Traveling is Fun!
It gives us new valuable experience and the opportunity to make new friends. However, safety and knowledge are also paramount while traveling. Europe is one of the destinations that currently seeing an influx of tourists from Southeast Asia, mainly Malaysia and Singapore. If you are planning your trip here, what do you need to know before to travel? Well, Kokonutlist has listed 10 most essential tips for the Southeast Asian traveler to Europe!
Be careful with scammers
Although this applies to all cities in the world, several European cities like Paris, London and Frankfurt are very well known for its scam activities. Some of these scammers will disguise as NGO asking for signature or ‘concern civilians’ to ‘help’ you, all to achieve their goals. They are part of an extensive network of scammers that work in a group. They are very active around main attractions, shopping centers, and train stations. Avoid any interaction with them as their primary target is tourists.
Separate your cash
Pickpockets are everywhere, especially in the train. Thus, do not keep your cash in one place. Always wear a sling bag and keep your cash in several compartments. Nowadays there are special belt and pants for traveling. Hence, find a way to keep your cash separately. But the best of all is to avoid bringing too much cash with you. Keep in mind that most Europeans uses cards for their daily expenses, thus the pickpockets rarely target them. Tourists, on the other hand, carry a lot of cash. So, try making most transactions with cards. It is even wiser to do the booking in advance, 3 months early if possible, as you can save some cash.
Use Bus and Train rather than Taxi
One way to cut the cost while traveling is to study train and bus map beforehand. Some people prefer to use a taxi or hire a driver which in Europe, will cost a lot. Thus, bus and trains are the best substitutes since they have an excellent public transport system and offer travel cards for tourist. However, do study the map to ensure it is compatible with your itinerary. Should you need to travel fast, budget airlines are the best solution, you can get a flight as cheap at €30 from Amsterdam to London via EasyJet and Vueling Airlines.
Check your visa status
A little bit weird, but it makes more sense if your trip consists of eastern European countries as well. Malaysia and Singapore have visa on arrival status in Schengen countries (valid for 90 days in 180 days) and other EU countries. But to make sure your trip is smooth, do read a little bit more to get more details on border control between Schengen (26 countries such as France, Nederland, Germany, Finland) and Non-Schengen (such as the UK, Andorra, Russia, Bosnia, Romania).
Bring some food
Europe is generally expensive, especially for eating out. Thus, it will be better if you can bring some dry and processed food to cook it yourself, it will cut the cost, a lot. This can be biscuits, ready-made paste, noodles, sambal, and others. If you are planning on staying at Airbnb or hostel, make sure it provides a basic kitchen so you can cook your simple meal. Or you can also bring a small size rice cooker, but it will take some space in your luggage. This is a great way to travel for those who are concern about halal or kosher status as well. Bringing packed food into Europe is also way easier than other countries like Australia and New Zealand. Just make sure it is sealed correctly.
Expect long delay at Immigration
As Europe is a top destination for holidays especially during summer and spring (June to August), the queue at the immigration counters can be incredibly long. Should you are taking the train or scheduled bus from the airport to the city center, do not pre-book a ticket within half an hour after landing. If you are scheduled to land at 9 AM, book the train/bus ticket for 10.30AM – 11 AM. This will provide you with enough times to pass the immigration counter and collect your luggage. This is crucial at large airports like Paris, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, and Amsterdam.
Prepare yourself with basic foreign languages
One fun fact, English is not a native language for Europeans, it is only native to the United Kingdom and Ireland, even that they have several dialects that a bit difficult to understand. Main cities in Nederland, Germany and Scandinavian countries usually can converse in English. However, if your trips consist of cities such as outskirt of Paris and southern/western France, Barcelona and Madrid, Lisbon, Greek cities and also Italian cities like Venice, prepare yourself with knowledge of basic conversation in the native language. For sure you do not need a course, just learn the primary line on how to order food and drink, buy tickets, asking for directions and how to read the signs.
Free Wi-fi is not common
Rare because they are mostly developed countries, but it is how they roll. Unlike in southeast Asia, not all cafes and restaurants here offer free Wi-Fi. Public places with free access to wireless internet as well is not much. If you need wi-fi outside your hostel/hotel, do check with the cafe first before deciding to have a drink there. Mobile data can be a little bit expensive but for a long-term, it is probably better.
Most souvenirs are made outside Europe
Souvenirs are something we want to keep as a memory or as a gift to others back home. But if you want something authentic made from that country you visit especially major European cities, you may not find it in the common souvenir and gift shops in town. Most of the typical souvenirs such as shawls, fridge magnets, keychains, stickers and the rest is made from countries outside Europe, mainly Asia or Africa and then exported back to this continent. Even the paintings sold in the street of Paris are not made there, the same goes for some clothes in Portabello Road in London. If you need something made in the country, then try to find a gift shop in smaller towns, outskirts of the city and operated by locals who live there, you may find something that interests you, for a few more Euros maybe. Surprisingly you will even find something in their supermarket that is made in that country or countries nearby. However, for countries such as Romania, Bosnia, Czech or Bulgaria, locals will offer their handmade crafts to you at significant attractions in their cities.
Always bring a jacket
Weather in Europe generally can be unpredictable except few cities in the southern part which is closer to the Mediterranean climate such as Greece, southern Italy, and Spain, which is why they always talk about the weather in their TV channels. If you think you can skip the jacket because you come in summer and spring, you are wrong. In some parts of the day, the temperature can hit as low as 6°c from 25°c, especially in the UK, Nordic countries and eastern Europe. Thus, although you are just going for a walk to explore the city for a few hours, always bring a light jacket, mainly after 4 PM. Sometimes even the temperature is right, the wind can be a bit cold and it is always better to have a jacket on for us who are not used to this kind of weather.
Take note on the operating times
Restaurants and cafes here do not operate morning to evening non-stop like ours. Some start in the morning for breakfast and then close. But most start from 12 PM to 2 PM only and re-open at 6 PM for dinner until 9 PM. So, if you want to dine in, you have to make sure you are there within this time. Europeans value their lunchtime, so they usually take their sweet time enjoying their breaks. As mentioned, meals time in the afternoon often take 2 hours compatible with the opening times of restaurants. Some offices even extended their breaks to 3 PM. So, this is where you may find ticket offices, counters or stores closed from 12 PM until 2 PM. So, do try to arrange your time well!.
Well there you go, 11 best travel tips to the European continent. With all these information in hands, you are now ready to buy that plane ticket, pack your bags and experience Europe! Do try our travel quiz first for beginners to gain some info as well!. Safe travel!