29 November 2016

5 THINGS TO DO IN HOI AN

A Mini Guide to Hoi An
Hoi An is a wonderfully, peaceful town doused in culture and beauty. You will find colourful lanterns streamed across the streets, bright flowers flourish over buildings and intricate patterns are laced across buildings. Among the quaint streets, you'll discover Chinese temples, the Japanese bridge and French Colonial buildings; allowing for the charming, historic town to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a haven for bespoke clothing and the perfect retreat for those wanting to unwind. 


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25 November 2016

MY HALONG BAY EXPERIENCE

Vietnam never ceased to amaze me and Halong Bay did not fall short of expectations. I heard a few fellow backpackers along the way say Halong Bay was overrated and 'pretty but nothing special.' 
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20 November 2016

EXPLORING NHA TRANG BY BIKE

Nha Trang | Travel Journal
An early arrival into Nha Trang meant extra time to explore, so we wasted not even a second, heading straight for a breakfast of ice coffee and pancakes before renting bikes to explore the town. I was so sceptical of riding a bike, having not ridden one for years and the thought of cycling along the hectic Vietnam roads was daunting. I want to say that you don't forget how to ride a bike and cycling on the roads was easier than expected but I can't. Nerves took over and I felt wobbly and unbalanced and felt threatened by the endless flurry of cars and mopeds that surrounded me on my tiny little bike.
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17 November 2016

FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOI AN

Hoi An | Travel Journal
Vietnam is a place bursting with culture, beauty and wonderful food and it won't take you long to fall in love. We'd spent less than a week travelling up the country and Hoi An was one of the stops on our route. We arrived in the morning, so immediately, head for breakfast, where I tried a banana fritter-like dish served with honey and I knew straight away, I was going to like it here. The crunchy fritter was warm, with gooey banana running through and the drizzle of honey sweetened it up. Yum! 


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13 November 2016

LIVING LIKE A LOCAL | VIETNAM

The Phuong Ja Homestay

My first night in Vietnam began in the rural district of Châu Thành, where I stayed with locals at the Phuong Ja Homestay. I couldn't have asked for a better welcome into Vietnam - the luscious, green landscapes surrounded us; a river flowed gently closeby, where families could be found floating down in their boats and friendly smiles greeted us from every direction. We got a chance to explore the village, meet and interact with some of the locals and get a glimpse into their way of living. 


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6 November 2016

PLANNING YOUR BIG TRIP | HELPFUL TIPS

So you have finally bitten the bullet and you want to travel. Congrats! You've just made one of the best decisions of your life! There is so much to plan before you go and it can be mind boggling where to even begin. Here are some pretty good places to start to get you on your feet.


What kind of trip is this?
This is a great question to ask yourself. Are you looking to party/experience culture/see festivals/hike nature trails/all of the above? This can heavily influence where you first travel to. Research is your best friend at this stage and once you've written down what sort of things you first want to see and do, it helps you to narrow it down a lot. 

When and how long for? 
If you're working, you might have to figure out how much time you can take off of work or if you can leave and reapply for the job (which is what I did) or you could even just yolo it and quit your job altogether and figure out work life once you're back. I mean, if you have no kids, no house, no real responsibilities, this this is the time to travel! If you're studying, make the most of your time off! Once you've figured out the length of time, it would be useful to consider when you want to go. These two kind of go hand in hand. There's no point in booking time off to go travelling a week after a famous festival or during super busy seasons and have your travel time ruined by excess tourists. Think about whether you're going for a specific event and maybe it would be handy to time it around that. I knew I wanted to be in Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party, so I organised around that. A good book to help you is "A Good Place To Be Today," sharing with you which places are good to visit on certain dates. 

Where to?
This kinda comes down to the budget you have. All of these points come hand in hand - for example, if you've decided you want to do a hiking/outdoors holiday, New York isn't going to be the place to start. So, once you've decided on the trip style, you can figure out where to book that ticket to. Start brainstorming which continent you'd most like to visit and pinpoint the countries in that continent you're dying to see. Doing this can help create a rough itinerary as well and will help you to create a route. Are you dying to go on a safari or swim in waterfalls? Writing down things you want to do can help you find the best destinations for these particular things. 

Budget? 
This can highly influence where you travel to and how long you're able to go for. Don't book a cheap flight without thinking of the living costs once you get there. You might find a cheap deal to Oz but you'll find yourself stuck for cash once you're there (it's pretty pricey out there) and that's the last thing you want since it takes so long to get there, you're going to wanna stay there for as long as you can - make it worth the 24 journey. Whereas, Asia is generally a great place to start since it's affordable to get to and dead cheap to be out there, with meals in Thailand costing just £1 sometimes! Don't forget the costs of moving from country to country - as a travel agent, I have a lot of people who want to do South America and forget the distances between place to place. Whilst living costs are fairly low out there, moving around can add up. And don't forget exit taxes and visa requirements! All boring costs but things you need to take into consideration...

Who with?
This can sometimes be the hardest part of planning a trip! When you talk about it with your friends, everyone is up for going but when it comes to booking time, everyone has an excuse. It's really hard to get everyone's schedules and budgets to sync and it can really get in the way. If you're determined to get your group of friends to go, give yourselves plenty of time and you could create an itinerary, look up dates and flights and agree to have enough money saved by set date. Then when it comes around, no one should have excuses since they have had enough time to take time off work or get the funds. And if they don't, don't let it stop you, travel solo, find a group tour, just go for it! 

It took me a whole year to finally settle on dates and book a flight, mostly down to just being scared. Don't let this be a reason for you. Once you have all the technical bits sorted it just becomes super fun from here on out. I promise!

And if you do need any help planning a trip (from flights, insurance to tour groups & more) - feel free to email me at Sasha.Khan@STATravel.com and I'd be happy to help! 

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1 November 2016

UBUD HOTELS | PONDOK NAYA

Where To Stay in Ubud?

My favourite continent to travel to...Asia! I've never been to Indonesia before and so excited to try the food, experience the culture and see the beauty of it. Driving to our hotel reminds me of why I love Asia so much; the organised chaos of the roads, the street vendors selling food, the stunning architecture, the tropical surroundings, the sticky heat.
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