Jiva Yoga Academy: Small Group YTT in Rishikesh, India

Undertaking yoga teacher training (YTT) is a challenging and life changing journey in many ways. If you’re thinking of becoming a yoga teacher, or just want to learn more about yoga from the source, then India is the first place that comes to mind.

As the birthplace of yoga, you’ll find the most authentic and affordable yoga teacher training in India and one of the most popular places to head is the holy town of Rishikesh – known as the yoga capital of the world.

Rishikesh – The Yoga Capital of the World

Rishikesh is located on the banks of the sacred river Ganges in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India surrounded by forests and mountains.

This holy town is full of temples, ashrams and is known as ‘the yoga capital of the world’ because of it’s deeply spiritual atmosphere and the huge amount of yoga schools offering yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.

But with an almost overwhelming amount of options how do you choose which program to go for?

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh

Firstly, consider your intentions and personal preferences – do you want to train to be a yoga teacher and change your career, or are you just looking to learn more about yoga, or to have a spiritual experience?

All are great reasons for doing yoga training, but if you want to gain a qualification to teach yoga then you need to complete a 200 hour yoga teacher training course.

Even if you don’t want to teach, the 200 hour program will give you a comprehensive understanding of yoga and immersion in the yogic lifestyle, so if you have time I recommend doing a full 200 hours YTT.

A comprehensive 200 hour YTT will teach you not only about the asanas (physical yoga poses) meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises) but will also delve into the fascinating history and psychology that underpins yoga.

You’ll also learn all about anatomy, physiology, alignment and teaching methodology. Most 200 hour packages also include accommodation and meals.

Secondly, consider which type of yoga you prefer and look for programs in that style. Some YTT’s focus on a particular style of yoga, like traditional Hatha yoga or Ashtanga and Vinyasa. If you don’t want to narrow down your options just yet you could go for a multi style program.

One of the most important parts of choosing where to do yoga teacher training in Rishikesh is checking out the reputation and reviews of the yoga schools. Ensuring the school is Yoga Alliance Certified is one step to ensuring a comprehensive syllabus and the qualification to teach yoga all over the world, but it goes further than that.

There are literally hundreds of Rishikesh yoga schools and unfortunately they are not all equal. Some are more like yoga teacher training factories purely focused on profit with huge group sizes of 30 or 40 students and little personalised attention.

So do your research thoroughly and try to check reviews from previous students to ensure you find a quality course that fits your needs.

Jiva Yoga Academy – Best Small Group YTT in Rishikesh

When I was choosing where to do my YTT, one of the things that was really important for me was ensuring that the yoga school provided an authentic experience with holistic, traditional teachings and experienced teachers who live the sacred yogic path as a lifestyle.

And I didn’t want to just be another number is a huge class, I wanted to be able to receive adjustments and personalised recommendations to improve my practice and get as much as possible from the experience.

If you’re also looking for a small group yoga teacher training in Rishikesh check out Jiva Yoga Academy who pride themselves on offering an intimate, family environment with small class sizes and personalised attention for every student.

Having small class sizes allows for more personalised attention, recommendations and adjustments, which means there’s less chance of injury and more opportunity to ask questions and form close friendships within the group and get as much as possible from the experience.

Their 200 hour Hatha and Ashtanga yoga teacher training is certified by Yoga Alliance USA and takes 24 days. The comprehensive syllabus explores ancient yogic and spiritual practices in depth including asana, meditation, pranayama, kriyas (yogic cleaning exercises) mantra chanting, yoga philosophy, anatomy, ethics, lifestyle and teaching practice.

Jiva Yoga Academy also provides holistic healing and teachings on Ayurveda – an ancient life science also originating from India.

The course is led by experienced Indian teachers who all hold at least a master’s degree in yoga and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and lifestyle. The course aims to provide not just a certificate but a holistic and empowering journey towards the inner self and an experience of living life on the yogic path.

There’s no prerequisite to join the 200 hour yoga course, beginners are welcome although if you have a good level of fitness and some experience of yoga it will be advantageous.

Jiva Yoga Academy is located in a peaceful part of Upper Tapovan surrounded by nature and away from the noise and traffic of the popular town. It’s still just a short walk to the Ganga river where some of the yoga classes are held, and all the shops, cafes and temples in the town are within easy reach.

Comfortable accommodation and 3 vegetarian meals a day are included in the course price which starts at $1,280.

If you don’t have time for a full 200 hour training but want an in-depth introduction to over 50 asanas and ancient yogic practices Jiva Yoga Academy also offer the opportunity to complete 100 hours yoga training which only takes 11 days.

There are A LOT of Rishikesh yoga teacher training courses, but because of authentic, expert teachers and the small class sizes, Jiva Yoga Academy stands out as one of the best.

Still, don’t just take my word for it – do your own research, check out the Jiva Yoga Academy website for more information and check the reviews on Google before making your decision.

If you need more tips check out my other articles about yoga teacher training in India


6 Best Yoga Retreats and Surf Camps in Tenerife for 2023

6 Best Yoga Retreats and Surf Camps in Tenerife, Spain for 2023 

Spain’s most popular Canary Island, Tenerife, has something for everyone, from bustling resort towns with vibrant nightlife and exhilarating water sports, to peaceful, slow-paced fishing villages and stunning landscapes.

The Canary Islands are a great place to take a yoga retreat or active holiday. With year round warm, sunny weather and some of the best surf in Europe there are some fantastic yoga retreats and surf camps in Tenerife.

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Reasons to go on a Yoga and Surf Camp in Tenerife

The Canary Islands are the best place to go for winter sun in Europe and you can enjoy a yoga retreat or surf camp in Tenerife any time of the year. 

Considered one of the best surfing spots in Europe, Tenerife surf camps are always epic. This Canarian island boasts all-year-round warmth and sunshine, along with world-class point breaks and reliable Atlantic swells.

What’s more, Tenerife has lush nature, scenic mountain landscapes, and top-class hiking trails. Thus, Tenerife is a fab place to reconnect with mother earth and find inner peace on a yoga retreat.

To help narrow down your search, here are my top five surf camps and yoga retreats In Tenerife.

The Best Yoga Retreats And Surf Camps in Tenerife

  • Best Luxury Yoga Retreat – 6-Day Luxury Adventure Yoga Holiday in South Tenerife 
  • Best Immersive Surf Camp – 8-Day Private Surf Camp for All Levels in Poris de Abona, Tenerife
  • Best Active Retreat – 6- Day Hiking and Yoga Retreat in Tenerife
  • Best Private Yoga And Surf Retreat – 7-Day Premium Yoga and Surf in Tenerife
  • Best Budget Yoga And Surf Retreat – 8-Day Surf, Diving, and Yoga Holiday in Tenerife South
  • Best Adventure Yoga And Surf Retreat – 8-Day Surf Camp with Yoga in Tenerife


Best Luxury Yoga Retreat – 6-Day Luxury Adventure Yoga Holiday 

If you dream of waking up in a beautiful villa overlooking the mountains, with a tranquil garden, pool, and rooftop to relax and enjoy the view, head to Bliss Adventure Yoga Retreats in South Tenerife.

Highlights include:

  • Twice daily yoga classes (Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative)
  • Guided hikes
  • Secret beach visit
  • Champagne sunset with live music

Unlike many other Tenerife yoga retreats, no surfing is involved at Bliss Adventure Yoga Retreats. Thus, it’s perfect if you’re looking for something more relaxing or want to just concentrate on deepening your yoga practice. 

You’ll practice vinyasa yoga each morning before tucking into a delicious buffet breakfast. You’ll then head out on an afternoon excursion, such as hiking, before returning for a relaxing yin class. They have two beautiful villa locations in South Tenerife.

Find out more about this luxurious retreat here.


Best Immersive Surf Camp – 8-Day Private Surf Camp for All Levels

If you and your friends are serious about surfing and want to learn from the pros, check out Secret Surf School in El Poris de Abona, a small fisherman town far from the tourist crowds.

Highlights include:

  • 4 days of surf lessons
  • Private tuition 
  • Private beachside apartment with communal pool

This is a private retreat for you and your partner/friends, catering to 2 to 6 people, with one of the best Tenerife surf schools. Over the week, you’ll have four 3-hour surf lessons with the highly experienced instructors Valeria and Gianfranco, with the rest of the time free to explore the island or soak up the sun. 

Note that food is not included in this retreat, but your apartment has an equipped kitchen, and many great local restaurants are nearby.

Learn more about this fun surf camp here.


Best Active Retreat – 6- Day Hiking and Yoga Retreat

Deepen your yoga practice while exploring the natural beauty of this stunning volcanic island on this hiking and yoga retreat with Wanderlust Yoga.

Highlights include:

  • 2 daily yoga classes and yoga workshops
  • Guided hikes in stunning volcanic landscapes and national parks
  • Yoga excursions to the beach
  • 5 nights accommodation in a historic villa

Retreat leaders Sarah and Constanze believe that being immersed in nature is the perfect balance between adventure an relaxation. So they created an amazing retreat complete with yoga classes on the beach, delicious meals, and a trip up Mount Teide. You’re sure to return home feeling refreshed, revived and restored after this Tenerife yoga retreat.

Check out dates and more details here


Best Private Yoga And Surf Retreat – 7-Day Premium Yoga and Surf Holiday 

If surf camps and yoga retreats in Tenerife interest you, but you’re a bit of an introvert, why not book a private retreat with DHARMANAS instead. 

Highlights include:

  • 5 days of surfing and yoga 
  • Organic, vegetarian brunch and dinner
  • Private apartment with balcony and sea view

You can book this private retreat solo or with a partner/friend and enjoy the relaxing non-touristy environment of Punta del Hidalgo in the north of the island. You’ll stay in a private apartment a short stroll from the beach and enjoy private surf lessons each morning and tailored yoga in the evening (Hatha or Yin).

Learn more about this rejuvenating private retreat here.


Best Budget Yoga And Surf Retreat – 8-Day Surf, Diving, and Yoga Holiday

If you want to spend a week finding your zen and learning how to surf in Tenerife without it burning a hole in your wallet, this yoga and surf retreat at Endless Summer House is for you.

Highlights include:

  • 3 surf sessions
  • 2 yoga classes
  • 1 diving lesson
  • Surf theory lessons

As the schedule is pretty relaxed, this is ideal for anyone who wants plenty of free time to explore the beautiful island. You’ll have one activity per day, with the rest free to relax or check out other activities. 

To keep the price affordable, you can stay in a shared dorm (there is also a female-only dorm). Or if you prefer privacy, private rooms are also available. Daily breakfast is included, allowing you to taste your way around Tenerife for lunch and dinner. 

See more details about this budget Tenerife surf camp here.


Best Adventure Yoga And Surf Retreat – 8-Day Surf Camp with Yoga

Volcano Surf Camp, located close to the bustling resort town of Playa de Las Americas, offers eight days of sun, fun, and adventure.

Highlights include:

  • 6 surf lessons
  • 3 yoga classes
  • Surf skate lessons 
  • SUP

This surf holiday is open to all levels, from beginners to advanced, and includes daily surf lessons, including theory. As one of the most jam-packed Tenerife surf camps, you’ll also learn surf skating and SUP. Three yoga classes are also included to soothe sore muscles after all those watersports!

Volcano Surf Camp has options for all budgets, as you can stay in the shared dorm or upgrade to a private room. Note that meals are not included, but thanks to its central location, numerous restaurants are nearby.

Find out more and book your adventure retreat here.


More Tips For Yoga and Surf Retreats in Tenerife

You can practice yoga and surf all year round in Tenerife, but September to April is the official surf season. Booking a surf camp outside this time is also recommended as it is outside the high season, so there are fewer crowds and lower prices. 

It never gets super cold in Tenerife, but the water temperature from December to February can be a little chilly, averaging 20.3°C (68.5°F). Thus, for blissful weather and minimal crowds, go between September to October or March to April.

Tenerife is well connected to all European countries, thanks to its two international airports. Check where your retreat is located, as that will determine if you should fly into the south or north airport. Many retreat organizers will be happy to arrange a transfer from the airport if you ask in advance; otherwise, getting a taxi is easy.

Ensure your travel insurance covers surfing and all other activities you may do in Tenerife and emergency or covid related cancellations.

If you need more inspiration for a surf camp or yoga retreat in Spain check out:

  • The Best Yoga Retreats in Spain
  • The Best Yoga Retreats in Ibiza
  • The Best Yoga Retreats in the Canary Islands
  • The Best Surf Camps in the Canary Islands
  • The Best Yoga and Surf Retreats in Fuerteventura, 

Lastly, read reviews of yoga retreats on BookYogaRetreats and surf camps on BookSurfCamps before booking to ensure you choose the retreat most suitable for you.




My Pick of The 5 Best Surf Camps in Peniche, Portugal for 2023

On Portugal’s stunning Atlantic coast, Peniche’s peninsula position means it boasts some of the best surf in Europe, including the famous Supertubos one of the best beach breaks in the world, and the title of Portugal’s surf capital.

Why join a surf camp in Peniche

Europe’s most westernmost city is an otherwise unassuming and authentic fishing town, with beautiful beaches, consistent swell and no shortage of beach breaks meaning it’s one of the best places in Portugal to learn how to surf. With so many stunning, sandy ‘praias’, and internationally acclaimed surf spots it’s no surprise that the surf camps in Peniche are some of the best in Portugal.

Best time for surfing in Peniche

Portugal is one of the world’s best surf destination and you can surf all year round. The best time to surf in Peniche for beginners is between April and September when the waves are friendlier and smaller and the weather is warmer.

Advanced and intermediate surfers will enjoy the biggest and most consistent waves from October to March. The MEO Rip Curl Portugal is held annually in October at Supertubos. As it’s the Atlantic you’ll need a wetsuit but most surf camps provide these.

Other Places to Visit near Peniche

If you like to explore a bit of history and culture with your surf holiday Peniche is a great choice. Fly into Lisbon, only 90 minutes drive away, and explore the charming Portuguese capital for a few days.

Make a day trip to Obidos, one of the most beautiful, historic small towns of Portugal only 30 mins away and explore the imposing old fortress in Peniche town itself.

The legendary massive waves of Nazare can be marvelled at only 50 mins drive up the coast. Nearby Ericeira is also a popular surf town and home to Europe’s only World Surf Reserve.

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Why you should join a surf camp

Portugal’s surf capital has so many surf lodges, schools, camps and cafes with options to suit everyone from beginners wanting to learn how to surf and catch their first wave in a fun and safe environment, to intermediate surfers wanting to work on their technique and advanced surfers looking for tips and surf tours to tackle some of the best breaks in the world.

Surfing is alot of fun but it’s harder than it looks. If you’re serious about learning to surf then I highly recommend joining a surf camp in Peniche if you want to learn and progress quickly in a safe and fun way. Experienced instructors will teach you how to catch a wave safely and they also use their expert local knowledge to take you to the best surf spots for your level depending on the forecast that day so you get to have the best experience possible.

Surf camps also have a fun, sociable atmosphere so you’ll get to meet other like minded people. It’s also great value for money as most surf camps include accommodation, meals, lessons, board hire, and some also include yoga classes, transfers and local excursions.

Whether you’re looking for a fun and sociable surf hostel vibe, a surf and yoga retreat or a luxurious natural wellness experience – these Peniche surf camps ensure you will have an amazing time surfing in Portugal.  To help you decide, here’s my pick of the five best surf camps in Peniche.

If you’re considering a Peniche surf camp, I recommend checking out www.booksurfcamps.com to read the testimonials and reviews from previous students. No two surf camps are the same and can have very varied facilities so it’s really worth checking out this site first – it’s like the TripAdvisor or Booking.com for surf camps!

COVID-19 Update: Portugal has reopened for tourism, but be aware that pandemic-related travel permissions can change at any moment and be dependent on your nationality. Check out the Portugal travel and tourism website for the most up-to-date information and remember to check the re-entry rules for your home country.  Also make sure you have travel insurance which covers Covid-related cancellations. Mine is with Safety Wing.

Here is my pick of the 5 Best Surf Camps in Peniche

Beginners Surf & Yoga Holiday at Boa Onda Guesthouse

Whether you’re new to yoga or surfing, or both, you’ll receive a warm welcome to Boa Onda Guesthouse. Your days will start with a buffet-style breakfast (all dietary requirements catered to) before a morning on the waves. The nearby ‘Supertubos’ wave is globally recognised in the surf world, and your instructors will ensure that you’re safe and comfortable at all times.

Ease any sore muscles with an afternoon Hatha yoga class, designed to align and soothe body and mind. In your free time, explore the stunning surroundings, including nearby Berlenga island. A stone’s throw from the beautiful beach, you’ll find the newly-built guest house, with bright, comfortable rooms available on a shared or private basis.

This 4 day Peniche surf camp is perfect for beginners wanting a fun short break to get started learning how to surf. If you are looking for a more immersive experience check out Boa Onda’s 8-day surf and yoga experience.

See more details, dates, prices, reviews and book here!  


Surf & Yoga Retreat at The Salty Pelican

The Salty Pelican is undoubtedly one of the best surf camps in Portugal – a purpose-built retreat centre with modern rooms, a chic roof terrace, incredible views across the ocean and a sociable, friendly vibe.

The retreat is ideally located to easily get to some of the nearby golden sandy beaches and the famous Baleal waves – perfect for beginner surfers. Your days will start with a Hatha flow yoga session and meditation to set you up for the day.

The surf van will take you to the best waves of the day, before heading back for a delicious, freshly-prepared lunch. A Yin Yoga class will lead you into the evening, before time to explore the nearby restaurants and take in the sun set over the Atlantic. You can also join a guided meditation hikes on a national park island and a visit to the Unesco heritage medieval town of Obidos nearby.

This is one of the best surf camps for both beginner and intermediate surfers and yogis as you’ll get unlimited yoga classes and surfboard hire. Salty Pelican are also one of my favourite retreats in Sri Lanka 

See more details, dates, prices, reviews and book here!  

Surf Experience in Baleal at Danau Surf Center

The Danau Surf Center team pride themselves on offering highly personalised surf tuition – guiding students of all levels to get the most out of the week-long camp. Your accommodation for the week is the beautiful Martin’s Villa, which is 3km from the camp, with regular shuttles between the two properties (or use one of the hire bikes!).

As well as daily surf sessions, you’re invited to try out the snorkel and SUP gear to explore the beautiful area from the water. Breakfast is provided daily and dietary requirements can be catered for. The centre’s resident massage therapist is also on hand to release any tight muscles from a day on the board.

See more details, dates, prices, reviews and book here!  

Country House Retreat at Buddha Retreats, nr Obidos

At a beautifully restored, traditional Portuguese Quinta (country house) in an authentic village – your hosts welcome you for five days of reconnection with nature and your inner self.

Buddha Retreats is set in the Portuguese countryside in the village of Columbeira just 20 mins from the sea and only 15 mins from the beautiful medieval town of Obidos so you can immerse yourself in nature and history as well as surfing and yoga.

Morning surf lessons start on the sand, where you’ll learn theory and skills, before trying them out on the waves. The daily yoga classes take place each afternoon and are designed to develop core strength and balance to complement your surf practice.

The Buddha Retreats team know that you’ll need nourishing, fresh meals to fuel your surf and yoga efforts, and will prepare locally-sourced dishes accordingly accompanied by Portuguese wines. Round your days off with a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool, before retiring to your comfortable room.

This surf and yoga retreat is perfect for those wanting a more peaceful and authentic Portuguese experience.

See more details, dates, prices, reviews and book here!  

Surf Camp on Baleal Island at Alex Surf School

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced surfer, Alex Surf School will help you take your surf game to the next level. This surf camp experience includes two lessons each day and , so regardless of your starting level you’re bound to see improvements in your technique over the eleven-day stay.

Your expert instructors will take you to one of seven nearby surf spots, depending on the conditions of the day. Meanwhile, group sizes are kept to a maximum of five students, so each guest has the opportunity to receive tailored tuition.

The shared accommodation at Alex Surf School has fully equipped kitchens and barbecue area to use and a supermarket only three minutes walk from the camp. So you can save money by cooking your own meals and enjoy social evenings with your campmates on the outdoor terrace.

In case you fancy a break from the surf, there is plenty to do in the surrounding area, from cultural attractions to buzzing nightlife. All surf kit is included, so all you need to do is turn up and take to the waves. This is a great option for those serious about improving their surf skills while wanting to stick to a budget.

See more details, dates, prices, reviews and book here!  

I hope this post helped you to pick your perfect surf holiday in Peniche! If your still undecided check out my other blogs posts on traveling and surfing in Portgual.

Read more about surf and yoga holidays in Europe:

  • The Best Surf Camps in Portugal
  • The Best Surf Camps in Ericeira 
  • The Best Yoga Retreats in Portugal
  • The Best Surf Camps in The Canary Islands, Spain
  • The Best Surf Camps in Morocco

Have you been on any amazing surf camps in Peniche?

Leave your recommendations in the comments below the post and help out other surfers and travellers!


How To Get Started Teaching English In Thailand

How To Get Started Teaching English In Thailand

Teaching English is an amazing way to help people and immerse yourself in a different culture while also having amazing travel adventures!

Over the past few years, Thailand has really caught up with other Asian countries such as China or South Korea as a hub for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers looking to put their skills to good use. 

With a humid and tropical climate, a welcoming and eager population and an affordable standard of living, it’s clear to see why so many people are so keen to pick up ESL (English as a Second Language) in this magical country.

To give you the best insight possible, here’s our full take on how to get started teaching English in Thailand. 

What Requirements You Need To Teach In Thailand

Some countries in the southeast region of Asia give preference to or just flat out only accept native English speakers, however Thailand doesn’t require that at the time of writing.

Whilst you don’t necessarily need to be a native from an English-speaking country, a fluent understanding and ability to speak the language is obviously still the major requirement. 

Some Thai educational institutions will ask for a Bachelors or equivalent degree, with most also asking for some form of TEFL certification to show you’re qualified to be in the classroom. 

For the most part, Thai schools that ask for a TEFL certificate will generally require that this course take up to 120 hours worth of studying.

Teaching English in Thailand. Photo Credit TEFL Academy

Can You Teach English In Thailand Without A Degree?

As mentioned, most ESL jobs in Thailand will ask for a 4 year Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from their applicants. This is because formal education institutions in the country currently don’t sponsor work visas for teachers who don’t have a degree.

For those without a degree but still looking to immerse themselves in the Thai culture, volunteering is always a good option. Most volunteering jobs won’t require a degree, and are a great way of picking up some valuable experience as an ESL teacher. 

How Can You Teach English In Thailand?

Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to get in touch with schools all around Thailand and Asia and find teaching jobs in Asia. Third-party agencies and recruiters are always a good option, however international schools such as The TEFL Academy are increasingly becoming the go-to for potential teachers. 

These schools are able to provide the courses and TEFL certificates so many jobs are looking for, have job boards available and update on-site for applicants to browse through, as well as plenty of handy resources for them to read through and learn more about the country they will be visiting! 

How Much Money Can You Make Teaching English In Thailand?

English teachers in Thailand generally look to make around $900 and $1600 USD each month. However, with that base salary often comes a variety of bonuses and packages to entice applicants in, which can include any of the following: 

  • Transportation from the airport 
  • Country/region guides 
  • Help with securing a visa
  • Either providing housing or support with living costs
  • Covering health insurance costs 
  • Paid holiday leave
  • Extra bonuses

The cost of living in Thailand at the time of writing is roughly $500 to $1,000 USD per month, which is pretty low against the salary and average cost around the wider Asia region.

Couple this with the plethora of bonuses offered by schools, and it’s clear to see why so many teachers are able to make some decent money whilst immersing themselves in one of the continent’s most spectacular countries. 

For more about the costs of living and traveling in Thailand check out my Backpacking Thailand Budget and for more tips and inspiration for traveling in Thailand on a budget check out my 1 month Ultimate Thailand backpacking itinerary 

What Does Teaching in Thailand Look Like?

Most TEFL jobs in Thailand are contracted to a twelve month period, however six month options aren’t unheard of either. 

Most of the jobs will require a full-time commitment (roughly 25-35 hours per week), with everyone from young learners, teens all the way up to fully grown adults looking to learn English in a classroom these days! 

For more info about teaching English abroad check out this interview I did with my friend Alice who taught ESL for 5 years in Europe, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and China! Teaching English allowed her to live in many different countries, immersing herself in the culture while also saving money to travel around the world.

Get Teaching In Thailand Now

Prior to the pandemic hitting, Thailand was averaging over 39 million visitors each and every year, having started booming as the 2010s got underway.

With borders reopening and travellers being welcomed back, there’s never been a better time to experience all the wonders Thailand has to offer, and teaching English is one of the best ways of supporting yourself as you immerse yourself in its culture.

Check out the latest entry requirements for Thailand at the official Thailand Tourism website here.

With a relatively low cost of living, plenty of wonders to marvel at, a welcoming community from border to border and a whole host of workplace benefits, the Land of Smiles could well be the perfect place for your next big adventure! 

Check out this article for 35 more working abroad ideas with tips and interviews with people who are really doing it.

This post was written in collaboration with The TEFL Academy 


My Pick of the Best Horse Riding Holidays in the UK

Whether you want to improve your horse riding skills and learn more about horsemanship, or just want to explore the beautiful British countryside from a different perspective, there’s no better way than with a horse riding holiday. Escape the stresses of daily life, feel the peacefulness that a connection with nature, animals and like minded people can bring when you join one of the incredible horse riding holidays in the UK.

Tips for Planning a Horse Riding Holiday in the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the best places in the world for horse riding, with miles of rolling, green countryside and scenic bridleways, picturesque towns and charming villages to explore and a long, historic relationship with horses.

Exmoor National Park, Cornwall, Wales and The Lake District are among the best places for horse riding. Some of my favourite horse riding holidays in the UK also include the opportunity to gallop along the beach and stop at horse friendly country pubs along the way.

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Photo Credit – Freerein Horse Riding Holidays

The best time to go horse riding in the UK is between April and October. The winter months see cold, wet weather and the days get dark early, but the spring, summer and autumn months see the best weather conditions for horse riding. It’s the UK though – so bring a rain jacket anytime of year and always expect the unexpected weather wise!

UK horse riding trips vary in cost depending on length and service levels but don’t break the bank as much as you might think – some of these riding centres offer weekend packages  inclusive of riding, accommodation and meals starting from only £350.

While many horse riding holidays in the UK cater for all levels, and there are some horse riding holidays for beginners and children,  it’s a good idea to have at least one horse riding lesson per week so that you don’t spend your holiday aching from the new muscles that you use.

For your safety and sanity, it’s important to choose a horse riding holiday that suits the level you are at and to check reviews to make sure the riding centre is treating both horses and guests with the utmost care. I like bookhorseridingholidays.com because it’s kind of like the Booking.com for equestrian trips where you can check real reviews for the horse riding holidays in the UK and elsewhere.

To help you choose your horsey holiday here’s my top picks and recommendations for the best horse riding holidays in the UK based on personal experience, friend’s recommendations and guest reviews.

My pick of the top 5 horse riding holidays in the UK

Spring Hill Farm, North Wales

Riders of all levels can enjoy 3 days in the beautiful North Wales countryside at Springhill Farm. Enjoy trail rides across the rolling green countryside with lots of off road horse riding on bridleways, moorland, and ancient drovers tracks with lovely views of the Welsh Valley.

The riding is suitable for novice riders to experienced riders as well as children as the terrain is gentle and you can ride at a pace to suit you with groups of a similar standard. You’ll also have the opportunity to help groom, tack up and look after the horses if you wish.

You’ll stay on a quiet family farm in a Welsh Valley in a private and well stocked self catering cottage at Springhill Farm which is a BHA approved horse riding and pony club centre offering lessons, hacking, trekking, and riding holidays for children and adults. This is one of the best horse riding holidays in the UK for families and all ages and riding experience.

Click here for more info, prices, reviews and to book


Exmoor Horse Riding Holidays, Exmoor

The fantastic horse riding holiday in Exmoor offers wonderful rides across beautiful countryside is definitely one of the best horse riding holidays in the UK. The 4 day horse riding holiday welcomes intermediate and advanced riders to enjoy three excellent 2.5 hour rides of approximately 10 – 12 miles over stunning countryside in Exmoor, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

One of the highlights of this experience is the emphasis on natural horsemanship and holistic horse-led approach of Cathy and her team. The Gentle Horse and Rider Workshop will teach you how to connect with the horse through energy connection, touch, voice control and grounding. You can also watch a hawk and owl display or try your hand at flying the birds yourself at the Exmoor Owl & Wildlife Sanctuary (for an additional fee)

You’ll be accommodated in cosy B&B accommodation in a 15th century farmhouse National Trust farmhouse within Holnicote Estate in Exmoor National Park. Hearty English breakfasts, light sandwich lunches and cream teas are provided and for dinner you can try the pubs in the village.

Click here for more info, prices, reviews and to book


Freerein Horse Riding Holidays, Wales

Freerein offers exciting horse riding holidays exploring the beautiful countryside of the Wye Valley on the English/ Welsh border for intermediate and advanced riders with 6 – 7 hours of riding each day on well trained, fit, forward and friendly horses.

Choose from a 3 day short horse riding tour package to the flagship 7 day border to coast horse riding adventure covers 100 miles across country from border to coast staying overnight at small inns along the way.

The epic week long horsey adventure starts in the Wye Valley and finishes on the sands of the Dovey Estuary in Ynyslas, Wales and includes scenic riding across remote hills and valleys, cantering along the beach and splashing in the sea. Accommodation, breakfast, packed lunch and dinners are all included.

Click here for more info, prices, reviews and to book


The Old Vicarage, Cornwall

Enjoy trail riding, beach riding and carriage driving in Cornwall, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in England. Riders will enjoy many miles of rural bridleways, country horse riding and  carriage driving, as well as coastal and beach rides. What a way to explore the beautiful Cornwall countryside!

This is one of the best horse riding holiday in the UK for beginners as the Old Vicarage offers top class facilities and instruction that’s individually tailored to suit your level and are especially skilled with helping novice riders and complete beginners build their confidence and skills on horseback.

They even offer individual, group and family ‘Learn to Ride’ packages. You can also try natural horsemanship, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Western horseback riding styles. Accommodation is included in spacious static caravans with self catering facilities. Full English Breakfast and lunch are included and served in the on site café.

Click here for more info, prices, reviews and to book


Bespoke Equestrian, Northern Ireland

For epic equestrian escapes across the stunning and historic coast of Ireland check out Bespoke Equestrian Ireland. Choose from luxury riding holiday packages from 2 days to 1 week and enjoy expertly planned trips with quality accommodation, scenic rides across the beautiful and varied countryside and beaches and sightseeing. You’ll even see some locations that you might recognise from the Game of Thrones and the famous Giants Causeway!

The 2 day Northern Ireland horse riding adventure package offers a great introduction to trail riding in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Then work your way up to their signature 7 day North Coast adventure to explore the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route suitable for intermediate and advanced horse riders.

The meticulously planned routes and itineraries allows you to travel along the beautiful Irish coastline by horseback, enjoying varied and exciting 5 – 8 hours of riding every day with scenic rest spots and sightseeing breaks.

Accommodation, meals, luggage transfers and airport transfers all included. Some trips even include a days stay in Dublin city to start off your epic horseback tour of Ireland. (And, yes, technically some part of these trips are not all in the UK but this is such an amazing trip I couldn’t leave it out!)

Click here for more info, prices, reviews and to book


Read More:

  • Yurt stays and horse trekking in Kyrgyzstan  
  • Best places to visit in the UK

My 2021 Travel and Life Round Up

I didn’t write a round up in 2020 because I spent most of it stuck in a strict lockdown in Goa, all my work projects and travel plans, including running my first group tour in Kerala, were cancelled so I didn’t feel I had much good to say! (I did get to go on an amazing trip to Sri Lanka in February 2020 before the world changed though)

But despite the odds 2021 turned out to be a great year of travel for me so I wanted to write a round up post, firstly for my own memory, but also to give you a peak behind the scenes of what looks like  a glamourous life on Instagram and to show that travel is possible in these challenging times!

My 2021 Travel and Life Round Up

Goa, India

I saw in the New Year, as usual, watching the fireworks on the beach near my home in Goa, India. It was a bit of a lonely Christmas and New Year and a strange season for me as many close friends who would normally spend the winter season in Goa were unable to come as India was not open for tourists.

But while the rest of the world was back in lockdown, India was reporting herd immunity and most people thought Covid was finished in India. Goa was incredibly free – enjoying parties, workshops and social events under the sunshine without any restrictions and busy with domestic tourists.

Where there used to be noisy beach shacks is now just fishing boats and nature

With no international tourists some businesses had closed and where there used to be noisy beach shacks was instead fishing boats and nature.

A small, intimate community had formed as most of the remaining foreigners had been (happily) stuck in Goa since the country closed in March 2020, while Indian’s who could now work from home began to move to the beaches of Goa. Without my regular circle of friends there was a lot of space for personal growth and I also ended up making a lot of new friends.

Sunset in Goa

Just after New Year I had a small scooter accident which led to me having to stay home for a few weeks while my foot healed. As I spend so much time in Goa it kinda felt like a road accident was inevitable at some point so I’m just glad it wasn’t too bad, plus it gave me time to stay at home to get lots of work done and just to be still and alone with myself.

Random road trips to ‘real India.’

As each state in India has different entry rules I haven’t travelled around India as much as I would have liked recently. One of the highlights of the season was a random 2 day group road trip to Karnataka and Maharashtra.

A group of friends from our writers club were missing ‘real India’ so we headed out on scooters along the backroads of Goa, up and over Chorla Ghat to Karnataka.

Crossing the border into Karnataka

We stayed at the cute Red Hills Nature Resort and went for lunch in the town of Belagavi (also known as Belgaum) before driving on across the farm lands of Maharashtra and discovering Tilari Waterfalls. There was no traffic or checks on these back road borders. It was exhilarating to be so free and exploring again!

While heading back down the Ghats into Goa, under the light of the full moon, I saw a sight that will stay with me forever when a leopard crossed the road and disappeared into the jungle right in front of me! What a blessing, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes!

Sorry, couldn’t get a picture of the leopard crossing but how cool is this sign!

This road trip reminded me of the feeling of freedom that travel gives me and the excitement of exploring and new place, even when it’s not a touristic destination. I love exploring random places where I have no expectations the most! Especially discovering new places that are so close to home.

At Tilari Waterfall, Maharashtra

The second wave

By April the heat had intensified and Covid cases were rapidly on the rise due to a new variant. It felt like dejavu – but this time alot worse with no oxygen or hospital beds available. I feared getting stuck in another strict lockdown with no food or flights out. So I started to make plans to leave but didn’t get there in time before the UK announced arrivals from India would have to undergo hotel quarantine.

The only flights operating to and from India we within the air bubble scheme and with most countries banning arrivals from India and UK options were very limited. It was a stressful time with rules changing constantly. I booked flights to Egypt and The Maldives but both were cancelled as more borders closed.

A whole row to myself en route to Mexico City!

Hola Mexico!

Literally the only country that would let me in at that time was Mexico! It was somewhere I’d always wanted to visit and sounded a lot more exciting than an expensive hotel quarantine! I booked a ticket and 3 days later flew with Air France from Mumbai via Paris to Mexico City.

Two long flights to the opposite side of the world but it was one of the best flight experiences because I had a whole row of seats to myself and entering Mexico was easy – No visa, quarantine or test required (I did a test anyway before I left India to be sure I was safe)

I made it! At the Zocalo in Mexico City

Mexico City was so alive! It was captivating, intoxicating and unlike anywhere I’d visited before. I loved the historic Spanish architecture, the buzz of the modern city, the hip neighbourhoods, parks, cafes and museums, the ancient pyramids at Teotihuacan and of course the food, colour, music and exuberance for life that the Mexicans have.

After a week in fascinating Mexico City it was time to escape the city life. Instead of the popular and touristic Yucatan Peninsular I headed to the scenic and little developed Oaxaca Coast. First to the surf town of Puerto Escondido and then to Mazunte and Zipolite – Mexico’s only nudist beach!

Playa Carrizillio, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca,

These laidback, hippie, yoga hotspots felt like the Goa of Mexico and were hard to leave. After a few weeks I prised myself off the beaches to explore the colourful city of Oaxaca before heading back to Mexico City.

The only problem was I didn’t speak Spanish and hardly anyone spoke English. I picked up basic survival Spanish on the road and the Mexicans are friendly, helpful and tolerant so I managed but if I’d had more time to plan I would definitely learn some Spanish first! Read more of my travel tips for Mexico

At the church in Oaxaca

Also See: My Mexico Itinerary and Route and My Tips for Traveling Mexico 

The downside of the traveling and digital nomad lifestyle

While I loved Mexico and wanted to explore much more I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was missing. There were plenty of travellers to connect with but I still felt lonely. I was missing a certain someone and it seemed meaningless to experience all these beautiful places without someone special.

One of the biggest downsides to the traveling and digital nomad lifestyle is that it’s hard to form and maintain long term relationships. Sure, you meet many interesting people on the road but they come and go. All too soon you have to say goodbye as people continue on their own journeys. It can be a lonely life.

Watching sunset on the beach in Goa

I met Damien in Goa a few years ago. He is also from the UK and was staying in a hostel that my friend was working in so we became part of the same friendship group and gradually progressed from being friends to more.

We had been separated for 7 months due to travel restrictions. As Mexico was not on the UK’s hotel quarantine list, I could now head back to the UK and reconnect with Damien and my family after just home quarantine.

Damien and I meet in Goa as friends a few years ago and gradually grew closer

Even though I love to travel as much as possible, I think it’s really important to go home at least once a year to have a break and catch up with family, friends and my roots.

Reconnecting with my roots and family in the UK

I was nervous to return to the UK but I found it really wasn’t as bad as the news made it out to be. For the first time in ages I actually enjoyed being in my home country that I had been running away from for so long!

View of Canterbury Cathedral from Butchery Lane

Instead of going to my home in Suffolk, I stayed with Damien in Canterbury and enjoyed exploring the historic Cathedral city, the quaint, oyster mad, seaside town of Whitstable nearby and the countryside and castles of Kent.

It was great to have someone to go exploring with again and visit some beautiful and interesting places in the UK.

At Glastonbury Abbey

We took a trip to Glastonbury town and discovered the town had so much to offer than just the famous festival with sacred sites and a high street of eccentric characters and spiritual shops – it felt like the Goa of the UK!

We also enjoyed the buzzing atmosphere of the hip seaside town of Brighton during a heatwave as the UK celebrated ‘Freedom Day’ when all restrictions and mask mandates ended and the nightclubs reopened.

Damien and I on Brighton Pier

The UK seemed like the freest place to be and it was great to be with my loved ones again, enjoying family visits in Suffolk and Wales, seeing my sister’s first home and meeting my friends new babies. I even attended a weekend music festival with friends I hadn’t seen for 10 years – an almost surreal experience after recent restrictions.

Also see: My Guide to Canterbury and My Guide to Brighton 

An epic Spain and Portugal road trip

In September we set off on an epic road trip around Spain and Portugal. I felt like so long since I had been in Europe and it was nice to fall in love all over again, both with Europe and with Damien finding our flow traveling together.

We took a 24 hr ferry from Portsmouth, UK to Bilbao in Northern Spain and spent a month feeling the freedom of adventure and driving 3,500 km across Spain and Portugal!

After exploring San Sebastian, Madrid, Granada, Orgiva and Seville in Spain, we drove across the bridge from Spain to Portugal without any checks or paperwork required.

Once in Portugal we explored the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto. We spent some time with friends on their farm in central Portugal and discovered the historical village of Monsanto and even met a relative’s two week old baby in Braga before heading back to Spain to catch the ferry home.

Exploring Lisbon

An unexpected highlight was the beautiful, alpine like, regions of Austrias and Cantabria in Northern Spain with the elegant, laid back city of Oviedo and the beautiful harbour town of San Vicente de la Barquera.

I also rekindled my love for Andalusia and totally fell in love with the architecture and flamboyant style of Seville. What an epic trip!

Read More: Our Epic Spain and Portugal Road Trip – Route, Itinerary and Tips

Damien and I in the beautiful Parque de Maria Luisa in Seville

Feeling bad about the effect on the environment of all this travel I researched Carbon Offsetting. The Gold Standard offsetting program is backed by green groups including WWF.

Their website makes it easy to calculate your carbon footprint and choose where your money goes to help offset the carbon. I chose to donate to renewable energy and cleaner cooking stoves projects in India and take steps to reduce my footprint where I can.

Back to the sunshine – together this time

Coming back to the UK from Spain and the weather was already feeling dull and depressing. To avoid being stuck in different countries over winter again we made a quick stop in the UK to sort out visas and paperwork for India and headed back home to Goa in November just in time for another season in the sunshine of the place I love the most. This time together!

Read More: India Reopens for Tourism! – Entry Requirements and How to Get a Visa.

Celebrating Christmas together on the beach in Goa

Plans for 2022

We plan to work together on the blog; Damien’s working behind the scenes on a modern new look, we will be adding more on couples travel and trying not to get separated by borders again!

Solo travel has been an amazing and transformational journey that I highly recommend everyone tries at least once. But to experience the beauty and adventure in the world with someone special to share it with adds another dimension to my passion for life and travel.

We hope to explore more of Goa, hop across from India to the Maldives, and to travel more in Europe, Mexico and Central America.

2022 looks like it might be another year of changeable travel restrictions but Mexico and Central America are currently the best bet for hassle free travel and such beautiful and exciting places to explore.

Who knows what kind of challenges 2022 will throw at us but whatever happens at least we will face it together.

Here’s to the next chapter and a fabulous 2022!

What was your 2021 like? Did you travel anywhere and what are your hopes and dreams for 2022?

More blogs:

  • My 2019 Roundup
  • Our Spain and Portugal road trip
  • My Mexico Itinerary 


A Weekend in Canterbury & Whitstable – Tips from a Local

Canterbury is one of the most famous historic cities in England, largely due to it’s UNESCO listed cathedral. But there’s much more to this historic town than just the cathedral and it’s one of the best places to visit in the UK.

As I’ve been living in Canterbury for a while now, I thought it was about time I shared my top tips for a fabulous weekend in Canterbury and Whitstable.

A Weekend in Canterbury & Whitstable – Tips from a Local

As much as Canterbury is a pretty town steeped in history, it’s also a vibrant university town packed with interesting independent shops and restaurants.

Combine exploring this storied city with the nearby quaint seaside town of Whitstable, famous for its oysters, for a wonderful weekend or short break within easy reach of London.

View of the cathedral from Butchery Lane

Friday Night – Start your weekend in Canterbury

Canterbury has two train stations and can be reached in about 1 hour from London. If you’re arriving into Canterbury West Station you’re in the perfect place to kick off your weekend in Canterbury with a bite to eat at The Goods Shed, a trendy and wholesome farmers market, food hall and restaurant. Well, Canterbury is the heart of Kent – the garden of England, so it would be rude not to try the local, seasonal produce.

Next amble through the historic streets of Canterbury and check into ABode. This 4 star, boutique hotel is perfectly located in a historic building in the middle of the pedestrianised high street so you can make the most of your weekend in Canterbury by being within easy reach to all the city has to offer. It’s only 350 yards from Canterbury Cathedral and has an award winning restaurant and cocktail bar and elegant rooms.

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge.

It’s also opposite my favourite historic building in Canterbury – The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge. Canterbury’s museum, art gallery, library and visitor information centre which is definitely worth a look.

Another option is Canterbury Cathedral Lodge which offers comfortable and tasteful rooms with the refectory restaurant and terrace in the private and peaceful grounds of the famous Cathedral itself.

The entrance to Canterbury cathedral

Saturday Morning – Visit Canterbury Cathedral

Of course you can’t have a weekend in Canterbury without visiting Canterbury Cathedral! Make a beeline for one of the world’s largest, oldest and most famous cathedrals in the morning before the day trippers get there.

This important cathedral dates back to 597 but it’s been changed, damaged and rebuilt considerably over the years and is now a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most famous religious sites in the world.

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury’s cathedral’s fame is largely due to the events of 1170, when Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral by King Henry II’s knights after Henry is famously reputed to have exclaimed “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest!”.

Thomas Becket became a martyr and Canterbury became the most popular pilgrimage site in England. The pilgrims bought wealth and many stories which inspired famous works like Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. (Although the attraction of the same name is now permanently closed) Read more about the history here

At Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral today is still an awe inspiring and absolutely massive place to explore. The stained glass is particularly beautiful and dates back to the 1100’s making it some of the oldest in the world.  although it could do with a bit more signage and information boards so if you are really interested in the history I’d recommend taking a guided tour.

It costs £12.50 to visit the Cathedral (you can’t really see it from outside) and sadly there’s alot of scaffolding on the front at the moment but it’s still worth a visit. Imagine how difficult and expensive it is to keep just a complex and historic building standing for so long! Your entry fee will help maintain this important piece of history.

One of the many chapels inside Canterbury cathedral with the amazing stained glass

Lunchtime at The Westgate Gardens

One of the things I like best about Canterbury is that you can see the imposing Westgate Tower as you walk down the pedestrianised high street. It’s really a lovely place to stroll around the historic streets browsing the independent shops and boutiques.

After exploring the cathedral head to my favourite place in Canterbury – the Westgate Gardens.

The Westgate Gardens

In the summer the Westgate Gardens are filled with colourful flowers and are the best place to relax watching the punts float by in the shadow of the Westgate Tower – the largest surviving medieval gateway in the UK. You can go up the tower for a great viewpoint over the city, also inside is a museum and escape rooms.

The Westgate Towers

If you’re feeling hungry after all this history and exploring head over the river from the Westgate Gardens to Cafe Des Amis – it’s family owned and my go to for tasty Mexican food by the river and gardens.

Punting on the River Stour

Saturday Afternoon – Relax on a Canterbury River Tour

Another thing you won’t want to miss on a weekend in Canterbury is a river tour. By now you’ll probably have seen the punts floating along and, if you’re anything like me, are probably wanting to get on the river yourself!

You’ve got two options for exploring Canterbury’s Great Stour River; Westgate Punts go through the picturesque Westgate Gardens, or learn more about Canterbury’s fascinating history and explore the other part of the river that runs through the heart of the city on the original Canterbury Historic River Tours. 

Our guide John on the Canterbury Historic River Tour

I felt the later was more interesting and enjoyed the humorous way our guide, John, told us stories and facts about the history of Canterbury, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you too much here.

The meeting point for the river tour is by the beautiful Old Weavers House and restaurant on the high street, near the witches ducking stool!

Old Weavers House and Great Stour River in Canterbury

On the tour you’ll travel past this, under one of the oldest working road bridges in Britain and up to the mysterious Greyfriars’ Island, once the home to the Franciscans (one of Canterbury’s many religious orders) while you learn all about Canterbury’s storied past.

Unsuccessfully trying to row!

I even got to have a go rowing. John made it look so easy – but the currents mean it’s actually really difficult!

Anyone for Afternoon Tea?!

Another thing I love about England is afternoon tea; mini sandwiches, dainty cakes, freshly baked scones with butter, strawberry jam and clotted cream and a pot of warm, comforting tea. Splash out and add a glass of sparkling prosecco for an extra treat.

Afternoon tea at Tiny Tim’s Tearoom in Canterbury

My favourite place to go for afternoon tea in Canterbury is the quintessentially English Tiny Tim’s Tearoom. I love the historic building it’s located in too. If you go make sure you go upstairs to the bathroom – it’s an adventure in itself where you might find a surprise.

Saturday Afternoon – More history or feel good shopping?

If you thought you were finished with historic sights then you’d be wrong. Canterbury has 2 more sites that, together with the Cathedral, earned the city it’s UNESCO listing. So if you want to explore more history also check out St Augustin’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church.

St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury

St Augustine’s Abbey is now mostly ruins, apart from this gatehouse pictured above which is now the entrance to The King’s School, the oldest school in Britain. The Abbey was founded shortly after AD 597 by St Augustine, who the Pope sent over from Rome, on a mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.

Entrance to St Augustine’s is free for members of English Heritage or £7.90 and includes an interesting audio tour and entrance to the museum.

Did you know that small and humble St Martin’s Church in Canterbury has been a place of worship since at least the 6th century making it the oldest church in continuous use in the English speaking world. You can visibly see the different building materials and techniques in the church, but the opening times are limited. Check their website first.

Colourful shopping streets of Canterbury and The Sun Hotel. Charles Dickens stayed here and based Mr Micawber’s Little Inn on this place in his novel David Copperfield

Or feel good shopping

Canterbury has plenty of independent shops to explore, especially around the King’s Mile which is dedicated to them. If you like to shop and also get the feel good factor there are a couple of interesting places in Canterbury to check out.

On the high street check out Unboxed Kent – an innovative, zero waste store that does not use any plastic packaging. Bring a container, buy one there or fill up paper bags with everyday essentials, eco products and treats like sweets and even vegan wine.

The Crooked House bookshop in Canterbury

Take a wander down the Kings Mile to check out the Crooked House, a delightfully skewed 17th century half-timbered three story building at the far end of Palace Street. It’s now a second hand bookshop run by volunteers that fundraises for local charity Catching Lives which supports homeless and vulnerable people.

You could also have a coffee or bite to eat at Lily’s Social Kitchen nearby. It’s a not for profit cafe that offers training and work experience to vulnerable people or those who are often overlooked for employment opportunities.

Pretty pubs in Canterbury

Saturday Night in Canterbury

Start off Saturday night with award winning incarceration themed cocktails on the terrace or in your own private cell at The Pound, an atmospheric bar set in the city’s old jail next to the Westgate Tower.

Go for dinner in nearby Cafe du Soleil an excellent Mediterranean restaurant situated in a former 18th century wool store on the river Stour. If you feel like dancing and cocktails probably the best place to head is The Cuban although I don’t really rate Canterbury’s nightlife these days.

Beach huts at Tankerton in Whitstable

Sunday – Explore Whitstable

What better way to round off a weekend in Canterbury than spending a lazy Sunday strolling along the seafront in the quaint fishing town of Whitstable. A roughly 30 mins drive or bus ride.

You could even hire a bike and ride the 7.5 miles from cloisters to oysters on the Crab and Winkle Way – it runs along the route and takes the name of the first railway line in Britain.

Whitstable seafront path

Whitstable is famous for its oysters. When in Whitstable the best thing to do is to simply wander along the seafront and soak up the sights and smells of this cute seaside town, and of course, try some oysters or treat yourself to a yummy seafood lunch.

There’s a path that runs pretty much all the way along the pebbled beach seafront, through the harbour and up to the grassy slopes and colourful beach huts at Tankerton.

Whitstable Harbour

Whitstable Harbour is a highlight where you’ll find fishing boats, fresh seafood restaurants and little black huts selling locally made art, crafts and souvenirs.

You can also take a boat trip out to see the Red Sands Sea Forts. These eerie forts, built as defences in the 2nd World War, are now abandoned and look like something straight out of War of the Worlds. You can see them from the boat but you can’t actually go inside them.

If you don’t want to splash out on the expensive seafood platters in the restaurants there is a kiosk in the harbour where you can try an oyster for only £1. Whitstable oysters are so famous they even have their own oyster festival. You’ve got to try at least one when in Whitstable!

Even the beach at Whitstable is covered with oyster shells
Bargain oysters in Whitstable Harbour

For lunch the Whitstable Oyster Company Restaurant is one of the best serving fresh oysters, fish and seafood on the beach with a view of the company’s oyster grounds.

Also make sure you head off the beach path and onto the high street and get a photo of the adorable, pink Wheeler’s Oyster Bar. The food’s really good here but the restaurant is small but you can pre order hot and cold picnic boxes for an amazing deluxe picnic on the beach.

One of the most instagrammable places in Whitstable – Wheeler’s Oyster Bar

If you’re not so into seafood then Harbour Street Tapas would be my pick. Walk off lunch by continuing down the path past the quirky wooden seafront huts and houses  and stop for a drink in the Old Neptune Pub, where the beer garden is actually on the beach.

More colourful beach huts in Whitstable

Whitstable is also a great place to watch the sunset – it’s one of the few places in England where you can see the sun touching down in the sea. Watch it from Tankerton Slopes while you day dream about owning a beach hut or with sundowners in the beachy beer garden of the Old Neptune pub.

Sunset over Whitstable Beach

My Top Canterbury and Whitstable Travel Tip

If you are traveling by train for your weekend in Canterbury and Whitstable it might be more convenient for you to book your tickets into Canterbury and out of Whitstable.

Despite the Crab and Winkle line between the Canterbury and Whitstable being one of the first passenger railway lines in the UK, they are no longer on the same line. So to get from Canterbury to Whitstable by rail you have to change in Faversham.

I hope you found this post helpful. It’s been great to show you the best from my new UK home base and I’m looking forward to doing some weekend trips in the UK.

Have you got any more tips for a weekend in Canterbury and Whitstable? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


Read more blogs about the UK

  • My Weekend in Brighton – the UK’s hippest seaside town.
  • Best places to visit and stay in Suffolk (by a local!)


Why Thailand Is The Perfect First Time Backpacking Destination

Why Thailand is the perfect first time solo backpacking and digital nomad destination

Thailand, is also known as the land of smiles’ and is the place where many backpackers, independent travellers and digital nomads get their first taste of freedom and adventure and for good reason – Thailand is the perfect country for your first solo backpacking trip and is also one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads in the world!

Why? Thailand is a place that simply has it all, it’s an exotic paradise filled with natural beauty, golden glittering temples, an intriguing culture, fiery cuisine, vibrant nightlife and some of the best beaches and islands in the world.

And, compared to some other destinations, traveling independently and solo in Thailand is a much easier, smoother, safer, affordable and less stressful experience where it’s easy to meet like minded people.

At a temple in Chiang Mai

My Ultimate Thailand Itinerary and Backpacking Route

Why Thailand is perfect for backpackers and digital nomads

The backpacker trail in Thailand is popular and well trodden but it means that backpacking Thailand is super easy, affordable and you’re likely to meet other like minded travellers.

If you are a digital nomad or working remotely while you travel you will find all the modern comforts and fast internet you need to be productive as Thailand is a global hub for digital nomads.

Another thing that makes Thailand perfect for travellers and digital nomads is the people themselves, the Thais are tolerant, hospitable and polite and make backpacking Thailand a breeze, even for the inexperienced traveller.

I’ve been backpacking Thailand alone many times now and never had a problem, I’ve always felt safe, found it easy to get where I want to go and always made friends and travel buddies really effortlessly.

Pin Me! 😉

Many travellers start their Thailand adventure on Khao San Road in Bangkok which is probably the biggest mecca for backpackers in the whole world! Bangkok is filled with exciting things to do and see and Khao San Road offers everything you could ever need for your travels, easy onward transport connections and is a great place to party and meet other backpackers.

Sometimes the hardest thing about backpacking Thailand is deciding where to do next!

Once you’re ready to leave Bangkok the only problem is deciding on your next destination, do you go North to experience the jungles, mountains, hill tribes, temples, history and culture of Northern Thailand and the digital nomad mecca of Chiang Mai.

Or do you head South and spend your days island hopping through picture postcard perfect tropical islands, spending your days lazing in a hammock, exploring under the water or partying all night under the full moon on paradisaical islands like Koh Phangan and Koh Lanta – both are also popular with digital nomads and remote workers.

My advice is to go North first because if you go straight to the islands you might never want to leave and then you’d really be missing out on all the amazing adventures in North Thailand!

Read More: My Perfect Thailand Backpacking Route and Itinerary. 

Thong Nai Pan Beach, Koh Phangan

The Ultimate guide to your first time backpacking Bangkok  and Where to Stay in Bangkok ( for all areas and all budgets)

Getting around, things to do and meeting new people in Thailand

Luckily, getting around this exciting and diverse country is easy due to the good tourist and backpacker facilities and affordable network of tuk tuks, buses, trains, boats and planes that criss-cross the country.

You can even make all your travel arrangements and pre book trains, buses and ferries online before your trip with Bookaway but it’s also easy to go with the flow and arrange transport as you go. Most hostels and hotels will help you with your onward travel plans often arranging combined tickets with mini bus pick ups directly from the hostel to transport hubs.

Visiting Thailand has so much more to offer than just temples, beach and bar hopping. Thailand also has a huge host of activities to keep you entertained from cooking classes, jungle trekking, Muay Thai training, yoga courses, Thai massage, scuba diving, the list is endless – there are so many things to do in Thailand.

Wat Rong Kong Temple near Chiang Rai. My favourite temple in Thailand!

Yes, Thailand is popular and quite touristy – its not off the beaten track but this is sometimes not really a bad thing especially if you are backpacking Thailand alone.

Because of Thailand’s popularity you’ll find Thailand has a safe, easy, fun and well worn backpacker trail and a thriving digital nomad scene with plenty of affordable sleeping (check out the best backpacker hostels in Thailand as recommended by travel bloggers), eating and drinking options to choose from and even a taste of comfort food from home is possible if you’re feeling homesick.

The best place in Thailand for digital nomads

If you’re a digital nomad looking for an affordable place to settle for a while and get work done while also connecting with like-minded people and having fun things to do at the weekends then head to a digital nomad hub like Chiang Mai, in particular the Nimmanhaemin Road area.

Some say this city is where it the movement of traveling and working online all began with entrepreneurs from all over the world taking advantage of the low living costs and friendly, inspiring scene to build and launch their online businesses.

Some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen in my life have been in Thailand, especially the temples in Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai you can rent an apartment for a month for as little as 3,500 (£85) to 8,000 baht (£195) a month. Most include wifi but you can also choose to work from one of the many coffee shops popular with digital nomads or coworking spaces. Bangkok, Pai, Koh Lanta and Koh Phangan also have thriving digital nomad scenes.

Often the people that you meet can make or break your trip and, due to Thailand’s popularity, it’s easy to meet other like-minded travellers or digital nomads to travel with and make memories and friendships that will probably last a lifetime. This is why Thailand is one of the best places to backpack alone – you’ll never be lonely for long here!

Buddhas at historical Ayutthaya

Cost of backpacking Thailand

Backpacking Thailand is also very affordable and great value for money. It’s not such a bargain as it used to be, but you can still enjoy Thailand even on a budget. I spent about 1,500 Baht per day on my trips, (that’s about £36/ $50) but you could easily spend a lot less or more. Click here for a breakdown of my average daily backpacker budget for Thailand.

It couldn’t be easier to see and enjoy this incredible country. Thailand is an easy, affordable, popular and yet still exotic destination packed with so many stunning sights and amazing experiences that is simply perfect for your first backpacking trip or your first foray into the exciting lifestyle of the digital nomad!

So many people visit Thailand every year for their first big overseas trip and then go onto discover the rest of Southeast Asia and beyond with their new found levels of self confidence and burgeoning sense of adventure once they have been bitten by the travel bug!

Relaxing in Koh Phangan

This post was written in collaboration with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Get inspiration and advice for visiting Thailand on their new blog www.fanclubthailand.co.uk. and check out the latest entry requirements for Thailand here.  

In July 2021 Thailand is expected to open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine. Phuket will be the first destination to open followed by Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Krabi, Pattaya and Phang Nga. See more details here Those without the vaccine will need to have a negative test and quarantine for 10 days at an ASQ hotel in Bangkok.

Are you planning your first backpacking or digital nomad trip?

Let me know if you have any more questions about Thailand in the comments below.


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My Pick of the 5 Best Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica for 2023

Home to some of the world’s most amazing nature, wildlife and biodiversity, Costa Rica has become one of the world’s most popular destinations for eco-tourism and the incredible wellness and yoga retreats in Costa Rica are among the best in the world.

Costa Rica is famous amongst travellers that want to see the country’s spectacular flora and fauna, go trekking and enjoy bird watching. It’s also a hot spot for healing, wellness and yoga retreats thanks to the amazing backdrop it provides.

The Best Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica for 2023

There are so many excellent Costa Rica yoga retreats you are spoilt for choice, but how do you make sure you choose the best one for you. In this post I’ll explain what makes Costa Rica a top wellness and yoga destination and give you my recommendation for the best yoga retreats in Costa Rica.

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Costa Rico literally translates to “Rich Coast”, but the stunning beaches are just the start – the volcanoes, jungles, mountains, lakes and waterfalls are also spectacular. It is truly is a magnificent country, and one of the best places in the world to practice yoga surrounded by the healing vibes of nature.

It’s also one of the best surfing destinations in the world and there are many awesome surf camps in Costa Rica too – many of which combine yoga and surfing – the perfect combination!

The Best Places For Yoga In Costa Rica

Whether you are looking for an eco friendly wellness retreat in nature or a fun yoga and surf on the beach there’s so many great places for yoga vacations in Costa Rica.

Beach lovers should head to Guanacaste, the Nicoya Peninsula, Puntarenas, Puerto Viejo and Limon with white sand beaches and laid back surf towns like Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, Nosara and Montezuma are all popular destinations for yoga retreats in Costa Rica.

If you’re after unspoilt rainforests, waterfalls, hot springs and volcanoes the area around La Fortuna and the Arenal volanco is home to some of the best wellness retreats in Costa Rica.

You could combine your yoga vacation with exploring the rest of this stunning country – this detailed Costa Rica itinerary should give you all the tips and info you need to plan your trip.

How to Choose a Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

There is such a wide range of yoga retreats in Costa Rica offering different types of yoga classes and other wellness activities from surfing to hiking, horseback riding to ziplining so it can be confusing figuring out which retreat is the best for you.

Take some time to think about your experience level, your preferred style of yoga, your budget and what other activities you want to try. There are plenty of yoga retreats suitable for beginners, yoga and surf retreats are very popular and there’s even yoga teacher training retreats in Costa Rica if you want to deepen your practice or change your career.

Also consider the location – do you want a beach yoga retreat or to be immersed deep in the jungle? And what facilities are important to do – is an all inclusive luxury retreat center complete with swimming pool and spa essential? Do you have any special dietary requirements, or are you looking for a budget retreat and don’t mind sharing a room? Once you consider all these factors you should be able to find the perfect Costa Rica retreat for you.

Whatever you decide, always check the reviews from previous guests. I find bookyogaretreats really useful, it’s like the Booking.com for yoga retreats where you can read reviews from people who’ve already been there themselves.

After all, like hotels, not all yoga retreats are created equal and you want your yoga retreat to be relaxing and memorable for all the right reasons!

To help you choose your perfect Costa Rica yoga vacation, here’s my pick of the best….

The Best Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica for 2023

Peace Retreat, Los Pargos, Guanacaste

A boutique-style sanctuary, Peace Retreat can be found in a remote location surrounded by the Costa Rica jungle. It’s the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and practice five days of yoga. Enjoy an Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Power Yoga morning session and a relaxing Yin evening yoga class.

There’s plenty of free time in between to go surfing, head to the beach, go on a volcano excursion or waterfall hiking. You can also book a massage, a private meditation session or a private yoga session. If that’s not enough, Peace Retreat also has a pool, a lounge area and a spa

Another great thing about Peace Retreat is that there are numerous accommodations to choose from. Stay in a cabina constructed with reforested teak wood, a private room above the yoga studio, or a private suite complete with a kitchen and private rooftop deck. Combining yoga, spirituality and the amazing healing power of the nature this is one of the best yoga retreats in Costa Rica.

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Read More: Best Yoga Retreats in Nicaragua 

Essence Arenal, La Fortuna

This Costa Rica yoga retreat is off the beaten path in a small village on top of a hill overlooking Lake Arenal and Arenal volcano. The spectacular views are something out of a National Geographic, making it one of the best yoga retreats in Costa Rica for the setting alone.

Spend four blissful days enjoying a daily 75-minute Vinyasa or Yin yoga classes, daily guided meditation, daily personal hydrotherapy, three healthy vegetarian meals per day made with organic produce from the onsite permaculture farm and naturopathic teas.

Even though this rainforest retreat is surrounded by nature you don’t have to compromise on comfort. You will be staying in a private room complete with orthopaedic mattresses and anti-allergic pillows. As well, Essence Arenal is surrounded by jungle trails and just up the road from the Butterfly Conservatory. It truly is the perfect spot for a quick yoga getaway in spectacular nature.

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AmaTierra Retreat, San Jose

Surrounded by mango trees and rainforest ambience, AmaTierra retreat invites you to heal and reset in nature. As well as daily hatha yoga and meditation, this experience is rich in optional activities, from soothing spa treatments to invigorating adventures.

Thrill seekers can zipline over jungles and waterfalls, hike the volcano, or take a surf lesson at the nearby beach. Balance this by exploring the nearby stream, floating on a raft in the outdoor pool, or enjoy a quiet moment on your private terrace.

Your suite has a queen-sized bed and bath, encouraging relaxation at every opportunity. All meals are included, making this one of the best yoga retreats in Costa Rica and leaving you to relax and focus on doing whatever feeds your soul.

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Read More: Best Yoga Retreats in Mexico

Casa Zen Guest House and Yoga Center, Santa Teresa, Puntarenas

Sitting just 50 meters from the stunning Santa Teresa beach, Casa Zen Guesthouse and Yoga Center is a boutique hostel and super affordable yoga retreat that’s surrounded by lush gardens and offering stunning views of the beach. You can even hear the relaxing sound of the waves while practicing yoga on the open air balcony of this Costa Rica yoga retreat.

There are numerous Hatha and Vinyasa yoga classes offered each and every day, and when booking this yoga retreat in Costa Rica, you have access to as many classes as you would like, so you can practice yoga in the morning, afternoon and evening or you can choose to spend your time hiking, biking, surfing or just relaxing on the beach.

Accommodation is provided in a shared dorm or private room, depending on your budget. Breakfast is also included and there’s two well-equipped communal kitchens for guests to use to prepare other meals. You can also enjoy exploring the nearby local cafes and restaurants.

This is one of the most affordable yoga retreats in Costa Rica with a 5 day retreat starting at only $120! Being able to take unlimited yoga classes makes it even better value for money!

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El Sabanero Eco Lodge, Cañafistula, Guancaste

El Sabranero Eco Lodge is located in the remote village of Cañafistula. It’s a stunning property that’s completely surrounded by the lush vegetation that the country is known for, making it one of the best yoga retreats in Costa Rica to get back to nature. It’s also a top choice for solo female travellers that want to experience a yoga retreat in Costa Rica in a friendly and non judgements atmosphere.

There are two yoga shalas; one indoors and one outdoors, where you will enjoy two Vinyasa yoga practices a day alongside pranayama, meditation, and chakra balancing workshops.  You will also get three gourmet vegetarian meals as well as diet and nutrition tips for living a healthy life.

Five nights accommodation in a private room and airport transfers are included. When you’re not practicing yoga, you can relax at the infinity pool, get a massage or take the free shuttle bus to one of the nearby stunning Pacific coast beaches.

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I hope this post has helped you to find your ideal Costa Rica yoga retreat and that you have an amazing time. This is just a small selection of the numerous yoga and wellness retreats in Costa Rica, I wanted to keep it short and sweet because having too many choices can just be overwhelming. Whatever you are looking for, from a luxury eco retreat immersed in nature to a fun yoga and surf retreat on the beach I’m sure you’ll find it in Costa Rica.

Have you been on an amazing yoga retreat in Costa Rica?

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below


Read More Yoga and Costa Rica Blogs:

  • Best Yoga Retreats in Mexico
  • Best Yoga Teacher Training in Costa Rica
  • Best Yoga Retreats in Nicaragua 
  • Best Surf Camps in Costa Rica
  • Best Yoga Retreats in Thailand
  • Best Surf Camps and Yoga Retreats in Hawaii
  • Best Yoga Retreats in Florida
  • Best Yoga Retreats in California


Why I Loved Traveling in Cambodia

Why I Loved Traveling in Cambodia

When I decided that after 2 years of traveling the world I needed to settle down a bit. It was a choice between Cambodia and Goa in India. Goa won but Cambodia still has a special place in my heart and is somewhere that I still dream of returning to. I just loved traveling in Cambodia. She charmed me with ancient temples, emerald rice paddies, quaint towns and the simple way of life.

Anna at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The low cost of living and easy visa arrangements also help make traveling in Cambodia easy, but mostly it was the infectious optimism of the people who have been through hell but are still smiling that captured my heart and imagination. It really didn’t take me long to fall in love with Cambodia.

This is why I love Cambodia:

The People

Cambodian people have been through more than most due to the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, political instability and poverty but they have bounced back with an infectious optimism. People seem content with simple, peaceful lives and are mostly genuine, open, friendly and charming. Despite their circumstances and history this really is the land of a thousand smiles but unlike tourist weary Thailand these are genuine smiles. The Khmer people are the main reason why I loved traveling in Cambodia.


 The Idyllic Countryside

Fields of rich, luscious emerald green paddy fields. interspersed with palm trees and clusters of wooden houses on stilts accompanied by a few lazy cows, pigs, goats and chickens and children playing around on bicycles or in waterholes creates an idyllic, beautiful, bucolic countryside scene that is perfect for exploring. It feels a long way from the trappings of the modern world and almost makes me want to give it all up and settle for a farmer’s life.


Amazing Temples

No where does ancient temples quite like Cambodia. From mighty Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world and the icon of Cambodia, to the other barely touristed Banteay Chhmar, UNESCO site Preah Vihear and many others, old and new, dotted across the country.

Read More: Why the temples of Angkor were my highlight of Southeast Asia

Read More: How to avoid the crowds and more tips for visiting Angkor Wat


It’s Unique and Undeveloped

Floating villages and sleepy, dusty, dilapidated towns gracefully bear the scars, trials and tribulations of such a fascinating past with charismatic uniqueness and, due to the tragic history of Cambodia, Khmers have developed ingenious ways of doing things, for example the clever bamboo train near Battambang.

The capital Phnom Penh once the ‘Pearl of Asia’ is making a comeback but is still mercifully low rise and charming with elegant streets, French colonial architecture and a pleasant riverside setting where elaborate golden temple spires and curving Khmer rooftops still dominate the skyline. For now, Cambodia remains undeveloped and untarnished by globalisation and modern global brands that threaten to suck out the character and create identikit cities.


Beautiful Beaches

If you want to get a feel for what Thailand’s islands were like 20 years ago go to Cambodia. Think rustic resorts, unspoilt white sand beaches and turquoise seas to rival Thailand and with a fraction of the crowds. Sihanoukville offers up a great beach scene with resorts and lively nightlife while the (so far) undeveloped island of Koh Rong is a rustic backpacker’s paradise.


Fascinating History

At the National Museum in Phnom Penh

Discovering Cambodia’s history will take you on an emotional roller coaster as it ranges from the glorious days of Angkor Wat at the height of the Khmer Empire, the largest city of the pre industrial world, to the days of French colonialism, civil war, independence and then the atrocities of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. This part of the history can feel shocking and depressing but it is essential to learn and the way that the people have come back from those awful times is inspiring.


The Food

Everyone’s eaten Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines before but the creamy, coconuty, delicious and delicately flavoured Khmer cuisine is a new treat to discover. You can even take a cooking class to learn how to recreate the delicious and delicately balanced flavours yourself.

If your feeling more adventurous you can even try eating crickets, silkworms, spiders, scorpions and other insects commonly snacked on in Cambodia! Read More: Cambodia’s creepy crawly cuisine.


Easy Travel, Visas and Great Value for Money

I know, cost is not the most important factor, but when a country is cheap it’s just easier to have a great time and you can spend longer there. Cambodia is super affordable and US Dollars are widely used. You can buy beer in a bar for 50 cents, a short tuk tuk ride is about a dollar, a few dollars can get you a restaurant meal and $8 for a decent double room makes it easy to travel Cambodia on a budget.

It’s easy to travel around Cambodia and most hotels will help you book buses to other tourist destinations and tuk tuks for shorter journeys. It’s also easy to get a visa for most nationalities, including Indians. You can get a visa on arrival at airport and land borders, for this you’ll need a passport photo and USD$30. You can also now apply beforehand for an evisa and save time and hassle queueing up for your visa when you arrive. It’s also possible to extend your visa later on.

See here for more information about travel costs for Cambodia.

Click here to apply for a Cambodia visa online