Recap of My Time Backpacking Asia and the Oceania

After my one year of teaching English in China, I decided to backpack Asia and the Oceania for as long as I could. I was saving all year for this trip, but of course was still spending money on trips during the year too. I was able to backpack for 3 months, and this is what my trip looked like:


August

Laos

Nick & I flew directly from Chongqing to Vientiane, Laos. We stayed in Vientiane for 2 days (photo 1), then took a bus up to Vang Vieng (photo 2). It was gorgeous, but this is where our big motorbike accident happened (read more here), so we had to end up getting a private hotel room and staying a couple more days then planned in order for Nick to recover.


Once we were ready, we headed up to Luang Prabang- which was my favorite city in Laos. The famous Kuang Si Falls are here, and so many other gorgeous sites. It was also just a chill, backpacker vibe in town which I really enjoyed. So total we were in Laos for 10 days.


Sri Lanka

In the middle of August we flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka. We just stayed in Colombo for the night because there wasn't really anything we wanted to do in the city. The next morning we took a 7-hour bus up to Trincomalee. You wouldn't think such a long bus ride could even be possible in such a tiny island country, but with horrible road conditions and frequent stops it really is. But Trincomalee was really nice- a quaint, beachy town perfect for relaxing after a long bus journey.


Then, we took a 3-hour bus ride down to Dambulla to hike Sigiriya rock. There isn't much to do in Dambulla besides that hike so after the hike we took a 2-hour bus to Kandy. The next morning we hopped on the 7-hour scenic train ride from Kandy to Ella. It was absolutely gorgeous!


We stayed in Ella for 3 days to go on some hikes, explore the countryside, and enjoy the vibrant downtown. Of course, we had to see the famous train going across the 9 Arch Bridge and snap some photos. It felt like we were in a movie! (Hogwarts Express, anyone?)


Then, we hopped on our 2-hour bus to Yala National Park where we went on an early morning safari! It was so awesome to see the animals in the wild. We were able to see elephants, bears, monkeys, water buffalo, deer, crocodiles, and even a leopard!


Finally, we headed to our last stop by taking a 3-hour bus ride down to the southern coast to see the quaint beach town called Mirissa. This was my favorite place in Sri Lanka because of the gorgeous views, our nice hostel, and just the relaxing vibes in the air. We were in Sri Lanka for a total of 10 days.


September

Malaysia

On September 4, we flew into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We stayed in Kuala Lumpur for 2 days exploring the city, going to markets, and relaxing in some nice parks. Then, we took a 4-hour bus ride to Cameron Highlands to do some hiking, check out the amazing tea fields, and then hike some more! It was such a gorgeous place.


Next up was a very long travel journey. We took a 6 hour bus ride to Kuala Besut and then a 45 minute boat ride to get out to the Perhentian Islands. We arrived on the island without booking a place to stay the night, so we just started walking from hostel to hostel to see if anyone had any openings. Luckily we were able to find a private little beach hut- and by hut, I mean a very unstable shack where lots of critters were able to get in! But the island was gorgeous, it was seriously the clearest water I'd ever seen. It was nice to relax for a couple of days.


Our last stop was to the other side of Malaysia to visit Langkawi Island for some more beautiful beaches, gorgeous waterfalls, and a cute downtown area to walk around. We were in Malaysia for a total of 8 days.


Singapore

We took a short flight to Singapore and only stayed for 2 days because we knew it would be expensive (and we were right!) We took the 2 days to just explore the downtown, walk through the expensive shopping malls, and eat some delicious foods. Oh, and don't forget the Jewel attached the airport! (second photo)


Philippines

Next, we took a flight to Cebu, Philippines. On Cebu island we stayed in Moalboal for a couple days and then went down to Oslob to swim with the whale sharks. Then, we took a flight to Palawan Island (3rd photo), which I had seen so much about and was excited for the most! But I was actually really disappointed with our experience there- read more about why.


From here unfortunately, my boyfriend ran out of money and had to return home to the states. And I took a flight back to Cebu island and then took a ferry to Bohol island where I spend the next few days. Bohol ended up being my favorite place in the Philippines because it had a mixture of nice beaches and luscious jungles. I even got to see the famous Chocolate Hills which were incredible. I was in the Philippines for a total of 12 days.


October

Indonesia

I actually arrived in Bali, Indonesia on September 27th, but we'll just categorize it as October. I went straight to my hostel in Canggu where I relaxed on the beach and then rented a motorbike to go see Uluwatu and Seminyak. Four days later my friend Paul came and met me with her friend Kelsey. We celebrated Paul's birthday by indulging in some amazing food.


Then, we went up to Ubud to enjoy a change of scenery and vibes- rice terraces, monkey forests, and some yoga. We even rented motorbikes and explored some gorgeous waterfalls! After a couple days, Paul and Kelsey left and I stayed in Ubud to just relax, and take some more meditation and yoga classes. It was so peaceful.


I actually didn't want to leave Ubud at all, I kept extending my stay in my hostel, but you only are allowed to stay in Indonesia for 30 days and I knew that there were other islands I wanted to see so I needed to move on. So I took a boat ride out to Nusa Penida to explore that island for a few days. The island itself was gorgeous, but it was crazy how different it was from Bali. Extreme poverty, no cell reception, horrible roads, and only a couple restaurants (none with western food).


After that, I took a boat ride to Nusa Lembongan where I honestly just relaxed at this gorgeous hostel that had a pool and was right on the beach. I took a few days to reset, work on my blog, and prepare my next travels. Then, I took another boat ride to Lombok so I could catch my boat tour that I had signed up for. It was an all-inclusive 4-day boat tour from Lombok to Flores. We saw pink beaches, Komodo dragons, and some amazing islands. It definitely wasn't a luxury boat ride, and we all ended up getting extremely sick (we think food poisoning?) but it was still a great trip! I was in Indonesia for a total of 26 days.


Australia

I flew into Sydney in late October, and spent a couple of days exploring the city and seeing the Opera house. One of the days, I took a bus out to Bondi Beach to relax for the day, and walked along the coastal walk to Coogee beach. It was probably my favorite thing I did because it was just so gorgeous and relaxing.


After a couple of days, I took a flight to Adelaide. I originally flew here with intentions of going to Kangaroo Island and then renting a car and driving along the Great Ocean Road to get to Melbourne. However, that didn't happen. Kangaroo Island was a much more expensive and long journey than I thought and for some reason the rental cars were WAY more expensive then when I had originally looked them up. So I took a couple days to explore the city and ended up finding a wildlife conservation park where I got to feed and hang out with kangaroos. It ended up being my favorite experience in all of Australia, so I'm grateful I went.


Next up, was a flight to Melbourne. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great when I was there, but I was still able to explore the city, check out the famous Brighton beach boxes, and see the penguins at St. Kilda's Pier. I also did a day trip excursion to see parts of the Great Ocean Road- which isn't as great as driving the whole thing, but it was still beautiful! I was only in Australia for 9 days- it was pretty expensive and I wanted to make sure I could see everything I wanted to in New Zealand before heading home.


November

New Zealand

I flew into Queenstown and stayed in the city for about 3 days just to explore the area. I also did a day-trip excursion to Milford Sound which was absolutely breathtaking. Then, I rented a car and did a 7-day road trip around the South Island.


The road trip started out by driving just outside of Queenstown to Onsen hot pools where I had reserved a private spa room in advance with a gorgeous view. After my spa time, I continued driving to Lake Wanaka and stayed there for one day.


Then, I drove 2 hours to see Lake Tekapo and Pukaki. I spend some time just admiring the beauty and soaking it all in before headed to my hostel in Lake Tekapo.


Next up was a 1 hour and 15 minute drive to Mount Cook National Park. I stayed here for 2 days to do lots of hiking! It was absolutely gorgeous.


My last stop was to Fox Glacier to do a helicopter hike. I almost didn't do it because of how expensive it was, but honestly I'm so glad I did. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! Total I was in New Zealand for 10 days.


Overall

So overall I backpacked from August 13-November 9, saw 8 countries, and spent about $6,000 USD for everything (even including my flight home to LA). It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I hope you get a chance to do a backpacking trip as well!


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