As we travel, we realise that we’re constantly comparing the differences between different countries and cities we’ve been to, so Tim and I bring you our very own Unofficial Asia Travel Awards. We have visited: Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India. We must mention that these are our own person experiences, and I am sure other people will experience these countries differently. But more than anything else, this is just a bit of fun!
Unofficial Asia Travel Awards
Money and shopping
- Most expensive: Hong Kong (by far!)
- Cheapest: Vietnam
- Hardest to draw bigger denominations of money from ATMs: Vietnam & Laos
- Best use of credit/payment cards: Hong Kong
- Cheapest credit/debit card when travelling: Revolut: interbank-rate & no big withdrawal fees.
- Worst use of credit cards: Vietnam & Laos
- Biggest money saver: Using HomeExchange.com for accommodation
- Best shopping for luxury goods: Hong Kong
- Best shopping for souvenirs: Hoi An. Runner up: Gili Trawangan.
Food and drink
- Healthiest food: Vietnamese food
Best street food: Bangkok
- Best restaurant: Nū Eatery, Hoi An and Din Tai Fung, Hong Kong.
- Best and worst market food: Eathai, Bangkok. We had a brilliant meal here and a completely inedible one. But my suggestion: eat street food on the streets in Bangkok!
- Worst breakfast: free (included) breakfasts in Sri Lanka
- Best local breakfast: String hoppers buffet, Sri Lanka
- Most disappointing coffee: Laos
- Best coffee: Vietnam. They win in all classes: black coffee, condensed milk vietnamese coffee, hot coffee, cold coffee!
- Worst hot drink: Indian Masala tea. I don’t understand how anyone can like it. Made with boiled milk. Ugh
- Best bread: Vietnam
- Best dessert: It’s a tie: Mango sticky rice & Steamed coconut and pandan tarts
- Best beer: Bira in India. They made 3 beers: wheat, white, strong. All three are very good!
- Weirdest food: Vietnamese ballut egg (duck egg embryo!)
Worst bread: Bangkok, Thailand
- Cheapest beer: Fresh beer at Cafe 43, Hoi An. (10p per glass)
- Best sweet snack: Egg waffles in Hong Kong
- Best smoothie: Avocado smoothies in Vietnam.
- Worst fruit: Durian. Yuck.
We haven’t eaten much western foods, but here is the best western food we’ve eaten
- Best cake: Zuka, Pondicherry, India. Close second: Dingo Deli, Hoi An, Vietnam
- Best pizza: An Bang beach, Hoi An, Vietnam.
- Best burger: Jim’s Snack Bar, Hoi An, Vietnam
- Best chips (and gravy!): Jim’s Snack Bar, Hoi An, Vietnam
Scenery and surroundings
- Best view: Hong Kong Disneyland fireworks each night from our balcony. (Again thanks to HomeExchange.com)
- Prettiest place: Hoi An, Vietnam. A Unesco world heritage site, adorned with local silk lanterns. Stunning place!
- Ugliest place: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). A big sprawl of a city with very few endearing qualities!
- Worst traffic: Bangkok
- Worst pollution: Hanoi Old Town (but sure it would have been Delhi if that was on our route this time!)
- Funniest signs: Hong Kong
- Best beach: We haven’t been to any amazing beaches, but Gili, Lombok is a beautiful, picture perfect tropical island.
- Best snorkelling: Gili Islands, Indonesia (off Lombok)
- Worst beach: Pondicherry, South India. There are lots of open sewers and that water has to go somewhere!
- Best Park: Lian Park, Hong Kong
- Most spectacular scenery: A few places need a mention.
- Vietnam: Ha Long Bay (in sunshine!)
- Vietnam: Trang An
- Vietnam: Train from Hue to Da Nang
- Laos: Kuang Si waterfalls
- Laos: View of the Mekong River
- Sri Lanka: Train journey Nuwara Eliya to Ella though tea plantations
- Sri Lanka: Little Adams Peak
- Hong Kong: views from Victoria Peak
- Biggest Buddha: Hong Kong
- Most uncomfortable chairs: teeny, tiny, lilliput style chairs on pavements in Vietnam
People and behaviours
- Unfriendliest place: India. It feels like you’re stared at, many a times in a very hostile manner!
Best drivers: Vietnam, because they drive a lot slower. Even if they did crash into you, they probably wouldn’t kill you.
- Worst drivers: India. Fast aggressive driving. Unsafe overtaking. As a passenger you need to do a lot of praying!
- Individual best driver: Thuminda from Eagle Eye Holidays, Sri Lanka – more a guide than a driver!
- Individual worst driver: Driver from Chennai to Pondicherry – very aggressive driver.
- Worst customer service: Laos
- Place we felt most unsafe: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, due to pickpockets. No threat to personal safety anywhere we’ve been.
- Religion of nicest people we met: Buddhist
- Most unreliable advertising messaging: India. It’s on the pamphlet, and the website, and the sign … but they don’t offer it!
- Scariest experience: Indian driving
- Friendliest place: Vietnam is definitely the friendliest country, with Hoi An the friendliest city.
- Worst experience: being poisoned by our hotel in Hanoi!
Best customer service: Vietnam – especially Full House Villa, Hoi An. (But overall, customer service is poor in Asia)
- Best music: Reggae music in Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia
- Worst tourist fashion: banana print clothing in Hoi An (and other fruits!)
- Worst use of plastic: Bangkok, Thailand. Everything goes in a bag in a bag, and they insist on giving you plastic straws and spoons even if you don’t need them.
Navigation and connectivity
- Easiest for SIM cards: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia
- Worst for SIM cards: India – by far!
- Best internet speeds: Indonesia
- Worst internet speeds: Laos
- Best free wifi options: Indonesia & Vietnam
- Worst free wifi options: India
- Worst country for Netflix: Indonesia! Netflix isn’t available in Indonesia
- Best public transport: Hong Kong (but expensive)
- Most accessible public transport: Hoi An by bicycle
- Cheapest journey: Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya to Ella, 3rd class, Rp60 (£0.30 / $0.40 / R5.65)
- Most unlikely thing to see on a motorbike: Joint tie between a fridge (!!) and a giant honeycomb.
- Worst cooking class: Kumquat Cooking class, Hoi An, Vietnam. They were completely unprepared for our class, and the experience, as a result, was poor.
- Best tour: tie between Street Food Tour in Hoi An (thank you Nancy!) and Street Food Tour in Hanoi via Hanoi Kids (thank you Tung!)
- Best initiatives: There are a few to mention, but all have the objective of teaching children English
- Best local experience: picnic at Kuang Si falls with extended family of Done, who runs the Sunrise Classroom
- Worst local experience: Vietnamese Karaoke – especially as most people who take part, can’t sing!
- Best bicycles for rent: Hoi An, Vietnam
- Best men’s haircut: Bangkok. (Haven’t found a good ladies’ hairdresser!)
- Best gel nails: Bangkok (but expensive!)
- Worst gel nails: Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia (No gel nails in Pondicherry!)
- Best massage: foot massage in Luang Prabang, Laos
- Worst massage: back and head massage in Luang Prabang, Laos!
- Funniest massage: fish spa in Luang Prabang. I had to give up after 5 mins of non-stop hysterical giggling!
- Most disappointing experience: waiting up until 2 am for a Meteor Shower, then it clouded over at 2.05 am!
- Best “feel good” experience: teaching kids and monks (!!) in Luang Prabang, Laos
- Best toilets: Hong Kong (by a mile!)
- Worst toilets: Laos (but I might revise this once I have been in India for longer)
- Special achievement award for outstanding toilet: Bangkok (posh toilets at Central Embassy Mall)
- Relatively most expensive accommodation: Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
- Best doctor: Hoi An, Vietnam
- Worst doctor: Bangkok, Thailand (She was from the UK!)
- Cheapest doctor: Dermatologist in Pondicherry, India (Rp250 / $3.80 / R55 for consultation, Rp65 for prescription)
- Best pharmacist: Luang Prabang, Laos
- Worst pharmacist: Bangkok, Thailand. Gave me anti-anxiety tablets instead of anti-histamine!
- Best local medicine: Hong Linh Cot – active ingredient is snake venom!
- Most accessible over the counter medicine: Laos (no prescriptions needed, just contact PushDoctor and find out what you need)
- Dirtiest: India (by far!)
- Cleanest: Hong Kong Island (by far!)
- Stinkiest: Tie between Bangkok, Thailand and Pondicherry, India. Both cities have “canals” … read “open sewers”
- Best laundry facilities: Luang Prabang, Laos
- Hardest every day item to find: Nail file in Vietnam
- Best Thunderstorm: Ho Tram, Vietnam. It probably helped that we stayed in a luxury villa (thanks to HomeExchange.com), and we had views almost to all sides.
- Worst storm: Hong Kong. We were so excited when they declared a T8 Typhoon warning, as we were keen to experience a big storm. But it was downgraded and we barely had a storm at all.
- Hottest weather: Hoi An, Vietnam
- Coolest weather: Sri Lanka Hill Country. Pondicherry is a close second when it’s raining.
Happy to share our winners and losers in any other categories. You tell us what you want to know, and we’ll amend the post to incorporate the answers!
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