I don’t normally do posts like these but I just really wanted to give some ❤️ to a few Instagram accounts that I love. Every one of these accounts either inspires me, educates me and sometimes they do both for me. I’m even pretty lucky that because of the internet, I can call a few of these babes IRL friends.
I loved Hoi An. I wrote all about that love and how I got my groove back here. If you are heading to the picturesque Hoi An whether it be for just a few days or longer then here are 8 musts that you have to do or eat while there.
My Son Sanctuary
If you have time than visiting what is affectionately known as Vietnam’s Angor Wat is a must. I would recommend going early morning in a private car. For $35 we got a driver and a car to take us which meant we arrived before the tour groups. The price to get in is expensive at 115,000 dong but worth every penny. By arriving at 6 AM (when the temple opens) it also meant fewer crowds and the heat wasn’t as bad. Cause let me tell you, even at 7 AM we were SWEATING.
The temples of My Son were built between the 4th and 13th centuries by the king of Champa and they were dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. Today they are partially ruined (in due part to bombings done by the US during the war) but also they were abandoned. It takes about an hour to get there from Hoi An and the drive in beautiful. The sight of the temple is small and can be done in an hour but we took an hour and a half (cause pictures).
Many of temples were damaged during the war and are somewhat small compared to Angor Wat (the same builders) but are breathtaking in their own right. My Son was a burial place for kinds and national heroes during the 4th-13th centuries and at its peak had over 70 temples. Today there is just a handful and you can get up close and personal to the temples. Seeing the Sanskrit and intricate details. It was an experience to explore on our own.
Dinner at Claypot Restaurant and Water Puppet Show
A few times a week Hoi An there is a Water Puppet Show. Water puppetry is unique to Vietnam and can be expensive. In Hoi An it was just a few dollars and a 30-minute show (versus an hour and a half shows in the bigger cities). It was interesting… I’m glad we did it but once was enough. The theatre is walking distance from the Ancient Town. There are about 7 acts and before each one there is a prerecorded recording that explains a basic gist of what you are about to watch. The skill of the pupperty is incredible and it is a unique experience but I’m glad it was just 30 minutes.
After enjoying your culture part of the evening, just a ten-minute walk away from the theatre is one of the best meals you’ll have in Hoi An. Claypot Restaurant became one of my favorite places to eat and we ate there 6 times during our three weeks in Hoi An. The woman who runs it makes every single dish by herself. Which means, don’t expect quick service but it is worth it. If you do go make sure to order the dish the restaurant is named after a clay pot. My favorite was the aubergine/eggplant and pork claypot. In addition, you HAVE to get the chicken curry. It was the unique dish I had while traveling. In fact, I still dream of it. In addition, they offer fresh beer for pennies and homemade peanuts.
The beach isn’t that far away from Ancient Town but embrace your inner beach bum and stay in a homestay for 2 days. Not only do you get a different experience but you will be feet away from the blue waters of a private beach. Our last 4 days in Hoi An we spent our afternoons on a lounger, reading, and dipping in the warm waters for $20 a night PLUS breakfast. It was also here where we discovered the deliciousness of Mangosteens.
Top Tip: If you end up going to the beach for a day and want to rent a lounger, walk away from the “beachfront” where the restaurants are. All the loungers out front are being rented for 100,000 Dong for the day. Just a 5 minute walk away you will see more chairs that cost a mere 7,000 Dong instead. Plus, it won’t be as crowded!
2-4-1 Cocktails and Nu Eatery
It doesn’t matter the time of year but Hoi An loves a good Happy Hour. No matter what side you are on in Ancient Town, expect 2-4-1 cocktails. So go on, have a fun night out but before you do make sure to eat at the incredible Nu Eatery.
With two locations, expect a line at the one in Ancient Town. Nu Eatery offers a modern and fusion twist on classic Vietnamese dishes, this place was an Instagrammer and Foodie dream. With A+ aesthetic and ingredients, this place is a MUST. In fact, Sean ordered the same dish TWICE the two times we went. That never happens.
Marble Mountain Day Tour
My only regret about doing this excursion as that I didn’t have enough time to truly explore all that it offers. My dad and stepmom came for a long weekend so once again, we got a private car. For a big car and driver, it cost us $50. This also included a drive of Hai Van Pass.
Marble Mountains is closer to the city of Da Nang but well worth the drive. It is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills and were named after the 5 elements. All the mountains have cave entrances and tunnels. Fun fact is there are also several Buddhist sanctuaries that can be found in the mountains.
Before going make sure you have a water bottle because you will be climbing and walking a lot. Do yourself a favor and pay to take the elevator up. Save your energy for the other steep stairs to be had. We only had about an hour and a half to explore and it was not nearly enough. What we were able to see was so beautiful and incredible. Including views of the sea. PS make sure to combine this trip with a visit to the Giant Buddha!
Fun Story: I went against my better judgment and climbed up the stairs called “Heavens Gate.” In my experience whenever an activity or path is called Heaven anything it always means expect a whole lot of steep stairs and I was right. 5 minutes of steep incline I did see heaven as I almost died from a combo of heatstroke and out of shapeness but the view was very pretty (not pictured because I was dying and sweaty in that picture). So enjoy this one instead.
Renting a Bike
Hoi An does get a little chaotic but compared to other cities in Vietnam is calm. Which is why you will see plenty of foreigners and locals on a bike to get around. Taxies are hard to get even though there are plenty of them, they want the big ticket prices. If you haven’t ridden a bike in awhile, don’t worry it really does come back to you. That and the locals know to give you a bit of space but be aware of your surroundings and the scooters. I got burnt by an exhaust engine from a scooter in a mishap but that’s because he wasn’t paying attention. When he noticed he was extremely apologetic but it was a little too late.
There are plenty of bike tours that you can do and some go as far as Hue but that didn’t sound like my kind of fun. We rented bikes for a dollar a day or .50 if it was just a half day and it took about 5-10 minute ride into Ancient Town versus a 30-40 minute walk. For me, I loved riding a bike after the first day. Yes, my body was sore and boy did my bum hurt but there was something about being on that bike that had my confidence grow. It also helped that it was affordable and even if my bum hurt a little, it was much quicker than walking which after a big meal of Rose Dumplings and cocktails!
Also, don’t be surprised if a person on a bike tries to get you to follow them to a tailor. Just say no and keep peddling away.
Stay at Jade Hotel
Okay so this is biased and I know I already talked about my love of this hotel here but I honestly loved this place. Rooms were basic but clean and the bed was the best one we slept on during our travels in Asia. That and the customer service was A++. Anything we needed the Front Desk or Sally arranged from recommendations to cars and tours plus they had a pretty decent burger!
There Breakfast was delicious and the pool was the nicest one we’ve had. Its location is also perfect if you want to go to the beach or Ancient Town. Both being a fairly equal distance to one or the other.
Hai Van Pass
The next time Sean and I see Hai Van Pass I want to do it on a scooter as we saw it by car and train and it was stunning. This is considered one of the most scenic drives in Vietnam with breathtaking views. If you have time, scooter it all the way from Hue or Vice Versa. If you don’t book a private car like we did with my Dad and do it. It’s gorgeous and make sure to read up on the history of the region to fully appreciate it.
When in doubt, just walk and explore a new place. Some of my favorite moments were just wandering the streets of Hoi An and looking at all the colors. So take a stroll, grab a drink and soak up the beauty that is Hoi An. I adored it and I hope you will too. Any questions put them below!
For some couples traveling together, even if it just for an overnight it can be a challenge and shine the light on aspects that maybe just shatter the illusion slightly. Some work through it and other’s are back on Tinder within the fortnight.
Traveling is never truly easy. You are at your best and worst possible self because let’s face it, traveling is hard. Specially the act itself, the traveling part. For me personally, I have been traveling my whole life and there are only three things I’m a bit upitty about when it comes to travel. Constantly checking for my passport, the “God, I hope I don’t get called out for my heavy carry-on” and getting their on time.
I am one of those people that I rather sit in an airport for 3 hours then chance it and get there just in time to get through security and go right to the gate and board. I can’t do it. My boyfriend though, total opposite of me. In some ways, it can be good because he reassures me “Yes, I saw you put your passport in your zipped passport container and then put it in your backpack” or “If we have to pay to check it in then we will pay, don’t worry” and now after almost 2 and half years of being together, he just accepts that his nonchalant attitude towards time is a no-go with me. Its not worth it to my nerves or his.
When we first started entertaining the idea of long-term traveling we weren’t naive of the stories. We had heard the horror stories of it pushing couples to the edge and when they returned home, they left the airport separately. It was never a worry for us, traveling together for a long period of time. Since we have stared dating and before we jumped into this crazy journey we had traveled with each other 4 times internationally and handful of times within the UK. We made it through, despite the bouts of indecisiveness of “I don’t care, what do you want to do today” or “I’m happy to eat wherever, what are you craving” we discovered we were compatible travel companions.
I’m a planner and picture taker and Sean is a wanderer and a foodie. Combined, we find a pretty even ground. I’m not going to say we’re lucky because lucky doesn’t have anything to do with it. We understand each other and sometimes for the one you love, you have to take it down a notch to compliment the others desires and personality and other times you will need to completely throw out your personal preferences because that’s what you got to do when you are traveling with someone else.
Since we began this life of ours just a few months ago, we have spent almost every minute of every day together. Some days we’re off exploring and other’s we are working all day to make deadlines. In Italy we were secluded, having to speak pigeon Italian in a community where Foreigners are rare and it can be exhausting no-matter how patient the person with whom you are trying to communicate with is. As such, Sean and I relied on each other on a daily basis and it had me wondering to myself, is this healthy? It took almost two months of traveling for me to realise that we had in fact just been us and I didn’t even notice. Some might say yes, you need space and others will say, no, it means you are perfect for one other. I think, it is our reality right now and we’ve adapted.
We adapted because that is what our circumstances had called for. In some countries, we will have more access to shops and english-speakers like we do now, in Split, Croatia and sometimes we won’t. Right now Sean no longer has to rely on me to drive him places or even to go to the store. We can walk everywhere, to the store, beach, and places to eat. It also means if, and when we do want alone time, we can actually leave the house and go somewhere not just another room. We’ve adapted once more to a new way of life. This is what will help Sean and I in the months and potentially years to come of traveling. Our ability to adapt to one other and the circumstances that surround us.
It also helps that Sean has seen me at my worst already. Travel together now is far different from our first trip away together when we were still learning about each other and when I would wake up early to go brush my teeth and put a bit of blush on my cheeks and feign sleep until he woke up and I would play up the “I woke up like this” LOL. This no longer happens, THANK GOD.
It helps though, when your partner has seen you at your best and worst. He has seen me after a few to many. Sat next to my brother and dad as he watched me walk across that stage to get my Masters and he also seen me when I felt like I was broken and couldn’t get out of bed. Every step of the way, he has been there. I’ve seen Sean too. We have seen and continue to see one other for what we are. Full of flaws but also perfection. All of this makes traveling together easier because we’ve seen each other at our worst and we’re still here and in love.
Traveling with Sean has been an adventure and I could never do what I am doing without him. That does not make me weak. It doe not mean that I am not a strong independent woman, it is just with him I want to try new things. I want to be better. Even 2 years and half years in, I still find myself falling a little bit more in love with him. Though it is often the moments that he drives me craziest or I am most frustrated by (JUST PICK A PLACE TO EAT SEAN!) are the moments that I fall deeper in love with him afterwords.
We are not on our first weekend away and we are aware that traveling will impact us. It will push us to the edge of each others nerves but, it will also leave us speechless. There are moments to be had and memories to be made. For now, we adapt every day and we seem to be doing more then alright.
There is nothing like a first love. You smile and you blush and you never forget exactly how you felt when it came over you. My first love came in the form of a spectacle wearing, scar wielding boy named Harry Potter.
I have loved reading my whole life. I would open a book and devour it, finishing it quickly. When I would go away on family holidays or long airplane rides, I would pack 7-12 books because there is nothing worse than running out of books when you are away and well, I always have been an over-packer. I’m not a strong reader, I don’t love the classics and I am very okay with the fact that I would take a fantasy book over Bronte any day (sorry English Degree) but the thing about books is they don’t judge you for reading them, people do and luckily now with Kindles I can read all the Young Adult books that I want or a sappy free romance novels Amazon offer without judgment.
When I was younger, I would read every night but then when I got my first Toshiba and internet, it got replaced. I went through phases but whenever I felt sad or alone, I found comfort in a book every time. In college, I read for school and soon I found myself reading Facebook posts and blog posts instead of books. I’d start a series but then would get distracted. When I finished school in December 2013, one of the first things I did when I moved back home was to get a library card. I read and read up until the day I left for London. Then life got to me again. But now, here I am. Traveling and already I’ve read 4 books from my Unlimited Kindle subscription (on a free trail right now and have to say the books might not be the best BUT for 10 bucks you can’t really complain). I wake up in the morning and I spend 2 hours reading every day. At night, I read instead of falling asleep to the sounds of The Good Wife and I’m falling all in love again via my Kindle Paperwhite.
So I might not get the same feelings as I once did and feel the turn of the page, but even now all these years later I still remember my first love and is there anything better than a book? Even a shitty one does wonders for the soul.
What should I be adding to my list? Tell me below!