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

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