Many travellers that start on their gap year or long year travel plans will come to South East Asia and will fall in love with the wonderful countries and cultures. Traditions, the way of living and the people itself are often unknown and new to the ones used in Western societies. Composed by influences from all around the world, in this place you’ll find the perfect diversity which makes it unique. As cheap as it is, lucky for us the budget travellers, it is a very common destination to the people addicted to exotic adventures that have clearly more value than what they actually cost. But let’s not get into politics or economics and just be thankful to how life provides us of such a dignified corner of our planet to enjoy, even if you do not have enough savings. As you might read in my other articles, there’s always a trick in every treat friends. Lucky for us, this is a delightful one and at the same time, one that can easily be fixed. So, what is this trick I’m talking about? The problem about this countries, is that you get attached to them to easily, to wonderful nature, to the breath-taking cultures and to the most kind and mindful people that inhabit around this areas, so is very easy to spend a long time wondering through this piece of the Earth. But with time spending, comes money spending… As cheap as it is, our wallets start to become empty. As person whose economic situation is a roller coaster, I will tell you never to worry about it, and in Asian terms, I’m sure of what I’m telling you. After all, money comes and goes everywhere around the world, but here fellows, money can come very easily. I would focus this article on the most common jobs for backpackers around Asia. I focus myself on the people that prefer to make more kilometres than cash, to the ones that are going to stay for short or mid-term and last but not least the ones not willing to make all the legal paperwork that it’s needed like in most other countries to stay and work.
Let’s focus a little bit on the paperwork before entering to the job offers. Again if you have a job around Asia before even coming to it, on a business or on the field that you developed yourself in, then you’ll need your business VISA plus the work permit. If this is not the case, controls are not currently too strict, so working without papers for a considerable period of time won’t be a problem for you, as it wasn’t for me or the other thousands of people doing it. Even though it is good to know that on the last time Thailand and Vietnam have become a bit harsher towards them, but that is something that will need some awareness and talking to the people employing you as they for sure, will have a solution for it. So let’s check the options that are available to keep living your Asian dream.
Anywhere around the world bar jobs are the most easy ones to find. Personally, as a bartender, I can get a job anywhere around Asia. At bars there is not only a need for bartenders, but also for people promoting them. This can be really an entertaining job, and at the same time a bit dangerous as they will give you free drinks during your working hours. It might happen that bars are happy with the way you work and if it happens in a big city or a developed and touristic area, they might ask you to have the certificate and accurate papers to be allowed to work. But don’t worry most employers will help you through the process. Either if it is big metropolis or a remote island, there will always be a bar and they generally look for staff. Don’t expect too much money out of these jobs, especially promoting the bars. I do find that the longer you work for them the more likely you get an income raise.
Teaching English around Asia is one of the most famous and “easy” ways of making money. By easy, I don’t mean that it’s a simple job, don’t get me wrong, but the hours that you’ll spend at the “office” will be less and the amount of money you can get is high for Asian standards. For the best schools on the area, you’ll probably need certificates such a TEFL or TESOL for having a good background, and more possibilities for being hired. I have found the wage difference between certified teacher and non certified teacher not very big, but the chances of scoring the job are higher. According to the most common backpacking countries, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia would be the most popular places to teach. But also all around other areas of Asia it is possible to find work in this field.
If you are one of the lucky certificated dive instructors around the world, get ready to be full of options for you current position. Asia, and specifically South East Asia is well known for its many diving spots. From the Philippines to Indonesia, Cambodia to Sri Lanka, or Vietnam to Thailand, all these places count with both PADI and SSI centres currently looking for instructors. If you are not an instructor, it is also very easy to find dive centres in thee countries to get you the right courses to become an instructor.
As everywhere around the planet, musicians are always welcome. I don’t know if this is worth to mention, with such a traditional and needful career to our minds and hearts, but being so different worlds, West to East, some musician might be asking themselves weather if it is possible, if it is simple or even accessible to find bars, pubs, restaurant or places to play. You will be surprised to hear it is very common. Playing on the streets would not be a long term option as you’ll be stressed being removed by the police every ten minutes. But believe me, there’s no need for bad feelings or moments when you have several places that we’ll be happy to count on you.
Cooking jobs are very well welcome at the cities, towns and maybe even at some island restaurants. Your skill will be needed to prepare the more traditional Western dishes, as locals are used for the local food. This type of job as with the bar jobs will not give you a lot of money. You do need to spend longer time to get the pay rise, it is not a well payed job for short periods.
Hostels are currently looking for staff, no matter if it short, middle or long term, they will need you. Generally they will ask for volunteers, but there’s always a way of making business. A lot of hostels around South East Asia have their own bars inside, which they will ask you to take care of it as you will have an advantage with a good English level for the customer satisfaction. You’ll need no previous experience in bars. As receptionist, you might start as volunteer in exchange for free food and accommodation, but generally if you do a good job and you ask for money as well in return, there won’t be a problem for them to start paying you. But as I explained before in hospitality jobs, wages will not be the best.
This is a relative one, that’s why I named it at the end. This is a universal and habitual job all around the world as we all know. But there is a secret on the background of this type of assignment around South East Asia. As you travel you will go to many undiscovered places, new touristic attractions and regions. There are many developments and businesses starting to target tourist and travellers. It is booming and certain expertise is not available locally. Things like website development targeting Western tourist, copy writing or social media management. You can pick up clients as you travel and continue to work along route. Some of you have already got online jobs or use market places like Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr to work whilst travelling, you will be pleased to know there is good Wifi and plenty of co-working places available throughout South East Asia.
If I could be able to name you all the opportunities that await for you in this corner of the world, I would take me hours to write them down. The truth is doors are open to any kind of creative and consistent mind in any field that you want to work in. Being short or mid-term employees, the lack of need of paperwork and certificates makes it even more possible for you to explore the many possibilities that might be presented to you along the way. I wanted to show the most common and amusing ways of keeping you dream trip alive and last but not least, let you know that working while backpacking around South East Asia is possible. I am almost 2 years into this and still loving it.