People always ask us: “what was your favorite country?”. Since we typically only spent time in 4-6 places in each country, I don’t want to over generalize. But here is a list of some favorites:

Favorite Places

We really enjoyed pretty much every place we visited, but these are a few favorites that stood out:

  • Japan: Mt Fuji and Kiso valley
  • Vietnam: Hoi An and Hui
  • Laos: Luang Prabang
  • Thailand: Pai and Khao Sok
  • Cambodia: Koh Rong
  • Myanmar: Hsipaw and Inle Lake

See previous blog entries for links to photos and more details on each of these places.

Favorite Foods

Picking a favorite food is hard, as different countries excel in different areas. A few categories include:

  • Best ingredients: Japan (by far)
  • Best overall flavors: Thailand
  • Best use of fresh herbs and vegetables: Vietnam
  • Best grilled meats: Cambodia
  • Best satay: Bali
  • Best coffee: Vietnam
  • Best bugs: Cambodia
  • Best beer: Myanmar and Laos

Vietnam might have been my overall favorite if they used less MSG.

Favorite Tours

The category of best tour is a combination of interesting itinerary and great guide. We had so many great tour guides and great excursions that its really hard to pick favorites, but these stood out:

  • “I heart Hui” motorbike tour
  • Phenohm Pen with Vespa Adventures
  • Plain of Jars tour with Backstreet Academy
  • Hike with Jason in Cameron Highlands
  • Hsipaw trek with “Mr Bike”

See previous blog entries for links to these tours.

Favorite Guest Houses / Home Stays

  • Sapa Homestay
  • Homestay outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Hostel in Pai, Thailand
  • Hostel in Cat Ba, Vietnam
  • Homestay in Hui, Vietnam

See previous blogs for links to each of these.

Favorite Apartments

I don’t think we could have traveled for 7 months without the existence of AirBNB. After a while you get tired of staying with other people and eating in restaurants, and just want your own place with your own kitchen. Now with AirBNB this is easy to find, and often as cheap or cheaper than staying at Guest House.

My favorite AirBNBs were:

  • Tokyo: we got to experience living in a typical Tokyo studio apartment (which is TINY), and live in a real neighborhood, not a hotel district.
  • Hoi An: Great Apartment on ‘Herb Island” to watch the typhoon go by
  • Ubud: Fantastic house with 3 dogs and a cat

Favorite city I’d consider moving to

After spending time in a new place I think most travelers ask themselves “could I live here?” There are many places that are great to visit, but would you really want to live there? The only place where I said to myself “I could see living here for 1-2 years” was Chiang Mai, Thailand. Mostly because there is a great jazz club there with an open jam on Tuesdays, but also because there is a good mix of familiar western comforts and exotic Asian options. And I love the food there. Other places I might consider are: Hoi An, Osaka, and maybe Bali.

Other Favorites

  • Best cheap meal: Bun Cha (Obama special) in Hanoi and Panang Curry in Chiang Mai
  • Best Art: Bali (by far)
  • Best local culture: Bali and Myanmar
  • Best haircut experience: Vietnam (be far)
  • Best waterfall/swimming spot: Kuang Si Falls outside of Luang Prabang, Laos
  • Favorite place to eat squid so fresh its still moving in your mouth: Hakodate, Japan
  • Favorite Hedge Hogs: Tokyo
  • Favorite Punk Rock Bar: Tokyo

Japan has a number of things on the favorites list, and not just compared with Asia, but compared with everywhere I’ve been. Some of these include:

  • Best convenience stores: Lawsons and Family Mart ROCK!
  • Best public transit
  • Best public rest rooms
  • Best baseball fans
  • Best department stores with amazing food in the lower level

The list goes on and on.

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