Backpacking in SE Asia – the complete packing list

at the airport in Zurich

at the airport in Zurich

Thinking of going backpacking and don’t know what to take with you? To help you out I’ve put together a list of the absolute necessities. When you pack think about the fact that your backpack will always be with you. Do you really want to be one of those people who has to carry 30kg on their back and can’t buy a single thing because they took to much with them? Cut down to the bare necessities and enjoy travelling without worrying too much about your luggage. Continue reading

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Koh Phi Phi – paradise island?

Koh Phi Phi was not what I had expected it to be. I must say I stumbled on it randomly, but have found it to be “the paradise island” all the backpackers seem to look for (watch “The Beach” for reference, even if only for young Leo).

PP Beach early in the morning

PP Beach early in the morning

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Vang Vieng – free buckets, tubing and french fries

After surviving a 5h minivan ride from Vientiane to Vang Vieng on bumpy mountain road with a beautiful scenery we arrived at the bus station. Luckily traveling with 6 people we were able to have a 12-seat-minivan all to ourselves (at the same price as a seat in a touristy minivan). The road was really bad and I was glad not to suffer from road sickness. Keep in mind to take some pills with you if you don’t resist to a roller coaster style ride for 5h (and make sure to eat enough for breakfast!). The road was way worse than I had imagined since the driver kept speeding up and down narrow mountain roads next to cows and bikes. I think the best and most fun way would be to travel by scooter/ motorcycle. There are also bigger busses at the same price, I guess they would be less bumpy.Image

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Luang Prabang – Lao’s pearl

After a long journey I finally arrived in Luang Prabang. I had the pleasure to meet a very nice group of people on my way over from Chiang Mai. We arrived on the other side of town in a small harbor with just a couple of slow boats. After climbing up a narrow path we arrived at a tuk tuk station (good thing to have a small backpack rather than a suitcase in this cases). A short 10’000 LAK (per person) ride was the only way to get into town.

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Local tuc tucs

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Journey on the Mekong (Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai – Chiang Khong – Huay Xai – Pakbeng – Luang Prabang)

Three days & two nights, over 800km and 1700 B.

I started my adventure towards Laos from Chiang Mai, after deciding to skip the famous backpacker mecca of Pai. There were different options of traveling to Luang Prabang and I opted for the slow boat since I didn’t want to spend such a long time on a bus or risk my life on a speed boat. I booked directly at The Living Place Hostel where I was staying in Chiang Mai. The trip was well organized and the time schedule (which was followed almost meticulously).Image Continue reading

Backpacking through SE-Asia: Chiang Mai

 Arrival, transportation & hostel

I arrived at the Chiang Mai airport from Singapore and headed for the official taxi stand outside. The organization of the cabs was amazing: you would give your address to a woman which would calculate the price until your destination and then assign you a driver. Like this you were sure not to overpay the driver. I stayed at a hostel called The Living Place which was one of the best places I stayed at during my whole trip. The staff was really nice and introduced me to all people when I arrived (it was kind of weird when he went like “hey everybody, this is Giny” and everybody answered “hey Giny!”- I felt like joining a self-aid group). I slept in the room on the first floor (16 bed dorm) in a top bulk. The beds were clean, big and comfortable. The hostel itself was very clean and the owners (who had a travel/ booking agency) really cared for the guests and suggested and booked activities and trips. For the price it was a very good deal, but don’t expect anything too fancy- it’s just a nice and simple place to stay. I chilled out quite a lot at the hostel and met many nice people. In the evenings we played cards over some Changs and later went out to some clubs.

The street where the hostel was located

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Backpacking though SE-Asia: first stop, Singapore!

From Zurich I flew directly to Singapore with an overnight Swiss flight. I arrived in the late afternoon in Singapore on Chinese New Year and headed with the subway towards my hostel. I stayed at the Beary Nice! A Beary Good Hostel in a 8 bed dorm which was very nice.  The rooms were clean, so were the showers/ bathrooms. It’s located in 5 min walking distance from the subway stop China Town. Since it was new year all the streets around the hostel were packed with stands and lanterns. There was loud music, awesome Chinese food and fireworks. I stayed in Singapore only for two nights and one whole day (+ 2 half days) since I’ll be moving to Singapore next summer to do an exchange at the Singapore Management University. The university is located centrally (near Orchard Rd.) and is very nice.

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View from Marina Bay Shoppers, Singapore

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