On our first night in Hanoi, our dormmate told us about a trip she had just been on to Halong Bay that she booked through a hostel nearby. When deciding our rough itinerary of Vietnam, Halong Bay made the short list, but there were SO many options when it came down to how you booked it. You can stay overnight on boats, go with tours, or book it all yourself, including the multiple means of transportation it takes to get there. We were thrilled when we met a girl who had a great time on an organized trip there that was budget-friendly, so we stopped researching and went to Central Backpackers the following morning to book our excursion!
Hanoi was our first stop in Vietnam and it both surprised us and won us over quickly! We stayed here a few separate times – as our first city in Vietnam and then again between trips to Halong Bay and Sapa. We stayed in the Old Quarter each time and really loved the vibe. Making the most of each visit, we tried new restaurants and tours each time and fit in as much of the city as we could!
We spent an entire month in Thailand exploring many things, including the local cuisine. From markets to cooking classes, we literally ate our way through this country. HEre is a highlight of some of our favorite meals… you might start to see a trend!
Quite possibly the highlight of our trip so far, Chiang Mai totally won us over. We left Bangkok and headed to Chiang Mai just days before the start of their New Year festivities called Songkran. While Songkran is celebrated throughout Thailand, and even other parts of SE Asia, Chiang Mai is the place to be. The Water Festival is just that, several days of throwing water at people of all ages and nationalities all day long. While we hadn’t necessarily planned to be in Chiang Mai for Songkran, we were very happy to be able to participate in the celebrations!
We stayed at an adorable hostel called Uno Bed Chiang Mai. It was one of the cutest, most home-y hostels we’ve stayed in so far. The room was great, it had a lot of common areas and living spaces, the bathrooms were clean, the location was close to all the fun and city center and it had laundry facilities!
After leaving Phuket (for the third time) we headed to Ko Samui, Thailand. It involved a full day (12-ish hours) of travel for 2 very exhausted girls. We arrived in Ko Samui and it was raining and ugly weather in general. And that weather continued for the next several days. Since we weren’t doing anything but sitting in a hotel room, we decided to leave early and explore other parts of the country. The next stop on our tour of Thailand was Bangkok. Getting back to a bigger city was something that intrigued us and we were ready to explore and see what Bangkok had to offer.
Twist to the normal food post… this time we’re talking about what we cooked. We are in Bangkok, Thailand and spent the morning in a Thai cooking class. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and we loved every minute of it. Our class was with Sompong Thai Cooking School, which we found on TripAdvisor.
After getting scuba certified in January we started toying with the idea of doing a liveaboard during our RTW trip. Liveaboards involve living on a boat for a certain number of days and include a lot of diving trips in the time you are on board. We opted to try this out in the Similan Islands, a set of islands off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. We were told it was one of the most beautiful places to dive in Thailand and a great place to try a liveaboard since day trips to these dive sites are not plausible due to them being so far off the coast.
We spent 5D/4N on the Manta Queen 3 with about 30 other people. It was an amazing experience where we made some fantastic friends, found new travel companions and even met some other Texans! We were lucky enough to have a room to ourselves as a way to ease into our liveaboard lifestyle. We did 15 dives in 4 days (we had only 7 logged dives before this trip), improved our scuba skills, saw some unique and impressive sea life, completed our advanced open water certification and most importantly, had a lot of fun.
The crew of the Manta Queen 3 were beyond amazing. They fed us, spoiled us, kept us informed and entertained, made sure we were safe, helped us in and out of our gear, shared stories of their adventures and much more. Our guide, Joe, spent every dive showing us unique and intriguing things under water and also helped us get our advanced open water certification. Fellow Texans Devon and Brandon rounded out our dive group nicely and we really enjoyed spending time in (and out of) the water with them. Brandon came to us with a proposal towards the end of the trip – that we all go on a dive trip once a year – and we gladly accepted!
Luckily Jenny started feeling better at the start of this trip once her medicine kicked in and she was able to enjoy all of the dives on the trip without any issues! Such a relief!