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From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

The Mekong River – the world twelfth largest river, the lifeblood and the boundary line of much of Southeast Asia. Cutting through valleys, ancient silk towns, major metropolises, monasteries and hundreds of miles of farm lands and fishing towns… exploring the Mekong River is a cultural traveler’s delight. Today, I’m sharing the highlights of my fifteen-day long exploration of Cambodia and Vietnam while cruising down the Mekong River.

Vietnam

In between visiting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, cruising down the Mekong River gave me the opportunity to see a quainter, more rural and authentic side to its people and its culture… for which I’m forever grateful. I truly believe getting off of the well-worn path of must-see cities and metropolises gives travelers a more well-rounded, fuller perspective of a place.

Cái Bè

Perhaps there’s nothing more classic on a Mekong River cruise than experiencing a floating market. Cái Bè’s market was buzzing with excitement, from the sellers and farmers bargaining amongst themselves, to the overflowing amounts of fresh vegetables, candies and more. However, just off the busy market streets you’ll find the calmer waterways lead to the heart of the village, where locals showed us their honey tea making customs and let us sample their delicacies. So special!

Sa Déc

After boarding a small boat set to explore the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, after passing many factories and floating markets, we landed on Sa Déc’s shores. Sa Déc is home to famous authors and brick factories, but what I loved most about exploring this small city was the interactions I had with the locals who were selling their handmade goods and homegrown fruits and vegetables. Having the time to speak with locals and support the local economy was so incredible.

Tan Chau

Our time in Vietnam’s silk weaving factory town, Tan Chau, will forever stay with me. In between exploring the silk-weaving looms, wooden beams and swelteringly hot conditions, we were able to again connect with the locals yet again. Their smiling faces and warm reception to us meant the world to me. It’s the small yet meaningful interactions with locals that always resounds the most with my heart.

Cambodia

Although Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat draws many, many tourists every day… I could not suggest seeing the country’s quieter side more. Every morning our excursions through Cambodia’s villages revealed a new, intimate experience I just know more travelers would love to witness on their own. For anyone looking to experience their own Indochina Tour, there are so many options and packages out there for every type of traveler.

Chong Kho

Upon crossing into Cambodia’s borders, we were welcomed into the small village of Chong Kho – best known for its silk-weaving and rich fabrics. I found myself exploring the small streets alleys filled with local children, joyfully playing in their swing sets and climbing trees.

French NGO

I truly love photographing people. Their expressions, their joy, the spark in their eyes when I make them giggle or attempt to say something in their language. I spent so much time with the children you see below, these snapshots are just glimpses into the memories I have of them laughing, jumping and walking side by side with me.

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham is a centrally located hub of fishing and agriculture in Cambodia, filled with dense archaeological sights and over 200 ancient temples. You read that right! 200 ancient temples… some of which go back further than the Khmer Empire.

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

Magnificent Mekong with Viking Cruises

The grand Mekong River was a sight to behold. And having it as my morning view? Priceless. Viking’s itinerary through the Vietnamese and Cambodian river valley boasts some of the most gorgeous panoramas. But what really made me fall in love was their commitment to showcasing the authentic silk towns, fishing villages and aged beauty of the Vietnamese and Cambodia culture. Each morning I knew that my day would be filled with discovery unlike I’d ever imagine.

Viking’s lodgings and menu always leave me rested and well fed – exactly what I need before taking part on daily excursions! Traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian meals were offered daily… and as an adventurous eater, I loved the experience of tasting the indigenous flavors and authentic dishes as much as I possibly good. 

While cruising through these ancient villages and learning from the locals, I was extremely thankful for Insure Yonder’s travel insurance coverage. I’ve learned the hard way in years past that airline and cruise insurance can be super expensive and lack coverage… but their insightful and thorough coverage gave me such a sense of ease while on this grand adventure. Very thankful for the peace of mind it brought to me while enjoying these serene sights!


A big thank you to Viking Cruises for the opportunity to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia. And also a big, resounding thank you to Insure Yonder for providing us with travel insurance, in case of an emergency! 

Trip sponsored by Viking Cruises. As always, all opinions are my own. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

Asia

5 Easy Tips To Travel To Singapore On A Budget

As you many travelers know well, traveling is now easier because there are numerous options to save money. If you are planning to take your next trip to Singapore for a vacation or business trip, you can make things easier by staying on a budget while still enjoying every moment. The Lion City appreciates tourists, but she is not after extorting money from travelers. However, you’ll need the right tips to stay on budget because the same state has areas where you can spend all of your money within hours! Go through these easy tips to stay on budget when in Singapore.

Eat With The Locals

The first thing that many people want to do when they land in a foreign land is to taste food from the best places. Upon arrival at Changi, tourists have the option to dine in the high-end restaurants or explore the hawker’s stalls where the locals eat. The latter is highly recommended for anyone who is on a budget. The good news is that local food stalls offer cuisine that is just as good as the high-end restaurants.

Drink Tap Water

Singapore has declared all tap water to be potable! This is what locals drink on a daily basis, and they do not get sick. All you need is to bring a water bottle and refill it at any of the water points around the city. Being a hot island, the water consumption is high and bottled water can be expensive, especially if you are traveling with a big family. You should only buy bottled water when you need a flavored option.

Use MRT Tickets Instead Of The Tourist Pass

Before visiting Singapore, you should know that the rapid mass transit (MRT) is the most popular and cheapest mode of transport and that it goes everywhere. As your agent on the One Visa website is processing your travel documents, they should tell you that the tourist visa is costly and it will give you access to MRT, which you can pay many times less for by purchasing tickets at the station like the locals. This is an excellent tip for someone who is looking forward to traversing Singapore.

Visit The Free Or Cheap Parks & Places

When making the itinerary for your visit to Singapore, take advantage of numerous places that are not charged but will still give you memorable moments. Many packages only have a small charge and they allow picnic lunches that bring the cost down even further. Avoid expensive places like clubs, paid private tours, and other activities that will leave a hole in your pocket.

Do Not Be In The Wrong

Singapore has various fines for breaking the law, and this will apply to both locals and tourists! All the laws in Singapore are friendly and easy to maintain. Do not smoke, chew, or spit in public places since this will get you fined. You can research more on these laws and master them to keep friendly contact with the authorities and save money.

Conclusion

There are many ways of saving money while in Singapore. In fact, there are many more if you plan carefully. Be sure that you are doing the right thing and you will be surprised that a vacation can be so cheap.

Asia Beaches

Seychelles: A Peek Into The Heavenly Islands

Seychelles, this archipelago of 115 islands is a dream destination for any traveler. Being home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Seychelles is considered as a perfect honeymoon gateway.

However it has a lot more to offer than meets the eye, including some perfect adventurous activities, the nature reserve of the heaviest seed in the world and the only country having the giant tortoises of Aldabra. 

Out of the 115 islands, only three islands in the archipelago are inhabited by the humans. Seychelles has an abundance of amazing marine life and perfect diving spots can be located on the islands.

Mahe Island

The capital city of Seychelles, Mahe Island is one of the smallest capital cities in the world and is home to almost 60 beaches. Seychelles Sea has crystal clear water with a beautiful blend of turquoise and white color, making Seychelles beaches very mesmerizing.

Beau Vallon, Grand Anse and Royale Anse are some of the most visited beaches on the island. There are three hiking trails on the island which rewards the hikers with spectacular views around. The Victoria market is a must-visit on Mahe Island.

Praslin

Praslin Island is the second-largest island in the archipelago and is home to the nature reserve of Coco de Mer, Valle de Mer, which is the largest seed in the world. Praslin is easily accessible from Mahe Island through an hour ferry ride. Beaches in Praslin are less crowded and prettier with Anse Georgette, Grand Anse and Anse Lazio being three of the best beaches on the island.

La Digue

If one wishes to go back in time, there isn’t a perfect place than La Digue Island. Home to the most photographed beach in the world, Anse Source D’Argent, La Digue Island is tranquil and surreal. Its beaches are mesmerizing which are guarded by giant boulders. There are no motor cars on the island and cycles and trucks are used to commute. The giant tortoises of Aldabra atoll are endemic to the La Digue island in Seychelles and can be found roaming around freely. One of the must-do activity in La Digue is to feed these beautiful creatures.


Not as popular as the Maldives, Seychelles islands are straight from heaven. Generally considered as a destination to enjoy only beaches, Seychelles can make anybody fall in love with itself.

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An Insider’s Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City blew me away with their majestic detailed architecture, storied history, rich culture and, of course, its endlessly friendly locals. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Between the bowls of delicious pho my mother and I slurped, washed down with refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee, always, between the wild honking of horns every hour of the day, between the playful interactions between the children we met along our journey – we became smitten with Vietnam’s two cities. Here is an Insider’s Guide to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Hanoi

Hanoi, the cultural capital of Vietnam, has endless sights and destinations to see. Truly, the best moments in Hanoi happen in a flash. And luckily, the city is extremely walkable, so we were able to soak in every fleeting, beautiful moment.

Old Quarter

Hanoi’s Old Quarter is endlessly interesting. You’ll find locals hanging the laundry out to dry, colorful displays outside of family owned businesses and restaurants, souvenir shops galore and spices wafting through every inch of the area.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Cong Caphe

This cafe was so adorable! Cong Caphe is a trendy cafe chain in Hanoi, with nostalgic twist. I highly recommend a visit!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Loading T

If you love architecture, make a stop at Loading T Cafe! It’s located in an aged, French colonial home with the most gorgeous tiled floors. Their menu is filled with all sorts of treats, perfect for a break while walking around the city. And, obviously, order their Vietnamese iced coffee! (I’m not kidding, if you travel and love coffee… Hanoi is your place!)

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Lotte Hotel

Take a look at these views, and ask me how beautiful this hotel is. I couldn’t recommend the Lotte Hotel more! Waking up to the sprawling Hanoi city skyline below us was a dream come true. It felt like we were able to wake up in the clouds every morning. Add delicious pho and Vietnamese iced coffee delivered fresh for room service into the mix? If I weren’t such an adventurer, I’d stay here all day long!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Hanoi Railway Street

The tightly compacted Railway Street in the Old Quarter is so stunning. Yes, trains do pass by regularly! You’ll see the daily trips locals make to and from their homes (which are scary close to the tracks). I love little areas like this. It feels like a slice of authentic Vietnam every traveler dreams of.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

St. Joseph Cathedral

St. Joseph Cathedral is a French colonial cathedral was constructed in 1882, with neo-Gothic/Parisian inspired architecture. It truly stands out in the city – and even I caught myself thinking I was somewhere in France when we passed by!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City delighted us in every way. The bustling former capital of Vietnam, also known as “Saigon” is busting at the seams with energy and life. You’ll find much more traffic, crows and chaos – but also serene scenes of local life, adorable neighborhoods and temples galore. Here’s some of my favorite finds in Ho Chi Minh City.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Cafe Gian Giao

Translated loosely, Cafe Gian Giao means “Cafe Scaffolding” – which is obviously inspired by the industrial, constructional vibe of the eatery. You’ll find traditional fishing canoes filled with plants next to concrete electricity poles. It’s a totally unique place to grab a bite that I’d highly recommend!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels

Travelers who want to learn more about the Vietnam War should definitely check out the tunnels of Cu Chi. The immense maze of connected tunnels shows how ingenious the Vietnamese battle plans were. So many traps, puzzles and mazes! It’s impressive to experience each long and thin tunnel… just be sure to not get lost!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Independence Palace

Independence Palace, or the Reunification Palace, was built on the site of the former Norodom Palace. Visitors can visit the well preserved palace, including its original tanks from the Vietnam War, its quiet gardens, secret rooms and command bunker!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Caravelle Hotel

The Caravelle was once home to the Australian and New Zealand Embassy, and the main center of communication during the Vietnam war… but now it’s become quite a fabled placed. It’s featured in many Vietnamese books! It’s worth a trip to see for yourself!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Opera House

You don’t have to be an opera aficionado to appreciate this gem! The concert hall puts on regular performances… so be sure to check out what is playing when you visit.

People’s Committee Of Ho Chi Minh City

The grand and opulent exterior of the People’s Committee building is a sight to behold! The building serves as the City Hall, so it’s not open to visitors – but the outside is stunning.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Rex Hotel

The Rex Hotel is a perfectly situated hotel in Saigon. Our accommodations were super welcoming and warm (always appreciated!), and I absolutely adored the overgrown greenery in its open air spaces. Gorgeous!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral

Another French-inspired Cathedral in the heart of Vietnam. The Notre Dame Cathedral (of Ho Chi Minh City that is, not Paris!) had all of its intricate tiles and materials shipped in from France. It’s a great place to see some of the European influence in the city right downtown.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Central Post Office

Saigon’s Central Post Office’s yellow and green exterior is a stunner. You’ll find tourists galore here, taking photos and exploring its expansive interiors. It’s a great spot to mail a post card or letter home while in Vietnam (while also getting some stunning photographs).

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Explore Saigon’s Bustling Streets

Of course, take some time out of your schedule to just soak in all of Ho Chi Minh’s busy street life. I loved snapping photograph after photograph of every scene that unfolded in the city. So many flowers, overgrown greenery, waves upon waves of motorbikes and colorful exteriors of the downtown area.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

The Loft

The Loft’s white bricked interiors are so welcoming! This cafe is actually up above an art gallery, where you’ll find marble tables, lots of natural light… and of course, delicious Vietnamese iced coffee! It’s the perfect place to take a break while exploring.

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

The Reverie

Feast your eyes! The Reverie is a bedazzled jewel of a hotel, offering some of the most opulent lodgings in the country. The interior decor is endlessly detailed and intricate, I loved exploring the different rooms and lobby areas – just soaking in all the color and textures. It’s truly an unrivaled beauty in Vietnam!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

Thien Hau Temple

As a culture loving traveler, I always take the time to research the important historical and religious sites wherever I go. The Thein Hau Temple was a must-do in my book, as it was dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and the deified form of Lin Moniang – who saved her family from a typhoon with her powers. I loved watching the locals come to the alter and lighting incense. It’s always a blessing to be able to experience these sort of places first hand!

An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City
An Insider's Guide To Hanoi And Ho Chi Minh City

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

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The New UNESCO World Heritage’s Sites We’re Dying To Experience

Every year at its annual meeting, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee unveils new additions to its epic list of significant cultural and natural sites. This year, the committee added 29 sites to its powerful list… which has got us totally inspired to revisit our bucket list. Pretty awesome, right? Here are some of the new UNESCO World Heritage Sites we’re chomping at the bit to see for ourselves!

India: Jaipur City, Rajasthan

India’s northern fortified city was designed years ago to be a commercial capital, and its grid-like city planning is proof. Jaipur’s organization creates uniformity throughout its public squares, residences, temples, markets and stalls. But its grid plan with different districts actually pre-dates the Western idea of city layout!

Australia: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Located in the country of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is one of the planet’s most expansive aquaculture systems. Through oral tradition, historians have been able to understand that the creation of this complex system goes back centuries. The system allowed the Gunditjmara people to call this location home for over six thousand years… but it’s believed to have been thirty two thousand years old/

Myanmar: Bagan

The sacred site of thousands of temples, stupas, monasteries, frescoes, sculptures, and archeological gems – Bagan is a wonder. It’s incredible architecture and collection of ancient Buddhist art illustrate the power of the Bagan empire.

Iraq: Babylon

Babylon is home to the Hanging Gardens (one of the seven wonders of the world). But, the surround villages and the ancient city also once housed the world’s most influential ancient empires. Rulers like Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar sat within the city walls as emperors, forever changing the world’s history.

Italy: Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano a Valdobbiadene

Prosecco anyone? The “ciglioni” checker board designed rows of vines dates all the way back to the 17th century. You’ll find lots of small plots of land with the design atop the area’s rugged terrain. (P.S. if you love a good glass of vino – check out this round up of destinations for wine-lovers).

United States: The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright

You know a Frank Lloyd Wright design when you see it. Frank’s iconic Fallingwater in Pennsylvania or the modernist Guggenheim Museum in the heart of NYC spotlight his “organic architecture” style. Each of his eight buildings scattered across the USA blurs the boundaries of indoors and outdoors, making a strong impact on the many architectural designers that followed his legacy.

Iran: Hyrcanian Forests

Iran’s Hyrcanian Forests date back to 50 million years ago. Yep, you read that correctly! This ancient forest area covered most of the Northern Temperate region of the planet many moons ago. The biodiversity within the forests now is staggering. 180 species of birds and 58 mammal species have been recorded within its dense woods.

Iceland: Vatnajökull National Park

This volcanic region of Iceland covers 14% of the island! Within the national park, visitors can find ten volcanoes (eight of which are subglacial and two of which are the most active on the island). The amazing volcanic action creates incredible landscapes, including river systems, growing canyons, massive waterfalls and more.

Japan: Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan

The burial mounds of all shapes and sizes found above the Osaka Plain are tombs for the elite. Archeologists have found weapons, armor, ornaments, clay figures in the shape of homes, humans and more within the funerary system.

What do you think? Find some new destinations to add to your bucket list? Every traveler should get familiar with UNESCO’s listed destinations and sites. It’s beyond inspiring to learn about their mission. (P.S. you can check out the whole list of the new UNESCO World Heritage Sites, if you’re interested in learning more!)


Have you visited any of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites? What was your favorite?

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