South East Asia Safety Tips for Female Travelers

female traveler

 

Safety Tips for Women Travelers

We believe that through education and supportive services, women can change the world; no dream is ever too big. We are vigilant addressing the risks women face today, at home and abroad. We’ve compiled a list of welfare and wellness tips for female travelers to stay safe while they take off on their adventure.

SAVE EVERYTHING IN THE CLOUD

Wifi is everywhere in Thailand. For documents, keep front-and-back copies of your credit cards saved to cloud storage like Google Docs or Dropbox, as well as a copy of your passport, train tickets ect. That way if you lose them AND your computer or phone, you won’t be totally up a creek.

DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BOOK

What are the best neighborhoods and the ones you should avoid? Are there only certain kinds of taxis you should take? Crowdsource your information so you know that it’s more objective than a hotel booking site.

TRY TO BLEND IN

What are the locals wearing? The more you stand out, the more you brand yourself as someone who is unfamiliar with the location, which makes you more vulnerable to criminals. In Chiang Mai that means no elephant hippy pants (yes they are so comfortable) and chang beer tank tops.

AVOID COCKTAILS

Be aware that food and drink spiking occurs, mostly around popular backpacker destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok the night-time entertainment zones in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, and during the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan. Choose a drink that you open yourself like a beer or wine cooler. Thailand has really yummy wine coolers with flavors like apple cider and mojito.

DON’T BRING ANYTHING TO ASIA THAT CAN’T BE REPLACED

Try to leave your valubles at home. But for the stuff you do bring you should have a day bag into which you can fit all of your important items: your passport, your camera, your medication, your jewelry, your credit cards, your smartphone, and any other technology, photography or otherwise valuable equipment. Keep some emergency cash $50 hidden somewhere secret like in a tampon applicator, just in case.

DON'T GO TO JAIL

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. The possession of even small quantities of "soft drugs" for recreational purposes can result in lengthy jail sentences. South East Asia has so much to offer, you can have a great time without being high.

Smile, you are on holiday!

When you appear to be friendly, other people will reach out to you to help you. Thailand isn’t known as the Kingdom of Smiles for nothing. Thai people don’t expect you to speak their language, and they probably don’t speak yours, so a simple smile says a lot there.

MAKE FRIENDS

There are lots of great networks to connect female travelers all around the world. You can ask them about the customs and things to do in their area, or even make plans to meet up. We like:

http://www.sheswanderful.com/

HEADING TO THAILAND? BOOK A TREK WITH CHAI LAI SISTERS

As a solo female traveler or even a woman traveling in a small group, you have to be extra cautious. Going out into the jungle with strangers can be nerve-wracking and may limit you from getting all the experiences you hoped for. If you’re visiting Southeast Asia, fear no more. Chai Lai Sisters is the first indigenous women-run tour company in Thailand. Chai Lai Sisters goal is not only to empower Indigenous female tour guides but also our female travelers. Traveling in remote parts of the world is thrilling, but it also comes with a great deal of vulnerability. Reports of sexual harassment and worse are unfortunately common for female travelers around the globe. All women should have the right to feel safe and comfortable, wherever they are. Chai Lai Sisters brings women together to create a circle of female trust, security and safety. They have many different tours and homestays to choose from. They’re eco-conscious, too, planting 3 trees for every guest. Chai Lai Sisters gives you a chance to travel and do good by supporting local, ethnic minorities and the environment.

REGISTER WITH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 

If something noteworthy happens in the country you’re in or at home, they will let you know ASAP. And download their Smart Traveler app.

USE TRUSTED DRIVERS

Ask you host or hotel to book a taxi for you or arrange a private transfer from the airport when you arrive, especially if you’re arriving at night. If it’s in your budget, this can make getting your bearings easier. Track your cab via Google Maps so you can tell if you’re going off route.

DON'T TRUST PEOPLE TOO QUICKLY

You might be excited to meet new friends and live like a local but unfortunately there are charming con-artists who make a living of tourists.

GET A LOCAL NUMBER

As a woman traveling alone, insurance may come in the form of a cell phone. Though you should rely far more on your intuition than a cell phone in the event of a dicey situation, knowing that you can call ahead to secure a hotel room or contact a friend can be extremely helpful. If you plan on being in a country for some time, having an unlocked GSM cell phone with a local, prepaid SIM card is a great option.

KEEP THE NUMBERS TO EMERGENCY SERVICES HANDY

No, 911 is not a universal number that you can dial to get help! However, many countries have a simple number that one can dial in case of an emergency. Here is a list of emergency phone numbers for every country in the world.

Check out Buzzfeed's list of 46 Incredibly Useful Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alonehttps://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicaprobus/46-incredibly-useful-safety-tips-for-women-traveling-alone?utm_term=.lfqoyqP5V#.ihxBNARX3

wanderlust travel

CELEBRATING 2017 AS THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM FOR DEVELOPMENT!

U.N. development goals

The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.

People today travel more than ever before in history. Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. Sustainable tourism actually benefits everyone involved, and not just one half of the equation. Unsustainable tourism might be fine from the point of view of the tourist, but it’s unlikely to benefit the host community.

In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute to the SDGs.

The #IY2017 will promote tourism’s role in the following five key areas:

(1)        Inclusive and sustainable economic growth

(2)        Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction

(3)        Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change

(4)        Cultural values, diversity and heritage

(5)        Mutual understanding, peace and security.

Learn more about why tourism matters and how you can make a positive impact here  http://www.tourism4development2017.org/why-tourism/

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The Bamboo Raft

Mae Wang river

Chai Lai Guest and Chiang Mai local, Francesca Fletcher writes about the simple beauty of bamboo of rafting.

It’s not the first time I’ve been bamboo rafting, but today I’m back for more. This afternoon is perfect for it: the sky is blue and cloudless, and it’s hot, so hot the dogs are panting in the shade and the elephants are constantly spraying themselves with sand to cool down.

It’s sweet relief as we set off in the back of the pickup and the wind rises, ruffling my hair. We sweep round the curves of this mountain road, snatching glimpses of paddy fields and cultivated rows of plants, elephants grazing and little roadside stalls selling grilled meat. The trees around us give off a sweet smell in the sun; cicadas thrum, unperturbed by the wheezy engine of our drive.

Too quickly, we arrive at the jetty and are submerged in forested shade as we drop down to the river. We jump out of the truck. I know our guide, and practise my rusty Thai on him: “Sawat dee kha, Pi,” I say - Hello, brother. He smiles and greets me in return before ushering us down to the riverside, where a huge pile of rafts lie waiting.

Bamboo raft

Bamboo rafting couldn’t be more different from its white water equivalent. The rafts are not the fluorescent, bobbing crafts we are used to, but graceful constructions built from the materials found right here in the jungle, and driven with poles, like punts. Long sturdy pieces of bamboo are tightly bound together each morning and undone each night when they are collected at the bottom of the hill. Traditionally, they were bound with thin strips of bamboo: this is a laborious process, as I found at one kids’ camp, and while it creates the most beautiful rafts, it is tough on your hands. Today raft builders often use rope and recycled tyres to bind and stabilise.

Our guide points out our raft and with his help we heave it off the pile and into the water, where he straightens it and directs us to climb on. Despite plenty of yoga, balance is a challenge for me: this is a little tricky! I slip off my shoes for better grip and wobble on to the raft nervously. The guide giggles. My friend hauls on a cooler box and settles into a cross-legged position. We spread our weight across the raft.

Some people, when they do this, like to challenge themselves to stay standing for the whole ride, ducking branches and staggering hilariously when the raft hits rocks. It’s fun, and a bit of a workout. That was me the first time. Today, I’m happy to sit and wallow in the inch or two of water that covers the raft, letting the water lap my legs and cool me.

It’s going to be a slow journey downriver. It’s hot season and the water is low: we’ve got time to grab a beer out of our cooler and relax. And if we’re lucky, our guide will let us swim off the raft when the water gets a little deeper.

I lie back, close my eyes; the sun flickers through leaves, making patterns of dark and light behind my lids. It’s very quiet: all I can hear is birdsong and the quiet splashes of the pole the guide uses to propel the boat. The gently tugging movement of the raft lulls me.

I love this. It’s a beautiful opportunity to switch off, unplug. There are few moments I’ve felt further from the stresses and pressures of my life. The daily grind, the commute, the money stresses - I feel it all lifting from my shoulders, an almost physical sensation of relief. My friend nudges me and passes me a beer. Perfect.

In April Songkran will hit Thailand and this area will erupt with hedonistic Thai tourists seeking joyful moments away from the crush of the city. Then, the river will be full of rafts, end to end, with giggling boys and girls calling, falling, playing… the whole valley will sing with laughter and terrible karaoke. It will be busy and wonderful. But this moment, this is my favourite. The calm before the storm. When the whole river is quiet and sleepy, and even the water moves sluggishly.

Too quickly, the leisurely journey down the river is almost over. We pass another raft girls from Chai lai,  young women who’ve become friends of mine over the times I’ve stayed here. We wave and exchange splashes.

And then it’s over. The last few yards gives us a little buzz, as we fly over a rapid. Our raft joins a crowd of others, all painted with each company’s colour, like a herd of sheep. We jump from raft to raft to the shore to thank our guide. Then it’s the walk past the rafting stations where the guides are beginning to wind down with a beer. The smell of bbq pork and drift through the gathering evening and I realise, with surprise, that I’m hungry.

You can read more about bamboo rafting in Chiang Mai here at one of the cities best blogs https://www.tielandtothailand.com/beer-buddies-bamboo-rafting-chiang-mai/

bamboo rafting Chiang Mai

Winter in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Winter in Chaing Mai, Thailand

If you are coming to Chai Lai in the "cold season" pack for hot days and cold nights.

The weather you can expect when visiting Chiang Mai depends of course on the season. Some seasons are better for trekking and others are better for hot air balloon rides. Some Chiang Mai’s climate can be roughly divided in three seasons, the rainy season, the dry and cool season, and the dry and warm season. If you enjoy a rainy holiday, just come in August or September and you will get what you will enjoy lush green jungles and rice fields. Most people, however, will opt for the Chiang Mai winter season and enjoy the dry and slightly cooler weather. The best months to visit are probably from October to February but then again expect more crowds in the city.

Hot season in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is known as the ‘cool capital’, and in comparison to the sweaty heat of Bangkok, the climate is far more agreeable.

The weather at Chai Lai is much cooler all year due to our higher altitude (4,341 feet). You don't worry you do not need air conditioning here! While nights in the city of Chiang Mai are in the 70- and 80s here it's in the 40s and 50s. At Doi Inthanon national park, the highest point in Thailand the temperature reaches freezing.

Travelfish has interactive weather maps for all of Thailand to help you plan your trip. https://www.travelfish.org/weather/thailand 

cold season chiang mai

Travel Tip: Enjoy the rain

September is the low season and you can get the best deals on hotels, tours and even airfare. The southwest monsoon usually arrives from India at the end of May. The rainy season is characterized by torrential downpours, but they tend to be sudden bursts that only last for an hour or so. The rains bring respite from the heat, and the landscape returns to its strikingly-gorgeous shade of green. 

Rain in Chiang Mai