Elephant tourism is huge. Without prior knowledge or research it may be difficult to know, should you really ride an elephant in Thailand?
Feel free to share your views and spark a conversation in the comments section below the article.
Prior to my trip to Thailand, it was impossible to scroll through my social media newsfeeds and not see a photo of someone riding an elephant. I’ll admit, years ago, I didn’t know a great deal about the elephant industry and after seeing all the pictures, I did have an urge to ride an elephant myself. What a once in a lifetime experience I often thought to myself, as I’m sure many people do.
Indonesia is a spectacular and extremely diverse country. With over 17,500 islands, Indonesia is a country which is well worth taking your time to explore. I spent a month there myself, however, I would of much preferred to have spent longer exploring this beautiful country. From the vast jungles of Kalimantan to the surfers paradise beaches of Bali, onto the rolling hills home to the largest lizard in the world in Komodo National Park, there really is something to suit all tastes across the thousands of Volcanic islands which make up Indonesia.
Here are my personal top 5 reasons why you should get yourself to Indonesia…
Our journey to the incredible Gili Islands in Indonesia, from Bali, didn’t get off the best of starts. We decided we would go via slow boat when booking the transport through a travel agent in Ubud, due to the lower price of 200,000RP ($14.70). The slow boat was cheaper than the fast boat and we were told we’d be there in around 8 hours on a boat direct from Bali to Gili Trawangan. How naive we were to believe that.
Overall, the journey consisted of a 1-hour minibus from Ubud to Padangbai. We then caught the boat from Padangbai, learning that this was not a direct boat in the process, which was extremely irritating. The very slow boat from Padangbai took 8 hours in total to reach its destination of Lembar, Lombok. Once we reached Lembar, further inconvenience arose (hardly surprising), as we were told we had missed the last boat to the Gili Islands and we would have the spend the night in Senggigi. Senggigi wasn’t the worst place in the world, but I would have much rather been on the beach on Gili T relaxing. We then finally arrived on Gili T a day later than scheduled at around 12 pm the next day.
What sounds more appealing than trekking through a national park in search of the largest, deadliest lizards in the world?!
Well, this is exactly what we did when we visited Komodo National Park. The Komodo Dragon is native to Komodo National Park and this is the only place in the world you will find this pre historic beast living naturally in the wild. Making the trip to see the elusive Komodo Dragon was something that was on our ‘must do’ list as soon as we started planning our trip to South East Asia.
After getting our Open Water Certificate in Koh Tao, we were more than ready for our next diving trip. Diving in the Philippines was definitely on our ‘must do’ list for South East Asia. We’d heard nothing but amazing reviews regarding the breathtaking reefs that where you can dive around the Philippines. Having a flick through our Lonely Planet, we saw a section about Apo Island. As soon as we read that the diving around Apo Island was excellent for spotting Sea Turtles, we were instantly sold.
Apo Island it was!
If you’ve ever heard anything about El Nido in Palawan before, you will have more than likely heard amazing things about the island hopping around Bacuit Bay. From exploring pristine white sand beaches to snorkelling through limestone lagoons all the way to enjoying an ice cold San Miguel with barbequed fish on an uninhabited island, Bacuit Bay in El Nido surpassed all expectations.
Whenever we spoke about or researched the Philippines, it was the Chocolate Hills which repeatedly popped up. Naturally, we decided that while we were in the Philippines we would definitely go and see the Chocolate Hills for ourselves and see what all the fuss was about.
Initially, we had planned to fly to Cebu City and then get the ferry from there to Tagbilaran, Bohol. However, the plan didn’t go quite as smooth as we had imagined. Our plans to get the ferry from Cebu to Bohol on the same day as we arrived from Manila, were scuppered due to a passing Typhoon.
Before we travelled to Manila, unfortunately, we were told multiple tales of people who know people, who were kidnapped after they had got into an unlicensed taxi. You know the kind of thing that you hear about happening in South America. We even heard one story of a woman who was shot in the head in the back of a taxi! Understandably we were quite cautious when we did have to get taxis around Manila.
However, I would say, like with everywhere in the world, bad things do happen. That’s a fact of life. Fortunately though, from my experience and contrary to what people might say, taxi kidnappings do not seem to be a regular occurrence in Manila.
When you think budget travel, one of the last destinations which would pop into your head would be Singapore. The city has a reputation for being the most expensive in South East Asia and in fact, I read that the city is now the most expensive in the world to live in, however, if you eat, drink and go to the right places, Singapore can definitely be done on a backpackers budget.
Of course, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking you wouldn’t be able to do/see anything worth doing in this notoriously expensive city on a shoestring budget. Don’t get me wrong, you certainly won’t be able to go for a three-course meal at Marina Bay Sands, but you’ll still be able to explore and experience Singapore, from busy little India and Chinatown to the man made beach at Sentosa.
Before visiting Malaysia, in all honesty I had never heard of Penang. Before our trip to South East Asia, visiting Malaysia was not even close to being top of our list of places we were excited to visit or even recommended to visit. On reflection, I really do not understand why. Malaysia is a beautiful country and Penang ended up being very high on our list of places we would recommend others to visit! Georgetown is a charming, picturesque town and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s not hard to see why. There are three things we particularly enjoyed while in Georgetown, and they were – you guessed it – the fantastic street art, the delicious food and the aromatic coffee.