Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

During our three days in Siem Reap, we developed a strange kind of routine. We would get up at four in the morning, drive to Angkor for sunrise and walk around the temples afterwards. Then, shortly before ten, we would leave the park and make it back to the hotel just in time to still get breakfast. After a nap, we would be back for sunset.

It is true that sunrise and sunset are spectacular in the park of Angkor. So spectacular that we got up at four three days in a row. But the temples we visited in between were just as good. If you’re wondering where to start and which temples to visit, here are the ones I liked best:

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Battambang, Cambodia

Before going to Cambodia, I had never heard of Battambang. The town isn’t as famous as Angkor, with its many temples, or Phnom Penh, the capital. Bus connections are slow and the town falls asleep in the evening, with shops and restaurants closing early. But despite all these drawbacks, Battambang is a town worth of appearing on every Cambodia itinerary. The area is dotted with sights and we spent a great day exploring the Cambodian countryside.

Here are some of the highlights you should check out when travelling to Battambang. Times needed to visit do not include travelling times in between sites, but we managed to see all of the below in one day.

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Pho Noodle Soup, national dish in Vietnam

Vietnam is well known for its great food. Wherever in the country you go, you are guaranteed to find great dishes. From national dishes, like pho, to local specialties, there is a lot to discover.

If you don’t know where to start, here are some of my favourites from my last trip to Vietnam:

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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cambodia’s capital is not pretty. This is not where you look for temples and traditional architecture. It is instead a place filled with recent history and tragic stories, a city in which you can learn about traditions and the hope that keeps the country going after it was almost completely destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

Some of the city’s highlights are not easy to digest, but they will hopefully leave a life-long impact. Below, you will find eight sights not to be missed while in Phnom Penh.

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Hoi An Old Town by night, Vietnam

The water, I noticed as I ran into the ocean, was as warm as the air. I stumbled and fell face forward, my laughing only interrupted when a wave washed over my head. The beach was a nice change to the cities we had visited and a much needed break from the chaos we had explored the past few days.

Vietnam, with its never-ending traffic and chaos on the streets, can be overwhelming for visitors. Yet, it is a great country to explore, a world of contrasts ranging from giant cities to small beach retreats.

I did not get a chance to go up to Northern Vietnam this year, but here are some of the highlights waiting for you in Southern and Central Vietnam.

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Saigon, Vietnam

Even though Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Min City in 1976, many people still call it by its old name. With a population of 10 million people, it is Vietnam’s largest city and most travellers to the country will come here sooner or later.

From colonial architecture to war reminders and bustling markets, the city has a lot to offer. Don’t rush but leave yourself enough time to take it all in.

To give you an idea of how to spend your time, here are some suggestions:

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Old Town, Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is and will probably always be my favourite city in Vietnam. This is where I celebrated my 26th birthday in 2011, sharing a passionfruit cheese cake with my fellow travellers. This is also where, this year in 2017, I started my blog. Hoi An holds nothing but good memories for me.

And how could anyone not love Hoi An? Lit up with hundreds of lanterns by night, it is one of the most beautiful towns in the country. During the day, you get a chance to explore all those historic houses, walking through courtyards and enjoying the view from balconies. And to make things even better, the ruins of a jungle temple are within reach and make up for an easy day trip.

But let me start from the beginning.

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Citadel, Hue, Vietnam

Hue was my first Vietnamnese city during this trip. Even though I had already been here in 2011, I was looking forward to coming back. Last time, I’d only had half a day to explore everything. It had been too short to see the city properly and at the same time long enough to realise there was a lot out there that I was missing out on.

And indeed, as I realised during my most recent stay, Hue is a city in which you can easily keep yourself occupied for a couple of days. These are some of the highlights you should not miss:

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Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos

I first visited Vientiane in 2011. Back then, we only stayed for one night. “It’s a very sleepy city,” other travelers explained to me. “Nothing to do there, so you better move on quickly.”

When I came back this year, in 2017, I could not recognise Laos‘ capital anymore. What had happened to those empty streets? Where did all the bars, restaurants and hotels come from? Was the Scandinavian bakery, that I had loved so much on my previous visit, still there?

While Vientiane isn’t Laos’ most attractive city, it has come a long way and is well worth a visit. And yes, the Scandinavian bakery is still there, ready to supply you with original Swedish pastries.

 

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Luang Prabang, Laos

It’s hard to choose favourites, but Luang Prabang might be my favourite city in Laos. With a city centre that is easily walkable, a temple at every corner, monks walking through the streets and a huge night market, what is not to love about Luang Prabang?

Prepare to spend at least a couple of days here so you have time to take in the city and its surroundings.

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