Planning a trip to Asia can become hectic, but don't forget about these 10 things to do before visiting a new country. Use this step-by-step guide for planning a trip to Asia.
Knowing your destination's visa laws is crucial before arrival. Some airlines may even deny your boarding at the airport if you don't have a proper travel visa issued in advance. Laws vary country by country and even change frequently.
Some countries in Asia won't let you leave the airport if you arrive without a prearranged visa; you'll be put back on the first flight out!
Don't assume that you can get a visa on arrival issued in every country -- know before you go.
Seeing new charges pop up in foreign countries, particularly in Asia, may trigger your bank to issue a fraud alert. Having your debit and credit cards canceled while abroad can be a terrible inconvenience.
Avoid the hassle by contacting your banks for any cards that you plan to carry so that they can add travel notifications to your account.
Know the current exchange rate and a little about the local currency before you arrive, particularly if you plan to exchange money rather than use the local ATMs.
Traveling without insurance is risky, even if you don't plan to do any extreme sports or activities. Thailand has one of the highest traffic fatality rates per capita in the world.
Travel insurance is still mostly affordable and protects you from theft and accidents while abroad. If you already have travel insurance, you'll need to let them know about the new country you intend to visit during your trip. The built-in travel insurance on credit cards is rarely enough coverage.
Arriving unexpectedly during or just before a large event can be a hassle. You'll have more trouble getting around and room prices will be higher during holidays. On the other hand, you may want to roll back your travel date or adjust your itinerary to enjoy a big festival. Check for these big Asian festivals before you travel. Know what to expect in Asia month by month so that you can plan accordingly.
The last thing that you'll want to do after a long flight is dragging your luggage around an unfamiliar place to find a decent hotel -- particularly if you arrive late. Consider booking at least your first night or two in advance so that you will have an address for the taxi driver as you exit the airport. No matter how desperate, never ask your driver for a hotel recommendation!
Photos -- and even tweaked reviews -- online can make a hotel seem more appealing than it really is. Unless you know for sure that the location and property are nice, book only your first night or two so that you aren't locked into a bad place. If the hotel meets expectations, you can always ask the front desk about extending your stay
Know About Customs Restrictions
Some countries have strict duty restrictions and may want to tax or confiscate items that may be deemed harmless by others. The wrong place to find out that you are carrying 'contraband' is when clearing customs at your new country! Laws vary between countries. For example, Singapore has a ban on electronic cigarettes.
Overplanning is a sure way to create stress on your trip to Asia. A strict itinerary will be difficult to maintain, especially in developing countries where transportation delays are inevitable. Leave room for changes in your itinerary: don't book in advance unless you have to do so, and stay open to change.
While totally optional, American travelers can notify the US Department of State about their trip itinerary via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program website for free. If civil unrest or a natural disaster causes problems on your trip, at least authorities will know that you need to be evacuated.
Travelers enrolled in the program will also receive up-to-date travel alerts for each destination, giving time to change plans so that you don't accidentally walk out of the airport into a coup!
Your trip to Asia will be greatly enhanced if you do a small amount of preliminary research before arrival. Knowing a few words in the local language, such as how to say hello, will be a fun addition to your trip. A basic understanding of the local food, scams, customs, etiquette, and other basics will make daily transactions smoother and help keep culture shock at a minimum.