We arrived in the Philippines and spent a night in Manila before heading out to our first long-term destination: El Nido. In Manila we spent the evening at a cute hostel called Z Hostel, which was recommended to us by a friend of a friend (thanks Marc!) The next morning we went to a small terminal in the airpot and hopped on an AirSwift flight direct into El Nido. We expected our normal budget airline… but were surprised with a great prop plane and even better service. We were given water and snacks upon arrival at the gate and the staff was fantastic. Our flight into El Nido was quick and beautiful!
While Jenny continued traveling through Vietnam and into Cambodia, I opted to backtrack a little and revisit Perth. Our 2 months in SE Asia left me exhausted and homesick and I was ready for a return to routine and “normal” life as I used to know it. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get from Nha Trang, Vietnam to Perth, Australia, so I spent about 24 hours traveling back to the land of Oz. Most of this time was spent on long layovers in Saigon and Kuala Lumpur.
The next stop on our Tour de Vietnam was Nha Trang. This was a town we were originally very excited to visit as we were longing for lazy days on the beach. However, as we worked our way south, all we heard from fellow travelers was how they did not like Nha Trang due to one thing: the abundance of Russians. Despite what we heard, we kept our original reservations and intended to stay for a week and enjoy the views.
Through the first part of our trip in Vietnam all we heard was about how great Hoi An was. Of course we had to go and see for ourselves. Hue, also known as the Ancient Town, is absolutely adorable, easy to get around by foot or by bike, famous for the lanterns that light up beautifully at night and for custom made tailoring… and also has a beach. What’s not to love?!
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!
Leaving Ao Nang brought us back to Phuket and provided the opportunity to see another part of the island and do a few touristy things. We opted to stay in Kata this time around as it was a bit more calm and claimed better beaches than Patong. We found a cheap hotel that had good reviews, booked it and set out on Phuket Adventure, Round 2.
Our ferry and shuttle dropped us in Kata around 6 pm so we checked in and headed out to the Kata weekly market that was in town that evening. We sampled a variety of tasty fried foods, had a Chang beer, dominated some sticky rice, paid way too much for a cup of buttery corn and tried a new, yellow curry grilled chicken. After we were sufficiently stuffed we headed “home” for some sleep. We had a big day ahead of us the next day.
Our second stop in Thailand was the Krabi region. It’s an area known for it’s beaches and breathtaking islands off the coast, so of course it was on our list to visit. We opted to stay in Ao Nang as we had read it was a great launching point for visiting many islands in the Andaman Sea and it also had the best selection of hostels and food.
This stop also included going back to dorm life which was a fairly easy adjustment. Lately we had been spoiled with hotel rooms or private rooms, so we took it easy and booked a 4 bed mixed dorm at a cute hostel called iDeal Beds. Reviews told us that it was close to the beach yet away from the party area and quite peaceful.
We took a ferry from Phuket to Ao Nang and hopped in a tuk tuk to take us to our home for the next few days. The scenery took our breath away and we hadn’t even gotten to the best parts yet!