Siem Reap, Cambodia
The famous Angkor Wat at sunrise
Cambodia is most renowned for their insane temples, most famous would be Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. This city boasts a wonderful authentic market, a bustling night market, a rowdy tourist block & happy pizza. To our surprise, this city had the most English speaking locals of any other SE Asia city because tourism is truly their only economic resource, so they've adapted heavily to our personal dismay... The people were wonderfully kind, the culture is still authentic & the temples were really wonderful. My most favorite temple is below....
Angkor Thom, my most favorite Temple in the middle of the forest. The tree roots have overgrown all the ruins which makes you feel like you're in a fairytale.
Siem Reap Market
Stir fried noodle w/ fried egg, fried crickets & our favorite noodle soup from the SIem Reap Old Market
Luang Prabang, Laos
The greenest country I have ever seen & also the most primitive of our SE Asian travels was Laos. Laos is not surrounded by any oceans, so it would be considered landlocked, but this made for a truly picturesque landscape of green mountains as far as the eye can see.
A view from our Bungalow that overlooks the Nam Khan river, a subsidiary of the Mekong River.
Luang Prabang Night Market with all kinds of fun & scary looking ready made eats!
Elephant Sanctuary that rescues elephants from the logging industry.
The 6 month old baby elephant, Maxxie!
Kuang Si Waterfall
An oasis on the top of the Kuang Si Waterfall after a steep & seemingly treacherous hike.
Silom Street Market
We had actually traveled to Bangkok during the long standing political unrest where the military had just taken over the government to restore order & there was a 10 pm citywide curfew in place... When people knew we were leaving for Bangkok, we were strongly encouraged to change our plans & being bombarded with negative news articles. We decided to go anyways & were happy to dispel all the rumors & fears. Yes, the military had taken over & you could see them stationed throughout the city, but there was no disorder for the 4 days we were there & I'm pretty sure Thailand has one of the nicest militaries on the planet. When we would pass them & say hi, they would not only say smile, but they would bow their heads respectfully to greet us. We've never met law enforcement that has ever been so humble in my own country or any other for that matter. Though their was political unrest below, all the locals were living their lives normally & seemed more as jolly as puppies. The only mishap we had in Bangkok was being ripped off on a boat ride to a supposed floating market, but no 3rd world country experience is complete without being ripped off at least once.
Beef noodle soup & Pad see ew from the Chatuchak Market
The Grand Palace was insanely gorgeous!
Kind of being swindled by a floating vendor on the way to the supposed floating market we got swindled into going to.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai was our favorite city in Thailand. The food & people are really authentic & quaint. The town is bustling but not too city like Bangkok & is in Northern Thailand surrounded by lots of mountains. We took the most amazing ride up to the temple on the mountain, Doi Suthep, catching some seriously breath-taking views from the seat of our motorbike.
Stairs to Doi Suthep
Chiang Mai Tiger Kingdom was a pretty unreal experience to say the least <3
Bungalows at Pairadise. Pai is in the very Northern region of Thailand where slow, laid-back living is king.
Pai Canyon is a beautiful & kind of scary hike on some steep & narrow canyons with the most beautiful views of the sunset.
The best Pad Thai we had while in Thailand was at the Pai Night Market.
When traveling to 3rd world countries where you don't speak the language, our greatest piece of advice has to be
1. Ride around like the locals do, in SE Asia that would be by motorbike.
2. Smile, genuinely, a lot.
3. Forget the language books you won't have time to flip through & learn these few phrases in whatever language/country you are diving into:
Hello; What is your name; How much; My name is & Thank you!
Also helpful is numbers 1-10. Since being ripped off is everyone's #1 fear in SE Asia, it's important to feel comfortable asking the price for anything upfront: food, taxis, etc.
*Knowing these few phrases & writing them down on a piece of paper you carry around with you will prove to be priceless. They show the people you genuinely care to get to know them & their culture. Starting with these few phrases, you'll feel a lot more comfortable speaking them then trying to speak a whole bunch of new things all the time. Local people will begin to open up their worlds to you when they see you are genuine & from there you will learn so much more than just more words, you'll really get the most out of this wonderful cultural experience.