One month from the new year already passed by and I just now decided to share my top travel experiences from 2018. I really enjoyed writing this and going back to all those beautiful and fun moments that I had last year. 2018 was a blast! Here’s what I loved the most of it:
Falling in love with The Philippines
Picture perfect beaches, crystal clear waters, the friendliest, most welcoming and genuine people. Positive vibes and smiling human beings everywhere around you – welcome to the Philippines! It’s so easy to fall in love with this place.
”It’s more fun in the Philippines” they say and I can promise you that the fun in the Philippines is guaranteed. With so many things to do, it’s pretty much impossible to get bored. But if at some point, you don’t want to do anything and simply just want to relax, you can always find a deserted beach just for yourself.
The Philippines is an archipelago in SE Asia of more than 7 000 islands and has one of the world’s longest coastlines. You’ll need a lot of time to explore them all. A study shows that it takes about 20 years to spend a day on every island in the Philipines. There is just so much to be seen.
I spent one month in this Paradise and visited only a few of those 7000+ islands – I was in Manila, Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Panglao, Siquijor, Dumaguete, and Palawan. The next time I visit the Philippines, I want to finally make it to Coron and also visit Siargao, Malapascua, Apo Island, Banaue & more.
The Philippines are also home to some of the most stunning sunsets in the world! Oh, how I miss those sunsets…
Traveling around the Philippines solo is safe and you don’t need to worry about being alone as you’ll meet tons and tons of cool people on the way. Plus, Filipinos will always come to you to say hi, take a photo, or to offer you to show you around. These people, they are so adorable!! ❤
I love and enjoyed every single day of my trip to the Philippines, but Siquijor Island ended up being my favorite place. Siquijor and I were meant to be, I’d say, it was love from first sight. I totally fell for its mysterious charm and remoteness.
Philippines, you’ll always have a special place in my heart!
READ NEXT: Philippines travel tips & thing to know before you go READ NEXT: Things to do in Siquijor island + travel tips READ NEXT: Things to do in El Nido + travel tips
Getting fat in Penang, Malaysia
Penang is most famous for the food and it has been called the food capital of Malaysia. Malays and people from all parts of the world are visiting the historic city of Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to try its delicious dishes.
When I was in Penang, I spent most of my time exploring different markets and tasting the local cuisine. I absolutely love the Malaysian food and if you’re there and reading this, please, send me a Char Koay Teow – ever since I first tried it, I’m dying for it!
Except for the local cuisine, in Penang, you’ll also find Chinese and Indian street foods. The places to find those are the hot hawker centers and street stalls – cheap and full of flavors. The dish you choose to order will be cooked right in front of you, while you’re soaking up all the good smells coming from the surrounding stalls.
Don’t miss out to try my favorite Char Koay Teow, as well Assam Laksa, Nasi Kandar, Oyster Omelette, Popiah, Dim Sum, Mee Goreng, and Cendol.
Jungle trekking in Tanah Rata, Malaysia
Malaysia is a great place for jungle trekking. Most of the jungle trekking trails are based around National Parks and forest reserves. All those places are offering a variety of flora and fauna.
While jungle trekking in Malaysia, you’ll come across some rare and endangered species, typical for the country. During the jungle trek that I did in the area of Tanah Rata, I saw so many interesting and fascinating trees and plants that I haven’t seen anywhere else before.
READ NEXT: Fun things to do & experience in Malaysia
Enjoying a proper vacation in Koh Rong, Cambodia
If you’re following the blog & my social media channels, you probably know that Cambodia is definitely not one of my favorite countries. In fact, I wanted to leave the country as soon as I can. I still can’t find the right words to express my mixed feeling about Cambodia, but Koh Rong is a different story.
If you’ve been following for a while, you might know as well that when I was traveling around SE Asia, I was also working full-time. During the week that I spent in Koh Rong, I finally took some time off from work and happened to enjoy a proper vacation. But I didn’t think so at first…
Once I arrived in Koh Rong, somehow, suddenly, everything changed. I fell in love with this island.
Firstly, I was planning to spend only 2 days on the island, but I ended up extending my stay to a week. I was feeling so good in Koh Rong, I meet wonderful people, played with the local kids, swam with incredible planktons, party a lot, drinking too much dragon fruit smoothies, and simply enjoying life.
I’m going to keep the memories from Koh Rong forever. Undoubtedly, my week on the island was one of the best times I ever had.
READ NEXT: Cambodia: The good, the bad & the crazy
The Ha Giang Extreme Motorbike Loop, Vietnam
Renting a motorbike and driving for 3 days around the most beautiful place in North of Vietnam, the Ha Giang Province, was a marvelous and enriching experience.
Ha Giang is Vietnam’s northern-most province, lining the Chinese border. The North of Vietnam is filled with towering mountains, deep valleys, winding rivers, and overall breathtaking views. Ha Giang is interesting with its gorgeous scenery, diversity, ethical villages and curvy roads surrounded all over by high karst plateaus.
I can easily say that The Ha Giang Extreme Motorbike Loop has been one of the best parts of my trip not just in Vietnam, but in SE Asia in general. I highly recommend everyone visiting Vietnam, who wants to go off the beaten path, as well as looking for a memorable experience to do the Ha Giang Extreme Motorbike Loop. You’ll thank me later. 🙂
P.S. Plenty of people reached out to me after I published my post for the Ha Giang Loop – it honestly makes my day receiving your messages letting me know that you’ve been inspired to do the loop yourselves. ❤
Visiting the West Bank, Palestine
Visiting the West Bank in Palestine was a very interesting experience. There’s not much that you hear about Palestine apart from the conflict with Israel. Sadly, many people are not aware of the conflict itself, nor the situation in the West Bank.
I don’t want to write much about that in this post, so if you’re interested to learn more about the West Bank and my experience there, check out this post that I wrote: Visiting the West Bank in Palestine
Peace! ☮ ✌
Floating in Dead Sea, Israel
The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordering Jordan, Israel & the West Bank. Its high salt concentration allows people to easily float in it and that’s actually the main reason why so many people are attracted to visit it. The Dead Sea it’s also 430 meters below sea level, making it the lowest point on Earth.
Floating in the Dead Sea is… weird. Yes, it’s cool as well, but weird in the first place. After a while, you’re getting used to it.
READ NEXT: Day trip to Masada & Dead Sea from Tel Aviv
Sleeping in a cave in Petra, Jordan
Sleeping under the stars of one of the new world’s wonders, the carved city of Petra is certainly an experience to remember. Long night talks and smoking Shisha with the local Bedouins of Petra is nothing something that you get to experience every day.
The cave is not the type of cave with formations, etc., if that’s what you imagined. It’s a place that has been carved just like the rest of Petra. And once it actually served as a home to the locals. Some Bedouins still live in caves nowadays.
READ NEXT: A different way to experience Petra
That was the view from our cave:
Returning to Georgia
Georgia, you were my first biggest travel love. Ever since I visited Georgia for the first time in 2017, I knew I was going to go back. Then last year, Slavek, whom I meet there on my first trip, and I decided to return to our favorite country and attend the GEM Fest. Unfortunately, the festival was canceled. The plan was to hike for 3 weeks. But you know why I usually never make plans? Because they never work… and so it pretty much didn’t stop raining. RIP hiking plans.
Well, okay, we were still trying to do the hikes we’ve planned to, but they just weren’t pleasant because of the non-stop rain.
Luckily, the weather got better for the Tusheti National Park. Tusheti is one of the most remote areas of Georgia and getting there is a whole adventure on its own. There is just one road leading to Tusheti that is passing over the Abano Pass. This road is known as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It’s open only during the summer months and to get there, hikers can hire a private 4WD from Telavi or Alvani.
So far, Tusheti is the most beautiful place that I have seen in Georgia. We spent there only 3 nights camping and hiking, but there were so not enough. I need to return back and do the whole trek from Omalo to Shatili. And, of course, many other trails that I have on my Georgian hiking list.
READ NEXT: Why do you need to travel to Georgia READ NEXT: 30 Cool & Fun things to do in Tbilisi
First time in Yerevan
Yerevan was such a surprise. I spontaneously decided to head to the Armenian capital to get away from the rain in Georgia. I didn’t expect to like Yerevan that much, especially the first few hours I spent there.
The best thing about Yerevan is, undoubtedly, the people. I even got lucky to have Sara around. Sara is a girl that I meet in Malaysia – originally from Armenia, but now living and working in China. Sara came to meet me at the bus station and showed me around the city.
Of course, there is a lot more from Armenia than just Yerevan, but if I need to be honest, I was kind of lazy to travel around so I only did one day trip to Khor Virap and saw Lake Sevan on the way between Yerevan and Tbilisi.
Armenians are very hospitable. Along with two other guys that I meet in the hostel where I was staying, we went out to get dinner. We ended up in a small, local restaurant where some locals were having food and drinks. We asked them if we can join and they happily said yes. They took such good care of us, feeding us and making sure we drank enough beer, vodka, and wine, and then took us to a club. Ha-ha! It was a great night.
2018 thank you for everything!
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