Our journey in Asia has finally started, and we are having a blast! 😁
We arrived quite late in the afternoon on November 5, so we just had time to check in at our hotel and grab a quick bite before our guides were picking us up for the evening.
We stayed at a property called Ben Thanh Boutique Hotel, which is located in District 1. This is a wonderful hotel and I would highly recommend it to everyone that is going to HCMC. The staff is great, very attentive and serviceminded, and the breakfast is awesome! We completely fell in love with the sandwiches. YUM!
I just L O V E D the lobby area with the pictures on the wall! 😍
Our guides, Michael and Justin from Saigon Adventure picked us up at the hotel approximately 1 hour after check in. This gave us enough time to change and prepare for the tour, as well as refuiling our batteries with delicious vietnamese food.
Say hello to Michael and Justin btw! 😁
They took us on a 4-hour scooter tour where the main focus was food and nightlife! We have never been afraid to try new things, but I will admit that my stresslevel was not exactly at zero after 1 hour in the city with 9 million scooters driving EVERYWHERE!
Either way, it turned out to be super fun and we could not have asked for a better introduction to HCMC! Our guides were absolutely brilliant, and they did everything they could to ensure that we had a good time!
They took us to some really cool and off the beathen path places, but the best part was definitely the way they showed us how the local people lived. Did you know that many of them push their scooter up several flight of stairs to their apartment because they can’t afford the parking costs?
Trying our very first dish of Pho, the famous vietnamese soup! So good! If you are ever visiting, make sure you head over to Pho Dung! They have served Pho for the last 40 years, and the place is really popular amongst the locals 😋
Thomas is trying to prepare this coconut snack over an open fire, and the emphasis is really on “trying” here.. I was terrible at it, which made me end up laughing so hard. Even the lady in the shop was laughing 😂 Thomas was not better.
The view from Chilli Skybar!
All in all, we had a fantastic tour with Saigon Adventure, and they are probably some of the best guides we have ever had 😊 I would highly recommend to go for this company whilst in HCMC!
If you are looking for an easy hike right outside the city center of Oslo, this route may be a good option for you. This route is a quick loop into the woods north of Sognvann lake, and is a mix of wide easy paths and windy forest trails. If you choose to explore the forest trails, these are all well marked with blue signs 🙂
There are two lakes in the area; Lille and Store Åklungen. Both lakes have clearings by the shore for picnics and camping, and offers beautiful views of the scenery. From Sognsvann it is approximately 2,5 – 3km to both lakes, and it is really just up to you which direction you choose to take. We went to the right for the simplest of reasons; when in doubt – always choose right 😀
The easiest way to get there is to either take the subway to Sognsvann station, or park in the parking lot at Sognsvann (free parking). Walk down to Sognsvann lake and from there you may follow the slope that goes on the east side of the water towards Ullevålseter.
After a short mile or so, and after passing the north end of the lake, you will see a gravel path leading you uphill to the right, away from Sognsvann. Do not follow the gravel path that takes you around the water to the south again, as this just brings you back to the starting point of the hike.
After approximately 3km you will reach the idyllic lake called Store Åklungen, and you can find several nice tent pitches along the shore. We decided to make camp on a secluded clearing along the north side of the lake. Kindly note that even though its secluded, this route is very popular and its recommended to walk to the east side if you wish more privacy.
Our charming little camp for the night where we decided to hang our hammocks ❤
How stunning is this place? It was absolutely magical, and the light was so beautiful.
My favorite cookies when hiking – yum!
From here it’s just a short walk south east to rejoin the main path between Ullevålseter and Sognsvann again. Follow the path south and once you return to the point where you first entered the forest, continue down to the shore of Sognsvann and walk along the water back to the starting point 🙂
Below you can see our detailed itinerary for our upcoming Asia trip! The trip is not set in stone yet, as we want to have some what of a flexible route whilst traveling! BUT you can see the main idea of what we will be doing and where we will be spending our time below 🙂
This is a 3-week itinerary by the way. I have tried to include as many destinations as possible, but it is important for me that my itineraries never feels rushed in any way. There has therefore been several destinations we have had to skip during this trip. This is always a hard thing to do, but on the other hand it is important to be realistic with the time you got.
If you have any tips and tricks for these destinations, please let me know! I would love to know your thoughts 🙂
Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand
We will be flying directly from Oslo, Norway to Bangkok, Thailand where we will have 1 overnight before continuing to Ho Chi Minh City and our Vietnam adventure. I haven’t planned anything for our time in Bangkok, as I am assuming we will be quite tired after the flight. I am very happy that we have 24 hours to relax and adjust to the time zone before our real adventure begins tomorrow 🙂
Day 2 – 3: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
We are flying in to Ho Chi Minh City where we will stay for 2 days or so. I have heard of this awesome food tour arranged by Back of the bikes tour that we thought would be a great introduction to Vietnamese cuisine and culture. And how fun is it not to experience this on the back of a motorbike! Roaming through the craziest of streets in downtown Saigon! I can only talk for myself, but oh my, I can’t wait!
Whilst in Ho Chi Minh City we also thought we would spend at least a half day touring and enjoying the scenic speedboat in the tangled maze of rivers found in the Mekong Delta. We are planning on booking a tour with Les Rivers Experience 🙂
During this slow tempo day tour, we will visit unique temples, a river market, buffaloes plowing fields, rice paddies and so much more. I can’t wait to be surrounded by all the charming local colors and scenic views, as well as experiencing glimpses of rural Vietnam and daily life.
They even say we will have fried elephant ear fish for lunch – yay or nay?
We are also planning on taking the night train from HCMC to Nha Trang with Vietnam Railway. I really like the idea of traveling whilst sleeping – going to sleep in one place, just to wake up in another! It does not sound too bad! Well, that is, if we are able to sleep at all..
Day 4 – 5: Nha Trang, Vietnam
Even though its rainy season in Nha Trang when we are there, we still have a small hope for sun, drinks and lazy days on the beach. I have heard numerous positive things about this tropical place, with its turquoise bay and surrounding hills. And the white sanded beach line – give. it. to. me. now. please.
We will be traveling with night bus from Nha Trang to Da Nang, and from there we are planning on taking a tuk tuk to Hoi An – the city of lanterns. SO excited for this one! 🙂
Day 6 – 7: Hoi An, Vietnam
I feel very enthusiastic about visiting Hoi An! One of my favorite things to do in life is to just watch all the different lights spark up when its dark outside, and there can’t be a better place for that than in Hoi An! Bucket list destination – check!
However, there is a trillion things we want to do and see whilst we are here, and we only have 2 days. Even thought I wish we could fit everything into these 2 days, the time optimist in me knows deep down that we can´t. So we have to prioritize. Which is not my strongest trait. At all…
Here are my absolutely must-dos whilst in Hoi An;
Golden Bridge in Da Nang
2. Boat tour on the Hoai River.
3. Take a stroll beneath hundreds of lanterns.
4. Visit the ancient town.
5. Experience the countryside by bicycle.
What do you think? Is this doable in 2 full days without rushing it? I think it can be done. Well, at least I hope it can 🙂
We will by flying from Hoi An to Hanoi by the way. We are not very keen on visiting too many museums and seeing that we have limited time, we decided to skip Hue and just fly directly to Hanoi instead.
Day 8: Hanoi, Vietnam
Neither Thomas or I are huge fans of overly touristy areas, and I therefore think that Hanoi can be a tad overwhelming for us. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with touristy areas, we have decided to minimize our time in Hanoi and just use it at a base for our Halong Bay tour.
Whilst we are here we would like to take a stroll in the popular Old Quarter, and I have heard that exploring this historical area certainly is a must-do and well worth the time. The streets are packed with scooters, bicycles, cars, and it is a local experience that will give us an idea what it is like to live in Hanoi 🙂
We also want to check out the Loan Siem Lake, a popular hangout place for both locals and tourists. The rumor has it as a wonderful spot to watch either the sunrise or the sunset from. I would love to rent a bike or take a stroll around the lake simply enjoying the views and scenery.
Day 9 – 10: Halong Bay, Vietnam
You can’t go to Vietnam without a visit to Halong Bay, and we finally decided to do the 3-day cruise with Vietnam Open Tours. Please see our schedule below;
Day 1: Hanoi – Halong Bay (L, D)
07.45 – 08.00: Pick up at hotel and transfer to Halong city.
12.00 – 12.15: Board the Imperial Classic Cruise and check in to our cabin.
13.15: Cruising time towards thousands of amazing limestone islands emerging from emerald water, passing by floating fishing village. Lunch is served.
16.00: Kayaking for an hour or more through slide rock cliffs.
17.00: Swimming time.
19:00 Enjoy dinner.
20:30: Spend the evening on your own.
Day 2: Halong Bay (B, L, D)
08.00: Visit the Surprising Cave – one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay.
09.30: Sail through Lan Ha Bay for 2 hours.
11.30: Arrive at Catba Sandy Beach Resort and check in to bungalow.
12.00: Lunch at Catba Islands.
13.00: Time at leisure – relaxing, sunbathing on the beach, play football, volleyball, kayaking etc.
18.30: BBQ dinner.
20.30: Spend the evening on your own.
Day 3: Halong Bay – Hanoi
08.15: Pick up at bungalow by boat.
09.30: Cooking class on board the cruise on the way back to Halong Harbor.
12.30: Bus back to Hanoi and transfer to hotel.
Day 11: Hanoi, Vietnam
We will be back in Hanoi around 5pm after our Halong Bay cruise, and we have no other plans than to grab dinner, enjoy life and perhaps find a rooftop bar for the evening.
Day 12 – 14: Luang Prabang, Laos
One of the highlights during our trip will definitely be our time in Luang Prabang! I have never been to Laos before, but I am looking so much forward to visit this friendly village, where it somehow feels like time has stood still. Endless trekking opportunities, mountain-bike trails, kayaking trips and outstanding natural beauty – it will be perfect for us 🙂
We will arrive in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon by flight from Hanoi, and for our first evening I thought it would be a good idea to hike up Mount Phousi. Stretch our legs after flying and enjoy a beautiful view whilst doing it? Yes please.
We are also planning on visiting Kuang Si Waterfalls during our time here – an absolute must! This is actually what first caught my attention and made me want to travel to Laos in the first place 🙂
The Kuang Si waterfall plunges down in spectacular pools with bright, turquoise water, and the lower pools are perfect for swimming. We are also planning on climbing up alongside the waterfall where we can view the waterfall from the top – that must be a great photo opportunity!
Other than the above, we would like to check out the Old Quarter as well as the night market. It is supposed to be an amazing sight, and offers the most extensive collection of local handicrafts, decorative items and home textiles in the country. It is said to be one of the best night markets in Asia because items are mostly handmade. Maybe this is the place were we buy all the Christmas gifts for this year? 🙂
Day 15 – 17: Vang Vieng, Laos
We are not quite sure how long we will be staying in Vang Vieng yet – we hear a lot of different feedback regarding this place. We are not specifically interested in the party scene going on there, but on the other hand, there are some amazing activities to be done, as well as hiking trail etc.
My biggest concern about Vang Vieng is however how touristy it will be. I am aware that it has become a hub for Chinese Tourism the last couple of years, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! My concern however is related to the fact if this has taken away the charm and serenity of it all? I guess we will see 🙂
Depending on how long we will stay, this is what we would like to do whilst in Vang Vieng;
Rent a bike and head over to the Blue Lagoon.
2. Hot Air Balloon
3. Water tubing.
4. Hike up Phangern Mountain Viewpoint.
We are taking the bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane by the way. Hopefully everything runs smoothly, and I am looking forward to be traveling by bus during day time for once!
Day 18: Vientiane, Laos
I know there is a million things to do and see in Vientiane, but all I want to do is to visit the Buddha Park! Bucket list cross off – here we go! What a spectacular place! That it even exist is completely mind-blowing to me.
Short introduction; Buddha Park is a sculpture garden housing a collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. The park was built in 1958, and there is actually a similar park in Nong Khai in Thailand as well! The park houses over 200 sculptures made from concrete in varying sizes from small to very large! What an awesome place!
I am literally counting down the days until I get to witness this breathtakingly, awesome, insanely cool and beautiful place! These are the sort of things that makes my jaw drop completely ❤
And oh – we are flying from Vientiane to Siem Reap in Cambodia where we are spending the last part of our trip.
Day 19 – 21: Siem Reap, Cambodia
I know that 3 days in Siem Reap and the temples is not enough.. And that the Angkor is a place to be savored, not rushed.. BUT, we only have 3 days and we will have to make the most of it!
Here are the attractions and activities we want to squeeze in during our time in Cambodia;
2. Preah Khan
3. Ta Prohm
4. Banteay Kdei
5. Pre Rup
6. Angkor Wat
7. The Angkor zipline experience
8. Visit Floating Village at Me Chrey
Our Cambodian adventure will be complete after 4 days. We are flying to Bangkok for an overnight stay before continuing on our journey back home to Norway.
If you have any travel trips for the above destinations, I would love to hear them! 🙂
I thought I would give you an insight in which hotels we are planning to stay at whilst traveling in Asia. We have not yet booked anything and I am not quite sure if we are going to book anything in advance, or just wing it once we have arrived. I guess it will be a sort of to be determined kind of thing. Anyway, if you have any recommendations I would really appreciate it!
There are so many fantastic properties to choose from, and these are the ones that we have picked out in each place so far;
This hotel is located in a quiet alley about 5 minutes away from the Ben Thanh Market and Museum of Art. It has 22 beautiful rooms designed with Occidental Art and Baroque French style. Surrounded by a gallery of paintings and pictures that reflects the Vietnamese daily life it is bound to be a great place to start our journey!
This hotel is a 4-star property with approximately 70 rooms, offering modern facilities, large balconies and city or ocean view. The property also has a great restaurant and bar, an outdoor swimming pool as well as a fitness center that is open 24 hours (Thomas will love this one).
This property is located in the Cam An district and is in short distance to My An Beach, the Historic Museum and Assembly Hall of Chinese Congregation. It features a treatment room(!) – yes, we are going – as well as beauty therapy, waxing and pedicures. Yay!
It also has a 24-hour reception, which is something I find really important when I travel in case of emergency.
This 3-star property is located in one of the few quiet and tranquil streets left in the heart of the old town in Hanoi, and it looks super cozy with a great atmosphere! It is super close to the Hanoi Night Market (which I for one, am planning to enjoy), and offer great amenities for their guests.
We finally decided to do the 3-day cruise instead of the 2-day cruise to Halong Bay. We have heard so many fantastic things about this beautiful place, and we want to enjoy it to its fullest! I think we have decided to go for the cruise arranged by Vietnam Open Tours – does anyone have any experience with this company? 🙂
What really made us decide on this tour was the variety of it – we will not only be staying on board the boat, but we will have an overnight at Catba Islands and Catba Sandy Beach Resort! In a bungalow! Over the water! WOW!
And there are so many fun activities included, which is absolutely perfect for us and exactly what we are looking for!
“In the early days, many students would come to the Living Crafts Centre to take classes, and once the classes were over, they did not want to leave and would ask if they could stay overnight,” explains Ock Pop Tok co-founder Jo.
This was the start of this wonderful property and I just love it! It is located in this beautiful and peaceful setting right outside the town of Luang Prabang. Away from the bustling tourist centre and with only 4 beautiful decorated rooms – it is perfect for us! 🙂
The villa is overlooking the Mekong River by the way, and offers stunning views of both the river and the surrounding mountains.
Okey, so this is one of the properties I am most excited about! It offers traditional villas among rice field! Can you believe what a beautiful and peaceful setting that must be? Neither can I, but I want to stay there so badly!
All the villas are beautifully furnished and fully equipped with facilities. The property also features a restaurant serving Asian dishes – yum!
I am actually having a hard time finding a hotel we really want to stay at whilst in Vientiane. It is important for us that it matches our criteria, has a personal and unique atmosphere as well as being affordable. Any tips are greatly appreciated here!
We have chosen S-Park Design Hotel, which is a new hotel built in 2015. It is located 1km outside the city centre of Vientiane, and offers modern rooms with the newest facilities. It is not the type of hotel that I would normally go for whilst traveling, but seeing it has a great standard compared to a lot of the other hotels, I felt it could be the right choice 🙂
This pearl of a hotel is located in the heart of the busy Siem Resp and is only 700 meters way from the pub street! I thought it would be a cool place to round up our trip, after spending a lot of nights in more secluded areas.
This property is nestled within private gardens, and boasts a spa centre and a fitness centre! AND a mini golf course! I don´t play golf, but I surely will after this stay.
All rooms are either fitted with a patio, a terrace or a private balcony, and I can not wait to spend our last days of our Asia adventure here!
Price: USD 60 per night.
And that was it for our hotel choices during our Asia trip this fall! We have not yet booked anything as I said, so not sure if this will be the final result before we get flying. At least it gives you an idea of what we are planning 🙂
If anyone has any tips of where we should stay, please let me know 🙂
I thought I would start off my first blog post with the executive summary for our upcoming trip to Asia! Thomas and I will be traveling to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in November, and we could not be more excited 😀
Thomas has never been to Asia before, and I can not wait for him to be introduced to all the unique flavors, the food, different smells, the wonderful culture and so on! Yay!
Anyway, here is what I have planned so far in regards to an outline of the actual trip;
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang, Laos
Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng, Laos
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia
As you can see, we will be traveling for approximately 3 weeks. I am certain we will leave Asia still feeling hungry for more, but I also believe this is a great introductory tour to this wonderful continent 🙂