Canberra’s Must-Do Food Tour

I recently ticked off another big-ticket item off my Canberra wish-list and that was to join the Eat Canberra Walking Food Tour.

Canberra was recently named by Lonely Planet as the third best city in the world to visit in 2018, which is a very impressive achievement for Australia's modest capital city.

I have no doubt the rising restaurant and hospitality scene has an important part to play in what makes Canberra so outstanding.

As many know, I love nothing more than to explore a new city's culinary delights and trying the very best it has to offer, and a walking food tour is a perfect way to do just that.

Read on to find out all about the fantastic foodie gems we visited and the unique and mouth-watering dishes we tried:

The ultimate foodie tour

Stop #1

Our group's meeting point and first place to visit was BentSpoke Brewery, a popular pub for a drink and meal alike in the heart of Braddon. 

Amelia, founder of Eat Canberra and our guide for the day met us outside and warmly greeted us. Our table was reserved upstairs and everyone introduced themselves.

Amelia introduced the food tour and told us a bit about herself and our first location. They brew their award-winning beers on site and do a modern twist on the classic pub menu.

First, we had a choice of two sampler drinks, either two kinds of beer or their apple cider and ginger beer. I opted for the latter but also tried the beers, all of which were distinctively delicious.

Our first eats for the day arrived and certainly ensured the tour started with a bang! 
We sampled their Smoked Mac 'n' Cheese Balls which were crumbed and served with roasted corn and chilli salsa jam, along with their Hop Potatoes, which were hop and malt dusted chips served with brewery-made sauces.

Their dishes incorporate hints of their own beer to compliment the flavours, making them extra tasty. The macaroni and cheese balls were absolutely fantastic and are one of my favourite things I tried that day, which is saying a lot. The accompanied chips were also very good and hard to resist reaching back for more when you know there's going to be a lot more food to come!

I will without a doubt be back to try more of their menu in the future.

Stops 2 & 3

After almost a full hour at the first stop enjoying the food and good company of fellow food-lovers we were next off to a nearby food hotspot The Hamlet.

The Hamlet is a paradise for foodies with a collection of food trucks offering street food from multiple cuisines. Here we got to sample from two different little eateries: 10" Custom Pizzeria and Mr Papa.

We began with the Pizzeria that has been accredited by the pizza association in Naples, which means you know it's going to be good.

We tried two kinds of their woodfired pizza: a vegetarian Haloumi and potato which is their most popular and Romana, a special with mozzarella, smoked pancetta, cherry tomatoes and red onions topped with shaved parmesan.
Both of them were heavenly and took me right back to Naples! It's definitely the best pizza I've had outside of Italy.

Second, we had two items from Mr Papa's menu, who do traditional Peruvian street food. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw a whole tray of Chanchitos coming towards us!

The sandwich is pork belly, sweet potato and salsa served on a crusty bun. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the flavour combinations were very delicious.

We also indulged in their Alitas chicken wings which were sticky and finger-licking good and we even got to try Chica Morada which is Peruvian purple corn juice - which I rather liked! 

It was great to try something new and out of the ordinary and I can't wait to go to Peru one day and try more local delights.

Stop #4

We were off to our next destination Tipsy Bull, a local gin bar with over 80 varieties of gin on offer who also do "Friendly fine-ish dining."

We were each presented with a beautiful Seasonal Gin Sour cocktail which was incredibly fruity and delightful. It tasted to me like peaches and cream and the entire group couldn't stop raving about how delicious it was!

It was accompanied by a tapas sharing plate of Betel Bites which was caramelised pork belly, cashew nuts, chilli and lime on a betel leaf. It was a sensational pop of flavour in your mouth and the perfect amount.

I was starting to feel the teensiest bit full prior so it was nice to switch things up a bit and enjoy a nice cocktail and small bite. The entire tour was very well paced and balanced.

As a side-note, I ended up coming back to the Tipsy Bull straight after the tour and enjoyed one of their G&T's!

Stop #5

Floating on a food cloud we were off to a Canberra favourite Akiba, an Asian-fusion restaurant with compelling food and cocktail menus. I loved their modernly designed interior and the atmosphere was noticeably great.

We got to pick a cocktail of our choice and try two different popular menu items. I ordered a passionfruit vodka that was refreshing and zingy.

To eat we enjoyed a moreish pulled beef bun with kimchi and peanut soy which was soft and exquisite, a very comforting food.

We also had their prawn and chicken dumplings with a ginger and black vinegar dressing.
They were light and delectable and the flavours shone through brilliantly.

It was a fantastic stop and I had some very enjoyable chats with the other members of the group.

Stop #6

Our final savoury stop of the day was at the delightful Sanya Bar, who specialises in authentic Beijing-fusion tapas and street food with an edge.

They also have an exciting cocktail menu of which we got to try Revolution. This was a delicious Beijing mule drink with vodka, peach liqueur, ginger beer, mint and lime with my favourite part - a pang of chilli.

Everyone really enjoyed the cocktail and the unique decor of the bar. Their artwork across the walls and even the ceiling was made up of tiny little tiles which is super cool.

On the menu for this stop, we got to try something we had all never tried before: Crispy Banana Chicken Wings. They were crunchy and tasty but it was quite strange to me having mashed banana with chicken; it was like it was both savoury and a dessert - so unusual!

Again, I really appreciated trying something I wouldn't normally pick off a menu and it's another little gem of a place that I will definitely come back to in the future.

Stop #7

Our final place to visit was the sweet and sensational Frugii Dessert Laboratory, the only non-chain dessert place in Canberra. Their products are made by them in-house and with all natural ingredients.

There is something to please everyone with ice cream, gelato and sorbet, chilled and frozen dessert, chocolate, drinks and caterings for any dietary requirements.

From the freezer, we got to try a selection of different flavours on the menu including Lemon Myrtle (probably my favourite one - absolute heaven!), Dark Chocolate, Black Currant, Vanilla Bean and Salted Caramel as well as some very interesting limited edition ones like Blue Cheese and even Bacon! We were also offered a Durian flavoured one but nobody was quite game enough.

They were all so creamy and delicious and the flavours really stood out. I'm pretty sure they are right up there with some of the best ice cream I have ever tried.

We also got to try the Hazelnut mousse choux accompanied with a squirt tube of Frangelico which was a-ma-zing.

This little dessert shop was the perfect place to finish and everyone was fantastically full and content after a brilliant afternoon eating our way around the highlights of Braddon.

The Details

The tour: Eat Canberra Braddon/City Walking Food Tour

Time: Starts at 1 PM and finishes around 5:30 PM

Price: $135 pp including all food and drink at 7+ stops

Reviews: 5/5 stars on Trip Advisor

Final Thoughts

I couldn't have imagined a better food tour, Eat Canberra ticked all the boxes and went above and beyond. We got to try such a great variety of incredible dishes and tastings and discovered a multitude of fantastic eateries. Each place visited was well thought out from start to finish, with prompt service and unique and exciting cuisine.

What made the tour all the more special was our amazing guide Amelia who is so talented and passionate about what she does.
She comes from a hospitality background, studied journalism and communications at University and has more than six years experience working in marketing, communications and events roles.
She combined her passions when she started Eat Canberra which she impressively runs all by herself while managing multiple side projects.

Her infectious enthusiasm and love for food shone through and she was a delightful host with a wealth of knowledge to share. At each place, Amelia interacted with each and every person and ensured everyone was having a great time.
All throughout the tour she stopped and pointed out recommended places along the way such as excellent Italian food, Indian, burgers and more. She also happily answered any questions we had about Canberra and the best places to eat.

As well as the Braddon Walking Food Tour, she also has a second Sweet Tooth Tour, especially for dessert-lovers! (I am so keen to join one day soon!).

Eat Canberra food tours are perfect for visitors and locals alike. It's a great way to be introduced to the city, for a special event or occasion, to discover more or show off what a fantastic place Canberra is for food-lovers.

I only wish I had done this tour sooner as I cannot wait to return to all of these foodie gems and hotspots again (and I sadly only have three weeks left here!).

Needless to say, I didn't even need to have dinner that night! The tour is excellent value for money with the diverse and generous servings included and all of the highest quality.
It was a fun and satisfying afternoon in great company and I highly recommend Eat Canberra to all.

Be sure to follow along on their Facebook and Instagram for the latest Canberra eatery news and events, drool-worthy pictures, tips, recipes, guides and major food inspiration.

Pin it! :)

Pro tip: If you plan on doing one of Eat Canberra's tours (which you should), don't have breakfast and wear stretchy pants!

Happy Travels,

The Best Twelve Apostles and Great Ocean Road Tour

Last week I flew to Melbourne to tick off one of my big Bucket List goals here in Australia: to see the incredible Twelve Apostles and the scenic Great Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostles were recently named in Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel as number 12 out of 500 of the top sights to see around the world - which is a pretty big deal!

Doing some research, I came across Go West Tours - who were voted this year as the number one Great Ocean Road tour and is Melbourne's most highly awarded tour operator.

They offered everything I was looking for on a memorable day trip with many top sights and stops along the way to the Twelve Apostles in an all-included day trip from Melbourne.

I had such a fantastic day on the tour and it lived up to my very high expectations! Read on to find out what we got up to on this remarkable 14-hour road trip.

All aboard & Torquay

I was warmly greeted and picked up bright and early at 7:20 am, right on time by the lovely tour guide Michelle. The mini-tour bus was already half full and we promptly whipped around town and picked up the rest of the passengers.
It was a full group that day but with the bus holding a maximum of 24 passengers, the group was relatively small and cosy.

Once all on board, Michelle gave us plenty of tour information and what to expect that day. She also entertained us with interesting facts about Melbourne as we drove out of the city centre.

About an hours drive away was our first stop at Torquay, a cute little surfy beach town at the very start of the Great Ocean Road. What's cool about Torquay is that it's the birthplace of the famous Australian surf brands Quicksilver and Rip Curl.

We spent half an hour there for morning tea. There were three types of yummy cake to choose from as well as tea, coffee and milo. We got to take our time and enjoy it on the beach watching the surfers which is something I love to do.

The Great Ocean Road

We were now on the Great Ocean Road, an Australian National Heritage that stretches 243 kilometres along the south-eastern coast of Australia.
Michelle told us about the history of the road and how it took 14 years to complete.
The 3000 men employed were ex-war servicemen from WW1, making it the longest war memorial.

We had a quick stop at Memorial Arch for a photo opportunity. It decided to bucket down with rain, only temporarily thank goodness.

We passed through some really cool beach towns such as Lorne, and amusingly Michelle played some Beach Boys tunes which put a smile on all of our faces!

The drive along the coastline was absolutely spectacular and it stretched on as far as the eye could see. Clear skies opened up for us and the water was a beautiful mixture of blues that literally sparkled. We had another quick stop for a photo at a stunning spot overlooking the water.

Lunch, Koalas and a Rainforest

It was now time for lunch and the chance for a bit of koala spotting! We stopped at Koala Kafe in Kennett River, where there are wild koalas that live in the area.
We got to pre-choose our lunch and a drink on the bus from a large selection of choices and when we arrived it was conveniently ready and waiting for us.

I opted for the fish burger and chips and it was very fresh, filling and tasty. We then had time to walk around and see one of Australia's most loved animals.
I managed to spot a couple of them sleeping at the tops of trees. There were also plenty of Australian native birds hanging out around the park.

We were treated to more beautiful coastal views stretching along the highway before making a quick pit stop at Apollo Bay. While the bus was being refuelled we got to look around the local information centre where I picked up a few souvenirs for the trip (I love to collect fridge magnets and postcards).

It was time to leave the Great Ocean Road for now and head more inland to our next stop.
We went for a lovely twenty-minute rainforest walk called Mait's Rest, located in the Great Otway National Park. It was a very cool contrast from the rest of the sights we were seeing that day.

It was so lush and green and also very nice to have a walk after that lunch! The native wildlife was beautiful, it reminded me of where I'm from in New Zealand.

Next, we got to sit back and relax as it was an hours drive to the next but most anticipated stop:

The Twelve Apostles

We were dropped off at the Twelve Apostles Visitor's Centre and eagerly followed the signed pathway leading to different lookout points and viewing platforms.

The iconic Twelve Apostles are magnificent limestone rock stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. They tower 45 metres above the Southern Ocean on Victoria's dramatic coastline.

We got to spend a full forty-five minutes here so there was plenty of time to really soak in the surroundings and enjoy the incredible formations that have been there for 6000 years.
Since their discovery, only eight now remain due to erosion and the forces of nature. The most recent one collapsed in 2005.

It was extremely windy and being a very popular tourist attraction there were quite a lot of people around but that didn't spoil the atmosphere at all. There was still plenty of chances to get your photograph taken with no one else in the shot.

They are a truly wondrous sight and I absolutely loved seeing them in real life. Big bucket list tick!

Gibson's Steps & Loch Ard Gorge

Next up, we were dropped off at the nearby Gibson's Steps which led to a beautiful beach to see two of the apostles from ground level.

It was pretty special to see them from a different perspective.

Our final stop along the Great Ocean Road was Lock Ard Gorge, and Michelle told us this was her favourite of all the stops. She told us a historical story first about a famous shipwreck here in 1878.

The picturesque gorge is home to a beautiful bay with clear, blue water and it is absolutely breathtaking. There are three easy walks you can do to see the area's natural treasures and the gorge from different views, including walking down to the hidden beach.

It was incredible to see these natural rock formations and the power of nature up close.
There are detailed signs along the walks that share the fascinating stories about the area's history, geology and natural features.

I couldn't believe it was 5 pm already - the day went so fast, probably because it was so enjoyable! It was time to head back towards Melbourne, stopping for a bite to eat in a small country town along the way.

We got to witness a beautiful Victorian sunset out of the window and see the Melbourne city lights come to life before we were each dropped off home at the end of a long but very excellent day.

The Details

Tour: Great Ocean Road Day Tour

Times: Pickups are between 7 - 8 am, drop-offs are between 8:30 - 9:30 pm

Dates: The tour runs daily

Reviews: 4.5/5 stars from 1910 reviews and a certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor.

Price: $130 pp, including pick up, drop-off, morning tea and lunch.

Final Thoughts

I honestly couldn't have enjoyed the Great Ocean Road tour more. The entire day was very well organised, well thought out and executed.

What made the tour all the more special was our guide Michelle, who was an absolute star. She remembered every single person's name, which was very impressive and interacted with everyone all throughout the day. She was enthusiastic, approachable and demonstrated great safe driving.

Go West has been taking guests on tour since 2000 and are clearly leading experts in their field. I can imagine all of their guides, not just Michelle, are professional, warm and friendly, showcasing true blue Aussie hospitality.

There was a large range of people on board from all around the world, from couples, a family, friends to solo travellers like me. One couple from Brazil was even on their honeymoon!

Even though you do spend many hours sitting down travelling, there are plenty of opportunities well spaced out to walk and properly stretch your legs; it didn't even seem like we were stuck on a bus for that long!

Go West offer a number of fantastic tours from Melbourne and I would have loved to do them all if I had the time (especially their Yarra Valley food and wine tour).

Driving right alongside the scenic Great Ocean Road and seeing the Twelve Apostles and other natural wonders was a huge highlight of my time here in Australia and an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend Go West to everyone!

If you would like to see a bit more I made a short travel vlog from my day trip for YouTube:

Hands up who has now put the Twelve Apostles on their bucket list??

Happy Travels,
Pin it! :)

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 rosΓ© 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 RosΓ© 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!

Pin it! :)

Happy Travels,

First Overwater Bungalow! The Resort of my Dreams in Vietnam

After two fantastic nights at Pilgrimage Village, I was next off to their sister resort in nearby Phu Loc which lies between Hue and Hoi An.
I spent four incredible nights at Vedana Lagoon Resort and Spa which was - I kid you not, the resort of my dreams.

It is nestled on the shore of a peaceful and serene lagoon, which is one of the largest in Southeast Asia. They have the very first overwater villas in Vietnam, which I felt so lucky and grateful to be able to experience.
The best part was my husband flew all the way from Australia to meet me for a two week holiday so we got to enjoy it together!

First Impressions

The complimentary shuttle ride from Pilgrimage Village was very convenient and quick; only a 45 minute drive away. Hopping out of the van I was instantly greeted and had my luggage taken for me as I walked up the steps into the large and modernly designed reception area.

From the moment I arrived at Vedana Lagoon, I could not wipe the smile off my face.
This place was absolutely stunning! The secluded location set in front of serene waters surrounded by mountains and tropical palm trees was eye-poppingly beautiful.
It was such a balmy place and had wonderful relaxing vibes.

I was warmly welcomed, shown to a nearby seat and presented with a tasty refreshing drink and cool towel.

The check in process was seamless and I was informed of all of the onsite facilities, daily activities and free shuttle bus times to Hue and a nearby popular beach.
I was then transported via a buggy and taken to my room - which turned out to be an amazing surprise.

The Room

I was so incredibly lucky to be upgraded to an Overwater Bungalow - I have always dreamed of staying in a room like this! Not only that but there is only one that has a glass-bottomed floor, and guess who got it? Me! I was very spoilt indeed.
Opening the door to my room I was instantly blown away, it was incredibly luxurious. I was given a tour and then left to marvel and enjoy.

I was so surprised by how large it was. The villa was 130 square metres with a very spacious bedroom and separate bathroom area.

The super king sized bed was a central feature of the room, raised on a modern wood stage. To the front of it was the amazing glass floor to see right through to the water below!
A mesmerising feature that I couldn't take my eyes off of.

To the left side of the bed was a comfortable built-in couch with colourful cushions.

In the left corner of the room set atop a small fireplace was an LCD television with satellite channels and a DVD player.

In the right corner was a wooden desk with complimentary bottled water and a fruit platter that was changed daily.

Behind the bed, on the left and right are two large wardrobes. In the left was a small fridge and mini bar that was well-equipped including a selection of international wines and spirits. There was also complimentary tea and coffee, a little pot and glassware.
The right wardrobe held a safe, soft silky robes and flip flops.

Through the right-hand door was the enormous bathroom which had an amazing deep bath set right in front of the window looking out over the lagoon.

The long counter had his and hers sinks with large mirrors and many good quality toiletries, there were even proper toothbrush holders!

Also in the bathroom was another large desk area set in front of a large mirror.
My husband always sleeps in so I enjoyed being able to come in there in the mornings and sit at the desk on my laptop to work.

Through a connecting door was a gorgeous separate outdoor bathroom area with a rain shower and toilet around the corner. The shampoo, conditioner and soap were amazing quality, I really enjoyed using them.

Probably the best part of the villa was the amazing view whether you looked left, right or straight ahead. Through the sliding doors leading out to the large balcony, was the best place to enjoy it from the table and chairs or comfortable round day bed.

Other features of the room included excellent Wifi and air conditioning, 24-hour room service, daily housekeeping, laundry service available, unlimited free bottled water and a nightly turndown service.

As well as the captivating and tranquil view, I especially loved how spacious, artfully decorated and cosy the room was. The bed was extremely comfortable and it was very quiet being so far from anyone else, so the sleep quality was excellent.

There are a range of other types of rooms available as well including Waterfront Deluxe, Pool Honeymoon Villa and Family Lagoon View.

Beyond the Room

Vedana Lagoon 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 lagoon that is enormous and ultra relaxing.

There are plenty of loungers and day beds around the pool to relax on under shady umbrellas.
One thing I did miss was a happy hour or drink specials. That is definitely something my husband and I usually take advantage of.

The Vedana Wellness & Spa is absolute perfection. Located in an overwater bungalow itself, you simply cannot beat the views or tranquility!

They aim to bring you "an experience of spa life which we define as LUSH. (Luxurious. Unpretentious. Sustainable. Healthy)".
They offer many treatments to indulge in such as lovers romantic packages (for two people), massages, body treatments including scrubs and wraps, facials, wellness, nail and hair care.

You certainly couldn't beat a pamper session with those views and ambient surroundings! The Jacuzzi, sauna and herbal steam room is also available for guests to enjoy before or after treatments.

Also near the spa they offer daily complimentary wellness activities including Yoga and Taichi in the mornings.
Closer to the entrance and reception area are plenty of other great activities to keep you busy if you choose. There are tennis, volleyball and badminton courts for a bit of sporty fun.

There is a gym with a view for guests to use with a variety of exercise machines and equipment.

For the young or young at heart there is a games room with a pool table and foozball games. There is also a baby room, movie room, a library, conference room, cooking classroom - Vedana Lagoon really has it all.

There are even kayaks to use at your leisure to enjoy the beautiful lagoon.

One of my favourite things about the resort was getting around by bicycle!
Each room comes with your own set of two and I loved cycling around the lagoon to breakfast in the mornings and the pool in the afternoons. I hadn't cycled for years so it was really fun for me. If you don't like to cycle you can easily call up and get a buggy straight to your door to take you around.

As well as having a complimentary daily shuttle bus to Hue and a beach they can easily book and organise tours and airport transfers. We personally used this and pre-booked a pickup for Gareth from Danang Airport to Vedana Lagoon and it was an excellent and convenient service.

They have wedding and honeymoon packages and can cater for onsite meetings and events.

There is of course also the lovely onsite Lantern House, Piano Bar and Horizon Restaurant where we ate at every night, this is also where breakfast is served daily.

The Food

A daily buffet breakfast is included in the room and had a very impressive selection of local and international choices. You could have eggs made to order, Pho noodle soup, there was a large range of hot and cold dishes, fresh pastries and bread, fruit, yogurt, cereals and juices.

The coffee was superb and you could choose from Vietnamese or American. Everything was very fresh, good quality and tasty, I very much enjoyed my breakfast every day! 

The Horizon Restaurant's menu was a good mixture of European, Vietnamese and local specialties.
We enjoyed trying many dishes and eating different things every night. The waiters were always helpful in recommending dishes if we weren't sure. Our favourite was a seafood and mixed meat hotpot that we shared and really enjoyed.

One of the days for lunch we ordered room service which was excellent. We loved the convenience and being able to eat and enjoy the beautiful view from our balcony.

There is an overwater platform where the resort can set up romantic sunset dinners for a special occasion. They offer delicious set menus and can arrange candles and live music which would be an unforgettable memory.

The Candle Bar lit up at night

The Details

Resort: Vedana Lagoon Resort and Spa

Location: Zone 1, Phu Loc Town, Phu Loc District, 8454

Reviews: 4.5/5 stars on Trip Advisor from 655 reviews and a 2017 Traveler's Choice Winner.

Price: Starts at $120 USD for a Waterfront Deluxe Room, depending on the season.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely loved my stay here and wished I didn't ever have to leave! It was such a magical experience staying in an overwater bungalow with some of the best views I've ever laid my eyes on. It truly looked like a painting.

The staff are incredibly warm, generous and friendly. Any minor request was taken care of straight away, the service was impeccable. Cycling around the resort you were happily greeted by everyone, even the lovely gardeners.

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 groups of friends for a special occasion or luxurious getaway.

It is the most tranquil and peaceful place I have ever had the pleasure of staying at and I loved every minute of it. As someone who is attracted to water, Vedana Lagoon was a picture-perfect place that I can still hardly believe exists!

It was a real treat to stay there and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting central Vietnam, it is such a gem and one not to be missed!

Happy Travels,
Pin it! :)

Disclaimer: One night was complimentary and the others discounted in exchange for an honest review. All opinions as always are my own.

Travel Essential: Bagail Packing Cubes

Being a couple of months into my travels around Southeast Asia, I was super excited to start using the reputable Packing Cubes for the very first time.
My husband met up with me in Vietnam for a two week holiday and kindly brought them over for me and I have to say – these have made my life so much easier!

First Impressions

From the moment I opened my package, I was highly impressed. The cubes are very lightweight and can pack up very neat and small.

I picked my favourite colour (black) which comes with a striking blue lining design.
This set of six cubes comes in three different sizes: small, medium and large and you get two of each. They have a mesh lining on top and the material and zippers are excellent quality and feel very durable.

The Test

Let me start by showing you just how unorganised my suitcase was before I started using the packing cubes. Basically I used my own version of cubes in the form of multiple plastic bags... it was a bit of a mess to be honest!



As I still had 8 weeks to go on my travels I actually offloaded a lot of stuff I wasn't using to my husband to take back home for me so I could travel extra light, and I also gave him two packing cubes to use himself. I thought four was the perfect amount for me to use personally.

I use the large packing cube for my clothing that I don't wear every day. This includes my jeans and sweatshirt (mostly for plane travel) and jean shorts and skirt, cardigan etc.
I like to keep the rest of my clothing that I do wear daily such as t-shirts and singlets easily accessible so I prefer to keep them loose in my suitcase.

I use the medium packing cube as my sort of 'medical and extra toiletries kit'.
In here I keep my spare toiletries and medication, washing powder, tissues etc. and I really appreciate how much more organised these products are, now I know exactly where to find them all!

For the two small packing cubes, one I use as my 'electronics bag'. In there I keep my various chargers, spare batteries and memory cards, my Go Pro and accessories and also my spare sunglasses.
The second one is my 'random stuff' bag. In there I keep little presents and knickknacks I've purchased such as key rings and post cards and any receipts and papers I wish to keep.

I only have one other large plastic bag that I keep my shoes in and two of my own toiletry bags that I constantly take in and out of my suitcase – one for my makeup and one for my everyday care such as shampoo and conditioner, face wash, toothbrush, soap etc. and I feel this works really well for me.

I am so pleased with how organised I now am and I actually feel like more of a proper traveller because of it!

Final Thoughts

I have been using the Bagail Packing Cubes for over three weeks now and I can't believe they hadn't been in my life earlier! They have become a new travel essential for me and I know I will get so much use out of them for every single trip I go on.

It has minimised the amount of plastic bags I use, uses up a lot less space and makes finding things a heck of a lot easier. The different sizes and mesh front means I no longer have to hunt for items and it also helps clothing to breath and be odour-free.

I love the style, the quality and how they make packing such a breeze. My suitcase is so neat and tidy now and 1000 times more organised. This product would suit every type of traveller and I highly recommend it to all.

The Details

This Bagail Set has six Packing Cubes – 2 Large (17.5β€³ x 13.7β€³ x 4β€³) 2 Medium (13.7β€³ x 9.8β€³ x 4β€³) and 2 Slim (13.7β€³x5β€³x4β€³). They come in a choice of seven colours – as well as Black, it comes in Blue, Dark Blue, Fuchsia, Grey, Burgundy and Purple. These can be easily purchased on Amazon or through their website.

Do check out if you would like more information and to see a bunch of other great products they have too, from Travel Shoe, Laundry, Makeup and Toiletry Bags to Handbags, Backpacks and Duffel Bags. They have a warranty guarantee and 60 days of free return shipping.

Pin it :)

Happy Travels,

Disclaimer: My set of packing cubes were complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All opinions as always are my own.

A Taste of Rural Vietnam at Pilgrimage Village, Hue

I was so excited to return back to Vietnam, six months away was too long! This time I had the pleasure of exploring central Vietnam, beginning in Hue – the former seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802–1945.

I stayed for two fantastic nights at Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa, which was an amazing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Only a 15-minute drive away from the town centre, it is located in the quiet countryside in a rustic village setting, surrounded by lush tropical gardens.

First Impressions

Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted and had my bags taken for me. I was welcomed into the spacious open reception area that had a grand wood design with a hand-carved roof and large wooden beams. I was shown to one of the many comfortable seats and presented with a refreshing welcome drink and cool towel.
The check in process was smooth and I was briefed on the onsite facilities, daily activities and free shuttle bus times before being shown to my room.
The grounds were very large and lush with greenery, it had a very secluded feel about it.

The outside of my room

The Room

Located opposite the spa, I was lucky enough to be upgraded to a Honeymoon Suite which was an incredible room with everything you could wish for.
It was perfectly spacious and open with a grand king four-poster bed as the central feature, which was very comfortable.

In front of the bed was a sofa couch and coffee table with flowers and a fresh fruit platter that was changed daily – a very thoughtful and welcome touch!

In the left corner was a wooden desk, chair and bright lamp which was a great working station. On the desk were room service and spa menus, tour information and complimentary bottled water.

In the right-hand corner opposite the bed was an LCD television with premium channels set above a small fireplace.

To the very right of the bed and where you walk in was a wardrobe with bathrobes, slippers and large umbrellas. In the shelving was an electronic safe, a small refrigerator with a mini bar that was decently stocked, glassware, cups and complimentary coffee and tea.

The marble-style bathroom was also very large and had an impressive bath with a window view of the beautiful green scenery.

The shower had excellent pressure and for once the shampoo and conditioner were great quality, I really enjoyed using them. There was even a jar of complimentary rock salt to use for the bath.

The bathroom was well-equipped with fresh towels and kitted out with all the toiletries you could possibly need.

Through the sliding doors, outside was a large balcony with two rocking chairs, a table and sunbed. The view overlooked a large lotus pond below and it was a very peaceful and tranquil setting.

Other features of the room include good Wifi and air conditioning, room service, daily housekeeping, laundry service available and a nightly turndown where they put down the mosquito net for you.

The entire room was tastefully decorated with wooden furnishings and art and it had a very rustic countryside feel to it. I particularly loved the large mirrors and the blackout curtains.
With the curtains drawn, in the mornings there was no light at all so that along with the super comfortable bed made for fantastic sleep quality.
It was a very quiet and relaxing room and I enjoyed it very much.

Pilgrimage Village has 139 rooms in total and there are many types to choose from to suit a variety of needs. The Premium Deluxe rooms are newer and have a more classic modern style and there is a range of villas and bungalows to choose from including Family Deluxe, Honeymoon Pool Hut and probably my favourite – the Traditional Vietnamese Pool House!

The beautifully designed house comes complete with its own living room, plunge pool, private garden and outdoor dining area. Staying there would be absolute honeymoon or anniversary goals!

Beyond the Room

The large property is spread over five hectares and naturally, they offer a wide range of facilities and services including two premium pools.
The first is a picturesque aqua pool located close to the reception area. There is an attached children's pool and loungers dotted around under thatched-roof umbrellas.

The main pool is possibly the largest I had ever seen before! Located at the far end of the resort near The Valley Restaurant, this slope pool has a swim-up pool bar with daily drink specials and many loungers to relax on.

Happy Hour runs from 4:30 - 6:30 pm with 2 for 1 signature cocktails and beer. You can also order poolside snacks from their menu to enjoy.

The temperature of the pool was a little too warm for me, but it was still very pleasant to lounge poolside on the comfortable sunbeds while reading my book.
The surrounding area was beautifully decorated and tranquil, with a trickling waterfall and bird sculpture fountains around the pool. It was extremely relaxing.

The onsite Vedana Spa is highly impressive and offers many treatments to indulge in, inspired by nature to help nurture the mind, body and spirit.
They proudly use no chemicals or artificial ingredients in their spa treatments, taking great care to source only 100% natural ingredients. Where possible, they derive all of their spa products from their own herb garden or locally from sustainable sources fresh from the markets in the morning.

Services include deep-tissue massages, hot stone massages, Swedish and Thai massages.
A variety of treatment therapies are provided, including aromatherapy and reflexology.
The spa is also equipped with a sauna, a steam room and Turkish bath/hammam.

All of their treatments are pure in style and substance, offering the unique flavours of Hue, Vietnam.
You can go all out and fully pamper yourself with a manicure and pedicure, facial, a body wrap and scrub, they even offer hair care services.

Near the spa, there are daily complimentary wellness activities including morning Taichi and Yoga.

Also in the area is the well-equipped Fitness Center. There is a variety of exercise machines and equipment including bicycles, treadmills and free weights.

The resort has a convenient daily free shuttle bus to and from the city several times a day and to its sister resort in Phu Loc, Vedana Lagoon.
Many local tours and airport transfers can easily be arranged and there are bicyles for hire.
They have wedding and honeymoon packages and can cater for meetings and social gatherings.

There are no less than three lovely places situated around the resort to enjoy chilling with a nice drink, including the Candle Bar, Peanut Bar and Slope Lounge.

There are two large restaurants on site, Junrei Restaurant, which is one of Central Vietnam's largest traditional houses, crafted with authentic imperial columns and Valley Restaurant of a more modern art design, set next to a lily lake; this is also where breakfast is served daily.

The Food

A daily buffet breakfast is included with your room and has seriously one of the most impressive selections I have ever seen.
You can have eggs made to order how you like and there is a banh mi and waffle stand.

There are western and local hot dishes to choose from including traditional Hue pho soup. There are fresh pancakes, crepes, pastries and bread, cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, salads and juices, cheese and deli items.

There is something for every taste here, even the fussiest person would not go hungry.
I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast both mornings.
One thing that could perhaps be improved on is the coffee service. It was always very busy and both mornings I had to ask for a coffee after about twenty minutes as it wasn't self-service and nobody had come by.

An excellent start to my day!

I ate in for both of the nights and on the first, I ordered room service, which was quite prompt. I wasn't particularly hungry so I just ordered an entree that was a local Hue dish, Banh Khoai. It is a Vietnamese crepe made of rice flour and fried until crispy, with pork meat, quail egg and shrimp to eat together with fresh lettuce leaves, herbs and a dipping sauce. It was so delicious I wished there was a second one!

On my second and final night, I dined at the Junrei Restaurant which was a very elegant place. They (as well as Valley Restaurant) offer both Vietnamese and international cuisine and the setting is very beautiful, in a large building with hand-crafted wooden architecture.
It was quite full of people so it is a very popular option. It did take a while to order and for the food to come out however it was certainly worth the wait and I enjoyed a beer in the meantime. After asking for a recommendation I ordered Bun Thit Nuong.

This is a popular cold Vietnamese rice noodle dish, topped with tasty grilled pork, fresh herbs such as basil and mint, a fresh garden salad, bean sprouts and deep-fried spring rolls. You pour the fish sauce over the noodles, mix all together and enjoy!
It was a great big size and very delicious, the flavours were so fresh and wonderful.
It was a tad on the expensive side for Vietnam however, that with the cheapest Huda beer came to $16 AUD.
It was a very delicious meal though and the convenience of dining on site is worth it.

The Details

Hotel: Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa

Location: 130 Minh Mang Road, Hue, Vietnam

Reviews: 4.5/5 stars on Trip Advisor from 1956 Reviews.

Price: Starts at $90 USD a night for a Deluxe Double Room, depending on the season.

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here, it was a much-needed retreat. Being surrounded in a peaceful, lush green environment and experiencing a taste of rural Vietnam in a luxury-style setting was so blissful. The resort seamlessly embodied both traditional Vietnamese influences infused with classic modern style.

The location is great if you want to stay somewhere more secluded and quiet, away from the traffic noise and the hustle of everyday life. The airport is only 15 kilometres away and the city centre 4 kilometres away, or fifteen minutes drive and the free daily shuttle buses make going to and from there a breeze.

Even though there were clearly many people at the resort, judging by the pool and restaurants always being fulll, it really didn't seem like it as it's such an enormous place with plenty of space for all.

The generous staff are exceptionally friendly, the most I have ever encountered before. Everyone would all smile and say Xin ChΓ o to each other as well as every time us guests walked past.
Miwa from Japan, in particular, was the loveliest woman I think I have ever met in my life. She made sure everything was perfect about my stay and offered any assistance for future travels which was so kind, she is such a beautiful soul.

My room was fantastic and very comfortable and the facilities around the resort are 5-star. With the two excellent pools, great spa, multiple restaurants and bars, Pilgrimage Village is the ideal place for a relaxing vacation and would be a top choice for every type of traveller, from solo travellers like me to couples looking for a romantic getaway, friends and big family groups.
I highly recommend this resort and would absolutely stay again next time I'm in Hue!

Happy Travels,

Pin it! :)
Disclaimer: One night was complimentary and the second night discounted in exchange for an honest review. All opinions as always are my own.

My Highlight of Phuket: A Cooking Class to Remember!

If you couldn't tell by my multiple pictures of food and specific food-related posts - I am a huge foodie and Thai cuisine is my ultimate favourite in the whole world.
I knew during my second visit to Thailand I wanted to do a local cooking class and learn how to make some of my all-time fave dishes.

Doing some research, when I came across Kata Thai Cooking by Sally in Phuket, I knew I had found the one! For starters, one of their slogans is 'Food Coma' hahaha.
Seriously though, this was my favourite day of my week in Phuket; we went to a local market, I was made to eat bugs (ew!), I tried so many local delicacies and then back in class I learnt how to whip up first-hand three dishes: Red Curry, Pad Kra Prow and Pad Thai.

It was a fantastic and informative class that I will never forget! Sally was an absolutely fantastic (and patient) teacher and her humour and good nature was the icing on top.
Read on to hear all about the superb cooking class in detail:

The Classroom

I arrived at Kata Thai Cooking Class at 3:30 PM on a Saturday for the dinner with market tour session. It was easy to find and well signposted at the front of the building.

Inside, the classroom was spacious, bright, well-decorated and clean. I already knew it was going be a great class by the vibrant atmosphere and how well set-up and organised the room was.

Everything was all laid out and prepared for the lesson ahead. I was the only one there so far and was warmly greeted and given a cold bottle of water (which was very welcome).

We waited for a while for two others who had booked to show up but they never did, so I basically got my own private cooking class!

Market Visit

Sally and I jumped into her car and we went to a local market about ten minutes drive away.
We started by walking through the fruit and vegetable sections where I got quizzed on my shocking knowledge of the names of them!
We also went through the different parts of meat, fish, many spices and common ingredients. As we went Sally picked up different fresh bits we needed for our class.

Next, we passed by the uh, local 'delicacies' section. We started at a table full of different bugs like crickets, silk worms and frogs. Sally said the silk worms were her favourite and I was peer-pressured into trying one! It wasn't as bad as I thought, just the idea of it of course. I also nibbled on a frog leg which was crunchy and salty (I had tried it once before).

I also got to try a bunch of other Thai snacks at the many market stalls. We tried fried chicken, salmon and egg-white mousse crackers and a very spicy and delicious rice dish.

I hadn't tried or even heard of half of the fruit I was shown so Sally picked some up for me to try. Back in the classroom, she chopped up for me: farang, custard apple and starfruit.

Time to Cook

As I was the only student I luckily got to choose the dishes I wished to make. I picked three of my favourites Red Curry, Pad Kra Prow (Thai Basil Chicken) and Pad Thai.
We started with preparing all of the ingredients for the red curry paste. I loved learning all about each fresh ingredient as at home half of them come in jars.

I was shown first how to chop, slice and dice each ingredient and then did it all myself (a lot more slowly!). I am a complete novice at cooking but Sally and her lovely assistants were very patient with me.

After everything was prepared it was time to turn the heat up. We started with the Red Curry and Pad Kra Prow.  Again, I was shown first exactly how to make it and then got to do it all myself (which is the best way for me to learn). 
I somehow managed to burn my Red Curry and accidentally put a tablespoon of soy sauce instead of a teaspoon into my Pad Kra Prow (doh!) but they both still ended up tasting good.

I got to sit down and enjoy the first two dishes with freshly made rice and it was quite a feast. I got to make my Red Curry super spicy, just the way I like it - it was sublime!
I only had a small portion of each as I still had the Pad Thai to come.

I was most excited to learn how to make this dish, as I love it so much. Watching Sally first was a joy, she is such a pro at cooking and makes it look very easy. When it came to my turn I'm afraid I failed miserably, I just couldn't do it fast enough.

Once the ingredients go in one at a time you have to scoop, turn and scoop so quickly to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

I got there eventually (with Sally's help!) and sat down to eat it, still pretty proud of myself. It might not have been as pretty as Sally's one but I made it myself and that's something!

Just to cap off already a fantastic class we finished with my all-time favourite Thai dish - Mango Sticky Rice! I got to see how the rice is steamed in a traditional basket and learnt the ingredients for it. It was the perfect way to end and of course, I had room to eat all of that one. πŸ˜‹

The leftovers were packaged up for me to have for lunch the next day. I also got to keep my chef's bandana as a souvenir and all of the recipes in detail were emailed to me.
Feeling extremely full and satisfied I was even dropped off to my hotel by Sally herself.
She was so generous and warm and I absolutely loved my class with her.

The Details

Cooking Class: Kata Thai Cooking by Sally

Times: Two classes run six days a week from Monday - Saturday for lunch and dinner.
Lunch classes start at 11 AM and dinner classes at 3:30 PM as it includes a market tour beforehand (except for Wednesdays, which starts at 4 PM).
Classes run between 2.5 - 4 hours.

Recipes: The recipes include three popular main Thai dishes and are different every cooking session, so choose the day depending on what you would prefer to make.

Location: 5 Ket Kwan Road, Karon, Kata Beach, Phuket 83100

Reviews: 5/5 stars out of 702 reviews on Trip Advisor and is #1 for Food & Drink in Phuket.

Price: Lunch and Wednesday dinner class 1,900 THB ($56 USD), Dinner class with market tour 2,200 THB ($65 USD).

Final Thoughts

Kata Thai Cooking Class by Sally is a definite must-do if you are in Phuket and love Thai cuisine. The class is so informative, fun, easy-going and would suit a wide range of people, from solo-travellers like me, to friends, families and couples.
Sally has been running her school for six years and is an absolute expert in her field. She is an incredible chef and her classes are very well organised. From start to finish, there was a perfect balance of verbal teaching and hands on learning, as well as a multitude of great tips and important facts about Thai cuisine and cooking.

I learned so much that day and it was a class I will remember forever. The dishes made were all excellent quality and delicious, I can't wait to impress the socks off my family and friends when I get back home!
I would 100% recommend this class to anyone visiting, even if you have no cooking skills whatsoever (cough, me), you will still have a fantastic time.
If I am ever back in Phuket I would do this class again in a heartbeat.
Thank you so much to Sally and her team for having me, it was a real pleasure.

Happy Travels,
Pin it! :)

A perfect stay at BYD Lofts, Phuket

My very first time in Phuket kicked off to a fantastic start staying at BYD Lofts Boutique Hotel & Serviced Apartments for three wonderful nights.
I could not have been more impressed by my elegant apartment suite, the friendly service and amazing food. If you are wanting to stay in the Patong Beach area then you honestly should not stay anywhere else (they are after all rated the number one hotel on Trip Advisor in Patong for a reason!).

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed was how gorgeous this hotel complex is. Spread over three buildings down a quiet road, the design is totally chic and hip.
I instantly loved the environment; BYD Lofts is located in a peaceful area which is perfect for relaxing, yet it's only a few minutes walking distance to the world-famous Patong Beach and Bangla Road.

I was instantly warmly greeted and had my bags taken for me before entering the sophisticated reception area. The check-in process was smooth and I was presented with a cool towel and refreshing welcome drink.

I was personally shown to my room which was in another of their buildings across the road. It was located on the fourth floor and my jaw dropped when I saw my deluxe apartment, it was so large and absolutely gorgeous. I was shown around and introduced to the services provided by the hotel and then left to enjoy my room.

The Room

The lounge area was beautifully furnished with all the creature comforts of home. There was a large leather sofa with cushions, a lounger, a soft fluffy rug underneath the coffee table and a 42-inch LCD TV complete with a Surround Sound System and iPod docking station.

I loved the special touches on the coffee table including fresh flowers, a fruit platter, a personalised bottle of wine and reading magazines.

Through the sliding door was a spacious terrace with outdoor furniture. My balcony had a view overlooking the quiet street below and the main BYD Lofts building.

Next to the lounge, the European kitchen area was fully self-serviced with an oven, cooking appliances, chinaware, cutlery and even an espresso coffee machine. I was very impressed!

The full-sized fridge and freezer and counter next to it were conveniently stocked with a decent mini bar and complimentary bottled water.

Into the separate bedroom was a large and extremely comfortable bed with tasteful artwork set above. The linens were the highest quality 400-thread count Egyptian cotton, with down-feather duvet and pillows. Needless to say, I had the best three nights sleep there I've probably ever had!
A second widescreen TV was set on the wall opposite the bed and to the left was a double mirrored wardrobe.

Inside you could find an electronic safety box, iron and board, large umbrella, laundry bag, slippers and cosy bathrobes.

Also to the left was the beautiful marble ensuite bathroom. From the glass hand basin, fresh flowers, many mirrors, amazing toiletry amenities and large shower, this was one of the most elegant bathrooms I've ever been in. The towels were also incredibly soft, it was all incredibly luxurious.

Other features of the room included excellent high-speed Wifi, air conditioning, daily housekeeping and the ability to order services directly from and to your room (more details on those below).

Beyond the Room

On top of the main building was a rooftop swimming pool with great views of the surrounding mountains. The comfortable loungers were provided with sun umbrellas, a side-table and pool towels. It was a great place to relax, go for a dip and read a good book listening to the trickling waterfalls.

My own building I was staying in even had its own smaller swimming pool on the ground floor, just in-case you didn't feel like walking across the road!

One of my favourite things to do on a Thailand holiday is to get a relaxing traditional massage and at BYD Lofts you can order one via telephone and they come to you in the privacy of your own room. For only 500 THB ($15 US) it's an amazing price for such a convenience. You can also get a foot massage or oil massage if you choose.

Also via telephone or at their travel desk, the staff can easily organise popular shows and tours such as Phuket Fantasea, Phi Phi Island and James Bond day trips. All the information and prices can be found in your room.

On-site is Wine Connection, their own wine cellar. There you can purchase new and old international wines at wholesale prices with more than 1500 bottles to choose from.

They also offer airport pick up and taxi services, 24-hour room service, free private parking on-site, 24-hour security and CCTV, an art gallery and of course their multi cuisine restaurant and bar and bistro.

The Food

Daily breakfast is included in the room and has an impressive variety to cater for all kinds of tastes. You can order off a menu to be freshly made for you eggs how you like, pancakes and waffles. There is a large selection of hot local and western dishes which is changed daily for added variety.

There were also many cold options available such as fresh fruit, deli choices, cereals, bread and baked goods, iced water and juices. The coffee was made fresh for you from a machine and was superb.

I enjoyed mixing it up daily with a fresh omelette and hot options or a pancake which I filled with banana and Nutella! πŸ˜‹

Breakfast is served in their main restaurant where they are open for lunch and dinner and have a large local and western menu with daily specials and a happy hour.

There is also a second bar and bistro located on the ground level of the building I was staying in so I enjoyed 2 for 1 cocktails and dinner there one evening.

The front of the building I stayed in with the bistro

Like the restaurant, the bistro was wonderfully decorated and had a very pleasant atmosphere. I very much enjoyed spending time there writing and working on my blog, sipping on a delicious cocktail and nibbling on the complimentary nuts.

On my final night, I had a delicious Thai red curry. It was served with rice and fresh bread with garlic butter. The curry was very nice, it just could have been a lot spicier for me (because I am a spice-freak). Overall, excellent food experiences and perfectly convenient. The bar staff too were always very attentive and keen for a chat.

The Details

Hotel: BYD Lofts Boutique Hotel & Serviced Apartments

Location: 62/8 Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, Patong Beach, Kathu, Phuket 83150

Reviews: 5/5 stars out of 1910 reviews on Trip Advisor and is rated the #1 hotel out of 322 in Patong.

Price: Starts at $130 USD for a Deluxe Suite, depending on the season.

Final Thoughts

BYD Lofts was one of the most stylish and luxurious hotels I've stayed in. I would 100% stay again if I'm ever back in the Patong area and highly recommend it to others who are looking for a comfortable stay with excellent service and that little bit extra which always makes your stay all the more special.
They have a modern lifestyle message "Dare to be different" which is resonated throughout the hotel with their sleek chic design and artwork, giving wonderful splashes of colour.

The location is perfect, being only a few minutes walking distance from the beach, main shopping and nightlife areas.
There is a 7/11 convenience store only two minutes walk away and as a little tip, basically next door is an excellent local Thai food eatery if you want to eat out somewhere different. Called 'Mini Thai Restaurant' I noticed every time I walked past it was always packed with people so I decided to check it out one day and ended up going there very often for lunch (mango sticky rice!) or dinner (green curry and seafood fried rice in a pineapple!).

BYD Lofts is a perfect choice for those seeking a romantic getaway, families seeking some downtime and young-at-heart sophisticated travellers on a luxury getaway. As well as deluxe apartments they offer pool-access penthouses, two bedroom grand deluxe apartments and two bedroom penthouses.

My deluxe apartment was so tasteful and incredibly cosy, I was ecstatic with it. All of the personal touches, the friendliness of the staff, the relaxing environment, great services and delicious food made it an absolute pleasure to stay there. I cannot wait to return again!

If you would like to see a bit more I show a small apartment tour and around the hotel in the first part of my Phuket Travel Vlog for YouTube:

Happy Travels,
Pin it :)

Disclaimer: My stay was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All opinions as always are my own.

Partying in Paradise: Bob’s Booze Cruise, Phi Phi Island

I absolutely loved Phi Phi Island - I'm pretty sure it's my new favourite place in the whole of Thailand! I only spent two days and one night there and it definitely wasn't enough, but I had such a fantastic time and that was all thanks to Captain Bob's Booze Cruise.

I wanted to see Maya Bay and a few of the beautiful surrounding islands while there, and when I was researching tours and came across this particular one – it had my name written all over it! Cruising to all of the island highlights and unlimited free beer? Yes please!
As a solo traveller, I love to meet new people and as I'm naturally pretty shy, a few beers sure do help.

This cruise was hands-down incredible and if you're heading to Thailand and Phi Phi Island yourself and love to have a good time – this tour is for you.
You get to have fun and socialise in the most breathtaking places, feed monkeys, stand up paddleboard, snorkel and swim in crystal clear waters, it's a whole day of unlimited fun and the guides make it even more so. I would do this tour again in a heartbeat if I went back!

The Tour

Captain Bob's Booze Cruise departs every day from Tonsai Pier at 1 pm and returns at 7 pm. The destinations of the day include:

Monkey Beach

Pileh Lagoon

Maya Bay (The Beach)

Loh Samah Bay

Wang Long Nook (during high season)

Once on board, everyone introduced themselves and where they were from as we cruised off. Our first stop of the day was Monkey Cave where those brave enough got to feed the wild monkeys. We were told that they once stopped feeding them because they were becoming too reliant on it, but then they started eating rubbish instead which is obviously terrible, so feeding them peanuts isn't a bad thing.

Our group at Monkey Cave
Back on board, we had our first drink of the day. Singha and Leo beer or vodka and rum drinks were offered all around and there was lively party music to help set the mood. Everyone was having a great time!

We passed by the Viking Cave on Koh Phi Phi Leh which was so cool to see up close.
It is a famous limestone cave with wall paintings and is a site for harvesting bird nests for a traditional Chinese soup.

We stopped for snorkelling at the entrance of Pileh Lagoon for a decent amount of time.
It was a beautiful area and a big size so that everyone could go off and snorkel with their own space. There were so many colourful fish around the coral - it was the best snorkelling I've ever done!

Next up we got to enjoy 'Diaper Drinking' in Pileh Lagoon which I had never heard of before – but it's absolutely genius! We stopped in a gorgeous cove area and we got to jump/backflip off the top of the boat if we wished.

In the water, we then put on our lifejackets through our legs. This makes you easily upright in the water so you can enjoy leisurely floating about (with a beverage in hand!).

We were also offered stand up paddleboards which a few people did. It was so enjoyable socialising in the epic scenery and I soaked it all in.
Even though I was on a booze cruise I didn't want to drink too much, as I wanted to remember this day! And what a day it was.

The incredible Maya Bay was next, which seeing in real life was a dream come true. To get there we had to climb over rocks and through caves, as it was low tide which was an experience! We were all provided with water shoes which we were all very grateful for.

It was truly so awesome seeing Maya Bay it in real life. I was pretty glad I happened to be there during the low season, as there weren't that many people and I've heard it can get very crowded during peak times.

We got to spend at least an hour there which was perfect. The whole day wasn't rushed at all, there was plenty of time to really enjoy each place. Everyone got a tonne of photos and there was even a classic jumping group shot at the end.

On our way back to the boat in Loh Samah Bay, we had the option to climb down a verticle rock cliff-face via ropes which everyone opted for. Yet another fun experience in Phi Phi! The Bay is so picturesque, with sparkling turquoise waters surrounded by limestone formations.

Lunch is included and it was delicious. It is cooked freshly by them before departure and you could either choose from a baguette sandwich or chicken/vegetarian rice.
Fresh fruit, water and soft drinks were also provided all throughout the day – as well as all the beer you could drink of course!

We enjoyed one last spot where we did another round of diaper drinking in a beautiful area. There were heaps of colourful fish floating around us.

Half of the group decided to stay on board and party it up. A lot of people were dancing and having a lot of fun – one of the guides MOMO even dressed up and was very entertaining!

The entire crew including MOMO, Chin and Tip were awesome and made sure you had a great time all while being very professional.
Boating back we got to watch the beautiful sunset before an evening downpour came (glad it was after the tour had ended).

Also throughout the whole trip, there was a photographer who nonstop captured the highlights of the day with plenty of photos of each person/couple/friends which is free to take home. You just bring a USB stick or memory card the next day and they will load it all on for you which is pretty dang awesome.

The Details

The tour: Captain Bob's Booze Cruise

Location: Ao Tonsai Pier, Phi Phi Island

Time: Daily, 1 PM – 7 PM

Price: Men – 3000 Baht ($88 USD), Women – 2500 Baht ($74 USD)

Reviews: 5/5 stars from 717 reviews on Trip Advisor

Pin it! :)

Final Thoughts

Captain Bob's Booze Cruise was one of the highlights of my whole month in Thailand.
I had the best day hanging out with a bunch of cool people from all around the world and enjoying the stunning beauty of Phi Phi Island.

There was a range of people on board aged between 20-30 at a guess. There were solo travellers like me, friends, couples - one of which was even on their honeymoon! There was also a couple who couldn't swim and that was not a problem at all, they were helped throughout the day and made to feel comfortable in the water with their life jackets and guides nearby if needed.

This tour is perfect for anyone wanting to have a good time and party in absolute paradise. Everybody is there to have a blast and it's great vibes all round. I highly recommend it if you're going to Phi Phi Island (which you definitely should!).

It is well worth the price for the sights you see, the incredible service and the most fun you will ever have in places straight out of a postcard!

If you would like to see a bit more I include highlights from the whole trip in my Phi Phi Island travel vlog for TouTube:

Happy Travels,

Thailand Paradise: Twin Lotus Resort, Koh Lanta

It was an absolute pleasure to stay at the incredible Twin Lotus Resort Koh Lanta. From the moment I arrived, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
This place is the definition of paradise and throughout my whole stay I felt so placid and relaxed, I only wish that I could have stayed longer!

First Impressions

I arrived at the entrance gate and was transported via golf cart (first time for me!) to the stunning open reception area.

I was shown to a comfortable seat and presented with a delicious and refreshing welcome drink and a cool towel. Moments later a whole fruit platter arrived and a selection of scents for me to choose to have in my room, I was very impressed!

The check in process was smooth and I was off again in the golf cart, taken to my room.
The entire resort is ultra lush with tall palm trees and tropical foliage surrounding it.

The Room

My jaw literally fell to the floor when I walked into my room. As soon as the bellboy who brought my bags in had left I was jumping and laughing with joy at the incredible deluxe beachfront villa I was lucky enough to spend two nights in.

The large room was beautifully decorated, I loved the colour scheme and tasteful art and lamps which gave the room such a cosy and modern feel.

The central feature was the large king sized bed which was so comfortable and soft, I sunk into it and slept like a baby for those two nights.

Seeing the bright blue water and hearing the crashing waves of the beach from my room was something that made my heart leap with joy. I had my own private patio with loungers, a table and chairs to enjoy the amazing view.

The room was fitted with everything you could want for including air conditioning, good WiFi, a lounger couch, widescreen TV and DVD player, electronic safe and two wardrobes with bathrobes and slippers.

There was also a large desk facing the waterfront with complimentary tea and coffee, bottled water and a bright lamp. Next to the door was a small fridge with a decent mini bar.

The spacious bathroom had a rain shower and full toiletry amenities including pool towels and a hair dryer. There is also a laundry service and large umbrellas to use if needed.

I couldn't have been more happy, the deluxe beachfront villa was incredibly elegant and was basically the room of my dreams!

A post shared by Krysti Jaims (@krystijaims) on

Beyond the Room

Twin Lotus Resort offers many facilities and activities, making it a destination you don't even have to leave if you don't want to.
There are two swimming pools, however one was unavailable during the time I was staying. That didn't matter as the tranquil infinity pool facing the beach was all I needed! It was the perfect place to relax on the many loungers under a sun umbrella, listening to the crashing waves while reading a good book.

The on-site Bua Luang Spa offers full services from traditional massages to full luxury packages. There are nine treatment rooms for both singles and couples, as well as an outdoor large Jacuzzi and open-air Pagoda.
Photo credit:

The resort's Fitness Center offers a full range of equipment to stay active during your stay. In the air-conditioned room you can use a variety of machines, treadmills, bicycles and weights.

Photo credit:

Directly in front of the resort is a lovely sandy beach looking into the Andaman Sea.
Unlike many other Thai beaches (sadly), this stretch of beach is rubbish-free and feels very secluded and private.

It's perfect for a peaceful beach stroll and to watch the amazing sunset in the evenings.

Twin Lotus has daily Thai cooking classes and can assist in many nearby island tours and activities. You can conveniently hire a car, motorbike or scooter directly from the front desk which I did on my second day. To hire a scooter for a full day only cost 250 Baht (less than $10 AUD). I enjoyed exploring the quiet island's many beaches.

The Food

I met two German girls on my first day also staying at the resort who told me the restaurant was very good for dinner, so I gladly ate there for both nights.
The Bua Fah Restaurant is an open-air venue which faces the beach and pool. They offer both Thai and Western cuisine including fresh seafood.

On my first night I ordered a red curry grilled fish and it was very fresh and tasty.
On the second night I had a mixed Thai platter with spring rolls, fish cakes and satay skewers which I absolutely devoured. All were for a very reasonable price too.

Red curry fish
Also located there is a daily buffet breakfast which is included in the room.
There is a wide selection of Thai and international dishes including eggs made to order, pancakes and waffles, fresh pastries, fruit, cereals, juices, tea and coffee and a variety of hot and cold items.

The Beach Bar also has a daily Happy Hour which runs from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m, perfect for sipping on a cocktail around the pool.

The Details

Resort: Twin Lotus Resort Koh Lanta

Location: 199 Moo 1, Klong Dao Beach, Koh Lanta 81150

Reviews: Certificate of Excellence and 4.5/5 stars from 727 reviews on Trip Advisor.

Price: Starts from $80 AUD a night for a Superior Garden View Room.

Final Thoughts

I couldn't recommend Twin Lotus Resort more. I absolutely loved my time in Koh Lanta and it is up there in one of my top favourite places in Thailand. I would highly suggest staying for more than two nights though because I can guarantee you won't want to leave!
I adored my deluxe beachfront villa, I honestly felt like I was in a dream. The entire resort is so blissful, the tropical and secluded feeling emanated relaxation.
I felt so at peace and like I didn't want to rush anything; I just wanted to sit back, enjoy the moment and soak it all in.

I didn't realise until during my stay that Twin Lotus is a child-free resort (no wonder I was so relaxed!). I read that to keep the ambiance and peace the resort has included an Adults Only Policy where guests have to be 18 years old and over. 
This even more makes this resort a perfect choice if you are looking to escape for a romantic holiday or honeymoon destination where you can relax and be pampered on a kids-free holiday. It would also greatly suit groups of friends or solo-travellers like me who are looking for some peaceful down-time.

The staff were all so friendly and helpful, the restaurant and amenities were excellent and waking up in the morning to the incredible view out of my window; my stay was 100% perfection and I cannot wait for the day when I return again.

If you would like to see a bit more I show around my room and the resort in my Koh Lanta travel vlog for YouTube:

My Krabi travel diary including my time in Koh Lanta and Phi Phi Island will be coming soon!

Happy Travels,
Pin it! :)

Disclaimer: One night was complimentary and the second discounted in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are as always my own.

Site Footer