Adventurous Kate’s Top 10 Adventures in Southeast Asia

Adventurous Kate contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

You know how much I live for adventures! My six months in Asia were filled with them, and I don’t regret any of them.  I’ll be telling these stories forever.

But some of the adventures were a lot better than others.

Here are my top 10 adventures in Southeast Asia:

Fighting Muay Thai in Koh Phi Phi

On Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, there’s a reggae bar that gives you a free bucket if you fight Muay Thai — Thai boxing — against a fellow amateur.  I eagerly jumped in — and promptly got my ass kicked.

I knew I was in over my head from the first round, but held on anyway.  I ended up covered in bruises and had a bloody eye for three weeks.  The good thing was that I got to know a lot more Thais, who pointed to my injuries in horror wherever I went.

I haven’t written about this adventure yet — stay tuned.

Drinking Snake Blood in Hanoi

The outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam, are filled with restaurants serving every part of the snake — from flesh to bones.  The piece de resistance?  The heart, bitten out of the body of the live snake.

While I couldn’t stomach the thought of chewing a beating heart, I eagerly chugged down a shot of snake blood, followed by a shotof snake bile.

Click here to read about drinking snake blood in Hanoi.

Partying in the Cambodian Countryside

Moments after arriving at our guesthouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Ste befriended a few members of our guesthouse staff — and got us invited to a party celebrating the end of the harvest, an hour outside the city in the countryside!

From arriving in the back of a pickup truck to winning cans of beer at darts to dining with local Khmer families to riding the rusty, peeling merry-go-round of death, it was one of the greatest cultural experiences I’ve ever had.

Click here to read about our night partying in the Cambodian countryside.

Getting Shipwrecked in Indonesia

Yes, it was awful, and I’m sick of talking about it, but there’s no way you can say it wasn’t an adventure.

Click here to read about my Indonesian shipwreck.

Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok

A giant water fight throughout Bangkok, involving everyone from little kids to little old ladies?  Getting buckets of water thrown at you as you ride a tuk-tuk through the city?  Live water attacks in the electronics floor of MBK?  Yes, please!

I can’t believe I almost missed out on Songkran.  Grabbing a water gun and firing at everyone who passed made me feel like a kid again — even while doing it in a bar.  Songkran lasted three days and it didn’t bore me for one minute — very much worth booking cheap flights to Bangkok.

Click here to read about celebrating Songkran in Bangkok.

Motorbiking Down Vietnamese Highways

I learned to ride a motorbike in Pai, Thailand, honed my craft in Laos and Cambodia, and then set out for the big test — Vietnam.  Vietnam has the craziest drivers in all of Southeast Asia — especially on its highways, where buses won’t hesitate to run your down.

After riding to see a giant Buddha statue on a mountain outside Mui Ne, we realized that we had to drive like maniacs in order to get back before sunset — so we wove in and out of traffic, dodged buses and stopped bikes, waved to drivers who pulled up besides us for conversations, and spun through barely-there gaps in traffic.

If any of our parents had seen us, they would have had a heart attack.  And I loved every minute of it.

Click here to read about how I learned to drive like a Vietnamese madwoman.

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng, Laos — the best and worst place in the world, as my friend Chris likes to say — is the ultimate destination for party-loving backpackers in Southeast Asia.  And riding down the glistening Nam Song river in an inner tube while mountains surround you, getting pulled in to jump on makeshift bars and dancing with dozens of new friends is unlike anything else in the world.

I ended up spending 15 days in Vang Vieng, and those days were such a happy blur.  I feel like this is something I had to go through as a party-loving twenty-something.

Click here to read about tubing in Vang Vieng.

The Halong Bay Party Cruise

I knew there were a lot of cheaper Halong Bay cruises available to be booked from Hanoi, but everyone told me I had to go with the Rock Long, Rock Hard Tour of Halong Bay from Hanoi Backpackers Hostel.  Boy, am I glad I did!  They didn’t even try to hide it — from the moment we arrived on the boat, they announced that we were required to drink with our left hand or we’d get drawn on.

It was a night of cross-dressing, Stephen Hawking, trolls, jumping off the top of the boat, tequila shots, the Americano dance, and people taking their clothes off.  I still can’t believe that a cruise like this exists.  I’d love to go back during the warmer months.

Click here to read about Halong Bay’s best party cruise.

Starring in a Really Bad German Film

When Cody offered me and Matt a chance to be in the German movie Tourist in Danger filming in Ao Nang, Thailand, we jumped at the chance.  We soon found out that extra work is unglamorous as everyone says — and that this was quite possibly the worst movie ever filmed. Do they have Razzies in Germany?

It was probably made worse by the fact that we were dancing ridiculously in the background the whole time, going crazy from doing the same thing over and over and over.  We ended the day at 3:00 AM, exhausted, delirious, and 1500 baht — $50 — richer.

Click here to read about my day as a film extra in Tourist in Danger.

Making a Tranny BFF in Ao Nang

This adventure is pretty tame in comparison to the others, but it was just so funny, and an “only in Thailand” experience!

While out celebrating the half moon with friends in Ao Nang, we, well, partied a little bit too hard.  Long story short, I woke up the next morning, picked up my camera — and nearly cried with laughter.  Apparently the night before, we befriended one of Thailand’s omnipresent krathoeys, or transvestites, and from the looks of it, we were best friends!

For about 25 photos, my friends and Tranny BFF were draped all over each other, dancing, swinging from a pole, sitting on each other’s laps, sharing the same bucket!  It was so random — and the fact that none of us had any memory of it made it absolutely ridiculous!

Runners-up: Swimming in the Mekong in Don Det, the Nha Trang Boat Trip, drinking with a Mafia don in Koh Lanta, drinking arrak with locals in Bali, getting lost on the Bolaven Plateau, riding the Thai party train, getting robbed while skinny-dipping in Sihanoukville, and many, many more.Adventurous Kate's Top 10 Adventures in Southeast Asia

Get email updates from KateNever miss a post. Unsubscribe anytime!

29 thoughts on “Adventurous Kate’s Top 10 Adventures in Southeast Asia”

  1. The Mu Thai boxing looks like an experience! Dont think I would have been quite as quick as you to jump into that ring to get my ass kicked! Your adventures definitely look great, thanks for sharing.

  2. I am so jealous, the things you managed to get up to look fab, I am heading off to Thailand next year and I hope to be able to tell similar stories to you!

  3. OMG girl you rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are so brave to participate in a boxing fight and to drink snack’s blood….I would never ever do those kind of things…seems like you had a blast!
    thanks for sharing!

  4. You won me over with the Snake Blood followed by the snake bile….don’t think I could have added the second I would have probably rather taken my chances with the beating heart. Wonderful adventures and I argee you had to add the shipwreck.

  5. Try rockeoke in Manila. The Philippines is the only place where you can enjoy your 15-minutes of rockstar fame. And yes, with a real, live band!

  6. Oh my god you’re so adventurous…..Not!!! I’ll give you props for getting shipwrecked and the muay thai fight, but everything else on your list is pretty tame.

  7. Hi there Kate,

    Me and my mate are planning a trip to vietnam and laos and thinking cambodia and phuket.
    we have 21 days to try and fit in as much as possible.
    we are gonna go on the tubes in laos, and after reading your blog about Halong Bay we are gonna do the 3 day cruise.
    any other place that you HIGHLY recommend?
    date from the end of august , start of september.

    1. Hi, Matty —

      My biggest advice to you is not to pack too much in. Southeast Asia isn’t like the Oz, Europe or North America — it takes a LONG time to go from place to place and a LONG time to cross borders. In particular, it’s very tough to get from Vang Vieng to Nha Trang or vice versa. PLEASE resist the temptation to pack too much in. I would stick to just two countries if I were you.

      Perhaps fly into Saigon, go up to Nha Trang, back to Saigon, fly to Bangkok, train to Laos/minibus to Vang Vieng (day and a half journey), do tubing, back to Bangkok and enjoy Thailand from there.

  8. I just came across your blog while doing some research more trip to SE Asia this summer & it is amazing, I am even more excited to go after seeing many of your posts. I will be spending about 2 1/2 weeks in Cambodia & 2 1/2 weeks in Vietnam? What are some must sees and must do’s while I am there???

    1. Kelly, I’ve written SO much about Southeast Asia — I think you discovered my “must dos” on this very page! Just look through the site for tons of information on Southeast Asia.

  9. Hey Kate!

    Hope your trip around Croatia/Bosnia etc. is as amazing as the little teases we’ve had tend to indicate 🙂 I was reading over this post again (while avoiding bar study) and happened to notice your use of the word tranny. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but in the last couple of years there has been a huge backlash over use of the term and it seems that many transgender people find it extremely offensive. I have to admit, I’m a bit puzzled about this; it clearly wasn’t an issue when Christian Siriano was proclaiming everything a hot tranny mess on Project Runway just a few years ago, but here it is now; it seems the use of the term as a slur has outweighed its use as a term of endearment or of mere generality.

    To illustrate just how quickly it seems this issue has become publicized, I remember reading this a year ago when you posted it and having no second thoughts about your use of the term. And of course, a whole bunch of people have been taken to task in the press recently for using the term, including LGB AND trans folks and allies of the LGBT community. Though I am unapologetically liberal, I’m not an exceptionally “politically correct” individual, and I suspect you are similarly positioned. But I also know you to be an extremely avid supporter and friend to the LGBT community and to plenty of queer folks, and I can well imagine that you would absolutely hate for anyone to misconstrue your intention (or for anyone to have their feelings hurt) on account of your use of the term, especially with all the publicity it receives these days.

    Cheers to you, adventurous lady!

    1. Hey, Erica!

      Thanks for writing such a thoughtful (and kind) response. I completely understand and as ensconced from pop culture as I have been in the last year and a half, I have noticed that same backlash against the word myself. I wrote this post a year ago. Today, I won’t be using that term.

      It’s weird about the evolution about the word tranny — I think it was Christian who catapulted the word into mainstream lexicon! But rather than being an n-word or f-word “taking our word back” evolution, it seems to have boomeranged back into the untouchable category.

      From now on, the non-insulting terms ladyboy or krathoey will be used in my future writings about Southeast Asia, and appropriate terms for other parts of the world will be used as needed. 🙂 And thank you for the reminder to be sensitive — it’s something we should all be reminded of now and again. I schooled the readers at one of my favorite celebrity blogs, Crazy Days and Nights, a month ago or so — they are the best commenters on any celebrity site, and they are nearly all pro-gay, pro-gay rights, anti-homophobia, but when any transgender-related post comes up, the comments devolve into the most ignorant insults. That said, I noticed on the next post that Enty (the blogger) was a lot more sensitive, and it was reflected in the comments.

      As bloggers, we do set examples for our readers. Thank you for keeping me in check. 🙂

  10. Wow! Traveling through South East Asian countries is definitely a cool idea. The warm weather, the friendly ambiance, not to mention the food (all that stuff) and of course, their unique culture is a package for the best travel adventure ever. I heard and read about the wonders of the Philippines. I hope I can visit this country and appreciate the beauty and wonders of the place. Enjoy your next trip!

  11. Having party in a Halong Cruise is a must in your adventure list. You may do some karaoke to be a famous singers among other tourists on the boat.

  12. Hey Kate, awesome, awesome post! Thanks for the list- I’m going to look into some of these things. serious props for the snake blood and fighting. I’m planning a trip to SE Asia for at LEAST three months. In an earlier comment, you said not to pack too many countries in. But I have a serious travel and am ready to see the heck out of that part of the world. My thought process is that while I’m over there, having spent the moneu on the flight, etc., I might as well try to soak in a lot of cultures. Here’s my plan (in no specific order) Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Nepal, and New Dehli. Is that way too much?! I know it’s all dependent on time, and I have lots of that!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to the blog: