Traveling in Asia – What to Look Out For

June 7, 2011 by  
Filed under General Fun

Asia is a bewilderingly large continent, home to an incredible range of different cultures and languages. It not the easiest of places to get around, and even the most seasoned of travellers will come across some hurdle or other – though how high it’ll be is anyone’s guess. Here are 10 basic tips to see you through your trip with relative ease…

1. Learn the lingo

Although people on the Asian continent aren’t particularly snooty about whether or not you speak their native tongue, being able to communicate is always a bonus, and knowing the word for ‘please’, for example, could make all the difference in some situations.

2. Know your Asian countries

As we’ve already said, Asia contains more countries than any other continent, so learn about where you’re going and make sure you know which gestures and/or words denote respect and which denote derision. Don’t get it wrong, or you could find yourself in a heap of trouble.

3. Make sure you always carry US dollars

While currency exchanges will always recognise the American dollar, some hotels and tour operators in places like Cambodia and the poorer Asian countries won’t accept anything else.

4. Dip your toe in

If you are travelling around South East Asia, start off in Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore – these cities will gently ease you into Asian culture. For those in Asia for the first time, some degree of culture shock is inevitable. The language is completely alien, the food is often like nothing you’ve ever tried before and the manner of the people quite different to those we might be used to at home.

5. Go local

While you might at first feel out of your depth when it comes to eating out, make sure you dive right in. You can always refer to your guide book for help, and because Asian people are generally so friendly, they won’t mind you pointing out what the guy next to you is chowing down on, and it might even win you a bit of a giggle.
 

6. Know what’s in store

Asia can be a place of political and social unrest, so it’s crucial that you check out the news and contact your embassy, if necessary, for the latest travel advice.

7. Learn how to haggle

Every Asian community, urban or rural, revolves around a market. Most items will have a marked price, but that’s a mere formality. Be reasonable, find a happy medium and smile at all times. It’s considered in many places to be a snub if you don’t haggle, so give it a go – you’ll only get better, and it’s a lot of fun. Always remember that if you feel pressured, the vendor won’t mind if you walk away from the transaction.

8. Beware of scams

While Asia is rich in culture, breathtaking scenery and generous people, it’s also riddled with poverty, which can make people creative when it comes to a bit of a tourist scam. Keep your wits about you. While most scams are relatively harmless, having things stolen from you will certainly put a downer on things. It’s best to get covered before you go away, so for worldwide travel insurance moneysupermarket is the best place to look.

9. Don’t be afraid to break away from your itinerary

Don’t make rigid plans – you’ll meet people with great stories of where they’ve been, make friends with people you’ll want to travel around with, and may love somewhere you visit more than life itself. Before you go, make a general bucket list and make sure you leave plenty of room to ad lib.

10. Most of all – be patient

Traveling through most parts of Asia can be tricky and rough. The heat, the alien cultures and the language barriers can take their toll if you let them, so whenever the adverse happens, don’t rise to it. Saving face is an very important part of Asian culture, so losing control of your emotions could render you a fool in Asian eyes, and most of all, it won’t get you anywhere.


Unearthing Asia is a travel magazine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best cheap maldives holidays ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia.

Japan Budget Travel

June 7, 2010 by  
Filed under General Fun, Uniquely Far East

The oriental charms of Japan is one that is often expensive and pricy. The recent Cost of Living Survey listed Tokyo and Osaka as the top two most expensive cities to live in the world, but budget travelers need not fret. There are still ways to experience Japan on a budget, here’s some tips to extend your dollar.

Photo credit - Comedy Nose

Photo credit - Comedy Nose

Plan Ahead

You can minimize your travel expenses if you plan ahead and take advantage of the rail passes and cheap internal flights (using airpasses). Some of them are only available to foreigners, and often only available for purchase outside of Japan. You can also save a lot of money by planning and prioritizing the various attractions you want to check out (and some others you want to skip).

Phto credit - Hildgrim

Phto credit - Hildgrim

Getting Around

If you’re staying in Japan for up to three weeks and are looking to travel around a lot, the JR Pass is an excellent way to save money. Please note that you need to purchase an Exchange Order from an authorized sales office or agent before you come to Japan, so all this goes back to the first point, plan ahead!

There are also various Air Passes that can be especially useful if you wish to travel long distances inside Japan, for example, to visit the southern islands such as Okinawa. Each carriers have their own Air Passes with differing prices and routes, so be sure to research them thoroughly.

Photo credit - Stefan

Photo credit - Stefan

Accommodation

This is the other expensive necessity in Japan, so try out Couch Surfing if you’re very low on budget. If not, the cheapest accommodation in Japan ranges from youth hostels and dormitories. There are also cheap campsites all around Japan but some of them are not as accessible as the others, which leads me back to point #1, plan ahead!

For a memorable and truly Japanese experience, spend a night or two at the various traditional Japanese inns, usually called Minshuku or Ryokans. These aren’t always the cheapest option, but are truly worthwhile to experience oriental Japan.

Photo credit - Strikeael

Photo credit - Strikeael

Volunteer!

The WWOOF in Japan is an excellent volunteer scheme that costs you just 5,500 Yen (around USD60) per year. It is one of the best way to experience the Japanese way of life and culture. A typical WWOOF arrangement sees you receive free room and board in return for a few hours work per day, typically 4-6 hours. The work you do varies from host to host, and can be a great opportunity to learn new skills. At the same time, you’ll get to experience the daily life and routine of your host, who may even arrange local tours and activities for you.

Photo credit - Fujisan3 (Mr T)

Photo credit - Fujisan3 (Mr T)

Eat Like A Local

Food in Japan is not as expensive as you may think, and fortunately, it is very easy to spot the cheaper establishments as restaurants usually display their menu along with prices outside the door. Try out the various stand-up ramen bars where a bowl of soba, udon or ramen starts at 250 yen. You can also head towards one of the many conveyor-belt sushi restaurants where a plate of sushi costs from 100 to 200 yens.

Photo credit - FMYFJHR

Photo credit - FMYFJHR

Free Tours

During the day, check out the best in temples, museums and other attractions. Plan ahead and you’ll find various free guided tours of numerous attractions. These are great ways to experience Japanese culture and history. You’ll do well also to check out if there are any cheap passes that allows you to save money, like the Tokyo Museums Grutt Pass which gives you access to 66 facilities over two months period.


If you are planning a visit to Asia, don’t forget to check out Unearthing Asia, the best Asia travel portal focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. We have got some of the bargain holidays ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of must-try Malaysian foods.