The Asian continent is home to many backpackers, but there is still so much to discover. From Southeast Asia, to India & Nepal, to paradise islands in the Philippines or Thailand, there is so much to see in this part of the world.
The diversity and pure expanse of this continent can also make it disorienting for travelers. Discover Evolution is here to help you as much as possible l, but there are as well few Apps and websites that we use across Asia that can also be beneficial and that will help your trip run smoothly.
How to Travel Around Asia
If you’re traveling Southeast Asia on a budget, you are going to be spending a lot of time on buses. Some people think buses are evil, but the bus industry has evolved in Southeast Asia and is now a reliable, safe and cheap mode of transportation. Think of it this way: you get to see more of the country (the best way to experience a new place!) and your wallet is happy. No worries, by the end of your trip you will be a bus pro! Here are a few tips on surviving bus travel in Southeast Asia.
Traveling by Bus in Asia
From rattling ‘chicken buses’ to luxurious coaches with Wi-Fi, taking buses in Asia is always an adventure. Even with an abundance of low-cost airlines, riding a long-haul bus is usually the best way to cover a lot of ground in Asian countries.
Every serious traveler in Asia has more than a few tales of nightmarish, 14-hour bus journeys. Staying safe and sane on those long buses in Asia requires a little experience and a whole lot of patience.
The method of booking bus tickets varies from place to place. The safest bet is always to book long-haul buses at least a day in advance. Keep your ticket and receipt; lost tickets are rarely reimbursed. You can usually book transportation in travel offices and at reception desks for an added commission. Otherwise, make your own way to the station to book your own passage.
On many buses in Asia, you will simply pay once the bus is already underway. An assistant will come around and collect money based on how far you are riding. When paying your fare on the bus, don’t expect the driver to have change for large banknotes. Always try to keep some small change handy for transportation in Asia.
Buses in Asia are rarely—if ever—considered ‘full.’ You can actually hail passing buses on roads by lifting your hand and then pointing to the ground in front of you with palm turn down. You’ll only be charged for the distance traveled, regardless of whether you get a real seat or not. Don’t linger or try to speak to the driver beyond just asking the final destination; holding up transportation is considered extremely bad form!
For certain cities in Asia, we recommend you book your bus ticket with 12Go, really easy to use and you will be sure to not getting scam.
Traveling by Train in Asia
No turbulence, no traffic jams, and none of the weird smells that come with bus rides: Boarding a train can actually be a joyful way to travel. Of course, no mode of transportation is perfect. Some people adore riding trains; others avoid them. Whether or not a train proves the best way for you to get to your next destination depends entirely on the itinerary, the needs of each passenger, and personal preferences.
Suggested train journeys across Asia:
- Jungle Train, Malaysia
- Eastern & Oriental Express
- Dhaka to Sreemangal, Bangladesh
Air Travel in Asia
My least favorite way to get around Asia (you don’t see nearly as much from a plane window as you do on the train but sometimes you can get incredible deals), air travel is still often necessary in Asia, and sometimes a better option. For example, if you intend to visit India from Malaysia, is better to book a cheap flight with Jetradar from one of their connecting cities in Europe than to get stuck paying for a premium airline on the same route.
Finding Accommodation in Asia
CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travelers with local hosts but since 2020, you now need to pay a fee to be able to use it. If you traveling by bicycle you can also use Warmshower, they are also established worldwide.
If you are the kind of person that like to reserve your hotel before to arrive HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels in the world, with millions of reviews from fellow backpackers. Agoda is also a great deal and has lots of advanced search and filters for finding hostels, hotels, and unique accommodation.
Airbnb has been a game-changer in our travel style! It’s allowed us to stay in some pretty dope places all over the world for a fraction of the price. Aside from the fact that we get access to things like a kitchen and a larger living space, booking an Airbnb more often than not is CHEAPER than a hotel.
Tours and Activities in Asia
Get your Guide is a popular site to book tours, skip the line tickets for crowded sites, or just to get ideas of common activities in various locations. Civitatis is another similar activity and tour search website.
Backpacking Insurance for Travel in Asia
As for any trip abroad, it is crucial to take out travel insurance. World Nomads is the company recommended by Lonely Planet.