We had a very wet, exhilarating blast of a time during our first Songkran Thai New Year celebration! In Chiang Mai, people converge around the Old City‘s moat with water guns, hoses, buckets, and refill barrels! Our friends from the USA picked Songkran week to visit us in Thailand so they could join in on the madness! We had tons of fun acting like kids, dueling with Thai families, dodging water gun fire all around us and sneak-attacking unsuspecting tourists! Who’s coming to Thailand for Songkran next year?
I recently got to explore some cool parts of Malaysia as a solo female traveler, when Zach had to hurry up to Sri Lanka for work and I had a weird gap between visas. We think it’s good to travel by ourselves sometimes! It opens doors for lots of self-discovery and gives us a chance to miss each other. The highlight of my trip was definitely Langkawi Island, a huge island in the northwest corner of Malaysia. To get there, you can fly (expensive) or take a ferry from either Koh Lipe, Thailand, or Penang, Malaysia.
On Langkawi I got to stay at Tubotel near Cenang Beach which was a joy! Super friendly, amazing facilities, and the rooms are all inside cool giant recycled construction tubes! The tubes make for a chilled-out, cozy little nest with a sea view! Check out my Langkawi vlog below for a tour of Tubotel, Cenang Beach, and some other cool places I checked out!
I had a lot of time to chill out and work from Tubotel’s amazing patio and it was great to take it easy and catch up on some projects! The best day in Langkawi, though, was the day I conquered my fears of scooter driving and rode all over the island! Vroom vroom! I drove like a Grandma and let everyone pass me to avoid accidents but I definitely started feeling cool and confident midway through the day. Scooters. are. great! Just be careful! I checked out the Upsidow House and then rode all across the island through some beautiful jungle and fun hilly roads then stopped for some nachos at Fuel Dock Langkawi.
I had a plan to check out the Durian Waterfall on the north side of the island but thanks to being a newbie at scooter riding and navigation I got lost a few times and ran out of time and energy before I made it there. That’s okay, because I definitely want to come back to Langkawi with Zach next time! And time spent chilling on the beach is never time wasted!
Tubotel Services Included:
Free breakfast – the menu changes every day and always has several options!
Air-conditioning in all tubes and dorms
Pizza oven serving at night!
Movies, games, and books!
Bike rental available
Address: Kuala Cenang, 07000 Pantai Cenang, Malaysia
In early January we had our first friend from home come to visit us in Thailand! Hooray! Mackenzie is my old climbing and hiking buddy from San Diego. She’s a natural adventurer and in super great shape– she’s basically Superwoman! I knew she would love Thailand, and I guessed correctly that the world famous rock-climbing peninsula of Railay Beach and Tonsai Beach would be her favorite spot!
Coming back to Railay after our previous quick visit last October was a great opportunity to go straight to the climbing routes we knew we could tackle, and to fly our brand new drone! Yes, that’s right, we bit the bullet and purchased a DJI Mavic Pro. Get ready for some next-level travel videos as we’ll now be adding drone footage of every destination video we make from here on out!
We stayed in Tonsai Bay on this trip, which is the super-hippy Burning Man-esque village on the beach full of dirtbag climbers, reggae bars built out of driftwood, cheap/sketchy Thai food, and fire-spinning slackline shows!
Here’s a 10-minute vlog all about our adventures with Mackenzie in Railay and Tonsai! We think it’ll give you a sense of how laid-back and beautiful this peninsula is! And we hope you’ll notice we got better at climbing! We even crushed a 5.10a!
Ahh, yes, the infamous “Penis Cave”. As I explained in the video, this cave has been filled with phallus figurines by locals as a way of summoning both fertility and success in fishing! No disrespect to Thai beliefs intended, but it’s definitely a unique site and a hilarious place to visit!
It was great to feel way more comfortable on the walls of Railay and Tonsai! And we always feel at home in the hippy vibe of Tonsai Beach so we can’t wait to come back for another visit!
The customs process entering Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was weird and a little complicated. First you had to apply online and pay. Next, you had to show up at the airport on the exact day as your visa approval letter. At the gate you had to pay again for a stamping fee and submit passport photos, along with another form. You drop all of this with your passport with the agent, who takes about 20 minutes to file the papers and stick the visa into your passport. Then you walk to the actual customs gate where they inspect the visa and stamp your passport, taking up an obnoxious 1.5 pages. But this was the cost to enter, and we were happy to pay it. This would be our second visit to a Communist stronghold country and we expected to jump through hoops.
Upon exiting the Ho Chi Minh City airport we were barraged with taxi drivers all offering different prices to the Saigon city center. All the taxis were supposed to be metered but no one offered us a metered rate. The lowest we found was 200,000 Dong (23,000 Dong to $1 US) which our Airbnb said was an OK price so we went with it. After leaving the airport the driver said that it was 200,000 plus a 150,000 airport tax. We had a big argument where he told us to get out and still pay 200,000. I said “No, you’re trying to cheat us.” But eventually we settled on 300,000, as I didn’t really want to get out. The driver was happy and we arrived already annoyed. For the record, the airport tax is 15,000 Dong and the trip on meter costs less than 150,000. Taxi drivers can really suck sometimes. They are the first impression travelers sometimes get in a new place and a bad one can start your trip in a bad way. We got over it; you live and learn.
Our first stop was for “bahn mi”, the classic Vietnamese sandwich. It was so nice to get good bread finally and the toppings were amazing. We walked around the city for awhile, hitting the sites. The hardest part was avoiding death by motorbike, as they drive very crazily and all over the sidewalks.
In 1976 Saigon’s name was officially changed to Ho Chi Minh City, but many people still call it Saigon today. We hit many of the attractions including the War Remnants Museum,Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and the Central Post Office which was designed by Gustave Eiffel and built between 1886 and 1891. We have seen many of Eiffel’s works throughout the world, this one being very similar to the main bus terminal in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
The Ho Chi Minh City Ben Thanh Market was definitely a must see. There are hundreds of vendors selling all types of food and souvenirs. We had our first pho, the classic Vietnamese noodle dish with amazing broth.
Once the sun went down it was fun to go to Bui Vien Street. This is backpacker central for Ho Chi Minh with cheap hostels and many bars on the street. It reminded us a lot of Khao San Road in Bangkok, but a little less wild. It’s nice to get a 15,000 Dong beer and sit on the street in a plastic chair watching the madness stroll by.
Our friend Flora has a cousin who was a very popular DJ around Saigon called D-Roc. We went to watch him spin at a fancy nightclub called Qui. This place was the worst– weird service and an annoying management. However, the music was great and we hung out for most of the night. After David’s set was over we went to another club called Lush. They had several rooms with different types of music. Their light shows were also very impressive. They were open until 4 but we headed out before 2 cause we’re not as young as we used to be. Clubbing is not really our scene but it’s fun once in a while with good friends!
Before leaving Ho Chi Minh City we went on an epic food tour with Flora and David (“D-Roc”). We tried squid beaks, salt water snails, spice soup with chicken blood, and many other dishes.
It was sad to say goodbye to them after such an epic few days, but we were full and our curiosity for Vietnam had increased greatly. We couldn’t wait to come back and explore more of the county.
At La Aventura Project we focus on adventure, obviously! So of course we had to check out the Grasshopper AdventuresBangkok Bike Tours! Grasshopper Adventures runs bicycle tours all over Asia, with expert local guides who show you an amazing time. The Bangkok night biking tour starts at their headquarters near Democracy Monument where they give you instructions on the route and explain some city history. Before you head out they give you a quick rundown of the bicycle then give each rider their own reusable water bottle. We were big fans of the water bottles and wish more businesses would reduce plastic waste by using this type of eco-friendly practice!
The Bangkok Night Bike tour started off by taking us down some small allyes behind the infamous Khao San Road. From there we biked a few more minutes to the Chao Phraya River where we stopped just in time to take some beautiful sunset photos. We were already impressed with the quality of the bikes and felt very safe riding around the city because the guides helped us safely cross streets and navigate the crazy traffic.
Stopping at the Flower Market was one of the highlights. We tried some refreshing passion fruit juice and learned about the history of the market. Then we learned how to fold the famous Buddhist lotus flowers into beautiful patterns, like a living origami. There were also vendors cutting betel nuts into packets for chewing. The local people used to chew the nuts to get high, or get energy, but the habit has faded out over time.People still buy the nuts as an offering to their ancestors who they still believe enjoy them. We stopped to get some more street food outside of the market and were able to try many things which were included in the price of the tour.
The tour stopped at two of the most famous Thai temples as well; Wat Arun and Wat Pho. The guides explained a lot of the history of the temples and taught us a lot about the connections between ancient Hinduism in Thailand and Buddhism. We offered our lotus flowers which we had folded earlier to the lord Buddha at Wat Pho. It was really special to view the temples at night, as they are illuminated with bright lights and lacked the hordes of tourists that swarm them in the daytime.
On the way home we rode past the Grand Palace and several other temples. We stuck to back alleys and less busy roads. It was super cool to see these neighborhoods of Bangkok that we never would have found without the tour. The Bangkok night biking tour with Grasshopper Adventures was better than we could have imagined. We learned a lot of Thai history, ate incredible food, and made some new friends. The traffic in Bangkok can be absolutely insane, but we felt very safe the entire experience and we have the guides to thank for that. We really were very impressed with the experience and hope to do more trips with Grasshopper Adventures in other parts of Asia!
Address: 57 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd, Khwaeng Wat Bowon Niwet, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
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Stay Samed Coffee & Bed in Ko Samet, Thailandis a beautiful new boutique hostel on the island, located down a quiet side street less than 10 minutes walk from Sai Kaew Beach and Na Don Pier. Stay Samed let’s you relax in peace while being moments away from the party strip and the amazing ocean! All rooms in Stay Samed come with air conditioning, and the beds are some of the most comfortable we have ever come across in any hostel dorms. The private rooms are very spacious and come with LCD televisions and their own private bathrooms.
The dorm rooms have a maximum of 8 beds. Each bed has its own privacy curtain, electrical outlet, and reading light. Each dorm also has it’s own bathroom and shower. The showers have soap and shampoo dispensers and the front desk gives you a towel at check-in.
The street front Stay Samed Cafe features western favorites such as chicken and waffles and the Stay Bowl- an invigorating breakfast bowl of yogurt, granola, fruit and superfoods! There are also a large selection of coffees, sodas, and beers to quench everyone’s thirst. They serve breakfast all day so don’t worry about sleeping in! The staff is super friendly and they probably speak better English than you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or have them help you with booking tours! Here’s our video tour and some fun moments on the beach!
Tour and Boat Booking
Cafe and Bar
English Speaking Staff
8 Bed Mixed Dorm: from ฿500
6 Bed Mixed Dorm: from ฿525
Private Room: From ฿1200
Rates vary seasonally.
Phone: 095 523 2515
Address: Sai Kaew Beach
Ban Koh Samet, Rayong, Thailand 21160
Depending on where you stay in Bangkok, you might have some locals suggest you grab some “Thai boat noodles.” The best boat noodles are located near Victory Monument, right off the BTS Skytrain. Thai boat noodles are generally served in small bowls and the object is to eat a lot. Most shops serve upwards of seven different types of noodles and if you manage to eat ten bowls they will give you a free liter of cola.
There are a series of canals that run through Bangkok. Traveling by boat through these canals used to be the easiest way to get around the city. There were many floating markets along these canals where the vendors sold products from their boats. Several of these markets still remain in the city but are mostly just there for tourists to take pictures. However, these are where the “”boat noodles” originated and, although they are no longer served off of boats, the shops that sell them are still located by the canals. Read more →