I didn’t know what to expect on my first trip to Asia, other than gorgeous water. And I’ve got to say, I’m in love with Southeast Asia at this point. Thailand was always a dream (I mean… you saw “The Beach” right?) and finally getting to go was such an intense life goal. I’m not exaggerating, I almost cried when I saw the water for the first time.
But, like anything worth doing in life, I learned a lot while I was there! Next time I go to Thailand, or anywhere in Asia, I’m glad I’ll have these lessons. So, here are my 5 lessons I learned from my first trip to Asia:
THE SHORT VERSION
- Bring something modest to wear
- Eat everything, everywhere
- Check your sunscreen to make sure it’s actually sunscreen
- Do the sunrise version of the excursion
- Research animal ethics and don’t ride elephants
THE LONG VERSION
If you’re going to temples, pack something with sleeves; this might sound obvious but I wasn’t even thinking about it when packing and I had countless sundresses but nothing modest. You could also consider packing a scarf or 2 and simply wrap it around your shoulders while visiting temples.
Eat the street food; this is actually a huge regret that I didn’t get to do. My boyfriend has a sensitive stomach and was scared to do it, so I didn’t either. But after more research, often times street food is less likely to make you sick because you can see it being cooked all the way through.
DO NOT BUY SUNSCREEN FROM YOUR HOTEL IF THE LABEL IS IN A LANGUAGE YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND; this is in all caps because my god did we get scorched. It said it was 30 SPF but it ended up not being waterproof and we got sooo sunburnt after frolicking in the sun and water all day.
Booking an excursion? Do the sunrise version; maybe the best decision we made for our Thailand trip was booking the sunrise version of a day trip out to the Phi Phi Islands. I’ll literally never forget the beauty of that morning.
Do tons of research into animal ethics; southeast Asia has a million different ways to see and interact with Asia, but very few of them are actually ethical or good for the animals themselves. Absolutely look into sanctuaries in the area you plan on staying in, and try to avoid any tourist traps like circuses, etc. My experience was incredible, if you want to know more about what to expect at an ethical elephant sanctuary.
Cheers, and plan that southeast Asia trip already!