30 Signs You’ve Been Backpacking in Southeast Asia

  1. You have an arm full of Friendship Bracelets
    • At first it’s a backpacker cliché you want to tick off. Then it becomes an addiction. I don’t just want that purple turtle bracelet, I NEED it.
Friendship Bracelets
So Many Friendship Bracelets…


  1. You own a vest depicting the Local Beer
    • Choose your tribe wisely. Are you Chang or are you Singha?


Angkor Beer
Angkor is also an option…
  1. You are not at all apprehensive about street food
    • No germaphobes here. Pad Thai for under a pound? Yeah buddy.


Street Food, Bangkok
Street Food, Bangkok
  1. You have developed the ability to sleep literally anywhere
    • The hours and hours of overnight buses, boats, trains, etc, mean you can catch some Z’s anywhere. A friend of mine even managed to sleep in a restaurant…
Asleep in a Restaurant, Thailand
Asleep in a Restaurant, Thailand


  1. 7-11 is heaven
    • Everything you could ever want resides under that neon green light. Snacks, magazines, toiletries… If you’re a loser like me, you might even have 7-11 clothing…


7-11 vest of course.
7-11 vest of course.
  1. You dress like a hobo
    • Fisherman pants? Weird flip-flops off the market? Random scarf? I’m all about keeping your own personal style on my travels. But you’re fighting a losing battle if you think you won’t succumb to this ensemble.


Backpacker Chic
Backpacker Chic
  1. Footwear seems to be optional…
    • Leaving your flip-flops at the door of every building you enter will inevitably lead to you losing your Havaiianas. At this point shoes don’t even seem to matter anymore.


Bare Feet in Cambodia
Bare Feet in Cambodia – Another one bites the dust…
  1. You have a travel-based tattoo
    • It totally seemed like the best idea in the world at the time.


Explore Dream Discover Tattoo
Explore Dream Discover – My tattoo…
  1. You know how to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laos, but nothing more.
    • I went out there with the best intentions of learning the local language. After ‘Sa-wùt dee kà’, it was all over.
  1. You don’t really like monkeys anymore
    • They steal.


Monkey & Kitten in Thailand
Monkey & Kitten in Thailand
  1. You don’t really like children anymore
    • They steal.
  1. Buckets have completely different connotations to you now.
    • And those connotations = rum, coke and red bull.


Buckets Galore
  1. You’ve been scammed at least once.
    • I made the mistake of getting on the infamous ‘Scam Bus’ from Thailand to Cambodia. Cue visa rip-offs, stops at shops and even a death threat from a tuk-tuk driver. Just get me to Siem Reap already.


Explosion at Cambodian Border
Oh there was also an explosion at the border on this journey from hell…
  1. Toilets have become a military procedure.
    • “These ones are Western and have toilet roll so go here because the next ones we’ll get to will be squat toilets”


Toilet Signs, Khao Sok
Toilet Signs, Khao Sok
  1. You stop being precious about your passport
    • Once you’ve given it to every hostel as deposit and left it with visa companies overnight, you stop with the worrying so much.


  1. The colour of your knock-off Casio is an important decision
    • But you will buy a new one every week after they break.
  1. The colour of your knock-off Ray-Bans is an important decision
    • But you will buy a new pair every week after you leave them on buses.


Monkey Beach, Koh Phi Phi
I went for green ones for some reason…
  1. DEET is like gold.
    • So is tiger balm. Mosquitoes are the devil.
  1. Rabies is a real threat.
    • Because you didn’t get the vaccination and still feel need to touch every single stray animal.


Rabies Threat
Every single one of them…
  1. You’ve used your first aid kit.
    • You thought it was ‘just in case’ but it normally gets used in Southeast Asia. I face-planted a bucket at Half Moon Party a week into my trip.


Busted my knee at Half Moon, Thailand
Busted my knee at Half Moon, Thailand
  1. Temples start to merge together.
    • You came to Southeast Asia to absorb the culture and experience everything it had to offer. But after a few temples, it becomes confusing. Was Wat Arun the one with the big gold Buddha? No, that was Wat Po, Wat Arun was the one with the really steep steps. Ohhh.


Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun, Bangkok
  1. So do beach parties.
    • Didn’t we meet at that beach party in Koh Phanghan? No that was Koh Phi Phi. What about the one with the fire skipping rope? Wasn’t that Koh Tao? That was every beach party in Southeast Asia ever.


Beach Parties - Thailand
Beach Parties – Thailand
  1. An Indian restaurant is like finding a needle in a haystack.
    • But when you find one, boy do those Bombay potatoes taste good.
  1. You’ve had to do a ‘Visa Run’ at some point.
    • Hello Singapore.


Bright Lights of Singapore
  1. You’ve mastered the art of getting in and out of a longtail boat.
    • Even when they drop you 3 metres from the shore. Wading to the beach whilst keeping your backpack dry is an art form.


Longtail Boats
Longtail Boats
  1. Tubing in Vang Vieng is like an urban legend
    • You meet travellers that have gone in an opposite direction around the Indochina Loop that tell amazing stories of their Vang Vieng adventures. Then you spot the vests and the shorts on every beach. You just have to go there already. (When you get there it’s the best day of your whole trip.)


Tubing in Vang Vieng
Tubing in Vang Vieng
  1. You’re addicted to buying flag badges to sew on you backpack.
    • “We can’t leave Vietnam until I’ve found the sew-on patch for it.” The struggle is real.


Badges on my Backpack
Badges on my Backpack
  1. On your trip you bought at least one of the following – a Buddha statue, an elephant statue, embellished cushion covers, incense for your mum, an embroidered tablecloth, something with your Chinese horoscope on it, something with an ‘Ohm’ symbol on it.
    • I bought all of the above.


Beaded Elephant Cushions
Beaded Elephant Cushions from Luang Prabang Night Market
  1. You’ve met the most amazing people
    • I don’t know what it is about Southeast Asia, but most people you meet seem to be on the same level as you – laid-back, content, just want to have fun and see the world. (Oh except for those ‘Lads on Tour’ at Full Moon.)


Wearing 'Palace Pants' at the Grand Palace, Bangkok
Wearing ‘Palace Pants’ at the Grand Palace, Bangkok
  1. You had the absolute time of your life.
    • New friendships, amazing beaches, new cultural experiences, parties, life lessons, stories to tell of awful journeys and brief romances, a backpack full of tacky souvenirs and a happy soul. Southeast Asia really is the best.
Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand


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