Northern Vietnam is unlike any place I have been. We take a quick flight from Hong Kong in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. Descending into Hanoi, we float through a dense fog for what feels like forever. Anxious, as always, to get an aerial view, I am disappointed. Thirty seconds before landing, a runway appears in what looks like the middle of a jungle. The entire city is wrapped in this dense fog and clouds, not a sliver of blue sky in sight. Instantly, it feels exactly how I thought it would. Eerily quiet, somewhat depressing, and foreign.
“You’re going where? For how long?” This was the reaction from most of our friends and family when we decided to backpack through Southeast Asia. And although there are heavily trafficked backpacking circuits in this region, I hadn’t read much about anyone staying in Hanoi, uninterrupted, for a month. But we were determined to travel on a budget, so we rented an apartment on the outskirts of town in the hopes of finding insanely good Pho and making some local friends. These photographs serve as a diary of sorts from that month we’ll never forget.
A visit to Portland is not complete without stopping by one of the most iconic independent bookstores, Powell’s City of Books in the upscale Pearl District. One could easily spend an entire day here with the many floors and stacks of books in this massive bookstore. We even found our hardcover book, Dame Traveler: Live the Spirit of Adventure on the shelves! You can also grab a copy on their website.
Portland Japanese Gardens
The gardens made me feel like I teleported to Kyoto. The Portland Japanese Gardens are located in the West Hills and are incredibly peaceful. On a clear day, you can even experience spectacular views of Mount Hood. You can pre-purchase timed tickets online. $18.95 per adult.
Catch the Sunset from Portland City Grill
Great spot for almost 360 views of PDX from the 30th floor.
Alberta Arts District
This was one of our favorite areas in Portland. Thanks to how multicultural the Alberta Arts District is, the neighborhood is super vibrant with tons of colorful murals and endless trendy restaurants and boutiques. Every inch of the place is photogenic. Explore the area on your own or on a good tour with Eat Adventures!
Day trip to Portland’s Wine Country, Willamette Valley
With over 200 wineries, tons of farmer’s markets and beautiful scenery, the Willamette Valley is the perfect place to spend a day sipping on some of Portland’s best wines and it’s only quick 30 minute drive from downtown. Our favorite wineries were Domaine Roy & fils and Fairsing Vineyard.
Day Trip to Multnomah Falls
This stunning waterfall is an Instagram favorite and is so easy to get to from PDX. You can get there by car or take a shuttle from Portland’s Gateway Transit Center to the falls. Round trip fares are $10.
Where to Eat
In the Alberta Arts District, this spot serves up very authentic Indian street food and Instagrammable interiors.
Your go-to spot for a sandwich fix, especially their grilled cheese.
We absolutely loved the vibe of this location downtown. The space is small and cozy but the best spot to have lunch is at the gorgeous bar. The service was friendly and the food is just sublime.
1927 s’mores co.
Located downtown, 1927 s’mores co. is the most charming little slice of heaven. The moment you walk in you feel like you’re entering summer camp and the s’mores take you right back to your childhood.
Dinner at Tusk elevates the Middle Eastern dining experience. The romantic and trendy ambiance is incredible and the delicious dishes are creative while also maintaining the authenticity of the Mediterranean cuisine.
We absolutely loved this cozy coffee shop in the heart of downtown. Gorgeous interior, friendly service and delicious coffee.
Where to Stay
The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland
This luxury hotel in the centrally located, Downtown PDX has one of the most beautiful views of the city from their rooftop, Departures. The excellent service is consistent with the Luxury Collection hotels and the posh aesthetic makes for a perfect stay.
One of our favorites in PDX, the Ace Hotel is a classic. The hipster and vintage style is perfectly aligned with the PDX vibe. It’s located in the Pearl District, making it super easy to explore the area by foot with easy access to some of the city’s top restaurants, bars and shops.
The interior design of the Woodlark is an Instagrammer’s dream. Light and airy spaces, vintage vibes and lovely attention to detail. Located Downtown.
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It’s a feast for the senses. The most insane mix of modern luxury, dappled with ancient trading history within its historic neighborhoods. Dubai – this young city’s skyline seemingly changes every day. As a photographer, this evolving completely captivated me (and my camera!). Between the city’s architecture, beach-front views, traditional mosques and every quirk in between – Dubai is a quilt of curiosities… perfect for the modern photographer. Today, I’m sharing what I believe are Dubai’s most picturesque sights.
What To See
The Burj Khalifa’s Observation Deck
The world’s tallest building (as of right now, at least!) is housed in Dubai’s bustling Downtown neighborhood. And besides being a sparkling gem in the city skyline, the Burj Khalifa’s indoor and outdoor observation deck is incredible! We think it’s definitely worth it to hike to the top for to the 125th and 148th floors for different perspective of Dubai’s sprawling skyline. It’ll totally blow you away. Be sure to book in advance, especially if you want to see the sunset on the expansive city below!
The Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood reflects the traditional look and lifestyle of the city up until the 1970’s. It’s like walking into Dubai’s past! The high stone towers, winding alleys, pathways and public squares feel like a maze of diversity. Many visitors overlook this historic neighborhood, as it definitely as an old world feel in a very modernist, forward thinking city. But I happen to think it’s a must-see! Plus, the sandy, warm tones are a dream to photograph, too!
The Dubai Mall could pretty much be a city on its own! Typically, photographers wouldn’t consider bringing along their gear to do some window shopping – but let me tell you, this place is a gold mind of picturesque locations!
In between shopping and eyeing up some of the priciest stores in the world, make sure to stop at the iconic Indoor Fountain sculptural piece. The scale of it is astounding! And get snap happy at the next-level Fountain Show at night (shows are on the half hour from 6:00 – 11:00 pm Saturday – Thursdays). Or, if you’re there on a rainy day, the beautiful Aquarium is a great spot to snap some exotic underwater beauty!
Truly a sight to behold. Photographers will be delighted to see the incredible detail outside of the Mosque’s doors. The tile work and splashes of color will bring you to your knees (…and we mean that metaphorically and realistically – gotta get that perspective!). I could have spent hours photographing the architectural beauty of this place. Every square inch is a serious delight.
Madinat Jumeirah Abra Ride and Souk
A ride through the waters of Madinat Jumeirah on its magical abra is a treat for the eyes… plus, its a great way to access what I believe to be the best view of the Burj Al Arab! Weaving through the waterways is so relaxing, especially after all the walking you do while exploring Dubai. And it totally allows you to view the city from a new perspective. Afterward, enjoy a stroll through the old meets new souk to shop for some incredible souvenirs or for a cup of coffee.
The beautiful arches of the brightest and boldest umbrellas and hanging greenery? A dream come true for the lens! Besides being a fantastical display of botany and foliage, the Miracle Garden is a fantastic place for people watching. The colors of the Miracle Garden burst into life, both in person and in frame. It’s a total must-do while in Dubai!
Is this tree-shaped island the glitziest part of Dubai? Heck yes it is! From above, Palm Jumeriah’s famous fan-like shape has become quite notorious for its opulence… and it’s just like that on the ground too! Home to the poshest, sleeked apartments, spas, hotels, and nightclubs you could only dream of… Palm Jumeriah is an excellent photogenic location to witness the higher end of Dubai’s city life.
Souk Al Bahaar
This Arabic-style shopping mall in the city has a ton of textures for the camera (and shopper) to admire. From antiques, carpets, home goods and waterfront restaurants – Souk Al Bahaar is definitely worth adding to your Dubai itinerary. But, one of my favorite secrets is that it’s home to a unique framed view of the Burj many overlook!
Take in the sun set or sun rise from the Water Canal and you’ll see the skyscrapers of Dubai beam with golden shades galore.
Where To Eat & Drink
Maiden Terrace On Palm Jumeriah
This outdoor terrace gives guests a simply stunning view of the Dubai Marina skyline and the Arabian Gulf! Drinks here at sunset are an absolute must!
One Life Cafe
This cafe’s attention to homemade, freshly cooked meals is apparent! It’s also a great spot to sit down and do some editing or catch up on work while exploring the rest of Dubai!
Named “Dubai’s original cafe,” Sikka has been open since the 1800s and the Al Maktoum Dynasty. Pretty dang impressive! As Dubai began its trading and cultural exchanges with other worlds, it also began to pick up the culinary delicacies it traded with. Sikka does a masterful job at incorporating local treats with Indian and Persian flavors. It’s an amazing homage to Dubai’s growth, development and its delicious cuisine!
Located in the famous Dubai Mall, Parker’s began as a “concept restaurant” that quickly got to be very popular with tourists and locals. The original quirk was that guests would need to recover a special key hidden somewhere within the sprawling Dubai Mall in order to get a seat… and only clues given on its Instagram would help them track it down. This place got a buzz going ever since! And for good reason. It’s delightful with a fantastic menu!
The Sum Of Us
This charmer has some of Dubai’s most delicious, house roasted coffee and gourmet treats. It’s a great spot to grab something healthy in a super friendly location. This is also a great spot for anyone with specific food allergies or dietary restrictions!
Where To Stay
Nikki Beach is a little slice of Miami smack dab in the Middle East! If you’re looking for a beach-y, free spirited vibe, right beside the beach… this hotel is totally for you. Enjoy the relaxing cabanas, chic rooms and nearly perfect shoreline. Nikki Beach is a minimalist, bright, clean and an all around lovely resort!
Palace Hotel Downtown
This five star luxury hotel exemplifies all that Dubai strives to be – modern, attentive, incredibly well designed, tasteful, stocked with amenities and an excellent location.
Shangri La Hotel
The Shangri La Hotel is perfectly situated on Sheikh Zayed Road, a quick walk away from the Dubai Mall and City Walk. Plus, it has some of the best views of the skyline, the Arabian Sea and unobstructed perspective of the Burj Khalifa in the pool and dining areas.
The Steigenberger is perfect for city lovers with its awesome views of the Burj and excellent service. This modern hotel is the perfect home away from home.
Right in the heart of the Al Fahidi neighborhood – the XVA Hotel is bedazzled with so many beautiful twists on traditional details. Enjoy the outdoor dining area when needing a break from exploring Dubai’s every nook and cranny.
Dubai pleases the senses. From the visual feasts of its souks and modernist skyscrapers, to the scents of the authentic and delicious meals cooked by friendly locals. It’s incredibly hard not to be overwhelmed by its beauty!
We hope you enjoyed our picks of photogenic locations scattered around this awe-inspiring city of the future!
Southeast Asia has become a mecca for tourists to sample and savor the mysterious, ancient beauty of Buddhist temples and beautiful beaches. And due to the influx of adventurers traipsing through and crossing borders, there are very few destinations in the region that have yet to be Westernized and preserve their untouched appeal. Take for example, Myanmar, formerly Burma. There are a few reasons why Myanmar has yet been inundated by tourists, ranging from ethical issues to bad press, turmoil and more.
As I began hearing more and more about Myanmar and slowly started to see it appear more often on my Instagram feed, I decided to experience this complex place for myself. Mysterious and somewhat untouched, Myanmar is an absolute gem waiting to be discovered. Here are some of my insider tips and favorite moments from beautiful Myanmar.
The central city in Myanmar’s southern region is a perfect spot for a layover before heading onward, but also is also a place not to be missed!
Whatever you do in Yangon, make sure to visit the magnificent golden Shwedagon Pagoda at sunrise. The glimmering pagoda is absolutely enormous, and famously houses four Buddhas representing different incarnations and facing each direction (north, south, east and west).
Remember to cover your shoulders and knees, although apparently you can swap money for a wrap at the entrance! Our tour of Shwedagon was so interesting… and it allowed for me to learn all about the intricacies of Buddhism, Yangon and Myanmar customs and quirks.
Belmond Governor’s Residence
Located in Yango’s embassy quarter, Belmond Governor’s Residence was built in the 1920’s and the property still has the nostalgic essence of the era. Our stay here was so dreamy! The overall mood of the hotel is so calming and being surrounded by its gorgeously kept gardens and water was an absolute retreat.
The land of over 2,000 pagodas scattered throughout the vast space is just as beautiful (if not more) than the photos you’ve seen. Aside from the obvious hot air balloon sunrise experience that everyone travels here for, Bagan offers a little something special and that is certain kind of peace and serenity in the air. As we hopped from one pagoda to another, I couldn’t help appreciate the calm nature of the whole scene.
I’d suggest traveling around by e-bike, as opposed to walking. It’s definitely the most efficient way to get around the area, plus it allows you see the whole area unfold in front of you. This form of transportation around Bagan is widely available and easy to find. However, if you want to treat yourself to something more romantic, go for a ride on a horse cart. It may be the slower way to see the area, but it feels incredibly like the old-world.
Although we did not go on the hot air balloon ride over Bagan, the cost for this experience typically runs for about $300 per person… which is quite steep if you ask me! We had just as beautiful of an experience witnessing the balloons as the sun rose from North Guni Pagoda.
Unfortunately, due to countless earthquakes in the area more and more pagodas get disappeared from Earth or simply get banned from climbing by the government. So these moments when you can feel like you are part of the “Indiana Jones” movie should be treasured here and now. You never know what tomorrow can bring or what it can take away!
Main Pagodas To Visit:
Mandalay & Mingun
I’d highly suggest taking a short and relaxing ride on a local wooden boat from Mandalay to Mingun. Road To Mandalay offers the ideal route to explore the undiscovered beauty of the untouched and enchanting Ayeyarwady River. Seeing the golden spired pagodas, ancient temples, villages and striking monasteries from the subtle and intentionally made Burmese ship of woven furniture and carved wood – a total dream. The on board crew was so thoughtful and kind as they navigated us to the gleaming white pagodas afar. We also made friends with the sweet and bright eyed children of the village of Myinmu during our trip. It truly was a remarkable experience!