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South-East Asia beginners: what you need to know By Ben Groundwater - 1 views

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    It might start with Bali. That seems to be the entry point for many people into South-East Asia, their first taste of this incredible part of the world. You drink a few Bintangs, laugh at five people on a scooter, enjoy the food, get a little feel for the atmosphere - that mix of crazy and traditional, chaos and peace, commercialism and religion - and you're hooked. So for those wanting to extend their South-East Asian experience, to get more out of it than the Western enclaves of Kuta, this is your guide. First bit of advice: don't be afraid. You've probably heard some scams of dodgy goings on in South-East Asia, of protests in Thailand, of land mines in Cambodia, of scary roads in Vietnam and military juntas in Myanmar - but you're really not in that much danger. Don't, in general take minor complaints to the police as this will usually end up with you paying more than you have lost. While the chance of finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time does exist, in general South-East Asian countries are incredibly friendly places, and mostly quite safe. You'll be met with smiles rather than machine guns. You'll be treated with respect. If this is your first trip to South-East Asia, you're probably wondering where to go. Do you relax on a beach in Thailand? Or hit up Angkor Wat? Do you go island-hopping in Halong Bay? Or temple-hopping in Luang Prabang? It's a tough decision, but with a few weeks you can cover a lot of ground. Budget airlines mean it's possible to skip from place to place by air, to go from Hanoi to Siem Reap to Phuket to KL and Jakarta all in a regular-sized holiday from work. Of course this leaves little time for cultural immersion, but if your priority is to see the big attractions then you can do it all on a reasonable budget. Independent travel is simple in South-East Asia, with extensive networks of buses and trains which needn't be booked in advance. These buses and trains range from the comfortable to the hellish - t
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