South East Asia: The Top Ten!

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Hey everybody!

So, as many of you know by now I’ve just returned from a trip across South East Asia that included Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. While it was all pretty amazing, I certainly had my favourite places that I’d consider to be must sees if you ever get the opportunity to travel to any of these beautiful countries! Between the ten of them, I really couldn’t pick favourites, plus everything is completely depended on what people are interested in pursuing while they travel, and which country or areas they choose to visit.

So, without further ado, here’s my top ten! They’re put in order of when we visited them, with absolutely no ranking in terms of favouritism between them. I hope if you’re reading this, it gives you ideas for where to visit on your travels or even inspires you to plan a trip! If anyone else has been/is going to any of the following places, drop a comment! I’d love to hear all about it.

Thailand
Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon, Thailand

During our time in South East Asia, Nylah and I saw more temples than I could even keep track of. Doi Inthanon, however, was something special. It was by far one of the most peaceful and magical places I have ever laid eyes on. Between the beautiful architecture of these temples and the stunning mountain top view, if you’re ever in Thailand Doi Inthanon is a temple stop you definitely can’t miss. Read my original post here!

Elephant Sanctuary, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand

When people think of Thailand, I’m sure for many elephant riding comes to mind. However, while elephant riding tours certainly still exist all over Thailand, many people have started to realize how inhumane they are to the animals. If you want to see elephants during your stay in Thailand, instead, you should check out a sanctuary like Elephant Jungle Sanctuary! Not only were many of the elephants rescued from elephant riding camps, but you could see how happy and well-cared for these animals were — something you’d definitely miss out on if you choose to ride the animals instead. Read my original post here!

Viewpoint Hike, Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi straight up has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my life. If you ever get the opportunity to visit, the best way to take it all in is to hike up to the viewpoint! The hike is a little challenging, but incredibly rewarding as you get a view of the whole island from the top. If you do go, be sure to check out the second viewpoint, the scenery was absolutely insane. If you’re really looking for something special, be sure to hike up for sunset/sunrise for a truly spectacular view. Read my original post here!

BONUS: Get A Thai Massage

Okay, okay, I know I said top ten, but I figured I’d add this one in as a quick bonus. While I went to get a massage in Bangkok, you really could get one anywhere in Thailand, hence why I added it as a bonus — it really isn’t location-specific. Not only can you get an amazing massage for exceptional prices, if you’ve never experienced a Thai massage it’ll be unlike any you’ve had before. Be sure to ask at your hotel/hostel for recommendations for best places in the area!

Laos
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Oh man was this place ever magical. Kuang Si Falls is made up of a series of waterfalls, that cascade down into a set of pools you can swim in. The water is literally bright baby blue, and you can sit in the falls as well. They’re even full of those little fish they have at those pedicure places, so you can get a quick and all-natural pedi while you’re at it! Overall, this was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, 10/10 would recommend. Read my original post here!

Phousi Mountain Hike, Luang Prabang
Phousi Mountain, Luang Prabang, Laos

Out of all the hikes we did, this one was certainly one of my favourites. For the relatively small level of difficulty, the views were spectacular. The viewpoint at the top gave you a lookout over all of Luang Prabang and the surrounding mountains. For an extra special view, be sure to go at sunrise or sundown. Read my original post here!

Vietnam
Ha Long Bay, Hanoi
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay straight up looks like a scene out of a movie — it seriously doesn’t even look real. The bay is filled with tiny mountain-like islands, in fact, there’s nearly 2000 in the area. There’s all sorts of things to do in the area, such as hikes, caves, and beaches, so if you go be sure to check out the local boat cruises — I’d recommend an overnight one at least. This place is absolutely magical, and its certainly worthwhile to spend an extra night there, see the sunset, and take in the almost-ethereal locale. Read my original post here!

Hang Múa Hike, Ninh Binh
Hang Múa, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Out of all the hikes we completed across all of South East Asia, this one was certainly the hardest–but also the most spectacular. If you’re going to give it a try, be sure to go well prepared; it’s certainly not the easiest of hikes, especially it the Vietnam heat. But the view from the top was beyond amazing, words can’t even describe how beautiful and rewarding it was. Read my original post here!

Night Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City
Night Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

South East Asia, across the board, had many of the absolute best meals I’ve had in my life — but this place was by far my favourite. Not only did it have a great atmosphere, but there was endless options to choose from. There was all kinds of food stands from a large array of Asian cuisines, without a doubt there was something there for anything you happened to be craving. If I lived in Ho Chi Minh City, I guarantee you could find me here every night. Read my original post here!

Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Along with Doi Inthanon, Angkor Wat was my favourite temple we saw along our trip (and as I said, we saw a whole lot of temples). Not only was it crazy to see how Cambodian Temples differed from those in Thailand and Laos, but the sheer size and grandeur of Angkor Wat makes it a must-see. You could easily spend hours here and feel like there’s still more to see — and the views from the top are unreal. As the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is something you absolutely can’t miss if you’re travelling to Cambodia. Read my original post here!

Phnom Kulen Falls, Siem Reap
Phnom Kulen Falls, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Like Kuang Si Falls, Phnom Kulen Falls are a great place to stop in for a swim–but also distinctly different from the falls in Laos. This waterfall had two swimming areas; one a smaller fall that was more like a shower, and a giant pool at the bottom of the second, massive waterfall. It was so beautiful and relaxing, and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area. Read my original post here!

So there you have it! I really hope that some of y’all can find somewhere on this list that inspires you for your next trip. If any of you have been to any of these places and would like to share your thoughts, let me know! As well, I’d love to hear it if you have any suggestions of your own. It’ll probably be a little while before I’m going to be able to travel again, but for next time I’m thinking Japan, Singapore, or Europe!

But that’s all for now! Until next time.

Lots of Love,

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

Places To Eat: Hanoi Edition!

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hey Everyone!

So, anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Vietnamese food. Naturally, my time in Vietnam has like 90% revolved around food. Honestly, I’m pretty in love with everything about Hanoi (except for the humidity but so what else is new) but the food here is really amazing. So without further ado, here’s all my favourite places to eat!

When You’re Looking For Something Bougie

The Diamond Skybar

The Diamond Skybar is a great place for dinner with a view. The rooftop bar features a view over the city of Hanoi, and many excellent drink and food options. I felt so classy eating dinner here, and the view was beyond spectacular.

When You’re Looking For A Quick Bite

Bún Bò Nam Bộ Bách Phương

Next up: Bún Bò Nam Bộ Bách Phương! This Beef and Noodle place was honestly the most convenient meal of my life. It wasn’t my favourite but it was pretty damn good, plus it was so fast. The restaurant essentially only has one thing on the menu, so after you’ve ordered you get your food literally within a minute. Not even McDonalds has comparable speed. It was insane.

When You’re Looking For Breakfast, Lunch, And Dinner

My Pho

My Pho really has it all. From Pho (duh), to spring rolls, to sticky rice and more, the menu has something for every meal of the day. This was the first place me and Nylah stopped in Hanoi, entirely by chance, but it was amazing. All of the food here is outstanding, you really can’t go wrong with this one.

When You’re Looking For Pho (And Only Pho)

Pho Ten

The Pho at Pho Ten is phenomenal. It’s essentially the only thing on the menu, but they have plenty of options to pick from, some more adventurous than others. This place was fantastic to stop in for breakfast, and the Pho was next level. 10/10 would recommend.When You’re Looking For Banh Mi (And Only Banh Mi)

Banh Mi 25

If you’re looking for fantastic Banh Mi, be sure to check out Banh Mi 25. They have both seating and take-out, and their food and fruit juice were BEYOND delicious. They have a range of options of pork, chicken, beef and vegetarian — some kind of adventurous, some not. Overall, there’s really something for everyone and the food is 10/10 so why not!

So that’s Hanoi! I gotta say, I really love this city. It’s crazy hectic and super loud, but also full of amazing architecture and shopping. You can visibly see all the cultures that make up Vietnamese culture coming together in one place and it’s just so cool. The French Quarter is a total must see if you’re ever travelling to South East Asia.

I hope you enjoyed reading! Stay tuned for my next Vietnam instalment: Spend A Day With Me On A Boat Cruise In Ha Long Bay!

Much Love,

Meredith

Things To Do: Luang Prabang Edition!

Me, At The Kuang Si Falls near Luang Prabang

Hey everyone!

I’m back with my second instalment of my Laos travel diary: things to do in Luang Prabang! Our stay here was super short but absolutely packed with some of the most amazing parts of our trip so far. (Yes, I know I say that a lot, but I swear this trip just keeps getting better and better!) Anyways, since our stay was so short I’m going to cover places to eat and things to do all in one post. If you’re thinking of traveling to South East Asia, be sure to add Laos to your itinerary. I honestly didn’t know much about it before arriving as it is a bit of an uncommon place to visit, but it’s honestly so beautiful here, even Thailand can’t compare. Keep reading to hear all my best finds in the beautiful city of Luang Prabang!

Take A Boat Tour!

The Mekong River

Luang Prabang has the massive Mekong river running through the whole country, making a boat tour one of the best ways to get around! Your options are pretty endless with these boat tours, as they offer both half and full day tours, with options to see the falls, elephants, and more.

Textile Display At The Textile Village

On our particular boat tour, our first stop was at a textile village that also brewed its own sticky rice whiskey and wine. They offered (many, many) samples of their whiskey, as you got to explore the village and it’s beautiful textile stalls. My personal favourite in terms of the drinks was the dark rice wine, which was sweet and delicious. However, they also had some INCREDIBLY strong whiskey, for those who were looking for something with a little extra kick.

Whiskey Display At The Textile Village

After that, we hopped on the boat and headed over to the local Pak Ou caves, which hold buddhist temples inside. The stop featured two caves, one which was deep and dark and the other which was quite light and open, for those who aren’t a fan of caves. Both of them were incredibly beautiful and super cool, and I would highly recommend checking them out if you have the chance.

Pak Ou Caves

Check Out Our Favourite Restaurant: Tangor!

Our Meal At Tangor

Oh my god was this place ever amazing. It offers both patios and indoors, but with an open front so that me and Nylah got to sit just off the patio and still see outside. The food here was INCREDIBLE, the pumpkin soup and fried spring rolls I ordered had to be some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. To top it all off, they offered cocktails categorized as “strong”, “refreshing”, “classic” etc. I got one of the “refreshing” cocktails and it certainly lived up to the name, as well as being one of the most delicious and well-crafted drinks I have ever had. If you’re ever in Luang Prabang, this restaurant is a must-try.

Hike Up Phousi Mountain!

Sunrise View From Phousi Moutain

This hike gives you a beautiful view over the city. Its easy enough that it wouldn’t be too tough for beginners, even in the heat. For an added bonus, you can take the trip up at sunrise or sunset for an even more spectacular view. We chose to do the hike at sunrise, but there’s certainly pros and cons to both. The benefits of doing a sunrise hike are the nice, cooler temperatures before the sun rises and a much less crowded viewpoint at the top. However, the sunset views are probably more spectacular and the viewpoint is set up much better for a sunset view. The only downside is how hot it would be that late in the night, as well as the fact that apparently the viewpoint is packed in the sunset hours. I’m sure either way it would be amazing, but the sunrise hike was a wonderful way to start out our last day in Luang Prabang!

Explore the Kuang Si Falls!

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang

I’ll keep this one short as I know I already covered it in my previous post, but this place is both spectacularly beautiful as well as easy to access and explore. The water is the perfect temperature to cool off in the Laos heat, and getting to swim through a waterfall is always a plus! For the more adventurous types, you can also hike up and see the sights from the top of the waterfall. Be sure to be prepared though, as the hike is pretty steep (as well as the heat being an added challenge!). As well, if you have water shoes, they might be a good idea as the algae on the rocks gets pretty slippery. However, still a 10/10 stop overall and I’d highly recommend it to other travelers!

Explore The City!

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is honestly one of the most beautiful towns I have ever visited. Seriously, from the moment we arrived I’ve been joking to Nylah that I’m ready to leave everything behind and just move here. There’s plenty to see in the town, from local shops and restaurants, to the beautiful river and more. As well, there are beautiful temples all over the city to visit, and lack the crowds that many of the temples in Thailand attract!

Haw Pha Bang, Luang Prabang
Visit The Night Market!

Coconut Pancakes At The Night Market

Okay, I know I’ve discussed my love for night markets before so I’ll keep this one short. Taking time to stroll through the night markets in any town is a great way to relax and take in the culture. Besides, you never know what gems you’re going to find — like these mini coconut pancakes!

So that’s Luang Prabang! I hope you’ve all been enjoying reading my travel blogs as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. If you have any recommendations or felt inspired by any of my posts, feel free to let me know! If you ever have the chance to visit Laos, it is 110% beautiful and amazing and I would highly recommend it. Next stop: Hanoi, Vietnam!

Much Love,

Meredith