If you’re thinking about traveling in Asia, it’s only natural to be excited about the thought of all the new places you’ll get to see and all the new foods you’ll get to try, but if you don’t take some time to prepare before your trip, you may find that your vacation isn’t nearly as relaxing or enjoyable as it could have been. Here are 10 common mistakes that travelers make when visiting Asia and how to avoid them so that your trip goes smoothly and without any unpleasant surprises.
1) Using Local Phrases Before Learning Them
Most travel books, websites, and even locals will tell you to use phrases like Hello, Thank you, and I’m sorry when visiting a new country. However, you might be shocked to find out that certain words can have different meanings in different countries.
2) Trying to Hitchhike Everywhere
Hitchhiking around Asia is a tricky situation that needs to be handled delicately. If you’re hitchhiking to get from one place to another, ask if the driver will take cash up front. It will save you a lot of hassle when it comes time to pay and ensures that they are taking you because they want you and not just for the easy profit.
3) Bringing Bad Attitudes
Bringing bad attitudes will make your trip unpleasant. There are many travelers who have learned the hard way and have been scolded, humiliated, or even turned back from their destination by customs agents because of their attitude. Remember that these people are just doing their job and you should respect them for it!
4) Spitting Everywhere
Spitting Everywhere Maybe spitting on the street is something you grew up with and always seen people do so it might not seem like a big deal to you. But the sight of someone spitting their phlegm on the sidewalk or ground is enough to make anyone squeamish. There’s also the Asian tradition of eating dried fish by spitting out small portions at a time–which means there will be gobs of spit everywhere!
5) Not Staying Safely Inside Your Hostel
Everywhere you go, there are people, and not all of them have good intentions. If it seems like a bad idea to head out for a midnight walk, then don’t do it. This doesn’t mean that you need to turn into some sort of hermit, but there are plenty of ways to explore without leaving the safety of your hostel’s walls.
6) Taking Public Transportation Without Researching It First
It’s very tempting to just hop on the first public transportation you see and take it straight to your destination. But, if you haven’t researched what will get you where you need to go, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up lost somewhere outside of town, late for your appointment and frustrated beyond belief.
7) Not Planning Ahead or Leaving it Until the Last Minute
The first mistake is not planning ahead or leaving it until the last minute. The main cause of this, besides laziness, is lack of time to make a plan. I’ve never been to Thailand before so it can be hard to know what to do without just going somewhere and seeing what’s there. In doing this you will run the risk of arriving in a country, perhaps after a long flight, and not knowing where you should go first, which leaves it up to chance where you end up.
8) Not Respecting Local Culture
This is one of the most common mistakes travelers make when traveling to a different country. In Thailand, for example, your feet should not point towards the Buddha statue at the temple because it is an act of disrespect. Disrespectful behavior includes taking photos of people without their permission and giving money to children so they can perform a traditional dance for you or sell their product.
9) Ignoring Your Health on Long-Term Trips
This is not an exhaustive list, but these five mistakes can have the most disastrous effects on your health and safety.
-Being open to getting a Hepatitis A or Typhoid vaccination before going (rather than as a reactive measure if you get sick). While travelers need to be aware of various regulations and conditions for vaccines in each country, Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations are widely available throughout Asia.
10) Not Shopping Local, Instead Shopping at Big Chain Stores
Too many travelers think that just because a big name retailer is the world’s leading provider of goods and services, they’ll find everything they need on those shelves. The truth is, it might not be the perfect thing for you. Think about the local culture and what items are special to them when you want to buy something unique for someone back home or find a gift for someone who lives there.