””

Experiencing an Onsen and the Rules of Visiting a Japanese Bath House

Experiencing an Onsen and the Rules of Visiting a Japanese Bath House

Let’s talk about proper Japanese Bath House Etiquette. Now, I am not a luxurious traveler. Loud hostel dorm rooms, red eye flights, and uncomfortable day long bus rides are all part of my weekly routine. One luxury I do allow myself is breathing in the steamy air and soaking in the scorching water of a hot spring or bathhouse. Sometimes we all need to wash the road off us!

Am I right?

It goes without saying that visiting the famed bathhouses in Japan was a huge bucket list item for me. Recently I paid a few of these bath houses a visit. I had an incredible day as I soaked in every moment of my bathhouse experience in Aomori. (pun intended) I was fresh of a plane after a whirlwind 48  hours in Tokyo. A bath was just what I needed.

However, as travelers, there are a few rules and customs to pay attention to before visiting an Onsen or Sento (bathhouses) for the first time. They are one of the reasons I fell in love with Aomori.  In this post we will talk about proper Japanese Bath House Etiquttte.

Bath houses I visited in Aomori. 

A Few Rules before visiting an Onsens: Japanese Bath House Etiquette

Onsen Etiquette

Japanese Bath House Etiquette – Are Tattoo’s Allowed in a Japanese Bath House Tattoo’s

Blessed Tattoos

“Are Tattoo’s allowed in Japanese bath houses?”. This is probably the most common question when it comes to visiting a bath house. Sadly, no. If you have tattoo’s most likely they will deny you entry to the bath.

Tattoos have a bad reputation in Japan and are often seen as a mark of being in the Yakuza so entering with them is not proper Japanese Bath House Etiquttte. That being said there are still a few ways to visit the Japanese bath with tattoos.

A few ideas on how to visit a Onsen with a tattoo. 

1- Get a concealer patch. It is possible to find patches that cover your tattoo’s.
2- Ask if there is an empty bath. I have a huge Sak Yant on my back and a handful of other travel tattoos. Luckily when I visited Hakkoda Hotel they had an empty bath that they let me use.
3- Some places might not mind. One bath house in Japan they let me go in even without concealing my tattoo’s. It’s important to be polite and ask. Never just assume you can go in with tattoos.

Wash Before Entering the Bath.

There are little stools and buckets around the path. Use the bucket and nearby hose to wash and rinse yourself off before entering and exiting the bath.

Clean yourself thoroughly. The whole point of washing yourself off is to make yourself clean enough to bathe with other people.
No clothes

No Clothes Allowed

Onsen’s and Sento’s are a no clothes activity. You will be naked surrounded by naked strangers. If this bothers you then you’ll need to opt for a hotel room that has a private bath house. However, these rooms are expensive (at least a few hundred dollars a night), and you will not get the full Onsen experience.

A much cheaper option is to cover yourself with a small towel until just before you get into the bath. Then rest the towel on your head, or around your neck until you are ready to get out.

Nowadays most Onsen and Sento have separate baths for men and women. Traditionally bath houses were co-ed and some still follow this are. Make sure to know what type of bath you’re going into, or you could be in for a surprise.

Show Respect

Respect is a huge part of Japanese culture, and it is important to show as much respect as possible when visiting this wonderful country. This applies to a Japanese Onsen as well. Many people come to the baths to unwind and relax their mind.

Silence is appreciated but talking quietly is fine. Don’t yell across the bath, or splash around in the water. A good rule to have proper Japanese Bath House Etiquette is to imagine your in a flooded library.

Rinse and Repeat

Many of the bathhouses have a cold water pool. Once you have had enough heat, send a shock to your senses by dipping in the frigid water. You will immediately wake from your hot water coma. After the cold water jars you awake head back to the bath and bask in comfort as the warm water engulfs you.

Leave Your Things in the Dressing Room.

Don’t stress about leaving your clothes, wallet, and phone in the changing room before entering the bath area. Theft in Japan is extremely rare. Nobody is going to take your things.

Even hiking in Aomori, I was amazed because if someone dropped something on the trail, the next person to see it would place it on a rail or rock. That way when the person came back for it they would find it easily. People respect each other too much in Japan to steal stuff.

Watch What Other People Do

If in doubt mimic your neighbors. If you are worried, you are doing something wrong just imitate the people around, and you will be okay.

An Onsen is a great traditional experience to have when traveling Japan. This mini guide will help you be prepared for what is expected when taking a Japanese bath and help you get the most out of your time.

What do you think of these rules for a Japanese Bathhouse? Is this an experience you would like when visiting Japan?

Backpacking Indonesia: A Full and Complete Travel Guide

Backpacking Indonesia: A Full and Complete Travel Guide

Backpacking Indonesia is a take a journey into a different world.

I have spent months backpacking Indonesia. I’ve had wild adventures with Orangutans, explored remote villages in Wakatobi, and gone surfing in Bali.

However, I have only scratched the surface of the adventures, and rich culture that backpacking Indonesia has to offer travelers. This post highlights all the backpacking Indonesia travel tips I have learned throughout my journeys into one of the best countries in Southeast Asia.

indonesia-travel

Backpacking Indonesia – Why Go?

One of the reasons I love Indonesia is because of all the exciting adventures the country holds. Indonesia offers some experiences that no other country in Southeast Asia can offer.

Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands, out of which over 900 have people living on them. Across these thousands of islands are over 300 different cultures. All these islands are different both in looks and experiences.

One reason to travel to Indonesia is because it is a vast country made up of islands. This means it is easy to find remote locations, and stray off the beaten path. Trek through the jungles in search of the Komodo Dragons, or bum out on the beaches of Bali; Indonesia has something for everyone.

When to travel to Indonesia

The temperature tends to stay between 70 to 90 F year round.Yep, it is pretty much paradise. Although, the country does have a wet and dry season.

Wet Season – The wet season begins at the end of October and goes until April. This is still a good time to go backpacking through Indonesia just make sure to pack smarter.

Dry season – Dry season begins in May and goes until October.

However, Indonesia is so big that in some places, like Sumatra the seasons are switched.

Peak Tourist Season – The peak tourist season in Indonesia is from mid-summer to the mid-September. This means slightly higher prices, and dealing with larger crowds.

Before Backpacking Indonesia

backpacking-indonesia-kids

How much does it cost to travel Indonesia

Indonesia is affordable to backpackers, and travelers. In fact, you can easily get by with 600-1000 USD a month.

Accommodation – It is easy to find good, and cheap hostels on sites like hostelworld. Indonesia has a variety of hostels to choose from.

For those looking for a little more privacy, Airbnb is a good option.

Right now you can save $35 OFF your first stay with Airbnb using this link.

Daily Budget- This depends on you. You can travel Indonesia for $20 a day if you watch your money. However, A safer budget for Indonesia is around $30 -$40 USD a day.

Travel Insurance- It is always important to travel with insurance. It isn’t so pricey and protects you, and your savings. Traveling without insurance is not smart plain and simple.

For Insurance I use RoamRight. It is a company I love!

Backpacking Thailand best travel insruance

Tour Companies

Some people are who are nervous about traveling to Southeast Asia solo and would rather explore on a tour. While I understand this fear I have to say that I have not had one problem when backpacking Indonesia.

However, a tour is a great way to meet other backpackers and Indonesia travelers. A tour is a great option for those a little nervous.

A couple tour companies I trust are

Best Places to Visit When Backpacking Indonesia

Jakarta

The capital city offers a lot of markets, shopping, and temples. Jakarta is a busy city and has a population of over 9 million people. That is a ton of people. Personally, I wouldn’t suggest spending more than a few days in Jakarta. Indonesia offers destinations that are more fun and exotic.

Things to see in Jakarta.

  • National Museum
  • Grand Indonesia Shopping Town
  • Taman Mini Indonesia

Best Day Trips from Jakarta

Backpacking Indonesia

Bogor – The third largest city in Indonesia offers sits at a higher elevation. This means cooler temperatures and less humidity. Bogor also has famed botanical gardens and the presidential palace.

Pelabuhan – This is a wonderful fishing village. The surrounding area also has some fantastic resorts for those waiting a relaxed holiday.

Borobudur – In all honest Borobudur isn’t a day trip. But Jakarta is a good spot for a home base for those heading to Indonesia’s most famous temple. Borobudur is an hour flight or ten-hour bus ride from Jakarta which means you can be there and back to the city within a few days.

Borneo

backpacking-indnoesia-travel-guide-1

The third largest island in the world offers some unique wildlife experiences. This thick jungle is beautiful, and there are some great tours that let you see it. One of my favorites is the tour to Camp Leaky to see the wild orangutans. The few days I have spent in Borneo are some of my favorite in Indonesia.

Things to do Backpacking Borneo

River Cruise – Spend a few days cruising down the rivers and deep into the jungles of Borneo. You have the chance to see crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, and much more wild life.

See the Orangutans – This is part of your journey when traveling down the river. Borneo is an Orangutans pervasive. It is only one of two places in the world where you can see these impressive “humans” of the forest.

Get up close and personal with these mesmerizing creatures, trust me, it is worth it.

Wakatobi

Indonesia Travel Guide

Photo by JourneyWonders 

Wakatobi and the surrounding islands are a great hotspot for those waiting to get away from the touristic epicenters of Jakarta or Bail. Wakatobi has a chill atmosphere. However, Wakatobi has some amazing experiences.

Things to do when Backpacking Wakatobi

Scuba Diving – Wakatobi has some of the most diverse, and impressive scuba diving in the world. One reason I love the diving in Wakatobi is that not many people know about it. Yep, Wakatobi has insane diving, yet, it is still off the radar. There is a good chance you get these waters to yourself.

Snorkeling – If scuba diving is not your cup of tea then you are in luck. Wakatobi also offers excellent snorkeling showcasing a variety of colorful coral reefs.

Bajo Village – I loved my day at the Bajo Village. This cultural experience takes you to a remote people that live their entire lives on the water. Thier houses are built on stilts in the ocean, and at low tides, they wade out to collect shrimp and out seafood snacks.

Bali

indoneisa-travel-guide

Bali is the grand jewel for travelers backpacking Indonesia. Bali has soft sandy beaches, lush, rice fields, temples to explore. It is a hotspot for yoga, diving, and snorkeling. Bali is the biggest tourism destination in Indonesia.

Ululwata – This cliffside temples complex is a must see when visiting Bali. Uluwatu offers cultural story tellings, scenic sunsets, and monkeys.

Shopping – Bali has fantastic markets to explore, and see. Haggle and get some cool souvenirs

Learn to Surf- Looking to catch some waves. Bali is a great place to learn to surf. In fact, the first (and one of the only) wave I ever caught was in there. There are some awesome surf schools for great prices.

Explore the rice fields- There has some beautiful rice plantations. Rent a bike take some scenic drives or there are even opportunities to do home stays and work in the rice fields for a day. Just are just a few of the many things to do in Bali.

Komodo National Park

Indonesia Travel Guide

Without a doubt one of my favorite stops when backpacking Indonesia is Komodo. This is a land of dragons, indescribable islands, and crystal clear water. Komodo is awesome and a perfect stop for adventure travelers.

Things to do inKomodo

There are a ton of things to do in Labuan Bajo. Here are a few of my favorites.

Trek to See Dragons – Hiking the across a couple incredible islands of Komodo and Rinca to see Komodo Dragons is one experience you will not forget anytime soon.

Scuba Dive – Manta Point is a dive spot in Komodo. On this dive you have a high chance of seeing Manta Rays.

Padar Island – Padar is one of the most stunning Islands I’ve been seen.  Taking a day trip here is worthwhile.

Other Popular Things to do in Indonesia

padar island indonesia

  • Sekumpul Waterfalls,
  • Prambanan Temples
  • The Green Land of Jatiluwih
  • Liberty Shipwreck
  • Lijen Crater
  • Raja Ampat Islands

Some of these tours are tricky to book, but most of them can be found and TripAdvisor’s Indonesia page.

Backpacking Indonesia is a trip that you will remember for a long time to come. When traveling to Indonesia make sure to use these backpacking Indonesia trips. They will help you navigate some of the best spots the country has to offer.

Backpacking Thailand: Sensational Tips for the Land of Smiles

Backpacking Thailand: Sensational Tips for the Land of Smiles

Backpacking Thailand is an important part of most travels heading into the wondrous part of the world known as South East Asia. In fact Thailand is one most peoples backpacking through Asia itinerary for a few reasons.

I mean, Thailand’s culture is friendly ( though it seems backwards sometimes), the food delicious, the islands, like Koh Lipe , are picturesque, and the nightlife is out of control.

Mix that all up with the cheap price tag, and it is easy to see why Thailand draws hundreds of thousands of tourist and backpackers every year. After all what more do backpackers want!?

Chaing Mai Backpacking

Before we get any further, I am going to come clean. I have a massive love affair with Thailand so that this post might seem a little bias about the awesomeness of the country. If you don’t stay on your toes you’ll be sucked into the culture and soon be head over heels in love.

While it is impossible to sum up such a complex and beautiful country in a couple of thousand words, this guide will help give you the information you need to start planning your travels in Thailand.

After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of what to do and what to expect when backpacking Thailand.

So, if you are backpacking Thailand you are in the right place.

Know I know what you are saying to yourself, ” No offense, Stephen….but there are a ton of backpacking Thailand blog post, why should we listen to yours?”. 

Vaild question! Well, one reason is that I have spent over a year of my life traveling the country. It is also a country I have lived in twice. Basically (not to talk myself up) but I have spent more than my fair share of time backpacking Thailand.

Why Go Backpacking in Thailand

Thailand Islands - Backpacking Thaland

Let’s talk about why you should take a trip backpacking Thailand.

Thailand is special because it caters to every traveler need, and also every type of traveler. Whether you are a luxury traveler or a dirty backpacker (like myself), you are going to get the trip you want.

A lot of backpackers travel Thailand to party all nights on the islands like Koh Phangan.

Looking to sip cocktails, sit on the beach, and never leave the resort then head to Koh Samui.

Others, like myself, love the north of Thailand for the trekking, road trips, and culture.

Thailand is a country that caters to your every need, and you can have whatever type of trip you want.

Best Time to Visit Thailand

Peak season- Thailand’s peak tourist season is from November to February.

Weather- There are two major seasons in Thailand. Hot/rainy, and warm/dry.

Summer Temperatures – Summer in Thailand is March to June. April tends to be the hottest month with temperatures being around 96 °F to 104 °F (36-40 °C).

Winter Temperatures – Thailand cools off November to February. Temperatures are still warm. Somewhere around 80 °F. (30ish °C)

How Much to Budget when Backpacking Thailand

Backpacking Thailand

Monthly Budget – The cost of backpacking Thailand varies a lot. The country has a ton of fun activities to indulge. Backpacking Thailand on a small budget will cost around $900.

However, it is possible to backpack Thailand cheaper. I’ve known people to travel Thailand for $600 a month.

However, I wouldn’t recommend it. Why would you want to fly all the way to Thailand to sit in a hostel eating noodles? Make sure you have some cash to have some fun right?

If you want to add scuba diving, island hopping, partying,a Sak Yant tattoo, trekking, motorbike rentals, and other things I would budget for at least $1200 a month.

Daily Budget – I’ve spent less than $10 a day in Thailand and more than $100. It depends on what you are doing. A safe backpacking Thailand budget is $30 a day.

For more info on the cost of backpacking thailand check out Nomadic Matt’s post How Much does a Holiday in Thailand Cost and Backpacker Banter post How Much to Budget for a Month in Thailand.

Things to Know Before Heading to Thailand.

Flight – Flights to Thailand are cheaper than you think. I’ve flown from the U.S. to Thailand one way for under $300. Using some tricks to find insanely cheap flight, and knowing the right websites like Kayak Flights is essential to finding a right flight.

Travel Insurance – I use RoamRight for all my travel insurance. They are a great company, and I have never had a problem with them.

Here is why travel insurance is a must. Dengue is rare in Thailand, but it does happen. I have a friend that just got Dengue Fever in Thailand.

She spent five days in the hospital, and her bill was over $5,000. Luckily she had insurance, and they covered the whole thing.

Dengue might be rare in Thailand, but it does happen.

Another buddy of mine got bit by a dog and had to get $1600 in shots.

Which the insurance covered.

Backpacking Thailand best travel insruance

Where to Stay in Thailand

I recommend a couple of type of accommodations

Airbnb – Renting a room in a house is a fantastic way to meets some locals. There are cheaper ways to stay in Aisa, bit Airbnb is a good option if you are looking for privacy or staying with a local.

Also, Airbnb is cheap if you are staying in the same city in Thailand for a month or longer.

(Get $35 OFF your first stay with Airbnb completely FREE when you use this link)

Hostel –Hostels in Thailand are awesome! I live in hostels and Thailand has a few of my favorites. Hostels are a great way to meet like-minded travelers.

I always use Hostelworld when booking my hostels.

I’ll tell you more about what hostels are the best in Thailand when we discuss cities. A few of my favorite are Lub’d in Bangkok.

Hotels: Thailand has some fantastic hotels that won’t break the bank. For example these awesome hotels in Chiang Mai.

Eating in Thailand

Things to eat in Thailand

The food… man oh man the food. A couple of the best dishes are the rich coconut curries, spicy salads, and chicken stir fried with vegetables.

Personally, I always head straight for the hole in the wall restaurants or indulge in street food. They have the cheapest price tag, and the food is almost always better.

An average meal will cost between $1-$3. Restaurants that cater to westerns and western food cost between $6-$12 a meal.

Tips to Find Mouth-Watering Food

Walk Around – Head down the side streets and alleys. Don’t be afraid to eat in a place that looks a little dirty as long as you can see where they prepare the food.

Street Food- Cheap and amazing…. enough said.

Ask the hostel staff – Ask the staff. Tell them you want to get away from the tourist restaurants and find the local hotspots.

Getting Around Thailand

Thailand runs off of buses, ferries, and trains. Lately budget airline flight prices have been so good that I have just been paying a little extra to fly.

Budget airlines in Thailand are Air Asia and Tiger Air.

However, Buses are the cheapest option. While Trains and planes are a bit more expensive.

Tours in Thailand

Companies also  Thailand backpacking trips. These are good in your are backpacking Thailand alone and looking for some company.

A couple of my favorite companies are G Adventures, and Intrepid Travel. . They both are good companie and offer different  types ofThailand tour. However, they are worth checking out if you are looking for tours in Thailand.

Places to See in Thailand

Thailand Travel tips

There are a ton of different cities to see when backpacking Thailand. Here are a few of the top ones and some suggestion of what to do when visiting this cities.

Bangkok

However, there is more to do in Bangkok than just backpackers partying.

Get off the regular tourist track and you will see a very deep city, full of culture and life.

Sadly, most people backpacking Thailand never get off Koh San Road long enough to see it.

Where to stay – I’ve been to Bangkok over 12 times, and I highly recommend either Lub’d

They are hands down the best hotels in Bangkok and a couple of my favorite hostels in the entire world.

What to see in Bangkok

Royal Palace – Over 300 years old, this extravagant palace is the main tourist attraction in Bangkok.

Cost to visit the Royal Palace: Thai people get in free. Everyone else it cost 500 Baht ($15)

Visit Bangkok’s other Temples- You might get templed out if you attempt to visit all of these in a couple of days, but here are some other.popular temples in Bangkok.

• Wat Kalayanamit
• Wat Saket and the Golden Mount
• Wat Benchamabophit
• Wat Traimit

Don’t have a lot of time, not to worry. Here is the perfect way to spend 3 days in Bangkok

What to do in Bangkok

Shop till you drop – Downtown Bangkok is filled with massive malls. Many of them are all right next to each other. Take the BTS (Sky train) to the Siam stop and you will be surrounded by shopping centers.

Party- Nightlife in Bangkok never ends. The city is wild, and I have had more than one morning I woke up and felt like I had just reenacted the movie Hangover 2.

The Main party streets in Bangkok are Koh San Rd and Soi Cowboy.

Markets – The weekly markets in Bangkok are ok. However, they are nothing compared to the massive weekend market. This market has over 8,000 stalls and shops. Some of the shops are price, but many of them are also very affordable.

How to get to Chatuchak Weekend Market: Take the BTS to Mo Chit station. The market is open Friday through Sunday.

Chiang Mai

trips to Thailand

Chiang Mai is a city that’s dear to my heart. It is a place I have called home twice in my life.

The main draws of Chiang Mai are the food, the overwhelming friendly locals, and the low price.

The quality of living in Chaing Mai for the price is insane. If you are looking to take a break from the road, and looking for a cheap hideout, then Chiang Mai is the city for you. It is possible to live like a king for $1,000 a month.

Things to See in Chiang Mai

Doi Sup Thep – The famous temple in Chaing Mai. Full of gold statues, and has some amazing views of the city.

Other popular temples to visit in Chaing Mai

  • Wat Phra That Doi Suthep,
  • Wat Chedi Luang,
  • Wat Chiang Man
  • Wat Suan Dok

Get a Sak Yant – This is my Sak Yant

Thailand Backpacking

Read about my Saky Yant Tattoo Here

What is a Sak Yant – A Magic protection tattoo given to you by a monk. This bamboo tradition started over 700 years ago in Chiang Mai area. I recommend this private tour for a Sak Yant, because they take you to an Ajram (master) who’s family has been giving Sak Yant for over 300 years.
Sak Yant Chiang Mai Experts

Eat a ton of Khao Soi – One of the best foods in Thailand.Khao Soi is known as the food of the North.

However, Khao Soi is the tourist food of the north. If you want the local experience also try Kà•nŏm jeen nám ngée•o. It is tasty ( though I like Khoa Soi better) and it is what the locals eat.

(Note: Kà•nŏm jeen nám ngée•o contains blood)

The best Khao Soi in town is Khao Soi Mae Sai. You can also get Kà•nŏm jeen nám ngée•o here as well. See it on Google Maps

Places to see and what to eat in thailand

Bus Bar Wednesday – A bunch of couch surfers meet every Wednesday at Bus Bar to talk, hang out, and share cheap drinks. When I am in Chiang Mai, I never miss it. It is a insanely fun night and a great way to meet locals and fellow travelers when backpacking Thailand.

Road Trip to Pai – A beautiful city in the mountain. Rent a bike and head on a road trip. The mountain road is full of thousands of twist and turns and some amazing views.

CHiang Mai has one of the lowest cost of living in Thailand. It is an amazing place!

Other Places to VIsit in Thailand

Pai – Beautiful city in the mountains

Chiang Rai – The two main attractions of Chiang Rai are the famous White and Black Temples

Phuket – Party town and where you will want to fly if you are going to Phi Phi or Koh Lak.

Pattaya  – On the east coast of Thailand. Pattaya is known for its beautiful beaches, big resorts, and never ending parties. 

Islands to Visit on Trips in Thailand

Backpacking Thailand Travel tips

Of course, we have to talk about the Thai Islands. Many of these islands are picture perfect with soft sandy beaches, warm water, and thick jungle.

Most backpackers flock to the islands for partying. (the parties are out of control) but there are some quite Islands for people just wanting to lounge on the beach.

Koh Tao – Famous for Scuba Diving. Kho Tao has some epic places to stay, and has a mix of nightlife and adventures. It is my favorite personal island in Thailand.

Koh Phangan- Famous for the epic full moon party that draws crowds of up to 20,000 each month.

Koh Samui – The biggest island in the area. Koh Samui is where most honeymooners and families spend their time. It is not really a party island. It is also a little more expensive than the other islands but the quality of the resorts on Koh Samui is much higher. .

Phi Phi – Known for snorkeling, scuba, party, and tattoos. Oh yes, and the fantastic views.

Other Things to do when Backpacking Thailand

Learn to Scuba Dive- Thailand is famous for having amazing dive spots. It is also one of the cheapest places to learn in the world. ( Maybe even scuba dive in a tropical storm)

Visit the Floating Markets – These boat markets are more of a tourist trap, but are still cool to see if you have the time.

Song Kran – Thai New Years turns into a wild and wet festival. With entire cities turning into a massive water fight.

I hope you enjoyed these backpacking Thailand travel tips. Feel free to comment below about your Thailand travels.

Planning Your Next Trip to Thailand

Planning Your Next Trip to Thailand

Thailand is one of those places most young travellers long to see. It conjures up images of jungles, beaches, coconuts, and delicious food. But it is also a country rich in its offerings for tourists. Read on to hear some of the best things to do while abroad in this diverse Southeast Asian country.

Beaches

One of Thailands Islands

If you’re going to Thailand, you have to see its beaches. Thailand boasts some of the world’s most beautiful tropical spots. If you only have time for one, we recommend visiting Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi Ley. Encapsulated by limestone cliffs and only accessible by boat day trips– this beach offers some of the best views in Thailand.

And while it may be crowded during tourist season, it is a must-see for anyone looking to experience a quintessential Thai beach.

If you aren’t the tanning type, and are looking for a more active place to enjoy the sand and the sun, check out Railey Beach in Krabi. Again, this one is only accessible by boat, but offers some great activities for those who can’t sit still on a beach. Check out the rock climbing, swimming and snorkeling spots, and enjoy the secluded island feel of this gorgeous location.

Classes

If you’re going abroad, why not learn something new? Thailand is a country that caters to its tourists and offers an abundance of great workshops and activities for them. Take a sailing class or try snorkeling and see Thailand’s rich underwater ecology.

Sign up for a cooking class at one of the many culinary schools that specialize in one-day classes for tourists, and make sure you leave knowing how to cook at least one Thai dish better than your neighborhood restaurant.

Food

If you’re going to visit Thailand, you have to enjoy its rich variety of cuisine. For seafood, try Somboon in Bangkok, a busy little market-style restaurant famous for several of its dishes.

For something a bit fancier, head over to Nahm, a world-renowned restaurant famous for the very unique way in which the chef has revived ancient and traditional Thai dishes, not typically found in other restaurants. Being as highly rated as it is, plan on making a reservation for this unique foodie experience.

And as far as your restaurant tastes may wander, don’t forget to partake in traditional Thai cuisine and try their many delicious (and inexpensive) rice and noodle dishes. Bangkok has unique and authentic cooking classes.

Explore

Thailand

Dive into the culture on your trip by exploring all of the novelties that make this Southeast Asian country so charming. Explore one of the many street markets, like the Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok.

Known as one of the world’s largest markets, visitors can find everything from souvenirs to local commodities. Looking for a night activity?

Check out the famous Chiang Mai night bazaar, which carries on the traditions of ancient trading routes with its many caravanned vendors.

Ready to plan your next trip to Thailand? Get your insanely cheap flight and make your plans now, and don’t let your next holidays be wasted.

10 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Vietnam –

10 Things You Should Know Before Traveling to Vietnam –

Even though I had heard some mixed things about Vietnam, it was a country that had been on my radar for years. Over my month traveling through Vietnam I completely fell head over heels with beautiful landscapes, the friendly people, and the coffee, oh my god the coffee!

This is a Southeast Asian country I will return to again and again, and a country I suggest visiting.

While I loved Vietnam, there are some things I wish traveling across the country.

Here are ten things I wish I would have known before traveling to Vietnam.

10 Things To Know Before You Travel to Vietnam

Travel to Vietnam

Visa on Arrival

Many travelers don’t know that it is possible to get a visa on arrival for Vietnam.

The easiest way to do this is by using online companies like Vietnam Visa to give you a hand. The process is not only faster but also a ton cheaper.

Backpacker Banter and I got or visa in Cambodia, and it cost around $90 for a one-month single entry.

If we would have used an online Visa service, we would have saved anywhere from $30 to $50 each and would have gotten a quicker turn around time. (Slap hand against forehead)

vietnam visa experts

How to Cross the Street

Vietnam takes motorbike traffic to the next level compared to the rest of Asia. In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the traffic is so crazy that trying to cross a road take can not only be the hardest part of your day but also takes someone with a backbone.

The general rule is to wait somewhere where it looks like there should be a cross walk.

Next, summon all your courage, and hold out a hand to signal to the endless sea of oncoming traffic that you are making your break for it.

If you are saying to yourself “Nope, not in a million years: then wait and cross with some locals. Trust me they know what they are doing.

Before long your will realize that it is not that bad crossing the street.

Get Away from Major Cities

Epic Mui Ne Sand Dunes Photo

Photo by my brother in arms Backpacker Banter

While I love Hanoi and Saigon, I met many travelers only focusing on these two. Both of the main cities hold a lot for tourists to see and experience, however, my favorite places were the smaller towns like Hoi An, Dalat, and Mui Ne.

Visiting these little cities held some of my favorite highlights in Vietnam like trekking massive sand dunes, cliff jumping and canyoning down waterfalls. Some of my best travel instagram pictures came from the same area of Vietnam.

Don’t Drink the Tap Water

If Vietnam isn’t your first rodeo in Southeast Asia, then you know that you need to stick only to bottle water or drinking water in restaurant coolers.

Some travelers won’t even brush their teeth in the water. This is something I have never been to fuss about, and I have never gotten sick, and I have logged almost two years in Southeast Asia. The choice is yours but if you do get sick then don’t blame me.

Do Drink the Coffee

12234991_10100205644450195_7191996448235197439_n

I am not going to mince words with you. I am a coffee addict. My addiction is entirely unhealthy to the point that coffee is a legitimate expense in my budget. In fact, as I write this post I am sitting in Northern Thailand sipping on my 6th black ice coffee of the day, and it is only 3 p.m.

I confessed my coffee addiction so that when I say Vietnam has the best coffee in the world you will know how seriously I take that statement.

However, it is true. The coffee in Vietnam is so strong it could be cut into slices and served as a cake. Unless you ask for it they will never just serve you black coffee (I was always met crooked eyebrows and a questionable look that screamed “This westerner is crazy.”)

Instead, this glorious black sludge is mixed with equal parts sugar and sweet milk making it evolve into a substance that barely resembles coffee but is still the most delicious caffeinated beverage anywhere in the world.

Eat Everything

Veitnam Street Food

Vietnam has incredible street food and hole in the wall restaurants that will make your taste buds tingle. A couple of the must try foods are the Bánh mì, Pho, and any food sold from a stall or street vendor.

Talk to Locals

Vietnam has some of the friendliest locals in the world. It is the only country where I have been greeted at my hostel with massive hugs. The people are friendly and to open, and I had some fantastic experiences with locals because I put myself out there. Don’t worry, and don’t be shy. Make sure you know the proper Vietnam etiquette before interacting with locals.

Research Your Tour Carefully

12355082_10100207384463195_854558484_n

Here is a friendly word of caution no matter how big your travel resume. Yes, researching before you book is beginner travel advice, but mistakes happen to long-term travelers as well.

For example, our Haloing bay tour was alright.

However, we accidentally booked on a family and boat that was more for the retirement crowd. Most of the couples looked at our dirty backpackers with questioning eyes, and every night the entire ship was silent by 7 p.m.

It wasn’t the type of Halong Bay tour that we wanted, and we should have researched more carefully.

How to Get Around Vietnam

There are many options on how to travel Vietnam. In my month there I took overnight buses, trains, and motorbikes.

A popular way to travel Vietnam for backpackers is to rent, or buy a motorbike and drive from the Saigon to Hanoi or vice versa.

Enjoy your time

Vietnam Travel

Photo by nomaderies

Vietnam is a fantastic country and has become one of my favorite in Southeast Asia.  Make sure you enjoy your time in the country and remember travel is all about living the moment. Taking the good with the bad. Fighting your fears and pushing yourself to experience something new.

Vietnam is a country that people tend to fall head over heels with; I know I did. These are 10 things I’d like to know before entering the country, and I hope you find them helpful before you travel Vietnam.

Like this post then check out  my Southeast Asia Travel tips, or Backpacker Banter’s Mini Guide to Vietnam

Destination Unknown Thailand

Destination Unknown Thailand

With its stunning beaches, mouth-watering foods, and friendly atmosphere Thailand has become one of the top countries to visit when backpacking Southeast Asia. During my life of traveling the world, I continually find myself lured back Thailand over and over.

Thailand

While this Southeast Asian country has some major hotspots, like Krabi, visitors can still get off the regular tourist track and into the unknown. Here are some places to check out in Thailand if you are seeking to get off the beaten path while visiting some of Thailand’s most popular destinations. Hua_HinThailand has a massive nightlife scene that caters to backpackers especially on the islands.

Hua Hin

Parties like the Full Moon party, on Ko Phangan, are packed each month with tens of thousands of tourist. But you can also escape the crazy nightlife by heading to lesser-known beach destinations like Hua Hin. This resort area isn’t filled with the hustle and bustle of drunk tourist, while letting you have fun and enjoy the awe-inspiring landscape and take in the Southeast Asian sun.

Pattaya

If you are looking for a party destination, then Pattaya is a popular choice. However, this city offers a lot more than just a booming nightlife. There are many things to see in Pattaya such as Nong Nooch, Sanctuary of Truth, and Wat Yansangwararam. So if you are in Pattaya to party, there are still some excellent sites to see. If you are avoiding Pattaya because of the parties, it is possible to escape them and still get some Thai culture.

Thalang

The Thalang district of Thailand is close to Phuket. This means a variety of activities on your doorstep. Take your pick from beautiful beaches to resorts, to epic scuba diving and snorkeling. There is a lot to do and see around this area.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of my favorite cities on the planet. The food is fantastic, the locals charming, and the cost of living for the quality is equal to none.If you are looking for a place to hang your hat for a few weeks and recharge your travel batteries, then I would highly recommend heading to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is also a perfect home base for some small trips. You can easily head to Chiang Rai to view the glorious White and Black Temples, or take a road trip across the curvy mountains roads to get to explore the green hills of Pai.

I’ve come to see that Thailand is a very rich country with multiple layers. In fact, I have spent around a year traveling Thailand, and I still feel as if I have just scratched the surface of what the country offers. It is a country I am continually falling in love with and one that I will keep visiting for the rest of my life.

Your trip to Thailand doesn’t have to be filled with crazy parties, and crowded touristy sites. These are some great examples of how you can visit Thailand’s hotspots and still get off the beaten path.

Thanks for sharing! Make sure you follow on Soical Media to get all the AWESOME TRAVEL UPDATES!