This past week I’ve been back in my hometown — Toronto, Ontario! Being the largest city in Canada, Toronto is somewhat of a cultural hub and has a HUGE foodie culture. So I figured I’d share some of the places I hit up this week that have been my favourites to visit whenever I go home!
For When You’re Craving Chinese
If you’re looking for a bit of an upscale meal, Kwan is a great place to check out. Not only is it’s Chinese food to DIE for, but it has a lovely, cozy atmosphere and a great vibe overall. If you go, don’t miss out on the truffle fried rice, sesame chicken or chilli garlic shrimp — I literally order these every time I go and they’re outstanding every time.
For When You’re In The Mood For Sweets
Booyah Ice cream is straight up one of my favourite places to go for cool treats in the summer. Not only do they have their own store-made ice cream, they also offer Kawartha Dairy and soft serve! Their homemade flavours are to DIE for, just the other day I got these two scoops of Earl Gray and Honey Lavander and I was in love. On top of all that, you have the option to get it in an ice cream sandwich (featuring homemade cookies) or even ice cream tacos! This place really is one of my favourites to visit in the hot Toronto summers.
For When You’re Feeling Fancy
If you’re feeling up for something bougie and love Italian food as much as I do, Buca is a must-try. It’s a little on the pricier side, but oh man is it ever worth it. Everything here is amazing, from the appetizers to the desserts (their pine panna cotta is unreal). On top of that, the environment is amazing and the service was next level. 100% recommend for a classy night out.
For When You’re Craving Mexican
This place seriously has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. For years, it’s been a go-to every time I go home–I’ve been sure to introduce everyone I know and they all fell in love. The tacos are outstanding, the drinks are incredible, and if you go be sure to try the Elote–it’s a personal favourite of mine. On top of all that, the vibe here is so cool, there really isn’t anything not to love.
For When You Need Your Bubble Tea Fix
There’s so many amazing places to get bubble tea in Toronto, but this one is just SO fun. You get to choose for yourself from so many flavours (complete with the ability to mix and match) plus so many tapioca and jelly add-ins that are so different from other places I’ve been to. This stuff was so amazing, seriously, even if it’s not nearby it’s worth the trek.
And that’s it for this time! Stay tuned for more Toronto hot spots when I go visit again this fall. I hope you enjoyed this blog, and if you have any suggestions for where to hit up on my next trip home I’d love to hear it!
So, sadly, my time in South East Asia is coming to an end, making this the last entry in my South East Asia travel series. I hope you guys have all enjoyed reading the series as I’ve enjoyed writing it! I really hope that I’ve inspired some of you to go on adventures of your own, or hopefully take recommendations from my travels if you ever visit South East Asia in the future.
So, to end off our trip we returned to Bangkok for the last two days before our flight home. This time was a lot more eventful than the first time, since we’ve now adjusted to the time zone, weather and food, giving us waaaay more time to actually explore. That being said, we only had two days and were looking more to relax than explore for the remainder of our stay, so this entry is going to focus more on that since we didn’t see too much in terms of historical, cultural and religious attractions in Bangkok. (But hey, I guess that just gives us another reason to go back!)
So, without further ado, here’s my final travel journal (for now), an overview of my favourite things to do in Bangkok!
Go To Khao San Road!
In terms of places to go out in Bangkok, Khao San Road is certainly one of the most popular. As a pedestrian only street, the road is full of people going out, having buckets, and blasting music! This place was an absolute blast and honestly none of my favourite nights out this whole trip. If you’re looking for a night out of the town, this place is a must-see.
Hit Up A Rooftop Bar!
Rooftop bars are officially my favourite thing. Especially in big cities like Bangkok and Hanoi, when you get an overlook of the whole city from above. Not only were the drink at this bar — named Barracuda — next level, but the views honestly just made the whole experience a 10/10. Rooftop bars are ALWAYS a good idea, but if you’re ever travelling to a big city, they’re just that much better.
Okay, seriously, the shopping in Bangkok was insane. The mall we hit up had to be the biggest mall I’d ever witnessed in my whole life, and it’s far from being the only mall in Bangkok. Everywhere you look there’s opportunities to shop and get so many things that I, at least, probably would be hard pressed to find in Vancouver. I’ve heard all sorts of stories of people travelling to Bangkok JUST for the shopping, so if you ever find yourself in Bangkok, be sure not to miss out!
Get A Massage!
If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ll know that everywhere you look there’s spas and massage spots. Even if you’ve never been, it’s fairly common knowledge that Thai massages are on a level of their own. Not only that, but no matter what your price range is, you’ll be able to find a place. For only 250 Baht (about $10.50 Canadian) I seriously had the best massage of my life. I’ve never had a Thai massage before, and it was so different from what I usually think of a massage as. There’s no oil (which was actually really nice for not feeling gross after), you’re fully clothed, and it’s certainly way more about stretching and pressure points than relaxing. I’ll admit it was a little borderline painful at moments, but MAN did I ever feel good after. I have chronic knots in my back due to back problems and stress, and I’ve seriously never had my back feeling that good in ages. It was amazing.
Go To Our Fave Restaurant, Ross Kitchen!
For our last dinner abroad (sigh), Nylah and I decided to go to Ross Kitchen. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The interesting catch — we didn’t really know what was in a lot of the food we were eating. Usually this would really bother me; I can be an adventurous eater but I’d like to know what it is that I’m eating. Honestly though, the food was so good we didn’t care. We didn’t even know the ingredients of our drinks, and they were some of the best I’ve ever had. If you’re in Bangkok and looking for a fancier night out, consider Ross Kitchen for sure. My dinner — Curried Kobe Beef Cheeks — was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. Seriously, I’m already dreaming of going back.
And, sadly, that wraps up my South East Asia travel series. This trip was some of the most exciting, crazy, and important weeks of my life and through all the ups and downs, it really was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m honestly not sure how to wrap up 5 weeks of this experience in a neat and tidy way — it’s far too overwhelming and impossible of a test to easily summarize the experiences I’ve had. All I can say is I know this trip will not be my last — now that I’ve really gotten a chance to go out and see the world on my own terms, I’ve just become that much more motivated to do it again. So the best I can say is stay tuned for the next trip, and let me know if you have any suggestions or were inspired by any of my posts! Honestly, nothing would make me happier than knowing I’ve inspired others to go out and see the world themselves, it really can be the most life-changing experience.
So, that’s all for now! Keep an eye out as I’ll be doing a summary of all my favourite places we visited for those looking for travel recommendations. But for now, it’s back to Vancouver life!
Thanks for reading!!! If you’re reading this now, just know I appreciate you 🙂
Okay, so this entry is going to be a little different from the others. I honestly wasn’t all too sure how to go about writing this one, as this stop on our trip was VERY different from the others. While many of our other stops have either been predominantly focused on culture, food, exploring and hiking, this one was much more about socializing and making friends.
During our stay in Hoi An (which was really only about three days), we stayed in the Vietnam Backpackers hostel. It was almost like an all-inclusive style hostel, complete with bracelets to load money on, a pool, and a restaurant/bar. There was honestly little need to ever leave, which made it the perfect place to make friends. In our short time here, Nylah and I met and befriended people from England, Italy, France, Australia and even a whole bunch of people from Canada.
The hostel threw daily events meant to facilitate meeting other travellers, such as barbecues, beach parties and full-moon style glow parties. The Vietnam Backpacker hostel chain is known as being a bit more “party-focused” than most hostels, which certainly has its upsides and downsides. I’ve heard from other people on our trip some of the other locations can be a whole lot — they’re often pretty loud and busy, and can get a bit overwhelming with trying to balance sightseeing with the hostel culture in other cities. However, others said they were super fun and exactly what they were looking for.
I can certainly vouch for a lot of other hostels not really creating much of a social environment — many of the other places we’ve stayed at guests have stuck to themselves and we hadn’t met many other travellers. However, Hoi An is the perfect location to stay in a hostel with this kind of environment. It’s pretty small, so it’s easy to see the town as well as get to meet other young travellers from all over the world!
Plus, if you’re thinking of visiting Hoi An, there’s still plenty to do and see. Here’s a couple of the best places I saw during my stay!
Check Out The Local Restaurants!
Hoi An Serene Garden Restaurant
The town of Hoi An has plenty to offer in terms of food. Depending on where you stay, it might be a trek, but we’ve recently been introduced to Grab, the Uber of South East Asia, which made getting around super easy. In particular, our two personal favourites were Burger Craft and The Serene Garden. At Burger Craft, we all got the O Canada burgers as a joke about half our group being Canadian, but thank god we did because they were beyond fantastic. All of us collectively agreed it beat out any burger joint we had been to in our lives. This includes the Burgers Priest (if you’re from Toronto), Five Guys and even In-N-Out. Seriously.
The other restaurant, The Serene Garden, was a little more upscale but absolutely worth every penny. The lemongrass BBQ beef I had was to die for, and the cocktails were amazing. 10/10, all 6 of us who ate there said it was spectacular.
Head Into The Old Town!
Hoi An Old Town
The town of Hoi An is a mix between a smaller town vibe, like Ninh Binh, but also the hectic nature of Hanoi. It’s a perfect mix of culture and getting outside of the cities. I’d certainly recommend going at night since it was both so beautiful as well as a much more manageable temperature out, however. While you’re in town, there’s many outstanding shops to check out, as well as the rivers and lanterns, which were beautiful. Pro Tip: if you go at night you can even take a boat along the river to see the lanterns!
Hit Up The Beach (Or Kahunas!)
View From Kahunas Bar
Hoi An was the first real beachside stop we’ve had on our trip, but it was well worth the wait. The beach was so beautiful and vast, and the water was perfect for swimming in. (I wish I had photos for you guys but I got a little caught up in swimming while I was there and didn’t even consider it). Furthermore, if you want to stop in for drinks, our hostel had a pool and bar on the beach called Kahuna’s, which was a great place to go for chill vibes and drinks beachside.
That’s all for Hoi An! Next week we head off to Ho Chi Minh city (formerly known as Saigon). It’s our last stop it Vietnam before we head to Cambodia, so stay tuned!
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 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)
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!
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 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!
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!