Leaving Asia: our favorite experiences of 4 months in the tropics

Leaving Asia: our favorite experiences of 4 months in the tropics

It’s been a couple of months since we’ve traded the tropical heat of Southeast Asia for the salsa vibes of South America. Looking back on 4 amazing months, we can truly say we’ve had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Here are (in no particular order) our favorites!

Smiling and waving kids

It seems like everywhere you go in Southeast Asia, there are kids standing by the road smiling and waving at you. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a big city or a small mountain village; the children are always so exited and happy to see you. Sometimes they even come running to the road from their houses when they notice there’s a foreigner passing by. When it comes to pictures, they can be a bit shy though…

Vietnamese children waving at the camera
Vietnamese children waving at us during our Sapa trekking
Laotian girl
Keeping a safe distance while observing us from her balcony 🙂

Riding a motorbike through the countryside

One of our favorite activities in Southeast Asia was to rent a motorbike and explore the country. We rented so many different motorbikes, I’m not sure I can even remember them all. Sometimes it was for a multi-day loop, such as the Mae Hong Son Loop, Thakhek Loop or Ha Giang Loop. Other times, we used the motorbikes for day trips or simply to get around town. Our tours around the Plain of Jars near Phonsavan, to the pepper plantation and crab market near Kampot, and between the karst mountains and caves of Phong Nha rank among our all-time favorite day trips in Southeast Asia.

Driving a motorbike though Northern Thailand
The Mae Hong Son loop in Thailand was our first multi day motorbike trip
Exploring the rice fields around Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Exploring the rice fields around Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Riding the Thakhek loop by motorbike
We didn’t see many other tourists on the Thakhek loop in Laos
Ha Giang loop in Northern Vietnam
The Ha Giang loop was definitely the most challenging ride of them all!

Visiting the most beautiful Buddhist temples

There are so many stunningly beautiful Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia that it’s impossible to visit them all. But we sure did our best to see as many as possible! Though nothing can beat the enormous temple city of Angkor Wat, we also absolutely loved visiting the two ancient capitals of Thailand, the three colored temples of Chiang Rai and the Linh Phuoc Pagoda in Dalat.

Buddha head in Ayutthaya, Thailand
Buddha head in Ayutthaya, Thailand
Just one of many, many temples in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Just one of many, many temples in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Eating delicious street foods

There’s no other part of the world that does street food as well as Southeast Asia. The food is so fresh, flavorful and cheap; you’ll have a hard time to stop eating! We especially loved the Thai cuisine with its amazing curries, noodles and rice dishes. Probably the best meal we had in 4 months was a simple bowl of noodles from a roadside stall in the middle of nowhere on the Mae Hong Son Loop. But the unique dishes of the royal cuisine of Hue, Vietnam come in at a very close second!

This bowl of noodle soup was probably the best meal we had in Southeast Asia!
This bowl of noodle soup was probably the best meal we had in Southeast Asia!
Food market stall with lots of yummy Thai dishes on offer
Food market stall with lots of yummy Thai dishes on offer
Oh beloved Khao Soi, we miss you already...
Oh beloved Khao Soi, we miss you already…
Street vendor with all types of meat on a stick in Dalat, Vietnam
Street vendor with all types of meat on a stick in Dalat, Vietnam

Learning how to dive

Learning how to dive was a longtime wish for Geert. For me, not so much… After a bad first experience with diving in Turkey, I was a bit apprehensive about trying diving again. But I’m so happy that I went through with it! We are now both PADI Open Water certified divers, which allows us to go diving all around the world. We’ve had so much fun admiring the amazingly colorful underwater world filled with corals, fish, turtles and so much more.

Testing our equipment before getting into the water
Testing our equipment before getting into the water
Diving on Koh Tao on our Southern Thailand Itinerary
Smile and wave 🙂

Ziplining through the jungle

How many people are able to say that they’ve spent three days in the jungle ziplining and sleeping in a treehouse? Well, we’re two of the lucky few! It’s such a mind boggling experience to soar high above the trees of the Laotian jungle. It must be one of the closest things to flying. Add to that the company of amazing people, spotting monkeys, giant squirrels and other wildlife, eating some of the most delicious meals possible and spending the night in a treehouse 30 meters above ground, and you’ve got yourself one of the most awesome experiences ever.

Sandra ziplining
Who would’ve thought that I’d be brave enough to do this!
Sunset from our treehouse
Sunset from our treehouse

Off the beaten path exploring

Southeast Asia is by no means an off the beaten path destination. On the contrary, it’s one of the worlds most popular tourist destinations. But what’s so great about it, is that it’s still possible to explore hidden gems, undiscovered by mass tourism. Places such as Nong Khiaw, the Kong Lor cave and the abandoned waterpark of Hue were among our favorites in all of Southeast Asia. And the best is that we got to explore them without being surrounded by hundreds of other tourists, like was the case at more well-known places, such as Luang Prabang, Angkor Wat and Hoi An.

Kong Lor cave
Kong Lor cave is definitely one of the most underrated caves in Southeast Asia
Nong Khiaw Viewpoint at sunset
Nong Khiaw, a Laotian paradise untouched by mass tourism

All in all, we look back on an amazing time in our life and we can’t wait to get back to Asia to explore more of this amazing continent!

Pin it for later!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.