Backpacking in Asia

The Orient, the Exotic, and the Excitement, never more can Asia be described as precisely than with these concepts which are shared traits of all the world’s prime travel destinations. Indeed, the largest continent in the world that traditionally was defined as the eastern part of the Eurasian landmass, espouses a multi-faceted dimension of varying shades and undertones of cultures that all seem alike as they are shared, but are never more unique than each country actually is. This is the interesting bit about being here in Asia. Wherever the traveller wanders in several parts of Asia, familiarity and surprises are always factors. So the traveller never really feels lost, but in the same town, in a different neighbourhood.

Since time immemorial, Asia has been the subject of political discourse and was typically referred to from a western standpoint as “the Other,” after waves and waves of the White man’s colonization. Still, much of Europe’s wealth came from its trade with Asia. Now, Asia’s politics is distinctively evolved, cultivating each country’s identity, at the same time, nurturing the shadows of its colonial past while addressing the needs of its present. The general politics of Asia is especially diverse far and away, as should be expected of such a huge terrain, which, as we speak, is a continent that encompasses 8.6% of the earth’s total surface, and occupies 29.9% of the planet’s land area.


Monarchies, democracies, parliaments, and dictatorships in all classes and sorts are manifest in Asia, whereas independence movements and rebel groups contribute to the classic balance of politics through opposition. Chaos and conflict will happen internally and internationally like in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Iran, Thailand, and the Philippines, though in certain countries, very few and far in between occur. Propitiously, as a region that takes its economic high from tourism and foreign investments, visitors are, by and large, very much protected and almost never involved in the drama, except for some ultra-rare cases.

Asia is rendered safe for travel, especially in destinations where you’d mostly likely travel anyway. A few political humps and bumps are sure on the way, but besides protests, none so perilous as to completely discourage the travellers, who are generally untouched in Asia. There are some countries for sure that are safer than others, and the best way the traveller’s would know is by how modernized and tolerable the societies and government are- a little research would be highly suggestive. Besides political situations, health and natural disasters require attention as regards travel safety.


While the regions of Southeast and East Asia may manifest a sort of predilection towards certain natural disasters, like largely everything in Asia, climate and temperature vary widely, from the desert climate of Mongolia, to the tropical jungles of Brunei, the temperate highlands of Nepal, and to the sub-zero tundra belt of Siberia. In China, just like in Nepal, climate conditions range from tropical to arctic. The lot of Southeast Asia experiences tropical climates, as do countries in the Asia Pacific which are tropical and temperate in some parts like Japan. Some may have four seasons, some three, while others just two.


A few countries in Asia pose risks when it comes to health. Malaria, hepatitis, typhoid, and waterborne diseases top the bill for health concerns in Asia, particularly when travelling to isolated rural areas. Bottled water can play your best bud and life saver in these parts, due to the stinking heat and uncertain water portability. On the other hand, typhoons and cyclones hit the region most especially from the month of June to September and can be pretty horrible. The first typhoon of the monsoon season this 2010 cost China, Japan and the Philippines billions in damaged properties, state of chaos, and death to hundreds. Also, the traveller may want to be cautious with small game offenders like pick-pockets, rip-off dudes, and scammers, just as you would terrorists and rebel groups, which are present worldwide.


Asia registers a cultural concept of a region that houses thousands of waves of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, and not simply of people with a homogenous sort of trait, albeit for years the West conjured up a single image of the Orient. It was as if the West was looking through one mirror where everything was just reversed and different. Fact is throughout history, all countries of Asia developed identities and cultures that they shared with other Asian countries by trading. Prior western colonization, most countries possessed their own writing systems, musical instruments, cuisines, weapons, and martial arts. At present, while the

Hence, travel to Asia would require cultural sensitivity and respect to customs, from dining etiquette to dressing. Dressing from travellers and locals required modesty especially in visits to temples, mosques, and churches like in Turkey, Cambodia, or Azerbaijan, as these are as significant as their spirituality or strangely anywhere like Saudi Arabia. This generally means covered shoulders, chest, and legs.  Everywhere else, like restos, hotels, and clubs it’s alright to don what is comfortable. Evidently, the eastern religions predetermine most of the Asians values and traditions. But, the way to the Asian peoples’ hearts is through sports, martial arts, food, and fiestas. Asians always find cause to organize festivities. A simple family or clan reunion will have a whole town celebrating.


In truth, Asia is the birthplace of eastern philosophies and religions that we know so well such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, which originated from India and China. Asia is also the continent of immense linguistic diversity. According to the Ethnologue, there are over 140 languages spoken in the Philippines, 600 in Indonesia, and 1680 in India alone. English is the second language for most countries like in the South, East, Middle East, and Southeast Asia, thus, mobility is out of the question. Some regions may impose a greater language barrier than the rest like in parts of East and Central Asia such as China, Japan, Korea, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and so on.


Come to Asia with an understanding that in this continent, traditional practices continue to thrive and influence modern societies no matter how tolerant they have become. A great example is when dining, using the left hand is despicable in the Middle East and South Asia, as is blowing the nose in public in East Asia while a hack-a-Louie is very much okay. Freedom of speech and expression of faith are curtailed in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan more than the rest. So read up. Freedom of dressing is also what the traveller would like to consider as ‘modest and limited’.

Also, relative to accepted norms, the traveller needs especially to be wary of local laws and punishment for some overlooked offence may cost one’s life. For example, in Singapore, carrying more than 15 g of heroin can gain one irrevocable access to the death row, or other violation of prohibition laws. Reactions can range from a side-walk glare at a traveller that’s inappropriately dressed to police handcuffs for rendering hedonistic services.

If you are not a Muslim, you may not enter Saudi Arabia without an invitation and you may not leave without an exit permit. Visitors to Saudi Arabia are subject to the same rigorous Islamic law as Saudis. It is not uncommon for Westerners to be imprisoned for possessing illegal substances such as alcohol, pornography, pork or narcotics. Thieves still have their hands amputated and capital crimes are punished by public beheadings.


Travel to Asia offers a wide spectrum of travel options for them both steep and cheap travellers. Asia has a thoroughly developed tourist infrastructure where any tourist can survive on either a tenner or Benjamin Franklin a day. Blowing a Benjamin Franklin in Tokyo is easy, but in Laos, at the price of $100, you are king with a bottle of Andalucían wine at hand. The Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asian regions are the most popular zones for budget travellers. SEA was the original backpacker’s haven for many good reasons: healthy and sanitary street or hawker food for $1, accommodations at less than $7, and some pennies for the jeepneys.

Western and European fast food chains are also in Asian prices, and that’s a good thing. Basically, a $20-bill is a rather fair margin to draw your expenses in. And yes! Many countries in Asia accept the USD currency. It’s like an unwritten EU. Selected countries like Bhutan are an exemption as it is not ideal for a backpacker’s travel budget, with expenses per day averaging to an astounding $200 for its government-preset tours that a backpacker will thirst for.

Main Attractions

Costs of travel are all the rage of travel discussions, but Asia puts that worry to rest. Budget airlines, mainly in SEA, are just the best things since sliced bread. So, on we go to the highlights. In Asia, “geographical variety” is a blunt way of saying white-sand beaches, lush rainforests, undulating hills, golden deserts, cerulean blue waters, cataclysmic waterfalls, therapeutic hot springs, snow-capped mountains and majestic volcanoes. The stunning Mount Everest, the romantic Taj Mahal, the gilded Angkor Wat, the Great Wall, and the perfect cone Mayon Volcano are among Asia’s famous trademarks, but, many great attractions in between like old quaint colonial towns, secret waterfalls, mystical lagoons, and remarkable museums are copious in Asia.

Except for major historical sites and museums, most of the places in Asia are gratis for sightseeing. Different moods with different goods, there’s the fever-inducing Mumbai, affluent Singapore, ultramodern Dubai, charming Tashkent, unruffled Nepal, and cosmopolitan Manila. The Must-Do in Asia is endless. Volcano scaling, rainforest safaris, deep-sea diving, highland skiing, tubing or just laying away on the beach for a bronze tan, Asia is open to new adventures like a winter wonderland in Baguio, Philippines or surfing in Japan.

And when the traveller gets nostalgic, if that ever happens, scale the block for a Colonel Sanders’ original recipe or at the nearest TGI Fridays. Solitude is one thing you’ll barely encounter so there’s little need to cry for home. The region teems with bedraggled backpackers on a quest for purpose, spiritual renewal, or awakening of sorts. Some people go as far as travel to the world’s ultimate destinations only in Asia, fulfilled and accomplished, taking what is known as the jump of their life and knowing their life can end right here. Even after $20,000 and a few casualties from a jump at the rooftop of the world, the Mount Everest, they could’ve ended their lives then and there in that feat and been okay with the best view in the world.

Backpacking in Asia

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Joshua Boorman

Joshua Boorman

Founder & Editor in Chief at Backpacking Addictz
Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.
Joshua Boorman

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