Asia is one of the most culturally different continents. Full of traditions, food, religion, customs and quirks you’re just not used to, it’s no surprise that there are many perpetuated Asia travel myths.
Asia is a most delightful place to explore and it’s the many differences that make it an even better experience, not a scary one! As the Asia experts, let us dispel a few of the biggest Asia travel myths and put your worried mind at ease.
ASIA TRAVEL MYTH 1: The language barrier is too much
Don’t let this hold you back from travelling! Tourism is such a big industry in much of Asia that many speak some English. If not, there’s always the point, nod, giggle and gesture method which generally works out ok. There are also apps that can help you out – Google Translate, for example, lets you take pictures of signs, menus etc and will translate it for you. You could even learn a few helpful phrases before you travel.
ASIA TRAVEL MYTH 2: The toilets!
Yes, the squat toilet, an unnerving prospect for many travellers. The good news is that in many places, particularly in tourist areas, there is a western toilet, in various states of cleanliness. Sometimes toilets don’t flush so you have to drain them with a bucket of water and you can’t put toilet paper down them, but if you’ve got to go well, you have to go. If you do find yourself having to use a squat toilet, it’s ok, nothing bad will happen, we promise. Think of the fact that they are more hygienic, take a deep breath and go for it. Whether the toilet is sit or squat, don’t expect toilet paper or soap to be provided, so carry tissues and hand sanitiser around with you.
If you are travelling to Japan, you’re in luck! The toilets are always immaculate. You may need a manual, however, to work them out!
ASIA TRAVEL MYTH 3: It is easy to offend the local people
This is probably one of the most common Asia travel myths. Generally, areas that thrive on travellers visiting, will welcome you with open arms. Educate yourself about cultural faux pas before you travel and try your best to not commit any. Unless it’s something very bad, the locals are generally friendly people and they will let it pass. They are aware that you may not know their social norms and quirks.
Obviously not being obnoxious and showing some awareness of what does cause offense is appreciated, particularly when it comes to religion, royalty, and eating, and dressing conservatively when visiting a temple, are simple ways to show respect.
ASIA TRAVEL MYTH 4: The food will make you sick
In some cases, street food may give you the tummy wobbles. But Asian street food is some of the tastiest cuisine you’re likely to eat anywhere. Eating in a restaurant doesn’t automatically mean better hygiene.
Follow these golden rules for the safest options:
- Do as the locals do – if you come across a packed food stall, you could be onto a good thing, so grab a table!
- Watch your food be cooked freshly in front of you. If delivered piping hot, you’re onto a winner, so tuck in.
- Take care with salads, fruit, fruit shakes, as you can’t be sure of the water quality it is rinsed in. With fruit, it’s best to stick with ones you peel yourself.
- If you are concerned about meat, consider vegetarian options which are just as delicious!
- Have a look at the people and overall stall – do they look like they are practicing good hygiene?
ASIA TRAVEL MYTH 5: It’s dangerous and you’ll get scammed
Although Asia is considered a very safe, do not be too complacent. Always use your common sense. Before you head overseas, read up on common scams in your destination. Familiarise yourself with the smarttraveller.gov.au notifications.
Keep your belongings safe and don’t flash your cash, expensive camera, etc – that’s asking for trouble. Apply any rules you have at home while you’re abroad; don’t walk alone at night, and also don’t let strangers lead you astray. If a situation seems dodgy, it probably is.
Don’t let any of these common Asia travel myths discourage you from visiting. Asia offers the perfect experience for first-timers or nervous travellers.
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