A Blissful Escape at Goya Boutique Resort, Ubud

On my latest trip to Bali, I spent two incredible nights at Goya Boutique Resort, nestled in the heart of Ubud. They are a luxurious tropical hideaway, offering modern private villas set in a lush and tranquil environment.

I had such a blissful and relaxing time, I only wish I had stayed for longer!

First Impressions

Goya Boutique Resort is in a good location (not far from the Monkey Forest) and easy to find. I was warmly welcomed and had my luggage taken for me as I walked up the steps into the large and modernly designed reception area.

The check-in process was seamless and I was informed of all of the onsite facilities and daily activities. Because I had arrived slightly early I was taken to Senja Bar, a gorgeous area in front of the infinity pool to wait for my room to be ready.

I was extremely impressed by the eloquent surroundings, and the pool overlooking the rainforest was mesmerising! I couldn't wait to join the other guests lounging around and enjoying the warm sunshine.

I was presented with a refreshing drink and a lovely fruit platter while I waited.
Included was also a welcome 10-minute foot or shoulder massage and I opted for the latter which was most relaxing.

Not long after, my room was ready and I was shown to my incredible Private Pool Villa.

The Room

It was my first time having my very own private pool and it blew my mind! As I was shown around the features of the room I couldn't stop saying, "Oh my God" and "Wow!"

Through the door was a beautiful outdoor area surrounded by lush greenery. The pool was most inviting with its own comfortable double lounger set in front of it.

The outdoor entrance was modernly furnished with a large sofa, table and chairs, to fully maximise the experience of being outside, which I loved.

Through the front door, the large four-poster bed was an impressive central feature.
The entire room was tastefully decorated with wooden furniture and decorative art.

On the bed was the loveliest welcome with hand-written leaf notes, beautifully displayed flower petals and towel art.

The room was well-equipped with everything you could want for including a flat-screen TV with cable channels, and underneath, a refrigerator and minibar with a kettle, and tea and coffee making facilities.

In a corner sat a wooden desk and chair with complimentary mineral water and a jar of cookies.

Through the sliding doors was a stylishly decorated bathroom with a double vanity.
A double wardrobe was located at one end with a safety deposit box, robes, slippers and a pool bag to use.

I loved the round mirrors above the sinks and the luxurious Bvlgari toiletries provided, all of the highest quality.

To the right was another lovely surprise, a beautiful white ceramic bath filled with fresh petals - I couldn't wait to have my first flower bath! It was set with a view of the pool if you chose to have the blinds up, to make it an ultimate relaxing experience.

The large rain shower at the end was also a delight to use. Other features of the room included excellent Wifi and air conditioning, room service, daily housekeeping, laundry service available, unlimited free bottled water and a nightly turndown service.

I especially loved how secluded and private the villa felt, and how spacious, artfully decorated and cosy the room was. The bed was extremely comfortable and the sleep quality was excellent.

Other types of rooms available include two-bedroom private pool villas and deluxe suites with balcony and views overlooking the rainforest.

Beyond the Room

Goya is a resort that has it all; so you don't ever have to leave if you don't want to.
There is an incredible infinity pool overlooking the lush rainforest below, surrounded by plenty of loungers to relax on.

At each ends of the pool are luxurious cabanas with a table and comfortable seating to enjoy the surrounding tranquil views.

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Onsite, Goya Spa offers a sanctuary of solitude and an enriching spa experience.
From a traditional Balinese massage to hot stone, aromatherapy and acupressure, there is something to suit everyone's needs and wants. There are a range of luxurious spa packages to indulge in.

There are also complimentary wellness activities including Yoga available at certain times.

The 24-hour front desk can assist with vehicle rentals and airport or hotel transfers.
Free bicycles are also available onsite to use.
You can also book through them a Balinese Cooking Class and a local Ubud ricefield experience. They are happy to help arrange any other tour you might like to do.

Furthermore, there is the lovely onsite Senja Bar & Resto where you can enjoy lunch, dinner and a cocktail, beer or wine in an elegant setting. This is also where breakfast is served each day.

The Food

A daily à la carte breakfast is included in the room and offers an impressive selection on the menu. You can choose anything you like including made-to-order barista coffee, teas, juices, and a range of hot and cold breakfast options.

Savoury waffles, tasty omelettes, fresh fruit, fluffy pancakes and acai bowls; breakfast every day at Goya was absolute #goals.

The lunch and dinner menu offered a good mixture of European and local specialities.
I highly enjoy eating Indonesian food and I particularly loved their Beef Rendang.

There is a daily complimentary afternoon tea at Senja Bar from 3-5 PM, which is a thoughtful touch. Each day they have a range of delicious Balinese cakes and treats to enjoy, as well as hot, fresh coffee.

My stay at Goya was absolute perfection and I cannot wait for the day when I return again.

The Details

Resort: Goya Boutique Resort

Location: Jl. Bisma, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali

Reviews: 5/5 stars on Trip Advisor from 488 reviews

Price: Starts at $200 USD for a Deluxe Double Room with balcony, depending on the season

Final Thoughts

I absolutely loved my stay at Goya Boutique Resort and wished I didn't ever have to leave!
It was such a memorable experience staying in a private pool villa and enjoying the delightful facilities of the resort.

The staff are all incredibly warm, generous and friendly. Any minor request was taken care of straight away; the service was impeccable.

As it is quite a secluded resort, this is a wonderful retreat to refresh, rejuvenate and relax.
It is the perfect place for couples, families and friends for a special occasion or luxurious getaway.

If you do wish to leave the sanctuary of your villa, there are a number of nearby attractions such as the Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace and plenty of shopping and eatery spots.

Goya is without a doubt, my favourite place I've ever stayed at in Bali and it was a highlight of my recent two-weeks there.

I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Ubud, it was a real treat to stay there and one not to be missed!

Happy Travels,
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See more: Check out my Bali 2018 Photo Diary to see more photos from my trip. 

Best Places to eat in Hoi An, Vietnam

Following on from my Top Things to do in Hoi An post, here is the promised best places to eat. This is my third post of my where to eat in Vietnam series, the first two being in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

I spent a wonderful week in Hoi An and finding the best local food on offer has to be one of my favourite activities while travelling. I certainly wasn't able to try everywhere and I don't claim to be a food expert. However, I did a lot of my own research as well as stumbled randomly across some of these fine gems while exploring.

Here are my top recommendations of some of the best local dishes that are a must-try (some are special to the region) that I thoroughly enjoyed if you are heading there yourself.

The Best Banh Mi

This famous Vietnamese baguette is an excellent option for lunch (I had one almost every day!). The sandwich is packed with a choice of fillings including meat, pate and greens.
The perfect Banh Mi should have slightly warmed and crunchy bread and fresh, flavourful fillings. I specifically looked up on Trip Advisor to see where I could find the best.

Pictured above, one of the best Banh Mi I've ever had was at French Bakery and Restaurant, located at An Bang Beach. I had the special pork with chilli jam which was incredibly tasty! For only 40,000 VND ($1.70 US) it was also a great price for the location.

One of the top-rated ones, I just had to try Phi Banh Mi and it did not disappoint.
I had a traditional pork and pate and it was one of the cheapest at 15,000 VND (US 0.66 c).
It was a slightly smaller size, perfect for a snack or light lunch but the flavours were all there.

I also heard that Banh Mi Phuong is 'the best place for Banh Mi in Vietnam,' however the long lines every time I walked past kind of put me off! Also, some of their reviews said it was way too overhyped and touristy now. Feel free to wait in line and check it out yourself though if you're game!

The Best Cao Lau

One of the most famous dishes, this noodle speciality has been eaten in the city since the 17th century. The hand-cut noodles are tossed with sliced pork, crunchy rice crackers, spices, big handfuls of fresh herbs and a small amount of super-tasty broth.

I tried this dish special to the region a few times and the best I had was at a hole-in-the-wall type of place called Com ga Ba Nga. They also specialise in chicken rice, which is what the name means. I was walking past and noticed the place packed with locals and a big sign saying 'Cao Lau' which drew me in. The service was definitely not the best and the floor wasn't the cleanest but the food was exceptional.

 The Best White Rose

Banh Bao Vac (White Rose) is a popular symbol of food in the ancient town and only found in Hoi An. These are special shrimp dumplings made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose. It takes three years to learn how to master them and apparently, there is only one family in Hoi An that produces them and distributes them to all the local eateries.
So the answer to where is the best place to get them - anywhere! Because they are all the same and come from the same place.

The Best Places for Lunch/Dinner

My favourite restaurant in Hoi An was Morning Glory, where it was so good I ate there twice. It is very popular and busy in there, and that's because it has a great reputation and the food is always good.

I forgot to write down the names of what I ate specifically, but they have an extensive menu with so many options, full of local specialities. Here is what I ordered the two times pictured below:

It is very reasonably priced too for what you get. On our final night, my husband and I's order was: three large beers, one large bottle of water, 1 shared entree, 2 mains and 1 shared dessert. All of that came to a whopping 519,000 VND ($22 US) - not bad at all!

(Tip: Call or go in earlier and make a reservation to avoid waiting in a line).

Another restaurant I highly enjoyed was called Cafe 43. I had a delicious chicken and lemongrass curry and chilli chicken and pork fresh spring rolls.

They made their own fresh beer which was only 3000 VND a glass! (US 0.13 c). All up our two mains, entree, water and beers came to only 189,000 VND ($8 US) - incredible! The service too was excellent.

Another spot I would recommend for dinner or even an after-dinner snack is from the Night Markets across the central footbridge to An Hoi islet. Here you can find an abundance of street food carts selling Banh Mi, fresh fruit, chocolate pancakes etc.

One bite I particularly enjoyed was called Banh Trang Nuong, a Vietnamese style pizza, folded in two. It is made with grilled rice paper and lots of fun and delicious toppings.
For only 20,000 VND (US 0.88 c), it makes for a perfect budget meal or snack.

The Best Cooking Class

I normally love doing street food tours and did in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, however, I found the ones in Hoi An to be far too pricey. I instead invested in my first Vietnamese cooking class and researched the best place to do it.
It seems like every other restaurant is offering one, but I went for one that was one of the first original family cookery schools in Hoi An, Gion Cookery Class, who had an excellent reputation.

I had the best day learning how to make all my favourite things including fresh Vietnamese spring rolls with dipping sauce, Banh Xeo, chilli chicken and lemongrass stirfry and beef Pho.

With the included trip to a local market, full recipe book and a funny and easy-going teacher, it was one of my favourite things I did in Hoi An and the feast we got to enjoy at the end was incredible!
I highly recommend doing this cooking class and it is a great investment learning how to make all of these wonderful dishes yourself at home.

There we have my top favourite things to eat and where to get them in Hoi An. I'll throw in a couple more extras just for fun:

Best Places for Coffee: 11 Coffee and Mia Coffee, both do excellent traditional Vietnamese ice coffee.

Best Sports Bar: If there is a game you just can't bear to miss, head to 3 Dragons Sports Bar & Restaurant. We watched an All Blacks game here and the atmosphere was amazing! There is also a really nice riverside view for even if you don't want to watch the telly.

Best Party Bar: If you are a fan of Mr Bean (like me), then don't miss the Mr Bean Bar! Wildly and accurately themed, it's an amusing place to have a drink to say the least.

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Let me know if you are heading to the lovely Hoi An yourself or if you have any other favourite places of your own to add - I'd love to check them out next time!

Happy Travels,

Top Things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is an incredibly charming town on Vietnam’s central coast, well-known for its greatly preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals.

I absolutely loved spending a week there, exploring the beautiful ancient city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I was lucky enough to be there during the lunar lantern festival where the old town shuts off electricity in the evenings, is closed to traffic and transforms into magical alleyways of colourful lanterns, flickering candles and lively gatherings.

Once a major port, the melting-pot history is reflected in its grand architecture, a mixture of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colourful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge.

It is an atmospheric and delightful place to visit, with little traffic and pollution, a nearby stunning beach, delicious and fresh cuisine and so much to do. 

Here are my top recommendations for Hoi An, a place not to be missed on your next trip to Vietnam.

Wander the ancient streets

There's no better way to explore a new place than by walking the streets. Admire the ancient and contrasting architecture; shops, bars, restaurants and coffee houses are all a photographer's delight.

Walk across the ornate Japanese Covered Bridge, check out the Tan Ky ancient House, visit the local fresh food markets.

Japanese Covered Bridge

There is so much to see and it's all in a relatively compact area, so wear comfy walking shoes and take regular breaks and refresh on traditional Vietnamese ice coffee to beat the heat.

A local market

After doing the sights in town (temples, ancient houses, chapels, the covered bridge) head south over the central footbridge to An Hoi islet, where the riverfront is lined with bars offering ice-cold glasses of the daily-brewed refreshing lager called 'Bia Hoi.' They usually go for around 5000 VND (US 20 cents!) and it's a great place to people-watch.

Gioan Cooking Class

One of my favourite and most memorable experiences throughout my time in Vietnam was doing a Vietnamese cooking class at Gioan Cookery School.

Hoi An is known for its diverse and excellent food, and it can seem that every other restaurant is offering cooking classes, but Gioan was one of the first original family cookery schools in Hoi An and they have a great reputation.

Beginning with a trip to a local market, we learned all about and hand-picked our fresh ingredients to use for the day. We got to choose our favourite dishes to learn how to make which were: fresh Vietnamese spring rolls with dipping sauce, Banh Xeo (country savoury pancakes), chilli chicken and lemongrass stir fry and traditional beef Pho!

Busy making Pho!

It was such a fantastic experience from start to finish and our teacher was so funny and easy-going. I learned so much that day and can't wait to start using my new culinary skills at home. The feast we got to eat at the end of it with our freshly made food was phenomenal.

Banh Xeo

I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and very highly recommend it!

Have a beach day

The nearby An Bang Beach is only 5 kilometres away or a 15 minute leisurly drive (or cycle if you're keen!). The sand is soft, the water is lovely and refreshing to swim in and there are plenty of loungers with sun-umbrellas to relax on free of charge if you purchase a drink or two.

There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants in the area to choose from and I highly recommend going to a place called French Bakery and Restaurant.
They offer a range of options but their Banh Mi in particular was one of the best I've ever had. I had the special pork one with chilli jam and for 40,000 VND ($1.70 US), it's an incredible price as well.

Get a new wardrobe

I didn't do this myself, but I know Hoi An is very well-known for this. There are many budget tailors and it's the place to take home a complete wardrobe of new clothes and leather goods. 
Shoes can be made to order and many handicraft shops specialise in embroidered linen.

If you decide you want a new wardrobe, do your research before you go; some of the tailors are cheap and very good, some are expensive and not good value, and some are pretty poor. 
If you have a favourite item you wish to replicate, take it with you, or take pictures of the clothes you want made.
Word of mouth is usually a great source and I'm sure Trip Advisor would be able to steer you in the right direction with the best reviewed places.

Do a bicycle/boat/walking tour

There are many tours on offer to explore more of Hoi An how you please. From sunset boat cruises along the Thu Bon River, to walking street food tours in the Old Town to venturing further with a bicycle tour.

Many homestays and hotels offer bikes to guests, and joining the many cyclists on the roads provides an instant immersion into local life.
There are group tours you can join for an easy few hours with just 9 km of cycling along quiet lanes, lunch included, or a more demanding 50 km adventure. All take in traditional villages, handicrafts, fragrant rice paddies and rickety floating bridges.

Visit Marble Mountains 

Only a half an hour drive away are the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five marble and limestone hills, named after the elements metal, wood, water, fire and earth. 
I visited on my way down to Hoi An from Da Nang, as it is between the two cities.

It is a well-known pilgrimage site with peaks, caves, tunnels and temples. There are Buddhist sanctuaries and even a special circular cave which leads to the summit where you can enjoy panoramic views.

Indulge in the local food

One of my favourite parts about travelling is trying the local cuisine. I have already written 'Best Places to Eat' for Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and I will next write one for Hoi An too, as the food there was just as spectacular.

A few of the best local dishes that are a must-try and special to Hoi An and the central Vietnam region include:

Cao Lau - one of the most famous dishes, this noodle speciality has been eaten in the city since the 17th century. The hand-cut noodles are tossed with sliced pork, crunchy rice crackers, spices, big handfuls of fresh herbs and a small amount of super-tasty broth.

White Rose (Banh Bao Banh Vac) - A popular symbol of food in the ancient town, these are special shrimp dumplings made from translucent white dough bunched up to look like a rose. It takes three years to learn how to master them and apparently, there is only one family in Hoi An that produces them and distributes them to all the local eateries.

Mi Quam - a delicious bowl full of rice noodles, a choice of meat (chicken, pork, shrimp, quail egg etc.), fresh vegetables, a little broth and topped with peanuts, rice crackers or crunchy spring rolls.

Stay tuned for my next post where I will share my favourite places to eat including Banh Mi Phuong, Morning Glory, Phi Banh Mi and Cafe 43.

When to go: the central coast is at its driest and sunniest in May, June and July.
Be wary of the rainy season (September to November) as it can be prone to heavy downpours and bouts of flooding.

How to get there: getting around Vietnam is easy and there are many ways to get to Hoi An depending on your budget. Take a bus or train from any other major city to save money, or fly if you have less time and a bit more to spend. If you are only an hour or two away you can hire a driver to take you for around $100 USD and they will happily stop at any sights along the way.

Where to stay: there are many types of accomodation available to suit all budgets including guesthouses, hostels, AirBnbs, low-budget hotels to luxury hotels. Try and choose one close to the Old Town so you can easily walk or cycle there, or stay at the beach if you prefer a more relaxing style holiday. Most places offer multiple daily transfers to either the Old Town or the beach. If you can afford it, pick somewhere with a pool, as it's hot year-round!

Need to know: tourists need to purchase an entrance ticket to the Hoi An Ancient Town. It costs 120,000 VND ($5 USD). The tickets are valid for 10 days and you need to have it on you at all times. For more information visit the Hoi An Tourism site.

I hope you are inspired to visit Hoi An, a beautiful little city with so much to offer.
Let me know in the comments if you've been or are planning to in the near future!

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Happy Travels,

Top Five things to do in Siem Reap

I really enjoyed exploring Siem Reap, even a whole week there wasn't enough for me and I can't wait to go back again one day in the future.

As it is for most people, seeing Angkor Wat and the incredible surrounding temples was the main reason I wanted to go there but there is so much more to see and do as well.

Here are my top five favourite things to do:

1. Marvel at the temples on a day tour

Beginning with the obvious and one of the top things on most people's bucket lists.
Siem Reap is most well known for being the gateway to Angkor Wat and the rest of the Angkor Ruins - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Site covers almost 400 square kilometres, making it arguably one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

I did a sunrise Angkor Wat and full day temple tour with Happy Angkor and it was such an incredible day and a major highlight of my time there.

2. Floating village and local school visit

Another awesome thing to do is head out of the city centre to visit the nearby floating villages. I went with Kompong Khleang and it was an amazing day witnessing such a different way of life. 
We spent heaps of time on the Tonle Sap River in the midst of village life and got to visit a local school where our guide was originally from. We met some very happy and friendly children and I highly recommend the tour. All of the proceeds made go straight back to the school.

3. Check out Pub Street

Pub Street is the town centre where most tourists tend to gravitate towards. The area is nicely decorated, the restaurants and bars are cheap and plentiful and there are many market-style shopping areas nearby.
Come at night time for a totally different experience. You can try a scorpion or tarantula or sit at one of the many fun pop-up cocktail carts. I can recommend getting a banana and nutella pancake from a street food cart made fresh in front of you for only $1 - so good!

4. Phare the Cambodian Circus

My favourite evening spent in Siem Reap was at the popular show Phare the Cambodian Circus. It's modern circus-style entertainment featuring very talented high-flying acrobats.
I was completely astonished by their amazing skills and drawn in by the compelling story they told. It was fun, high-energy and even emotional.
It is again a wonderful cause and all of the proceeds go straight back into the community and help to transform the lives of Cambodian youth.

5. Indulge in the great food

I enjoyed the food in Siem Reap so much that I already have a whole blog post on it! Five Places to Eat in Siem Reap.
As well as eating your way around some of the best-rated restaurants, you could do a food tour or even take a local cooking class. There is an abundance of great cafes and restaurants to choose from specialing in local Khmer dishes, healthy vegan and vegetarian and various nationalities. Best of all - the price is unbeatable!

Those are five of my top recommended things to do in Siem Reap. Leave me a comment if you have any other suggestions to add!

If you would like to read about what I got up to in Cambodia in more detail check out my travel diary post.

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Happy Travels,

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,

7 Delicious Must-Try Dishes in Thailand

Thai cuisine is my ultimate favourite and I recently spent seven happy weeks in Thailand eating my way around the country.

Thai food is an explosion of flavours and often showcases a perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. The best part is you can easily find cheap, tasty and readily available street food on practically every corner.

Here are seven of my personal favourite Thai dishes that I would highly suggest trying if you are ever in the land of smiles, trust me - you will love them!

Geng Kheaw Wan (Green Curry)

Green Curry is my number one favourite dish! Delightfully rich and aromatic, it can be ordered with either chicken, beef, pork, tofu and vegetables.
The paste is made of ground green chillies and together with coconut milk, Thai eggplant, fresh coriander, lime leaves and basil it's a flavour bomb in your mouth!
It comes very spicy (like most of my favourite dishes) so if you aren't a fan you can request a milder version by asking for 'not spicy'.
In my opinion, there's nothing better than soaking up the rice in the curry and washing it all down with a cold Thai beer. Hashtag perfection.

Pad Thai (Stir-fried rice noodles)

Pad Thai is my favourite quick street food meal and at 40 Baht ($1.20 USD) made fresh from a cart, it's one of the cheapest too.
This famous stir-fried rice noodle dish is eaten with chicken, seafood or just tofu and vegetables. It's usually served with ground chilli, fresh lime, sugar and a sour sauce for you to add the flavours as you please to suit your taste buds.

Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad)

Som Tam is another dish combining all five tastes: hot, sour, sweet, salty and savoury and packs it all together in a flavour punch.
It's a delicious and fresh zingy papaya salad that is a popular staple of street food and dining alike. Again, it comes very spicy so do ask for mild if you aren't a fan!

Tom Yum Goong (Spicy seafood soup)

Tom Yum is a local favourite hot and sour soup, with 'Goong' meaning shrimp or prawn.
It's the perfect dish for seafood and chilli lovers and again it is so full of flavour, your taste buds will be dancing!

Pad Krapow Moo Sap (Basil Pork)

Pad Krapow Moo Sap is one of my favourite quick go-to meals. Minced pork is flash-fried with holy basil and a generous helping of garlic and fresh chillis. Served with rice, it often comes with a fried egg on top, making it a perfect Thai-style one dish meal.

Gaeng Daeng (Red Curry)

My second favourite of the curries is the Red Curry, of which the paste is commonly made with twenty ground red chillies (so it is again super spicy!). Served usually with chicken, beef or duck, this smooth curry is topped with finely sliced kaffir lime leaves and is deliciously fragrant.

Khao Niaow Moon (Mango Sticky Rice)

Last but not least is the most perfect traditional Thai dessert: Mango Sticky Rice is a staple of my diet when I'm in Thailand (I quite often have it for lunch) and it is an absolute must-try for all sweet lovers.
The cool, glutinous sticky rice is smothered in sweetened coconut cream and served with freshly cut ripe mango. To add a crunch it is sprinkled with what I call 'golden nuggets', which are actually crunchy toasted mung beans.
It can be picked up cheaply from street food stalls and in a fancier restaurant setting (such as in the picture above) it is often served with coconut ice cream, which makes the entire dish basically the definition of heaven on earth.

Pin it! :)

Those are my top seven incredibly delicious and ultimate favourite Thai dishes. There are a million reasons to visit Thailand and food is one of the top ones!
It is miles better in its motherland than anywhere else and there is so much to choose from, it will blow you away (you and your taste buds).

Do you have a favourite Thai dish not included here? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to read them!

Happy Travels,

The Most Magical Place in Bangkok

Last week I visited a very special cafe in Bangkok that had long been on my bucket list.
It is a place of wonder and imagination. An eruption of pastels and splatters of rainbows.
It is a place like no other...  it is The Unicorn Café.

If you used to like My Little Pony and are still a twelve-year-old trapped inside an adult's body (like me) then you will adore this cafe. Located in Silom, it is a fairly small cafe with a whole lot of fun packed inside.

As soon as you step into this magical wonderland your eyes will instantly be feasted to a colourful explosion from top to bottom. The walls and ceiling are decked out with unicorns and ponies splashed in every direction.

There are plenty of cute pastel coloured tables, chairs and sofas to hang out on and enjoy the large selection of rainbow themed food on the menu.

Line up at the counter to order before heading to a seat with your number. There is a section to the left with pony and unicorn dolls and soft toys to grab and hang out with and you can even rent unicorn onesies for 100 BHT ($3 USD).

The amusing menu offers a selection of savoury as well as sweet options. From rainbow spaghetti carbonara and a rainbow cheeseburger (which admittedly looks rather disgusting yet entirely intriguing) to unicorn waffles, crepes and brownies.

A post shared by UnicornBrand💗Unicorn Cafe (@unicornbrand) on

The front cabinet is also full of their signature Instagram-perfect rainbow layered cake and cupcakes. There are fun frozen ombre galaxy drinks on offer too which come in star shaped glasses.

I ordered a 'Galaxy Star' which was a frozen vanilla frappe and the 'Unicorn Waffle Choco Banana', which came complete on a cute plate with star utensils.

Both were delicious and a very reasonable price at 340 BHT for both ($10 USD) and the portions were enormous! I definitely should have shared as I struggled to eat half of it.

It was a wholly lighthearted experience enjoying the surroundings and sitting amongst like-minded giggling and snap-happy girls (and yes we were all adults).

I felt like it was my birthday having chocolate waffles and ice cream for lunch!

The Unicorn Café has become my new favourite place in Bangkok (hence why I had to write about it!) and if you are passing through it is a must-visit for those wanting to go back to those magical feelings of childlike wonder and euphoria.

I wanted to go back the very next day. I would definitely hire a unicorn onesie next time and get a slice of that rainbow cake!

Warning: Sugar high and a massive afternoon crash is inevitable but entirely worth it.
It's a whole lot of fun and you will leave with a bright smile on your face (accompanied with a possible stomach ache).

Also warning: No, this isn't really a place guys will enjoy unless you are one of the few cool pony-loving ones out there.

Pin it! :)

The Unicorn Café is located at: 44/1 ซอย สาทร 8 สีลม Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak.
The closest BTS (Bangkok Sky Train) is Chong-Nonsi Station, Exit 2.

They are open every day except Mondays from 12 - 8 PM.
For more information check out their Facebook page.

Happy Travels,

An Epic Whirlwind Tour Through Myanmar

Out of the six countries I was visiting on this trip, Myanmar was the one I was the most excited and intrigued about. It only opened its borders to tourism a few years ago and before I left I personally did not know anybody that had ever been there.

Travelling first through Thailand, Laos etc. I met people along the way who had recently been and they all said it was their favourite, which made me even more excited to see it for myself.

Myanmar is huge  and unfortunately, I only had 10 nights to do a whirlwind tour through it. I decided to just hit the main four spots to visit including Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan and Mandalay.
I flew into Yangon and I originally planned on three nights there, two at Inle, three in Bagan and two in Mandalay. It actually turned out to be: two nights in Yangon, one overnight bus (to Inle), two at Nyaung Shwe (closest town to Inle Lake), four in Bagan and one in Mandalay.

I wish I had more time in Mandalay and to explore other places too, but I was pretty happy overall with my final itinerary with the little time I had.
I was really exhausted at the end of it though, with so much time spent on bumpy buses and trying to pack in as much of each place as I could, including getting up for many a sunrise.

Here is what I got up to in an action-packed 10 days:

Yangon 8-10 August

I flew into the largest city in Myanmar from Luang Prabang, Laos, via Bangkok and arrived at 10:30 PM at night. I was also in a new time zone; half an hour behind which I thought was pretty funny.
I had organised an online E-Visa a few days before and the immigration process was very quick and easy. I was through the gate with my bags in no time and instantly greeted by a young friendly guy who asked if I needed a taxi. I said yes but I needed to get some cash out first as I didn't have any local currency (called Kyats). He not only pointed the direction where the ATMs were, he showed me himself. (This was the first of many times where people were happy to show me for nothing in return).

The taxi driver was an older man who called me 'sister' and was very chatty and interested in me. My first thoughts of the Burmese were that just like I had been told - they were incredibly friendly! It really warmed my heart.
Along the way he pointed out the most famous temple (the reason I went to Yangon actually), the Shwedagon Pagoda - a huge golden landmark, brilliantly lit up at night. I wish I had time to snap a photo! It was so dazzling.

I had booked my own room at a hostel in a central location and it was up several flights of stairs. The host was kind enough to carry my suitcase up for me. I didn't have a window in my room but from the balcony in the main lobby area looking down over the streets was so interesting. I had never been in a place like this before. The streets looked like how I imagined India would look like. It was around midnight when I got to my room and I couldn't wait to explore the next day.


I was intending to see the famous pagoda but it was pouring with rain in the morning.
I instead ventured out with an umbrella to explore the surrounding streets. I loooved the buildings! There were so many different styles and influences from all around the world.

The buildings opposite my hostel

I noticed a street side open shop with '4G' and thought it would be a good idea to get a Sim card here. I knew wifi was poor and scarce and I had a lot of long bus rides to look forward to. The two guys in the shop barely spoke English and it took an entire hour to get it sorted (registering the Sim card was painful), but they were so patient and really friendly.
To get 5 GB of data cost me 9000 KYT or $8 AUD.

One of the guys smiled at me and his teeth were red. This was my introduction to, I don't even know what it's called. Okay, I looked it up and it's called Paan which is a betel vine leaf. Many of the men chew on this red stuff and then spit it all over the ground.
Everywhere you go you see red spit. And they not only spit - they hoik. That sound reeeally irks me and in ten days I probably heard it 1000 times. The worst was while I was on the night bus from Yangon to Inle Lake and there was a man sitting across the aisle from me who would hoik all throughout the night and spit into a plastic bag. Deee-scusting.

Anyway - after I got my Sim card it had stopped raining and I went to one of the top recommended places for lunch. It was called 999 and it is famous for Shan noodles.
I got a classic pork sticky noodle soup and it was delicious! That and a coke cost $2.50 AUD.

In the afternoon I enjoyed exploring the city centre some more for a few hours. A lot of men wear long skirts and many people, mostly ladies have gold painted on their faces. I later found out this is called Thanaka and it is a paste that comes from ground bark. It is used as a sun cream, to cool and as a cosmetic.

Walking around I was stared at quite a bit and many would walk past me and then look back to get another look. Quite a few people even said hello and for the first time they didn't want anything, it was just to say hi.

Yangon City Hall on the right, Sule Pagoda ahead

Sule Pagoda

Maha Pandula Park


The next day I got lucky and it wasn't raining (until the afternoon). I hopped into a taxi to the Shwedagon Pagoda and hired a guide, as two Isreali girls I had met staying at the hostel recommended it. The guide was very good and I enjoyed learning all about the history and customs of this amazing temple.
It is the largest pagoda which sits at an impressive 360 feet high and is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest of which is a 72-carat diamond. Many pilgrims from all over the world come to visit it.

A funny thing happened, a Burmese girl asked to take a photo with me and then another person saw and wanted one too. Before I knew it, a line of people was forming! There were even selfies. I didn't really know what was going on but of course I didn't mind, I found it all hilarious. I am guessing the blonde hair was the reason, as I didn't see anyone else around with it. The closest I'll ever get to a superstar moment!

Nuns here dress in pink
I loved visiting the pagoda, it's definitely worth going to Yangon just to see that. I decided to cancel my third night there and take an overnight bus to Inle Lake. It takes 12 hours to get there so I didn't really want to waste an entire day. It so happened that the Isreali girls were taking the same bus so we shared a taxi to the bus stop and had a beer beforehand.

We were getting water from a shop for the bus ride and a random heavy downpour started. The streets started flooding so we just stood there to wait it out. The lady that owned the shop didn't speak English but she kindly brought us little chairs to sit on which was so nice!

The bus was comfortable, we paid extra for a 'VIP' which means it was air conditioned, the seats reclined and we got a blanket and small pillow. However, I still didn't get a wink of sleep and it actually took 14 hours in the end.

Inle Lake 11-13 August

At 5 AM I arrived rather stiff at Nyaung Shwe, the nearest town to Inle Lake. I had booked in at Ostello Bello which was a favourite in the area and they catered for people arriving at all hours.
There were beds available in a shared room if I wanted to sleep until my room was ready and there was free coffee and juice to help yourself.

I freshened up, loaded up on caffeine and decided to join in on a full day Inle Lake boat tour leaving at 8 AM. Hey, that was what I was here to see! And I would get back just in time for my room to be ready.

There was a group of four of us in the boat and we were taken through the main centre of the lake first, past the many fishermen. They are famous for their unique style and rowing the boat with their feet.

We passed through many floating villages which I find so interesting and our first stop took a whole hour to get there - that's how huge the lake is!

The first stop was a silver and jewellery making shop, which I wasn't that interested in to be honest. The second was a lotus silk weaving place which was pretty cool to see. They made some amazing scarves and clothes and worked really hard for it.

View of rice fields from the window
We stopped for a nice local lunch before exploring some more. We had a brief stop at a Karen long-neck Hilltribe and asked to skip the next cigar-making stop. We were all really interested in the temple stop which had hundreds of temple ruins.

Delicious lunch feast

We initially had an hour there but once that ran out we asked for another. Our boat driver was very accommodating. We had a great time exploring the area and there was so much to see! It was an incredible place.

We didn't head back until 3 PM, an hour late and we enjoyed a cold beer on the way back. Even though I was wearing a hat and put sunblock on twice I still managed to get very burnt. Woops.

I had a glorious shower, rested and then sat downstairs in the common area working on my Cambodia Photo Diary. There was a movie night going on at the rooftop but as I hadn't slept I was too tired and was keen for an early night.


The next morning I was still pretty zonked but I went out to a nearby local market down the road. I love vibrant places like this and enjoyed walking around. I picked up a bag of freshly cut pineapple for 20 cents.

I had more delicious Shan noodles for lunch which was even better than the first in Yangon (I was now in the Shan state after all). I had a chill afternoon checking out the rooftop and catching up on work.

Ostello Bello rooftop
The view from the rooftop
The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise on Inle Lake. I was told this is the time to see the fishermen and I especially wanted to get the classic shot of the ones with cages.
However, I'm guessing because it was a Sunday all the fishermen were still in bed!
There were only two out on the water (and they didn't have cages). There wasn't much of a sunrise either as it was too cloudy. Dang rainy season.

Nevermind! I was next off at 8 AM to the place I was the most looking forward to - the ancient city of Bagan.

This is a painting at the hostel of the 'classic shot' I was hoping to get

Bagan 13-16 August

The mini van ride was rather horrid, the roads were extremely bumpy and windy. I couldn't even read my phone because my hand was flailing around too much. And there was no air conditioning! Absolute torture sitting in your own sweat for 8 hours.

I did see so many interesting sights out of the window though. Home-made ox carts made out of branches, massive goat herds that blocked the whole road, women carrying really big and heavy loads on their heads.

Loading up the top of the van during a break 
I decided to stay again at Ostello Bello as I enjoyed the last place so much. As I was so hot from the van ride I went on a failed mission to find ice cream, but I couldn't find any shops that sold any. I settled for a beer.

I signed up for a sunrise temple tour by e-bike for the next morning and chilled for the rest of the day. Bagan has over 2,200 ancient temples and is considered a holy site in Myanmar. I was so keen to explore!

That evening I joined in on a free Burmese lesson the hostel was hosting. I learned how to say a bunch of basic sayings and phrases which was really handy and how to write my name. I met some lovely Italians who were working there for a month, one of which was the cousin of Ostello Bello.


Up super early once again I hired an e-bike from a shop next door to the hostel. They are basically silent scooters without the motor, which I rather liked. A large group of us went together and it was only about a ten-minute ride to a large field full of temples. We found a big one that we were allowed to climb and settled in.

Bummer the clouds were in the way!
Peeking through
After the tour, I had breakfast and went straight back to bed! I only had four hours sleep and was still tired from the days before. 
In the afternoon I hopped back on my bike which I had for a full day and went to a recommended restaurant called The Moon, Be Kind To The Animals. Quite a name! Yes, it was a vegetarian restaurant. I had a delicious aubergine curry with brown sticky rice.

That evening I jumped in on the sunset bike tour, because why not? This time we rode about 30 minutes away to a very large temple which had a great view. We didn't see the sun but it was a brilliant pink sky afterward which was so amazing!

For dinner, a big group of us went down the road to a restaurant called 'Unforgettable.' Most of us ordered curries and it came with so many extra dishes for us all to share.
As well as soup and rice there were different bowls of vegetables like potato, aubergine, pumpkin, tofu and salads. It was an epic feast and it only cost $2.80 AUD each for everything.


I was up and ready at 8 AM for a full day Bagan city tour by e-bike. I hired another one for the day and followed the group to the first stop at a local village. They made cotton there and cigars. I got to try Thanaka (the gold paste) on my face which felt really nice and refreshing!

This lady is 95!

We went around visiting many of the most popular temples in Old Bagan. Our guide was really informative and told us a lot of the history.

GoPro action shot

Shwesandaw Pagoda
View from the top

By the time we had lunch everyone was so tired. It was such a hot day and the roads were very dusty, my clothes were covered in it. Riding along even with sunglasses I had to squint my eyes because the dust clouds were so bad! When I got back I had to wash my clothes.

No rest for the wicked though because that night was a sunset boat trip! (The hostel organises all of these different daily group tours which I really liked).
The sunset was a bit non-existent and it was really rocky at the end but the group on board were really fun which made it worthwhile.

That evening was quiz night at the hostel and I joined a fab team with others from London, Sweden and Spain. We couldn't think of a team name so I randomly came out with 'Killer Kiwis' even though I was the only Kiwi but they loved it and went with it.
It was such a fun night and our team rocked. For the first time ever my team won woohoo! We all got a free cocktail of our choice.

I decided to book an extra night here because I was enjoying Bagan too much and there was still so much more to see. I also couldn't bear the thought of going on another long bus ride again...

The Killer Kiwis!
The next morning the Killer Kiwis met up and hired another round of e-bikes for the day. We were going off to explore more temples, a local market and make a day out of it.

Local Market

Random seeing a Friends Cafe!
Coffee? Curry puff? Trio of cigarettes?

We stopped for lunch at one of the top places to eat - Weather Spoon's Bagan. I had heard as well as local food they actually do very decent western food (hard to come by in Asia) so the Londoner and I just had to have a burger. It was a-maz-ing after eating mostly rice, noodles and curry for the last few weeks!

The chips were parmesan crusted! HEAVEN

We continued exploring until we were templed out and went back for a rest before meeting up for one last dinner and drinks. Four nights for me wasn't even enough in Bagan, I didn't have the time to visit Mount Popa which is another popular sight to see and there is so much more as well. Next time!

During my time in Bagan, I had the opportunity to work for Hostel World. I created an Insta-Story for them showcasing the city which will be live on their Instagram page next week. Keep an eye out on my Facebook and Instagram pages where I'll share the links when it's up!

Mandalay 17-18 August

In the morning the Londoner and I were on the same bus and going again to Ostello Bello in Mandalay (there are three in Myanmar so I thought I might as well stay at all of them).
I was a bit guttered I only had one night left there but I am glad I stayed in Bagan the extra night.

It was another bumpy bus ride north to my final stop which took 7 hours.
We checked in and went straight out for a late lunch, inviting along a random dude from Morocco we met at the hostel.
We went to Mingalabar (that's hello in Burmese) Restaurant and had another delicious feast. There was so much food it was awesome. I had a noodle salad and it came with a bunch of different sides.

Interesting scaffolding
The view from my room
That evening the three of us went out to explore Mandalay by night. We went to a local night market and walked around for a couple of hours before having a final beer at the hostel's rooftop hangout area before bed. We had one last early start the next day.


There was one thing I had to do in Mandalay and that was see a sunrise from the U-Bein Bridge. Of course, being rainy season, there was no famous orange glow, but it was still very pretty.
We were told it was less crowded in the mornings and more so for sunset and that was true. There were mostly only locals out and about that early.

Caught the dab

Morning snack anyone?

We were back by 7:30 AM and I wasn't flying out until 5 PM. I still had pretty much a full day left to explore but you know what? I had seen enough temples and palaces.
I went back to bed until checkout time and then sat in the common area working until my airport transfer. Bad Krysti! But I literally couldn't, I was done, diddly done.


I had such a fantastic time in Myanmar, the kindness of the people really blew me away.
I enjoyed so much learning about their culture and ways of life and next time, now that I have done the big four, I would love to venture out into the smaller and less touristy areas. As well as their majestic temples there are untouched beaches, islands and even primeval jungles to explore.

It's a country to get to fast, as already the tourist demand is rapidly increasing. For now, it's a place where there are few bars and party places with a widespread curfew of 11 PM.
There is also not a McDonalds or Starbucks in sight. It's a place unlike any I've ever been to before and it makes me more excited to continue travelling and exploring more around the world.

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Coming soon will be plenty of Myanmar travel guides and tips as well as more photos and stories from my Southeast Asia trip.

Happy Travels,

Incredible Cambodia | Photo Diary

Last month, I had the pleasure of exploring my first new country in a while: Cambodia!
I had heard such mixed views of Cambodia, from horrid to fantastic, so I just had to see for myself. There is no doubt this country has a deep and dreadful history and the impacts are still very evident today.
However, I can see that it has picked itself up in many ways and I found it a very safe and likeable place to visit. It has a lot of similarities to Thailand and it is a very tourist friendly place. 

Siem Reap 20-27 July

Starting in Siem Reap, being the rainy season it actually rained 5/7 days I was there!
So most of the photos you see with a blue sky were just from two or so days.
Fun fact: when it rains (which is often) the streets turn into a mud bath! I quite often walked back from town in the rain and I had mud flicked half way up my back. Then when it dried, it was incredibly dusty.

The street I was staying down

The Tuk Tuk drivers were the most, uh, persistent I had ever come across (getting asked "Tuk Tuk" literally 1000 times in half an hour) but the people in general were very friendly and helpful. Though like many other Southeast Asian countries, they try and get as much money out of you as they can.

I quite often ate at two cafes: Sister Srey and Vibe, both had glowing reviews and healthy and vegan options. After 10 weeks of eating whatever I wanted, I was really craving something fresh and healthy! Siem Reap has a lot of fantastic cafes and I highly recommend these two.
Don't worry of course I still ate local food! I especially loved Fish Amok and Lo Lak (they just aren't so pretty to photograph).

A Bodia bowl at Sister Srey
On my first evening, I was invited to see Phare the Cambodian Circus. The talent of the artists are astonishing, it was a truly incredible show of theatre, dance, live music and modern circus arts.
I was totally drawn in by the compelling story they told and their energy, enthusiasm and emotions were highly infectious.

Every ticket purchased helps to support and transform the lives of Cambodian youth, so it's a wonderful cause as well. Highly recommended!

It had always been a big dream of mine to see Angkor Wat, the largest religious monumental site in the world. I eagerly booked a full day with sunrise tour for my third day there. During the rainy season (as I found out on the day) it is unfortunately extremely unlikely to see a sunrise or sunset at Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
I wondered why they still offer it as a sunrise tour then, but oh well. I was a tad disappointed because I guess it was something I had built up in my head - taking a nice time-lapse of the sun rising in the majestic setting. The reality was that I was standing in mud, pushed around by crowds and I had to tippy toe and raise my camera as high as I could just to not get other people in my photos.

I had to wait for 10 minutes for people to move out of this shot!

Despite that, I still had an INCREDIBLE day, one of my favourite days from my whole trip. You don't only see Angkor Wat (which is very impressive) but loads of other equally as awesome ancient temples including Bayon, Baphuon and Ta Prohm. The latter was my favourite, also known as the Tomb Raider Temple!
I just loved how nestled in nature it was with giant trees growing out of the tops, vines coiling around, the intricate carvings and moss on the crumbled rocks. It was so so cool to see in real life and such a highlight.

The Bayon temple

Baphuon Temple

Ta Prohm 'Tomb Raider' Temple

I hope everyone can visit once in their lifetime, they are truly marvellous sites - I took 470 photos just on that tour! It was a hot day walking 11 km in 38 degrees, so I wasn't looking the best in the ones with me in them!

Central Siem Reap

Pub Street by day
My first Acai bowl at Vibe cafe
A temple downtown
Pub street by night! It was the only night that it didn't rain so I could finally venture out!
Delectable treats to try! ;)
Fun fact: you have to pay to take photos
Cool umbrella sky in an alleyway off Pub Street
On my final day, I went on a half day Floating Village tour where we got to visit a local school and witness such a different way of life. It wasn't touristic at all, they weren't selling anything and it is genuinely how the people live. The guide is from there and all proceeds go straight back to the school. It was really interesting and the children were oh so friendly and happy! It was a wonderful day.

We started by trying bamboo smoked sticky rice on the way there 
Wearing my new handmade in Cambodia dress I had bought that day

A happy fisherman
A local community
The school where 60 children sit
View from the school

I really enjoyed my time in Siem Reap. I had a whole week there and I felt that was plenty of time. During the rain, I stayed in and did a lot of catching up on blog posts. It was a tad more expensive coming from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam but still very affordable.
I took a VIP Ibis bus to Phnom Penh for $15 USD. It was only a six-hour ride and there were three stops along the way so it was pretty good.

Phnom Penh 27-30 July

In Phnom Penh, I booked an Airbnb straight across the road from the National Museum which had a great view of it from the balcony. I got really lucky in Phnom Penh - it didn't rain once!

Sweet view!
Front of the National Museum
Typical street: Monk, Tuk Tuk, motorbike and rubbish
Walking to the Royal Palace

Only a ten-minute walk from where I was staying was the Royal Palace. It reminded me quite a lot of the Royal Palace in Bangkok, although definitely not as grand! Still really worth a visit though.

I loved that fern tree/plant
The Silver Pagoda
Sometimes, you just gotta take your own photos
The park in front of the palace
The pretty riverfront

I am still SO so sad about this, but I lost all of my photos from an entire day in Phnom Penh and three days worth of videos from Siem Reap (including the Floating Village tour and Pub Street at night nooo). Basically my SD card was wiped due to a formatting error. I spent so long trying to recover them to no avail.

What I lost was a really big day for me. I did the S21 Prison and Killing Fields Tour.
It was really important for me to learn fully about the (scarily recent) history of Cambodia to understand what the people have been through. It was a heartbreaking day seeing and learning about their horrific past first hand and I'm mostly sad about losing the photos because I was planning on writing a whole blog post on it. I only have two photos I took on my phone:

A pamphlet guide
Memorial at the Killing Fields

Nevermind, what's done is done. I can highly recommend doing the Hop On Hop Off tour which includes pick up and drop off for only $15 USD. They take you to both places in a bus and you can hire audio guides there and go through yourself. I was glad to have done that because I couldn't imagine having to have a conversation with a guide about what I was being told... I needed to take it in in silence.

A street around the corner from me
My local convenience store
On the way to the airport
The Independence Monument
My ride :)

I liked Phnom Penh. I definitely think it's worth going to learn about the history at least. Three nights was the perfect amount for me. I did really want to head south to Sihanoukville but alas I had run out of time. I still had Laos and Myanmar to explore in only a few weeks so I had to prioritise.

I'm really glad I went and I had an awesome time. Next time I would love to head out of the bigger cities and see more of the authentic rural Cambodia. There is so much more to see and do in this incredible country, I barely scratched the surface.
I know I'll be back to see more one day for sure. For now I think I hit the highlights!

Pin it :)

Coming up soon will be photo diaries from Laos and Myanmar and of course plenty of tips and travel guides when I have the time!

Happy Travels,

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