Intimidated by Asia? Tips and Destinations That Make Your First Trip Easier

Some travelers are utterly fearless, plunging into new destinations without much thought about how things will work out after they arrive. But not every traveler feels comfortable doing that, and taking on a destination that’s much different from home can feel daunting. For a lot of American travelers, Asia has enormous appeal but a significant intimidation factor. If you’re one of those travelers, you can still live out your dream to visit the continent – all you need is a little perspective on how to make it possible.

There are two major factors that come into play: where you go, and how you travel.  Here are some tips that will help make your first trip to Asia not just possible, but unforgettable.

How to Travel:

Be part of a tour. Group tours have evolved by leaps and bounds over the years, so don’t assume you’ll be part of a throng following a guide waving a flag. Whatever your interests, desired activity levels or budget, there are tours available that will be the right fit for you. The best part is that you’ll be able to leave the translations, bookings and potentially confusing scheduling to the pros – all you need to do is relax and enjoy.

Try a shorter trip first. Asia, for U.S. travelers, requires some long flight distances and times, so it’s easy to want to add extra days to your trip to make the most of it. However, a shorter trip can let you get your feet wet, instead of jumping all the way in. That first introduction, even if it’s brief, will help build your confidence and help you see what you like and don’t like.

Avoid overloaded itineraries. If you aren’t affected by time changes and the effort of getting to Asia, you’re in the minority. Chances are, you’ll feel tired – so take it easy. Rather than jamming 10 things into each day, opt for one or two sights and give yourself time to just be calm and enjoy where you are.

Where to Travel:
Royal Palace [Seoul, South Korea]

Seoul, South Korea | Seoul has so much to offer travelers, which is a good reason why it’s gaining prominence among East Asian destinations. Easy-to-use and budget-friendly mass transit makes it simple to get around, plus there are an abundance of arresting sights to explore, like the Gyeongbokgung Palace and its grounds. With great food, great shopping and a welcoming population, Seoul makes a great first stop in Asia.

Hong Kong [China]
Hong Kong | This former English colony is now technically part of China, but as part of a unique (and somewhat confusing) “One Country, Two Systems” principle. All that aside, Hong Kong’s fast pace and diverse culture gives you the chance to see a lot in a short amount of time. If you love New York’s energy but want to experience that exhilaration in a whole new way, make Hong Kong your destination.

Thailand | Whether you opt to go to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the northern part of the country, or the islands, Thailand provides a warm welcome. The country’s nickname is the “Land of Smiles,” and you’ll see why as you meet people on your travels. Tourism infrastructure here is highly developed, so you’ll find hotels, restaurants and services that cater to travelers of all levels of experience. Explore temples, ride an elephant or simply chill out on the beach – Thailand will let you do it all.

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Gina Czupka

Gina’s first solo trip abroad, at age 16, changed her life. Since then, travel has been her passion and it’s her mission to convince others that they really can make travel a part of their lives. These days, she seeks out destinations where she can indulge her taste for adventure and shop for additions to her textile collection. Some of her favorite experiences from recent trips have included eating bun cha in Hanoi and feeding hyenas in Ethiopia.

Gina’s Favorite Travel Tip: When traveling abroad, learn enough of the language to be polite (hello, thank you, goodbye) and to shop and haggle (numbers and colors).

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