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

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

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