Let me start by saying as we checked in to our flight we were informed we required a Visa... Got that sorted $$$... Then Maple (2.5) and Manning (11 months) didn't sleep for the nine hour flight... That is whole lot of wriggling, entertaining, singing and we ate the airline out of cheese and crackers! We were off to a testing start!
Leaving Melbourne Winter and arriving at Ho Chi Minh City, to mid thirties and humidity meant the first thing we did was undress and try not to get ripped off by a taxi driver. Which we totally did - we paid 750,000 dong for a taxi from the airport to the center of Ho Chi Minh City, we learnt that it should have cost 120,000 dong.
Vietnam is your typical Asian country, much like China, Bali and Thailand you have the usual worries about haggling, crazy driving and water. Bathing the kids and drinks with ice in it had me paranoid, luckily in the end we were all unaffected. The locals and Chinese tourists LOVE kids! They stop you everywhere and ask for photos, some even touch the kids cheeks. In the beginning its funny, but towards the end of the trip it gets a little tiresome. In China I remember thinking it was Maples blonde hair and blue eyes, but they were just as taken with Manning and his dark hair and eyes... I can't explain it - If anyone knows why please let me know!!!
The Vietnamese people are incredibly kind, welcoming and helpful. It is a beautiful holiday destination, with the choice to do as little or as much as you would like. Our 'must do' would be a day trip to the Ba Na Hills in Da Nang. Our words and photos could not possibly do this fantasy land justice, think strange German theme park on top of a mountain, amongst the clouds.
We stayed for ten days. Four nights in Ho Chi Minh and six nights in Hoi An. We would have liked to see Hanoi, but we would have rushed our 'relaxing' holiday. Ten days was the perfect amount of time to see everything on our list, while still having down time, in the two places we stayed. There is only a three hour time difference to Melbourne so it was easily managed.
Ho Chi Minh City 'Silverland' https://www.silverlandhotels.com/silverland-hotel-spa.html short walk to the city center at a great price, with absolutely incredible service! The only down side is that many hotels in Ho Chi Minh City had a few stairs to get to the entrance, which meant having to lift the double stroller in and out. Price was very reasonable and included wifi and buffet breakfast.
If you are not on a budget I would recommend staying at the Hotel Continental. It looked absolutely fabulous!
Hoi An 'Allegro' http://www.littlehoiangroup.com/ Only six months old, it was beyond our expectations! The perfect place to stay with family! The staff again were incredible with the kids and very helpful.
THINGS TO DO
Ho Chi Mihn
Cu Chi Tunnels
Lam Son Square
Wander Dong Khoi
Apartment of Cafes
Saigon Sky Deck for stunning 360 views
The zoo was an eye opener
An Bang Beach
Old Hoi An Town during the day (less tourists)
Old Hoi An Town at night with all the magical lanterns
Relax by the pool
Enjoy a $4 massage
Sun World (in Da Nang) Ba Na Hills - Everything from the longest and highest cable car ride in the world to the incredible buildings will have you feeling like you are dreaming!
CANCUN MEXICO 2015
As part of our honeymoon we spent five days in Cancun. It was the greatest travelling five days I have ever experienced! This was our honeymoon and we stayed at an over 18 resort. The perfect combination of crystal blue water, relaxation, delicious food and culture. The weather is an almost perfect 27 degrees all year round. We traveled in April (during Spring break) which is a busy time, however we never felt it was busy. There were beautiful new shopping centers, blended perfectly with older shopping centers.
Go for a drive and explore the colourful neighboring towns and the rich culture.
The locals are incredibly friendly and generally speak English. Spanish and Mayan are also spoken. My favourite place on earth to date!
We stayed at LeBlanc Spa Resort https://www.leblancsparesort.com/en Pure perfection! From the moment you arrive at this all inclusive resort the vibe is heavenly! Everyone has their own private butler that can arrange the scent of your pillows or run a bath as you finish dinner. It was all inclusive and included everything! The mini bar, jetskiing, dinner at a seven course degustation restaurant, breakfast, all drinks, the best pina coladas in the world, even food at a sister resort down the road was included! Incredible! We spoke to a couple who return every year, I completely understand why, if you can do it financially DO IT!
As we were on our honeymoon we treated ourselves (at extra cost) to a private beach dinner for two. Our names were on the menu and they catered personally for us. We also visited the day spa and it was worth every additional dollar!
THINGS TO DO
Relax at your all inclusive resort
Enjoy the beautiful beaches
Cenote and Caves
Sunset dinner on a catamaran
*** TIP Go on small tour groups or hire a car. We went on a large bus with Martha a tour guide who attempted to get people involved with games at 7am in the morning and repeated stories all day in English, Mayan and Spanish. It drove me a little bonkers!
NEW YORK 2015
Second stop on our honeymoon, New York. Despite my lack of Winter clothes (seriously I was on my honeymoon and thought the entire holiday was going to be a tropical paradise) and the fact that New York in April is FREEZING, not snowing unfortunately, the air is simply icy! I fell in love, I could easily have stayed for six months. With so much to see and do. For a big city, New York sure is pretty!
We stayed in Times Square at the Sheraton http://www.sheratonnewyork.com/ It was very central. They were in the process of upgrading the hotel during our stay.
THINGS TO DO
Central Park Tour on the back of a bike.
Visit the Guggenheim Museum
Hang out and shop in Times Square. I would love to go back in Winter while it is snowing to watch the ball drop on New Years.
Empire State Building... So tall - I was actually scared of heights for the first time.
I LOVED the Rockefeller tour and ice skating.
Visit the sights - Sex and the City, Seinfeld.
Sit front row at a basketball game! I thought we would be sitting with JayZ and Beyonce, but sitting a few seats from Phil Collins was epic.
Go to a comedy show at Dangerfields
Twin Tour Memorial.
Statue of Liberty.
There are so many things to do, I need to go back!
Hawaii, you are too beautiful for words! The weather, the food, the views, the rainbows, the shopping, the people... Perfection! It was the first stop on our honeymoon and it certainly impressed! I would love to go back one day with the kids, it was a romantic getaway for us newlyweds, but I think it would be the perfect family destination.
We stayed at Parc Waikiki, the location was central to amazing restaurants, shopping and very short stroll to the beach. The breakfast buffet was delicious. It was a boutique hotel, which was lovely and meant no large crowds. https://www.waikikiparc.com/
THINGS TO DO
Try surfing, but be careful as there is coral under the waves.
Shop until you drop! Don't forget the outlets! With our seasons being reversed you are going to find bargains.
Day trip around the island, with a local small tour group.
See the mountains of Jurassic Park and meet beautiful turtles.
Moana waterfall, we went in the rain (I was wearing thongs and a white honeymoon dress ha ha ha) It was breath taking and well worth the hike.
Dinner at a Luau, all you and eat and dance with the Hawaiians.
Eat at the Cheesecake Factory... Hawaii was my first cheese cake factory experience - Mind Blown
Splurge at the revolving restauarnt!
We didn't visit Pearl Harbor on our honeymoon - but it is an option.
The most stunning beach I have ever seen and magical views everywhere you look. With so many fun things to do, I'm putting the Whitsundays on my list of places to visit again and again!
As a family of three (Mia age 12) we were looking for two bedrooms. The Island View was perfect for us! http://www.islandviewbb.com.au/IVBB/Home.html The quiet location, 700m from the heart of Airlie Beach is close enough to walk into town for a swim in the lagoon, eat out at one of Airlie’s lovely restaurants or stroll through the Saturday morning Market. Be warned the walk up the mountain on the return is steep (ha ha ha) However you can cool off in the beautiful pool area. The views from our room were stunning! STUNNING!
THINGS TO DO
Where do I begin?
The Great Barrier Reef. We went on a very windy day and the waves were rocking our poor little boat around to the point everyone was suffering from boat sickness, but it was 100 times worth it! It is obvious why it is one of the seven wonders of the world!
Whitehaven beach, the most beautiful beach I have ever seen!
Hamilton Island, golf cart around the island
Spend the afternoon at Airlie Beach Lagoon
Platypus viewing at Broken River (the trip up the mountain is an adventure)
Sunset Cruise of Airlie Beach
The best reason to visit beautiful Perth, to celebrate my cousins wedding on Valentines Day!
Immediately as I stepped off the plane I knew Perth was a brilliant idea, the warmth was perfection.
It was a little more expensive than our trips to Thailand and Indonesia, but we didn't have to worry about avoiding certain foods and water.
We stayed at a friends house through Air B n B. It was huge and much larger than we needed, but with a 12 year old it was nice for her to have her own quarters (ha ha ha) It was self contained, which meant grocery shopping and cleaning up. It was also a little out of town, however we hired a car so it was convenient. It was absolutely beautiful and very new and modern.
THINGS TO DO
Rottnest Island day trip! We went for a ride on the ferry, we even got to sit up front with the captain. It was a magical day, that included meeting quokkas, exploring the old town, snorkeling and delicious food at the pub.
Kings Park, spectacular views of Perth
Our first overseas holiday as a family of three. James, Mia and I.
My husband has the most wonderful family, they very generously and kindly arranged a family holiday to Bali. We were able to share and make memories together.
The Balinese people were similar to Thai, I found them to be incredibly warm, friendly and caring. Their beautiful nature will make your Balinese adventure perfection.
In Seminyak we stayed at the K Villas http://www.villanunia.com/ There was a slight mosquito problem, that was far outweighed by the serenity of the villas. The accommodation was peaceful, large and included ourvery own personal breakfast butler. The location was incredible, only a very short stroll to delicious restaurants, massage parlous and great shopping! We also did a day trip to Ubud, which is a must do.
The next place we stayed was Gili Air Waterfront http://www.waterfront-hotel-gili-air.com/ I must admit when I first arrived to Gili Air Island after the fast boat ride, I was shocked at how little was on the island. My shock soon turned to admiration. The island is so beautiful it doesn't require shops or transport other than horses and bikes. The accommodation was perfect for us and our extended family.
BALI 2014 Seminyak
A day trip to Ubud. Hire a driver and make it personal. Our drivers name was 'Ugly' and he made our Ubud trip memorable.
Eat lunch with views of a volcano. Visit the monkeys. Explore a temple and stop at the stunning rice fields!
Dine on the beach. Watch the sunset.
Eat. Shop. Relax with a massage.
THINGS TO DO gili Islands
Ride a bike around the island.
Island hop. Visit All the Gili Islands.
Snorkel or watch snorkelers from the glass bottom boat.
Relax. Relax. Relax.
My very first overseas adventure!
That feeling of pure happiness, the world at our feet, the two of us, escaping the daily grind, free to do as little or as much as we pleased.
We landed in Phuket and I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of being harassed, it seemed that everyone wanted to drive us from the airport to our hotel. James chose a lovely young man who drove erratically and dangerously for the longest twenty minutes of my life. Surprisingly we arrived safely, with our luggage. It didn't take long for the crazy driving to become normal.
We were very lucky to be in Thailand between the 13th - 15th of April to experience Songkran. A massive water festival to celebrate the Thai New Year! An unforgettable and very wet three days!
A day trip to Phi Phi Island / Maya Bay were a must do for breathtaking views and snorkling. TIP is to go with a small tour group.
The first place we stayed was a three star resort 'Baan Puri Phuket' https://www.baanpuriphuket.com/ it was heavenly and very fitting for my first overseas accommodation. Like all accommodation in Phuket it offered a stunning pool, pool bar, amazing serve, all you can eat breakfast (I would advise not to eat the ham from the watery bay marie) It was a short tuk tuk ride to Patong Beach and Bangla Road.
The second place we stayed was 'Thara Patong Beach Resort' https://www.tharapatongbeachresorts.com/ it was a four star resort, which I found to be slightly less amazing than our previous resort. They had a slight ant problem, but it was beautiful all the same.
To finish our first overseas holiday together on a high we stayed was the mind blowing, five star 'Sea Pearl Villas Phuket' http://www.phuket.com/sea-pearl-villas-resort/ AMAZING! It was further away from the hustle and bustle of Patong Beach and Bangla Road, but absolutely worth it! The best service and had everything including a private jacuzzi.
THINGS TO DO
Phi Phi Island and Maya Bay day tour
Lagoon at Bat Cave Day Tour
'John Grey' Tour offering and blessing
Watch a movie in a Thai cinema. Shop.
Visit Bangla Road. Have a drink at the Aussie bar, meet lady boys and dance the night away.
ATV bikes, roller ball, fish feet spa.
Nothing other than sip cocktails in the pool bar
Eat out! Our favourite places to eat were Marco Polo Pizza and a Thai restaurant on Patong beach that had the best and riduculously cheap prawn pad thai.