It is always difficult planning a trip overseas. Especially coming all the way from South Africa. Once you have the travel bug, it is really hard to ignore it. With the way the rand is at the moment, we are faced with even more hurdles getting to see the world.
This is just a little bit of advice from my own experience that you may find inspires your own…
European food has a rich history. It’s also been adopted into our western culture and far more familiar to us as South Africans. Most of the time, you know what you are eating. Italy, pasta, risotto and pizza. Portugal, Pastel de nata. France, CHEESE! If you are looking for a cultured food adventure, Europe is your best bet.
South East Asia is for the more adventurous foodie. Look, to be honest, the staple is rice. Good rice though, they cook it way better over there than here in my opinion. Depending on the country and region you are visiting, the dishes will differ. Street food is also very popular and costs next to nothing. For a guide on the basic foods, you are likely to find in each region have a look here.
The best thing about Europe for me, of course, is the wine. Top class wine is available almost everywhere, both by the glass and bottle. As a South African, we don’t have access to a lot of European wines at home so it is the perfect opportunity to try new things.
South East Asia doesn’t do wine. Well, they do but it is very pricey and usually (with the exception of top restaurants and resorts) not very good. Most wines are French or Australian but given the climate, often aren’t stored correctly. My best advice to you is when you are in South East Asia stick to beers, spirits, and cocktails. Leave the wine for your Euro trip!
In South East Asia there is so much to see, from beaches to temples to rice paddies. Once you know exactly where you are going, make a list of the top things you want to do and make sure you work them into your trip. If you only plan when you get there, it can sometimes be overwhelming and you don’t get to tick everything off your list. Also, be prepared to go a little off brief and allow a local to show you around.
You can’t even begin to list all of the incredible places to visit in Europe. Once you know which cities you are planning to visit, look for tours that make the most of your time. Because there is so much to see, time management is important. Often, because you are on holiday, it is best to leave the planning to an expert.
Europe has a very well connected system of metros (trains) and buses. Tickets can usually be purchased ahead of time at a discounted rate. Flights can also be quite inexpensive if you know where to look. Be aware that most budget airline tickets do not include checked luggage. That is normally an extra cost and often where they catch you out.
In South East Asia, most people rent scooters, which is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get around. If you aren’t into that, then you need to know how to deal with the cab drivers. They are all about ripping tourists off. Always ensure you take metered taxis. Ask your hotel or hostel reception for advice if you aren’t sure. Buses are cheap and go almost everywhere you want to be. Go out of your way to take the boats, it is a great experience. For more on getting around South East Asia have a look here.
in general, I found accommodation in South East Asia much better value for money. The rand definitely goes further here when it comes to a good night’s sleep. Most accommodation does include breakfast so always take advantage of that.
Budget South East Asia: R150-R250 per person (Hostel) Luxury South East Asia: R1350 per room per night (5* Hotel)
Europe is more expensive but if you are on a budget, you can find some great hostel options for a reasonable rate. You just need to know where to look. My favourite is Hostel World. If you want to treat yourself, I suggest you start saving.
Budget Europe: R300-R400 (Hostel) Luxury Europe: R5500 per room per night (5* Hotel)
I would love to hear about your trips overseas and any tips you have to offer?
Great package trips to both Europe and South East Asia, if you need a little help planning, are offered through STA travel.