Koh Tao is Best Below the Surface

If you’re heading to Thailand and are a scuba diver or have always wanted to get certified, you need to add Koh Tao to your itinerary.  The island is in the Gulf of Thailand and can be reached only by ferry from Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.

It’s a beautiful island with only one major town which is where the ferry arrives, other parts of the island are uninhabited and can only be accessed by ATV’s or dirt bikes.  The main reason that it attracts travellers is for the scuba diving.  The water is very clear and there is an abundance of marine life.

When you arrive and walk into the town of Sai Ree, you’ll notice dive shops everywhere offering daily dives as well as PADI open water certification courses.  Since there are so many dive operators on the island the course price is basically the same no matter which one you choose, and it’s a lot cheaper than doing the same course at home.

When selecting a dive operator, one perk that may interest you is that some will offer free accommodation at the dive resort while you are taking the open water course.

The big player on the island is definitely Ban’s Diving Resort, you’ll see their boats loaded down with lots of new divers.  I highly recommend Sunshine Divers, it’s a small resort located on the southern part of the island away from the main town/beach.  My accommodation was free since I took my open water course with them. You don’t need to worry about transportation as the resort will drive you to the boat and pick you up each day. There’s a restaurant at the resort, as well as many others within walking distance.

The dive spots are incredible, the visibility is endless and you’re guaranteed to see some amazing coral reefs and a variety of tropical fish.  So, if you’re a diver or want to be a diver definitely take the ferry ride to Koh Tao when in Thailand.

Here’s a couple of the dive spots:

Mango Bay, Koh Tao

Twin Peaks, Koh Tao

Nothing beats Beerlao

From your travels around the world or from a well-stocked bar or beer store at home, what’s that one beer that makes all others pale in comparison?

For me, I have to go with Beerlao.  I think it was the mix of hot humid Laotian weather, the clean crisp taste, the size of the bottle (640ml), and the price ($1.50USD).  Unfortunately, it’s not exported to Canada yet so I’ll just have to get my self back to the sleepy country of Laos.

Here I am enjoying this fine product in one of my favourite towns, Vang Vieng, which is home to inner tube floating on the Nam Song river and illegal drugs on restaurant menus.  Two things that should never be mixed together.

Let me know your favourite beers from around the world!

Dining with Crocodiles

Have you ever wanted to sit down for dinner in the same room as a pit full of hungry crocodiles, if so the Dead Fish Tower restaurant is for you.

The Dead Fish is in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Siem Reap is the town that you stay in when exploring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.  I’m sure I’ll post about Angkor in the future, but today’s post is about unique dining experiences.

When you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice that the tables are on raised platforms throughout the multi-level dining room, and there are cable systems that the servers put the orders on and send down the line directly to the kitchen.  It’s quite a sight to see.

There’s live entertainment that features traditional Khmer music and dancing, but the main attraction is the pit in the corner of the restaurant that is filled with large nasty crocodiles.  For a few bucks, you can buy fish to feed the crocodiles, or you can just watch someone else throw in the fish and witness the feeding frenzy below.

The food is good, but it’s the atmosphere and entertainment that get top marks at this unique spot.  When visiting Siem Reap, make sure to have a meal at the Dead Fish Tower Inn.

Hill Tribes & Vistas: Sapa

Vietnam is becoming a hot spot on the Southeast Asia travel route, but the remote village of Sapa in the northwest of the country is still considered to be off the beaten path from Saigon to Hanoi or vice versa.

The landscape is mountainous with lush green vegetation and terraced rice paddies built into the sides of the mountains.  The people in this area belong to various hill tribes such as the Dzao & Hmong, and are friendly towards travellers.

A popular way to see this area is through a homestay with a local family, you’ll get to experience how people in this area live and get a taste of their unique culture. There are tour operators in the area that can set this up: http://www.allsapatours.com/http://www.indochinatravelservice.com/

The best time to visit Sapa is either March – May or Sept – Dec, when the weather is very pleasant and rainfall is minimal.  There are lots of trails in the area for hiking, multi-day trekking, or mountain biking.

If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you should make space in the itinerary for Sapa, it’s a little out of the way but the experience will be well worth it.