Classic backpacking errors

We’ve all been a rookie traveller at some point in our lives. Whether it’s trying to get the best deal on your upcoming snorkelling trip or mistaking that your flight is in 1 hour instead of 12 …. We had a few nightmare moments on our first big adventure backpacking and whilst we can look back and laugh now, it wasn’t so funny at the time! Hopefully giving you the heads up will mean you don’t make the same mistakes we did!

  1. That guy at the station đźš‚


Travelling abroad, especially in Asia, can cost you peanuts compared to the overpriced tickets to sit on the delayed, overcrowded central line. However, as with most things when out of your comfort zone, it’s not simple.

You get to the train station and there is a ‘line’ longer than when queuing for your favourite ride at Alton Towers. No one speaks any English and you begin wondering why you ever left the tried and trusted underground.

Out of nowhere, a smiling face approaches you and offers you assistance in accented English. You feel you have found your saviour as he directs you to the “foreign tourist office” just outside the station.

Never be fooled by the tourist desk outside the station, it does not exist and is only a sure way of paying a premium to reach your desired destination or never reaching it at all!

Top tip: Always lookout for the English sign posts. There is quite often is a designated tourist ticket office within the station but will never be outside the station’s grounds.

  1. Don’t assume đź’­đźš«


When you’re away from home you can’t help but compare how things are back where you’re from. Whether it’s the mannerisms of the people you meet or simply the colour of the road signs but everything isn’t always as it first seems. As they say; don’t judge a book by its cover.

On H’s first trip to India she was surprised to see so many of the men holding hands along the street. H said she never realised there was such a large gay community in India… she quickly discovered they weren’t gay and that’s just how things are in India! Men often link hands or cuddle each other along the street with friends and family.

When you’re in a new country and they do things a bit differently, it’s always good to wait for a second glance before assuming!

  1. Mixing currencies at the airport 💵💴💶


Ever mixed up your pound coin for a euro when at home? Tried getting rid of it by unlocking a shopping trolley or hoping the shopkeeper doesn’t spot it? We went one further when trying to get shot of our final few Filipino coins … at a Thailand airport! It was all for a good cause though, we scraped together enough change to get one last Krispy Kreme just before our flight!

Using a mixture of pesos and Baht we managed to scrounge together enough money across two different countries in an international airport. Unfortunately after we had finished the doughnut our tactic was discovered and we were sought out by the Krispy Kreme crew…  luckily we apologised and got away with paying for the doughnuts by card (probably should have done this in the first place!) lesson learnt here? Don’t get tight in an airport!

  1. Mistaking times for tickets 🎟


It’s midnight and we’ve had one too many Bintangs on our last night in Bali. We decided to treat ourselves with a bit of luxury on our final night with a nice hotel. We’re safe in the knowledge that we have a bit of a lay in tomorrow as our flight isn’t until 13:00 tomorrow… 1.00pm … 1.00 …. 01.00 … 1am!!!

This wasn’t the first or the last time we almost missed our flight and if there is anywhere you don’t want to be overstaying your visa it’s Bali. Our top tip for any and all travelers would be to double, triple and quadruple check your flight times, no matter how organised you think you are, it’s a very easy mistake to make!

  1. Researching the country you’re in đź“ť


When you’re visiting a new country you’re likely to have done some research especially if it’s a one off holiday. After a few months of backpacking and making a new home every few nights the easy mistake to make is feeling too comfortable with your surroundings.

When we first arrived in the Philippines we did a bit of research on Google images and thought we knew it all and that the whole of the Philippines was going to be a mixture of Palawan and Manila!

Unfortunately for us things took a turn for the worst almost immediately. When leaving the airport we jumped in a cab and directed the driver to San Jose, he responded by asking why we were going there? This wasn’t curiosity in his tone this was confusion and when we arrived we knew why! It was a very intimidating environment with nothing of relevance anywhere near us. We soon moved on but this wasn’t the end of our naivety.

When on the outskirts in Manila we knew that this was one of Australasia’s largest cities. We could see the skyscrapers far into the distance so we again hailed a cab but this time we felt sure we knew where we were going. To the city we said! The driver gave us that same confused look and asked where exactly we wanted to go.

We literally responded by pointing to the skyscrapers asking to be taken to the city centre – not even knowing the district we needed to get to was Makati! We got in the cab and 45 minutes later were dropped off at a mall. Not quite what we wanted but looking back what did we expect was going to happen? Always research your dream adventure before it turns into a nightmarish reality!

6) Wet washing – not a good look … or smell! đź‘•đź‘–


Being a backpacker, having your clothes washed is probably one of the most important yet annoying things to do as it takes a bit of planning! In most countries we’ve come across our hostel / hotel could arrange a laundry service for you, which we strongly advise you to use! Washing in the bathroom sink and hanging your underwear all around the room is pure agg! However, a word of warning is you’re likely to need 2 / 3 days before your washing is returned, so don’t leave yourself too short on clothes and give yourselves plenty of time!

We once had to catch a bus before our washing was ready and asked them to return it as it wa… half finished. That resulted in a screwed up damp pile of clothes in a carrier bag which we couldn’t pack and took AGES to finally dry. When they did they had to be rewashed because they stunk!

couple 2

We could go on and on about more of the silly mistakes we’ve made whilst travelling, it’s always going to happen! We just hope pointing out a few of the more obvious ones may help you out even a little bit when you’re visiting a new country for the first time!



We’ve got 99 problems but travelling isn’t one!

Elephant Nature Park

There are many opportunities to visit elephant sanctuaries whilst backpacking throughout Thailand and Asia, but we must start with a very serious matter. Do not just go to the cheapest one with the best salesman, please do your research and select an organisation that really does support the endangered Asian Elephant. So many places describe a safe haven for elephants but they are chained, beaten and abused into submission. If you are offered an elephant ride or see an elephant in chains please avoid it at all costs as this is a clear indication of an illegitimate sanctuary.  If all you’re after from an experience with elephants is a new profile picture and you don’t care how you get it then you are not welcome here!


Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre in Northern Thailand and our time there was one of the most memorable days from our travelling adventure (we know we say that a lot!) We started the day with some background information about the organisation and were told story after story of how many of the elephants were now blind, severely injured or bearing scars from previous owners. Elephants are giants of the mammal kingdom but are such gentle and playful creatures. The stories brought a tear to your eyes, half in sadness but half in joy that these elephants finally got to live their lives in a world without chains and abuse.

Being as big as they are, there was only ever going to be one thing to start with; feeding! Standing on a platform nearly three metres high, we were surround by tens of elephants! Their muscular trunks reached up through the barrier to grab everything from melons to bananas. The first time you come into contact with these magnificent creatures, you realise something. They are alive! This may sound silly but they really are alive and it’s magical, you sense their emotions, their moods and best of all … they sense you.


Moving on we explored the enormous grounds of the sanctuary and we were delighted to see that each and every elephant was free to roam as it pleased. No forced feeding sessions, no blockades, just freedom. We came across a pair of elephants in their 80s first, a real pair of golden oldies. They were just being themselves, no showing off with tricks and definitely no riding, just a bit of back scratching on the nearest tree trunk.


Now, we have all seen the video of the two baby elephants playing in the pool, however, we had no idea just how much fun these gorgeous animals had in the water. With the larger elephants soaking up the midday sun in the river, large lumps starting appearing in the water … There were five adorable, younger elephants splashing and rolling around! It was an incredible sight and watching these elephants grow safely and happily is truly something special.


There was a show of real collectiveness too as a few dogs turned up and decided that they wanted to join in on the fun. The dogs were eyeing up one of the younger elephants and the baby started yelping for help. The ground started trembling and another slightly larger baby elephant stomped over out of nowhere, blowing its trunk and the dogs soon scarpered.  It was so funny and cute to watch and after the drama, the elephants returned to their day of eating, back scratching and relaxing.


The best part of the day came towards the end. With the sun setting, some of the larger elephants moved into the shallower river and continued to eat their array of fresh fruit. We stripped down into our swimwear and joined the elephants in the river and bathed them in the dimming Thai sunlight.

Whether you’re an animal person or not, we implore you to see reason and open your eyes when travelling abroad. If something is too good to be true, it invariably is. You get what you pay for in life and if you spend a little more, you can get the experience of a lifetime without adding to the misery of  these incredible, endangered animals which are subject to the horrifying tourist trade and temple rituals.

An elephant never forgets … 


Thailand, THE place to satisfy your inner wanderlust



Thailand was one of our most highly anticipated destinations alongside Vietnam and it  certainly lived up to expectations! Arriving in Bangkok straight from Cambodia really highlighted the substantial disparities between these neighbouring countries. Still maintaining the core of a bustling Asian city your senses succumb to the smell of street food, bright lights and an unwavering heat.

Our first night in the capital could not have gone any better with us arriving on the Queen’s birthday. With roads closed, flags raised and stages set, the evening was full of entertainment. We began the night having our first taste of the local Pad Thai and became addicted to street food with immediate effect. If you’re hungry in Bangkok, skip the restaurants and fast food joints and head straight for your nearest Pad Thai stool, we’re still drooling over it now!


Our adventurous feedings from our time in Cambodia had continued through to Thailand as we tried some of the more “exotic” local food. After being approached by a woman with hair like an Oompa Loompa and a smile like the Grinch we were offered the chance to try scorpion! With a crunchy texture and stinging taste, it was probably our favourite invertebrate, and we would certainly recommend giving it a go!

From street parades to enormous firework displays, our first night in the city was a real party. The nightlife in Bangkok is incredible and this was the perfect start to one of our now favourite worldwide destinations.

Boy oh boy, ladyboys

When you think of Bangkok you think of two things, The Hangover and ladyboys! After spending a few nights in the city, getting accustomed to the culture and the people, we went on the prowl for our first taste of the ladyboy scene. Being novices at looking out for female strippers with penis’, once reaching the red light district we had to ask a few locals for the best hangout spots and we were approached by a woman (I think) with a beaming smile…


She asked us if we wanted to see the full or half ladyboys, wanting to jump straight in we asked for the full throttle showing. Walking into a strip club with over 25 girls on stage, pole dancing and grinding their way to the floor, we were keeping a close eye for any apples and pears only to be left disappointed. With a front seat view, we were approached by a group of strippers and found out that they were indeed men who were now completely disemboweled. We swiftly moved on in search of the real deal ladyboys, leaving behind the crowd of fake boobs, flat bums and broad shoulders.

A short walk away and we had finally found what we were looking for. Sitting down next to a pair of Japanese boys, we settled down with a beer to see what all the fuss was about. Now, for all those that have been on the more adventures search tags of your most favourite adult website, you may be thinking you know exactly what to expect. However, this was far from the truth for us as we were approached by a 6ft 2″ blonde with an upper body like Jordan while being hung like King Kong. The performers were all actually very approachable and humoured our stupid questions, “so have you got a willy?!”

If ladyboys is not what you’re after, there are plenty of all women strip joints to visit or you could even give the gay street a visit, no honeys just homies. As we would like to keep this blog as PG as possible, we will leave the rest to your imagination, but Bangkok is more than just boobs and booze.

The sights


There are a number of fantastic shopping outlets and markets to visit in Bangkok, from getting the best cut price deal on a new Nike top to getting yourself a fully tailored suit cut from the finest threads. Koh San Road is the main backpackers shopping hub, lined with bars and market stalls, you can spend days walking up and down the same few streets and finding exciting new products everyday.

If you’re after a more cultural experience then there are a number of temples to visit but none more extraordinary than Wat Pho. The huge 46 metre long statue of a golden laying Buddha is a must see. Be warned though, this is one of the busiest spots in the city so be prepared to be patient to get that perfect picture.


If you’re just looking to chill out and explore the city then hop on one of the local river boats. For less than a pound you can enjoy a scenic view from the main river through the heart of the city. Stop off at Chinatown or one of the shopping malls for a break on the mainland and watch the sun go down over this rampaging yet wonderful city.

Lastly, journeying outside of Bangkok, there are lots of options and we would definitely recommend a floating market day trip. Sitting in single file on a rickety old boat you drift through the waters with a coconut ice cream to hand. Use this opportunity to get some great photos, barter some bargains and get to know traditional Thailand.


Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a world away from Bangkok but just as incredible in its own way. You might recall in the Hangover II they visit a town “just outside the city” called Chiang Mai but don’t be fooled, it is a 9 hour drive away!

When reaching the northern city we were greeted by a wet welcome as we trudged along the roads in the early hours of the morning through the pouring rain. Things soon perked up though, and after a nap and a much needed shower we hit the streets.

The main part of the city is enclosed by a moat and what you will find within is everything you need to kick back and relax with a cool Chang beer. With a fantastic array of restaurants and a great nightly food market, your tummies will be well looked after and make sure you stop by La Mango for some mango sticky rice, it’s awesome!

If you’re up for some shopping there are various markets on most days but the best market is the Sunday Chiang Mai Walking Street. With so much on offer, the market is huge and bustling with people. A great experience and perfect place to pick up a quality bargain, you could easily spend hours walking through the busy streets.

There are plenty of excursions on offer in Chiang Mai from mountain biking to white water rafting, but we opted for one of our favourites, trekking. With beautiful Thai mountains, local delicacies for lunch, small villages on the way to enjoy a Chang Beer and ending the day swimming in a waterfall, why wouldn’t you want to trek? On your way back, ask your tour guide to stop by the Golden Triangle of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.


Now visiting Thailand and especially up here in the north, you are going to want to experience the amazing elephants. However, we cannot stress enough DO NOT RIDE, TREK, VISIT CAMPS etc where the elephants are hugely mistreated and abused in order for you to do this. Splash out a little bit more and volunteer at a legitimate elephant rescue rehabilitation centre, you can read more about our fantastic time at Elephant Nature Park here.

Chiang Rai


If you manage to make your way up to Chiang Mai make sure you take some time out to visit Chiang Rai and the incredible Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple.

Of all the temples and religious sites we have seen on our travels, this one has to be the most unique. You will see Superman flying through paintings on the wall, hands reaching upwards from the hell beneath the bridge you walk on and a ghostly tree with the heads of batman and Hellboy amongst others!


The temple was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat and works are still ongoing to complete construction on this astonishingly abstract temple. There are deep Buddhist meanings and metaphors to be found beneath the layers of hanging superheroes and paintings. The meanings relate to escaping greed and desire but even without the religious context, the White Temple is a magnificent structure.


Whilst up North you cannot skip Pai. Thinking of words to describe this place and we can come up with cute, beautiful, cute, stunning scenery, cute… oh and CUTE! Hiring a bike is a must to explore this mountainous region, although we must warn carry a rain jacket!

You can spend a day purely visiting the cafes including Love Coffee and Strawberry fields, although we would recommend getting there early as they are popular tourist spots. There are lots of photo opportunities here and little quirky things to look at and enjoy, this was definitely a girly thing to do!

When visiting Pai canyon give yourself a couple of hours to venture through by foot, and you’re sure to find lovely little spots to enjoy, beware though, some parts are not an easy walk!


The countless number of viewpoints in Pai are also must visits and we’re not just talking about the ones on the map. You will know what we mean when you’re biking around Pai, everywhere is just beautiful and well worth lots of stops to get those perfect snaps.

Other highlights included visiting waterfalls, hot springs, The Memorial Bridge, temples, markets and the many different eateries. It was one of our favourite towns throughout our travels and we would love to return.


The Islands

We only managed to visit two islands while travelling through Thailand as there was just so much to do time was always against us despite having over a month in the country.

Our main priority was to spend an evening at the full moon party on Koh Phangan and it certainly lived up to expectations! We went to the party with a group of Filipinos (our new found favourite people!) and soon fell in love with the best beach party in the world.


There were a number of activities on offer which would have been a disaster waiting to happen at any party, but this wasn’t any party, this was the Hadrin Full Moon Beach party! Starting off there was a huge skipping rope which had been set on fire as people randomly joined in and jumped for their lives. There was an ongoing limbo tournament in which the bar had been set on fire and there was a slide to go down where you jump through a hoop… That was set on fire!

With drinks buckets available for under ÂŁ3 this was a crazy yet fascinating experience. From dancing the night away on stage to Hannah crowd surfing her way to the DJ area there are so many untold stories that we hope remain that way!


We actually decided to revisit the beach the next day to see the aftermath of the night before and we were pleasantly surprised. The team behind the party did a fantastic job of cleaning up and the beach was spotless with no evidence of litter, vomit, blood or …wait we’ve said too much!

The islands are not just about the parties though, there is an abundance of sheer natural beauty to absorb too. Rent out a moped and spend some time riding through the hills and along the coastline cliffs to find the perfect beach.

We eventually moved to Koh Samui and enjoyed this island just as much. With a huge hangover lasting longer than expected we kicked back by the pool which was metres from the beach and soaked up the sun for our last few days in Thailand.

Whether it’s ladyboys your after or a party or both, Thailand is the place to go for an amazing Asian adventure.