Category Archives: World Travel

6 Southeast Asia Water Adventures – #3 is my favorite!

Exclusive for Vagobond by Melissa Ruttanai Photos by Neil Friedman.

In mainland Southeast Asia, adrenaline junkies and nature lovers will discover full-throttle water sport adventures. Without mandatory deposit fees equivalent to mortgage down payments, visitors trek, snorkel, raft and kayak in pristine waters. For those seeking beaches, grottos, and limestone landscapes, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam have become prime destinations. In Southeast Asia, adventure begins where the tides meet the shore. Here are 6 Southeast Asia Water Adventures.

Kayaking in Southern Thailand’s Angthong National Marine Park

Inland Sea, ThailandFor Hollywood filmmakers, billionaires, and broke college students, the Gulf of Thailand remains a draw for many waterborne adventure seekers. Northwest of famous Koh Samui Island, Angthong National Marine Park is an archipelago of 42 limestone islands carved by tide and wind. While camping is allowed with a permit, many visitors arrange tours out of Koh Samui that include swimming island lagoons, trekking trough the mountain, and eating at a local village. During the day, explore small coves and sandy beaches. Snorkel with tropical fish and survey Koh Wua Talap, the largest island in the chain, or Koh Mae Koh that boasts a green-blue inland sea called, Talay Nai. Glide kayaks across the Koh Mae’s bay and relax to the delicate sound of your paddle dipping into gentle waters while high promontories loom like grey-green sea monsters.


Boating through Vietnam’s Halong Bay

With a UNESCO World Heritage seal of approval, Halong Bay sits on the northern ridge of a limestone chain that sweeps up from the Gulf of Thailand and Angthong National Marine Park. Here, the karsts cluster into a mystical array of gray stone, verdant brush, and boats with iconic colonial sails and rudders. Meaning “dragon descending”, Halong Bay includes 2000 islands and over 600 square miles of the Tonkin Gulf, offering visitors dozens of beaches, grottos, and caves to explore. With its high salinity, bathers can jump right from the ship into waters so buoyant there’s hardly any exertion necessary. Stretching across the water surface, visitors can drift all day among spiraling crags. Visit floating houses lashed together into small villages. Or tether broadside to local fisherman, selling giant prawns and squirming squid straight from their nets. After a day caving, pull into Cat Ba Island, a favorite retreat for Hanoians escaping the city.

Southeast Asia Resources
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Hotels and Flights in Southeast Asia
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Southeast Asia On A Shoestring
Round the World Airfare


Sailing through Daily Life on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Tonle SapSix miles south of famous Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap continues to play a vital role in the life of local Cambodians. Fed by the Mekong River during the wet season, Tonle Sap remains a major waterway for commerce and transportation. Every day, ferries carry commuters and cargo across the lake on their way to and from Battambong. For US$5, travelers can gaze through a window of life on the lake, witnessing how families live in boathouses, cooking, reading, and raising children in narrow canals. Children attend floating schools on large boats with open windows and basketball courts enclosed by high fences. Families visit floating hospitals, teetering gently in the wake. Women buy fresh fish and produce from vendors rowing along peacefully.


White Water Rafting in Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang RiverLaos’ religious and cultural capital, Luang Prabang is a town known for Buddhist temples, daily markets, and a laidback pace of life. At sunrise, monks and novices traverse the UNESCO World Heritage streets. At sunset, fishing boats shift back and forth in the wake of speedboats heading to China. On one side of the town, the Mekong River skims along, a wide boulevard of fertile silt and dependable currents. On the other, Nom Khan River sweeps in from the east, offering visitors white water rafting and kayaking for any skill level. From town, tours can be arranged with door to riverside transport included. On their second day in Luang Prabang, travelers could find themselves clad in helmet and life vest, digging hard into rushing currents. Guides lead rafters through crashing white waters and ominous rocks creating whirlpools. In the reeds, Lao children play in the shallows, making the peace sign as they splash each other. Along the river, mountains as diverse as the wildlife press up against the shoreline. Stilted houses perch on slopes growing tea. Birds cut across black rock cliffs. And women plod up and down terraced vegetable patches.

Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

Tubing in LaosIn the 1970’s, backpackers looked around for a convenient stopover during trips between Luang Prabang and Vientiane, the capital. From this necessity, Vang Vieng burst onto the scene, offering accommodations, meals, and more recently, tubing. On the riverside, two companies rent out massive inner tubes and drop travelers off upstream for a day of lazing on the river, listening to birds, and losing all thought to mountain peaks. From these humble beginnings, the tubing trend has become the main activity in town. On the river, bars jut out from the tree line, pulsing with Bob Marley tunes and hawking cheap mixed drinks. Bars feature ziplines, mudslides, and tug-of-war pits to keep patrons docked at their shores. On the river, meet other travelers and become inspired by how many consecutive days they’ve tubed the river. Back in town, relax on triangular pillows, enjoy the mountain air, and recharge for another day on the river.

Swimming with Elephants in Pai, Thailand

Elephants in ThailandSitting on the highway route between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, the little town of Pai is a major stop along the traveler’s path in northern Thailand. Here, artists absorb nature’s inspiration and Thais retreat from the bustle of metropolitan life. While there’s plenty to do on foot and motorbike, a popular activity in Pai is elephant trekking. Hotel staff can make tour reservations. In the morning, a guide escorts you to the elephant camps. The world grows quiet on the outskirts of Pai. Elephants eat bananas and throw grass into the air. The elephant trainer called a mahout helps trekkers mount the pachyderms and settle onto a thick blanket. No saddles here, riders spend the day bareback in the sun as the elephants walk through the forest. At the river, elephants suck water up their trunks, spray a cold drink into their mouths, and save just enough to splash up at their riders. Once the mahout gives a command, the elephants shake. The riders hold on tight only to be flicked like flees off the elephant’s back. Up into the air and down into the river, the riders splash, getting their cold drink too.

5 Offbeat Things to Bucket List for China

5 Offbeat Things to Bucket List for China

Guest Story and Photos by Brett Baldwin

China is huge. Here are 5 offbeat things to bucket list for China.  Some things are better seen at night, while others should be seen during the day, or when sunset is happening.  Whatever you do, don’t miss these five awesome destinations or sites.

1. The Great-Wall Of China You won’t be disappointed with this one. The great-wall is magnificent. Sitting on the edge of the wall and watching the sunset go down on the far scenery of the mountains, beautiful. This is what creates memories and this place should be on everyones list!

2. The Labrang Monastery Of Xiahe Have you ever looked up in seen millions of stars? Probably not, but you can if you ever visits China’s great city Xiahe. Take a visit to the Labrang Monastery before sunset and prepare to be amazed. Star gazing here is absolutely amazing! You have monks in the background chanting and plenty of incense that fills the air with majestic scents. I promise you will not be disappointed.

3. The Karst Mountains Of Yangshuo Yangshuo ChinaI’m a mountain person so I really enjoy mountains. Especially these incredibly large limestone mountains. They are huge! The best times to see this view is early morning, or late evening (sunset). You’ll be amazed and truly ask yourself if there is a god in this world. Beauty like that just doesn’t appear out of the air.

4. Hong Kong You hear it in movies and you read it in magazines. Hong Kong’s skyline is absolutely earth shattering. It puts New York’s skyline to shame. The amount of skyscrapers there is incredible and will leave you with the feeling of being sooo small. Hong Kong also has a diverse range of culture and food available. So, be sure to eat out and enjoy the music and nightlife scenes.    

5. The Ganya Grasslands Ganya GrasslandsThis isn’t something every tourist does. Well, I can’t imagine a lot of tourist every doing this. When you go to another country the last thing most people want to do is camp. But those that take the leap will have an experience like no other. Flowers are abundant. Grass and trees dominate the landscape. Natural beauty can be seen for miles and miles and that makes the Ganya grasslands a must-see for anyone who loves nature. Don’t miss out on what China has to offer because you are afraid,or uncomfortable. You shouldn’t always be comfortable. If you want to live life, you’re going to need to let go and enjoy!

Guest post by Brett Baldwin of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. USA. He traveled in China  for three weeks and hopes to go back later this year.

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World Travel is Risky – Get Travel Insurance

World travel can be dangerous and expensive. One thing you don’t want to do is get stuck somewhere with no money, no options, and no chance to save yourself. That’s where travel insurance can really come in handy.

As a blogger, I find it’s best to stay as unbiased as possible in what we offer to you. While many of us choose to travel without insurance, the risks are sometimes just not worth it. This can be especially true if you have a family or are traveling for long periods. From all the research I’ve done, there is one company that is the top rated provider for any kind of backpacker or travel insurance: World Nomads.

In terms of features and price no other company can compare with World Nomads. Their travel insurance is available in all countries – (with sensible exceptions – you aren’t covered for travel in places like Iraq or Afghanistan) – and they don’t leave out the most unusual or interesting places, as some other insurance companies do. Another huge benefit of World Nomads is that you can purchase your insurance when you have already departed!

Since most vagabonds leave their travel insurance until the last minute – and sometimes even later – this is a truly valuable feature. Along the same lines, if you should you decide to keep traveling on beyond your original travel expectations, you can easily get a new policy on the web without having to be in your home country.

It is for these reasons and more that I recommend unreservedly World Nomads.

World Travel can be dangerous

Why buy WorldNomads.com Travel Insurance?

Our preferred travel insurance partner, WorldNomads.com keeps you travelling safely. They cover residents from over 150 countriesand you can buy, extend and claim, even while travelling. Here are some reasons to buy travel insurance with World Nomads:

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    By focussing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, WorldNomads.com prices are some of the most competitive online.
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  • Stay flexible
    Did you leave home without insurance ? Had a change of plans or your cover has expired? With WorldNomads.com, you can buy travel insurance, extend your policy or claim online, 24/7, even while travelling.
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    From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
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    WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
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    All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the WorldNomads.com Travel Safety Hub.
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