View of Mount Bromo during the day from the ground.

Tackling Indonesia’s Active Volcano: A Backpacker’s Hike to Mount Bromo

Indonesia is home to several volcanoes, Mount Bromo being one of the more active ones. Also known as Gunung Bromo in Bahasa (Indonesian language), it is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park and towers at a height of 2,329 metres (7,641 ft). When my friend and I visited Java, hiking Bromo was top of our list, but also one of the most challenging. The main reason was because Mount Bromo had erupted as recently as January 2011! Was it still dangerous?

50 Inspiring Travel Bloggers to Follow!

Over the years, we’ve worked with some amazing travel bloggers who have sent in articles to our magazine. From insider tips about how to get off the beaten track, specialist advice about backpacking as a family or a solo female, or just inspiration for the armchair traveller – the world of travel blogging is crammed full of fantastic info – if you just know where to look! Here are 50 bloggers whose sites we reckon are worth a browse over a mince pie and mulled wine this Christmas…

Will the Real Koh Phangan Please Stand Up! Beyond The Full Moon Party

Home to the notorious monthly Full Moon Party, it’s no shock that Koh Phangan has somewhat of a dodgy reputation. The truth however, is that this island is special and offers far more than it is given credit for. It’s creative, eclectic, underground, spiritual, artistic; it’s got a great, free-flowing vibe; a tight community that integrates both expats, locals, and travellers who keep coming back. We introduce you to the often overlooked dynamism of Koh Phangan.

Interview with Free and Easy Trip Leader & Life-long Nomad, Jeff Emmett…

Jeff, originally from Canada, has been a group leader with Free & Easy Traveler for 5 years. He runs trips all over the world and has helped to give thousands of travelers the experience of a lifetime! We decided to quiz him with 10 questions on why Free & Easy Traveler is so different from your average group tour, what he loves and hates about his job and why he’d never switch roles with a Silicon Valley millionaire…

Exploring the Hidden Secrets of Myanmar – 3 Must-Do Treks!

Myanmar is still an off the beaten path traveler’s destination, which means that sometimes creating the trip you want can be tricky. We introduce to you Asia Tours, a brand new company, run entirely by Burmese that organizes trips for backpackers wanting to explore outside the major hubs of Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan!

Metalic Street Art in Penang

Scope Out the Street Sculptures in Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia has a rich culinary scene, but how else can you get to know this culturally rich UNESO World Heritage Site? By taking to the streets and reading the stories told through wire in a massive street art installation project.

Out and About, Beyond Khao San Road in Bangkok!

Bangkok! It’s the gateway to Asia – often the first place we touch down when we arrive, and most likely, the last before we go back home again. But how well do we know it, really? It’s an absolutely sprawling metropolis, after all, with the kind of 24-hour nightlife where everything’s on offer, from your standard friendly Irish Bar to…well, you know. Everything else. Many of us only touch the surface, dipping our toes in as far as Khao San Road and then calling it quits, which is a shame, because when the sun goes down and it’s time to hit the town Bangkok has a lot to offer!

DO NO-THING: Mastering the Art of Laziness in Southeast Asia

Every day of our lives we are confronted with the verb “do”: do laundry, to-do lists, even “doing” Asia. But the best, yet most frowned upon, ‘do’ adverb is ‘nothing’. This may sound lazy and boring, but to those who learn to let go of conventional expectations, they will find utter relaxation and peacefulness. Have you learned to let go, relax and simply enjoy the art of doing nothing in S.E.A?

The Kelabit Highlands, Borneo: Where Tradition and Globalization Meet

As a traveller, it’s always so easy to want things to stay as they are. In the Kelabit Highlands, you can feel the old traditions fade, as slowly and methodically as the sun sinks behind the mountain ranges, leaving the sky a vast painting of pastel pinks and reds, and turning the entire landscape into a vision so captivatingly beautiful that it barely seems real. This is a land touched by missionaries, globalization, and a growing technological influence. Karen Farini talks to local residences in order to better understand their perspectives on the cultural changes taking place.

Notes From the Editor: Do you Embrace the Prospect of ‘Change’ into Your Life & Travels?

The anticipation of a big change has been lingering in the air of the S.E.A Backpacker office in Chiang Mai recently. As soon as it was felt, we knew deep down that we must follow our hearts and obey the backpacker spirit that brought us here in the first place… Even though making big changes in your life is never easy, sometimes you need to take the plunge and dive right into the next adventure…

Deep Reflection & Spiritual Learning at the DHARMA INC Centre, Thailand.

How can travel inspire us and guide us without a heavy dose of time for ourselves in the mix? How can we welcome in new insight, or perspectives, or desires if we do not give them time to marinate and become fully flavoured? Recently we discovered the Kailash Akhara Centre by Dharma Inc the perfect location in which to add some essential ‘YOU time’ into your travel plans.

Review: iSanook Residence, Bangkok – A Hub for Flashpackers & Digital Nomads

This week we discovered the brand new iSanook Residence in the heart of Bangkok – and we just loved it! With nightly rooms to rent or long-term options, it’s a great place for digital nomads (those who take their career on the road) or travellers in search of a little more luxury than the average hostel.

10 Great Places to Eat & Drink for a Cause in South East Asia!

Helping students learn English. Helping families gain financial independence. HIV and contraception awareness. Promoting the use of local organic vegetables. You’ve gotta eat, so why not make sure that your money is going back into the pockets of the local community. We’ve found 10 fabulous restaurants to try in South East Asia that support more than just your stomach!

Stowaway on the Slowboat to China…

It’s a scarcely known fact that one can travel directly from Thailand to China without the aid of a flying mobile. How? Check out a map. See that thick blue line that separates Myanmar and Laos? For centuries boats have been using the Mekong river as major trading route between China and Thailand. And on a much smaller degree, travellers and stow-aways have been using it as a transport link. Penny Atkinson tells us her story of life as a cargo ship stowaway!

How to Sail The World – For The Cost of Groceries!

It’s an incomprehensible dream: live on a sailboat touring the world. Something you’ve perhaps dreamed of, but never thought possible. Meet Greg and Tiffany an American couple who are making it happen, from Tahiti to New Zealand to San Diego, they travel the world- for free! Here they share their experiences and help you realize that living from the boat deck could easily become your reality too!

TruTravels: The Best of Both Worlds – 5 Backpacker Secrets Within Easy Reach!

There is a must see list of places to visit in Thailand, and for good reason, but what if you want to venture just slightly off the beaten track? Where do you start? How do you know which turns to take? Sometimes you just need a wee bit of help, our friends at Tru Travels show us how to get just a little bit lost!

Making the Most of a 7-Day Trip in Myanmar / Burma

Burma, (or Myanmar) the land of Aung San Suu Kyi, is a country little visited by the world; however after just recently opening it’s doors there is a new surge of travelers pouring in. As tourism is relatively new, travellers have the unique opportunity to see a country re-writing it’s own history and re-creating it’s collective identity. However, it also means that the backpacker trail is not as well worn and pre-trip information is key. Here Andres Nunez del Prado- a Peruvian native traveling the world, tells us the in’s and out’s of his recent trip to Burma, giving us invaluable on the road insight!

Notes From the Editor: Don’t Let Your Possessions Possess You!

Living a life of minimalism can lead to a life of increased adventure. Those tied down with credit card bills, car loans and mortgages while harbouring a desire to escape can relate to this. Sometimes it can seem that your possessions possess you! For a brief period of time, as you live out of your backpack, you witness a life where you are detached from your things, location independent and free to go wherever the adventure beckons. Spontaneity reigns –suddenly everything is a possibility…

Beer to Mulberries! Did Vang Vieng, Laos, Turn Around Its Boozy Reputation?

‘Tubing’ was a phenomenon that spun out of control, an activity that made the sleepy town of Vang Vieng, Laos, a notorious hotspot on the backpacker party scene. However, in September 2012, the bars along the infamous stretch of the Nam Song River closed. The slides and the zip wires were demolished and the drinking was stopped. With a reported 22 deaths taking place over high season last year, the Laos Government decided enough was enough. Tubing was banned. So what has happened to Vang Vieng since? Are backpackers missing Laos from their itinerary? Writer, traveller and volunteer at the SAELAO Project, Linda Stansberry discovers an interesting ‘Eco-Tourism’ revolution taking place in the former party town…

Castaway Island, Philippines

Surviving on a Deserted Island Paradise in the Philippines!

Could you survive on a deserted paradise island? Make your own shelter? Find your own fresh water and fish for your own dinner? In today’s society we have become so comfortable that we have forgotten about the basic skills needed to exist in a sustainable way. But what if you could go back to this simple way of life? Would you be happier? Feel more freedom? Travel writer and blogger, Martin decided to find out!

Phuket's Atmospheric Old Quarter is worth exploring.

Exploring Phuket’s Little-Seen Old Quarter

Sip milky iced tea while listening to melodic jazz from a street café. Haggle over homemade batik at a Malay fabric shop. Just a few reasons, says travel journalist Leigh-Anne Hunter, to ditch the beach for a day and wander through Phuket’s fascinating, but little-seen Old Quarter…

A young girl eating with chopsticks.

Chop Chop! Make Sure you Know your Chopstick Etiquette Before you Travel

A lesson in chopstick history and etiquette for all fumbling foreigners. From Confucius to Bill Bryson, we explore the oldest, longest and unluckiest pair of chopsticks! If you’re concerned that you might starve rather than master the skill of the chopsticks, don’t fear, we’re here to help with all the chopstick dos and don’ts!

The Walls of a Temple in Chiang Mai Seen Through a Fish Eye Lens

10 Alternative and Free Things To Do in Chiang Mai, Thailand

You always hear about the trekking, the night markets, the cooking courses and the street stalls of Chiang Mai, but take a second look and you’ll see so much more in this northern Thai town. Want to get away from the crowd at the Sunday Walking Street or blaring reggae and hip hop beats of Babylon Bar? Guest writer, Alana Morgan, takes a very different look at one of Thailand’s most popular cities…

Old guide books

Is the Lonely Planet Dead? We Question the Future of the Travel Guidebook…

With Lonely Planet being sold by the BBC this week for a shocking £55 million loss, does this put the future of guidebooks into question? This happens in the same week that we hear Frommers guidebooks, born in 1957 with the groundbreaking ‘Europe on 5 dollars a day’, announce the decision that they will publish no more titles. So what do you think? What is the future of Lonely Planet and the travel guidebook in general? Is there still a place for the guidebook when you are planning your trip?

Nepal: Where Gods and Mountains Meet

“Amongst mountains has always been a special place for me. When things seem confused or out of order, a walk in the mountains has always helped me to calm down and realise the insignificance of my man-made problems. Looking up at the high peaks piercing the clouds, their sheer beauty and grandeur makes me feel like a small part of an awesome natural order that is slowly unfolding out of my control.” When S.E.A Backpacker’s Editor, Nikki Scott, embarked on her first ever backpacking trip, her love of misty mountain tops led her to the magical Himalaya of Nepal and the highest peaks in the world…

Four Months on a Bicycle in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

Backpacker and travel writer Nathan Edgerton spent four months travelling on a cheap bicycle the entire length of Vietnam from the biggest city in the South to the capital in the North. In this article, Nathan gives you many reasons why travelling on two wheels is way cooler than four…

Interview: Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, Founder of Agama Yoga

The island of Koh Phangan in southern Thailand is notorious for the Full Moon Party and a hedonistic destination for young backpackers! However, there’s so much more to the island than meets the eye. In recent years, it has become a hub for yoga and spirituality and draws thousands of ‘soul-searching’ travellers who are looking for more than just buckets and beaches. After the New Year’s Eve celebrations died down this year, we made our way to Agama Yoga on the beautiful West coast of the island to meet the founder of Agama Yoga School, Swami Vivekananda Saraswati. We discuss yin and yang, the laws of karma, tantric sex, God and reincarnation!

Going Back to Nature: The Gibbon Experience, Laos

Just like out of a storybook. It was flying among the trees of the rainforest during the day and seeking shelter in our tree house at canopy level come night. Even the images I saw before embarking on this experience couldn’t do it justice. It was an experience I will forever try to match. An experience I don’t know if I can ever quite match. A journey they call, ‘The Gibbon Experience’…

A fisherman in a boat on Lake Toba, photo by Flash Parker

The Truth about Life as a Travel Photographer: Interview with Flash Parker

It’s THE dream job right? Traveling from continent to continent with your camera capturing the beauty of our incredible planet as a travel photographer. But what is it really like? What are some tips for getting started in the industry and what are the perks!? Following the success of our Photography Tour in Chiang Mai at the end of last year, we interviewed Flash Parker, professional photo-journalist and all round nice guy to find out the secrets of life as a travel photographer…

Notes from the Editor: Patience and Backpacking in South East Asia

“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”… When backpacking through South East Asia, your patience threshold will be tested on more than one occasion. Trains that take five hours longer than planned, spontaneous holidays that make banks, embassies and post offices close when you just need to get that something done and a laid-back attitude to the point of slumber are just some of the things that you may struggle with. Coming from a Western culture, we find it very difficult to just… WAIT. Learning to adapt to this cultural and lifestyle difference is an ongoing lesson…

The Gap Year Fear! Taking the plunge into the unknown. In need of a safety net?

Deep in your heart you know that taking a gap year is the thing you want to do most in the world – yet you can’t quite bring yourself to make the jump. What if you never do? Can you imagine if you’d never had that first driving lesson or very first date? Sometimes, all you need is a gentle push, a helping hand; support; a good safety net, something to set you on the path to an experience of a lifetime…

Review: Bangkok’s Cool Hangout Hostel, Lub d – more than just a bunk bed!

Every now and again, we’re asked to review a hostel in South East Asia, which makes us nervous. Running S.E.A Backpacker Magazine for over three years, we’ve crossed the threshold of countless hostels and dumped our backpacks on more beds than we can remember. There’s a lot of trying and testing been done – WIFI, breakfasts, staff and their local knowledge… After all this time, what can we say? To tell you the truth, we’ve become rather fussy buggers! So will Lub d Hostels in Silom and Siam, Bangkok pass the test?

A Deserted Beach on Koh Phayam

Koh Phayam, Thailand, A Deserted Island Paradise with No 7-11’s!

A while ago we heard a whisper about a beautiful little island. It’s the ubiquitous backpacker-trail search for the beach that everyone seems to be drawn to. Do deserted white sandy beaches still exist? We decided to check out this hidden isle called Koh Phayam for ourselves.

The "olden days" of Tubing in Vang Vieng.

The Party’s Over! The end of Tubing in Vang Vieng

You’ve heard the rumours filtering from the Banana Pancake Trail and you don’t quite want to believe it. What’s that? Noooo! Frame and mount that ‘In the Tubing’ vest of yours… ‘Tubing’ is really over.

Sunset at Wat Phra Sorn Kaew

10 Places in Thailand That Backpackers Rarely Visit

A glo-paint smeared body, bucket in each hand and a night of dancing and debauchery? A perfect palm-fringed, white sandy beach, waves lapping into shore as you sip a fresh coconut juice? Or perhaps, it’s the chaos of Bangkok; the colourful markets, bustling streets and glitzy shopping malls? What does Thailand mean to you? Here we present to you a different side of Thailand, a quirky side and 10 unexpected and unusual places that are often overlooked by backpackers…

The Death of the Postcard?

Long gone are the days when an ink quill, a scroll and an owl (or perhaps a stamp and some help from the Postal Service) were all it took to pour out your deepest most heartfelt feelings and get them to your person of choice. Why bother, when these days a short text, a quick Facebook comment, a simple email or a public Blog can do it with far less effort expelled and in much less time?

Mountains poke out above the clouds in Fansipan, Vietnam

Mount Fansipan: Trekking Vietnam’s Highest Peak!

There are many incredible opportunities for trekking in South East Asia, from Malaysia’s mighty Kinabalu to Indonesia’s steaming volcanoes. English backpacker, Selena Black climbs to the wild peak of Vietnam’s highest mountain, the rugged Mount Fansipan, and lives to tell the tale…

How to Dress Like a Backpacker in 5 Easy Steps

Worried about your fashion wardrobe in South East Asia? Will you fit in with the flashpackers and stylish travellers? And how will you make sure your money belt doesn’t bulge out of your hot pants? Let fashion guru, Alexandra Jimenez of blog ‘Travel Fashion Girl’ fill you in on the catwalk of South East Asia…

A chili crab curry goes perfect with a cool Tiger beer!

The Backpacker Beer and Curry Guide to South East Asia

It doesn’t matter which country you are travelling in South East Asia, it’d be rude not to sample the local ale and national curry. We’ve put together a beer and curry matchmaking guide for backpackers. ‘Cos let’s face it, you drink enough of the stuff!

20 Tips for Travellers to Myanmar (Burma)

Over the past year, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been opening up to tourism and has seen a huge increase in backpackers recently, with the small amount of guesthouses barely able to accommodate them! Asia’s last frontier, the ‘real Asia’ and the ‘land that time forgot’, it’s easy to see why Myanmar is so captivating to the adventurous traveller. If you’re planning a trip to Myanmar, read our 20 essential tips, covering everything from visas, flights and crispy US Dollar bills to wearing your longyi and embracing thanaka bark!

Green Fields Seen From A Hut in Pai, Thailand

Notes from the editor: Where is home?

Where is home to you? Is it a building or a place where you grew up or where you went to school? Is it where your family and friends are located? Is it a place where you feel like you can just relax and be yourself? Lyrically speaking, is ‘home where the heart is?’ or is it ‘Wherever you lay your hat?’ Editor, Nikki Scott discusses the concept of home and how travel has changed the place where she now calls “home”…

The Renovation of Bokor Hill Station, Cambodia: How to Ruin a Ruin!

When visiting Cambodia there is a well-trodden path of historical sites: lines of tourists tentatively explore the barren corridors of Tuol Sleng Torture Museum and amble timidly around the Killing Fields, groups jostle for the best view of Angkor Wat’s imposing silhouette as it is illuminated by sunrise and queue for photographs alongside the weathered stones of Ta Phrom. If you’re looking for a route less worn by the burgeoning tourism industry, for a site refreshingly free from tour operators and entrance fees, look no further than the eerie ghost town of Bokor Hill Station. Backpacker, Lottie Butler, explores…

Top 15 South East Asian Signs!

Classic South East Asian signs can leave a lot to the imagination when some of the message is lost in translation! We’ve compiled a Top 15 to make you smile, chuckle, tut, shake your head, fear, pity, worry and most of all – laugh!

SE Asia Faces & Places: Interview with an Ayurvedic Practitioner

As conversations between backpackers begin to include Ayurvedic buzzwords such as “dosha”, “five elements” and – heaven forbid – “fasting”, we catch up with an Ayurvedic practitioner, to unscramble the mystery of this ancient Eastern tradition of medicine…

Stitched up in Hoi An! Welcome to Vietnam’s Fashion Capital…

London, Paris, New York, Milan… Hoi An! There’s quaint little town on the central coast of Vietnam, home to a unique and extremely addictive shopping experience… Here you can have any item of clothing or footwear tailor made for a tiny fraction of what you’d pay in the West – is it even possible to resist at least a couple of small purchases (even if it means lugging them around the whole of South East Asia in your already overstuffed backpack)? S.E.A Backpacker Magazine Editor, Nikki Scott was up for the challenge!

SEVEN Unnecessary Worries that Stop You Going Backpacking & ONE Real Worry!

Secretly envying other people’s adventures? Living vicariously through travel blogs and Facebook updates of friends who have taken that big step and embarked upon a backpacking trip? What’s stopping you? We share the most common pre-travelling fears and explain why you need to get over them… and fast!

A Day in the Life of a Dive Instructor Vs A Day in the Life of an Office Worker

Waking up to bright blue skies, turquoise waters and a day of teaching wide-eyed backpackers to discover a whole new world… is this the job of dreams? So what is it really like getting paid to live in paradise? Here, we compare a regular day in the life of a Western office worker alongside a regular day in the life of Ludo, a dive instructor at Big Blue Diving, Koh Tao, Thailand…

Notes from the Editor: Going Against the Grain and Forging Your Own Path

Many people in the West tend to follow a similar route – we leave school, go to university and get a job – success is measured in assets and achievements. It can be scary and daunting to imagine a life that strays from this structured ladder. Backpacking is a time to break away from the regimented order of Western society and get a taste of a different way of life – adventure, excitement, spontaneity. Once sampled it may be hard to go back to ‘normal life’…

Rainforest World Music Festival.

The Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak, Borneo

Next weekend the only place to be is deep in the heart of the Borneo jungles. A place of exotic mystery, the thrill of adventure; the land of ancient virgin rainforests, hornbills, orangutans and the fabled white Rajahs. As well as being home to 27 ethnic groups, between 13th – 15th July it houses the mother of all global music festivals…

Flying Through the Jungle on the Longest Zipwire in the World!

Here at South East Asia Backpacker magazine, the team love to squeeze an adventure into our schedules and what could be better than flying through the rainforest on a Sunday afternoon? Seven of us took on the challenge, and were transformed from a group of quivering wrecks into a bunch of screaming daredevils.

Interview with Vang Vieng Entrepreneurs, Greg & Owen

Undoubtedly the star attraction of Vang Vieng, a town on highway 13 between Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos, is the Nam Song River lined with rope swings, zip wires and a multitude of cool bars – a veritable playground for backpackers! Karen Farini catches up with Greg and Owen, 27 year old UK twins, who own the coolest and quirkiest entertainment space in town to get the low down on running a business on a river bank prone to annual flooding, the locals’ view of the abrupt change in culture and of course the crazy and controversial phenomenon known as tubing…

Why You Should Never Eat Shark Fin Soup.

A gang of students arriving for their Open Water Course had previously been enticed to eat shark. Similar to how the adventurous travellers sample insects on the Khao San Road, they thought trying shark meat was like a traveller rite of passage, but their eyes were soon to be opened to the full story. Ayesha Cantrell of Master Divers unfolds the horrifying truth…

Play with Fire and You’re Gonna Get Burned!

Writer, blogger and lover of all things ‘travel’, Neil Barnes retells a fiery tale of adventure, nightlife and drunken decisions… Whilst enjoying the splendours of the beautiful island of Koh Phangan in South Thailand and sampling the delights of cheap Sam Song rum served in a sandcastle bucket, Neil made potentially the stupidest decision he’s ever made. Whether it was the Red Bull or just the buzz of travelling he’ll never know… Would you make the same mistake?

Bali Arts Festival

The Bali Arts Festival, Bali, Indonesia

Taking place over an entire month from mid June to mid July, the Bali Arts Festival is a unique extravaganza of arts, music, dance and history celebrating passion and pride in Balinese culture. Amongst other performances, famous masked dances originating from tribal villages are showcased and ancient classic stories retold. There’s a vibrant atmosphere all across the island as celebrations are enjoyed by locals and travellers alike. For first time travellers to Bali, it’s a fantastic introduction to the rich heritage of the spirited destination…

Notes From the Editor: Travel and a Simple Twist of Fate…

Unencumbered by routine and responsibility, backpackers are free to make impulsive decisions that have the potential to change the next few days, weeks, even years of their lives. Have you ever wondered how differently your backpacking trip may have turned out if certain, seemingly insignificant events had gone differently? Retracing the steps of your journey it is possible to pinpoint those tiny instances that with hindsight literally changed everything, the course of your journey and even your life…

Couchsurfing… Not Just a Free Place to Stay!

Couchsurfing is a phenomena that has turned backpacking upside down. Being able to travel the world and find a bed for free sounds too good to be true. So what’s the catch? Is Couchsurfing as easy and as fun as some smug travellers claim? Travel writer Mark Wiens discovered that Couchsurfing really is a way that you can travel cheaply, make friends with locals and have authentic travel experiences that hostel junkies can only dream of… Have you tried Couchsurfing yet?

Notes From the Editor: What Does Travel Teach us?

What does travel and living in a foreign country teach you? Does it changed your personality? Does it change the way you look at the world? Since the idea of backpacking began, travellers have returned home with shaggy unkempt hair, a dozen bracelets on their wrist, perhaps a bindi on their forehead and proclaimed to their wide-eyed parents ‘woah man, Cambodia really changed me.’ I want to delve deeper into this statement and ask why? And how does it change you?

Backpacking? It’s a dog’s life! Volunteering with Lanta Animal Welfare in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Would you like to give something back whilst you travel? Sometimes it is not all about seeing the Top 10 sights in a country, but about staying put for a while and finding out more about how your visit can help the local community. Jessica Simmonds from Scotland decided to take time out of her gap year to volunteer for three months in Thailand. She chose Lanta Animal Welfare, (LAW) a non-profit organisation based on Koh Lanta, Thailand, which takes care of the large population of stray dogs and cats on the island. Her experience was fun, rewarding and most of all valuable to the local area…

Top 10 Things To Do on a Budget in Singapore

Perceived as an economic concrete jungle, Singapore is recognised for being a worldwide financial center powerhouse. For this reason, many travellers on a budget visiting South East Asia fail to consider Singapore as a travel destination. However, there is more to Singapore than just banks! The city exudes with diverse and countless points of interest, stunning parks and gardens and a fascinating mix cultures representing many other areas of Asia. Even on a tight budget, it is nice to know these Top 10 will not put a dent in the pocketbook…

You Know You’re a Backpacker When…

Call yourself a backpacker? With scruffy hair, dozens of bracelets tied around your wrist and mismatched flip flops, you certainly look the part. But have you truly entered into the South East Asian backpacker spirit yet? Do any of the following sound familiar? If you nod in agreement to any of these statements then you are well on your way to earning your backpacker stripes…

From Ancient Explorers to Hippies & the Full Moon Party: A Short History of Backpacking!

I’ve often noticed the confused looks on the faces of some locals as they watch a herd of intrepid backpackers walk past. Why the hell don’t you just sit down and take your bag off? They must be thinking. Have you not got a home to go to? Are you crazy walking around in the heat with a 60 kilo rucksack on your back? Mmmh. They may have a point. But still, something makes us do it. Something inside our foolish souls gives us the urge to wander far from our safe homes. So, how did it all begin? Who started this nomadic trend in the first place? And just how has the concept of the ‘backpacker’ changed over the years?

The Truth About Life as a Travel Writer: Interview with Lonely Planet Writer & Travel Guru, Joe Cummings

30 years ago, there was no guidebook to Thailand in print. Teaming up with Lonely Planet founders, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, Joe Cummings wrote the first travel guide to Thailand since 1928, ‘Thailand: A Travel Survival Kit’ in 1981. He continued to work for Lonely Planet for the next 25 years. To date, he has written over 40 guidebooks and books about Asian culture and now works as Deputy Editor of the Bangkok Post’s TheMagazine. We met up with Joe in Bangkok at a swanky ‘flashpacker’ hotel to find out more about life as an iconic travel writer…

Volunteering at Mr T’s Organic Farm in Vang Vieng, Laos

If you’ve been to Vang Vieng’s town centre you’ll be familiar with the alcohol buckets, 24 hours ‘Friends’ marathons and souvenir shops that compose the backpacker enclave. You’ll definitely be familiar with the popular ‘Tubing’ scene. You may not, however, have heard of Mr T’s organic farm. It’s only 4km away from Vang Vieng’s town centre, but feels another world away from the hedonistic tubing and party culture that the small Laotion town has become so famous for in recent years. Traveller, teacher and writer, Penny Atkinson describes a very different side to the popular Laotion party destination…

A Motorbike Next to the Beach

10 Tips for Hiring a Motorbike in Thailand

Regarded by many travellers as the most dangerous vehicle on the road, motorbikes, if treated with respect, can also be the most fun! (Don’t tell your mum we said that) There is nothing better than riding in the beautiful countryside, with the wind on your face and the sun shining, free to go wherever the road takes you… It is without doubt one of the best ways to get off the beaten track and away from other tourists as fast as possible! Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your experience and most of all stay safe and in one piece…

Why The 7,107 Islands of The Philippines Should Not Be Overlooked!

New Zealand-born Anna Cleal is the Director of a brand new, pioneering company ‘Flip Flop Tours,’ which aims to give backpackers their first taste of the Philippines! She talks about how some backpackers may be put off visiting the 7,107 islands due to fears of safety, lack of travel information or general laziness to leave the landlocked circular South East Asian trail of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia! Here she tells us about the amazing travel opportunities for backpackers in the Philippines and dispels any doubts people may have about visiting the country…

12 Signs of Travel Addiction: South East Asia Style

South East Asia junkie and keen writer Roseanne Schwab tells us of an unfortunate consequence of backpacking… A serious condition that can affect both young and old. Symptoms range from mild (uncontrolled drooling during broadcasts of The Travel Channel) to severe (inability to stay in one place for more than 24 hours). Are you suffering from Travel Addiction? Read these 12 signs and find out how severe your case is…

Joma Fair Trade Coffee: Helping Communities & The Environment in Laos

Joma Bakery is leading the way in Fair Trade, organic coffee in Laos and Vietnam. Working with the Jhai Coffee Farmers Co-operative (JCFC) to cultivate the unique ‘arabica’ coffee bean, Joma is able to serve coffee that is delicious, ethical and environmentally conscious. The local ethnic groups who work in the Bolaven Plateau coffee growing area are ensured a fair sale price and the plants are grown in an eco-friendly way. Learn more about where coffee comes from in Laos and why it is important to be aware of where your food and drink comes from!

The Black House, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The White Temple & The Black House: Chiang Rai, Thailand

Just five hours north from Chiang Mai, is the smaller, less touristy city of Chiang Rai. Many travellers arrive here on a northward journey from Chiang Mai to Laos and are already feeling ‘templed out’ by the 300+ temples that make up the ancient walled city of Thailand’s cultural capital. However, there is just one more experience that awaits the culture vultures amongst you! And we promise this one is worth a look! Dubbed the ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ of architecture, the White Temple and the Black House will conjure a clashing of emotions. One dark, mysterious and almost sadistic, the other white, ethereal and other-worldly, these two opposing buildings couldn’t be more different…

10 Travel Scams to Avoid in South East Asia!

Although not everyone is trying to con you in South East Asia, there are more than a few backpackers over the years that have fallen prey to ingenious (and not so ingenious) travel scams. Perhaps it is getting ripped off for a few rupee in a taxi or perhaps an elaborate role-play which aims to empty your bank account! Read these tales of pesky tricks, double deals, hoaxes and swindles and learn the signs to look out for to make sure you’re not the next victim…

Mud, Sweat and Rice! Learning How Rice is Grown in Chiang Mai, Thailand…

As the World’s largest exporter of rice, Thailand’s country and culture revolves around this tiny pearly grain. Paddy fields dominate over half of all the arable land area and consume over 50% of the country’s labour force. Rice can also be found throughout the Thai menu, in all it’s forms and varieties. The most common type of rice grown in Thailand is Jasmine rice, known locally as ‘Hom Mali’ and it is in a paddy field full of the crop that my story begins! 20-year old student Laura Davies, on a three-month internship with S.E.A Backpacker Magazine, spends the day in a rice field learning about Asia’s most important grain…

Our 2-Year Anniversary and a Thai Buddhist Blessing

This month, we celebrate the 2nd Birthday of S.E.A Backpacker Magazine. Boy oh boy, do they grow up fast! It only seems like yesterday that the very small and very nervous S.E.A Backpacker team set off on a preliminary trip to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan to tell people about our vision and look for sponsors to help us get off the ground. Pressed T-shirts and sweaty hands, we knocked on doors of bars, restaurants, dive schools and hostels with a basic mock-up that two years later has grown into the magazine you are reading now!

10 Ways to Prepare For Life as a Backpacker

Ants in your rice, squat toilets and “Hello Motorbike?!” Traveller Jessica Bryn Thomas offers some important tips about how to adapt to life as a backpacker in South East Asia. If you are wondering how to prepare for your travels, read Jessica’s 10 quirky suggestions. Forget the guide book and mosquito net – have a cold shower, google ‘how to use the bum gun’ and buy a rooster NOW!

A boat on Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan

12 Most Popular Islands for Backpackers in South East Asia

Indonesia has an estimated 17,508, The Philippines 7107, (7100 at low tide), and Thailand’s not doing badly either with a tropical paradise to suit every taste. There’s no doubt that South East Asia’s got more than its fair share of beautiful tropical islands. Beaches, jungle, mountains, diving, partying, even dolphin spotting… each sparkling gem seems to offer something just a bit different from the next. We take a look at some of the most popular islands amongst backpackers in South East Asia. Where will you find your tropical island paradise?

7 Epic Journeys in South East Asia

Some involve arduous days on a hot, cramped bus, some consist of a five minute breezy ride on the turquoise sea… no matter how long or short, there are some journeys from your backpacking adventure that you will never forget! We spoke to backpackers to find out the most memorable trips in South East Asia. From the famous 27 hour Laos-Vietnam bus, to the infamous tuk tuks of Bangkok, how many journeys can you tick off?

Lanterns for Tet Festival in Vietnam.

Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Rabbit

On 3rd February 2011 Chinese communities all over Southeast Asia will welcome in the New Year of the Rabbit. As dragon dances parade the streets and firecrackers fill the air, people hang red lanterns, give lucky red envelopes and pray for good fortune in the coming twelve months. But what does the Year of the Rabbit have in store? And why do people wear red at Chinese New Year?

Thousands of people congregate outside the gold statue of Lord Murugan at the Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.

Thaipusam Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Thaipusam Festival is one of the largest and most extravagant Hindu festivals in Asia celebrated by followers worldwide. Each year, millions of devotees flock to the sacred site of The Batu Caves in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur to offer extravagant gestures of penance to Hindu Deity, Lord Murugan, son of Shiva. See incredible phtotos and watch amazing footage from January’s festival…

Which Type of Traveller Are You?

Culture Vulture, Flashpacker, Beer Guzzler, Spiritual Seeker or Hard Core Adventurer… There are all kinds of travelers that you will find on the trail in South East Asia. So which type of traveller are you?

Man dances with fire in Thailand

Dancing with Fire in Thailand!

As darkness falls on the popular beaches of South Thailand nocturnal creatures to come out and play. The fire dancers take centre stage silencing audiences with their danger defiant moves. Much later, backpackers can be seen trying their luck at this dangerous sport with most deadliest of all fire dancing apparatus… the flaming skipping rope! Would you try your luck?

All Aboard the Jolly Roger to Halong Bay & Castaway Island, Vietnam!

The Hanoi Backpackers’ Halong Bay Trip has become legendary amongst backpackers in Southeast Asia. Through the traveller grapevine we’d heard reports of a deserted castaway island right in the heart of Cat Ba National Park. A slice of untouched paradise it was told – that could only be reached via the Hanoi Backpackers’ sail boat, the ‘Jolly Roger’. We decided to take the ‘Rock Hard Rock Long Halong Bay Tour’ to find out what all the fuss was about!

Backpacker Video Diaries: A Traditional Good Luck Ceremony in Laos

After teaching English to local children in a small village outside Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, Courtney, Kaberly, Danielle and Jacqui are asked to take part in a traditional Laotion ceremony. They are thanked for helping the students and blessed with good luck for their onward travels. A ‘Baci Ceremony’ only occurs once a year and the girls were overwhelmed and honoured to be a part of such an incredible cultural experience. Watch the video of their special travel moment here!

Backpacker Video Diaries: Teaching English in Luang Prabang, Laos

Four girls backpacking in Southeast Asia visit a small village where they teach English to a group of local children. Flash cards, enthusiastic students, dancing and even a chicken in the class! Watch Courtney, Kaberly, Jacqui and Danielle at work in the classroom on their first few days. Take a look around the village of ‘Baan Phov Mok’ and see the children take Danielle across a river and to a nearby waterfall for an adventurous field trip!

Backpacker Video Diaries: Bug Eating in Bangkok!

It’s a backpacker rite of passage. After a couple of beers someone in your group suggests that you go and eat some grub. Literally! In carts up and down the Khao San Road in Bangkok and elsewhere in the city, you’ll see insects for sale as a tasty snack. There are crickets, silk worms, grasshoppers, beetles, cockroaches, and last but not least scorpions!

Angkor Wat, Cambodia, the largest religious monument in the world.

Guide to The Unmissable Temples of Angkor, Cambodia!

Breathtaking and awe-inspiring, Angkor Wat will astound even the most unlikely of backpackers. Beer guzzlers are turned into Culture Vulture’s overnight as Chang Vests are replaced with ones that say ‘Angkor Wat is f**ing amazing!’ Hailed as one of the most magnificent examples of architecture ever created, it’s a site not to be missed for all travellers in South East Asia.

Oodles and Oooooodles of Noodles…

Big ones, fat ones, curly ones, straight ones. Noodles are a national treasure in Thailand and there are enough different types of noodle, ways of preparing them and dressing them, that you could probably eat a different kind every day for the entire year. So how do you eat yours?

Rice paddies at an angle

South East Asia: A Rice Ingrained Culture…

For backpackers in Asia, rice forms part of a cheap meal, but to the people of Asia, especially for the very poorest, rice is not just a food. Rice equals life. In fact, nearly 7 out of 10 people, or two thirds of the world’s population depend on it for sustenance…

Escape From the ‘Real’ World. Could you Backpack Forever?

For many, travelling is the ‘time of your life,’ an inspiring, fun-filled adventure that happens once in a life time. Something you ‘get out your system’ before resuming your position in the ‘real world.’ But what if you decided you’d rather not go back to the ‘real world’? An interesting idea, but a far-fetched fantasy! Or is it?

Tubing in Vang Vieng in 2010.

Tubing! Vang Vieng, Laos: What’s all the Fuss?

Up there with the Full Moon Party in terms of a backpacking ‘rites of passage’, Tubing in Vang Vieng, (Laos) is known as the best party in South East Asia! A startling claim for a place described by the Lonely Planet just fifteen years ago as ‘far removed from the Western world.’ With backpackers flocking there in the thousands; it’s clear the excitement isn’t about to slow down soon! But can it really be as good as they all say it is? One backpacker tells his tale…

Going Solo? 10 Tips for Lone Travellers in Southeast Asia!

Loads of people do it. Some say it’s the only way to do it. Going alone on the South East Asian circuit is a feat undertaken by many an adventure seeking travellers. But, with thousands of backpackers hitting the road each year, are you really ever alone on such a well trodden trail? If you’re looking to make a travel companion or two, read these 10 tips!

South East Asia: Same Same But Different. (Our First Article Ever!)

The minute you arrive in South East Asia, you quickly realise that it’s not quite the strange, far off, foreign land your mum thinks it is. Backpacking through this part of the world, you’ll encounter such an interesting ‘fusion’ of Eastern and Western cultures that at times you may have to stop and remind yourself where you are!

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