It’s no secret Asia remains my favorite place on earth. There is just something about it that instantly induces a sense of wonder. When you step off the plane and you are surrounded by a language you couldn’t even begin to understand from the chatter to the street signs everything is immediately and obviously so different from what you’re used to. For me, this is at the core of why I travel- to feel that sense of childlike wonder that always keeps me on my toes. Every time I visit, Asia does this to me.
There is so much to this continent and I’ve merely just scratched the surface. But I’ve partnered with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to share two of the ten countries that I’ve traveled to that are part of ASEAN: Thailand and Indonesia. AND to share how you could experience them too through the #ASEAN50Ambassador Contest on Instagram! Keep reading to find out more.
This was the first ASEAN country I traveled to and second country I visited in Asia. This was a place I always wanted to visit. Seeing photos and hearing stories of its otherworldliness had me lusting over this place for as long as I can remember.
Thailand is a huge nation with mountains and jungles up north, city in the middle, and that iconic coastline in the south. It truly has something for everyone. I had the opportunity to experience all of it.
Damnoen Saduak Water Market.
Damnoen Saduak is made up of a series of canals and can be accessed by both long-tail boats and some parts are accessible by car. But don’t take a car. You’re in Thailand so I urge you to take the long-tail boat!
There are more than 32,000 temples in Thailand and 400 of them are in Bangkok alone. Take a long tail boat ride to Wat Arun. You know a temple is worth visiting when it is on Thai currency. You’ll get the best view from a long-tail boat on the river at sunset. Some other temples worth seeing are Wat Pho, home to the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand, and Wat Benchamabophitr, also on Thai currency and known as “The Marble Temple.”
What is there not to love about Thai cuisine? You’ll have the chance to experience some of the worlds most delicious and unique dishes. Some highlights are:
Coconut Ice Cream and Coconut Pancakes at the Water Market
Breeze Restaurant on the 51st floor of the Lebua Hotel. Sure, the food and drinks are expensive but they were delicious and that view? The best view of the city in Bangkok. After dinner be sure to head up to the Sky Bar on the 63rd floor of the hotel. Most notably recognizable from the Hangover II. Up here you’ll find music and delicious libations. It’s kind of amazing to admire a new city from the rooftops over drinks and dinner with your brand new bestie.
Wat Phra Singh
Water Runner & Bobby’s Elephant Home
What is a trip to Thailand without elephants? Not any trip to Thailand that I want to be on! Take it from me, this is something that needs to be researched prior to deciding which sanctuary to go to. My experience at Water Runner & Bobby’s Elephant home was memorable to say the least and this is a place I wholeheartedly believe cares for the elephants, I witnessed the love first hand.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon is the highest peak in Thailand, making the views that much more spectacular. Temples, discovering waterfalls, and hiking through lush forests are just a few of the main attractions in the park. Pro tip: go for sunset!
Save the relaxation for last! After a few weeks of trekking throughout the country you’ll want your final destination to be relaxing. From Krabi, you can take a 40-minute boat ride to Koh Hong (Hong Island). Think James Bond!
Tips & Things to Know
Language: The official language of Thailand is Thai. Here are a few key phrases that helped me during my tip
- Sawadee ka (sa-wad-ee-ka): Hello, good morning, good afternoon, greetings (Sawadee Khap for males)
- Kop Kun Ka: Thank you (Kop Kun Krub for males)
- Kor: Please
- Kep Tang Ka: The bill please (khap for males)
Currency : Thai Baht
Always barter at the markets
9 times out of 10 you will need to ask for the check
Spicy means SPICY here
Random people will take photos of you, just roll with it
Again, a faraway land I always wanted to visit. I remember the day I watched Eat, Pray, Love I promised myself I would make it there one day. And that I did. There is a lot more to Indonesia than meets the eye. But for me, Bali was everything.
Bali is similar to Thailand in the sense that it has a little something for everyone, beaches, mountains, city and jungle. During my trip I stuck to the city and jungle.
A spiritual experience to say the least. You will see travelers and locals alike going through ritual purification.
PSA: Monkeys will climb all over you. If that’s not your thing I don’t advise visiting. However, it is definitely my thing.
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
This wasn’t what I pictured in my head. It ended up being quite touristy but beautiful nonetheless.
An absolute must. Take it from me, head here at sunset. Bali days are known for being hot and at Uluwatu there is no relief from the sun. Pro tip: hold on tight to your belongings. There are so many monkeys running around trying to steal whatever they can get their hands on!
Barter at the markets
Pack light clothes
Always carry a scarf with you, chances are you’ll end up at a temple at some point during the day
Motor bikes are more common than cars
Traffic can be bad so have patience
Now that I’ve shared two of my favorite ASEAN experiences, it’s time to tell you how you can have a shot at experiencing the trip of a lifetime! ASEAN wants to send one lucky winner on a trip of a lifetime to two ASEAN countries of their choice! The prize includes roundtrip airfare and accommodations! Aside from Thailand and Indonesia the other nations are, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.
“Okay, so how do I enter?”
Entering is easy! Submit a photo on Twitter or Instagram of your best travel experience. Sipping matcha in Japan? Hiking your local trail? Helicopter tour of New York City? Share a photo that displays your passion for travel and write about why you deserve to travel to ASEAN! Be sure to include the hashtag #ASEAN50Ambassador and tag @AseanTourismOnline via Twiter and/or Instagram. Winners will be chosen based on creativity so share your best travel moment to date! If chosen, you’ll be asked to document your travels and ASEAN Tourism will share them with the world! The contest runs from September 15, 2017- October 15, 2017 and the winner will be chosen on October 20, 2017!
See, it’s simple! Head over to Twitter or Instagram to enter. May the odds be ever in your favor! So tell me, what is on your ASEAN bucket list? Look here for a little ASEAN inspiration.
This post is written in partnership with Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as always, my opinions are my own.