Spend A Day With Me On A Boat Cruise In Koh Phi Phi!

Nylah and I Taking On A Boat Cruise in Koh Phi Phi

Hey y’all!

So last entry I shared with you all my favourite things to go (and eat!) in Koh Phi Phi, but today I’m gonna go a little more in depth and share with you our day spent exploring the ocean and neighbouring islands! There’s like endless trips you can choose from out of Koh Phi Phi, since there’s soooooo many different islands surrounding it and all sorts of activities depending on what your interests are. Depending on what you choose for yourself, you can go snorkelling, scuba, hiking, kayaking, sightseeing, and more!

For our particular trip, we chose to take a half day afternoon tour to Bamboo Island and the local Monkey Beach, with activities that included snorkelling and kayaking. However, if you go on longer trips you’d likely have more options of places to go see, such as Phang Nga Bay (which has a certain likeness to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam) or possibly even non-beach access to Maya Bay (I’m really not too sure about this one, as I know the beach has been closed off until 2021 to recover from tourists. However, I got the chance to go back in 2014 and it was really spectacular, so if you get the chance to go I’d really recommend it — just be sure to be very respectful and don’t go anywhere you shouldn’t or do anything that may cause more damage to the natural habitat. Anyways, sorry for the rant. Let’s continue!)

Stop #1: Bamboo Island!
Bamboo Island

For our first stop, we travelled out to Bamboo Island and spent an hour just offshore. We were offered options to both snorkel and kayak; you could also kayak to shore and check out the beach or kayak to other nearby reefs, so long as you didn’t go too far. Not only were the reefs stunning, but the beach was lovely and getting the chance to just leisurely paddle around the waters was incredibly relaxing.

Stop #2: To The Reef!
Out At Sea, Docked For Reef Snorkelling

After that, we hopped back on the boat and headed off to another reef. Me and Nylah both opted to stay on the boat for this one and take some time to just chill, however the others were also given the chance to snorkel out to some rocks and reefs over the course of another hour.

Stop #3: To The Monkey Beach!
A Monkey!!!

The third stop of our trip was easily my favourite. We stopped just offshore of some very isolated beaches out on a point from Phi Phi, and kayaked ashore to see monkeys in their natural habitat. This was in no way a zoo or an attraction, so the number of monkeys (if any) that you got to see just depended on the days and your luck. So luckily for us, two monkeys came down to eat the watermelon we had to offer them — and they hung out for a bit afterwards as well! When we all went a bit further down the beach to explore, we saw another beach, which you could kayak to but not land on, just a short ways away with even more monkeys. We pulled up just in time to witness not only a whole bunch of monkeys in their natural habitat, but also baby monkeys with their moms as well!

After this, we headed back to the dock and finished up our journey. For those looking for lots of adventure, you can take whole day trips from Phi Phi as well. Our trip ended just around sunset, allowing us to get a lovely view just as we pulled into the bay and went to dock. For anyone looking to visit the Phi Phi Islands, I’d highly recommend taking a boat tour — there’s so much available to see and do and endless islands to chose from and visit.

Monkey Beach, Koh Phi Phi

And that’s all for Koh Phi Phi! Stay tuned to hear all about my (tragically) last stop on my South East Asia trip — Bangkok part 2! I’ll be sure to cover way more and go way more in depth the second time around as we actually have a plan and time to explore.

Love,

Meredith

Spend A Weekend With Me In Hoi An!

Friends Made In Hoi An!

Hey y’all!

Okay, so this entry is going to be a little different from the others. I honestly wasn’t all too sure how to go about writing this one, as this stop on our trip was VERY different from the others. While many of our other stops have either been predominantly focused on culture, food, exploring and hiking, this one was much more about socializing and making friends.

During our stay in Hoi An (which was really only about three days), we stayed in the Vietnam Backpackers hostel. It was almost like an all-inclusive style hostel, complete with bracelets to load money on, a pool, and a restaurant/bar. There was honestly little need to ever leave, which made it the perfect place to make friends. In our short time here, Nylah and I met and befriended people from England, Italy, France, Australia and even a whole bunch of people from Canada.

The hostel threw daily events meant to facilitate meeting other travellers, such as barbecues, beach parties and full-moon style glow parties. The Vietnam Backpacker hostel chain is known as being a bit more “party-focused” than most hostels, which certainly has its upsides and downsides. I’ve heard from other people on our trip some of the other locations can be a whole lot — they’re often pretty loud and busy, and can get a bit overwhelming with trying to balance sightseeing with the hostel culture in other cities. However, others said they were super fun and exactly what they were looking for.

I can certainly vouch for a lot of other hostels not really creating much of a social environment — many of the other places we’ve stayed at guests have stuck to themselves and we hadn’t met many other travellers. However, Hoi An is the perfect location to stay in a hostel with this kind of environment. It’s pretty small, so it’s easy to see the town as well as get to meet other young travellers from all over the world!

Plus, if you’re thinking of visiting Hoi An, there’s still plenty to do and see. Here’s a couple of the best places I saw during my stay!

Check Out The Local Restaurants!

Hoi An Serene Garden Restaurant

The town of Hoi An has plenty to offer in terms of food. Depending on where you stay, it might be a trek, but we’ve recently been introduced to Grab, the Uber of South East Asia, which made getting around super easy. In particular, our two personal favourites were Burger Craft and The Serene Garden. At Burger Craft, we all got the O Canada burgers as a joke about half our group being Canadian, but thank god we did because they were beyond fantastic. All of us collectively agreed it beat out any burger joint we had been to in our lives. This includes the Burgers Priest (if you’re from Toronto), Five Guys and even In-N-Out. Seriously.

The other restaurant, The Serene Garden, was a little more upscale but absolutely worth every penny. The lemongrass BBQ beef I had was to die for, and the cocktails were amazing. 10/10, all 6 of us who ate there said it was spectacular.

Head Into The Old Town!

Hoi An Old Town

The town of Hoi An is a mix between a smaller town vibe, like Ninh Binh, but also the hectic nature of Hanoi. It’s a perfect mix of culture and getting outside of the cities. I’d certainly recommend going at night since it was both so beautiful as well as a much more manageable temperature out, however. While you’re in town, there’s many outstanding shops to check out, as well as the rivers and lanterns, which were beautiful. Pro Tip: if you go at night you can even take a boat along the river to see the lanterns!

Hit Up The Beach (Or Kahunas!)

View From Kahunas Bar

Hoi An was the first real beachside stop we’ve had on our trip, but it was well worth the wait. The beach was so beautiful and vast, and the water was perfect for swimming in. (I wish I had photos for you guys but I got a little caught up in swimming while I was there and didn’t even consider it). Furthermore, if you want to stop in for drinks, our hostel had a pool and bar on the beach called Kahuna’s, which was a great place to go for chill vibes and drinks beachside.

That’s all for Hoi An! Next week we head off to Ho Chi Minh city (formerly known as Saigon). It’s our last stop it Vietnam before we head to Cambodia, so stay tuned!

Lots of love,

Meredith

Things To Do: Ninh Binh Edition!

View From The Top Of Hang Múa, Ninh Binh

Hey guys!

Welcome back to what will be one of the shortest instalment of my travel diary: Ninh Binh! I want to stress that just because I don’t have as many things to discuss about Ninh Binh that somehow it shouldn’t be on the list of people considering travelling to Vietnam. Ninh Binh is in the countryside, and on top of that Nylah and I stayed at a homestay even further outside of the town’s borders. It certainly was the most isolated location we’ve visited thus far — therefore did not have as much to offer in terms of restaurants and bars — but had MORE than enough to offer in terms of exploring. Plus, the lack of places to eat was pretty irrelevant as we could eat every meal at our homestay if we so pleased. On top of everything else, the homestay we stayed at — the Ninh Binh Family Homestay — was hands down our best accommodations yet. In South East Asia, cheap but wonderful hostels seem to be everywhere. For their surprisingly low prices, you can really find some amazing places. But this place really stepped it up; the staff were SO kind and helpful, and the rooms were huge, beautiful and had queen-sized beds!!! We really felt we were a part of the family when we were staying there. Just, overall, 11/10 would HIGHLY recommend.

Go On A Cave Tour!

Động Thiên Hà

Okay, I love a good excursion that feels isolated and untouched as much as the next backpacker — but I will say this tour is not for the faint of heart. We took a boat up to the Động Thiên Hà caves, where we hiked up to another river where our guide then paddled is up its length. The only lighting is sparse colourful bulbs meant to light the way as much as necessary — but not any more. Plus, unlike the other caves we visited, this place was relatively untouched and unaltered for tourists. Which was why it was, quite literally, FULL of bats. I really mean like thousands of bats, so be aware of what you’re getting into when you sign up for this because once you’re in there’s really no going back. I certainly pushed many of my limits in this cave, as the ceilings were short, the tunnels were dark and the bats were everywhere. To be fair, none of them ever touched us. As well, you’re probably thinking “oh, she’s just being dramatic. It was probably just 10 bats,” well, no. It was quite literally hundreds, possibly thousands of bats. It was VERY cool and fulfilling to do something that had absolutely no other tourists, but I will say: if you’re claustrophobic or just straight up hate bats, I’d avoid this one.

Go On A Boat Ride!

To do a complete 180 degree from the former activity, this was easily the most relaxed I’ve been this whole trip. All this excursion constituted of was being leisurely paddled down a beautiful — and relatively empty — river in the countryside. You do get to have a much more brief and less hands-on peak of a cave, so if you’re unsure about the cave tour, check this out for sure.

Go On A Hike!

Hang Múa

Okay, we’ve done a whole bunch of little hikes this trip, but so far Hang Múa takes the cake. This hike, while being one of the most challenging I’ve ever done, was certainly one of the most rewarding. It went pretty far up, around 700 steps — all while being over 40 degrees out. This was at like 8:30 in the morning too, so if you’re going to do this hike plan ahead and go early because I certainly would have gotten heat stroke if I did it in the midday heat. This hike is certainly more challenging — and may not be for everyone — but the two peaks at the top offered some of the most stunning views. If you think you’re ready to take the trek then I’d highly recommend it.

So that’s Ninh Binh! While our stay there was short it was jam-packed with a lot of the most amazing adventure-type activities I’ve ever gotten the chance to do. If you’re looking for a trip that kind of gets away from the touristy side of things, Ninh Binh is perfect for you.

Stay tuned! Next up we’re off to Hoi An!

Love y’all,

Meredith

Spend A Day With Me On A Boat Cruise In Ha Long Bay!

Me, At Ha Long Bay

Hey Loves!

Welcome back to my newest travel blog instalment! Today I’m going to be sharing with you my experience staying on an overnight boat cruise through Ha Long Bay, Vietnam!

Ha Long Bay was honestly beyond unreal. It was honestly one of the most magical places I have ever witnessed. The bay is full of nearly 2000 moutain-like islands that you can boat through and explore, and the scenery is beyond stunning. The boat cruises often come with a planned itinerary, making it easy to go and see many aspects of what Ha Long has to offer in a short period of time.

Before The Adventure

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

So I figured I’d preface our little excursion with what we did before exploring. Our tour company, Ha Long Phoenix Cruiser, picked us up directly from our hostel and took us on the 3-hour drive to the bay. Once we arrived, we were given a welcome speech (peach juice included!) and our room keys, then lunch after we’d settled in. We toured through the islands after when we had some free time, before coming to a stop where we’d be anchoring the boat overnight.

First Stop: Island Exploration!

View From The Top of Ti Top Island

For our first stop, we took a little boat out to Ti Top Island. The island offered a small beach, ocean swimming, and a hike. Nylah and I opted to start off with the “hike”, which, while certainly presenting some level of challenge, was pretty much okay for everyone. Not just like “young adults everyone” — as in toddlers, older adults, and the whole range in between. It was hot and a little tiring, but the view from the top was 100% worth it. Plus, if you work up a sweat on the way up, you can do what we did on the way down: immediately plunge into the ocean as soon as you’re down!

Second Stop: Cave Tour!

Cave Tour At Ha Long Bay

Next up, our little boat took us across the river to a cave tour. The cave tour had 3 caves to explore; small, medium, and large (read: HUGE). The walk up to the caves looked daunting from the bottom, considering we had already been hiking, but was no where near as bad as it looked since it pretty much evened out after the first cave. Now, I know the idea of caves aren’t for everyone, but this one has been rebuilt in a way that makes it safe, easy, and minimally scary for everyone — and on top of that really is cool to explore!

Third Stop: Drinks And Sunset!

Sunset View, Ha Long Bay

After all our excursions, we returned to our boat for dinner and drinks. The best part of the boat was honestly how quickly many of us became friends. This obviously varies depending who you end up on the tour with, but being out at sea with 10-20 strangers does tend to help bonding a bit. We had drinks through sunset all the way until near midnight — and possibly even longer if we didn’t have a curfew!

Fourth Stop: Cave Kayaking!

Ha Long Bay

Cave Kayaking was more a less what you’d expect — we took our boats and went through a quick paddle through one of the ocean caves. There were certainly some highlights (ie. we saw monkeys), and then we returned to the boat to pack and have lunch.

Fifth Stop: Vietnamese Cooking Class!

Hanoi Style Spring Rolls

Our very last activity was a pre-lunch Vietnamese Cooking class. Our class focused specifically on one of me and Nylah’s (literal) favourite foods in the world — Hanoi-style Vietnamese spring rolls. We were taught how to assemble them, then made all our lunch spring rolls before they were given to the kitchen staff for frying. Overall, it was both super fun and incredibly cool to see how one of our favourites foods were made. (Also, they were delicious).

Sixth Stop: Back To Hanoi!

Ha Long Bay

Post-lunch we sat up on the top deck as we prepared to dock. Overall, it was an amazing experience — not 100% perfect, but the food made up for the bad. I’m not usually one to criticize in my posts, however our specific boat did not quite live up to expectations. First of all, many of the advertised aspects (such as 24-hour bar and other perks) certainly did not exist. As well, I know it is a boat, but our room was exceedingly damp (read: somehow literally soaked with condensation) before we even arrived. It also smelt pretty potently of mould; which was fairly concerning for me as I’m pretty seriously allergic to some types. However, overall between the absolute MAGIC of Ha Long Bay, the excursions, and the friends we met on the boat, I’d personally say it was beyond worth it and I wouldn’t exchange the experience for anything.

So, that’s it for Hanoi! I was absolutely crazy about this city and I won’t lie, I’m more than a little sad to leave (but also excited to see what comes next!) Follow me on my next instalment in my travel diary — Things To Do: Ninh Binh Edition!

Love you all lots and thank you all for your support so far!

Xoxo,

Meredith

Spend A Day With Me In Luang Prabang!

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Hey guys!

I’m back with my first travel blog post from Luang Prabang, Laos! From the moment I first arrived here I fell so in love that I honestly feel like I could move here. The scenery is sooooo beautiful and the food is to die for. Keep reading to hear all about my first day adventure in Laos!

Exploring Kuang Si Falls!

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang

After a quick breakfast at our hostel me and Nylah headed off to Kuang Si Falls. The National Park has all kinds of attractions, including the falls, which you can swim in, as well as a hike and a bear sanctuary. Not only were the falls one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life, they were the perfect swimming temperature to beat the Laos heat. You can splash around in the pools, or sit in the falls, both of which were super beautiful and relaxing. The hike is pretty challenging, so if you’re planning on it it’s probably a good idea to wear waterproof shoes and bring lots of water. I completed about half the hike before I felt it was getting too challenging for what I had prepared for, but Nylah completed it and said the view from the top was amazing, as well there are more swimming pools and a swing to enjoy when you reach the top! Even without completing the hike, these falls were so stunning and laying around in them was one of the most relaxing things I’ve done this whole trip.

Lunch at Chang Kham!

Sizzling Cashew Chicken Plate, Chang Kham

After our excursion to the falls, we stopped in at Chang Kham for a quick lunch! We’d stopped in here the first night after we arrived, but were more than happy to go again as the food was SO GOOD. The first time the chicken satay I had was to die for, and the sizzling fried chicken plate I had after visiting Kuang Si really hit the spot and got us ready to gear up for the rest of our day.

Drinks At A Local Bar!

Mojitos at a Local Bar

After a quick trip back to our hostel and a break, we headed out to grab drinks at a local bar. They had a buy two get one special on mojitos, which we very much took advantage of. They had all kinds of unique flavours, like raspberry, watermelon, and passion fruit (which you can see me drinking above). It was a great refresher after a long day.

Dinner At Coconut Garden!

Coconut Garden Outdoor Restaurant

After drinks we headed off to a little outdoor restaurant called Coconut Gardens. The food was simple but amazing, and it was a nice small meal after the crazy day we had. The soups in South East Asia are so delicious — and worth it even with the crazy heat, so we’ve been taking full advantage lately.

Visiting the Night Market!

Art Sale at the Local Night Market

After dinner, we walked back to our hostel through the night market. It super cool to be able to see and compare night markets between different cities and countries. While the Chiang Mai night market was only on weekends and was more food based, Luang Prabang has night markets daily that focus a lot more on clothing and art. These little markets really are a great way to take in the culture on each stop of our journey.

And that’s it for today! Stay tuned for an upcoming post on things to do in Luang Prabang! Hopefully you’re all enjoying my travel blogs so far, I’d love to hear if any of you get inspired or find places to visit on your next trip from these. If you have anything specific you want to hear about in the next segment, drop a comment below! I’d love to hear any suggestions you have.

Love y’all,

Meredith