South East Asia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and for good reason. Prices are relatively cheap, the locals are friendly and both the natural landscape and man-made attractions are breathtaking.
The area is also well-known for its solo travellers and although these individuals are looking forward to a truly independent trip, they still experience feelings of anxiety and loneliness from time to time. For those of you planning an extended trip around South East Asia, here are some tips to keep the blues away.
Help the locals
South East Asia is full of opportunities for you to help the local population and these provide a great opportunity to keep busy, meet new people and give something back to the community. Sustainable tourism is hugely important to the area and one of the ways you can contribute to this is by getting involved with local education and community schemes.
[Photo courtesy of Poswiecie/pixabay.com]
If this sounds like the ideal way for you to keep busy on your travels, why not volunteer in Thailand, teach English in Cambodia, or become a football coach in Vietnam?
Make the most of any opportunity you have to meet new people. If you’re staying in a hostel, for example, don’t spend all evening in a dark corner of your room, head to the common area and make some new friends.
Backpackers and solo travellers are often easy to spot and many of them, while enjoying their independence, are grateful for some company on their travels. There are many great sites to choose from filled with like-minded tourists, from the bustling Kaoh San Road in Bangkok to the smaller town of Phong Nha Ke Bang in Vietnam. If you put yourself out there you’ll surely make a friend on your travels and you may just make one for life.
Another sure-fire way of meeting fellow travellers is to take part in a regional tour. Fortunately, there are a wide range of established schemes all over South East Asia. Hanoikids is just one example of a student-run organisation that helps English speaking travellers find their way around.
As well as gaining a genuine insight into the culture and traditions of your travel destination, a regional tour brings together large groups of English speakers, so it’s the perfect opportunity to meet people.
Get away from the crowds
Although you’ll want to visit the must-see attractions like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, there are many sights that haven’t yet become fully-fledged tourist hotspots, but are still definitely worth seeing.
The beautiful south coast of Myanmar remains barely touched by tourism, for example, and gives you the chance to explore the local fishing community in peace. Sumatra in Indonesia, El Nido in the Philippines and Don Khong Island in Laos offer similar respite from tourists, but the good thing is these places aren’t completely cut off – far from it. Plus, these quieter environments usually give you more time to get to know those around you – both tourists and locals alike.
So, if you’re planning a solo trip to South East Asia, remember that “solo” doesn’t have to mean “lonely.” By visiting the right places and having the right attitude you’ll not only find plenty of sights to see, but also many new people to meet.