Like a lot of people, I chose to make a long stop in Chiang Mai, Thailand because it’s cheap, easy to get around, and the food is amazing. I spent a month there in two different neighborhoods–first on Loi Kroh Road, and then in an area called Nimman.
During the first week in Chiang Mai, I had a place on Loi Kroh road, on the Southeastern corner of the city square. I chose it because it’s a busy area within walking distance of the night market, where you can gorge on street food and all the coconuts you could ever want, and there are lots of street food vendors, little shops, and restaurants.
The city of Chiang Mai was built in the year 1296 after King Mengrai and his advisors identified it as the ideal location for the stronghold of the Lanna Kingdom in Northern Thailand. The center was built in the shape of a square that was protected by a moat and tall stone walls. You can still see some of the ruins today as your travel around the city. Taking a Songthaew–the red truck rideshares–is one of the most budget-friendly ways to get around Chiang Mai.
I first traveled to Hanoi in 2015 after visiting Phuket and Ho Chi Minh City. After making my way up the coast to Danang and Hoi An, I was excited to be back in a major city. Unfortunately, it turned out that Hanoi became one of my least favorite destinations.
Thinking back on my first trip, I realize now the things that contributed to my negative perception of Hanoi. For one, Airbnb was just taking off, and the listings were less regulated than they are now. I stayed at what was listed as a homestay, expecting another amazing experience like I’d had in Ho Chi Minh; I enjoyed my stay there so much I ended up extending. Upon arrival, though, the place looked nothing like the photos. Instead of a family home, it was like a dirty, former brothel that was run by a slimey hustler who repeatedly tried to pressure me into booking tours or using his friends for rides, despite my explanations that I wasn’t interested–especially after I realized the mistake I made booking a tour through him at the beginning of my stay. Everything about the place seemed in-genuine and made me uncomfortable, but because my phone had a taken a dip in the Andaman Sea earlier that trip in Thailand and I had no secure means of accessing the internet, I decided to stick out the few days I was there.
The one tour I had planned to do was a day trip to Ha Long Bay. Not being the wiser yet, I booked one via my host for about $65 USD on the second day of my stay in Hanoi.
If you’re a long-term traveler like me, it can be pretty scary to find yourself feeling sick and needing medical care in a foreign country. Back home in New York, I could haul myself down the street a few blocks to the emergency walk-in clinic, see a doctor or nurse who spoke my language, and be out pretty quickly with a small co-pay and prescription order in the works. Last week, I found myself really sick and in need of a doctor’s consultation (I’m OK now!), and I want to share my experience at a Vietnamese hospital in case you, dear traveler, find yourself in a similar situation and need help. Continue reading “What to do if You Need Medical Care While Traveling (That Time I Went to a Hospital in Vietnam)”
If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling to Vietnam, you’re probably familiar with Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) — a noodle soup made with broth from roasted beef (or chicken) bones, shallot and onion, toasted aromatic spices—like sharp, spicy ginger and star anise—and freshly cooked rice noodles. It gets its name, like all noodle dishes in Vietnam, from the specific type of rice noodle it’s made with, called bánh phở. What I love most about Pho (and all street foods here) is that each little Pho shop or stand has their own variation, and you’ll even notice that the Pho in the North is prepared differently than in the South. What’s great for Pho gluttons like me is you could probably eat it three times a day for a week and still not hit all the spots in a major city like HCMC or Hanoi.
The Basics: the two most common types are Phở Bo (beef) and Phở Gà (chicken). It’s less popular, but some places will offer a vegetarian version, called Pho Chay. We’re going to focus on the most common type—Pho Bo.
Ordering: Most Pho stands or shops only serve it one way, though they might have a ‘special’ version (ex. Phở Bo Kho, richer and more like a stew), so it’s easy to order. My Vietnamese is kind of rusty, so I usually say hello, and nod at the boiling cauldron of soup, and hold my finger up to say one (or however many if others are eating with me). You can make your way over to a table and wait for your tray to be brought over.