Travel Tips for Southeast Asia
How to get around Southeast Asia
The easiest and cheapest way to travel to Southeast Asia is by bus. A bus will take you everywhere and anywhere, no matter how far you go. The Backpacker Trail is so worn out that there is a very well-established and oiled tourist bus system to take you anywhere. The cost of buses varies between $ 5-10 USD for a 5-6 hour journey. Overnight buses cost $ 10–15 USD depending on distance. Local public transport costs range from a few pennies to a few dollars.
Taxis and tuk-tuk (small shared taxis with no meter) will require slightly more bargaining and cost than local transport. Taxis and tuk-tuk are usually three times as much as local transport and you often have to bargain for the price. They start really high and you work towards what you are willing to pay. Eventually, you come to a conclusion, which is usually about half the price they started with.
Taxi drivers in Singapore and Indonesia employ meters. In Bangkok, you can get a taxi driver to use the meter, but if you are in a tourist area, he can try to avoid using it. In Vietnam, rigging is usually done in meters, but if you find a reputable company like Mai Linh, you will have no problem.
Train service is limited in the region and there is really nothing to consider when you travel to South East Asia. It doesn't just go to many places. You can take trains up and down the coast of Vietnam, although it is slow and expensive. Thailand is the only country that has an extensive train system that allows you to travel from Bangkok to all its regions (and further Singapore).
Train prices in Southeast Asia are determined by distance and class, so the farther you go, the more you pay. Night trains with sleeper cars are more expensive than day trains. The night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes twelve hours and the sleeper seat costs 965 THB ($ 30 USD). However, the same train during the day is 300 THB ($ 10 USD). In Vietnam, trains run up and down the coast and the cost from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is 1,445,445 VND ($ 60 USD).
In short, when you're backpacking Southeast Asia (or just want to use local transportation) do this for a walk: take the train to Thailand as often as possible, take buses everywhere, take a train to Vietnam if You have time. Remember day trains are always cheaper.
When to go to southeast asia
The best time of year to visit Southeast Asia is from November to April, when the temperature is mild. This region is also high season. However, there is a huge difference in temperature in the region. It may be mild in Thailand and warm in Malaysia in January but in North Vietnam, it is cold!
Here is a description of each country so that you can know when to go:
The best time to visit Indonesia is April to October. Temperatures average 24–30ºC (75–86ºF), and the weather is mostly dry. July to September is the peak holiday season and when you can expect to pay the highest rates. December to February is the rainy season.
In Malaysia, January-March and June-September are the best times to visit, as these months receive the lowest average rainfall. However, it will still be hot and humid! The rainy season is from October to December. The climate / weather of Singapore is very much like Malaysia.
In Vietnam, the weather varies. In central Vietnam (like Hoi An and Nha Trang), January to May is the best time to travel because it is dry and the temperature averages 21–30ºC (70–86ºF).
June to August is also fine. If you want to be around Hanoi, March to April is great, or October to December (for the mildest temperatures). The rainy season is May to September.
Thailand has three seasons: the hottest, the hottest and the hottest. It is always warm, although the weather is best between November and February (which is also the peak tourist season). April and May are the hottest months and the rainy season is June-October. The Gulf Islands receive significant rainfall from August to December. The best time to visit Thailand is from November to the end of February. Bangkok is the "coldest" during this time (but still a warmer 29ºC / 85 ° F average), and also the driest. Avoid rainy season (July to October).
The dry season in Cambodia is from November – May, and the cold season is from November – February (this is when most people arrive). During this time the temperature is still high, but the humidity is low. Laos has a cold climate similar to Cambodia, which runs from November to April.
Overall, if you are visiting Southeast Asia, November-April is usually the best time to visit.
How to Stay Safe in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel – even if you’re traveling solo, and even as a solo female traveler. Violent attacks are rare. Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime in Southeast Asia. There are some common scams around, like the motorbike scam where vendors try to charge you for damage to their bike, but for the most part, this is a safe place to travel. People are nice and helpful and you’re unlikely to get into trouble. The people who do tend to be involved with drinking or drugs or sex tourism. Stay away from that stuff and you’ll be fine.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. You have every right to remove yourself from the situation. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it when you’re in Southeast Asia. Follow that rule and you’ll be fine.