Top 10 Bucket List Countries

We all have those countries that we dream longingly about and desire to travel to someday.
For me, it is a personal challenge to get to each and every one on my Bucket List.
I lust over these countries nonstop, so much so, that I just had to write them down and put them in order!

Here are the top ten countries I wish to travel to next, with a little bit of where and why:

1. United States

It may seem strange to some that the United States is at the top of my list. But being from the opposite side of the world from a very small country and growing up watching American movies and television shows, I have lusted over certain places since I was small.
For example, I have wished to travel to New York for the longest time. Ever since watching Home Alone, Friends and Gossip Girl, I am in awe of this city and I think it will blow my mind seeing it in real life!

Other places high on my list to visit include Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, San Fransisco and Chicago.

2. Canada

Of course, Canada is also very high on my list. It's a country I've heard so much about and I have met so many wonderful Canadians over the years and I can't wait to see their homeland. It's also the land of moose, beavers and maple syrup so what's not to love?

Cities I'd love to visit include Quebec, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and anywhere good for skiing!

3. Antarctica

Visiting Antarctica would truly be a trip of a lifetime. You would not only be ticking off a country but an entire continent. I would love to do a month-long trip (hopefully soon) and I may or may not have already researched the exact one I would love to do from Argentina...

4. Maldives

The Maldives to me is the ultimate depiction of paradise. With the water crystal clear aqua-blue and the sand whitest of whites, it is a dream holiday destination for many. One day!

5. Morocco

Morocco is one of those alluring countries, brimming with diversity, culture and history, incredible architecture and designs, marketplaces and the Sahara.
Marrakesh, Casablanca and Fes are just some of the many places I would love to visit there.

6. Iceland

I know a few people that have been to Iceland and they just loved it! The dramatic landscapes are very attractive to me, a country full of volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, natural hot springs and lava fields. Not to mention the Viking history.
Seeing the Northern Lights there would be a huuuge bucket list tick.

7. Philippines

The Philippines is another destination that would be a treat for the eyes. The stunning water, limestone formations and postcard-perfect beaches look incredible!
I've heard the people are some of the friendliest out there as well.
In particular, I would love to visit Boracay and Palawan.

8. Japan

I have been wanting to visit Japan for the longest time! To experience the beautiful Japanese culture, the weird and wonderful, Robot shows, cute things galore and especially the food.
Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Mount Fuji and Hiroshima are places I would love to explore.

9. Croatia

Croatia is a fascinating country, with medieval history and ancient walled towns.
With a long sapphire coastline, it also has one thousand islands!
Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split and of course the Game of Thrones filming locations are some of the many places I'd love to visit.

10. Peru

Peru and in particular, seeing the Incan citadel Macchu Picchu in real life is a big bucket list item for me. I would also love to learn about this South American country, visit Lima and Cusco, and of course the amazing Rainbow Mountain.

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Those are the very top ten on my list but of course, I couldn't just stop there!
For those interested in my top twenty, I've listed the rest below:

11. South Africa
12. Portugal
13. Belgium
14. Russia
15. Bolivia
16. Netherlands
17. Sri Lanka
18. Nepal
19. Egypt
20. Mexico

Which countries are high on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to read them!

Happy Travels,

This post contains images that are not my own.

Incredible Canberra Winery Tour with Vines & Wines

Being based in Canberra - the capital of Australia this year, one of the things I was most excited to do in the area was indulge in the surrounding award-winning wineries.
The Canberra District Wine Region is home to 140 vineyards and over 30 cellar doors, creating distinct top quality Australian wines.

My husband and I wanted to jump on board a proper wine tour, one where we can learn all about and be expertly shown around some of the very best wineries Canberra has to offer, with transportation and a nice lunch included.

Vines & Wines is a leading Canberra Wine Tour group that was exactly what we were looking for in a perfect day out of wine-tasting.
They handpick their favourite wineries in the region to visit, all of which showcase fabulous wine and warm Australian hospitality.

Here is what we got up to on their Lake George Uncorked Tour:

Winery #1: Mount Majura Vineyard

We were warmly greeted on Saturday morning and picked up directly from our house at 9:45 am by Elouise, the lovely owner and our guide for the day.

There were three other local girls on the tour so it was a nice and small cosy group.
In the van, we were handed the day's itinerary with our schedule and information about each winery we were going to.

Elouise gave us an overview of the Canberra wine region as we drove to our first stop, which was less than ten minutes from where I lived.

Mount Majura Vineyard was one I had been meaning to visit all year! The outdoor area at the foot of the vineyard was beautiful, filled with seating that would be perfect for wine tasting on a warm day and enjoying one of their delicious cheese and regional tasting plates on offer.

We headed inside to the tasting room where there was a table already set up for us.
They have an impressive range to try, from sparkling wine and dry whites to reds and dessert wines. There was a sheet provided with tasting notes and we learned a lot about the differences between each kind.

We tried a total of 13 different wines! They particularly specialise in Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo. There was not a single wine I didn't like and my husband and I happily walked away with a couple of bottles to take home. I know we will certainly be back for more and to try their platters next time!

Winery #2: Contentious Character

Our next stop was about a twenty-minute drive away, out further in the countryside.
Elouise taught us a bit more about the region on the way, and how Canberra has a perfect cool climate for wine-making. This is because they have a much longer season (about six weeks) than other regions, due to having warm days but cooler nights, which leads to more developed flavours.

We arrived at Contentious Character Vineyard, which is set in the hills with a spectacular view. The stunning scenery can even be enjoyed from inside the large and open tasting room and restaurant.

Our group stood at the counter to sample 13 more delicious wines, from whites and rosé to reds. They were very different from the last vineyard; each winery has their own distinct characters and skills, along with different elemental properties and terroirs.

It was now lunch time which we were all very excited about. We got to pick our favourite wine we tasted to have a glass with our two-course lunch.
The main course was a selection of shared plates, which each and every one of was divine.
The artisanal bread, in particular, was seriously the best bread I have had in the southern hemisphere.

We also enjoyed fresh lamb ragu pasta, a smoked ham hock salad, a beetroot, feta and walnut risotto (incredible!) and a chicken and roasted vegetable dish. 
All incorporated gentle notes of their own wines which complimented and brought out the flavours.
I chose the 2015 Pinot Gris to go with my lunch and it was a stand-out meal for me during my time here in Australia. I was extremely impressed by the freshness, quality and flavours of every dish and I am already planning my next visit back!

To cap it all off we had a choice of two desserts and everyone in the group chose the brown sugar blondie with salted caramel ice cream. It was very sweet and decadent!

Contentious Character was probably my favourite vineyard of the day, the surroundings were gorgeous, the food and wine were fabulous and it had a great atmosphere, full of people enjoying a fun Saturday outing.

Winery #3: Summerhill Road Vineyard

We slipped into a bit of a food coma on the way to our next stop, Summerhill Road Vineyard. Owned by a couple following their dreams of buying a vineyard, we were lucky enough to be able to sample their wines outside amongst the vines which was a really cool experience.

I loved their story of the past owners giving them their tractor and dog to seal the deal, which is now a part of their label. The vineyard produces Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir which are all handpicked. My husband and I especially loved their 2017 Riesling.

Winery #4: Gundog Estate

Last but not least, Gundog Estate Cork Street Cellar was our final stop of the day in the small quaint town of Gundaroo. We sat on stools around the tasting station in the historic stables, turned boutique winery.

The girls indulged in a shared locally sourced cheese platter which looked amazing.
If I wasn't still so full from lunch I would have loved to try some too. Gundog Estate produces a large range of wines from Semillon, Riesling and Rosé to Shiraz.

I particularly loved their dessert wine NV Muscat which tasted like Christmas in a bottle!
As well as wine tastings and platters, they have a gourmet pantry selling local products that are perfect accompaniments for their wine.

Sadly, our tour had come to an end, and we were dropped off at home at around 4:30 pm after an excellent day out, our arms hugging a box of delicious local mementoes to fill our now, not so empty wine rack.

The Details

Tour: Vines & Wines Lake George Uncorked Tour (they also run a second tour called Murrembateman Uncorked).

Times: Pick up time can be between 8:30 - 10 am depending on where you live and drop off is between 4 - 5:30 pm.

Dates: Tours run every second Saturday or more, depending on demand.

Reviews: 5/5 stars on Trip Advisor.

Price: $165 per person, which includes all tastings, transportation, two-course lunch with a glass of wine and a friendly expert guide.

Final Thoughts

My husband and I both had a fantastic time on our tour and it was my favourite day I've had in Canberra this year. Elouise was the perfect host and guide, she was always happy to have a chat, answer any questions and share her knowledge.
She and her husband have been running Vines & Wines for three years and the passion for what they do really shone through.

The whole day was extremely well organised and each stop was highly enjoyable.
I loved how different all four wineries were from each other and they offered a good variety of tastings. As well as having a guaranteed good time it is also a great educational experience (if you want it to be!).

Vines & Wines Winery Tours are perfect for everyone from the wine novice to the serious connoisseur. It is ideal for all occasions from a couple new to the area wanting to explore the beautiful Canberra winery region (like us), to a fun outing with friends, be it a birthday or hen's party, or simply an enjoyable Saturday out, filled with top quality wines and a delectable lunch.

I couldn't recommend this tour more if you are passing by the capital of Australia, it's one not to be missed!

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Happy Travels,

One Year Blogiversary Giveaway!

As of last month, this travel blog officially turned one year old! Woohoo! 🎈🎉

If you didn't know, I started in early 2016 as a lifestyle blog, but it wasn't until September that I decided to focus on travel (my true love) and relaunched it solely as a travel blog.

I have absolutely loved this past year, working hard towards building my dream career.
I was planning on doing this giveaway in September, but as I had only just returned home from travelling Southeast Asia for four months, I needed to sort my life out a bit first.

This is a just a small thank you to my readers who are a big part of this blog. Whether you read my posts or follow along on my journey via social media, I appreciate your support so very much.

 G I V E A W A Y 

This giveaway is open to anyone and everyone worldwide. The prize includes:

- Official Scratch Map Deluxe Edition (large)

Carry-On Travel Goodies:
- Outband blue travel pouch
- Garnier SkinActive Hydrabomb face mask
- Vaseline travel sized hand cream
- Palmers Cocoa Butter Chapstick
- Dettol hand sanitizer
- St. Ives travel sized facewash

Fun extras:
- World map notebook
- Pack of two rose gold pens
- New Zealand Kiwi Luggage tag
- Whittakers Peanut Slab
- Australian mini boomerang
- Dairy Milk Caramel Koala

There are three easy steps to enter:

1) Follow me on social media:

Like my FACEBOOK page: @krystijaimsblog
Follow on INSTAGRAM: @krystijaims

If you are already following me then great! Just show me some extra love (liking or commenting on posts etc.).

2) Go to my Facebook post link HERE, like it and answer this question in the comments:

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now,
where would you go to?

3) Share this post on any platform using my share bars (Tweet, Stumble, Pin, G+ etc.)

That's it! This competition will finish at the end of next week, on Friday 27th October.
It will be drawn at 5 PM, Sydney - AEST local time (7 AM GMT).
One entry per person.

The winner will be randomly selected and notified on my Facebook page where I will private message to get the address.

Good luck to everyone that enters!

To cap off, here are some fun stats about my blog over the past year since September 1st:

Total number of posts written: 76
Travel Guides written: 8
Travel tips posts: 11
Food-related posts: 9
Brands worked with: 21
Hotel Reviews: 10
Favourite post: 20 Must-Do's in New Zealand!
Blog views in one year: 191,000
Top 3 traffic sources: Facebook, StumbleUpon, Pinterest
Most popular post: Best Places to eat in Muri, Rarotonga
Top 5 audience by country: United States, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom

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I can't wait to see what's install for year two - bring it on! Thank you all again and best wishes!

Happy Travels,

Disclaimer: All items are purchased with my own money and not sponsored in any way.

Top 10 Things to do in Bangkok

Bangkok is a city that awakens the senses. It is vibrant, colourful, noisy, bustling, hectic, hot, young and old, rich and poor; an array of interesting sights and smells.

Bankok has topped the 2017 list in the world's most popular tourist destinations, and that's because of all the incredible things the city has to offer. Amazing culture and temples, friendly people, the best street food, world-class shopping and sky bars.

There are so many things to do in Bangkok you couldn't possibly ever get bored. Here is my top selection of the very best:

1. Marvel at the Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is the number one must-do in Bangkok. It has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and is a complex of beautiful buildings and temples, including the famous Emerald Buddha.

The Grand Palace hosts some of the most sacred places of Thailand and is considered to be the heart of Bangkok.

2. Admire Wat Pho & Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho is my favourite place in Bangkok. Founded in the 16th Century, it is the capital city's largest and oldest temple. It was the first open university of Thailand, where courses in traditional medicine and the first school of massage were born.

It is best known for the golden Statue of the Reclining Buddha, the largest in Thailand at 46 metres long and 15 metres high.

3. Sip on a fancy cocktail from a Sky Bar

Bangkok is famous for its incredible skyline and rooftop bars, and there is no shortage of ones to choose from. Sky Bar is one of the most popular thanks to the movie The Hangover. Other great ones to choose include: Above Eleven Bar, Octave, Vertigo Bar, Attitude and Red Sky Bar.

Beware the prices are quite steep (standard western prices) but you are paying for the incredible view and the service is top quality.
As a tip, most sky bars have a dress code and head there just before sunset to watch the city lights come to life.

4. Indulge in the Street Food scene

Bangkok is known to have some of the very best and cheapest street food in the world.
The majority of locals don't cook at home, they eat street food and either take away or sit down to eat at little popup tables and chairs.

At night especially the streets come to life with food carts of various delectable Thai cuisines, from Pad Thai to fried rice, curries, grilled meats and soups.
Get a dose of the local culture by joining in. As a tip, go to carts that have a lot of people hanging around. Higher turnover means fresher food and will most definitely be delicious. If you're still worried about eating meat - go vegetarian. I quite often opted for vegetarian Pad Thais and curries, they are still just as good.

5. Shop 'til you drop in the malls

Here's a fun fact - the number one pastime of the locals of Bangkok is: shopping! The malls in Bangkok are among the world's best, they carry all the major brand names and have an endless variety of shops to suit all budgets. They also have local food courts and being air-conditioned, it is a great way to get relief from the outside heat.

There's the MBK Center, Siam Center, CentralWorld, Siam Discovery, Platinum Fashion Mall and Siam Paragon just to name a few.

6. Experience the weird and wonderful

Being a rather large capital city in Southeast Asia, it should come as no surprise that Bangkok is brimming with the unexpected.

From a Unicorn Cafe and Little Zoo Cafe (with real exotic animals) to a condom-themed restaurant to Ladyboy shows, there is something fun for everyone, you don't have to look hard to find it.

7. Get a Thai massage

While you're in Bangkok don't miss getting a traditional Thai massage. You'll be able to find one as easily as a 7-Eleven and they will usually cost no more than 250 Baht ($7.50 US) for one hour.

Thai massage is an ancient healing system combining acupressure and stretching techniques. It's not for the faint-hearted (it can feel like you have volunteered to be tortured at times) but you feel energised and like a brand new person afterwards. You can always ask the masseuse prior to go easy on you!

8. Barter at the biggest weekend market

The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in Asia and you could easily spend an entire day getting lost amongst the 8000 stalls.

Open every Saturday and Sunday, try your hand at bartering for everything from clothing, souvenirs and jewellery to homeware and furniture. There are plenty of food and drink options to keep you fuelled while you shop.

9. Visit the beautiful Wat Arun

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is another spectacular temple highly worth visiting. Located riverside, almost directly opposite Wat Pho, the colourfully decorated spires stands majestically over the water.

It is a landmark known from many postcards and is particularly iconic to photograph during a sunrise or sunset.

10. Sightsee by boat

Bangkok’s canals have a rich history and are often referred to as the main artery of the nation. The scenic Chao Phraya River flows through the centre of Bangkok and hopping on one of the many river boats or ferries is a fantastic way to see the nearby famous and historical attractions.

It is a convenient transportation system to reach Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace in hop on, hop off style and there are plenty of longer sightseeing cruises on offer in traditional boats for both day and night.

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There is of course so much more to Bangkok with countless amazing attractions and things to do. These ten are my top recommendations I would suggest to a friend visiting for their very first time.
I hope if you're going there yourself you have some ideas and inspiration for what to do.

Embrace the city in all it's craziness and have an amazing time!

Happy Travels,

Five Places to Eat in Siem Reap

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambodia for the first time recently, beginning with a fantastic week in Siem Reap. Being a huge foodie, I was so excited to try local Khmer dishes and eat my way around a city known for amazing food.

As much as I love trying as many eateries as I can in a new place, I ended up loving five in particular that I regularly frequented over the course of seven days.

Being 10 weeks into my Southeast Asian trip at that time, in Siem Reap I started craving really fresh and healthy wholesome food. I was temporarily chockablock full of rice, curries and noodle dishes.

Enter visiting my first ever vegan cafe.

Vibe Cafe

I first heard of Vibe Cafe through travel bloggers Aggie Lal and Lisa Homsy (who happened to be in Siem Reap just before me).

Their dishes they were showing off on their Instagram stories were exactly what I felt like, so off I went to Vibe on my first day for lunch, in search of some nourishing soul food.

The cafe was modern, spotless and beautifully decorated, with two levels to choose from.
The menu had so many delicious plant-based options, all nutritious, fresh and well balanced.

I ordered my first ever acai bowl with a fresh coconut and a side of sweet potato fries.

Together, this was one of my favourite meals of all time! All of this came to only $10 US, which is a stunning price for such good food.

I loved their message of 'Good Vibes All Day Every Day' and they donate 10% of their profits to the Good Vibe Foundation which supports the local community.

On my second visit a few days later, I ordered the Raw Zucchini Pasta which was so nutritious and an explosion of flavour.

I was incredibly full afterwards and basically super impressed with vegan food, I know I'm going to have it a lot more often now.

Khmer Kitchen

My dinners, however, were reserved for trying local food only! Khmer Kitchen is on a pedestrian alley that runs parallel to Pub Street. The tables spilled out onto the sidewalk and it was the full restaurant that drew me in.

I ordered Fish Amok, a popular Khmer dish that I was very keen to try and it did not disappoint. The fish was fresh and the flavours were delicious.

Despite being so busy, the service was very fast and friendly. Together with rice and a draught Tiger beer, it came to $6.50 US.

On my second visit, I ordered the Khmer Curry, which was equally as good and very tasty.

Sister Srey 

Sister Srey is another excellent and popular cafe I visited for lunches. They were also recommended by word of mouth and have a fantastic menu full of healthy and nutritious options.

It was so hard for me to choose from all of the amazing choices (oh, how I missed avocado!) but I was very happy with what I had in the end.

I ordered a fresh mango and pineapple ice blend juice and a Bodia Bowl.

It was absolute perfection in a bowl and I felt so good for the rest of the day after eating such a healthy meal. Both came to only $9 US.

The cafe was a great place to hang out and chill, it was bright and cosy, well-decorated and had a great atmosphere.

The second time I ordered the same juice as it was so delish, and I had the stacked corn fritters with a poached egg which was a-maz-ing.

Sister Srey helps and supports Khmer students and to make a sustainable impact on the community. They also boast the best coffee in town and have freshly baked goods (which I had to restrain from!).

Khmer Family Restaurant

Located directly on Pub Street, I browsed around a few menus in the area first before deciding on Khmer Family Restaurant. Their prices were a lot more reasonable and it was a very large place and full of people.

It was artfully decorated, with unique lanterns and bicycles hanging against the brick walls.

My Angkor Wat tour guide that day had told me to try one of their traditional mixed spicy sour soups, so I ordered the Somloo Mjour Kreung.

It was such an interesting mixture of flavours that truly tantilised the tastebuds. Together with steamed jasmine rice and an Angkor draft beer, it came to $5.75 US.

They offer both traditional Khmer food as well as Western options and have daily drink specials including draft beer for only 50 cents.

La Boulangerie Cafe

Walking around one day, I stumbled across this little gem, La Boulangerie, a French cafe. They serve French, European and local dishes.

On my first visit, I was wanting to try another Khmer speciality - Beef Lolak and was glad to see it on their menu. It amusingly came out with french fries (not exactly traditional), but I wasn't really complaining!

The complete dish was absolutely delicious, the tomato-rich beef was so tender and all together it tasted like I was eating a hamburger! That with a drink came to $5 US.

On my second visit, I couldn't resist stopping by to pick up a fresh croissant I had spied in their cabinets the time before. There was no chance of me taking a photo, as down the pie-hole it went as soon as I left the shop.

If I can add in a sneaky sixth suggestion, that would be to try the banana and chocolate pancakes from street food carts down Pub Street (at night only).

They are made fresh, right in front of you and are the most delicious and indulgent dessert you can get for only $1 US.

Continuing on with one final suggestion is a particular place that was great for a drink.
The Sun was a perfect spot in the middle of Pub Street to people-watch and sip on one of their $1.50 US daily cocktail specials.

I hope you enjoyed my suggestions for great places to eat in Siem Reap and got some inspiration if you are heading there yourself! If you have any of your own to add, please comment below, I'd love to read them.

As a side note, I always do food research online and browse through the best-recommended restaurants on Trip Advisor, and most of them in Siem Reap tended to be in the Old Market area and on the outskirts of the city centre.
In this instance, I preferred to find places that were within walking distance to where I was staying, which happened to be close to Pub Street. The majority of places I walked into were chosen by their appeal at the time, by their menu, look and feel.

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Happy Travels,

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