Travel Tips

COVID-19 Travel Ban: how to get a refund or credit for cancellations due to the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus crisis: how to get a refund or travel credit

Did your plans change due to the coronavirus global epidemic and you’re trying to get a refund?

As the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis has worsened over the past days, many travellers have found themselves in inconvenient situations around the world. Some of them managed to make it home before the country’s lockdown, others decided to stay in a foreign country.

If you are one of them, you probably had to change your plans. Here is how you can get a refund and how the travel industry is reacting to the huge number of cancellation requests they are receiving.

Below you can find a list of the major accommodation booking websites and airlines’ refund policy, however, we must say that these policies are changing almost by the minute.

Overall most airlines are waiving their change and cancellation fees for flights in March and April, and hotels are loosening their cancellation policies due to the coronavirus outbreak.

SKIP AHEAD

Airbnb coronavirus refund policy, zen hideaway, Indonesia
Credits: Backpackers In The World – In frame: Candice Halliday

Accommodations – coronavirus refund policies

AIRBNB

Airbnb is one of the platforms that made getting a refund due to the coronavirus easy for everyone. They have the so-called “Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy”, under which they aim to help both travellers and hosts worldwide.

The policy was first valid only for mainland China, Italy, and South Korea, but it has been extended to the US on March 13 and to every country in the World on March 14.

Reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 for stays and Airbnb Experiences, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be cancelled before check-in.

Guests who cancel will receive a full refund, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will refund all service fees for covered cancellations.

Source: airbnb.com

Read more about the Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy or about its activation worldwide here.

Hostelworld

In case you need a refund due to the coronavirus, Hostelworld has shared its guideline on what to do if you can no longer travel due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

If your booking is a free cancellation, you can simply cancel it from your account.
If your booking is a standard one or non-refundable, they suggest you to reach out using their contact form.

You can read the full guide here.

Booking.com

On March 17 Booking.com made an announcement declaring Force Majeure/Forced Circumstances.

With this announce, Booking.com invited their partners to refund due to the coronavirus all prepaid reservations and waive cancellations fee.

We expect you to refund any prepayment and waive any cancellation costs (fees, expenses and/or other amounts) in situations where the guests/travellers requested cancellations as a result of the Forced Circumstances (FC).
Booking.com will waive the commission in these cases.

Source: booking.com

You can find the full list of the countries where FC applies and read the full article at this link:
Booking.com – Important information regarding the Coronavirus

Agoda

Luckily, also Asia’s most used booking portal is doing what they can to help travellers in this situation.

This event is “force majeure” and as such Agoda reserves the right to allow the customer to cancel without penalty, as stated in our Accommodation Property Participation Agreement (APPA). Agoda will waive ALL charges & commission for bookings cancelled due to force majeure.

Source: agodapropertypartnerhelp.zendesk.com

As part of the Priceline/Booking.com family, Agoda is joining the other major booking portals to help people not to lose their money. You can read more about it at this link: Coronavirus: Agoda’s Approach

Airlines – coronavirus refund policies

We have grouped together the major airlines and their refund/cancellation policies due to the impact of the novel coronavirus Covid-19. This list is in continuously updated.

Generally, all airlines ask not to use their phone numbers unless you have a flight scheduled in the next 48/72 hours. You can change your flight or get a travel credit without paying any fees with most of the airlines.

AsiaEuropeAmericaOceania
AirAsia
Ana
Cathay Pacific
Cebu Pacific
Scoot
Singapore Airlines
Thai Airways
Air France
British Airways
Easy Jet
Iberia
Ryanair
American Airlines
Delta
– Qantas
Virgin Australia
Tiger Air

Asia

AirAsia

AirAsia is offering a refund to all bookings affected by the Covid-19 epidemic. Depending on which AirAsia airline you have booked your flight with, there will be different dates and conditions.

Overall, you can apply for a refund if your flight is under one of the following options:

  1. Flight to/from Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR & Macau SAR
  2. Covid-19 Voluntary Cancellation
  3. Nationals restricted to travel
  4. Japan Domestic Voluntary Cancellation
  5. India AirAsia Domestic Flights (I5)
  6. AirAsia Cancelled my Flight

Please note that it will take approximately 30 days for the amount to be reflected in your bank account due to the overwhelming number of refund requests.

Read more here: AirAsia Covid-19 Guide

Ana

Japan airline “All Nippon Airways” is also offering refund free of charge. All you have to do is to visit the ANA website, click Cancel on the View Reservations page to request a refund. The cancellation fee will not apply.

Read more on their website: ANA – Special Handling of International Air Tickets due to Pneumonia Caused by Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific says you can refund your ticket free of charge for the countries/regions that have imposed major travel restrictions.

You can check the full list of countries and the dates for which the refunds are available here: Cathay Pacific – Coronavirus (COVID-19): Refunds and ticket changes

Cebu Pacific

Following the Philippine government directive to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Cebu Pacific has announced that ALL CEBU PACIFIC AND CEBGO FLIGHTS WILL BE CANCELLED from Thursday, March 19 until Tuesday, April 14. Ticketing offices will also be closed.

The airline’s Dubai-Manila route will be suspended from Wednesday, March 18.

“Cebu Pacific is ensuring the safety of their passengers and operations teams, in support of stricter quarantine measures, land travel restrictions and regulations in place”

Cebu Pacific said in an official statement.

Travellers can check their flight status here.

All flights between March 15 and April 14 can be rescheduled without any change fees, until June 30. Cebu Pacific is also offering a full refund.

Read more here: Cebu Pacific – Cancelled flights from March 15 to April 14, 2020

Scoot

Scoot is offering travellers to Re-route, Re-book or Refund (via Scoot travel voucher) their flights and it has waived its change fee.

For bookings made on or before 15 March 2020, for travel up to 31 May 2020, Scoot will be offering voucher refunds for the full value of bookings. Scoot will be launching a self-service portal within the next few days, for all eligible customers to obtain voucher refunds.

Source: scoot.com

Read more from Scoot here: Scoot – Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreak

Singapore Airlines

Passengers who have purchased a ticket with Singapore Airlines are asked to convert their ticket to open-dated.

To do so, you can submit your request through their online form.

For travel within 72 hours, customers should contact their local Singapore Airlines Office. Otherwise please submit your request through this form. We will respond to you within seven business days.

Source: singaporeair.com

You can find more information here: Singapore Airlines – Covid-19: Travel Advisories and Waiver Policies

Thai Airways

Thai national airline, which has just cancelled 32 flights to 12 countries, has also waived cancellation and change fees.

Read more on how to get a refund due to the coronavirus crisis on their website: Thai Airways – Ticketing Procedures for COVID-19

Europe

Air France

France national airline is reducing its travel capacity by 90% over the next days, and it’s planned to last 2 months.

Air France offers you the possibility to postpone your trip or cancel it and obtain a travel voucher as a refund due to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you want to postpone your flight (must be a flight departing before 31 May 2020), you have until 30 September 2020 to postpone your departure date without change fees.

If you want to cancel your trip and get a travel voucher you can complete their online refund form and this non-refundable voucher is valid for 1 year on all Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic flights.

Find all the information at this link: Air France: CORONAVIRUS COVID-19: ADJUSTING YOUR TRAVEL PLANS

British Airways

British Airways’ “book with confidence” policy allows travellers to change the date and/or destinations of their flights free of charge.

To allow greater flexibility you can change the destination, date of travel, or both for free, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to Sunday 31 May 2020, as well as any existing bookings that depart up to Sunday 31 May 2020. Find out more.

Source: britishairways.com

You can read more here: British Airways – Coronavirus / Covid-19

EasyJet

Changes on EasyJet flights are free of charge as they reported on their website. They recommend making changes on their app or on the Manage Booking section instead of calling their numbers.

We are working hard to try and assist customers as quickly as possible and would like to apologise for any inconvenience however we would recommend customers wishing to make free changes to their bookings do so on the website or app via the Manage Bookings section.

Source: easyjet.com

Read more here: EasyJet – Coronavirus – COVID 19

Iberia

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Iberia is offering the possibility to request a refund voucher for the amount of the ticket. You can request the voucher by completing a form on their website:

Read more here: Iberia – Flight updates due to the evolution of Coronavirus

Ryanair

Ryanair flights scheduled between March 13 and March 31 can be changed without any additional fee.

“Where we’ve been required to cancel flights, customers will be able to transfer to an alternative Ryanair flight free of charge or receive a refund.”

Source: ryanair.com

Ryanair also says:

  • You can now move your flight free of charge to a date in the future.
  • The flight change fee will be waived in full.
  • You will only have to pay the difference in fare.
  • This flight date change will only apply to the route you have already booked.
  • Please do not try to change to another date in April.

You can read the full article here: Ryanair – Flight change fee removed for April flights.

America

American Airlines

As stated on their websites, American Airlines has waived change fees for certain dates of travel due to the coronavirus outbreak. Like many other airlines, they are asking people not to call their numbers unless your flight in the next 72 hours.

Don’t worry, the value of your ticket is safe. If you’re not traveling soon, there’s no need to call us right now. You can cancel online and call when you’re ready to rebook. To provide you with more flexibility and control we have waived change fees for certain dates of travel.

Source: aa.com

Read more here: American Airlines – Coronavirus travel updates

Delta

Like most of the other airlines, also Delta offers free changes for all bookings affected by the Covid-19.

Delta is broadly waiving change fees for travel impacted by the coronavirus. That means all travel departing in March or April 2020, as well as all tickets purchased in March 2020. For flights May 1, 2020, or later, please continue to check back as the situation evolves.

Source: delta.com

You can check the latest updates at this link: Delta – Coronavirus Travel Updates

Oceania

Qantas

Qantas, who is reducing its operations by 90%, offers free changes to your booking or flight credit to be redeemed by 30 September 2020.

Customers with existing bookings on any international or Australian domestic flight until 31 May 2020, who no longer wish to travel, can cancel their flight and retain the value of their booking as a flight credit.

Source: qantas.com

Read more here: Qantas – Coronavirus travel update

Virgin Australia & Tiger Air (owned by Virgin)

In response to the Australian government-imposed travel restrictions, Virgin Australia has just announced it will suspend all international flights for two and a half months from March 30 to June 14.

Virgin Australia is also set to reduce domestic capacity across Virgin and Tigerair by 50 per cent.

Both airlines are waiving change fees for domestic and international bookings for travel up until June 30, 2020.

To provide you with flexibility for your travel plans we’re waiving change fees* on domestic and international bookings for travel between 15 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

Source: virginaustralia.com

Keep in mind that you can make a maximum of one change per domestic booking.

Read more about it here: Virgin Australia – No change fees on domestic and international bookings

Travel Insurance – coronavirus refund policies

If you have got travel insurance you can also try to get a refund for your cancelled reservations through them. Please note that some insurance companies have changed their policies not to cover these expenses to the extraordinary nature of the coronavirus.

However, if you have one, do not hesitate to contact them.

Mindful Travelling: Travel Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

There are so many things to do whilst travelling in South East Asia. Thanks to Instagram many places have become more and more popular but some aren’t always necessarily the right choice. Here is a guide with the best travel tips to Southeast Asia to help you see a backpackers’ top destination, mindfully.

Post wrote in collaboration with Hannah from @thatwanderlustboho.


Travel Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia


1) Dress and behave appropriately

When travelling through Southeast Asian countries you will most likely end up visiting many temples. Please remember that these temples – also the ancient ones – are religious complexes for the locals and you should be dressed & behave accordingly, also when is not strictly specified.

Dress Appropriately, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

How to dress respectfully?

It may be required to wear clothes that cover the shoulders and fall below the knees, and please respect these rules, even though it may be very hot and uncomfortable at times. If you don’t have appropriate clothes on, carry a scarf to cover your shoulders. It will come in handy. Also, don’t embrace each other in religious sites, keep it PG.

Thai Temple, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

Asides from religious landmarks you can wear whatever you are comfortable in, in most places in S.E Asia. However, showing any skin in a small minority of places can acquire the odd ‘look’ from both males and females. Some people are not used to seeing bare arms, legs or chests. This may be something to keep in mind while travelling. Always respect the culture and remember you are a guest in their home.

DON’T

  • Wear shorts or vests to a religious sight
  • Take selfies with your back to Buddhas
  • Wear shoes inside a temple

DO

  • Cover shoulders and below the knees when visiting religious sites
  • Consider getting a scarf to cover-up

2) Show respect when visiting traditional villages

Southeast Asia is filled with traditional villages and rural areas where you can see how locals really live. From the ‘Abatan River Community’ in the Philippines to Thailand’s ‘Ban Na Ton Chan’, from ‘Kyaing Tong’ in Myanmar to the ‘Brunei fishing village of Kampong Sungai Matan’ in Malaysia, chances to visit them are countless.

Some of these villages, however, are more controversial than others. I.e., have you ever heard of Huai Sua Tao village?

It is better known as “Long Neck Women village“. I’m sure you know now.

Traditional Village, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @nomadiclio

Huai Sua Tao in Northern Thailand is home to about a dozen long neck women, known for wearing coiled brass rings to elongate their necks. To put things into perspective, you should know that these women are not actually from Thailand, but refugees from Myanmar who moved to Northern Thailand to escape war and poverty.

As our friend Lio pointed out in his post, places like this may be seen by many as “Human Zoos”, but at the same time these women want tourists to keep coming as it’s their main source of revenue and they would have no other job opportunities – nor have land granted from the Thai government – otherwise. If you decide to visit, please, treat them with respect, ask permission to take photos and treat them as human beings.

DON’T:

  • Invade their privacy
  • Take photos without permission

DO:

  • Treat these people with respect
  • Ask them before you take a photo
  • Spend some actual time with these people

Photos by: @nomadiclio

3) Know how to interact with children

Whilst exploring the streets and attractions you may come across children begging or asking to take selfies with you for a small price. People connect more with children than adults and so feel obligated to help the children by giving them money. Their families are also aware of this hence why it is such a problem.

Travel Tips for Southeast Asia, children

These children are put to work from a very young age, sometimes not long after they learn to walk. This means they are missing out on an education and forced to deal with experiences no child should have to endure. Children begging are at risk from many dangers including physical or emotional abuse, abduction, rape, and human trafficking.

DON’T

  • Give money
  • Take selfies with them
  • Encourage this in any way
  • Follow children anywhere, it could be a scam or worse – dangerous!

DO

  • Donate pen & paper
  • Speak to them, it’s great for them to learn English and meet new people
  • Support local organizations that help put an end to the cycle of poverty

4) Be responsible when it comes to animal tourism

For many people, seeing animals such as elephants and tigers (to name a few) would be a dream come true. Sadly, a lot of these people are often unaware of the whole picture when it comes to animal tourism. In S.E Asia alone, animal tourism has become increasingly popular and many tour organizers are taking advantage of this.

You’ll often see tours advertising elephant riding and tiger selfies, some even go as far as stating they are sanctuaries or ethical when in fact they are deceiving tourists. These activities are cruel so researching is very important. Animal tourism is a huge industry around the world so below we have listed some animals that are increasingly at risk.

Elephant tourism, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @ourkindlife

Elephants

This is probably one of the most important travel tips to travel to Southeast Asia mindfully.

Elephants are one of the most endangered species in Asia and their population is rapidly decreasing. Their population has declined by an average of 50% in the last 75 years. It is estimated that only 20,000-40,000 are left in the wild. It is believed that over 70% of baby elephants found in tourism were most likely poached from their natural habitat, often meaning their mothers were killed.

Animal tourism, Travel Tips for Southeast Asia

Photo by: @thatwanderlustboho

The amount of tourism in Thailand alone has resulted in a 30% rise of elephants held in captivity. That number is largely increasing due to the lack of knowledge when it comes to elephants and animal tourism as a whole.

A quick glance behind the scenes:

Elephants used in tourism are often captured from the wild. Many baby elephants will endure the “Phajaan” which means the breaking of an elephant’s spirit. This cruel process enables its captor to gain control of the elephant resulting in the elephant being forced to carry tourists, preform tricks and so on. Elephants often face abuse and neglect their entire lifetime or until they are no longer fit for use.

DON’T

  • Ride elephants. Ever! (if riding elephants is allowed, it’s definitely not ethical)
  • Visit elephant shows, the circus’ etc
  • Visit unethical zoos, sanctuaries, etc (quick research can help decide where is ethical and where isn’t)
  • Touch If you see chains, rope or an elephant hook/spear – leave and write a review to warn others

PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS

DO

  • See elephants in the wild
  • Support elephant organizations
  • Raise awareness, and doing your research
  • Visit ethical sanctuaries with zero riding
  • Visit ethical national parks

Photos by: @ourkindlife

Tigers

Another highly endangered species but thanks to conservation efforts their numbers are slowly growing. There are currently an average of 3,900 tigers left in the wild and the majority of those are found in S.E Asia. Although their numbers are growing they are still largely at risk.

What happens behind the scenes

One country, in particular, has become very popular for its tigers and sadly not for good reasons. Many venues in Thailand have been known to exploit tigers by allowing tourists to take selfies with them, and see them up close. Here is a report by World Animal Protection:

The suffering behind the selfie

The main welfare concerns witnessed by our investigators at these venues were:

  • tiger cubs separated from their mothers just two to three weeks after birth
  • young cubs presented to tourists and mishandled hundreds of times a day, which can lead to stress and injury
  • tigers punished using pain and fear, to stop aggressive, unwanted behaviour. One staff member told our researchers that starvation is used to punish tigers when they make a ‘mistake’
  • most tigers were housed in small concrete cages or barren enclosures with limited access to freshwater. 50% of the tigers we observed were in cages with less than 20sqm per animal, a far cry from the 16-32km they would roam in a single night in the wild
  • one in ten tigers observed showed behavioural problems, such as repetitive pacing orbiting their tails. These behaviours most commonly occur when animals can’t cope with stressful environments. “ – World Animal Protection

Did you know that a few years ago a tiger tourist attraction was raided and shut down? What they found was heartbreaking. Fifty tiger cubs were found frozen and waiting to be sold for soup medicine.

DON’T

  • Take a selfie with a tiger
  • Touch or hold a tiger/cub
  • Watch shows/circus’ with animals
  • Visit unethical zoos/sanctuaries etc

PLEASE DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THIS

DO

  • See tigers in the wild
  • Support conservation organizations
  • Visit ethical sanctuaries and national parks where #tigerselfies are NOT allowed
  • Raise awareness

Whale sharks

chapter by @joyoushapes

Whale sharks, also known as gentle giants, are the largest fish in the ocean. They can be as large as 18 meters in length and they can be found in the tropical ocean. Even if they are huge, and the name “shark” could sound scary, they eat only plankton and small fish and they are harmless to humans.

Usually encounters happen on very shallow water, this is the reason why many people join snorkelling tours to meet these beauties. Tours with whale sharks are becoming more famous thanks to social media, but we should be very careful in how we choose a tour and ensure it’s a responsible and ethical one.

A very popular – yet unethical – whale sharks tour is in Oslob, Philippines.

While people swim with the whale sharks, the guide/s have been known to hit these magnificent creatures to make them move! And, these creatures are fed every day because of the tour, so they have stopped migrating.

This behaviour can lead to the extinction of the already endangered species, as they will no longer be able to feed themselves because they have become dependent on tour feeding times.

This tour is very chaotic, a huge amount of people get in the water at 6 am trying to see the whale sharks. It has become dangerous for these animals, but also for people because crowds + water + animals = very critical mix. Please avoid any such tour. 

DON’T

  • Feed them or visit
  • Touch whale sharks
  • Take pictures with flash
  • Visit them at the aquarium and unethical places in general (if you want to spot them, find a tour where you can see them from the boat, without interacting with them. Check through the internet)

DO

  • Visit ethical places where they do NOT feed them
  • Go on tours where you are not assured you’ll see whale sharks, they are nomadic animals, how can you expect to find them always in the same place?

Other at-risk animals

When backpacking S.E Asia you will no doubt encounter animal tourism of some sort. Another animal that is at risk in S.E Asia is the monkey. Monkeys are often abused and forced to put on shows for tourists. Unfortunately, animal cruelty is a worldwide issue and so we will try our best to raise awareness. Below we have listed some popular animal activities that you should research beforehand:

  • Camel riding
  • Horse riding
  • Donkey riding
  • Any sanctuaries/zoos
  • National parks

Always avoid: Street vendors with parrots, monkeys, snakes, etc
Always check that the animal looks fit and healthy. See how the animal is treated by the owner. Research sanctuaries and zoos. Don’t visit national parks that allow vehicles to crowd around any animals.

And lastly, always be observant of any animal neglect/cruelty. Be sure to leave negative reviews if you, unfortunately, experience any of the above. 
Some places that have a bad rep and to be cautious of:

  • Donkey rides in Santorini
  • Elephant ride in India, Thailand, Indonesia, etc
  • Horses and donkey taxis in Gili Islands
  • Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
  • Camel ride in Jordan

“With animal tourism becoming more and more popular World Animal Protection found that 75% of wildlife tourist attractions are having a negative impact on wild animals.”

5) Do your research

When backpacking, doing research is essential if you want to travel mindfully. Below we have listed some important factors to consider when carrying out research:

  • Check the website- what’s their story? Do they support local communities, organizations? Are they ethical/sustainable/eco-friendly? Do they give back? 
  • Always read reviews- once you’ve checked a website always read reviews on a third-party platform such as Trip Advisor. Do the reviews support the website’s claims?
  • Talk to backpackers- have they been there? What was their experience?
  • Spontaneous trip? Be observant, raise awareness if you see something that may be wrong.
  • Boycott anywhere that- allows animal selfies, touching, handling or provides “entertainment”.
  • Don’t be naive.

Doing research is also crucial before booking any accommodation. Always check recent reviews for any signs of bed bugs before making a reservation.

6) Haggling

Bargaining in Southeast Asia is common practice pretty much anywhere. Depending on the country you are in, vendors will start with prices that are usually 2 to 4 times higher than the ones applied to locals. Expect this to happen mostly in touristy areas, in night markets, and with taxis and tuk-tuks.

Tuk Tuk, Thailand

Even though haggling is often necessary, remember to be respectful and try to offer a fair price. This tip may seem obvious, but while it’s true you should not pay more just because you are a tourist, please do not haggle over very small amounts.
We’ve seen people haggling over a 50-cents price difference, and even though backpackers do need to stretch dollars, you should remember that such small amounts make no difference to you while it does for them. Accept the deal if you think it’s fair, walk away if you think they’re trying to rip you off, but always be respectful.

DO

  • Negotiate prices wherever is necessary
  • Check average prices before to have an idea of what is a fair price.

DON’T

  • Be disrespectful, offering prices that are too low
  • Haggle over very small price differences

Photos by: @thatwanderlustboho

7) Be aware of the risks

Travelling in Southeast Asia is a lot of fun; however, you should never underestimate its risks. Here we listed some of our best tips to avoid any problems:

  • Always wear a helmet when driving a bike
  • Consider having travel insurance as hospital care is very – VERY – expensive in these countries.
  • Research beforehand if you need any specific vaccines for your destination. Some of the vaccines recommended for travellers to East and Southeast Asia are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and polio. Check always with your doctor before to book any flights.
  • Be careful while petting dogs on the way. It’s common to see backpackers dealing with rabies shot after getting bitten by dogs on their trips. The same also applies to monkeys and other wild animals.

Thanks to @thatwanderlustboho, @joyoushapes, @ourkindlife and @nomadiclio for helping us create this post.


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READ ALSO:

8 Mistakes Backpackers Make When Travelling to Morocco & How to Avoid Them!

Morocco – Guest post by @thirdeyetraveller

If you’re travelling to Morocco, prepare for one of your wildest adventures yet!

Morocco may look like it’s just popped straight out of your Pinterest board but believe me, behind all those pretty lanterns and luxurious riads there’s pickpocketing, scams and danger afoot if you don’t keep your wits about you.

A lot of travellers head to Morocco with high hopes for an amazing vacay, but then leave hating it, feeling unsafe and never wanting to return.

You may have heard other travellers tell you to avoid Morocco all together. Many advise it isn’t safe to travel there and some of those reasons are totally valid. I mean you just have to read the media, right? But, I believe that it is a safe country to visit if you prepare yourself and keep your wits about you.

I have visited Morocco twice. The first time I was a backpacker and landed in the crazy city of Marrakesh, wound my way up to the Atlas mountains and finished on the beach of Essaouira. The second was two years later, I had a bit more budget and went to the even more chaotic Fes and Chefchaouen, the blue pearl.

Both times I had little bother, mainly catcalling. I had one scary incident where a guy stalked me up to the Merinid tombs. But, as soon as I alerted the tourist police, all was well. Although it was a small thing, it did leave me a little shaken.

So, I’ve prepared a list of common mistakes people make when travelling to Morocco and how to avoid them. Having visited twice now and made some of these mistakes myself, I would like to pass this knowledge onto you;

Fes Souk, Morocco
Fes Souk

1) Packing inappropriate outfits to wear in Morocco

Morocco is an Islamic country ergo it’s a conservative one. So wearing short skirts, revealing dresses or having your cleavage on the show is a big no, no ladies! Even for men, you’ll notice that locals don’t wear shorts.

I don’t like being covered up any more than you do in that heat, but leaving too much of your body on the show is a sure-fire way to attract unwanted attention.

Pack lot’s of layers and light breathable clothing that covers you up. Although, that doesn’t necessarily mean looking frumpy either. There are so many fashionable jumpsuits, maxi dresses and pretty trousers so you can find something that looks stylish and respectful.

Royal Palace Fes, Morocco
Royal Palace Fes

2) Not being assertive enough with unwanted attention

Catcalling is a given ladies, granted it will be less if you’re with a man, but it is happening! You’ll be proposed to around five times a day in the market, asked where you’re from, told you’re beautiful, have comments made about you, asked for your number and social media.

You may like what they’re saying, that’s cool. But if not, don’t feel obligated to talk to anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable. If someone touches you inappropriately, call that stuff out. Make a scene, go loco and make an example of them. If someone follows you, alert the tourist police!

For me, the most effective way was just to ignore the catcalling. It’s hard, especially when you’re being yelled at down the street. But rise above it. Don’t let them rent space in your head.

Fes city Morocco
Fes city

3) Avoid researching the local culture in Morocco

As tourists visiting a foreign country, we often get a free pass. But, it is important to do your research to avoid any taboos and make sure we’re being respectful. Remember, you’re not here to change a country, you’re here to embrace it!

We’ve already touched on Morocco being an Islamic country, so dress respectfully. Remember to cover your head when entering a mosque and take off your shoes. Don’t point your finger or swear at men. Give money with your right hand. Don’t show public displays of affection. Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.

All of these things, although not always necessary, are appreciated and should avoid any trouble.

Chefchaouen Blue Houses, Morocco
Chefchaouen Blue Houses

4) Not researching official guides and tours before booking

A big problem in Morocco is the rise of unofficial tour guides. You may be approached on the street and offered a ‘free tour’ to show you around their city or a ‘special non-touristy tour’. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t go off with people you’ve just met on the street.

Make sure you research companies before you book in with them. Read reviews across a variety of platforms (did you know that 1 of 3 TripAdvisor reviews in Morocco are fake?!). Look for themes, does something positive or negative come up often? Have other travellers in your hotel or hostel taken the tour? What did they think?

Your guesthouse or hotel will always be paired with a company to push tours for commission. But, look around and travel with a company that’s safe and reliable. If you’re a woman travelling alone opt for a group tour.

Merinid Tomb Fes, Morocco
Merinid Tomb Fes

5) Being lax with their bags

Pickpocketing and robbery are common in Morocco. Getting lost in the souks, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb here. Always make sure you have your bags in clear sight. I personally put a luggage lock on my bags for safe keeping and keep it on my front so that nothing happens to it.

Keep an eye while using an ATM to ensure your PIN is private, always put your valuables and passport in a safe at your hotel if provided, don’t leave your bags unattended even in a restaurant. Better to be safe than sorry.

6) Not being vigilant for scams

Scams are commonplace in Morocco and a scam will be tried on you at least once.

Maybe you’ll be told a great price to enter a shop, and then they’ll bump up the price. It could be the nice guy that tells you the place you were heading is closed and offers to show you around the tanneries, but expects a massive tip. A woman who spilt Henna on you may then proceeds to give you a ‘free’ tattoo. You could buy a fake bottle of Argon Oil, or get in a taxi and the driver doesn’t turn on the meter.

Remain vigilant at all times and be wary of anyone that approaches you in the street.

Moroccan slippers
Moroccan Slippers

7) Going out late at night to drink in Morocco

If you’re heading to Morocco for a party, I’ve got some disappointing news for you. Morocco is a predominantly Islamic country with a strict drinking policy. Most locals don’t drink as it’s frowned upon in their religion.

You may find that some tourist restaurants and riad’s serve alcohol and that’s not a problem to indulge there. But, if you’re offered beer in the street, or are seen to be out or drinking late at night in public, it won’t be greeted kindly and people may take advantage.

But, there is one exception; Berber whisky! Don’t worry, that’s a nickname for (non-alcoholic) Mint Tea!

8) Thinking all the locals are not safe

Now, it may seem like I’ve given the Moroccan people a pretty bad rap here. But actually, not everyone in Morocco is out to get you. As much as there are people there that you need to be wary of, there are also many people that are warm, kind and hospitable to people who visit.

Morocco is an incredible country, with the promise of an adventure. The mystery of the Sahara, the colours and smells of the souks, the heights of the Atlas mountains and the waves crashing on its shores. You will be bedazzled by the culture and it would be a shame to be on edge all the time and worry about anyone you meet there.

Play it safe, be wary, but come with an open mind and heart. You will have the journey of your life here, don’t miss out on the jewel that is Morocco!

Fes Tanneries, Morocco
Fes Tanneries

About the author:

Sophie Pearce is a solo female travel blogger from the UK and the founder of Third Eye Traveller.

Always having itchy feet and a restless soul seeking adventure, she has now travelled to over 30+ countries, many of them solo.

Leaving her heart in India, which gifted her a “Third Eye”, she felt inspired to share her travel stories in the hope of encouraging others to explore this big beautiful world of ours.

Instagram: @thirdeyetraveller

Volunteering Abroad: how to travel the world for free!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you book through our links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting our channel, enjoy your free guide!


Have you ever dreamed to travel the world for free? Volunteering abroad with Worldpackers makes this dream a reality!

So, what is Worldpackers?

Worldpackers.com is a website that allows you to exchange your time for food and accommodation while travelling.

From working in a surf camp in Portugal to helping bartend in Costa Rica or volunteering to teach children in Kenya, there is a host for everyone! You offer your time (usually 20-24h/week) in exchange for food and accommodation.

The duration of the stay varies from host to host and usually lasts anywhere between a few days to a few months. Not only that, but you usually get 1 to 3 days off per week as well.

Signing up only costs $50 USD and you have access to all the volunteer positions you want for a whole year!

But here is the good news, you can save $20 USD and cut down that membership fee to $30 USD just by using our code!


SAVE $20 USD on your Worldpackers Yearly Membership!

promo code: BACKPACKERSINTHEWORLD


Is volunteering abroad the right way of travelling for everyone?

Of course not. If you are not willing to travel slowly, to get out of your comfort zone and to meet with locals, Worldpackers is not for you.

However, if you dream about exploring the real side of a country through the eyes of a local, or just to save some money while having fun working with other travellers, then Worldpackers is the way to go.

To try to understand a bit better the pros and cons of Worldpackers, we interviewed 3 people who have recently used the platform:

Follow them on Instagram:


Why do you like the concept of Worldpackers? What are the advantages of using this platform over regular travelling?

Janaina

I love that Worldpackers believes travel is a universal right. Travel has not always been accessible to youth, to women, to the budget-conscious, and the Worldpackers platform strives to make travel accessible to more and more people. One of the biggest advantages of using Worldpackers is getting to spend as much time as you want in your dream destinations.

Adam

I’ve done ‘regular travelling’ since I was 18, from weekends away to living abroad for years. While I got a good feel for lots of places, it’s not until you live with locals that you truly experience the real culture. Worldpackers offers this experience in a safe and dependable environment, whilst allowing you to give back to these same communities with a work exchange.

Gabby

Worldpackers helps me keep my travel expenses low, which is amazing since I don’t have a stable career with a consistent income. Aside from making travel affordable, work exchanges allow me to live and work with locals, which is much more immersive and interesting than just staying in hotels and resorts.

What volunteering experiences did you have with Worldpackers and how did they turn out?

Janaina

I’ve worked with Worldpackers in Mexico and Israel. Both experiences were with top-rated hostels, and couldn’t have been better. In addition to making lifelong friends, I felt that I truly got to experience the local culture of both countries.

Adam

I’ve completed 2 experiences so far – once teaching English to adults and the second in a hostel. The English classes were so much fun. It was a friendly, relaxed environment where we all shared stories and practised English through games, videos and social events.

I learnt so much about the city too, as everyone was eager to give me hints, tips and advice. Add that you are on your way to the third one that looks awesome for the unique opportunity to do some that otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to do it.

Gabby

I worked on a family-run lodge in a small village outside Quito, Ecuador, which helped me improve my Spanish a lot since I was living with the family and working in remote areas. I also worked as a blog article writer for a lodge in the cloud forest of Ecuador, which allowed me to exercise my writing skills and explore the surrounding nature.

My third work exchange was bartending in a fun, party hostel in Cusco, Peru. Here I made so many amazing friends from different countries and had some epic adventures like hiking Rainbow Mountain and Machu Picchu.

Credits: worldpackers.com

Was it hard to get accepted? Do you have any tips to improve the chances of getting in at the best positions available?

Janaina

It was not hard to get accepted. Clear communication, transparency, and a positive attitude are musts!

Adam

The English school was my first application, so I thought it was really easy. After that, I applied for 4 or 5 before being accepted for my second placement. My advice would be not to think “me me me”. The projects you’re applying to are businesses so you’re going there to work.

Think about what you can offer them. Study the projects individually and think about what skills and talents you can bring to make their project even better.

Gabby

It’s hard to give advice on getting accepted because everything just needs to work out, and some of it is just luck. Your time frame has to match with the availability of the host, and your skills have to match what the host needs.

I think if you apply to all the hosts that fit you best, and you can describe well why you would be a good fit, the rest will work itself out and you’ll find work easily. Also, don’t get your heart set on just one job; apply to lots just in case one doesn’t work out.

What does a typical workday as a volunteer look like?

Janaina

At both of my work exchanges, I worked an average of 15-20 hours per week. I’m an early riser, and my hosts were happy to let me take the earlier shifts! They were also super flexible and accommodating about making sure I had several days off in a row to be able to travel and explore local places. I left both my volunteering abroad experieces having seen, done, and experienced all that I dreamt of when I first arrived if not much more.

Adam

The school only required 10 hours a week while the hostel was 24. Working at the hostel was much harder due to the rota of 4×6 hour shifts. In one week you could work two-morning shifts, then a night shift, then a late. The days off were rarely together so the weeks felt quite disjointed.

The work wasn’t physically hard, but the constant demands and challenges of life in a busy hostel was certainly eye-opening. Clean and change rooms, keep the bathrooms spotless, ensure breakfast was ready for guests, clean up afterwards, and all the while making sure people checking out had fully paid, checking people in, answering email queries and buzzing people in and out of the front door. All that for one person felt a little excessive. By the end of the shift you didn’t feel like going out exploring, but I definitely had time to wander around and get to know the city.

Gabby

My work hours were very different for all three work exchanges. I’ll describe them in a brief list:

  • Lodge near Quito, Ecuador: I worked only on the weekends, cleaning the rooms and preparing/serving meals all through the day with breaks here and there. I had Monday-Thursday off, and I stayed in Quito with different family members and friends and got to explore the city and surrounding areas.
  • Cloud Forest of Mindo, Ecuador: I wrote one article each day, whenever I wanted. So I explored the forest all day, then wrote my article in the evening after dinner, which took me an hour or two.
  • Bartending in Cusco, Peru: Worked 4 days per week, 7-hour shifts that rotated between morning, afternoon, and night shifts. I was able to ask for certain days off or coordinate days off with my fellow volunteers if we wanted to take a trip somewhere.

Credits: worldpackers.com

How much have you been able to save while volunteering abroad instead of regular travelling?

Janaina

Doing work exchanges while traveling cut my travel expenses up to 70%, and sometimes more!

Adam

Aside from being able to practice a foreign language in a friendly environment, the money-saving was the biggest bonus.

Free breakfast is always fun, but because you’re mixing with similar minded people you often share other meals. My weekly shopping bill was tiny as everyone chipped in to buy a little something. Throw in some local knowledge and money-saving tips and I saved a huge amount.

Gabby

I can’t really give an exact number for how much I’ve saved doing work exchanges, but I know it’s a lot. Accommodation is my biggest expense when traveling, and this can usually cost between $5-$20 per night depending on the country.

When work exchanges provide meals, I save even more. In Ecuador, I spent barely any money at all the whole trip because I had all meals and housing covered by volunteering abroad. I only bought cheap bus tickets and a few souvenirs/activities here and there, so I probably only spent about $50 in one whole month of travelling in Ecuador.


Q: We know volunteering abroad is a great way to save some money on the road, but it might also limit the exploring side of travelling a little bit.

Talking about convenience, when would you recommend volunteering abroad and when would you not?

Janaina

I’d recommend volunteering abroad to anyone who wants to have a profound cultural experience, slow down a bit and really immerse into the local side of a destination. If you want to plan a trip jam-packed with tours and sightseeing, you’re better off just paying for accommodation since you won’t have the extra time and energy to work anyways.

Adam

If time is your friend, I absolutely recommend volunteering abroad.

If you have the time to spend 2 or 3 weeks in one location, do it. While it does take away the spontaneity it also helps to focus your visits. If you have 2 or 3 days off per week, you learn to make the absolute most of these days. All the time you’re learning about the area, so when you’re free you’ll know exactly where and when to go (and the cheapest, safest way).

It takes time to get stuck into the projects, so if you’re just spending 1 week in each, I don’t think you’d get the same benefit. It’s also easy to get burnt out. After the hostel, I needed time away from the constant noise and questions and spent a few weeks alone. If you enjoy your privacy then choose your projects carefully. Some offer private rooms, tents, mixed dorms or staff quarters.

Gabby

I would recommend volunteering abroad when you have more time to spend in a place. If you have at least three weeks, definitely volunteer because you can use the money you save for exploring on your days off.

Volunteering abroad you can always rely on a couple of days off, and usually, your hosts want to help you explore as well; they want you to experience the beauty of their home country and will sometimes even take you to their own secret local places. If you only have a short time to spend somewhere, skip the volunteering so you can see everything you want to see.

Credits: worldpackers.com

Have you ever had any bad experiences while volunteering abroad or with the platform itself?

Janaina

Solo travelling — especially for the first time — can be intimidating. One of the best ways to feel safe and secure and ease into the travel experience is by doing a work exchange. I personally haven’t had any bad experiences while volunteering abroad or using Worldpackers, and always felt that the safety of the other volunteers and hostelers was a top priority for both my hosts.

Adam

I’ve had nothing but great experiences. Whenever I’ve needed to contact them, the team are super-efficient at responding (and it’s never just a copy and paste answer). I think their customer support team is one of their best selling features.

Gabby

I went to South America at age 19 completely by myself and had no problems at all. I had one little scare, but it was easily cleared up. With my first Workaway near Quito, I was supposed to take a taxi from the airport to the house of the people who ran the lodge, and we would drive to the lodge the next day. It was 11 pm at night, and I arrived in the taxi at the gate to the neighbourhood but no one was there. I was just sitting in a taxi in the dark in a random suburb, and I had no idea where my hosts were.

Luckily, I had their phone number and the taxi driver called them on his phone since I didn’t have a local sim card. They had forgotten to stay home and meet me, so they gave the driver the address to their parents’ house. It was a small mix-up but I was super nervous at the time. Once we arrived at the parents’ house, they welcomed me in and everything was fine. Other than this tiny misunderstanding, I had no problems travelling as a solo female in South America.

SEE ALSO: 10 Safety Tips for visiting South America

Do you have any tips to find the best volunteer opportunities?

Janaina

Look no further than the incredible Worldpackers blog for inspiration on the best work exchange opportunities, where to go, how to travel on a budget, and more!

My best advice is to choose an experience that suits your personality and needs. If you’re an introvert, look into a homestay, permaculture project, or family-run hostel. If you love meeting new people and want more of a social, party vibe, consider working reception at a city hostel.

Adam

Don’t just find something to pass the time. Find a project that genuinely inspires you as it will make your (and their) experience so much more rewarding. I originally approached it thinking fewer hours was better, although now I’m looking for personal fulfilment over just a shorter workday. I probably wouldn’t choose another hostel again, but that’s just me personally. I’d go for something outdoors and hands-on.

Gabby

I think every job opportunity on Worldpackers is beneficial to someone out there, in some way. Everyone looks for different things when travelling, so I don’t really have any tips for job searching on the website because it’s super straightforward and everyone will search for what suits them best.

Again, the best job positions depend on the preferences of the person applying, but I will recommend hostels for those who want a social experience.

Working with families or small businesses allows a more local experience and you’ll probably learn the language much better, but it can be a bit isolating at times.

Working in a hostel, especially a big, party hostel, is better for those who want to hang out with people their own age and just be around more people in general.

Credits: worldpackers.com

Would you do anything differently?

Janaina

I only wish I knew about Worldpackers and work exchange earlier on!

Adam

Absolutely not. It’s all a learning curve and each project will be different from the next. I learnt so much about the local area, culture and also about myself. I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Gabby

The only thing I’d do differently is not to buy my return ticket home as far in advance! At the end of my trip, I just wanted to stay longer and go to more places that I’d learned about on my trip, but I already had my plane ticket home booked.

Would you recommend the platform after your experience?

Janaina

100%. My Worldpackers work exchange experiences changed my life, and are a huge reason I’m now traveling the world full-time as a digital nomad.

Adam

If I had more than two thumbs, I’d put them all up. The team are friendly, knowledgeable and all travel addicts themselves. The projects they offer are diverse and cover a huge range of activities, so you’re guaranteed to find something that inspires you. I’ve already signed up for my next two projects!

Gabby

I always recommend Worldpackers to people. Lots of people my age want to travel but also want to save money for cars and houses and such. I always tell people that work exchanges allow you to travel without spending much money, which is such a game-changer!

Credits: worldpackers.com

Buying a Bike in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

Guest post by @the2thattravel

Vietnam is notorious amongst travelers as an adventure-lovers haven, and buying a motorbike to explore this stunning country has been one of our favourite experiences while traveling so far.
With tons of information out there, and over 45 million registered motorbikes in Vietnam, here’s our guide for everything you need to know to easily buy your own bike in Vietnam.


SKIP AHEAD

Ha Giang Loop

Where to buy a bike in Vietnam?

Vietnam map

Depending on the route you want to take and where you want to explore, there are a lot of different options for buying a bike in Vietnam. Most travelers start in the south (Ho Chi Minh) and drive north (Hanoi) or vice versa, but there are plenty of motorbike shops in Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue) as well.

We bought our bikes in Hanoi, and ended up selling them in Central Vietnam (Da Nang & Hoi An).

You can buy motorbikes from local shops/resellers, or buy from an expat or fellow traveler.

At first, we went to a few motorbike shops in Hanoi (Style Motorbike, Tigit Motorbikes, and Phung Motorbike are 3 that we know and recommend) but in the end, we ended up buying them from expats in Hanoi because it was cheaper and we got more for our money.

For us, this was the better option. However, one of the best things about buying a bike from one of these shops in Vietnam is that they offer customer support during your travels so if you break down or need a mechanic anywhere, you can always call them for help.

Buying a bike in Vietnam

What bike do I buy in Vietnam?

With all the millions registered bikes around the country, your options for buying a bike in Vietnam are truly endless. There are automatic, semi-automatic, and manual motorbikes.

Charlie purchased a manual and Christine got an automatic, but semi-automatic bikes are the most popular and easiest to re-sell. If you are buying an automatic, we recommend at least a 125cc if you plan on exploring the mountains and more rugged roads.

The most popular brands are Yamaha, Suzuki, and Honda. Charlie bought a Lifan bike, which was an awesome bike but it gave us some trouble when re-selling it because it was a “Chinese bike” so be wary of this if you’re buying anything similar.

Vietnam motorbike

How much will I spend?

The greatest thing about buying a bike in Vietnam is how affordable it really is. You can find bikes for anywhere from US$200 to over US$2,000. Personally, we bought Christine’s Yamaha bike for $200, and bought Charlie’s 2019 Lifan new for  $800.

No matter your budget, you’ll be able to find something.

Just be careful of the quality if you are buying a cheaper bike in Vietnam, and make sure to ask when it was last looked at by a mechanic, when the oil was last changed, and how well the brakes are working. Be honest with them, and tell them that you’re planning on driving across the country, and hopefully they give you a more realistic idea of whether or not the particular bike is capable.

Most shops will put a bike rack on the back of your bike for you, to attach your bags. They should (or can if you ask them) attach a phone holder which is perfect to follow directions.

Whenever you buy a bike in Vietnam, always ask for a bike rack on the back of your bike, to attach your bags.

bike rack Vietnam motorbike

On the go: Filling your tank costs between 60,000-100,000 Vietnamese dong (about US$2.50 –  $4.50). You will probably fill up at least once/twice a day if you’re driving long distances.  Oil changes or flat tires are ridiculously cheap, they run you about US$1-2!

Police stops: Although it never happened to us, we have heard some stories from other travelers/bike shop owners about being stopped by police and having to pay bribes. We recommend keeping smaller notes in your pocket or wallet while you’re driving, and larger bills in your luggage in case it happens to you.

Vietnam road trip

Selling a bike in Vietnam

At the end of your journey, it’s time to sell the bike that you’ve probably become way too attached to, like us. The first step to sell a bike in Vietnam is to join Facebook Market Groups:

Here you can post an ad to sell your bike.
Attach photos, a brief description, the asking price (add at least 10-15% higher than what you want, because people will always negotiate) and a bit about your journey. Be honest about the condition, and any accidents – fellow travelers will appreciate this.

Also, throw in your helmet, bungee cords, and any other accessories that you bought for free to appeal to more buyers.

girl travelling Vietnam

How much time do I need to sell my bike?

If you’re selling your bike in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, a week in advance is enough time, because the demand there is much higher.
If you plan on selling it in Central Vietnam, we would recommend selling 2 weeks before your anticipated departure.

From our personal experience, Christine’s bike was sold 2 days after we posted about it on Facebook, and Charlie’s took about a week. If you’re wary about selling it, you can always post on Facebook 2-3 weeks before your final destination city, and then let any interested people know when you’ll be arriving.

Biking Vietnam

Where do I sell my bike?

The first choice would be Facebook Marketplace. You’re going to get the most money from other travelers/expats, the community is really big, and demand is always there.

Post as many ads in as many different groups as possible.

The second choice would be making flyers to advertise in local hostels. You could also stop by and ask the workers there if they know anyone that is looking for a motorbike, and if you could advertise there. Word of mouth spreads fast.

The last choice would be to sell to a motorbike shop/mechanic. You’re pretty much guaranteed to sell your bike here, but for 50-60% of what you paid for it.

Roads Vietnam Ha Giang Loop

How much will I get for my bike?

Expect to get 50-80% of what you bought the bike for, depending on condition and where you end up selling it. If you’ve had a few crashes, you’ll obviously get less money. Make sure to clean it up and have it looking in top condition.

Sell a bike

Our Top 5 Tips:

  1. Download maps.me and/or Google Maps (with downloaded Offline maps) so you always have access to the route you want to take. Also, buy a SIM card. Don’t be those  “We only use WiFi” travellers, because, in remote areas, you won’t find it.
  2. Plan your route the day before and figure out where you’re going to stop. The longest that we ever drove was six hours in one day with a stop for coffee and lunch. Definitely take breaks along the way because being alert and driving on the bike is more tiresome and stressful than you would think.
  3. Invest in your journey. I.e. buy a plastic cover or case for your phone (it will get really dirty and dusty while driving). consider buying a cheap ‘riding jacket’ (there’s tons of them, like fake North-face jackets sold everywhere in Vietnam) because you will be cold on the bike in the mountains, and you will also get incredibly dirty and dusty. With a cheap jacket, you can get rid of it when your adventures are over. Invest in a  good helmet, preferably full-faced for the dust/bugs (to save some money, buy them from Lazada – Vietnamese equivalent of Amazon) and bungee cables for all your bags.
  4. Buy a bike lock for $6/7. It will keep your mind at ease, and although we had no trouble with anyone trying to steal our bikes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Take photos of your bike along your journey that you can use when trying to re-sell it at the end of your trip.
Vietnam roads

Things to keep in mind:

  • When you first buy your motorbike, you will be given a ‘blue card’, which is essentially your registration. It’s also best to have an international driving license, although it’s never asked for in Vietnam as they are very relaxed about this.
    Christine drove her bike for 8 weeks without ever needing to show one. However, if you plan on keeping your bike and driving to Thailand, they are very strict about International Drivers Licenses and charge fines of about 500,000baht+/time (US$15) you get stopped.
  • Honking is super common amongst Vietnamese drivers. They’re not being rude, it’s basically their way of saying “hey, I’m here – don’t hit me”. After some time, you’ll catch on and be doing the same thing.
  • When traveling by motorbike, you have to be ready to go with the flow.
  • There’s no set time tables, and most of the time things won’t go according to plan. We’ve seen it all, from flat tires to the bike not starting, unexpected rainstorms, and probably the worst: crashes. In these periods, it’s better to plan short term or day by day. Things will go wrong, the best thing to do is be prepared.

Now you’re ready to buy your own motorbike in Vietnam –
let the adventure begin.

Ha Giang Loop, buy a bike in Vietnam

About Us:

buy a bike in vietnam

We are Charlie and Christine, a British boy and American girl who fell in love in Bali 4 years ago. Travel addicts from two different countries (with strict visa situations!), we were forced to work abroad so we could be together in the same country.

After getting our TEFL certificate, we taught English together in the Middle East. Now, the teaching days are over and we’re traveling the world full-time.

Currently exploring Southeast Asia, we’re slowly making our way around the world, one country at a time.

To see more of our adventures, check out our Instagram: @the2thattravel


Would you like to write a blog post for backpackersintheworld.com?
Send us an email at backpackersintheworld@gmail.com or send us a DM on Instagram.

10 Safety Travel Tips for visiting South America

Guest post by @teresaribas

If you are planning to visit South America, here is a list of 10 travel safety tips to keep safe!

Let’s start with the most common question:

Is South America safe?

Latin America always tends to drop under the “cons” column when making that “where to next” decision regarding safety; and although the Safety weight should always be high when it comes to travelling, violence and danger are generally overrated in certain countries.

We won’t lie or sugar coat, crime levels in Latin American countries are higher than what we’re probably used to, but that should never be an impediment to travel. One should, however, be aware that special safety measures and precautions should be taken.

The people, history, culture and nature in these countries have been some of the most inspiring and soul-filling we’ve been to and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to live this experience out of fear.

We’d even risk guaranteeing your integrity, phone, money and passport will all be safe if you follow these 10 very easy safety tips and recommendations that we’ve strictly followed ourselves when travelling in South America.


South America Travel Safety Tips

1 – Prevention

Prevent, prevent, prevent. Prevention is the best investment.

You should see prevention as something extra to pack in your backpack, not as a burden.
Do your homework, learn how to get from A to B before you go.

Understand the safety measures you so should take in each specific country and write down emergency contacts, just in case. Preventing will always be better than having a bad experience that could ruin your trip.

South America view

2 – Avoid walking around at night

“The night is dark and full of terrors”.

Avoid walking around at night, especially in lonely streets and big cities. It’s not like vampires jump out as soon as the sun goes down, but maybe those late night strolls in the park should probably be avoided.

There is another very important thing to keep in mind: always avoid public transport at night, it’s better to spend a couple euros/dollars extra on a taxi (or Uber) than to lose all your belongings and get your trip ruined from one single bad experience.

 Safety tips for Mexico and South America
Oaxaca, Mexico

3 – Always be up to date on local news

Given the majority of these countries are historically politically unstable; geographically located where there is always (even if just a slight) risk of natural disasters and socially restless; you should always pay attention to local news before and during your trip.

Things here can change very quickly and you should always be able to adapt your plan to these unexpected and unpredictable situations when travelling in South America.

4 – Ask the locals

Always ask and follow local recommendations.

This is one of the most important travel safety tips in South America, and also the one that has helped us the most. Ask locals for their opinions on your plans.

Do this only when they have no interest in selling you anything, don’t blindly trust anyone who tries to take you to a bus when you get into a station or show you the way, or give you a “free sample” of something, have criteria and know who to trust.

Some people here live off commissions to attract tourists, so you might get ripped off.

Obviously, that’s not always the case and you’ll meet a lot of locals who earn nothing from your existence, who can help you understand if a neighbourhood should be avoided, if there’s any unsafe region for whatever reasons or if you should get Ubers instead of Taxis or Taxis instead of Ubers.

Strictly follow their recommendations once you ask for their tips, most people here don’t want you as a tourist to be hurt, that would negatively affect business and economy in places that live off visitors.

Safety tips for Villade Leyva, Colombia
Villade Leyva, Colombia

5 – Keep a low profile

This is not just a Latin America recommendation, and you’ve probably read this off every travel guide, but avoid taking your best jewellery and sneakers out for a walk.

You’ll stand out and that’s something you don’t want, especially if criminals are around, they’ll go for the people who look like they have something valuable (even if they don’t).

Know where to take your fancy camera and/or phone out, understand that sometimes it’s better to lose that story opportunity, instead of losing your phone.

6 – Protect your belongings

At. All. Times.

Keep an eye on them, one tiny distraction and you can lose them all.

Scatter your money, don’t carry it all in one place; don’t put your phone in your pant’s back pocket, or your wallet for that matter.

Grab on to your backpack in crowded places and watch out for your stuff in public transport.

 Bogotá, Colombia, travel tips
Bogotá, Colombia

7 – Look confident

Look like you know where you’re going (even if you don’t).

In fact, one of the best ways to avoid problems is to look confident. Don’t walk around looking at your phone or your maps, don’t look lost, people might take advantage of that.

Look for a shop whenever you feel lost, whether it’s a business, a restaurant, and ask for directions.

8 – Follow your gut

Be smart, follow your gut.

Many times, while looking for the museum, the park, the street, you’ll go through some dodgy streets.

Turn around. Always turn around if something feels weird.

Take a different path, walk down a different street, chances are your bad gut feeling is actually real.

Big cities can be tricky, and big cities one is not familiar with can be hell, keep yourself safe and follow your gut every time that one street, that one person, that one taxi, that one bus looks bad.

Barranquilla, Colombia, South America
Barranquilla, Colombia

9 – Learn Spanish basics

You don’t have to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez to travel through Latin America, but knowing some basics can get you out of some frustrating situations.

The English level in some countries is surprisingly low and, although miming sometimes does the trick, it won’t if you need something more complicated like “I need something to help with sandflea bite itching” (which you’ll need.. I’d bet you on that).

Learn the basics, it will help.

10 – Beware of Tinder traps

That’s right, dating.

Something that has become rather common in some countries is trapping tourists through tinder or dating websites. We’ve heard some stories first hand, and they are not pleasant.

Again, be smart, learn who and who not to trust, protect your belongings and follow your gut.

San Pedro Atitlàn, Guatemala

As a conclusion, I’d like to invite you to not obsess over safety in these countries, if you take care, prevent, prepare and take some precautions to avoid finding yourself in a complicated situation, you’ll be able to enjoy an inspiring, enriching and soulful experience.

Just like you would anywhere else, understand you’re a visitor, and you should adapt to the local culture and habits, not the other way around – respect the people around you, be polite and thankful, and don’t do anything a local wouldn’t.

Don’t get yourself in trouble, needless to say, you should avoid getting in the drug or prostitution scenes and accept the cultural differences.

Enjoy, there’s so much to learn & see!

Tikal, Flores, Guatemala

Author Bio:

Native Portuguese, bilingual in English, trilingual in Spanish. I speak Catalan when people promise not to laugh, I’ll understand Italian or French. I still believe I should’ve listened to my mother when she told me to learn Mandarin.

Born in Oporto, Portugal, lived in Italy and England before settling for Barcelona, Spain. Where I lived for the past 9 years before quitting my job as a corporate branding consultant and leaving my house, my life and my friends to follow one of my biggest dreams: to travel the world indefinitely.

Not a blogger, I share all my trips and tips on my travel diary at @teresaribas