Wednesday March 5, 2014
Photo by Flickr user oldandsolo
Many countries in Asia seem to have their own well-loved, cheap modes of public transport. Many have even become symbolic of the places they serve.
In Thailand, it's the tuk-tuk. China and India have the rickshaw. Indonesia uses the bemo.
But hands down, the unofficial king of the road in Asia has to be the trusty jeepney that rumbles daily through streets in the Philippines.
Jeepneys began as repurposed military jeeps left behind in the Philippines after World War II. Later, they were stretched, modified, and as you can see in the picture above, turned into a colorful fiesta on wheels.
Jeepneys are tough, no doubt about it. Their rugged frames and big tires are perfect for not-so-great roads on various islands throughout the archipelago. But you'll find just as many roaring down smooth roads in Manila as well. You can't possibly visit the Philippines without seeing -- and perhaps riding in -- quite a number of jeepneys along the way.
Thursday February 27, 2014
C Squared Studios / Getty Images
Packing for a long trip is an art learned through practice and experience. You'll only realize that you brought too many 'what if' survival objects and unnecessary creature comforts after lugging your heavy bags around on a trip.
Upon returning home, you'll also probably realize that you didn't use half of the stuff you packed anyway!
So how to avoid overpacking -- the #1 mistake that most travelers make? Here are a few tips I learned over the years:
- Never, ever, leave home with luggage packed to full capacity.
- Plan to purchase necessities at your destination.
- Once packed, close your bags and avoid adding things right before departure.
- Don't fall into the survival mindset trap.
- Don't go pre-trip shopping without a list of what you actually need.
Packing lighter than usual will dramatically enhance your next trip experience! See these 10 tips to avoid overpacking along with some packing lists for planning your trip to Asia.
Monday February 24, 2014
Poras Chaudary / Getty Images
Sure, March is still a few days away, but now is the time to make any plans for big festivals coming up in Asia.
By far, the largest event in Asia to enjoy in March is the Indian Holi festival set for a colorful peak on March 17.
Holi is a wild, chaotic chance to dance in the streets and throw colored dyes at friends and complete strangers. Whatever you wear probably won't survive as anything more than a keepsake! Holi in the old days involved throwing colorful powders such as turmeric to kill germs and enhance health during the flu season.
Today, colored dyes -- some of them ironically toxic rather than health promoting -- are used instead of expensive herbs. You don't necessarily have to be in India to enjoy Holi. Penang in Malaysia as well as Singapore have their own celebrations.
But Holi isn't the only Asian festival in March.
You won't see much for Fat Tuesday in Asia, however, Goa will celebrate Carnival with a big dance festival sometime around March 4. Sadly, Saint Patrick's Day is still relatively unheard of throughout Asia aside from inside the numerous Irish pubs strung along the Banana Pancake Trail.
Around the end of March is also the start of hanami in Japan, particularly in warmer areas such as Okinawa. Thousands of people will flock to parks for picnics and to enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms before they disappear quickly. Forecasts for different parts of Japan are broadcasts so that people can track the blossoms which bloom according to temperature. Cherry blossoms are symbolic for their fleeting beauty; they often appear as themes in art and even tattoos.
Friday February 21, 2014
Photo by Greg Rodgers
While taking the ultra-cheap 'chicken buses' such as the one in this photo is a rite of passage when traveling in Southeast Asia, there is an alternative.
Southeast Asia has scores of budget airlines that connect major hubs in each country. While you may not get the free spinal realignment that you would on a lengthy bus journey, you can get to your next destination a lot more quickly.
But budget hops in Southeast Asia aren't all created equal. Flights from Koh Samui in the south of Thailand are disproportionately priced for the distance covered. You can take one of the luxurious buses from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore with far less hassle than flying. There are many examples of people flying into the largest hub in a country when they could have flown into a smaller, regional airport closer to their intended destination for the same cost.
I've spent the past eight years figuring out the cheapest ways to fly around Southeast Asia. Along the way, I've uncovered smaller airports with better deals, cheaper routes, and other quirks concerning hopping between countries.
Use these flight-booking guides to get the best deals -- and port-of-entry -- for specific destinations.
If you're just leaving home, read about how to find cheap flights to Asia from the U.S. (hint: fly from New York or Los Angeles) and see some natural jet lag remedies.