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

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