Southeast Asia: Worth the wait!

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Amy is one of our most experienced Japan travel consultants, and she recently expanded her expertise to include Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Her first trip to the region certainly didn’t disappoint, and here she shares a few of her trip highlights.

Vietnam and Cambodia had long been on my list of places to go and things to do since college, and so when I got my first post-college job teaching English in Japan, I thought my chance had finally come. After all, Indochina was just right over there from Tokyo, according to Google Maps, so getting there would be easy-peasy, right?

Well, for various reasons, despite living in Japan for four years, I never quite made it happen – and when I eventually returned to the US, any thoughts of bucolic rice paddies, water buffaloes, and ancient jungle-covered temples got pushed to the back-burner.

But last year I finally got the chance to revive my dreams of an adventure in Southeast Asia, and so I packed my bags brimming with excitement and ready to go.

Although I loved every aspect of my trip (how could I not, after waiting so long to visit?), if I had to pick a few highlights, they’d be these…

Trying pho for the first time. Ever.

As weird as it sounds, I’d never tried it before I went to Vietnam. After listening to my my co-workers gush about how AMAZING it was I couldn’t wait to try it for the first time. I was surprised by how subtle the flavour was compared to some noodle dishes (see: ramen), but I wasn’t disappointed at all. That said, if I had to pick a favourite dish, I would have to go with banh xeo, the scrumptious fried pancakes found throughout the country!

Delicious pho!
Delicious pho!

Finally exploring the temples of Angkor

Probably the single driving force behind my dream to travel to Southeast Asia—and certainly the earliest reason—was to bask in the glory and serenity of Angkor Wat. And when I found out that there were other temples to explore in addition to Angkor Wat, it was like getting to the end of the rainbow to find not one but TWO pots of gold waiting. My personal favourite was Banteay Srei, which not only predates Angkor Wat, but also has some of the most beautiful and intricate bas-reliefs I’ve ever seen.

The faces of Bayon
The faces of Bayon

Discovering Laos

As part of my grand trip, I had a few days to spend in Laos. Now I don’t know about you, but while my knowledge of this mountainous, landlocked country wasn’t quite zero, all of said knowledge related to the Vietnam War, which is quite unfair to Laos. Due to scheduling, I had only a day and a half in Luang Prabang, the country’s former royal capital, but it’s an understatement to say it made a huge impression! The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and consequently had a very charming, low-key atmosphere that made me wish I could spend more time there (and not just because I’m from a landlocked, mountainous area myself).

From the humbling experience of watching the local monks through the streets collecting morning alms to haggling at the night market, and just the overall open friendliness of the people I met, has made me want to go back sooner than vacation time will allow.

Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls, not far from Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls, not far from Luang Prabang

If you’re based in the USA or Canada and would like to speak to Amy about planning your next trip to the region, click here to contact her directly and start planning today. For inspiration, why not start with our World Heritage Indochina itinerary?

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