5. what to bring
If you read only one chapter of this guide, read this. Youíve heard all this before, but you should really bring as little as possible. This is far and away the most important thing you can do to help your trip be successful. To begin with, set out the things which you think you might need, force yourself to immediately cut out half of it, and go from there. You're going to be carrying around and worrying about this stuff for a while, so make life easy on yourself and follow this section as closely as possible. Remember, if you're flying into one of the major gateways of the region (Bangkok, Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Delhi, Kathmandu, Singapore) you'll be able to find anything which you realize you absolutely need, but didn't bring, upon arrival. It will also be much cheaper than it would be back home. On the other hand, if you arrive and realize that you brought too much, you'll be left with either giving it away or sending it home, an expensive, hassle-proned proposition.
Youíve all heard that itís better to have something and not need it, than to not have it and need it. Better safe than sorry is the old proverb. For the lightweight traveler, itís simply better to not have it if you donít need it!
How much stuff you're carrying around is going to make or break you in critical situations. Imagine trying to hop on the roof of a crowded Burmese bus with a large backpack. These can literally be packed like sardine tins. You need to find space for two people! Itís hard enough by yourself. In Ghana, baggage can add up to 50% to the cost of bus transport, even more if you donít haggle well. I cannot emphasize enough how comfortable, unassuming and free you'll feel while traveling with only a small shoulder sack or duffle bag, devoid of valuables, bulk, pompousness and intimidation. Donít even think about using huge, expensive internal frame backpacks or cumbersome, awkward suitcases. Not only will your muscles thank you, but the locals will find you easier to approach as someone who has chosen to live with the most spartan of possessions. Remember that in Buddhist societies (mainland Southeast Asia, much of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Northeast Asia), the most respected and revered persons are those who have chosen to abandon materialistic and egotistical tendencies. This mentality is the complete opposite of what we grow up with in the West, where he with the most toys wins. I guarantee youíll meet plenty of travelers who tell you they wish they had done the same thing.
Too much stuff in Burkina...
Despite what this chapter is called, you donít necessarily have to "bring" all of these things with you from home. Again, many of them can be purchased on arrival. Consider this more as a "What Possessions To Have While Traveling" list.
Have these -- the ten essentials:
1) shoulder bag -- This is what will hold your stuff. Besides your own person, this is the first thing which people will notice about you when you meet them. Shoulder bags are simpler and less of a Western icon than backpacks. Padded shoulder and waist straps, brightly colored synthetic nylons and big brand name patches immediately tag you as a wealthy foreigner. Consider a well worn, second hand bag from a thrift store. Make sure the bag is as apolitical as possible, so people can't prejudge you. Don't bring one with the Stars & Stripes stitched across its side. Anything with otherwise boring colors and bland designs would be perfect. Leather (or imitation leather) is semi-waterproof, but a cloth bag would be lighter. These types of bags are sold in every color and design imaginable in all the travelers' hangouts in SE Asia (theyíre touted as "ethnic" accessories), so you could just hop on the plane with a small plastic bag filled with this other stuff and wing it upon arrival.
2) lightweight trousers -- Comfort is a key when considering what to wear. SE Asia is a hot place, so you may think shorts are the way to go. The fact is though, modesty in dress is highly regarded in SE Asia, especially for women. Wearing shorts is frowned upon when away from the beach or the bathhouse. Lightweight trousers can be surprisingly cool, and they protect your legs from both the fierce sun and inquisitive little children that may want to pluck the hair from your calves. Large front pockets are a must for carrying anything from your small change to your camera or a light snack. Avoid white because you'll have to work harder to keep it clean. Again, check a local thrift store, various shops in the travelers' ghettos, or try any of the second hand clothing stalls which spring up in markets all over SE Asia. Even tall people can find stuff.
3) two short-sleeve shirts -- Lightweight cotton is best, for a combination of comfort and durability. As a natural fiber, cotton absorbs your sweat much better than artificial fibers. In tropical climates, long sleeves are rarely necessary. Try not to wear printed T-shirts, especially political ones, as these can label you as being a particular nationality or having specific beliefs. This may not at all be true, but if you want to be as neutral as possible, just stay away from them. Two shirts are better than one, since you won't have to do laundry too often, and you'll have the other to wear if one is filthy or being washed. Consider even purchasing your wardrobe upon arrival, so you're guaranteed not to look too much like you're from a particular place. The whole idea with clothing is to fit in, not only so you don't stand out, but also so that you can understand a little more about where you are.
4) sarong -- This is basically a large, thin, cotton sheet (4' by 6') which is sometimes sewn together at the ends to form a 4' tall cylindrical tube. These are worn around the waist by people all over rural areas of South and Southeast Asia. If you are unfamiliar with a sarong, the closest word we have in English would perhaps be "skirt", but thatís not quite right. In places like Bangladesh and Burma, the sarong (also known as a "longee") is essentially the national dress, worn by men and women alike. Elsewhere, men usually donít wear a sarong unless theyíre bathing.
You can purchase sarongs anywhere in SE Asia in all patterns and colors imaginable. They cost anywhere from $1-5, depending on quality. Buy one, because it will be the most versatile thing in your bag. Women can wear it as a lightweight skirt, but it also serves as a comfortable pajama for guys, a bedsheet, a towel for the bath, shower or beach (and it dries quickly), a scarf or shawl to keep the sun and dust off during long pick-up rides, a swimsuit for river and hot spring dips in the countryside, and even a multi-purpose rag for wiping sweat and grime off your body. Sarongs are incredibly lightweight, and will pack into the smallest corners of your bag.
5) sandals -- Teva-type sandals with the strap around the back are best because they stay on at all times. This is important when trudging through rivers, while dangling your feet off the top of the bus, or while climbing Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah (yes, I made it to the top, without slipping). There are many cheap but decent variations available, so don't feel obligated to buy the $50 pair. Mine cost $6 and lasted 21 months. Enterprising craftsmen in Thamel, Kathmandu and Khao San, Bangkok, are now making these in normal sizes. If you have big feet, get them at home. Sandals keep your feet dry and airy, so they don't smell, and are easy to take off and put back on, which you'll be doing a lot at the temples, mosques and homes which you visit. If straps break they can be repaired by numerous streetside shoe repairmen for around 20-30 cents, or if they get beyond hope you could buy another pair or simply buy the ubiquitous flip-flop, the world's most popular footwear. Tennis shoes are bulky and cumbersome, make your feet stink, and take too long to take off and put back on. Unless youíre doing a lot of trekking, don't bother with them.
6) underwear/boxers -- One pair will do. If this bothers you remember that you can wash it in the shower everyday with a bar of soap, or simply by ringing it out several times under cold water. If it gets worn out you can buy more, or go freestyle.
7) toiletries bag -- A cheap plastic grocery bag is fine. Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, hairbrush, sunscreen (if you're fair skinned) and emergency malaria pills (see 12. health on the road) are the essentials. Sunscreen and floss are the only things here that you should consider getting at home, since they can be hard to find outside the Western world.
8) money belt -- Large bills in local currency, emergency US dollars ($50-100), passport, vaccination certificate, traveler's check and credit/ATM card registers with phone numbers to call in case theyíre lost or stolen, and airline tickets all go in here. Keep all these inside a small plastic Ziploc-type bag inside the money belt, so they stay dry in case you sweat a lot or have to wade a river. Remember, never carry more than about US$200 in total cash currency. It's unnecessary and foolish. Get the thin, cloth-type money belt that can fit easily inside the waist of your pants. Make sure it can zip or velcro shut. Never carry your money belt as an outside "fanny" or "crotch" pack, which make easy pickings for snatch artists.
9) small notepad w/pen -- Keep important things written here, like your passport number, traveler's check and credit/ATM card numbers and phone numbers to call in case they're lost or stolen. You could also stick your traveler's checks and credit/ATM cards inside this notepad, in an envelope. The whole idea is to keep cash and check/card numbers separate from checks and cards, in case one or the other is lost or stolen. Put this in a Ziploc-type bag so nothing gets lost. Keep this bag buried in your main shoulder sack, separate from your money belt, again so if one or the other is lost you won't be in incredibly serious trouble.
10) current guidebook -- I don't care what anyone says, this item is indispensable. When your bus drops you off in a large, impersonal city in the middle of the night, you need to know where you are, where the cheapest place to stay is and how to get there. Travelers who claim not to need it always end up mooching off others at some point. If the whole book is too heavy, rip out the sections that you'll need. Consider the added benefit of reading a little background information on the places you're visiting. Don't deny yourself the opportunity to learn some new things.
... and later, off to Laos with the ten essentials, Khao San Road, Bangkok.
Maybe have these:
1) camera -- Most people enjoy looking at photos of their travels when they're old and gray. Small, compact, self-wind cameras will fit into your bag and keep a low profile, discouraging potential thieves. They're also very cheap (under $20) and sold in all the larger towns and cities of SE Asia. Bigger, fancy cameras are not only something to worry about constantly, but they can dehumanize a scene when people see this large apparatus pointing straight at them. Try to be as discreet as possible when taking photos. Be courteous to people who do not want their photos taken. Photography is a relatively new phenomenon in some places, and many people believe that you are invading their privacy or taking their spirit with them when you take their picture. Don't give money or stupid gifts (see below) in exchange for a photo, because you'll ruin it for everyone else. Print film (especially Konica and Kodak) is cheap ($1-3) and readily available in all the larger cities of each country, but slide film ($4-6) can be tough to find in backwater areas of Burma, Bangladesh, Laos and Cambodia. Stock up when you're in Yangon, Dhaka, Vientiane, Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Slide film is everywhere in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore Brunei, India and Nepal. Always check the expiration date before handing over your cash. Youíd be surprised how much old film is still floating around.
2) phrasebook -- Your appreciation for and assimilation into a culture will be greatly accelerated by learning some simple phrases in the local language (see 14. attitude). A small bilingual dictionary in the back with Romanized transliteration alongside the local script lets you look up specific words quickly, and is also helpful for pointing to words when your bad accent cannot be understood by someone. Some phrasebooks are available in the West, but a greater selection awaits when you arrive. Generally a Burmese phrasebook will be cheapest in Burma, a Thai phrasebook will be cheapest in Thailand, and so on.
3) map -- Most guidebooks do not have adequate maps for individual countries, especially when you're going off the beaten track. Again, the best selection awaits when you arrive, at low prices. The major gateways of South and Southeast Asia all have decent to excellent bookstores with good map selections.
4) a good book -- You'll have a lot spare time on your hands as you travel. Reading books that are specific to the countries that youíre passing through adds to your enjoyment of your travels. Huge used bookstores with great selections have sprung up in the travelers' ghettos in Bangkok and Kathmandu. They encourage buying, selling and trading. English generally has the widest selection, but French, German, Japanese and Hebrew are also added by travelers from all over the world. All the major SE Asian gateways have decent to excellent new-bookstores which are good places to look for works on SE Asian literature, culture, art, history, etc. When you're done reading, you can swap it with other travelers or simply give it to some friendly kid who'd like to practice his English.
5) journal -- Writing down your impressions of a place and your own personal thoughts about anything helps you learn, because writing forces you to organize your thoughts into a coherent whole. Journals also serve as stored memory: I often refer to them in order to recall the name of a forgotten friend, or a good restaurant in Nyaung U. Cheap, staple-bound lined notepads are available everywhere for 10-20 cents.
6) address book -- This has a dual purpose: to send postcards and letters to your friends and family back home, as well as to record the addresses of new friends you make along the road. You'll probably find that you get lots of little bits of paper with addresses on them, so you could just stick this all in a plastic bag and worry about it later on your spare time.
7) a third shirt -- With three shirts you'll only have to do your laundry about every two weeks, depending on how much sweating you're doing, or how tolerant you are of your own stench. It's not that much extra weight, considering you're already wearing one shirt.
8) more underwear Ė If youíre too grossed out by bringing just one, bring more. They are lightweight and pack into small nooks and crannies of your bag.
9) swimsuit/shorts Ė Believe it or not, even if you do a lot of swimming and public bathing, this is not an essential. In rural areas, do as the locals do and take a dip with your sarong wrapped around you. Men and women do this. In other places that are frequented by tourists, a swimsuit is ok, but you could just as easily paddle around with your trousers on. This is a classic example of how you can make do with what you have.
10) soap & shampoo -- Many people are shocked to hear that I don't put this in the absolute necessities section. You will be sweating a lot in SE Asia, and you will also be taking a lot of showers. Don't be surprised if you notice villagers taking three showers per day. What became obvious to me after a couple months on the road is that bar soap is, more often than not, sitting in the shower when I went to use it. This is not "scrounging" off other people. This is soap which is abandoned, perhaps by previous travelers, maybe by the guest house people. Sometimes you'll notice that the guest house provides soap for you, even the really cheap ones. If they donít you can always ask. Often the soap is sitting up on top of the stall or on the floor, so look around a little if you don't see any. Certainly there were many times when I did not use soap in the shower, but do you really think it's necessary to lather up every time you bathe? Even when scrubbed under plain cold water your body will come out reasonably clean. If you have short hair, use the bar soap to wash your hair. If you have long hair or don't like doing this, consider buying little single-use packets of shampoo, which are sold everywhere. These are made in Thailand and cost around 3-10 cents.
11) deodorant -- Again, if you're showering daily, you will rarely smell so bad that you need this. If you smell, more likely it's time to do laundry than to put on deodorant.
12) razor -- You don't have a job and you're not trying to greatly impress people. Most guys go several days to weeks and months in between shaves while on the road. The razor and cream are an added burden. Streetside shaves are available all over the third world, and are a good chance to mingle with the locals. Barbers are usually quite friendly, and they never cut your skin. Shaves cost around 10 cents on the Indian Subcontinent (includes Nepal, Bangladesh and Indian-influenced Burma) and around 25 cents in the rest of SE Asia (where people are less hairy).
Hope he has a steady hand (Cambodia).
13) bug juice -- If you're not taking malaria prophylaxis, if your room doesn't have a window screen, ceiling fan or mosquito net, or if the bugs are especially thick, this stuff can greatly improve your peace of mind. In 8 months of travels, I stayed in maybe 3-4 guest houses where the above elements combined such that bug juice would have been ideal. Bring some from home, because it can be tough to find in SE Asia. Hardy souls can do without it in these circumstances by swatting and hiding under the sheets.
14) lightweight sweater -- It can get chilly (perhaps 10° C) in the mountains of Burma, northern Thailand and northern Laos, at night and in the early morning, any time of the year. To be honest, however, the only time I ever considered that I should have had a sweater was on top of Mt. Kinabalu (4100m) at 5am. I alleviated the 5° C temperatures by putting on all 3 of my shirts, wrapping my sarong around me and huddling behind a large boulder. Again, making due with what you have. I was still cold, but was not suffering terribly, and when the sun rose at about 6am the temperature quickly began to rise. Certainly if the weather were less favorable I would not have proceeded all the way to the top.
15) padlock Ė There are many times when you'll come across a room that does not have a normal door key lock. Sometimes it's a sliding latch that prevents the door from opening, but does not lock it shut. Other times it's just the latch with eye loop, which may not even keep the door closed! In these cases, you'll need a padlock to keep your room secure. Small, cheap Chinese key locks are sold everywhere. They may not help you if a potential thief has bolt cutters or a sledge hammer, but they will keep your door closed and deter quick snatch thieves. Besides, you shouldn't leave any valuables in your room anyway, so what is there to worry about? Keep a low profile in your room by spreading dirty shirts around, so if anyone manages a peek inside theyíll be disappointed.
16) pocketknife -- This could conceivably be useful for cutting fruit or spreading peanut butter and jelly over a slice of bread, but if you don't have it with you you'll find other ways of eating.
17) alarm clock Ė My alarm clock was stolen early in my trip, and in 8 months I never missed an important early morning bus ride. First understand that you may choose to wake up early (6-7am) anyway, since it's difficult to sleep in dorms when people are moving about (locals especially have the tendency to get up before the rooster crows). In addition, it's the coolest time of the day and hence the best time to get things done, and there's often not much to do in the evenings when the power goes out, so you'll be going to bed early. Every once in a while you may need to get up at 4:30-5:00am (especially in Burma, which has some of the earliest bus departures in SE Asia), and every time this came up one of the guest house workers was willing to knock on my door to wake me. Generally these early morning departures are known by the guest house guys, and they've done it before for other travelers that have passed through. It's part of their job, and they don't mind doing it. Bangkok, again, is the exception!
18) walkman Ė A lot of travelers like to listen to tunes on the road. This is really a matter of personal preference. If you do bring it, your Walkman will likely be the most expensive item in your bag. Youíll also need to carry lots of tapes and CDs, so you donít get bored with the same one over and over again. Iíd suggest leaving it behind, since itís more expensive stuff to worry about. If youíre just dying for a little Bob Marley in Luang Prabang, the market stocks poor-quality Chinese-made electronics at reasonable prices.
19) souvenirs -- Unless you're trying to travel on under $8 per day, you can afford to buy souvenirs. After you've packed the above stuff, hopefully your bag will have a little extra room. As you travel and purchase, stick them in this space. If your bag is totally full, you can put a plastic bag inside another (for durability) and tie it off on top to keep the contents clean. One extra plastic bag with stuff usually isn't a problem, but if you start carrying more than that you'll find it inconvenient. If you're in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei or a large Indian city, post your souvenirs home the next time you come across a post office. In other places you should wait until you get to the capital city (see 7. post & telecommunications).
Donít bring these:
1) sleeping bag -- Southeast Asia is a warm place. Sleeping bags are heavy, bulky and expensive. Unless you are trekking in Nepal, this is really something that you do not want to bring. The few cold nights you come across can be alleviated by wearing two or three shirts and wrapping up in your sarong. On Mt. Kinabalu, the lodges are all stocked with sheets and blankets.
2) umbrella -- Yes, it does rain a lot in the tropics, but keep in mind that in India, Burma, Thailand, the Philippines and Indochina, rain comes mostly in the summer monsoon months. In Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, rainfall is more widely distributed throughout the year, so that it's not especially heavy at any one particular time. I never once wished I had an umbrella, and rain is rarely so prolonged and heavy that it prevents you from doing what you want to do. Lightweight travelers that carry umbrellas are few and far between.
3) rain coat -- This gets the same story as the umbrella. A coat is large and bulky, and you certainly don't need the added warmth it provides when you wear it.
4) boots -- Unless you plan on doing a lot of trekking in muddy, remote areas, you can also do without these. I love the outdoors, and have done a lot of hiking in Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos and Burma in my sandals. Yes, leeches are out there, but they're not everywhere and they can be removed if need be. Remember, they are harmless. For longer treks in Nepal, a pair of tennis shoes suffices.
5) jeans -- I can't imagine anything more uncomfortable than wearing a pair of jeans in a hot and humid climate. They are certainly durable, but lightweight clothing is cheap and easy to come by all over the region. I'm 2.00m tall and managed to find a pair in a backwater provincial market in Cambodia that fit when I let the hems out and moved the waist button over a little.
6) stupid gifts Ė I met a lot of travelers who thought it was a good idea to bring little gifts from home (such as pens, candies, coins, etc.) to give to little kids in exchange for a photo, or sometimes just as a sign of friendship. Any trekker to Nepal can attest to the fact that this has developed into a bad situation, where kids greet you with open palms saying "Hello pen," "Hello bon-bon," or "Hello bic." Try greeting people instead with smiles, handshakes and phrases in their own language, so they view foreigners simply as friendly people rather than as sources of money or charity.
The "hello pen?" kids (Nepal).
7) 52 Lariam Ė This will be explained later in 12. health on the road. Basically you donít need to carry $400 in malaria prophylaxis for a year-long trip.
8) ISIC Ė The International Student Identity Card is heralded as the great key to saving money for students who travel and study abroad. While this may be true for Europe or North America, I found this card to be absolutely worthless in Africa and Asia. Therefore, do not buy this card with the anticipation of saving money on the road. It may be useful if you are connecting via Europe on your way out of the US, in which case you should inquire at Coucil Travel (www.counciltravel.com), but otherwise forget it. Once or twice on my trip I did come across student discounts, and each time my regular university ID was good enough. If youíve just got to have the ISIC, you can buy it on Khao San Road in Bangkok for about 50 baht ($1.30), and you donít even have to be a student to get one.
9) passport photos Ė If youíre hitting a lot of countries in Asia or Africa, youíll be visiting lots of embassies for visas and youíll need lots of passport photos. Actually, any sort of ID photo is sufficient, so you donít have to look for the exact "passport photo" size. Back home youíll pay up to $20 for four of them. On the road, you can buy them in all larger cities (precisely where the embassies are located) at ubiquitous photo shops, and theyíll be much cheaper than back home. Expect to pay around $1-3 for four. If they donít offer this rate, bargain. Black and white photos are ok in all situations, so get them since theyíre cheaper than color.
10) dress-up clothes Ė Unless you plan on applying for a serious job, this would be a total deadweight. You may have heard that itís best to look nice when applying for visas, going through customs or at border crossings, but I never encountered problems so long as I was cordial, had done my laundry recently, had showered within the past couple of days, and was following the rules (DONíT EVER sneak across a border). Gone are the times when getting into a country was a big "if." Nowadays, globalization and the power of the dollar make getting a visa a simple purchase order. Restrictions apply, of course, depending on your nationality and other factors (see 4. before you go).
A remote Cambodian border post. No fancy clothes required.
11) toilet paper Ė Remember, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Itís safe to say that on your trip you may never stay in a home or guest house equipped with toilet paper. You really donít need it either. Toilets in SE Asia tend to be of the squat type. There are two foot-pads sitting astride a hole. These can be quite primitive "outhouses" in rural regions, or they can be modernized, porcelain jobs that have flushing mechanisms, especially in the larger cities. Nobody anywhere likes to have doo-doo crusting up, so there is always some way of washing yourself off after youíre done. Generally this is either in the form of a pail of water with scoop cup sitting close by, a piped faucet with cup, or sometimes (especially in Burma) a hose with nozzle attached which lets you spray remotely. Rub your fingers directly on your anus, while applying water with your other hand, to scrub off any remains. Soap is usually not around, but if you use enough water and rub your fingers vigorously, you will not notice a smell on your fingers. Itís quite hygienic, despite your first impressions.
Primitive squat, Burkina Faso.
reality and storing stuff:
Just for the record, I carried the ten essentials (of course the trousers, a shirt, underwear and sandals were on my body), the first seven of the things to consider, and some souvenirs as I purchased them. My bag weighed no more than 2 kg (5 lbs.). I spent the first six months of my trip perfecting and narrowing down this ideal travel survival sack. I am convinced you can survive just fine with these items.
The bare necessities. Khao San Road, Bangkok.
The above outline works fine in theory, but in reality you may still find yourself with a lot of stuff. In this case you either totally ignored what you read and were told prior to departure, or you have purchased so many things that it's no longer cheap to send them home. If you now find that it's inconvenient to carry around a large bag filled with things that you don't use in your day to day activities, it's time to store.
The only problem with storage is that it means you have to come back for your bag, if its contents mean a lot to you, no matter what. If you fall in love with some area, or if it's rumored that there are some cool things to see in the next country, in the end you still have no choice but to put your head down and backtrack for your bag. To alleviate this problem, many travelers weave in and out of countries using a home base, which they return to from time to time to deposit their stuff. Bangkok is the ideal base, since it's situated nicely at the crossroads between mainland and maritime SE Asia. It sounds cliche, but all roads really do lead to Bangkok in SE Asia. It also has the cheapest airfares and best air connections to other parts of the world, so if you plan it right you won't have to take your stuff any further than to the airport.
Other bases can be ideal, depending on your itinerary. If you're flying in and out of a particular city, such as Yangon (for visits to Burma), Manila (for visits to the Philippines), Kathmandu (for treks in Nepal) or Kuching (for visits to Sarawak), that would be a logical place to leave a bag. Even short term storage, so that you can check out some village up a river, off your main track, for example, is viable.
Unless you have a trusted friend, the best place to leave your bag is at a guest house. Bangkok aside, most guest houses are more than happy to store your bag, since it means you'll come back and hopefully stay with them again. Sometimes they will ask for a nominal charge, and you shouldn't hesitate to pay since this will hopefully give them some incentive to keep their eye on it. Pay when you pick up your bag, so you can make sure nothing is missing. Bangkok is a different story, and guest houses have learned to take advantage of their central location by charging a set daily fee to store your bag. As of spring '99 the going rate was 4-6 baht (10-15 cents) per day. Keep in mind that nearly everything dealing with money is negotiable in SE Asia, so if you're leaving your bag for several weeks or months you may be able to bargain to your advantage. Be sure to check out where your bag will be stored, and if it doesn't look safe then store it somewhere else. Some guest houses simply leave your bag in the hallway, where thieves could easily snatch it. Some of the shops along Khao San Road offer competitive rates for bag storage, and will even put it in a secure, locked closet. By using a little common sense, you should have no problems with your bags.