Diary Homepage

Travel Planning
When and How
Domestic Travel Arrangements
Packing for Your Trip
Health Matters
Cash Concerns
Scams, Rip-offs, Dangers
Warnings, Visas, Documentation

Facts at a Glance
Myanmar (Burma)


Getting There
The Transpacific Commute

One Day in Bangkok
Bang Pa-In Palace
And the Ruins of Ayutthaya

Phnom Penh
A Day in the Killing Fields

Arrival at Angkor
Apsara Sunset
Angkor Wat Sunrise
Closure in Cambodia

Siem Reap to
Nong Khai

A Travel Day

Visiting Vientiane

Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Pilgrimage
Bicycle Race
The Pak Ou Caves

Luang Prabang
to Chiang Rai

Riding the Mekong Express

Mae Sai
Daytrip to Burma

Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Bound
Three Wats and a Massage
Hilltribe Trek

Chiang Mai
to Bangkok

Doi Suthep and the
Hmong "Poppy Field";
Bangkok Transit Stop

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Reunion
Sheung Wan Walking Tour;
Reaching the Peak

Planning a Trip:
Protecting Yourself from Scams,
Rip-offs and Unnecessary Danger

Whenever you travel abroad, you've gotta use common sense. In general, most of Southeast Asia is significantly safer than the US, but you should still be cautious when in big cities or areas of instability.

Keep your valuables safe. When I travel I always carry a money belt for our travelers cheques and airline tickets as well as a hidden neck pouch for our passports and any cash or cheques we might need for the day. Never leave valuables in your room. It's not a bad idea to leave your purse or wallet at home - pickpockets and thieves could grab them up easily.

Don't stick out like a sore thumb. The more you look like a clueless target, the more likely you'll become a clueless target. If you're entering areas not commonly visited by foreign tourists, don't wear shorts or tank tops unless you want to take a chance offending the locals. Fanny pouches are a bad idea - they make you an obvious tourist. If you need to look at a map, it's not a good idea to stand in the middle of the street unfolding a big paper map - way too vulnerable. Keep a small map in a book or a local newspaper so when you open it you won't look too out of place.

Carry your stuff wisely. If you've got a camera with a strap or a daypack, don't carry them swinging in one hand. Someone could easily rip them away from you. Keep them over the shoulder or around your neck. Never leave them strapped around a chair when you're sitting down somewhere. You could either forget them or have them stolen while you're munching on some pad thai.

When using a taxi, know your fare upfront. Many taxi drivers like to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. The meter rate is usually the cheapest way to go, so before you get in, either insist on using the meter or negotiate a price. Sometimes the driver will quote you a fair price; sometimes you'll get scammed. Try to find out what a reasonable fare should cost. Many travel books like Lonely Planet will mention such fares in individual chapters. In general, three-wheeled bicycle taxis (cyclos) are the cheapest form of transportation, followed by shared pickup trucks (songthaews) and three-wheeled taxis (tuk-tuks in Thailand, jumbos in Laos). Full size car taxis are always the most expensive.

Copyright 1999 by Andy Carvin. No content may be copied without the author's permission.