For decades, Europe has been the choice destination for backpacking. But these days, we know a great deal more about Asia than ever before, especially with a couple countries in the region poised to outdistance the U.S. in superpower status.

That knowledge has yielded a lot more tidbits about exotic sites that travelers yearn to visit. Still, because it's not familiar territory like the western world, roughing it in Asia can be tricky. With that a few tips on how to cut down on any unpleasant surprises might be in order.


Hit More Familiar Territory

If there's one part of Asia that's most familiar to backpackers, it's Southeast Asia. Still, precautions for the unexpected are in order, such as vaccinations and the need to stay hydrated during your trek on the other side of the Pacific.

On that note, bottled water is a must for most areas as local sources aren't healthy for drinking. Some spots try to accommodate folks like Thailand restaurants serving filtered water and Myanmar makes it safer to drink by brewing tea. To further cut down on health risks, while eating food served by street vendors is relatively safe, make sure you use your own utensils, plates, cups and bowls.

Safety First

By far the safest countries in the region to visit are Singapore, Japan and Taiwan, while the biggest problems travelers might encounter elsewhere are limited to theft, especially purse-snatching. Otherwise, backpackers can travel in complete safety, especially when it comes to going across international borders. The cheapest way to do that is by bus or train; fares are reduced for night junkets, a big money-saver.

Backpackers used to hostels for accommodations elsewhere will be hard-pressed to find similar lodging anywhere in Asia. Fortunately, hotels are incredibly cheap although some venues might scrimp on quality. Other alternatives include beach huts and guest houses.

And The Rest of Asia

This piece would be remiss if China and India, the continent's two most predominant nations, weren't briefly thrown into the mix.

China as a whole is relatively inexpensive to visit, but considering the size of the country, it would take a while to visit everything. Hostels are generally cheap, going for about $10 a night. Between cities, trains, also easy on the budget, are the preferred way to go, from the high-speed expresses to the more scenic sleeper rail ventures. But the heavily-guarded borders between territories can be intimidating and visas to enter each of those areas can be on the pricey side.

India is very affordable with hostels galore, but getting to them would be an adventure in itself. Buses and train options abound, but traffic congestion and a poor road infrastructure will result in exhausting, lengthy wait periods. Still, the colorful festivals held regularly are enough to make the venture worthwhile.