Where to Stay in Taipei, Taiwan: The Sherwood Taipei

My time in Taipei was all too short, with only four full days to explore Taiwan’s capital. But I made the most of my limited time there, seeing the city’s famed monuments, escaping Taipei to explore some more rural areas, and experiencing three accommodations. Arriving late the first night, I checked into a hostel, which was pristine yet antisocial, a vast change from the other hostels I’ve experienced in Southest Asia. From there, I headed to the Taipei Marriott for two nights, which I reviewed in this post, and, finally, I wrapped up my Taiwanese adventure with a night at the Sherwood Taipei.

Sherwood Taipei, Taiwan

The Sherwood Taipei’s Yi Yuan Chinese Restaurant

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Malaysian Culinary Paradise? A Food Tour of Penang

If there’s one thing most visitors to Malaysia rave about after visiting, it’s the food. My first few days in Kuala Lumpur demonstrated just why, and an evening of tasting the local cuisine with Food Tour Malaysia had stood out as one of the best experiences I’d had in my five weeks of traveling so far. But my taste buds were just getting started, and I was in luck. From Kuala Lumpur, I was heading several hours north to a state that has a reputation for being an absolute food paradise, Penang.

George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Colonial George Town, Penang

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Whirling Through Phnom Penh’s Nightlife by Vespa

If there’s one thing you’ll see everywhere you go in Southeast Asia, it’s motorbikes. Playing Frogger in Saigon, hopping on UberMOTOs to navigate Bangkok, weaving through the Burmese countryside on a bike… As of a few years ago, Cambodia had nearly two million motorcycles for a population of just fifteen million. This transportation is a way of life in that part of the world, so how fitting is it to explore the region on a stylish Vespa? I had the chance to do just that on a Phnom Penh nightlife tour.

Phnom Penh Vespa Adventures

Phnom Penh by Vespa (photo courtesy of Vespa Adventures)

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Where to Stay in Taipei, Taiwan: The Taipei Marriott

Having just opened in October 2015, the five-star Taipei Marriott is a new star on Taipei’s hotel scene. I had the chance to call it home for two nights during my visit to Taiwan in April, and the hotel is already off to a shining start. Walk into the Marriott’s stylishly gorgeous lobby, and you’ll be in awe straight away. But that’s only just the beginning.

Taipei Marriott, Taiwan

Feeling right at home at the Taipei Marriott

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8 Things I Will & 6 Things I Won’t Miss About Southeast Asia

Eighty days and eight countries later, my Southeast Asia trip has come to an end. I fly to Japan tomorrow and then onward to Paris, with a day in Abu Dhabi in between. For a part of the world I had never given much thought to until the last few years, Southeast Asia has stolen my heart. My next destinations will certainly be a massive change of scenery, so I thought I’d reflect on some of the things I will and won’t miss about Southeast Asia.

Bagan, Myanmar

Sitting atop a pagoda, watching a storm roll in over Bagan, Myanmar earlier this week

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My Balinese Foray into the Blissful World of Spas

My stay at Watermark Hotel & Spa Jimbaran was a purely luxurious way to wrap up my stay in Bali, but the cherry on top? Visiting the hotel’s LiANG Spa for my first ever massage and body treatment.

Watermark Hotel, Jimbaran, Bali, LiANG Spa

Watermark’s LiANG Spa

Call me a philistine, but, prior to my stay at Watermark, never had I ever treated myself to a professional massage. To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive. Lie on a bed and have a stranger touch me all over while rubbing oils into my back? If you’ve never experienced it yourself, you have to admit it sounds pretty weird. But, obviously, most of the world raves about the luxurious pleasure of massages, so it was time to give one a try. Continue reading  

Where to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: The PARKROYAL Saigon

I didn’t want to say goodbye to Vietnam. In my two weeks there, the country had exceeded already very high expectations. I don’t know if it was the country itself, the people I met there, or the fact that I seemed to be hitting my travel stride two and a half months into my round-the-world trip, but I had found total comfort and happiness in Vietnam and wasn’t ready to leave it behind, no matter how exciting my subsequent plans.

PARKROYAL Hotel Saigon, Vietnam

The PARKROYAL Saigon making a grand impression

I had started in the north of the country and made my way south, with my last stop being Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. While hostels had treated me phenomenally during my Vietnamese adventure (especially Vietnam Backpacker Hostels), my last two days included the special treat of staying at the beautiful PARKROYAL Saigon. Continue reading  

Castaways Island: Living the Dream in Vietnam’s Halong Bay

Castaways, Castaways, where to begin? I write this several days after returning, still trying to digest it all…and still trying to get the sand out of my hair. For backpackers in Vietnam, Vietnam Backpacker Hostels’ Castaways Island trip to Halong Bay is legendary. You’ll be hard-pressed to meet a young traveler who hasn’t been on the trip or at least hasn’t considered it. And, as I found out this week, there’s good reason for that.

Castaways Island sunset, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Sunset in paradise

We departed from the Vietnam Backpacker Hostel in Hanoi bright and early and boarded a bus followed by a boat followed by another bus followed by another boat, but all of that was worth it the instant we set eyes on our final destination. Our home for the next two nights? A private beach with straw huts and blissfully soft sand surrounded by steep limestone cliffs. It was ours, all ours to make whatever we wanted of it. Continue reading