South East 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!
My 10 Favourite Flashpacker Moments in South East Asia
1. Massage and Beauty Therapy
Okay, so everyone loves to get spoilt. Asian massages are the best, and for only $5 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. Cocktails 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 1900’s 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?
3. Shopping in Hoi An
Unleash the shopaholic inside. Hoi An is famous for it’s 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 in to 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. Cozy cabins, great food, fabulous entertainment and incredible trips. I would say it’s definitely worth cruising in style. Insider hint: I cruised with Papaya.
Halong Bay: climb the hill and enjoy this spectacular view of the 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 snorkeling in the right spots. Get yourself on a boat trip and open your eyes to a whole new world. Insider hint: I dived with Davy Jones Locker and Ombak Diving.
Well ain't that just a beautiful mermaid.
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.
One of my favorite beaches is 'Aow Leuk beach on the island on Koh Tao.
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. Insider hint: I loved Kikie’s House, Ombak Resort and Siem Reap Rooms.
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 the 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 are 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.