Flying to Asia

How to be safe and sound during orient adventure

Travelling to Asia, once a dangerous and expensive journey of half a year and longer, is now a great plan for a holiday. Not extremely expensive, if you’re travelling on your own, and much more interesting than visiting yet another spa. Do you want to lose yourself in an exotic jungle or to bask in the sun at the ocean’s shore? Asia, in its diversity, awaits discovery. You can get on a plane and find yourself in a completely different world after less than twenty hours.

Asia — choose anything you want

The Orient is a challenge to Europeans. It is fascinating and different from what is known, and it surprises us at every step. Each subsequent adventure teaches us humility and tolerance. We recommend that people who have never visited such places which are so foreign a culture for the first time visit the countries which have had more contact with the West for economic reasons. This group includes the Asian tigers: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong- Kong. A good choice would also be typical tourist countries: the travellers’ favourite Thailand, Indonesian island of Bali, Japan, Malaysia or Vietnam. The choice depends on our holiday plans. Singapore is a destination used to sightsee the city, see the modern East, while Thailand is a place to rest among enchanting wilderness, beautiful beaches and traditional cultures.

Destinations such as Philippines, Indonesia or Thailand should be visited with some preparation — acquainting oneself with the local religion, customs and politics. These countries have an excellent tourist infrastructure, but in the last years there were political demonstrations there, and terrorism remains a real threat.

India and China, Burma or Cambodia are a true challenge, in particular when we travel on our own to less obvious destinations. The first problem is a cultural and language barrier. Outside of large cities it is difficult to find someone who speaks English. However, if we dare to try, we will live an unforgettable adventure. Some things may not be easy, but others will prove to be a wonderful experience.

Have you failed to be granted leave in July? No problem, in Asia you will enjoy great weather any moment of the year. The continent’s climate diversity is great, so you can find a country for yourself regardless of the date of the trip. Below we present a list of the best moments to visit the most interesting countries of the South and East Asia.

Country Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug
Nov Dec
China* :) :) :)
Philippines :) :) :) :) :) :)
India* :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Indonesia :) :) :) :) :) :)
Malaysia East. :) :) :) :) :) :)
Malaysia West. :) :) :) :) :)
Japan :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Cambodia :) :) :) :) :) :)
South Korea :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Sri Lanka Southwest. :) :) :) :)
Sri Lanka Northeast. :) :) :) :) :)
Thailand :) :) :) :) :) :)
Vietnam :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

* China and India are located within three climate zones and are some of the largest countries, so before planning the trip you should check the climate of the specific area you want to visit. E.g. it may be cold in Delhi in December.

Asian problem – visas

Although the decision to visit the other side of the world may be made spontaneously, implementing it may take some time. Before travelling you should learn what documents are required to be able to enter a given country. Various countries are starting to abandon the visa requirement, allowing a specific duration of stay. This type of information should always be checked at the latest a month before departure. The method of visa application depends on the country. Sometimes you may apply for a visa online, sometimes it is granted at the airport, and there are cases where you need to visit the embassy to get it. Not every country has its representation in Poland, so the trip sometimes has to start with visiting Berlin.

The most reliable source of information includes the embassies’ websites and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, although the last one is not always current. Based on those information we have prepared a list of documents necessary to enter some countries.

Country Entry document
China Visa
Philippines Passport up to 30 days, valid for 6 months
Hongkong Passport up to 90 days
India Visa, obtained online
Indonesia Passport up to 30 days, credit card or confirmation of a bank account
Japan Passport
Cambodia Visa up to 30 days, in the embassy in Berlin, online or on the Thai-Cambodia border
South Korea Passport, return ticket or demonstration of financial means
Malaysia Passport valid for 6 months since the entry for a stay up to 90 days; return ticket or financial means
Sri Lanka Visa, notification of arrival filed online, return ticket, USD 30 per day of the stay
Thailand Passport up to 30days (entry by air) or 15 days (entry by land)
Vietnam Visa

Getting the bug for Asia — vaccinations and preventive healthcare

Asia is not only a different culture, but also a bacterial flora completely alien to Europeans, which may really spoil the trip. That is why you should not eat raw fruit, drink tap water nor iced drinks. A tried and true medicine against gastric problems should be packed. A well stocked first aid kit is important; you should take cold medicine, something for sore throat, pain killers and a hand disinfectant. You probably shouldn’t swim in streams or lakes, even if the locals do so, with the exception of swimming areas which underwent sanitary inspections.

Mosquitoes and other insects carry dangerous illnesses, such as malaria or dengue. You should use local repellents, and sleep under a mosquito net. The nets provided by the hotels usually leave a lot to be desired, so it makes sense to take your own.

Vaccination in accordance with the doctor’s recommendation is a cost of approximately 800 zlotys. Rabies vaccination does not make you safe — within 3 days from being bitten by a potentially infected animal a serum injection should be taken. Moreover for many illnesses there is no effective prevention. Antimalarial medications change, and microbes are becoming immune to another ones. What’s most important is to use common sense and avoid outbreaks of diseases, in particular after monsoons, and to maintain basic hygiene. Some countries check the temperature of travellers on border crossings and airports, in order to prevent epidemics (China, Singapore).

The sun is another hazard. European sunscreen, even strong one purchased at a drugstore may prove insufficient. People with light skin may purchase very effective sunscreen in most Asiatic countries, due to the local preference for white skin, which means that Japanese or Korean women will do everything in order not to tan.

Country Required inoculations Suggested inoculations
China None (unless travelling from an epidemiological hazard area) Hepatitis A
Philippines None None
Hongkong None Dengue
India None Malaria, dengue
Indonezja None Polio, measles, malaria, dengue, bird flu, animal rabies
Japan None None, watch out for significant changes of pressure
Cambodia Brak Malaria, HIV, bird flu, dengue, amoebas, skin diseases
South Korea None None
Malaysia None None
Sri Lanka None Hepatitis A and B
Thailand None None
Vietnam None (unless travelling from an epidemiological hazard area) Dengue, rabies, hepatitis A, Lyme disease

Luggage for Asia — compromise between convenience and need

If you’re flying to laze about on the beaches of Thailand, the issue is simple; pack to fit within the airline limits. But if you want something else — an unforgettable trip to various areas of Asia — you need to make concessions. The weight of the backpack is a priority. This is why we take light trousers instead of jeans, and a small one made of microfiber instead a large beach tower. We should also pack two or three high quality t-shirts, which breathe well and which we won’t be ashamed of when showing our photos to others. Two pairs of shoes will be sufficient, one durable and comfortable pair of mountain shoes and sandals or flip-flops. A sweatshirt will be necessary, because even in the tropics it’s sometimes cold, and sunglasses and a hat, although these may be easily purchased at the destination.

The first aid kit is a necessity. Some medication may not be purchased in Asia, but it’s better to buy local mosquito repellents and sunscreen. Liquids, ointments and fragile things, such us electronics should be hidden into boxes or tins to protect them against crushing.

You should remember that you’ll bring back not only new experiences, but also souvenirs. It would be disappointing to have to abandon something really unique, because you’ve run out of space in your backpack.