A friend of ours once called Phuket “ratchet Florida,” and the nickname couldn’t be more accurate – the “spring breakers” of Australia and the backpacker trail all gather here. The result is crowded beaches, over-the-top bars & clubs, and somewhat seedy local businesses. We only spent 2 days here, and I wouldn’t really recommend spending longer. We had fun checking out the crazy atmosphere – which was worlds apart from the laid-back, paradisaical Ko Lanta – but didn’t feel like we were missing out on much when we left. I’ve heard that the further out you go on in the city there are more historic areas and slightly more secluded beaches, but if that’s what you’re after you can definitely get better results on a different island.
For the last week of our month-long trip, we decided to just chill out in Thailand. Of course, Thailand is rich in cultural attractions and things to do, but we were ready to hit the beaches! Ko Lanta was the perfect place for this, as it maintains the reputation of being one of the last unspoiled islands in Thailand (i.e. it hasn’t been overrun by tourists and crazy parties). It was exactly what we were looking for! While the beaches weren’t exactly deserted and there were your typical Western restaurants for vacationers, it definitely still felt paradisaical. So for those of you slaving away and bemoaning how long winter was this year, let us take you away with photos of our tropical adventure!
After the hustle and bustle of Hanoi (not to mention Taipei, Tokyo, and Seoul before that!), the small towns of central Vietnam signaled a welcome transition into the more relaxed part of our month-long trip. We didn’t have long in either city, but really enjoyed their quieter nature. With that being said, this post will be short, sweet, and picture-heavy!
After our brief stop in Taiwan, we moved on to country #5 on our month long trip – Vietnam! This marked our entry to Southeast Asia, aka backpacker’s paradise. We instantly understood why so many budget travelers flock to the area. Everything is super cheap, the streets are bustling, and the culture is completely unique.
We had a few days in Hanoi, and we will always remember it for two things: coffee and motorcycles. (Tommy would also add banh mih sandwiches to the list!) They’re everywhere, in every variety imaginable!!! Hanoi was one of the first places we really wandered around, just trying local specialties and absorbing the culture, instead of focusing on the most famous attractions we could visit. Of course, we did check out a few of the main sights as well, but quite honestly our afternoons spent wandering from cafe to cafe were one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. Keep reading to experience this vibrant, crazy city with us!
After our short, activity-packed trips to Xi’an, Harbin, and Seoul, we were ready to slow things down a little. Luckily, we had 5 days to explore Tokyo! During our week in Japan, we were again amazed by how different the culture was from China despite their relative proximity. Almost everything about their lifestyle seemed the opposite of China’s. The streets and buildings were immaculately clean, and the people were always polite and orderly. No one was spitting on the street or trying to jostle their way into an already-full subway car. Instead of throwing their litter on the streets, the Japanese carefully tuck them into their purses or briefcases to be disposed of at home. And the toilets!!! No more filthy squat toilets for us! Instead, Japanese toilets gentle ambient noise when you sit down and are equipped with adjustable bidets and dryers. Such luxury. The only downside to Japanese culture was that we constantly felt like we were committing some unknown faux-paus, but who cares when everything is so clean! We took on Tokyo at a little slower pace than the rest of our trip, but still got to see a lot of this insane metropolis. Keep scrolling to hear about our highlights!