Our Fave Five: Top 5 Cities We Visited

Sometimes a single city can make a trip somewhere worth every penny spent. The most important thing for us was how a city's energy felt when we explored the tourist hot-spots as well as the off-the-beaten-path local hideaways. Interestingly enough, some of our favorite cities are not from our overall favorite countries. Additionally, going through the cities we visited, we quickly found out that narrowing the list down to a top five was nearly impossible. With that being said, we attempted the imppossible and here are the five cities that stood out above the rest.  

1. Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and is one of those places that is easy to feel like home. We spend the second most time of any city in KL and loved every minute of it. The shopping is world-class and the food is full of flavor. We enjoyed all the modern amenities of the west but still had that South East Asian flavor we love. 

2. Prague

If you were to ask us to pick one word to describe Prague, it would have to be "Magical!" One of the things that stands out about Prague is having the ability to get lost down narrow streets where discovering enchanting buildings is where memories are made. Prague, Czech Republic is not to be missed. Check out more fairytale photos from our night around Prague.

3. Kyoto

Japan is one of our favorite countries, so it's no surprise that one of her cities made this list. What we love about Kyoto is the history. For over 1,000 years it was the capital of Japan making the town a living museum. With hundreds of temples and shrines, three palaces, and a multitude of culinary delights, Kyoto of a city we will visit for the rest of our lives. Want the best hotspots for viewing the cherry blossoms in Kyoto? Click here to check it out.

4. Seoul

How can the city that gave the world the song "Gangnam Style" not be amazing? Seoul, Korea fed more than just our desire to dance around like PSY, it fed our bellies with some of the world's best street food scene. Couple delicious cuisine with eye-popping modern buildings and we had the receipt for a good time!

5. Edinburgh

Edinburgh has that relaxed vibe you would get from cities like Austin, TX, Berlin, Germany or Portland, Oregon. The people were amazingly nice and the city was jam packed with the perfect blend of nature, culture, and that flair the Scots are known for.

Because it was so difficult to pic just five cities, we thought it was worth mentioning five honorable mentions.

  1. Berlin, Germany (see how to bike around Berlin in a day)
  2. Santorini, Greece
  3. Marrakesh, Morocco (check out Bahia Palace)
  4. St. Petersburg, Russia
  5. Barcelona, Spain

We are two en route to add more favorite cities to the list

Our Fave Five: Top 5 Countries We Visited

The number one question we get from people we see these days is, "What is the favorite place you have visited?" To us, this is one of the easiest questions to answer! There were so many countries we went to and had such a great time, but there were a handful that made a home in our hearts. Here are the top five countries that left an impression on us we will never forget. 

1. Iceland

We have been to Iceland for three consecutive years and we know we will be back. It is one of the most amazing countries because of it's strong connection to magnificent nature, it's roots in norse mythology, and it's friendly inhabitants. It's easy to fall in love with the land of fire and ice. 

2. Japan

Japan's culture rushed over us like The Great Wave of Kanagawa. From 1639 to 1853 Japan remained isolated from the outside world and as a result, their cultural identity, which is steep in tradition, is one of the most unique in the world. Every moment in Japan was a true treat. 

3. Scotland

Scotland was a real surprise for us. If you had asked us what we knew about Scotland prior to our visit here we would have said, "They have bagpipes, kilts, and red hair." All three are absolutely true, but what we discovered was there is so much more. The nature, the people, and the overall vibe of Scotland left it's mark on us and we cannot wait to head back and spend more time drinking in more of this wonderful country.

4. Maldives

We spent nine days in paradise on the island of Thoddoo, an agricultural island with a few guest houses run by the locals. Thoddoo is covered in papaya fields and palm trees and is surrounded by the most pristine white sand beaches and most unbelievably turquoise waters. Right off the shore is a wonderful reef full of life. Every day we snorkeled and saw a family of sea turtles, numerous types of colorful fish, and even an octopus! When we dream beachy dreams, Thoddoo beach is what we see.

5. New Zealand

We have spent nearly a month exploring both the North and South islands of New Zealand and each is absolutely stunning. From challenging great hikes to easy-going great sites, New Zealand did not disappoint. Not to mention, Kevin is a huge Lord of the Rings fan and seeing Hobbiton was a dream come true!

We are two en route to revisit our fave five countries

Photo Gallery: Midnight in Paris

Paris is one of those places that is hard not to love. It’s a city adorned with iconic monuments, world class museums, and a gastronomy that would make anyone’s taste buds dance. During the long summer days Paris is buzzing with tourists from around the world eager to drink up the culture, but as the sun sets late in the evening, the lights switch on and the true beauty of city begins to show.

Here is a photo gallery of Paris as the lights began to twinkle and truly dazzled us.

Sun setting over the famed Moulin Rouge

Sun setting over the famed Moulin Rouge

La Diva. Feeling Sassy.

La Diva. Feeling Sassy.

Evening bottle of wine at with a view of the Eiffel Tower

Evening bottle of wine at with a view of the Eiffel Tower

City of Love. Locks.

City of Love. Locks.

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

River boats passing by the Eiffel Tower.

River boats passing by the Eiffel Tower.

Traffic lights surrounding the Arch de Triumph

Traffic lights surrounding the Arch de Triumph

The buzz down Champs-Élysées.

The buzz down Champs-Élysées.

Store fronts. Galleries Lafayette

Store fronts. Galleries Lafayette

The calm around Musée d'Orsay

The calm around Musée d'Orsay

Palais Garnier opera house

Palais Garnier opera house

Magical Fontaine des Mers.

Magical Fontaine des Mers.

Obélisque de Louxor

Obélisque de Louxor

French Flag in lights.

French Flag in lights.

Reflections. Musée du Louvre

Reflections. MusĂ©e du Louvre

Musée du Louvre

Musée du Louvre

Pyramide du Louvre

Pyramide du Louvre

Street lamps with warm light.

Street lamps with warm light.

Napoleon. Colonne Vendôme.

Napoleon. Colonne VendĂ´me.

Illuminated bridge underbelly. 

Illuminated bridge underbelly. 

Bridge details.

Bridge details.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

Headless. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

Headless. CathĂ©drale Notre-Dame de Paris.

Paris Town Hall in all it's glory.

Paris Town Hall in all it's glory.

Town hall water feature up close. 

Town hall water feature up close. 

Vintage metro entrance. Time to head home.

Vintage metro entrance. Time to head home.

Long night in Paris.

Long night in Paris.

We are two en route for more midnight moments

Our day Hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre is a national park known for picturesque villages that dot the coast line of the Ligurian Sea. We were based out of Florence and since we were so close, we knew we had to visit! Join us as we skip down the coast on our Cinque Terre adventure hiking along the Azure Trail.

For this this journey, we decided to take a tour with Walkabout Florence because of the amazing reviews we read and the fact that parts of the trail are still not in the best condition since flooding in 2014 and we didn't want to be in over our heads for a nice day hike. At the end of the journey we were not disappointed with our decision! 

To start our adventure we arrived in La Spezia to catch the train into the Riviera coastline of Cinque Terre and start our journey on the Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail that connects the main 5 coasts cities of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. Note: € 13 per person is the cost of a day pass for access into Cinque Terre which and includes unlimited train travel between all of the cities and La Spezia. There are other options you can find here if you are staying longer than just a day.

Once inside the national park we skipped Riomaggiore, the first town on the path, and started in Manarola. Our guide let us know that the trail between the two is still a mess.

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Manarola is the oldest of the towns and is known for it's surrounding wine vineyards that product fantastic vino. As we started to ascend the hill, the picture perfect view of Manarola came into view and we already knew this was going to be a fantastic day. 

The next stop on our adventure was Corniglia. To get there we hoped on the train for one stop and then made our hiking journey up 386 stairs, zig-zagging back and forth until we finally made it to the town. Corniglia's charm comes from the narrow winding streets full of cute shops, cafe's, and art galleries. At the end of the town was a viewpoint with sweeping views of the Ligurian Sea. We decided take a seat at a restaurant with a view, grab a glass of local wine with pesto and anchovies bruschetta bites, then listened to the sounds of the crashing waves.  

This next hike was the longest journey we took along the Azure Trail. It is one one of the best maintained portions and anyone with a medium level of skill could easily take this hike. Along the way we were treated with olive tree groves, plums from a wild fruit tree and the most fantastic views of the coastline.

Just over 90 minutes later, we arrived at our third town of the day, Vernazza. It is incredible how the town hugs the cliff as it stretched out to a point and is crowned by the ruins of Doria Castle. This is one of the smallest towns on our adventure so after wandering through the colorful streets we grabbed a drink, sat on a bench to people watch, and relax.

The farthest town in Cinque Terre is Monterosso. This was probably our least favorite town of the day. It felt like a port town a cruise company would build catering to party-going patrons. We were not totally in the mood for bars playing dance music and baking in the heat under colorful umbrellas so we ended up making our way into old town to see the church of San Giovanni Battista, a 12th-century monastery with a memorable black and white facade. After a quick stop we found a cafe and grabbed a cappuccino. 

We all know the saying "save the best for last" and there was no better proof of this than when we arrived in Riomaggiore, our last stop for the day. The most incredible moment was when we rounded the corner to the port and was greeted by the most fantastic view of brightly colored homes layered on top of each other. The energy was infectious was being sunbathed, cliff jumped, and swam in crystal clear water. 

As the day drew to a close, we took the train back to La Spezia and bussed it back to Florence. The end came too quickly and we wished we could have had more time to enjoy Cinque Terre. We are thinking a future extended trip may be in the cards. 

We are two en route for future adventures in Cinque Terre.

Our night in a Buddhist Temple

While spending three weeks hopping around South Korea we had the incredible opportunity to stay in a traditional Buddhist Temple about 3-hours outside of Seoul, tucked away in a valley of the Sobaek Mountains.

South Korea has many different temples that offer a temple stay program. The programs are meant to help people center themselves spiritually while learning more about the Buddha's teachings. We ended up doing our temple stay at Guinsa Temple which practices Cheontae Buddhism, a sect of Korean Buddhism derived from a form of Chinese Buddhism called Tiantai. We were eager and excited to learn more about this form of Buddhism as well as clearing our minds and centering ourselves. We hope you enjoy this journey with us.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a massive amount of beautiful lanterns. We later found out this was because the Buddha's birthday was in a few days. We were thrilled to have the colorful lanterns playing off the brightly painted temple buildings.

First thing on the agenda after checking in was a little arts and crafts. We made paper lotus lanterns and prayer beads. The lotus flower is very important to Buddhists, symbolizing purity of the body, speech, and mind, while the prayer beads are sometimes used to count the number of mantras recited, much like a rosary in the Catholic faith counts the number of Hail Marys repeated. 

After arts and crafts, we were taken on an official tour of the Guinsa Temple complex. We saw the buildings where we would share meals, where the monks lived, where evening and morning prayer would occur, and the Great Teacher Hall, a three-tiered pagoda at the top of the complex. The Great Teachers Hall and surrounding grounds were decorated with larger-than-life paper lantern figures in celebration of the Buddha's birthday. 

Up at the top, we were challenged to calm our minds and take in the beauty around us. The valley was so beautiful as the various building dotted the landscape. We were already transported into a world so different from ours. 

At the sound of the bell, we knew it was time for evening prayers. Our group gathered with the monks and other practicers of Cheontae Buddhism and began chanting and praying inside of the prayer hall. The praying was very hard at first. It consists of repeatedly standing, then falling into a kneeling position, followed by bending over and placing our hands and forehead to the floor, after which raising back to the kneeling position, then coming onto our toes as we stood, hands in the praying position with our palms together at chest height, and finally ending back in the standing position. We did this for what felt like 100 times in 60 minutes. Fortunately, it became less difficult each time since we were falling into the groove and the moves became more natural. 

Next on the agenda was dinner. The Guinsa Temple serves hundreds of simple vegetarian meals three times a day for free. We joined in to eat with everyone else regardless of religion or ethnicity. One cool things we learned was that all of the food, from the vegetable to the kimchi, were cultivated and made by the monks. 

Following our meal, we had a little free time before meeting back up with our monk to learn the art of meditation. Meditation is more than sitting in silence, it is a means of transforming the mind into being mindful. It helped teach us concentration, clarity, and positivity. It also helped us ask questions about ourselves and begin to become aware of those things that may be causing us hurt. 

One of the ways were were taught to meditate was to sit in the full lotus position. We were instructed to sit with our legs crossed with both feet resting on top of the opposite knee, just like you see the Buddha doing in statues. This was difficult for us, so we adopted the half-lotus position, where only one foot rests on the opposite knee while the other was on the floor, much easier for a novice. The monk then when around straightening our backs to the proper posture. This definitely showed us we are in serious need of working on having better posture. Another form of meditation we learned was loud chanting. This was not our favorite because we were focusing on saying the words properly, rather than being mindful. After meditation, we played a few trust games to bring the night to an end.

Now that night as fallen, we headed out to see the temple gloriously illuminated. All of the lanterns were magical. We hiked our way from our dormitory through the complex in awe at all of is lights and we had it all to ourselves!

One of our favorite lanterns was the dragon outside of the prayer temple that provided us a light show. It dazzled us as it constantly changed colors from a crisp bright white to a fabulous rainbow array. It a real treat to explore the temple complex at night.

The next morning we had 3am prayer in the temple. This time Brad slept in and Kevin went alone to repeat the chantings and kneeling ceremony. It was way easier this time around. After morning prayer, it was back to the room for an additional few hours of sleep before waking up for another simple vegetarian meal. 

After breakfast, we joined back up with our monk and took a nearly 2-hour meditation walk through the mountains. It was a cleansing time where we pushed away all thoughts that came to our mind and just took in the silence and surroundings. It was so relaxing and cathartic. Note: all of the picture were taken on our walk back to the temple. We were not meditating at this time. 

At the top of the mountain, we were encouraged to meditate anyway that made us comfortable. We both laid down flat on our backs with the morning sun beating down on us and fell into a calming state of meditation. This was much more comfortable than straining to sit upright. ;-) 

The last thing we did during our temple stay enjoy a tea ceremony with our monk. This was our favorite part of our journey. We learned the importance of the ceremony while being able to ask the monk any question we wanted. This was the most educational part of our stay. We learned so much more than just the tea ceremony and about Cheontae Buddhism, we were able to look inside of ourselves and learn more about us. 

We are two en route to enlightenment 

The Studio Ghibli Museum, a Magical Journey

First off, let us tell you that getting tickets to the Ghibli museum is hard, so when we snagged some for our visit in April 2017, we were over-the-moon excited! We have wanted to visit the Ghibli Museum in Japan since our first trip to Tokyo in 2014 and as we arrived at the front gate of the museum the wave of happiness washed over us. It was a long time coming and now we have arrived.

Let’s bring it back to the question of “how” to get a ticket for the Ghibli Museum. Tickets are by reservation only and must be purchased ahead of time. No tickets are sold at the museum in person. There are three main ways to get tickets ahead of time.  

1. Lawson's official online ticket store (english version) - At 10am, Japan time, on the 10th of the month, tickets for the the following month go on sale (i.e. on March 10th, tickets go on sale for April 1st - April 30th). These tickets are limited in number and sell out very quickly. We made sure we were up and online to secure our tickets. There was a lot of frustration as the website could not handle the volume of people who were trying to attain tickets. However, after 20 stressful minutes, we finally secured our tickets. COST: 1,000 JPY each ($9 USD)

2. Sales by the JTB sales offices located overseas - A limited number of tickets go on sale through these locations at the first of every month for the following 4 months. (i.e. on January 1st, tickets go on sale for the entire months of January, February, March, and April). We never had luck with this because the tickets were always sold out due to the limited number available through JTB.

3. When in Japan only, you can buy them at the Lawson convenient stores through a machine. We tried this back in 2014 and it was funny trying to figure it out. When we did figure it out, we realized they were sold out. Our advise is to buy them WAY ahead of time using method 1 or 2.  

There is one strict rule you MUST know before entering the museum. The person who purchased the tickets is required to be present with a print out of the ticket and a passport proving your identity. It MUST be a passport, because they match up your passport number with the number you provided to them when purchasing the tickets.   

With our passports in hand and our print outs checked, we could start entering the museum. As we entered, we were greeted by the nicest people at the front counter. They gave us our official tickets, which were cuts of film strips from a Studio Ghibli film, and reminded us that no photos were allowed once inside the museum, however photos could be taken in outside areas. The reason no photos are allowed inside is because they believe that the museum should be about transporting you into the magical world of Ghibli without distractions to yourself and to others.

Following the rules, we packed up our cameras after a quick photos of our tickets and transported ourselves into the wonderful world of Ghibli. Good thing there was no time limit to our visit, because we would spend the next few hours taking our time to immerse ourselves in the experience.

Stepping into the main atrium was magical. Everywhere you looked was made to put a smile on everyone’s face. From the stained-glass windows, donning characters from various Ghibli movies, to the bridge spanning across the second floor, the attention to detail was spectacular.

The first room on our tour was all about motion in films. The highlight in the room for us both was the live stop motion display where clay figured were posed on a wheel that spun very quickly while strobe lights flashed at a fast pace giving the figured that appearance of movement. Everything has already exceeded our wildest expectations.Stepping into the main atrium was magical. Everywhere you looked was made to put a smile on everyone’s face. From the stained-glass windows, donning characters from various Ghibli movies, to the bridge spanning across the second floor, the attention to detail was spectacular.

Included in the Ghibli museum ticket is admission to the museums animated short film. These shorts have been produced for and shown only at the museum. These films are rotated between throughout the year so there is always a good reason to come back and watch more. We were lucky enough to see "Water Spider Monmon." We were oohing and aweing just like the all of the other kids and adults.

After the movie, we decided to head up to the rooftop to get whatever sunshine was left for the day since the rain was supposed to roll in soon. The way to the roof is via the third floor up an outdoor spiral staircase. The rooftop is one of the few places where photography is allowed and good thing because who wouldn't want to take a photo with the Robot from "Castle in the Sky".

After our fun on the roof we headed back to the second floor to continue looking through more of the most amazing permanent and special exhibitions. The special exhibition when we were there was "All Aboard! The Cat Bus to the Ghibli Forest." It was incredible. We entered into the room and realized we were inside of the famous Cat Bus from "My Neighbor Totoro". Other amazing features in the room was an eight-foot tall model of the mechanical castle from "Hal's Movie Castle." You could even peek right in the windows a see Calcifer burning in the chimney. 

From the second floor we made our way out to the Straw Hat Cafe for a snack. As with any museum, the prices were slightly higher than eating at a cafe elsewhere, but we couldn't say no to a chance to get the full Ghibli experience. The "Porco Rosso" sign outside let us know the menu for the day, good thing there was an english menu inside. We each ordered a coffee and a shared a piece of cake. The late had a super adorable hat sprinkled on it in cocoa and the cake was topped with a Totoro flag, sheer perfection! 

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Our final room in the museum was Miyazaki Hayao's studio, he is the director of the Studio Ghibli films. Every surface of these few rooms were filled to the brim with sketches, painted layers of favorite characters, fully realized designs, and much, much more. We were kids in a candy store. Our appreciation for the magic that is created by Studio Ghibli has grown so much. It is absolutely amazing how kids and adults can be transported into wonderful stories that teach us about ourselves and the world around. 

Before leaving the museum, we made our way up to the gift shop on the third floor to look around. We ended up buying a few little things we had not seen for sale anywhere else to commemorate our journey into the magical world of Studio Ghibli. This is an experience we will cherish forever. 

We are two en route for more magical moments.

Hot Spots for Kyoto Cherry Blossom Viewing

We loved how the entire nation of Japan comes together around the beginning of April to celebrate Sakura, the coming of spring. It is the prime time to be in Japan to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. When we booked our flights to Japan for Kevin's 30th birthday celebration, we had no idea we would be arriving right in the heart of Sakura. 

Because timing happened to be perfect, we hopped on our bikes and headed out to view the cherry blossoms around Kyoto. Here are some of the hottest spots for viewing the blossoms all around town. 

1. Heian Shrine

A great introduction into seeing Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto is at the Heian Shrine. It has all the quintessential elements of Japan in one; beautiful orange painted wood, green tile roofs, and cherry blossoms welcoming everyone around. This picture perfect Shinto shrine is just the beginning of cherry blossom viewing. What lies beyond the shrine will take your breath away.

2. Gardens of Heian Shrine

For some of the best cherry blossom viewing in all of Kyoto step into the gardens that wrap around Heian Shrine. The entry ticket is 600 yen ($5.25 USD) and is worth every cent. The moment we entered the garden, we were transported into a wonderland of cherry blossoms surrounding us at every turn. Bamboo supports are erected, lifting the branches and allowing the blossoms to float right over our heads. IT was truly magical.

3. Kamo River

Kamo river runs right through the heart of Kyoto making it a central feature of the city. The riverbanks are the perfect place to stroll along the pedestrian path and see the cherry trees that flank both sides of the river. There are many restaurants that overlook the river, so we had to stop and grab a coffee and enjoy people watching with a spectacular view.

4. Philosopher's Walk

Tree-lined perfection is what we called the Philosopher's Walk. We spent hours strolling along the pathways, allowing ourselves to get lost in the shades of pink all around. We first heard about this part of Kyoto when watching AbFab's "Joanna Lumley's Japan" special on BBC. Thank's Patsy for this wonderful recommendation! 

5. Maruyama Park behind Yasaka Shrine

We stumbled upon this by complete accident while exploring around the Gion area of Kyoto. After looking at traditional teahouses and geiko (geisha) we saw the beautiful Yasaka Shrine shining in the night sky. We explore inside the temple grounds and noticed a celebration was happening behind the temple in Maruyama Park. Come to find out, this is THE place for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto by the locals. People pay by the hour for tables just to dine beneath the beautiful trees. The true jewel of the park is the spectacular weeping cherry tree. 

6. Fukushima Shrine

This shrine is known for the thousands of vermilion colored torii gates that span across the hiking trail up Mount Inari. While there are no cherry blossom viewing as we hiked up the trail, there were fantastic blossoms at the shrine located at the base of the mountain. This for sure set a happy tone for a beautiful spring hike. 

7. Kiya-machi Dori Stream

Right in the heart of Kyoto, one block from the Kamo River, is a stream that runs alongside Kiya-machi street. What makes this the perfect place for feasting your eyes on those famous blossoms is the fact it's accessible and picturesque both day and night!  Additionally, there are many restaurants on the river and bridges spanning the stream, making for some great photo-ops.

8. Kimono Forest

The Kimono forest is located at the Arashiyama train station. What we loved about this area was how the perfectly purple train and kimono wrapped columns complimented the shades of pink seen all around from a sprinkling of cherry blossom trees. This was the jumping-off point for viewing more blossoms around this part of town. 

9. Tenryu-ji

Tenryu-ji is also located in the Arashiyama neighborhood, just a few blocks from the train station. It is a Zen temple that houses a beautiful garden with flowers of all type. We were greeted with a Zen rock garden as we entered and treated to wonderful blossoms thereafter. Once we were done with the flowing buds, you exit right into the famed bamboo forest. Perfection. The entrance fee to see the gardens is 500 yen ($4.30 USD).

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10. Katsura River

Another hotspot in the Arashiyama part of town is the Katsura River. We decided to take a breat for the temple scene for the day and sit riverside, listening to the flow of the water and watching the branches of the cherry trees blow in the wind. The entire bank of the river on both sides have some of the most beautiful blossoms that bloomed around us at eye level. A great spot to end of day of sightseeing around Arashiyama.

The one thing we figures out after viewing the cherry blossoms all around Kyoto is that these hot spots are not the only places to see the world famous blooms. Everywhere we looked, weather rain or shine, we saw fantastic buds blossoming as spring swept over the city and that was the cherry on top to an already fabulous time in Japan. 

We are two en route for viewing more global hot spots

Top 10 free or cheap things to do in Bangkok

Bangkok is such a fascinating city. With sprawling, traditional street markets full of some of the world’s best street food to cutting edge modern skyscrapers and malls with all of the new world comforts, It is the epicenter of where East meets West. We spent a combined 10-days in Bangkok exploring every nook and cranny, some more than once, and put together this list of our top 10 free or cheap things to do!

1. Chatuchak Weekend Market

Cost: FREE - This is the place to be on the weekend! It's one of the world's largest weekend markets with over 8,000 stalls. The market open from 9am -6pm on the weekend and we spent nearly the whole day exploring each and every corner.  It had everything from books, food and clothing to any souvenir you could ever want to take home.

2. Chinatown

Cost: FREE - We love a good Chinatown and Bangkok has one! During the day, the hustle and bustle is shopping through the vendors with bulk items and unique individual finds. While at night, it's all about the delicious street food culture and bright lights.

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3. Wat Pho

Cost: 100 baht ($3) - One of the main tourist sites in all of Bangkok is Wat Pho and what's great is it is so cheap to feast your eyes on her beauty. It is one of the most important temples in Thailand because of its connection to King Rama I, said to be the founder of Thailand. Wat Pho is also home of the world famous Reclining Buddha which is one of the largest in Thailand laying at 15 meters high and 46 meters long. Very impressive to see. 

4. Rooftop Bar Drinks

Cost: 180 baht ($5.25) per pint of beer - Bangkok has a beautiful skyline with some really unique buildings. Our favorite was the MahaNakhon building which looks like it is being digitally created. The best views of this and the city are from Cloud 47. We loved it here because they allow casual attire and the cocktails are nearly half the cost than some of Bangkok's other rooftop bars, not to mention, it really does have the most superb view. We went an hour before sunset so we could enjoy the skyline day, dusk, and night! 

5. Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)

Cost: 50 baht ($1.50) - This was one of Kevin's favorite places to visit because of how many wonderful things were around the temple complex. While the central Khmer-style tower was under construction, we could still see the beauty of the painted porcelain all around. Next to the temple is the Ordination Hall which is guarded by two guardian demons. An easy 2.5 hours was spent in awe of all the details. 

6. Foot Massage

150 baht ($4.35) - After walking all over Bangkok it was time to pamper ourselves. Everywhere you go in Thailand you see foot massage places. Some look seedy like you might catch something if you take your shoes off while others are packed, so you know it'll be above board. We chose the 30-minute foot massage which included a leg rub and smooth oils. We were in heaven.

7. Khaosan Road

Cost: FREE - Khaosan Road is known as the backpackers district of Bangkok so you know it's a lively place to see. Because it is full of like-minded budget travelers, this is the place to find a good deal. Trinkets are cheap and the beers are even cheaper! Nighttime is when Khaosan Road truly shines. 

8. Eat Street Food

Cost: 50 - 200 baht ($1.50-$5.75) - Thailand is known for having the world's best street food so it would be ashamed if you didn't try it all! Most street food like Pad Thai and Thai Basil Chicken will run you around the 60-100 baht ($1.75-$3), while other signature dishes, such as, Tom Yum Goong or Pineapple Fried Rice will set you back 200 baht ($5.75). Be sure to check out our favorite Thailand street foods

9. Take a boat down the Chao Phraya River

Cost: 15 baht ($0.45)- Hop on the boar with the orange flag and you are in for a cheap and fun experience. Not only is this the fasted and cheapest way to get into the old town of Bangkok, it give you some of the most incredible views! 15 baht is what they charge no matter how long you ride it, so why not use the opportunity to see the city through the eyes of a local. 

10. Wat Trai Mit

Cost: 40 baht ($1.20) - This is a stunning historic Buddhist temple just on the edge of Chinatown. It is adorned with fantastic guilding and houses the infamous 5.5 ton (11,000 pound) 18 karat gold Buddha statue with the most fascinating history. For over 200 years it was plastered over in stucco and no one knew it was made of gold until one day it was discovered by accident.

Of course there are many more things to do in Bangkok we did no mention here due to their cost. However, we would recommend doing each. #1 - Go to a Calypso Cabaret Show, costs 900 baht ($27) and features amazingly talented transgender artists dancing and lip-syncing for their lives. #2 visit the Grand Palace, costs 500 bath ($14.50), it's filled with a lot of history and has some top-notch architecture. 

We are two en route for free or cheap explorations 

Angkor Wat in Detail

The Angkor temple complex is massive. To be exact, it is the largest religious complex in the world. When we first thought of Angkor, we only thought of the quintessential image of Angkor Wat, but to our surprise, there was so much more. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest religious monument in the world and easily provides 2-3 days of exploring!

We wanted to share some of our favorite spots from our couple of days exploring the Ancient City of Angkor.

1. Angkor Wat

This is the quintessential image when you think of Angkor Wat, which makes sense because this is the temple named Angkor. We got up at 4am in order to get the the temple for the sunrise. We were so excited to get a front row seat to see such a wonderful site. 

Angkor at sunrise was picturesque.

Angkor at sunrise was picturesque.

A lot of people show up to sunrise! We were so glad we got there early.

A lot of people show up to sunrise! We were so glad we got there early.

We came back later in the afternoon. It was the perfect selfie lighting in front of the lake. 

We came back later in the afternoon. It was the perfect selfie lighting in front of the lake. 

Beautiful details. 

Beautiful details. 

We could look at the bas reliefs for hours.

We could look at the bas reliefs for hours.

2. Bayon

We call this the temple of faces. There are 54 towers around this temple, all with  4-sided bodhisattva faces as the tower top, representing the divine observation of Cambodia's four directions. It was for sure a temple that got even more interesting as we took a closer look.

From afar it's hard to tell there are 216 bodhisattva faces. 

From afar it's hard to tell there are 216 bodhisattva faces. 

Up close bodhisattva

Up close bodhisattva

No matter where you stand, someone is looking at you.

No matter where you stand, someone is looking at you.

3. Ta Prohm

The ruins of Ta Prohm was one of our favorites. It is known as the "tree temple" because it is covered in Knia trees which have overtaken the temple ruins. This is what was so attractive to us. Everywhere we looked was a photo op we did not want to miss. We can see why parts of Tomb Raider was filmed here. 

Knia tree growing over the temple.

Knia tree growing over the temple.

Kevin between the Knia tree roots.

Kevin between the Knia tree roots.

Is this a stegosaurus?  

Is this a stegosaurus?  

This Knia tree was insane! 

This Knia tree was insane! 

4. East Mebon

Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Chee, called this the Elephant Temple. We loved it because #elephants! This temple is not very big, but the guardian elephants scattered throughout the temple are impressive and make it worth a look. Additionally, we noticed the stairs were huge and found out this is because ceremonies with elephants would happen here and elephants have a big step. 

Khmer style symmetrical architecture.

Khmer style symmetrical architecture.

Very large steps!

Very large steps!

One of the guardian elephants.

One of the guardian elephants.

5. Neak Poan

Neak Poan was fascinating! First, we took a stroll across a huge lake to get to the Buddhist temple. The mirror lake was perfectly still and you could see every reflection. The clouds felt like there were all around us. Once you get across the lake, you get to see a quaint Buddhist temple sitting in the middle of a smaller mirror lake. Scerene indeed.

Kevin in front of the mirror lake.

Kevin in front of the mirror lake.

Stump and cloud reflections.

Stump and cloud reflections.

Buddhist temple in the central pond.

Buddhist temple in the central pond.

6. Preah Khan

Because Preah Khan is located at the far end of the Angkor complex there were almost no tourists when we were there. This nearly forgotten temple is tucked away in the jungle and reminded us a lot of Ta Prohm. We took our time and got up close and personal with this temple.

Overgrown knia tree

Overgrown knia tree

Brad through the window.

Brad through the window.

Kevin exploring the small corridors. 

Kevin exploring the small corridors. 

7. Terrace of the Elephants & Leper King

When the Khmer armies came back from battle victorious, the terrace of the elephants was where the celebration would happen. The large scale carvings of elephants were unreal. Just past the elephant terrace we came to the Terrace of the Leper King. It is said this is where the king's concubines lived. What was impressive to us was the entire structure, both inside and out, donned intricate carvings, mostly of women. 

Terrace of the Elephants.

Terrace of the Elephants.

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King carvings.

Terrace of the Leper King carvings.

8. Ta Som

The far end of Ta Som was the East gate. From the front it looks like a normal ruined gate, but one we passed through to the other side, we noticed it was completely covered in a knia tree. Tucked underneath the tree roots was such a wonderful carving. 

Run-down looking gate.

Run-down looking gate.

Carvings hiding under the knia tree.

Carvings hiding under the knia tree.

Knia covering the entire gate. 

Knia covering the entire gate. 

9. Royal Palace of Phimeanakas

The Royal Palace was another part of Angkor that seems to be overlooked by most tourists. It was the perfect spot for a rest. The palace is not overly impressive compared to many of the other more notable spots in Angkor, but once we made it to the top and looked down, we appreciated what the Royal Palace was in its hay-day. 

The doorways at the top.

The doorways at the top.

Column remnants.

Column remnants.

Corridors around the Royal Palace.

Corridors around the Royal Palace.

There were so many more structures, temples, and ruins around the Angkor temple complex than shown in this post. It would be nearly impossible to write one post covering every nook and cranny. Angkor was full of surprises at every turn and we are so happy to have encountered this ancient Khmer civilization up close. 

We are two en route for more detailed travel encounters.

At the end of days of exploring, our feet were rightfully filthy! 

At the end of days of exploring, our feet were rightfully filthy!