From throwing coloured powders at Holi or wallowing in mud at Boryeong, to getting soaked at Songkran and donning glow-in-the-dark paint at a Full Moon Party, travellers to Asia are set for festive fun this Autumn/Winter with some of the world’s messiest celebrations soon to grace the travel calendar.
Claudio Saita, Deputy CEO and Executive Director in Australia for Tokio Marine, underwriters for World2Cover travel insurance, said travelling through Asia is a rite-of-passage for many Aussies and a carnival or festival can be the ideal way to delve into local customs and culture.
“Asia is an increasingly popular destination for travellers, as are the festivals they host. Events such as Holi and Beryeong both attract numbers into their millions and the Australian Bureau of Statistics1 revealed that in the last 10 years, the numbers of Aussies visiting India and Thailand are up by over 200 and 194 per cent respectively,” he said.
“While festivals can be great fun, tourists can become targets for thieves and injuries can easily occur amongst the vibrant crowds so planning ahead and doing your destination homework is always important to help avoid unwanted travel surprises.”
To help maximise the festival holiday experience, the team at World2Cover has provided five top safety tips:
1. Less is more – street crime is ever-present so limit the items you are bringing, avoid wearing jewellery, hide your camera and keep your valuables securely stored. At festivals like Songkran Water Festival in Thailand this can be hard but don’t be tempted to leave your things to the side unattended, even if you think you can keep an eye on them.
Take extra care with your passport, money and credit cards. If your hotel room has a safe use this to secure any items you don’t need to carry. Remember, your travel insurance policy does require you to act in a responsible way to protect yourself and your property at all times.
2. Respect the boundaries – whenever large events take place, organisers can cordon-off pedestrian zones. Adhere to any set boundaries to avoid accidents or trouble with police monitoring the crowds. When there aren’t any restricted zones, still look to keep a safe distance from activities such as fire eaters and dancers. Leave the performance to the professionals.
3. Create a ‘safe zone’ – finding people at festivals and parades can be a nightmare, so try to meet your friends elsewhere and travel together to and from activities. Pre-plan a safe point nearby where you can easily meet each other if you get separated and carry a card with key contact numbers in case you need to make an emergency call. There is also safety in numbers, as the risk of kidnap is high in various countries, including India.2 Sticking together could help you avoid being a target.
4. Know your limits – cheap alcohol is readily available in most Asian countries and can often be sold in stronger measures than we are used to here. This is particularly prominent at Thailand’s Full Moon Parties where alcohol is literally available by the bucket-load.
Spending long hours in the sun watching a parade can also make you dehydrated which quickens the effects of alcohol and over-indulging can impair judgement and increase the potential for accidents.
5. Check your cover – make sure you’re not just covered for the festival period, but for the full duration of your trip which includes the days you leave and return to your home address. Also ensure you’re covered for any of additional activities you may wish to participate in like motorcycle riding or jet skiing during your holiday. There are often exclusions or special conditions for activities with heightened risk so always read your policy to check the limits and terms and conditions.
Messiest Asian festivals include:
- Mar 24 – Holi Festival of Colour, India
- Apr 13-15 – Songkran Water Festival, Thailand
- Jul (TBC) – Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea
- Every full moon – Full Moon Party, Thailand