Amazing Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

By Jack Yang / November 19, 2017
angkor ruins cambodia

There’s a reason why millions of people – avid backpackers and tourists – have been visiting this part of the world so much for the last 50 years, and that reason is – abundance.

Southeast Asia grants an abundance of incredibly diverse countries, cities, and cultures, but also some of the nature’s most alluring wonders. Beautiful beaches, steamy forests, coral reefs, and an incredibly rich wildlife. All this, in a combination with low costs, yummy cuisine, and a good travel network, offers some of the best experiences for even the most adventurous travelers.

Southeast Asia holds a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, but also with the most conspicuous Buddhist regions, and perhaps the most compelling Christian, Animist and Hindu communities in the world.

Southeast Asia is where you can experience it all – and then some. However, it’s unfortunate that most of us will never experience everything that it has to offer, not unless you plan on moving there for good!

That’s the exact reason why I wanted to share this list with you. I wanted to showcase what I think are some of the most noteworthy places to visit in Southeast Asia. So, in order to save you time on researching all the places and points of interest, here’s a summary of the best stuff:

1. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

visit perhentian islands in malaysiaIrene / Flickr

Located off the cost of Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands have recently become a very attractive visiting location. They’re made out of multiple islands, but only two are habitable – the Perhentian Besar (Greater Perhentian) and the Perhentian Kecil (Lesser Perhentian).

Whichever you go to, you’ll find yourself amazed by the beauty of their white coral palm-fringed beaches, which lead into the alluring turquoise blue sea. The main language is Kelantanese Malay, but English is widely understood and accepted.

This location is particularly interesting because it can accommodate both the adventurous backpacker and a wholesome family of four as well. Kecil is more common for the partying type, while Besar is more peaceful, quiet, and perhaps more suitable for families with children.

2. Phuket, Thailand

visit phuket in thailand

simontaneous_illusion / Flickr

Speaking of islands, Phuket is perhaps the most visited location in all of Thailand, well, perhaps after Bangkok. Phuket provides a wonderful combination of a beach-like perspective, but with a very dynamic nightlife. On top of that, there’s also a prominent hiking scene.

However, it’s also a place where you can go for profound relaxation. Besides taking a swim during the day or partying throughout the night, you’re welcome to enjoy its many shops, restaurants, breathtaking spa resorts or simply relax in a massage tend on the beach.

3. Gili Islands, Indonesia

gili islands in indonesia

yeowatzup / Flickr

It looks like we’re on a roll here – another island! Well, actually, there are three of these. The Gili Islands represent three tiny islands found in northwest Indonesia, close by to Lombok.

While the Perhentian Islands and Phuket seem to try and offer both the relaxation and all the partying, the Gili Islands offer only one of these things. This location is just perfect for anyone looking to get out of all the rush and hassle and just relax and take their time.

There are no cars, or any other motor vehicles allowed here, and everyone’s expected to travel either by foot, bicycle or by taking a horse carriage. Suffice it to say, relaxation is the primary objective here and you will not be easily disturbed.

Apart from breathtaking beaches and a beautiful sea surrounding it, these islands are also often home to divers and snorkelers, so there is some activity after all.

4. Chiang Mai, Thailand

chiang mai thailand

Andrea Schaffer / Flickr

Back to Thailand, but not to another island. This time, I take you inland and into a 13-century city, Chiang Mai, which sits on the Ping river, and is surrounded by some of the greatest mountains in Thailand.

Chiang Mai boasts over three hundred Buddhist temples, and is filled with interesting social activities, such as the night market which is known for skilled handicrafts. It’s also home to Thai festivals and all this, and so much more, make it one of the most culturally compelling cities in Thailand.

Some of the most visited locations in Chiang Mai include temples: Wat Umong, Wat Phan Tao, and the Wat Phra Singh. The Royal Park Rajapruek and the Elephant Nature Park are also quite popular.

5. Taman Negara, Malaysia

taman negara national park malaysia

chee.hong / Flickr

All of the places I’ve shared so far can be of interest to pretty much anybody, so that’s why I wanted to include something of particular interest. Taman Negara is a national park in Malaysia, and it’s located in the country’s Titiwangsa Mountains.

If you’re someone who really likes to take part in ecotourism, and really want to delve into a tropical jungle, then this is perhaps the most obvious location for you in all of Southeast Asia. Besides hiking through the jungle, crossing movie-like rope bridges, you’re also welcome to enjoy rock climbing, camping, fishing and whitewater rafting.

There’s an abundance of activities in these forests, but only for those with enough endurance. You’ll need a lot of energy to experience everything these mountains have to offer.

6. Sapa, Vietnam

remote village sapa vietnam

Chen Shiang Khoo / Flickr

If you’re a fan of trekking, you’ll notice that this quite little town is often used as a base. But besides a good starting point, Sapa is also great for visiting rice paddies, going about traditional villages and seeing various tribes in the hills.

However, if don’t like the idea of going too far out, the tribes will come to you. Different ethnic tribes often gather in the town in order to showcase and offer their handicrafts. But while you wait for your souvenirs to come, you might as well explore a number of French colonial sites.

7. Hanoi, Vietnam

rural hanoi in vietnam capital

Jorge Cancela / Flickr

Hanoi is another place in Vietnam I’d like you to visit. And it’s nowhere remote as Sapa is, not at all. Hanoi is actually the capital of Vietnam, and while there are no hill tribes, there’s a plethora of other interesting things to see and experience.

From the famous open-air museum of historic French and Asian architecture to various art museums and ancient temples, Hanoi is a place of history and wonder. But it’s also a place of fun exploration and learning, as tourists often praise places like the Temple of Literature, the Hoa Lo Prison, the Ho Chi Minh Presidential Palace, and a dozen of other very attractive spots.

8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

kuala lumpur malaysia visit

Jakub Michankow / Flickr

Kuala Lumpur is not only the capital of Malaysia, but it’s also the country’s most populated city. It’s filled with breathtaking landscapes which boast some of the most beautiful architectural design in the region – such as its famous Petronas Twin Towers.

The whole city is home to culture, wonderful people, and a rich history. If you go, definitely visit the Islamic Arts Museum, talk a walk on the Bukit Bintang bridge, and perhaps the city’s bird park, which is actually the largest aviary in the world.

But that’s even near to what this city has to offer. The Batu Caves, the Thean Hou Temple, the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station… The possibilities and things to see and experience are endless.

9. Angkor, Cambodia

angkor ruins cambodia

Damien @ Flickr / Flickr

Here’s something that’s going to either pull you in fully or just not interest you at all. Angkor, the capital city of the Khmer Empire, once boasted a thriving population of one million people, and today, it’s an amazing archeological site.

Located in northern parts of Cambodia, the city of Angkor lets you take in some of the most crucial remains of the culture. The site is enormous, but some of the most noteworthy mentions include the main Buddhist temple Ta Prohm, the massive Angkor Wat temple, and all the stone faces of the Bayon Temple.

10. Bali, Indonesia

bali indonesia beach tropical

Thomas Depenbusch / Flickr

There are 17,000 islands in Indonesia, and if you’ve ever heard of any one of those – it’s probably Bali. This island is home to multiple little towns, each with their own offerings, such as Kula or Ubud, which are known for their artistic art skills and performances.

Bali is also home to beautiful beaches, exhilarating marine-diverse waters, and colorful forests. Rice terraces and coral reefs are also a part of all this, and at this point, it’s no wonder that this island has been dubbed the tropical paradise.

Some of the noteworthy experiences in Bali include exploring its many temples, trekking up a volcano and wondering about its beaches which are filled with black sand. It’s also a great place for surfers!

11. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

ha long bay islands vietnam adventure

guido da rozze / Flickr

Ha Long Bay, found in northeastern Vietnam, is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for relaxing beaches but with a hint of adventure. There are literally thousands of tiny islands all over Ha Long Bay, all in different shapes and sizes.

Not all, but plenty of these islands are home to beautiful lakes and an incredibly rich wild life, where the occupants of floating fishing homes hunt for over 400 kinds of mollusks and over 200 different fish.

Put together, it all looks like a fantasy world, and this is why it got on this list. It’s an amazing place to visit and explore, to take in and be a part of. It’s really one of a kind in this part of the world, and this is what makes it so unique and worth visiting.

12. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok skyline, thailand

Swaminathan / Flickr

From a simple trading post 500 years ago, to being home to more than 8 million people, Bangkok is the capital of Thailand. While a big part of it no different from any other city, there are however, a number of things you can only see and experience in Bangkok.

Some of the most popular tourist spots in Bangkok include the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Jim Thompson’s House, the Wat Arun, the Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw, Dusit Palace, and Wat Traimit. And once you’re done going through all that, you might need to take a stroll in Lumphini Park the next day. It’s a great place to relax after exploring the city or going out. Take a paddle boat ride, or simply sit, lie down or even take a nap in this beautiful park.

13. Singapore

Singapore morning skyline

Brian Evans / Flickr

Singapore is often called a place where the East meets the West, due to the vast diversity of the cultures, sites, and people that it houses. Being a British colony, it doesn’t lack history either, and naturally, this location is home to multiple exhilarating sites to see and things to do.

If you’re into Southeast Asia’s night markets, I’d suggest you visit Singapore’s Chinatown. It features over 200 stalls and offers anything from jewelry, accessories, calligraphy, masks, lanterns and hundreds of other items. You never know what you’ll find here.

But that’s just scratching the surface, its other popular tourist sights include various gardens, museums such as the Buddha Tooth Relic museum, and the city zoo is always fun as well. Then there’s the Raffles Hotel, the Orchard road, the central business district, and much, much more. For more awesome intel on Singapore, check out this post on 25 epic places to visit in Singapore. 

14. Small Village, Laos

one small village in laos

YoTuT / Flickr

If you’re more interested in visiting a unique, remote village than a modern city, then you need to head to Laos. Small Village is particularly known for housing over 40 different ethnicities, many of which adhere to their ancestor’s traditions and practices. This makes Laos an amazing place to visit and take in the daily life of people who’ve been here for centuries.

15. Borneo Rainforest, Brunei/Indonesia/Malaysia

borneo rainforest monkey

Joe Hunt / Flickr

The third largest island in the world is called Borneo, and its home to some of the most amazing sights in nature in this part of the world. The Borneo rainforest is home to over 10,000 plants, about 400 bird species, and multiple mammal species, such as the proboscis monkey or orangutans.

If you’re fan of ecotourism, then Borneo must be on your bucket list, as it is believed to provide the best opportunities for experiencing diverse wildlife in the world.

16. Chiang Rai, Thailand

chiang rai thailand tourism

Stefan Fussan / Flickr

Chiang Mai, which we already covered in this guide, is the much more known Chiang of the two, which is unfortunate because the Rai counterpart has plenty to offer as well!

Found in northern Thailand, Chiang Rai is home to several points of interest, such as the Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Baan Dam Museum (Black Temple), and the Clock Tower.

Chiang Rai is also an excellent place to try Khao Soi, the typical Thai dish, and the culinary experts here seem to have it just right. After an afternoon snack, you’re likely to visit the Night Bazaar, a market filled with Thai souvenirs, clothing, silk scarves, plenty of handicrafts, and much more at a bargain! Check out this post for a whistlestop guide to Chiang Rai. 

 

5 of the Best Vacation Spots to Travel to From China

By Jack Yang / November 13, 2017
India from China

With a history spanning millennia and a uniquely diverse culture, China is a spectacular home base. However, sometimes getting out of the country you live in and experiencing another land is a must.

Next time you seek a travel destination outside of China, consider one of these five beautiful places. Whether you book a week at one of these amazing Bali villas for rent or a weekend at a luxuriously high-tech hotel in Tokyo, adventure awaits you.

1. Thailand for Culture

Thailand from China

Just a hop, skip and jump away from the southern part of China, Thailand is a fabulous choice for a short-term getaway. Get an authentic experience by staying in smaller towns. Thai locals are extremely hospitable and this is the best way to get a real feel for the people and the culture.

Thailand is filled with markets to explore, street food to savor and stunning gold-adorned temples. Before leaving Bangkok, visit Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Arun – some of the most stunning Buddhist monuments you’ll see in Asia.

Though paying a visit to the Buddha statues that live within the temples is appealing, there is another side to a trip to Thailand as well. Small islands and mainland beaches offer some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife. With luxury resorts and opportunities for boating and snorkeling, you can have the trip of a lifetime in Thailand. Don’t forget to also check out the various elephant sanctuaries or the gibbons at Khao Sok National Park.

2. Bali for Beaches

Bali from China

Another nearby spot that combines temples with fabulous beaches in Bali. Although it’s a little further from China, it’s still easily accessible and has plenty to offer visitors looking for natural wonders and inner serenity. Local villas are surrounded by lush green scenery and offer the ultimate escape from urban sprawl and everyday stress.

Bali has long been known as the Island of the Gods, and for good reason! As you explore your surroundings, you’ll find heavily forested volcanic mountains towering over picturesque villages. Closer to the coast, you’ll be able to dive among coral reefs filled with unique marine life. Exploring canyons filled with waterfalls and hiking to the top of Mount Batur make for great outdoor experiences too.

Looking for something more spiritual? Visit one of Bali’s many sacred sites, or ornate temples with holy water.

3. India for History

India from China

Like China, India is a large country rich with culture and history. You may experience culture shock or a sensory overload, but you will also learn a lot. Expect to see things you’ve never seen before—and probably won’t see until you return to this unique country.

History buffs will be in their element. The beautiful monuments you find here are some of the oldest in the world and were constructed as far back as 9,000 BC. If you’re looking for a truly mindful holiday, you’re also in luck. The culture of this subcontinent treasures spirituality and meditation, with hundreds of temples and centers ready to help you find inner peace. Additionally, India is home to a variety of vibrant festivals, from the color festival of Holi to Diwali, the festival of lights.

Agra is one of the most popular of India’s cities, as it’s where the Taj Mahal is located. Others prefer the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, the world capital of Bollywood. Mumbai also boasts the best shopping. Many also visit Jaipur, also known as the Pink City for the color of its buildings’ stone.

4. Japan for a Little Bit of Everything

Japan from China

For a high-tech vacation that is vastly different than those with beaches and forests, visit Tokyo. Though a little overwhelming, there are a variety of gadgets that are fun to freak out over.

Some of the most striking parts of Tokyo can be found in your luxury accommodation. In-room ambiance settings allow for the customization of lights and curtains. If that isn’t advanced enough, try out nail polish dryers, massage chairs, and 3D televisions. Tokyo is also known for its vast population, eccentric fashions, and trends and thriving healthy food scene.

Outside of the metropolis, Japan is just as fascinating. Expect to find lakes and forests, hot springs, historic shrines, mountains, castles, museums, national parks and more.

Choose the city of Osaka as your base, and visit Nara, the oldest capital of Japan. You could also take a trip further west and boat to Miyajima Island. Take in the island’s famous floating gates, and marvel as wild deer roam the streets among humans!

5. Laos for Spiritual Enlightenment

Monks in Luang Prabang

If you’d prefer to visit a lesser-visited area of Asia, choose a flight from China to Laos. A perfect mix of ancient traditions and colonial architecture, this is one of the few places you could pass a Buddhist temple and a French bakery on the same street.

Luang Prabang, the country’s former capital, is an ideal destination to experience this unique clash of cultures. Visit The Royal Palace, built in 1904, and see the decadence of colonialists. For more time-tested aspects of Luang Prabang, get up early and witness the “giving of alms”. This ritual sees robed Buddhist monks collecting rice for their day’s food. Be aware that the ritual is characterized by strict rules, so check before taking photographs.

Explore the natural side of Laos by driving to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, just outside Luang Prabang. Marvel as the aquamarine waters tumble down through several pools, before rejoining the jungle river. The nearby Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center is also a must for visitors.

10 Things You Need to See While on Vacation In China

By Jack Yang / October 28, 2017

So you’ve finally mustered the courage to go on a vacation by yourself. This leaves you a lot of time to explore the country, and China has quite a lot to offer. If you’ve packed your bags and booked your ticket you only need to find out which tourist attraction you’re going to visit first. This being said, let’s speed up the process—just pick one from this list!

1. The Great Wall of China

You can’t return from your vacation to China without visiting the Great Wall of China. Find out what the fuss is all about, and see the grandeur of China’s most prized tourist attraction and historical monument of a sort.

2. Forbidden City

If you find yourself in the center of Beijing, you should visit what was the imperial palace of Chinese dynasty Ming. The beauty of Chinese architecture will sweep you off your feet as their attention to detail was incredible, to say the least.

3. Terracotta Army

Another tourist attraction that you can’t miss while exploring China. This contribution to China’s history was the idea of the first emperor of China and his attempt to immortalize his grand army by creating sculptures of each of his soldier.

4. Summer Palace

Right there in the center of Shanghai, there is a waterfront area that you simply must visit.

5. Potala Palace

This was the chief residence of Dalai Lama until Tibetan uprising in 1959 when the 14th Lama fled to India.

6. Temple of Heaven

This complex of imperial buildings was visited by many emperors of China. It is regarded as a Taoist temple to this day.

7. Leshan Giant Buddha

It was built in the eighth century and to this day is still considered as one of China’s greatest architectural marvels.

8. Yuanyang Rice Terraces

If you’re tired of city light, this will be a great place to relax and enjoy the ambient, as these rice fields stretch from the mountainside reflecting the sky.

9. Yungang Grottoes

Just next to the Hanging Temple there is a world heritage site that consists of 50,000 Buddha statues. If you’re into Buddhism, this is one place you don’t want to miss.

10. Yangshuo

This town is rich in areas perfect for sightseeing as it has been attracting tourists all around the world for some time now.

7 Reasons to Visit Koh Samui

By Jack Yang / October 14, 2017

Once you’ve taken on China, Thailand will be a walk in the park. Indeed, this increasingly popular tourist destination has far fewer cultural differences than China. So it’s a lot easier for Western tourists. It is a great starting point for those hoping to explore Southeast Asia and it is really easy to get there from China.

While every part of Thailand is exceptional in some way or another, Koh Samui stands out. It is truly one of the gems in Thailand’s glorious crown. The island is located just off the East coast of mainland Thailand and has been drawing in travelers for decades. Here’s why.

1. It Has Lots of Luxurious Accommodation

VIP treatment and top of the range facilities characterize the luxury retreats that can be found on the island of Koh Samui. Think infinity pools, gourmet restaurants, blissful spas and private beach spots. All of this and more can be found within the Koh Samui house rentals and villas that line the island’s beachfront.

2. The Beaches are Sublime

The main part of Koh Samui is called Chaweng. This is where the action is and even here the beaches are pristine. Now imagine what the lesser-visited beaches must look like. Bathed in tranquillity and glowing under the suns never-ending rays, the island’s beaches feature powder white sand and warm, clear water. Perfect for snorkeling!

Tired after a day of exploring? There’s nothing better than drifting off on the beach in the shade of a swaying coconut palm.

Beach on Koh Samui

Beach on Koh Samui

3. There’s No Full Moon Party

Unlike neighboring Koh Phangan, there is no insane Full Moon Party on Koh Samui. This might be a disappointment to some but for others, it will be sweet relief to know that they won’t be joined by tens of thousands of party animals. If you’ve ever seen what Haad Rin beach looks like after the Full Moon Party you will understand why it’s not a desirable feature for an island to have. Furthermore, the absence of huge events like the Full Moon Party means that hotel prices on Koh Samui are less likely to fluctuate on a regular basis.

4. It’s Close to the Other Islands

If you decide that you would like to go to the Full Moon Party or would just like to do some island hopping, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan are both easily reachable by boat from Koh Samui. The boat journey between the islands is safe but the water can get a bit choppy sometimes so take that into account if you are prone to seasickness. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all of the islands are the same. Each one has its own distinct personality so it is well worth visiting as many as you can.

5. You Can Easily Visit Ang Thong National Marine Park

A trip to Ang Thong is guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your vacation. The park consists of numerous rocky islands covered with dense green foliage. Travellers who take a tour of the park will have the opportunity to snorkel around rock pools and caves in search of tropical fish and colorful coral. They will also get the chance to do some sea kayaking and to launch themselves off the top deck of their boat into the sea. As a bonus, lunch and drinks are usually included on these tours.

Ang Thong National Marine Park

Ang Thong National Marine Park

6. The Food on the Island is Divine

Thai food reigns supreme on the global cuisine scene and there is plenty of delicious food to be found all over the country. Yet, Koh Smaui has a particularly high concentration of outstanding restaurants. On the main strip in Chaweng, the air is infused with exotic spices as chefs prepare massaman curry and pad thai for hungry guests. There is also an array of fantastic street food on offer across the island. You truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to food here.

7. There’s More Culture Here Than You Think

Thailand’s islands don’t exactly have a reputation for being the most cultural parts of the country. Generally, they are thought to be where you go for beach, cocktails, and sunshine. Yet, Koh Samui has a number of temples and Buddhist sculptures that can be visited by those looking for a more authentic Thai experience. There is an island tour that can be done that will take you to a number of these sites and let you visit a waterfall as well. This makes for a great day out if you need a break from the beach.

6 Great Ways To Pass Time On A Long Stopover

By Jack Yang / September 19, 2017
airport stopover

Although travel is good for the soul, there’s nothing worse than a long stopover in an airport. They can be tiring, stressful and often quite boring. Let’s not forget those awful times when flights are delayed!

Keep your spirits up with this list of fun things to do during a stopover.

1. Pass The Time On An Online Casino

Sometimes, you just need a little entertainment to stay amused on a long stopover. Online betting services are one way of spending excess time in an airport. Check out NetBet Casino for a wide range of interactive games, as well as a chance to win a sizeable cash prize.

2. Download Your Favorite Movies For A Long Stopover

If you know you’re facing into a long stopover, try to download your favorite movies and TV shows before starting your journey. You’ll find plenty of choice on the likes of the Apple Store or Amazon Prime, which allow users to store the latest films and series for offline viewing.

If the airport you’re stopping over at has a good Wi-Fi connection, the list is endless. Use streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube to find entertainment for every occasion.

3. Discover A New City During A Stopover

Although stopovers can be frustrating, they often are a great opportunity to explore new locations! If your stopover is more than 12 hours, you should definitely consider leaving the airport for a bit of sightseeing – especially while in Asia!

Some of the best holiday destinations are the ones that are unexpected. You never know what you might find in an otherwise unknown city.

Use platforms like Airbnb to find affordable accommodation, check your luggage in at the airport in advance and enjoy everything this destination has to offer. You’ll probably be more rested than you would have been if you stayed in the airport.

4. Chat To Your Fellow Travelers

A shared journey is always a great way to bond with other people. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with the person next to you – not all strangers are bad!

Telling stories, playing games and eating meals with someone you don’t know can work wonders for your mental wellbeing. Indeed, there are numerous benefits to talking to strangers.

You might make a great friend by the time you board your plane, or have a wonderful experience with a like-minded soul.

5. Stay Active By Walking Around

Some airports cover a massive space – the biggest airport in the world is an amazing 78,000 hectares! This means that there is plenty of space where you can explore and walk around during a long stopover.

Light exercise like walking at a moderate pace can calm your mind and body. This is especially important when traveling, when stressful situations can materialize quickly.

long stopover crossword

6. Train Your Brain With Puzzles

Being active isn’t just about pushing yourself physically. You should also keep your brain engaged with puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku when faced with a stopover.

They might seem simple, but these old-fashioned puzzles can help hone your mental skills and calm you down.

7 Reasons To Take Your Next Vacation In Thailand

By Jack Yang / September 13, 2017
thailand travel

Thailand is often portrayed as the gateway to South East Asia – an accessible, fascinating and beautiful destination for all. History buffs, nature lovers and party animals alike flock to Bangkok every year to experience everything this unique country offers.

One of the best accommodation options in Thailand is self-catering. Whether you’re seeking out Thailand mansions or more remote escapes, this South East Asian country has plenty to offer you.

Once you’ve booked your accommodation, the fun begins! Read our top Thailand tips to get the adventure started.

1. Experience Historical Bangkok When You Arrive

It’s highly likely that you’ll be arriving in Bangkok Airport, but don’t treat it as a simple stopover! Thailand’s capital is a hive of culture and history, blessed with stunning architecture and rich heritage.

For an awe-inspiring moment early on, head straight to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. This golden compound encompasses The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as well as the former residence of the King of Thailand. Today, it’s a sacred site for Buddhists and Thai nationalists.

As you wander around this thriving city, check out Bangkok’s other glittering temples. Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Wat Traimit are just some of the beautiful structures you’ll come across.

2. Explore Upcoming Youthful Bangkok

Some areas of Bangkok have a reputation for sleaze and ill-repute, but artistic and vibrant neighborhoods are also emerging across the city.

Ari is the latest contender for Bangkok’s trendiest district, and is seeing more and more great restaurants and coffee shops filling its streets. Meanwhile, eager backpackers should check out the lively Banglamphu, which is home to numerous hippie markets, live music venues and even more temples.

Feel like looking for bargains? Visit Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market to find deals on everything from baby squirrels to Thai musical instruments.

3. See Exotic Species Up Close In Thailand’s Rainforests

Far from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, you’ll find some of the most lush, verdant rainforests on the planet. Kao Sok is one of the most popular forests for visitors, and is one of the most biodiverse in the world. There, you’ll witness groups of gibbons in the wild, as well as sun bears, tapirs, tigers and leopards.

Budding botanist will have plenty to see too. The forest is also home to striking blue and mauve orchids, a favorite snack among the herds of wild elephants who roam through these tress.

In the same national park, you’ll also get close to the Cheow Larn Lake, where fish eagles and osprey fly over the water in a bid to catch their prey.

4. Explore The Outdoors Of Thailand

As one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, there’s a reason why Thailand is a great vacation option from China.

Active travelers are spoiled for choice when it comes to outdoor adventures in Thailand. If you’re in the south of the country, go to Krabi for hiking trails of varying difficulties and lengths. Beginners should seek out local guides for expert tips. No matter your level, you’ll be rewarded with stunning coastal views.

If you prefer water sports, hit the waves at the beaches of Nai Harn, Kata Noi and Kata Yai. All these locations offer great opportunities for surfing and other activities.

Hoping to embrace your spirituality in Thailand? Seek out local yoga classes near your area to let yourself go.

Thailand food

5. Taste The Best Thai Take-Away You’ll Ever Have

One thing that has certainly put Thailand on the map is its amazing cuisine! From phat thai to green curry, Thai food is uniquely fragrant, spicy and surprisingly healthy.

Visitors to the North of Thailand will discover authentic versions of their favorite dishes, such as khao soi (a type of noodle soup), larb (Thai meat salad) and gaang hang lair (northern Thai curry).

Meanwhile, visitors to southern regions will discover spicier, saltier dishes that are scarce everywhere else.

In Bangkok, expect long, detailed meals with several courses. These dinners often consist of soup, a fried dish, a salad, a curry and vegetables, which are shared.

6. Discover The Hidden Beaches Of The Trang Archipelago

Thailand is famed for its stunning beaches, which are now heaving tourism hotspots. However, if you’re keen to leave the crowds behind, that’s possible too!

Thailand is home to several secluded beaches that many visitors rarely discover, especially along the Trang archipelago. For those traveling with the family, go to Haad Farang (Haad Sai Yao) near Koh Muk for peaceful fun in the sun.

If you’re into snorkeling or deep-sea diving, visit Koh Rok Nok to see colorful coral reefs up close. Craving a little more romance? With the pristine sands on the beach of Haad Lang Kao, you really can’t go wrong.

7. Climb To The Top Of Thailand’s Highest Peak

What better way to end a trip to Thailand than with a bird’s eye view of its countryside? Go right to the top of Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand. Measuring almost 2,600 meters (8,415 ft) in height, the viewpoint offers unrivalled panoramas of Thailand’s northern forests.

Birdwatchers are in for a treat – Doi Inthanon is home to the highest number of bird species in Thailand. It is also crowned by two chedis, where Buddhist monks and nuns would traditionally meditate.

To avoid the crowds, attempt the short but challenging hike to the top instead of driving to the lookout.

7 Mind-Blowing Reasons To Visit Iceland

By Jack Yang / August 25, 2017
Northern Lights In Iceland

There are several reasons why Iceland should be on your vacation list. Think of the jaw-dropping natural scenery, amazing cultural heritage and the stunning Northern Lights! But sometimes, it just feels a little too far away to be worth the trip.

This list will convince you otherwise. Here are seven wonderful reasons to get on the next flight to Reykjavik!

1. Marvel at the Northern Lights

Iceland is a mystical place where the sun never sets – mostly due to its proximity to Aurora Borealis. See the Northern Lights in Iceland by booking a bus tour from Reykjavik – it’s by far the easiest way to see this natural phenomenon.

The Northern Lights are created as electronically charged particles interact in the sky. However, this astounding light show is also heavily connected to Norse mythology.

Early pagans believed that the green glow was the reflection of the shields of Valkyries, female warriors who chose who died in battle and those who lived. Other legends said the lights were the arch that led the way towards Valhalla, or heaven.

reykjavik concert hall iceland

2. Take A Cool City Break In Reykjavík

Iceland may not be part of Scandinavia, but it still possesses the enviable “cool” of other Nordic countries. Indeed, Reykjavík is famous for its vibrant nightlife and excellent cuisine.

As international flights arrive at the nearby Keflavik International Airport, you’ll have an ideal opportunity to explore this exciting city. Let the church of Hallsgrimkirkja impress you as you take in its escalating tower. Climb the steps to the very top to get stunning bird’s-eye views of the Icelandic capital.

Music aficionados should head straight to the anarchic Icelandic Punk Museum. Fans of Björk will certainly be in for a treat, as well as those who want to discover lesser-known Icelandic bands. The city’s ultra-modern concert hall is also worth a visit.

Reykjavik, Iceland

3. Explore Reykjavik’s Very Own Mountain

Although Reykjavik is a fully-fledged metropolis, you’re never too far away from Iceland’s spectacular natural wonders. The city skyline is dominated by Mount Esja – a mountain measuring 914 meters.

Bring your hiking boots and choose from one of the many hiking trails, depending on how much of a challenge you’d like. Amateur climbers prefer to stop at “Steinn”, a large rock about 200 meters from the summit. This viewpoint offers great panoramas of Reykjavik. It’s also possible to rent bikes.

As with all natural attractions, always stick to the beaten track. Be aware of large accumulations of snow on the upper slopes too.

4. Take A Plunge In Iceland’s Hot Springs

You could pay a lot of money for an indoor spa experience – or you could simply unwind in of Iceland’s many hot springs! These outdoor pools are heated by Iceland’s latent volcanic activity, and provide a great opportunity to unwind after a day of adventuring.

Bathing together is a traditional activity in Iceland, but it doesn’t always have to be a soothing activity for adults. Bring the kids along to a pool with a waterslide for a fun family day!

Visiting Iceland’s hot springs is also a great opportunity to explore this country’s wonderful wilderness. The mythic landscapes of Reynisfjara, Drangey Island and Völvuleidi are just some of the natural wonders worth visiting.

 

5. Explore The Rich History Of Iceland

Like China and its famous Shaolin monastery, Iceland has plenty of hidden historical sites in its midst.

Thingvellir, in southwestern Iceland, is also a must-see. This UNESCO-recognised national park was once the seat of Iceland’s parliament, but is also home to some of the most beautiful mountains and lakes you’ll ever see.

Visit Skálholt, a monastery in South Iceland that dates back to the 11th century. Nowadays, you can attend classical music concerts in the striking Skálholt Cathedral, or visit the museum.

You should also venture to the volcanic fortress of Borgarviki, in North Iceland. According to Viking sagas, locals used it as a military base to defend themselves from attack.

Glacial Lake Iceland

6. Set Sail On A Glacial Lake

A trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Jökulsárlón. Located at the edge of Vatnajökull National Park, this massive glacial lake is best known for its luminous blue-white icebergs.

The huge ice structures have been described as a ghostly procession. Indeed, these imposing icebergs are striking when seen up close – consider taking a boat tour for the best photographs.

The striking lagoon has also featured in numerous Hollywood movies, including A View To A Kill, Die Another Day and Batman Begins.

7. See Iceland’s Great Geysir

Iceland is a wild and unpredictable place to explore, and nowhere is this more obvious than Geysir. The spouting hot water source in the southwest of the island has been active for around 10,000 years, and is a symbol of this country’s seismic activity.

At one point, the Great Geysir erupted every 30 minutes! Even though it’s more sedate today, it’s capable of pushing 122 meters of water into the air over two days. Another geyser nearby, Strokkur, is far more active – erupting as high as 30 meters every few minutes.

 

The Strangest Chinese Customs That Every Tourist Should Know About

By Jack Yang / March 5, 2017

China is definitely one of those countries that you should visit at least once in your life. It holds many attractions for tourists and is generally rich in history and culture. But finding yourself in China might make you wonder about their strange ways. If you do wind up in any province, city or region in China, it’s best to learn their ways then to get the titles of biggest tourist in China. Some of their ways and customs may strike you as odd at first but believe me when is say that everything has a meaning.

Chopstick Placement

Chopsticks are the only cutlery you’ll see in China, well at least in most parts. There is one thing and one thing only that you should avoid when using chopsticks in crowded restaurants. Leaving your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl. Apparently, it will bring some bad luck to you, and your companions as leaving chopsticks like this is the way rituals were performed where people were making offerings to the dead.

Burping is OK

If you do find yourself in a crowded restaurant, make sure that you burp after you finish your meal and give a significant look at the chef and all the patron of the restaurant. Burping in Chinese tradition is considered as a sign of gratitude and that you’re satisfied with a meal. Talking about strange, right. So don’t forget to pay compliments once you’re done eating.

Never Running Out of Tea

If you like tea, then you’ll love this custom. In every coffee shop, restaurant or even at street vendors where you can sit and enjoy your tea the service will always refill your cup. As you finish your cup of tea and take a moment to notice that amazing chandelier hanging above your table at the restaurant, the chances are that you’ll have a full cup of tea once again without even noticing that someone refilled it.

Refusing Gifts

Found friends while spending time in China and want to buy them a gift as a sign of appreciation for showing you the city? That’s great. But don’t be offended if they refuse the gift. This is another custom that may strike you as odd. Once you present them with a gift, it will take a considerable time of persuading them to accept it, as they will constantly refuse it until they do accept it at the end. But don’t’ be offended as this is their way of showing how humble they are.

The Famous Shaolin Monastery: The Hidden Temple of China

By Jack Yang / February 26, 2017

If you’re traveling a lot, you’ll start to appreciate historical marvels that every country, region, and city has to offer. China is full of tourist attractions, but there is one that isn’t visited as much and should remain hidden. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s the Shaolin temple. So what’s so special about this temple?

A historical monument of Dengfeng

Shaolin monastery and Pagoda forests that surround it was described by the greatest treasure of China by many Buddhists and spiritually awakened travelers. Its construction dates back 1500 years when it was founded by Fang Lu0Hao. It remains the main temple of the Shoaling school of Buddhism to this very day. Visiting this temple is a life changing experience as no other place lets you see Buddhist monks and their lifestyle.

Zen through Meditation

Achieving the “enlightened” state is no easy task, but visiting this temple may shine some light on the topic and make you understand how to get there faster. Although Shaolin monks live differently than the rest of population, their way of living proves to be much healthier and beneficial to the body and mind. Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion, and the more you know about it, the less will you consider it as religion. The rules that Buddhists follow are simply guidelines to leading a healthier and happier life. And if that means that you should give up fast food and use technology to that extent that you’re using, then by all means at least consider their ways.

Feeling Enlightened yet?

Just try to spend a week in a Shaolin temple, and you’ll notice the changes that you’ve made and how your life is changing for the better. You can learn a thing or two about meditation as well hanging out with these guys, as their gurus are considered as best teachers of Buddhism. Miles away from technology and civilization this is the perfect place to start your spiritual journey and reinvent yourself if that is what you’re seeking. Visiting shoaling temple in China will surely change the way you look at things, and if you’re serious enough, you can become a Buddhist monk yourself.

Our 3 Favorite Places We Visited in China

By Jack Yang / February 19, 2017

Camping the Great Wall

After we met in Beijing, we decided we would like to take our adventure to a new level, camping on the Great Wall of China. But, the wall being so long, it’s not always easy making a plan on how to go on about it, since there are many different areas you can visit and camp on. If you were anywhere close to the Badaling section, you would know that it’s by far the most popular tourist spot, with suitable tourist infrastructure and restored facades. Gubeikou village is the last place where you can purchase necessities for camping, so make sure to stock up on supplies, and to bring your own tent and a sleeping bag if you are planning to camp the Great Wall.

Jiuzhai Valley National Park

Translated as “Valley of nine fortified villages”, Jiuzhaigou is a national reserve and a national park in the Sichuan province. With breathtaking sights and colorful nature, Jiuzhaigou is like a heaven on earth, so beautiful it was put on UNESCO World Heritage list in the nineties and is in category five of landscape protection. The Zharu valley is the tourist place in Jiuzhaigou, and it begins with a Buddhist monastery and ends with a group of lakes. Definitely one of the most beautiful examples of nature and a great romantic site to visit with your loved one.

Temple of Heaven

Located in Chongwen district in Beijing, this temple was used as a place for Heaven Worship Ceremony, and it is the largest existing example of Chinese sacrificial buildings. The Northern part is built in such a way that it stands higher than the southern part, following an old Chinese thought that the heaven is higher and earth is lower. It covers the area of almost 3 million square meters, and it is larger than the Forbidden City. The temple itself is enclosed by a wall, but the northern edges of the wall are circular. Visiting Temple of Heaven is not a one day deal, so if you plan to visit it, prepare yourself to stay more than one day.

For more must see places in China, check out this awesome post! China has some seriously cool experiences, from incredible hikes to weird food. These were our top three but we will definitely be adding to this!