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Backpacking in Thailand and Vietnam

Backpacking in Thailand and Vietnam

Backpacking in Thailand, thanks to the many sights, the beautiful scenery, and reasonable prices, is one of the most popular choices among backpackers worldwide. The relatively good infrastructure and a rational number of Thais speaking English makes the land accessible to tourists. Each year, more visitors come to Thailand because it is a very beautiful place to visit.

Many backpackers start their journey through Asia in Thailand, so they can get used to the climate and also to prevent a major culture shock. This is a good start, especially for novice backpackers.

Excellent Locations In Thailand:

Bangkok

    Beautiful sights, interesting nightlife, many backpackers and more.

    Chiang Mai

    Not only is the city itself great, but its beautiful surroundings are worth a visit or two.

    Things to do in Thailand

    Thailand is widely known and admired for  Buddhism.The magnificent temples that can be found almost everywhereI are among the finest temples in the world. While backpacking in Thailand, you’ll undoubtedly see some beautiful sights, experience the people and culture, and encounter monks confidently practising their faith.

    Towns

    Most backpackers begin their journey through Thailand – and Asia – in the capital Bangkok. Bangkok, can be described as the backpacking mecca of the world; most backpackers in Bangkok gather on and around Khao San Road. The locals have responded well to the increasing visits and tours with hotels, souvenir shops, and cheap restaurants and bars. However, our favourite city is Northern Chiang Mai, where there prevails a friendly atmosphere and lots of beautiful sights to see and fun adventures to embark on. From Northern Chiang Mai you can also visit the wonderful village of Pai, a wonderfully relaxing destination.

      Islands in Thailand

      There are lots of islands in Thailand; from uninhabited islands to popular tourist islands. Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and a good base from which you can visit the beautiful small islands in the region, like the southernmost island of Thailand: Koh Lipe. The Phi Islands which, in my opinion, is the most beautiful in Thailand, located near Phuket. Thre is also the famous island of Koh Samui to visit, around which you will also find the party islands, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

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      Arrange for your travel

      Ready to pack up and head out on this adventure? Here are some tips you should follow before you go:

      Savings and Credit card

      Of course, before you think about going on such a fun adventure you already saved up for the trip, I still need to remind you that you will need money. It is advisable that before you leave, you should apply for a credit card. This is better than having to carry cash around.

      Airline ticket

      Plan ahead and compare flights to make sure you get a good deal.

      Backpack

      Backpacking through long distances usually requires packing lightweight essentials to make your journey, easier, smoother and as adventurous as you intended it to be. This is known as lightweight backpackingFind the right pack for your trip through Asia as well as the appropriate items to pack. And read up on interesting backpacking hacks.

      Volunteer work

      Thailand is one of the nicer Asian countries to volunteer. There is a great combination of friendly people, beautiful scenery, and many possibilities to have some fun. You can volunteer, especially in Chiang Mai and some less known (and less touristy) places, where there are projects available. Interested in volunteering? Think of Singburi, Umphang, and Wang Nam Keo.

      Airfare

      Many backpackers start their journey in Thailand— not only because it is a great country, but also because it is easily reachable from the Netherlands. Moreover, you can also fly cheaply from Thailand to other countries in Asia and save some money.

      Nothing will prepare you for the beauty of the country — the Sam mountain to Halong Bay through the sacred temples, Vietnam has much to offer:

      Things To See And Do In Vietnam

        Explore Saigon And Hanoi

        The two biggest cities in Vietnam and yet so different: Hanoi, much more traditional, and Saigon, the city that moves. I find the first more charming, although, there is downright more things to do in the second. However, as some of my friends have disagreed, this remains a personal choice.

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        If you’re in Saigon, I highly recommend you test the ice durian at Bach Dang if you are passing through the city and also have a look at the Museum of Traditional Medicine (IOTF).

        If you go through Hanoi, you can not miss the Tran Quoc Pagoda on the shores of West Lake. You can also make a trip to the puppet show on the water. The theatre is located north of Hoan Kiem Lake.

        Halong Bay

        Halong Bay really needs no introduction.

        This is the Vietnamese tourist site par excellence. I must say it is something to dream about. Yes, during your trip, you will be constantly surrounded by other boats so it’s best to take a 2-night stay, which will allow you to go a little further into the bay and enjoy more quiet scenery. Do not miss Halong Bay Land; it attracts less crowds and offers beautiful landscapes.

        Make The Trek In The North

        Also in the north of Vietnam, Hanoi is the gateway to the various treks and hikes. This is an opportunity to meet some of the ethnic minorities of Vietnam. I suggest you go for a ride to the Ba Be National Park, where a wonderful lake is located; this will offer you a change of scenery and a new experience.

        Hue And Graves

        Discover the imperial city situated in the middle of Vietnam. You can discover its citadel, which is river perfume pagoda (Thien Mu) and tombs. Day visits are organised, and you can also rent a bike and go exploring.

        Hoi An And Cham Islands

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        Located right next to Hue, Hoi An is a small charming town. You will discover the Japanese bridge, its local markets, its old houses, beaches and many other things, like the city lanterns. The opportunity to discover places in a completely different atmosphere at night can be fun and exciting. The streets are lit by candlelight (on the 14th day of each lunar month) and the illuminated harbour holds a medley of colourful lanterns.

        If you’re in Hoi An, take the opportunity to spend a night on the Cham Islands and start each morning (early) by going on a speed boat. Guests can enjoy deserted beaches and a life without electricity.

          Enjoy The Beaches Of Nha Trang

          You want sun and relaxation? Nha Trang is the seaside resort of Vietnam par excellence. Although many would say that it has lost its soul (large hotel beachfronts), it is a city that you should not miss.

          I recommend you rent a motorbike and browse its surroundings; you will have the opportunity of taking in its breathtaking landscapes.

          Do not forget to take a turn towards its hot springs (Thap Ba Hot Springs), where you will have the opportunity to take a mud bath.

          Make The Sky Surf In Mui Ne

          If there is a good spot to indulge in it’s Sky Surf it’s Mui Ne.

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          With nice hotels, favourable wind and great sailing schools every 500 meters, you will not have any excuses. You can rent boards or take lessons (about 100 euros for 3 hours).

          Take the opportunity to also take a ride on the sand dunes where you can go sledging and ATVing. Even better if you have photos to show your friends. In short, it’s a good time and experience to spend a few hours from the Saigon bus.

          Make An Excursion On A Motorcycle To Dalat

          The more mountainous southern city, Dalat, is famous for its flowers and hinterland. So take the Easy Rider motorcycle services and go for a day trip (15 to 30 euros). Enjoy the scenery and the pleasure of a motorcycle ride. As a bonus, you can sip Vietnamese coffee and find out about What’s with the Weasel Coffee.

          Discover Phu Quoc

          The largest island of Vietnam opens its doors. With its sandy beaches, some almost uninhabited, you’ll really feel like you’re on a deserted island. If you love fresh water, know that you can take a dip in the waterfalls as well.

          Happy Backpacking! Happy Adventure!

          Image Credit: Bangkok via Bangkok.com; purple beach via Jonny Clow; food via Harvey Enrile; beach via Auskteez Tran

          Featured photo credit: To Be Frank Magazine via tobefrankmagazine.com

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          Kyra Taylor

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          Last Updated on November 12, 2020

          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

          If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

          If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

          In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

          What Happens When You’re Too Tired

          If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

          Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

          • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
          • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
          • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
          • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
          • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
          • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
          • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

          Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

          Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

          Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

          1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
          2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
          3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

          The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

          Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

          You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

          Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

          If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

          Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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          Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

          Symptoms of fatigue include:

          • Difficulty concentrating
          • Low stamina
          • Difficulty sleeping
          • Anxiety
          • Low motivation

          These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

          Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

          How Much Sleep Is Enough?

          The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

          Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

          Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

            The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

            Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

            Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

            If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

            It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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            4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

            Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

            1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
            2. Exercising regularly
            3. Using stressbusters
            4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

            After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

            I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

            Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

            • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
            • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
            • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
            • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

            The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

            Living Healthy

            Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

            In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

            As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

            Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

            1. Unplug

            Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

            Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

            2. Unwind

            Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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            3. Get Comfortable

            Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

            Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

            Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

            This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

            Exercise

            Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

            That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

            I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

            If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

            Attitude

            Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

            When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

            But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

            Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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            1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
            2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
            3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
            4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
            5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
            6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

            This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

            When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

            Nutrition

            Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

            If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

            Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

            Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

            1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
            2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
            3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
            4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
            5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
            6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
            7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
            8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
            9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

            Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

            That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

            Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

            The Bottom Line

            If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

            If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

            Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

            More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

            Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
            [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
            [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
            [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
            [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
            [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
            [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
            [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
            [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
            [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
            [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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