One of the things I loved about living in Asia is how easy and affordable it is to travel to many Asia-Pacific destinations and how diverse the cultures and attractions are. With a few minutes of googling and planning, plane fares can be had for as little as a few dollars and nice, clean hotels can be found. Seriously! When we were based in Jakarta we wanted to travel a lot on a limited budget so we would book flights a year ahead so we could take advantage of promos, like 10,000 Rupiah flights, and try to find great deals in new or reputable chain hotels, like these, in the area because we are particular about cleanliness. According to TD, chain hotels are more likely to be well-maintained. So far I have to agree.
Here are 5 memorable travel experiences in Asia that I would love to do again!
FOOD TRIPPING IN HCMC
I absolutely love Vietnamese cuisine, specifically South Vietnamese, which is where HCMC or Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is located. What’s the difference? Their cuisine is sweeter and they serve Hoisin sauce with many of their dishes.
Though HCMC was a literal “food trip” for us, we did not have to feel too guilty because Vietnamese food is filled with so much vegetables. Yet everything is so flavourful and fresh, that we don’t mind eating so healthy.
L’Usine Bahn Mi for breakfast every morning.
Bun Cha Gio, a vermicelli noodle salad, with fried spring rolls and Nuoc Cham sauce. This sweet spicy salty sour sauce is the secret that makes Vietnamese dishes so addictive!
Half fat and half lean pork BBQ with Vietnamese broken rice at Com Tam Moc
Crispy soft shell crab at WE Restaurant
THAI MASSAGE MASSAGE IN PHUKET
My favourite massage style in the world is the Thai massage. In Phuket you can get a Thai massage for very little, in huts by the beach. But it’s also worthwhile to pamper myself in a world-class hotel spa. I love the interior design, quality of the products and the Thai masseuses are just amazing. They are soft-spoken, well-trained and attentive to every need. I will never forget the sunset massage that I scheduled by the beach.
KL STREET FOOD
It isn’t safe to eat street food in all cities, but in Kuala Lumpur, we enjoyed street food in Jalan Alor without any fear for our health. It was a feast for the senses that I will never forget!
Our favourite food find was this barbecued strips of cured pork from Sarak Makanan Yuen Fong. I loved the sweet caramelized burnt bits. We ate it in strips while walking around. We took some home and it is perfect for breakfast with egg and rice. Yum. I’m making myself hungry again.
EXPLORING MANILA’S WALLED CITY
Intramuros or the “Walled City” (and fort) is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Philippines. It used to be the seat of government when the Philippines was still a Spanish Colony. They started building a wall around the city in 1590 and continued until the early 19th century to protect it from disaster and other invaders. Though the colonial period was difficult time in our history, I can appreciate the beautiful buildings and rich history that remain.
Join a Bamboo Bike tour…
…Or get around in a Kalesa (horse drawn carriage)
I highly recommend the witty, entertaining and irreverent Carlos Celdran as a tour guide. His tours are always super interesting and fun.
UPDATE: Sadly Carlos Celdran has passed away.
GEM SHOPPING IN YANGON
Myanmar is so rich in gems and semi-precious stones, that they are still affordable to buy if you know where to look in the Yangon Market. Once you get past the produce you will see stalls and stalls of bling! Going with someone knowledgeable about gems and jewelry is highly recommended. Who knew that pink sapphires, yellow jade and so many other unusual gem colors even existed? Spinel, which is even rarer than rubies and sapphires, are sold in packs. Of course because of the price you cannot expect them to be perfect.
Normally transportation and accommodations are the biggest chunk of our travel budget. So I’m happy to find out about this destination campaign which guarantees the best prices in hotels like Pullman, Ibis, Novotel, Sofitel, Mercure and hundreds of hotels under the Accor brand. I love their hotels! When I book hotels through the usual websites, I need to wade through a lot of unfamiliar hotels and read so many reviews, just to figure out if I want to stay in a hotel or not.
In our experience chain hotels like Ibis and Novotel are a great bet when we are traveling on a budget and we know that we will be doing a lot of sight-seeing and spending most of our time outside the hotel. More luxurious hotels like Sofitel and Pullman are amazing splurges for stay-in vacations, when we just want to enjoy the amenities and quality R&R. In fact TD and I stayed in the gorgeous Sofitel Manila for part of our honeymoon.
So when travelling around Asia, don’t forget to check the prices in Accor Hotels before deciding where you’ll stay. If any of their hotels have offers or promotions, they will be listed in there! TD and I go through a lot of effort to travel well on our limited budget. You wouldn’t believe the crazy deals that we’ve enjoyed because of websites like these.
Another recommendation I have to get the best value for your money is to sign up for hotel programs like Accor Plus because you can get free nights & up to 50% off food & rooms. It’s well worth the effort for the perks you enjoy.
What are your most unforgettable travel experiences in Asia? I’d love to hear from you!