7/8 week itinerary for the highlights of South East Asia

South East Asia has to be the premier world traveling region.  A big call?  For sure, but consider what genuinely world class offerings it can provide:


  • World class beaches and coastal areas – think of THAT beach in Ko Phi Phi and HaLong Bay, one of the Natural Wonders of the World
  • World class food – think Thai, Vietnamese, Malay and the genuine fusion into the mix with the large established Indian and Chinese communities
  • World class ancient sites and history – think of the temples of the “8th Wonder of the World” of Angkor Wat, and the breathtaking site of the pagodas stretching across the plain in Bagan
  • World class cities and party locations – think of Singapore as the city of the future and the Full Moon Parties on Ko Pha-Ngan


And all this in a place that is super safe, outrageously friendly, easy and cheap to travel in.  A must for any keen traveler and the below itinerary will give you the highlights – enjoy!

6 months trip of a lifetime around Latin America

My girlfriend and I went on a 6month trip around Latin America (excluding Brazil).  Started in the far South in the Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and, broadly, made our way up the west coast to the Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico.  Best large scale trip I’ve done, and wanted to share the overall itinerary and tips here to hopefully help those who are considering something similar

A few high level points:

  • Other than the flights there and the first hotel, there were only three things we booked in advance: the Inca Trail (which we knew we needed to for permits); plus for Patagonia a trip through Torres del Paine National Park and a ferry through the fjords (as we were going at peak season and only a couple of weeks after we landed).  Everything else, we booked when in Latin America and, in our opinion, that is the best way to do it – gives you the freedom to relax in the places you find that you love and be super flexible to do what you want to do
  • Total costs – my girlfriend and I went in our 30s, with no kids and on sabbaticals from work.  We’re not poor, but certainly not mega wealthy.  We didn’t stay in super expensive hotels (other than for the occasional splurge), flew economy and used a bit of common sense for timings of certain expensive items, but never held back on doing the things we wanted to do.  Some examples of big ticket items: US$5k for a week diving in the remote Wolf & Darwin Islands in the Galapagos; US$1.2k for 4 days in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia; US$800 for a helicopter trip to see the El Mirador Mayan ruins in the Guatemalan jungle; US$700 for the Inca Trail.  Total cost of the whole trip was US$34k each.  This included all flights, transport, hotels, activities, food, drink, guides, screwing things up, credit card fees – the lot.  Expensive, but so are most Experiences of a Lifetime
  • It’s not about trying to “do everything” – in a place as large as Latin America, you couldn’t even if you tried – so don’t think of things as a big tick box exercise.  Brazil, for example, we knew we couldn’t do justice whilst also trying to enjoy all the other amazing places we’d heard of, so left it for next time
  • In the similar vain, make sure you give yourself big chunks of time to chill out.  Not only to recharge the batteries, but also because most places are enjoyed when you spend time to soak up the feel for the place.  There were some places . . . like Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Isla Mujeres in Mexico, Bocas del Toro in Panama . . . where I could have spent weeks there just because the general vibe of the place was so wonderful
  • Safety – we weren’t robbed, but many people do either having a bag stolen or, unpleasantly, get robbed face to face.  Other than a couple of cities, we generally felt super safe the places we went and tried to just apply common sense to reduce our risks
  • Learn a bit of Spanish before you go – the app DuoLingo was great for getting us to a basic level that made a lot of difference.  But also don’t be afraid to pull out google for simultaneous conversation translations to really be able to have a conversation with someone – some long trips became some of our highlights just from being able to properly talk with the driver / locals.  I particularly remember a long taxi ride in Colombia where we went back and forward for 2 hours with the driver on everything from his home town to politics to football to his favourite movies to his family problems- never could have done that without Spanish or google.  In a similar vein, and using the right level of common sense, don’t turn down an invite for drinks / dinner / house visit with locals.  There are some truly unforgettable natural and cultural spots to see, but similarly an evening with a local family will be something likely to be just as unforgettable
  • Whenever checking out a place or must-do-site, its easy to get templed / churched / ancient site / beached out.  Always do a very basic bit of research to see if there is a more out of the ordinary way to experience it – by bike / drinking tour / kayaking / helicopter / whatever.  Thats what we tried to do, and I hope it reflected in some of the cool stuff listed below

The Bolivian Salt Flats in rainy season

We’ve all seen the famous customary silly photos . . . but what I didn’t expect was quite how much fun it would be splashing about taking these customary silly photos!  Right from when you first put your feet in the water to feel the slightly crunchy crystals of the salt beneath you, through to gazing across the water into the distance at this vast temporary sea, its a great experience and an absolute must if in this part of the world

Taking a 4WD tour from San Pedro de Atacama to the Bolivian Salt Flats

The Salt flats (Salar de Uyuni) are world famous, unique, big enough that you can avoid other tourists and so cool that you can just stand around in awe (see The Bolivian Salt Flats in Rainy Season entry for details on the Salt Flats themselves). But I’d also highly recommend taking the 4WD trip between Uyuni and San Pedro in the Atacama desert . . . in fact its kind of a must if visiting the Salt Flats because of the sheer stunning vistas in this part of the world.  The trip can be a long drive and don’t expect luxury, but seeing the AltiPlano is otherworldly and a world class adventure

2 weeks itinerary for the highlights of Burma

Travelling in Burma (Myanmar) is a bit like being in a parallel world – like the rest of the world went one direction and Burma just took the other turn on the highway.  Whilst that may be starting to change a little bit as the country opens up more, you can be sure that there will be continued political swings that keep Burma as one of the countries firmly in the “unusual” bucket for travelers.  This, plus its series of genuinely world class attractions, makes it a superb travel destination for a 2 week trip

Burma for most people is all about the 4 key highlights of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake.  All are definitely worth seeing and will form the core of any trip you make there.  Bagan, with its world-renowned temples spread in their thousands across the plain, and Inle Lake, with its stunning mirror effect and serene villages on stilts, are arguably the highlights, with Mandalay and Yangon as interesting cities that you need to fly into, but well worth the visit.  I’ve included them below in a 2 week itinerary that won’t be rushed whilst also making sure you get the most out of your time here

I’ve written below some further travel tips for travelling around Burma, but my 2 biggest tips are:


  • #1 Is it safe?  You will naturally have seen in the news Burma very often flaring up with the latest crisis and the story of the country is truly a sad one considering the repression in particular of the ethic minorities and continued belligerence of the military junta.  But, from a tourist point of view, such changes have not in the slightest stopped the country as it opens up more and more to overseas visitors.  Whilst it may sound like a country to avoid based on headlines, thousands more come to the country each year than the year before and flare ups occur only in the remote areas foreigners are not allowed in, and still with no tourists ever having come to harm because of the troubles.  There are far more countries in the world with far more dangers that receive far more tourists on a regular basis


  • #2 A feeling of real Burma.  Consider wandering off the beaten track just a little to see the real country that has been surprisingly untouched by the tourism wave of the 4 main sites.  One of the best adventures I’ve experienced was the 6 day trip down the Irrawaddy River by ferry in Northern Burma from Myitkyina (or you can start in Bhamo / Katha to reduce the time) to Mandalay.  Breathtaking mountainous jungle vistas, the chance to see the real local villages along the mighty Irrawaddy River, and the old echoes of the former colonial past.  A truly great travel experience and I’ve included the details in the travel entry – Exploring Northern Burma by train and ferry from Myitkyina, via Bhamo and Katha to Mandalay

Boating around the serene Inle Lake

Inle Lake is a super relaxed part of Burma where you fill your days either zipping around in the lake boats to the floating markets, gardens and temples, or simply laze around in this serene location watching the perfect mirrored effect on the water. A must if you’re visiting Burma, and I would recommend it as part of this 2 weeks itinerary for the highlights of Burma
I won’t go into too many tips as all you really want to do is get a place on the water and rent a boat for one or two days to head off and explore, but the two places I really enjoyed were the leaning pagodas of Inthein in the south west and the Jumping Cat Monastery for its sheer randomness

10 days campervanning around the South Island of New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island has some of the most rugged natural beauty of anywhere in the world with world famous sites such as the fjords of Milford Sound, the Frans Joseph and Fox glaciers, and the adrenaline sports of Queenstown, yet is also super accessible by road and very compact to get around.  The combination of these factors makes it one of the most appealing places for a roadtrip and I’ve listed below a great 10 day itinerary to get the best of the island