Beat the Heat in SE Asia

Its hot in Bangkok. Always. But especially in May.

As my friend Ivar from Norway once so aptly described Thailand, “Sometimes its hot. Sometimes its hotter”

Whether you’re in Bangkok, or the islands, or Cambodia or Indonesia or anywhere around here thats SO FREAKING HOT, don’t let it spoil your trip. Or even your day. Here’s some tips (some seem pretty obvious, but here goes):

Find a hotel with a pool. Agoda has a great option for narrowing down search results to include only those with a pool. In Bangkok, my favorite is City at Fifty for only 250B. In Siem Reap, Jasmine is cheap at only $8, and Phnom Penh’s 88Backpackers for only $5 is a budget choice.
If you find yourself in the Khao San area, D&D seldom checks key cards so regardless where you’re staying you can likely get into their great roof pool

Get up early, or stay out late – avoid the midday sun as much as you can (great time to utilize the afforementioned pool)

Wear breathable, light colored, lightweight clothes, or sweat wicking gym wear. If you’ve got long hair, keep it back and up off your neck

If your hotel has a freezer, use it!! Keep a frozen water bottle ready to go at all times. While walking, hold onto it. It’ll cool you off, and melt into drinkable liquid faster than you’d ever thought possible back home in Michigan (also important to stay hydrated!)

Carry a handkerchief or wet wipes to dab at your sweat soaked face.. arms, legs, wherever. There’s nothing worse than that sticky feeling after dried sweat… or the embarassment of your damp arm brushing up against people in a packed BTS train

Eat in air conditioned food courts instead of on the street – Tesco Lotus, Big C, even MBK have awesome food courts with plenty of main dishes ranging fro 30-60THB

Walk slowly, take your time, and stay on the shaded side of the sidewalk


Advice to Budget Travelers in SE Asia

Set a budget, and ACTUALLY STICK TO IT.
Every morning, I put my daily allowance in the front pocket of my wallet, adding to whatever I didn’t spend the day before. Save up for “splurges”

Don’t buy drinks at the bar (or do it rarely). Because you can drink in public and in the streets here, go to 7/11 (if you’re in Thailand), buy yourself some beers or a bottle of Sangsom, and either go for a walk or predrink in your hostel. You can drink 4 big beers or a whole small bottle of Sangsom plus a small beer for the price of one decent drink at many bars.

Set yourself a limit on what you’ll spend on a meal out. Mine is 60 baht (2 dollars) unless its a once a month splurge for something special. If your friends eat more expensively and you don’t want to be anti-social, eat before or after and still go to the restaurant with them (its not that bad!!!)

Eat street food as much as possible – so much cheaper than restaurants!!!

Learn the power of the noodle cup. For 13 baht, you can get a delicious cup of instant noodles. 7/11 provides condiments, always cucumber and lettuce, but also sometimes tomato and onion. Add a bunch of veg to your cup, plus hot water, and you’ve got a filling and more or less nutritious meal for less than 50 cents USD.

Sell your used books to a bookstore (Dasa in BKK is fair and has a huge selection), and only ever buy used books. Better for the environment, other travelers, AND your wallet.

Decide what luxuries in a room you can give up, for cheaper nights. I don’t mind not having hot water, as its hot as hell here anyways. If I’ve got a big window, a fan room is fine for me also. And I don’t mind sharing a bathroom. (All of these things I’ve GROWN okay with. In the beginning I’ll admit I was a bit of a travel diva)

Walk or use public transport.

If you’re traveling alone, stay in dorms.

The closer to the beach you are, the more popular the destination, and the bigger the city = the more expensive the destination will be. Save money by staying a bit further off the beaten path.

Advice for Solo Travelers

Dorms are a great way to meet people AND cut costs. Most dorms I’ve stayed in are better value for the money than single rooms. Just make sure to lock your valuables.

Whether at a hostel or hotel, utilize the common areas. If you’re reading a book or on your laptop, sit in the lounge or lobby rather than your room.

Don’t get takeaway when ordering food, sit in the restaurant or on a stool at the food stall (unless you are taking it back to the lobby)

Try to take public transport over private. Taking the trains and buses are excellent ways to meet both locals and travellers, and give you interactions you wouldn’t otherwise have, were you to be travelling in a cab or tuktuk.

Bottom line, isolate yourself as seldom as possible. Even though you are traveling solo, you don’t ever have to be alone (unless you want to be). Other travelers, and locals, are great sources of wisdom, advice, inspiration, and support. My best friends are other travelers I’ve met along the way and stayed in contact with.

Dress : Thailand

While Bangkok is a very modern city, and the southern islands seem to cater to tourists, there are still guidelines I’d suggest for appropriate dress in Thailand:

If you’re venturing away from Khao San Road, think twice about the harem pants and Full Moon Party tank top. You’ll feel like an idiot on the Sky Train amongst the very well dressed locals, in addition to standing out like  a spot light for scamming touts.

Sloppiness is never appreciated in any culture, and Thais are especially meticulous, sharp dressers.

Carry wet wipes or a handkerchief with you to dab your face (or wherever) – it is EXTREMELY hot in Thailand, and cleanliness is highly valued in this culture, most people shower multiple times a day.

If you don’t want to be stared at or treated like a prostitute, don’t dress like one. Save mini skirts, heels, and cleavage for the club. You’re on vacation, but be respectful.