Re post: Travelling alone is not as scary as you think

Thank you www.escapewriters.com came out with the topic of solo female travel. In fact, travelling alone is not as scary as you thought. Here is my solo travel experience that I would like to share with my readers:

My name is SuMei and I am from Malaysia. I started my solo travel blog when I’ve decided to quit my previous job and started to travel as a Solo female traveller since last year October 2017 and it was a 4 months trip where I have been to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Currently, I have started a new job and base in the Philippines for a few months.

How were others reaction when you declared about your decision of solo travelling?

Some were surprised and most of my close friends supported me to so. YOLO and thanks to my supportive parents where they trusted and allowed me to travel by myself.

How many places have you explored until now? Which one is your most favourite and why?

I have visited in the total of 20 countries as of the year 2018. I like Laos the most as the country is beautiful, laid back and people just know how to enjoy life over there.

What is on your bucket list? Your dream place to visit. Any travel destination you would suggest for a female solo traveller.

I would like to visit and explore South America in the near future and as a start, for a female solo traveller, I will suggest going to Japan which is a relatively safe country to travel alone. I had a great time over there.

How do you do planning and budgeting for any trip?

Before I go on a trip, I will do research about the particular country. The expenses and the current situation in the country. And of course will check out the accommodation from hostelworld, Airbnb etc. I found workaway website is meaningful and beneficial to the budget traveller like us. I got to know a lot of local people and stayed with them during my solo travel time which was another different/ great experience.

How do you beat loneliness while travelling? Tips to make local friends or get a group of company.

In life, we can’t avoid loneliness even when we are not travelling. I do enjoy the solo time which allows me to listen myself more, ignore others feedback. Try to enjoy the ME time. Meanwhile, of course, you could use various applications to meet up with other travellers including Couchsurfing, meet up and even staying at the hostel you will get the chance to meet a lot of mutual interest people. To be honest, I really enjoy travel alone where I got to know more new friends and new exposure by myself!

Do you remember any crazy thing that happened to you while travelling?

When I was travelling to Japan alone and met my US host which he sent me to Mt. Fuji in the midnight and I just tagged along with other Japanese to reach the peak of Mt.Fuji. The whole journey took me about 14 hours back and forth and it was indeed a crazy adventure with all the people I have met there!
There are many other stories during my solo trip and I just enjoy creating more stories during my travel time!

Your backpacking tips for other women. Just pick 5 must-have items you would love to have in your travel bag.

Sunblock, comfortable sneakers, camera, selfie stick, phone.

Any bad experience you faced? Safety tips.

Well in order to avoid the bad experience, try to use common sense not to go out at night alone if you feel the place is not safe. Listen to your intuition and six sense, if you do not comfort to the particular things, dare to say NO!

Do you think male solo traveller are easily accepted?

In my opinion, the male solo traveller is still easier to travel compared to Female due to social perception. However, ignore the norm which had set by the society, just enjoy yourself! Do whatever you like!

Any advice or word of motivation you would like to give to other women who have a dream to be a solo traveller just like you?

Dare to go with your dream. When your mind wanted to do something and you keep thinking instead of taking action, it will forever be stuck in your mind. Just go ahead and dare to do it! Join the relevant female travel group and get more support from other girls! Remember, we are always there for you.

 

 

My Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ) Journey In South East Asia

When I was planning my last trip to South East Asia, my intention was not only being a tourist. I was keen to experience and understand the local life and get to know more about each country cultures.

Besides that, I was interested to continue the martial arts of Brazilian Jujitsu which I have been practicing since the beginning of 2017. It is an addictive sport especially for petite girls like us, it is useful to know for self-defense purpose.

So…What is BJJ?

It is a martial art and combat sports system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves or another against a bigger person.

Gi and No Gi are the 2 forms of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Gi is the grappling which allows the practitioner to grab the clothing of the opponent. While No Gi is the grappling is wearing shorts and a rash guard which is not allowed to grab the opponent’s clothing. In order to be a complete BJJ player, it is good to train in both ways.

I got to know about this addictive sport when I signed up for a gym membership back in Malaysia. However, I was not (still not) an active practitioner even until today. I only attend the class once a week (due to work commitment and travel distance) but whenever I enroll in, I  do learn new techniques from the coach. I am a slow learner but I do enjoy every single class.

My travel journey started in HCMC, Vietnam. Upon arrival, I have managed to contact Saigon Luta Livre that I would be joining the class if the time and location were allowed.

Saigon Luta Livre
Saigon Luta-Livre was the first gym that I went to practice during my travel time. Erik Koehne is the main coach for Saigon Luta-Livre. He was a funny person with a good sense of humor. He was a patient person who willing to guide BJJ beginners like me and the techniques he taught in the class was useful and easy to learn.
I was delighted that I got the chance to practice at his gym place for the whole month of October 2017.
Congratulations to him and his wife, Bella who just tied the knot recently. I was happy to meet this lovely couple in Vietnam 🙂
Here is a brief link about coach Koehne and his BJJ story: click here
 

Other than that, I went to visit and dropped by a BJJ class at Star Fitness Bitexco HCMC. Saigon Jujitsu is using Star Fitness facility to facilitate BJJ classes. Having said that, once you have paid the membership fee (they have daily passes), you are entitled to enjoy and use other facilities in the gym for the whole day. 

Saigon jujitsu is known as the oldest BJJ school in HCMC and you get to practice with many Japanese practitioners over here.

Saigon Jujitsu
Saigon Jujitsu

I stayed at HCMC for a month and continued on my journey to the northern part. Throughout the whole journey, I did not stop learning about BJJ and practice Yoga. If there was a chance, I would join and practice with the local community.

However, I was forced to stop practicing BJJ for about a month when I was heading to the central and northern regions of Vietnam. There were not many options at the area until I arrived at the Northern part of Thailand, Chiang Mai. I dropped by at Chiang Mai Jutjitsu and attended in  a GI class once.

Again, it was another great experience and get to know other expats from all over the country.

From Chiang Mai, I headed down all the way to Bangkok which was my last stop for my backpacking trip. I chose to practice BJJ at EMAC Thailand which was recommended by the coach in Chiang Mai Jutjitsu and I stayed there for about 3 weeks for a voluntary service with a local hotel.

 EMAC Thailand is an authentic martial arts school situating in Khet Bang Rak, Bangkok. There were many Thai BJJ Players and other foreign practitioners who came to practice every night here.

Everyone was dedicated to BJJ and it was great to meet a bunch of people who have a mutual interest in BJJ.

EMAC Thailand
Emac Thailand

Once I came back to Malaysia, I resumed my practice at Muayfit Puchong  and deeply appreciate my coach’s efforts, a person who has always been patient and coached us with his own professional way (despite the fact that I’m still a slow learner in BJJ )

Muayfit Puchong, Guess which one is my coach?

If you are interested in BJJ and would like to learn more about this martial arts, feel free to check out more on this page which they have listed most of BJJ gyms in Asia: BJJ Asia

Thanks for reading. Till next time…Oss!

OSS. It is also known as “ossu”, means Oshi Shinobu, which conveys the idea of “persevering when pushed”. In other words, never give up, have determination, grit and withstand the most arduous of training.

Quy Nhon Vietnam, Live like a local

Quy Nhon, a place which was not in my initial Vietnam plan.  It was recommended by one of my local friends whom I met back in Dalat, Vietnam.

How To Get There?

Vietnam Airlines offers daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. There are buses from Dalat, Nha Trang, Danang and Hoi An.

TRUE STORY

I took a sleeper bus from Dalat to Quy Nhon, where it was a scary bus journey for me. The driver drove pretty fast and perhaps he got used to the road and he is confident with his driving skill but still, I couldn’t sleep well throughout the whole journey though. *The adventure journey has just begun*

I arrived at the bus terminal in the early morning, 3 am. Yes, I was sitting at the bus terminal alone and waiting for my hostel host to pick me up in the early morning at 6 am. Meanwhile, there was an old local man sitting alone at the bus terminal. As soon as he saw me,  he started yelling things in Vietnamese, which I could not understand at all while walking towards my direction. I was absolutely shocked and frightened because  I did not know what his intention was. The situation lasted for an hour before more people arriving slowly to the terminal.In fact the old man’s intention was trying to help me.Everyone was curious about where I came from and what had happened. Luckily, one of the staffs at the terminal knew how to speak some basic English so I asked him for his help to contact the hostel owner.

Eventually, my host arrived by his bike and my Quy Nhon trip has  started.

WHERE IS QUY NHON 

Quy Nhon is the capital of Binh Dinh province situated in Central Vietnam. Binh Dinh is critically known as the land of Martial Arts and has also acquired a very good reputation as the best stopover destination from Nha Trang to Danang/Hoi An and vice versa. However, Quy Nhon is still considered a hidden gem in Vietnam, and yet to be aware by many foreign travelers when visiting Vietnam.

My first impression about Quy Nhon was  peaceful vibe. There were not many foreigners and the city seemed to be intact. People living in harmony and their lives are very simple. Although most of the locals did not speak English, they are very friendly and willing to assist you.

Q Inn Homestay

The owner is a very nice guy where he offered to free pick up for a solo traveler from the bus stop to his homestay. He is a generous person where guests are allowed to have the bicycle,  laundry, coffee, and eggs without any charges! Furthermore, his place is clean and the living room is lovely! And if you would like to try out some famous local food, he is able to recommend it to you or even buy on behalf of you.

Click here to book: click here

Where to Visit/ What Have I done?

Vung Chua Mountain

Best place to snap photos and enjoy the breathtaking sceneries of the whole city. It is accessible to travel to the top of Vung Chua mountain by motorbike which takes about 15 minutes from the city center.

Thi Nai Bridge – The longest cross-sea bridge of Vietnam

The bridge is nearly 2.5 km long and it was inaugurated in 2006. It connects the city of Quy Nhon to the Phuong Mai Peninsula with the goal to develop socio-economic programmes of this region.

http://www.baobinhdinh.com.vn/business/2006/12/36593/
Thi Nai Bridge-www.baobinhdinh.com.vn
Cycling all the way to Thi Nai bridge

Tháp Đôi Towers

Located in a park in the center of the city. A quiet place which takes about 10-15 minutes to walk around.  Tháp Đôi Towers were built in 11th century by the Hindu Cham people, where was established to declared Vijaya as the emperor capital and Quy Nhon’s port city as its economic engine.

The Entrance fee is 8000 VND.

BEACHES

Queen Beach and Quy Hoa Leper Colony 

It takes about 20 minutes from the town to arrive here. A relaxing area where local people enjoying laid back time here.

 Bãi Kỳ Co on Phương Mai peninsula

Phuong Mai Peninsula is about 8 kilometers far from Quy Nhon city. It has an extraordinary ecosystem with various plants and beautiful landscapes.

Bãi Kỳ Co: http://english.vietnamnet.vn

Bai Xep Beach

13km away from south of Quy Nhon, top-ranked beach on TripAdvisor review. This is a fishing village. Recommended accommodation: Life’s a Beach

Bai Xep: http://vietnamtravelinformation.net

FOOD

This coastal city is a paradise for seafood lovers. Enjoy the local food here:

NIGHT MARKET

The night market is located at the middle of the town. Many nice and cheap local stuffs you could find it here. Do not expect to find any touristic souvenirs 😂

Quy Nhon is.a special place for me. I did not plan to go there but ended up deciding to visit over ans made some good friends there. At first, I planned to stay for only 2 nights but eventually I extended my stay to 4 nights for the fact that I was in love with the city and needed more time to discover the full potential of the land.

Food was cheap and varied, people here are extremely friendly and helpful even though I struggled with the language barriers.Places were clean and peaceful. I will visit there again if I had another chance in the near future.

Other posts: click here

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Clear Water Bay Sihanoukville,the Hidden Gem in Cambodia

Sihanoukville

After Siem Reap trip, Sihanoukville was my last stop in Cambodia. Why I only chose to stay in Cambodia for one week? Cause the expenses here were too high for me. Despite Cambodia has their own currency, but most of the trading is done by USD currency.

Understand

A brief of Sihanoukville from Wikipedia:

Sihanoukville, also known as “Kampong Som”, is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital city of Sihanoukville Province, at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west on the Gulf of Thailand.

My Jouney

The bus arrived at Sihanoukville in the early morning around 6 am. As usual, many taxi/motor drivers were waiting for us at the bus stop. I took a moto taxi and heading to the travel agency who is selling the speedboat tickets.

It was still early when I arrived the shop hence I went to the next restaurant to have a quick breakfast and self-cleaned up.

I bought the speedboat ticket around 8 am and a minibus came and pick me up to the jetty. I got to know one couple from Spain from the bus who were heading to the same island as me, Clear Water Bay hence I tagged along with them.

The speedboat arrived and took us about one hour to reach to the island. Once arrived, it did not stop at our destination, Clear Water Bay. *Shocked* Instead it stopped at another island of Koh Rong Samloen. Three of us were upset but no choice to make a decision either to stay or to take another boat taxi to the clear water bay which costs at USD30.

We walked around in the island and asking each resort for the accommodation price. The cheapest was around USD12 *beyond my budget* furthermore it was a long public holiday week in Cambodia hence the accommodation price has been markup. 🙁

Finally, we managed to contact the manager of Driftwood Hostel at Clear Water Bay. He assisted and offered us a “private boat” to go into Clean Water Bay island, each of us had to pay for USD 5.  Of course, we agreed with that since we could not find any cheap accommodation here plus the island was too commercialized for me.

Three of us taking the “private boat”:

I fell in love at the first sight when I arrived at Clear Water Bay. The water was so clean and it feels so peaceful here:

What is special in Clear Water Bay?

Driftwood Hostel

The main Hostel at Clear Water Bay.

Cost per night USD2 for a spacious dormitory room – shared with 12 persons (as per the year of 2017)

You may experience the natural lifestyle here: No heater, cold water shower, No air-conditioner, Electricity only starts from 6 pm onwards, No Wifi, Weak 3G connection.

What you can do here is to enjoy the beach, reading, yoga, hiking etc.

A Big Family and Friends Gathering

This is the place allows you to fully relax, get to know other fun travelers. People enjoy sitting at the “bar lounge” and the “living room” here.

We met new people and became friends here. We talked, laughed and had some fun activities together.

At some point, you may find your quiet zone to have some reading. No one stops you. 🙂

A lucky dog who is staying here 🙂

Every night most of the travelers gathered and have a reunion family dinner. *The cost is USD 4 per person, vegan food 🙂

*Tips: Pack some dry food, snacks to this bay. Because the meal cost starts from USD3 onwards

What can you do here?

Swim with the Planktons 

I  was there for 4 days 3 nights and one day I have decided to wake up at 430am, swam at the beach and looking for planktons. It was my great memory.

Trek to Mpay Bay

This is the bay which located behind Clear Water Bay. It takes one-hour jungle trekking to reach to the bay. Remember to wear a waterproof shoe/sandal to get into Mpay Bay. I was wearing Atlanta slipper which is strong enough to survive the whole journey.

nice spot of Mpay Bay, no filter

With my favorite Austrian couple:

Collect Trash from the beach Every morning, the would be some trash leftover at the beach. Driftwood management encourages the traveler to save, protect the beach and the environment.

Once you are able to collect one full pack of trash, you will be entitled to get a cup of coffee or beer from Driftwood Hostel.

Catch the Sunrise and Sunset 

Shaved 

This is not a mandatory thing to do here. Somehow when you met some fun and crazy people, you would do something similar. Yes, my first hair shaved in my lifetime. Don’t worry, my hair has grown longer now.

Snorkeling in the Sea

I tagged along with Kim (from France) and Lenzi (from Austria) to do snorkeling at the sea. It was my first time without using any lifejacket and just wearing a basic goggled to swim in the sea. *Bucket list ticked*

Yoga

This is the best place to find your soul and heal yourself. Great to meet a lot Yogis here 🙂

morning yoga

I can’t deny that I have a lot of great memories on this island. I have spent time with the quality people and we did something together just like a big family. Clear Water Bay will always in my mind despite there were some difficulties to arrive at this bay.

How to reach here (In Correct Way)

There is only one speedboat company will drop you straight at Clear Water Bay: (YELLOW) Speed Ferry Cambodia Company. Cost is USD22 per way (as per the year of 2017). Please remember the company logo on below name card :

 

Special thanks to @Caroline who I have met in Siem Reap, she was the one who highly recommended this awesome place to me. And special thanks to the couple @Ousmane and  @Anna where three of us have been through something special during this short trip. And to all my new friends who I have met in Clear Water Bay, miss you guys!

Next, a new destination in Vietnam. Stay Tuned!

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Siem Reap, the famous tourist spot in Cambodia

After 2 days 1 night in Phnom Penh, my journey continues to Siem Reap by sleeper bus. This was my first solo sleeping bus experience and the overall bus journey was considered quite comfy.

However, I did not sleep tight as I have read some of the other travelers’ blogs stated that we have to be aware and be alert when taking the night bus. Because some of the “pickpocket” / thieves would take advantage to steal your stuff when you asleep.  Luckily, throughout the whole South East Asia trips (about 9 solo bus trips from one province/country cross over to another province/country ) I’ve only lost one of my favorite scarfs in Cambodia.  🙁

<Double-decker sleeper bus

To cut a long story short, it is possible to go to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by a road trip and it takes about 8 hours to arrive (by overnight sleeper bus). The road was smooth and not as bumpy as from my journey Hanoi Vietnam to Vientiane, Laos (will share it next time)

The bus stopped at the bus terminal and if you arrived as early as me (around 6-7am), there are many tuk-tuks awaiting there to send you to your hostel.However, within a short distance (less than 10 minutes) to my hostel, it costs me USD3.

Where did I stay?

I chose The Hostel Mekong after comparing most of the accommodations in Siem Reap:  the cost + the total people I need to share in a room. This was the most reasonable and affordable stay.

In overall, I gave 4 out of 5 Stars for this hostel. Here are the reasons:

  • A mini swimming pool is included
  • The hostel has a spacious area to chill and relax
  • Bar and breakfast are available
  • A pool table is available
  • The female dorm room with a private toilet is available
  • The check-in time was in the afternoon and I have arrived earlier. At least I could chill in the living room, using Wi-Fi and took a shower.

Book here: website

 What have I done here?

Everyone comes here for Angkor Wat. If you did not visit it, it seems it’s pointless that if you tell someone that you have been here before.

Entrance Ticket: 1 Day / 3 Days / 7 Days? 

My answer is 1 Day. Unless if you are really interested in all temples’ architecture/ designs.

Because the weather was rather hot and to visit all the temples you have to take transport from one to another which considered quite exhausting. My Angkor Wat trip starts at 430am until 12 pm noontime which is more than enough for me.

Most of the hostel /hotel would provide the tour to visit Angkor Wat. I booked the transportation arrangement with Mekong Hostel.

Suggestion: Try to ask other travelers [in the same hostel] to visit Angkor Wat together in order to share the transportation cost.

In the early morning, a Tuk tuk driver will pick you up to buy the entrance ticket around 430am.

Credit

Entrance Fee (Year 2017):

1 Day: $37 

3 Days: $62

7 Days: $72


What have I seen in Angkor Wat?

Sunrise. All the tourists gather in the early morning just to witness the sunrise. Yes, it was impressive. I took many of the sunrises pictures and found this is among this best (what to do you think?) 🙂

And many pictures from different Wats :

Since I came alone, most of the pictures I was asking strangers to take it for me.  And some local people might “standby” at the temple and offered the service to take the photos for you (they only asked for tips after they took the pictures).

PUB STREET 

As you can see from the street name,  it is the street full of clubs, bars, and restaurants.

Famous Bars:

Angkor What? Bar is the very first bar to open on Pub Street back in 1998

Temple Club & Temple Balcony – another favorite and popular club for tourists on Pub Street

Credit: 

Angkor Night Market 

Opened in 2007 and apparently, it was the FIRST night market in Cambodia and it is just next to Pub Street.

Siem Reap Art Center Night Market

Location: Right across the bridge from the old market (Psa Chas), 5 Minutes walking from pub street

It is one of the newer night markets in town and as you can see from the street name “Art Center”, you can find various and a range of souvenirs and handicrafts over here.

WAR MUSEUM CAMBODIA

It is the Biggest War Museum in Cambodia. What I liked here was they provide a free guide (a war veteran) and you can examine and hold the small arms.

Entrance Fee: USD 5  (Year 2017)

More info: check here

It was a short trip for me. I stayed there for 3 days 2 nights and heading next to Sihanoukville, which is a province in southwest Cambodia known for its beaches. Will share next post soon!

Cheers.

Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary: click here

Other Posts: Home Page

 

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia

Phnom Penh, the busiest and biggest city in Cambodia. It is located at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap river.

From the local street food stalls, Royal Palace, local temples to the nightlife, pub, clubs, fine dining and five-star hotels. It covers both historical attractions and modern city lifestyle.

Credit

How to go Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh City

From HCMC Vietnam,  it is possible to go to Cambodia by bus. The bus journey takes about 6 hours to arrive at Phnom Penh.

Alternatively, from Saigon, you may go to Chau Doc town in Mekong Delta (there is a daily direct bus of Futabus/Phuong Trang from Saigon and the bus journey is about 6-7 hours) then travel by boat/ferry to Phnom Penh (about 5 hours).

Cambodia Visa

The nationals of Malaysia, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar do not need a tourist visa and may stay in Cambodia for 21 and 30 days respectively.

For other national’s requirement:

Check out more about Cambodia visa

Recommended Bus Company

I took the bus company of Giant Ibis Transport

The bus provides complimentary WIFI, electrical outlets, and snacks for the whole bus journey. It is absolutely an affordable luxury.

The cost is $18 per trip and you can purchase the ticket online in advance.

HOSTEL in Phnom Penh

One Stop Hostel  It is just 5 minutes walking distance from Giant Ibis bus stop to the hostel and it is convenient to access to many tourist places.

What to see in Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum a.k.a S-21 Prison

…more than 35 years ago |3yrs 8months and 20days| the Genocide in Cambodia…

A former high school before it was turned into a killing and tortured place for over 17,000 Cambodians/ victims. It is a heartbreaking place where each of the classrooms was the place where the victims got tortured and killed.

Most prisoners were then brought to the Killing Fields which is just outside of Phnom Penh.

Highly recommend to pay a visit. Entrance fee: USD 5 (year 2017)

The Royal Palace of Cambodia

It is one of Phnom Penh’s most splendid architectural achievements. The palace was built in 1866 by His Majesty Preah Bat Norodom, great grandfather to Cambodia’s current King. This site was specially chosen by a Commission of Royal Ministers and Astrologers because it had great geographical significance in relation to the King, who was regarded as a direct descendant of the gods, whose role it was to live and govern on earth under the influence of heaven.” – source: tourismcambodia

Entrance Fee: USD 10 (year 2017)

*Remember to wear appropriate dress code – no sleeveless shirt/ short pants, otherwise you may need to purchase the t-shirt on the spot (USD 3) in order to enter

Central Market (Phsar Thmey)

In the Khmer Language, Phsar Thmey means “New Market”. From outside, you can see the unique colonial-style building of this market.

The building was built and constructed in 1937. It is also considered one of the landmarks in Phnom Penh.

Opening Hours: Daily 07:00 – 18:00 Address: Street 130, Phnom Penh

The Killing Fields of Cheung Ek

It is situated 15 km south-west of Phnom Penh. A place where more than 17,000 Cambodians been killed and buried in mass graves.

Many of the victims were brought to this place after been tortured in Toul Sleng.

PRICE: admission including audio tour US$6

OPENING HOURS :  7.30am-5.30pm

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Independence Monument aka Vimean Ekareach

It was built in 1958 to celebrate the independence from French in 1953. The independence monument is designed in Angkorian’s style and it now serves and known as the monument to Cambodia’s war heroes.

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National Museum of Cambodia

One of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art including sculptural, Khmer ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects

Opening hours: 8.00am until 5.00pm daily. Last admission tickets are sold at 4.30pm.

Admission costs :

  • $5 for foreigner ages from 10 to 17 years old
  • $10 foreigner ages from 18 years old and above
  • 500 riels for Cambodians. Children and school groups are free.

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Conclusion:

I stayed for 2 days 1 night in Phnom Penh which I think it’s more than enough to discover the tourist places in Phnom Penh.

From there, I took an overnight sleeper bus (Giant Ibis Transport) and heading to Siem Reap for the famous Angkor Wat.

Overall, the local’s English speaking level is high especially in the city and also at the tourist spots. It is no issue for foreigners like us who travel alone. Bear in mind that Cambodia is using USD currency and Cambodian riel.

It is still considered high expenses to travel here especially for us who are coming from a developing country. On average, one meal is around USD 2.

 
 Upcoming post: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Other Posts: Home Page

 

Chiang Mai,Thailand-Why I Like You So Much

Chiang Mai apparently is the largest and mountainous city in the northern of Thailand.

The first time when I arrived at Chiang Mai, I fell in love with the place at the first sight. It is a city but the city not as crowded as Bangkok. It is energetic yet it can be quiet too. These are some of the reasons why I like here.

chiang mai city

It is not surprised why many expats and retirees chose to move and settle down here, because of the low-cost living yet you still could remain the good quality of life in Chiang Mai.

What to see and do in Chiang Mai?

Songthaew/ Red Pick Up Truck Taxi

In the total of 5 hours bus journey from Golden Triangle to Chiang Mai, the first transport I used was the local Songthaew where this is a  pickup and shared taxi/truck that commonly used in both Thailand and Laos.

Especially in Chiang Mai, Red Pick Up truck taxi is the shared taxi for the passengers who will travel roughly in the same direction. And of course, the price is cheaper.

sonthaewCredit

*You may read more about Songthaew on another blogger’s post, they explained it in details.

Me U2 Hostel

The Red taxi stopped me outside of my hostel and this is the place that I have stayed for two nights:

Book here

The hostel location is good where is accessible and convenient to many tourist spots within walking distance.

Chang Phuek market

Recommended by the owner of the hostel, the famous Sukiya at chang phuek market:

sukiya chiangmai

the food stall is just right in front of the Ford showroom. The business working hours starts from 6pm onwards.

Address: ฟอร์ด อเมริกัน มอเตอร์ส (เชียงใหม่) 234/19 ถ. มณีนพรัตน์ ต. ศรีภูมิ อ. เมือง, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Chiang mai sukiya food court

Morning Market

Visiting the morning market (next to the Ford showroom)  where you can find a lot of nice and fresh food there

food

Warorot Market/Kad Luang 

You can shop clothing, grocery items, foods & home goods etc. here.

Daily opening hours: 5am-11pm

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Visiting Wat(s)/ Temples

There are many temples in Chiang Mai. Some of the temples are located in the city centre within walking distance.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

One of the most sacred temples where it is located on top of the mountain.

Entrance fee for the foreigner: 30 Baht per person

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

You could enjoy the peak view/ whole Chiang Mai view at the top of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Meet Up with friends

 

Food Hunting

The locals know the best! My local friends brought me to try out the famous Anchan noodles aka blue noodles:

Anchan which means Butterfly-pea flower, the color of the noodles and drinks were made by anchan. That’s why it is in blue color.

anchan noodles

Guu Fusion Roti & Tea

Many varieties of Roti here. We were greedy enough to order four plates for 3 persons. 😛

Guu Fusion Roti & Tea

Guu Fusion Roti & Tea

SUGOI BBQ

Dinner: Guess how much it costs?

SUGOI BBQ

It’s only 180 Baht for all- you- can- eat buffet!

Chiang Mai University

Do you know Chiang Mai University is also a tourist attraction?

chiang mai university

At Chiang Mai University lake -Ang Kaew reservoir

Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center

You can walk around and window shop at Maya shopping center area. The Think Park Chiang Mai is also nice to check out.

maya shopping center

chiang mai

chiang maichiang mai

Chiang Mai Brazilian Jutjitsu

If you want to practice BJJ while travel, there are many BJJ class in Chiang Mai.I went to Chiang Mai BJJ this time. Awesome people here 🙂

chiangmai bjj

chiangmai bjj

chiangmai bjj

chiangmai brazilian jujitsu

Local Night Pub in Chiang Mai

Tried out the new Thailand beer and exotic (crunchy) food here:

exotic foodUbeer thailand

I was in Chiang Mai only for 3 days 2 nights. I should have extended the stay longer.There are other many nice places in Chiang Mai such as the National Park, a trip to Pai and etc. etc. which I haven’t got a chance to visit.

In a nutshell, I like Chiang Mai very much.I will definitely  be back in one day soon.

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Golden Triangle, where the three countries meet

Golden Triangle 

According to Wikipedia:

“One of Asia’s two main opium-producing areas. It is an area of approximately 950,000 square kilometres (367,000 sq mi) that overlaps the mountains of three countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.”

I only got to know about this place after joining the Workaway

It all started when I was trying and wish to stay longer in Luang Prabang, however it seems in Laos they did not need any volunteer like me. 🙁

I have texted many organizations in Laos, however, the response was slow and some even ignored me. Hence, I started to find the workaway in Northern Thailand instead. Surprisingly, many hosts responded to me just within a few hours! After confirmed with one of the hosts in Thailand, I just booked the slow boat from Laos to Thailand and to Chiang Rai.

 

I took a public bus from Chiang Rai heading to Chiang Saen (which is near to Golden Triangle). From there, I took a tuk tuk to Golden Triangle and met my Thailand host.

Everything seems went smoothly. I arrived at Golden Triangle and was greeted by the family and their two pets.

 

I managed to stay here for 2.5 weeks for homeschooling.The people here were so nice and friendly. All of them know each other and helping each other in the area. Most of them are doing travel businesses because Golden Triangle is well known for the tourist spot.

What to see here?

Below were the things I have done :

  • Golden Triangle viewpoint
  • Take a boat to Laos (just across the river)
  • Try out Mekong pizza – apparently, it’s famous here

  • Visit many temples
  • Enjoy Coconut drinks
  • Buy and Grab some Roti
  • Visit Old Opium Museum
  • Visit Hall of Opium Golden Triangle – this exceptional museum ranks as one of the best in the region. 

  • Every Tuesday night, there is a small night market
  • Visit the border of Myanmar – 500 Baht visa fee to enter into Myanmar

What else?

  • Play together with the kids

 

  • Eat together with the family
  • Exercise and cook together with my host

  • Ride a motorbike together with the kids

  • And the family took me to the church and temples visit
  • Got to know more local people
  • Walk around in Chiang Saen

I do miss the people over there even I have back from the trip. The people over there are living life simple and happy easy going. If there is any chance in the near future, I would definitely go back and visit them again. 

What’s good about workaway? >> Get to know more new friends

Met up with another volunteer who is currently based in Malaysia. He was the one who stayed at Golden Triangle for about 3-4months just to do homeschooling and teaching English to the local kids.

And one of my friends, she is currently at my previous host place for voluntary service now. Nice people are everywhere indeed. If you like kids and would love to play with them, please let me know. I will try to refer you to meet this nice family 🙂

It feels like I have another family in Thailand now. Looking forward to meeting all of them again!

Upcoming Post- Journey continues to Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

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Chiang Rai Thailand, My itinerary

This post is sharing my itinerary to ChiangRai, the north of Thailand (I went to visit 3 places here: Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle, and Chiang Mai)

Photo credit: here

The journey continues from the slow boat- Laos to North of Thailand  When I’ve arrived in the border of Thailand, it was already evening time and the sky was dark. I have to make a quick decision either to take the mini-van by myself and to meet my workaway host in Golden Triangle. The second was to follow the other travellers to Chiang Rai for one overnight.

After getting the advice from them, I followed the group to Chiang Rai instead (since the cost to go alone to Golden Triangle was rather expensive).

Photo credit: Here

CHIANG RAI

What have I seen there?

The minivan arrived around the late evening time and it stopped right next to the night bazaar. We were checking out and walk in randomly to any hostel.Eventually, we managed to find a nice and affordable hostel: Sabaijai Hostel which I liked it a lot (clean, spacious and having own privacy) :

The spacious dormitory room

Lovely breakfast and free herb teas!

Click here to book

CHIANG RAI NIGHT BAZAAR

It is rather easy to find the night market aka night bazaar. You can shop for food, souvenirs and the clothing item etc.

WHITE TEMPLE ~Wat Rong Khun

The next morning after we had our breakfast, five of us went to visit this beautiful temple.

It is a must see and to-do list in Chiang Rai. Wat Rong Khun was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who known for his use of Buddhist imagery in his art.

The entrance fee is 50 Baht for foreigners and Thai citizens will still be able to access the contemporary temple for free.

During the time we went, it was crowded with people because it was a public holiday in Thailand.

White temple -crowded with people

I tried hard to get some nice pictures :

How to get to the white temple?

Just right next to the night bazaar, there is a bus station where you can take the public bus to the white temple which costs 20 Baht only. Below is the bus timetable to the temple:

After visiting the temple with the four gentlemen, it is the time to farewell with them and heading to Golden triangle to meet my localhost.

It was my pleasure to meet all of them and travelled together from Laos to Thailand. Wishing all the best to them and hope our paths cross again someday.

What else to see in Chiang Rai?

Black Temple a.k.a  Baan Dam Museum / Black House

It is near to White Temple, which takes about 30 minutes driving distance.

Credit: here

Credit: here

Clock Tower

This is the major landmark in the city centre, where it also serves as a traffic roundabout.

It was designed by the same person, Chalermchai Kositpipat who created the city’s famous White temple.

 Credit: here

Credit: here

You may sign up the one-day sightseeing package tour with the local travel agent (which will cover most of the tourist spots in Chiang Rai):

chiang rai tour package

Next post:  Chiang Saen, Golden Triangle Thailand where the 3 countries meet.

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Slow boat from Laos to Thailand

In my previous post, I have shared my Luang Prabang, Laos trip and today I will write something about the slow boat border crossing from Luang Prabang to the border of North Thailand, Huay Xai.

Image Credit: here

There are many ways to go from Laos to Thailand including taking the bus (which takes shorter time). However, you will miss many parts of Mekong river scenery view.

Where to get the slow boat ticket?

It is definitely not hard to book and purchase a ticket. In the downtown centre, there are many travel agents who can arrange the boat ticket for you.

There are two options:

a) You can either buy the boat ticket until Pak Beng (which is the small village allowing travellers like us to rest for one night after 8 hours journey). From there, you may decide to either continue to buy another ticket to continue the slow boat journey or taking a bus to Thailand in the next morning.

b) Book the full ticket to the border of North Thailand. You will still stopover one night at Pak Beng village and the ticket is valid for the next day morning journey to Huay Xai.

Suggestion: I will recommend and suggest to go with the second option as the boat journey is definitely better than a bus trip.

What to prepare before getting on to the boat?

Food is the key!  I have to emphasize that you must shop and buy a lot of food at Luang Prabang Night Market before your next early morning boat journey.

Buy some banana, tomatoes, canned meat, cakes, sandwiches, packaged drinks, Maggi noodles, bread, butter, milk, chips and snacks (whichever food can be stored and last for 8 hours)

Because for the next 8 hours, you will only stay on the boat and everything will be done on the boat.

You may buy some food (cup noodles) and coffee on the boat, and of course, the price is slightly more costly. Since that was my first experience, I only managed to grab two banana and chocolate cakes during my travel time.

And I had to buy a Maggi Cup Noodles on the boat, which cost me around USD2 for just a noodles cup. So guys, just remember to prepare and get ready before getting on the boat!

What to do on the slow boat?

There is neither Wifi nor data signal on the boat. So yeah! It is the best time to get rid of the outside for a while!

Rest &Relax 

You can choose to take a nap on the boat (even though there was no bed there, but the seat is good enough to rest and relax). In fact, I slept a lot on the boat because of the relaxing journey.

Eat: Yah! You tend to get hungry easily and eat a lot of food and snacks!

Chat with other travellers

There are many travellers who will travel together to the same destination. You get to meet and share different stories with people from different countries.

Glad to meet the four gentlemen (another gentleman was sleeping) and we got travelled together to Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Got the chance to try out the mate tea from Argentina.

Reading books

It is also another good option to read some books on the boat.

Movie time

If you can’t get rid of modern life, you may watch some downloaded movies.

Enjoy the Mekong River view

It was great to get to enjoy the scenic view along the whole journey. The boat stopped at certain points and you may greet the local with smiles! 🙂

PAK BENG

After a long half day journey, you will arrive at Pak Beng. This is a village which allows travellers to rest for a night before continuing the next morning journey.

Once you have arrived there, you will get to approach by the local for the accommodation. On average, the cheapest one room per night is around 100,000 which is around USD 12. You may share with another person for one room.

When you arrive there, it is about evening time. You get to clean up yourself and have some dinner at the restaurant in Pak Beng.

For the next morning, you may get to walk around at the village in the early morning. And get yourself ready to buy some food (sandwich and banana etc) and go on the boat again!

The journey will take another 8 hours, that’s where you will arrive at the border of Laos-Thailand. It is almost evening time again.

You can either take the tuk tuk to Huay Xai and stay for another night. Or straight taking the tuk tuk to arrive at the border and taking the minivan to Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai, Thailand

By the time, when you arrive at the border it is already evening time. Hence there was no more public bus. Instead, you have to carpool (minivan)with other travellers who want to go to the same destination.

It was indeed a long long journey, however, I did enjoy myself and my time for the slow boat journey. It gets to relax my mind and away from the modern city life a while.

Hope you will try this journey yourself on next time!

Tips: Remember to change all your Laos Kip at Laos or at the Thai-Laos border. It is hard to exchange Laos Kip to Thai Baht in Thailand. Almost none of the foreign exchange shop accepted Lao Kip.

Alternatively, you may just use Thai Baht currency in Laos because it is accepted in almost everywhere in Laos: click here for proof

For the next post, I will share about Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai trip in Thailand. Stay tuned!

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