July 5, 2013
A Backpackers Guide to Asia
Going on a backpacking tour of Asia can represent a great way to see one of the world’s most diverse continents; whether heading into the depths of the Chinese countryside, exploring the variety of Southeast Asia, or visiting Japan, it’s possible to backpack at a relatively low cost. Make sure, though, that you get travel insurance, from a specialist like directasia, before you go to Asia, and avoid some common mistakes associated with a long trip through the continent.
A backpacking trip through China can take many different forms; if you can afford a longer city stay, then Hong Kong and Beijing can show you the modern side of China. Alternatively, head into China’s Provinces to see a different side of rural life; you can also boost your income during a backpacking trip by teaching English as a foreign language. Some key sights to take in during a trip to China include the Buddhist caves of Datong, as well as the obligatory Great Wall of China.
Touring Southeast Asia
In terms of cost, Southeast Asia tends to be one of the most popular destinations in the world for backpacking; once you get to this region, the daily cost of living can be very low, and you can find some great hostels around Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries. Some popular options for these trips include visiting Halong Bay in Vietnam, the ancient Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, or experiencing an ultra modern city like Singapore or Bangkok.
If you want to go off the beaten path with your backpacking trip to Asia, consider visiting Sumatra or the coastal regions of Thailand and Vietnam. East Timor can also be explored as one of the few relatively untouched destinations in Southeast Asia, while Yangon, or Rangoon, has recently opened up to tourists in much greater ways than it has in the past few decades.
While generally more expensive to visit than other parts of Asia, Japan can prove a very memorable destination; if you can get out from major cities like Tokyo, and if you can avoid expensive public transport, you can get along on a relatively frugal budget. Look for hostels in the countryside and small towns, and try to take advantage of teaching abroad and volunteering schemes.
When travelling in Asia, follow the usual precautions associated with backpacking for an extended period of time; bring bottled water, be careful around street food, and respect local laws. In Singapore, for example, you can receive fines for throwing gum on the floor, while penalties for drug smuggling can be severe. If travelling alone, make sure you get comprehensive travel insurance, and consider whether you need to take a smartphone and a laptop with you – one or the other will probably be fine, and you can usually get by using local internet cafes and wireless connections. Multi trip insurance policies are generally best if you’re going to be visiting different Asian countries.
Sophie Wiggins is a travel writer who’s been to Asia several times in the past few years. She encourages backpackers to check out directasia for affordable insurance. Darren highly recommends backpacking for an affordable, sustainable and thoroughly enjoyable holiday.