2017 was a year full of travel and culinary adventures! From delayed flights to long road trips, scorching heat to sudden downpour, noodle soup to delicious food we didn’t know how to pronounce we experienced it all. So many new flavors, so many new terrains, catching up with old friends and making new ones along the way. 2017 has been nothing short of an adventure! We traveled across 5 countries and 15 cities last year but my favorite stretch was this travel adventure across South East Asia. We had to skip a lot of things and take an easy route (taking flights instead of bus or train) because of serious time constraints. If we get an opportunity to do this all over again we would happily take the difficult one!
We kick-started our trip in Bangkok; Thailand and traveled across Siem Reap, Pakse, Tad Lo, Hua Hin, India and we ended our trip in Bangkok; Thailand.
- Visa on arrival: 2000 Baht per person
- Accommodation: Mad Monkey Hostel, Khao San Road
They say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I was never a breakfast person until I met this flavorful and delicious bowl of noodle soup! On our first morning in Bangkok while having our cup of chaii we noticed these food carts right outside our hostel. We were curious to know what they were selling, as we walked closer we noticed this man making fresh noodle soup. And breakfast was served! 🙂
We devoured the bowl of noodle soup within minutes, went back to the hostel and got ready to explore the city.
First stop – Wat Saket (Ticket – 20 Baht per person)
Wat Saket is a buddhist temple known for it’s golden mount. Once you reach the top of the temple you’ll see a beautiful view of the city. You can either take a local taxi, Uber, tuk-tuk or simply walk to the temple. We chose to take the tuk-tuk 🙂
Next stop – China Town
We walked around China Town for a bit just to explore the food scene and shops. We picked a random restaurant and decided to have lunch there. I ordered pork stew and rice while the husband ordered some noodle soup. Food was pretty average, definitely not the best meal in Bangkok.
We got pretty bored in China Town plus the heat was killing me, more than the heat it was the humidity. I guess the best time to visit China Town is after sunset. So we decided to head back to the hostel and just hang out with the fellow hostel mates.
After spending a couple of hours at the hostel we decided to venture out again. We walked in and around Khao San Road. You can read more about this famous street here.
First stop – Wat Arun
Read more about the temple here.
We made a few friends at the hostel the previous night. We bonded over a few exciting rounds of beer pong 😉 The next morning we decided to explore the city together.
The same evening we took a flight to Siem Reap.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Visa on arrival: $35 per person
- Accommodation: Mad Monkey Hostel
- Angkor Wat tour pass: $62 per person (3 day pass), covers all the temples in small and grand circuit
Day 1: Small Tour/ Circuit
We hired a tuk-tuk and a tour guide from our hostel and ventured out to explore the beautiful temples and architecture.
You can read about both (small & grand) the tours here.
Day 2: Grand Circuit
- Visa on arrival: $40 per person
- Accommodation: Hotel Pakse, Residence Sisouk
The best way to explore any city is to walk around or simply rent a motorcycle and ride around for hours. We came across Miss. Noy Motorbike while reading about this Pakse. We reached our hotel, dumped our bags and we walked to the rental shop. If you attend the meeting at the shop (6 pm every evening) Yves will hand you a copy of this map and explain each and every detail of the journey. Totally worth it!
After talking to Mr. Yves we realized we didn’t have enough time to cover the big loop so we went for the small loop instead.
All this decision making made us hungry so on our way back to the hotel we spotted this food cart and decided to grab a quick evening snack.
After coming back to the hotel we decided to eat dinner at the roof top restaurant Le Panorama. After sunset the temperature dropped suddenly and it became super windy and chilly. But we had the best meal of our trip here in this restaurant!
Day 2 – Bolaven Plateau, Champasak Province and Vat Phou
We left for Vat Phou the next morning. This temple is a 43 km long scenic ride from the hotel. Read more about this temple (Vat Phou) here.
Bolaven plateau is full of scenic waterfalls and you’ll spot the flowing river at various places too.
We were exhausted by the time we came back to Pakse. We grabbed dinner at the hotel, went for a walk around the area and packed our stuff for the next day.
Day 3 – Tad Lo waterfalls and Fandee guesthouse
We left our luggage at the hotel, packed a small bag and started for the small loop early in the morning. We covered a distance of 83 Km approx to reach Fandee Guesthouse (super close to the Tad Lo waterfalls). If you are a swimmer here’s a list of places/ waterfalls you could stop at for a quick swim.
We stayed the night at this guest house. Fandee is a super basic lodge with small bungalows (attached washrooms). Read more about Fandee Guesthouse here. While the accommodation was clean and the staff was friendly, the food there was pretty mediocre. So don’t forget to carry dry snacks, just in case.
On the way back to Pakse….
Right after the border from Salavan into Sekong Province, there’s a small village known as Ban Kok Phung Tai. The village is known for a tour by Mr Hook aka “Captain Hook.” He will show you around the coffee plantations and tell you everything about coffee and give a fascinating insight into the Katu way of life. Quite an interesting tour. There’s a small entry fee for this tour (5000 kip per person).
We took a lunch pit stop at Sinouk Coffee Resort. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of this place or food. 😦 We were super hungry and exhausted by then!
On our way back to Pakse we also stopped at this waterfall for a couple of minutes. It’s the tallest waterfall in Laos.
We came back to Pakse and checked into another hotel this time – Residence Sisouk. It had the most beautiful panoramic view of the Sedone and Mekong river.
We flew back to Bangkok the next morning. And took a shuttle to Hua Hin from there.
Hua Hin, Thailand
- Direct AC coach from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport every half an hour ( 250 Baht per person approx)
If you are looking for a place to relax and just chill at a resort this is the place for you! Dusit-Thani is a beautiful beach resort with a massive pool, small beach front, delicious breakfast and cocktails. Post breakfast we chilled at the beach till noon with pina coladas, later took a dip in the pool, ate lunch and took a nap.
That evening we ventured out to explore the night market and that was the best decision ever!!
Hua Hin Night Market
After spending a couple of days in India we came back to Bangkok to dine at Gaggan. Like everyone else we heard about this restaurant on Netflix (Chef’s Table). This place was in high demand so we had to make reservations 3 months in advance and plan our trip around it.
So, on our last evening in Bangkok, we got dressed up, took an Uber and headed straight to Gaggan. The exterior of the restaurant is very unassuming but once you enter the premises, you are greeted by this beautiful vintage bungalow that has been converted into a restaurant. The decor was classy and the staff was very friendly.
The theme for the day was emojis and this got me very excited especially because of my connections with social media 🙂 As the tasting began we were treated to a wide array of cuisines, from Japanese to Indian to Thai. We tasted some amazing flavors as well as some flavors that we would rather not write about. Overall I would give it a 3 out of 5 because some of the things they do with molecular gastronomy are just mind blowing but then there were some dishes that did not live up to the high expectations at all. But it was a good experience for us and although it was a 25 course tasting menu, we still went out and had some noodle soup to sate our appetite.
This year ticked off a lot of places on my bucket list! I stepped out of my comfort zone to experience a few things and it was well worth it. We also realized that not everything goes according to plan so travel with an open and flexible mind. It took us around 4 months to plan and execute this particular trip and every second spent on this journey and the planning for it was so so exciting! I feel really lucky to have found a partner who shares the same (or maybe more) love for traveling and exploring different cuisines. 2017 you were amazing! Thank you for all the wonderful memories! 2018 we are ready for you! 😀
Cheers to new beginnings! 🙂
Thanks for stopping by! Here’s wishing you all a very happy new year! May your year be filled with lots of traveling and good food 🙂
- Travel light, recycle your clothes. You’ll find cheap laundry places all over SE Asia.
- Wear comfortable shoes and wear comfortable breathable fabrics. All the temples have strict dress code. Abide by the rules. Always!
- DO NOT forget to carry bug spray or mosquito repellent.
- Most importantly respect the locals, their culture and privacy.