Many Aussies travel to Southeast Asia for business. But before jetting off, it’s well worth brushing up on the local customs to avoid any awkward moments or compromising your business efforts.
It’s so easy to feel at home in these nearby, friendly countries but remember, their cultural customs and way of life can be different to what we’re used to in Australia.
So, when traveling to Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Philippines, Singapore. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam or Thailand here are 5 common mistakes Aussies can make and how to avoid them.
1. Prepare for the HUMIDITY
Nothing says tourist like a sweaty back. It’s easy to become drenched in sweat from head to toe when travelling in South East Asia. Make sure you pack light cotton clothing and clothes that can be easily hand washed. Leave your expensive dry clean only clothes at home.
2. It’s a cash Economy
Make sure you carry CASH when travelling in Southeast Asia. You will hardly ever pay for anything using your card, and if you do be prepared for 3% fee on that total price. Things are often cheap in these countries (YAY) so make sure you carry some smaller notes.
3. Shoes off!
The shoes off custom stems back to ancient times. Guests are usually expected to take their shoes off before stepping into someone’s house. This is a mark of respect for your hosts and is a big no-no if you don’t. Plus it keeps the place cleaner.
4. Haggle, but not for everything
For many of us, haggling is hard to get used to when you first arrive in Asia. Not only is it accepted in most places in Southeast Asia, but it is also the way business is done. When you haggle just remember, you are a foreigner here and whoever you’re dealing with is just trying to make a living so be fair with your bargaining attempts.
5. You can eat street food, just be careful
Street food is very common in Southeast Asia and best of all it’s cheap and delicious. You can really miss out if you avoid it altogether… but just be smart about your choices. Only buy food that is cooked fresh in front of you and avoid cut fruit and fresh juices.
Finally, do or eat something different every day, it doesn’t matter if you love or hate it, it still makes for a great travel story!