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My Itinerary for 3 Months in Southeast Asia

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything. Since returning from my 3-month-long Europe trip at the end of August, my life has been just like that Rihanna song: work work work work work.

Well… work and trip planning, that is! I’m heading out in just over a week to spend almost three months in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. As you can imagine, I’m pretty friggin’ excited!

In true Jodie style, I have my entire itinerary planned out in detail and all my hostels booked, weeks before my plane takes off, even though conventional backpacker wisdom says to wing it and figure out your route as you go. (As I’ve said before, I like to have peace of mind knowing that I will have a bed to sleep in, in the hostel that I want, when I arrive in a new city.)

Here’s my painstakingly planned-out itinerary:

Jan. 19: Fly from Toronto to Bangkok (arrive Jan. 20)
Jan. 20-27: Bangkok
Jan. 27: Take the train to Chiang Mai, Thailand
Jan. 27-Feb. 2: Chiang Mai
Feb. 2: Take a minivan or “sawng teeo” to Pai, Thailand
Feb. 2-8: Pai
Feb. 8: Take a minivan or sawng teeo back to Chiang Mai, then fly to Bangkok to spend the night
Feb. 9: Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam
Feb. 9-18: Hanoi (Feb. 14-16 spent on the Castaways Island Tour in Halong Bay)
Feb. 18: Take the overnight sleeper train to Da Nang, Vietnam
Feb. 19: Take the bus to Hoi An, Vietnam
Feb. 19-26: Hoi An
Feb. 26: Take a bus back to Da Nang, then take the train to Nha Trang, Vietnam
Feb. 26-Mar. 2: Nha Trang
Mar. 2: Take the train to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon), Vietnam
Mar. 2-8: Ho Chi Minh City
Mar. 8: Take the bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Mar. 8-13: Phnom Penh
Mar. 13: Take the bus to Battambang, Cambodia
Mar. 13-17: Battambang
Mar. 17: Take the bus to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Mar. 17-23: Siem Reap
Mar. 23: Fly to Bangkok
Mar. 24: After arriving in Bangkok late at night, take the 6:00am bus from Khao San Road to Chumphon, Thailand, then take the ferry to the Thai island of Koh Tao
Mar. 24-28: Koh Tao
Mar. 28: Take the ferry to the nearby island of Koh Phangan
Mar. 28-Apr. 2: Koh Phangan (Full Moon Party on Mar. 31! Wooooooooo!)
Apr. 2: Take the ferry to the mainland, then take the bus to Ao Nang Beach in Krabi, Thailand
Apr. 2-6: Ao Nang
Apr. 6: Take the ferry to Koh Lanta
Apr. 6-11: Koh Lanta
Apr. 11: Take the ferry to Koh Phi Phi
Apr. 11-15: Koh Phi Phi
Apr. 15: Take the ferry to the island of Phuket
Apr. 15-19: Phuket
Apr. 19: Take a 14-hour bus ride back to Bangkok
Apr. 20: Catch my early-morning flight back to Toronto
Apr. 21: Touch down in T.O.

As for what I’m bringing with me, my packing list will be largely the same as the one I used for my Europe trip. The biggest difference is that I will be swapping out a few pairs of shorts in favour of long skirts and maxi dresses. One of the requirements for visiting temples and the like in Southeast Asia is to have your shoulders and knees covered. No way am I going to be one of those clueless tourists who turn up to Angkor Wat in a tank top and booty shorts!

I’m also excited to use the brand-new anti-theft bag that my mom gave me for Christmas. OK, so it’s not the most fashionable handbag ever, but it’s got slash-proof straps and body panels, as well as locking compartments. (If only I had had this bag when I was in Berlin last June, my passport wouldn’t have gotten stolen. Sigh.) It’s even got “RFID blocking slots” thrown in for good measure. I’m not sure exactly how those will come in handy for me, but hey! Cool!

southeast Asia

Locking zippers. Why doesn’t every handbag come with these?!

If you’re interested in purchasing this bag, here it is on Amazon:
Travelon Anti-Theft Signature 3-Compartment Crossbody

Looks like Travelon has tons of other anti-theft bags with varying designs, too, so you have lots to choose from.

As for me, I’ve just got a few odds and ends to tie up before I take off. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be in Thailand!

9 Days in Salzburg 

When planning my trip, I chose to spend the most time in Salzburg out of any city on my itinerary. (I ended up staying longer in Berlin, but that was only because my passport got stolen just when I was about to leave.) The reason that I chose to spend a whole nine nights there was the wealth of incredible day trips that could be taken from the city. I can’t think of any city that has better day trip options than Salzburg. Plus, I’m a diehard Sound of Music fan, so Salzburg has always had a certain attraction for me. 

Salzburg itself is a lovely city, but it’s also pretty small. You probably won’t need more than two or three days to explore Salzburg proper. Of course, you have to visit Mirabell Palace and its lovely gardens, where the Von Trapp children pranced around to “Do Re Mi.” 

Salzburg, Mirabell Gardens

Salzburg, Mirabell Gardens

Salzburg, Mirabell Gardens

Salzburg, Mirabell Gardens

Salzburg, Mirabell Gardens

Salzburg

Another thing you definitely can’t miss is a hike up to Hohensalzburg Castle, which looms over the city from its perch on Festungsberg hill. The admission fee is outrageously expensive (€9.20 for an adult), but the views from the castle walls are insane. 

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

Salzburg, Hohensalzburg castle

I couldn’t stop staring at that incredible view. 

You’re probably wondering about one of Salzburg’s best-known attractions: the Sound of Music tour. Originally I had no plans to take the tour because even though the movie is one of my absolute faves, I don’t like tours in general, and this one sounded especially cheesy. But I ended up meeting a really cool girl from California whose boss had told her that the Sound of Music tour was pretty much the most fun thing she’s ever done. She was super stoked to take the tour herself, and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me, so I bought myself a ticket. 

To be honest, the tour was a bit of a let-down. I mean, it was cool to see all the different sites connected to the movie, but a lot of them you can get to on your own either by walking or taking a city bus. I had a good time on the tour, but I don’t think it was worth the €42 price tag. (I got my ticket for €37 because I stayed at the Yoho International Youth Hostel and booked the tour at their reception.) If you’re only staying in Salzburg for a couple of days, then taking the tour might be a good idea for you because otherwise you won’t have time to see all the places the tour takes you. But if you have a significant amount of time to spend in the city, you should probably skip the tour and explore at your own leisure. 

As far as nightlife is concerned, Salzburg doesn’t have much, unfortunately. I wandered around pretty much every night with the Californian girl I met, searching for some signs of life among Salzburg’s eerily quiet streets. We were almost always disappointed. There are definitely bars where people drink and socialize, but these tend to close pretty early and the streets seem to be always empty at night. So if you’re looking to have a wild night out, Salzburg probably isn’t for you. 

As I said before, the reason I chose to stay so long in Salzburg is the wealth of awesome day trips you can make from the city. If I had to pick one as the best, I would definitely say Berchtesgaden, Germany. There are two things here you have to see: Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and Lake Königssee.  

You’re probably asking, “WTF is Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest?” Well, let me tell you, because it’s pretty amazing. It’s a chalet way up on the top of Kehlstein Mountain that was built for Hitler’s 50th birthday in 1939, and intended to be used as a tea house for diplomats. The views from the top of the mountain are killer. You can see as far away as Salzburg! Check out these photos:

Salzburg, Eagle's Nest

Salzburg, Eagle's Nest

Salzburg, Eagle's Nest

Salzburg, Eagle's Nest

Salzburg, Eagle's Nest

Salzburg, Eagle's Nest

Amazing or what? 

Not only are the views incredible, but the Eagle’s Nest is also super easy to get to. All you have to do is walk to the train station in Salzburg and take Bus 840 all the way to the last stop, which is the bus station in Berchtesgaden. (It’s only a 45-minute ride.) Buy an all-day pass from the bus driver for €10 so that you can ride the other buses in Berchtesgaden for free (except the special shuttle bus to the Eagle’s Nest). From the Berchtesgaden bus station, take bus 838 to the Documentation Centre at Obersalzberg, then cross the street to take a shuttle bus to the mountaintop (€16.10 roundtrip). From the shuttle bus parking lot, you can either take an elevator to the very top of the mountain or walk up the footpath. The whole trip is super quick — I took the 9:15 bus from Salzburg train station and was at the top of the mountain by 11:30. 

A trip to the Eagle’s Nest is also very easy to combine with a trip to Lake Königssee, also in Berchtesgaden. From the Berchtesgaden bus station, the lake is only a 10-minute ride on Bus 841 or 842. (Use your day pass to ride this bus for free.) Trust me, you want to visit Lake Königssee. It has the clearest, most brilliant emerald-green water I have ever seen. Look at this beauty:

Salzburg, Lake Königssee

Salzburg, Lake Königssee

Salzburg, Lake Königssee

Salzburg, Lake Königssee

Salzburg, Lake Königssee

Salzburg, Lake Königssee

 Have you ever seen lake water like that? I haven’t. 

The other must-do day trip from Salzburg is Hallstatt, a gorgeous little village in Austria’s Salzkammergut region that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. Seriously, it seems just like the sort of town Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs might have lived in. It takes a little bit longer to get to than Berchtesgaden, but it’s still an easy day trip. Just walk to the Salzburg train station, take bus 150 to the train station in Bad Ischl (90 minutes), then take a train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt (30 minutes). Once you get to the Hallstatt train station, you take a very short ferry ride across the lake to the village. This is what you’ll see when you get there:

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

Salzburg, Hallstatt

 “Pretty” doesn’t even begin to describe Hallstatt. 

Oh, and by the way, the bus ride from Salzburg to Bad Ischl (where you get on the train to Hallstatt) is one of the most scenic ones I’ve ever taken. You’ll drive past the majestic Lake Wolfgangsee, which comes in the most striking shade of turquoise I have ever seen. My eyes were glued to the window as we drove along, and I couldn’t snap photos fast enough. 

Salzburg, Lake Wolfgangsee

Salzburg, Lake Wolfgangsee

Salzburg, Lake Wolfgangsee

Salzburg, Lake Wolfgangsee

Salzburg, Lake Wolfgangsee

Salzburg, Lake Wolfgangsee

It was hard to take decent photos because the bus was zooming along so fast, but you get the idea. That water is BLUE. 

In summary, Salzburg is a fantastic place to go if you want to get away from it all. What it lacks in nightlife it makes up for with the great day trip possibilities it offers. I really enjoyed the nine days I’ve spent here, but I’m looking forward to being in Vienna tomorrow. I’m ready to be back in a big city after being in sleepy Salzburg for so long. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉 

5 Days in Prague

My stay in Prague was cut short by two days due to the unfortunate incident involving my passport in Berlin. (See previous post). Instead of staying for a week, I stayed for five days. That was just enough time to cover everything that I really wanted to do in the city, but I definitely could have used those two extra days that I was supposed to have. (Fuck that asshole pickpocket! Ugh.)

Prague is every bit as gorgeous as you think it is. Check out this small sampling of the incredible views I saw there:

Prague, bridge

Prague

I got hopelessly lost when I tried to walk into the centre of town, but I found a swimming pool!

Prague, Charles Bridge

A view of Charles Bridge and the cathedral of Prague Castle. Oh, and yours truly!

Prague, Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge looks even better in the evening.

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

The incredible view from Petřín Lookout Tower

Prague, castle

The equally incredible view from Prague Castle

Is this place pretty or what?

If you want the best views in the city, head up to Prague Castle and walk along the outer walls. It’s absolutely free to walk around, and the views are killer. I could hardly tear my eyes away.

Prague, view

Prague, view

Another incredible view can be had at the top of Petřín Lookout Tower. You have to pay 150 CZK (about $9 CAD) to climb the tower though, which I think is a ridiculously high price. (Not to mention that you have to pay even more if you take the funicular up to the base of the tower instead of walking up the hill.) But there’s no denying that what you see when you get to the top is pretty breathtaking.

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

Prague, Petřín Lookout Tower

If you’re looking for something to do in the evening, Prague has great nightlife. I highly recommend a company called Riverside Parties. They have an amazing walking tour that costs 600 CZK (or €22) and starts at 5:30pm every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Let me just say that I am not the kind of person who normally enjoys walking tours, but this one is different from any other walking tour you’ll take. Not only do you get unlimited free beer and sangria throughout the tour, but the guide, Isaac, is totally hilarious. Did I mention that the alcohol is FREE and UNLIMITED? The goal of the tour is to get you drunk and allow you to meet new people in a fun setting. For me, it accomplished those goals 100%. Oh, and the best part of the tour is that it ends with an optional bar crawl. (You have to pay an extra 200 CZK or €8 for the bar crawl.) Once again, you definitely get your money’s worth because all drinks are free at the first bar from 10:00 – 11:00. So you can easily get smashed without spending any money on alcohol. Trust me, you want to take Riverside’s tour.

Another bar crawl that I strongly recommend you take part in is called the Clock Tower Bar Crawl. It’s actually run by the same people that do Riverside Parties, so you visit the same bars on both crawls. The Clock Tower one runs seven nights a week and starts at 8:30. It costs the same as the Riverside Parties tour (600 CKZ or €22). I did both Riverside Parties (with the bar crawl) and Clock Tower, and had tons of fun on each one. (The kinds of nights you can’t tell your parents about.) If you’re travelling alone, these bar crawls are a great way to meet new people. (There’s a good chance you won’t end up sleeping in your own bed that night.)

Out of all the cities I’ve visited so far, I definitely had the most fun in Prague. Right now I’m in a little town called Český Krumlov, which is in the South Bohemia region of Czechia. It’s a beautiful town but the nightlife is almost non-existent. I’m missing the craziness of Prague! I’m heading to Salzburg in a couple days, which is not exactly a city known for its nightlife either. Oh well. As I have learned many times by now, anything can happen while travelling solo! Who knows—maybe Salzburg will turn out to be wilder than Prague. I’ll keep you posted. 😉