I think my travel bucket list grows every day. The last few years have bought me some amazing travels, which I’ll treasure for a long time. My girlfriend whisked me away to Rome for my birthday in 2016. In 2017, we managed to get to Barcelona for a weekend for her birthday, as well as taking a short break in the mountains in Turkey.
In April 2018, after a lot of planning and saving, we pulled an amazing trip out of the bag; two weeks in Cape Town! We did everything that one should do in Cape Town and so much more. M grew up there so I was lucky to have a super experienced tour guide. Whilst in SA, we took a weekend trip to Knysna where I got to spend a day at an elephant sanctuary.
So what does 2019 have in store?
Well, depending on how successful we are at saving, it could involve a lot. Over the next few years, we have big plans. Like serious grown up plans. Kids, buy a house, the works. So 2019 might be the last chance we get to be young and reckless.
The ultimate travel aim splits into three: Asia, Europe and the UK.
A few years ago, my friend was doing a short stint of travelling in Thailand. I flew over and met her at the end of her trip and we got in 10 days. We got in some serious R&R at a gorgeous hotel on the island of Koh Samui, and a few days of hectic tourist fun in Bangkok.
I absolutely fell in love with Thailand. I totally get the hype. The people are warm; their hospitality and welcome is outstanding. The food is phenomenal. One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten was 80p noodles from a beach bar. The scenery is indescribable. It’s the epitome of an exotic paradise. Plus, they have elephants. Do you sense a theme here?
I just know that M will love Asia. The vibe is so chill. The heat, the sand, the scenery, the food. It all lends itself to absorbing culture and relaxation. It’s so far removed from our lives. I want to climb a mountain with her, drink fresh coconut water on the beach with her, drink cocktails and party in the sand till dawn.
Asia in general is probably the most affordable area of the world where you can travel about, see everything and do everything without breaking the bank. Flights from the UK can get pricey but if you’re willing to have a layover and a bit of a wait, you can get return flights around £500 per person. Internal flights between islands and countries can range between £30 and £90. You can easily spend that on one dinner in London!
Accommodation can be sought from £1 per night to £1000 per night. Whatever your budget, there’s an option. I’m the first to admit, I’m a princess at heart. I won’t be sharing a bunk bed in a room full of 10 strangers, no matter how cheap it is. For the sake of keeping costs low, I will take the Thai equivalent of a Premiere Inn, which is likely to come in around £15 to £50 a night, depending on where you are.
Food in Asia is crazy cheap. Like the most I spent on a meal in Koh Samui was £20 for about 5 courses including cocktails. You can get a decent lunch on the street almost anywhere for less than £1, as long as you can accept that the vendor won’t have London’s standards and health and safety certificates.
Where in Asia is on my 2019 Travel Bucket List?
I’d love to see more of Thailand. Phuket looks stunning. There are several more ethical elephant sanctuaries that I’d like to visit. I could plan a whole two week trip around them! I’d like to do some island hopping. Koh Tao, Koh Panang, Ko Phi Phi, Koh Lanta. A night or two in each place would suffice but I’m fairly sure I could waste months just strolling around the beaches, sipping coconut water and reading in the shade.
Bali is next up, for so many reasons. I’ve been wanting to go to Bali since I was about 21 and the last 9 years, it’s really exploded as a must-see tourist destination. From cheeky monkeys to Indian Jones style temples, Bali may be tiny but it has so much to offer. I do worry though that it’s become over developed and inauthentic, as all the holiday companies scramble to cater to the average European tourist. I think I’d only spend 3 to 4 days in Bali.
Vietnam is another place that seems to be gaining popularity amongst travellers. If you’ve visited London in recent times, you’ll see that there’s a Vietnamese Pho restaurant on almost every street. Ha Long Bay looks like a scene straight of a shipwreck movie and a place where you can forget that real life exists. Ho Chi Minh City seems to be a tropical version of London and I’m always fascinated how other cities compare to my home’s Capital.
Last up in Asia for my 2019 Travel Bucket List is the Phillipines. From what I’ve read, and the travels of my friends, I think that the Phillipines ticks all my requirements. Food, scenery, things to do and people. Filipino hospitality is supposedly a big rival to the Thai. Their food is odd but I’m game for trying some lechon. Maybe not one for the vegans though. Like much of Asia, their islands offer scenery that England could never dream of competing with. It’s home to some of the best underwater scenery too, with a multitude of options for snorkelling and scuba diving. Count me in.