A month in Thailand & Vietnam
Photography by Brad Winder
Last year one of my big highlights was spending a month travelling around Thailand and Vietnam and I thought I would share it with you. xx
Bangkok was amazing! We stayed here for five nights and I wished we stayed longer, mainly as it did rain a lot and I felt like we missed a bit of sightseeing. We went to the floating market, which was a fun experience as you get taken around on a wooden rowboat and go up to the stalls. I also had coconut ice cream here, which was so yum! My top four recommendations for Bangkok are a Dinner Cruise down the Chao Phraya River, a great way to see Bangkok at night, food is incredible and they even have a live band so you can top the night off with some dancing with Wat Arun Temple as your back drop. For shopping, you must go to MBK, this is an indoor market that is just level upon level of shopping stalls. You can pick up some great bargains here. If you want more stores instead of stalls, I recommend Terminal 21. Each floor of this mall is based on a "worlds best-known shopping street" theme such as London's Carnaby Street and the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. You also must go to Khao San Road, it has the best nightlife and is full of bars, clubs, restaurants, food stalls and street shopping.
We flew to this beautiful Island and it is just stunning. Especially after spending the last few days in a big city. Koh Samui is a relaxing Island and an easy place to explore. We found the easiest way to get around is to hire a scooter. I did leave the driving up to Brad but didn't find it scary at all on the back. We mainly just chilled on the Island, swam, explored and ate great food. One of the days we went on a snorkelling day trip to Koh Tao, which was another stunning Island and I really want to go back there and stay.
We flew to Krabi on our way to Koh Phi Phi and extended our stay here for a couple of nights. Here we mainly relaxed by the pool. We did a day tour to Koh Hong Island, this Island was beautiful and we spent the day snorkelling and kayaking.
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi was one of my favourite places this trip, even though it did rain most of our time here. The beaches were beautiful and the walk up to the View Point has such stunning views that if you go make sure you do it The nightlife was fun and I recommend the Phi Phi Reggae Bar, where they host Muay Thai Kickboxing Matches and have buckets of cocktails. It was pretty entertaining watching Tourists get up and fight. We did a day tour to Monkey Beach and Maya Bay (The Beach). The Monkeys at the beach were mean and they even bit a guy on our tour, so be careful! Maya Bay was amazing, its famous for the film The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio. Such beautiful scenery and the water was nice to swim in, but it was bloody windy so sand was blowing eveywhere. Also the day we went they couldn't get the boats in to the beach, so we had to swim a to a cliff, climb the cliff with ropes and then walk for about 500m and we were there. Climbing up the rope wall wasn't as easy as it sounded and things got pretty dicey as the waves starting getting big and people were getting smashed up against the rocks. There were locals helping us through the water and up the rope wall but some people on our boat really struggled. Such a fun expereince and defintly worth it.
Before going to Thailand we had done some research on dentists as Brad needed to get a filling fixed from his travel in Europe and I really wanted to get my teeth whitened. We chose Sea Smile Dental Clinic Patong and they were so good. My teeth looked incredible and it was so affordable compared to prices in New Zealand. We are now researching ones in Bali for our upcoming trip. In Phuket, we mainly just chilled by the pool and explored Bangla Road at night and prepped for our Vietnam part of the trip.
Now onto Vietnam!
We flew into Hanoi from Phuket at night and once landed we struggled to get a taxi at the airport and were getting ripped off with prices as we had done some research prior to arriving. Brad decided to make friends with a local also waiting to get a taxi into town he said he was going to help us get into town and asked if we'd like to share. I was unsure what to think and sounded dodgy looking back now but actually worked out for us and he was a really nice genuine local. After checking into our hotel we headed straight out to get some late dinner and we finally got to try the Banh Mi and it was incredible. We also tried Pho here and that was so good as well. I feel like Vietnam has amazing food! Hanoi has beautiful architecture and make sure you head down to the Old Quarter as it has the best local markets and stores are broken down into streets, such as there is a Silk Street that shows all the best silks and Shoe Street for shoes etc.
Ha Long Bay
We did a day trip from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay and this place is incredible. There aren't enough words to describe how beautiful the bay is. One thing that did upset me was that the water is really dirty, makes me hate plastic so much! The day trip involved kayaking and exploring caves
We caught the overnight train to Hue, its a great way to travel as its cheap and you're not losing a day and not paying for a nights accommodation. Hue is a cool little city and a good place to spend a couple of nights but you don't have to stay here long. In Hue, we just explored the Imperial City and ate some delicious food.
To get to Hoi An we hired a private car from Hue, I highly recommend travelling this way as we got to stop off at the famous Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Beach and Marble Mountains. If you are staying long enough I recommend getting some clothes made as the tailors looked incredible. The best way to explore to Hoi An is to hire a bicycle as it's easy to get around the whole city. The Old City is incredible, really good shopping here.
We caught a 10-hour train to Nha Trang from Hoi An and sadly we couldn't get on the overnight train so we lost a day. Nha Trang I feel is a lot more commercialised compared to the other places in Vietnam we had visited. There were big sky scrapers and a beauitful beach, it had a real Gold Coast, Australia feel. We spent a day at Vinpearl Land, this place is incredible, its a theme park, water park, zoo and aquarium all in one and you have to catch the worlds longest cable car over the sea to get there. I definitely recommend going here but you need to spend a full day to do it all.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh was our final stop and the place we were going to be celebrating my birthday. I was one lucky girl and when we arrived at the hotel Brad had surprised me by getting a birthday cake, candles and wine all set up for me. I found that Ho Chi Minh City was much more commercialised and similar to Nha Trang in some aspects, one really cool thing was that they went all out for Halloween and when I say all out I mean over the top ALL OUT!. We decided to get into the spirit and got our faces painted and were stopped for photos every minute it was actually crazy. The markets here are the best, could actially spend days exploring them. I also got my Mum some Perscription glasses made here and its been nearly a year and they are still going strong. We stayed here for 3 nights and it was no where near long enough so I am definetly planning on coming here again.
Have you been to Thailand or Vietnam? If you have what were your highlights? x