As the final destination on my July-August 2017 Asian backpacking trip, I was determine to go out with a bang- and Vietnam helped me do just that. From Phnom Penh Cambodia, my friends and I made our way to Ho Chi Minh City, where we learnt all about the Vietnam War and visited the Cu Chi tunnels, explored life for the locals living out along the Meekong Delta, and checked out HCMC and its nightlife. From Ho Chi Minh we flew up to Hoi An, where we spent a few days exploring the city by bike, visiting the beach, and a trip to My Son, a group of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples near Hoi An. We then flew from Hoi An to Hanoi, where we did a day tour of the nearby Vietnamese countryside, a day trip to the beautiful archipelago of Ha Long Bay, and spent some tie exploring the city of Hanoi with some new friends.
Cambodia is a small country, but it has a lot to offer. When I was travelling through South East Asia in August 2017, I met some of my friends in Phnom Penh where we spent a few days before visiting Siem Reap, just getting a taste of Cambodia’s history and culture. In all honesty, the main reason for visiting Cambodia was because I was travelling through Asia and my friends were coming from Australia, so we needed a good place to meet and organise our visas for our Vietnam trip- but we still made the most of the few days that we spent in Cambodia. Highlights of our time in Phnom Penh included a sunset cruise along the Meekong River, the city palace, Wat Phnom temple, the killing fields, the genocide museum, and a vegan cooking class. Siem Reap is most famous for Angkor Wat- the largest religious monument in the world, which is definitely not to be missed. Also, if you’ve never seen a floating village, Kompong Phluk makes a great half-day trip.
Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is a gorgeous country, it’s culturally diverse and nowhere near as toursity as its South East Asian counterparts. Whilst I was travelling an another Asian backpacking trip in July/August 2017, I decided to shorten my stay in Sri Lanka so that I could spend some time in Myanmar before meeting up with my friends in Cambodia. I had about 8 days in total to explore the country of Myanmar, and while I was hesitant at first as to how much I’d actually get to see during that time, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did get to see, thanks to some careful planning prior to arriving.
During my stay in Myanmar I visited Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan, and Mandalay.
Check out my MYANMAR TRAVEL GUIDE to help you plan a short stay in Myanmar.
After my time in India, I made my way to Sri Lanka at the end of July 2017. I arrived in Colombo, before travelling to Kandy where I spent time overcoming a stomach bug. After spending a day exploring Kandy and its famed Temple of the Tooth Relic, I jumped on a train to Habarana to visit Kaudulla National Park and Sigiriya Rock. From Habarana I caught a train to Trincomalee, where I spent two days relaxing around Nilaveli beach and Pigeon Island. From Trincomalee I cuaght an overnight train back to Colombo, before taking a day trip out to explore the town of Galle.
The final destination in my trip to India in July 2017 was around Kochi in Southern India. At the airport I become friends with two Australian guys that I then travelled around with. From Kochi we explored the Kerala backwaters, Munnar, and Kodaikanal, before I caught a stomach bug that abruptly ended my adventures.
After spending 10 days exploring the state of Rajasthan in July 2017, my travel companions and I ended our trip in Northern India by spending our last 3 days together in India’s Golden Triangle, from Jaipur, to Agra, to Delhi (where we had already spent some time exploring when we arrived in India.)
Many of the amazing photos you see in the vlog & below were taken by my friend @dandgough (on instagram).
Rajasthan is a Northern Indian state that is renowned for its colourful cities, huge forts, impressive palaces, and stunning temples set amongst rugged desert landscapes. After arriving in Delhi with two travel companions in July 2017, we spent about 10 days exploring the incredible Rajasthani cities of Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, before we continued on to complete India’s Golden Triangle.
My “Rajasthan by car” travel guide is COMING SOON!
If you love the outdoors, getting close to nature and don’t mind a bit of trekking, then Malaysian Borneo is hands-down THE destination for you. I didn’t even know Borneo existed until I was about 16 and was reading up on orangutans and palm oil, when I looked it up and knew I had to go there one day. Borneo was definitely my most adventure packed trip to date, it pushed me out of my comfort zone, forced me to challenge myself, and taught me so many new things.
When I arrived in Borneo I had one day to spare in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. I spent my day exploring Manukan Island, one of the many islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, on a short 20-minute speedboat ride. I spent the day snorkelling and exploring the Island on foot, before enjoying some cheap vegan food when I was back in town.
From Kota Kinabalu I was picked up around 5am and taken to Kinabalu National Park, where I was to begin my 2 day return trek up and down Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia. Although difficult at times, the trek was gorgeous, and reaching the top was a good feeling after a day of climbing. We woke up around 2 am on the second morning in order to reach the summit before sunrise, which was so rewarding. I was then able to complete the worlds highest via ferrata, before making it to the bottom of the mountain before dusk.
From KK I flew to Kuching, the capital of the Sarawak state in Borneo. My first trip in Kuching was to Semengoh, to hopefully spot an orangutan. Being semi-wild, there was no guarantee I would see one, but luckily I was able to see two- a mother and her baby. This was such a surreal experience, being able to see the critical endangered orangutans in one of the only 2 places they can be found in the world.
From Kuching I caught a plane to Mulu, in the middle of the Bornean jungle. My first day there was spent exploring the jungle and some of the impressive caves, the Deer Cave being my favourite, as I got to witness millions of nocturnal bats flying out of the cave around sunset. The next morning I made my way up the stream of the river, breaking around midday to explore 2 more caves. After lunch I met the two girls who would be joining me for the rest of my tour, and we continued upstream for an hour. We then trekked 9 kilometers through thick jungle to camp 5, where I spent 2 nights camping in the jungle.
The next day we embarked on the pinnacles trek, a challenging trek up tree roots and rocks until we reached the Mulu Pinnacles, a collection of razor sharp limestone pinnacles in the middle of the jungle.
After Mulu I made my way back to Kuching, so I could visit Bako National Park. I befriended a fellow solo female traveler and we spent the day hiking 3 different trails through the national park. Bako was a great change of scenery from the other national parks, and we even managed to see a few proboscis monkeys.
On my uni break in June 2016 I had booked an impromptu trip to Malaysian Borneo, but I decided that before I explored the region of Malaysian Borneo, I should spend a bit of time in Malaysia. I had to be back home on a particular date, so after my exams I had an extra week to spare. I decided to visit 3 Malaysian cities while I was there, and although I didn’t spend heaps of time in each city, I managed to have a pretty full week of exploring and different activities.
I flew into the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, where the mix of Chinese, Indian, and traditional Malay culture is evident. This was actually the 3rd time I’d visited KL, the first being on my first overseas trip with my family back in 2010, and the second being in 2014 when I was travelling SE Asia. Having been here before there wasn’t too much I wanted to do again, but I did take a bit of time to explore the streets, get a great view of the city, and visit one of my favourite KL attractions: Batu Caves.
From KL I flew to the city of Penang. Penang has a reputation for being a hotspot for foodies, and I can confirm that the vegan restaurants I went to were up there with some of the best cheap Asian eateries. I spent an afternoon exploring Penang Hill, where I managed to get a great view of Penang and Georgetown, and on my final day I explored Georgetown and went on a search for the city’s best street art.
Langkwai is beautiful tourist town located amongst tropical island archipelagos, not far from Penang. This was the final destination on my Malaysia trip. Although the town doesn’t offer much in terms of culture, and it’s relatively expensive compare to other parts of Malaysia because it’s mainly marketed for tourists, it was absolutely beautiful. Langkawi has a cable car system, sky bridge, and viewing decks up in the cliffs that all offer gorgeous views. The highlight of my time here was definitely a jet ski tour of some of the islands. It was my first time ever on a jet ski, and while I was pretty nervous at first, once I got the hang of it, it was such a fun way to explore Langkawi. I’d recommend anyone visiting Langkawi to give it a go.
The Philippine archipelago is made up of thousands of Islands, more that 7,500 to be exact. I’d never really had any interest in visiting the Philippines, because I’d never really looked into what it was like, but after stumbling across one of Christian LeBlanc’s YouTube videos in April 2016, I decided I needed to visit the Philippines ASAP. Because my best friend goes to a university with 3 trimesters instead of 2 semesters each year, we subsequently have different uni holidays. He was about to go on uni break around the time I discovered the video, so I decided that if I could do my research and cram as much as possible into a 10 day period, I could justify taking time off uni.
Cebu Island is pretty popular for tourists, with a range of different cities each offering their own scenery and activities. We spent a few days in Cebu, beginning in Moalboal, where we went canyoneering in Badian. I booked this activity because it sounded like fun (and it looked super fun in Christian’s videos,) although I overlooked the tiny problem that I hate jumping from heights, and I have a slightly irrational fear of being on the edge. I managed to push myself just enough to jump in when I had to, and although I avoided the really high jumps, Darcy had a great time doing them. After Moalboal we made our way to Oslob where we spent a morning swimming with whale sharks.
From Cebu we caught a ferry across to Dumaguette, the capital of Negros Oriental. We spent a day exploring the city, and visiting the twin lakes. The following day we’d booked a tour across to Apo Island, where we snorkelled with turtles, ate some delicious vegan food, and saw what life is like for people living on smaller islands in the Philippines.
We then made our way on the ferry to Bohol Island, where we spent a full day exploring the highlights of Bohol, like the famous chocolate hills.
Palawan was easily the most beautiful part of the Philippines that we visited. We flew into Palawan’s capital Puerto Princessa, where we spent the morning exploring the caves (one of the new 7 wonders of the world), but after this we made our way to El Nido, which was the highlight of our tour for sure. We spent our time in El Nido doing tours that took us snorkelling (some of the best snorkelling I’ve ever done), kayaking, and swimming around the gorgeous archipelagos. This was a great end to our jam packed 10 days in the Philippines.