5 Tips for Solo Travel Dummies in Southeast Asia
Don't worry... we were all #solotravel dummies the first time! Be proud that you took that step as a brave, adventurous "dummy". But let's try to be smart dummies shall we? Now that I live and work in #Southeast #Asia, I thought I'll share some based tips with you all about making the most of your solo trip to this beautiful cocktails of culture & history.
WHAT TO PACK
As far as possible, don't go crazy with these three Js- jackets, jeans, and joggers. It can be insanely humid for someone who comes from a cold & dry country. The go to attire in here is light cotton shirts, shorts or thin long pants, and slippers. Yes you'll need covered shoes for tougher activities & terrains, and Yes some regions or places (like temples) may require more cover. But for the most part, you don't want to be seen perpetually sweating in your selfies! If you don't have these already, top up a bit of your travel budget to purchase these from the countless street markets.
WHOM TO ASK FOR HELP
The best thing about Southeast Asia is that almost all major places here are used to foreign tourists and largely welcome you with open arms. They may not speak in the language or accent of your choice, but a smile and nod goes a long way. Trouble getting connected? A sari-sari minimart in the Philippines can fix you up with a 3G sim card. Don't know how to get to the airport? You can find a cheap ride using a ride hailing app like Grab (heck I've requested a random stranger to book one for me with option to pay in cash!). Looking for a local or traveler to guide you around the miles of food courts in Singapore? You can find one on Solopacker.com where every member is verified and vouched for before they can connect with you.
HOW TO STAY SAFE
Southeast Asia does have its pockets of scams & petty thefts. But for the most part it is socially stable with no imminent travel warning (that I know of at least). There may be occasional protests like the coup de tat in Thailand few years ago, but taking basic precautions against walking straight into these messes would suffice. The precautions you must pay more attention to our mosquitoes (especially if there is a malaria or dengue alert), pickpockets and human trafficking. That last one - please do your part as a conscientious visitor and do not add more tourist dollars to it.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST
I'm gonna refrain from saying "it depends", because that will annoy you. My suggestion is an average of US$40 a day if you're a shoestring backpacker, or US$100 a day if you like to make the most of the local excursions and events. Needless to say, a big city like #HoChiMinh would eat away more from your wallet than the less explored MySon or Nha Trang in #Vietnam. For me, I am kind of a hybrid budget person where I squeeze my last dollar for stay (hostels or staying with locals on Solopacker.com), and don't restrict myself to spend on local food and famous museums.
WHEN AND WHERE TO GO
This part is easy. Thanks to the geography of Southeast Asia, there is no peak summer or winter compared to other popular solo travel destinations. So you can plan a trip any time of the year you like. Naturally July and December will have more foot fall, but you'll be affected by crowds only if you spend a lot of time in megacities like Singapore or Bangkok. But not sure where to go? For your very first solo trip to Southeast Asia, I would recommend keeping it simple - main cities, 3 to 4 days per city. You'll get a feel of the diversity among the different countries and you can deep dive into one or two of these on your next visit. For me, #Cambodia is my favourite and I try to go there at least once a year. I know friends who make annual trips to #Philippines or #Indonesia exclusively for diving expeditions. Some of my foodie buddies in Singapore frequent places like #Thailand and #Malaysia instead.