Jam-packed with culture, language, food and activities Southeast Asia is considered the capital of backpack travelling. In 2015, travelers going to Southeast Asia numbered to more than 109 million people, an increase of 49% from 2010. With its appealing cheap prices, tempting food choices and
amazing diversity, it is no wonder young, budget conscious travelers are crowding this amazing tropical region. Composed of 11 countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It is hardly surprising that the region can offer incredible experiences to travelers.
While as tourists we do help boost their local economy, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to leave the untapped beauty in the same (or better) condition than it was when we arrived. Regardless of your country or origin, taking the time to learn and honor the local customs is a wise move, before you travel.
After all, respect begets respect. Whether you are travelling as a family, a student on break or someone bitten by a travel bug, conducting yourself in a respectful manner will surely earn you favor form residents of Southeast Asian nations.
1.Respect Religious Institutions
Southeast Asia is a region that is home to many religions. Islam, Buddhism and Catholic faiths are some of the religions that are widely practiced in the area. Each religion has their own way of showing respect to one another: either by words, dress code and action
For example, woman should avoid touching or interacting with monks. Young monks are less firm about this but older monks have strong abiding rules to follow. Be mindful about the way you conduct yourself, especially in the places of worship.
People in Asia are generally conservative and traditional. Be careful about the kind of clothes you are wearing. Some areas find exposed skin as rude and disrespectful. Wear appropriate clothing when you are going to visit a church, temple or a mosque. Wearing minimal clothes like a swimsuit can be done in
certain places like beaches of course.
Aside from dressing appropriately for the setting, you should be mindful of what topics you discuss. If it is about their local politics, just drop the conversation as it can be a sensitive topic for them.
There a number of common gestures that are acceptable in the west but not in Southeast Asia. It varies per country. For example, point a direction using your feet is disrespectful in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. For them, feet are the dirtiest part of the body.
Remove your shoes when you are about to enter a temple or someone’s house. Head is regarded as the most sacred part of the body for the Hindus and the Buddhist, so do not carelessly touch a person’s head.
The region is generally composed of reserved people, and public displays of affection are frowned upon. Keep it classy and be mindful of local laws to avoid an awkward situation!
4.Be Financially Sensitive
Prices in Southeast Asia are cheaper than other countries outside of the region, but living there is still a struggle for many. Be sensitive when you are bargaining. A rule of thumb to be respectful is to never drop the price by more than 50%.
Never aspire to be a “begpacker”, a term used for people who travel without money. They travel by asking for contributions and freebies. When you stop to consider that the average annual income of your country is likely much higher than theirs, it is easy to see why your actions would be viewed as insulting.
Fund your travel wisely and take the necessary precautions that will keep you out of a bad situation if something unexpected happens on your trip. Simple steps, like securing travel insurance could save you a lot of money and frustration, so take some time to find a suitable plan, based upon the country you will be visiting.
Traveling, especially backpacking can be an amazing experience the builds lifelong memories with you and your friends, take the time to do a little pre-planning to make sure the memories are good ones.