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Top 7 Experiences Traveling Vietnam As A Digital Nomad

‘Travelling across Vietnam wasn’t just a tour, it was a tale’, said Oliver Astrologo (check out his video of Vietnam here!), For me, traveling Vietnam was a life-time experience perceived by not just a Vietnamese, but one that has traveling and lived abroad for years. Exploring Vietnam got me from being curious to thrilled and shocked to see Vietnam. After traveling throughout Europe and living as a marketing student turned digital nomad for 5 years, I came back to my country to explore my routes and to seek the ‘feeling of being home again’! I did not know my own country has been this beautiful, and these best things I could imagine as a traveler were happening right next to me, but nowhere further as I was searching for adventures. Here are the best experiences traveling Vietnam to me as a digital nomad, and probably many other travelers who have been to the country where there is way much more than just remainings from the war with Americans.

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Cruising through Ha Long Bay UNESCO Heritage

A must-visit destination in Northern Vietnam is without double Halong Bay. You can choose a luxurious cruise, or book a day tour on the spot, both of which are great! You probably wont know where to start as Ha Long is too big and almost every travel agencies in Hanoi would try to sell you tours or party cruises. Just make sure not to miss out important spots such as Thien Cung Cave and Lan Ha Bay (close to Ha Long Bay, near Cat Ba Island). Kayaking is a must-do. Jumping from the cliff is possible, but optional.

You probably wont like it for the first time to visit Ha Long! For many people, the bay looks overcrowded and dirty as you kayak through some corners. However, having traveled to Halong for several times, I could see the different beauty of the bay: whether during the mystic spring time or through magical sunset.
Top experiences traveling Vietnam - travel Ha Long Bay
Top experiences traveling Vietnam - Lazalee cruise
Chilling on L’Azalee Cruise
Top experiences traveling Vietnam - visit Ha Long Bay

Explore Cat Ba’s hundreds of dazzling Islands 

Besides Hoi An, Cat Ba is certainly the second best destination of mine in Vietnam, and the best choice of visit in Northern Vietnam. The Cat Ba archipelago, consisting of 367 islands spanning 260 km2 (100 sq mi), has everything of a paradise for all sorts of travelers. Empty beaches, a breath-taking bay, gorgeous mountains, a massive national park, top-notched seafood choices – Cat Ba as it all! You can spend one day exploring the bay on a local boat and then go kayaking, the next day trekking trough the National Park and then try some adventurous mountain climbing. Though Cat Ba is not as well advertised by the country as Ha Long Bay, visiting the island is still more highly recommended outside the peak season. You wont enjoy the real Cat Ba during the crowded summer months.
Top experiences traveling Vietnam - visit Cat Ba Island

 

Top experiences traveling Vietnam - Le Pont Bungalow hostel
Breakfast at le Pont Bungalow hostel

Top experiences traveling Vietnam - kayak in Lan Ha Bay

Taking the boat ride in Ninh Binh through the caves and karsts

 
Chosen as one of the filming locations of Kong – Skull Island, besides Quang Binh and Ha Long, Ninh Binh is definitely a natural gem to explore while traveling Northern Vietnam. This little town is filled with tons of spiritual and historical attractions (Bai Dinh Pagoda, Hoa Cu Ancient Capital); stunning caves (Hang Mua, Tuyet Tinh Coc), gorgeous limestone mountains, and stunning rice paddies surrounding peaceful river flows. You will be amazed while taking a boat ride through Tam Coc or Trang An, as these natural landscapes are simply unbelievably beautiful!
 
Experiences traveling Vietnam - Ninh Binh Valley Homestay
Ninh Binh Valley Homestay

Top experiences traveling Vietnam - boat tour in Ninh Binh

Trek through the rice terraces in Sapa

The best experience in Sapa I had was neither to take the cable car up the Fansipan mount nor capture a panoramic view of the colourful houses from Ham Rong park, but to trek through the villages and rice fields. It is amazing to see how these little people of ethnic groups can grow themselves such impressive rice terraces in a remote area like Sapa.
Top experiences traveling Vietnam - visit Gem Valley Art Gallery
Gem Valley Art Gallery (Restaurant & Homestay)

Top experiences traveling Vietnam - see rice terraces in Sapa

Riding the scooter or cycling around Hoi An

Ask travelers who have been to Vietnam to pick the top-rated destination and the majority would go for Hoi An. Not just experience of cycling through the old central towns of this ancient pedestrianised city is magical, but also to walk through the temple and congration halls, or watch Hoi An glowing on the waterfront from a local boat is majestic! If you are into adventurous riding, experience driving through the dangerous mountain passes in Ha Giang or Sapa too!

Grooving and working by the beach in Southern Vietnam

I was never a kind of traveler in the mood to relax on the sea shore, enjoy drinking coconut and watching the sunrise. Checking the must-see spots off my list, trekking the national parks, hiking up the mount or cruising through the bay have always been stirring my heart and soul more than get-away vacations. However, adoring the seaside of Vietnam gives me rather adventurous thrills rather than the will to rest and have for myself a treat. There are dozens kinds of natural beaches that you could find near Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and Mui Ne. These are all landscape gems made by Mother of Nature! It’s incredible to witness how breath-taking and endless the coastlines in Vietnam are! Book your one-way ticket plus a top-notched bungalow style home-stay in Quy Nhon and come see them with your own eyes!
Trải nghiệm du lịch Việt Nam ở Quy Nhơn tại bãi tắm Hoàng Hậu
working by the beach at Life's A Beach Guesthouse
working by the beach at Life’s A Beach Guesthouse

 

Trải nghiệm du lịch Việt Nam ở Quy Nhơn ngắm bãi tắm Tiên Sa

Having plenty of cafe options to work from remotely in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh

It was nice for me to not just enjoy the experiences traveling through Vietnam, but also to live and work as a digital nomad. The dynamic working environment and booming start-up create tons of opportunities for young people to grow and sell themselves. Working remotely in Hanoi is convenient thanks to a decent number of authentic co-working spaces (e.g. UP, Toong, HanoiHub, Moonwork), and the massive number of cafes – all of which with free wifi and diverse range of drinks offered.
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Toong Co-working Space
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HanoiHub Co-working Space
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Moonwork Co-working Space
Everyday spent in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh is still exploring and discovering new places for me! I could literally pick a different cafe to work per day, and take weeks to visit all the nice ones. Try some recommended places below that I have been to (to be updated):
Hoan Kiem District (Old Quarter): Ifeel (lake view), Avalon (lake view), Chachago (close to beer corner and party area), Highlands (lake view), NEST AIA, Helio,
Ba Dinh District (near the Mausoleum): Xofa, Highland,
Tay Ho District (West Lake area where the expats live): Xuan Dieu street is full of options
Thanh Xuan District (south): Firefly (large space)
Dong Da District: Bui Xuyen Viet (travel theme)
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What It’s Like To Travel Alone As An Asian Girl

Having travelled across Europe and Asia since 2011, mostly solo, I have had my ups and downs before officially becoming a digital nomad nowadays. Most people would say that traveling alone is not easy, and certainly not for everyone. However, I believe going full-time solo is one of the best way to learn, experience and develop yourself and skills set that can be achieved only by being solo travelettes. Below you will find a detailed listing of problems I faced when traveling throughout Asia and Europe, and how to overcome them. I believe many people had the same issues. Hope this article would help women across Asia to travel better and longer.

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Everyone was wondering why I traveled alone in Asia

 
To travel within Asia and Europe is a huge difference in terms of culture, food and so on. However, it is still fascinating for me to see and experience how people treat solo female travellers differs between these two continents. When I was backpacking alone in Europe, most locals were very welcoming and amazed by the fact that I was bold and brave enough to wander by myself. Many people helped me as I was alone and new to the surrounding, regardless of having lived in Europe for years.
Nevertheless, to travel alone as an Asian girl in Asia still seems to remain a strange concept. It’s ok though if you are a white backpacker. Otherwise most people would hang out as a couple or in a group. Even in Vietnam, some locals would feel pity for me as I was eating alone in a restaurant (by my own choice). The good thing was they tried to be my company then. Most of the cases, Vietnamese were just asking me where my boyfriend, family or companions were. My Family, most of my friends and even colleagues who work with me remotely were probably also worried that something bad would happen to me. So far, nothing significant did!
How-to: Despite the time that I really had to work alone or spend some time for myself, I would always approach people around when traveling – who I believe would be able to have valued conversation with. The best thing about traveling alone is to get to know new people easily, but be wise about who to pick. You do not want to waste time with people who dont share the same values. The locals and experienced traveler are the ones to look out for help!

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Hidden racism and discrimination

Being an open-minded and internationally oriented person, I always find it hard to tolerate any sort of racism and discrimination, even the slightest ones. I did not experience any major racism when I was living and traveling in Europe. However, it was sometimes funny to face comments (for example, about my eyes or skin colour) or questions like: ‘How come your English is so good?’ or ’Can I take a photo with you?’ (simply because the person never met an Asian before!). This was in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Asia, the story is different. When I was in Thailand or Singapore, most people would speak Thai or Chinese to me as I looked like a local. This is great as the chance is get ripped off as a tourist is less! In Vietnam, many locals would treat western people nicer than locals, but watch out when they try to charge  you double the real price!
How-to: do not worry about coming from a developing country and learn to be flexible. In Europe, I was warmly welcomed at a hostel in Montenegro and stayed for free simply because of the first Vietnamese person to stay there. People are excited about new things, and perhaps ’exotic’ people too!

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Dating and relationship

In fact, many solo travelettes and digital nomad cannot afford to be in a long-term relationship as we dont stay in a fixed location for too long. Despite hating long distance relationship a lot, I got myself mostly into lDR or short-term flings. What other choice do you have when you happen to meet the person that you believed was ’the one’, but to fall for him? It turned out that being in a stable relationship never worked out for me. Therefore, I chose to be alone and attached to family, friends and potential partners.
How-to: Being single and not married before 30 in Asia and especially Vietnam is such a forbidden thing, for real! However, I have met different western people that chose to stay single by 30 or even 40, and are happy with it. It’s important to find the right date, right boyfriend, and right life-time partner. But it has to be at the right place and time. If you cant dedicate enough time and effort for long distances, do not force yourself to be in a serious relationship!

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Health problems

 
We travelettes suffer hell lots of health problem on the road. That could be any issue with with your stomach, back, hair, skin, etc. Staying fit and gorgeous is quite a mission impossible when traveling for many girls, including myself. You simply enjoyed the sun, the food, or the experiences so much that you tend to forget simple things for a girl to do on a daily basis to take care of yourself. In 2016, I moved back to Vietnam due to my health issue, which was the same for my Austrian friend who was working while traveling the world by herself as well.
How-to: there are different ways to maintain your heath and beauty on the road. Drinking lots of water, keeping your skin away from strong UV lights, going for sporty activities instead of relaxed luxury trips are some examples. When I get the time to be back home, I would spend afternoons doing work-outs, having facial masks and hair treatment. Even while being abroad, I try to keep track of these small activities though it’s hard to ‘feel like home anywhere’!
 

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Put aside beauty and shopping

 
Shopping was more of a hobby than passion for me when I was a teenager. I initially wanted to become a fashion blogger, but turned travel and lifestyle blogger because of getting biten by the travel bug. Shopping was also something I had to cut off since the beginning of my journey as a travelette. I simply cannot afford to pack tons of clothes in a carry-on luggage, which would be the only thing I take when traveling. Plus, I’d rather spend for flight tickets in Europe, which can be even cheaper than a pairs of jeans.
How-to: I tend to dress simple but also nicely when traveling, not just for the photographs but also to make sure I dont look like a wandering backpacker but more like a local. To mix and match, pack and wear different layers help to keep you warm and reasonably fashionable on the road!

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Visa issue

 
Many travelers from Asia cannot travel to most of the countries in the West, unless you are from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, etc. Even if you can, it’s only possible to stay under 30 days, or 90 days maximum. I was only allowed to visit something around 50 countries around the world with my green Vietnamese passport. However, the whole situation changed as I started my bachelor in Finland. This gave me access to visit not just 26 nations in Schengen area, but a few more within Europe (e.g. Russia and the Balkan countries). It was such a great privilege and chance for me to see the world.
How-to: You can always easily apply for a visa to other countries in Asia, as long as you ensure a stable income and well planned itinerary.
 

6 Typical Misconception of Turkey You May Not Know

It’s been 2 months since I traveled back to South East Asia where I was born and grew up to start another nomad journey, this time as a professional writer, marketing guru and more of a travel expert. The plan was not just to enjoy being back ‘home’ a little bit, but also to travel across all the Southeast Asian countries, and start my upcoming series of ‘Digital Nomad Guides’. This idea led to my e-meeting with Sefa Sarikaya – a talented Turkish traveler and founder of Tips for Travelers group. This week, I got the privilege of having him write one of our guest posts on Asia’s Nomad. Read more to explore Turkey with Sefa.

Ahoy Ahoy humans! I’m Sefa from Turkey. The country Turkey. We don’t have any similarity with the animal one. But there are plenty of memes on the internet about this. When I was a child, a group of turkey chased me. Still I have no idea even if they caught me. It was a tiring escape for me. Anyway… I decided to write about misconceptions about Turkey. I hope your mind will change after this article about Turkey.

1) Do people travel by camel in Turkey?

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Well.. I’d like to say yes to this question. Camel is one of the best ride for nomads. But I must say no. Because we don’t travel by camel in Turkey. I’m 22 years old and I saw camels in some touristic areas and in the zoo during my life. I mean my whole life. The sentence was like I had lived in the zoo.

2) Do people speak Arabian language?

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Some foreign people say Turkish sounds like Arabian. Maybe it’s because we use some Arabian words in our language. But we don’t speak Arabian in Turkey. I’m planning to learn that language for my future job.

3) Is Istanbul capital of Turkey?

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Istanbul is not a capital city. But I can understand why people think it’s our capital. It is a metropolitan city and you can always hear about that city in your daily life. The capital of Turkey is Angara. Literally it is Ankara but the local people call it as Angara. Ankara is also very big and beautiful city. But almost every people in this country feel sad about Ankara doesn’t have sea. If you want to be major of that city, you can promise them to make an artificial sea.

4) Do men wear fez?

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Again nope. We don’t wear that red hat. But in the past, we were wearing. I mean not me but out anchestors. It stayed at some centuries ago.

5) Is Sharia form of government in Turkey?

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Sharia is a form of government in Iran and in some other Arabic countries. But it is not like that for Turkey. Not all women wear hijab. Turkey is a laik country. People can believe whatever they want. People can choose whatever they want. But generally we believe what our family and our environment believe. We choose what our family and our society choose. Just like the other societies on the world.

6) Is Turkey a dangerous country?

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Turkey is very safe. But for example when you consider Istanbul’s population (Officially 15 million, unofficially around 20 million) there are various people that government cannot handle. There can be snatching, disturbing to tourists etc. But it is same as other metropolitan cities. So Turkey is not more dangerous than other countries.

I hope you learned a lot from this article. I will write more about Istanbul soon.

 

Debunk The Myths About Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina together with its capital are still off-road destinations for most of the travelers to Europe. It’s a country of around 3.8 million people while during the last war over 1 million of people had to find their home in other countries and the same number of people were internally displaced. In this post, Emina – a local travel guru will guide you through the country while busting the myths of this undiscovered must-see in the Balkans region. 

Is there still war?

image05If you ask this to some of the locals, if they don’t punch you in the face, probably you are good friends with them. The most common myth existing about this country in the South East of the Old Continent is that there is still an armed conflict going on or that it’s hard or expensive to reach. War ended over 20 years ago and although people were back to their everyday lives, this very event marked the modern history of the country, leaving it in a difficult economic state, corruption in public institutions and high unemployment rate. However, if you meet anyone who has ever been to Bosnia and Herzegovina, they will most likely tell you about the exquisite food, cheerful people ready to share a good laugh at any time and an interesting influences in architecture.

Bosnia and Herzegovina also isn’t 2 countries

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Bosnia is an inland part of the country, with often snowy mountains and the region where the capital is located. Predominantly mountain areas and great climate made it an ideal place for 1984 Winter Olympic Games. Herzegovina, on the other hand, is an area more on the south with Mediterranean climate. There, you might come across palm trees, lemons and take a dip in the sea. It’s not unusual for barometer to hit +40 in summer months. However, people use only “Bosnia” because it’s shorter and therefore more convenient. Most of the tourists are left wondering how different places of worship such as churches, mosques and synagogues and people praying in them, were living side by side for centuries, sharing the same culture and language.

Getting around by bus

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If you got used to having extremely cheap bus or train tickets in the rest of Europe, in Bosnia it’s not exactly that way, at least according to the local standard. Ticket fees are fixed but luckily for most of the bus lines, you can check and buy tickets online and they are more convenient to travel by than trains. Centrotrans is supposed to bring you to pretty much any destination within the country. If you decide to travel to neighbouring Croatia, Serbia or Montenegro, there are also options available. To Montenegro you can, so far, travel only by bus whereas to Serbia and Croatia you can choose among bus, train, taxi van or plane from Sarajevo International Airport. From the same airport you can fly also to Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, and seasonally to some other destinations.

The historical significance and beauty of Mostar

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Have you ever seen a picture of that tall stone bridge over an emerald green river that left you breathless? It was probably one in Mostar, a city 2 hours away from capital where you can find cheerful people, great food and wines and a lot of sun. The Old Bridge (originally called Stari Most) is under UNESCO protection and it definitely is in top 3 things to see in South Eastern Europe. Although it resisted to many external factors since it was built in 16th century, this bridge was entirely destroyed in war in 1993. It was re-built and solemnly opened in 2004.

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Not so far away from Mostar, on the way to Neum, a coastal city, you should visit Blagaj. Apart from its old town, located on the high cliff, the most important landmark is so-called “tekija” which is essentially a Dervish house/monastery. If you go to house’s balcony, you’ll be able to see the well of Buna river hidden in the deep and dark but beautiful cave. Do enter the house itself and visit its rooms and hallways. They will bring you back to some other era and wake up some mystical feelings in you.

Food culture in Sarajevo

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Just about anyone in this country will tell you they like food and good drinks. As someone who really likes to eat, I have to say Sarajevo is one of those cities with strong food culture. You’ll notice there are no popular fast-food or beverage chains here, such as Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. Surprisingly, I’d say this city doesn’t really need them. You can find a wide array of homemade food in the very center of the city, ranging from meaty dishes to iconic cheese/spinach pastries and delicious vegetable soups.

If you’re a passionate meat-eater, you’ll appreciate a visit to Željo – a traditional fast-food restaurant where you can find ćevapi, probably the most famous food in this country. In case you like vegetarian food, unfortunately, choices are a bit more limited but I’ve heard it’s getting a bit better. Place I would recommend are Klopa and Superfood. They both have a diverse menu, Klopa is a non-smoking restaurant (many aren’t) and they’re both very affordable. Ćevapi (photo above) is probably the most popular dish from Bosnia & Herzegovina. They’re essentially grilled minced meat rolls stuffed in pita bread and served with milk cream (also known as kajmak). If you’re not vegetarian, enjoy this every single day.

You’ll want to grab a nice coffee and dessert too. There are some places you have to visit! Although you’ll have to go a bit out of the city center, Mrvica cafe bakery will make you literally drool when you see their desserts. And, a place where you MUST go for a coffee or a tea is called Zlatna Ribica. I promise you, you still haven’t seen a place like that. Why? You will have to go and see.

Other must-see but less touristy places

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Going up from the capital area, following the flow of Bosna river (no, it’s not misspelled) you’ll come across many interesting places. Definitely one of them is Travnik. This is a mid-sized city (according to Bosnian standards) and its center point is the Old Town located on the hills. Besides offering a medieval feel and a taste of some old times, it will also give you an excellent view of the whole city.

Continuing on the same road, you will arrive to Jajce. This city has one of the world’s biggest waterfalls in its city center. Even more interestingly one river makes a waterfall but water falls into the other river, flowing just beneath and continues further as that river. Quite unique, right?

Bihać, a city you also probably heard of if you’ve ever shown interest in traveling to this country, has one of world’s cleanest rivers Una. You can have a lunch or coffee break somewhere on the river bank and enjoy the nature to the fullest in this small city, just next to the border with Croatia.

Pro-tips from a local expert

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I will tell you something that rarely any tourist site will. Reserve 2 extra days in Bosnia and visit Prokoško lake. It’s a lake in central Bosnia, located on the Vranica mountain. Not only will it be unbelievable for you that this place actually exists but you’ll also enjoy peace, fresh air and homemade food. Your experience will be unbeatable once you spend a night in an old Bosnian house, or in a tent under a starry sky- as you wish.

The source of inspiration

The whole Bosnia and Herzegovina is definitely worth visiting, especially in the summer when everything is more lively and you can even take a day-long hike to some of the thousand hills. Once you come and visit, you will understand why so many poets, musicians and artists in general, found an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Although torn apart, wounded and destroyed for so many times in the past, this country still has a seductive charm of a grown man and heart and energy of a girl. And once you visit, you’ll always be coming back.

10 things to put on your 2016 Travel Resolution – Germany

This month is the most exciting time to plan your annual travel bucket list again. While most nomads are keen to backpack in Asia or go on a get-away trip in South America, I would stay in Germany for many reasons. After years of traveling in Europe and many months spent in Germany, I can say this country never get me bored with its rich history, diverse culture, splendid landscapes and fun people to hang out with. Thus I have created this concrete list of the top 10 things for all sorts of travellers must try here.

10. Adore the most visited cathedral in Germany

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral, also known as the Kölner Dom, is probably the most famous and oldest building of Cologne. There are about 6 million visits to the Dom annually, making it the most visited cathedral in Germany. Cologne is also popular for its annual carnival taking place every February.

9. Walk through the Red Light District in Frankfurt

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Known for its versatile cultures and lifestyles, Frankfurt is undoubtedly one of the most interesting city in Germany I ever visited. Right at the Station Quarter near the main station, there are many legal brothels, strip bars, sex shops, adult clubs, and pornographic cinemas. You will be surprised to find here not only prostitutes and drug dealers but bankers, students and rich people in the same neighbourhood. Photos are usually not allowed in this area.

8. Go on a shopping spree at the longest pedestrian street of Europe

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The small city Heidelberg is not only famous for its gorgeous castle but also its longest shopping street in Europe. This traffic-free street offers an excellent location for the real pleasure of shopping at countless boutiques, speciality shops and chilling at various coffee shops and restaurants.

7. Party in Berlin

Berlin is one the most well-known cities in Germany for its intense and alternative clubbing culture. The city never seems to sleep. You can find here all sorts of places for a great night out: from the most erotic clubs like the Kitkat, gay bar like the Schwuz to indie places like the Comet Club. Berlin is also famous for the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall and the Checkpoint Charlie – a symbol of the Cold War dividing the East Berlin and West Berlin in the past.

6. Take a boat tour in Hamburg

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If you love port cities and waterways, come to this town of the so-called Hamburgers! With its harbour being the heart of the city, Hamburg offers great views on Binnenalster and Speicherstadt, especially on sunny days as you can view the old small houses lying along the rivers. Remember to take a boat tour here to adore the sunset view, watching the small boats as they pass by.

5. Drink beer

As one of the best specialties in Germany is beer, dont miss out the weekly beer tasting night at your hostel. Check out Five Elements Hostel in Frankfurt – they usually organize beer tasting night, pasta night, pub-crawls, free walking tours and other events for guests. After few beers, you will be ready to explore the German nightlife and fall in love with it!

4. Try the second best kebap in Europe

The Turkish have originally brought their kebap to the multicultural Germany and created another version to suits the German taste. Hence nowadays you can find one of the best kebaps in Europe in Berlin. This is an awesome snack for after-parties, along with fries.

3. Experience Oktoberfest

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Oktoberfest is so famous that every year this world’s largest beer festival draws over 6 million people around the world to come together to Munich. During these 16 days of celebration people put on their best Bavarian outfits, drink beer by litre since noon, eat traditional Bavarian food and listen to live bands performing at various tents while singing and dancing all day.

2. Go to a Christmas Market

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The famous Christmas market is a worldwide tradition and a great excitement for both children and adults throughout Germany. The magic of German Christmas Markets attracts such a huge number of visitors that every December millions of travelers come to Germany to taste a cup of Gluhwein, enjoy Germany’s traditional food and experience the Christmas atmosphere that you can find nowhere else.

1. Visit a castle in the real-life fairy tale

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Germany and especially Bavaria region is well-known for castles which are like in your dream fairy-tales. Some of the most famous ones is the Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II in Schwangau and the Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg city close to Frankfurt (about 1 hour by bus).

How I Travel 17 EU Countries At 22 On Low Budget

After 4 years of experiencing all the ups & downs of student life whilst traveling on and off around Europe, I was questioned by many friends about how I afforded time and money to travel every now and then. Thus I decided to write this post, realizing I was blessed to have such an amazing opportunity to travel to 17 European countries without spending so much.

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My journey started when I decided to move from Vietnam to Finland to pursue business bachelor at the age of 18. Coming from a middle-class family, I had to save, work part-time and do my university study at the same time, especially in one of the most expensive countries in Scandinavia. Nevertheless, I took advantage of my 4-year Schengen visa and traveled as much as I could.

1517499_667650409945387_744604126_nOn 2011 I moved to Rovaniemi – the hometown of Santa Clause village located in the north of Finland, where snow, reindeer, and as low temperature as -20 degree is no surprise. Studying abroad while living far from home for the first time in a totally different culture was a huge shock and challenge for a young girl coming from a small country.

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After few months, a classmate invited me to Italy together to explore the country, where spent 11 days somewhat one-third of the savings I brought to Finland for half a year of living. Though the cost was high, I enjoyed Italy so much and knew I had to travel more. Later on, I luckily figured out how to travel cheap so I can see more of Europe without cutting on my other expenses.

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In 2012, I decided to move to Helsinki where connections to other cities are better. Here you can easily take a cruise with Tallinn/Sijia line, which offers 0-Euro or discount ticket to customers sometimes to Tallinn (Estonia), Stockholm (Sweden) and Saint Petersburg (Russia); or cheap flights (Norwegian Airlines) to Scandinavian countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.
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In 2013, I used some of the savings from my summer job to visit Estonia (Tallinn), Lithuania (Vilnius), Latvia (Riga) and Poland (Warsaw, Krakow). This trip was designed by a friend of mine who is a well-experienced traveler, thus we saved a lot by traveling by cruise, Eurolines Bus, and Baltic Airlines. We stayed overnight on boat, buses and at our friends in Warsaw to save the accommodation expense.

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Fascinated by the gorgeous classic European architecture of Poland and how sweet Polish people are, I decided to go back there in summer 2014 for an internship with AIESEC – the world’s largest student organization. Working as a freelance blogger in Szczecin for SzczecinAloud enabled me to stay in a residence, eat in restaurants, and attend festivals for free. Here I’d travel to different parts of Poland and Germany (Berlin) with Polish train, buses, and airlines which offer 1-euro ticket sometimes.

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The last autumn 2014, I decided to take another huge step of my student life and take the 6-month Erasmus Program in the Netherlands (Groningen), which changed my life completely and opened up my world with so many new connections with people from all over the world. Here I got supported with my home university’s Erasmus grant and worked also as a freelance blogger for GroningenLife, which helped me cover part of the expenses.

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Like in Poland, it’s easy to travel within different cities of the Netherlands (Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven, etc) with the 7-euro day ticket for a group of 10 people with NS train, which allow you to go to any part of the Netherlands within 24 hours. Here I started using Couch-surfing and Blablacar a lot to save, which I also did in Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp).

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After 6 months in the Netherlands, I met amazing people from all over the world especially Germany, Spain, and France. This was why I decided to take another big challenge and designed a root to 6 different cities in 5 countries (Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic) in 2 weeks. In these places, I’d stay with friends, at hostels and move around with Ryanair, Norwegian, BlaBlacar and take free walking tours.

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Through my journey, I’d worked as a volunteer, promoter, and freelancers on and off. I slowly developed different personal travel blogs, leading me to the marketing & freelance writing field which I never knew I’s enjoy this much. Since January 2015, I started working online for LittleLives – an education technology company based in Singapore. This work allowed me to travel after graduation to Greece, where I again couch-surfed in Crete & Athens.

The journey so far has been incredible, and I am looking forward to being seeing the rest of Europe before heading back to sweet home Asia!