elephants, learn about numerous different cultures and see some incredible natural wonders, without leaving the region. It doesn’t get much better than that!
If you’re in a new place for the first time that’s so different from home, it can be extremely comforting to know that help is always on hand! We’ve found the locals to be so friendly and someone will always be willing to help you if you’re in need.
Staff at hostels and restaurants are often willing to give their recommendations for the best things to do in the area and people are often very passionate about their country and customs so are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you. You can learn a lot from simply sitting down with these people and listening to the amazing stories they have to tell!
So there you have it! Don’t even think about pretending we haven’t convinced you to give South East Asia a try! If you want to experience the best the region has to offer, why not try one of our Camp programmes. We do all the hard work for you so you can spend more time enjoying your first travelling experience! There’s no better way to get out and see the world!
Camp.co. uk Team x