Traveling to Iceland? Read this first!

Copyright Moyan Brenn for more photos please visit Moyan Brenn
Copyright Moyan Brenn for more photos please visit Moyan Brenn

Iceland has been on my mind since my friends from all over the world told me tales of this country since high school, and for a long time, I knew that stories of glittering ice, colorful nights, and rocky green highlands were going to be my only connection to the remote hinterland paradise. But when I set out on my own to budget my way across the world, it became a dream that wasn’t so hard to bring to reality.


While Reykjavik is not anyone’s idea of a cheap destination, it’s possible to travel there on a dime, if you know where to spend. So check out my quick tips for traveling to Iceland on a budget. You will be thankful once you get your first glance at the Aurora Borealis. Trust me!

1. Plan a road trip around Iceland.

The fjallabak valley in Iceland
Copyright Moyan Brenn for more photos please visit Moyan Brenn

Iceland is a big country (for our North American readers it’s about the size of Ohio) and the best way to see the glacier beaches, lava fields, and waterfalls is to rent a car from the airport and avoid the official tours so you can make your own way around undeterred by a rigid itinerary designed to milk you for your cash . If you have a friend who can accompany you, grab a map of the Ring Road (aka Route 1), that way you have someone to jam in the car with and split the price of seeing the country with.

Pro-tip: Rent a vehicle that is an all-wheel drive diesel edition no matter the season, if you can. It’s going to be the safest and most budget friendly option to get around.

2. Be Tech Smart.

If you’re road tripping, make sure you download apps to help out on the road. I suggest loading up with localized guides like the app called 112 Iceland app for emergencies and the locally-compiled and free Iceland Travel & Tourism Guide app.

Another budget saving tip: get a SIM card. If it’s a SIM from Iceland, you can cut out on the international roaming charges and instead get the local rate. You can buy it at the airport and manually unlock your phone for the best service, or you can let the kiosk guy do it. Either way, it’s an easy fix for keeping yourself plugged in.

3. Visit Iceland During A Stopover.

Stopovers are the new budget friendly way for travelers to experience as much as they possibly can for the cheapest price tag, and with offers from Icelandair, it’s the perfect opportunity to use it for your first visit to the beautiful country. With destination stopovers like the one that hops from New York City to a 3-night stay in Reykjavik, hotel included, it’s easy to make a cross-continental leap that allows you to kill multiple birds with one stone.

4. Plan to go to Iceland in the off-season.

The Northern Lights In Iceland
Copyright Moyan Brenn for more photos please visit Moyan Brenn

Iceland is a major summer favorite for travelers since it offers excellent weather and once in a lifetime natural wonders like the famous midnight sun, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that flights in June are much more expensive than ones in February, even if you’re using the latest tech trickery to find deals.

While it’s true that going in winter means you get less light, it also means better Northern Light opportunities and less cash is required for your getaway. That being said, ask yourself before you book if a winter season trip is right for you.

5. Make “no alcohol” a hard rule. instead eat Icelandic hot dogs!

Iceland’s remote location means their alcohol prices are through the roof, so anyone wanting to keep to a daily budget for meals needs to forego the extra price of alcohol because the food is expensive as well if you don’t know where to look. I suggest taking yourself on a foodie tour to taste every Icelandic hot dog in the area—it’s a very famous and delicious national snack—and supplementing that with healthy picks from the produce section of the grocery store.

For trying the other local delicacies on a budget, try ordering appetizer portions. It’s a way to shave off the dollars and still get a tasty treat.

A trip to Iceland is going to be one of the greatest experiences of your life, even if you’re on a budget, so don’t let my penny-pinching advice get you thinking they will get in the way of having a great time. The beauty of the landscape, people, and cuisine are breathtaking no matter the time of year or price tag.

Have you been to Iceland already or did you just get back? Share your experiences here, I’m always looking for better ways to see my favorite spots on a dime.

5 Beaches You Must Visit In Los Angeles California

A Beach in Los Angeles
One of the many beaches In Los Angeles California

Los Angeles California is many things to different people but one thing everyone in Los Angeles can agree on is how lovely the beaches in Los Angeles are.

While life in L.A. can get hectic to the point that Los Angelenos forget that there are several beaches in their city, we are here to remind residents and visitors alike of 5 beaches in Los Angeles you must visit while in the city.

The Best Beaches In Los Angeles

Santa Monica Beach - one of the many beaches in Los Angeles
Sun-bathers On The Beach In Santa Monica California

1. Manhattan Beach

This has to be my favorite beach in all of Los Angeles. Located in the southwestern part of L.A., Manhattan beach is more of a beach town than anything else. It is quaint and is host to mostly residents of the city of Manhattan beach.

A day spent here will find you hanging out with locals that seem like they don’t have a care in the world. Manhattan beach also has friendly neighborhood bars and restaurants where you can mix and mingle with locals.

An added bonus is it’s close proximity to the Los Angeles international airport (LAX). So if you are visiting L.A. from out of town and have a hotel booked close to the airport, you definitely want to make at stop at this beach in Los Angeles.

2. El Matador State Beach.

El Matador State Beach Is On The Outskirts Of Los Angeles California
El Matador State Beach Is On The Outskirts Of Los Angeles California

This is another hidden gem in Los Angeles. El Matador State Beach is tucked away in Malibu and is perfect if you are looking for a beach escape from the city. El Matador is characterized by limestone rocks emanating from the ground which serves as the perfect backdrop for photographers and sunbathers alike. Once again because of its distance from the more frequented parts of L.A. you will find mostly Malibu residents at the beach.

3. Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica beach in Los Angeles California
The Entrance To The Santa Monica Pier In Los Angeles

Santa Monica beach is one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles. It is often frequented by tourists and locals alike and ever since the expo line on the L.A. metro system

came into operation, it has made the beach more accessible than ever. The vibe at Santa Monica beach is more like a commercial beach town, with big hotels, clubs, restaurants, and bars on every corner of the street. An added bonus is it’s close proximity to it loony sister beach “Venice beach”, which I talk about next.

4. Venice Beach

Venice Beach is a walking distance from Santa Monica beach and most people that visit one always end up visiting the other. I once heard someone say “Venice beach is a different kind of crazy” and there couldn’t have been a more accurate description of the beach. With everything on the beach from street performers with snakes wrapped around their necks to people telling you your fortune through crystal balls. Venice beach has every spectacle that will keep a visitor to the beach occupied. An added bonus is Abbott Kinney boulevard which has boutique shops and restaurants lined up on opposite sides of the street. Taking a cue from Venice in Italy, there are also canals around the residential parts of the beach where residents paddle around in their boats.

5. Paradise Cove Beach

Paradise cove beach is another beach in that is tucked away in Malibu. It is one of our favorites because it is behind a restaurant called “paradise cove cafe” so get to enjoy cocktails and some food in the restaurant before heading out to the beach.

The only downside to visiting this beach is that parking here can be pricey but as the saying goes “you get what you pay for”.

Did we miss any beaches above? Let us know in the comments section.

5 Pool Parties You Must Attend In Los Angeles This Summer (2016 Edition)

Los Angeles, California has long been known as a city with “year-round” sunshine, glamour, and beautiful people. While this is true, no other season of the year has pool parties jumping off like the summer. Since we still have one more month to go before summer officially ends, we have decided to compile five of the best pool parties in Los Angeles where you can celebrate being awesome this summer. Here we go….


Venues With The Best Pool Parties in Los Angeles

1. The Standard In Downtown Los Angeles

Guests Lounging by the pool at the standard downtown los angeles.
Guests lounging by the pool at the Standard Downtown Los Angeles.

The Standard in Downtown Los Angeles has been having parties on their rooftop lounge for quite sometime now and their parties are still going on strong. Located at 550 South Flower Street in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, they have the lounge area by their pool open almost any day of the week.

Things, however, really get going on the weekends when the pool is open to hotel guests and walk-ins alike. There is usually a cover charge to get in and knowing a promoter for an event here certainly helps your chances of getting in.

2. The W Hotel Hollywood

A summer snapshot of the Poolside at The W Hotel
A summer snapshot of the poolside at The W Hotel

The W Hotel Hollywood located on 6250 Hollywood Blvd is one of the premier locations for laying by the pool on any given day in Los Angeles. Most of the pool parties here, however, occur over the weekends, with things reaching a crescendo on Sundays for the now ubiquitous “Sunday Funday”.

3. The Roosevelt Hotel Hollywood

The Pool At The Roosevelt Hollywood
The Pool At The Roosevelt Hollywood

The Roosevelt Hotel is an iconic hotel in Hollywood Los Angeles and so are the parties they have by their poolside. I personally went to a couple and had an amazing time every time I was in attendance. Look out for the velvet rope here as it can be hard getting past it. Good luck!

4. Skybar At The Mondrian Hotel

The Skybar At The Mondrain Los Angeles
The Skybar at the Mondrian Los Angeles

The Skybar on Sunset Blvd is another staple on the pool party scene in Los Angeles. Not only do they have pool parties here, the hotel also hosts everything from poolside cinemas to all out ragers.

5.Viceroy Los Angeles

A Snapshot of the Pool At The Viceroy Los Angeles.  Photo Courtesy:
A snapshot of the pool at the Viceroy Los Angeles. Photo Courtesy:

The Viceroy in Santa Monica is a little bit more on the secluded side, but for those in the know they have a party here every Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a live DJ playing anything from progressive house to any other form of edm.

We hope you have a great time during the rest of the summer!

Did we miss any parties you know off? Please let me know in the comments section below.

10 Nationalities You Will Likely Encounter When You Travel

Dante Sporting the American Flag with American Tourists In Poland.
Dante Sporting An American Flag Tank Top with Tourists In Poland.

After having traveled to at least one country on 6 of the 7 continents on planet earth, I started to notice patterns emerge during my journeys. Little things like in every European country I visited there was always an old town that had more tourist concentrated activities than other parts of town or the fact that the primary mode of worship in Europe was Christianity.

Asia was awash with temples because of the existence of older religions like Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. One thing that also stuck out to me was the fact that whenever I asked fellow travelers where their country of origin was, they were consistently from the same parts of the world.

The more I traveled, the more I ran into these nationalities and it soon became obvious, that due to access to discretionary income, lax visa rules, a culture that allows for time off work and a general thirst for wanderlust, some nationalities are more privy to explore far-flung parts of the globe than others. Below is a list of nationalities that I have encountered the most while traveling around the world.


10. Brazilians

The Brazilians are the only nationals from South America that I seem to encounter consistently as I canvas the globe. I once asked a fellow Brazilian backpacker how come Brazilians have burst onto the travel scene in greater numbers of recent and he said Brazil is silently experiencing an economic renaissance of sorts. Flush with revenues from recent oil and gas discoveries, a lot of Brazilians used their wealth as an opportunity to explore the globe. The Brazilian government also invested in education programs that saw lots of young Brazilians get sent abroad to study. As Brazil’s economy continues toward an uptick, I expect to continue to see more Brazilians on the travel path.

9. Americans

Americans are the one people on the planet that literally have everything it takes to be the “ultimate globetrotters” but choose not to utilize their travel privileges as much as they should. With an economy that is ranked at present as the world’s most powerful, visa-free access to over 170 countries, and more discretionary income than many countries around the world, one is left wondering why out of a nation of close to 350 million people just under 50% even hold a passport, and an even lesser percentage even bother to put those passports to use. One explanation could be America’s isolationist past, while another could be the difficulty of getting time off work. The United States has just 10 paid vacation days on average and because workers are reluctant to take those days off, companies are beginning to penalize workers who sell their vacation days back to the company instead of actually using them. It would be nice to see more Americans on the travel path considering how much of the world there is to see.

8. The Dutch

People from “The Netherlands” tend to travel a lot. More so than many other nationalities and if they had the numbers of the Chinese or the Americans, I definitely would have run into many more Dutch nationals. Just like most of the other nations in the European bloc, they have a lot going for them in terms of what it takes to be a nation of globetrotters. With a robust economy, passports that guarantee access to huge swaths of the earth’s surface and a culture that puts a lot of focus on taking time off work and work-life balance, it is no wonder that the Dutch have been able to paint the travel path in their favorite color “orange”.

7. Scandinavians

This includes Denmark, Finland, and Norway. The citizens of these countries have all the elements that make for a nation of travelers. Generous vacation days, thriving economies and a culture that focuses on work-life balance. A lot of Scandinavians take time off after finishing high school and head off for a gap year. Some also take non-profit jobs in countries abroad as a way to live and experience other countries and cultures.

6. The Chinese

Everyone who has been paying attention knows that in the past 50 years, China has smashed its way into being one of the world’s top economic players. With this new found success, the Chinese have decided to put some of their new found wealth to use by exploring the world. Unlike some of the fore-mentioned nationalities who travel as a means of restoring some balance back in the “work-life” mix, when the Chinese travel it is usually as “status oriented” which means is usually a means to flaunt their newly acquired wealth. It is estimated that China overtook the U.S.A in overseas vacation spending as far back as 2014 and this trend is expected to continue as more and more Chinese nationals climb the rungs of China’s economic ladder.

5. Germans

If you are an avid traveler, coming from the most powerful economy in Europe certainly helps. Another advantage is work rules that encourage a healthy work-life balance. With a guaranteed 34 days off work per year, a GDP per capita of about $35,000, and a passport that was recently ranked one of the most powerful in the world, Germans have it good when it comes to being able to dust off their passports and travel the world on a whim.

4. The French

The French are another nation with a healthy dose of wanderlust. The French, like their British counterparts, are lucky to be from a nation where travel is encouraged. By French law, workers are entitled to at least five weeks off work, coupled with another dozen public holidays, and a maximum 35-hour work week, it is no wonder French people have enough time to travel as much as they can.

3. The British

The British also have a culture of travel that is probably a result of having one of the strongest currencies on the planet, great visa privileges, and a thirst for wanderlust that predates their colonization of a quarter of the earth’s surface. The country’s exit from the European union might hurt or diminish the potency of their passports but time will tell whether their exit from the European bloc will impact their culture of travel negatively.

2. Canadians

Of the all the countries in the Americas, I found the Canadians to be the most prolific travelers. They follow closely behind the Australians in how prolific they are at leaving home for other destinations around the planet. It is also not uncommon for Canadians graduating from high school to take a year off after graduation to explore the world before beginning their first semester of college classes. I also found that a great many expatriates in Asia, especially Hong Kong were from Canada. I would later find out that Canada is still an active member of the “British Commonwealth of Nations”. An organization that also had Hong Kong as a Member state before it was handed back to the Chinese government on July 1, 1997.

1. Australians

Aussies as some would like to call them are by a long stretch the most prolific globetrotters on the planet. I have literally never been to any vacation spot or job assignment anywhere on the planet without running into an Australian. With a minimum wage that is more than double that of the United States (The minimum wage in the United States is currently hovering at just above seven dollars per hour), a robust economy, an emphasis on taking time off work, and a culture of wanderlust born from Australia being so isolated from the rest of the planet, it is no wonder Australian nationals see the need to always up and leave home for extended periods of time. I have run into several Australians who told me they were on a “two-year” pilgrimage around the world. For an American who can barely muster out two weeks away from work at a time, the notion of traveling continuously for two years seemed mind boggling to me.

Did I leave out any nationalities in the above list? Please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!

How To Travel Indonesia Like A Pro

Indonesia Is A South East Asian Country Composed Of About 13,000 Islands.
Indonesia Is A South East Asian Country Composed Of About 13,000 Islands.

Lombok, Indonesia Travel Guide. Courtesy:


How Indonesia Came Onto My Travel Radar.

Indonesia first came onto my travel radar when I was working in Malaysia as an expatriate, since Indonesia is a neighboring country and shares a similar language (Bahasa Indonesia) with Malaysia, it made sense that some of my co-workers would be Indonesian nationals.

What set my Indonesian co-workers apart from everyone else in the expatriate community was how hospitable they were.

Their hospitality left me wondering what Indonesia as a country would be like, after all, my co-workers had left such a good impression on me and that was how my wanderlust was set into motion.

Later that year, during a short break from work I got a chance to visit the Indonesian capital, Jakarta and subsequently Bali. Much to my satisfaction, Indonesia turned out to be a great travel destination and I had an incredible time while I was there.

Jakarta has an impressive urban sprawl and is very cosmopolitan.
Jakarta has an impressive urban sprawl and is very cosmopolitan.


A Little About Indonesia

Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia comprised of about 13,000 islands. Its capital is Jakarta and the favorite tourist destinations in the country are Jakarta, Bali and for people in the know, “the Gili islands”.

Formerly a Dutch, then a Japanese colony, Indonesia was able to throw both colonial powers off and became an independent country in 1945. It is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country but remains a culturally pluralistic secular country.

As at the time of this writing, the population of Indonesia stands at about quarter of a billion people. Now that you know a little about Indonesia, let’s get you to travel Indonesia like a pro.

People Getting Off A Plane In Jakarta Indonesia
People Getting Off A Plane In Jakarta Indonesia


Start Your Travels In Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital city and has an urban sprawl that reminds me of my home city of Los Angeles. It is also very cosmopolitan and a traveler here will find that there is no shortage of things to do.

The Indonesia Rupiah Is The Currency In Indonesia. 1 U.S. Dollar Is About 14,000 Rupiah
The Indonesia Rupiah Is The Currency In Indonesia. 1 U.S. Dollar Is About 14,000 Rupiah

If you are arriving by plane, you will most likely fly into Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK). Another piece of good news about traveling to Indonesia is how affordable a trip to this country is. The last time I checked, One U.S. dollar was equivalent to 13,642.50 Indonesian Rupiah.

Jakarta Indonesia has a very impressive nightlife scene.
Jakarta Indonesia has a very impressive nightlife scene.


Things To Do In Jakarta, Indonesia

There are tons of things to do in Indonesia and I was rather pleasantly surprised that Jakarta has a nightlife scene that is so awesome that a blog post about it simply cannot do it any justice.

Other things to do include visiting some of Jakarta’s museums, markets, shopping malls and Hindu or Buddist temples.

For information about places to stay in Jakarta, browsing or should give you a good idea of where to stay in the city. I was fortunate to spend my time in Jakarta at the Pullman Hotel in Central Jakarta.

The Island Of Bali In Indonesia Is The Most Popular In Indonesia
The Island Of Bali In Indonesia Is The Most Popular In Indonesia


Head On Over To Bali Indonesia

Tourists And Locals Taking A Bath At A Hindu Temple In Bali Indonesia.
Tourists And Locals Taking A Bath At A Hindu Temple In Bali Indonesia.

There is really no point traveling to Indonesia if you stay in the capital alone, while Jakarta is an amazing city, traveling to Jakarta alone would be like reading one page of a really good novel.

For some Sun and fun, you definitely have to head out to the other islands that make up Indonesia and there is no island destination in Indonesia more popular than the Island of Bali.

All Inclusive Resorts Are A Great Option For Accommodation in Bali Indonesia.
All Inclusive Resorts Are A Great Option For Accommodation in Bali Indonesia.

The island of Bali is home to Indonesia’s Hindu minority population and it’s capital is Denpasar. While you are in Bali, it might be a good idea to indulge in the increasingly popular Hindu practice of yoga. There are also lots of resorts in this part of Bali that have all inclusive packages.

Bali Indonesia Is Home To Indonesia's Hindu Minority.
Bali Indonesia Is Home To Indonesia’s Hindu Minority.

I stayed at the Conrad Bali which is located in the quieter parts of the Island. For you, party animals, your best bet while in Bali would be to visit Kuta and Seminyak as they both have tourist strips lined with bars from one end to the other.

For those with an affinity for culture, there are lots of temples like the Ubud Monkey forest and the Uluwatu temple. If you are up for it, you can also trek up Mt. Babur which doubles as a mountain and a volcano.

It is also perfectly enjoyable to just lay on one of the many beaches they have in Bali.

Gili Trawangan is one of three Islands that make up the Gili Islands in Indonesia.
Gili Trawangan is one of three Islands that make up the Gili Islands in Indonesia.


End Your Trip With A Visit To The Gili Islands in Lombok

As fate would have it, I couldn’t get to add the Gili Islands to my travel itinerary while traveling Indonesia, but I have heard and read nothing but marvelous things about this trio of islands mainly as a result of its sparkling turquoise waters and shining white sands.

The Gili Islands are composed of three separate islands which include Gili Trawangan, Gili Melo, and Gili Air. There are tons to do here like free diving, surfing, and other watersports.

Gili Trawangan also has a great nightlife scene due to the Japanese and western tourists that have chosen this little corner of the planet as paradise. The best way to reach the Gili Islands is by the daily fast boats that leave Bali for the islands.

Some More Places In Indonesia To Add To Your Travel Itinerary

If you are an avid traveler you must have heard of the ever growing “Banana pancake trail” which has Indonesia as one of the destinations on its trail.

Traveling to Indonesia like a pro would be incomplete if you did not add Lake Toba, Yogyakarta, and Mount Bromo to the list of places you should visit if you traveled to Indonesia.

Traveling Ha long Bay and Hanoi Vietnam

A Memorial To Ho Chi Minh in Ba Đình Square in Hanoi Vietnam.
A Memorial To Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi Vietnam.

Hanoi Vietnam or Vietnam, in general, has always been fascinating to me. As an avid historian, I have always wondered how this tiny southeast Asian nation was able to fend off not two but three super powers.

Of all the super powers they were able to fend off, their war with the USA hit the closest home for me and I knew someday if the opportunity presented itself I would like to find out what Vietnam was really about.

As fortune would have it some friends of mine were planning an Asia trip with Vietnam on the itinerary. I was asked if I wanted to join the trip. Although I was hesitant at first, as soon as I found out Vietnam was on the itinerary, I agreed to join and was advised by my friends to start preparing to get my Vietnamese visa if I was going to come along.

How To Secure A Vietnamese Visa

The Main Square in Hanoi Vietnam
The Main Square in Hanoi Vietnam

Unlike Thailand or other Asian countries where you can deal with visa requirements upon arrival, if you are traveling to Vietnam from the United States, Canada or any other western country, you will need to obtain a visa in your home country before arrival.

Also, you need to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months at the time of your visit to the country. After paying a visa processing fee and a fee for the visa itself, I secured a visa and was set to go on the trip.

For more information on securing a Vietnamese visa, you should visit the website of the embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in America or the embassy of Vietnam in your country of origin.

First Impressions Of Hanoi Vietnam

The main form of transportation in Hanoi is the scooter.
The main form of transportation in Hanoi is the scooter.

On arriving in Hanoi Vietnam I was shocked to see the number of scooters and motorcycles that buzzed around the city. In my opinion, Hanoi should be renamed “scooter city”, because of the dizzying array of motorcycles that were zipping around the city without fear or caution. I was further astounded by the total disregard for traffic rules while the riders rode around the city.

Scooters riding through the streets of Hanoi Vietnam.
Scooters riding through the streets of Hanoi Vietnam.

This can make it dangerous for any tourist who tries to follow in the footsteps of the locals and decides to hop on a motorcycle to explore the city. To avoid any riding mishaps, my advice would be that you just hire a taxi from your hostel or hotel to take you around the city.

The Ho An Kiem Lake in Hanoi Vietnam
The Ho An Kiem Lake in Hanoi Vietnam

Visits To Museums In Hanoi Vietnam

A harrowing sight from one of the Museums in Hanoi.
A harrowing sight from one of the Museums in Hanoi.

Like any other curious American, who had heard one too many tales about the war in Vietnam from the American side, I wanted to see what the Vietnamese perspective on the war was like and as I suspected it was not pretty. I visited two museums while in Hanoi namely the B52 Victory museum and the Vietnam military history museum and both left me hoping that mankind would learn from the errs of the war and never engage in such base barbarity again.

A booby trap from the vietnam war
A booby trap from the vietnam war


A downed American aircraft on exhibit.
A downed American aircraft on exhibit.

A collection of war planes shot down by the vietnamese
A collection of war planes shot down by the vietnamese


The People In Hanoi Vietnam

Hanoi has a population of about roughly 8 million people as of the time of this writing, the people we encountered seemed just as curious of travelers as we were of them.

A few people approached us to take pictures with us and some even came over to take pictures of us like we were props or exhibits. It was all in good gesture so if you happen to experience this just take it with a grain of salt and have a good laugh.

There is also a growing expatriate community especially in the Westlake area of Hanoi but for the most part, English is not as widely spoken as some of the other Asian countries I visited.

In all, I would say most of the Vietnamese people we encountered were very welcoming and respectful. It seemed like as long as you treated them with respect and courtesy you were treated likewise.

Where To Stay In Hanoi Vietnam

The Westin Westlake in Hanoi Vietnam.
The Westin Westlake in Hanoi Vietnam.

Hanoi has some of the most affordable accommodation in south east Asia and a quick peruse of or should give you a good overview of prices and options on where to stay while in the city. I managed to get a reservation at the Westin in Westlake and my stay there was perfect.

Things To Do In Hanoi Vietnam

There are lots of things to do and see during a visit to Hanoi and apart from visiting some of the museums in the city one would find Hanoi to be a foodie’s paradise. There is also a decent nightlife scene in the city from what I was able to gather even though we didn’t get to indulge. If you are into pub crawls, there are several hostels in the city that organize a few and If you are a shopaholic there are malls and kiosks in the city where you can buy goods from local craftsmen. Most people who come to Hanoi Vietnam end up using it as a jump-off point to exploring the world heritage site of Ha Long Bai or Halong Bay and that is exactly what I ended up doing.

My Trip To Ha Long Bai Vietnam

Limestones rising from the water in Hanoi Vietnam.
Limestones rising from the water in Hanoi Vietnam.

After spending a couple of days exploring Hanoi Vietnam, it was time to head to Ha Long Bai. To get to the port of sail, I had to go on a 3-hour bus ride with a couple of pit-stops on the way.

On arrival at the port of sail, we boarded a boat that made me take a gulp of nervousness because of how old it was but I was reassured by the captain of the boat who said I should refer to him simply as “Z” that there was nothing to worry about. Once all the other passengers were on board we departed the port and began our two-day sail around Ha Long Bai./p>

Sailing Ha Long Bai

Several boats sailing in Ha Long Bai
Several boats sailing in Ha Long Bai

Ha Long Bay is truly a sight to behold and a blog post about it would surely do it no justice. During the trip, we were constantly surrounded by limestone pillars emanating from the water which made the sail seem otherworldly and surreal. Ha long bay attracts most of its visitors during the peak season of January to March and between May and August so picking a tour during those dates might be a good idea.

Last Impressions About Hanoi

French Colonial Vehicles parked outside a hotel in Hanoi Vietnam.
French Colonial Vehicles parked outside a hotel in Hanoi Vietnam.

A few people have complained about being scammed or ill-treated during their trip to Vietnam. I have to report that the reception I received was quite the contrary. Vietnam is still a developing country and you can tell that years of foreign meddling and intervention have taken a toll on this small but mighty country.

The Vietnamese government wants to catch up with its Asian neighbors and tourism is one front where they intend to focus their efforts. I would definitely recommend Vietnam as a must visit destination because of how affordable and authentic I found it to be. I had a great time while I was there and I honestly hope I get to return to Hanoi Vietnam again someday.

I Loved Zagreb Croatia And If You Visited You Would Love It Too

 A Restaurant In Zagreb Croatia
An I Heart Zagreb Sign Outside A Restaurant In Zagreb Croatia


A Little About Zagreb Croatia

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, a country that was part of the now defunct Socialist federation of Yugoslavia. Croatia is bordered to the north by Slovenia and Hungary, to the west by the Adriatic Sea and to the South by Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia became the 28th member of the European Commission on the 1st of July 2013.


How To Get To Zagreb Croatia

Croatian Money "The Kuna" in Zagreb Croatia
The Kuna Is The Currency Of Choice In Croatia. The Euro will be adopted in 2018.

Transportation to Zagreb Croatia is pretty straightforward with most people arriving by plane to Zagreb’s Franjo Tuđman Airport which is the busiest international airport in all of Croatia. Since I was already touring the Balkans my method of transportation was by Bus. Zagreb Croatia from what I gather is also accessible by ferry and train, it really all depends on where you are starting your travels from.


Things To Do In Zagreb Croatia

I have been to quite a few countries in Europe and Zagreb Croatia gives the other EU member states a run for their money in terms of cost of living, nightlife, arts, cuisine and much more. While Zagreb is landlocked and not a coastal city like Dubrovnik, Split or Zadar. I still found it to be just as pleasant, dynamic, and interesting as any of the European capitals I had visited previously. I have compiled a list of things to do in Zagreb that will make your stay in the city as memorable as mine was.


1. Stop By The Cathedral Of Zagreb

The Zagreb Cathedral In Zagreb Croatia
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Zagreb Croatia

The Cathedral Of Zagreb is one of the more interesting landmarks I found in Zagreb Croatia. The Zagreb Cathedral betrays Croatia’s Roman Catholic identity and is the tallest building in Croatia and therefore visible from most parts of the city.

2. Grab Some Delicious Pancakes At Kava Tava

Kava Tava A Breakfast Cafe In Zagreb Croatia.
A stack of delicious pancakes in Kava Tava Zagreb Croatia

Kava Tava is a breakfast joint in the center of Zagreb Croatia, and while Zagreb is littered with cafes and restaurants, the customer service and pure deliciousness of the pancakes will give you the right amount of energy and satisfaction to start off your day in the city the right way.

3. Visit The City’s Museum’s And Galleries.

The Museum Of Illusions In Zagreb Croatia
An Exhibit From The Museum Of Illusions In Zagreb Croatia.

Zagreb Croatia has some of the most interesting museums I have ever been to. I was floored by my trip to the Museum of Illusions, which held some of the most mind boggling exhibits I had ever laid my eyes on. You also want to make sure you visit the museum of broken relationships and the museum of torture amongst others.

4. Take A Tour Of The Ban Jelačić Square

The Main Square in Zagreb Croatia
The Ban Jelacic square in Zagreb Croatia is the city’s main square.

The Ban Jelačić Square is the main square in Zagreb Croatia and is great starting point if you planned to meet up with a tour group or a local to go exploring the city with. There are coffee shops and restaurants that surround the square and also a market that sells artifacts from local artisans. (Make sure you buy some items so you can support the local economy).


5. Take A Stroll Down Tkalciceva Street

A snapshot of Tkalciceva street
Locals strolling down Tkalciceva street.

Tkalciceva is a street in the center of Zagreb Croatia that extends from Ban Jelačić Square to its northern end at the Mala ulica, the street flows between the Gornji Grad in the west and Nova Ves in the east. This street is packed with restaurants and bars and most of the socializing you will do in the city will certainly begin or end in this part of town. Make sure you stop by the Sri Lankan restaurant they have on this strip for good measure.

6. Indulge In Zagreb Croatia’s Nightlife

Nightlife in Zagreb Croatia.
When The Sun Sets In Zagreb. The City Comes Alive.

I have done my share of partying and I must say Zagreb Croatia is up there with almost any other capital city I have been to. There are tons of bars, restaurants and clubs for every season in Zagreb Croatia.

A snapshot of A nightclub in Zagreb Croatia
History Club In Zagreb Croatia

During the winter months most of the clubs move back from around Jarun lake to the city center and there is no shortage of bars and nightclubs one can attend in this part of the city. I found the price of alcohol and even table service to be quite affordable. The music played at most of the venues ranged from top 40 to more generic genres of music.

 Opera Nightclub in Zagreb Croatia
The Stage At Opera Nightclub in Zagreb Croatia

7. Explore The City’s Unique Architecture.

Zagreb Croatia Has A Lot Of Unique And Amazing Architecture.
Zagreb Croatia Has A Lot Of Unique And Amazing Architecture.

Zagreb has a lot of interesting feats of architecture that can only be truly appreciated if one were to visit the city. From the above mentioned Zagreb Cathedral to St. Mark’s church (shown above). One will not be left disappointed with the array of amazing greco-roman architecture that makes up this city.

On A Final Note

I had a great time in Zagreb and would like to thank the lady who rented her amazing loft to me while I was in the city, the locals who gave me insider tips on where to eat, dine and party while in the city. Zagreb Croatia is an amazing capital city and I hope to return to this amazing city someday. Till then, stay special Zagreb..

Ko Tao, Thailand. Paradise On Earth!!!!

A Tourist Enjoying The View On Aow Leuk Bay In Koh Tao Thailand.
A Tourist Enjoying The View On Aow Leuk Bay In Koh Tao Thailand.

The first time I heard about Ko Tao Thailand (translated in turtle island in English) was from a Dutch friend of mine, while I on Holiday in The Netherlands. We were chatting about Island destinations and she said she was going to let me in on a little secret.

In her exact words, she said: “What if I told you about an island in Thailand where if you were to visit, you would most likely never want to return to civilization?” Her bold statement left me wondering what in heck she was talking about.

Our conversation drifted away from the topic shortly after and as soon as I got home I googled the destination only to retrieve from google’s vast database, images of aqua blue water and lush green vegetation. I added it to my bucket list and vowed to visit as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

How I Ended Up In Ko Tao Thailand.

Lounge Chairs On Ko Tao's Main Beach -- Sairee Beach
Lounge Chairs On Ko Tao’s Main Beach — Sairee Beach

An engineering assignment ended up getting me transferred to work in Thailand for a month and after much haggling with my Boss, I was allowed to stay for a couple of days to finally get to see paradise. I hopped on a ferry from Ko Samui (another popular island in Thailand) and headed to Ko Tao. Prior to me leaving for Ko Tao Thailand, I perused and was able to get a place at my now beloved AC2 Resort. It seemed like most of the accommodation in Ko Tao Thailand were bungalows, I settled in and went exploring.

How To Get Around Ko Tao Thailand.

Scooters are the most convenient way of getting around Ko Tao
Scooters are the most convenient way of getting around Ko Tao

I would quickly find out that Ko Tao was a massive island, about 8.5 square miles and that the best way to get around is to rent a scooter from one of the rental shops on the island. This will, however, require you surrendering your passport and leaving a small deposit. It is worth it in my opinion especially if you had previous riding experience. However, if you are new to riding a scooter, just hire a taxi instead as that will save you your passport and a hefty fine in the unfortunate event that you crash your scooter.

Things To Do In Ko Tao Thailand

My Dutch friend was right, a trip done right to Ko Tao can make it difficult to return to your former life. I personally know a few people who decided to just overstay their visas because they were having such a good time. As much as I love this patch of heaven on earth I certainly do not advocate this. Thai immigration authorities have begun cracking down on offenders hauling them off to detention centers where they have to pay a hefty fine to secure their release. Now back to things to do in Ko Tao.

1. Visit As Many Of The Island’s Beaches As Possible

Ko Tao’s main allure comes from the fact that there are so many amazing beaches all around the island. The main beach, Sairee beach is home to a decent amount of restaurants, hotels, hostels and nightlife spots. While there is plenty to do on Sairee beach, my advice is visit as many of the other beaches in Ko Tao as possible. I have created a reference list for some of the best beaches below:

  • 1. Hin Wong Bay
  • 2. Aow Leuk Bay
  • 3. Tanote Bay
  • 4. Koh Nangyuan Island
  • 5. Sai Nuan Beach
  • 6. Koh Nang Yuan
  • 7. Freedom Beach
  • 8. Jansom Bay
  • 9. Sai Deng Beach
  • 10. Mango Bay

For visuals of what some of these beaches look like please use the provided resource: KohTao.Asia

2. Become Certified At Deep Sea Diving.

While I am not a certified diver, I have heard Ko Tao Thailand has some of the most affordable and best diving schools in the world. Since Ko Tao forms part of the Champion Archipelago, the area is rife with marine life. This makes for some of the best waters for you to go underwater exploring.

3. Indulge In Ko Tao’s Amazing Nightlife

A fire dancer entertaining patrons while they watch a movie.
A fire dancer entertaining patrons while they watch a movie.

Ko Tao Thailand has an amazing dose of nightlife, with everything from restaurants, bars, open air nightclubs and much. An evening on the island is never ever boring. Insider Tip: Start off your night at Lotus beach bar and work your way to the other end of Sairee beach.

A Beer Pong Tournament On The Island Of Koh Tao
A Beer Pong Tournament On The Island Of Koh Tao

4. Whet Your Appetite With Amazing Thai Food

Thailand Has A Great Reputation For It's Tasty Dishes.
Thailand Has A Great Reputation For It’s Tasty Dishes.

Thailand is a great place to travel especially if you are a foodie and Ko Tao is no exception. On Sairee beach especially, there are several restaurants where you can get your choice of both Thai and Western dishes. Tip: If you want an amazing view of the sunset, stop by one of the restaurants on Sairee beach where you can get a beach front view.

What Kind Of People Will You Meet On Ko Tao Thailand

Ko Tao is very popular amongst avid travelers and backpackers and is only going to get more popular. Every part of Thailand seems to have one or two nationalities dominating that part of Thailand. I found this to be also true in Ko Tao. This island seems to attract a ton of Scandinavians, Brits, and French tourists either looking to dive, party or spend a few a days before they move onto another destination on their backpacking trip through Asia. The age demographic ranges from the very young to the old but you will find that the largest group of travelers in Ko Tao are people between the age range of 18 and 26.

My Dutch Friend Was Right

I did not stay back in Ko Tao to escape “western civilization” but I did consider it (joke). In all seriousness, Ko Tao now holds a special place in my heart and even though I reside in Los Angeles and have a hectic schedule, I have so far returned three times and intend to return the next time I get a chance. Till the next time…..Sincerely Dante.

The Fullmoon Party Koh Phangan Thailand

The Fullmoon Party is held on Haad Rin Beach In Koh Pha Ngan Thailand
The Fullmoon Party is held on Haad Rin Beach In Koh Pha Ngan Thailand

What Is The FullMoon Party?

Once a Month, the full disk of the Moon’s reflective surface shines in all it’s glory. This monthly celestial occurrence is usually a sight to behold. Especially for people who like to pay attention to astronomy.

For the rest of us who like to travel and party there is an equally awesome event down in the South East Asian country of Thailand where backpackers and revelers alike gather to have a good time on Haad Rin Beach, drink out of buckets and listen to music booming from one of the five stages set up along the beach.

Revelers Form A Circle Around Thai Fire dancers
Revelers Form A Circle Around Fire dancers At The Fullmoon Party.


How To Get To The FullMoon Party

The Lomprayah Ferry Service Run Between Other Islands And Koh Phangan. Copyright
The Lomprayah Ferry Service Run Between Other Islands And Koh Phangan. Copyright

The Fullmoon party in Koh Phangan, Thailand is held on Haad Rin beach and many a reveler make the mistake of booking accommodation or lodging on other beaches in Koh Phangan. That usually makes getting to the event itself a pain as some of the more isolated parts of the island can be quite far from Haad Rin Beach.

To get to the island of Koh Phangan itself, there are ferries from the close by islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui that are run by companies like Lomprayah. To get to the point where you board a ferry, you will most likely have to fly into Koh Samui from your country of origin as it’s the only one of the big islands that has a major airport.


Where To Stay For The Fullmoon Party

As mentioned earlier, staying anywhere on the island of Koh Phangan but Haad Rin Beach would prove to be an exercise in futility. I once stayed at a guest house on the opposite side of Haad Rin beach and not only was it far from Haad Rin, it was completely deserted as most of the other travelers and revelers got accommodation on Haad Rin beach.

If you decide to stay on Haad Rin Beach, a quick browse of or any other travel booking site should provide ample options on where to stay.

I would however advice you arrive in Koh Phangan a couple of days early to avoid sold out accommodations on the Island. Something else to take note of is that most of the hotels and hostels on Haad Rin beach have a minimum number of days you have to stay at their establishment.

One Of The Stages At The Fullmoon Party In Koh Phangan Thailand
One Of The Stages At The Fullmoon Party In Koh Phangan Thailand


Who Will Be At The FullMoon Party

A Reveler from The Below Mentioned Countries At The Fullmoon Party.
A Reveler from The Below Mentioned Countries At The Fullmoon Party.

I have been to the full moon party about three times and I was surprised at the healthy representation of people from all walks of life. However, apart from the locals who help in setting up the event, and sell their wares in the hours leading up to the event.

There seemed to be an overwhelming representation of attendees from following countries; The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

The full moon party is getting popular in the United States but the Fullmoon’s popularity is nowhere near the popularity of the event in the fore-mentioned countries.

The age group of those in attendance is usually between the ages of 18 and 35 years with some cliff hangers (The above 35 crowd) also in attendance.

What To Do At The Fullmoon Party

Revelers At The Fullmoon Party In Koh Phangan
Revelers At The Fullmoon Party In Koh Phangan

This you might think is a silly section because it seems pretty obvious, just dance on the beach till the next morning and go home. Those in the know are aware that in the days leading up to the full moon party there are a ton of other parties going on in Koh Phangan.

They include a massive pool party at a house close to the beach, a jungle party held in–you guessed it “the jungle” and then the full moon party itself. At the main event itself, most people buy buckets of cocktails before they head over to the sand.

Also get some “glow in the dark” body paint and a full moon party t-shirt so that you can fit in perfectly with the rest of the crowd. The rest of the night can be spent listening to music being played by different DJ’s on the different stages at the event.

Safety Precautions To Take At the Fullmoon Party

Sorry to be a downer but your night at the full moon party on Haad Rin Beach could turn into a nightmare if you run into the wrong crowd. Since we want your night to be nothing but magical, there are a few things you need to watch out for so you don’t run into trouble.

Our advice would be that you buy your own bucket and mix your own cocktails from one the many 7-eleven establishments close to the beach. There have been reports in the past of sellers diluting drinks with everything from water to methanol, the latter which can have adverse effects on anyone who consumes it.

Also if you are a female traveler, it will be good judgement to exercise some restraint with the amount of alcohol you consume, its sad to say that S.E. Asia while secure for the most part does not have the level of accountability with their police forces as you might be accustomed to in your home country.

Staying with a group of friends might just be a good idea so you can look after one another. Finally, I would advise any one traveling to S.E. Asia in general to completely abstain from recreational drug consumption as the penalties can be unbelievably stiff and unforgiving (the penalty is death in some countries).

If you follow all these precautions and more, you will surely have an amazing experience at the full moon party. Good luck and as they say in thailand Lā k̀xn!!!

8 Awesome Things To Do In Ljubljana Slovenia

Do You Know Melania Trump?

A Fountain in Prešeren Square in Ljubljana Slovenia
A Fountain in Prešeren Square in Ljubljana Slovenia

After spending some time in Serbia, I decided it was time to go up north to discover what the former Yugoslav cousins of the Serbs, the Slovene’s were about.

On my first day in Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, i was sitting at a coffee shop, when a lady who over heard my conversation with a local comparing the United States with Slovenia leaned in and asked me pointedly if I personally knew Melania Trump.

I was caught halfway between being surprised and amused, but I laughed it off and let the lady know that while I was aware of the fact that Melania was indeed Slovenian, I did not know Mrs Trump personally. My short interaction with that lady would somewhat define my trip to Slovenia. A small city with an open-hearted vibe to it.

I spent a total of two weeks in Ljubljana, a city the locals like to call the “green capital” of Europe. Green because of all the environmentally conscious initiatives the country has put in place to do it’s part in aggresively combating global warming. I ended having a great time in Ljubljana and met some incredibly amazing locals.

My time there involved crazy Erasmus parties to more culturally attuned exploits like a visit to the statue of a dragon overlooking the bridge entering the city and visiting some of the city’s museums and galleries. I found Ljubljana to be the most romantic city I had visited in Europe since Paris, if you ever decide to visit Ljubljana I have compiled a list of things to do in Ljubljana that would make your trip as amazing as mine was. Enjoy!!

8 Awesome Things To Do In Ljubljana, Slovenia.


1. Visit The Ljubljana Castle

Inside the Ljubljana Castle
Inside the Ljubljana Castle

The Ljubljana Castle is a major tourist attraction in Ljubljana and on visiting the castle, it was easy to understand why. The Ljubljana castle was initially built to be a medieval fortress to ward off foreign invaders but in recent times has been turned into a museum of sorts. An added bonus is that one can see the entire city skyline from the top of the castle.

An Aerial View of Ljubljana
An Aerial View of Ljubljana From The Ljubljana Castle.

2. Pay Homage At The Ljubljana Dragon Bridge

The Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana Slovenia
The Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana Slovenia

The dragon bridge crosses the Ljubljana river and legend has it that the founder of Ljubljana, and his Argonauts killed a dragon and that when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons on the bridge will wag their tails in response to the virgin passing on the bridge.

3. Visit Metelkova in Ljubljana.

The Metelkova In Ljubljana Slovienia
A House In The Metelkova In Ljubljana Slovienia

The Metelkova is located at the site of a former military barracks in Ljubljana. It is an autonomous social center that is characterized by really trippy and graffiti painted houses and structures. At the Metelkova, one would find an array of bars, art galleries, designer studios, offices of cultural organisations and concerts featuring different genres of music ranging from Jazz, to Techno music and everything in between. In all, a visit to Metelkova will leave you feeling like Alice in Wonderland.

Another House In The Metelkova Slovenia
Another House In The Metelkova Slovenia

4. Spend At Least One Night In Hostel Celica

The Hostel Celica In Ljubljana Slovenia
The Hostel Celica In Ljubljana Slovenia

Hostel Celica is a former Slovenian prison that has now been renovated and turned into a hostel. Before you get alarmed, most of the renovation was done by a collective of various artists from around the world. There is also a restaurant and an art gallery on the Hostel grounds.

5. Take A Walk Along The Ljubljana River.

The Ljubljana River In Ljubljana Slovenia
The Ljubljana River In Ljubljana Slovenia

One nice surprise that was in store for me when I visited Ljubljana was how romantic a city it was. A visitor to the city can take walks along the river and still get a view of the Ljubljana castle. The walkways along the rivers are also lined with shops and restaurants where you can stop to eat and drink if you get famished during your walk.

A View Of The Ljubljana Castle
A View Of The Ljubljana Castle

6. Indulge In Some of Ljubljana’s Amazing Nightlife.

One Of The Nightclubs On Ljubljana's Nightlife Circuit
One Of The Nightclubs On Ljubljana’s Nightlife Circuit

Ljubljana has an amazing nightlife circuit. There are tons of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and pubs that would keep the average partier going on any given weekend. If you are new to the city and want a quick injection into the pulse of the Ljubljana’s nightlife, joining one of the city’s many pub crawls might not be a bad idea.

Make Sure You Try Some Lasso While You are Partying In Slovenia.
Make Sure You Try Some Lasko While You are Partying In Slovenia.

7. Spend A Day At One Of Ljubljana’s Many Markets

A Snapshot Of The Central Market In Slovenia
A Snapshot Of The Central Market In Slovenia

If you are a fan of organic vegetables, fresh fruits, and flowers, then a visit to the Ljubljana market will be pure Nirvana for you. Most of the markets are open everyday but Sunday till 6:00 pm in summer and 4:00pm in the winter. The best time to go to reap the full bounty of the Central Market is probably in the morning on Saturdays.

8. Visit The City’s Museum’s And Galleries

Ljubljana has several museums and galleries for all you culturephiles. If you are even remotely interested in any, below you will find a list of some of the city’s best museums and galleries.

  • Museum Of Contemporary Art.
  • National Museum Of Contemporary History.
  • City Museum.
  • Exhibition Of Slovenian History.
  • Museum of Architecture and Design Ljubljana
  • The Slovene Ethnographic Museum
  • The Gallery of Modern Art
  • The National Gallery