Henry Golding’s top travel tips: before Crazy Rich Asians and Snake Eyes, he was a TV presenter for BBC’s Travel Show … and picked up plenty of jet-setting hacks along the way

How does Henry Golding travel? Photo: @henrygolding/Instagram
Henry Golding, the 34-year-old British-Malaysian actor, became an overnight leading man when he starred as Nick Young in Crazy Rich Asians three years ago. Since then he’s been featured in films including Last Christmas, A Simple Favor, and the just-released Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins. He’s a former professional hairdresser who also logged several years as a TV presenter, including for the BBC’s Travel Show. This year he became a father to a baby girl with his wife, Liv Lo, who lives with in Los Angeles.

But how does the high-flying star like to travel?

Actor Henry Golding poses for a portrait at the Orlando Hotel in Los Angeles in November 2018. Photo: Invision/AP
He’s learned to be picky, he says. “I’m a real nerd when it comes to picking flights, because if you’re paying for business, you want to get your money’s worth,” Golding explains. “My go-to, 100 per cent of the time, if they’re available? Singapore Airlines, for the staff and the seats in business class.”
Henry Golding and his daughter. Photo: @henrygolding/Instagram
He’s a confessed “lazy planner” but is extra careful to continually check all paperwork and red tape in the Covid-19 era. “I’m one of those travellers that think of the worst-case scenario and try and mitigate me not getting myself into a difficult position, especially with a baby,” he says.

Read on for his travel hacks …

What has the Crazy Rich Asians cast been up to?

Squeeze a pair of these into every bag, whatever hotel you’ve booked

Havaianas sandals decorated with the national colours of the 2014 World Cup at a store in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: AP Photo

I always pack a really cheap pair of flip-flops. They take up zero space, so you can just slip them in there. I was doing travel shows around Malaysia, and we’d be staying in the boonies, and the floors in the hotel rooms would be less than desirable. The carpets in most business hotels are just absolutely filthy and disgusting. So I would wear my flip-flops everywhere, even in the shower. I either bring the free hotel slippers they give you [at five-star hotels] or a pair of Havaianas or Chacos. Trust me, you do not want to see what is on those floors.

Take a three-hour city walk to create the perfect local itinerary

Henry Golding calls himself a “lazy planner” when it comes to travel … but he does enjoy long walks. Shutterstock.

I’m a massive Google Maps guy. Usually when I’m filming on location I’ll have an apartment, and find an area that I would like to live in, with the cafes and restaurants and stuff. Then I will do one big long walk in and around the area, for maybe two or three hours, when I arrive. I will pass a restaurant and [say], “Oh, my God, that’s busy.”

And I’ll look it up – the photos on Google maps, and the location data on Instagram, with people tagging the location for that restaurant. I’ll take a quick look through what people post on it. And then I’ll mark it down as a saved destination and populate my app with saves that way. I’ll keep doing it, if I’m in car and pass something that looks interesting, too – I’ll do the same process. I come up with this amazing list that way – this is my greatest hack.

This lesser-known villa rental company is an upscale alternative to VRBO or Airbnb

Villa Sena in Bali is just one of the many gorgeous villas that The Luxe Nomad has for travellers to book. Photo: @theluxenomad/Instagram

The Luxe Nomad is one of my favourite companies that I use to book villas all around Southeast Asia and that part of the world, especially Bali. Because for the same price as putting yourself up in, say, the Hilton, you can get a private villa, your own pool, chef, driver, all built into the price of the villas. You have your own 12-foot [3.6-metre] walls all the way around, so absolute privacy, at the same price you would be paying at, say, the Hilton or Bulgari hotel.

Hollywood’s 10 highest-earning roles for women – so who got US$95 million?

Pace yourself on arrival after a long flight

The arrival hall of the Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, in March 2018. Photo: SCMP
When you arrive at an airport, don’t rush out of the arrivals hall to jump into that air-conditioned taxi. I know it’s tempting, because you’ve had such a long journey. The first thing you want to do is say, “Take me to my hotel!” But no, wait – it’s worth preparing yourself for the rest of the trip right there. Like Sim cards, for example: Some countries have companies that offer tourist-specific Sim cards, with unlimited data for a week or two weeks, maybe. It’s something the locals can’t get, because you have to provide your passport. But you’ll find it in the arrivals hall.

The cuisine of this central Asian country should be far better known

The horsemeat section of Zelony Bazar (Green Market). Photo: Panos Pictures

Kazakh food is so flavoursome. I had a trip one time to Kazakhstan, to Astana [Nur-Sultan] and to Almaty, the newer sort of city. All the produce is so rich, and everything tasted great – it reminded me of Turkish food. Grilled meats are a standard there, and one of the delicacies is horse meat. I think I had it one time, and it was horse meat sashimi with a balsamic glaze. It was one of the most amazing experiences.

Having a baby doesn’t have to quash your wanderlust

Henry Golding, his wife, Liv Lo, and his daughter. Photo: @livlogolding/Instagram

At eight weeks, we travelled [with our daughter] from LA to London. We were in London for three weeks, and then my wife went back. I had to work. We’re in Torino, Italy, right now, and she is four months. She’s racked up a couple of countries so far. So she’s doing pretty well. The key to travelling with a newborn is to take an evening flight out from wherever you’re going; try to keep them on the same routine.

So when we were flying to London from LA, it was the 6.30pm flight. Because by the time you take off, [a baby’s] ears adjust to the pressure, and you need them to be up; but as soon as they’ve finished the feed, and you’re in the air? Bedtime. Put them to bed, and hopefully they sleep as long as they sleep normally. That’s the trick that we heard and still use.

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt shows her love for mum Angelina after mystery hospital visit

Download these Uber alternatives when you’re in Southeast Asia

A GrabBike driver rides on his motorbike in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July 2017. Photo: AP Photo

Uber doesn’t really exist in Asia – it got bought out by a company called Grab, which, if you’re travelling around Southeast Asia, you need that app to get around. Or there’s Go-jek, in Indonesia especially. But over there, they use motorbikes; they give you a helmet, more like something made by Tupperware, and you sit on the back. I love travelling like that, as it’s a way to get through the city with all of that traffic really really quickly – you just jump on the back and weave through.

Just make sure you bring a cap, because of how many people use those helmets – the grease, the sweat, the humidity. You want to keep some sort of layer between you and that, and you don’t want to get any creepy-crawlies, so make sure you wear a baseball cap. I am a geek, because I keep the crew caps we get once we finish a movie, they’re souvenirs that whenever you put them on, they remind you of the time and place you got one. So I run with two or three end-of-production caps always handy.

Seize the chance to travel to Thailand right now

An aerial photograph of the Big Buddha and Kata Beach behind it on June 30. Photo: AFP
Because [Phuket is] an island, they’ve been able to close off the borders and have people fly in and do a mandatory seven-day quarantine. Well, it’s a quarantine, but you have the entirety of the island to run around.

So you can go anywhere on that island, as long as you stay safe and sort of sensible, but you can do your entire isolation in Phuket and then fly yourself to Bangkok when necessary, or to one of the surrounding islands. I love Ko Lanta, that’s one of my favourites; it’s only a ferry ride away, but the beaches stretch for kilometres and the sand is golden. You get a lot more bang for your buck.

No country has better barbers than India

Jaisalmer fort and surrounding houses lit up by flood lights at dusk in the Thar desert, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. Photo: Shutterstock

Jaisalmer is one of the oldest living forts in Rajasthan. It’s on the edge of the far desert. Beautiful there. We were filming there, but when I wasn’t, I’d go get lunch and have a little wander around. And they’d have these little barbershops, but they don’t only offer a shave or a haircut there. They offer face massages, which is quite random, but so good.

They have these vibrating massagers that attach to their hands, and then they’re combing your hair with their fingers as these things vibrate. It’s my favourite barber experience anywhere, even though they treat you like they’re trying to beat meat or flatten out a steak. It’s such a fun experience.

Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Not even the pandemic or having a four-month-old baby quashed Golding’s wanderlust, who recommends quarantining in Phuket for a trip to Thailand
  • Instead of an Airbnb or luxury hotel, book a villa via The Luxe Nomad for the same price – oh, and Southeast Asia uses the Grab app, not Uber