Belgium offers numerous amounts of wellness hotels, spa experiences and outdoor saunas. Nevertheless to find one which would satisfy all your wishes, let you have the ideal relaxed weekend getaway and also won’t cost you a fortune is definitely not so easy. Believe me, I’ve been there. Sometimes renting some private sauna in Belgium cost so much just for few hours that it’s cheaper to have holidays abroad. My exaggeration is not far from reality but let me introduce you to the amazing wellness hotel in Kortrijk, Wu Wei.
We wanted to have a romantic getaway in Belgium and got the chance to stay at the modern 4-star wellness hotel Wu Wei. “Wu Wei” means the art of non-doing and life to the rhythm of things by the way. And this is definitely a little paradise oasis where time stops and you feel like you are not in Belgium anymore. Isn’t it something that we all want to have sometimes? Just to escape from reality and be far from our daily routine.
Wu Wei is a day Spa and wellness hotel which is located just 10 minute walk away from the train station in Kortkrijk. There is also a free parking spot in case you’d decide to come by car. The architecture of the old industrial building is based on the idea of the simple, the clear with calm colours and plenty of light. It reminds me of Scandinavian modesty and basic design with wooden elements. The rooms in the hotel are spacious with oak parquet floors and equipped with all necessities, free Wi-Fi and toiletries. In the beginning it might feel a bit empty but after some time you start to appreciate these minimalistic elements because your mind doesn’t get distracted and you can fully relax.
The best part of Wu Wei hotel is it’s impressive spa area with outdoor swimming pool at 32 degrees, Canadian sauna at 80 degrees, outdoor Finnish sauna at 89 degrees and traditional 3 room Hammam. Just bring your towels, slippers and swimsuit to be able to access the area. You can also rent it at the hotel for a small price. We we’re staying over night at Wu Wei hotel that’s why we could find all essentials in our room.
In my opinion Wu Wei wellness hotel is a perfect combination of tranquillity, water and greenery. The various relaxing rooms with wood fires and dimmed light let you experience relaxation to it’s purest. There is also an interesting shower that will bring you to life in 4 different ways: With warm, cold, hard and soft water streams. Great experience! There is also salt scrub in the showers that everyone can use.
On the rooftop terrace it is possible to book a private spa with plunge pool, hot water bath, another sauna and relaxing room. In case it’s not booked you can also access and use it from the public spa. This is what we did because we were visiting during the weekdays. The wellness hotel was pretty empty, lucky us!
Last but not least there is a cafeteria with essential drinkable water which is gratis. This is very important to stay hydrated after all the healthy sweating in the saunas. It is also possible to order delicious snacks and soup which are served on beautiful wooden plates. In the evening after 6pm we were able to order a delicious and healthy dinner from the restaurant.
We wanted to accomplish our magical spa break with one of the treatments that Wu Wei offers. There is an extensive range of massages but we decided to book duo treatment of the back to relax our muscle tissues. Did you know that massage therapy has health benefits like reduction of pain caused by tight muscles, it can improve sleep and even increase endorphins levels. The duo treatment was performed by one person. I would prefer to be massaged separately so there wouldn’t be any waiting time in between but of course I was covered in scrub for some time. It was a good experience though!
All in one I can say that we found our perfect spa wellness in Belgium, Wu Wei in Kortrijk. Everything is just lovely there, tranquil atmosphere and cozy surroundings. In the morning we had a simple breakfast and could enjoy another day in the idyllic and peaceful spa.
Planning to explore surroundings of Belgium? Find out more about other wonderful hotels and hidden gems in a wonderful Belgium.
If you want to explore Caribbean islands then travelling to Curacao would be a great idea. This tranquil oasis is located outside the hurricane belt, about 90 miles away from Venezuela. It has over 35 beautiful beaches, great diving spots, great weather all year around and amazing Dutch colonial architecture in the historic old Willemstad which is also UNESCO’s World Heritage since 1997. The name of the island is derived from the Portuguese word for heart (coração) which means this beautiful paradise will remain deep in your heart after you visit it!
Curacao feels like a small but very colourful piece of Europe dropped in the Caribbean Ocean. Everyone around speaks mainly Dutch or the local language Papiamento nevertheless everyone communicates fluently in English and even Spanish. This little heaven on Earth is a habitat for friendly iguanas, cute hummingbirds and lovely sea turtles. The 444 square kilometres long island welcomes it’s tourists but never becomes overwhelmed with travellers, which is great!
All you need to know when you travel to Curacao
First of all when you plan your visit to Caribbean’s paradise island, Curacao choose the best time to fly. Curacao is located close to the Equator and has about 27°C all year around with a refreshing wind. It’s advisable to bring very strong sunscreen with SPF 30 or 50. The rainy season starts from October to February but has only occasional showers mainly at night. The most popular vacation months are December through March. Low season and in my personal opinion the best time to visit Curacao is May.
The local currency of Curacao is Netherlands Antillean Guilder but American Dollar is also accepted everywhere. Nevertheless if you purchase something in Dollars you might get Guilders back.
Important to mention that tap water in Curacao is drinkable. Furthermore you can have free cold tap water at every beach bar.
Driving in Curacao
The best option to explore Curacao is by driving a car. Public transport doesn’t have particular timetables so there is a chance that you will wait for hours for the next ride. I need to assure driving in Curacao is easy, it’s done on the right hand side of the road and you can use your foreign issued driver’s license. However drive very carefully because islanders have a tendency to forget about the rules and sometimes drink and drive.
We rented a car with Right Side Car Rental and were happy with our choice. They offer affordable daily rates which are even cheaper then with most car rentals and if you book a car for a longer period you will get a discount too. And great news, all cars have an automatic transmission and fuel (gas) costs only 1$ per litre.
Where to stay in Curacao
Curacao offers numerous resorts, hotels and even hostels. Of course it depends on your budget where would be the best place to stay for you. If you travel with more then just 2 people I would recommend to go through AirBnB options. There you will find plenty of beautiful houses with swimming pools so you will feel like home. We were staying at Marly’s place “Casa Vita, close to beaches and shopping” which I would doubtlessly recommend especially if you travel with your family or kids. The price is fantastic and her accommodation is clean, modern and has everything you need for a great holiday.
For those who would like to experience something different should book a room at the oldest hotel in Curacao, Avila Beach Hotel. This is also where the Queen and King of Netherlands prefer to stay if they need a vacation from their hard working days.
Top things to do in Curacao
Visit Curacao’s capital, Willemstad
Historic old Willemstad is the capital of Curacao but also a UNESCO World Heritage City. At first glance Willemstad looks a little like a brightly coloured mini-version of Amsterdam. The famous historical waterfront is lined with the colourful buildings in Dutch colonial style. The law requires that they be kept in a vibrant colour palette and repainted every two years.
Willemstad is divided into two sections, Punda and Otrobanda. Punda’s streets are full of people walking through narrow pathways packed with galleries, shops and cafés. At Pietermaai you can find various restaurants and bars. You can also do The Blue Curacao Experience tour and try this legendary blue drink from Curacao gratis.
Pedestrians who want to go the other side need to use the Queen Emma Bridge, the longest and oldest floating bridge in the world. This bridge is a great spot to take pictures, observe the impressive Queen Julianna Bridge or watch how the floating bridge opens to allow large ships to pass through. At night the whole bridge is lit up and every Thursday between 8pm-9pm you can take a look at the fireworks from it.
Where to eat in Curacao
Curacao offers numerous amounts of various lovely cafés and restaurants where you can have tasty lunch or dinner. That’s why sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle to decide where to go. I would definitely recommend two must visit places on the island of heaven.
One of them is famous romantic beach restaurant Karakter. It’s a bit out of the way because it’s located at Coral Estate, outside of the busy touristic area. Which creates a unique and peaceful atmosphere. Karakter is extremely popular on the island of Cuaracao that’s why it’s important to reserve a table especially if you would like to enjoy the view from the seashore. We went there to have a dinner and watch the sunset. The food was good and the service was very relaxed, typical Caribbean style, no one is in a hurry.
Another incredible restaurant with delicious Caribbean food and amazing views is Gouverneur de Rouville. You will find it in the heart of Willemstad on the historical waterfront. Definitely reserve a table so you will get a spot on the balcony with an imposing view of the famous lined up colourful houses in Dutch colonial style. Gouverneur de Rouville restaurant is not only spectacular from outside but also impressive inside. There is a bar with a gentlemen’s club atmosphere and a garden with a fountain where you can also enjoy your lunch or dinner.
The Gouverneur de Rouville’s menu offers a great variety of international and local dishes like famous chicken in prune stew and tasty banana soup. However every meal that we’ve tried was very fresh and flavourful. Doubtlessly leave some space for the dessert. My favourite was homemade brownies with pistachio ice cream, divinity on the plate! Last but not least the outstanding Gouverneur de Rouville’s staff. Everyone is very polite, friendly and amusing. We asked for suggestions and drink tips and received great recommendations.
The best beaches in Curacao
Curacao is mainly famous for it’s colourful architecture and interesting bridges. However it’s a dream destination for beach lovers. Curacao counts more then 35 beautiful lagoons with white sandy beaches and crystal clear warm water. Every single beach on the island could be the perfect location for a Bounty ad. The major difference between the beaches is not their quality but if it’s free or charged.
Kokomo Beach is a beautiful natural bay with crystal clear water and white sandy beach. It offers lounge chairs, palm trees providing shade and moreover there is no entrance fee. If you want to use chairs you just need to buy a drink or something to eat at the restaurant. Food and drinks are delicious and for a reasonable prices. There is also a spot where you can see and even feed plenty of friendly iguanas. Don’t forget to stop on the way to Kokomo Beach at the lake Salina Sint Michiel to observe flamingos in their natural habitat.
Jan Thiel Beach is one of the most famous commercial beaches in Curacao. It’s big and very crowded. Here you will find different areas to swim and also an infinity pool. There are 5 restaurants to eat but I personally didn’t like the food though, it’s overpriced and very simple. Fees for the Jan Thiel Beach apply for parking, beach chairs and beach entry unless you are staying at a participating resort or joining one of the offered boat tours. It was my least favourite beach but worth of visiting at least once.
One of my favourite commercial beaches is Mambo Beach in the East of Willemstad. It offers everything from white sand, turquoise calm water, shopping area, cafés and house music beats. As any other commercial beach entering the Mambo Beach requires a fee of $3,50; beach chairs are lined up all over this beach and are available for rent for around $4.
Blue Bay Beach Resort located on the southwest coast in Willemstad and offers lovely beach with white sand and calm water. The entrance will cost you $6 per person so you can use the facilities on the beach. The beach is relatively small and might be very crowded but there is a nice restaurant with relished dishes and even a spacious playground for kids.
Grote and Klein Knip are perfect destination for those who would like to enjoy a wild and free public beach with beautiful crystal clear water. It’s located close to Westpunt which is a less populated part of island. That creates a unique and the least crowded atmosphere. There is only one little restaurant that’s why I would recommend to bring a lot of water with you to stay hydrated.
Enjoy Spa & Massage at Kokomo Beach
A beach holiday on an island paradise like Curacao is not complete until you’ve had a massage or any other enjoyable spa treatment. I decided to spoil myself and book some treatments at Natural Blends Estheticks at Kokomo Beach. The location is ideal just next to the turquoise water where I can listen to the sound of the Ocean and feel a lovely breeze on my skin. Which is essential for the memorable and beautiful massage experiment.
The massage area was just like from a postcard: soft and comfortable looking massage tables with a breathtaking sea view. My therapist Ann-Marie was very professional and knew what she was doing to relieve all the tension in my muscles. And I need to admit, I’ve experienced one of the best massages in my life! All my muscles could finally relax after our long flight to the Caribbean island.
It’s essential to take care of your feet and nails while enjoying the white sand of the beach. Also the constant exposure to the sun might burn or dry your skin. Moreover your feet are constantly on display to everyone else so I think it’s nice to have beautiful and healthy feet with a neat nail polish. That’s why I decided to restore the look of my toes and get them treated at Natural Blends Estheticks too. And it was a great choice just look at the result! Loved it!
I also believe it’s important to take care of your face after the sun heat. We all know that it can lead to the skin damage, wrinkles and dryness. Ann-Marie recommended me to do Hydro Mini Facial to improve my skin after one of the day on the beach and I decided to follow it. The treatment consisted cleansing, exfoliation, steam, application of a mask, toner and moisturizer and was just extremely relaxing. My skin felt much better and was glowing afterwards. Amazing 75 minutes of quality time were added to my holidays!
Spend a day at Avila Beach Hotel
Avila Beach Hotel is the oldest luxury hotel in Curacao located in Willemstad at the spectacular beachfront. It has witnessed hundreds of years of the island’s history and has also hosted important people. Still it’s one of the most favourite places to stay for the King and Queen of The Netherlands when they visit Curacao. Couples and honeymooners love this place too! Now and then you can also gorgeous weddings. Furthermore this beautiful landmark offers almost 150 modern rooms divided over 3 different hotel wings with a various price range.
Great news about staying at Avila Beach Hotel is that you can also purchase a Day Beach Pass and enjoy a private strip of white sand beach and two bays with crystal clear calm water. Choose one of the beach chairs or hide in the shade of the beach umbrella and immerse into the relaxing experience facing beautiful lagoons. This is what we did on our very first day in Curacao.
During the hottest hours between 11am-2pm the best decision is to hide from the vicious sun at the bar or have lunch at open-air restaurant. This is a feeling of an ideal vacation when you hold a refreshing cold drink with views of surreal turquoise-coloured waters of Curacao. Foodies should definitely try the scrumptious traditional Caribbean food like Kashi Yena.
Visit Klein Curacao
If you are visiting Curacao then it’s a must to join a boat tour to the uninhabited island, Klein Curacao. It’s 25km off the coast of Curacao and it’s the perfect getaway. There are various companies that offer a day trip to Klein Curacao. We decided to go with PowerBoat because it promised to get to our little heaven in less then an hour while other bigger boats need over 2 hours. Furthermore because of the strong winds and currents travellers on the big boats have tendency to get sea sick.
We were picked up at 10am from Jan Thiel Beach. The sea wasn’t as rough as usually so we could get to our powder-white beach with turquoise waters, and sea turtles within the time. The trip might be a bit bumpy for some people, I would compare it to a ride on the wild horse but if you are an adrenaline junky then it’s definitely something for you. Travellers with back, neck or knee problems should choose another option.
One half of the island is a picture perfect beautiful beach side. The other half is a rugged, rocky coast with shipwrecks and an abandoned lighthouse. The two sides of Klein Curacao are perfect opposites of each other. The sun is very strong on this tranquil little island but there are also awesome shady shelters to protect you from it’s heat. We could stay and explore the island for half the day. PowerBoat tour also provided us with a great amount of different drinks so we all stayed hydrated.
Explore Spanish Water by stand up paddling
Spanish Water is another beautiful highlight of Curacao that is worth of visiting. The best way to explore this terrific lagoon, characterized by mangrove forests and outlined by villas and the Tafel Berg is by paddle boarding. It’s exciting and fun, furthermore you can get into the narrow parts of the lagoon where it’s impossible to get by the boat.
We decided to book our tour with SUP Curacao and we were very happy that we went for it. Paddle boarding is not complicated but we still received great instruction on how to manoeuvre it. After a few tries you feel very confident with the paddle and are ready to travel through the Spanish Water. All in one the tour takes around 2 hours with a little snack break and lovely chats in-between. The tour guide also takes pictures of everyone which we all got on the same day!
Visit Hato Caves
Hato Caves in Curacao is another unique geological element of the island that definitely must be seen. It’s one of the caves where you need to go upstairs to reach the entrance which is very seldom. We joined the guided tour to get to know more about the wonder of nature.
The tour was very entertaining and informative. Now we know that the Hato Caves are 300.000 years old and consist of marine coral limestone. These caves used to be a shelter and hiding place for slaves but nowadays you can find only numerous amount of cute long-nose fruit bats. The tour through the Hato Caves is impressive and memorable.
After the Cave tour you can stroll through the park to get to know the flora and fauna of Curacao. There you will see big cacti, little lizards running around and slowly walking iguanas.
Durbuy is a hidden gem of Belgium, located in the French-speaking community of Wallonia. You can find this beautiful region in the Ardennes, south of Belgium. It’s not only famous for it’s magnificent old charm and tranquil atmosphere but also for being the “smallest city in the world” with it’s population of 11.ooo inhabitants.
It’s very easy to fall in love with the medieval city of Durbuy, filled with cobbled streets, authentic ancient stone houses and a beautiful castle at the centre. The city is surrounded by impressive hills that used to be one whole structure. But overtime the river carved a path through them by eroding the strong stones. After some time the river changed it’s direction and people built the impressive little town that welcomes around 2 million tourists every year.
Top Things to do in Durbuy
Explore the Old Town
The magnificent Old Town of Durbuy enchants only 50 inhabitants, the majority live in the surroundings of the Durbuy region. Nevertheless the historic centre has plenty of interesting things to discover. There are a few lovely shops with local goods such as Durbuy’s dandelion jam, artisanally brewed beer and of course famous Belgian chocolate. The most prominent one you will find at Rue Alphonse Eloy.
Furthermore mesmerising Durbuy is the perfect place for photography lovers. Every corner is a great spot and opportunity for an impressive picture. Especially if you visit it during late spring or summer time.
Dine in a nice restaurant
Durbuy has a great reputation for hosting high quality food. You will be surprised how many restaurants and cafés this tiny town accommodates. You will be spoiled for choice, wherever you choose will be a good choice. We enjoyed our lunch at Saint Amour. It offers a relatively simple and old-fashion ambience but don’t judge book by it’s cover. Their lunch menu was voluptuous and sumptuous including a delicious variety of starters with paté and quiche. Furthermore there were unexpected refreshing surprises between the dishes. I would recommend to visit this restaurant and be prepared to spend at least 2 hours of happy feasting there.
If you are searching for a more over the top fancy dining experience then reserve a table at La Bru’sserie. You won’t be disappointed with the modern beauty of the interior and the quality of dishes.
Enjoy Wellness & Spa at Azur en Ardenne
The Ardennes are an ideal region to get away from chaos and immerse into tranquil nature surrounded by greenery. It’s perfect to unwind in one of the spas and recharge your batteries. We were staying at Azur en Ardenne, the wellness oasis surrounded by a beautiful forest. It’s also perfectly situated close to Durbuy’s Old Town and various activities, which you can easily reach on foot.
We booked the Comfort Room for 2 nights to disconnect from the outside world. The room was simple but well equipped. We received bathrobes and a welcome chocolate bar from the local chocolatery. I really liked the spacious white bathroom with a nice shower and a big bath. There was also tea, instant coffee, kettle and paper cups. I would definitely recommend to take some body cream with you after visiting sauna because hotel provides only with soap.
The best part of the Azur en Ardenne is the wellness area with a lovely indoor swimming pool. Furthermore there are 2 saunas, jacuzzi, hydrogen massage and a great panoramic view. The atmosphere is very relaxing and peaceful, accompanied with soft background music.
Wait until you see the breakfast that is served at Azur en Ardenne! It’s an epitome for the perfect start of the day. You can find everything what your foodie soul can crave for: muesli, fruits, warm waffles and pancakes, eggs, proper bacon, cheese, all kinds of teas and soft drink and even almond milk. It’s wonderful to wake up with beautiful views and voluptuous choice of treats.
There is also a restaurant that unfortunately didn’t approved my expectations but I got an insider tip: Just down the road there is place where all the chefs of Durbuy go to dine: Gastropub Gaspard . If you plan to visit this restaurant definitely reserve a table in advance because it’s small and always full!
Radhadesh Retreat Centre
You will be surprised to discover that in the middle of the Belgian Ardennes, in a fairytale castle you can find the spiritual community and one of the most important Hindu centres in Northern Europe. The beautiful castle Château de Petit Somme is home to the largest community of Hare Krishna, a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu organisation in Belgium. It’s an interesting experience to see the contrast between the grey cold stones of the huge castle and colourful interior and sculptures held in Indian tradition.
Radhadesh is a non-profit organization administered by a democratic general council and is the main center for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in the Benelux. Additionally it’s also a retreat where you can join various courses and even cultural festivals like popular Holi Festival. I personally enjoyed visiting the Museum of Sacred Art where you can observe Indian art traditions and enjoy various exhibitions. Also worth visiting the vegetarian restaurant and cafeteria.
Mystical Megaliths: Menhirs and Dolmens of Weris
There is a lot of mysticism around the Durbuy area and one of them is the 8 km rows of megaliths made of huge conglomerate, nature’s version of concrete stones. These stones are well anchored into the ground and date back to the Neolithic era, that means they are over 5.000 years old. Scientists are still asking themselves how people could put these massive stones in alignment with almost no tools?
There are two main sites which are categorised as Weris 1 and Weris 2. The purpose of the menhirs is still not clear but there are some conclusions that it once was a spacious megalithic center for religious ceremonies, astronomical observations, healing of people and manipulation of the Earth’s energies. Nowadays people are still coming to immerse into the strong field of energies.
Interesting building: La Maison de Hary Cot
Close to the mystical megaliths you will discover La Maison de Hary Cot. A house that resembles Tim Burton’s crazy and intriguing creations. I was surprised to find out that it’s actually one of the finest restaurants in the region of Durbuy. Unfortunately it was not open when we were passing by but I would doubtlessly recommend to try to reserve a table at this admirable establishment which by the way belongs to the young couple Gael Colinet and Fanny Perreaux.
Visit Durbuy’s local brewery
Every town in Belgium is famous for their local beers. That’s why it’s a must to taste Durbuy’s own locally brewed beer, La Ferme au Chene. The brewery was established in 1560 by Philippe Marckloff and it’s located along the river Ourthe. Here you can also dine in the the local cuisine restaurant.
Sensation seekers should visit Adventure Valley
Adventure Valley in Durbuy is an amazing and challenging park with various activities for young and old. You can choose between climbing the side of the mountain with different difficulties, free fall from 32m high, going through the 3D labyrinth or enjoying the tumbling slide. There is also a possibility to crawl and climb between trees at different heights but also experience mega zipline.
Additionally all this fun is very safe, everyone receives a professional explanation in addition to helmets, security belts etc. You can see little children of age 5 and 6 being much braver than their parents and fearlessly climbing the various heights. It’s definitely memorable fun for the whole family! There is also a huge and gratis playground next to the café in case you don’t feel like spending money on an adventure.
Admire the World Largest Topiary Park
Have you ever heard of Topiary? It’s a beautiful practice of shaping or better to say clipping trees into ornamental figures. Since 1997, Durbuy Topiary Park has numerous amounts of tree figures, 250 masterpieces to be exact, on a 1-hectare garden. Moreover there are 39 flower bed and a breathtaking view over the river Ourthe and Durbuy castle. It’s truly a highlight and a must visit in Durbuy so plan to spend a few hours admiring the green art!
Nature and sport lovers will be surprised about the amount of outdoor activities that Durbuy can offer. You can enjoy the river with canoeing, rafting and kayaking. Moreover there is a possibility for horse riding and mountain biking. Last but not least Durbuy has incredible hiking trails with beautiful views. Just get more information at the tourist info point in the Old Town or at hotel Azur en Ardenne.
Best places to visit in Belgium
If you are spending a week or maybe even longer in Belgium then definitely visit the following cities:
Bruges, the fairy tale town of Belgium. The romantic atmosphere, smell of waffles and chocolate, mesmerising houses, bridges and swans on the canals will doubtlessly let you escape reality.
Brussels, as the capital of Belgium, attracts it’s visitors with beautiful historical monuments and world-class museums.
Ghent is a student city with beautiful and impressive medieval architecture and surprisingly un-touristy atmosphere.
Southeast Asia is both affordable and exotic and that makes it to the top of international travel lists. There are so many beautiful things to see but I gave my best to make an ideal Southeast Asia backpacking route to experience the best of the exotic culture.
Important to mention Southeast Asia is also a perfect and safe destination for those who are travelling alone for the first time. If you are backpacking alone be prepared to observe fabulous cosmopolitan cities, tiny ethnic villages, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Last but not least the beauty of natural wonders will leave you in a state of euphoria. So magnificent the diversity and exotic grandeur of Southeast Asia.
Best time to travel to Southeast Asia
The weather can often break your travel plans that’s why it’s crucial to know when the best time to explore Southeast Asia is. This area in Asia has a monsoonal climate which influences the two main seasons, characterised by rainfall and high temperatures.
The rainy season in Southeast Asia starts from May until late October, However, Borneo is a great destination in Southeast Asia during this period as it lays outside of the monsoon belt. July and August are the wettest months in Luang Prabang while September is the rainiest month in Bangkok.
Towards the end of Southeast Asia’s dry season, starting around March, temperatures begin to rise. April is known as the hot season, temperatures can top 40°C, with high humidity – it can be extremely uncomfortable. But if you spend this time close to the beaches then it won’t be a problem.
The most popular time of the year to visit Southeast Asia is November to February. This is when rainfall is not bothering and temperatures feel very pleasant.
Top Places to Visit in Southeast Asia
1. Sapa, Vietnam trekking routes
Sapa, Vietnam is famous for it’s spectacular mountain views and photogenic trekking routes. It has been established in 1922 by the French and since then there are charming French colonial villages worth visiting. If you are into natural landscapes then definitely follow these hiking trails: Muong Hoa Valley, Ham Ring mountain, Silver Falls and Loves Waterfalls, Sky Gate. If you want to immerse into the culture of the hill tribes visit Cat Cat village, Y Linh Ho village, Ta Phin village, Giang Ta Chai village, Lao Chai and Ta Van village.
The best time to go to Sapa is from March to May and from September to November. This is the time when the weather is the most comfortable for travelling with it’s stable temperatures and sunny days. From December to February is winter time and it becomes very cold.
The easiest way to reach Sapa is by train from Hanoi. If you ask yourself how long to spend in Sapa I recommend 3 days and 2 nights. The best hostel in Sapa is Go Spa Hostel. They offer great value for money, tidy rooms and helpful staff. For only $5, you can get a bed in a dorm room and a free breakfast.
2. Explore Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is located along the coast in the central region of Vietnam. This historic city will surprise you with it’s unique blend of Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and French architecture. This beautiful place has been established in the 15th century and in the 19th century as an important commercial trading port. Nowadays Hoi An remains a charming historical gem, and is a perfect stay for a relaxing trip.
The main attractions of Hoi An already start in the picturesque Old Town with it’s ancient streets, lined shops and yellow painted cafés. Witness the exciting action of the Central Market at the east end of the Ancient Town. Visit rice fields or relax and get some vitamin D on a Bang Bech. In the evening immerse into the magical atmosphere of the Night Market in Hoi An.
3. Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi is another popular solo holiday destination. This city is over 1000 years old and it bursts with a wealth of history and culture: temples, an ancient theatre and stunning nature just outside of Hanoi. As you probably know Vietnam was at some point invaded by the Chinese, later by the French and Americans. That’s why nowadays you can see the influence of the invading countries but also the impact of the Communists.
There are plenty of things to do and to visit in Hanoi. Definitely start your journey by witnessing UNESCO’s World Heritage Site the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The ancient site plays a significant role in the history of Vietnam: It was the political centre for 13 centuries and the capital of Vietnam for 8 centuries. Afterwards rent a bike and explore the surroundings of the Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s a very popular hang out place for locals.
4. Huay Xai, Laos
Huay Lai is a small city located in the North of Laos and a great starting point to get to know the culture of the country while backpacking alone or in good company. In the capital of Bokeo province Laos, Huay Xai, you can do kayaking, trekking, biking or enjoy a city tour. The main highlights of this lovely town are Jom Khao Manilat Temple which overlooks the Mekong River, making it an awesome place to watch the sun set. The other one is the Gibbon Experience, biplane within Nam Kan National Park.
If you are searching for a nice place to stay I would recommend to check out Houayxai Riverside Hotel. It has a fantastic view of the river and offers tidy, nicely furnished rooms.
5. Luang Prabang & the Pak Ou Caves
Luang Prabang is another travel gem in Laos on this Southeast Asia backpacking route attracting all globetrotters with it’s Buddhist temples, beautiful French colonial buildings and rural scenery. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also famous for it’s slow and hypnotic lifestyle. Spend 2 days in this town to immerse into Laos’ culture and explore nearby natural wonders. Where to stay in Luang Prabang? The tidy and beautiful hotel Maison Vongprachan Hotel is a great choice.
The weather in this area is humid and temperatures feel hot for most of the year. The hottest months are May, June, and April. The best time to visit Luan Prabang is from November to January but it’s also the high season for tourists.
The best day trips from Luang Prabang are by the boat to visit the historical Oak Ou Caves. There is an easy-to-reach lower cave and a bit more challenging upper cave. The upper cave will surprise you with breathtaking views over the countryside and river. On your way back you can also visit Ban Xang Hai, Whisky Village. There you can taste strong whisky made from rice.
6. Muang Ngoi Neua
Muang Ngoi Neua is an off the beaten path little village that you can only reach by boat from Muang Khoa or Long Khiaw. It’s a very safe place if you are a first time solo traveler who wants to get to know the authentic culture of Laos. The main attractions of this area are the caves and nearby villages.
The caves play a significant role in Laos’ history. During the Vietnam war the US bombed Laos every day, for 9 years. Nowadays there are still unexploded bombs, which NGOs are trying to find and get rid of. So the people in this area abandoned their houses and tried to save themselves in the natural caves during the day. Despite this cruel past Lao are very kind, cheerful people who like to joke around. Amazing folk!
7. Magnificent Bangkok
Most backpackers and travellers land in Bangkok because it’s one of the main arrival destinations in Southeast Asia. You might be surprised why everyone is in love with Bangkok, because of it’s magnitude you’ll need a while to get know it better. Make sure to spend a couple of days in this metropolis to explore museums, parks, temples and to taste delicious street food.
If you’ve seen the movie “The Beach”, then you’ve probably heard of Khao San Road. The book also describes this area very good: “Khao San is the centre of the backpacking universe“. it’s the most famous street and if you are backpacking through Southeast Asia you will come through here for sure. Cheap Thai street food, “Happy Hours”, parties and budget hotels are all here to find. Big spenders will love hotel Riva Surya Bangkok. Budget travellers will be happy to stay at NapPark Hostel.
8. Ancient UNESCHO Heritage Site, Ayutthaya
The UNESCO world heritage site, Ayutthaya is one of the well-known sites in Southeast Asia. If you are visiting this region you must explore this ancient city. It’s very easy to reach this place from Bangkok by train, taxi or bus. I recommend an Ayutthaya day trip with an overnight stay. You will have enough time to observe all the Buddhist temples and the beauty of the picturesque islands captured in the middle of three rivers.
9. Chiang Rai trekking
Chiang Rai can often be missed while backpacking through Asia but it’s a great non-touristic place to visit. It’s located about 785 kilometres away from Bangkok. Chiang Rai is definitely a great destination even if you are backpacking alone because of it’s magnificent mountainous scenery, historical remains, ethnic villages and jungle trekking.
One of the main reasons why you should visit Chiang Rai is the breathtaking White Temple. Find some time and visit the Black House too. Both buildings are artistic masterpieces.
10. The Capital of Cambodia Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is another great place to visit in Southeast Asia. You will be surprised with it’s temples, wildlife sanctuaries, museum and various tours. Although Phnom Penh hasn’t always been a city filled with kindhearted people, it suffered a very cruel recent history that I would recommend to get to know closer through visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
Another must visit place in Phnom Penh is the Night Market, where you can taste delicious Cambodian food. Spend a few hours in the National Museum to absorb all the interesting information about Cambodian culture. Visit the Russian Market.However you won’t find many Russian products because it’s only called like that as this was a popular area amongst Russian expats in the 1980s. Admire the beauty of Wat Phnom, animal lovers can visit a sanctuary that focuses on indigenous creatures such as the Asia Sun Bears and Moon Bears habitat conservation.
If you are searching for accommodation in Phnom Penh then I would suggest to stay in Duan Penh. This area offers the most sights and a riverfront with numerous cafés. Double Leaf Boutique Hotel is a wonderful place to stay.
11. Siem Reap & visiting Angkor Wat
Siem Reap is a wonderful town worth of some exploration. There are numerous activities to experience like horseback riding, butterfly watching or visiting nearby villages such as the floating village, Tonle Sap Lake. It’s a fairly small place that’s why you can easily explore the surroundings by walking, biking or hiring a tuk-tuk. I would recommend to stay here for at least 3 days. In the beginning you can explore all the temples and afterwards relax or enjoy fun things in Siem Reap.
Visiting Angkor Wat is one of the main things to do in Cambodia while backpacking through Asia. Join a guided tour that includes a photo stop at sunset or sunrise. That’s the most comfortable way to enjoy the beauty of the temples.
If you are thinking of where to stay in Siem Reap then Po Residence Hotel would be a lovely home for a while for a good price.
12. The beachside of Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville may seem like an uninspiring little town but from here you can access magnificent white sandy beaches. If you are backpacking alone it’s a great opportunity to stay in solitude for some time and enjoy the beautiful private beachside. Nevertheless each one of the beaches in this area has it’s own charm.
Start with Serendipity Beach, which is one of the cleanest but also pretty crowded ones. There are plenty of bars and restaurants on the beach front. In the evening you will find seats along the sand where you can relax and watch the sunset. Not far off you will find Ocheteaul Beach, it’s a smaller version of the previous one but with a similar vivid atmosphere. There is also Otres Beach which is family and couple friendly.
If you like big, vivid and modern cities then Kuala Lumpur will steal your heart. It’s the capital of Malaysia, boasting with skyscrapers, colonial architecture, delicious street food and an authentic mix of various cultures. I would recommend to stay in Kuala Lumpur for at least 2 days and not to use it only as a stopover because of the affordable flights.
14. Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is a must place to visit while you are backpacking in Malaysia. The most famous attraction in this area are the magnificent views of the tea plantations. Spend 2-3 days in this area to relax and enjoy mild temperatures, architecture in British colonial style and just beautiful rural nature.
Climbing Mount Kinabali, the highest mountain in Borneo, is definitely one of the most amazing adventures which should be on the bucket list of every traveler. It will take you 4-5 days to reach the summit but it’s definitely worth the effort. The difficulty of the climbing surely depends on your fitness level but it’s also doable for the beginners.
To climb Mount Kinabali has become very popular that’s why you should know that March to September is the busiest season, as well as around any major holiday, including Chinese New Year.
Singapore is a must visit place on the Southeast Asia travel route. Especially if you are travelling alone for the first time. I will surprise you with the fact that Singapore is the safest country in the world. Furthermore it’s extremely beautiful and very modern. Singapore offers various fun and interesting things to do like the Gardens and Supertree Grove. There are several cultural districts: China Town, Little India and also the hip neighbourhood of Haji Lane.
17. Lakes of Coron Island, Philippines
Coron Island is one of the main visited destinations in the Philippines because of it’s white beaches and hypnotising natural gems, Lake Kayangan and Lake Barracuda are a must-visit without any doubt. This is where you are going to have a paradise-like experience.
18. Chocolate Hills in Bohol
The Philippines offer numerous unique natural wonders. Nevertheless nothing so popular as the Chocolate Hills, one of the major tourist attractions in the central island of Bohol. A total area of more than 50sqkm is covered with 30-50 metres high hills in a conical and symmetrical shapes. They are covered in grass and during the hot dry period the grass turns brown, turning the hills into a row of chocolate wonders. You can’t find anything similar to this in the entire world!
You will find the Chocolate Hills four kilometres before the town of Carmen. The easiest way is to join a tour. If you decide to get there on your own, catch a bus from Tagbilaran from the integrated bus terminal in Dao to Carmen. From here it’s a 10 minute walk when following the relevant signs.
Malaysia is the perfect destination for budget travellers in Southeast Asia. This beautiful country offers so much and you don’t need to spend a fortune to experience it. With this backpacking route 10-day itinerary you will discover vivid cities, delicious food, stunning beaches, breathtaking nature and the rich culture of Malaysia. This all is perfectly combined on the peninsular and close by islands so there will be no wasted time.
Of course you could spend more days to explore Malaysia which is the world’s great cultural melting pot. The famous Malaysian slogan “Truly Asia” proves that the variety of cultures can live together under one roof: Muslim Malays, diverse Chinese, Hindu and aboriginal groups like the Orangi Asli. The whole country embodies the modern development and old-fashioned charm of ex-colonies and nature side. Nevertheless Malaysia has less tourists than her neighbour countries like Thailand and Singapore what makes the local culture even more authentic because it’s less focused on travellers.
Malaysia Trip Planning
Best time to go to Malaysia
It is very typical for Southeast Asia to be characterised as high heat and humidity all year-round. The same goes for Malaysia. There are two main monsoon seasons: The Southwest Monsoon from late May to September, and the Northeast Monsoon from November to March. The driest time to explore Malaysia is January and February which is of course also the busiest period. The most recommended time to visit Malaysia is from April to October.
Food you must try in Malaysia
Nasi Lemak – it’s rice soaked in coconut milk and steamed. It’s a simple dish that is always served with sides like hard-boiled eggs and peanuts to vegetables and meats. It’s spicy and sweet at the same time.
Apam Balik – the best way to describe it, it’s a rice flour pancake filled with sugar, peanuts or corn. Perfect snack on the go.
Satay – on of the most famous dishes that many travellers have tried somewhere else already. It’s skewers of chicken, beef or pork grilled in peanut sauce.
Nasi Danang – a well-known breakfast in Malaysia that contains rice cooked in coconut milk with fish curry. Hard boiled eggs, shaved coconut and pickled vegetables are also added to the meal.
Laksa – yummy noodles combined with a gravy or sauce, veggies, and meat. You should try this Malay dish at different spots because it can be cooked in a different way. Some prefer to use coconut milk base, while others use broths.
Is Malaysia safe to travel?
If it’s your first time in Malaysia then you need to know that it’s a very safe country to travel to. Of course it doesn’t mean that you should lose your precautions, it’s always the best to practise common sense like you would do in your home country. The majority of the Malaysian population can articulate in English since it’s their second language. That makes travelling even more easy and fun.
10 Days in Malaysia: Travel Guide of Must Visit Places
Day 1-3: Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is a city to fall in love with. The multicultural capital of Malaysia is an ideal epitome of the modern world meeting authentic traditions. There are skyscrapers, huge shopping malls, incredible restaurants but also sumptuous street food and a rich culture. Go and try some street food from the famous street Jalan Alor. There you can sample everything for low prices. Also pass by Pudu Was Sek Lai and get to know a taste of Chinese-Malay dishes.
You can also just go through my other article “Perfect Kuala Lumpur Itinerary for 2 Days“. To the top things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I would definitely add Batu Caves, Merdeka Square, Little India, Chinatown, Petronas Twin Towers, National Mosque. Spend full 2-3 days in Kuala Lumpur to immerse into the vibes of the country.
Day 3-5: Cameron Highlands
Cameron Highlands is another gem in Malaysia. It’s famous for attractions like it’s beautiful garden, architecture in British colonial style and breathtaking views of the emerald tea plantations. I would recommend to spend 2-3 nights in this former colonial retreat with temperatures rarely going over 30 degrees. The easiest way to get here is to take a bus from Kuala Lumpur. You can find the timetable for the buses here.
Cameron Highlands: must-do things for first timers
Hike up the Mount Brinchang & Explore Mossy Forest
Cameron Highland is a dream destination for those who search for peace and quiet. It has cooler temperatures than the rest of the country which makes it ideal for hiking lovers. If you are one of them then you should attempt to get to the peak of Mount Brinchang. There is a trail that will take you around 3 hours to reach the summit. On your way to the top of the Mount you will enter a surreal natural reserve, Mossy Forest. It’s not very well-known but this forest is a rich habitat for beautiful exotic plants.
Visit the Tea Plantation
Visiting Cameron Highlands and not visiting the vast tea plantations is like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower. It’s the leading tea-growing region in the whole of Malaysia. Nevertheless the history of tea is not very old, it all started in the 20th century. Definitely go and see Sungai Palas Tea Estate, the oldest and most famous tea plantation. You will learn a lot about tea culture and taste delicious drinks.
Another interesting fact is that Cameron Highlands is the center of strawberry production in the country. The iconic strawberries are growing here all year around. In the high season from May to August though you can get a chance to pluck fresh and sumptuous strawberries by hand. The most famous farms are Kok Lim Strawberry Farm and Raju Hill Strawberry Farm.
Visit Butterfly Farm
To visit Butterfly Farm is always a good idea especially when it’s one of the oldest and most popular attractions in Cameron Highlands. It’s a perfect location to admire colourful flying creatures and take a wonderful picture for your Instagram.
Visit National Park Taman Negara
Taman Negara is one of the oldest rainforests and a huge national park on the Malay peninsula. It’s not far from Cameron Highlands so it would be a great choice to visit this 130 million years old tropical rainforest on your last day in Cameron Highlands. The beautiful park is a natural habitat for tigers, macaques and has a rich birdlife. It’s one of the best places to visit in Malaysia due to it’s breathtaking unspoilt flora and fauna.
Day 5-8: Penang & George Town
Penang is a compact island with many interesting things to see. It’s capital, George Town is one of Malaysia’s great cultural and heritage locations which is filled with UNESCO sites. It’s one of the tropical holiday favourites because of the ensemble of history, tradition established since the 1700s and the fresh touch of contemporary street art. The British colonial island is nowadays a melting pot of Asian and European elements that you will notice in it’s amazing street food, architecture and even culture.
Getting to Penang
The best and quickest option to get to Penang is to take a bus from Cameron Highlands to Ipoh and then hop on another bus to Penang. It can take you from 2 to 4 hours to get to your destination. When you book tickets, inquire about travel times to choose the shortest option. Alternatively, you can also catch a bus or train to Ipoh followed by the ferry to Penang.
Where to Stay in Penang?
Your stay in Penang depends on your intentions. If you want to be in the epicentre of culinary and cultural heritage, stay in the capital, George Town. Budget travellers will be surprised with the comfort, simplicity and beauty at the same time at Queens Hostel. For those who want to experience a unique stay in Penang should book a room at Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion.
If you are craving for a tranquil tropical holiday then escape to Batu Ferringhi. For the big spenders a great decision would be to stay at G Hotel Kelawai. Budget travellers can book a room at Rasa Motel.
Explore George Town
On your first day hire a bike for the cheap price of around $5 for the whole day – and head to the capital of Penang, George Town. Walk around it’s beautiful streets to learn more about it’s history and tradition. Best way is to begin at Lebuh Keng Kwee for delicious street food, then check out the street art at Chulia Street and finish your walk down Pitt street to observe some architectonic treasures.
Visit Kek Lok Si Temple
Kek Lok Si Temple is a popular Buddhist temple in Penang which means “Temple of Ultimate Happiness”. Hire a guide who will explain to you the interesting meanings of the numerous carved symbols and a history of this holy place. You are here to get to know a new culture and immerse into foreign history, right? So don’t hesitate to learn something new! You can end the day on top of Penang hill with magnificent night views over the city.
Beachside of Penang
On your third day enjoy the island’s best beaches and nature. The hikers can challenge themselves and follow the Penang National Park’s jungle trails. But there is also something for those who prefer to relax: Beautiful Tropical Spice Garden. The best way to end your day is to watch sunset at Batu Ferringhi.
Day 8-10: Langkawi
How to travel from Penang to Langkawi
There are a few options on how to travel from Penang to Langkawi. There is a direct ferry and also a flight from George Town to Kuah. The cheapest combination is to go by bus or train and ferry via Butterworth on the mainland. Taking a high speed ferry is the easiest but a relatively pricey alternative. Within 3 hours you will reach the island but for those who get sea sick it will be an unpleasant journey.
I would recommend to take the Penang ferry to Butterworth and then catch a bus right next to the ferry terminal to Kuala Kedah. There you will find ferries which operate almost every hour to Langkawi.
Where to stay in Langkawi
Langkawi is known for it’s relaxing atmosphere with various sightseeing opportunities. It’s especially popular for honeymooners and families who are seeking for a perfect getaway. There are plenty of nice hotels and guesthouses to stay in which makes it a bit complicated to find the perfect place to stay in Langkawi.
The most popular destination and best place to stay in Langkawi is Pantai Penang. There you will also find the widest choice of hotels with options for every budget. But this is also the area which is very crowded during the high season. The budget travellers will find a great place to stay at BONOBO Bed & Breakfast House. The ones who are searching for something a bit more luxurious should definitely check out Cenang Plaza Beach Hotel and La Villa Langkawi.
For those who are travelling with kids I would recommend to stay in Pantai Tengah. Travellers who don’t want to just relax but to be close to all main attraction should in Pantai Kok. The cheapest Backpacking Hostel in Pantai Kok is SHAKA SeaGypsy. A great budget hotel is ZEN Rooms Basic Pantai Kok.
If you are searching for peace and quiet then definitely go to Datai Bay. It’s an ideal spot for those who prefer exclusive, 5-star resorts. Doubtlessly the best place to stay in Langkawi for honeymooners. Berjaya Langkawi Resort is a great choice to enjoy the idyllic area.
Langkawi Tourist Attractions
Half-day Langkawi island tour
The best way to experience the beauty of Langkawi island within a short period is to join a half-day tour. It includes popular attractions like Cable Car Ride and Sky Bridge. It’s should be the first thing on every travellers bucket list when they visit Langkawi. It’s a memorable experience with breathtaking views. Additionally you will see the Underwater World housing with more than 500 exotic species. It’s another huge touristic sight to see in Langkawi. Last but not least there is a visit of Eagle Square. It’s another interesting place to visit in Langkawi, a manmade impressive 12 metre-tall sculpture of an eagle.
Langkawi is a big island that is surrounded by 103 other smaller islands. To visit these uninhabited islands you should sign up for an island hopping tour. It’s a great way to experience the crystal clear waters, trekking through the dense jungle like Kilim Karst Geoforest. Among all these it’s possible to do kayaking and snorkelling.
The adventurous ones should visit a park with high ropes and zip lining through the Forest Canopy. The best way is to do it with Skytrex Adventure. The best way to describe it is challenging tree to tree trek with flying, gliding and adrenalin-filled experiences. You need to overcome obstacles in this forest adventure to get to the finish line. It’s a great way to spend some time with friends or family.
Mangrove River Cruise & Jungle Pool Swimming
This is an amazing tour and once in a lifetime experience of the Kubang Badak river with it’s exotic creatures as the Brahminy Kites, white-bellied sea eagles, mudskippers and herons. There is also a beautiful mangrove forest to observe. The hungry ones can taste a delightful home cooked lunch at the local family house. Definitely an unforgettable excursion.
Beyond Malaysia in 10 days: Where to visit next
Singapore: It’s just stone throw away from Kuala Lumpur. Singapore is one of my favourite modern cities that I could visit again and again! Definitely a must see destination in the Southeast Asia.
Indonesia: Bali, the island is incredibly beautiful and has a mysterious and diverse culture. It’s the perfect spot for backpackers who prefer to explore Bali on a budget but also for those who want to escape loud big city life and hide in a beautiful resort.
Maldives: Maldives is the epitome of heaven on Earth with it’s incredible sandy beaches, luminous crystal clear water and relaxing atmosphere. Check out where the best honeymoon resorts are and how to travel to Maldives on a budget.