Perhentian kecil

Pristine paradise in the Perhentian islands, Malaysia

Our time spent in Malaysia consisted of visiting some really cool places, including the likes of the lush jungles of Taman Negara and the bustling atmospheric city of Kuala Lumpur. However, my favourite spot in Malaysia were the idyllic Perhentian Islands, hands down. Why was this, you may ask?

To put it quite simply, the small grouping of islands situated off the coast of Northeast Malaysia are absolute postcard perfect paradise.

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Sunset in Bagan

Two weeks in Myanmar: An itinerary

Whilst planning my Southeast Asia trip, I have to admit that the idea of visiting Myanmar hadn’t even crossed my mind. I didn’t really know much about the country and in all honesty, my initial perceptions of it was that it was quite dangerous for tourists to visit. Of course, I was completely wrong.

However as I became more familiar with travelling Southeast Asia and I met more and more travellers who could only sing Myanmar’s praises, I became increasingly keen to visit this country that sounded so fascinating, so intriguingly different to anywhere else I’d heard of. I had been told that now is prime time to visit, as it is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that isn’t teeming with tourists, fast food outlets and commerciality. And being the curious little explorer that I am, I sure didn’t want to miss out!

I toyed with the idea for a while. It wasn’t originally part of my plan, so my time there would be limited, or I would have to sacrifice plans in other parts of Southeast Asia. As well as that, my friends weren’t willing to pay for the extra visa costs and flights to get there, and one downfall of the country being so uninterrupted by tourists meant that it would be harder to meet other backpackers.

But when did that stop me? With good timing, I made a plan to go with someone I had met back in Laos and we decided to go for 2 weeks. I usually spend about 3-4 weeks in each country in Southeast Asia, so I knew it would be a challenge to see everything I wanted in just 2 weeks. Here’s how we crammed it all in.

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Koh Phangan's full moon party

Thailand’s best party hotspots

First of all, let me say that contrary to a lot of chitter chatter between some travellers (but usually from people who haven’t actually been to Thailand), I really don’t think partying is all there is to Thailand or even the main aspect of it. In fact, each time I’ve visited I’ve become swept up and fascinated by the rich culture and the stunning natural beauty of the country.

But, there’s no denying that Thailand boasts a lot of fantastic spots to enjoy a tequila sunrise (or five) and to dance the night away, and that is exactly what I did during my visit this year. Quite a few times! And compared to some countries I’ve visited on my Southeast Asia trip where I barely drank at all, Thailand is definitely the country I’ve partied the most in. And with its paradise beach islands, affordable booze, bustling cities and friendly locals it’s not hard to see why. So, here are my top spots to let your hair down in Thailand, enjoy!

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Canyoning in Dalat

Do something that scares you: Canyoning in Dalat, Vietnam

I would call myself an adventurous person. I crave that adrenaline rush, whether it’s from riding a ridiculous 10-loop rollercoaster, swimming side-by-side with terrifying-looking sea creatures or speeding on the back of a motorbike. But when I agreed to go ‘canyoning’ with my friends whilst travelling through Dalat, a central highland city in Vietnam, I must admit I was pretty damn nervous. The name alone sounded alarming and I could visualize myself falling into jagged rocks pushed by huge, uncontrollable spurts of water and plummeting dramatically to my peril. The fact that we had met a girl a few days previous of our canyoning outing in Mui Ne who had passed out whilst canyoning and suffered from a rather worrying leg injury certainly didn’t help my concern.

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Mui Ne fishing village

My Mui Ne, Vietnam itinerary

Mui Ne is a charming little spot in Southern Vietnam, mostly known for its unlikely sand dunes. We stayed for a couple of nights, although I feel that Mui Ne can be easily and thoroughly explored in just one day and night, depending on how jam-packed you like your days to be!

Where we were staying, Mui Ne Backpackers Village, you could join a tour for $7 to take you to the best attractions in the area. However, we very cheekily decided to copy their itinerary and do it ourselves on rental mopeds. This allowed us to explore at our own pace and was also more cost-efficient – bonus!

This itinerary for us was in fact spread throughout a couple of days, but here’s how I would fit it all into one day and night.

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Mui Ne White sand dunes

Photo post: Vietnam compared to other countries

I’m not sure exactly what I had expected before visiting Vietnam on a one-month tourist visa. Clichéd visions of beaming locals donning rice paddy hats and the stunning limestone islands of Halong bay sprung to mind perhaps. All I really knew was that I had heard many great things about the country and it had rapidly risen to the top of my list of countries to visit in South East Asia.

What I was not expecting was just how different parts of the country looked from one another, and how often I felt like I wasn’t even in Vietnam at all! So I thought it might be quite fun to do a little comparison photo blog post likening some of the different countries I felt Vietnam bore some similarity to.

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Kampot's river

A one day itinerary of Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot, a charming riverside town in Southern Cambodia is a spot I wished we had longer to explore. Realising back in Sihanoukville that we would be limited on time for Kampot due to our visa for Vietnam starting imminently, my travel buddies and I decided to make a quick beeline for the quaint little city. We had one full day to make the most of our visit – here’s what we got up to.

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Koh Rong sunset

Koh Rong, Cambodia: Beach island paradise

Oh Koh Rong, where do I even start? This small Cambodian island is about an hour’s ferry ride away from Sihanoukville on the mainland, and after hearing great things from many other backpackers, me and my travel buddies had been keen to check out the island for a long time. And boy were we impressed!

Back mid-February, as our boat pulled into the docks of Koh Rong, it immediately became blindingly obvious that I’d be enjoying myself there. The water was a dazzling hue of aqua-blue, the sand looked luxuriously soft and white and the teeny-tiny shops and restaurants along the beachfront were buzzing with backpackers. But that was just the beginning.

Koh Rong beachfront
Not a bad first impression…

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A fire show in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville: The party town of Cambodia?

When I think about my time in Sihanoukville, I struggle to come to a conclusion on how I feel about the place. Described in the lonely planet as the party capital of Cambodia, I didn’t expect too much. Beaches, bars and booze – yup that’s basically what we got. After pretty much travelling mainland throughout our trip, at the sight of seeing a stretch of sand and some sea we were all keen for some sun and swimming. But whether I liked Sihanoukville or not? I’m still not sure. So, here’s what I thought of Sihanoukville; the partying and the beaches, which is, in a nutshell, all there is to do there!

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia: The good, the bad and the ugly

I’m going to put it out there. Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, has been my least favourite place I’ve visited during my Southeast Asia adventures so far. It may be that I’m biased as I am a bit sick of huge cities by now, having spent most my life living in London. Or it may be that we simply overstayed there, visiting for 3 nights (a rookie mistake!). Or maybe Phnom Penh is just a ‘love it or hate it’ type of place, as I have met people who really enjoyed their visit there, happily embracing the hectic madness of the city.

So, to show that travelling isn’t all lounging on white sand beaches and meeting lovely friendly locals wanting to exchange tales about their country, I think it’s also pretty important to highlight some of the places that didn’t feel so amazing. The places that you wouldn’t rush back to visit again in a hurry.

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