I love city life – public transportation, the abundance of different styles of food, and the high energy vibes – it’s all good in my book. Still, sometimes it’s amazing to take a break from the city and escape for the day. This weekend, Michael and I hopped in the van and headed an hour south of Sydney to Wollongong. This little beach town is full of restaurants, shops, and a long stretch of yellow, sandy beach. This is what we did with a day in Wollongong. This is Day Trips from Sydney: Wollongong.

Day Trips from Sydney: Wollongong

The road to Wollongong is as scenic as the city itself. We took the Grand Pacific Drive – a bit longer of a drive, but 10x more beautiful. The Grand Pacific Drive goes along the beach, with opportunities to stop at ocean rock pools, adorable beaches, and the beautiful Sea Cliff Bridge.

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

We stopped at a few photogenic places on the way to Wollongong. Sea Cliff Bridge, Bald Hill Lookout, and the Coalcliff rock pools are all places I’d recommend.

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

Bald Hill Lookout

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

Coalcliff Rocks

Once you make it to Wollongong, explore the lighthouses along the beach, take a dip in the ocean, or grab a bevvie at the Illawara Brewing Co.

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

craft beers at Illawara Brewing Co

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

There are loads of places to eat in Wollongong. Some of the most recommended are Diggies, Lee & Me, Lower East Cafe, and Pepe’s on the Beach. We opted to stop at Scarborough Hotel, which is on the way back to Sydney, and offers endless ocean views from the top of a cliff.

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

Day Trips From Sydney: Wollongong

A day in Wollongong is a great way to escape the busy city of Sydney. I’ll definitely be back to explore some more!

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After two and a half years of full time travel, I’ve made a very exciting decision – to create a base in Sydney, Australia! This is an exciting adventure for me and it means that Michael and I will be able to settle down into our own place, and create a permanent base to travel from. In this post, I’ll answer the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten since deciding to make the move.

Moving To Australia After 2.5 Years of Full Time Travel

Moving to Australia

The Visa

How are you permanently moving to Australia? What type of visa are you on?

I’ve previously done the working holiday visa in Australia – that’s how I met Michael! I am now in the process of applying for a De Facto Partner Visa, subclass 820. This is a very long and complicated process. I came into Sydney on a tourist visa to start the application process with Michael & find a lawyer to work with on the Partner Visa.

Moving to Sydney Australia

What is the “Partner Visa”? Do you need to be married to get this visa?

The partner visa that I am applying for is called a De Facto partner visa. To apply for this visa, you must be in a monogamous relationship with an Australian citizen or eligible permanent resident and have been living together for the past 12 months, minimum. You’ll need information proving that your relationship is legit.

For this visa, it is not required to be married, but it is the most complicated partner visa to apply for (mainly because you aren’t married – the government wants to make sure that your relationship is legitimate and you are fully committed to each other).

In general the visa process is much simpler if you are married, as you’d apply for a different visa which is much less complicated.

Moving to Australia

Are you and Michael going to get married? Why don’t you get married to simplify your visa process?

I get this question a lot. Michael and I have been together for a year and a half, and we are in a very committed relationship. Of course we plan to stay together for the long term. We’ve travelled the world together, and now we are building a home together in Sydney. So why don’t we just get married?

After a lot of talking, we decided that although we do plan to be together long term, we don’t want to get married just to get a visa. We want a marriage to be on our terms, not just to simplify the visa process.

How does the visa process work?

In recent years, partnership visa applications in Australia have skyrocketed. The country currently grants 50,000 partnership visas each year (this includes all partnership visas – not only De Facto visas, but also visas to partners who are married).

Because I am applying for the partnership visa while I’m in the country, I’ll be able to stay in the country while my visa is decided. This is the main reason I entered the country on a tourist visa before applying for the partner visa.

Moving to Australia

The immigration office needs time to process my visa application after lodging it. Once my De Facto Partner Visa application is lodged, I’ll be automatically transferred to a Bridging Visa. A bridging visa is a temporary visa that allows me to stay in the country and work here while my Temporary Partner Visa is processed. On the bridging visa, I have work rights and can also apply for Medicare (yay health care!).

The Temporary Partner Visa is granted within roughly 18-24 months of lodging my application. Yes, this means I’ll be waiting about two years to get my Temporary Partner Visa. The temporary visa is granted first, and I will continue to have the right to work in Australia.

The Temporary Partner Visa is a two year visa. Once the two years are up, Michael and I will submit more paperwork to the government showing that we are still together and happy. We will need to submit bills and proof that we are still living together and still in a committed relationship. The government will then process a Permanent Partner Visa.

Moving to Australia

After the Permanent Partnership Visa is granted, and once I’ve lived in Australia for four years, I’ll be able to apply for Permanent Residency.

The entire stream of visas goes as follows:

Tourist Visa –> Bridging Visa –> Temporary Partner Visa –> Permanent Partner Visa –> Permanent Resident

What is Permanent Residency? Will you still be a US citizen?

Permanent residency means that I will be able to continue living in Australia without continuing to apply for visas. I can be a permanent resident of Australia without becoming a citizen, or I can choose to apply for citizenship if I’d like to.

Moving to Australia

Australia currently allows dual citizenship. This means that you can be a citizen of Australia and another country. The United States also allows for dual citizenship. This means that I can be a citizen of both Australia and the US, if I choose to. There is a lot of research involved in this process that I have yet to do before deciding what I’d like to do.

What I’m Doing in Sydney

What will you be doing in Sydney?

I came into Sydney on a tourist visa. This means I can’t legally work in the country until that expires and my bridging visa kicks in. Until then, I’ve been working on this website, I’ve created a Minimalism Series for Youtube, and I’m revamping my ebook. When I’m legally allowed to work, I’ll be looking for a position in an industry I am passionate about. I’m currently looking into the travel industry and the coffee industry.

Moving to Sydney Australia

Will you still travel?

Of course! Travel is a huge part of my life, and a huge part of who I am. Travel is so important to me. It forces me out of my comfort zone, allows me to grow, and learn more about other cultures and other parts of the world. I am so excited that I am able to settle down in a country other than my home country, so I can properly explore more of Australia when I’m not traveling internationally.

Moving to Sydney Australia

Want to know more about moving to Australia?

Check out my other posts on Australia:

Do you have questions?

I’ll be doing a more in-depth post about the visa process, stay tuned! If you have other questions related to Australia or moving abroad, let me know in the comments below.

 

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Ha Long Bay is a magical place, and it’s at the top of the list for lots of travelers visiting Vietnam. However, visiting Ha Long Bay can be extremely overwhelming. There are hundreds of tour companies to choose from. Some of them can be shady with safety precautions, while others seem overly expensive. This post is all about my experience cruising Ha Long Bay, the companies I chose, and why I chose them. This is the Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay.

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is a beautiful place, and on many bucket lists. It was on mine for years before I visited! I booked a luxury bus trip to Ha Long Bay city, so I could stay overnight. It’s a 4 hour drive from Hanoi. Some people do it in one day, but I wasn’t into 8 hours of sitting on a bus in one day.

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

On the way to Ha Long Bay, the tour guide on the bus helped me choose the perfect trip for me. The bus company was nice and luxurious (and only $19 USD), and seemed trustworthy. I knew they wouldn’t put me on any ghetto boats.

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

I booked a trip right there in the bus. It was easy, affordable, and the bus took me right to the port to hop on the boat. The trip included 6 hours of cruising, a kayak trip to Monkey Island, and a full buffet lunch (they catered to vegans on request). The trip came to a total of $60 USD, and even included a bus ride back to Hanoi the following day.

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

We even had the opportunity to hike to the top of one of the little islands. Here we got the best view of the bay.

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

I spent the day on the water, exploring caves, kayaking, making new friends, and watching the sun set as we sailed back to shore.

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

The Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay

All in all, I can completely recommend booking with Watitravel. I used Rosa EcoBus to get to Ha Long Bay. The luxury bus is best for a trip to Ha Long City, or if you plan to stay in Ha Long Bay longer than just the cruise. Most cruises include the trip to and from Hanoi as part of their price (for a standard bus). If you do decide to stay in Ha Long City, I’d highly recommend Rosa EcoBus.

This was the Ultimate Guide to Ha Long Bay.

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I spent three full days in Bangkok, Thailand, after almost a month in Vietnam. My trip to Bangkok was mainly due to the cheap flights from Bangkok airport, which is why it was so short (pretty much an extended layover). This is where I slept, ate, and caffeinated in Bangkok.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is a place dear to my heart, as it’s the first place I ever travelled solo (and my first international trip!). I also lived in Chiang Mai for three months while writing my ebook. Thailand is an amazing place in this world and I highly recommend it for a solo trip!

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

I hadn’t spent much time in Bangkok during my travels to Thailand, so I decided to have a chilled out trip to the biggest city in the country this time around. I stayed at Craftel Hostel, which is super cute, cheap, and convenient. The staff is so friendly, the living room is a great place to spend the afternoon, and they offer free tea, coffee, and fruit! It’s located a very short walk from the BTS train stop, and is also conveniently a 20 minute walk from the restaurant I’d been dying to eat at, Veganerie.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

The hostel offers dorm rooms and private rooms. I stayed in a private room, because introvert life. I love my alone time!

Bangkok, Thailand: Where I Ate & Caffeinated

Just down the street from the hostel is an adorable little coffee shop/bar called Slow’ist. I was drawn in by the sign outside showing that they offered cold brew, and after trying it, I returned every day for my fix. Their cold brew is fabulous! It’s a great little place to catch up with a friend or a good book. By night, it turns into a bar.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Every day of this trip, I took a walk down to the Siam Mall which hosts Veganerie. After watching numerous Youtube videos of vegans eating at this incredible restaurant, I’d been absolutely salivating over it. The menu is huge, and everything looks amazing. Hence why I needed to go back daily.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

During my Veganerie visits, I tried the BBQ jackfruit waffles, the Caesar wrap, the Death by Chocolate Sundae, the Italian Crepe, Banana Butterscotch Hotcakes, the Cinnamon Roll, the Tom Yum Buddha Bowl, and the Italian Crepe. I got a good assortment of foods!

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Everything that I had was absolutely amazing, and I highly recommend checking this place out if you’re in Bangkok. Even if you aren’t vegan, it’s just amazing food. Very high quality. They have four locations throughout Bangkok, and this one is conveniently located right outside of a BTS stop.

Bangkok, Thailand: Where To Eat

Aside from eating/living at Veganerie, I ate at local Thai restaurants once a day as well. I found two places close to my hostel that offered vegetarian/vegan versions of Thai dishes. My favorite Thai foods include green curry, Pad Thai, mango sticky rice, and yellow curry.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

This trip was in May 2018, at the beginning of the Thai summer. The weather in Thailand is very hot & humid in the summer. Because of the high heat and humidity, I wasn’t able to go outside for much of the day. I did make it out to Wat Phra one day, which was beautiful.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

I’d recommend going to Home Cafe for some vegan food after touring Wat Phra.

Bangkok, Thailand: Where To Eat

The one thing I wanted to do in Bangkok (aside from spend as much time at Veganerie as possible) was go to a rooftop bar to watch the sunset. Luckily, I met up with Manuela from The Girl Gone Green and we grabbed a table at Above Eleven Rooftop Bar to watch the sunset. What a view!

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Aside from eating, reading in the hostel, and occasionally venturing to touristy spots, we spent one afternoon in Lumphini Park, watching the Komodo dragons and turtles in the lake. I also attempted to climb a palm tree. It didn’t really work out.

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

Bangkok is an amazing city with so much to do, see, and eat! I’d definitely recommend it as a destination for solo travelers, friends, couples, vegans/vegetarians, and pretty much anyone. I’ll definitely be back!

Bangkok, Thailand: What To Do

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Mui Ne, Vietnam is a beautiful, low-key, beach town in the Southern part of the country. It’s well-known for it’s adorable little fishing village, the red sand dunes, and it’s laid-back vibes. This is what I did in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

I rented a little room in a guesthouse from airbnb (my favorite method for finding good accommodation!). The guest house was just across the street from a hotel, where I rented a motorbike for the day. Getting around by motorbike is by far the best way to see Mui Ne.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Most of the best restaurants are located along the street running out of the city. They can be quite far to walk, and the heat in Vietnam makes for a very uncomfortable long stroll. I’d highly recommend renting a motorbike for cheap and easy transport. Mine cost 100,000 dong for the day ($4.40 USD) and I put in 60,000 dong ($2.64 USD) for a full tank of gas.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

I took this little moto to the sand dunes, to the other side of the city, to coffee and lunch and even for a little sunset ride.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

The red sand dunes were so beautiful to see, and gave me some serious wanderlust for the desert.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

In my hunt for the best coffee, I visited the coffee shop Impresso, and another littler shop which shall not be named (the coffee was not so great). How cute is Impresso!

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

I stopped at a highly recommended restaurant, Choi Oi, for a coconut before heading to the sand dunes. I’d read online that they have fabulous vegetarian food, so I came back for lunch.

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Lots of veggie places do a tofu & tomato combo, and I’m trying to find the best one. This one was pretty good!

For dinner, I had to try out the pizza place attached to my guest house. I’d read reviews that it was amazing & vegan friendly. It was real, genuine, italian-style pizza, and it is now Amanda Approved!

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne is a tiny little town, it’s a great place to wind down from the craziness of the bigger cities. There are definitely lots of bars and pubs if that is your scene, but for me it was a great day of relaxation and adventure. It’s also a perfect halfway point from Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh – and definitely worth hanging out for a day or two!

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

 

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