Saturday, 6 December 2014

25 Backpacking Travel Guidelines For Asians

I thought I should just share this here.

I know there are 1000 travel tips posted by other bloggers. But I think you shouldn't read them. Why? Because I read them and they are bullshits.

Just kidding. They are great. Unfortunately I can't follow them because most of them backpackers are young Europeans or Americans whose currency are 100x bigger than ours. With their 10 dollars they can book half the kampung in Thailand already LOL So unless your dad is some big tycoon who can afford to use money to wipe his ass, practically those guidelines are useless to you and you probably don't need to go backpacking as cheap as I do wtf.

Plus I'm Obama's friend. In me you should trust.

Which is why you need to read mine lol.

Anyway, this guideline is catered to all SEA Asians (except for Singaporeans because virtually, most Singaporeans are relatively well-off) as long as you want to travel economically :)

1.  Make sure you get your food DURING the flight.

Not before, not after you landed. Especially during long-haul flights. Because of the airport tax, the only way to avoid that tax is either you're on the land, or in the air. Well the exception is when you landed in Thailand and everything is with our pasar malam price then of course, eat all you can there. As soon as you leave the flight and enter the airport, every food price increases by 15% whether you like it or not.

I have been taking MAS all my life so I always keep whatever snacks I could, then ask for more from the air stewards. They are always professional and generous so please be thick-skinned. But I probably shouldn't be teaching you all this method, since customers like me may be part of the reason why MAS is bankrupting...

If you're taking AirAsia, buy the meal online ahead. That nasi lemak is the best one in the world.

2. You probably should just travel alone.

Again, it depends on what kind of travellings you want to do. Overall, unless the person is your boyfriend/girlfriend/soul mate, NOT even your mum should go backpacking with you. Because travelling requires the discovery of your own soul, to blend and connect your thoughts with the place you're at, bringing another person just, doesn't feel right.

Instead, you should travel to the place yourself, then randomly talk to other backpackers and decide that you would want to be each other's company and part when your destination is different.

Plus, you save a whole lot of money travelling alone (unless when you need partners to chip in for something). You can have a meal with just breads and save the money for an exclusive local dinner all in your will.

I know many, especially girls, although crave for this, would hardly consider this as an option simply because, we are girls la not safe like that alone ma. OMG If you really worry about your safety, bring a knife around (I do that, don't judge LOL). When you want to avoid pick-pocketers especially in Paris and London, walk with a strong gaze at people, look confident and alert(even if you feel like shit), most of the time your appearance is the best protection for yourself.

3. Choose your partner selectively and wisely.

I know you may wanna be around your best friends. But often they turn out to be not-so-cool travel buddies. When we travel, we would need somebody to see the map, we need somebody to estimate the budget, we need somebody with the insight of planning the timeline. To sum up, we need a partner with discipline and integrity. Besides, it's only natural that they may not want to do the same thing as you do.

Don't pick someone who complain about the sun when you're about to hike the rock.

Don't pick someone who may tie you down when you want to go for the wildest music chair party in town.

Don't pick someone who isn't willing to chase the bus with you.

Pick someone like my brother hahahaha.

Add-on: Get your Malaysian driving license converted to an international license and rent a car! You can drive and explore almost the whole Europe! (But it's not usable in China)

4. Water costs a fortune.

You probably wouldn't realise this when you're on your usual daily schedule because we tend to take water for granted. When you're travelling, every water you drink is either bought or taken from the hotel. I remember spending RM60 per day just for drinking water in Paris. So please bring an empty big bottle in your luggage. Remember to make an effort to refill water before you start your day travelling, it takes only half a minute to do so.

If you're thick-skinned enough, you can even try to make friends with the hostel owner and ask them to give you free mineral water. Always smile and they may even cook you breakfast.

Add-on: In places like Scotland and Finland, the water is from glacier so they are VERY clean. Not only you can drink from tap water, you can also drink from toilet water. (But not in Ireland apparently)

5. Always keep a bar of chocolate in your pocket.

Especially during long distanced train ride that sells food which cost another gold mine. A bar of high-energy can save you more than a meal.

6. Water and nutrition is the key to everything.

When I was in Ireland, I contracted pneumonia and it took me 2 months to recover. The final result was permanently hardened lung. I got a bladder infection in China. Both caused me a fortune. However much they cost didn't matter, but there was so much time wasted and the recovery process feels terrible.

Therefore, bring a bottle of Vitamin C supplement and again, keep yourself hydrated.

And a tons of paracetamols and some NSAIDs for hangovers from drinking HAHA! You gotta keep your physique tight and ready for every day's schedule.

7. DON'T TIP!!!!

I know for a fact that it's hard not to tip when you're in places like US and UK. But this is something you have to learn: one whole day of tipping can cost up to RM50.


Standard price of tipping is 2-5$ or pounds per service. So for example, you order a meal for 6 pounds you gotta tip about 2 pounds to the waiter. So it's RM10 free for the waiter who practically did nothing but just pass you your food. After you tip, if he does something more, practically you gotta tip again. And then add the amount of tippings for your lunch and ESPECIALLY dinner. SO DON'T START TIPPING!! Take the advantage of looking like a young and poor backpacker(which I really am) and if they demand for tips, apologise sincerely and say that you still have a long journey ahead.

Besides, don't say thank you yet when you pay. Only say thank you once you receive your change back. The waiter may understand that as a tip.

Keep the money for the street performers who you think do really well in the subways. Because talent is to be appreciated. Or keep the money to buy a Baguette(long bread) to feed the pigeons.

8. Stay in hostels

Because they can cost as low as $8 per night. If you want to save somemore money, take the floor and use your backpack as your pillow. It can be free sometimes.

Sometimes your flight arrives or departs at odd hours(when transport back to the city costs the most). You can consider a night-sleep at the airport too.

9. Buy a local sim card and make local friends.

If you will be in the same country for at least a month, make sure you make friends with fellow travellers and locals along the way, and get a sim card. A sim card would cost about $20 but this sim card is gonna be your best friend during your stay when you can call up the locals(which you have made friends with) for any help. They may even call their families to let you stay with them when you travel to another district. We NEED HELP when we are alone in somewhere unfamiliar!

Besides, the mobile internet access is gonna help you with booking the cheapest hostels wherever you go. All in all, getting a sim card is a big PLUS.

Here's why you MUST get a simcard if you have a long stay. This is my story.

When I left from Beijing to Mongolia, I was in a rush and didn't do any research about the place at all. The night before, I was busy dealing with St. Gallen University students from Switzerland. After 9 hours of night train I was finally in Mongolia. I was extremely exhausted so I needed to find a hostel asap. I talked to a few people at the station and they gave me an address. So I got a cab.

Somehow I ended up at some ULU kampung mongolian place where everybody looked like they gonna eat me alive cos' they have never seen anyone so fair omg omg omg. Somemore I saw a man staring at me hungrily while roasting a lamb leg outside his house HOLY SHIT LOL. Then I ran and found the place with the address, and there were 5-6 hostels but all of them looked like PROSTITUTE DENS T.T

I paid about 100RMB (RM50 or $16) for a room but after a while I wanted leave coz the boss KEPT MAKING ME CHINESE TEA FOR NO REASON FML.

I had this war going on in my brain and I wanted to save money(if I leave, I can't get my deposit back) so I decided to stay. Then the bursting point came. I realise that my room had no bathroom so I asked the lao ban(boss) where do I bath at?

"Ohh about 10 minutes across the street, there's a public spa and it's unisex."


Dude u think I know how to bath unisex is it?!

So I left immediately and I used my simcard to go online to find a proper youth hostel in the city to stay at, which only costed about RMB40 (RM20 or $8) per night. THANK GOD I ESCAPED THAT PROSTITUTE DEN.

Best simcard in the world.

10. Bring some local food to travel

To soothe your melancholic stomach and to make friends. Anything as small as dodo kuih and even 3-in-1 Milo will do (except for Australia because they have it too LOL). Little gifts like this are a lot more EFFECTIVE than buying people stuffs from their own homeland. People view it as sincerity and the willingness to let them know you on your root. This sincerity will go a long way. They probably invite you to stay in their house for FREE!

PS: Food always works the best. So don't bring objects.

11. Specifically in Italy: DON'T SIT DOWN IN A RESTAURANT!!

They may charge you double price than you taking away. The rate is NOT STANDARDISED =_=

12. Specifically in Italy: Eat pizza to save money

Buy a pizza and with your Asian diet, it can most likely last you a whole day. Depending on where you are, a pizza would cost about 4-9 Euros, which is a lot cheaper than their spaghetti and rissoto which cost 6-7 Euros each, and only lasts for a meal(cos' you cannot bungkus tapao leftover food in Europe la)

13. Specifically in France: DON'T ENTER A CAFE AND ORDER A COFFEE!!!

Unless you have a whole day free for yourself.  If you leave the cafe within 2 hours, you're so gonna offend the Parisians there because they regard this as your way of saying your cafe suck and you suck because NOBODY LEAVES A CAFE SO EARLY.

Also, if you want to place an order, be patient because the waiter is probably taking a century before they come to you.

On a side note, ever wondered why the chairs and tables outside a cafe always face the road? Just remember to NEVER sit at the chairs facing the street. That's the Parisian cafe culture and I think you may get charged double for your coffee with that too.

14. Also specifically in France: Make sure you learn a couple of French words

Or they gonna start their f*** you English speaker episode hahahhaa wtf just kidding. It is a sign of respect to learn a national language when you're travelling to the country.

15. Specifically in London, Ireland and Paris: Beware of pick pockets

Just make sure you carry your beg in front of your belly instead of at the back. Watch them back when you catch people watching you. They would know that you notice them and decide to leave you alone.

And never let someone help you take photo because they most probably gonna run away with your iPhone.

16. Don't be afraid when people invite you to do shit and have crazy fun.

Most of the times, backpackers are VERY excited to meet fellow backpackers. The locals love to get you out for a community dance in the village. Masquerade dance, bonfire barbeque, everything awesomeeee! So please accept their invitation!

There may be a lot of drugs and drinks involved but be open-minded and keep your mind clear and make sure you stick to only alcohol. (Do you want to include weed?)

17. Get a chest pocket for your passport and money.

Keep some money in the purse. Some more in the chest pocket. If you want to look nice with the chest pocket sticking out at your belly, wear a suit, which leads to my next point.

18. Bring a coat/suit and a beanie.

We all wanna look good and feel good in photos when we travel. But most of the time we would look like some sallow stick men because we have to save money and we have plans the whole day and are a little malnutritioned. Our hair would be a haystack and our T shirt is old and dusty. So bring a suit! They make everybody look poshed for no reason.

Biker jackets work very well most of the times. A formal coat gets you into every musical show. A scarf makes you look like you're a rich tai tai from the high-class society when we are struggling with our travelling budget wtf.

And the beanie for the hair. Everybody looks mainstreamly hippie and cool in one.

19. Specifically in Las Vegas: Go to casinos!!

Don't gamble. Go there for live performance of dancers instead. Nudeness aside, the dancers are actually pretty good. Most importantly, it's FREE! Sometimes you may even catch a live broadway show there. Remember to wander around the hotel lobbies too!

20. Specifically in Las Vegas: Enjoy the night view

Las Vegas isn't just all about sex and 72-hour marriages. They have among the best night views there, pick the right hotels and you get to go up to 40th floor to watch the views for FREE!

Always linger around the hotel lobbies for random performances and events.

21. Specifically in US: JOIN LOCAL TOURS

Most of us backpackers hate the idea of joining tours. But the truth is, US is too big to not to join tours. Sometimes, with money and time constraints, we have to give up backpacking. Imagine travelling from Los Angelos to Las Vegas actually takes more than half a day although they look like neighbours on the maps. And then from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, the journey wasn't easy either. Besides, US can be extremely unsafe especially in Florida and Miami (remote towns). You are probably dead by the time you make it from the 1st street to the 10th street because everybody has a gun.

Therefore, unless you will have a long stay there, do join a couple of local tours. Moreover, many local tours can be ridiculously cheap (and not cheat!). I joined a local 9-day tour from New York to Washington, Philadelphia all the way to Canada that cost slightly lower than RM1000 ($330) and all the hotels I stayed in were 4-stars (Hilton, Marriot, you name them). The tour leader was extremely professional and friendly!

Add-on: move from cities to cities with Greyhound bus service! I find it cheaper and easier than some other long-distance bus access and flights.

22. Specifically in China: DON'T JOIN LOCAL TOURS

Because among 100 local travel agents, there are 99 cheaters in China (just joking, but you get the picture). These tours would seem cheap at first. But instead of bringing you to the spot they promise to, they bring you to pass by it HAHAHA wtf and then they would drop you at souvenir shop to buy souvenirs. Then they would drop you at duck shops to buy duck. Then they would drop you at Jewellery shops to buy pearls. Before you leave, they ask you for tips or they won't let you off the bus.

If you start the story of how you needa keep the rest of the money for travelling, they are gonna tell you how their grandmothers are sick and how many mouths they need to feed at home....

All in all, good luck!

23. Specifically in Thailand: Don't go to Pattaya.

I don't know. There's nothing there beside a lot of bars and a lot of Europeans, a lot of sex workers and a lot of eurasian kids. The only things there are lights after lights, traffic jams and noisy bars every night.

However, they have a permanent cabaret show that features transgenders and I think it's amazing!

24. Specifically in Switzerland: Have a slightly longer stay

The reason why I am recommending this although everything even an apple costs a fortune there is because Switzerland is utmostly gifted with her extraordinary landscape. It makes us stress-free and allow us take a whole new look on life. Besides, there are Alpacas!!!

Take the train up to Jungfrau Mountain. The train trip is more beautiful than the mountain itself. Make sure you ask the hostel owner whether meals are provided because even if they are not free, they would cost a lot lesser than the restaurants outside. It costs about 30 Swiss Frank (RM100) per meal outside (and no sharing meals with other people because it's considered impolite). You may get it half price in the hostels (but you have to pre-order, or be nice to the boss)

25. Don't fret when you're in trouble

Remember the friends you made, and the simcard you paid for. Let them help you now, You're welcome for the suggestion earlier hehe. If you don't have anyone who can help you, just go to the nearest police or train station. Tell them what happened because they would feel responsible as you come to their country but get in danger. They will help you because they know how you feel.

I promise you they will :)

26. (Add-on) Looking for a toilet can be a problem

This issue sounds ridiculous but is undeniably true especially in the heart of Paris. Make sure you catch the bathroom for a while before you leave the museums and shopping malls.

There's a couple of mobile middle-of-the-street toilets by the Seine river near Louvre. But those toilets are a bit funny. Every time a person goes in and comes out, the toilet takes about 5-10 minutes to wash itself before another person can use it. So by the time it's your queue, your pee and poops may be at the edge already. If you're lucky, you may pass by a shopping mall but firstly, it's hard to spot a shopping mall (cos' every fking conventional building looks the same in Paris) and secondly, the queue is very long because there are 1000 tourists out there who couldn't afford to wait for the mobile toilets, just like you LOL! But no worries! There are many cafes around!!

The only trouble you would face is that the cafe would like you to BUY A COFFEE if you want to use the toilet. The restaurant would invite you for dinner even if you just want to catch a glance of the toilet. And they can be so GENTLY FORCEFUL about it that you can't refuse. So it's either you eat, or you don't get to pee. If you face this situation, you should be happy that you followed the tips early on because now you have saved enough for a coffee + a complimentary toilet trip lol.

If you're in London, you most probably wouldn't face this problem because some tube stations have toilets. Just to give you a couple of directions if you're near this area. On the bridge of Big Ben and London Eye, there is a hospital. I forgot its name but I think it's called St. Thomas. It's on the same side of London Eye and across the river from Big Ben. If you're around there and you're looking for a queue-free toilet and you are SUPER DESPERATE, you may use the hospital toilet. But if you're not, do consider the welfare of the patients :)

Besides, there's a very customer-friendly pharmacy near the hospital entrance. You can buy your supplements there(which is what I did). I remember that Vitamin C, glucosamine(for bones) and Cod liver fish oil cost less than 4 pounds each bottle which is SOO CHEAP IT'S LIKE BLACK FRIDAY SALES. Just kidding la who buys medicine on Black Friday -_-

27. (Add-on) You have to fend off admirers

Especially the girls.

To the Europeans, no matter how flat your nose is and how small your eyes are, we are always the mystical, mysterious oriental pearls hailed all the way from the East. To the Chinese, we are the hot, wild and enthusiastic tropical pokemons. If you have fair skin, they will call you the Porcelain Doll. If you have dark skin, they will call the exotic sunny bunny. Either ways, there will be 100 free drinks and 99 flying kisses across the bar -_-

Just... try your best to run away if it gets too overwhelming.

(this post means no offense to anyone of any nationality. Some of the things I say are just jokes. I respect and love all of you for your warmth and help whenever I get into trouble while travelling!)

Remember to always be open-minded

We SEA Asians are probably not as wild and crazy as those from other regions. So remember, when you're travelling alone, you will see and even EXPERIENCE all sorts of craziness going on, some of which may be unacceptable in your culture. But be open-minded. Know that while it's not right in your dictionary, it's fine in theirs; that even if you can't accept it, doesn't mean you should judge them. Instead, try to know them better, and see the world through their eyes.

I promise you that what you see would be worth your time.

Let me end with a controversial photo taken in Hollywood.

Add-on: Get a Swiss Army knife! They are very handy!


  1. Gosh, never knew how important getting a simcard can be until I read your story. Love your pictures jing! Can't wait to read more from you :)

  2. I'm planning to go backpackers, well probably around peninsular malaysia (i'm from Kuching)...
    love this tips..! Very sincere...

    Any backpacking tips to Japan? Haha