The following are some of the issues we are most commonly asked about. Additional country specific information is also available within each country's Travel Advice section. When making an enquiry, there are spaces in our form to ask for any additional information or requests you may have, or anything pertinent to travelling with us that you may be curious about. Your dedicated tour designer will also be well equiped to provide you with any advice accross a whole spectrum of topics as your travel plans develop.

HOW SAFE IS IT TO TRAVEL IN SOUTHEAST ASIA ?

Providing you exercise all normal precautions, Southeast Asia really is one of the safest destinations in which to travel. Unlike much of the rest of the world with its propensity for random acts of violence on visitors, in the countries Southeast Asia, personal assaults on foreigners, though not entirely unknown, are fortunately extremely rare.

Much more serious in everyday life is the often chaotic road traffic which often lacks any easily recognisable organisation. As the locals will be well used to it, it can be helpful to observe their road-crossing strategies. As with travel anywhere, good peripheral awareness can ensure avoidance of most potential risks.

HOW SAFE IS IT TO TRAVEL IN SOUTHEAST ASIA ?

Expand

WHAT ABOUT CRIME?

Although general crime levels are low, the familiar worldwide epidemic of pick-pocketing and credit card fraud is predictably likewise endemic in Asia, particularly in the larger cities and busy tourist resorts. Bag snatchers on motorbikes can also be a problem, and one that can result in injury.

Although extremely rare, there have been some instances in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Laos, where thieves have employed the use of drugs to disable their victims. It is therefore advised not to leave food or drink unattended, or accept sweets or drinks offered by strangers.

 A few sensible precautions can minimise any risk from theft.

Avoid walking in secluded areas alone, or with people you do not know.

Don’t advertise your wealth - Avoid carrying handbags or wearing ostentatious jewellery, and expensive looking watches.

Whenever possible, leave your passports and valuables in a hotel safe, and only carry a photocopy of the data page of your passport.

 A money belt, fitted around the waist and discreetly hidden under clothing, which can hold passports, credit cards and cash is a wise investment, is easily concealed and virtually impossible to rob without your knowing about it. 

It can also be useful to carry a small amount of usable cash in a separate wallet or purse, placed in a pocket or unimportant handbag, which can be carefully topped up out of sight from your money belt. Should the worst happen, this ploy could significantly reduce the scale of any potential loss.

Always carry a mobile phone in case of emergencies and ensure you have the number that you need to report your card stolen so you can have it cancelled without delay. In certain situations, a mobile phone can also act as an effective deterrent, even if you are only pretending to use it.

WHAT ABOUT CRIME?

Expand

IS IT SAFE FOR A WOMAN TO TRAVEL ALONE?

Single women can and do travel alone in the countries of Southeast Asia, and seldom encounter problems. 

The region is certainly far safer for single women than elsewhere in the world, particularly in countries with strong Buddhist traditions, but the usual precautions all too familiar to women when out and about alone should be taken, particularly not wandering alone in quiet locations, especially at night. 

One of the great advantages of travelling with a tour company such as ours is that you will never be exposed to unnecessary risks, travelling with accredited guides and drivers, and staying in reputable hotels. At night or during free days, you will also always be able to contact us readily via mobile phone.

If you wish to travel alone in Asia, but have concerns, your personal tour designer will be more than happy to design your tour to place you in safe locations and hotels where the cultural nuances and company will be more familiar to you. 

Western women travelling to Malaysia should be aware that some elements of Malaysia’s culture, fuelled by Islamic propaganda, has a tendency to view all western women as little more than ‘prostitutes’, a situation that is best combated by dressing conservatively, when away from the beach.

Providing you can live with some occasional unpleasant staring from the male population, you are unlikely to encounter real difficulty. 

If you become unsettled by unwanted attention, a good deterrent is to make or pretend to make a mobile phone call. Genuine approaches are actually very rare and usually easy to brush aside. 

There are many Internet websites and blogs by women, for women, which can be accessed to find the latest information and helpful tips on travelling all over the world. 

Ultimately, knowing yourself and relying on your intuition is the best principle guide as to whether you feel suited to travel alone, but there are certainly no specific reasons to consider travel to Southeast Asia to be especially dangerous.

Particularly when you are travelling alone, please also spare a thought for loved ones and family back home, who will inevitably and understandably have an amplified concern for you while you are away, and stay in regular contact.

IS IT SAFE FOR A WOMAN TO TRAVEL ALONE?

Expand

IS SOUTHEAST ASIA CHILD FRIENDLY?

Children are highly regarded and welcomed by Southeast Asian countries, but before travelling with children, you should bear in mind that certain areas are very remote and may lack suitable infrastructure. 

However, particularly in the most frequented tourist destinations, a holiday in these destinations will not only be a fun experience, but also an invaluable learning opportunity to experience an insight and depth into the planet on which they live. 

When you request a family itinerary with Haivenu, your tour designer will be happy to discuss with you the best options based on the ages and tastes of your children, and advise you of the scope of child oriented facilities available at your destination preferences.

IS SOUTHEAST ASIA CHILD FRIENDLY?

Expand

WHAT IS THE ATTITUDE TOWARD GAY PEOPLE ?

Our company has an attitude free approach to gay people, and will be happy to assist in designing a memorable holiday for you and your partner. In most hotels throughout the region, for example, there should be no difficulty in sharing a bedroom. 

Attitudes in Southeast Asia generally, with the notable exception of Malaysia, are fairly tolerant, but it should be noted that, although some generational shift in attitudes are increasingly pushing the boundaries, Southeast Asian populations in general are not comfortable with public displays of affection, even among ‘straight’ people, and discretion is both recommended and considerate, particularly in rural areas or religious sites, in which ancient traditions are of great importance to local people. 

Of all the countries featured on this site, Thailand is by far the most liberal and overt in all matters sexual, but even here a certain consideration, particularly in rural areas, will ensure a trouble free holiday. 

The situation in Malaysia and couldn’t be more different. Though common enough, homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, and there have been a number of high profile raids on the few gay bars that struggle to openly exist. 

Unless you aspire to be a martyr for your cause, you are advised to ‘swim below the surface’ whilst in Malaysian society. Whilst civil prosecution of discreet westerners is unlikely, Muslim gays may also be subject to the implementation of Sharia Law.

WHAT IS THE ATTITUDE TOWARD GAY PEOPLE ?

Expand

WHAT ABOUT NATURAL HAZARDS?

Beware of coconuts! Honestly! Falling coconuts can be a real and potentially lethal hazard. The beautifully idyllic and iconic image of blissful palm-fringed white sand beaches can be found everywhere in Southeast Asia, but it’s not always not so wise to shelter underneath the coconut trees. 

There are some potentially deadly creatures in Southeast Asia, including Tigers, bears and snakes, though you are highly unlikely to encounter them, even in the National Parks. 

Although instances of snakebite are fairly frequent, especially in Myanmar, most incidents occur among indigenous agricultural workers, especially during periods of localized flooding.

Travelling in the undergrowth of unfamiliar landscapes is best done in the company of an experienced guide.  

The waters of Southeast Asia are resplendent with marine life, which includes several shark species. Globally, shark attacks are extremely rare and occur most frequently in the waters of the United States, Australasia, and South Africa.

With the notable of exceptions of Hong Kong and the Philippines, there are no reported Shark attacks on swimmers, snorkelers or divers in Southeast Asia, though one fatality of a fisherman occurred in Thailand in 2000, featuring an understandably agitated shark caught up in his nets.

In Hong Kong, a spate of fatal shark attacks occurred between 1991 and 1995, claiming ten lives and causing considerable panic, following which Hong Kong’s government took the step of netting the majority of its beaches, which has entirely resolved the problem. 

All the Hong Kong beaches featured on this site are securely netted. A full list of Gazetted netted beaches is provided by the Hong Kong authorities and is available at http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/en/beach/. We do not recommend swimming at un-gazetted Hong Kong beaches. 

In the Philippines, there have been a small number of shark attacks since the 1960’s, of which four were fatal, the most recent death occurring in 2008. 

An up to date global database of both fatal and non-fatal shark attacks can be found at http://www.sharkattackdata.com/.

Sea snakes inhabit tropical waters, and on the rare occasions that they are seen can cause undue commotion. Sea snakes are by nature shy and will usually only bite humans when threatened or trapped in fishing nets. 

Another potential danger for those involved in aquatic pursuits, including swimming, is that of the box jellyfish which can be encountered in both the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Though incidents are extremely rare, they can be both very painful and potentially lethal. 

Mercifully, providing treatment is applied immediately, a simple and readily available cure exists, by continually soaking the skin and any attached residual stinging material in vinegar, while you await professional medical help. Any remaining stinging material should be removed as soon as possible, using gloves or a stick. 

For the best advice on water safety, few people know the waters at your destination better than the local dive masters, so if you have any concerns, a visit to the local dive school should give you an informed and up to date assessment of the local marine life and water conditions. 

A common and entirely avoidable source of beach injury is carelessly walking barefoot on sharp coral, which can cause serious cuts, and furthermore penetrate the skin with broken shards, which can potentially lead to a lifetimes walking discomfort.

The not so humble mosquito is the most potentially dangerous creature you are likely to encounter, and it is advised to use a repellent and in vulnerable areas use a net for sleeping, especially out in the wild. 

Although Malaria is not a threat in most tourist areas, if you are travelling into remote territories, precaution is necessary. In addition to malaria, Dengue Fever and Japanese Encephalitis are also borne by mosquitoes active during daytime.

You should consult your medical practitioner for fully up to date and personalised health advice and any recommended medication before taking your trip.

The world is an organic ever-changing dynamic and evolving being, which despite the illusion of relative calm during its quieter spells, is always in motion, and sometimes prone to sudden movement, the most famous example of which, in Indonesia, triggered the awesome power of the 2004 Tsunami. 

The disconcertingly worrying notion that the ground beneath our feet is not as solid as we suppose, is not of course unique to Southeast Asia, and should be put in perspective.

Nevertheless the ‘ring of fire’ which encircles almost the entire Pacific Ocean basin, is a highly active source of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, especially along the southern rim of the Indonesian archipelago, and undoubtedly is a factor to consider, though most visitors will never feel even a tremor during their visit. 

In the northern countries, of China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, occurrences of earthquakes are extremely rare and usually of little consequence, though it would be foolish to entirely overlook the possibility of a major event. 

These countries have a few volcanoes, which have not erupted in recorded history. In Indonesia, by contrast, both quakes and eruptions occur frequently, and can be among the worlds most dramatic and destructive. Thailand and Malaysia, particularly Borneo, are also prone to occasional earthquakes. 

In extremely rare instances, the whole region can be affected by underwater quakes resulting Tsunami tidal waves. However, although the Asia Pacific region is the World’s most regularly active focus of tectonic activity, in the interests of perspective, it should be borne in mind that the potential for globally significant catastrophe could occur almost anywhere, and at any time.

WHAT ABOUT NATURAL HAZARDS?

Expand

WHAT ABOUT EXTREME WEATHER?

Everyone who has tuned into television news will be aware of the occasional extreme weather events that occur in the Far East. Like Caribbean Hurricanes, the typhoons of Asia are a powerful and unstoppable natural force, at once awesomely impressive, destructive with the potential to cause enormous loss of life.

In the coastal areas of Southeast Asia, typhoons can and occasionally do wreak havoc, most notably in the Philippines, which has the highest rate of incidence. Monsoon rains can also cause severe flooding and landslides in some areas, again potentially resulting in considerable loss of life. 

From a traveller’s perspective, most visitors are unlikely to encounter severe extremes of weather, but at Haivenu we continually and carefully monitor prevailing conditions throughout the East Asian region, and always err on the side of caution acting quickly to ensure your safety, well in advance of any potential major weather event. 

Although rare, if circumstances make it necessary, we will contact you during your tour to provide you with a choice of available alternatives beyond the danger zone in which you can continue with your holiday with minimal disruption. 

Of course, in some locations it is entirely possible to encounter no rainfall whatever. Whilst this is a common ideal for holidaymakers, the tropical sun can quickly cause damage to unprotected skin, particularly during the first few days of exposure. 

Even an overcast day, with no direct sunlight, can result in severe burning if you spend a day lying unprotected on the beach. When travelling aboard boats, the intensity of solar radiation can be significantly amplified by reflection from the water surface.

WHAT ABOUT EXTREME WEATHER?

Expand

WHAT IS THE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY LIKE?

The electricity supply in Southeast Asia is generally suitable most suited to 220 – 440 v 50 Hz appliances, though the countries of Indochina have mixed systems, and you may also encounter 110v outlets in some locations. 

If your equipment is of the type designed to operate only at 110v, commonly found in the US and Japan, it will be advisable to take a converter (transformer) with you during your travels, particularly if you are carrying sensitive and expensive mobile technology. 

There is no universal socket system in Southeast Asia, and this is often true even within individual countries, and you are likely to benefit from carrying a full complement of adapter types. 

The majority of outlets are of the Asian round two-pin type, but Japanese style two pin flat sockets are also quite common. Thailand has a mix of two pin and three pin sockets, designed to accommodate both round pin Asian and flat pin Japanese style plugs. 

It is important to note that although the three pin type sockets physically support the insertion of a ground (earth) pin, many such installations are not in fact actually connected to a three-wire system. 

Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, due to their historic colonial links with the UK, have largely inherited the standard British three square pin sockets. 

The specifics that apply to each country can be found on our individual country pages, on the right hand side under the heading ‘Travel Advice’. 

Interruptions to power supplies can be common, especially in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Lightning strikes in particular can disrupt supply, and if you are planning to travel with highly delicate or expensive electrical equipment, it is advised that you consult with a qualified electrical advisor to recommend appropriate portable protection equipment.

WHAT IS THE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY LIKE?

Expand

CAN I USE A BANK CARD IN SOUTHEAST ASIA?

Credit and  Debit Cards are widely accepted in most major tourist centres of the region, international and other prominent hotels. However, if your travel plans involve visiting ethnic villages, or off the beaten track locations, there is no practical substitute for cash.

ATM’s are likewise widely distributed in the main conurbations of all our featured countries, but can be scarcer in rural locations. 

Card fraud is rife all over the world, and is unlikely to be any worse in Asia than in your hometown. Use the same precautions as you would at home. 

When entering your pin, in stores or at cash points always use your spare hand to shield the keypad from prying eyes or cameras (including mobile phones) and never use a cash point if it looks like it has been tampered with. 

Unless you are shopping with well-known major international trading companies, it is by far the safest practice to only use cash for purchasing items, and only using major banks for cash withdrawals, preferably those with internal ATM’s. 

If you do shop with a card, do not allow a transaction to continue if a shopkeeper attempts to remove your card from your view, whilst processing the payment, as this may indicate an attempt to copy or skim your card.

CAN I USE A BANK CARD IN SOUTHEAST ASIA?

Expand