Updated: Jul 21
Do Your Research
You have arrived in a new country the sights, sounds, smells, people, cars…. and money all look different… yay! It might be a sensory overload and you should allow yourself the time to get acquainted before you start shoveling out cash realizing that you are actually overpaying for everything.
When traveling you will be dealing with different currencies, conversion rates, and standards of living than you are used to in your home country. What you would normally pay for something back home might be held to a completely different standard in a different country. There will be many instances, especially in South East Asia, where they will recognize that you’re a foreigner and might try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge. It is important to do your research in every new country to avoid being scammed or over priced.
Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
I am sure you have heard or been told that traveling through SEA is pretty affordable. However, this is only if you stick to your research and learn to get those negotiation skills up! You will have to learn quickly that in order to get a fair price you have to be stern and direct when booking anything. Seeing that you are foreign they can attempt to charge you up to 300% more than what you should be charged... crazy right?!
Don't get fooled:
Tell the seller how much you are willing pay. If they give you a high price be sure to at split that in half to begin negotiating. Don't be afraid to ask a local what the normal price is for locals!
Agree on a Price Before
Imagine this: You are traveling fifteen hours by bus over the Thailand border. You are so tired from all the traveling and just grab the first taxi you come across to take you to your hotel. The car ride is only about a 10 minute drive, and the driver is super talkative and nice. Distracted with the new environment and the happiness of checking off a new country. You pull up to your hotel and the taxi driver turns around and confidently tells you the price for the ride "500 baht". You don't think twice about it and hand over the cash, grab your bags, and go to check in to your hotel. Only shortly after he drives away do you realize you just paid $16 USD for a ten minute taxi ride when really it should've only cost you $3 USD!
Don't get fooled: When taking ANY form of transportation, buying food, booking tours, (basically anything involving money) make sure you agree on a price BEFORE you buy.
Download Grab App
WHAT A LIFE SAVER. Grab is basically the South East Asia version of Uberor Lyft . Grab is a car sharing app that uses a fixed rate at the local price. When you want to avoid being scammed, or just not in the mood to negotiate then pull out your phone and call a grab. Unlike Uber where you can only call cars, Grab gives you different options of travel: motorbike (yes you will hop on the back of a strangers motorbike), tuk tuks, cars, and vans.
Pros: You can use the app to get a better idea of how much rides should cost so when in the situation where you have to negotiate you will be prepared. Cons: You will need a SIM card with data or WiFi to to call a grab.
Don't get fooled: Make sure you check that the driver has the app and knows your name before getting in the car. This is applicable to any car sharing apps world wide to avoid getting in the wrong car.
This is our absolute favorite way to get around, and many other travelers will agree. Renting a scooter allows you to move around freely and typically at a cheaper rate than booking things through a tour group.
Don't get fooled: Check the motorbike thoroughly before pulling away! Take a detailed video (in front of the person renting it to you) of the entire motorbike for reference in case he tries to charge you later for a scratch or dent from a previous rider.
Things to look for:
1. Gas Tank Gauge - You will most likely have to return the bike with the same amount of gas. 2. Air in Tires - Make sure they are full of air. If you pop a tire, you will most likely have to pay for the repair. 3. Scratches and Dents - If your bike isn't brand new, it is likely it will have some. Get this on video BEFORE you rent. 4. Lights - If you will be driving around at night, you need to make sure the lights work or it could be dangerous. Fun Fact: Some scooters can drive without having the key in the ignition. Our key flew out of the ignition on the highway and we had to buy a new one... all while our bike is still turned on.