My travel adventure around Southeast Asia kicked off to a great start with my first night spent at the wonderful Akmani Legian in Bali, Indonesia.
Centrally located in downtown Legian, a lively upbeat area, walking into The Akmani Legian was a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy street. I was warmly greeted at the reception by the friendly staff and offered a welcome drink and refreshing towel. The reception area is elegantly decorated with Balinese artwork and cultural decor. I had my bags taken for me and was shown to my room, whilst taking in the beautiful tropical setting. The large downstairs pool is a grand feature with lush greenery surrounding it (see header image!).
Next to the reception desk in the lobby
My deluxe pool access room was located on the ground floor and it was everything I had imagined. Through the door was the enormous Super King bed (which was very comfortable) opposite a desk, seat and TV set on the wall.
The room was fitted with air conditioning, good wifi, a fridge, tea and coffee, mineral water and a wardrobe with a safe, robes and slippers. To the left was a spacious wooden style bathroom with every toiletry you could possibly wish for.
My favourite feature of the room was the sliding door which leads straight to the pool, it's something I have never had the pleasure of experiencing before and I was very impressed! Your own little balcony comes with a big comfortable lounge seat.
In the morning
Beyond the Room
The hotel offers a wide range of facilities including the large swimming pool with a side children's pool and plenty of umbrellas and loungers to relax on. There is a convenient spa, a gym and a rooftop pool bar which has drink specials, a large area with loungers and sofas, lively music and great sunset views.
Rooftop pool bar area
All lit up at night
There is also 24-hour reception and room service, tour desk information, airport transfers, meeting rooms, wedding packages as well as a popular roadside restaurant at the base of the hotel which I enjoyed dining at. A large daily buffet breakfast is also included in the room. There is a good choice for breakfast, with hot cooked food options, an egg making station, cereals, fresh fruit, pastries, juice, tea and coffee. Set upstairs and outside, it's a very pleasant setting with peaceful music and it's an excellent way to start the day.
Reviews: Certificate of Excellence and 4/5 stars from 876 reviews on Trip Advisor.
Price: Starts from $50 AUD a night for a Classic Room.
My time here was superb. It has everything I would want in a hotel for an enjoyable stay. The staff are fantastic and very helpful. All around the hotel you are warmly greeted with big smiles and a friendly hello. The location is only a five-minute walk to Legian beach or to Ground Zero and the Sky Garden in Kuta if you like to party. There are plenty of convenience stores, shops and good restaurants nearby. It's a very lively area so it really is an oasis amongst its surroundings. With the comfortable rooms, services and tranquil pool all for a very decent price, The Akmani Legian is an excellent choice for couples, families and groups. I would highly recommend this hotel and can't wait to stay again.
If you would like to see a bit more I include a room tour and show around the hotel in a Bali travel vlog for Youtube:
Disclaimer: My stay was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are as always my own.
It's now officially less than 24 hours until I am off on my two-month overseas adventure in Southeast Asia. This time I'm going with a different perspective as to how I possibly would as a regular holiday-maker.
As a budding travel blogger and writer, I want to explore, write and really uncover places.
I have done months of research and been told so many things from different sources about each place I have chosen to go to. While I always appreciate other people's advice, knowledge and opinions, some places that I have been told to skip, I'm still going to go to. I wish to make my own opinions. Why shouldn't I go somewhere just because they didn't enjoy their experience?
I wish to see the places I've chosen for specific reasons, and I'm diving in head first.
As I am travelling solo for most of this trip and organised everything myself, it's easy to second-guess myself and wonder if I'm making a big mistake somewhere along the way.
But even if I have, as always, mistakes are valuable lessons to be learned, and perhaps others can learn from them as well.
Here are some questions that have been running through my head that I wanted to write down. I'll come back and answer each of these at the conclusion of my trip:
1. Is Bali just as magical to visit the third time as it is the first? 2. Will I be treated any differently as a travel blogger compared to when I was a regular guest? 3. Should I have skipped Jakarta like everyone told me to? Or is it worth visiting? 4. Has Bangkok changed since I was last there 4 years ago? 5. Was Krabi a good idea to visit during the Monsoon season? 6. Should I have missed Phuket and gone somewhere less touristy? 7. Do I still love Thailand just as much as from my first visit? Or was I wearing rose-tinted glasses back then? 8. After exploring more of Thailand, what is my new favourite place? Koh Lanta? Chiang Rai? 9. Is Siem Reap really the awful place I hear about? Is it really only worth going to just for Angkor Wat? 10. Is it safe to travel Southeast Asia alone as a female? 11. Is it difficult crossing borders by land to Myanmar and Laos? 12. Is Hoi An going to become the new Bali? 13. Do I regret going to any of the places I went to? 14. What was my best experience? 15. What was my worst? 16. What's something I wish I had brought with me? 17. What's something I didn't? 18. What was my favourite day? 19. What would I do differently next time? 20. What have I gained from my two months of travelling?
I thought twenty questions was a good round number. So there we go! I look forward to answering them in a couple of months time.
My next posts will be coming to you live from my first stop, Bali! I hope you follow along with my adventures, here I'll be writing weekly travel diary type updates as well as my regular destination guides and tips from each place, reviews, food posts - all sorts! I'll also be posting vlogs and travel videos on my YouTube channel, as well as plenty of pictures on Instagram. Right, I best be off to finish packing!
Oh, how I miss delightfully fresh and flavoursome Vietnamese cuisine from its homeland. I don't have to wait too long to have it again, as I have recently booked returning in July at the end of my Southeast Asian adventure. This time, I will have the pleasure of visiting Danang and Hoi An - I can't wait!
This is my second Vietnamese food post, with my first one focusing on Ho Chi Minh City. It was about time to write up my favourite particular cuisines and where to get them from the capital city, Hanoi. Here are my top recommendations that I thoroughly enjoyed if you're heading there yourself:
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Hanoi Street Food Tour
Again I will begin with an excellent street food tour, which was, as usual, one of the highlights of our time there. Being total foodies my husband and I love nothing more than being introduced to the best local cuisines, so on our first night we booked the highly rated Hanoi Street Food Tour. It is currently the number one tour in Hanoi on Trip Advisor.
We booked the walking tour which was only $20 USD each, an amazing price for what we got. In a small group, we were taken by our friendly and knowledgeable guide through the old quarter, bustling markets and hidden alleyways and tried a huge variety of top-notch Hanoi specialities.
We tried Bun Cha (grilled pork and noodles), Nom Bo (dried beef salad), Banh Cuon (rice-paper filled 'pancakes') which we got to each have a go at trying to flip as they were being made, Banh Tieu (fried savoury doughnuts), Kem Xoi - my favourite! (sticky rice ice cream), Banh Mi (Baguette), Ca Phe Trung (egg coffee) and to cap it all off we finished with some Vietnamese rice wine.
In true local Hanoi-style, we sat at tiny tables and chairs on the street, at the backs of cafes or up flights and flights of stairs at family restaurants. We were so very full and satisfied afterwards! I highly recommended this tour, even if you're only in town for a short time. As well as the food, it's a great way to be introduced to the city and the guides are more than happy to answer any questions or recommend places.
The best Banh Mi
This famous Vietnamese baguette sandwich is packed with a choice of fillings including a selection of meats, paté and greens. The perfect Banh Mi should have slightly warmed and crunchy bread and fresh and flavourful fillings. Recommended by several sources (including our food tour guide), was Banh Mi 25.
As you can see in the above photo, you can get a delicious Pate Banh Mi for only 15,000 VND, (.80 cents AUD!) it's unbelievable. There was a long line when we arrived but it moved quickly. Next to the ordering booth which is outside on the street, they have a full cafe area where you can sit to eat. It was a very tasty and filling lunch, which we washed down with a Hanoi beer.
The best Bun Cha
A Hanoi speciality, you can find Bun Cha at food stalls and street kitchens across the city. We tried Ban Cha several times as it's such an amazing feast and a budget one at around 60K VND each ($3.50 AUD). You are served a selection of several dishes, including charcoal barbequed meat patties, crispy spring rolls, noodle broth, assorted foliage, dipping sauce and fresh chilis. Although it is typically good everywhere you find it (much like Pho), our favourite place had to be Bun Cha Huong Lien, and that may or may not have been because even the former President Barack Obama had been there!
The best Pho
Okay, I don't actually have a best place to eat Pho in Hanoi. As mentioned in my Ho Chi Minh City post, I ate Pho literally every morning (as it is commonly served for breakfast) at the hotels in which we were staying in. But I couldn't have a Vietnamese food post and not mention Pho! It's Vietnam's national dish, consisting of a light chicken or beef broth flavoured with ginger and coriander, with flat rice noodles, spring onions and slices of beef, pork or chicken. Every bowl of Pho was delicious and full of flavour, no matter where it was from - so I don't think you'll go wrong wherever you get it from.
The best place for dinner
Our favourite place we went to for dinner in Hanoi was an absolute gem that we would have gladly gone back to again and again. Countrysidewas recommended to us by the lovely staff at our hotel. We later saw (as they should) that they have excellent Trip Advisor reviews. The food, service and prices all made for a delightful dining experience. They also offer cooking classes which I wish I had of had the time for! My husband and I ordered a few dishes to share including fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese savoury pancakes and a pork meatball vermicelli soup. Everything was perfection and we ate to our heart's content.
We even ordered a rare dessert even though we were full - the mango crepes and all of this including four beers cost a total sum of 360K VND ($20 AUD). They got a very good tip from us!
The best Cu Lao
In Vietnam, a hot pot is called Lau or Cu Lao. A hot pot is common throughout East Asia, which is a simmering metal pot of stock at the centre of the table. While the hot pot is simmering, you add the ingredients and it is cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes can include thinly sliced meat, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu and seafood and it is very warming and delicious.
We had a delightful Cu Lao at Little Hanoi which is in the Bia Hoi Corner. You can sit on the street at tiny tables with the locals and enjoy the busy and bustling atmosphere of bars and people walking by. We ordered a beef and chicken hot pot which cost 200K VND ($11 AUD) and it was so good but so much food we couldn't eat it all!
The best lunch/snack
One of our favourite places we frequented almost daily was the French bakery Anh Hoa. The French Influence is still strong in Vietnam today after a century of past French rule.
At Anh Hoa, they barely spoke a word of English but the bakery goods, including fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, filled sandwiches, cakes and coffee were all divine. Just point and pay and you're all good to go!
I saved my favourite for last - Egg Coffee, or Ca Phe Trung, originating in Hanoi is a delicious Vietnamese drink traditionally prepared with egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee. There is an interesting history of how this seemingly odd coffee drink was created. Due to there being a shortage of fresh milk in Vietnam during the French War, most Vietnamese would line the bottom of the cup with condensed milk and pour the coffee on top, and that's exactly how Vietnamese coffee is served today. But lacking milk, Nguyen Giang whisked in an egg as a substitute.
He founded Café Giang and that is where you can find the best Ca Phe Trung in Hanoi, where it originated from. It is so unbelievably delicious, like a liquid tiramisu. I loved having it as either a late-afternoon pick-me-up or as a dessert. I must say though, I had egg coffee at a variety of places, and although Cafe Giang was the very best - they were all delicious!
There we have my top recommended places to eat and foods to try in Hanoi. I can't wait to write my next Vietnamese post on Hoi An, coming in July! Do you have any other places to add to this list or recommendations for me in Hoi An? I'd love to read them!
I also made a short video of the highlights of Hanoi from my time there if you're interested - it unsurprisingly showcases a lot of the food!
Southeast Asia is one of the most popular regions in the world for travelling; being so diverse in cultures, history, having amazing cuisines and a delightfully warm climate. Best of all, it is pretty easy to travel around at a low-cost, making it accessible for all types of budgets.
I've had a continuing love affair ever since my first visit four years ago, and I've been lucky enough to visit four times so far, travelling to Thailand, Indonesia twice and to Vietnam.
In two weeks I'll be off on my next adventure to Southeast Asia where I'll be travelling to six different countries (the majority of it solo) over two months. Naturally, packing has been on my mind and I think for my fifth time there I've finally got it down pat!
I'm one of the few people that actually loves packing - it gets me extra pumped for my upcoming trip. Whether you are travelling with a suitcase or a backpack, the same list generally applies and either way it is always best to travel as light as you can with only the things you will need and actually use. I've had to train myself not to bring too many clothes (guilty habit) and over the years I have learned what I can easily pick up along the way.
Here is my Ultimate Packing List, with everything I should need for eight weeks away:
4 T-shirts – Three casual and one for sleeping in. I usually buy T-shirts at each new place I go to so I don't like to bring too many with me.
1 nicer top – For going out to the very occasional nice restaurant for dinner where t-shirts and singlets aren't quite acceptable. 4 singlets – Perfect for hot days around the likes of Bali, Bangkok and beach areas.
2 dresses – Same as above (beachy dresses). Also can be used for evenings with a light cardy.
4 pairs of shorts – My favourite pair of jean shorts, one pair of board shorts for the beach, gym shorts and one for sleeping in.
1 pair of jeans – Not so much for hotter areas but I will be wearing them there and back on the plane as I'm always really cold and for possible cooler evenings in the north. 1 sweatshirt – For the same reasons as above. 2 light cardigans – One casual black cardy that goes with everything and one nicer one for evenings out.
3 bikinis – I'm going to be spending a fair bit of time at the beach and I'm mostly staying somewhere with a pool, so I think three is necessary.
3 bras – Two normal and one sports bra. 8 pairs of underwear 4 pairs of socks
1 sarong – Useful for the beach/pool and covering up at temples.
Shoes 1 pair of jandals 1 pair of sandals 1 pair of running shoes 1 pair of converse
Toiletries and Medical Items
You can pick things up that you need such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste and almost anything else in Southeast Asia very cheaply, so I always pack travel-sized toiletries when I can.
Mini shampoo and conditioner
Mini facewash Deodorant Toothbrush, small toothpaste, floss Mini soap/shower gel Hand sanitizer – An essential always in my day bag. Moisturiser – I go for one with a high SPF. Sunblock– A small bottle, again high in SPF.
Small night cream Chapstick Makeup – Just the bare minimum as it's really hot and humid in most parts of Southeast Asia and you’re likely to sweat it off!
Face wipes – Super refreshing if needed and to help remove any makeup. Feminine products
Small comb and hair ties
Prescription medications – Including antibiotics. Shaver Basic first aid items – Plasters, panadol, antiseptic cream, safety pins, small scissors, Immodium, cold medicine.
Tissues– Many public bathrooms don't provide toilet paper so always carry a pack with you!
Antimalarial medicine – Talk to your doctor ahead of time if you might need it, as well as any vaccines.
As a travel blogger and vlogger that will be working from there, I have a few essential electronics to bring with me. If you are just visiting for a holiday these are totally optional. You may just want to bring your phone, a small camera and maybe an IPad/tablet.
Cellphone Laptop Hard drive Headphones Camera GoPro Memory cards and extra batteries Portable phone charger Mini tripod USB stick Any required cables/chargers (You can find what particular camera gear and electronics I use in my Shop section).
Passport – Make sure it’s valid for at least 6 months past the end of your trip.
Money – It's always handy to have some local currency upon arrival but you could always get this at the airport. It's a good idea to travel with a backup ATM and credit card, kept separately from your main wallet.
Travel insurance – Essential! I use the 1Cover comprehensive plan.
Passport-sized photos – For any required visas.
Copies of travel documents: Booking confirmations (some have a tendency to get 'lost'), travel insurance, passport, visas.
Plug adapters – if you don't already have one you can pick one up there.
Basic jewellery – Just a few pieces that I wouldn't care if they were lost. It's usually just one pair of earrings, one necklace and some bracelets to layer.
A light scarf – I like to have this for the plane and it can also dress up an outfit for a night out.
Backpack and day bag – My backpack is my carry on bag which will have my laptop in it. I can also use this for longer day trips. My everyday bag is a smaller satchel type purse that can cross over my body and fit everything I need in. Hat – It's so easy to burn when you're out in the sun all day!
Earplugs and eye mask – I'm a very light sleeper so these are essential for me.
Book – One of my favourite things to do is to read a book by the pool or beach. Refillable drink bottle Small umbrella – Handy to have if there's a random downpour. Washing powder – For washing clothes in the sink as needed.
Lock or two – Useful to lock your valuables when out and about for the day.
Notebook and pens – I love to journal my days and jot down thoughts and plans.
Canvas bag – Great as a pool/beach bag or to take out when shopping.
Note - I am mostly staying at Airbnbs and hotels, but if you are going backpacking and staying in hostels/guesthouses then I'd suggest also packing a sleeping bag liner and a pillowcase.
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That's everything in my Ultimate Packing List for Southeast Asia! Do you have anything else you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to read them.
If you would like to check out some of my favourite travel gear, essentials and wanderlust inspiration items, check out my shop section!
I also recently filmed a chatty video for YouTube of everything I'm packing for this trip. Feel free to give it a watch if interested.