5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

Well hello to you my reader chums! Chiang Mai was my favourite city in Thailand. The city had the calmest and friendly appeal, with plenty of sights, good food and the quaintest streets to browse. I heard a lot of good things about Chiang Mai prior to our trip and that's why I booked 5 days there. The 5 days we spent exploring could easily have been extended as it's such a beautiful and large city. If you're heading there soon, here is everything you can get up to in 5 days:

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

Visit an Elephant sanctuary

Visiting the elephant sanctuary was my favourite day in Chiang Mai and probably one of the highlights from our entire trip. Elephants are my favourite animals and seeing them playing in a happy environment was the sweetest thing. In Thailand, it can be quite tricky in identifying which sanctuaries actually take care of the elephants, and what ones, unfortunately, harm them. I've written a post all about how to choose the right sanctuary.


5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

I went to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai and it was around a 1 and a half out of the city, set in the jungle. I booked a full day trip, so I departed from the hotel at about 8am and got home around dinner time. The day trip was incredible and I'd highly recommend doing it. The full-day tour included the opportunity to get up close and personal with the elephants, feed them, make their food and learn about animal care. I also got to bathe the creatures and go in a mud bath with them. It was a beautiful experience!

Attend a cooking class

Thai food is incredible and learning about how to make it is a must when you're in the country. I went to Smile Organic Cooking School, located just out of the city and loved the full experience. I booked a morning session and the teacher picked me up from town. They first took the group to the market to see where they buy the ingredients and then drove us to the farm. The cooking school was attached to an allotment, and upon arrival, the teacher gave us a tour of the allotment and showed us everything they grow there.

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

After a tour, the lessons began and it was so much fun! I got to pick a few dishes including Pad Thai, a curry of our choice (I chose Panang), a soup and curry paste. It was really interesting learning the fast-paced technique of Thai cooking and all the ingredients that are included. I got to use plenty of fresh ingredients, spices and flavours, and the results were delicious. I loved being creative with the flavours and learning new recipes.

Go temple hopping

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

Thailand is a hub for beautiful temples and Chiang Mai is no exception. As there are quite a few temples in the Old City, I'd recommend dedicating an afternoon/day to explore them all, soaking up the city as you go. There are small to large temples including the Wat Phra Singh, Wat Pha Tao and probably the most impressive, Wat Chedi Luang. Each temple is unique to the next and always decorated to the finest of details.

Visit the weekend night markets 

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

Thailand is renowned for its night markets and Chiang Mai is famous for having some of the biggest. Every weekend, the night market lights up on Saturday and Sunday night for the walking street. They sell everything from freshly cooked food, ice cream, hand made clothes, nick nacks and souvenirs. It's a cool hub to browse, and free activity to do of an evening if you're on a budget.

Explore the Old City

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

The Old City soon became my favourite part of Chiang Mai. If you look on a map, the square is the Old City and is a beautiful place to browse. As you walk around, you'll see the traditional temples, cute restaurants, quaint cafes, bars and candid markets. It's really the loveliest of places with a chill vibe. Every person you come across is super friendly and the sights are enough for a sweet afternoon stroll.

Get a traditional Thai massage 

If you're looking for a bit of relaxation on your trip, a traditional Thai massage will do the trick. In Chiang Mai, you'll find massage places everywhere, where you can get a full hour massage for a couple of pounds. Even if you're on a budget a massage is easily affordable and can be a great way to end the night after a day of walking. There are also plenty of other spa treatments available for the cheapest of prices.

Enjoy the street food

5 day guide to Chiang Mai - what to see and do

Street food is the norm in Thailand and you can't go to one of the biggest cities without sampling its street food. You'll see vendors selling it everywhere from traditional Thai dishes to pancakes and western food. It's usually dirt cheap and can be some of the yummiest foods you try.

I hope you enjoyed this Chiang Mai guide. Have you visited Chiang Mai?

Thank you for reading <3


Choosing the right elephant sanctuary in Thailand

Well hello to you my reader chums! Thailand is a beautiful country, and whilst travelling, one of the most touristy things to do is meeting the elephants. Elephants are my favourite animals ever and meeting them in Chiang Mai was one of the best days of my life. Before I went to Thailand, I did a lot of research into the most ethical place to meet the elephants and came across the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

Choosing the right elephant sanctuary in Thailand

There, I found out that 70-80% of companies promoting elephant tourism are cruel to the elephants in some way, whether that's by riding them, chaining them up or beating them. It's honestly incredibly sad and broke my heart hearing about it, and seeing it happen as I was travelling through the country.

Historically, Asian elephants were used for logging, carrying heavy loads with their tusks and mouths. After the ban of elephant logging in 1989, the elephant minders were without an income - and that's where elephant tourism really came into play. As most tourists in Thailand are from the UK or colder climate countries, they wouldn't have seen an elephant in the wild, and minders played on that with elephant experiences.

If like me you'd like to meet the elephants in Thailand, there are a few things to consider when you book your experience.

How do I know which sanctuary is ethical?

This is the hardest thing to know for any traveller as Thailand is packed with elephant sanctuaries, some legitimate and also some that just claim they're a 'sanctuary'. You need to dig a little deeper before you book. See what they offer and how they explain it. For example, any company that offers elephant riding is not ethical in the slightest even if they claim the elephants love being ridden. Riding an elephant can really damage their spines as their backs aren't designed for heavy loads. Elephants do not enjoy it and more often than not, the elephants can be abused or chained when they're not being ridden.

When you're researching and choosing where to book, you should look out for phrases like 'no riding', 'elephants are free to roam', 'no chains' and 'no sticks.'. Basically, you want to check how they look after the elephants and if the tour promotes ethical elephant care. Reviews are another thing to consider, as people will share their experience of how the elephants are treated and what the sanctuaries are like.

Should I book prior to my trip?

Yes and no. I booked my experience prior to our trip and I'm glad I did as it allowed us to do that research prior and find an ethical place to meet the elephants. However, tourist offices are everywhere in Thailand so you can book it when you're away but it means you'll have to rely on leaflets and researching there for the most ethical places.

Recommendations on where to go

I went to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai and had the most beautiful experience. We were allowed to get up close and personal with the animals, feed them, stroke them and hug them. The sanctuary taught us all about the care of the elephants, how to make their food, bathe them and have a mud bath with the elephants. It was surreal and you could tell the elephants were loved there. We booked the full day tour for around £60 and it was honestly worth every penny, especially knowing our money was going towards their care.

Other ethical sanctuaries in Thailand:
Elephant Nature Park
The Surin Project
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary
Elephant Haven

Elephants are beautiful creatures and really deserve to be taken care of. If you'd love to meet them, I really would suggest doing a lot of research before your trip and not endorsing any of the companies who are cruel to the elephants because believe me, you'll come across hundreds as you're travelling through Thailand. Be mindful, read reviews, and ultimately, enjoy your elephant sanctuary experience.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Are you planning a trip to Thailand soon?

Thank you for reading <3

5 week itinerary to Thailand

Well hello to you my reader chums! Thailand, the land of smiles, crazy cities, stunning islands and gorgeous nature should be on everyone's bucket list. In February, I went for 5 weeks and loved every single part exploring a new culture and seeing everything the country is about. The country's calm vibe, beautiful temples and golden sands were as dreamy as I imagined.

Thailand is very large and often enough it's hard to know where to begin planning and which areas you should visit on your trip. I did a lot of research prior to mine and after experiencing the itinerary, I think it's safe to say we got everything out of the trip we wanted to and saw a large chunk of the country.

If you're planning on going for a similar time, here is a full in-depth itinerary example of what you should see:

Bangkok - 2-3 days

5 week itinerary to Thailand

Bangkok isn't for everyone, some will adore the rush and craziness and others will shy away from its party scene. However, when you're in Thailand, you have to see it to make up your opinion. I wasn't the biggest fan of Bangkok as it was very manic, but, the city does have some beautiful sights which are worth exploring if you're not a party goer, that I would recommend 2-3 days to get the full city experience. You could easily just go for one day if you were really put off by the loud and busy atmosphere, but it is the perfect place to start to kick start you in the direction of Thailand's culture.

Chiang Mai - 5 days  (Fly or get a bus from Bangkok)

Chiang Mai Old town

Chiang Mai was such a diverse change from Bangkok and I fell in love with it from the off. It's one of those cities that you could browse around for days on end and never get bored. I adored Chiang Mai's vibe; it was calm and content, and all the local people seemed a lot happier than in Bangkok. The Old City was my favourite area and is the place you could generally enjoy a walk around as there is so much to see and sweet place to eat and relax. Chiang Mai is also a beautiful hub for elephant sanctuaries, cooking classes, day trips, temples and more, and you could honestly spend 5 days or more soaking up the beauty. I would definitely recommend dedicated quite a few days on your trip.

Pai - 2-3 days (3-hour bus journey from Chiang Mai)

5 week itinerary to Thailand

Pai is a small town 3 hours north of Chiang Mai and one of the quaintest places I've ever visited it. If you want a few days to taste the spirit of Thailand and eat in some of the loveliest places, you need to add it to the agenda. You can easily spend a few days in Pai, seeing the few sights it has and then by spending the rest of your time there exploring the quieter areas of the town. Its night market was one of my favourites with so much food variety, and despite the town's size, it has so much to give.

Phuket - 3 days  (Get a bus back to Chiang Mai and fly)

5 week itinerary to Thailand

You can't have a trip to Thailand without the bustling island of Phuket. Phuket is probably the most touristy island I visited, however, its old town, market and slightly less known beaches made the few days very memorable. I'd recommend a couple of days in Phuket to soak up the busy beaches and see the touristy sights and spend more of your time on the quieter and less touched islands of Thailand. If partying or resorts are your thing however, a longer stay in Phuket would be right up your street.

Phi Phi - 2-3 days (Boat journey)

5 week itinerary to Thailand

Phi Phi was on the same level of Phuket, but the beaches and waters were a lot nicer. Undoubtedly, Phi Phi is known for the party vibe and hosting the best beach parties, however, it's also a hub for great day trips and swimming. Like with Phuket, I think you only need a few days in Phi Phi to experience the party lifestyle, get a boat tour over to Maya Bay and of course get that suntan.

Krabi 2-4 days (Boat journey)

Personally, on our trip, I think I booked too many days in Krabi and could have done with a day less there and spent somewhere else. Krabi's town alone is pretty quiet and non-touristy with only a handful of bars and good restaurants. However, the main hub of Krabi is its day trips which we adored. Railay beach was beautiful, and there are several other beaches and day tours you can do from the town. Krabi is the perfect central point for quite a few excursions and pretty cheap to stay too.

Koh Lanta- 4-5 days (Boat journey)

Koh Lanta is probably one of the most dreamy places I've ever seen in my entire life. Its secluded beaches, crystal clear waters (I'm not kidding), and quiet atmosphere is what every beach destination should be about. Despite its rise in popularity in recent years, Koh Lanta felt like it was mine. Even the most popular beaches and 'tourist' areas weren't overly busy and I loved that. My favourite reason I loved Koh Lanta was how vacant some areas were, and how you could literally go on the really southern beaches with nobody on. It's hard to put into words how beautiful the island is and how the waters there were literally like a bath. The island was also really eco-friendly which I loved, promoting regular beach cleans and having steel straws everywhere. Koh Lanta is one not to be missed and I could have easily stayed there longer than the 4 days we had.

Koh Samui - 4-7 days (Boat journey to Krabi and then fly)

Koh Samui is probably on the level of Phuket with a resort holiday vibe, however, it can make the perfect break on your trip to have a chill holiday few days- and that's what I did. Koh Samui is a pretty large island, larger than I expected and has a few different areas which you can stay in but it depends on what you want for that trip. Chaweng, for instance, is the most touristy and party vibe but other areas such as Choeng Mon and Taling Ngam are a lot quieter. Over the week I was there, I was able to have a taste of most beaches and areas, and really got a grasp of Koh Samui. Resorts may have taken over some of its beaches, but it's the perfect place to relax, indulge in good food and cocktails on the beach.

Koh Phangan - 2-3 days (Boat journey)

5 week itinerary to Thailand

Another party paradise, Koh Phangan is famous for its full moon parties and wild nights out. Yet, there is a quieter and chill side to Koh Phangan than meets the eye, and it's a really pretty place. My time in Koh Phangan was a pretty chill one, as I was there at the wrong dates and missed the full moon party. I enjoyed seeing its calmer side and exploring the island.

Koh Tao- 3-4 days (Boat journey)

5 week itinerary to Thailand

I fell in love with Koh Tao like Koh Lanta. Although a small island, it has a lot to give and offers that more secluded appeal. If you hire a motorbike, you could pretty much drive the course of the island in an hour, and I love that. The communal feel, the quieter beaches and clearest waters I've ever seen were something out of a postcard. We were only there 3 days, but I could have happily soaked up the calm atmosphere for a few more, visiting the beaches and quaint coffee shops they had. Despite the size, Koh Tao left a huge mark on my heart, and I would recommend a visit for all. It's an eco-friendly paradise with the friendliest of people and perfect for waters for snorkelling and swimming. Any water babies would adore this island!

Thailand was one of the most stunning countries I've ever visited and I would highly advise seeing it once in your lifetime. The people are so giving, the beaches will make your heart skip a beat and the fresh food is on another level of tasty. By visiting all these places, I was able to get a full look at all areas of Thailand from the north to the south. 

I hope you enjoyed my suggested 5-week itinerary for Thailand! Would you add any other places to this list?

Thank you for reading <3

5 day guide to Dubai

Well hello to you my reader chums! Dubai, the city of skyscrapers, pristine beaches, the desert, and every designer shop under the sun, is certainly bucket list-worthy. Before I went backpacking for 2 months, I jetted off to Dubai for a 5 day holiday to see what the place is all about and visit my best friend. I didn't expect to fall in love with Dubai the way I did. As it's a pretty man-made city I thought that wouldn't be for me, however, the beauty of every building, sight, and beach made me swoon. Dubai is definitely a plush holiday destination that can be done on a budget, you just need to know where to look.

Disclaimer - this post includes affiliate links.

5 day guide to Dubai

I spent 5 days there and I think it was the perfect amount of time to soak up the sights, do a few excursions, and have that chill holiday experience. I flew overnight with Virgin Atlantic to Dubai and landed early morning, ready to head off to the hotel. My hotel, the City Premiere Apartments was located in the Business Bay area, close by to the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, and took around a 20-30 minute drive from the airport. 

Dubai is full of fun and exciting experiences, and here is my take on a 5-day guide and what to do:

Day 1 - Le Mer area and Jumeirah Beach

On my first day in Dubai, after checking into the hotel and napping (I barely slept on the overnight flight), I got a taxi to Jumeriah Beach. However, I think the taxi man misheard us and dropped us off at Jumeriah street which is where the Le Mer area was. Although it wasn't exactly where we wanted to go, I really loved the place. Le Mer is a brand new place and kind of reminded me of a theme park. There was a small beach, plenty of activities for kids, and loads of quirky restaurants and juice stalls. It looked very animated but made for a lovely first place to absorb the 'new vibe in Dubai'.

5 day guide to Dubai

After a few hours there, I returned to our hotel as I planned to meet my best friend Chloe (she just moved out there last year) for dinner. She picked me up and took me to this gorgeous restaurant, The Rosette which had beautiful night time views of the city and Jumeriah Beach. The food was amazing and since it was Ladies night, Chloe and I got free drinks. After dinner, we took a stroll down to Jumeirah Beach and it was everything I imagined and more. Under the night sky, the beach was lit up by the Ferris wheel and bright lights of the city - it looked beautiful. The beach area was surrounded by plenty of shop chains, markets and we soon became quite accustomed to this area and knew our way around. I finished the night with my first ever visit to the Cheesecake Factory and it was insane.

5 day guide to Dubai

Day 2- Dubai Mall, the aquarium and Burj Khalifa

The second day I had planned for a while, as it was my first proper full day in Dubai. I hopped on the tube at Business Bay metro station (about a 5-minute walk from the hotel), to the Dubai Mall which was only 1 stop. From the metro station into the mall, the walkway was around 10-15 minutes away. Once I arrived, I couldn't believe my eyes! The mall was huge - bigger than Bluewater and Stratford put together with every named brand under the sun. If you're looking for a major shopping trip - this is the place. I'd had our Burj Khalifa ticket booked for the afternoon so my first stop was the aquarium and underwater zoo. 







I adored the aquarium - there was everything from a variety of fish to parrots, sharks, crocodiles and hedgehogs. The animals were beautiful and it was really interesting reading about every creature. The aquarium was bigger than I thought, but I think my highlight had to be walking through the underwater zoo at the end. It was so cool seeing the sharks swim above you!
5 day guide to Dubai

My next stop was the Burj Khalifa. As the entrance to the Burj was in the mall, I didn't have to travel too far to reach it from the aquarium. My slot was booked from half 2 onwards so I lined up (which took quite a while), and then got in the lift and zoomed up to the top. The lift itself was really cool as you could see how many floors you were going up. Once at the top, I stayed there for a few hours, taking in the views, getting those candid Instagram pictures and generally being wowed by the experience. It's certainly a must-see thing in Dubai! The view of the entire city will honestly blow your mind! I was able to see the entire city, the desert and the ocean that surrounds part of Dubai - it really is out of this world. If you have the chance, try and go to the Burj just before sunset, as then you'll have the experience of seeing the city turn from day to night.

5 day guide to Dubai

5 day guide to Dubai

I then stopped home and returned back to the mall for a spot of shopping (it had to be done) before the fountain show began. The show starts at 7 or 8 and runs every half hour for 5 minutes. As I was there during the Chinese new year, the animations used by the show were all in that theme. The fountains are really impressive and make for a lovely show! I then finished the night with dinner at Eat Greek - the perfect Greek place. 

Day 3 - City Walk and Desert safari tour

The third day, I had a desert safari tour booked at 3pm so I had a good chunk of the day to explore! I started off at CityWalk as I got recommended to head over that way. CityWalk was a modern and mini outdoor version of Dubai Mall but a hell of a lot quieter. The mall was home to many quaint coffee shops and designer stores, that you could easily spend a few hours browsing. I then went back to the mall as it was so close to our hotel for lunch before the excursion began.

5 day guide to Dubai

The driver picked us up in a massive jeep car and I was the first to be collected. The ride wasn't too long to the desert, probably around 40 minutes. We first stopped in the entrance to the desert for photos and our tour guide took some pretty funny ones then, it was time for dune bashing into the main heart of the desert. At first, I really liked the dune bashing as it was a lot of fun, like a rollercoaster. However, after a while (it lasted for an hour), I got super car sick and didn't like it! We then continued to drive through the desert which was really cool, seeing the endless sands, which literally went on for days. We then arrived at the desert camp - where you could go sandboarding, get hennas done and given food on arrival. After mooching around the camp, it was time for the evening show. The evening show featured a few belly dancers and a fire show - it was amazing! The fire show was absolutely incredible - I was surprised by everything that they could do. Then I had a traditional Arabic feast - it was basically all you can eat, and absolutely delicious! I loved it! I made some friends and watched the rest of the show before getting the car home.

5 day guide to Dubai


Day 4 - Burj Al Arab (Friday Brunch), Jumeriah Public Beach and  The Palm

If you're in Dubai on a Friday, you have to attend a traditional Friday brunch. Dubai's weekend runs on Friday and Saturday so to celebrate on Friday a lot of places hold incredible all-you-can-eat brunches. For our Friday brunch, I went for Friday Brunch up the Burj Al Arab. I couldn't believe it when we first entered the 7-star hotel -it was insane. Every detail looked so luxurious and we felt so underdressed, despite dressing up. The decor reminded me of the Genie's lamp in Aladdin! The brunch was held on one of the top floors at the restaurant Al Muntata and we took the lift up there. From the lift we could see all the sea, the Palm and more of the city - it was beautiful. The restaurant was also really luxury, and the food put out went on for days. With my booking, I got a starter, main and glass of champagne, and then I could help myself to any of the food buffets. There was too much on offer - a whole selection of pastries, desserts, cheeses, fish, meats, bread, homemade pancakes, and ice cream - and fresh juices. It was hard to fit it all in! The food was some of the best I'd ever tasted. I'd highly recommend doing it - it's a once in a lifetime sort of treat!
5 day guide to Dubai

5 day guide to Dubai



5 day guide to Dubai

With my full stomach in tow, I made my way down to Jumeirah Public beach to let the food go down and relax. The beach was around a 15-minute walk from the hotel, and I spent a while soaking up the views and sunshine. I then took a taxi down to the Atlantic at the Palm, just to see it all really. I didn't have much time there, however, the Palm is huge, and there is so much you're able to see or do there that you could spend a whole day! To finish off the most beautiful day, I went over to the main Jumeirah Beach area and watched the sunset. The beach was bustling with families and groups of friends, and the vibe was just so friendly. I really loved the Jumeirah area as the beach was gorgeous, it was surrounded by shops and had such a calm vibe. Despite the massive lunch, I still had room for dinner at a lovely Italian on the beach.

5 day guide to Dubai

5 day guide to Dubai


Day 5 and 6 - Kite Beach and Dubai Marina 

The last two days in Dubai were very chill! As I mentioned previously if you go for a longer stretch of time after you've seen the main sights, you'll have the extra time to lull about, see the beaches and just relax, and that's what we did. On Saturday after a morning at the pool, I headed over to Kite Beach, as it was one of the beaches I hadn't visited yet. The beach had powdered sands and the water was lovely! I chilled there for a while, went for dinner and later in the evening, headed over to Jumeirah Resort. My friend Chloe took me to the restaurant the Black Tap as they served the most delicious freak shakes there! I chose the brownie one and it was honestly so sickly. The Black Tap was a chain in Dubai, so you'll easily be able to find one on your trip.

5 day guide to Dubai

5 day guide to Dubai

The last day in Dubai, we got the metro over to Dubai Marina, as that was the only thing on my list I hadn't seen. The marina area was absolutely stunning filled with boats and surrounded by ever-growing skyscrapers. It made for a lovely calm stroll, and the chance to soak up our last few hours int he desert city. The Marina also has its own mall which made a lush spot for my final lunch there.

5 day guide to Dubai

Dubai was everything I could have dreamt it to be and I feel so thankful to have experienced it in all its glory! The Friday Brunch, its beaches, the Burj Khalifa, the mall and the desert safari are among the highlights. It's a beautiful city and the people are just as lovely. Dubai, I'll be back soon.

Things to know before you go 
  • The best way to travel around Dubai is either by the metro or taxi. The metro has two main routes that go either way on one side of the city, and on the other side, it's the same but to other areas. Taxis are fairly cheap in Dubai, and usually to get from one main site to the next, it'll take around 30 mins because of how the roads are made.
  • When you're on the metro, look out for where you're standing! Some carriages say 'women and children only', and others can be for gold class ticket holders. 
  • Before you plan a trip to Dubai, decide what you'd like out of it, and that can depend on where you'd like to stay. Our hotel was in Business Bay, very close to the mall and Burj Khalifa. However, if you want more of a beach holiday, a hotel near Jumeirah
  •  or the Palm will suit you more.
  • Like any big attraction, book your tickets to the Burj Khalifa in advance to avoid additional queuing and time wasting.
  • If you are looking to drink alcohol out there, be mindful that it is a Muslim country and some restaurants and hotels will be dry and not serve booze. Before you go somewhere, ask if they serve alcohol or not.
  • Dubai is a super friendly city and its workers will do anything for you - I'm talking packing your shopping, doing the payment for you etc.
I hope you enjoyed this Dubai guide. Have you visited the city?

Thank you for reading <3


2 months travelling in Asia - my experience

Well hello to you my reader chums and welcome back! It seems only yesterday I was typing the post about heading off travelling and now I'm back and excited to share my experiences with my loyal readers. If you're new here, in February, I jetted off travelling for 2 months to Dubai, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and documented the journey over my Instagram along the way.

5 day guide to Dubai

After two months and the trip of a lifetime, I'm left on a high with a lighter backpack, more wisdom, memories and worldly knowledge at my fingertips. Asia was a whirlwind in the best kind of way, I saw a different way of life, I tried the yummiest of foods, and learnt plenty of history I wasn't even aware of. It was a new and exciting lesson I enjoyed learning more about every single day, with a mix of every kind of fun and adventure in between. 

As my 'welcome back' post, I wanted to share a bit of a summary of my thoughts on each country I visited, and then in later posts, write up guides for specific locations, packing tips, and all the advice I picked up along the way for aspiring travellers that I'll hopefully help when they're planning their trip.

Dubai

The city of endless skyscrapers, pristine beaches, and every luxury shopping spot under the sun, Dubai was surreal. Not the most traditional backpacker destination, however, I stopped off in Dubai for 5 days prior to a trip, one, as a small holiday before the travelling began, and two, as my best friend lives out there.
2 months travelling in Asia - my experience

Dubai lived up to every dreamy expectation under the sun. As I stepped out of the airport taxi, the buzz of Dubai hit us. Its crazy traffic, intense sunshine, and a picture-perfect sea of skyscrapers looked like something out of a Hollywood film. The thing that really surprised me about Dubai was how new it all was. I know that in terms of being a city, it is all very new, however, every building, restaurant, and shop is incredibly clean and looks as if has just been built. And although the man-made look doesn't appeal to everyone, surprisingly it was for me. I loved the luxury vibe, even if things weren't at a luxury price.

The sights in Dubai were something else. Going up the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab were both unforgettable experiences! The views of the city literally took my breath away, and the Friday brunch in the Burj Al Arab ( only 7-star hotel in the world) was also insane. It had a variety of the world's best foods and selection of the fanciest and (most delicious) desserts. The desert safari, the beaches, the mall and the people were all amongst the highlights. I left Dubai in a daze, ready for the adventure that laid ahead.

Thailand

Thailand was the real start of my backpacking journey and opened my eyes to traditional Asian culture. Street markets, tuk-tuks, and family-run restaurants soon began a thing of the norm. I soon became accustomed to the Thai's friendly nature and the realisation of why Thailand is nicknamed 'the land of smiles'. The majority of people I met in Thailand were the loveliest humans ever. They were always polite and would go the extra mile for us. As Thailand is a Buddhist country, the citizens are calm and chill which is the complete opposite of the fast-paced lives of our Brits. Their calm nature had a calming effect on me and left me feeling safe and at ease wherever I visited in Thailand.

2 months travelling in Asia - my experience

I loved Thailand for many different reasons and fell in love with some areas more than others. Chiang Mai and Pai were two places in the north that really stole my heart. Chiang Mai had a beautiful and calm vibe about it (especially after being in Bangkok prior). The Old City was my favourite area - the square (as you'll see it on a map) had quaint coffee shops and restaurants at every corner, and it made a fab location for the cutest stroll. Pai, I loved for a similar reason. The ambiance was how I pictured Thailand to be, chill with a surrounding view of nature and quirky eateries. Although quite a small place, I'm so happy we added it to our itinerary. Thailand's islands were another highlight of our trip, and something I still can't believe I've experienced. Picture the clearest waters, hot weather, and the softest sands, aka, paradise. The islands were stunning as a whole, however, the two that stood out (and I could happily have stayed for much longer) were Koh Lanta and Koh Tao. Both islands were quieter and I suppose 'off the beaten path' than the popular choices of Phi Phi and Phuket. The waters were like a bath, there were vacant beaches, and the locals were even more friendly (if that's possible). Koh Lanta and Koh Tao I could rave about for days on end. Luxury, serenity, and complete beauty.

Thailand taught me a lot of things, as I was there for the longest period of time compared to other places. It taught me that living simply is what makes people happy, that family is everything and home-cooked food is definitely the best. The culture in Thailand is all community based and that's something completely different to what we have at home unless you're from a village, and I adored that. Everyone was helping out each other, they talk more, and even when it comes to running a business, a family are right there. I'm talking literally - most local restaurants will have children running about and it's honestly incredibly heart-warming! Thailand was a beautiful learning experience.

Laos

When it comes to Laos, I don't think I had the chance to fully get to grips with its culture and day to day vibe (as I was only there a few days), however, what I did experience was wonderful. Laos was a lot less touristy than Thailand, and a hell of a lot quieter, which is something I loved. Although being in a touristy place makes it easier to navigate and communicate, I prefer when it's quieter and I was able to soak up the sights, without a rush of people snapping photos.

2 months travelling in Asia - my experience

Laos had some of my favourite sights, excursions, and markets. The temples were endless in Luang Prabang and each was unique to the next. The markets featured handmade items, and I love the French-inspired cuisine everywhere you looked. Laos was quirky and it felt as if it had only just opened its heart to visitors with a lot of the traditional values intact.

Cambodia

Cambodia was certainly the country of unforgettable temples and the coolest markets. The capital of Cambodia, Phom Pehn was a lot crazier than I expected and had the same hustle and bustle that Bangkok and Hanoi did - perfect for those who loved the fast-paced life. However, it's the palace, temples, and museums that were incredibly interesting and amazing to have experienced. My heart, however, was taken away in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is the place of the Angkor Archaeological Park and the iconic Angkor Wat. Spending a few days exploring the temples and watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat was a memory I'll always cherish. It's just amazing how much history each of the temples holds and how I was able to see it all in the modern-day. Siem Reap was also home to one of my favourite markets in Asia (similar to Luang Prabang). There were your classic souvenirs mixed in with hand made items and trinkets.

2 months travelling in Asia - my experience

I was only in Cambodia for the week, and although we saw a lot of the history side of Cambodia (something I found incredibly interesting), I think there was certainly more we could have seen and would love to return and adventure in the countryside, and other areas of the country. 

Vietnam

I feel like I only scratched the surface with Vietnam. I was there for 10 days in total, and visiting 3 different of the cities working our way up from the south to north. Vietnam has the more local appeal out of all the countries we visited, as there would be more like 10 locals to 1 tourist, rather than the millions of tourists you saw in Thailand. I loved that! It felt like I was the only adventurers in a sea of locals living their daily lives.

2 months travelling in Asia - my experience

Every city had a different appeal to it. Ho Chi Minh City was gorgeous and new, but very crazy traffic wise! Out of all the three places, it seemed the most wealthy with fancy shops and renowned chains. But the day trip out of the city has to be a highlight that will remain with me forever. I took a river cruise along the Mekong Delta river and were able to row along with one of the village rivers with the traditional Vietnamese hats. It has to be one of my favourite excursions to date! As I went to local villages, I got to meet locals and learn about all the things they make by hand to sell. It was interesting, and tasty eating local delicacies. 

Hue was a lot different from Ho Chi Minh City and I think my favourite city I saw in Vietnam. It was the calmer and slightly less well known middle city in the country. It's known for the Imperial City which is a walled enclosure within the citadel. Walking around the Imperial City was incredible, witnessing all the temples, ancient buildings, and royal buildings. The town area was also beautiful, filled with lovely restaurants and shops, I could have walked around for hours! Hanoi was the craziest out of the 3! I couldn't get over the busy traffic and how packed it was - it's definitely not for the faint-hearted. Although busy, Hanoi had some of the best museums, sights, and markets. And, it was the place I took another favourite excursion to Halong Bay. The Bay was absolutely beautiful to sail through and kayak around - I loved it.

Vietnam was a wonderful country with interesting cuisine and history that I enjoyed learning about throughout the course of my stay. I would love to return again!

I hope you enjoyed my rambly post about my 2-month experience. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks and months for all my travel posts from this trip. I'm planning plenty of guides and tip style posts. If there is anything you'd like to read about, please let me know in the comments. Have you visited any of these countries?

Thank you for reading and your continued support! My blog turned 6 years old yesterday <3