Southeast Asia is warmed by an inviting ancient charm and sunshine that favours its perfect beaches. But if you step into the sun unprepared, you can get burnt. Just like if you’re unprepared for certain costs or scams overseas. We want you to get the most out of the money you’ve saved for your holiday. So our travelling team has put together a few tips on avoiding hidden extras in the southeast region of Asia.
1. Using Cash
is your go-to in most situations in Southeast Asia. Unless you’re in Singapore
, ATMs are hard to come by. And many places, like street stalls, won’t accept the card in your wallet – that means no scorpion snack for little Steve unless you’ve got cash.
2. Using a Card
Although using a card is less common, it’s always a travel necessity. Travel Money Oz Currency Pass
lets you load up to 10 currencies – this goes a long way with the many countries in the region. It’s also prepaid, meaning you’re paying an exchange rate you’ve already locked in+
and won’t get any foul surprises. Plus, it's not linked to your bank... at all!
Surcharges are everywhere, like the standard 3% credit card surcharge that businesses in Vietnam charge. So try and pay in the local currency whenever you can, or at least stay money wise (maybe you don’t need 10 silk suits; 6 will be plenty).
Be careful with tipping. In pretty much every country in this region there aren’t any expectations around tipping. So watch out for scammers – some of them target tourists, who often don’t realise that tipping is optional here.
On that note, there are quite a few scams to look out for when travelling through Southeast Asia. The first takes place when you’re fresh off the plane. In this situation, you’re most vulnerable because:
• You’re in a terrific mood
• You’re the most naïve about the country you’ll ever be
• You have a dorky travel wallet packed with millions of a currency you don’t fully understand.
In this scenario, someone may seem nice carrying your bags to a taxi, but they will expect payment for the service you didn’t ask for. And who knows what to give them – will 1,000 Thai baht do?
Throughout your trip, other frauds and thieves may make a move. This could be the common ‘three card trick’ scam in Indonesia or pickpockets in the crowded markets of Malaysia. Keep your cash and possessions close and secure, and be wary that some people (only some) want to fool you out of your money.
4. A Haggle a Day…
The first price a vendor says may sound high, but you’re not really expected to pay that much. Bargaining is as common in Southeast Asia as Aussie surfers on a Balinese beach. But don’t just jump in; test the waters first by listening to and watching how other people (especially locals – if you can understand them) pay for certain items and what they haggle the price down to.
Transport throughout Southeast Asia is mostly cheap and easy. After all, there are 640 million people who need to get around. But there are some unfriendly costs you may have to fork out if you’re not paying attention. Taxis are very common and reasonably cheap. Just make sure they don’t try and rip you off. There are cases where a driver will purposefully use their meter incorrectly. You can either watch out for this or negotiate a price before you start the trip. Or take a tuk-tuk – they’re always fun.
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