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5 Top Temples in Busan

In Japan, visiting temples was an interesting experience. Even during one of our most memorable temple visits to Narita, a smaller city in comparison to much of Tokyo, we were struck by the contrast found when looking from skyscrapers and technology to historic landmarks and temples. This contrast between old and new seems to be present in much of Korea’s bigger cities as well, including Busan, and their temples stand testament to the thread of tradition still strongly woven in present-day Korean life. So we decided to create a list of the 5 Top Temples in Busan for you to enjoy.

Throughout its history, Korean culture has been influenced by Buddhist teachings and its practice in the country, known as Korean Zen (Son) Buddhism, is pretty pervasive. You don’t need to look too far to find symbols, artwork or even temples that are Buddhist in origin. In fact, we’ve heard that there are at least 300 temples, even though we can’t confirm that number. Although many of the older and more famous temples were built in mountains, there are also some impressive and important temples right in the city centres. (If you’re looking, most temples end with –sa as it means “temple”).

We’ve counted about 30 temple names in the Busan area alone and with the number of temples and diverse locations, it can be difficult to decide which one to see. To help narrow down your options, we’ve put together a list of 5 amazing temples to visit while in Busan.

 

Our 5 Top Temples in Busan

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

One of the most original and unique temples in South Korea, Haedong Yunggungsa Temple is located on the coastline overlooking the East Sea and Songjeong beach.  This magnificent temple is also called “The Water Temple”, for its location and the breathtaking views it offers. This is one temple you have to see and while it can get busy on weekends, it is definitely worth the visit. We’d recommend going on weekdays and we’ve been told camping on the beach by the temple is possible and offers a spectacular view of the sunrise. Don’t forget to look for the giant golden Buddha that overlooks the temple from the shore!

How to get to Haedong Yunggungsa Temple: Head to Haeundae Station and take exit 7. Take bus 181 and get off at Yunggungsa Temple Stop. Click here to get Directions.

Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple has a more traditional location and look, but has a variety of unique features. Located on the mountain Gaumjeongsan, it is one of the most important temples in Korea and has stunning views and gorgeous surroundings. An interesting aspect of Beomeosa temple are the programs that they run for visitors. There are a variety of activities that run throughout the year, including a temple tour, and the very memorable cultural experience of a temple stay where visitors get the opportunity to take part in Buddhist monastic life, from prayer to meals to sleeping arrangements.

How to get to Beomeosa Temple:  Head to Beomeosa station and take exit 5. Walk straight until you see Samin Bus Stop and take bus 90 for Beomeosa Temple. Click here for directions.

Seokbulsa Temple

Another unique temple, and perhaps not for the faint of heart, Seokbulsa temple requires a bit of a hike to reach. After dirt roads and some steep climbs, the spectacular temple can be found and along the way you’ll be able to pass through interesting mountain villages and see some picturesque views. While the trail is not perfectly identified, there are some signs to mark the route, and locals are always willing to help point the way. It’s not just the view from the top that’s incredible, the temple is itself. Carved into rock, Seokbulsa includes massive etched Buddhist images and is a truly powerful experience

How to get to Seokbulsa Temple: Head to Oncheonjang Station. From here, take a cab or walk to Geumgang Park. There is a cable car that gets you part of the way up the mountain. Follow signs out of the South Gate for Geumjeongsanseong Fortress. From here, the path gets tricky and you may need to ask questions along the way. We’ve also found some directions and photos that may be of help. You can also check out Google maps to help you find your way to the Seokbulsa temple.

Samgwangsa Temple

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Samgwangsa temple stands at base of Baegyangsan Mountain and has a panoramic view of the city. Open 24 hours a day, it is located pretty centrally in Busan and is one of the most impressive temples to see around the time of Buddha’s birthday. Although it is worth a visit any time of the year with its expansive grounds, amazing scenery and hiking trails, the biggest draw happens once a year, in the weeks leading up to Buddha’s birthday. During this time, Samgwangsa Temple holds Busan’s largest Lotus Lantern Festival and the temple become an incredible display of light and colour as thousands of lanterns adorn the grounds providing a memorable experience and an amazing photo-op.

How to get to Samgwangsa Temple: Head to Seomyeon station and take exit 13. Take bus 81 to Seongyeong Apt stop. Click here to get there.

Tongdosa Temple

Tongdosa temple is one of the “Three Jewel Temples of Korea” and represents the Buddha although, unlike most temples, there are no statues or images of Buddha himself. Instead, it is famous for its relics since, legend has it, several of them, including Buddha’s skull and robe, are contained within temple grounds. The temple itself is the largest in Korea and is about 1500 years old. Near the entrance, there is a stream that is popular among locals and is a beautiful start to a visit to this popular and traditional temple. You’ll also find a restaurant within the grounds that offers Korean dishes and is a great spot to stop while visiting Tongdosa Temple.

How to get to Tongdosa Temple: Head to Yangsan Station and take bus number 12, 63 or 67 to Tongdosa Temple. Get directions to the temple.


Before you start your quest for the best temples in Busan, have you found a hotel in the area yet? If not, we have some of the best deals around. Just click below to head to Hotels Combined for the best hotel comparison site ever!

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If you already have a place to stay that’s great! All you have to do now is explore Busan and its magnificent temples.


Although we’ve rounded up 5 top temples, if you only had time to visit one of these temples, which one would it be?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Streets of Georgetown – An Artist’s Playground

It’s true, there’s some pretty amazing food virtually everywhere in Georgetown, Penang and we were told about it repeatedly before we travelled to Malaysia. What we weren’t told about however, was something we noticed for ourselves, pretty quickly, while walking the streets of this well-known city: an abundance of art displayed in just about any place a painting, drawing or sculpture could be managed.

From sides of shops and buildings to fire hydrants and posts, it seemed as though no matter where we went, an artist had left his mark. We found a plethora of murals and artistic renderings all around the streets of Georgetown, and, on occasion, on the inside of buildings as well. During our time in the city, we walked around taking a look at the incredible talent that was presented to us on some of the most unlikely of canvasses. 

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Finding An Unconventional Canvas in Malaysia

While seemingly scattered and at random, there are also several series of paintings, by the same artist, and with a similar theme. One such series of murals, by Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic, was painted during a 2012 festival and was titled “Mirrors George Town”. His artwork is truly incredible, often working iin aspects of the environment, like a bicycle or window, and can be found throughout the city centre, including Muntri Street, Armenian Street and Lebuh Leith.

penang street art murals by ernest zacharevic

georgetown street art by ernest zacharevic

In addition to the many murals created by Zacharevic, there is another series that is quite identifiable. A group of 52 welded iron wall caricatures have been commissioned, with approximately half already installed. These sculptures are humourous depictions of historical facts and usually placed near landmarks in the city.

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georgetown street art iron cartoons

We found them to be both educational and funny and made walking around the city entertaining. At times it felt like a treasure hunt, trying to find new sculptures that we hadn’t seen before! It was also like having a bit of a guide, giving away tidbits about the different streets and areas we passed.

wrought iron cartoons georgetown street art

wrought iron cartoons george town penang

We particularly liked the cartoon for Cannon street describing an actual cannon shot that occurred in this area! The cartoon says “A cannon shot fired during the 1867 Penang riots made a large hole in this area, hence the name”. You can find a complete list of murals by Ernest Zacharevic and the wrought iron cartoons, and their locations, by downloading the Street Art in George Town brochure by Tourism Penang

penang iron cartoons

The Contributions of Local Artists in Penang

There is also a lot of random artwork created by local artists that dot the streets of Georgetown and it added a welcoming, unique feel to the city. From large scale murals taking up an entire side of a building, to smaller scale pieces of work utilizing a building’s features, such as a window or door, each one is unique and interesting.

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georgetown penang street art girl mural

chinese painting georgetown penang

It’s incredible the amount of talent and effort each of these must have taken and it makes the Georgetown a truly remarkable place to walk through.

street art on penang building

There were even some unexpected surprises, like the painting of several characters around a window sill as we turned a corner, or the bear riding a bike that graced the wall of one of our favourite coffee shops.

window art penang georgetown

bear riding a bike penang coffee shop

This cat was perhaps one of the hardest to photograph, not because of its size, but because there seemed to be a steady flow of tourists lining up to take their photo with it. We managed to take a people-free photo on one of our last days in the city.

giant cat mural penang street art

Some we just weren’t too sure about – like the ‘Food Machine’ or the string cats that were attached to a post on the street (we thought that the way the shadows fell was pretty cool) – but they still managed to catch our eye!

odd painting penang street art

string cats penang street art

random art in penang

If you head to Penang, Malaysia, be sure to take time to wander around Georgetown. You’ll be amazed at the talent that graces the walls as you pass. Be sure to keep your eyes open though, as sometimes even something as unsuspecting as a fire hydrant can be turned into a work of art on the streets of Georgetown.

What do you think of street art? Comment below and let us know if you think it enhances an area or distracts from the cultural essence of a community.

Want to save this for later? Or share with others? In addition to the above images, you can hover on the top left corner of the below pin for the “Pin it” button and share on your Pinterest account!

 

georgetown penang street art

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Unique Things To Do In RioOff -The Beaten

The Wanderbaums caught our eye with their fantastic Instagram account, and once we read their blog, we knew we wanted to have them as guest bloggers! They’ve written more about their time in Rio de Janeiro on their blog but have put together a great round-up of off-the-beaten-path must-dos while there, including some more of their great photos! 

5 Unique Things To Do In Rio de Janeiro

rio de janeiro, rio beaches, brazil beaches, brazil

Thanks to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro is quickly popping up on everyone’s radar. By the end of August next year, people everywhere will be exposed to the breathtaking views, the culture, and the must see spots all over Rio.

We were fortunate enough to visit back in 2013 and still haven’t gotten over how amazing this city is! Not only for all the top attractions like Sugarloaf mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue, Copacabana beach and dining at an all-you-can-eat steak house, but also for the smaller, hidden experiences you can discover in a city of 6 million people.

We’ve put together our top 5 “off the beaten path” things to do in Rio.

1. Try Some Local Delicacies

rio juice, juice in brazil

We are self-proclaimed foodies and when we travel, we get serious when it comes to researching restaurants and local cuisine to try on the trip. Many guide books will make sure you are aware of the Brazilian classic dish, feijoada, which is a beef and stew lunch favorite and many times served with the national drink, a caipirinha (South American take on a margarita). Though those may be the most popular local choices, a couple of our favorite treats turned out to be dulce de leche churros and coconut water straight from the fruit, both sold right on the beach.

coconuts on the beach rio de janeiro

Brazilians are much more into juicing than coffee or tea so we stopped at several juice bars to get some fresh pressed juices. The açai berry is extremely popular here in the states, but it originates in Brazil so do yourself a favor and get an açai smoothie the second you arrive- and every day until you leave!

churros brazil, rio brazil,

As for real substance, we enjoyed Spanish tapas the most. We took a taxi to a place we researched and when we arrived, we got out, the taxi left and we weren’t in the right spot. So we walked down the street and found a different tapas restaurant set in a beautiful white house, Entre Tapas. We were the only non-Cariocas (cariocas are people from Rio) and relied heavily on origins of words to order from a Portuguese menu but we had some of the best authentic Spanish tapas ever! A pleasant happenstance indeed.

2. Hit Up A Hippie Market

hippie market rio, rio de janeiro

Hippie market, flea market, open-air market, whatever term you prefer, use it and find one in Rio! We were dropped at the Hippie fair in Ipenema and found a huge array of artisan products from handmade pottery and jewelry to mugs and t-shirts. We found some amazing art that was priced so well we wound up buying several pieces and bonus, most of it was unframed and worked well to pack in our luggage.

3. Checkout Escadaria Selarón

Selaron Brazil

This alley is pretty popular now thanks to Pinterest, but it’s most definitely a photo worthy stop. A little west of the city center is a winding pedestrian street with mosaic tile art covering the stairs leading up to the Saint Teresa neighborhood. Just don’t go too far up the path because they lead to a rough, impoverished area. The Selarón artwork is much more touristy now so safety is less of a concern, but being aware is just as important.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Venture Into the City Centre

rio de janeiro city center

Going into the heart of the city, where the locals work and live, is not great for English-only speakers, but it’s very doable to get by. I’m going to get on my soap box for a second so bare with me… Honestly, we came across many language barriers in Rio, but we were blessed with wonderfully friendly Cariocas that were willing to give us directions, help us understand the ordering system at restaurants, explain road signs for us and they did it with the friendliest smiles! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re lost or confused. Guide books can only help you for so long!

Travessa do Comercio rio de janeiro

Anyway back to the city center… It’s beautiful, full of gorgeous 17th and 18th century architecture and it has the most authentic spot for cafés and pastries. Specifically, the Travessa do Comércio area where the cobblestone alleyways are filled with restaurants and coffee shops. It sounds a lot more like Italy than Rio, but that’s what we loved about the city, so magnificently unexpected!

5. Explore A Different Beach

ipanema beach rio de janeiro

Most moderately priced hotels will be on Copacabana beach which is why many tourists stay put, but if you venture just a little south, along the coast line, you’ll hit Ipanema and Leblon beaches. If you like your space, Leblon tends to be less crowded and Ipanema is famous for its views of the twin brothers (Dois Irmãos) mountain. It’s worth the
visit just to see it at sunset.

Both areas offer restaurants and wonderful shopping just across the street from the sand. It’s like taking a taxi from Soho, New York and ending up at Miami beach… Does it get any better?

twin brothers rio de janeiro

If you plan to visit Rio de Janiero in the future, we hope these things make your list. Also, check out our detailed blog post about the more popular and frequented visited places in Rio.

 

Do you have a favourite off-the-beaten-path destination in Rio? Comment below and tell us about it!

 


From The Wanderbaums!

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If you are interested, please visit our site over at www.wanderbaums.weebly.com.

We also want to thank Carolann and Macrae for allowing us space on their site to tell you all about our Brazil trip! Thank you guys so much!!

Until Next Time, C + D


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Love Me Or Hate Me? Only Travel Will Tell!

Staring at each other across the candlelit table, goofy smiles on our faces and the feeling of the entire future opening up before you… that’s what it’s like during the first few months of a relationship.  Stumbling into a cement room, a hard bed the only piece of furniture, both of us sweaty, disheveled and cranky, looking at each other and knowing that if we don’t get something to eat, soon, we are going to start taking our misery out on each other… that’s being together after travelling 24/7 for months on end. No pretenses, no secrets, certainly no privacy, but an absolute bone-deep knowledge of who that other person is and a love for them despite, or maybe because, of it all.

Travel As A Couple

It’s Not All Sunshine & Roses… But It’s Worth It

Travelling as we do, we see each other at our best and at our absolute worst. We tell each other everything, no thought is spared – whether it’s expressing how happy we are to be sharing a particular moment together, revealing a previously untold thought or secret, or taking out our fatigue and hunger on the other person in a bout of temporary grumpiness.

Yup, we run the gamut of emotions while travelling and we often use each other as the means to release them. But even when we show up to less than impressive accommodations, after walking with our bags for hours, hunger gnawing at our stomachs and exhaustion draining us completely, we know that no matter what we say or how we act, we can be genuine to how we feel at the moment and the other won’t hold it against us.

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You enter into a relationship with a host of questions about who the other person is and expect to find those answers over time. Travelling together becomes an expedited version of that process and no matter how long you’ve been together, there’s always more to learn.

It’s been almost 9 months of full-time travel for us where almost every minute is spent with the other person and very few personal details remain private. We’ve learned a heck of a lot about each other during that time and while it hasn’t always been a piece of cake, our relationship has become stronger and deeper than either of us could have imagined.

What We’ve Learned As A Couple Through Travel

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Although travel isn’t the only way to grow as a couple, our relationship has grown in several main ways over the past 9 months, much of it owed to our travel experiences:

Trust

While we never had problems with trust before we ventured out on full-time travel, we’ve learned to trust each other on a deeper level than we thought possible. While travelling, the other person becomes the one thing you can count on in an ever-changing environment that is unfamiliar and often unsteady. We rely on each other and trust each other completely, with every thought, feeling, decision, and action.

Communication

We’ve learned that there is always room for improvement when it comes to communication skills, whether it is expressing how you feel or learning to listen to what the other person is saying. While travelling a number of situations and circumstances arise and communication is key to having as stress-free and enjoyable time as possible. We try and communicate openly and honestly (something that ties into trust) and try and receive what the other person is saying with equal openness. It’s not always easy, it’s not always perfect, but we’ve learned a lot about each other and can often understand what the other person is thinking or feeling without any words needed. We’ve become “tuned-in” to the other person so much so that even while scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand, we were able to communicate our thoughts through random hand movements not at all like the standard ones used to convey messages to your dive partner.

Compromise

Many times compromise is thought of as finding a middle-ground between two opposite choices and sometimes it is, but more often than not it’s about making small sacrifices for the other person. For the most part we are pretty much in harmony with what we want to do and where we want to go but there have been times when one of us wanted to go somewhere that the other person was not especially thrilled about going. Compromise then becomes a matter of one person deciding to forgo their momentary desires to make the other happy. We’ve learned to balance between these decisions, communicating our feelings on a subject and making compromises along the way.

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Closeness & Familiarity

Think about everything you do in a day, week or month. From daily routines, both public and private, to illness, moods and the like. Now, think about spending almost all your waking (and sleeping) moments with another person during these times. It is impossible not to begin to know pretty much EVERYTHING about the other person and this sets the tone for honesty and familiarity. A different sense of closeness and familiarity starts developing.

Ties That Bond

We have shared some incredible moments together and developed memories that have little meaning or comprehension outside of our relationship. We’ve developed a bond through each country we’ve travelled and each memory that has been formed. Sure, this happens in any relationship and even before we started full-time travel, but while we’ve been at it there has been a non-stop barrage of experiences and memories that we share together.

How We Make It Work

Mark Twain once wrote, in Tom Sawyer Abroad, “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

Whether short- or long- term, travelling as a couple can be a time of huge growth and bonding. During our full-time travels together, we have come to completely depend on, and utterly trust, each other. We share amazing experiences, help each other through the hardships and grow, closer together, with each day.

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But as we mentioned, it isn’t always easy. We’ve gotten to be pretty in-sync with each other’s thoughts and feelings while travelling and we are, in our opinion, pretty compatible travel partners. Many people told us that this was the ultimate test of our relationship, and in some ways perhaps it was.

We like to think of it as less of a test and more of an opportunity to challenge ourselves as individuals and as partners, to work on our personal development and the growth of our relationship. It forced us to be vulnerable around each other and to see if we were able to work together through both good times and bad times.

How do we make it work?

Well, like any relationship, it takes work and effort. In addition to the aforementioned skills we’ve improved upon, here are some more things we try to do that help us while travelling together:

Take Time out

Since the work we do now is pretty much 24/7, we try and make time for each other by putting down the camera, the phone, the computer and just enjoying each others’ company. We even try to make sure we make time to have date nights and celebrate milestones in our work and life.

Let Go of the small things

When things go wrong, or not as expected – especially when you are travel weary, tired and hungry – it’s hard not to get frustrated. We’ve learned to deal better with these situations by trying to go with the flow and worrying less about planning and having those plans play out seamlessly. Things aren’t always going to work perfectly, but we are doing what we love and we are doing it together.

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Socialize

It’s very easy to become isolated when you are travelling as a couple. Really, there’s no need to seek out social interaction or meet new people when you already have someone with you. We try not to get accustomed to only spending time with each other and seek out people to meet – whether it’s fellow travel bloggers in the same area, people on Couchsurfing willing to meet and show you around local areas, or various websites and apps that bring people together in various “meet ups”. It’s a great way to share different experiences and, let’s face it, to find new things to talk about!

Understand Your Moods

We’ve learned, quickly, that we are generally in a bad mood when we are over-hungry (hangry as we call it) and that if you add sleepy to the mix, foul moods are guaranteed. We try and eat when our hunger first hits, or keep some snacks on hand, and we definitely have become more understanding of each other and the reason behind the moods we are in while on the road.

scuba underwater

Respecting Differences

We work to build on our skills as individuals, and as a couple, and find ways to balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as our likes and dislikes. For instance, Carolann usually lets Macrae do all the navigating while on the road. He seems to be able to find his way anywhere and know exactly where he is at any given moment. Similarly, Macrae usually lets Carolann navigate the metro systems. Once we’re in those subway tunnels, or train stations, it’s her show and she seems to be able to easily remember station names, directions and stops. We also try to appreciate and respect those differences.

Inspire Each Other

We try and motivate each other to try new things, whether it is new food, new activities or learning new skills. In this way, we have new experiences together and also help each other to grow. It’s a great way to bond but we always make sure to respect the boundaries the other person has when it comes to trying new things.

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Common Goals

We also work towards common goals. We’ve built a business together and we both strive to be successful in what we do and the goals we have set for ourselves. We’ve established something that we both want to work hard for, and work hard for, together. By working hand-in-hand, we’re able to accomplish more than just one of us would.

Work Through Disagreements

It would be great to say we never disagree and that we always look at each other with hearts in our eyes and smiles on our faces… that would be a terrible lie. There are times when we’re too tired, too stressed, or too frustrated to keep up a cheerful disposition. It’s during these times that we’ve learned not to go on the defensive. More and more we try and understand the motivation behind the other person’s mood and we’ve gotten better and better at helping the other person out of a slump. Sometimes, we just have to joke or laugh it off when the other person’s habits or behaviours get us frustrated because, to be honest, it’s those same behaviours that we also find endearing.

It’s Not Just About Travel As A Couple

scorpion tail river cruise, chiang mai river cruise, ping river cruise, wagoners abroad, wagonersabroad.com

While travelling together has strengthened our relationship, it’s not always for everyone, nor is it always possible. We’ve been fortunate to meet so many people on the road travelling in their own way: solo travel, family travel, friends, couples, long-term, short-term, and the list goes on.

Want to travel as a family? We met one of the most incredible families in Thailand, the Wagoners (of Wagoners Abroad). Read what they have to say about how travel has changed them as individuals and as a family.

Want to travel solo? We’ve crossed paths with so many solo travellers and, while it may be a scary thought at first, seems to be one of the most liberating and incredible experiences. While we haven’t met Michael of Bemused Backpacker but we hope to one day! He wrote a great post on “Why Solo Travel is Awesome” and we happen to agree with all of his points!

Emily of Home Behind The World Ahead and Annemarie of Travel On The Brain were two inspiring female solo travellers we were fortunate enough to meet.

Want to read what other people have to say about travel as a couple? We recently contributed to a post about travelling as a couple for another travel blogging duo, Megan and Andrew of Hearts Around the Globe.

 

What do you think the biggest challenge is when travelling with another person? Comment below and let us know!

 

 

 

 

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Our 5 Favourite Places to Eat in Chiang Mai

Everyone can cook amazing food in Northern Thailand, or at least that’s how it seems, meal after meal, enjoying pretty much every dish we order regardless of where we eat in Chiang Mai. Whether it was from a street vendor, a food court, or a nice sit-down restaurant on a busy tourist street we would always be served a meal worth noting, and because of that, trying to find the best places to eat in Chaing Mai is a tough task… so we are going to show you our favorite places to eat in Chiang Mai.

Even the time we rolled up to the seediest looking of street vendors, because we were absolutely starving, and found flying ants (flants) in our soup. We may have stopped eating after we found the 5th flant but it was still pretty darn good soup!

best places to eat in chiang mai

So what does one do, and where does one go ? when the options are absolutely endless and you are presented with a veritable smorgasbord of food choices?

We stayed in Chiang Mai for the better part of a month and while that doesn’t give us nearly enough time to visit even a fraction of the places to eat, we definitely managed to try quite a few. We’ve narrowed down five of our top places to eat in Chiang Mai, each offering a different dining experience or fare.

Places To Eat in Chaing Mai:

Best Thai Restaurant In Chiang Mai – Suwee

suwee restaurant chiang mai, cashew nut chicken, best restaurant in chiang mai

Suwee haunts our dreams. Not that we admit to dreaming about food that often, but when we do, it’s generally this restaurant that takes the stage. Not only is Suwee the best Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai but it’s safe to say it’s our favorite restaurant in the world, no other Thai restaurant can or will compare. South of the main city, located in Hang Dong, Suwee restaurant is a typical plastic chair, plastic table cloth, local restaurant. The food however, is anything but typical. Formerly a chef for a hotel in Chiang Mai, the owner decided to venture out on his own and open up Suwee restaurant with his wife – and boy are we glad he did!

We stayed the majority of the time at an Airbnb guesthouse around the corner from Suwee and as such, were able to frequent the restaurant to our hearts content. We should note that even when we stayed clear on the other side of the city, we still made the long and arduous drive for a meal when we could.

pork chiang mai, food in chiang mai

We ended up trying almost every Thai dish on their menu and were unable to find fault with a single one. Our favourites were the cashew nut chicken and the fried kale and crispy pork (for only about 50-90 baht per dish and each dish is easily shareable between two people!), but virtually any choice will leave you satisfied and thinking about when you’ll next be able to visit. We were hesitant to write about this secret gem as we were concerned about an influx of tourists but really, we can’t keep this one to ourselves – it’s too good not to share! It’s the best food in Chiang Mai!

Suwee Restaurant

As this is a local, plastic chair restaurant, their presence online is pretty much non-existent. Instead of a site, we’ve provided a dropped pin on Google maps, that will allow you to get right to the restaurant!

Best Coffee Shop In Chiang Mai with culinary masterpieces – Namton’s House Bar

Namtons House Bar Coffee

We’ve already written about Namton’s in our post on the top five places to find good coffee in northern Thailand, but it really is such a great place to eat that we couldn’t miss adding it to this list!

While staying at the Swiss Lanna Lodge in Chiang Mai, we found ourselves in another part of town and without any clue where to find the best places to eat in Chiang Mai. One of the staff members at Swiss Lanna recommended Namton’s, down the road and we decided to try it out one night for dinner.

The food was spectacular and the self-taught chef created some culinary masterpieces at incredibly reasonable prices. From their salmon sashimi salad to their roast teriyaki chicken and wedge potatoes, it’s a place you will not only remember, but will be looking to go back again, and to us it has the best coffee in Chiang Mai!

How To Get To Namton’s House Bar: Check out the map on this unofficial Namton’s House Bar Facebook page for location and directions.

 Bar And Food In Chiang Mai Old Town- Tiger Kingdom, In Town

Tiger Kingdom In Town Chiang Mai

When it comes to looking where to eat in Chiang Mai, we generally avoid tourist locations, especially restaurants, unless they come highly recommended. We prefer local atmosphere, food and, let’s be honest, prices and we enjoy immersing ourselves in a culture rather than finding the typical hangouts for foreigners.

We made the exception for Tiger Kingdom In Town. Not to be confused with the actual Tiger Kingdom filled where visitors can pet the large felines, In Town came recommended and we liked it so much we ended up going back for drinks later during our time in Chiang Mai.

thai food chiang mai restaurants tiger kingdom in town

The food is good Thai-style cuisine at relatively inexpensive prices, especially for a tourist locale. There is also a great selection of beer and drinks and with live music and a consistent crowd, it’s a great place to hangout with fellow expats and tourists, and since it’s in such a great location in the middle of Chiang Mai old city, it has some great Chiang Mai night life, with live entertainment almost every night.

How To Get To Tiger Kingdom In Town: Check out the map on this unofficial Tiger Kingdom In Town Facebook page for location and directions

A great change of pace – SP Chicken

sp chicken chiang mai

While it is tucked away from the main activity in Chiang Mai’s old city, SP chicken is definitely worth a visit. Serving some delicious rotisserie chicken which you can watch being cooked on a spit in the front of the restaurant, this was a welcome change to the typical fare we had been eating.

The meal came almost as soon as we had ordered and the chicken was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with some great Thai dishes for sides.

sp chicken best restaurant chiang mai

The prices are incredibly reasonable and it is a talked-about favourite among locals and tourists. Careful though, there are several different “SP Chickens”, or look-a-likes, and it’s the original you’ll want to try first!

How To Get To SP Chicken: Check out the map on SP Chicken’s TripAdvisor Page for location and directions.

A Thai cultural experience – Street vendors & markets

street food thailand chiang mai

Probably some of the best priced, tastiest food you’ll enjoy in Thailand will be found right on the streets. From meat skewers to soup, bugs to pancakes, you’ll find an assortment of different dishes served along the side of the city’s streets and, especially, at the night markets.

Markets will allow you to try a little bit of ‘this and that’, while vendors serving soups and other sit-down style dishes offer delicious local meals at incredibly low prices.

chiang mai best restaurants night market

You’ll be able to experience an interesting aspect of Thai culture and tourism in Thailand, walking the stalls of merchandise and watching the buskers in the street while eating or sitting down with locals at a street stand and dining on some of the best roadside food you’ll ever have.

Words of caution: look for stalls and vendors that seem busy and, particularly, where locals can be found. If you stick to this, you’ll most likely avoid any ‘flant-in-soup’ issues!

How To Find Street Vendors/Night Markets: Night markets are much everywhere in Chiang Mai!! Some great markets to check out would be the Warorot Market, the Sunday Night Market and, if you are in the area, Hang Dong’s Night Market (held once a week).

 

Have you been to Chiang Mai? Comment below and let us know where your favourite place to eat was!

If not, let us know how you usually find good restaurants to eat at while travelling to new places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Craft Beer Paradise in Busan

Part art, part science but complete dedication and skill. What is it that combines the talent of an artist, the palate of a connoisseur, the scientific ingenuity of a chemist, biologist and physicist? It may sound strange, but we’ve discovered that some of the most interesting creations are produced in microbreweries. In Busan, we found it in one place in particular.

Galmegi Brewery – An Evening of Beer & Food

best beer busan, microbrewery busan, best restaurant busan

Stepping through the door into the first floor of Galmegi Brewery in Busan, South Korea, we had no idea that in a short time we’d not only be tasting some great brew, but also enjoying one truly delicious meal.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we enjoy Korean food and soju but at some point you’ve ingested enough Kimchi and hard liquor to say you’ve truly experienced Korean cuisine. Added to that, there’s a culture developing in Korea that involves international cuisine and an increasing demand for good tasting beer that can’t be found in the mainstream, major brewers’ repertoire of beer options. In this then, we were up for trying a different side of Korea’s culinary scene.

galmegi brewery craft beer busan, best microbrewery korea

Just a short walk from Gwangalli Beach, the casual atmosphere and the clean, unpretentious decor of Galmegi Brewery was friendly and inviting. Passing the downstairs bar, complete with a windowed backdrop giving a glimpse at the brewery behind, we headed upstairs to the main dining area and took a seat at a table with a view out of the large floor-to-ceiling windows. The second floor was equally as comfortable and welcoming as the downstairs was, with another bar area and more seating.

galmegi brewery, craft beer korea, best craft beer busan

The menu makes it clear that they take their craft beer seriously. With 10 of their own beers available (although the actual number may vary depending on new and seasonal options), there’s a great variety of flavours for all beer drinkers.  Their prices are also incredibly reasonable and you can tell they aim to provide a great, and honest, experience. We went with the sampler which gave us 4 half pints of different beer for only 12,000 won ($10.75 USD)

The four beers included Lighthouse Blonde, which was Carolann’s favourite and was light, soft and refreshing with a hint of citrus; Moonrise Pale Ale, a slightly tart, fruity and hoppy beer; Galmegi IPA a refreshing, hoppy and sharper beer, a little drier than the Moonrise; and Espresso Vanilla Stout, which was Macrae’s favourite and was a richer beer with a wonderfully blended coffee (which explains why it was Macrae’s favourite) and vanilla flavour.

craft beer south korea, best craft beer busan, microbrewery korea, best restaurant busan

Throughout our evening, we also tried several of their other craft beers including their Black Jindo Imperial Stout, Doljanchi IIPA and soon-to-be added Campfire. Each one offered another variety of flavours and we enjoyed them all.

The food options are also a testament to their focus on the microbrewery: extensive enough to provide a variety of choices with options that compliment the beer but not an overwhelming amount to overshadow the highlighted beer menu.

Their appetizers, or “bites”, include chips and dips, fries, fried chicken, salad and a charcuterie board and many of their dips and sauces, such as the Sriracha mayo and sweet & spicy sauce, pay homage to Northeast Asian flavours. We chose the Piselli Pizza (14,000 won or $12.50 USD) and, since it is the true test of a good burger, the Classic Burger (13,000 won/about 11.70 USD)

galmegi brewery, best pizza busan, best restaurant busan

The Piselli Pizza arrived with the onslaught of a wonderful aroma. A fairly large-sized thin crust pizza topped with pesto, mozzarella and feta cheese, salami and lemon. It was cooked perfectly, leaving a delicious crust with a great taste of its own, and the toppings provided wonderfully blended flavours. It didn’t take us long to polish off the slices.

best burgers busan, best restaurant busan, best restaurant korea

The Classic Burger had mouth-watering layers of beef patty, tomato, lettuce, cheese, bacon, mustard and ketchup and was presented with a side of fries. One bite into this thick, juicy burger and we knew this was a little more than a classic burger. Carolann, a self-proclaimed burger connoisseur (don’t forget, she’s been published for burger reviews in Koh Phangan, Thailand!), describes it as more of a classic burger – with a twist.

The surprising maple flavour of the bacon worked incredibly well with the combination of simpler condiments as did the mustard, which was more of a mustard seed spread and was void of the sharper, more sour flavour of regular mustard or even classic dijons. The fries were also flavourful, with a slight hint of smoked hickory and spice.

After a first taste of each of the 4 beers in the sampler, we could see ourselves becoming regulars. After we tasted the food, we knew we’d be back before we left Busan.

Mastering the Craft of Craft Beer in Busan

microbrewery busan, craft beer korea

One of the great things about Galmegi Brewery is that all the action happens in-house, which means that if you are visiting on a quieter night, and you are interested, they will be more than happy to give you a tour of the brewery and explain the process. While it was a Wednesday night and apparently “quiet”, there was still a steady and consistent stream of people but we were able to take a look at the microbrewery and learn about brewing craft beer and the business of craft beer in Korea.

It was through discovering the process of producing the beer and creating the flavours that we learned there is a lot more to brewing than we had realized and it’s evident that the brewers at Galmegi Brewery have a passion for what they do and a pride in the quality of beer they produce.

best craft beer korea, craft beer busan, best restaurant busan

For a microbrewery, there is the continual innovation of new tastes and flavour combinations and the task of recreating popular creations. With that comes the challenges of biology in the yeast strains, chemistry in the composition and production of the beer and the mechanics of the maintenance of the equipment and machinery. No small task this even, or perhaps especially, in the smaller setting of microbreweries.

We had an amazing night at Galmegi Brewery and will definitely be visiting again before we leave Busan. It’s a place to which you would want to keep coming back, with a menu chalk full of quality craft beers, that is consistently serving favourites, as well as frequently offering new beers, and a list of delicious food to compliment the variety of tastes, all served in a unique and welcoming atmosphere.

Do you prefer the creative flavours of craft beers or do you tend to stick to one brand label you know and love? Comment below and let us know!

 


 

You Can Do It Too

In Busan? Head to Galmegi Brewery for a truly memorable experience. You can also check out their menu online and keep an eye out for the new types of beer as they are added!

Galmegi Brewery

부산광역시 수영구 광남로 58, 613-813
58 Gwangan-ro, Suyeong, Busan 613-813

Phone: 010-4469-9658

Hours:

Tuesday-Saturday: 6pm – midnight

Sunday: 6pm – 11pm

Or, check out their other location just around the corner, serving their amazing varieties of beer and a lighter menu:

Gwangan Taphouse

부산광약시 수영구 남천바다로 3-4 세진진빌딩 3층
3-4 Namcheon 2(i)-dong, Suyeong-gu, Busan, South Korea

Phone: 010-4469-9658

Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 6pm – midnight

Friday: 6pm – 1 am

Saturday & Sunday: 1pm – 1am

 


 

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Chinese New Year – Beyond The Red Envelope

We know it’s been a while since Chinese New Year but we wanted to share the amazing time we had spending New Year with our Taipei roomie’s family in Hsinchu (just south of Taipei). We spent 6 days filled with food, family, sightseeing, and a large amount of karaoke in between. It was a truly incredible experience to share such an important holiday with their entire family and we will never forget their kindness and generosity during our stay.

Our First Chinese New Year… With A Bang!

chinese new year, hsinchu taiwan, taiwan new year

Before we were invited to celebrate Chinese New Year we had no idea what to expect. The only thing we really knew was that there was a tradition of giving money-stuffed red envelopes to the youngest generation from the elders. We were about to party with a family we didn’t even know and celebrate a holiday, we had only Googled.

Once we arrived, and stepped off the super-fast bullet train from Taipei, we were instantly greeted by some of our friend’s family. Without hesitation, they began what would become a week long effort to show us the sights of Hsinchu and keep us incredibly well-fed. They took us to the closest night market to grab a quick bite of some “Famous” dumplings and showed us the unbelievable Taiwanese generosity by not letting us pay and making sure we were full and satisfied before we left (this was a recurring theme throughout our week-long stay).

Chinese New Year a week-long celebration

hakka food, hakka taiwan, taiwanese food, taiwan, chinese new year

We discovered that Chinese New Year, while it is a time for families to get together, revolves mainly around food. Okay, its pretty much all about the food! Everyday we were picked up from one location and dropped off to the next, and every place we stopped had a spread that was a literal feast.

Chicken, pork, rice and beef all cooked the “Hakka” way (Hakka people are a culture to their own, with their own language, food, and traditions); sides of various veggies was a usual sight as well, filling the tables to the point where we didn’t even know where we should sit as there was little room to even put our plates.

While hakka food is different from Taiwanese food, there are some similar dishes. We’ve written about our experiences with Taiwanese food in great detail.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with a Bang

bamboo cannon, taiwan, chinese new year

Food isn’t the only things that Chinese New Year is about. Of course, family is important, but so are, apparently, firecrackers. For 6 days and nights, even up until 4am, people shot-off various firecrackers and noise makers seamlessly and without a break. We heard the sounds of bottle-rockets and cherry bombs throughout the night… every night.

On one particular day we were told that we were going to head up to the family cabin in the mountain and make, as we were told in English, “a bomb”. Although slightly concerned, we knew there was probably a less frightening sounding translation.

We quickly learned that the Chinese word for a cannon is ‘da pao’ (pronounced dah-pow) which should not be mistaken for the ‘dah pao’ that is translated to sex (though this might be slang – we’re not too sure). Unfortunately, we have a limited ability to pronounce the various Chinese tones and so we’re pretty sure we mixed the two up on more than one occasion.

hakka family, hakka, taiwan, taiwan ,hsinchu

 

Not too soon after arriving at the cabin, Macrae and our friend Marko were sent into the forest to cut down some bamboo for the elders to chop into 6 foot pieces, pour some sort of flammable liquid in, and light with a torch to create a big bang – much like a cannon, hence the previous description of creating a “bomb”.

Macrae was called up to light this sketchy bamboo cannon at one point and the entire process was camptured on camera. Check it out:

 

Party Like Its The Year Of The Goat

drinking tea in taiwan

We’re pretty sure it’s always a large party no matter what year it is, but this year happened to be the year of the goat (or sheep) and day three of festivities was the day of Auntie’s” big party. Over 50 people showed up for another Hakka feast.

Tables were lined with food, there was high quality tea tasting with a traditional tea ceremony and people drinking Taiwanese whiskey, There was also some unbelievably great live performances from family and friends. And, of course, we ended the night with karaoke.

This is how a celebration should be. sometimes we feel that back in North America we’ve forgotten how to have a good time  it seems, at least to us, that as the years pass on, people are more eager to head home early and not stick around family functions anymore and it was nice to see the festivities continue well into the evening.

Teahouse in the Mountain

goose head mountain taiwan, taiwan, hsinchu,

We usually found out what was on our daily itinerary the day of, or night before. For the overnight trip on the fourth day, we were told a day ahead of time that we were heading to the mountain for the night. No one really understood what mountain, but as we think about it, we didn’t ask much about it.

We knew what ever our new Taiwanese family had in store for us would be a great time, and we were right! We headed up the mountain in the middle of the day, making some pretty hair raising turns along the way.

hakka family, hsinchu, taiwan chinese new year

 

Making it to the top, we were told that the mountains name is “Goose Head Mountain” (at least that’s what we think they were saying). Anyway, Goose Head Mountain is a place where they grow a delicate green tea called Oriental Beauty, which we tried at Aunty’s house a few times and really enjoyed it (she sells this amazing green tea and many others). After being exposed to it several times, we knew this tea really well and so we were excited to see where it was grown.

tea ceremony, taiwan, hsinchu

We quickly learned that the cabin we were staying in was the only one on the mountain and was owned by the family that grew the tea. All of the tourists at the coffee shops and restaurants on the mountain were heading home for the evening while we got to stay and have a giant feast of fish, pork, chicken, veggies and so much more. It feels like we stayed up all night eating, laughing and of course KARAOKE!!!  
 

What We Now Know about Chinese New Year

taiwan blossoms, taiwan hsinchu

Heading in to this adventure we knew nothing about Chinese New Year. We still don’t know enough but what we definitely know is how to party and eat our way through it. We had a blast with our new Taiwanese family and couldn’t have felt more accepted. We will never forget these wonderful 6 days or the friends we made throughout them.

Have you ever celebrated Chinese New Year? If so, comment below and let us know where and how! If not, where would you like to celebrate it if you could?

 

You can do it too!

Don’t be afraid to join in on something you know nothing about. Most people are happy and willing to teach you their ways. So keep an open mind and be willing to do anything.

You can visit our Taiwanese family too!

Taiwanese Auntie is always welcoming new people into her home and heart. If you’re in Hsinchu and you want to visit this lovely woman and her family, leave a comment below, and who knows, you could be teaching English at one of her schools or camping out on her lawn for a few nights.

 

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