A Foodie’s Guide to Siem Reap

 Photo Credit: Geoff of  Exposure Siem Reap

Photo Credit: Geoff of Exposure Siem Reap

Trying the local food is always one of the things at the top of my to-do list whenever I go traveling and my recent trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia was no different. Beyond the tourist-facing restaurants offering international cuisine, I found loads of places dishing up amazing traditional Khmer dishes, as well as more modern Cambodian options. No matter what type of place I visited, everywhere from roadside food stalls to family-run restaurants had excellent service and really made me feel at home.

 Although I’m not vegetarian or vegan, I’m crazy about plant-based food and Siem Reap left me absolutely spoilt for choice. What’s more, a lot of restaurants focused on using locally-sourced sustainable produce and worked hard training up young locals to get them into work, so I always felt good about eating out.

If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia, here are 6 places in Siem Reap you’ve just got to call into.

Top 6 Places to Eat in Siem Reap

Sister Srey Café

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Set in the heart of downtown Siem Reap, Sister Srey Café is the perfect place to grab a spot of lunch and do some shopping. It’s adjacent to an adorable little lane brimming with wonderful places to pick up gifts for friends and family back home, as well as the Old Market/Psar Chas.

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The café is really easy to spot — it’s just across the street from the Siem Reap river. There’s outside seating as well as a large street-facing window, inviting you to relax and people watch or just absorb the sights and sounds of the peaceful river while waiting for your food to arrive. If you can’t get a seat downstairs (this place can get pretty busy) there’s extra seating upstairs.

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My bestie and I visited this place just after we ran the Angkor Wat Half Marathon. Needless to say, we were starving! And Sister Srey Café turned out to be an amazing choice because they had so much good stuff on their menu. From soups, salads, and burgers to stir-fries, buddha bowls and desserts — there was more than we could ever need to choose from. They even serve breakfast all day. So if you’re in the mood for some avocado on toast or eggs benedict, they’ve got you covered — whatever time of day you show up.

The drinks menus are a really sweet added touch. They’re hidden inside classic children’s books!

My favorite dishes

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●      Loaded Fruit Pancakes: light and fluffy pancakes topped with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream.

●      Potato Hash: a homemade thick potato rosti topped with crispy bacon and fresh greens.

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●      Snickers Bar: a homemade vegan take on a traditional Snickers chocolate bar

Vibe Café

 Photo Credit: Geoff of  Exposure Siem Reap

Photo Credit: Geoff of Exposure Siem Reap

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The very first 100% vegan café in Siem Reap, Vibe Cafe is nestled into Kandal Village, a charming neighborhood just a short walk away from Pub Street. The area is full of chic boutiques, home interior shops, cafés and spas, all with bright colourful fronts facing the street and tempting you inside.

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The café is set out over 2 levels with a little bit of shaded outside seating. There’s a small choice of tables and chairs downstairs, but my favorite place was on the 2nd level. This part of the café was beautiful, with high ceilings, lots of natural light and beautiful paintings adorning the walls.

I visited this place on several occasions, sometimes to meet up with friends and other times on my own to sip a coffee of freshly-pressed juice. Their menu is incredible and focuses on healthy plant-based dishes made from ethically-sourced ingredients. As well as great coffee and juices, there are smoothies, smoothie bowls, quinoa bowls, pancakes, veggie burgers and homemade desserts, plus loads of raw and gluten-free options.

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The people who eat here love the food so much that Vibe Café had to set up its own takeaway store. Brimming with cold-pressed juices, jams, nut butters, vegan cheeses, desserts and healthy treats, their store is like a treasure trove that I dove into more than once during my visit to Siem Reap.

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My favorite dishes

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●      The Ritual Bowl: a nurturing bowl loaded with GMO tempeh, organic quinoa, organic brown rice, roasted pumpkin, beetroot hummus, cashew ricotta cheese, fermented pickled ginger and beetroot, sauerkraut, salad and living sprouts, topped with a few activated almonds.

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●      Native Bowl: a smoothie bowl filled with blended up local mangoes, pineapple and banana, topped with loads of fresh fruit and granola. My bowl looked like a real piece of art — I loved the way they used pink dragon fruit to spell out the word ‘Love’!

●      Good Vibe Smoothie: a wholesome smoothie made from coconut meat, coconut water and vanilla beans. The best part is, all the proceeds from this smoothie go straight to The Good Vibe Foundation, which supports healthy projects for the people who need them the most.

WILD

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A wild cocktail bar located down a cute little street in Siem Reap where you can eat and drink delicious things, all in a lush garden under the stars, WILD is wonderful for so many reasons. The ideal location, the natural greenery, the gorgeous lighting, the great playlists...there’s just so much to love about WILD. It’s more of an apps and drinks kind of place than a café or restaurant, but if you’re in the mood for a light meal, their spring rolls are perfect.

 Being just a 2-minute walk from our hotel, the Rambutan Hotel, WILD was super convenient for us. We were lucky enough to meet the owners on one of our visits. They’re a lovely French couple called Renaud and Lorraine, who gave us one of the warmest, friendliest welcomes we’ve ever received! Although the outdoor seating area is super wide and open, it’s got a really cosy atmosphere.

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The menu is pretty small but delicious. For drinks there’s a great mix of traditional and creative cocktails, mocktails, wine, beer, juice and homemade soda. Then for food, there’s a variety of rolls filled with poultry and veggies. They even do a few sweet rolls for dessert.

There are so many little touches here that make WILD truly unique. One of them is their selection of DIY cocktails! Order one of these and all the ingredients and equipment you need to make your cocktail will be delivered to your table, along with a set of instructions. I made a Mojito Mule and it was a blast being my own bartender! Another thing I loved is that they’ve got their own tree house. You can sit in it and they’ll send your food and drinks up in a little basket. It’s such a magical place!

My favorite dishes

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●      Mojito Mule: two cocktails merged together, made out of rum, ginger syrup, mint leaves, lime and ginger ale.

●      Greek Getaway Spring Roll: filled with salad, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and feta cheese in a Mediterranean dressing.

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●      Dolce Vita Spring Roll: loaded with tomatoes, pepperoni, mozzarella and Italian basil.

●      Ave Caesar! Spring Roll: full of salad, chicken, parmesan cheese in Caesar salad dressing.

Marum

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A hospitality school training restaurant in Siem Reap, Marum is set inside a delightful wooden house with a wonderfully spacious garden. The food is a bit like a Cambodian version of tapas, with a great choice of small plates designed for sharing.

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My Bestie and I went here for dinner on the evenings after we completed the half marathon and full marathon. We were so hungry that we ordered loads of dishes! But every single thing we ordered was beyond delicious, so we’re really glad we did. The service was great, too. The trainers and the trainees wear different uniforms, so you can tell who is just learning and cut them a bit of slack but we never had to — everything was just perfect.

There’s a great selection of meat, seafood and veggie options on the menu, as well as some out-there dishes (like red tree ants) and more traditional Khmer options (like fish soup with tamarind, galangal and morning glory). There are loads of drinks to choose from — milkshakes, frozen drinks, fresh juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee, liquors and beers — but the cocktails are what stick out in my mind. They’re loaded up with fresh fruit and taste amazing! 

My favorite dishes

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●      Dumplings: crispy vegetarian dumplings stuffed with taro, chives and  shiitake mushrooms, served with a citrus ginger soy sauce for dipping.

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●      Pork Ribs: slow-cooked Khmer-style pork ribs, alongside an apple and radish salad.

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●      Khmer Pork Salad: spiced ground pork with fresh salad leaves, mint and red onions with a chili-lime vinaigrette.

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●      Zucchini Corn Fritters: light and crunchy fritters served with a cool cumin and mint yogurt.

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●      Mango Pineapple Cheesecake: a creamy, fluffy slice of cheesecake drizzled with a lemon-basil syrup.

●      Sandan’s Banana Fritters: small sweet bananas fried and served with lemongrass galangal ice cream and a palm sugar caramel.

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●      Pineapple Chili Margarita: a sweet and spicy take on a classic margarita.

Haven

Just like Marum, Haven is also a training restaurant that teaches disadvantaged young adults valuable work skills, while at the same time treating guests to honest, delicious food that loves you right back. The restaurant was first set up in 2011 close to the Old Market in the town center. But due to the increasing demand for training, they moved to a beautiful new space in Wat Damnak back in December 2015, where they can train more students and create more jobs. Even though Haven is staffed by people in training, they do an amazing job. Our service was superb and all our servers were very, very attentive to our needs.

This place is one of the most beautiful restaurants we ate in. They’ve got stunning outdoor gardens, but we decided to sit in the upstairs dining room which was charming. The menu is dedicated to the health and pleasure of diners. The head chef personally goes to the market each morning to buy the ingredients and then prepares all the dishes with his team in an open kitchen where you can see everything being made right in front of your very eyes.

 The owners are from Switzerland and the menu is loaded with enticing Cambodian-Swiss fusion dishes, some Swiss classics and a fantastic choice of vegetarian and vegan options. With everything from spring rolls, soups and salads to burgers, sandwiches and traditional Khmer and European courses on the menu, there’s no way you’ll go hungry. I’m so sad I never got around to taking any pictures. But if I had, I assure you — you’d be drooling right now!

ARTillery

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A combination of an art gallery and creative café, ARTillery breaks out of the traditional eatery limitations by hosting food classes, community art projects, detox programs and wellness events. They’ve got one location in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, and one in Siem Reap, down a little street next to the Maison 557 B&B.

The café promotes healthy living through their plant-based wholesome menu which turns veggie, vegan and raw ingredients into quirky, tasty dishes. Their recipes make the most of nutrient-dense superfoods while also staying true to their roots and using local, organic and chemical-free ingredients as much as they can. Not only that, but ARTillery also works really hard to reduce the amount of plastic they use and boost their recycling efforts to keep Cambodia and the planet clean.

The menu includes a huge number of options, covering everything from gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options to raw, paleo, AIP and nut-free choices. So it really doesn’t matter what kind of diet you’re following — you’ll definitely find something to eat. We had brunch and dinner here and it was incredible.

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My favorite dishes

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  • Mexican Mango Bowl, which was a brown rice bowl topped with chicken breast, grilled corn, roasted veggies, avocado, black bean salads and fresh mango with a turmeric tahini dressing. Sadly, this wasn’t great — it was just okay — which is why it’s not on my favorite dishes list. But the mediocre bowl didn’t put me off ARTillery. I still want to go back and try one of their breakfast dishes in the future.

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  • The Green Fa-Waffle Benedict is a falafel waffle topped with poached eggs, sautéed greens, smashed avocado and a homemade hollandaise sauce. This dish is gluten free and vegetarian.

  • The Ultimate Green Detox cold pressed juice is a must. It’s filled with apple, celery, cucumber, kale, lemon, ginger, and mint.

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  • The classic Avocado Toast with olive oil, dukkak spice mix, on sourdough bread topped with cherry tomatoes and black olive crumb.

If you have just a short visit planned to Siem Reap, but want to try a variety of places I highly recommend A Taste of Siem Reap for a food tour. The founder Evi-Elli La Valle will be sure to take care of you.

So Lovelies I would love to know???

  1. Have you been to Siem Reap, Cambodia?

  2. Have you eaten at any of these spots? If yes, which place?

  3. Which restaurant would you love to try?

xoxo-Lisa
Your SoulTravelFitnessCoach

Exploring Siem Reap, Cambodia

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In the spring, my bestie and I were looking for somewhere special to run a race. The idea was that race would give us something to train for and the fun destination would give us a great excuse for a holiday. After a bit of research, we came across a half marathon in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Knowing the weather wouldn’t be too hot or too cold at that time of year, the course would be flat, and I hadn’t yet explored Cambodia made it the perfect destination.

Since this was my first time in Siem Reap, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Little did I know I would absolutely fall in love with the town and its charm.

About Cambodia and Siem Reap

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Located in Southeast Asia and surrounded by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia is one of the must-visit places on the typical backpacker circuit, thanks to its cheap prices, friendly locals and wealth of authentic cultural experiences. In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king of Cambodia, a move which marked the beginning of the Khmer Empire. This empire flourished for more than 600 years and resulted in royals accumulating immense wealth and power which they used to build thousands of remarkable temples travelers flock to visit today.

Most people's first point of contact with Cambodia is Siem Reap — the capital city of the Siem Reap Province in Northwest Cambodia. This resort town is most popular for being home to Angkor Wat — the world's largest religious structure that's so spectacular you have to see it in person to truly appreciate it. Because it attracts so many travelers, Siem Reap is brimming with hotels of all categories, a thriving nightlife scene and ever-growing foodie culture making it a fascinating place to explore.

Visas

You need a tourist visa to visit Cambodia. But thankfully the process is really quick and easy. Just visit the official government visa website, fill out the online form and pay the fee (currently $36USD). You'll receive your approval letter within 3 days by email. Then all you need to do is print it out and show it to immigration at the airport in Cambodia.

This type of visa is single entry, meaning you can only use it to arrive in Cambodia once. If you leave the country and want to return, you'll need to apply for a new visa. The visa is valid for three months (so plan accordingly so you don't get caught out!) and it allows you to stay in Cambodia for up to 30 days. If you totally fall in love with the place and want to stay there longer, you can extend your visa for an extra 30 days within Cambodia for an extra fee.

Money

Your money goes a really long way in Siem Reap because everything is so cheap. Food, drinks, accommodation, transportation...everything you need when traveling is super affordable, making it a great place if you're on a tight budget. Cambodia does have its own currency (the Cambodian riel) which you can withdraw from ATMs. But US dollars are accepted everywhere. So you're best off bringing lots of small bills ($1, $5, $10) and using those if you want to keep things simple.

Getting there

Siem Reap is easy to get to from anywhere in Southeast Asia. By plane, Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (REP) is just 1 hour from Bangkok, 1 hour 20 minutes from Ho Chi Min City, and 2 hours 40 minutes from Hong Kong. These speedy flights mean that if you're short on time, you can still pop over to Siem Reap — even if it's just for a couple of days.

Weather

Cambodia's in the center of the tropics, so it gets warm weather all-year-round. But that doesn't mean it's a place you can visit any time of year. Like a lot of places in Southeast Asia, Cambodia has  a dry and a wet season. The dry season runs from November until April, when temperatures are 77F-95F and the air is really humid. The wet season runs from May until the end of October, when the temperature is 77F-81F and it rains pretty much every day either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Transport

Getting around downtown Siem Reap is super cheap and easy. There are tuk-tuks absolutely everywhere, waiting to whisk you off to your next destination for just a couple of US dollars. Almost all the tuk-tuk drivers speak English, too, so you're unlikely to end up in the wrong place accidentally!

Accommodation

We stayed at the Rambutan Hotel, a wonderful oasis located in a quiet residential area just a 5-minute walk from the Old Market in the historical center of Siem Reap. The hotel arranged for a tuk-tuk driver to pick us up at the airport and take us straight to our accommodation, which was really handy.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were in awe at the lush tropical gardens and salt water swimming pool. The place was designed to look like a traditional Khmer village and it really did!

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A great thing about the hotel is that it's spread out over two properties built side-by-side. The Rambutan Hotel has ten rooms and the Rambutan Resort as 16 rooms. Regardless of which property you stay in, guests have full access to the services and amenities at both.

Breakfast was included in the price of our stay which we enjoyed each morning by the pool. The hotel has its own spa, but we never got around to using it. There was far too much on our must-see list! We did find time to squeeze in a quick foot massage by the pool which was fantastic.

The staff were incredibly warm, friendly and really went out of their way to help us with anything we wanted. This was the icing on the cake and made for a fabulous experience that I highly recommend you try if you're ever in Siem Reap.

Things to Do in Siem Reap

Races

Not the typical reason people visit Siem Reap! But if you know anything about me, you'll know I love the idea of combining exercise and travel. Siem Reap offers a loads of different kinds of races, including a 10k, half marathon, and full marathon.

The main races are held in August and December and we were lucky enough to catch one when we were there in the spring. We were luckier still to get the perfect running conditions - a gentle cloud covering and cool temperatures.
Our race began at sunrise through Angkor. With this being my first time in the city, I was absolutely speechless seeing all the temples flash by as I ran. They gave me an incredible energy unlike anything I've ever had on a run. Siem Reap was by far the most beautiful destination I've ever run a race.

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Angkor

Most people visit Siem Reap to explore Angkor and its fascinating temples. One of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, Angkor lies 4 miles north of Siem Reap and covers an astonishing 400 km2 in total. During the classical era of Cambodian history, it was the capital of the Khmer Empire and today contains magnificent remains of various temples which date between the 9th and 15th centuries. The most remarkable structures include Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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One thing you need to be aware of when visiting Angkor is the dress code. It's important to cover your shoulders and your knees. It's quite common for travelers to be turned away for wearing what's deemed to be revealing clothing, so make sure you cover up. As for footwear, I noticed most people had tennis shoes on. I was wearing sandals and they were fine. It can get incredibly hot, depending on the time of year, so something light is a must.

Sunrise/Sunset Tour in Angkor

One of the best ways to see Angkor is on a sunrise or a sunset tour. You can pick up single-day passes or 3-day passes for this kind of trip. Angkor is beyond huge, so if you really want to get a good look at all the temples, I recommend you go for the 3-day pass. But because I knew I'd be returning to Cambodia sometime in the future, I settled on a single-day pass which I arranged through the hotel.

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Our tuk-tuk driver pulled up bright and early (before 5am!) so we'd have enough time to swing by the ticketing center without missing out on the sunrise. We arrived around 30 minutes before the sun was due to come up and the whole place was seriously crowded. A sure sign that we were going to see something amazing! Watching the sun slowly rise up above the horizon while standing in such astonishing surroundings turned out to be one of my favorite memories of my trip.

After the sunrise, we hopped back into the tuk-tuk and enjoyed a tour around Angkor Wat to see all the different temples. Ta Prohm is perhaps the most famous temple in the complex. Nicknamed 'The Tomb Raider Temple', Ta Prohm provided the mystical backdrop for the famous 2001 Hollywood movie starring Angelina Jolie. Like many of the structures, it's a Buddhist temple and was built in 1186. As you can see, it's been taken over by nature with big, beautiful fig trees, but that only adds to its charm. 

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The Bayon Temple stuck out to me so much I can still picture it perfectly when I close my eyes! It's a Buddhist shrine constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII. What made it stand out was that there are 216 smiling faces crafted to look like the king carved into its gigantic towers. Sadly, several of the towers have toppled over the years. But there are still around 200 faces smiling at you.

It was crazy hot that day, so we only lasted 3-4 hours before we zipped back to the air-conditioned comfort of our hotel.

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Shopping

The Old Market/Psar Chas

Found on the western side of the river, the Old Market is made up of loads and loads of stalls selling clothes, accessories, souvenirs, luggage, paintings, and other treasures. There's even a selection of fresh veggies, fish and meat that attracts locals who arrive first thing in the morning to buy their groceries.

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Most stalls have similar items on display and they're not as refined as newer markets, like the Angkor Night Market, but this place is still definitely worth a visit. I found the prices here were cheaper than in Vietnam and Thailand, which is an extra bonus.

Be sure to wander the downtown area near the Old Market. There are brightly colored lanes with adorable boutiques. I found beautiful handmade jewelry to bring back as gifts for friends.

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Made in Cambodia Market

The Made in Cambodia Market was set up to help create local jobs, from the villagers who work hard producing the handicrafts to the people selling the trinkets and talking to the visitors. It's a great place to find genuine handmade pieces that are entirely unique. I snapped up some fabulous gifts here for friends and also sound some wonderful skirts and dresses I couldn't say no to.


As well as the stalls, the market also has live entertainment and hosts artisan workshops, making it a great place to spend a few hours. It's really easy to find, just next to the Hard Rock Café, and is open every day between noon and 10pm.

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Kandal Village

This very charming neighborhood is just a short walk away from Pub Street and is home to chic boutiques, home interior shops, cafes, and spas. My favorite lifestyle boutique was a beautiful place called Louise Loubatieres that was born out of a passion for travel, a love of beautiful things and a desire to combine the old with the new.

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 It’s run by a lovely woman called Louise who’s a designer from London and puts incredible love and attention into each item in her shop. From beautiful cotton scarves and hand-painted bangles to gorgeous ceramic decorations and one-of-a-kind jewelry, everything in her boutique was so stunning I wanted to take it all home!

Eating in Siem Reap

Siem Reap is a real foodie's playground, with a huge variety that guarantees something to please all palates. Because it's such a popular destination for travelers to visit, the town's dining scene is booming, with new cafés and restaurants popping up all over the place, run by adventurous locals, eager to offer something new and unique. 

There's a huge number of traditional Cambodian restaurants, dishing up classic plates such as fish amok and Khmer red curry. But, just like in Koh Samui, there's also a fantastic choice of restaurants catering for vegetarians, vegans and people in search of healthier choices.

One of my favorite things about Siem Reap's food scene is that it's currently undergoing a big shift toward socially-responsible restaurants. During my visit, I came across so many training cafés and restaurants dedicated to helping young locals develop valuable work skills and the opportunity to get a decent job.

I didn't quite know what to expect from these places, but I was pleasantly surprised! Each one I visited had a great ambiance and impeccable service — proof that if you believe in people and give them a little support, you'll get great results.

There's so much I want to say about the food in Siem Reap that there isn't enough space to fit it all into this post! Check back soon for a follow-up post on all the delicious eats you've absolutely got to try while in Cambodia.

Lovelies I would love to know...

  1. Have you ever been to Siem Reap, Cambodia?

  2. If yes, what did you love about your trip to Siem Reap?

  3. If no, are you feeling inspired to travel here?

xoxo-Lisa
Your SoulTravelFitnessCoach


5 Must-Try Healthy Restaurants on Koh Samui Island

5 Must-Try Healthy Restaurants on Koh Samui Island

Located in the Gulf of Thailand is a tropical island named Koh Samui. At just an hour’s flight away from Bangkok, this island is an ideal getaway for relaxing on the golden beach, some intense Muay Thai training, or simply pampering yourself with spa treatments.
           
If you’re anything like me, food is a big part of travel. You might think I’m vegan or vegetarian based on this list, but the truth is my body craves plant-based food. And I feel my best when I eat a plant-based diet. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat meat and you’ll see some of the recommended dishes on this list include meat and seafood.

To balance all the amazing food I was eating in Koh Samui, I also did a lot of training at Lamai Fitness. And by training, a mean a crazy fun bootcamp that I endured for 3 weeks! Details coming soon!!!

Since this was my 3rd trip back to Koh Samui, I already had a few places in mind that I knew I wanted to eat at. But I was just as excited to give some new places a shot. There’s definitely no shortage of incredible spots to eat on the island, but if you’re like me, you’ll be searching for things on the healthy side.

In no particular order, here are my top 5 healthy eats for Koh Samui. Enjoy, lovelies.

1. Vikasa Life Café

Vikasa Life Café has one of the best views in Koh Samui. Located on the cliffs in between Lamai Beach and Chaweng Beach, this charming place rewards diners with incredible views that stretch over the rainforest below and out across the glistening blue ocean, creating the perfect backdrop any time of day.

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The menu here is based upon the notion that all our bodies are different and we all need different nutrition, which is something I’m all for. Here you’ll find an almost never-ending choice of creative vegan, raw, dairy-free, gluten-free and omnivore dishes made with local organic ingredients and no msg in sight. Whichever type of diet you’re following and whatever type of cuisine you’re into, you’ll find loads on the menu you’ll want to try.

I loved coming here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - it was wonderful to see how the view changed throughout the day. Thanks to the great variety of people and welcoming atmosphere, you could easily treat this place as casual or dressy. Although the top level of the restaurant, with its super comfy bean bags, definitely had more of a chill vibe.

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My favorite dishes

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●      Signature Burrito: one of the best burritos I’ve ever had, made with vegan bolognese rice, lettuce, herbs, and creamy veggie nacho sauce, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla and served with a red pepper sauce.

●      Chicken Burger: a tasty chicken patty, stacked with sautéed mushrooms, fresh veggies, raw vegan aioli, sprouts, and tomatoes nestled inside a whole grain bun, served with sweet potato fries.

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●      Raw Pizza: pizza like you’ve never seen it before, with a homemade cauliflower and sunflower seed crust, topped with hummus, tomato sauce, veggies, arugula, coconut, onions, and a vegan parmesan cheese.

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●      Smashed Avocado: another new take on an old classic, this dish is made up of fresh avocado, cherry tomatoes, slow-cooked mushrooms, crumbled feta cheese, and arugula on dark, hearty bread served with a sprout salad.

●      Garden Hold Up: a beautifully nourishing green juice filled with kale, spinach, cucumber, apple, pineapple, and lime.

●      BioFizz: A local soft drink made in Koh Samui. The fizz is naturally created by living probiotics and sweetened with coconut nectar. It comes in all kinds of different flavors, including lemongrass + lime, tamarind + ginger, roselle, and kombucha. I absolutely love how they put BioFizz in a wine glass!!!

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No exaggeration - the desserts are to-die-for! If you don’t have room in your tummy for a sweet treat (I know I didn’t!) be sure to grab some goodies to takeaway. My favorite dessert was the tiramisu. But the chocolate energy balls, bursting with almonds, sesame seeds, cacao powder, maca, coconut sugar syrup, buckwheat, dates, coconut oil, tahini, vanilla, and Himalayan salt were also incredible.

Not only can you treat yourself to a gourmet meal at Vikasa Life Café, but you can also stay there. The place is well known for their fantastic yoga retreats which are held in the resort set below the restaurant. It’s made up of gorgeous bungalows, a yoga studio, and swimming pools lining the coast.

I’ve never stayed at the Vikasa Yoga Retreat, but from what I could see, it would be an incredibly serene and rejuvenating experience to do so. However, you’ve got to climb hundreds of stairs to get to and from the bungalows. Great for the booty, but a definite workout!

2. Samui Health Shop by Lamphu

This cozy health food shop is situated in Lamai. It’s nowhere near the beach where most of the restaurants are. So if you’re driving along this area looking for it, you can easily miss it. Although I’d heard loads about it on my previous trips, this was my first time actually visiting the Samui Health Shop and I fell in love with the space and food.

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It’s a family-run food shop-café that offers a tiny inside seating area with just 3 tables. But step outside onto the back patio with its beautiful pond and lush greens plants and you’ll find plenty of extra seating. The surroundings here are so tranquil and peaceful - it’s a wonderful place to really enjoy your food without any distractions.

Samui Health Shop offers a fabulous selection of healthy organic foods, natural body care products, jewelry, and some household items. It’s a great place for anyone who likes knowing exactly what they put into and onto their bodies without worrying about hidden nasties. I picked up a bottle of their coconut shampoo and it’s absolutely amazing! My mind instantly gets transported back to Koh Samui every time I use it. 

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The mantra for the café is ‘Being healthy and fit isn’t a fad or trend. Instead, it’s a lifestyle’ which I think is something we all need to get on board with. To support this, their menu is made up of wholesome and delicious salads, soups, fresh juices, rice bowls and outstanding desserts. They use locally-grown and raised ingredients as much as possible, which really comes across in the food.

My favorite dishes

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●      Kimchi Bowl: a hearty nourishing bowl filled with kimchi, fresh veggies, and tofu sprinkled with seeds.

●      Soup: the soups change depending on which veggies are freshest that day - but they all taste amazing!

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●      Salad with Noodles: a bowl loaded with crisp lettuce leaves and brightly-colored fresh veggies topped with thin rice noodles.

●      Fresh Green Juice: filled with all kinds of nourishing fruits and veggies, designed to leave you feeling full of energy and raring to go.

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●      Gorilla Smoothie: a thick and creamy blend of banana, coconut milk, cacao powder, and tahini topped with crunchy granola, bee pollen and goji berries.

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Be sure to save room for dessert. I love the Vegan Cookie Dough and the Yogurt Cheese Pie.

3. Wild Tribe Superfood Café

Set in the magnificent Lamai Beach, Wild Tribe Superfood Café provides super healthy plant-based dishes made almost entirely from locally-sourced and organic ingredients. They’ve got really friendly staff and the food always comes out really quickly, making it a wonderful, healthy alternative to fast food. 

I genuinely feel amazing every time I eat here and to be honest, it’s no wonder why. The woman behind the menu is a certified nutritionist who uses the most nutrient-dense foods available. Every ingredient is included for a reason and she combines her culinary inspiration with science to make every dish just as tasty as it is good for you.

Everything is made from scratch and from the freshest ingredients sourced from small organic farms on Koh Samui. Better still, they swear by never diluting their juices and promise that they’re truly green, with zero to little fruit sugar, resulting in them tasting way better than the juices you can buy in stores.

Their menu is mostly plant-based, with a handful of options for their “omnivore friends”. On it you’ll find cold-pressed juices, health shots, smoothies, smoothie bowls, salads, soups, rolls, burgers, and wraps - all the good stuff. Most dishes are inspired by the local Thai cuisine, making it a great place if you want to try the local food and eat healthily at the same time.

My favorite dishes

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●      Wild Blueberry Power Smoothie Bowl: frosty wild blueberries blended with raw protein and fresh coconut milk, topped with almond butter, banana, goji berries, fresh coconut, and homemade granola.

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●      Fiesta Salsa Tacos: loaded up with raw purple cabbage, mango pineapple salsa, grilled oyster mushrooms, avocado, fresh herbs, and chutney.

●      Poached Eggs on Toast: whole grain toast topped with poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and onions.

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●      Daikon Rolls: freshly fermented daikon with homemade pesto sauce, betel leaves, cucumber, and sprouts.

●      Stay Cool Smoothie: blended watermelon, strawberry, basil, lime, and ice, designed to lower inflammation, cleanse the kidneys, and reduce water retention.
Just like at the Vikasa Yoga Resort, you can also stay at Wild Tribe Super Café’s resort. Visit Natural Detox Resort promotes a holistic approach to lasting change. They offer fun, challenging programs designed to suit your specific lifestyle that include daily cardio, jungle and beach hikes, conditioning and strength training, yoga classes, daily workouts, ice baths, sauna sessions and healthy meal plans. It’s a wonderful place to visit to help cleanse both your mind and body. 

4. Sweet Sisters Café

The Sweet Sisters Café is located off-the-beaten-track but it’s 100% worth the effort of finding it. It’s in the quieter side of town and there’s not much going on in the area. So if you’re looking for a place with a lively atmosphere, hustling and bustling with tourists and shops, this isn’t the place for you. But if you’re searching for a peaceful location out the way where you can just relax with a good book, the Sweet Sisters Café is perfect. I loved hopping on my scooter and heading south to this secret spot on a late Sunday morning for brunch.

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This adorable café serves a variety of local, organic, vegan, and gluten-free dishes inspired by cultures from all around the world. Their huge menu includes fresh juices, smoothies, soups, salads, Thai, and western dishes. There are even meat and fish options, so no one feels left out. Plus, if you see something you like on the menu but it’s not quite right for you (like if you see a vegetarian dish that sounds incredible, but you’re vegan) they’ll happily make changes so you can enjoy what you like the look of.

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Absolutely everything they serve is of the highest possible quality. All their seafood is fresh from the ocean, their chicken is free-range, they bake their bread and desserts in-house, they use organic cashews, and (here’s the best bit) they serve breakfast ALL day! After dining here, make sure you pop next door to the lovely shop filled with snacks, supplements, body care products, beautiful items for your home, and souvenirs.

My favorite dishes

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●      Virgin Mojito Cooler: a frosty mocktail, made with mint, coconut flower syrup, lime, and soda.

 

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●      Pancakes: packed with goodness and served with forest honey or homemade organic jam.

●      Green Eggs and Cheese: local greens topped with eggs and feta cheese. There’s even a special vegan cheese for anyone avoiding dairy.

●      Fishcakes with Tamarind Sauce: light and crispy cakes made with fresh-from-the-ocean fish, drizzled in a delicious sauce.

●      Fresh Spring Rolls: loads of fresh veggies and crisp leaves rolled up inside rice wrappers and presented beautifully.

●      Green Omelets: a light and fluffy omelet given a major health boost with the addition of green leafy veggies.

Bonus Spot: Fabfe Café

After stopping at the Sweet Sisters Café, make sure you stop by Fabfe Café and soak up the amazing views. Set on top of a hill, this café enjoys sprawling vistas which stretch out across Koh Samui’s lush, green countryside to its beautiful mountains. Compared to the other places on this list, the menu is fairly small, but there is a decent selection of coffee, tea, smoothies, and juices, with a small choice of eats - waffles, pancakes, honey toast, cakes, and ice cream.  

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When my bestie and I were there, we’re lucky enough to see a storm rolling in over in the distance. It was quite a sight and reminded me of how truly dazzling nature is. Fabfe Café was the perfect spot for both of us to do our journaling and goal setting. I’m a huge believer in taking time to write out your intentions and this sweet cafe provided amazing views that really inspired me to make some incredible goals and to everything I can to achieve them.

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5. Greenlight Café

Located in Fisherman’s Village is the Greenlight Café, part of the Elysia Boutique Resort. This place offers a really chilled out experience, with some comfy bean bag chairs that are wonderful for melting into after a long day of exploring. The café attracts a great mix of locals and travelers, making it a fantastic place to meet new friends and share stories.

The Greenlight Café menu features a variety of hearty choices for anyone who prefers a healthier option. They pride themselves on only serving wholesome, natural and delicious food, which is a winning combo in my book!

Here you’ll find vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten-free meals, along with fish and free-range chicken dishes, so there’s something for everyone. Their original fresh juices and smoothies are also extremely popular, as is their homemade kombucha. They cook with only the healthiest oils and never use any preservatives, MSG, sugar or artificial ingredients. And the menu was put together with love by a qualified chef and nutritionist, so you just know you’re eating the best stuff.

Almost all the ingredients used at this cafe are locally sourced and organic. Many of them come straight from the café’s very own garden! If you want a sneak peek behind-the-scenes, the staff will happily give you a garden tour so you can see exactly where the ingredients come from.

My favorite dishes

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●      Grilled Salmon Salad: grilled salmon served with a creamy herb and tahini dressing, fresh greens, sprouts, celery, and juicy tomatoes.

●      Watermelon Splash: a refreshing and hydrating watermelon juice with mint and lemon.

The Best of the Rest

There are too many amazing healthy restaurants in Koh Samui to limit my choice to just 5. So here are 3 more places that are also definitely worth visiting, but just missed the final cut.

Radiance

Part of the Spa Resorts, Radiance is a contemporary outdoor restaurant located overlooking Lamai Bay with gorgeous sea views and a very peaceful, serene ambiance.

Their creative menu is absolutely huge and caters really well for anyone who is detoxing or on a special diet. There’s a bright and colorful selection of dishes for vegetarians and vegans, as well as raw food lovers.

You’ll find plenty of enticing healthy twists on popular Mexican, Italian and Thai classics, along with smoothies, juices and raw versions of desserts which are just as yummy as they are good for you. For breakfast, I had the tropical veggie juice and poached eggs with green veggies. It was very light, fresh and exactly what I needed.

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Even if you’re not staying at Spa Resorts, you still get to enjoy the spa, including the steam room. It’s a great way to detox and rest on recovery day!

WeGreen

The new kid on the island, just a hop, skip, and jump from Lamai Beach, WeGreen has a little bit of growing up to do but it’s still one of my favorite places for healthy eats in Koh Samui. Half vegetable farm and half healthy restaurant, this winning combo has a large open-air space where you can truly relax as you enjoy your meal, surrounded by nature. Their huge dining area with many long tables makes WeGreen ideal if you’re eating with a large group and they’ve got an even bigger event space if you’re dining with a huge party.

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The menu here is made up of soups, salads, traditional Thai dishes, steaks, pastas, infused waters, and desserts. When we visited, it almost felt like they were still going through their soft opening phase - they didn’t have some of the items on their menu, others were missing some key ingredients and the service could have been a little better. But I think after they get into the swing of things, WeGreen will be an amazing place to eat.

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For dinner, we ordered the vegetable mixed grill, which was made up of onions, bell peppers, pumpkin, carrot, zucchini, and eggplant. Although it sounded incredible, this dish definitely didn’t live up to expectations. There was way too much sauce which overpowered the natural taste of the veggies. But the water we ordered, infused with cucumber and lemongrass, was delightful and almost made up for the main.

Fruit Stands

This one might not be a restaurant, but it still deserves a place on the list! The fruit stands in Koh Samui are incredible and they’re a total must-visit. Here you’ll find everything from mangoes, pineapples, coconuts, and lychees to mangosteens, rambutans, longans, pitayas, and papayas.

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Shopping at these stalls is an excellent way of getting your hands on super affordable and really fresh fruits while supporting local growers at the same time. It also gives you the chance to mix with the locals and actually meet the people who produce these wonderful ingredients.

Lovelies I would love to know....

1.Have you ever been to Koh Samui, Thailand?

2. Have you ever eaten at one of these spots? If yes, which place?

3. Which healthy restaurant would you love to try?

Craving Seafood???

I don’t know about you, but I love seafood. If you are craving seafood check out EverAsia’s Best Seafood Restaurants on Koh Samui.

xoxo-Lisa
Your SoulTravelFitnessCoach

 

A Weekend in Bangkok

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After an incredible weekend in Singapore and some wonderfully chilled-out days in Langkawi, I carried on northwards in my Southeast Asia adventure and headed for Bangkok in Thailand. A true city of contrasts, where haggard generations-old tuk tuks pull up in front of immense gleaming temples and opulent rooftop bars serving incredible cocktails compete with humble street stalls dishing out bowls of steaming hot noodles, Bangkok is a complete assault on the senses – in the best way possible.

Day 1
With just 48 hours in Bangkok, we just knew our days would be jam-packed. So to make the most of our time, we booked our food tour with Bangkok Food Tours in advance. I highly recommend planning ahead and reserving your spot before you go because the tours are pretty popular and fill up fast. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a spot if you wait until you’re in the city before trying to sign up.

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Our tour leader, Chaya, was super-friendly and not only told us all kinds of cool info about the delicious food we were eating, but also recounted stories about the history and culture of Thailand along the way. She navigated us through the streets of Bang Rak, known locally as “The Village of Love”. The name seemed so fitting to me, considering I love absolutely everything about Thailand – especially the food.

The first stop on our Bang Rak food tour a 500-year-old Thai-Chinese restaurant which served some of the very best Thai-style roasted duck in the city. This specialty dish was made up of super tender and juicy duck breast, served with sticky coconut rice and drizzled with a rich, flavorful stock. It tasted so good – it’s easy to see why it’s so popular in Asia!

I was really surprised when I noticed at the beginning that our foodie tour didn’t include any mango sticky rice. This wonderfully sweet dish is one of Thailand’s most popular desserts and I absolutely love it, so I was really quite disappointed at the idea of not having any. But when I asked Chaya if there was any chance we would be able to try it during the tour, she had a word with the chef and we got some at our first stop.

Coconut sticky rice mixed up with mango sticky rice is the perfect combination of sweet, tropical flavors that you’ll fall in love with at your first mouthful. Just be sure not to fill up on too much of it because there are 12 dishes to try in total throughout the tour!

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The papaya salad was another favorite dish I can’t stop thinking about. We got to watch the chefs do their magic, crunching chunks of un-ripened green papaya in a mortar and pestle along with fresh lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar and chilies. All the amazing ingredients create a major flavor sensation in your mouth, as your taste buds are overwhelmed by sweetness, sourness, saltiness and spiciness all at the same time.

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A traditional Thai snack called Miang Kham was up next and it was something I’ll never forget. From the outside, it looks nothing more than a small green leaf stuffed with random bits and pieces. But when you bite into it, you discover that all the flavors are impeccably balanced and work together perfectly to create what is easily one of the most incredible snacks I’ve ever eaten.

I remember an amazing medley of coconut, lime, shallots, roasted peanuts, shrimp, chili and ginger, drizzled in the most wonderful sauce made of all kinds of yumminess, like fish paste, coconut and galangal. When tasting it, we learned that the dish’s name translates into “One Bite Wrap” which is the perfect way to describe it!

 A traditional Thai snack called Miang Kham . (Not the best Pic, but had to share)

A traditional Thai snack called Miang Kham . (Not the best Pic, but had to share)

You know how they say the simplest things are sometimes the best? Well that’s totally true when it comes to Thai fried bananas. This sweet snack is simply slices of banana dredged in rice flour, deep fried and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The combination of the sweetness of the banana, the crunch of the batter and the nuttiness of the sesame seeds was incredible and is something you can only truly appreciate it when you try it for yourself.

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Finally, the last dish that really blew me away was the green chicken curry served with a Thai-style roti. It had the perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness that meant it was packed with flavor without being overly hot. I loved how it was served with a roti instead of rice, too. A Thai roti is similar to an Indian paratha – it’s a super-thin type of flat bread made with wheat flour that’s awesome for soaking up yummy curry juices.

Thailand is famous for its amazing food and there are so many fabulous dishes out there that we didn’t get to try them all. But, fortunately, this wasn’t my first time in Thailand and during my previous trips, I’ve been lucky enough to try all sorts of deliciousness. If you’re ever in Thailand, you’ve absolutely got to try:

1.     Pad Thai – rice noodles stir-fried with peanuts, garlic, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, chilies and usually chicken or tofu

2.     Tom Yum – a hot and sour soup loaded with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chilies and shrimp

3.     Chicken Satay – a Thai kebab, with grilled chicken pieces marinated in a savory peanut butter sauce on a skewer

4.     Coconut Ice Cream – a super-rich and creamy ice cream made with coconut milk  

After filling up on the food tour, we thought it best to walk some of our big lunch off and headed for the Chatuchack Weekend Market. This place is the largest weekend market in the world, with more than 15,000 stalls selling absolutely everything you could possibly imagine. From homemade jewelry and retro cowboy boots to cute beach cover-ups and beautiful shoes – this is the best place in Bangkok to find gifts for friends and family back home, as well as a treat or two for yourself.

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The market was absolutely buzzing with a mix of locals and travelers, giving it a great international vibe. And the prices were beyond reasonable – I shopped until I dropped and definitely didn’t break the bank. There was also a great choice of food stalls with delish Thai dishes to try, but since we were still pretty stuffed after our food tour, we decided to wait a little longer before eating again.

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ADD solo piBecause we arrived in Bangkok so early (5am on Saturday morning) we’d pretty much hit a brick wall by Saturday afternoon. Thinking about all the delightful eats we’d tried earlier in the day got us hungry again and we decided to head over to Suan Bua in Central Grand Plaza, close to the Chatuchack Weekend Market, to grab a bite to eat. But since the restaurant didn’t open for another couple of hours, we relaxed by the pool for a while first.

Compared to our hearty lunch, dinner was much lighter. Suan Bua specializes in home-style Thai cuisine and Royal Thai specialty dishes and I opted for pork marinated in a peanut and pineapple sauce which was heavenly. We were so exhausted after dinner that we called it a night and headed back to our hotel. With only 48 hours in Bangkok, we knew we’d have another action-packed day ahead of us and needed to get a good night’s sleep in order to get the most out of it!

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Day 2

After catching up on some much-needed sleep, we headed to the Grand Palace. Some people say you haven’t been to Bangkok unless you’ve seen the Grand Palace – that’s how impressive, astonishing and mesmerising this place is. It’s Bangkok’s most famous landmark and, based on how busy the Chatuchack Weekend Market was, I knew there would be crowds and crowds of people, so we opted for an early start to our day.

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The Grand Palace was built in 1782, when King Rama I moved the capital of Thailand from Thonburi to Rattanakosin island on the eastern side of the Chao Phraya river. For 150 years it was the home of the King of Thailand, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government. Today it’s largely a tourist attraction, but there are still some parts sectioned off to the public which are used for official events, royal ceremonies and state functions.

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The Grand Palace is made up of several buildings, the most famous of which is Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). This temple contains the famous Emerald Buddha statue which dates back to the 14th century and is carved from a single piece of jade – not emerald as you might think.

The Buddha’s robes are changed each season by the King of Thailand in an important ceremony. And although you’re allowed to take cameras and video cameras inside the Grand Palace, they’re not allowed inside Wat Phra Kaew, so I wasn’t able to snap any pics.

There’s a strict dress code to enter the Grand Palace and if you’re not dressed exactly as the rules say, you won’t be allowed inside. Long pants/skirt/dress down to the ankles (no leggings or yoga pants) and long shirt/top that doesn’t expose the shoulders (wearing a tank top and a shawl isn’t acceptable). If you haven’t got the right clothing, you can borrow appropriate stuff at the entrance for 200-300 Baht ($6-$9) per person. I visited the Grand Palace last year and I definitely feel like the dress code is far stricter now than it was back then.

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Opening hours: every day 8.30am – 4.30pm, with the last ticket sale being at 3.30pm (Unless there’s a special ceremony on, then the opening hours are anyone’s guess!) Price: 500 Baht ($16).

The Grand Palace gets unbelievably busy and I 100% recommend arriving as soon as the place opens so you can beat the crowds and the heat. You’ll have a much better experience doing it this way.

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After exploring the Grand Palace, we headed for the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which is just 10-15 minutes away on foot or 5 minutes away by tuk tuk. Because of the crazy high temperatures and our really tight schedule, we grabbed a tuk tuk.

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The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is one of the largest temple complexes in Bangkok and is famous for (you guessed it) its reclining Buddha! This immense statue is 46 metres tall and is covered in brilliant gold leaf. It really is one of those larger than life things you’ve got to see in person to understand how amazing it is.

A lot of people come just to see the Buddha statue, which means the rest of the grounds are really calm and peaceful to walk around – a much welcome experience after the bustling Grand Palace.

We didn’t spend very long at the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Maybe an hour at the most. But that was plenty of time to see what we wanted to see and get a feel for the place. After all, we only had a weekend in Bangkok and couldn’t afford to waste even a minute.

Not having totally recovered from the previous exhausting day, we opted for a nearby café for lunch because it was quick and convenient. After trying it and loving it so much the day before, I ordered another Thai green chicken curry with roti which was just as fabulous the second time around.

The only thing that let down the meal was the “fresh” juice. Sometimes when the menu says “fresh juice”, it actually comes out of a box. If you’re ever unsure, always ask to try a little bit of juice before you order, just to make sure you like it.

Next we visited Bangkok’s famous Sky Bar, well-known for its breath-taking views and for being featured in scenes from Hangover II. It’s a great rooftop spot where you can really relax and enjoy the sunset from 820 feet in the air. But be warned – there’s a strict dress code, so don’t wear casual attire or flip flops or you’ll be turned away.

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The reviews of this place are really mixed and I can totally see why. The staff will likely try to lead you to a couple of different bars when you first arrive, so be sure to kindly ask the staff for the other outdoor bar if you’re not taken to the right one. A tip is to look for the large outdoor staircase. Once you walk down all the stairs you arrive at the Sky Bar. We enjoyed catching up with friends who were visiting from Hong Kong and sampling some amazing Hangovertini cocktails while we were here.

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With just one night left in Bangkok, it was off to Rod Fai. This place is most commonly known as the Train Market and is named so because of its previous location – close to the train tracks. It was a long 45-minute taxi ride from the Sky Bar to the market, but I just had to see what all the hype was about. As well as getting there by taxi, you can also hop on the MRT and take it to the Thailand Cultural Center to visit the market.

Bangkok is brimming with amazing shopping opportunities, but Rod Fai truly is one of the best. The open-air bazaar looks magical from a distance, with hundreds and hundreds of stalls set up, each with their own bright fabric roof that adds a beautiful pop of color to the city’s night sky. Close-up, the market is every bit as exciting, with a swanky vibe created by stallholders playing retro music and groups of friends just hanging out with their children, pets, and icy cool Thai beers.

Rod Fai offers one of the most varied selection of goods you’ll find in any market in Bangkok. From gorgeous antique furniture, handcrafted leather goods and beautiful bohemian fashion to sparkling French chandeliers, huge displays of pop art and, the best part, loads of traditional Thai food – it sounds a bit cliché, but this market really does offer something for everyone.  

I love exploring markets during my travels because it gives me a chance to try all sorts of new, interesting foods and get a true feel for how the locals eat. We enjoyed navigating around all the stalls and knew we were in the right spot by all the amazing smells wafting in from the pop-up kitchens.

The food vendors at Rod Fai seem to be obsessed with cheese and for dinner we devoured wonderful fried balls stuffed with a delicious mix of cheese, salmon, and crab. We also gorged on fresh scallops and oysters served in a totally unique way – with cheese! You know I’ve got a major sweet tooth, so for dessert, I treated myself to a heavenly crepe generously crammed with Nutella, banana slices, and chocolate (hold the cheese, please!)

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Bangkok’s traffic is notorious and for good reason. You can easily get caught up in traffic jams that feel like they’re never going to end at any time of day or night, making seeing everything on your list a little tricky – especially if you’re strapped for time like I was. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get around the city.

Since Bangkok has a lot of traffic, the BTS SkyTrain is a great way to zip around the city quickly. The BTS, along with the MRT (the local underground rail systems), connect all the main business, entertainment and shopping areas of the city, meaning you can use them to hop between pretty much anywhere and everywhere you’d ever want to go.

Taxis are in abundance throughout Bangkok, but you’ve got to be careful because the drivers almost always seriously bump up the price when trying to negotiate. If you ever get in a cab in Bangkok, be sure it has a meter and the driver actually turns it on, so you know exactly what you have to pay and you don’t get scammed.

We also used the app called Grab, which is similar to Uber and a great alternative to the local taxis. Most Grab cars are new, clean and driven by happy young locals who won’t try and negotiate the price with you, making it definitely an option to consider when you want to get somewhere quickly for a fair price.

Although they’re slowly dwindling away in favor of more comfortable modes of transportation, there are still plenty of tuk tuks zooming around Bangkok. These are one of the city’s most iconic forms of transportation and they allow you to really get right into the middle of all the hustle and bustle that defines Bangkok. They might not be the quickest, the comfiest or the most practical way to get around, but they’re definitely the most fun!

Thailand is world-famous for its floating markets, but there isn’t a single one within Bangkok. However, there are a few on the outskirts of the city that are just a taxi ride away. Last year I visited the Wat Sai Floating Market. It’s the closest floating market to Bangkok, but it still takes a few hours to get there and back. The best way to do this is to hire a taxi for half a day to take you to the market, wait for you while you shop, then take you back.

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If you’ve never been to a floating market before, the idea is you get into a long canoe-like wooden boat and your “captain” glides you by loads of stalls which are essentially boats just like the one you’re in, but laden with goodies instead of shoppers. Whenever you see something you like, you simply ask the person in charge of the boat to stop then haggle the best you can!

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There’s a great variety of items at the Wat Sai Floating Market, from teas and spices to clothing and artwork. But you’ll also find a lot of tacky stuff, like fake designer handbags and plastic souvenirs, so keep that in mind. Overall, it’s a pretty fun experience, but it does have the air of a tourist trap.

I don’t usually visit Bangkok for such a short period of time, so I’m already looking forward to my next visit. I’m planning on exploring more chaotic floating markets, treating myself to a relaxing river cruise, discovering the famous Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), checking out the Jim Thompson House and taking part in a Thai cooking class.

Have you ever visited Bangkok? I’d love to hear your favorite things to do in the city. Let me know in the comments so I can take a look and maybe add them to my itinerary for next time!

xoxo-Lisa
Your SoulTravelFitnessCoach

 

10 Must Have Accessories for Southeast Asia

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Southeast Asia, visiting amazing places like Singapore (check out my ultimate travel itinerary for Singapore here) and Langkawi (read about my amazing experiences in Langkawi here). Hopping about from island to island, I’ve learned a lot of stuff – including which must-have essentials you absolutely need to take with you and all the excess stuff you can definitely do without carrying around!

If you’re planning on visiting Southeast Asia (you really should – it’s beyond amazing) here’s my list of ten must-have accessories that will make your trip ten times better without making your luggage ten times heavier!

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1.     Fedora hat – I never leave home without this hat. Not only does it protect my face from the sun, but it also pulls together any outfit and makes even the most mismatching clothes work well every time. Sure, you could wear any old hat, but a fedora is timelessly stylish, goes with literally everything and creates loads of shade for your face – super important when you’re traveling around Southeast Asia!

2.     Cute cap – As well as my fedora, I also always throw a cute and casual cap into my bag. The fedora is great for looking chic and stylish, but the cap is so much better for active days filled with spontaneous scooter road trips, exciting watersport adventures + scenic nature hikes.

3.     Cool sunglasses – These classic aviator shades go with absolutely everything. You’ve gotta protect your eyes, so why not look cool at the same time? Different colors and designs go in and out of fashion all the time, but you can never go wrong with the original aviator sunglasses.  

4.     Quality sunscreen – A bright red lobster isn’t a look anyone can pull off, so take care of your skin and slap on some sunscreen. Supergoop! is my favorite sunscreen because it’s super protective (SPF 50), it’s not oily at all and it comes in 3 different sizes, including one small enough to throw into your carry-on if you’re traveling light.

5.     Travel scarf – This is the perfect accessory that you can snuggle up with on the plane to keep warm when the air-con is blasting. It also comes in super handy when you’re exploring temples or religious buildings and need to cover up your shoulders. Whenever you’re not using it, it’s small and light enough to scrunch up and store in even the smallest bags.

6.     Sturdy flip-flops – It’s so important to pick up a pair of sturdy, long-lasting flip flops for when you’re traveling around Southeast Asia because you’ll be wearing them so often. From lazy beach days and dusty city walks to showing in hostel bathrooms, you need a good pair of flip flops you can rely on that won’t fall apart on you when you least suspect it!

7.     Leather sandals – You can’t go your whole trip wearing just a pair of flip flops – you also need a pair of leather sandals that can work for casual daytime outfits and dressy evening outfits, too. I love these ones because they’re super comfy and come in 4 different colors to match whatever you’re wearing.

8.     Bathing suit – The beaches in Southeast Asia are incredible, so make sure you’ve got a swimsuit so you can make the most of them! I love this palm tree print bikini – it makes me feel super summery and tropical every time I wear it. If you decide to buy it, make sure you order a size up because it runs small.

9.     Black cover-up with tassels – This beach cover-up is perfect for traveling to and from the beach without exposing your skin to too much sunshine. And just like the travel scarf, it’s thin and light enough to pop into your bag without worrying about it taking up too much space or being too heavy.

10.  Longchamp bag – One of my favorite bags of all-time, this black Longchamp bag is fantastic for every occasion. It goes from being the perfect carry-on for your flight to the ideal beach bag with enough room to hold towels, spare clothes, reading material and snacks. I don’t know where I’d be without it!

Have you visited Southeast Asia? What are the must-have accessories you couldn’t have done without? Let me know in the comments section below so I can check them out!

For more of my favorite travel essentials, check out my post on 12 Carry-On Travel Must-Haves.

xoxo-Lisa
Your SoulTravelFitness Coach

 

 

Should I Become A Health Coach

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If you’re anything like me, you get callings in life. I like to think of them as your soul’s deepest desires. They’re those inner voices that just won’t go away no matter how much you ignore them.

For years and years, I was curious about becoming a health coach. I’ve always been interested in health and wellness, but I was waiting for the perfect time to seize the opportunity and take the next step in my life. I wanted my financial situation to be perfect before a moved an inch, because how in the world would I manage my J-O-B and study to be a health coach at the same time?

In the summer of 2017, I became a certified personal trainer, but it wasn’t enough. I loved working with my clients and helping them achieve their fitness goals, but I knew I could be doing so much more for them if I took that extra step and became a health coach. I yearned to delve deep down and look at the root cause of some of their bad habits and behaviors they wanted to change. And my personal training certification simply wasn’t enough to do that. 

After feeling like I’d hit a plateau, I finally made the decision to sign up for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I knew I wanted to help others, not only with the experience I’d gained through dealing with the ups and downs of my own health, but with the guidance of a wellness program that met all my clients’ individual needs, too.

My only regret is that I wished I’d signed up for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition sooner.

Here are a few reasons why I love the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN):

The program uses an online platform, giving you complete flexibility.
I’ve been able to study while living in Asia, traveling across the world, in my office, and on the couch in my PJs. You can access courses 24/7 from anywhere, meaning you can work according to your own schedule. Gotta love modern technology!

It follows a holistic approach to health and wellness.
IIN does not believe in a cookie cutter approach, but in bio-individuality. The program covers over 150 different dietary theories, giving you all the knowledge you need to help your clients, no matter what kind of symptoms they’re experiencing.

The curriculum covers nutritional concepts and the science to back it up without getting overly technical.
Basically, the content includes everything you need to know plus all the science to support it while still being easy to understand and digest.

Each module has videos and audio lectures, handouts, and assignments.
The variety of content helps keep things interesting across the 40 modules and 4 tests which make up the year-long program.

Health industry experts provide the latest trends and topics for the program.
Professionals such as Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra ensure the course is always up-to-date, so you’re armed with the most current knowledge to best help your clients.

It’s international and your classmates are international, too.
I’ve been lucky enough to study with people living in Mexico, Vietnam, Japan, The United States, China, and Korea. It’s fascinating meeting and studying people from all different backgrounds and cultures across the world.

Click here to try your free sample class today! While you’re at it, download your free copy of Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness by Joshua Rosenthal. It includes 3 chapters from the life-changing book that topped Amazon’s bestseller list. You’ll love it!

If you want to know more about health coaching with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, drop me a line and say hello. I’d love to send you all the ah-maz-ing details and answer any questions you have about changing your life by becoming a health coach. 

xoxo-Lisa

Escape to Langkawi Malaysia

A year ago a friend of mine posted stunning travel pics of white sandy beaches, breathtakingly beautiful sunsets, lush tropical forests, and crystal-clear blue seas she’d taken while visiting Langkawi in Malaysia. It was at that moment I knew I had to add this spot to my bucket list and I’m so glad I did, because my time in Langkawi has been filled with happiness-boosting vitamin D, some much-needed relaxation and experiences of paradise on earth that have left me feeling amazing!

The flight from Singapore to Langkawi was only 1 hour 30 minutes. If you fly from Kuala Lumpur, the flight is only 1 hour 5 minutes, making Langkawi a great island to visit – even if it’s just for a weekend.

Within an hour of landing, we arrived at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa. Langkawi has loads of hotels spread out across luxury, five-star resorts and cheap and cheerful budget accommodation. But since we wanted to splurge on this holiday, we opted for the Westin located on the south-eastern part of the island.

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When we arrived at the resort, we were welcomed by a smiling host and enjoyed refreshing tropical drinks. Because it was available for just $40USD extra per night, we decided to upgrade our standard room to a premium one with a balcony and partial ocean view. Honestly, it was sooo worth it!

I loved spending time on the balcony in the early morning journaling my thoughts, ideas and aspirations. I try to journal wherever and whenever I can, but it was so much easier to do it surrounded by the natural beauty of Langkawi. The cool stillness of the morning air, the view of the shimmering aquamarine sea and the gentle sound of birdsong created the perfect environment for me to get everything in my head down on paper.

It wasn’t just the balcony that made the upgrade worth it – the entire room was so much better than what we would have got, had we not upgraded. The bedroom was incredibly spacious, with two huge Westin Heavenly Beds which were so soft and comfortable it was like sleeping on a fluffy cloud. The bathroom was also one of the largest I’ve ever had, with their signature Heavenly Bath to soak in and plush bathrobes to snuggle up in.

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The Westin Langkawi has 4 incredible swimming pools, plus an extra outdoor pool that forms part of the onsite spa. The main pool has a swim-up bar and poolside service, so you can stay hydrated with everything from freshly-prepared coconut water to amazing fruity cocktails while you soak up some rays.

And with 7 dining options (plus 24-hour room service) this place really is heaven for foodies! All the restaurants I got to try were truly outstanding and served some of the very best food I’ve ever eaten in Langkawi. But if I had to pick just one favorite, it would definitely be Breeze. This incredibly romantic lounge has stunning views of the Andaman Sea, comfy couches, and an outdoor terrace.  Breeze serves up their signature cocktails, wine, and delectable dishes from all over the world. The Pineapple Ginger Mojito with rum, freshly muddled pineapple, ginger, mint, lime juice, and sugar was one of my favorites.  The restaurants really were so superb that I couldn’t just pick one. My other favorite place to eat was Splash. This poolside bar served the best fruit smoothies and mojitos ever and had a great snack menu with loads of little bites perfect for nibbling by the pool.

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I really loved how the Westin Langkawi placed a great importance on wellbeing. The onsite spa had one of the most comprehensive treatment menus on the island, with massages, facials and exfoliations from all over the world. Whenever I stay at a hotel with a spa, I’ve got to use it and I can definitely recommend the one at Westin Langkawi. Just make sure you arrive at least an hour before your booking, so you can take advantage of the private pool area.

 Rhea enjoying the private pool at the Westin's Spa.

Rhea enjoying the private pool at the Westin's Spa.

There’s also the Westin WORKOUT Fitness Studio with all kinds of equipment designed to keep you in the best shape ever. This state-of-the-art gym had all my favorite toys – free weights, medicine balls, Swiss balls, and TRX so I could keep up with my workouts while I was away.

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If you don’t want to be stuck indoors while working out, you’ll love the watersports. The Westin Langkawi is located right by the beach and offers everything from windsurfing and kayaking to sailing and more! And while you’re down at the beach, make sure you try one of the resort’s yoga classes. Doing yoga on the beach while the sun dips into the horizon really is an incredible experience everyone should have.

Westin Langkawi gets that health isn’t just about what happens to your body on the outside – it’s also what you put inside that matters. And to keep you healthy inside and out, they include loads of yummy superfoods in their restaurant menus. Smoothies made with blueberries, salads sprinkled with goji berries and delicious salmon filets are just some of the drool-worthy dishes you get to choose from.

As much as we loved hanging out at the resort, eventually we decided it was time to explore a little further afield. And when we heard there was a night market nearby, we knew we couldn’t miss it.

One of my favorite things to do in Asia is explore the night markets because you can try delicious local foods for dirt cheap prices. Kuah Night Market is considered the biggest night market in Langkawi, but it’s actually quite small compared to other markets I’ve visited in Asia. The market was about a 15-minute drive from our hotel and we strolled along the stalls for over an hour, sampling all the tempting local Malay dishes.

Some of my favorite eats were seasonal fruits, fresh mango juice, chicken satay, murtabak, and apam balik. In case you’re new to Malay food, murtabak is a seriously yummy pancake-like sandwich stuffed with veggies and meat. Apam balik is another pancake-like dish, but it’s sweet, comes in the shape of a half moon and is filled with a sweet peanut mixture.

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One of my favorite ways to explore a new destination is by scooter. You can feel the wind in your hair and buzz anywhere your heart desires. I love exploring places on foot, but with a scooter you can cover loads more ground much faster, spontaneously nipping down small alleyways and cruising along empty roads – almost like you’re the only one there! It’s a great way to discover new places you’d never otherwise be able to see and it’s almost always super cheap. Even if you hire a scooter for just one day while traveling, I definitely recommend it!

Just minutes away from the Westin Langkawi, you can rent scooters for 40 Malaysian Ringgit for the whole day. That’s just over $10! There were lots of excited giggles coming out of us while waiting to get our scooters. The rental guy had loads of scooters and loads of keys, but he wasn’t exactly the most organized person in the world. So matching up a scooter with the right set of keys took a little time. But the amazing experiences we had made it definitely worth the wait.  

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After waiting to be handed the right key, we were all set and headed north. The sky was blue, the sun was blazing and there were no clouds in sight – we knew we’d picked the perfect day to explore the island!

About 45 minutes after we set off, we arrived at the paradise known as Tanjung Beach. This is the kind of beach you’ve got to see to believe. Seriously – if I hadn’t been stood in front of it in person, I would have sworn I was staring at a Photoshopped image. Powder-soft, sugar-white sand blanketed the floor, unbelievably calm turquoise waters gently lapped onto the shore’s edge and palm trees swayed ever so slightly in the wonderfully cooling breeze. It really did feel like I was on a movie set.

Rows of comfy beach chairs were set up along the sand, eagerly awaiting travelers keen to soak up the sun and wonderfully colorful umbrellas were ready and waiting to offer shade to anyone who wanted some. That was our cue! We rented some chairs, umbrellas, and towels and sipped on icy cold water and fresh coconut water while the Malaysian sun warmed our skin.

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My plans for the day included little more than working on my tan, re-energizing with some serious napping and finishing up “The Wisdom of Sundays” written by Oprah Winfrey. Which, by the way, I totally loved from start to finish and 100% recommend you read!

There was a charming food stall with a casual dining area out front serving local dishes and drinks, plus a watersports kiosk offering parasailing and wave running. I would have loved to try out the watersports, but my mind and body were begging for some relaxation time after my adventures in Singapore, so I stayed put on my plush sun lounger.

After we’d had our fill of sunshine, we headed back to the Westin Langkawi and got stuck in a down pour. This definitely made for an adventure!

A must while you’re in Langkawi is the SkyCab which takes you up to the SkyBridge. The longest free span mono-cable car in the world, the SkyCab soars over dense jungle and ancient rocks dating back over 550 million years, giving you some breathtaking views you won’t forget in a hurry!

The Oriental Village is located at the bottom of the site and is brimming with shops selling souvenirs and restaurants offering local dishes. From here, you follow the signs leading you to the ticket kiosk and purchase your ticket to the SkyCab. When we were there, our line moved pretty fast because there weren’t many people. But if you visit during high season, I imagine the lines will be pretty long, so be prepared! Oh – and make sure you don’t take any food or drink with you because neither is allowed.

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After you get your ticket, you climb into the SkyCab and ride half way up the mountain to the first viewing point known as Middle Station. This point is 650m above sea level and gives amazing panoramic views of Langkawi and the surrounding islands. From here you can also see beautiful flowers on the ridges and the forest-covered valley in between leading up to the Top Station.

When we’d snapped enough pics, we climbed back into the SkyCab and rode the final way up to the Top Station. This point is 708m above sea level and offers 2 viewing platforms from where you can see dramatic mountain views, dominating rock tower peaks and all the amazing natural beauty of Langkawi from one single place. There’s also a convenient little shop where you can buy snacks and drinks.

We had to pay an additional fee to walk on the SkyBridge, which was a little confusing because we thought we’d already paid at the bottom. Oh well, I guess we were wrong! This suspended bridge is built on top of the magnificent Machinchang mountain and is suspended from a single pylon, hanging around 100m above the ground. It swings right out away from the mountain so it almost feels like you’re walking on air! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, but I’d definitely not recommend it to anyone even the tiniest bit afraid of heights.

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When we headed back down to the Oriental Village, we discovered the Langkawi Art in Paradise 3D Museum. Less of a museum and more like a funny art gallery, this place is full of paintings and artwork that look 3D when you stand in front of them. There wasn’t much to do apart from snap silly pictures, so we spent less than an hour here, but we had fun. There was a live interactive show, but after a full-on day, we were keen to get back. So we grabbed some ice cream, met up with our driver and headed back to the Westin Langkawi.

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Langkawi is a wonderful place to relax with a good book, recharge your batteries, and treat yourself to some chill-out time. I left it feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the world! During our entire stay, we were blessed with amazing weather every day and just one wet afternoon. So if you decide to visit, make sure to pack plenty of summery clothes, sunscreen and sunglasses for your trip.

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Singapore The Ultimate Itinerary

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Day 1
During the winter months in China, I’m always very eager to escape the cold and head to a spot where the sunshine warms my skin. My travel buddy, Rhea, and I decided on a weekend in Singapore before heading to Langkawi, Malaysia.

I’ve wanted to visit Singapore for ages because it’s such a beautiful, charismatic place that’s constantly reinventing itself and improving. The weather is superb all-year-round and despite its urban nature, it’s brimming with wonderfully-maintained green spaces.

Singapore really is one of the most organized and efficient cities in the world and the people are more charming than you could ever imagine. It’s the place where adventurous explorers, hungry foodies, stylish fashionistas and culture vultures come together and create new experiences. And I just had to be a part of that.

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After a full day of traveling, we arrived at our Airbnb, just a hop skip and jump from Orchard Street in the heart of Singapore. I love using Airbnb for my travels. Our private apartment included a gym, pool, and jacuzzi. Our host was super sweet and beyond helpful. It's so easy to book with Airbnb, plus it’s typically cheaper than staying in hotels and you get a real feel for how the locals live. If you’re new to Airbnb, click here to sign up and you’ll get $30 to put toward your next booking for free!

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After a slow and lazy morning spent at our Airbnb, we headed out for a walk and stumbled upon Artisan Boulangerie Co. This was the perfect spot for grabbing a bite to eat and a coffee before exploring the city. After all, there’s nothing worse than being hangry while traveling! I opted for the avocado toast smash on fresh bread with a poached egg and it was delicious.

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First stop: Singapore Botanic Gardens. This beautiful place is home to Singapore’s oldest gardens and is the country’s very first UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was transformed from a disused plantation in 1859 and has continued to grow into the breathtaking and peaceful attraction it is now.

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No matter what time of day or evening you visit, the Botanic Gardens are always buzzing with joggers keeping fit, families spending some quality time together and tourists exploring one of the most scenic parts of Singapore. There’s always a fantastic atmosphere and if you ever visit the country, you’ve got to check it out!

I love nature and it truly feeds my soul. The grounds are huge and you could easily spend an entire day here if you wanted. But with just one weekend in Singapore, we only had an hour to explore and spent it walking from one side of the gardens to the other.

We cooled off with delicious pink lemonades at Bee’s Knees – a café set inside a historical building dating back to the 1920’s in the Botanic Gardens. If you’re feeling hungry, they offer sandwiches, pizzas, truffle fries, and sweet treats. The Botanic Gardens are free and y’all definitely need to bring comfy shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and water.

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When I booked my trip to Singapore and began researching where to go and what to see, I came across Haji Lane and thought “Yes! I can see myself there.” If you’re looking for something different to the BIG shopping malls, consider spending the afternoon there.

Haji Lane is filled with cute boutiques, quaint cafés, and gorgeous street art. Almost all the buildings are covered in fascinating murals that look like they belong in a gallery. The incredible details, unique ideas and bright colors will leave you so mesmerized you honestly won’t know where to look!

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While exploring Haji Lane I stepped into an adorable jewelry shop called SSFW. It stands for Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. I love bringing back a piece of jewelry from each trip I take to remind me of the wonderful memories I have from faraway places. SSFW has a beautiful selection of jewelry, candles, and stationery. Be sure to pop in for the perfect accessory from Singapore.

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About halfway down Haji Lane I spotted Moosh Soft Serve. They were serving up the most amazzzing flavor combos. Strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, s’mores, apple crumble, ondeh-ondeh + Nutella brownie cheesecake were just a few of the oodles of options available. It was a tough decision choosing just one, but I decided on the Nutella brownie cheesecake and was not disappointed.

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Whatever you do, don’t miss the street art along Haji Lane. There are plenty of gorgeous examples along the main street. But if you turn down the side roads and explore off-the-beaten track, you’ll find even more beautiful and intricate works of art. Some of my favorites were paintings of larger-than-life Mayans with brightly colored headdresses and an amazing house covered in fluorescent geometric designs with tie-dye mannequins precariously leaning over the roof’s edge.

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We spent the afternoon along Orchard Street, a place often described as every shopper’s paradise. And we certainly wouldn’t argue! For fashionistas, there’s every kind of store selling everything you could possibly want, from top-end designers offering the latest catwalk styles to family-run boutiques selling delicate handmade jewelry. There’s a reason it’s Asia’s most famous shopping street!

Orchard Street is also an amazing place for foodies, with everything from gourmet Michelin-starred restaurants serving decadent tasting menus to incredible street food kiosks offering a true taste of Singapore.

Our Airbnb wasn’t too far from Clarke Quay so we got more steps added heading that way. This incredible part of Singapore is home to an exciting nightlife scene, with many of the old colonial buildings having been transformed into fine dining restaurants and chic cocktail lounges. Most places had an amazing view over the river and the surrounding cityscape with its sky-high buildings that make you crane your neck to see the top.

We simply had to stop off somewhere while we were in Clarke Quay and we chose Brewerks. Singapore’s longest-running microbrewery restaurant, this place has been running since 1997 and offers a great pub-style menu that made our mouths water.

I’d love to share some pics of the burgers, fries + beers we had with you, but we were so hungry, when our food arrived we wolfed it down before either of us could get our camera out! We sat outside and enjoyed people watching in the wonderfully warm temperatures for a little longer before heading back.

Day 2

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For our second day in Singapore, we headed to Tiong Bahru – a hipster neighborhood filled with cafes, bookstores, and local shops. We had a fantastic lunch at the café P.S. I Love You….Petit location. There are a bunch P.S. Cafés in Singapore and each one has its own vibe and character.

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Petit is super casual with its takeaway setup, but they’ve also got an adorable seating area where you can relax and enjoy your food. We started off with their signature shoestring truffle fries, coated evenly with delicious truffle oil and topped with shaved fine cheese. Y’all, the portion was very generous!

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We also had the Superfood Salad which was filled with juicy blueberries, toasted almonds, crunchy sunflower seeds, tart goji berries, sweet baked pumpkin, nutty quinoa, broccoli florets, baby spinach and crisp romaine lettuce, all tossed in an orange and rosemary dressing.

The Bianca Funghi Pizza is another yummy delight you really don’t want to miss. This white pizza has got an amazing mushroom-garlic base, topped with grilled king oysters, portabella mushrooms, and button mushrooms, all drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with fresh sage leaves. Even though the desserts looked truly decadent, we decided to explore Tiong Bahru and find a cute café for something sweet.

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I fell in love with the book stores in Tiong Bahru. If you’re looking to buy children’s books, you’ve absolutely got to visit Woods In the Books. This charming book store is decorated in gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations depicting popular children’s book characters and it sells so many cute books and toys that I could have spent all afternoon there exploring. Woods in the Books really is such a magical place that I just can’t describe it – you’ve got to see it for yourself in person and enjoy a trip down memory lane!

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Books Actually is another bookstore I discovered a few doors down. I was able to catch a pic of my travel buddy Rhea before she stepped inside Books Actually. Without even trying she always looks incredibly beautiful. Unlike your average bookstore, this one stood out to be because it was home to two cats! When I was there, the feline duo spent their time curled up on boxes of new books yet to be unpacked and lounging protectively over the colorful displays. I don’t know what you’re meant to do if you want a book a cat’s decided to rest on!

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You won’t find loads of books from the bestseller list at Books Actually, but there might be a few hidden among the masses. This bookstore is mostly home to local Singaporean authors, so it’s a great place to pick up something new. And the back room’s got an eclectic collection of antiques and odds and ends that’s fun to check out while you’re there, too.

Next, we stumbled upon Plain Vanilla Bakery nestled in Tiong Bahru. This delightful café has a few rustic bikes parked permanently out front and a low-hanging wooden swing tied up with rope. These little extras are a fabulous touch and they’re what caught our eye when we were looking for somewhere to have dessert.

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Although Plain Vanilla is best known for its cupcakes, we decided to try the salted caramel truffle tart. It was incredibly rich and the luxurious salted caramel oozed out the sides when I bit into it. We also tried the milk chocolate honeycomb tart. This wasn’t anywhere near as rich or sweet as the salted caramel truffle tart, but it had the most heavenly creamy texture and we loved them both.

 

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On the way to Gardens by the Bay, we stopped at the Suntec Shopping Mall. This exciting shopping destination is filled with all kinds of international stores, including a lot of Australian ones, such as Cotton On, Typo, etc. I also got to browse a few of my favorites, like The Body Shop, Esprit, and Birkenstock.

Gardens by the Bay is a must if you go to Singapore. This huge nature park covers 250 acres of reclaimed land and includes three gorgeous parks brimming with loads of amazing stuff unlike anything else you’ll see in the world. I love the idea behind the gardens – to transform Singapore from a “Garden City” into a “City in a Garden” – and from the looks of things, all the hard work that’s gone into it is definitely paying off! 

We bought tickets for the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome for just SGD$28 per person. Children’s tickets are only $15 for both attractions. If you’re planning your Singapore trip and are thinking about visiting the Gardens by the Bay (you definitely should!) you can get your tickets here

I highly recommend spending your entire afternoon at Gardens by the Bay. We arrived just after 3pm and headed straight for the Cloud Forest. As we stepped inside, we found ourselves face-to-face with the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, standing a staggering 35 meters high!

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The waterfall cascades over a huge tower covered in thick, lush greenery housing a lift that takes you to all the floors of the Cloud Forest. The cool, refreshing temperature combined with the intense humidity of the air and the unbelievable appearance of the surroundings really did make us feel like we’d stepped into another world. We spent around 1 ½ hours in the Cloud Forest, working our way through all the floors, each full of an amazing variety of plants and flowers from all over the world set out in the most beautifully enchanting ways.

The Flower Dome was just as beautiful as the Cloud Forest. It’s the largest glass greenhouse in the world, home to all kinds of exotic plants wonderfully displayed across nine different gardens. My favorite was the succulent garden. I absolutely adore succulents and have my own collection at home. Being able to see them in the realistic desert-setting created inside the Cloud Forest was fantastic!

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We were also really lucky to see Dahlia Dream – a temporary floral display inspired by Chinese imperial gardens to celebrate the Year of the Dog. We spent less time at the Cloud Forest than Gardens by the Bay (around 30-60 minutes) and I loved every second of it.

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Next, we bought tickets to go up on OCBC Skyway which connects the trees in the SuperTree Grove. Strolling along the 22-meter aerial walkway just before sunset felt incredible. The walkway is 128 meters long and the view from up top is definitely worth it. Once you start walking you can’t go backwards, so be sure to snap your pics along the way.

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Our next attraction was the Garden Rhapsody Light Show. With an hour to spare before the show started, we had plenty of time to chill on a lush grassy lawn and sip cool white wine. This was the perfect spot to see the show. We got super comfy stretching our backs on the lawn, looking at the spectacular color-changing lights and listening to the accompanying music. The light show is completely free and is shown every evening at 7:45pm and again at 8:45pm.

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Dinner was at the Refinery, which is located inside a 3-story building with a restaurant on the first floor, a speakeasy on the second, and a shared workspace on the third. Enjoying the warm temps, we sat outside where some of the tables were actually recycled petroleum drums!

We had a real feast here. For drinks, Rhea ordered a Stormy and Spice, which was a fun twist on the classic mojito cocktail made with spiced rum and ginger beer. Then to eat, we choose Salted Egg Onion Rings (they sounded too fun and unusual not to order!) and Tempura-Battered Chicken with Garlic Salt and Japanese Mayo. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the salted egg yolk sauce that covered the onion rings, but they weren’t terrible – I’d definitely order them again. After that, we moved onto Foie Gras Beef-Noki which were drizzled in heavenly truffle oil and a Tokyo Starter Yakitori platter with “Chicken High”, Bak Kwa Asparagus and Eggplant.

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Day 3
Before heading out for our last day in Singapore, I snuck in a workout and nibbled on some fruit, making sure to leave plenty of room for brunch. We’d made plans with a friend we met in Thailand and she suggested meeting up at Dempsey Hill, near her home. Dempsey Hill boasts a terrific historical flavor, with restaurants and shops housed within former army barracks.

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We found ourselves back at another PS Café and since the petite location was delish, we were more than happy to eat here again. The menu at the Dempsey Hill location is far more expansive. They’ve got their signature truffle fries, but also salads, tarts, sandwiches, soups, and beautifully displayed desserts. If you’re a vegetarian, you have to order the Moroccan Miracle Stack filled with roasted portobello, grilled vegetables, pesto, couscous, spice-infused tomatoes and smoked eggplant tahini puree.

 PS Cafe Dempsey Hill
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If you’re in a rush, this definitely isn’t the place to go. But if you’ve got some time to spare and you want somewhere you can relax, really savor your dining experience and you don’t mind service that’s a little on the slow side, you’ll love it

With light, scattered showers, we headed back to Orchard Street where the malls offer endless shopping. ION Orchard Mall has some of my fave stores like MAC, LuluLemon, Longchamp, Sephora, and Prints.

No questions asked, for our last night in Singapore we had to visit some hawker stalls. A true gem for any street food lover, hawker stalls are small down-to-earth kiosks where you can get your hands on all kinds of amazing local delicacies for pocket change. There are thousands of hawker stalls throughout Singapore and we picked the group in Chinatown, simply because they were just was a hop, skip and jump away from us.

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Upon arriving at Chinatown, we were totally blown away by its dazzling, captivating appearance. Year of the Dog decorations filled every conceivable space, illuminated by brightly-colored lights hanging above them. Traditional red lanterns were suspended above our heads and the street was bursting with locals and tourists soaking up the buzzing atmosphere and having a great time.

For the next couple of hours we moved from place to place, sampling everything from the spicy crab and chicken rice to Hokkien Mee, and carrot cake. Y’all, the spicy crab is a messy experience, but a must. The stall owner even gave us with gloves so we could dig right in. Don’t be tricked by the name spicy crab. The dish isn’t actually that spicy – it gets its name because it’s cooked in loads of aromatic spices.

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Yet another misleading local dish is carrot cake. This is definitely not the carrot cake my mom makes at home for my birthday! In China, a lot of people call daikon “white carrot”, which is why this dish is called carrot cake. It tastes like a scrumptious omelet, made with steamed rice flour, water and shredded daikon which form a savory cake. The cake is then stir-fried with eggs, more radish and other seasonings to create the yummy carrot cake you’ve got to try if you’re ever in Singapore.

Something else I loved was Hokkien Mee. This Singaporean dish is one of the most popular hawker foods and comes in all kinds of varieties. The most common type is made from egg or rice noodles which are stir-fried with egg, pork, shrimp, squid and veggies, garnished with sambal and lime wedges. There’s so much going on in the dish, you get a new experience with every mouthful!

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I’ve got a dessert stomach, so there’s always room for a little sweet treat afterwards. Along Temple Street we found a traditional dessert shop serving up shaved ice in loads of flavors. My day was absolutely complete with the delish mango shaved ice with fresh mango pieces on top. With an early flight back to Shanghai the next morning, we called it a night and headed back to our hotel.

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We found Singapore incredibly easy to navigate. I absolutely love to walk, but with only 3 days to see the sights we ended up grabbing taxis and using Uber. Perhaps the longest we had to wait for a taxi was about 5 minutes. The metro is also unbelievably easy to navigate and we used it a lot, too.

For the ultimate experience, book a night at Marina Bay Sands Hotel and enjoy the rooftop bar and infinity pool. Self-described as the most spectacular hotel in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands has the most amazing observation deck, perched 57 stories above the heart of the city. From here you get incredible panoramic views of the cosmopolitan Marina Bay, the enchanting Supertree Grove, and all the way out to the Singapore Strait.

Even if you’re not staying at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, you can still visit the observation deck and get a bird’s eye view of the stunning city. Tickets for non-guests are SGD$23 for adults and SGD$17 for children. 

Singapore, I knew I would fall for you and I absolutely did. Our time together was far too short, so I’ll be back. Next time I’ll be exploring Sentosa Island, MacRitchie Reservoir Park, The Singapore Zoo, and drinks at one of your incredible rooftop bars.

xoxo- Lisa

So, what is a Health Coach anyway?

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in health and nutrition, so becoming a health coach felt OHHHH-so-right. When I tell people what I do, I sometimes get blank stares and the number one question I get asked is: “What exactly is a health coach?”

If you’ve heard the term “health coach” pop up online or in conversation and aren’t quite sure what a health coach is, let me tell you all the details and why you need one in your life.

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What exactly do health coaches do?

Health coaches support you on your journey to achieving your health goals by making lifestyle changes. We don’t just look at what you eat and drink. We also look at your lifestyle and daily choices to help you feel your best.

We use a holistic approach which looks at the whole person including relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. We’re experts in the fields of wellness and nutrition with the skills to help you look deep inside and discover what’s holding you back from achieving your health goals and what will bring you success.

Whether you want to lose weight, have more energy or become healthier overall, we listen to your concerns, help you find out why you’re not achieving your goals and guide you to figure out what works for your unique body.

Why do I need a health coach?

Think back to a time in your life when you felt truly your best. You felt beautiful in your own skin and you felt confident enough to do anything. You had loads of energy to achieve whatever you wanted. Your health was a priority and you practiced self-care every day to make sure it stayed that way. Your daily actions and habits were aligned with who you were and you felt truly healthy and happy.

Now imagine feeling this way again every day for the rest of your life. I’m here to tell you: yesssssssss it is possible!!!

Why should I be your health coach?

In 2012 while living in South America I was feeling stuck and having health issues. I saw a handful of doctors for digestive issues and each one said I was fine. And y’all, let me tell you – I wasn’t fine. This wasn’t just an everyday tummy ache. I was admitting myself into ER over and over again because the pain was too much to bear.

I believe we are our best doctor and I knew something was not right. And in the end, I was forced to turn to Google. After hours of researching, I stumbled across a health coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. By working with this amazing health coach, I was able to fully heal my digestive issues and disordered eating.

When I arrived in Asia three years later, I was faced with another health issue and let me tell you, I was scared to death. My hair began literally falling out in clumps. The human body does an incredible job of grabbing your attention and boy did it have my undivided attention.

I went to doctor after doctor and they each ran test after test. Again, each specialist I saw said I was fine and I was left feeling completely powerless. Once again, turned to a health coach to heal my body. After just six months of working my health coach, my hair loss stopped…and of course, there’s more to that story.

Today I am grateful to say that I am a certified health coach with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the United States established in 1992. This means I know how to work with people with every different kind of health problem you can imagine and I’ve got all the tools needed to best suit your needs – whatever they are.

I’ve studied hard to earn my certification and explored more than 100 different dietary theories so I can answer all your questions and create personalized sessions unique to you, your needs and your goals.

I’m a firm believer of bio-individuality – an approach that says that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet. We’re all unique human beings with highly individualized nutritional requirements. If you’ve ever watched a friend lose a bunch of weight on a specific diet only to try it for yourself with little to no results, this is why.

I’m here to help you take baby steps and work at a pace that’s comfortable for you, so you can accomplish your health goals in an easily achievable way that works for you. I want to help you deconstruct any limiting beliefs that are holding you back. I’ll be with you every step of the way helping you nourish your body from the inside out.

Let’s Do This!!!

Hop on over to my Work With Me page to get all the amazing DETAILS of how much you can achieve if we work together. You can schedule your FREE consultation HERE. Some clients find that one Power Session gets them back on track and others opt for the three- or six-month program. I currently have space for JUST one client. And y’all if you miss this spot, don’t worry…. e-mail me and I’ll add you to my waiting list. 

PS. I’m also a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and can help you with your fitness goals too.

12 Carry-On Travel Must-Haves

Hello, lovelies! I've been traveling around Singapore and Malaysia this past week for a much-needed vacation and I wanted to share with y’all my favorite go-to carry-on travel essentials that I never fly without.

If you’re not prepared for your flight, you can arrive at your destination feeling exhausted and totally out of sorts. Definitely not the way you want to start a vacation! To avoid getting your trip off on the wrong foot, pack these necessities into your carry-on and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to start your adventure!

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1.     This is by far my favorite perfume and the travel size is perfect to throw in your carry-on. Plus, the cap unscrews and you can easily top it up when it’s running low, so you never have to be without your favorite scent! Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

2.     This pouch is an absolute must to keep all your little essentials perfectly organized and in their place. I’m obsessed with the classic black and white colors, gold zipper and textured tassel. Essentials Colorblock Pouch

3.     Protect your passport with this adorable blush-colored passport cover. It’s so beautiful and shiny that you’ll get excited about your next trip every time you see it! Plus, there’s no chance you’ll ever accidentally leave something as pretty as this at home on the way to the airport. The I’m Outta Here Passport Holder

4.     If you want to catch some zzzzs on your flight, a sleep mask is a must to block out sunlight or any artificial lighting inside the plane. I love this one because it’s super padded for extra comfort and has a cute ‘yes, I’m sleeping’ message in gold so everyone knows not to disturb you. Yes, I’m Sleeping Mask

5.     Flying is very drying for your skin and it’s even worse for me because I have dry hands anyway. This hand cream is a lifesaver to keep my hands and cuticles feeling delicate and soft, even on long-haul flights! Plus, it comes in a travel size perfect for your purse or carry-on. Caudalie Hand & Nail Cream

6.     Keep your lips hydrated with this ah-maz-zing lip balm. It’s made with avocado oil and vitamin C which not only make your lips super-soft, but also give you a plump pout, so you step off the plane looking like you came out of a salon. Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm

7.     Some of my best creative ideas come to me while flying high in the clouds. If you’re the same, you need a gorgeous notebook to jot down all your genius thoughts. This one has 130 beautifully decorated and lined pages for you to scribble on.  Jardin De Paris Notebook by Rifle Inc

8.     These plush crew socks are super comfy and a must. For some serious comfort I love kicking off my shoes and slipping these socks on. They always keep my feet super-warm – nobody wants icy feet on a long-haul flight! Warm Fuzzy Plush Socks  

9.     I seriously couldn’t live without this bag. This classic Longchamp nylon bag is perfect for traveling. It folds up easily and the zipper on top keeps everything perfectly safe. It comes in loads of different colors, but my favorite (of course) is the classic black. Longchamp Bag 

10.  I always travel with a couple of tea bags. All you need is some hot water and voila – you’ve instantly got something healthy and yummy to sip. Yogi has loads, but this one is my go-to flavor. Yogi Ginger Tea. Ginger tea has tons of benefits such as relieving stress, improving food digestion, and helping with weight loss. Yogi Ginger Tea

11.  I currently can’t get enough of these RXBAR’s. I always travel with snacks and RXBARs have no added sugar, no dairy, no soy, and no gluten. Say yes to a healthy bar! The hardest decision I ever have to make is which flavor to take with me. But with this variety pack with 8 different flavors, I never have to decide! RXBARs

12.  Hydration is essential when traveling and Mother Nature will be sure to thank you for bringing your own water bottle. S’well bottles are made of high-grade stainless steel and are BPA free, so they’re not just good for you – they’re good for the planet, too.  Swell Moonstone Water Bottle