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Potential Dangers in Asia -
Backpacking Tips 3

"Crime, Conflicts and Terrorism"

Danger sign in asia
Backpacking Tips 3: Photo courtesy of Neel

One of the things backpackers think about before traveling to Asia is safety.

A political demonstration or an armed conflict is enough to make us rethink our choice of destination. This is a completely natural reaction because we don't know better.

But is the worrying really necessary?

Since 9/11, the issue of terrorism has been a pain in the ass for several governments, leaving travelers and tourists with the wish of a safe travel destination.

And even before 9/11, armed conflicts have existed in Asia; the conflict in Kashmir in Northern India, the violent riots in Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines, and the list is long.

Crimes, wars and terrorism will always exist, no matter how much we fight it. Wars and riots have existed since the first man on Earth.

So the question is:

How should you handle them if encountered? Other questions that will be answered here is: What are the potential dangers in Asia? Should you worry about terrorism in Asia?

Ticket to safe backpacking guide eBook
Have this in mind when reading this article!

  • The goal with this article is to prepare you, and lessen your fear and judgments by giving you facts and real tips. My intention is not to scare you off from traveling. Remember that dangers exist everywhere in the world, even where you're sitting right now...!

  • As long as you use your common sense, you can travel around with a big smile on your face with fewer worries. It's a big cliché saying this, but there's actually some truth to it.

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Common Potential Dangers
in Asia

Theft, Robbery
& Beggars

Theft and robbery exist everywhere in the world, even in your home country. But the tendency is that these crimes are committed at a more regular basis in countries with high unemployment. When people are in a financial crisis, and can't see any other way to solve it, many of them go to extreme measures: theft, robbery and begging.

Like, Cambodia is the second poorest country in Southeast Asia (measured in GDP per capita), and is accompanied by Laos, which is also considered as one of the poorest countries in the region.

When I traveled in Cambodia, I couldn't help but notice that there were a lot more beggars in this country, than say, Thailand. Cambodia is a poor country, and its malnutrition rates are also among the highest in Southeast Asia, often resulting in beggars. The beggars are often children under 5 years.

children beggars in Cambodia
Backpacking Tips 3 - Child beggars in Cambodia

Tips when you meet beggars:

  • No matter how cute the young beggars are, don't give money

    Poor families send their children to do the dirty job. If the families see that the begging works, they will eventually take their children out of school. Why send them to school when they can earn money the "quick" way…?

    Also remember that the money you give doesn't necessarily go to the beggars. It is reported that beggars are normally organized by criminals, so the beggars have to give the money to the criminals.

  • Children have to learn to earn money, instead of begging for it

  • Instead, give money to organizations who help local communities

So how can you try to avoid theft and robbery?

I've already covered tips for how to avoid theft and robbery in another article. Welcome to safe backpacking for beginners!

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Human Trafficking and Prostitution

Human trafficking is one of the world's oldest trades, and a growing criminal industry. It's a grave issue as terrorism, but yet it feels invisible. Trafficking appears to be happening behind doors, and it's extremely organized.

Human Trafficking Facts:

human trafficking in India
Backpacking Tips 3: Photo courtesy of Kumar Arayan

  • Thailand is a center of human trafficking in Southeast Asia…

    …where men, women, children and families are trafficked from Laos, Cambodia, and Burma. They're coerced into prostitution, forced labor on fishing boats or sweat shops, and domestic slavery.

  • Vietnamese girls are trafficked into Cambodia, and exposed to sexual exploitation

    Many use labor recruitment agencies in the hope of migrating legally and safely. But when they arrive at the destination, they're exploited.

  • About 200,000 women and children as well are trafficked from Nepal to for example India where they're sold for sex slavery.

Always report it to the nearest police station if you suspect trafficking.

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Backpacking tips 3

Worst case scenario when traveling abroad, is getting busted for transporting drugs over the border, and then imprisoned -- and it's even worse if you're actually innocent.

Hard drug facts:

death penalty in Malaysia
Backpacking Tips 3: Photo courtesy of "bitzi took his umbrella and left/ion-bogdan dumitrescu" (

  • "The Golden Triangle," paradise for production of narcotics, borders Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.

  • Laos is one of the largest producers of opium and cannabis

  • In these countries, there's a death penalty for drug crimes and these strict laws have been used -- several times: Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, China and India. Countries like Singapore and Malaysia have mandatory death penalty for certain drug offences, and have one of the highest execution rates in the world.

    If travelers have been "trafficking" drugs, and not just been in possession of it, this will lead to death penalty in for example Malaysia.

    Other Asian countries, like Cambodia, don't execute death penalties for drug offenders. BUT the punishment is still harsh: it can vary from a couple of years to life imprisonment, depending on amount and type of narcotics.

    Remember: Just because you have a status as a foreigner, doesn't mean you won't get punished…

Real-life drug arrests of foreigners:

  • Schapelle Leigh Corby is an Australian citizen who is now serving 20-years of sentence, for importation of 4.2 kilos of cannabis into Bali, Indonesia. She was convicted on Bali on May 27, 2005. Since she was arrested, Schapelle has stated that the narcotics were planted in her boogie board bag and that she didn't know about it.

    Daisy Angus - a British national caught in a drug case
    Backpacking Tips 3: British DAISY ANGUS caught in India -- Photo courtesy of

  • Gordon Vuong, a Chinese-Australian is currently serving a 13-year sentence in Cambodia for attempting to smuggle 2.1 kg of heroin concealed on his body. He was sentenced in Phnom Penh in May 2005, at the age of 16.

  • Pregnant British woman Samantha Orobator facing death by firing squad in Laos

  • British traveler Daisy Angus was wrongfully imprisoned in India

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  1. Pack your luggage yourself and fasten it securely

  2. Beware of approaches from strangers at airports/hotels/guesthouses…

    … it doesn't matter how innocent they look. Be careful when you receive gifts from people abroad - it's easy to hide drugs in cosmetics, toys, souvenirs, bags, wallets etc.

  3. Always check your bag when you had to leave it out of your sight. Like, when you retrieve your baggage at the airport.

  4. Don't leave your baggage unattended.

  5. Don't leave your baggage in care of anyone.

  6. Never carry anything belonging to someone else in and out of a country.

  7. Ensure that the medications you're bringing are not illegal. Just because your medication is legal in your home country, doesn't mean it's legal in another country. So do your homework.

  8. If you get caught, contact your home country's consulate. One of their legal services is to assist you in such matters, whether you're guilty or not. But if you're in fact guilty, they won't have any sympathy for you.

Logo cartoon   PSSSST...

Need more tips and information on conflicts, crimes and other essential safety issues related to backpacking in Asia?

You'll find a lot more info in this eBook. Read more about Ticket to Safe Backpacking

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Potential dangers in Thailand
Backpacking tips 3

Political tensions in Bangkok

Coming soon!

The Conflict in Southern Thailand

Thailand insurgency
Heard about the South Thailand Insurgency?

Here's an introduction to the insurgency, a little history and also pratical advice regarding traveling in the region.

Read about South Thailand Insurgency

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Potential dangers in India
Backpacking tips 3

Kashmir in India

The Kashmir Conflict - a fight for Kashmir between India and Pakistan

Traveling to Northern India, and wonder about the safety in Kashmir region?

Here's a short summary of the conflict, what it's about and tips on how to be safe in Kashmir.

Read more about the Kashmir Conflict

Terrorism in Mumbai, India

Terrorism in India

What are the lastest attacks, allegedly called terror attacks, in India? What is terrorism?

And most importantly, how can you, as a traveler in India, try to avoid it?

I introduce you to terrorism in India

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Conflict in South Philippines
Backpacking tips 3

moro muslims in south philippines
Heard about the insurgency in the Philippines?

There has been a conflict between the Philippine government the Muslim Moros since the 1960s.

Here I give you an introduction to the conflict, and other Islamic groups in the south.

Welcome to Philippine Insurgency

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Have your say about what you just read!
Leave me a comment below :-)

› Potential Dangers in Asia

What are the safety tips and tricks for Asia?
How can you prepare yourself?

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Arm yourself with solid safety knowledge!

"Ticket to safe backpacking" guides you through safety must-knows for Southeast Asia and India. It's your step-by-step guide on how to avoid scams and how to travel safe whether you're traveling solo or with friends.

This book relieves you from your fears and insecurities, and puts your mind at ease. Brace yourself for new adventures in Asia - equipped with travel confidence and hands-on knowledge.

Find more about Ticket to Safe Backpacking here

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