Chiang Mai- Thailand
Possibly my favourite city in Thailand. Chiang Mai has both size and style. What I personally found so alluring about Chiang Mai was its mixture of youth and tradition. The city managed to slip seamlessly from modern art, and chic fashion shops, to traditional wats and monks. Chiang Mai is a city where there is always something to do, from eco conscious elephant trekking, cooking classes, and meeting baby tigers. I was a bit worried going that the animals wouldn't of been treated kindly at tiger kingdom, but after reading about how much the tigers are loved by the staff and seeing them playing my mind was put at ease, and I was able to really enjoy meeting the baby tigers.
A little remote island which holds tight to the beauty that much of Thailand has lost to tourism. This island is home to the friendliest people (we lost a credit card and a 1000 baht note, and on coming back to find it the local people had kept it safe for us), and its beaches were unbeatable. With its honest people this is one place in Thailand where you can hire a scooter without the worry. A scooter allows you to hop between different beaches, calling in on the numerous bars which ooze the hippy/ laid back vibe. There is a party most nights, but unlike the neon party vibe on Ko Phangnam, these parties are far more laid back. Our visit to the hippy bar (an iconic bar on Ko Phayam) party consisted on sitting in a make shift pirate ship, whilst watching some Thai guys pretend to rock out with inflatable guitars. Ko Phayam is certainly unique.
Phong Nha Ke Bang- Vietnam
Oh Vietnam, we were really losing hope on you until we found this little gem. Vietnam have gone big on tourism, and though you find beautiful little spots in places like Cat Ba, the main area has a strong resemblance to Morecombe Bay. Wanting something a bit different we hunted out Phong Nha. Most tourists don't bother coming here as it can be both expensive and time-consuming, but make the effort and you will be rewarded. If you want to go here contact Farmstay, they are slightly more expensive and normally always fully booked, but they will be willing to pick you up and drop you off in the nearest town for the most reasonable price possible. When here rent a scooter and you can explore the national park, and make your way to the worlds biggest cave. We stopped off at the national park and ended up being invited to join and wedding party, before joining them for a swim in the lake.
Ko Tao- Thailand
Ko Tao is a tourist hot spot, but rightly so. If you ignore the ever annoying songthaew drivers, this island maintains its authenticity despite its popularity. In Ko Tao you can live in a world where you can spend all day underwater, and then come back up to land to catch the chilled out beach parties than line Sairee beach.