Backpacker Tips in Southeast Asia
Wonderful South East Asia, the place where movies like The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tropic Thunder with Ben Stiller were shot. Many backpackers have journeyed through stunning and culturally rich Southeast Asia to discover temples, ruins, picturesque towns and natural attractions. This comparatively inexpensive travel destination baits thousands upon thousands of backpackers every year with landmarks like the city of Bangkok, the incredible Penang Island and the majestic Marina Bay Sands overlooking the scenic Singapore skyline. Famed for offering pristine beaches, mesmerizing historical sights and exciting adventures, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start your backpacker trip.
First things first, before embarking on the best backpacker trip ever be sure purchase a reliable travel protection plan. Insurance companies like AIG offer comprehensive plans from as low as RM26. So, while you are out there having the greatest time, rest assured you will be protected from abhorred mishaps like losing your luggage, encountering flight delays or an accident. Be sure to also eat healthy so that you are in the prime of health before you begin your journey. Once you’ve gotten the basics down, move on to planning an itinerary that will help you experience the best of Southeast Asia. Read on for my top recommendations!
Begin In Bangkok
The heart of Thailand is a crazy, must see city. You’ll find amazing temples, palaces, spectacular floating markets and one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in the world. Of course, one must not leave out mouth wateringly delicious Thai cuisine. This incredible country has a plethora of beautiful tropical islands too. Ko Phi Phi is home to Maya Bay, made famous by the movie The Beach. It’s also called Monkey Beach because it’s filled with monkeys. Many backpackers flock here because it’s a stunning dive site and the nightlife is awesome. For a more relaxed vibe, head to a sleepy little island called Koh Lipe. Here, the friendly locals bring in daily catch so you have amazingly fresh, delicious seafood. The beaches are immaculate and the undeveloped national marine park is incredible for snorkeling. Another place that is perfect for water activities is the Similan Islands. The water is crystal clear and the sea life is majestic. The island of Koh Tao caters specifically for dive trips, so when you are there, be sure to catch sight of the infamous Elephant Head Rock (a rock formation in the shape of a large elephant's head) and marine life such as snappers, stingrays and turtles. The most whimsical trait of Thailand is the floating markets, which can be found throughout the country. The Taling Chan Weekend Floating Market in Bangkok is one of the best. You’ll find these astounding little boats that are piled high with colorful goods. Get to some morning shopping and don’t forget to take plenty of photos.
Like everything in Thailand, transportation is very affordable. Local buses cost as little as RM1 and the Metro and Skytrain in Bangkok costs about RM2 to RM7 per trip. Metered taxis are typically around RM8 to RM13 per ride. Trains are super affordable as well, costing as little as RM7 for a day ride. Then from Bangkok, take a train to Kuala Lumpur for about RM175.
Pause In Penang
Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, gorgeous Penang Island is known for its soft sandy beaches and historical sites. Fondly regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, Penang is also home to iconic landmarks like Penang hill and Penang Butterfly Farm. This UNESCO World Heritage Site definitely merits a visit with its quaint nooks and crannies of Georgetown to the exquisite Kek Lok Si Temple. The food in Penang is a wonderful hotchpotch of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines and for many the best dishes are found here. In the Kek Lok Si Temple, arguably the largest Buddhist temple complex in Southeast Asia, you will be left speechless at the sight of the bronze 120-foot Kuan Yin statue as well as the beautifully landscaped gardens. This temple is over 100 years old and is also home to a seven-tiered pagoda, which houses a stunning collection of Buddha statues. Once you’re done seeing this lovely temple, head to breathtaking Penang Hill. Rising 821 meters above Georgetown, this cool hill station is one of the most popular attractions in Penang. Also known as Flagstaff Hill or Bukit Bendera, this majestic hill boasts panoramic views of the whole island from the apex. On the summit, you’ll find a restaurant, a Hindu temple, a church, a mosque and a snake show. The Penang Batik Factory is one of the pioneers of batik manufacturing. Set in Teluk Bahang, Craft Batik was established in 1973 and offers a vast variety of quality batik, from block prints to hand-drawn pieces. It is now divided into three sections: an art gallery, a boutique and a workshop. It’s also a well-known sightseeing spot because it’s surrounded by lush, tropical greenery. Once you’ve picked up your beautiful batik, see some more beauty at the Penang Butterfly Farm. Opened in 1986, this popular tourist attraction is also located in Teluk Bahang, specifically at the foot of the hill between the Taman Rimba Park and the Teluk Bahang village. The eight-hectare butterfly sanctuary houses an impressive collection of more than 4,000 butterfly species from more than 120 groups as well as an assortment of other insects and reptiles.
A bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang is about RM50, while flights can be found easily for as low as RM100. Expect to pay around RM5 to RM15 for a bus trip around the island.
Stop In Singapore
It’s no easy task to decide which attraction to explore in Singapore as this city is bursting at the seams with exciting things to see and do. It’s a must to see the majestic Merlion and the famed Marina Bay Sands Hotel for the most spectacular view of the iconic Singapore skyline. The S$5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands has undergone a transformation of epic proportions. The focal point of the bay has over 60 restaurants, a Science Museum, a casino and many high-end stores. Try to arrive at the Marina Bay by 8pm to catch the remarkable light show, which illuminates the water as well as several iconic landmarks that you’ve probably seen on a postcard. After that, head to Clarke Quay, a delightful riverside development that is packed with bustling bars, restaurants, boutique shops and pumping nightclubs. This place takes full advantage of the picturesque body of water that arises from the city’s main river so alfresco dining at the endless number of eateries is the way to go.
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Travelling around Singapore is very easy because there are plenty of buses and taxis around. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) runs the length and breadth of the country. The tickets are typically around RM12 but can vary based on the distance travelled. There is also an option of purchasing the Singapore Tourist Pass, which offers unlimited travel within a designated time period. A 1-day pass costs around RM32, a 2-day pass is approximately RM50 and a 3-day pass is about RM63. Best part is, there is a RM32 deposit that will be returned if you turn in the card 5 days after purchasing it.
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Menaka George (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a professional copywriter with a Masters in Business Administration. She has written weekly blogs for Malaysia’s Largest Online Wine Shop, WineTalk and over 1000 product descriptions for EBay. She currently contributes digital articles to various commercial and corporate giants.
This article is written by a guest writer on LittleMissMeen. Hope you find the tips useful, enjoy the read :)