Melbourne is not a city whose appeal is apparent at first glance. Unlike Sydney, it does not have a beautiful harbour or a unique white opera house. Most city guides suggested day trips into the area instead of seeing things in the actual city and it took me a while to figure out how to spend my four days here. But once I did, I had a lot of fun.
If you are as confused about Melbourne as me, let me help you out with a couple of my favourite things to do in this city.
After a couple of days in Bangkok, my trip led me to the island of Koh Phangan in Southern Thailand. I knew that eventually, I wanted to learn how to dive, but I had always planned on doing that in Central America. It wasn’t until I changed my travel plans and ended up in Southeast Asia instead of Nepal that I suddenly found an opportunity to become a certified diver.
I couldn’t have chosen a better place than Koh Phangan. If you’re interested in diving, I can highly recommend this island that has so much more to offer than full-moon parties. To help you feel the excitement, here are five reasons why you should learn to dive on Koh Phangan.
Bangkok is not an easy city to visit. When I came here, the city presented itself as dirty and grey. The Royal Palace was overflowing with tourists, making it impossible for us to visit it properly. Our hotel had a large list of rules and fees to pay if you got a stain on the blanket, broke a glass or closed a door in the wrong way. All in all, my first impression of Bangkok was that it was unwelcoming and not very interesting.
But after a couple of days in Thailand’s capital, my opinion changed. Bangkok will never be my favourite city in the world, but I had a great time there and found a lot of stuff to do. If you are wondering where to start, here are some ideas:
The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about Cambodia is Angkor Wat. The temple is the country’s most famous sight and receives millions of visitors each year. But Cambodia has so much more to offer than Angkor, from its green rice paddies to its capital Phnom Penh. Here are the highlights I enjoyed most while travelling through the country:
The plan was to stay in Angkor for three days and see the sunrise at Angkor Wat on our first morning. I never thought we would voluntarily get up at four a.m. a second and a third time for more sunrises. But over those three days, we developed a funny kind of routine. We would get up insanely early, watch the sunrise, explore a couple of temples and make it back to the hotel before ten for breakfast. After a nap, we then returned to Angkor for sunset.
Three days of sunrises and sunsets gave me the chance to explore areas away from the well-known sunrise spot at Angkor Wat. That way, I can now present to you my top five sunrise or sunset spots amongst the temples of Angkor.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.