Southeast Asia is one of the most marketable destinations for all kind of travellers. It offers so much in value and variety that in recent years tourism has sky-rocketed. Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen at least one mesmerizing photo of the beautiful places in SEA, enticing you with its white-sanded beaches, intricate temples, Buddha statues, the luring green jungle and the natural coconuts ready to sip on. Making it a traveller’s dream!!
There are hundreds of places to visit over there, if not thousands, that offer its visitors some form of inspiration. Unfortunately, some travellers have limited time, so for them making the decision of which places they shouldn’t miss out on their trip becomes a very complicated and stressful situation. To help release some of that stress, we decided to put together a list of all of the places that stand out from the rest and are a ‘must visit’ in Southeast Asia.
Take a look at the ‘Top 7 Inspirational Places to Visit in Southeast Asia’ that will make you want to pack up your bags right now!
Borneo is special because of two things: the rainforests and the friendly orangutans that live in there. Orangutans share 96% of human DNA making them one of the most intelligent primates, and seeing these interesting creatures in the wild can inspire any traveller. Wildlife is unique in parts of Asia, and these amazing orangutans top the lot!
Unfortunately, the rainforests in Malaysia are being destroyed for the search of natural resources; such as palm oil, so their native beauty is slowly diminishing. We hope deforestation stops soon, as the orangutans need their natural habitat to live and reproduce. If you want to go a step further you can sign up to volunteer with them -which includes feeding them first hand.
2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is often the postcard photo of Southeast Asia. With its intricate design and spread out structure these ancient ruins inspire the most to travel to Southeast Asia. Especially if you’ve witnessed the sunrise or the sunset peeking above its pillars.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious sites in the world and also one of the most visited – with over 2 million visitors each year-. If you’re looking for cultural kicks and true insights of the history of Cambodia, exploring the incredible ruins of Angkor Wat are a must-see in Southeast Asia.
3. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Vietnam has a reputation of being fast and furious with its millions of bikes and raw and ready culture, but the archipelago of Halong Bay couldn’t be further away from that. Based in the North of the country, Halong Bay offers a set of idyllic limestone islands, topped with rainforests. The laid back and exotic nature of these islands are perfectly complemented with emerald waters, making it an inspiring view for any cruise or boat trip.
If you decide to visit this beautiful place,Cát Bà National Park is a particular hotspot.
4. Rice Terraces, Philippines
Thousands of years old, these UNESCO Heritage certified rice paddies and terraces are like an array of rural steps made for giants. With rows and rows of weaved green platforms in Banaue, situated in the Philippines north, the rice terraces are a must visit. Despite their beauty, still the majority of travellers in the Philippines, who choose the unspoilt white-sanded islands instead, often overlook them. If you’re a bit of an outdoorsy traveller and love a good hike, just seeing the photos of the rice terraces will immediately give you wanderlust.
5. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
Indonesia is most known for its holiday destination hotspot Bali, with the surrounding Gili Islands a treasure to visit. However, Indonesia is home to 220 million people and certainly has a lot more to it than that. Often seen as the most difficult yet worthwhile hike open to visitors in Southeast Asia, Mount Rinjani offers world-class views. With the peak far above the clouds near, it’s a popular activity to witness the sunrise here. An active volcano based in Lombok, the elevation reaches nearly 4,000 m and is the second largest volcano in Indonesia!
6. Krabi, Thailand
Any list describing the wonders of Southeast Asia wouldn’t be complete with mentioning some of what Thailand has to offer. The country that opened the door for Southeast Asia travel in its modernity, Thailand has many places that inspire and is normally the first stop people go to. With a more commercial outlook than it’s neighbours, it’s easily the most visited. Famed for its Thai islands in the south, the province of Krabi has many a wonder to inspire. With a white-sand stretch of beaches such as Railay, crystal clear waters for snorkelling and scuba diving with a plethora of marine life, and limestone rocks that match of Halong Bay, Krabi will be the place you’ll often see on the front of the brochure.
7. Bagan Temples, Myanmar
With Myanmar opening to visitors only as recent as 2011, it’s recent surge of travellers have only begun to gather pace in the last couple of years. Even though the number of tourists hasn’t reached the heights as expected, the potential is definitely there. The country has limited the access for visitors to a lot of places, however, there are in total 4400 temples and pagodas open to anyone to freely explore. Probably the most sought for sights in the whole country are the Bagan temples, where if you manage to get a good view from the heights, the stunning backdrop of the temples provide a view of the magnificent intricate brick structures, as well as an insight into the history and size of the empires that once ruled this area.
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Southeast Asia (SEA) is a region full of many wonders. Humbling religions, exotic wildlife, blissful beaches, hectic cities and mouth-watering food make some of the elements of why Southeast Asia is one of the #1 places to visit as a traveler.
For years, many solo travelers have picked Southeast Asia shores as their travel destination and it has been said, it’s kind of perfect. People back home may wonder why, what makes Southeast Asia perfect for solo travelers?
Well, the social scene and places to party in Southeast Asia is awesome.
For some solo travelers, the best icebreaker to meet other like-minded travelers is to party, and Southeast Asia isn’t short of that. But which are the best spots to have a party? Well, if you all partygoers are ready to take notes,
Here is my list of the “The Top 10 Party Destinations for Solo Travellers in Southeast Asia” divided per country:
Also known as the gateway to Southeast Asia, the Thai capital is most travellers’ first port of call when travelling the region. With it’s bustling nature and 24-hour nightlife, nights out in Bangkok can get crazy.
The most notable place in there is Khao San Road, an age-old backpacker strip with loud music, street bars and nightclubs. Now, if you’re looking for pre-drinks in one of the most sociable hostels in the whole of Southeast Asia, Nappark Hostel is a wonderful place to start.
This Thai southern island seems to be on many traveller’s bucket list thanks to its monthly Full Moon Party. With tens of thousands of travellers hitting Haad Rin Beach at once, your odds of meeting other solo travellers to party is quite high. So if you’re a solo traveller at the beginning of the night, there’s no doubt you’ll meet new friends here.
There are many clubs and pop-up bars when it’s Full Moon time, all laced with alcohol-induced buckets, so for that, there’s no better place for a party. However, do be careful when drinking from the pop-up bars stalls here. Cheap alcohol can be dangerous!
Koh Phi Phi
Often advertised with its popular Maya Bay situated inside a limestone cliff lagoon. This iconic beach was the set of Leo Di Caprio’s movie “The Beach”, released way back in the year 2000.
But Koh Phi Phi is not only an amazing place to visit during the day, the island itself is a party-mad kind of place. With bar crawls, beach parties and a constant vibe, Koh Phi Phi is carnage. You’ll never have problems meeting travellers here.
The capital of Vietnam is that kind of charming and cosy city with cool quirky bars popping up everywhere. Here, “The Old Quarter” is one of the most visited places by travellers, full of outdoor bars, seats and $0.50 cent rice beers!! Making it the perfect spot to meet others.
Although some companies put bar crawls on, which seems a little too much, it’s not difficult to meet fellow travellers in Hanoi. Stay in and around the Old Quarter, or head to some popular hostels and you’ll no doubt meet people.
Just past halfway down Vietnam, Nha Trang is a place that people love to visit and have a party. With tons of investment going on, travellers are flocking over there more than ever.
Vin Pearl Waterpark is popular for travellers, as well as the beaches so you’re bound to bump into a fellow traveller over a beer or two!
If the Thai islands are too much for you, the Cambodian Islands tend to have a better balance. Islands like Koh Rong can attract many solo travellers due to the place being less built up, fairly new to the traveller’s scene, and generally give you a more local vibe.
With a pretty active nightlife most days of the week, meeting fellow travellers here is easy. Just go out to the beach and make friends!
Although this city is the home of Angkor Wat, the world’s most visited religious site, Siem Reap’s small party scene still gets praise from travellers.
After spending the day wandering around the intricate pillars of Cambodia’s #1 attraction, Pub Street is the place where solo travellers tend to roam around. Spend a few days here, seeing Angkor Wat during the day, and mingling with other travellers over Angkor Beer at night.
The #1 island hotspot, is always buzzing with solo travellers. But despite partying travellers coming daily, the stunning white sand is kept impeccably clean across its main front.
Once in Boracay you might want to consider visiting the Frendz Resort, which many would say is still the best hostel to make friends. With vibrant live music and located just a stone throw away from the main strip, fear not solo travellers, you’re going to meet people here.
Aussies tend to love taking a trip to Bali for their holidays, like what Spain is for Brits or Hawaii to Americans. However, Bali is more than just an Aussie beach destination to other travellers. Kuta in Bali is a full-lit up place full of bars and parties.
If you stay fairly central in Kuta you’ll soon realise you’ll be near many fellow travellers, many of them solo. Kayun Hostel is a good place for that, and if you want to party, there is no doubt Skybar will be at some point in your itinerary.
Out of the three islands in the Gili’s, Gili T is the one that is full of solo travellers who love to have a party. Although the events are generally shared between all the bars and clubs on the island so everyone gets their fair share of business (3 or 4 times per week), Gili T is a rocking kind of place when it gets going.Cars don’t exist
Cars don’t exist on the island, but it can be cycled from side to side in around 30 minutes, so you won’t have to cycle far before you bump into another fellow solo traveller. So just get ready for “beach time during the day and party on the night”. This is generally the way to go here!
With all the highs that travelling Southeast Asia can bring, it’s important to be well aware of the different cultural expectations, rules and tricks that might turn them highs into lows. With all the talk recently about the ‘begpackers’ busking for money in Bangkok and Singapore specifically, and even further afield, in Colombia where an Australian woman was caught with copious of amounts of cocaine at the airport; it’s something that you might want refreshing on.
Southeast Asia is normally many traveller’s first long term travelling destination, and with the culture being mostly warm, humble and let’s say a little less lawful, it does beg the question what are the laws that would get you in hot water? Before we get into that, we all like to have a good time, but you know yourself, responsible travel is key, or otherwise you might find yourself on the front page of the Daily Mail or Herald Sun.
As we mentioned on our last blog here which described some general travel safety precautions, we wanted to give you the run down more specifically, on a country by country basis. We have also provided a couple links for each country to the current travel advice warnings.
However please note, as you all know we live in some unpredictable times in terms of things like terrorism, civil wars, general unrest, kidnappings and other attacks, so although it is advisable to adhere to the warnings and advice given so as to not put your self in unnecessary danger, unfortunately the world is not predictable, danger can be present anywhere so always travel smart.
Laws, Customs, Do’s & Don’t
Be aware of special invites to parties, scams including transport, firearm activities, money exchanges, ATM reliability & mosquito diseases. There are many parts of Cambodia that still has unexposed live land mines, so always adhere to the signs and advice and never stray from the designated paths. They are doing their best to clear these land mines one by one every year, in fact they are currently successfully using specially trained rats to locate the mines by sniffing out the TNT and are able to sweep a section of land the size of a tennis court in just 30 minutes.
Snatch and grab crimes in Cambodia are common. Keep your bags to your front and away from the roadside. Always hang onto them. We’ve seen the sneakiest of theft, especially at night.
Observe the general Southeast Asia common courtesy customs that we have previously outlined in our previous blog too
As you might of seen, the dealing, use or production of drugs in Indonesia goes hand in hand with the death penalty if caught. Despite many protests from governments and embassies, Indonesia enforces strict laws against drugs. Especially in Bali, a tourist haven, police will often raid venues and might carry out possible urine or blood tests to see if you’ve used drugs. There is a problem with drug trafficking in Bali especially so please keep aware.
Diseases in Indonesia, such as Rabies and Dengue Fever have caused concern and deaths in recent years. Stay away from stray dogs, do not look them in the eye and keep away from groups at night. Most will ignore you but some may be in a foul mood. Be monkey aware too, learn about their behaviours before you arrive, in general though don’t smile by bearing your teeth to them, as bearing teeth is their sign of aggression.
Dengue fever can be less likely if you use mosquito spray, wear loose clothes, don’t drink wild water and use nets and coils as protection whilst always stay away from heavily infected areas as much as possible.
Terrorism in Bali has been well documented especially with the 2002 Bali Bombings that killed over 200 people. Terrorists Islamic groups are a threat across the whole of Indonesia so please report and/or keep away from any obvious or imminent danger if in the event it was to arise.
Avoid attempting to embarrass an Indonesian by shouting or being argumentative, keep things private & reserved, remain calm and don’t take aggressive stances like with your hands on your hips in frustration.
Dress modestly near and in religious temples goes without saying, always show respect. Don’t use your left hand to touch or give things to others, as it considered dirty due to local hygiene practices.
As a foreign visitor it is prohibited to partake in any sexual relations with a Laos local. You can either be fined or in drastic events imprisoned, so don’t be put off if you’re not flavour of the month by some.
Women are to be extra vigilant in their appearance, which includes covering shoulder whilst swimming in waterfalls and at temples.
Photography or visiting military sites is also prohibited, and can result in detention. We all like to go off the beaten track, but in Laos things roll a little bit different.
Like Singapore and Myanmar, it is also illegal for any homosexuality acts in Malaysia. Drug offences apply too and trafficking incurs a death penalty.
Dress modestly is key in Malaysia, it might be hot but that isn’t an excuse. The country is multicultural but majority Muslim which has many local traditions and expectations that you might not be aware of.
Terrorism has taken place here, even just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur as recent as in 2016. Be well aware of this can take place at any time but the likeliness is low.
Health wise, dengue fever has recently saw an increase in the last two years, take the right precautions including spray, nets, coils, loose clothing and avoiding rural areas.
Pirates have once roamed the coasts of Malaysia and kidnapped tourists in the early 2000’s. This isn’t as much of a problem now, but be aware if out at sea or close to eastern Sabah coasts, especially in non tourist or over populated areas. Honestly, most countries won’t pay out any ransoms to pirates anymore so if you do get in this sort of situation, you won’t be looking for any treasure on Skeleton Island. Keep aware at all times off the beaten track.
Myanmar is the most recent country to open it’s doors to travellers and it is only now you are seeing the tourism facilities developing. It is not uncommon to not see ATM’s. Food and water are questionable too. Hostels may not be everywhere, so hotels might have to suffice. You can hire electric motorbikes now to get around such areas like Bagan. Be careful at night in cities like Yangon, where the streets are dark and eerie with all sorts of pollution.
Homosexuality is illegal in Myanmar, and there have been instances where visitors have been imprisoned for committing homosexual acts. Although this is difficult to believe in 2017, some countries are very different to Western expectations.
If you have tattoos, having any religious design below the waste can be a religious offense, which in Myanmar is enough to be prosecuted. Make sure you cover up anything you might have that might be offensive.
You should have some caution in Myanmar due to civil unrest, but you’ll be okay within Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Nay Pyu Taw and Inle Lake. Ngpali Beach has seen some clashes with locals and police. Corruption is rife in Myanmar too.
If entering on a tourist visa to the Philippines, it’s very likely you’ll be asked for your outbound ticket. Most airlines won’t let you into the country without it. Also, police may stop foreigners for identification so make sure you have relevant forms of I.D to provide.
Recent changes have encouraged anyone dealing or using drugs to be killed on the spot, especially if there is a resistance involved. Drugs are in particular severe in the Philippines and there have been millions of deaths already because of drug problems.
Unfortunately despite the Philippines being one of our favourite countries, the risk of terrorism and kidnapping is real. Even in Manila, the capital, there is risk that likely is to affect tourists if actioned. Spin off and affiliate groups to Islamic terrorist organisations can affect anywhere but have mostly focused on areas of Mindanao, Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga Peninsula. There have been explosive devices and terrorist attacks even in Makati, close to Manila.
Kidnapping is also a real concern in the Philippines, so be sure not to stray away too off the beaten track in areas known for dangers. These include provinces of Sarangani, North & South Cotabato, General Santos City, Sultran Kudarat, Lano del Sur & del Norte, Iligan City and Pangutaran Island.
Singapore is particularly strict with certain laws that can be rewarded with fines, arrest or imprisonment. They even still carry corporal punishment which is an old school method beating with a ratten cane. Mocking, singing, fake I.D, spitting, homosexuality, connecting to unauthorised WIFI, feeding pigeons, not flushing the toilet, smoking in public, being naked, selling gum and littering are all offences in Singapore.
Like many countries in Asia as mentioned, drugs is a no-go and can result in the death penalty.
Since April 2015, it is illegal to drink alcohol in a public place between the hours of 10:30pm and 7am. Only places with a permit can distribute and allow the consumption of alcohol.
Littering in Thailand can be awarded with a 2,000 Baht fine, and it can be an easy arrest for the Thai police. Also, fines for riding a scooter WITHOUT a helmet exist too, so always wear a helmet as accidents happen.
Did you know the legal drinking age in Thailand is 20 years old? Also, it is illegal to drink alcohol in temples or places of worship, pharmacies, public offices, education institutions, petrol stations and public parks.
Very harsh punishments are handed down if you are to disrespect, mock or deface any images of the King of Thailand. Even online, you can be arrested and sent to jail. Any other purposeful acts like damaging the Thai flag or stepping on Thai Baht can also lead to being arrested.
In Vietnam, gambling is illegal apart from in government-licensed casinos. Any disobedience to this can result in heavy fine and imprisonment. Drugs are available in Vietnam but don’t let it fool you because they are illegal with severely and fatal punishments.
Taxi’s in Vietnam can be particularly dodgy, and can rake the metre up high without you noticing. Everyone gets ripped off in Vietnam at some point. Likewise when renting a motorbike, never rent from someone on the street, they have been known to follow you and “steal” the bike back with spare keys!
Contributing or participating in any political actions against the government, or engaging in religious gatherings and actions i.e protests will result in legal actions against foreign visitors that usually means deportation. This includes online actions too, such as blogging.
Solo travelling to many is the only way to travel. Coupled with those pre-trip nerves, your courage to go it alone to far-away places will be rewarded with some of the most satisfying experiences that you will ever muster.
Your hard work of doing what you want based on how you feel and when you want will pay off, you meet new friends and you will push your independence all whilst travelling vastly into your unknown world. Travelling solo really does bring out the best in you, as you’re constantly pushed out of your comfort zone and that not only benefits you on your travels, but also in the rest of your life too.
You’ll learn that being content in your own company becomes hugely revitalising, something that only you can be proud of. You will be revelling in your own success in parallel with some of the best days of your life. Yet, despite all the props that come with solo travelling, everyone has to prepare still.
Southeast Asia is a great place to begin solo travelling. The warming culture, social travel scene and affordability (to western costs) are all major factors in why year after year for many, many years, solo travellers choose to unravel their journey here. If you’re a first timer in Southeast Asia we’ve put a quick checklist together for you to consider.
Try To Reassure Your Family
Most families and friends will think you’re crazy for going travelling to Asia alone, to many it will be unheard of. Yet, you’ve made the decision to do it, so just reassure them a bit more you’ve done your research (like reading this article) and you have plans in place. When you’re out on the road, they’ll no doubt get a load of your travel photos anyway, and the odd Skype once in a while doesn’t hurt, to let them know you’re alive.
Book Your Flight
First things first, make that first step and book your flight; don’t wait, you’re travelling solo remember, the longer you put this off the more doubt will set in. This is all on you. It really depends which way you come from, but most travellers begin at Bangkok in Thailand, as it’s seen as the ‘gateway to Southeast Asia’. If you’re on an open ended trip, for example if you are heading out to Bangkok Koh Phangan or the other islands of Thailand, then you only need to book a one-way flight. That might sound scary but exciting too! You’ll be journeying into the unknown with no time limit of when you’ll be back. That is what travelling is all about.
Stay In Hostels
Before you fly out, booking your first few nights accommodation is pretty standard. After that play it by ear as plans always can change, especially if you meet new travel friends along the way. Hostels are the perfect way to meet other travellers, many of who will be solo like you. If you do make it to Bangkok we recommend Nappark Hostel or the soon to be opened Mad Monkey Bangkok. Why? Because these places will have plenty of solo travellers like you, ready to meet and travel together.
Join And Network In The SE Asia Facebook Groups
If you are looking for a huge network of other travellers that have either passed through Asia or are about to then you can find them in multiple Facebook groups for Southeast Asia. These members and travellers are just like you, solo and ready to take the lead into Asia. Post questions (be specific) about which hostels, what attractions to see or simple ask if anyone wants to meet up. You’ll get answers quickly if not instantly. South East Asia Backpacking and Southeast Asia Backpacking are two of the largest groups of their kind on Facebook right now.
Download Travello & Join The SE Asia & Solo Travel Groups
One of the limitations with Facebook Groups though is that it’s not always easy to quickly see and interact with just those travellers that are there right now or about to arrive. So this is one of the best features and benefits about Travello, you can see who is nearby right now, it also notifies you when other travellers have arrived to your destination too. As long as you’re connected to the Internet, you’ll have no trouble at all from meeting other solo travellers that are nearby right now. This is perfect for solo travellers, because you can pick and choose whom you want to meet or if you want to meet at all. One of the great things about going solo is that YOU decide what you want to do, but at the same time you can meet new people to share your travel experiences too! Like Facebook, its also a travel community, so join the conversation on the feed to post your own photo, video or text updates or post your own questions or advice as well.
Get A SE Asia Travel Guide (Online / Book)
It’s always good to carry a paperback travel guide with you, and if that’s what you’re going to do, Lonely Planet or Rough Guides will give you all the basics plus the nitty gritty information. Even if you don’t follow it word for word, you still have a nucleus base of information that gives you a foundation of where to start or where to end up. With all the wealth of information online with blogs, articles and e-books, such as Adventure In You these are also worth considering today too. Reading valuable information as a solo traveller enables you to make your own choices as and when you want.
Tell Your Bank
Nowadays, banks can block cards for the most trivial of use internationally, so it’s important you let them know of your plans. What you can also get is travel cards that reduce costs for withdrawals and transactions too, which saves you money in the long run. You aren’t sharing a bank account with a partner or costs with a friend, so it’s important as a solo traveller you tick this off the list prior to travelling.
Arrange Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is key to travelling anywhere, but in Southeast Asia, where laws and facilities are not the same as you might expect at home, it’s vital to cover yourself. Whether your airline loses your bag, you get things stolen or injure yourself on an exciting excursion; it’s good to know you’re covered. How bad would it be NOT to go with travel insurance, solo and end up losing all your money or luggage, knowing your all alone and have no cover? It would be the worst. There are many insurance companies that will cover you depending where you are from, such as Covered2Go Travel Insurance,World Nomads and InsureAndGo.
Consider Getting Your Southeast Asia Travel Vaccinations
Because you’ll be travelling throughout countries that have environments that can impose diseases and viruses foreign to you, as well as practices and facilities being a little less strict, getting the necessary travel vaccinations is something to definitely consider as a priority. Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Japanese Encephalitis and Tetanus vaccinations are all common vaccinations to get prior to your travels, with malaria medication purchased in form of oral tablets. Most of the time you will go to your own local travel clinics depending which country you are from. Addition to that, don’t forget to take your common sense with you though too! Think of clothing cover, repellents, water/drinking safety, food and personal hygiene as an example. All very important to not get lax on those, as it can dramatically cut short your solo adventures!
Packing without anyone else packing with you can sometimes be a little confusing. What to take? How many clothes? How many shoes? Well, Southeast Asia is warm even when it rains; so don’t worry about packing too much. Asia isn’t a place to take expensive clothes because they’ll just get outworn and out-washed. Keep things light, t-shirts, singlets, shorts etc, with a pair of long pants, trainers and hoodie or jacket. If you’re taking a backpack, which we recommend because of how mobile you can be, nothing more than a 60L backpack is required as the average traveller, you really won’t need to take that much! Solo travel is not a fashion parade, keep it simple and efficient, buy local if you have to as it will be way cheaper than a big shop before you leave.
Take The Necessities
For Asia, bringing SPF, Mosquito spray, malaria tablets (prescribed) are all necessary. You’ll be in hot weather and the sun can be relentless here. In rural areas, mosquitos can be rife, and with dengue fever and malaria common in some parts like Cambodia and Myanmar, it’s important you take precautions. Don’t forget your shades, a hat, and a pair of comfortable footwear like flip-flops or sandals. You’ll be taking photos probably, so remember to pack your GoPro, camera or smartphone, but that goes without saying.
I’ve been living in Australia for the last two years and if there is a destination all Aussies love is Bali. The other month I decided it was time for me to visit this place, so I bought my airplane ticket, packed my bags and invited one of my girlfriends to join me.
She decided to make all the arrangements for us and plan the entire trip. The first idea that came to our mind was to experience the whole “Eat, Pray,Love” thing that most girls have in mind after watching the movie, but after the fourth day we realised we got stocked on the “Eat” part. And who could blame us after visiting the Best Bars and restaurants in Bali -according to us.
So here is the list of the places I think you shouldn’t miss if you are travelling to this wonderful destination:
Their menu is based on Western food and is probably my favourite coffee shop in the heart of Seminyak, is perfect for breakfast and a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. The food and service are outstanding, the staff is super friendly and there is not a dish you’ll dislike. The dessert bar is as good as the rest of the food -a bit dangerous if you are trying to keep that bikini body. Would highly recommend to go there before 10 if you don’t want to wait for a table because the place is completely packed most of the time – but believe me there is a good reason for that.
Cons: Long wait to get a table for breakfast.
You’ll pay around 11 AUD (8USD) for a full breakfast with a coffee or tea.
Being a Mexican myself I can say that this place offers proper Traditional Mexican Food – never thought that I could find this treat in Asia. Not only the food takes you to Mexico, but the entire decoration is perfectly chosen to bring back memories from home. Even though the place is big sometimes is hard to move around or find a place to sit after 8:00pm. The drinks menu includes the Traditional “Michelada” – perfect drink to cure a hangover.
After dinner this place offers some nice music to have a couple of drinks and meet some people. Good place to party.
Cons: If your intention is to have a quiet night Motel Mexicola is not the place go. The music can be really loud sometimes and is hard to have a conversation.
My friend and I spent around 150 AUD for both (110 USD) for a very good dinner and several drinks.
Offers traditional Balinese Cuisine and takes it tot he next level. It’s fancy look could be a bit intimidating for some travellers but don’t let that stop you from going in, specially if you are there between 4 and 6pm when it is “Happy Hour Menu and Small Foods” hour. The sizes of the dishes are actually small but the food melts in your mouth. The food and the drinks were so good that we decided to stay longer and have dinner there. If you love coconut as much as I do, then you definitely need to try their “Frozen Coconut Vanilla Rumballa” is the perfect cocktail.
Cons: Prices outside Happy Hour are a bit dear, you could easily spend more than 100 AUD between two.
KU DE TA:
Not only a Beach Club to spend the day chilling by the pool and the sea but a great place to watch the sunset, eat dinner and have a few drinks. The menu includes a wide range of dishes that go from Balinese to Japanese to Italian, so there are a lot of options to choose from. Their cocktail menu is also very diverse and each one of them is definitely unique and worth trying.
They have different settings for each type of customer, so you could go as a family and sit on a nice table, or choose a pool bed to have a more romantic setting.
Cons: Definitely need to reserve your spot if you want to see the sunset there because the place is completely packed around 5.
We had several drinks, snacks and dinner there and the bill was around 200 AUD (150 USD) for the entire day.
SINGLE FIN Bar:
The first thing to love about this place is the view, perfect for a sunset, to chill, have a drink and order the “Tomato & Olive Bruschetta” from the Menu -if you feel a bit peckish they are the perfect snack to enjoy with a cold beer and an ocean view. The place has several decks so you don’t have to worry about missing the sunset. They set a nice environment with the music they play, easy to enjoy if you go there by yourself or with a couple of friends. If you are a bit more active there is a path to go down the cliff and swim in the sea. Heaps of surfers there, so if you like it don’t forget to take your board and swimsuit with you.
Cons: If you are staying in Seminyak this place is not close, so you’ll need a taxi or shuttle service to get there and back. It is located in Uluwatu, which is about 45 minutes away from Seminyak.
The amount for a beer and a Snack is about 12 AUD (10 USD).
Nice restaurant located in the heart of Seminyak that serves a wide range of Western dishes, highly recommend for breakfast or lunch. The portions of the plates are very generous and could be easily shared between two. If you visit the restaurant do not miss out the polenta fries – Completely loved them!. The location is great if you want to spend the rest of your morning shopping as it is located almost in front of Seminyak square and just a couple of blocks away from Kayu Ay Market (Flea market).
Cons: Long waiting list at rush hours.
You’ll spend for a dish and a drink around 17 AUD (13 USD).
Another great spot to eat Balinese Cuisine is this restaurant; they have a great tasting menu that includes a wide range of delicious dishes to try. My friend and I were more that full by the time we got to the dessert. At the beginning you think they serve very small portions per dish, but believe me is more than enough for two. I would highly recommend trying this option it if you visit the restaurant. The staff was friendly and the place is very nice to enjoy a lovely dinner.
Cons: Need to book in advance to get a table.
Dinner for two including drinks was about 120 AUD (100 USD).
If you are looking for a place where you could enjoy a nice quiet dinner and then have a crazy night out without having to move around, then “La Favela” is the perfect place for you. The food is really good here – the baked Brie and bread platter is super good, the bread comes straight out of the oven and the cheese is just perfect. Before 9 the environments is pretty quiet and relaxed, you can have a nice chat and drinks before the craziness starts. Decoration is unique and something you shouldn’t miss.
After 10:00pm this place turns into a wild nightclub with people dancing and drinking to the rhythm of the strangest mixes.
Cons: When is time to change from restaurant to nightclub the staff take this seriously and moves the dinner tables and chairs without even asking. So don’t expect much courtesy from them and be completely prepared. If you are having dinner try to plan your schedule so you don´t get your table taken away while you are eating your dinner –NOT joking, they actually do it.
Also have your wallet ready because the prices of drinks rise to double or triple when it turns into a nightclub.
So if you are travelling to Bali or you are already there and wondering what to eat visit some of these restaurants and Bars, you won’t be disappointed.
Check my future blogs if you want more tips and recommendations for several destinations.
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If you want to experience the rush of standing in the middle of a racing river of scooters, taste the best Thai outside of Thailand, drink Champagne on a roof top terrace, and marvel at grand examples of French Colonial architecture, then Ho Chi Minh City is the place for you.
We started our afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City, still referred to as Saigon by locals, with a late lunch at the Rex Hotel Rooftop Garden.
Although it started its life as a two story car dealership, it is now famed for its style, luxury shopping, and of course its heyday as the bar of choice for journalists and American officers during the Vietnam War.
If you can find a spot on the balcony, you will have an excellent view of the Ho Chi Minh Statue (sadly covered whilst we were there) and beautiful Memorial Gardens.
View from the Rex Hotel.
Embracing the humidity, you can walk a few blocks and find the Saigon Notre Dame, conveniently located across the road from the Saigon Central Post Office. Pop inside the post office to view the ceiling, and sourvenir shops and then wander back past the cathedral to find the gardens that will lead you to the Reunification Palace.
This city is a marvel for wandering (if you can handle the aforementioned humidity). Amidst the movement are tranquil gardens in front of colonial homes, hidden restaurants, and for those inclined – fantastic shopping.
If it’s shopping you are after, you can’t miss Ben Thanh Market. This bustling market place has been serving the locals of Saigon (over a few locations) since the 1800’s. Local cuisine, souvenirs, clothing and accessories are all available – with a little friendly haggling of course!
Ben Thanh Market
If you head back towards Lam Son Square you will be hit with a magnitude of luxury brand boutiques one can expect in a city like Singapore or Sydney, but very unexpected in a main city of Vietnam. And yet, the French Colonial style of buildings, and hotels of Lam Son Square ensure you couldn’t picture the area without them. Lam Son Square is also home to the Caravelle, another famed hotel from the Saigon era. During the 1960’s, it was home to both the Australian and New Zealand embassies and like its rival the Rex Hotel, its rooftop bar, Saigon Saigon Bar, was another meeting place for journalists of the day.
Here, from the comfort of your chair and with a cold drink in hand, you can look out over the city and bask in the extraordinary sunset. Take your time to decide on where you’d like to head for dinner as you gaze over the city you just explored.
Municipal Theatre (Saigon Opera House)
Sun setting over Saigon
For an exceptional Thai meal, I highly recommend Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro. Fresh and full of flavour. So good, some of us went back the second night.
Some of us are not super organised or planned our trips when we decide to pack our bags and head to a new country, but if you are lucky and meet really cool people on the way you could definitely end up doing the trip of your life. I decided to travel for a year around Asia with no agenda or plan except visiting China, Japan and Thailand. After a month in China I decided to head to the next country and made Bangkok my next stop.
I arrived to that huge and hectic place with only my hostel booked and no idea what was I going to encounter in this new city, luckily I ended up in a super cool hostel called “Siamaze” – not located in the heart of the city and is a bit far away from the heart of Bangkok but the services, facilities, staff and owner are superb-.
On my first night I met an Spanish traveller that spent the last 6 years travelling around Asia and knew the area from top to bottom, how lucky was I to meet such a traveller when I had no idea where to go next. He sat down with me for two days and with a map in hand he draw me the best route around South East Asia according to him, so I could visit the best spots and don’t miss out anything.
While I was following his route I decided to write down some tips and recommendations for other travellers around the world, so here is the first part of my trip.
I left Bangkok from Morchit bus station and head to the first place pointed in the map.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai: Some people miss this little town that is around 7 hours and a half away from the capital, but is definitely worth stopping there. A ticket for this journey varies depending on the class and time you choose, but the range is between 13-20 AUD or 250-350 Bahts (local coin). There are 2 Historical Parks to visit in the area:
Sukhothai Historical Park is the closest one from the city and has various Buddhism and Hinduism monuments. You can get there taking a local bus. The admission fee is 100 Baht and you can visit the place by hiring a push-bike for the day or walk around the park. definitely a place to visit if you like ruins and sightseeing. Don’w worry if you forgot to buy some food or water before getting there, if you are hungry or thirsty you can buy what you need with the locals around the area.
Satchnalai Historical Park is a bit far away from the town and you will need to take a bus from the main station (ticket is around 50 Baht), and it takes about an hour and a half to get there. The admission fee to the park is 20 Baht. This park is bigger and would highly recommend hiring a push-bike to move around. You can also find food and drinks in the area if you need. The park is really big, so take a lot of water and some snacks if you can, there is more than enough space to have a small picnic around the area and if you are cycling you could see the rise feels and charm of the country side lifestyle.
You only need two full days to visit this lovely place and then you can head to your next destination.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Chiang Mai: A place well know for its party life, animal shows and temples. The best way to move around the city is with a moped (scooter). Mopeds are a great way to get around no matter what country you’re in, and you could look for a moped insurance quote if you are interested in getting one of your own. The price to rent one does not change too much from one place to the other, the price per day including insurance is between 7-10 AUD (200-250 Baht).
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple (Temple in the Mountain). The admission fee is 30 Baht. This is a really nice temple to visit, there is a lot to see. If you like meditation and looking for a place to do a retreat, this place offers this service to locals and foreigners.
Dinner at Night street markets. Look for the different night markets this city offers, they have food, handcrafts, drinks and much more to offer the visitors. The night markets are huge and you could spent hours shopping or looking around. Don’t leave Chiang Mai without spending a couple of hours enjoying the diversity and charm of the night markets.
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an ethical and ecotourism park where you can spend time with this animals. They offer half day or full day visits to this place, the price for a half day visit is 65 AUD (1700 Baht) or 90 AUD (2400 Baht) for a full-day visit. Here the elephants are free and you have the opportunity to interact, bathe and see this animals in a safe and friendly environment.
Probably spend 3 nights in here to enjoy the nightlife this town offers, there are several bars and nightclubs to visit around the city centre. Great stop after the night markets.
Pai: Another hidden gem, this secluded town in the middle of the forest should definitely be on your list. It is about 3 hours away from Chiang Mai and you can get there by mini-bus (just ask the staff at your hostel for a shuttle service). The road is a bit dodgy in certain parts, so just be patient and enjoy the ride.
Around the area there are several waterfalls to visit and the town offers a very relaxed and chilled vibe. Great place to rest after enjoying the hectic nightlife in Chiang Mai. There are some nice restaurants and bars in the centre, and if you still wanna dance a bit more, don’t worry because Pai has a great nightlife to offer.
Several hostels in the area have a swimming pool in their facilities, so you can spend a couple of days chilling by the pool and meeting other travellers like you.
After 2 or 3 days in there you are more than ready to head to your next stop.
Church, White Temple
Chiang Rai: You need to visit the Wat Rong Khun Temple (White Temple), is definitely a place to ad to your to-do-list. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time there, you can always get a day trip from Chinag Mai and enjoy the beauty of the temple.
One day is more than enough in here and then time to head to LAOS.Ask the staff at your hostel or hotel if you can hire the slow boat service to Laos with them, I heard many dodgy stories about people doing the trip on their own because it is cheaper, but from what most people experienced is really not worth it.
The price of the trip with an agency or hotel is around 65 AUD (both offer almost the same price). They pick you up from your hotel at 6.00am, take you to Chiang Kong by mini-bus (2 hour trip) and then you cross the border to Laos. You have to go through immigration by yourself (visa on-arrival), but once you crossed they take you to Huay Xai by mini-bus and your trip in Laos begins.
See you on my next article with more tips and recommendations for the other countries in South East Asia.
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CHINA, such a mysterious country! Some of us could feel incredibly nervous when traveling to a country with such a big population, different language and culture, but believe me it’s worth it!
If you are a solo traveller like me and want to embark yourself in a journey to that ancient land without speaking a single word of Chinese you are going to need these 5 tips:
I did a 1 month journey through Asia and I wish I had this list before my trip.
Take with you a mobile with access to Wi-Fi. Even though most of the younger generations learn English at school, not all of them are able to communicate with foreigners and sometimes it could take a lot of time and effort to be able to communicate. Once you start traveling away from the main cities, less and less people speak English and there are small towns where finding an English speaking person would be a complete mission. Make sure you have access to translation tools on your phone, or ask any of the foreigners living in the area for the phone number for FREE translation services.
Access to any navigation system. There are many small lanes; tiny alleys and the names of the streets are impossible to read if you don’t know the language. An online map could make a big difference when you are lost at night in a city where you can’t speak or understand the locals to ask for directions.
Be careful with some young locals. Some young Chinese students work together with certain Tea Houses and target mainly solo tourist with the purpose of taking money from them. The students approach the travellers offering assistance or help if they are lost and can’t speak the language and then invite them to join them to a special Tea ceremony, once the ceremony and tasting is over they bring the bill and OMG!! Then you realise you are in trouble. The prices are out of this world for what you just experienced, so if you do go to a Tea ceremony are invited to one always make sure you can see the prices before hand.
Double check when buying a train ticket. Even though in the train stations of the big cities there is a Speaking English window, be careful and confirm more than once that you have the right seat or bunk bed number, date and destination. Almost 90% of the information in the train tickets is in Mandarin so it’s literally impossible to read it if you don’t know the language. Some hostels have a picture of tickets on their noticeboards explaining in detail what to look when buying and make sure you have what you need.
Be careful with taxis. This is generally a recommendation everywhere in the world, but here the ones in in small towns and outside the train station can be a nightmare. Language barrier is already an issue, but it could be worst when your taxi driver is also trying to sell you a tour. They could be really pushy and as a female solo traveller incredibly intimidating. So the moment they mention selling you a tour, leave the taxi straight away.
Locals are incredibly friendly and always willing to help if you are in trouble, so don’t hesitate to ask for help or assistance if you need to. Even when they don’t speak the language they will make a huge effort to try to understand. Just keep trying and don’t be shy.
Now that we have such an amazing App as @travelloapp. You can connect with other locals in the area and ask for their advice and help in case you need it. Download the app before you start any trip and ask other travellers for recommendation and tips.