How to be a Flashpacker in 10 Steps

Southeast Asia is most definitely up there on places to visit while travelling the world. The thought of backpacking around Asia can sometimes terrify people; but did you know that budget travel around Asia doesn’t always have to be grimy?

If the thought of ‘roughing it’ freaks you out, don’t worry. Even if you’re a broke, wannabe Flashpacker, you can still add some Asian travel glamour into your life. If you’re like me, and your friends laughed in your face about the idea of you backpacking, then be sure to read this post!

How to be a Flashpacker in Southeast Asia!

1. Indulge in Massage and Beauty Treatments

Okay, so everyone loves to get spoilt. Thai massages are the best, and for only $5 US a go, you can get one every single day if you wanted to. I definitely did. Treat yourself to cheap manicures, pedicures, haircuts and facials. You need to get involved and pamper yourself. Feeling pretty is a key Flashpacker lust.

2. Have a Cocktail at Raffles

Put on a nice outfit and sip a mouth-gasmic Singapore Sling at the iconic Raffles Hotel. The beautiful setting takes you back to the early 1900s and you can even be a bit of a diva for the night, throwing your nutshells on the floor! What more could you want from a night out in Singapore?

Marina Bay Sands Luxury Hotel - Singapore by night.
Marina Bay Sands Luxury Hotel – Singapore by night.

3Go Shopping in Hoi An

Unleash the shopaholic inside. The beautiful Vietnamese town of Hoi An is famous for its beautifully cheap tailoring shops. Get a lavish dress or suit designed and made for next to nothing. Shop around, as the quality varies, but when you find a decent store, buy as much as you can possibly fit into your backpack, or should I say your pink wheelie suitcase? Insider hint: I shopped at Peace and Blue.

4. Cruise Halong Bay

If you’re not into the whole party on a boat thing (hello sea sickness) then you can choose to cruise Halong Bay in luxury. It’s not that much more expensive, but the experience is a whole other level. Cosy cabins, great food, fabulous entertainment and incredible trips. I would say it’s definitely worth cruising in style

Halong Bay Cruise
One of the more upmarket tours of Halong Bay.

5. Visit an Eco-Friendly Elephant Home

A visit to Thailand isn’t complete without spending time with Elephants. But please, do it properly. Make sure that you choose an Eco-Friendly home, where the animals are treated well and rode bareback. The experience is incredible. You get your own Elephant to bond with during the day; you learn the Mahout commands and get to trek through the jungle with your new friend. I wanted to stay there forever! Insider Hint: I visited the Thai Elephant Home, Chiang Mai. 

6. Be a Mermaid/Merman

Scuba diving is super glamorous (if you look past the wetsuit!) The beauty that hides under the sea is just awesome. Why not take your PADI Open Water? It will be the best thing you have ever done, trust me on this one. If you can’t dive, don’t worry. You can see heaps of Marine life by snorkelling in the right spots. Get yourself on a boat trip and open your eyes to a whole new world. 

Niki and Dave Diving
Well, ain’t that just a beautiful mermaid and merman!

7. Discover Hidden Beaches

Grab yourself a scooter, or local tuk-tuk and venture out from the typical backpacker spots. Overcrowding is sooo last season, start your own trend. Insider hint: My favourite beaches were Coral Bay -Perhentian, Aow Leuk -Koh Tao and An Bang –Hoi An. 

8. Do Hostels Well

Some people just aren’t about drinking until the early hours and then vomiting in a dorm room. I am one of those people. Not all hostels are gross. Some are actually rather lovely and within budget. It’s good to research online (but not too much) and talk to other travellers for recommendations. Book yourself a private room if you’d prefer a little chill out time. Check out other places around before booking and barter on room rates, you can usually get them down. Check out our SE Asia hostels guide for more info.

Onederz Hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Not all hostels are grimy – check out Onederz Hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

9. Travel in Style

It won’t cost much more, but it will make a huge difference to your trip. Never underestimate the amount of time you will actually be travelling for! Upgrade to air conditioning, take temperature controlled minibuses over so-called ‘VIP’ buses and sail with the best looking boat companies. They look better for a reason! Try and avoid flying, as it’s a bit of a cheat. Choose the longboat to Laos; the scenery is stunning. Jump on the high-speed catamaran; it will give you more time on the beach!

10. Eat Well

It’s all about Asian street food. But there does come a time in your Flashpacker life where you want to sit down at a nice table and enjoy a ‘posh’ meal. Asia offers so many classy dining experiences at reasonable prices. There is a tonne of rooftop restaurants and hidden backstreet gems. All you need to do is ask a local where they would go if they were going ‘out-out’, trust them, they know best.

Header photo by Brooke Ferguson of Business Backpacker.

Samantha AKA ‘The Pole Dancing Travel Geek’ has hung up her stilettos, packed her backpack and boarded flights to places she’d never before dreamed of! She documents her fabulous travel experiences on her blog ‘Totally Sam’s World’ and has many passions in life; she’s a dancer, shopaholic, music lover, writer and dreamer. Are you interested in writing for us?

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5 thoughts on “How to be a Flashpacker in 10 Steps

  1. Vivian says:

    I also have to flag the elephant riding. Please do your research, it’s not okay to ride them. Sanctuaries like Elephant Nature Park are a good way to see and support them.

  2. Johnny says:

    I used to travel on a budget, in fact, I wrote a book on it, literally. But about a year ago when I turned 32, I decided, #@&*# this. Why am I trying to live as cheap as possible in Thailand? Why not make a western wage and start really crushing it in SE Asia.

    Now I stay in nice hotels, eat the best food and get massages whenever I want. Not to mention fly down to the islands for a tan instead of sitting on a 14 bus. I never liked the term flashpacker. But I love being a location independent entrepreneur. Listen to the Travel Like a Boss Podcast on your iPhone’s podcast app if you want to know how real life “flashpackers” do it in SE Asia.

  3. Amber says:

    I have to disagree on the Raffles cocktails. At about $38 for a Singapore Sling, that isn’t even Flashpacker budget! And, they were not even good. Otherwise, a great list!

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