Other fun activities in and around Siem Reap

While most people come to Siem Reap specifically to visit the Temples of Angkor, it is worth spending a couple of extra days around the town of Siem Reap as well. After our day discovering Angkor we signed up for a day of fun at the ‘Flight of the Gibbon‘ zip-line experience. The Flight of the Gibbon is well known amongst travellers in Asia. The company has a presence in a few popular South East Asian cities. Currently they run zip-lining days in Chiang Mai in Thailand, In Bangkok and in Pattaya in Thailand and of course in Seam Reap in Cambodia. While in Chiang Mai we were considering doing the Flight of the Gibbon there, however our few days there had already filled up with activities, so we decided there and then that we will sign up for this in Siem Reap. Another reason was of course that the zip-line course in Seam Reap is located inside Angkor Park, the same location as the amazing temples in the middle of the jungle! This for us just added to the experience. When we arrived in Siem Reap we asked our kind hosts to book us a day here and they […]

The temples of Angkor

Are you ready for this, it is going to be a long post!!! But it is of an amazing subject and there will also be many many photographs, so hang in there and keep reading! 🙂 A few days ago Lonely Planet revealed its Ultimate Travel List based on the votes of travel professionals. They have also released a new book based on this list, called ‘Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places on the Planet – Ranked’. I fully intend to get this book, sound great, will be a great addition to my coffee table once we get home.     Anyway, the reason I mention this is because the number one place on this list (and I understand this was voted number 1 by a landslide) was the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia. The rest of the Top 10 shaped up like this: Temples of Angkor, Cambodia Great Barrier Reef, Australia Machu Picchu, Peru Great Wall of China, China Taj Mahal, India Grand Canyon National Park, USA Colosseum, Italy Iguazu Falls, Brazil – Argentina Alhambra, Spain Aya Sofya, Turkey And click on this link to see more of the list. As you can see The […]

Stunning architecture of the Phnom Penh Royal Palace

After my sobering last post about the Cambodian genocide and The Killing Fields Museum I now want to spend a bit of time showing you around the beautiful Royal Palace of Phnom Penh, which is one of the most stunning architectural achievement of the city. We were lucky enough to stay in a guesthouse right on the doorstep of the palace, so it was really easy for us to walk out and be there as it opened. I would highly recommend that if you visit the palace, do it first thing in the morning – it gets very busy and days get incredibly hot. To visit the palace you have to cover up almost completely, which doesn’t help with the heat. The guards and ticket officers are notorious for being pretty stringent with their policy on what visitors wear to the palace. You cannot show shoulders or knees and it is not enough for women to cover up with a scarf, it has to be a proper shirt or T-shirt or blouse. I usually just wear my big shawl to cover up when entering temples or other holy sites, but for this I ended up wearing a long sleeved top […]

The Killing Fields Museum of Phnom Penh

We arrived in Phnom Penh on a speedboat on the Mekong River on a blisteringly hot April afternoon. We spent our first evening walking around town, going for dinner and preparing for a program filled couple of days. Out of all of the countries of South-East Asia, I think Cambodia was the one I was most looking forward to. I couldn’t wait to get to Phnom Penh and I had so much anticipation building up, I couldn’t wait to explore its culture and its people. By recommendation, Adam and I both read a book by Loung Ung called ‘First They Killed My Father’ to prepare a bit for our trip here. We read this book while taking the slowboat down the Mekong in Laos. When you are on a boat for 8 hours straight for 2 days, you need a good book ready and I felt this was a great book to immerse ourselves in while there weren’t many distractions around. I believe Angelina Jolie is currently researching a film adaptation of this book. In the West not many people are aware of Cambodia’s tragic recent history. This country suffered under the most unimaginable evil regime that is just so […]

The Mekong Delta

In my previous post I wrote a little bit about the Sinh Tourist, which is one of the (if not THE) most trusted travel agencies currently operating in Vietnam. While in Saigon we bought a couple of tours from them: Tour 1 would be one day spent in the Mekong Delta and Tour 2 would be a two-day tour package including one day in the Mekong Delta, but different villages / islands than Tour 1, and then a speedboat trip all the way to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. To be honest the two Tours were pretty similar, even though we visited different villages of the Mekong Delta, the activities were very similar, so I would only recommend doing one of these if you are limited on time. I am not going to give a detailed account of both tours to the Mekong Delta, just a highlight of the activities we did, but I will include links and itineraries at the end of this post in case anyone is interested in going on these. To say I was excited when I found out about the tour package that would take us all the way to Phnom Penh was an understatement! […]

Saigon sightseeing

I had been looking forward to coming to Ho Chi Minh City, or formerly and really still to this day known as Saigon. To me it was the place in Vietnam with the most mystery and where we could learn most about the country’s history. By the time we came to Saigon though we were a little bit disillusioned with Vietnam (despite having spent a few lovely days in Hoi An) and just in general, approaching the halfway point of our travel in Asia, we were becoming a bit tired and restless. We had decided that we will not spend much more time in Vietnam, we needed a change of scenery and decided to make our way to Cambodia and then to Bali as soon as possible. But I still really wanted to see Saigon, so here we were. You know you are in Saigon, when you see this:       We stayed near ‘the Khao San road of HCMC’, Pham Ngu Lao Street, not by design, more by luck as that was where we found the best value accommodation. But it turned out to be a good location for us anyway as we could easily walk to the […]

Hoi An – town of lanterns and tailors

Hoi An was hands down our most favourite place in Vietnam. It is one of those towns that you just don’t want to leave and want to stay to soak up the atmosphere, savour the local delicacies, sip Vietnamese coffee, walk around in the beautiful streets every day. Hoi An also looked to me a lot like a ‘toy town’. I call places ‘toy towns’ when they appear to exist solely for tourism, as if there were no locals actually living there, only coming in every morning to open up souvenir shops and restaurants for the flock of tourists and then at the end of the day the whole city shuts up and goes quiet as the locals go back to live their real lives in real cities. Of course this is untrue and I am sure plenty of people do live in Hoi An. It just doesn’t feel that way to me. Another city I could describe this is Florence in Italy (one of my favourite cities in the whole wide world), but just on a much bigger scale. Places like this, ‘toy towns’, make me think: what would happen if the tourists stopped coming one day…? Of course […]

Hue city tour

It’s been a while since I’ve updated our travel blog. This is because the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind – we returned home from Asia, spent running errands, trying to see friends and family and get ready for the next leg of our travels in Europe. So now we are actually in Europe. In spite of that, I am going to continue with our travel tales where we left off in Vietnam. My last blog post was a bit of a negative one, so this one is going to be nice and easy including lots of sightseeing 🙂 Once we both recovered from our bouts of travellers’ sickness we got back in the road and made our way down towards the middle of Vietnam, towards the royal city of Hue. In my previous blog post I described how we had to reorganize our onward journey and accommodation from Hanoi. The hardest part of that was getting our overnight train ticket changed at Hanoi train station. Vietnamese are not great at waiting in line. Even with the number system, where you have to take a number and wait your turn I had to become very pushy […]

Hanoi Part 2 – The Bad

If this is your first time on our blog and you would like to read about Hanoi, please read my previous post first: Hanoi Part 1 – The Good. I really don’t want to depress you or put a downer on your upcoming trip to this part of the world. Also, if you are from Hanoi, I apologise, but please bear in mind this post only reflects our own personal experiences and opinions that stem from those experiences. Hanoi was NOT kind to us. Actually, Hanoi kicked our butts! In the previous post I wrote about all the things we enjoyed and appreciated about the city. I gave the lowdown on what to see and do if you have 2-3 days here. In this post I want to write about how and why Hanoi turned a little bit sour for us. Ever since then Adam keeps referring to the city as ‘Hannoying’… I am going to illustrate this post with some more lovely photos of the city, just to cushion the blow 🙂       We have to go back a little bit in time to when we landed at Hanoi airport. We had to get a taxi into […]

Hanoi Part 1 – The Good

For me Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is a tale of two cities: there is Good Hanoi and then there is Bad Hanoi. I don’t think Adam has made it quite as far as Good Hanoi yet.  It took me a long time to figure out how to write up our experiences in Hanoi. Pouring it all out into one essay would have resulted in a mega-long blog post, which is why I am separating it into two. I think taking my time over this means I can actually write about the good things with enough distance to allow me to have more perspective. And I personally think it is nicer to start with good things, so here we go. I was really looking forward to coming to Vietnam. Thailand and Laos are quite similar in a lot of ways and Vietnam promised a big cultural change for the first time in 5 weeks. We had our visas, we had our flights, we were ready to go. And what a big culture change it truly was from the get go! Everything from the people’s psyche, attitude towards tourism, the customs, the day-to-days, the way traffic ‘works’, the towns, the […]