Travel Diary: Thailand

Travel Diary: Thailand

Where do I even begin?! My Thailand trip was incredible and I’m so eager to collect all of my recommendations and tips into one place for you guys. This way, when you decide to go (because you must!), you know what to do, where to stay, etc.

As background and before getting into the nitty gritty – I want to share why this was such a special trip for me. My college best friends and I all moved to different cities after school. We stayed in touch and see each other when we can, but weekend visits don’t compare to the time spent living together for four years. We made a promise that once we were all settled in our careers we would take a trip. That time came and we jetted off to Thailand! We had more laughs than I can count and picked things up right where we left off.

It was honestly a trip of a lifetime and I’m so excited to dive into the details. I’ve separated the below by city and included as much detail as I can (so apologies in advance for the length). Comment below with any questions that I may have not answered!


BANGKOK
Time Spent: 2 nights (one was basically just us going straight to bed when we got in, then we had a full day and night, then were out the door the following morning)

FLIGHT + HOTEL 

Airline: Air China (we flew from Newark to Beijing to Bangkok – about 24 hours door to door)
Rating & Review: 7/10. It was honestly fine, but not a top of the line aircraft. However, we paid around $600 for round trip tickets, so the price really pretty affordable considering we were traveling half way around the world.

Accommodations:  The Pullman Bangkok Hotel G
Rating & Review: 9/10. Beautiful hotel and accommodations. Breakfast was included (featured a mix of both Thai and American options). I liked that the hotel was close to the airport (about 30 minutes) and not far from the main attractions like The Grand Palace. There are other hotels that are more “in the city,” but to be honest, the city is a little run down, so I didn’t mind not being in the heart of it. Plus, we were hardly ever in our room.

ACTIVIES 

1/2 Day Tour: Damnern Saduak Floating Market, Grand Palace and Wat Phra KeoTour from Bangkok via Trip Advisor
Rating & Review: 10/10. Since we flew into Bangkok really late (1am their time), I was nervous about wasting away our only full day in Bangkok, knowing that we’d only have a few hours of sleep and wanted to see a lot. As such, I booked up a tour via Trip Advisor last minute, which hit all of the main attractions that we wanted to see. I 100% recommend going this route vs. trying to do it yourself. The floating market and Grand Palace are far from each other and take about 1.5 hours no matter where you are, so having a driver was really helpful. I can’t imagine how we would have gotten around had we not done a tour. Our tour guide was a gem and the experience was awesome. We stopped at a hut on the side of the road to see where salt is made, then a coconut farm, then the floating market (which is a MUST), then lunch (provided) and lastly, the Grand Palace. Note: for the Grand Palace make sure you bring clothing items that cover your knees and shoulders, otherwise you will not be allowed into see the temples.

Drinks with a view: Sky Bar at Lebua (where The Hangover 2 was filmed)
Rating & Review: 10/10. I was a little hesitant about going to such a touristy spot, but to be honest, it was INCREDIBLE and so worth the type. We took an elevator 60+ stories up to the rooftop bar that overlooks the entire Bangkok skyline. This will be your most expensive part of the trip, where drink prices are equivalent to a swanky NYC cocktail (around $25 USD). We also decided to stay on the property for dinner and dined at Breeze, which had just as beautiful of a view. Again, this will be your most expensive meal of the trip (think: $75-$150 USD per person).

Walking through the seafood market 🍤 somewhere in Bangkok 📍.

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CHIANG MAI
Time Spent: 2 nights 

FLIGHT + HOTEL 

Airline: Thai Airlines
Rating & Review: 10/10. We were obsessed with this flight! The aircraft was super high-tech, clean and overall luxurious. It was only about 1.5 hrs to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, but they served us a meal and all. Highly recommended.

Accommodations:  The Shangri La Chiang Mai 
Rating & Review: 10/10. This hotel was magnificent and boasted 5-star accommodations. My favorite was the huge pool, surrounded by cabanas and lounge chairs. We spent afternoons relaxing in the sun and evenings passing out in the comfy beds.

ACTIVIES 

Cooking Class: Zab E Lee
Rating & Review: 10/10. I highly recommend doing the evening cooking course. We had the BEST time! The cooking school picks you up from your hotel and brings you to a local market, where you learn about the ingredients you’re about to cook with. From there, you go to the venue, where you create a 5 course meal. Our guide was hysterical and the meal that we made was the best that we had while in Thailand. At the end of the class, you get to take home a cooking book, full of all of the recipes so you can recreate them when you’re home. NOTE: the entire course (including the food and transportation) is only $30 USD.

1/2 Day Elephant Excursion: The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Rating & Review: 8/10. I’m going to be completely transparent here – this experience was not what I was expecting at all. Don’t get me wrong, it was likely one of my favorite memories from the entire trip because we had SO many laughs. However, it was just different than what I expected. Everyone on Instagram posts these amazing photos hugging what appear to be calm elephants, yet I found them to be giant and scary as hell (lol!). It’s just really intimidating being surrounded by 15 elephants at once that are all larger than life. I’m not that comfortable around animals, so I was freaking out when I saw them trotting down the hill towards us. After spending some time with the elephants, I definitely warmed up and even got in the water to bath them, but it did take some time. If I were to do it again, I’d probably look into doing a smaller tour with a one-on-one guide and a single elephant. However, I wanted to be really aware of the treatment of the animals, which is why I chose to go to a sanctuary vs. a farm where they let you ride the animals and potentially harm them. NOTE: we paid $50 USD for the excursion (including food and transportation), which is about $100 less than some of the other places we looked into, so the price was definitely a plus.

OTHER THINGS TO DO

  • Hang by the hotel pool in the afternoon/evenings
  • Go to the “night market” where goods are sold. Our tour guide in Bangkok told us to hold off on buying souvenirs until we were in Chiang Mai because that’s where they’re all imported from anyway. This was a really good tip because she was 100% right. There a huge market with every single souvenir you could imagine. She also told us to bargain, which we did. Nothing costs more than $100-$400 BAHT, which only averages to $3-$12 USD.


PHI PHI
Time Spent: 
3 nights 

FLIGHT + HOTEL 

Airline: Thai Airlines
Rating & Review: 10/10. This flight was quick (about an hour), so it didn’t really matter what plane we were on to be honest. However, like last time, we really enjoyed Thai Airlines.

Accommodations: Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort
Rating & Review: 10/10. Breathtaking. That’s the only word  I can use to describe this property and place in general. We pulled up to our resort by way of boat and were instantly amazed by its beauty. The staff was wonderful and accommodating, even upgrading us into a two-story villa overlooking the resort and beach. It was equip with a private pool, two bedrooms, a kitchen, an outdoor bath, a large deck + patio and so much more.

ACTIVIES 

Longboat Tour: Longboat Tour via Your Hotel
Rating & Review: 10/10. We organized a longboat tour through our hotel concierge desk. This is one of the main things you must do if you’re staying in the Phi Phi Islands. The tour takes you around the beautiful Indian Ocean, pit stopping at various smaller islands that all offer unique activities. One of the islands we went to offered insane views and an adventurous cliff climb (we needed to climb down a rope net to get to the waters) with snorkeling. Another, nicknamed “monkey beach,” is crawling with wild monkeys. There are tons of signs warning you not to feed or touch the monkeys (after all, we’re the ones invading their natural habitat) and i’d strongly recommend you listen. I saw a man get bit TWICE – once in the hand and once in the back of the neck. He was trying to be a tough guy and was letting the baby monkeys crawl all over him… Let’s just say that momma monkey wasn’t happy.

OTHER THINGS TO DO

  • Relax by the pool (this is the time of your trip where you veg out)
  • Walk behind the hotel to enjoy in-town eats and bars. We were told by many to check out the small town behind the hotel since the staff really tries to keep you on the property and doesn’t speak much about the town. They were right! The town was charming and touted fun bars, restaurants and places to buy things such as snacks, alcohol and more.


WHAT I WORE

Shop all of my looks here: From bathing suits to nighttime outfits to daytime pieces, shop all of the looks I wore by clicking on the below photo links. If you see something you like on my Instagram that isn’t listed, comment and I’ll provide a link!

 

The World’s Most Flattering Swimsuit

The World’s Most Flattering Swimsuit

I can’t get enough of my new Coco Reef swimsuit (pictured above), so I wanted to share why and also link to it for you guys to get your own!

First of all, you guys know I’m a curvy girl (I’m talking DD’s over here) and it can be really hard to find swimsuits that fit right. What I love about this brand is that you can pick the tops by cup size, which allows for so much comfort and a perfect fit. Also, the top I’m wearing in the above photo can be tied multiple ways, so you can wear it a few times, but styled differently to trick people into thinking it’s an entirely different suit. As for the bottoms, I chose to go with the high-waisted bottoms because, #flattering. Again, they were super comfortable.

 

Travel Diary: Jamaica

Travel Diary: Jamaica

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was recently in Jamaica with some of my best blogger babes (@eastcoastfox & @laurenmazzei) and our amazing photographer (@LaurelCreative). After I travel, I love writing up travel diaries, where I share my travel recommendations and spill on what I did while away. It’s a great way for me to not only recap on my trip, but to help those who plan to travel to the same area.

This was my first time traveling with other bloggers and a photographer and it was amazing. These girls aren’t just business partners – they’ve become best friends and it’s so fun to travel with people who “get you” and have the same interests. We would spend mornings shooting and the rest of the day girl chatting and hanging around by the pool/exploring Jamaica.

Now, onto the part you care about – where we stayed and what we did.

We flew from JFK to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The flight is just under 3 1/2 hours, which isn’t too bad. However, out hotel was in Ochos Rios, which is about 1 1/2 hours from the airport. Knowing this, we took an early morning flight so that our first day was still a full one (we got to our hotel around 1pm).

Our hotel, The Moon Palace Jamaica, was beautiful and was honestly the nicest all-inclusive I’ve ever stayed at (and I’ve stayed at a bunch). It was fully loaded and had so many offerings including 24/7 room service, fine dining (the Japanese restaurant was our favorite), a snack bar, a coffee bar and a sushi stand. There were also water sports, a huge pool slide and one of those manmade surf parks.

Aside from the abundance of activities on the grounds of the resort, there was a plethora of pools, hot tubs, sun beds and lounge chairs on the beach. The resort was HUGE and super clean. It was also very family-friendly, so I’d definitely recommend it for those of you with kids.

Since we weren’t there too long and since I’ve been to Jamaica once before, we kind of just stuck to the hotel (since there was so much to do). However, one day we did venture into town and enjoyed margaritas as Margaritaville, as well as shopping in the neighboring area.

However, if it’s your first time in Jamaica, I would highly recommend stopping by Dunns River Falls, which is one of Jamaica’s national treasures. It’s a bit hard to explain, but it’s basically a cascading waterfall that you can climb. You hold hands and form a human chain as you make your way up the waterfall. When you get to the top, there are tons of shops and tourist attractions. Although we didn’t do it this trip, I have done it in the past and it’s a must-do if you’re in the Ochos Rios area.

For those of you that are interested in everything I wore while on my trip, I’ve included a gallery below. Just click on the image to purchase! Any questions? Leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

5 Unique Ways to See the New York City Skyline

5 Unique Ways to See the New York City Skyline

There is seriously nothing prettier than the New York City skyline. Sometimes when I’m staring at the city in which I live, I have a little *pinch me* moment. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to discover some of the best ways to take in the amazing view. So whether you’re visiting New York City for the first time, want a backdrop for the perfect Insta or just want to do a fun activity – I think you’ll find the below helpful.

1. Take in the View from The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg
I had the pleasure of doing a little “staycation” at The William Vale and fell in love with the property. My room had a balcony with a view of the NYC skyline [pictured below], but that wasn’t the only place I could take in the sights. One of the hotels restaurants, Westlight, boasts a rooftop bar with panoramic skyline views from a terrace & glassed-in lounge plus craft cocktails. This place comes highly recommended.

ready for a lil’ sunday staycation, thanks to @soldejaneiro. i guess today is just a day of great views✌🏼

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2. Jet Ski Around the City in the Warmer Months
One of the cooler things I’ve done since living in Manhattan was cruising around the Hudson with my friends on jet skis. I know what you’re thinking, “ew, the Hudson water is gross!” But honestly, it was fine and we would have hardly gotten wet had my friend not purposefully splashed us. Seeing this city this way is truly breathtaking. We were able to get right up to the Statue of Liberty and go under both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

3. Hop on a Helicopter Ride
I’ve yet to do this, but you best believe I’ve already been in touch with Flyon NYC – a company that flies you around the city and helps you capture the perfect insta. They make professional aerial photography services accessible to everyone by providing a crowdsourced aerial experience. Whether you want to snap a signature shoe selfie on your iPhone, or you want to capture incredible aerial content for your portfolio: they’ve got a variety of options for you.

4. Cruise Around Via Boat
Everyone loves a good boating experience. You can join Hornblower New York for a dinner cruise around Manhattan, sightseeing tour of NYC, private party, happy hour, or celebration on a luxury yacht. All options comes with one thing guaranteed – an awesome view of the skyline.

never sick of this view 🎈 #mylifeooo

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5. Go Up to the Top of The Rock Observation Deck
The Top of the Rock is one of the greatest observation decks available and attracts people from all over the world daily. Here, you can take in the most incredible views of New York City and get a close look at Central Park from above. On weekends, you can buy tickets here for as low as $30 a head. 

Checking out @ChasenAllen cause he’s da hottest.

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Any questions? Leave a comment below!

 

Travel Diary: Paris

Travel Diary: Paris

Bonjour! I’m back from Paris and my post-trip sadness is beginning to set in, but with Paris Fashion Week currently underway, I wanted to get my Paris Travel Guide up stat. This way, those of you that are IN Paris currently can hit up my favorite spots.

Below, check out my favorite things to do, places to see and places to eat.

THINGS TO DO

  • Shop along Avenue Montaigne: Here you’ll find all the high end stores like Celine, Dior, Chanel, etc. Even if you don’t plan to purchase anything, it’s still fun to window shop and see the latest high end fashions
  • Head to Marais: This area reminded me a lot of SoHo, New York. Here you’ll find low to mid-end clothing stores, cafés and fragrance spots. Walk around, take in the view and do a lil’ shopping
  • Relax around the Grand Palais: While I would also consider this a “place to see,” there is just so much to do around the grounds of the Grand Palais. You can relax in the plush gardens, grab a cappuccino or meal at a café or hit up small shops. I found an AMAZING vintage store called Dugrenot that was unfortunately closed, but by the looks of the window display, I’d definitely recommend going

PLACES TO SEE

  • The Louvre: Go in the early AM to avoid swarms of people
  • The Eiffel Tower: At night, look every half hour to see the lights sparkle
  • Musee d’Orsay: Housed in the train station building, constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair, the Orsay is a national museum devoted to all the arts between 1848-1914
  • Arc de Triomphe: Same note at the Louvre, go early to avoid large crowds
  • Grand Palais: As noted above

PLACES TO EAT (Cafés and Restaurants)

  • Costes: My absolute favorite spot for dinner or drinks! The lively restaurant has terrace seating, and a trendy lounge/bar with live sets from international DJs. The décor is sexy and moody. You may even see a celebrity dining at this hotspot (I saw Adam Lambert). If you’re feeling risky, try to escargot – you won’t regret it
  • L’Avenue: My favorite lunch spot. If you want to lunch like one of your favorite Instagram influencers (Marianna Hewitt) or even a celeb, look no further. L’Avenue is the place to find the world’s most fashionable people and the best food. Sit outside, take in the view of Rue Montaigne and enjoy! I’d recommend getting the Spicy Tuna Tarar with avocaodo
  • Monsieur Bleu: If you want unreal views of the Eiffel Tower at night, look no further. Offering a high Art deco ceiling and stunning terrace, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris – with an unrivalled, magical view of the Eiffel Tower.
  • La Societe: This posh space has a huge stained-glass ceiling and offers French bistro fare. I’d recommend ordering the crispy duck
  • LouLou: If you’re in the mood for some delicious Italian cuisine, this is the spot for you. This new restaurant, located at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, boasts a unique and privileged location at the heart of the Palais du Louvre. I’d recommend indulging on the buratta and flatbread
  • Ladurée Paris Champs Elysées: Stop into this upscale bakery with Parisian origins, specializing in French macarons in a number of flavors. I grabbed an iced coffee (I know, so American of me), while my sister enjoyed a salted caramel macaron.
  • Café Le Nemours: If you’re visiting the Grand Palais, be sure to stop by this beautiful café, known for the delicious quiche. Of note: Angelina Jolie filmed “The Tourist” there

I hope this helps! Any questions? Comment below and I’ll be sure to answer them. Ps. You can shop all of my Paris looks below. Au revoir!

Shop my Parisian Fashion: