Guatemala

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Flores – 2 nights

Getting there:

We traveled over from Utilia Bay Island, Honduras via a boat and then a very long bus ride. Flores is a town on Lake Peten Itza. We stayed here so we could visit the mayan ruins in Tikal.

Accommodation:

We stayed at a great hostel called los amigos; see link: http://amigoshostel.com/

Things to do:

– Visit the mayan ruins at sunrise

– Eat tacos along the riverside at the market – super cheap $!

-Walk around the town as it has super cute architecture and is very small

What I wish I knew/did:

The travel day was long coming from Honduras so I highly recommend coming from Belize as it makes sense if your heading south.

Lanquin / Semuc Champey– 3  nights

Getting there:

We took the shuttle bus booked out of our hostel from Flores to Lanquin. It took about 7-8 hours. Prepare yourself for long travel days.

Accommodation:

This is one of my favourite hostels ever! It is situated in the valleys/mountains and has a pool with little wifi. See link: zephyrlodgelanquin.com/

Things to do:

– Do the day tour to semuc champey (be prepared for INTENSE caving, hiking, and waterfalls)

– Party, party lay by the pool

What I wish I knew/did:

Book in advance for this little gem!

Antigua – 3 nights

Getting there:

From Lanquin we took a shuttle bus to Antigua and it also took around 7-8 hours. Antigua is renowned for its Spanish Colonial architecture and it is such a gorgeous city.

Accommodation:

We stayed at Tropicana Hostel which was a great location. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Tropicana-Hostel/Antigua/90258

Things to do:

– See the Santa Catalina Arch and walk around town

 Go to the spa

– Walk around town and go to the Antigua markets

– Go to Cero De La Cruz (Hill of the cross) to see a view of Antigua

– Take in the nightlife

What I wish I knew/did:

Just explore the churches, and walk around the town.

Overall Recommendations:

I wish so badly I could’ve gone and spent some time in Lake Atitlan! Heard it is amazing. I also would’ve loved to take up some Spanish lessons but time did not permit.

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Ecuador

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Quito – 3 nights

Getting there:

We came over on a very long bus ride from Medellin. We stopped over in Cali, Colombia then crossed the border into Quito, Ecuador. It took about a day and a half (with an overnighter) to cross over. The border was really simple, just answered a few questions and obtained the visa upon arrival. Quito is Ecuador’s capital and is situated near the Andean foothills.

Accommodation:

We stayed at BoutiQuito hostel which I highly recommend; see link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/BoutiQuito-Design-Hostel/Quito/83075?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2 I remember the hostel beds having the best duvet covers.

Things to do:

– Visit La Mitad Del Mundo  which stands for middle of the world and straddle the equator (southern and northern hemisphere)

-Visit the historic centre (UNESCO Heritage site)

-Visit the museums and go to the churches

-Take the Teleferico which is a cable car going through the town

-Hike up Guagua Pichincha Volcano

-Do a day trip and visit the Otavalo Markets

What I wish I knew/did:

We travelled by public bus which is incredibly cheap (less than $2). The currency used in Ecuador is also the USD.

Banos – 3  nights

Getting there:

We took the public bus from Quito to Banos (the activity city) and it was about 2.5 hours long.

Accommodation:

We stayed at great backpackers hostel (they serve free dinners Monday – Wednesday!): http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Great-Hostels-Backpackers-Los-Pinos-Banos/Banos/48408?s_kwcid=AL!591!3!98903287220!b!!g!!_cat:ecuador&source=adwordsdynamic&network=g&creative=98903287220&adposition=1t1&uniqueclickID=10799994122217893598&sub_keyword=_cat:ecuador&sub_ad=b&sub_publisher=ADW&ef_id=V2CvhAAABMR8DaMF:20170302010254:s

Things to do:

– Bungee jumping

– Canyoning

– White water rafting

– Rent bicycles and go to La Casa Del Albor (visit the tree house and swing on the infamous swing)

– Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) was one of the largest waterfalls I’ve ever seen

– Go to the outdoor thermal baths in town

What I wish I knew/did:

This city is tons of fun and lots to do. It’s also known for its taffy – try some!

Galapagos Islands – 7 nights

Getting there:

From Banos we took the bus down to Guayaquil (around 8 hours) and flew to Baltra (main airport) of the Galapagos Archipelago and ferried over to Santa Cruz (main island). The flight was around $450 USD. After arriving at the airport, we took a vehicle to drive to the other side of the island.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a private room for $15/ night on Santa Cruz for total of 4 nights, and 3 nights on Island Isabella. The only islands that allow people to stay on them are Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Island Isabella. With accommodation, we walked around to places and checked them out before choosing; unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the place we stayed.

Things to do off Island of Santa Cruz:

– Visit tortugua bay

 Lots of snorkelling at different spots

– Go see the blue footed boobies (rare bird species)

– Diving at Gordon’s Rock (saw hammerhead sharks, turtles, fish, galapagos sharks, black/white tip sharks, manta rays, crabs etc.)

– Visit the tortoise reserve

– Visit Darwin Research Facility

– Just walk along the docks to see the sea lions and iguanas

Things to do off Island of Island Isabella:

– Hike up sierra negro (volcano)

– Snorkel through Los tunnels (lava tunnels)

– Snorkel near the ferry docks where the penguins swim

– Go to the beach (weather was nicer for us on Island Isabella).

What I wish I knew/did:

The other option with doing the Galapagos is to book a boat tour in advance. For us, we based our trip around  seeing all the different animals through snorkelling and diving; so we opted to booking everything upon arrival. It is also cheaper to do it this way then do a live aboard, however we didn’t get to see the other islands of the archipelago.

Overall Recommendations:

Go go go to the Galapagos! It costed us around $1100 all in for 7 nights which is not bad at all! If you do a boat live aboard it is a little bit more expensive but we got to see tons of animals just through diving and snorkelling tours. We also ate amazing lobster dinner for $15. I wish we had time to stop in Montanita (small coastal surf town in southern Ecuador) but chose to spend more time in Mancorra (Peru).

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Colombia

img_7363_2Cartagena – 5 nights

Getting there:

We arrived in Colombia via sailing the San Blas islands (5-day sailing trip from Panama city). The sailing trip was amazing and our boat was the “Nacar Cat” booked through bluesailinginfo@gmail.com. See link for more details: www.bluesailing.net

Accommodation:

Mamallena Hostel; See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-Mamallena/Cartagena/63978?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

This hostel was located on the main street of party hostels.

Things to do:

-walk the old colonial town

-shopping was great here

-nightlife was happenin’

-stay over night in playa blanca (1 night); eat cerviche & fruit bowls and go snorkelling

Things I wish I knew/did:

– It is very humid and hot in Cartagena.

– If you are out late, be careful as the cops can be corrupt in Cartagena (they walk around the streets).

– Take a visit to the near by islands Isla Rosario is one that I missed and would’ve liked to visit.

Taganga – 5 nights

Getting there: 

From Cartagena, you can take a shuttle bus to Taganga which takes around 5 hours. There are multiple times available at which you can travel.

Accommodation:

We stayed at hostel Casa Felipe (great hammocks). See link: www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostal-La-Casa-de-Felipe/Taganga/66895 

Things to do:

– Eat at Balaganoush rooftop restaurant

– Diving

– Visit the beaches

– Hike through Tayrona National Park for the day (book the trip through the hostel); I hiked into Copan

Things I wish I knew/did: 

You can leave your bag here to stay overnight to go to Tayrona National Park, which in hindsight I wish I did. You can stay overnight and camp in a rented tent or netted hammock. The national park was absolutely stunning and wish I could’ve spent more time there.

Medellin – 2 nights

Getting there:

Flying within Colombia is very cheap using: www.vivacolombia.co/en-co; I flew from Cartagena to Medellin for under $100 which saved tons of travel time (I believe the bus is around 12 hours overnight for similar pricing).

Accommodation:

We stayed at Casa Kiwi Hostel in the El Plobado area. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Casa-Kiwi-Hostel-Medellin/Medellin/12231?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

– Free walking tour is a must-do; the history is incredible

-Can also do the Pablo Escobar tour which is fascinating

-Do the cable car to get incredible views of the city

-Shopping

-Nightlife is so much fun here

Things I wish I knew/did: 

I wish we had time to do the day trip out to Guatape as well as just explore more of the city of Medellin.

 

Overall recommendations:

Colombia is one of few countries I’d go back too (just because I love exploring new places) because it was absolutely INCREDIBLE. The list goes on for all the cities/places/beaches I wish I got to see (Bogata, Cali, spent more time in Medellin, Santa Marta, Palomino).

If you go to Santa Marta, Minca, stay at Casa Elemento; its famous for one of the largest hammocks in the world with a sweet view. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Casa-Elemento/Minca/84071?dateFrom=2017-08-29&dateTo=2017-09-01&number_of_guests=2

It is likely you’ll need a visa. For us, the visa was sorted easily upon arrival but that’s because the Blue Sailing company arranged it.

It was very safe and I had no issues throughout my travels.

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Cambodia

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This post is going to be a bit unique because it is a combined post written by myself and my perfect housemate, Josefin. I only got the chance to visit Siem Reap for a few nights and therefore cannot provide a lot of intel; however Josefine just got home from a lovely trip and spent 14 days in Cambodia.

Siem Reap – 3 nights

Getting there:

I came from Bangkok over the Thailand/Cambodian border by Tuk Tuk and it took around 6 hours (not including the border crossing). PS I remember this border crossing being a bit confusing as we had to also purchase visas upon entrance.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a Angkor Wat guesthouse II but per my experience at Mad Monkey in Boracay and Josefin’s recent visit, I highly recommend staying at this hostel in Siem Reap. Note accommodation with a pool here is crucial as Siem Reap was so hot. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Mad-Monkey-Siem-Reap/Siem-Reap/60254?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

–See Angkor Wat Temples at Sunrise and hire a Tuk Tuk driver to take you

-Party on pub street

-Get a Cambodian massage (I should mention get a massage everywhere in SE Asia)

-Rent bikes and go around Siem Reap

What I wish I knew/did:

There is a floating village that could’ve been checked out but happy with our time spent in Siem Reap. Unfortunately I didn’t get to visit anywhere other than Siem Reap so here on out is all of Josefin’s recos.

Phnom Penh – 2 nights

Getting there:

Josefin travelled via mini bus booked out of Mad Monkey from Siem Reap and it took approximately 5-6 hours. Another bus that is more luxurious and has air condition can be booked through Ibis. See link www.giantibis.com

Accommodation:

She recommends staying at Happy House Zone Hostel which was a bit quieter and great location. See link: www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/The-Happy-House-Zone/Phnom-Penh/102404

Things to do:

– Visit the killing fields & the museums

What I wish I knew/did:

The killing fields were very sad (I can’t imagine) but still worth visiting.

Sihanoukville   – 3 nights

Getting there:

From Phnom Penh, travelled for approximately 4 hours via mini bus.

Accommodation:

If you want to party and stay at the biggest party hostel stay at The Big Easy on Serendipity Beach. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/The-Big-Easy/Sihanoukville/266814 

If you want to stay at a quieter hostel and a nicer beach stay on Ostres beach.

Things to do:

-Do the pub crawl

-Visit the different beaches (Serendipity & Otres)

What I wish I knew/did:

The locals along the beach try to thread your hair on Serendipity Beach haha. They also have the best pickup/selling lines to get you to buy their bracelets. Beach and relax is what Sihanoukville is all about.

Koh Rong – 4 nights

Getting there:

Catch the fast ferry for 30 minutes to Koh Rong Island for $12 return.

Accommodation:

The hostels aren’t pretty here. It is recommended to and walk around to the guest houses as its the same price for a private room as the hostels.

Things to do:

-Scuba dive and snorkel

-Swim with the plankton at night

-Do a boat trip visiting the surrounding islands. Activities include: fishing, BBQ, snorkelling, watch the sunset, and swimming with the plankton

-Jungle trek to Long Beach and watch the sunset then take a boat back

-Walk to 4K beach (beach is 4k long)

-Go paddle boarding / rent kayaks

What I wish I knew/did:

Do not eat meat and do not drink water – everyone gets sick here. It is hard to avoid so be prepared.

Kampot – 2 nights

Getting there:

Mini bus from Sihanoukville to Kampot (2.5 hours) – this was the worse bus ride of the trip as it was really hot without air conditioning and crammed seating.

Accommodation:

Stay at Arcadia backpackers. See link: http://arcadiabackpackers.com/ . The hostel has a waterpark along the river attached to the hostel. Or staying at mad monkey is always a solid party option. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Mad-Monkey-Kampot/Kampot/85707?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do: 

-Rent scooters and go up Bokor Mountain

-Play at the water park

-Go rockclimbing

-Go hiking to the waterfalls

-Day trip to Kep and visit a pepper farm (which sells the best pepper in the world)

What I wish I knew/did:

Josefin  wishes she had more time in Kampot (isn’t that always the case). There were tons of the activities she missed. She recommends also staying one night in the city of Kampot as Arcadia backpackers is situated on the river which is 6-7KM away from the city.

Overall Recommendations:

-Visa is completed upon arrival.

-Cambodia also takes USD.

-Be careful on Koh Rong Island as it is known for people to get ill.

-Photos by @nilsonjosefin

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Laos

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Luang Prabang – 3 nights

Getting there:

Coming over from Northern Thailand there are a couple options of which you can take to get to Luang Prabang.

  1. Fast boat – heard mixed reviews about safety
  2. Slow boat – sleep over night at the halfway point
  3. Fly from Chiang Mai (CMX) to Luang Prabang (LPQ)

As we were a little bit crunched for time, we opted to fly for $100 and took a taxi into the town.

Accommodation:

We stayed in a guesthouse here – as there were 4 of us, we had a private room. I had quick lookover reviews and would recommend staying here: http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/laos/luang-prabang/119199/

When in doubt where to stay – we walked into a few places (usually hostels are in one main area) and had a wander in to check it out.

Things to do:

– Go to the bowling alley at night – this is where all the tourists venture to at night as this part of Laos is very quiet which was refreshing

-The markets here were great for food and local goods

-Hired a tuk tuk for the day to the Kuang Si Waterfalls – this cannot be missed!

-Feed the monks at 5 AM

What I wish I knew/did:

There are a few caves and temples here that could’ve been checked out.

Vang Vieng – 4 nights

Getting there:

The bus to Vang Vieng was very windy and took around a few hours.

Accommodation:

We also stayed in a guesthouse here in a private room as well. I can recommend Real Backpackers Hostel Vang Vieng 2. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Real-Backpackers-Hostel-Vang-Vieng-2/Vang-Vieng/272523 as its very central.

Things to do:

– Party, party, party is what is going on in this town. Party at the bars at the top of the river and tube down.

-Tuk tuk to the Tham Phu Kam caves and blue lagoon

-Every restaurant in Vang Vieng plays Friends on their TVs

What I wish I knew/did:

Not the most scenic place but was such a fun place to be.

Vientiane  – stop over

Getting there:

We took another bus to Vientiane which is the city we flew out of to get to Vietnam (just over 3 hours).

Accommodation:

N/A

Things to do:

N/A

What I wish I knew/did:

N/A

Overall Recommendations:

My favourite day in Laos was spent at the Kuang Si Waterfalls. They are absolutely gorgeous and we spent the entire day there. Would’ve loved to have time for the four thousand islands (Si Phan Don) in Southern Laos. As a Canadian, we paid for our Laos visa upon entrance into the country (at the airport).

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Peru

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Mancora – 3 nights

Getting there:

Peru was the last country we were backpacking through during our Central and South America trip in 2014 and there were definitely some long travel days. We came over the Ecuador/Peru border from Guayaquil airport via a bus to Mancora (5 hours).

Accommodation:

We stayed in Loki hostel which is a chain of hostels throughout Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/loki-del-Mar/Mancora/31246?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2. It has a great pool and Lokis are known for its party atmospheres.

Things to do:

– Learn to kite surf

-Visit the beach

-Lay by the pool

-Nightlife is bustling here

What I wish I knew/did:

Mancora was a good stop-over for us from Ecuador as we were in for some long travel days.

Huacachina – 1 nights

Getting there:

The trek over to Huacachina took close to 26 hours. We used the company Cruz del sur: http://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe for our travels throughout Peru as they were safe and had T.V.’s, sleeper seats, and serve meals.

Accommodation:

We stayed at a cute hostel with a pool called Banana’s Adventures: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Banana-s-Adventure/Huacachina/55615?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

– dune bugging throughout the sand dunes is the main tourist activity here

-Huacachina is the only desert oasis in Peru, which is cool to see

-the town is very small and can be explored within a day

What I wish I knew/did:

Amount of time was perfect and was a great stop-over.

Cusco – 3 nights

Getting there:

We took the Cruz del sur bus from Huacachina to Cusco which took about 25 hours. I recommend looking into flights as they are around $100 and usually take about an hour.

Accommodation:

Instead of the Loki hostel in Cusco, we stayed at Wild Rover. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Wild-Rover-Backpackers-Hostel/Cusco/47380?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2; we stayed at the Wild Rover instead because it was more central to town. Loki Hostel was walking distance but had to walk up several stairs to get there.

Things to do:

do the free walking tour of Cusco

-it is important to stay here for a few nights to acclimitize before heading off to hike Machu Picchu

-visit the vegan Green Point restaurant: its $12 for salad, entree, dessert, and a juice for the best vegan food ever (I’m not even a vegan)!

-Night life is so much fun here; tons of salsa and reggae music

-see the Alpacas

-shopping was great here

What I wish I knew/did:

Cusco is a bit colder in the evenings due to the elevation. Bring altitude sickness pills as it is likely your body will need to adjust and it is not uncommon for you to get sick.

Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu – 3 nights

Getting there:

Aguas Calientes is the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu.

Out of Cusco at the Loki hostel we booked a common tour called the Jungle trek. The Jungle trek consist of a 4 day, 3 night tour. This tour starts in Cusco, consists of mountain biking, trekking, sleeping in the jungle, zip lining, sitting in hot springs, and climbing Machu Picchu. See link for details: http://lokihostel.com/en/travel/tour/inka-jungle-trek-machu-picchu

Accommodation: 

See tour details via the link above. It is all organized via the tour.

Things to do:

Mountain biking

-River rafting is an option

-Trekking

-Hot springs

-Zip lining

What I wish I knew/did:

We booked in advance the Inca Jungle Trek. Similar to the Inca Trail (5 day trek to Machu Picchu) it does get booked up, therefore I recommend booking the tour if you are sure of dates you want to do it. When you are at the bottom of Machu Picchu, know that there are two peaks: Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Both peaks give the same view and Huayna Picchu is the easier option of the two. It gets booked out really quickly so I recommend looking into this in advance as well! There are other x # of day tours that all end up at Machu Picchu, we chose the Jungle trek and it gave the most variety of activities on the tour. Being that Peru was our last country over 3 months, we didn’t want to do heavy hiking.

Cusco – 1 night

After Machu Picchu, the tour takes you back in the evening via train to Cusco. We stayed here for one more night before our flight out to Lima.

Paracas – 3 nights

Getting there:

From Cusco, we flew into Lima and took the bus to Paracas (4 hours). Paracas is a little beach town on the coast of Peru. We wanted to spend our last few nights relaxing on the beach.

Accommodation:

The hostel we stayed at was on the beach front, had hammocks (check!), and a pool. See link: http://www.hostelkokopelli.com

Things to do:

-stand-up paddle board

-kite surf

-rented bikes through Paracas Natural Reserve and visited beaches

-visit Islas Ballestas (we didn’t do this tour as we visited Galapagos in Ecuador but heard you can see Blue Footed Boobies here as well)

What I wish I knew/did:

This was the perfect last few days before we flew home – tan, sun and relaxation!

Lima – 1 night

Getting there:

Took the Cruz del sur bus for 4 hours up to Lima.

Accommodation:

We stayed at the Loki Hostel in Lima.

Things to do:

walked all around the city (we were lucky here as we met a friend in Colombia who lived in Lima, so he toured us around the city)

-ate true peruvian food

-went shopping in the markets

What I wish I knew/did:

If you ever come here – I’ll set you up with my friend Victor who I’m sure would love to show you around (sorry Victor for volunteering you!)

Overall Recommendations:

Be prepared for long travel days! There are also some other good spots to check out that I never went too along the cruz del sur bus line such as Colca Canyon. The amazon is also another place I would’ve loved to check out!

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Thailand

img_9516Thailand was my first “true third-world” backpacker type of destination. And it was really some of the best weeks of my life.

Southern Islands

Koh Phi Phi – 2 nights

Getting there:

We flew in via China Airlines into Phuket from Vancouver as Thailand was our first stop. From Phuket, we took a taxi to the ferry port (1 hour) then ferried to Koh Phi Phi (2 hours).

Accommodation:

I wouldn’t recommend where we stayed here as we slept under mosquito nets in tiny little bungalows for $8/night. Instead I recommend: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Phi-Phi-Arboreal-Resort/Koh-Phi-Phi/40834

Things to do:

-do a snorkel trip that includes Maya Bay and Viking cave

-watch the fire shows and go dancing on the beach

-trek Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint

-visit Monkey Beach – be aware of the monkeys here they are wild!

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-drink fruit shakes and eat Thai pancakes

What I wish I knew/did:

I wish we had more time here as there are tons of good diving/snorkel spots here. The island is really cute to just go walk around and explore.

Koh Phangan – 5 nights

Getting there:

Combined bus/ferry. We ferried to the port then took a shuttle to Surat Thani port and then ferried again to Koh Phangan. In my opinion the best & easiest way to travel from place to place, is to go to any hostel and get them to book it for you.

Accommodation:

Coral Bungalows – best hostel! Walking distance to full moon party beach and also located far enough away to get a good nights sleep! Also known for its pool parties. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Coral-Bungalows/Koh-Phangan/274923?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

-it is usually minimum 5 night stay for most hostels on Koh Phangan so we timed it so we got to stay the 4 nights leading up to the full moon party

-rent motor bikes and go around the island

-jungle party

-day trip to Koh Samui, which is another island (here we visited the Big Buddha, beached, and walked around the town)

What I wish I knew/did:

This island is strictly for partying, so ramp up! The nights leading up to full moon were great and as soon as the full moon party happens, majority of backpackers leave.

Koh Tao – 2 nights

Getting there:

Tuk tuk to the port and ferry from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao (few hours)

Accommodation:

We stayed at Ban’s diving resort – and if you decide to get Padi certified – your accommodation is free. See link: http://www.bansdivingresort.com/

Things to do:

-restaurants are all along the beachfront where you should have dinner and sundowners

-chill on Sairee Beach

-snorkel trip to Koh Nang Yuan

-scuba dive

-rent a motorbike and go around the island

What I wish I knew/did:

Koh Tao was my favourite island and I could’ve stayed here for weeks! I wish we had time to scuba dive and complete our certification but due to time constraint this wasn’t possible. It personally made me decide to set a goal for the next trip.

Bangkok – 3 nights

Getting there:

After ferrying from Koh Tao back to mainland, we took an overnight sleeper bus to the Bangkok (Ferry & Bus: approx. 16 hours).

Accommodation:

We stayed at NapPark Hostel on Khao San Road. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/NapPark-Hostel-at-Khao-San/Bangkok/41153?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

-walk up and down infamous Khao Sans Road

-eat street and market food

-visit the temples and Grand Palace

-go to the ping pong show

-see a movie – first class service

-go to the Sky bar for a cocktail where the Hangover was filmed

What I wish I knew/did:

Bangkok was a transfer point for us to also go to Cambodia. I prefer to travel in small beach towns (but live city life), so it was a good location to switch it up.

Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai – 5 nights

Getting there:

We took an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok (approximately 15 hours)

Accommodation:

I can’t actually remember where I stayed here, but after looking at some of the reviews on hostel world, I would recommend Plearn Hostel. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Plearn-Hostel/Chiang-Mai/264934

Things to do:

-2 day, 1 night trek into the valleys where we rode elephants, stayed in huts, had a campfire and trekked to a waterfall

-visited the temples

-did a Thai cooking class

-get a bamboo tattoo

What I wish I knew/did:

We missed going to Pai and from what I hear through the grape vine this is a must-do!

Overall recommendations:

Thailand was amazing, and there are so many spots I didn’t see like Krabi, Pai, Koh Lanta, and the National park.

I do recommend doing research before riding the elephants and seeing them at a place where they are cared for.

My favourite days really consisted of getting fruit shakes, walking through the markets, and being in the water.

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Vietnam

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So I backpacked SE Asia for 43 nights with one of my best friends Ann, (she’ll come up a TON in the posts to come <3) along with two other girlfriends Britt & Megs! Vietnam was 1 of 4 countries visited.

Hanoi – 4 nights

Getting there:

Vietnam was our last stop out of 4 countries and we flew into Hanoi from Vientiane, Laos for $120. Our plan for Vietnam was to go to a few of the different cities along the coast and we travelled from Northern Vietnam, Hanoi to Southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City via a hop-on, hop-off bus.

Accommodation:

We stayed at Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (party hostel); See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Vietnam-Backpacker-Hostels-Original/Hanoi/10991?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

-Halong Bay – 2 night, 3 day boat tour through Halong Bay (1 night sleeping on the boat, 1 night sleeping on a private island); tour consists of kayaking, drinks, tubing, beaching, swimming, and the most magical views

-visit the war museums

-visit the markets

What I wish I knew/did:

-do the Sapa trek in the valleys (3 day tour)

Hoi Ann – 4 nights

Getting there:

We took the hop-on-hop-off bus overnight and the ride is about 14 hours

Accommodation:

We walked up to a hostel instead of pre-booking but I recommend tropical garden homestay. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Tropical-Garden-Homestay-Villa/Hoi-An/93242

Things to do:

-This was my favourite town in Vietnam; it is so quaint and beautiful but still lively. It is known for its tailor making as every shop on the street offers this service. Ann and I bought an extra bag here and stocked up on suits, jackets, sandals + more!

-eat at Cafe 43 – we ate here like 3x a day and try everything – best eats in all of Vietnam

-rented bikes and cycled around old town and near the river

-rented scooters and visited the beaches

What I wish I knew/did:

-we skipped Hue to come to Hoi Ann to spend more time and it was the best decision! Britt and Megs did stop in Hue and said that it’s also a pretty city with a gorgeous cathedral to visit

Nha Trang – 3 nights

Getting there:

Took the hop-on-hop-off bus overnight and the ride is about 10 hours

Accommodation:

We stayed at Nha trang backpackers house which is about 5-10 minute walk from the beach. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Vietnam-Backpacker-Hostels-Ninhvana/Nha-Trang/276731?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2

Things to do:

-beach

-visit the mud baths

-Vinpearl amusement park

-great nightlife here

What I wish I knew/did:

-3 nights was perfect for what we did here

Mue Nie – 3 nights

Getting there:

Took the hop-on-hop-off bus and the ride is about 4 hours

Accommodation:

I can’t remember where we stayed here but when in doubt, use hostel world: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Mui-Ne-Hills-Budget-Hotel/Mui-Ne/97695

Things to do:

-beach

-learn to kite surf

-visit the sand dunes and go sand boarding

What I wish I knew/did:

-Mue Nie was a very quiet and relaxing stop for us. If you are under a time-constraint, you could give this place a miss.

Ho Chi Minh City – 2 nights

Getting there:

Took the hop-on-hop-off bus and the ride is about 4.5 hours

Accommodation:

We were flying out of Ho Chi Minh City as it was our last stop before home. I recommend staying in the city and this hostel looks great. See link:http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Sigoong-Hostel/Ho-Chi-Minh/270321

Things to do:

-tour the Cu Chi Tunnels

-visit the War Remnants Museum

-buy souvenirs at the shopping markets

-eat at the food markets; we met up with one of the Britt’s family friends here so we ended up eating a true local Vietnamese meal for dinner

What I wish I knew/did:

Happy with what we accomplished in this city

Overall recommendations:

In my opinion, I would’ve spent more time in the North (Hanoi – Sapa & Halong Bay) and Hoi Ann if you’re pressured for time. Da Nang is another great city I would’ve liked to check out, as it is known for its extreme activities. Renting scooters and travelling down the coast of Vietnam is also a popular thing to do!

PS – Vietnam requires a visa PRIOR to arrival (we signed up for this in Thailand so we would have it on arrival). Here is a link to apply online: https://vietnamvisa.org/?bingads=wo_u-8Cquc4CFUssvQod82UAQw

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Kauai

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Getting there:

I went on this trip also with Brayden ! We flew into Lihue airport and at the airport we rented a jeep wrangler (red – named her Ruby) from Alamo right outside the airport. It costed us around $50 USD/ day. Ruby was our baby during this trip and we wouldn’t have survived without her!

Accommodation:

We camped at a few different spots at which you can get permits for via the website: http://www.kauai.gov/Camping

To camp at the infamous Kalalau beach (can only be reached by hiking or boat) along the Napoli Coast, permits can be obtained from this website: https://camping.ehawaii.gov/camping/welcome.html

-Kauai beach house hostel for our first night, which was alright but I almost preferred camping on the beach for $3/night. See link: http://www.kauaibeachhouse.net

Things to do:

-Waimea Canyon Lookout – tons of day hikes or overnight hikes you can do around here

-Polihale state park – camp on this beach and have drinks with a fire – there was no one on it and that’s what made it so amazing

-Visit Hanapepe beach / Poipu Beach

-We drove the whole island (you can do this in a few hours) and beach hopped

-Camp at Anahola, Polihale (need permit from the government link), Hanalei Bay, and have fires/drinks/bbq every night

-Go swimming in the Queen’s bath (about a ten minute walk into this trail)

-Go snorkelling at Tunnels Beach (I kid you not, I have never swam with so many turtles at once! There were like 30 just along the beach front and it was such an incredible day)

-Hike the Kalalau Trail (we did this over 3 days, 2 days hiking (Day 1: hike all the way in + detour to waterfalls, Day 2: lay on the beach for one whole day and explore, then Day 3: hike all the way out). An alternative option is to camp about half-way in approximately 6 miles and then hike the other half during the morning of your second day, however we wanted to maximize our time on the beach and did it within one day). The first day in took us about 7 am to 630 pm with barely any breaks + 4 mile detour to check the waterfalls. It was a big day but so worth it! Please let me know if you have any other questions about this trail!

What I wish I knew/did:

Make sure you plan in advance your camping permits if you want to do the Kalalau hike – this books out so far in advance! There are only 3 ways to see the Napoli coast as you cannot drive it (helicopter, hike, or kayak/boat). I also wish we had some time to do some surfing but we really wanted to just relax after doing the hike!

Also note: credit Brayden for setting up the tent/getting us hot water to cook our dinners/ and making sure I never quit!

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Philippines

img_0150Welcome to my first blog post finally! This post is going to be about my most recent trip to the Philippines! I’m going to keep my posts pretty simple and make it about all the things I did/where I stayed/what I recommend so please take and leave what you want from it! Also note, I am a budget traveller/backpacker so I stay at the cheaper places but don’t opt out of doing the things I love.

During this holiday I had two weeks in the Philippines and I couldn’t have had a better trip. I met my friend Brayden from home in Canada and we get on so well; I know this because we had conquered a 26 mile hike together in Kauai and roughed it by camping every night/showering at parks on our first trip together… but thats for another post :).

Boracay island – 4 nights:

Getting there:

We flew into Caticlan then you can walk to the port (8 minute walk) and take the boat over to Boracay island – there is a terminal fee of 100 pesos and the boat should only cost 75 pesos; once you get to the other side hire a trike to get to your accommodation.

Another option is flying into Kalibo airport and then getting a shuttle to the port to ferry over. Flights tend to be cheaper from Kalibo but it is about an hour to an hour and a half to get from there to the port.

Accommodation:

Mad Monkey Hostel (party hostel FYI); See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Mad-Monkey-Boracay/Boracay-Island/267888?dateFrom=2017-08-19&dateTo=2017-08-22&number_of_guests=2&sc_pos=1

If you’re looking for a more chill hostel, stay at “Chill Hostel”; no pun intended.

Things to do:

-hire a trike and visit Whites Beach, Puka Beach, Ila Ila Beach (no one was here)

-have sundowners at Spider House Resort Bar

-walk from Whites Beach to Diniwad Beach.

-There are a lot of water activities such as hiring a boat, island hopping (we were saving this for Palawan), helmet diving (which we did), diving etc.

Things I wish I knew/did:

I don’t actually have any as I was really happy with how we spent our days/time on Boracay Island.

Oslob, Cebu – 1 night

Getting there: 

From Cebu city you can take a bus from south terminal and its around 5-6 hours down to Oslob

Accommodation:

We stayed at Sharkey Hostel – I do not recommend this hostel but it was perfect for what we were going to do in Oslob as it was situated a minute walk to where we wanted to swim with the Whale sharks. See link: www.hostelworld.com/Hostels/Cebu

Things to do:

swim with the whale sharks

Things I wish I knew/did: 

There are tons of other places I would’ve loved to check out on Cebu but didn’t have time for. This includes: moalboal, kasawan falls, bantanyan island, malascupo island

Bohol Island – 2 nights

Getting there:

Boated from Oslob Cebu which was organized through our hostel – 2 hours

Accommodation:

We stayed at Moon Fools Hostel along the Panglao island/ Alona beach area. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Moon-Fools-Hostel/Panglao-Island/101735?gclid=CNuFy6zdutQCFW4B0wodE68I4w&s_kwcid=AL!591!3!184554167915!b!!g!!&source=adwordsdynamic&network=g&creative=184554167915&adposition=1t2&uniqueclickID=12081814902634039964&sub_keyword=&sub_ad=b&sub_publisher=ADW&ef_id=WTkI6QAAAWZfHlQm:20170613113536:s

Things to do:

– rent a motor bike and go to the chocolate hills/ tarsier sanctuary

-diving at Balicascag island was incredible – divers heaven site has so many turtles and the reef is unreal

-walk around Alona beach and visit the shisha bar

Things I wish I knew/did: 

I wish we got to go to the Ingkumhan falls on Bohol and visit the natural pools.

Cebu City – 1 night

Accommodation: 

Stayed at the Stopover hostel which was less than 10 minutes from the Mactan Cebu airport (stopped over for one night to catch our flight in the AM).

El Nido, Palwan – 4 nights

Getting there:

We flew into Puerto Princessa (can also fly into El Nido but was more expensive), and took a shuttle organized through Cebu Pacific for 5/6 hours to El Nido

Accommodation:

We stayed at “At the Moment Hostel” – which was low budget 350 pesos a night but was far from luxurious. You can also stay at Spin Hostel – which was an amazing resort-like hostel for 1000 pesos a night. See link: www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/At-The-Moment-Hostel/El-Nido/269931

Things to do:

– island hopping! Tour A/C. I HIGHLY recommend hiring a private boat and doing the tours to go either earlier or later so you can see the beautiful beaches/lagoons without the crowds of tourists. It is a difference of $3 and makes the tour completely worth it.

-rent kayaks and kayak to beaches

-go to Los Cabanos beach by trike for sundowners

-rented motorbikes to go to Napcan Beach

-watch the sunset at Republica bar

-visit Art cafe

Things I wish I knew/did:  

Tarrow cliff trekking – unfortunately it rained and you cannot do the tour without a guide so we missed out on this hike! Overall though I’m completely satisfied with what we did in El Nido.

Puerto Princessa – 1 night

Accommodation: 

Stayed at Dallas Hostel for one night to catch the flight back to Manila and home! I don’t recommend this hostel instead refer to Hostelworld. See link: http://www.hostelworld.com/search?search_keywords=Puerto+Princesa+City%2C+Philippines&country=Philippines&city=Puerto-Princesa-City&date_from=2017-06-14&date_to=2017-06-17&number_of_guests=2

Overall recommendations:

If I had more time (isn’t that always the case) I would’ve boated to Coron and did more island hopping and would’ve flew to the island Siargao. Siargao is a little surfers paradise/town, which is so up my alley!

Fly with Cebu Pacific and their app. is very easy to use and find flights.

Also note you can probably tell from my first blog post – I don’t really chat about places to eat; don’t get me wrong I LOVE food however I’m also a simple eater so I will eat pretty much anything and will be happy :). I’m sorry to all you foodies out there that want the downlow on restaurants.

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