Almost everyone loves to travel, but I’m one of those people who gets anxious if I don’t have any flight booked. I absolutely love the discovery, the cultural shock, the getting lost.
This is why when my boyfriend Nuno and I decided to backpack trough Asia last year, I got overexcited and decided to plan the trip of our lives.
During the next pages, I will share with you our unforgettable experiences, the unbeaten tracks and top travel tips, in hopes you have at least as much fun as we had!
Our very useful pre-trip checklist:
– Apply for your Visa in advance! If you’re Portuguese, you won’t need a visa in Thailand, but you do need one in Vietnam and Cambodia. You can make the Cambodia’s visa at the airport, but for Vietnam you should do it online. Take at least 2 passport-sized photos, to go with the visa documents.
– Confirm your passport is valid for at least 6 months.
– Go to a travel health appointment and make sure you get the right vaccination and medicine (the traveler’s diarrhea affects 70% of travelers!). We also took the World Nomads travel insurance (recommended by Lonely Planet), in case one of us needed a doctor.
– Bring light clothes and make sure you have long light pants and shirts with long sleeves for the temples.
– Mosquito repellent will be your best friend, especially at sunrise and sunset. Buy one once you get to Asia, because it’ll be stronger and cheaper!
– We also took a mosquito net (you can buy them at Decathlon for 10€), just in case we slept in places with no air conditioning or mosquito nets!
– A rain jacket and sunscreen for the crazy weather are also a must.
– Good comfortable footwear.
– Prepare for bargaining. For rickshaws, tuk-tuks, taxis and goods, always bargain first and make sure that you agree on the price before you start the service.
– Fly when the distances are big and when changing countries, to avoid getting stuck in the borders; but use public transportation in smaller distances, to enjoy the views and the people.
– An open mind and wish for adventure!
THAILAND – BANGKOK
Bangkok is the perfect introduction to Asia: from breathtaking Buddhist temples to some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, Bangkok is a city of opposites. The heat, humidity and pollution put you in right the mood for Asia, where everything is intense, from the smell of foods to the horns of tuk tuksand motorbikes.
My family welcomes an Exchange student every year since I can remember. Almost 10 years ago we accepted Pitipat, a young Vietnamese student who spent 1 year studying in Portugal. It was wonderful to see Pitipat again, after all those years! He freaked out when we gave him Portuguese beer and a National Soccer Team t-shirt, and he showed us around Bangkok, his hometown.
How to get there: We flew Lufthansa Lisbon – Frankfurt – Bangkok. It was easy and comfortable, even though the trip takes 20-24h. It cost us 650€/each in eDreams, which was quite a good deal!
Top Tips & Fun Facts:
– If you’re not feeling like walking, use a taxi, not a tuk tuk. Contrary to common belief, taxis are actually much less expensive than tuk tuks, because Bangkok has traffic jams most part of the day and tuk tuks are able to contour the traffic. However, you must ask the driver to turn on the meter, otherwise they’ll ask a much higher price! The BTS “Sky train” and the MRT (metro) also work very well.
– There are 3 things the Thai value above all: The King, the Buddha and their hair. So make sure you show respect for both the King and the Buddha, and… don’t touch a Thai’s hair!
– Visit Wat PhraKaew, Grand Palace and Wat Pho, the most amazing temples of Bangkok! But beware: they close at 3:30 pm!
– Go to the floating markets. It’s true that they’re touristy, but the sights are truly wonderful! After all, Bangkok isn’t called the “Venice of the East” for nothing!
– Try the street food. Bangkok has one of the best street food in the world, where the food is tastier, spicier and cheaper than in most restaurants.
– Make sure you go to Chinatown, full of people, vendors, neon signs in Chinese characters and amazing food stalls.
– Get lost in Bangkok’s modern commercial district and pass by MBK, a surreal shopping mall full of counterfeit fashion.
– Enjoy a massage, of course!
This post was also written in Portuguese. Click here to read the Portuguese version.