Travel Blogs to Inspire Your First Post-COVID Vacation!

Travelling has always been something that was really important to me. Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to see the world, experience new cultures, and explore new places. I’m pretty fortunate — I’ve already gotten the chance to see so many different countries in my lifetime — and yet, I still can’t wait to see more.

Then, of course, 2020 happened. While I didn’t have any solid plans to travel anywhere at the time that lockdowns hit, I certainly had a trip or two in mind to celebrate graduating and enjoying my time between finishing university and setting out into the “real world”. However, the last year of being at home has given me plenty of time to reflect on the places I have been lucky enough to visit, and all the places I hope to go as soon as COVID and lockdowns have become a distant memory.

Below are all the travel blogs I’ve posted since beginning my blog nearly two years ago now — during which time I was fortunate enough to visit everywhere from my own hometown to South East Asia. Hopefully for all of you who’ve been feeling impatient to break out of your routine and go experience new things after this last year of being at home, you’ll be able to find plenty of inspiration, recommendations and ideas from my little collection of blogs in this post!

SPEND A WEEK WITH ME IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO!

This was the last vacation I went on pre-COVID, but it was a great one to have experienced as my last trip for a while. Puerto Vallarta makes for a great relaxing beach holiday, while also having plenty of adventurous places to visit and local areas to explore the culture.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN BANGKOK!

Bangkok was both the first and last stop on my trip to South East Asia, so while we didn’t see that much of Bangkok during our first few days there per se, you can get a good sense from this post of what it was like acclimating to travelling to the opposite side of the world on my first trip without my family!

THINGS TO DO (PART TWO!): BANGKOK EDITION!

The title here may be a little confusing, since I didn’t actually make a “Things To Do in Bangkok: Part One”. However, this post shares what I did in Bangkok the second time around, and how I spent the last few days of my travels in South East Asia.

THINGS TO DO: KOH PHI PHI EDITION!

Koh Phi Phi is, hands down, one of my absolute favourite places on earth. Not only is it an absolutely stunning landscape, but it’s full of great little cafes, restaurants and shops AND every single shop owner on the island owns a cat. No joke, I’ve never seen so many cats in one place in my life (which was fantastic for me, as I really love cats). I really couldn’t recommend visiting Koh Phi Phi more, I’d probably live here if I could.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN KOH PHI PHI!

Koh Phi Phi is a great adventure spot, and has loads of snorkelling, hiking, and all sorts of other exploring options for those of you who enjoy a little hands-on adventure. There’s SO many adventure options for all types of different comfort zones, as well — so don’t worry if you’re not looking for anything too extreme. If this sounds like your thing, check out this post to get a better sense of what it’s like to take a day trip boat tour of the island!

THINGS TO DO: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand, and a great place to visit to be able to see some really stunning architecture and buddhist temples. It’s a really beautiful place, and visiting the Old City is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited.

PLACES TO EAT: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

For my foodies — there was some really great food in this city. Maybe I’m just biased, though, because Thai food is one of my all-time faves.

THINGS TO DO: SIEM REAP EDITION!

My time in Cambodia was short, but I did manage to fit in a lot of things while I was there. I really didn’t know what to expect of Siem Reap, but it really took me by surprise and ended up being one of my favourite places I’ve ever travelled to.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME AT ANGKOR WAT!

Perhaps the best-known travel destination in Cambodia, Angkor Was and the surrounding temples are really one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced — they’re really different from any other temples in South East Asia as well. It’s usually packed with people, but if you go in the summer (as I did) it ends up being a lot emptier, which really made the experience more special.

THINGS TO DO: HO CHI MINH CITY EDITION!

Vietnam was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, and if it isn’t already on your bucket list I’d definitely recommend adding it right now. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is absolutely full of all kinds of amazing food, history, and culture — the city itself, and the entire country of Vietnam, was really one of the most unique and interesting places I ever visited.

THINGS TO DO: NINH BINH EDITION!

Ninh Binh was a real stand out for me in terms of places I’ve visited in my life. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone in a whole lot of ways, but it was all really rewarding at the end of the day. The town is absolutely beautiful, and there’s no shortage of beautiful places to see in the Vietnamese countryside.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN HOI AN!

To be honest, Hoi An is definitely more of a “party” location in terms of places I visited in Vietnam — at least for me. It was crazy fun, though, and I met all kinds of people from around the world while I was staying here.

PLACES TO EAT: HANOI EDITION!

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, and very different from Ho Chi Minh City. It was really interesting being able to visit both in my time in Vietnam — I loved them both so much, and for very different reasons. There’s all kinds of cool things to do and see in Hanoi, but the food in particular is to die for.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN HA LONG BAY!

Ha Long Bay is by far the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen in my life. Honestly, I’d give anything to go back right now. There’s all sorts of ways to see and experience it, but one of the most popular is spending time on an overnight cruise — which I have to say, I’d highly recommend.

THINGS TO DO: LUANG PRABANG EDITION!

Okay, I know I’ve pretty much said that everything on this list was my favourite thing in one way or another, but Laos was really one of the best places I’ve ever visited — and you should probably consider adding it to your bucket list, TBH.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN LUANG PRABANG!

A little in-depth look at one of my best days from my whole trip to South East Asia. Seriously, I couldn’t recommend Laos more.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN TORONTO!

Does it really count as travelling to visit my own hometown? Probably not, but I’m still counting it. Plus, for those of you who’ve never been to Toronto and want to experience it as a local would — then my guide will definitely help you do that!

PLACES TO EAT: TORONTO EDITION!

For all my fellow foodies, Toronto is a must-visit. There’s just so many great options. It has a little bit of everything — as it is the most multi-cultural city in the world, after all — so no matter what you love, there’s something here for you.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN DISNEY WORLD!

Okay…I won’t lie, I’d be pretty hesitant to be going somewhere as crowded as a theme park anytime soon. That might just be me, though. So for everyone who’s been looking forward to a Disney vacation when this is all over, feel free to check out how I spent my weekend there and all my fave things to do and see at Disney World!

SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH ME IN WEST PALM BEACH, USA!

This was more of a trip to visit with my family, but we still managed to squeeze in a little sight-seeing of the local area surrounding our AirBnB while we were visiting West Palm — and we spent a lot of time at the beach, too!

Do you guys have any plans in place to go travelling post-COVID? If so, I’d love to hear where you’re planning on visiting! I, personally, am not making any solid plans until I have my vaccine and the end is “officially” in sight, but in the meantime it’s fun to imagine everywhere I’ll go when we’re free to travel again. I’d love to be able to visit either Japan, Singapore, Italy or Greece (or all of the above!) but honestly I’m not even picky — I’d be happy to go on a trip anywhere at this point. I’d love to hear all of your dream travel locations, so drop a comment below and let me know where in the world you would go right now if you could choose from absolutely anywhere!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you all have an amazing week ahead to look forward to.

Much love,

Meredith

Things To Do: Siem Reap Edition!

Phnom Kulen Falls, Siem Reap

Hey friends!!

So for today’s travel diary I’m gonna be covering the remainder of my time in Siem Reap. I only spent a couple of days in Cambodia, but honestly I wish I could have stayed for more. Not only was it a beautiful and unique country, but the weather was amazing and the food was to DIE for (seriously, Amok is officially my favourite South East Asian food now).

Apart from the temples, which I already covered more in depth in my post Spend A Day With Me In Angkor Wat, there was plenty of other things to see and do which lead to a pretty jam-packed two days–not that I’m complaining as it was all amazing. Keep reading to hear all about my favourite things to do and see in Siem Reap!

Visit Some Temples!
Angkor Wat

Alright, so I know I pretty much covered this all in my Angkor Wat entry, but this really was a must see so I figured no harm in mentioning it twice! If you’re planning on seeing multiple temples (which I would highly recommend) be prepared for a long day. Don’t let that deter you, however, these temples are amazing and so unlike many of the other temples in South East Asia. While Angkor Wat is certainly the largest and best known, we also visited Banteay Kdei, Ka Prohm, Ka Teo, and Angkor Thom’s Bayon and Bapheon Temples. Each of these temples were all unique and beautiful in their own way and really added to our temple tour.

See The Falls!
Phnom Kulen Falls

If you’ve been following my travel blogs long enough you’ll know I love a good waterfall! Phnom Kulen Falls was so different from any other waterfall we’ve visited on this trip. Not only was there both a small and large waterfall, the large one was HUGE and beautiful and you could swim in both. You could even bring a picnic, climb the rocks and explore the nearby area as well. Ultimately, 10/10, stunning, and would highly recommend.

Go To A Dinner Show!
Dance Performance At Dinner Show

This was not something we planned on at all, but our lovely Tuk Tuk driver suggested we go and I’m so glad he did. This dinner featured an extensive and delicious buffet, with all sorts of South East Asian cuisine as well as some Western options. Seriously — it was huge and had everything you could have ever wanted. After you’d had some time to get settled and grab some food, the show began — a musical and dance introduction to Cambodian culture. Each dance told its own stories and the costumes were so elaborate and stunning. The music, the dancing, all of was incredible. I’d definitely consider checking this one out if you ever have to opportunity to visit Siem Reap.

Hit Up The Night Market!
Items For Sale At The Night Market, Siem Reap

Alright, I know, another thing you’ve probably felt you’ve heard alllllll about in my other entries. But hear me out. I’ve discussed before how you can receive a surprising amount of culture just from Night Markets alone, and Siem Reap is certainly no exception. The Night Markets here are HUGE, and set up in a huge maze of permanent stalls. They offer SO many things, especially carvings, artwork, jewelry, and clothes such as pashmina scarves and !!!!!. Not only was the Night Market in Siem Reap massive and the variety of items seemingly unlimited, but the options were so distinct from Thailand, Laos or Vietnam. Cambodia really is a distinctly different culture from its neighbouring countries, which is apparent all over the place — even in their Night Markets.

So that’s all for Siem Reap, Cambodia! I have to say, I had no idea what to expect from this stop of our trip but I was so pleasantly surprised. Not only was a beautiful country, it was so different from other places I’ve visited — and all the local people were beyond friendly. This place is an absolute must-see if you ever get the chance to explore South East Asia.

But that’s all for Cambodia for now! Be sure to check out the next stop on my South East Asian adventure — Koh Phi Phi and Phuket!

Much Love for you all,

Meredith

Spend A Day With Me At Angkor Wat!

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Hey friends!

Welcome to the next instalment of my travel series: Angkor Wat, Cambodia! I’m so excited to share this next part of my journey with you guys, I honestly wasn’t too sure what to expect from Cambodia before I arrived, but it was honestly one of my favourite places and incredibly distinct from all the other countries we’ve visited along our journey.

The most interesting part of Cambodia was all the temples, and how they different from Laotian and Thai temples. The temples in Cambodia, rather than intricate paintings and mosaics, had carvings into the rocks that had meanings and stories carved into them.

Ta Keo

Cambodia has huge amounts of temples, both big and small, and in relative stages of so while some are nearly perfectly preserved some are quite interestingly growing back into the surrounding nature. Unlike many of the temples you’ll find in and nearby towns in other South East Asian countries, and the temples that visitors travel to most in Cambodia are out in the jungle. You can choose to go to as many or as few as you’d like, with the most well-known and largest one being of course, Angkor Wat.

I figured this entry would be a good place to share some tips I have for temples (both in Cambodia and elsewhere in South East Asia), as well as what to expect before I go on to cover the day we had exploring these temples!

What You’ll Need

Angkor Wat

All you absolutely need for a day exploring temples is the right supplies, appropriate attire and a good guide.

In terms of the guide, if you ever visit Siem Reap, message me and I’ll have you covered. My friend recommended us the most amazing Tuk Tuk driver named Sorn, who was friendly, knowledgeable, spoke great English and just generally made our whole stay in Siem Reap so much better. He had great recommendations and all kinds of knowledge that made our lives so much easier. So, if you ever get the chance to visit Cambodia, shoot me an email or comment on this post and I can put you in contact with him! 10/10 really made our stay sooooo much better.

Next up: appropriate attire. So, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, when you’re visiting temples you have to show respect with appropriate attire. It’s not optional, but all you have to do is be sure to cover your shoulders and knees and not wear a hat or shoes inside marked areas and you’ll be okay. Some countries have more strict rules about what you can and can’t wear, so this wasn’t bad at all to follow. If you’re planning on walking a lot, running or hiking shoes are also a good idea.

Baphuon

For clothes, while simply wearing leggings and a short sleeve top will be enough to have you covered (literally), there is a reason that every nearby stall sells the classic touristy elephant pants and related temple clothes. These clothes are so beyond comfortable and lightweight, and will help keep you from overheating in the hot weather. I personally opted for a t-shirt and a skirt I bought locally, they both kept me covered and cool, even in the peak heat of the day. Something else to note though is to be careful and look into what’s allowed before you purchase it, however, as Nylah bought a sarong and didn’t realize until we had reached the sacred temple in Angkor Wat that while it covered her knees, it was not appropriate attire.

A Tree Growing Out Of Banteay Kdei

The last thing you’ll need are the right supplies! Based on my own experiences, the absolute necessities are water, snacks, sunscreen, cash, sunglasses, and hair ties. However, hydration salts, cameras, hats, and a change of clothes certainly never hurt. If you have space to bring more stuff, it never hurts to be over prepared!

What To Expect

Well, first and foremost I’d say expect a very long day. Angkor Wat alone takes at least an hour and a half to explore completely at the bare minimum. Not only that, but you have to budget time for any other temples you wish to see, as well as travel time. Realistically, you should dedicate a whole day to temples.

Bapheon

Another thing to prepare for is a lot of walking, but nothing insane. So many people I know who have visited Angkor Wat before have made it seem as is it’s a gruelling and nearly impossible hike, which is far from the truth. Yes, there is a lot of walking — and occasional climbing involved if you want to go up to higher levels of the temples. However, it’s nothing that I feel like isn’t suitable for beginners. It is of course, incredibly hot, and likely pretty crowded during peak tourism seasons, so it’ll be a tiring day no matter what your level of fitness. But no matter what, I promise it is 100% worth it!

My Experience!

Banteay Kdei, First Temple

The best part about going to Angkor Wat and the nearby temples in the summer months is that it is not a popular time for tourists, meaning many of these sites were near-empty. In total, we toured 5 different temples along a route Sorn, our Tuk Tuk driver prepared for us. Before I get into it, I’m going to put a little disclaimer on this: While I tried to keep track of which temples we visited, I’m not 100% sure I have the right list. I’ve been researching to make sure I have it all correct, but if I’ve mixed one up please message me and let me know!

We started with two smaller temples, Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm, with a quick stop in at the Ta Keo Temple, before carrying on to two larger temples in Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple and the Baphuon Temple. Finally, after all of this, we headed to Angkor Wat.

Example of Deterioration, Ta Prohm

The first two temples were small and practically empty, which made them incredible to explore. Both of them appeared to not have had any restoration completed such as the others were undergoing, and were slowly deteriorating and becoming part of the jungle surrounding them. At the first temple, Banteay Kdei, Nylah and I were guided in prayer by a local at the temple, who gifted us with good luck bracelets while we explored.

Ta Prohm, Second Temple

The second temple we visited, Ta Prohm, was small and well-known for its unique look that inspired the temples in the Tomb Raider franchise. It was a little larger and more crowded than the first temple, but still relatively small and empty compared to the others and incredibly beautiful. Seeing how this temple had literally grown into the forest was breath-taking and having it be as empty as it was made for a less touristy-feeling experience.

Ta Keo, Third Temple

After that, we stopped in quickly at Ta Keo, which was also quite empty and quite tall, which made for a crazy cool view. I opted to not go all the way to the top as I was under the impression that Angkor Wat was going to be more challenging than it was, but Nylah said the view was spectacular and even from the lower levels it was a nice, quiet overlook over the nearby jungle.

Buddha Head Carving At Bayon, Fourth Temple

From there, we headed over to Angkor Thom. The Bayon Temple was certainly the most busy of the temples we visited, as well as the most tiring. However, it was also one of the most large and interesting, sporting three levels, courtyards, maze-like hallways and of course, the Buddha heads carved into the pillars on the top level of the temple. I’d certainly suggest to pay attention to the signs telling you which direction to head in to make sure you see the whole temple in a timely matter and without getting lost.

After that, we headed to Baphuon. This temple was larger AND empty, allowing us to walk up to the empty higher levels and enjoy the views in peace, with absolutely no one else around.

Bapheon, Fifth Temple

After that, as I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for, we headed off to Angkor Wat. Before we even got to the entrance, you could see how absolutely vast it was. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, and it certainly was massive. It took a while to cross the grounds over the sacred temple, but apart from that and the set of stairs leading up to the temple it wasn’t physically challenging at all. The temple itself was beautiful, and almost empty compared to the massive crowds Angkor Wat draws in peak tourist season. It was so beautiful and just serene.

Carvings At Angkor Wat

After we toured the main temple, we took some time to walk down the hallways, covered in intricate carvings, as well as smaller temples that lined the sides of the walkways. After that, we wandered the grounds and took in the views around us.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance. The temples of Cambodia are so distinct from other South East Asian temples, and getting to go when it wasn’t peak tourist season made for a much more relaxing, spiritual and enjoyable experience than if it were packed with tourists.

Angkor Wat

And that’s all for Angkor Wat! Stay tuned to hear all about my favourite things to do in Siem Reap later this week! Hope you all are having a fantastic Thursday!

Xo,

Meredith

PS: BONUS CONTENT! Check out these other photos I snapped on my trip! Hope you enjoy them (and the other photos as well!)

More Examples Of Deterioration At Ta Prohm

Bayon