Travel Guide: Bali, Indonesia

What To Do

  • Greenbike bike tour – Definitely recommend this to anyone. You don’t need to be in great shape for this because the biking is 90% downhill and they give you the option to go the harder or easier route for the last 10%. You start the tour with breakfast that overlooks a beautiful volcano, then visit a local coffee plantation. Sampling the different coffee flavors was fun (I liked the vanilla and coconut). The view is also gorgeous! You end the tour with lunch in these cute little huts overlooking rice fields. Also, take advantage of their shuttle service. We had them drop us off in the city center after, so we could head to the monkey forest!

 

  • River rafting – Gorgeous scenery! It looks like you’re floating through a jungle and you may even spot some unique wildlife if you’re lucky! Fun, but not as challenging as we expected. I heard from others that the river rafting was actually pretty scary in Ubud, so maybe it depends on the time of year and the weather. We went in the summer and the water was extremely low.
  • Monkey Forest – We got lucky and a guide basically took us under his wing (for the price of a large pack of bananas). We were pretty afraid of the monkeys because of how aggressive they were, so it was nice to have someone help us who knew what they were doing. As you can see from these blurry GoPro pics, the monkeys and I really bonded....

 

  • Surfing – Take a surfing lesson if you go to Kuta Beach. Just walk down the beach and people will ask you if you want a surfing lesson. Make sure to bargain for a good price! Also, they should offer you a rash guard to wear and absolutely wear it! Believe me when I say you will regret it if you don’t. If you happen to take your surf lesson in the afternoon, hang around the beach for a gorgeous sunset!


  • Yoga Barn – I was SO bummed that we didn’t get to do this. I had so many recommendations to go there, so of course we went and tried to make a reservation two hours before the class. It was first come first serve, so the receptionist told us to come back twenty minutes before the class started and said we would definitely get a spot. Well, we showed up twenty minutes before and the same receptionist told us there were no more spots. Yes, I still recommend going because everyone I talked to loved their experience, but go there EARLY!!!!

Hotel Review: The Lokha Ubud in Bali, Indonesia

So you're going to Bali....

Now, you have to figure where in the world you are going to stay. Don't worry, I got you on this part!

Stay at The Lokha Ubud. It's located in Ubud, Bali (which is the center of Bali, and really close to the Ubud city center). This is the jungle experience you're looking for with a resort off the beaten path, surrounded by the most gorgeous nature and luscious greenery.  It is absolutely worth every penny.

Very helpful staff who got us discounts on every activity/tour we did (all we had to do was ask for a discount and we got pretty big ones!) The staff just so happens to be so incredibly nice, as well, which truly makes all the difference when you're in a new place. The hotel is off the beaten path, so you can’t wander outside the hotel at night, but they do offer a shuttle service to and from the city center. Make sure to reserve your spot on the shuttle the day before. Breakfast was hands down the best one we had in all of Southeast Asia. It's a breakfast buffet, but the food and juices were amazing and tasted so fresh! Also, they have an infinity pool that overlooks the jungle and it's so picturesque. Plus, they have warm showers right outside the pool for when you get out. They have several bikes that are first come first serve, but they were always available when we wanted them. Take a bike ride during the day outside of the hotel and past all the rice fields. Turn right out of the hotel and you will have yourself a beautiful bike ride. If you turn left, you’ll be getting yourself in trouble (like we did) by having to carry your bikes up stairs and big hills. There is a beautiful temple and gorgeous views about 10 minutes down the road to the left, so I suggest walking there to take a look. The hotel also offers a complimentary afternoon tea (from 4:00-6:00pm if I recall correctly), which was nice to come back to after a long day of touring.

Travel Guide: Malibu, California

Accommodations

  • Stay at The Malibu Beach Inn. It is located right on the beach and next to the Malibu pier. It’s also about a five-minute walk to the Malibu Country Mart. This is a pretty expensive place to stay, but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed here. It’s a pretty small hotel, with a homey feel and friendly staff. This is also a perfect spot for a romantic weekend getaway. My parents have actually gone here quite a bit for their anniversary and they really go out of their way to make your stay special. Obviously, if you are planning a trip to Malibu you can expect some higher expenses.
  • If you can’t afford to stay here, you can always stay at a hotel just outside of Malibu in Agoura Hills or Westlake Village. Even still, it is going to be hard to find a very cheap place to stay, since the surrounding areas are all pretty nice. 
  • There is also the option to camp at Leo Carrillo State Park.

Food

  • Malibu Farm Café – This is one of my favorite spots to eat. It is located at the end of the Malibu pier, so the view is spectacular. I highly suggest the breakfast sandwich and their watermelon juice (served in a mason jar). This is a very trendy, popular brunch spot.
  • Malibu Country Mart – Pretty much all of the food here is amazing. My favorite is hands down the tuna melt from the country mart deli (located next to the Starbucks, by the movie theatre). Tom’s Garden is also a great choice if you’re looking for something fresh and healthy. Tra Da Noi is the Italian restaurant that has amazing pizza and pasta. Their pasta with vodka sauce is to die for! Sunlife Organics just recently opened there and they offer acai bowls that are amazing, as well. I normally get my food to go and eat at one of the tables around the park, for some good people watching. If you would rather enjoy your meal in a restaurant, there is delicious Greek food at Traverna Tony’s, as well as pretty diverse menu at Marmalade. Honestly, it just depends what kind of food you’re in the mood for because all of the food options are pretty impressive.
  • Lily’s – The ultimate Malibu local spot. If you want a tasty burrito this is where you should go. They’re located right by Zuma Beach, so you can either eat there or grab it to go and take it to the beach! Everyone loves their fish burrito, as well as their chicken burrito. I’m a big fan of their breakfast burrito. Also, get an orange jarrito to drink. It’s like a Mexican orange soda. Straight sugar, but so good! Call in your order though or you’ll have to wait about 25 minutes for it to be ready.
  • D’Amores Pizza – Located in the same center as Lilly’s (right by Zuma Beach). They also have another location on PCH closer to the pier. Their thin crust pizza is definitely my favorite in the area. I don’t even eat ranch dressing with their pizza….which says a lot. The plain cheese is totally satisfying, but you should try their pizza bianco if you’re open to try something new. Not feeling pizza? Their baked ziti is the best you will ever have.
  • Nobu – Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of this popular place. Good for lunch, dinner, or happy hour. They have some really unique cocktails to choose from. My favorite includes pomegranate seeds is a pretty pink color! Their portions are very small here, so expect to order more than just one plate. If you like sushi and fish, this is definitely the place to get it. For dessert, get their spring rolls! It sounds kind of weird, but I promise you they are mind-blowing. 
  • Plate – Smaller portions and a great place for dinner if you’re looking for a fresh and healthy meal.
  • Grom – this is a gourmet gelato spot located by the movie theatre and country mart deli.

What To Do

  • The Beach (obviously) – Zuma is the go-to beach in Malibu. You don’t need to pay for parking (unless you go during an extremely busy time), just park on the street for free. Make sure to read the signs though, so you don’t park in a tow area. You can also park at Malibu High School for free if you’re up for a little walk. Point Dume is another spot that is popular with the locals, specifically the teens.
  • Surfing – If you want to see a lot of surfers, go to the beach right next to the Malibu pier. Across the street they offer rentals and lessons. Paddle boarding is also really fun!
  • Malibu Country Mart – Not only is it filled with good food, but it’s also filled with the best people watching in Malibu (in my opinion). This is where people go to “be seen.” It’s expected to see celebrities here, as they even have a paparazzi free zone. If you’re looking for some seriously good shopping, this is definitely the place. Don’t expect cheap prices though, that’s for sure! A fun store to look in is Kitson, which is located in The Lumberyard section. There is also a great park here if you’re looking to entertain kids! 
  • Hiking – As you can imagine, there are some beautiful hikes in Malibu that lead to some breathtaking views. Point Dume: starts at the beach and ends at Paradise Cove. This is a 4-mile hike that takes about 2 hours. This is a pretty moderate hike, as far as difficulty goes. It’s also a popular spot for proposals! Escondido Canyon and Falls is another hike known as the “hidden gem” of the Santa Monica Mountains. This is also a 4-mile hike and if you’re looking for some Instagram worthy pictures, you will not be disappointed here! You will be leaded to the stunning 150 foot Escondido waterfall.
  • Paradise Cove – Great spot for lunch and to hang at the beach!
  • Wine Tasting - Malibu Wines is a trendy, outdoor tasting room and my personal favorite. They have picnic benches to sit at, but they are mostly always packed. Bring a large blanket to sit on and a picnic if you'd like to eat while you drink. I suggest a "make your own cheese plate" type of picnic, but I am also not against bringing a box of pizza. Across from Malibu Wines is Malibu Family Wines (Both owned by the same family, but technically under separate ownership within the family. They also both serve the same wine which is produced at Malibu Family Wines. Side note - I interned there, so I got the inside scoop!) Malibu Family Wines offers beautiful vineyards, events like weddings and parties, and a gorgeous barn filled with horses and other wild animals. You can actually take a safari tour there that will take you around the property while you sip your wine!
  • Leo Carrillo State Park – Camping spot and one of the only dog friendly beaches in the area.

 

Travel Guide: Penang, Malaysia

Accommodations

If you want to be in the city or if you’re on a budget, Georgetown is the place to be. If you want to be close to the beach and are willing to spend more on a hotel, definitely stay close to Batu Ferringhi (the most popular beach).

Food

  • Absolutely go to the Long Beach night market. There’s another one right next to it, but even the locals will tell you that Long Beach is far better. There is such a variety of options to choose from and it’s all delicious! It’s located just inward from Batu Ferringhi and you can definitely walk from the beach in no time. If you’re with a group of people, get a little of everything to try! Tucked in the back is a tiny Greek food stand with the most amazing potato pockets! I had them two nights in a row they were so good….
  • If you happen to have time to spare in the airport, there are some cool places to eat! There is a full mall, grocery store, and food shops, plus an amazing restaurant inside! I cannot remember what the restaurant is called, but it’s the only vegetarian one there. If I could replicate their noodle soup I would be forever happy!

What To Do

  • Bora Bora Bar – This is located on Batu Ferringhi and is the perfect place to grab a beer and watch the sunset. Also, it is prime seating for some hilarious entertainment, watching people take off and land for parasailing. Spoiler alert: SO many people eat it into the sand, especially on landing.
  • Water Sports – There are numerous water sports to choose from on Batu Ferringhi, but whatever you decide to do, DON’T FORGET TO NEGOTIATE! The prices were so high it was almost comical, so bargain hard! Trust me, regardless of what they say, their prices are absolutely not set in stone. Tubing was definitely a highlight for me, and it’s right next to Bora Bora Bar. If you can get a group of 4, you’ll be in the tube that allows for a much wilder ride….I highly suggest that!
  • Hiking in the National Park - This is something that I would NOT do solo. It’s not exactly a regular hike….expect lots of wildlife, no obvious path, and a seriously good workout! Before you hike, be sure to sign in at the office so that they have all your information just in case anything happens….like I said, this is not a regular hike! There are two different hikes to choose from: one leads to monkey beach (yes there actually are monkeys there, extremely aggressive ones might I add, but it’s pretty) and another hike that leads to a more secluded, prettier beach. You can only swim at monkey beach though. I did the hike that lead to the more beautiful beach and got extremely lucky and ran into a park ranger about 15 minutes in, who we followed for the next two hours till we made it to the beach. Don’t forget to sign out at the office on your way out!
  • Street Art – Penang is famous for their intricate street art. It’s very creative and a lot of it is pretty old!

10 Foods To Try In Thailand

Thailand is filled with some really incredible food! If you are going there, make sure to try these popular Thai dishes....and calm all the heavily spiced food with some Thai Iced Tea!

Garlic Vegetable Glass Noodle Soup

This is not a dish that is on every single menu, so make sure to try it when you see it! You may have a little bit of garlic breath after this, but I can promise you that it’s worth it! If you are feeling a little under the weather, this should do the trick.

Tom Kha Gai

This coconut milk based soup is almost like a dessert. It has a sweet a sour taste to it and it goes great with white rice. You can find it served with chicken, shrimp, or just vegetables.

Pad Thai  

This is obviously a more popular menu item and some places are better than others. The Famous Pad Thai Shop in Phuket was definitely one of my favorites.

Pad See Ew 

This soft, wide rice noodle dish is pan-fried with garlic, Chinese broccoli, egg, and normally a choice of meat or chicken. It’s flavored with a dark soy sauce. Sometimes, the Thai will add sugar, chili flakes, and a dash of vinegar to create a unique flavor.

Mango & Sticky Rice 

Amazing Thai dessert! Totally addicting.

Chicken Satay 

This is another popular Thai dish that can be found almost anywhere, whether it be in a restaurant or a street food stand. It’s kind of like the Thai version of a chicken kabob. Best when served with peanut sauce for dipping!

Khao Soi

Very popular in Northern Thailand, especially Chiang Mai. This curry-based noodle soup is optionally served with sides of lime, crunchy pickled greens, sliced shallots, and sugar. It has a coconut milk-based broth and is normally cooked with chicken or beef and wheat/egg noodles.  

Curry 

Yellow curry = mild, green curry = medium, and panang curry = spicy.  All three curries have very different flavors, so if you can handle some spice go ahead and try them all! Don’t be fooled though because ¾ of the yellow curries I had were definitely not mild! But then again, is anything truly mild in regards to spice in Thailand?!

Vegetable Fried Rice 

This is different than what you would expect. It's not like the fried rice in the states. It has a little bit different flavor, as well as lots more veggies. Often times this is served in a pineapple, which makes it even better!

Spring Rolls

You can find these in a lot of restaurants, as well as at most street vendors. Served with sweet chili sauce of couse! Filled with veggies and sometimes chicken or pork.

Have any Thai food favorites that you enjoyed in Thailand? Leave them in the comments below!

 

Travel Guide: Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is one of Thailand's many gorgeous islands and it's become a very popular tourist spot because of how much this beautiful island has to offer. Heard of Koh Phi Phi Island? Well, Phuket is where a lot of people stay if they visit the Koh Phi Phi Islands because it can be reached by boat. 

The Famous Pad Thai Shop – I’ve heard that some people have a difficult time finding it, but it was right next to our hotel in Karon. Definitely the best pad Thai we ever had. We went back again on our last day in Phuket. Go there with plenty of time though, because both times we waited quite a while to get our food. All of the locals were in and out before we even got our food, which was frustrating, but the pad Thai was worth it.

Snorkeling – We did a snorkeling tour that was amazing! We were picked up at 7am and dropped back around 6:00pm. There were about 15 people on our speedboat and I DEFINITELY don’t recommend doing a tour that has more people on it. They took us to the islands Koh Phi Phi, Maya Beach, Monkey Beach, and one other beach I can’t remember the name of. We had lunch overlooking the beach at Koh Phi Phi and it was beautiful! We were told the snorkeling wouldn’t be that great because we were going in the low season, but we were pretty impressed and had an awesome time! They give you the option to buy fins for 200 baht before you get on your boat and I highly recommend getting them. They try to scare you into buying them by saying there are tons of sea urchins and such, but there actually really were and we were glad we had the fins.

Thai massage – I got pretty sunburned from snorkeling so I got a Thai aloe vera massage and it was so nice! I tried Thai massages all over Thailand though and I do not suggest a full body massage, unless you like feeling like your back is about to break. I'm not even exaggerating on that....I honestly thought my back was going to break! I went with a foot massage almost every time and I have no regrets.

Watch the sunset on the beach - We watched it on Karon Beach and it was so picturesque.

Kayaking – Absolutely do not sign up for one of those tours with 50 people on the boat. Do one with 15-20 or less. Also, make sure to book ahead of time. I made that mistake and was unable to do John Gray’s Hong By Starlight Kayaking Tour. Even though I didn’t go on it, I still highly recommend it. It’s #1 on trip advisor and the amount of raving reviews they have should be enough to convince you.

Nightlife in Patong Beach – Monsoon’s is a good place to start where they have live music (such talented Thai singers!) and then we went to Tiger. Yes, Tiger is a little more expensive than the other bars, but there is so much going on there that it’s worth it.

Travel Guide: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is now one of my favorite little cities in the entire world. I went there in November of 2015 and fell in love. The people are incredible friendly and welcoming and the beauty that this city possesses is incredible. I look forward to eventually going back to Amsterdam in the spring to see the gorgeous colors of all the tulips!

  • Heineken Experience - Great tour with lots of hands on activities. I definitely suggest going here for some interesting and inspiring history, but also a really fun time!
  • Van Gogh Museum - If you're into art, especially Van Gogh, this is definitely the place for you.
  • Anne Frank House - Go around 12-2 on a weekday for a shorter wait in line. We grabbed lunch just down the street at the famous Pancake Bakery before. DO NOT MISS THIS. One of the most incredible things I've ever seen and my favorite experience in Amsterdam. If you can plan far ahead of time, you can buy your tickets online, but you'll need to do so months in advance. Touristy? Absolutely. Unforgettable experience? Absolutely. 
  • The Amsterdam Cheese Museum - Imagine a place where you literally just sample an endless assortment of cheeses. Well, this place actually exists and it's called The Amsterdam Cheese Museum and it's heavenly. It's located right down the street from the Anne Frank House, on the opposite side of the street, next to the Tulip Museum.
  • The Windmill Brewery - There are two breweries under the famous windmill in Amsterdam and the one on the right (if you are facing the front of the windmill) has awesome beer flights and even better snacks. Grab a picnic bench outside, and flight of beer, and a cheese appetizer! You won't regret it. 

Amsterdam is a super small city, but there is so much to do. I suggest just walking around the city and through the canals and see where the day takes you. It's very simple to get around and directions are easy to understand and see on a map. There are a ton of cute, little shops that you won't find anywhere else, so take a look and enjoy!

 

Travel Guide: Koh Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan is one of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand that hosts the famous Full Moon Parties. The best way to get there is to fly into Koh Samui and then take a ferry to Koh Phangan. Expect to meet people from all over the world here who are looking to meet new friends and have a good time. The beaches are beautiful and so are the people!

Haad Rin Beach

Accommodations

Stay at The Dancing Elephant Hostel. Had the most amazing time staying here! All the people staying there are very social and fun, and the staff was extremely friendly and could not have been better. Don’t get your own private room, just stay in the dorm rooms. It is dramatically cheaper to stay in the dorm rooms and, to be honest, we really wish we stayed in the dorm rooms rather than paid a whole lot extra to have our own private room and bathroom. The room was definitely not even close to worth what we paid for and it was down the street from the dorms and where everyone hung out. The Dancing Elephant is minutes from amazing restaurants and about a five-minute walk from the beach. Hands down the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at!

Food

My Friend – By far everyone’s favorite restaurant in Koh Phangan. The staff at our hostel recommended it and it just so happened to be a one minute walk from our hostel, too. We ate there for almost every meal and absolutely everything was amazing! Their yellow curry and pineapple curry were great, as well as their tom kha gai. I also really enjoyed their vegetable glass noodle soup (great for some revival after all of the buckets you’ll be drinking there). Don’t even get me started on their pad thai and mango and sticky rice…..SO GOOD!

Monalisa – Owned by an Italian and, let me tell you, the pizza tasted like we were in Rome! I went there two nights in a row and ordered the same exact thing….margherita pizza. They even have that spicy olive oil to compliment the pizza (not that it needed it!).

Mama Schnitzel – I only went here once, but this is the place that got me hooked on the vegetable glass noodle soup. Seriously so amazing, but be warned that your breathe will wreak of garlic after. Don’t worry, just drink a couple buckets after (or before) and the garlic won’t even phase you....or someone else!

Nightlife

Let’s be real, the only reason you’re going to Koh Phangan is for the partying. And by partying, obviously I mean the Full Moon Party. Unfortunately, there was no full moon party for the month of July (when I went), but I still got to go to a half moon party. It was definitely a night for the books. I somehow managed to stay up past sunrise until 7:30AM. The party doesn’t start till midnight and is in the middle of the jungle. The full moon party is located on the beach and has about 40,000 people. There is literally no room to move there and if you want to even attempt to move you have to walk waist deep in the ocean to get around people (as told by the lovely staff at The Dancing Elephant). What to wear to a full moon party: closed toed shoes (unless you want to step on glass). Don’t worry girls, everyone wears their nikes and it’s so packed with people that no one can even see your feet anyways. We bought shirts and shorts on the island, since there’s a good chance paint will end up getting on your clothes. Speaking of paint, get artistic and make some cool designs on your skin with the neon paint that looks awesome in the black light. Drink a ton of water during the day so you have a chance at lasting past sunrise and don’t even think about drinking before 7:00PM. We started drinking at 8:00 and drank one bucket, then went and ate pizza at Monalisa at 9:00, then went back to the buckets. If you can’t make it to a full moon party, don’t even worry there is plenty of nightlife that won’t disappoint! Every single night at Haad Rin beach there are parties….Every. Single. Night. There are games to play, fire jump roping, and plenty of entertainment. Honestly, I had just as much fun at Haad Rin Beach as I did at the half moon party!

Full Moon Party