PLACE: Mu Cang Chai District, Yen Bai Province
LOCATION: North Vietnam
NOTORIOUS: Rice Terraces
NEAREST AIRPORT: take the train from NoiBai International Airport (NIA)
COORDINATES: 21° 49′ 58.8″ N, 104° 10′ 1.2″ E
CURRENCY: Vietnamese Dong
I’m a sucker for rice terraces. You may already know that considering this post. What’s interesting about this rural area is that you need to book in advance because the hotels and guest houses are often fully booked! This is popular local tourist destination in Vietnam due to its peaceful landscape and friendly inhabitants, the H’mong.
Apparently the mosquitoes are vicious so come prepared. Also, you need to try the Tu Le sticky rice and you need to swim in the hot Tu Le stream. The best time to visit and see all of the amazing colours is mid-September through to the end of October. If you want to see it when it’s lush and green, head on over from May to July. If you need a good resource for hotels and motorbike tours, this one seems legit. This trip seems like an absolute must for SE Asian backpackers or motor bikers!
NOTORIOUS: fable-making mountains
NEAREST AIRPORT: KWL, Guilin Liangjiang International Airport
COORDINATES: 25.2667° N, 110.2833° E
CURRENCY: Chinese Yuan (¥)
You guys. This is Guilin. It is not a fairy tale – I’ve been. Had to share it with you all. This is a well-known Chinese destination – so much so that a scene from the Lijiang River is featured on the 20¥ note. Introduced to me by my friend Charlie Wu, I visited in 2011 with my dad’s friend from Shanghai. Together we toured Guilin and Yangshuo for four days and I literally couldn’t believe my eyes.
I knew it was famous but… I have never seen such a landscape again in my life. Highlights: Take a river tour on bamboo rafts and meet the local fisherman and their families. Visit the vast, beautiful Reed Flute caves – they are completely lit up and magical.
PLACE: Palolem Beach, Goa
NOTORIOUS: beach-side escape
NEAREST AIRPORT: GOI, Darbolim Airport
COORDINATES: 15°00′36″N 74°01′24″E
CURRENCY: Indian Rupee
Goa. 63 miles of coastline along the Arabian Sea. India. You might think hippies, hedonism and all-night dance parties – I think yoga retreats, quaint beaches, lush jungle and concealed ancient temples. We’d both agree: magic.
The best way to get here is to fly into Mumbai and switch to a domestic airline. Apparently the hardest part of trip planning is deciding to go North or South. I say South, because it’s less developed (obviously). Either way, Palolem, Agonda and Patnem in the south, and Arambol, Mandrem and Anjuna in the north, are the hubs for yoga and Ayurveda retreats. This one in Patnem made The Guardian’s top 10 yoga retreats in the world. Although, this one on the Mandrem river in the North looks pretty epic as well.Can’t wait to visit.
LOCATION: Bali, Indonesia
NOTORIOUS: rice terraces / spiritual getaway
NEAREST AIRPORT: DPS, Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar)
COORDINATES: 8° 30′ 24.75″ S, 115° 15′ 44.49″ E
CURRENCY: Indonesian Rupiah
Ooooh Bali, Bali, Bali. This is the one place I’ve been that I will return to once every five years. The air is sweet with calming magic and the community is rich with culture and legacy. As Australia’s Hawaii, Bali’s tourism has boomed… bringing up the population of the island to 6 million. The traffic is unbelievably bad, so make sure to get a driver or a cab when you’re trying to get there.
Ubud is nothing like you think it’s going to be. There are more western shops/restaurants and vegan/raw food cafes than you’d ever imagine. The yoga scene is wow – make sure you check out Yoga Barn and as the locals say, Radiantly Alive. Make sure you skip into the back roads and get lost on a bicycle tour or drive. And of course, even if you’re scared of monkeys, I’d definitely check out the Monkey Forest. To note, this is the first time I’ve featured one of my own photos 🙂
What’s your fave thing to do in Ubud? Leave any discoveries below!!
PLACE: “Door to Hell”
NOTORIOUS: Desert Hole
NEAREST AIRPORT: Ashgabat Airport (2.5 hrs drive)
COORDINATES: 40.25264, 58.43941
CURRENCY: Turkmenistan Manat
Yes – the appropriate response is WTF? This giant hole in the desert has been on fire for over 40 years and is nicknamed by locals the ‘door to hell’. And yes – it is as depressing as it sounds. Soviet geologists were drilling at this site in 1971 and hit a cavern of natural gas. The ground beneath the drill collapsed and created this crazy hole in the middle of the desert.
In order to prevent poisonous gases from entering the atmosphere, they decided to set it on fire. Even though they hoped it would burn off in a few days, it still continues to burn to this day. FYI,the capital of Turkmenistan is called Ashgabat and this area is about 260 km north of that city. What a trip and it’s eerily sad.
PLACE: Taktsang Palphug
NOTORIOUS: Isolated Nation
NEAREST AIRPORT: Paro Airport via Druk Air
COORDINATES: 27.491911, 89.363489
CURRENCY: Bhutanese Ngultrum // Indian Rupee
So this place is fascinating… not only is it one of the only countries in the world that measures happiness, it’s virtually untouched by the modern world and is relatively difficult to get to. There is only one airline that flies into Paro and it’s called Druk Air. Since they have a monopoly on flights, they are ridic expensive. To get here you must arrange your trip through a travel agent – the daily tariff to tour the country is $200/day (USD) including accommodation, food, and ground transport.
The Himalayan Buddhist Taktsang Palphug Monastery (pictured above) literally means “the tiger’s nest”. You can get to it easily at it is in the Paro valley. The climate here varies widely depending on your elevation. Low season is June-September. I hope I get to visit this incredible place one day.
Ever made it here? We want to hear about it! Tell us below…
PLACE: Zhangye Danxia Landform Park
LOCATION: Gansu, China
NOTORIOUS: Unusual Landscape
NEAREST AIRPORT: Fly from Beijing to Jiayuguan, take bus to Zhangye from here (few hours)
COORDINATES: 38.9333° N, 100.4500° E
CURRENCY: China Renmenbi
This place is so unusual – it looks like an acrylic painter ran down the mountain sides with meter-wide paint trucks. It’s located in the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province in China. The Silk Road passed through this area, following a narrow route between the Tibetan Plateau (too cold!) and the Gobi Desert (too hot!) that’s known as the Hexi Corridor.
The unusual colours of the rocks are the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years. May is one of the best times of the year to visit the area, with an average high temperature of 23°C, an average low of 8°C, and not much chance of rain.
Have you trekked out here? I want to know about it. Comment!