Discovering Asia: What You Need to Know to Enjoy a Trip

We all expect to get into an amazing and unusual world, traveling to Asian countries. But it is worth remembering: Asia is not another planet, and the basic principles of travel are basically the same as everywhere else. Real Asia is far away from how it’s usually pictured in some academic writing. You will do the most important thing at home when you select a country, book tickets, figure out a route, and decide on accommodation. We will only help with some life hacks, which you won’t immediately think about, but which will take your relations with Asia to a new level. Follow these well-seasoned tips to fall in love with this mysterious part of the world for sure.

1. Do not settle in typical hotels where the doors of the rooms open onto one corridor. They are the same all over the world, and you really will not feel the Asian specificity. Choose accommodation in the national style: it does not matter whether it is a small family guesthouse or a luxury boutique hotel. Absolute immersion can be achieved when living in an apartment or a house.

2. For walking, take a lightweight backpack, not a bag over your shoulder. It’s convenient to travel when your hands are free: you can simultaneously eat ice cream and instagram it. In the subway or in the bazaar, hang the backpack from the back to the stomach for reliability.

3. In the tropics, wear lightweight, well-ventilated shoes, such as sandals like Ecco or Keen. In moccasins and sneakers, especially leather, legs sweat and get tired quickly. Flip flops are sold everywhere in Asia, but few people are comfortable in them walking around for days on end.

4. Eat Asian food. Non-local food in Asia is often tasteless because the cooks did not try pizza, paella, and pasta. Try local foods, the dishes familiar to locals from childhood taste as culinary masterpieces even if it’s street food. In addition, they cook using fresh local products: it is not safe to store food for the future in the heat. If you don’t like spicy food, don’t be afraid: there are a lot of dishes without pepper to choose from.

5. In the room, store food in bags or in the refrigerator. Tropical ants are more agile than their counterparts from cold countries. If you leave a bun or a slice of pineapple on the table, in half an hour, they will lay a path to it.

6. Ask the local questions that cannot be answered “yes” or “no.” In Asia, it is impolite to refuse; therefore, even if the interlocutor does not know the answer, he still says “Yes.” Instead of “Am I going to the museum the right way?” , you should ask “Where is the museum located?” if you want to understand where to go.

7. Make sure the vacation does not happen during the rainy season. In the tropics, the year is not divided into winter, spring, summer, and autumn but into a wet and dry season. Ask Google “Phuket temperature and precipitation graph” and find the desired month. Read more about how to find out what the weather will be like during your vacation, or use travel calendar, which lists where to go to relax in different months and seasons.

8. Take off your shoes before entering houses and temples. From far away, it seems that everything is dirty in Asia, but even in the most untidy countries such as India, temples and homes are perfectly clean. The floors are washed and swept several times a day, and there is a rule to take off your shoes before entering. There are often lockers in front of the temples, and if not, you can put sandals in a backpack and take them with you. And if you want to instantly turn from a man in a T-shirt and shorts into one who respects decency, buy a sarong and carry it with you.

9. Check if special vaccinations are needed. For example, for a trip to Thailand, it is recommended to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid fever in addition to a routine vaccination. For a list of vaccinations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. In the For Travelers column, select a country and click Go.

10. Choose housing with nets on all windows, so mosquitoes do not bite. Ideally, if there are nets on the entrance and balcony doors, you can ventilate it without letting in mosquitoes, which carry malaria and dengue fever in some parts of Asia. An alternative is a mosquito canopy over the bed. But don’t worry too much: vaccinations and mosquito nets are a bit of insurance just in case. The real chance of getting sick is not at all high.

11. Relax. Asia is much more comfortable than it seems from afar.

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