For many in the Going Global community travel to Asia is either a bucket list dream or a regular occurrence. It’s a big, populous and dynamic region with a lot to offer travelers. But it is complex so we thought we’d compile some of the main points everyone needs to know when traveling to Asia.
Travel is Generally Safe
Overall, Asia welcomes the West and is not dangerous to travel to. No matter where you visit globally, common sense prevails. Most people would not walk alone down a dark North American city alley in the middle of the night, so don’t do it while traveling abroad. Statistics from a few years ago listed Asia as being far behind North America and Europe for homicide. There were only 3.1 intentional homicides in Asia for every 100,000 people as opposed to around 4.7 in the US and Canada.
As with anywhere else, petty theft does happen, but vigilance and not providing temptation by leaving valuables in the open will ensure that you do not become a victim.
You Do Not Necessarily Need to Learn the Language
You’ll find varying degrees of English spoken almost everywhere that you go in Asia, especially areas encouraging tourism. Unless you intend to explore remote regions where few tourists go, the language barrier will not be much of a problem.
Making an effort to learn a few basics is often appreciated locally, although tonal languages such as Mandarin or Thai can make this a difficult undertaking.
“Please”, “thank you”, and if you’re looking to take a lot of pictures, the word “beautiful” are recommended!
All regions of Asia are Very Mobile-Savvy, Even the Small Ones
Asia as a region accounts for over half of the world’s mobile devices. By 2016, Asia Pacific will account for 57.7% of all mobile phone users, nearly ten times that of North America.
China has long surpassed the US as the largest smartphone market in the world and other Asian nations are quickly following. Mobile phones are not the future of Asia, but the present. In 2012 mobile devices overtook desktop as the primary method of accessing the web in Asia.
When visiting, consider getting a local SIM card for your unlocked mobile phone (a great use of old phones). They are cheap and easy to find, and the stores you buy them in will often set them up for you.
Sure countries like Laos and Cambodia are just starting their march to prosperity but many others are incredibly well developed. Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan are certainly not “emerging markets”, in fact they have an enviably high standard of education, living and income.
A recent Knight Frank and Citi Private Wealth survey found Singapore is the most affluent country on the planet by GDP per capita. More impressive, by 2050 they predict they’ll be followed by Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan as the wealthiest nations. Clearly Asia’s economies are on the rise.
It’s Not Too Late to Benefit From Asia’s Growth
There’s been so much in the media about China’s phenomenal growth but the truth is the best is yet to come. Regional trading blocks like ASEAN are poised to grow for decades more. As South East Asia becomes more affluent, their populations will become bigger consumers. This means there are endless opportunities if you look at Asia as a place to sell your goods, not to just source cheap labor.
Our advice is simple; get on a plane and check out the prospects for yourself. Asia is a tiger and the time is right to explore the options of expanding into the world’s largest, most populous continent.