Hi girls! Planning a trip to Asia? AWESOME! Even if this isn’t your first time, perhaps you may discover something new from the tips below and improve your travel experience.
My first trip to Asia was when I was 12 years old, and since then I fell in love with the culture and lived for several years in countries like Bali, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Singapore, experiencing them like a local. This post would be most relevant for people who want to see these areas with comfort, so not really directed at luxury travellers who just plan to stay at the hotel.
Buy a sarong
A sarong is one of those must-haves when travelling through Asian countries. I’ve used them as blankets, towels, head-covers, in airplanes, on the beach and even to put down on some yoga mats to sleep on.
Besides that, in some countries like Bali, you must wear a sarong to enter temples, but don’t worry, if you don’t have one, they always have some for sale nearby.
Start using moon cups and take your own pads
Here’s the most basic of female tips. I’ve often found myself living in situations where tampons were non-existent (in some countries they’re even banned for religious reasons) and the only pads they had were the size of adult diapers.
Moon cups are those soft flexible plastic cup things that you put inside your yoni, to block the bleeding. I resisted using them for years as it takes some time to get used to them, but after a while I realised that they’re not just environmentally friendly, but they’re also very handy for travelling when you’re limited on space.
Also, if you use little pantyliners for thongs (link is to the one brand I use, it’s made of nice materials), I’d highly recommend you bring them with you as in most shops in Asia they will either be non-existent or they won’t have wings.
Buy a pee stick
A WHAT now?? Technically they’re called FUD’s (female urination device), they come in many different shapes and they can be an amazing thing to have around on any trip where you shudder at the thought of going to the loo. It’s basically like a large plastic straw that you can use to pee standing up without pulling your pants all the way down, like a guy! They’re also great if you’re into adventure trips; hiking, skiing etc in any country!
You may not need one for every trip, it very much depends on the kind of travel you’re going to do. When I was last in India I found it massively useful for trains as they move a lot and it prevents you from having to touch dirty toilet walls to keep your balance. I was also travelling by motorbike then and frequently had to stop in awkward places where the FUD came in very handy!
I had a very “fun” experience on an Indian train platform once. I had a massive suitcase with me and a backpack and I had to fit all that into a tiny, disgustingly dirty squatting toilet stall. The space was so narrow that my suitcase actually sat over half of the loo hole… and back in those days I didn’t have a FUD and reeeeally wish I did… don’t ask me how I managed that one 🙂
Careful with the mehendi (henna tattoos)
Here’s 2 tips for you:
1) Don’t get henna done at some cheap market unless you can see them doing a good job on someone else first. My very first experience in India looked like the photo on the LEFT below – the woman charged 100 rupees per hand, gave me no choice for the design and just winged it within 30 seconds… my first and only tourist mistake! The photo on the RIGHT is what it’s supposed to look like when done properly, this one cost me 400 rupees and took about 2 hours to do.
2) Don’t let them get henna on your nails. Really, just don’t! Rub it off as soon as it gets on your nail, otherwise you’ll be stuck with gross-looking nails until they grow out! Check out this photo below, that’s what henna looks like after 2 MONTHS!! This henna in the photo didn’t go away until 5 months later, when my nails fully grew out.
Take a little bottle of tea tree oil
I always have a small medical kit with me, but if I don’t have the space, the one thing I always take is tea tree oil. I’ve used it on numerous occasions, the last time being in Bali when my tooth decided to give me grief – just a few drops of tea tree on my gums helped relieve the pain tremendously.
Here are just a few things you can use it for: bacterial and fungal infections, cold sores, tooth and ear aches, head lice, insect bites, sores, deodorant and acne face wash.
Get a silk sleeping bag
Unless you’re planning a luxurious holiday in a fancy hotel of course.
I first heard about silk sleeping bags when I went on a University trip to Vietnam (yeah I had an awesome degree) and that was one of the required things to pack with us. The whole idea of having a tiny silk sleeping bag seemed useless to me at the time and as a student I thought it was a waste of money, but that was the best £30 I ever spent. Want one? Buy it here!
If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself in situations where you have to sleep in less than comfortable locations. From trains in Vietnam to staying in locals homes in India, I’ve been thankful for this small, weightless object in my bag countless of times. Most importantly, mine has a “hood” that can cover your entire head, so you can protect yourself from mosquitos and don’t have to touch whatever you’re using for a pillow with your face.
Get a pair of those totally unflattering toe socks
Ever had those moments when you’re going from a cold country to a warm country and you want to wear your comfortable trainers but you know you’ll be too hot in them when you land? Also since your feet expand on the plane it will be a hassle to put them on every time you go to the loo, and you don’t want to take flip flops with you to save hand luggage space?
Well if you forget for a moment how stupid toe socks look, they can be an amazing travel accessory. I just wear my flip flops on the plane now. The socks keep me warm, going to the loo doesn’t mean I take forever putting on my shoes and I just take off the socks when I land!
Get eyelash extensions
This is a relatively new thing for me but I’d really recommend it for travelling!! On my last trip to Asia I knew that I would be spending some time travelling around remote places with no access to clear water or even a sink. Taking off make up? Forget it! But I still wanted to look great in photos, after all, when else am I going to get the chance to be in such places, right?
After seeing how cool they look on a friend, I decided to spend 60€ on some eyelash extensions, and I never thought I’d love them so much! They lasted about 1.5 months, just enough for my trip and I never had to worry about them. Didn’t wear an ounce of make up and woke up gorgeous every morning! They are so easy to put on too, just takes 1.5 hours and doesn’t hurt one bit.
Travel with locals
The only way to really see a country, in my opinion, is to see it from the eyes of a local. When you’re a tourist, you don’t always know where to go and can be the victim of scams. I am blessed to have local friends in so many countries, and they have shown me places that I wouldn’t even dream of seeing alone. Check out these 2 videos for example of my last trip to India.
Don’t be afraid of the dark, but be cautious
Too many people try to scare you that walking alone in the dark can be dangerous. True to some extent, but anything can happen to you anywhere in the world, day or night. I’ve taken the metro in Delhi on my own in the dark, and yes that place is 90% filled with men, and yes they totally stared at me. Do you know what I did about it? I stared right back at them. They didn’t expect that kind of reaction so they shyly looked away and I walked past them like a boss.
Having said that, I certainly don’t do that all the time. Whenever I travel, I travel with my guy friends because it does make me feel safer, and also because I get harassed less on the streets that way. So find a guy, and take him along on a trip!
Leave your designer clothes at home
Unless you’re staying at 5 star hotels and are going to Asia for a luxury get-away (which is awesome by the way!) then I would recommend you take your comfortable clothes out and leave the Gucci at home.
Too many things can happen to them: they can get dirty on the roads, the laundry people can totally destroy them (sobs), leather items can grow mould (sobs again) or they can even just attract too much unwanted attention, depending on the region.
I usually try to look local wherever I go, not only is it practical, but it also makes you look less like a tourist.
Buy things and haggle at local markets
This probably should be tip #1 – learn how to haggle! In China a woman at the market told me it was almost considered rude if I didn’t haggle, to them it meant that I didn’t want the item enough!
Supermarkets will give you the exact same stuff, but way more expensive. Plus, at markets you will probably have a wider variety too! My mum once bought a statue in Shanghai for 50€, despite my best efforts to convince her that I could find one just like it way cheaper. Sure enough, 2 days later we found the exact same statue at a market for about 5€…
This goes for food markets also. In Bali I would wake up at 5am just to go to the food market because they had the best stuff – 0.20€ for a HUGE papaya – yes please!!
Have fun, find a local guy friend, arm yourself with a FUD and go on an adventure of a lifetime!! Asia is a truly magical place with so much to explore, I hope these tips will help you no matter where you’re going! Everyone’s experience will be different, so I’d love to hear your stories, tell me in the comments below what your top tips are.
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