Asia Overland Journey Suggestions
Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
- Never get angry or lose your face, avoid physical fight under all circumstances.
- It is very important to have patience & sense of humor all the time.
- Do not criticise places you have been to, try to accept them as they are.
- Always try to smile when you are asking for a room, buying a bus ticket etc. You will see that this really makes a big difference.
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- Try to update your information before going to a new country. Some of the information in your guidebook may get changed. For example some borders might get closed or because of new embargos use of credit cards & travelers cheques in some countries may be no more possible.
- Always practice the fine art of bargaining, but do not insist on ridiculously cheap prices, do not get agressive, remember that this is a game and always smile.
- Do not avoid some hotels just because they are not in your guidebook. Some recently opened places that are not listed in your guidebook may offer better prices & comfort. Also we should support those recently opened places, otherwise they won't be able to make money & places listed in the guidebook will become monopolies.
- Try to use the Tourism Information Offices, sometimes they will be really helpful.
- Some days if you want spoil yourself do it and spend more than the amount you decided as your daily budget. Upcoming days you can spend less and balance your budget again.
- Do not try to see everywhere in each country and travel in a rush. Try to spend at least 3-4 days in each place.
- When you are visiting historical places, talk to other tourists and hire a guide together with them. Generally tourist guides will be a much better source than your guidebook for historical places.
- Solo travelers are a better target for touts, ricshaw/taxi drivers, tourist guides etc. Do not lose your patience with them. The more you get agressive, the chances of your day getting spoiled is higher. Think of this as a game and develop tactics including humor to deal with those people.
- In heavily touristed places do not walk alone, it is really difficult to deal with touts. Pairs are much more immune to persistent touts.
- Touts, tourist guides, ricshaw/taxi drivers etc. will give you a really hard time in especially places like India. But do not neglect them immediately, sometimes you can make good friends with some of them.
- When you see a nice view take a photo of it immediately. Do not leave it for tomorrow, it may not be as beautiful as it is when you first saw it.
- Do not leave important places to visit to the last minute, some unexpected troubles may occur.
- If you are planning to get your visa from the border, get detailed information about the price before. At some border points the officers are taking hidden bribes. Cambodia is especially notorious for this practice.
- After you get your visa from the embassy check if everything is correct. Even if a minor thing is wrong, you may have to return from the border if you did not get it corrected before.
- When you are applying for a visa, try to get a Multi-Entry one instead of a Single-Entry one..
- It is possible to have laundry service at almost all of the hotels. But his means some extra cost at your budget. So you can avoid this extra cost by washing your clothes by yourself.
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- Try to eat things like bread with your right hand. Left hand is generally used for toilet cleaning in Asia.
- In South-East Asia, be careful that your feet is not pointing towards Buddha statues or images.
- In South-East Asia you have take off your shoes before entering temples. In places like Myanmar where there are lots of temples to visit, a flip-flop is really practical.
- In South-East Asia do not wear shorts and sleeveless t-shirts when visiting temples.
- In South-East Asia never touch children's head, it is considered rude.
- If you are traveling with your partner, avoid kissing and other similiar forms of affection in public areas.
- During your trip you will encounter children asking you for money, pencil etc. It is best not to give away those kind of things to kids. This may lead them to unwanted professions like begging or prostitution.
- Places mentioned in the guidebooks are generally touristic and does not reflect the true face of society. Sometimes try to visit untouristic places even if it is for one day.
- When you are in a new country try to learn the basics of the local language from your guidebook. This will make it easier for you to make contact with the locals.
- If you are invited to a local house, bring little presents with you like postcards from your country.
- If you want to build your journey more on meeting people, take a look at place2stay.net & The Hospitality Club. In those sites you can find information about people who are willing to host guests in their countries.
- During your journeys you will see that some people are trying to aproach you in friendly ways but later it turns out that a service is being offered to you. Do not let those experiences make you untrusty to locals approaching you. Remember that there will always be locals who are approaching you to improve their English, meet someone from a different culture etc. So do not be hostile to people approaching you thinking that they are tyring to sell you something.
- Ask for permission to take photos of people. Even if some people does not want to be photographed, do not stop asking. Pictures of people will be the most important reminders of your journey.
- Woman are not allowed to touch Buddhist monks.
- Try to buy some little souvenirs from each country you visit. Do not worry about your budget. If you buy quite big souvenirs do not carry them with you, ship them back home.
- Always visit the markets of the towns & cities you have been.
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- Try to use bicycles in towns and small cities.
- Try to use public trasportation in big cities.
- You can rent motorcyles, but if you are not experienced enough be very careful.
- When you are at big cities get a proper map. Your guidebook's map may not be enough.
- When you are going to cross a border, try not to use the tourist buses. Cross it your own with normal public transport.
- Always take a sweat shirt with you on long bus & train journeys. It may be very hot outside but it can be freezing cold inside the bus because of the air condition.
- Always carry stuff like bananas & biscuits with you during bus & train journeys.
- When yo uare going to have a long bus journey, try to sit in the front or middle. Sitting on the back may sometimes guarantee you a jumpy trip.
- If you are going to fly transit, find out if the airline is offering free accommadation. Some airlines like Biman are giving special coupons for this & if you don't have this coupon you are sleeping at the airport.
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- Do not make the mistake of searching for western food all the time when you are at an Asian country. Western food is really expensive and mostly badly cooked. Food is a really important part of culture and eating local food is an extremely important part of traveling.
- Instead of eating at special tourist restaurants, try to eat from the places where locals eat. Especially in South-East Asia try to eat from street stalls or markets. Those kind of places offer much nicer food at a cheaper price. You don't have to worry about your health because you will see that locals from all classes of society are eating here as well as lots of tourists.
- Try to eat your food as the locals. For example if they are using chop sticks you can also try to using them.
- Do not always eat at your hotel.
- One of the greatest treats of the countries that are in the tropical zone are their amazing fruits. Try to taste as many different kinds of fruits as possible. Also try to taste meals and sweats done fith those fruits.
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- When you have any doubts about your help definetly see a doctor, do not worry about your budget.
- In case of simple health problems, try going to local hospitals instead of really expensive special tourist hospitals. You can learn those hospitals from the staff at your hotel or from taxi drivers.
- You should have some vaccinations before going to some countries. But you should have those vaccinations sometimes weeks or months ago your journey.You can learn which vaccinations are required for which country from sites like this.
- If you are going to Asia during the Mansoon rains or if you are going to explore non-touristic remote areas, begin taking anti-malaria tablets before the journey.
- Never drink tap water.
- Try to have a check-up before you beging the journey.
- In India there is definetly no escape from
diarrhea. When you catch it, try to use
dehydration kits sold at pharmacies. Also try to eat only rice and baked potatos during the period of diarrhea. If the case continues for a long time see a doctor.
- Before going to a new country check the internet for any epidemics.
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- Carry credit cards and some cash. You can also carry travelers cheques for some countries like Iran.
- Carry one Visa & one Master card.
- It would be better if your credit card is connected to your debir account back home.
- If you are thinking of using your debit account, search your local banks for the lowest commission taken during ATM transactions.
- When buying Dollar & Euro, be careful to buy only new banknotes, never accept old & damaged ones. Especially in South-East Asia old & damaged banknotes are not being accepted. Old series Dollars with "Small Heads" are also a problem. Also in Myanmar "CB" series dollars are not being accepted.
- When you are traveling in South-East Asia always carry a small amount of Dollar. Dollar is being widely accepted as a 2. currency in many countries.
- When you are crossing a border, change a small amount of money at the border. Bigger towns & cities offer better rates.
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- Definitely use a money belt all the time. Keep your money, credit cards, travel checks & passport all the time in your money belt.
- Your backpack & daypack should have small locks. Things may get stolen from your packs when you are at a bus or train. Thailand is especially notorious for bus staff stealing from your backpack when you are sleeping.
- Always carry your camera, MP3 player etc. in your daypack. Do not leave it in hotel room. Also carry it with you at bus trips.
- In Asia the risk of an armed robbery is very low, but staff being stolen from your room is quite common. Take necessary precautions.
- Almost all the rental bicycles have baskets in front of them. Do not carry your daypack in those baskets, thieves with motorcycles may steal it.
- If you are unlucky enough to be the target of an armed robbery, do not resist and give your money.
- Be very careful about crossing the street in countries like Vietnam, Pakistan, Cambodia, India etc. As a rule always
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- Carry minimum amount of clothes & equipment with you. If you realize that something you are carrying is unnecessary leave it behind.
- When you are buying rechargeable batteries, choose the ones with high mAH speeds.
- If you are going to backup your photos to CDs, bring some empty CDs with you. The internet cafes are selling emty CDs for pretty high prices.
- Carry some postcards from your country.
- Popular guidebooks are being sold almost every country in Asia. You don't have to carry later phases books with you.
- There is a lively book trade scene among backpackers. Try trading yours as well instead of buying new ones.
- If you have trouble sleeping at bus or train journeys, bring ear plugs, eye patches etc. with you. Ear plugs are also good for avoiding music or videos at the bus. Also you can consider bringing something like a Gamewatch/Gameboy to spend some time when you can not sleep.
- If you like reading books at buses, you should definetly carry a head lamp with you. This head lamp will also be very useful in many situations.
- Always carry some passport photos with you..
- Get an international student card if you can.
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BEFORE YOU GO
- Consider if you are going to do the journey solo or as a couple or more people. Doing the journey as a couple of people is good for your budget. There are extremely few single rooms in hotels and hostels are very rare in Asia. So if you go solo, most of the time you will have stay at double rooms and pay double prices. Also going as a couple is good for sharing the tasks that has to be made. But of course you have to choose your partner very carefully, a wrong choice may do more harm than good. Going solo on the other hand is much more productive as spiritually. Because of traveling alone for a long time, you may discover more about yourself. Also you have to do everything by yourself so it is more of a challenge.
- Take a photography course if you don't have any experience.
- If you would like to work for some time at the places you visit, get some certificates. Most popular jobs for backpackers are teaching English and being a diving instructor. For teaching English generally only native English speakers are being employed. For being a diving instructor you will need to have certifications like PADI.
- You can continue your journey as a crew at yachts. You can take a look at the ads at this site.
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- Some hotels in Nepal are demanding additional money during check-out saying that this is goverment tax. Ask about this tax issue during check-in.
- Although they are a little bit expensive then buses, always try to use trains in India.
- Because of USA embargo, in Myanmar you can not use credit cards or travel checks. When you are going to this country, carry enough dollars for your time in Myanmar and your plane ticket getting out.
- There is a tourist bus in Bangkok that promises you to take to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Never ever use that service, cross the border yourself using normal trasportation.
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