Want to learn to propagate bougainvillea from cuttings? You’re in the right place! Contrary to what you may have heard, it is certainly possible to re root a bougainvillea in either soil or water; both methods are discussed here.
Bougainvillea are my favorite plant—they add a big pop of color to any garden. At our house in Thailand, these beauties abound. If you’re wondering how to grow bougainvillea successfully from a cutting,this article is for you.
I’ve learned a lot about how to nurture (and accidentally kill) bougainvillea over the years, and though they aren’t always the easiest plantfolk to deal with, in some ways they are extremely low maintenance. They love to drape themselves over awnings and roofs and can handle crazy hot temperatures and extreme droughts.
How to Root Bougainvillea Cuttings in Water
The easy and fast way propagate to bougainvillea from cuttings in water:
- The best time to take a bougainvillea cutting is either during or after flowering, and it’s best to wait for warm temperatures (20+ degrees C)
- Choose cuttings from hard wood areas of the plant rather than tender areas so that the stems don’t rot in water.
- Cut several 6-8 inch stalks using a clean (aka, disinfected with alcohol or a 10% bleach solution) and sharp pruner; cut near new growth/a root node and on an angle.
- Remove any existing leaves. This is because thee stalk needs to focus on developing roots, not on supporting existing areas of the plant.
- Place your bougainvillea cuttings in a small paper cup or glass container of water right away. Keep the cup away from direct sunlight, a small bit of filtered sunlight is ideal.
- Change the water every other day to keep it fresh. You will need to keep checking the water level daily and always remove debris that falls inside to reduce bacteria build-up.
- On the third day, add an iron solution to the water (enough that the water looks a bit red).
- Once you see roots developing, slowly begin to add the soil you plan to plant the bougainvillea in to the water, a small sprinkle per day.
- Bougainvillea hate having their roots disturbed, so when it is time to plant them fully in soil—when you see well developed roots—be very gentle.
How long will it take your bougainvillea roots to start developing? There is no hard and fast rule, but expect it to take around 14 days for roots to emerge.
Pro tip: White nodes are good! See the image below? This is a bougainvillea stalk I’ve had in water for about 10 days. Finally, these little white nodes have started to appear. That’s when I do a happy dance! Roots will be popping out soon.
How to Root a Bougainvillea Cutting in Soil
Rooting a bougainvillea cutting in soil is also fairly straightforward. All you need are some pruners, a suitable moistened growing medium and a bit of patience.
The Simplest Way to Make A New Bougainvillea Plant From A Cutting in Growing Medium:
- As mentioned above, the best time for bougainvillea propagation is during or after flowering, and when it’s warm out (20+ degrees C).
- Cut several 6-8 inch stalks using a clean and disinfected (try a 10% bleach solution, allow to dry fully after washing) pruner.
- Cut near existing notes and on an angle.
- Remove any leaves. You want the stalk to focus on developing roots, not on supporting existing areas of the plant.
- Treat the end of the cuttings with a rooting hormone.
- Place the bougainvillea cuttings in moistened growing media.
- Keep the pots moist and never let them dry out fully, but don’t overwater.
- Keep your cuttings in bright light but out of direct sunlight. Adding some bottom heat under your pots can be useful as well.
How long does it take to develop root in bougainvillea cuttings in soil?
Again, it’s hard to give you an exact timeframe, but within two weeks you should get some root development, and soon you’ll see tiny signs of new growth on the cutting. The little white dots you may see are a great sign that rooting is occurring.
Propagating bougainvillea without rooting hormone is also possible and I have done it many times myself. Simply follow the steps above, but skip number 5. The rooting will take about a week longer in this case.
I hope this has inspired you to get out there and make some new bougainvillea trees from cuttings. Be careful.. propagating bougainvillea can become addictive!
Once you have established trees, remember not to overwater them, that they despise being moved around, and that they love acidic soil.
I adore these beautiful plants and anyone who visits our house marvels at the healthy, lush flowering bougainvillea we have all around. In Canada, I keep my bougainvillea trees in pots and overwinter them inside.
Bougs give such a breezy tropical feel, wherever you are. Bougainvillea is a temperamental and sometimes sensitive little creature, but if you treat it right and follow the steps correctly, you can make a new bougainvillea tree without spending a fortune at the nursery.
Good luck and happy planting!
Want to make your own Sea Salt from Seawater?
Congrats! Making your own sea salt is basically the equivalent of being an actual, honest to goodness badass homesteading pioneer, if you ask me. Use your DIY salt to flavor your favorite meals, maybe in some homemade peanut butter, or as a thoughtful gift. Salt-making is kind of magical and addictive once you start too, so be prepared to dive in.
My salt making adventures began because we’re hunkered down on an island in Thailand to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. I was really missing the flavor of sea salt in my meals as it’s now quite expensive. We can buy boring ‘ol table salt, but the good stuff isn’t available without paying an arm and a leg. What a ridiculous thing to miss, I mused one day, when the ocean is a 3-minute walk from our house.
So, I made it my mission to make some salt from scratch (well, from sea), and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple and easy it is.
I experimented and tried a few methods of making homemade sea salt, and here’s the method for creating your own salt that I found that worked best and most reliably for me.
1. Gather Your Seawater.
Go to an area that you know isn’t overly polluted on a relatively calm day. You want the sea calm so not too much sediment is stirred up. I recommend starting with two big 1.5 L bottles of ocean water to start with your first homemade sea salt attempt, which will yield about half a cup to ¾ a cup of salt. As a quick reference point, a gallon of seawater makes about one cup of salt. Wander into the sea, scoop that liquid gold, and off you go. If you are able to carry extra water (for a second batch or in case of any screw ups, hehe) go for it!
2. Filter it.
No need for a fancy filter here, just run the water through a fine sieve or even a simple piece of cloth. A charcoal filter will really purify things, but isn’t strictly necessary.
3. Add Flavoring, If You Want.
I did a few batches with flavors added during the cooking process just to mix it up. I tried putting garlic into the boiling water (add big cloves so you can pull them out later), orange peel and thyme, and loved the results. The sky is the limit here, feel free to add spices to your heart’s content. (Note: you can also do this at the end when the salt is done). You could even add essential oils like lavender if you’re making a sea salt scrub for the bath.
4. Boil That Sucker Down.
This is the main part of your creative work, aka, the part you can screw up. You need to boil the saltwater until it’s almost evaporated, but be SUPER careful not to burn it, or all your gathering was for naught. It’s preferable to use glass or ceramic cookware for cooking your seawater, but we are stuck on an island and not able to get any at the moment, so I made mine in our regular pots.
Fill your pot, then bring the water to a boil. Once it’s at a hard boil, lower the temperature to a simmer; you don’t want to burn it. When the water is reduced down until most of it has evaporated into steam and you’re left with a goopy salt-like substance the consistency of wet sand, you’re ready for the next step. Depending on your stove, this could take all day, so be ready to make an activity of it.
During the boiling process when bits of salt start sticking to the side of your pot, scrape them back down into the liquid. I loved having a silicone spatula for this to avoid too much scraping and fighting.
Honestly, it was like an alchemy for me the first time I saw the water boil up and turn into salt before my eyes, heckin’ magical!
As the water volume shrinks down, increase the amount of stirring you do. I’ll say it one more time since I made this mistake a few times myself: be really careful not to scorch your salt as its boiling.
Note: If you prefer not to run your stove all day, you can set the water out in the hot sun for a few days to evaporate that way, but, aint nobody got time for that around here.
5. Cure It
Once your salt is boiled down to a goopy sludge, scrap it out into a big pan and finish it to dry (cure it) in dry heat. There are a few ways you can do this.
The first way is to spread the salt out and either leave it to bake in the sun on a big flat pan for anywhere from hours to days depending on your climate.
The second way, which is quicker, is to spread it on a pan and bake it at a low temp (200) in the oven for 30 minutes.
And the third way, which is turbo fast is to put it in the BBQ to cure—spread it in a pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet – sea salt is sticky as heck as it cooks down. Put the pan in a medium hot BBQ, and cook it on very low heat for a few minutes until it is dry. Be super careful not to burn it, it cooks quickly, within 5 minutes on the BBQ mine was ready, so be standing at the ready and check it continuously.
And as a final salt curing method, if you happen to have a food dehydrator, you can also put it on parchment paper in there and it should be cured in less than an hour.
6. Package It
Package your homemade sea salt goodness up! Either jar it up, put it in a salt grinder or collect it in any way that is pretty and pleasing to you. Makes an amazing gift, too.
Sea salt is quite flavorful, and is traditionally used more as a finishing flavour than thrown into dishes with abandon, but experiment and find out what works for you.
Good luck you salty studs!
Well, as I write this it’s April 1, 2020, and thanks to a freaking global pandemic, the world looks a wee bit different today than it did a few months ago.
Covid-19 has impacted everyone, everywhere, and Josh and I are no different. We were already in Thailand when the virus started to get serious, and we had to sit down together and discuss our plan – would we stay in Thailand, or try to get home to Canada immediately?
In fact, the decision was made for us.
Travel options closed quickly and our flights home were cancelled. We were meant to transit through Hong Kong, but that is no longer possible.
We registered with the Canadian embassy, but decided we are in no panic to return home and actually feel safer here than making our way through airports and boats and busses right now.
And you know what? We’re actually looking at being stuck at our house in Thailand for the pandemic (and the rainy season) as a challenge and an adventure.
We will hunker down on the land and see just how good we are at homesteading after all…for REAL, when nature really rears her head with the rains and with all the local businesses being closed.
We are off grid here, on a well, and have some access to food supplies we can order by boat, but life is quite simple, and we do most everything that needs to be done with our own two (well, four) hands.
So far, our isolation in Thailand has been really cool in some ways, but also challenging on many fronts. First, the weather.
It’s HAB—hot as balls—here. Most days reach 37 degrees Celsius for much of the afternoon, and our house is just far enough from the ocean that most breezes pass us by. Of course, with being offgrid, there is no air conditioning. The rainy season is coming, but for now.. wow. I try to do most of my activities early in the morning or after 4pm in the evening. Bending down to dig a hole for a plant or rake leaves can have me feeling ready to pass out.
So far, to pass the time, my focus has been gardening (want to know more about gardening in Thailand? Creating plants from cuttings? Tropical gardening hacks? Shall I write more about this? Please say yes if so!), simple no fail easy bread baking (want to know how someone with very little cooking skills is learning to bake stuff from scratch, in a BBQ no less!?), and caring and cooking for four free roaming dogs who have taken up residence at our place.
One of the dogs is of particular interest to me; we call him Sweepy (the little dude in the picture above). He’s about a year old and was the target of the pack for months after being abandoned in the area. He lived cowering by an abandoned bungalow, in his own excrement, waiting for the local dogs to gang up on him and attack him, which happened many times a day—I know because we heard him scream.
He wouldn’t fight back but rather would urinate himself and scream wildly. It was so heartbreaking.
Knowing that getting too attached to a dog here is very problematic, I finally decided to hell with it, I can’t watch this day in and day out, and spent some weeks gaining his trust so I could carry him up to the house.
I’m now feeding him and working on integrating him with the other dogs.
It’s been going amazingly well and the pack has grudgingly started to accept him—the intelligence, and direct communication of these wild dogs teaches me so much about how to manage dogs at home.
Well kids, it’s hot and I need a siesta, so that’s all for today. Would you like me to keep writing about homesteading in Thailand during the pandemic? What would you like to hear about?
Holy off the beaten path Batman! Ye (which is pronounced “yay”) sits south of Mawlamyine, halfway between it and Dawei. Ye, with a small population of just 40,000, only opened to foreigners in 2013 and is certainly what we’d call well off the well-worn travel circuit. If you’re looking for things to do in Ye Myanmar, we’ve gotcha covered!
This cute and walkable southern Burma town has a lot of charm and mostly sits around a lake (that has fish you can hand feed in it!). We found it just the right size for exploring.
Ye has numerous pagodas and temples, two general and food markets and a gold market, and out of town many things to explore.
We recommend you rent a motorbike in town (or a tuk tuk) so you can get around to see and do many things. About 2-5 days in Ye seems ideal.
Where to Stay in Ye, Myanmar
There isn’t much in the way of stellar accommodation here, with the notable exception of the Starlight Guest Hotel, which we definitely recommend you book in advance.
It is a lovely place with standalone rooms set within meandering garden paths about 4km out of the city.
Room prices are very reasonable at around 30 CAD per night, and there are many thoughtful touches throughout the property and in your room.
The host David is an American expat who is super knowledgeable about the area, kind and sets you at ease in your new surroundings immediately. (He also likes dogs, which makes him a-ok by me). His wife Winny is Burmese in a fabulous cook, try her Green Curry. Showers are hot, breakfast is lovely and the whole vibe is very laid back at Starlight, but there aren’t many rooms so be sure to book ahead.
(We heard that the Gold Market Guest House is also worth checking out.)
Local Villages Near Ye To Visit
There are a few villages near Ye that are full of interesting sights and culture. Here are our top recommendations.
Jaung Ywar (School Village Near Ye)
Sometimes spelled Kyaung Ywar, this village is a mix of Mon and Kayan people, and is located upstream on the Ye River, where the water runs clean and clear.
The Jaung Ywar / Kyayng Ywar village is a decent size and has many roads and small shops to explore. At the river there is a walking bridge that takes you to a small peninsula with many restaurants to grab lunch and the opportunity to swim or rent inner tubes to go tubing.
At the riverside restaurant area, it’s possible to hire a longtail boat for 10,000 kyat (max 5 guests) and go upstream through the jungle to a small Mon temple where two branches of the river meet. While this didn’t happen to us, we heard that sometimes you may need to get out and push the boat in some parts. The boats have no cover so be sure to bring sunscreen or a hat.
A guide is technically required for a visit to Jaung War village, by order of local officials….however we opted to go without one and ran into no trouble.
We were asked once by a man where we were going and we just made the motion for “around, exploring” and he let us go on our way. Dress modestly for swimming—definitely no bikinis.
A short drive south-west from the village, there is a pagoda on a hill with a wonderful view of the river that winds through the plantations and mountains beyond.
Duya and Andin Villages (Fishing Villages)
A lovely motorbike ride past picturesque rice fields and Mon villages with forested hills on either side brings you to the Duya and Andin Villages.
Past Andin is a fishing village at the north end of a long relatively clean beach. At the south end of the beach is a rocky point shaded by trees—don’t take motorbikes on the beach, it’s a lovely walk.
Buddhist Temples and Pagodas in Ye
There are a variety of beautiful buddhist temples and pagodas in Ye and just outside the city to visit. We were so happy we drove over to Banana Mountain, in particular, it was spectacular.
Banana Mountain (Ko Yin Lay) A Unique Buddhist Temple in Ye
We were honestly blown away by Banana Mountain (Ko Yin Lay). We went in not expecting much (AFP.. Another f* Pagoda?), but we were quite dazzled by it’s massive size and beauty.
Although Ko Yin Lay translates to Banana Mountain, this is not a mountain—it’s a uniquely-styled Mon temple complex that’s quite different from typical pagodas you’ll encounter in the south of Myanmar.
Banana Mountain has with many domes featuring a 9-story, 4-seated Buddha you can walk up inside and a GIANT reclining Buddha.
This is a sacred monument to the Mon state locals, and walking around its easy to see why. There were so few people here, it felt special to experience it almost alone.
You can walk into the elephant statue chamber under the giant reclining buddha built in 2019 and be mesmerized by the neverending aisles of repeating elephant statues. Then, moving on to the main building, you can wak Inside the four Buddha statues, and at your leisure, ascend 9 flights, each unique and worth exploring. It’s nice and cool in there. At the top (there are a lot of stairs.. brace yourself), there is a 360-degree view of the surrounding area that is stunning.
If you arrive around 10:30am – 11:00am you may be invited to sit down for a traditional Mon/Burmese lunch. All the food is vegetarian, and delicious and you won’t be asked to pay for the food but a donation to the temple is appreciated.
To visit Banana Mountain (Ko Yin Lay) no guide is required. When we went in 2020 there were was a baboon family (mom and dad in cages, little tyke able to come and go from the cages), it was amazing to seem them but sad to see them in cages. To find Ko Yin Lay, head along the main highway and about ten minutes past the Starlight Guest Resort you’ll see these two elephants, you can’t miss them. This is the entrance.
Shwemawdaw Paya (Buddhist Temple in Ye)
This is the main pagoda of Ye, set right in the middle of town where the busses let off. It has massive rose colored lions guarding the gates. We wandered this area at night and it was beautiful to watch locals light candles and pray.
Sasana 2500 Pagoda (Buddhist Pagoda)
This is another popular local pagoda.
Beaches in Ye, Myanmar
There are a few beaches near Ye that we think are worth a visit.
They’re not quite as epic as those in Myeik and Dawei, but they’re nonetheless a great way to break up a day of exploring or chill out and enjoy swimming or some fresh seafood.
Asin Village and BinLeWa beach
Asin is a large village to the west of Ye and BinLeWa Beach is located where the Ye River meets the ocean. You will go through Asin before you reach BinLeWa. At this very “local” beach there is a hill with a small pagoda at the top and great view. There are a few restaurants there that make delicious offerings: BBQ, seafood, and Tom Yum. Drinks and beer are also available. The water at the beach isn’t perfectly clear but it is safe to swim there. Sadly, there is a lot of rubbish in the area.
Pro BinLeWa Beach Tip: Most visitors walk to the left side of the rocky hill, but the beach to the right is more secluded and cleaner. If you walk about 500 meters north along the beach you will find a few beachside restaurants with cold beer and drinks.
KaBiaWa (Kabyar) Beach, Ye
Situated to the southeast of Ye, KaBiaWa beach is about an hour drive away from town. The KaBiaWa village is slotted to become a resort area in the future.
There is a nice beach at the south side of the village, the water isn’t clear but it is suitable for swimming.
The beach area at KaBiWa is cleaner than BinLeWa beach and there are restaurants with beach views, beer and drinks.
On the north side of the KaBiaWa village you’ll see traditional wooden fishing boats in the sheltered bay.
A footpath continues along the side of a hill to a rocky point with a pagoda and great views of the ocean and the mainland. A guide isn’t required, but is helpful for navigation and translating.
Where to Eat in Ye, Myanmar
Thai Food in Ye
This is a Thai restaurant in Ye with excellent noodle soup, fried chicken and som-tam. The Thai basil with chicken, stir fried noodles and vegetarian (tau-ta-lote) is worth trying. Open noon until 10pm, no alcohol, English language menu available.
Burmese Food in Ye
Jasmine Cool Restaurant
A lovely setting serving cool drinks and yummy food. Try the Tamin Jor (fried rice), Khao Soi Jor (stir-fried noodles, Lapet Tamin (green tea rice and Pad Kaprow with rice. No alcohol.
Burmese Food in Ye
A surprisingly modern joint, try the Nga Jor (pan fried whole fish in sweet and sour sauce), hot pot, stir-fried chicken, squid salad, tomato salad. Full bar, open until 12 midnight.
Ice Cream in Ye
At the lake, here you can get homemade ice cream (try the orange chocolate combo!) and fresh fruit drinks along with fried rice, stir fried noodles and tomato salads. Come for the home-made ice cream, stay for the free wifi.
Market in Ye / Market Food
Street Market Food
You can enjoy Ye’s street food in two areas.
The first market is at the lake and has various choices from different vendors: try the pancake with shredded coconut and peanuts (pow-maut). The steamed yellow corn is delicious, the white corn, not so much. Some tam BBQ meat and veggies are also delicious.
The second market area to get street food in Ye is beside the school. Try the on-noot-kow-soi (noodles with coconut chicken curry, samosas, ah-thauk (noodles, shredded cucumber and onions). Market runs 4pm – 10pm, but after around 7pm choices are limited.
Air conditioned Restaurant in Ye
Shwe Taug Gyar Hotel
Wet chow set (spicy dried pork), Chinese style fried rice, Thai style chicken curry, cakes and desserts. Full bar, but if you want cocktail or wine you have to order a full bottle. English language menu, air-conditioned dining room.
Looking for ideas on where to eat in Myeik Myanmar (Burma)? If you’re looking for some restaurants and food options while you’re travelling in Myeik, we have some suggestions.
This is a lively culinary area with lots of fresh seafood, local delicacies and interesting street food to try as well as some Western options (and curiously, lots of BBQ). We spent a week sampling the various dining options in Myeik, and here are the places we liked in and around this seaside town.
White Pearl BBQ and Restaurant
Located across from the main waterfront on Strand road with a casual open air pub atmosphere, White Pearl BBQ is a favorite for travellers and expats living in Myeik. We had a great afternoon here over lunch and cold beers.
They have a large menu with plentiful BBQ options, and curiously, a delicious sashimi menu (rumor has it their chef worked in Japan for many years). We quite enjoyed the squid on ice, and our beers were notably nice and cold.
White Pearl BBQ and Restaurant No14, Strand Roa
Mergui De Kitchen Restaurant
In a word: Yum. Wait; I need two words: hella yum. This was our favorite dining spot in Myeik, the food was delicious.
The setting here is unique too – it’s a colonial mansion/building with a quiet little alcove patio area boasting many tables off to the side.
When we first searched for where to eat in Myeik, Mergui de Kitchen was mentioned again and again and after going, it’s easy to see why.
Staff were attentive (okay actually maybe almost too attentive.. we North Americans aren’t totally used to hovering) and the menu was extensive.
There were loads of BBQ options and pages of Thai dishes.
Try the seafood salad (fresh, utterly scrumptious), the green curry (my fave in Thailand so my standards are high for it, it was PERFECT), and fried beef.
Food came quickly and was nice and hot (and also as mentioned, delicious – spiced perfectly) and prices are fair and reasonable.
The owner is a lovely Burmese man who popped out to ask how our meal was just before we were leaving.
He speaks fluent English, having lived in NYC and Chicago for years. He even owned an Outback Steak franchise, which probably explains the large list of BBQ items on the menu.
He was friendly and offered some great local tips on things to do and see in Myeik, in a genuine, gentle manner.
There’s also a pretty swell cocktails list here, with fun items like blue margaritas and more. No sad dogs either! (see next post). We would definitely return if we had more time in Myeik.
Mergui de Kitchen Behs Number 1 Street | Myint Nge Quarter, Myeik
The Night Market on Strand Street in Myeik
If you’re deciding where to eat in Myeik, at least one meal should probably happen at the night market – it’s an experience.
This simple night market appears seemingly out of nowhere each evening on Strand street just across from the water. About 30 or so stalls spring up with offerings of various curries, crepes and fried meats. Some chairs and tables are set up for you to hang out at and enjoy your meal.
There are also booths with goods for sale such as electronics, clothes and DVDs.
We headed to the night food market on our rented scooter and ordered a variety of small dishes. They each come on small little plates and you get a larger bowl of rice to pair with them, you pay once you’re done eating.
I have to be honest and say most of what we ate was…ok, the delicious fried on the spot crepes being the exception and being quite yummy.
The main problem being the food is generally not hot at the Myanmar markets we’ve sampled. No idea why, but it’s a thing? The taste is not bad, for cold-ish foods, some interesting flavors, but what we ate that night anyway didn’t have a wow factor.
I had a hard time mentally at the market because the dogs wandering through there were in quite rough shape. I couldn’t help but feed them half my dinner, which irked Josh considerably, as he thought it might appear rude to the locals.
I did try to be discreet about it, but for me it simply wasn’t an option not to feed them something, they were skin and bones and not even begging, they’d sort of given up. Anyway, watching these poor animals did impact my meal, a fair word of warning to the dog people out there. That said, the market was an interesting experience to be sure – we were the only foreigners there.
Myeik Night Market Food Stalls: Strand Rd, south of the main jetty, Myeik; open daily from 17:00-23:00 or thereabouts
Green Eyes Cafe
Green Eyes is a traditional teashop/restaurant in a simple wooden house. It’s popular for snacks and tea as well as curries, noodle plates, rice and they also do a couple of Western dishes. There’s no sign out front, but it’s located right across from the Green Eyes Hotel. Straightforward and simple dishes with good flavor, neat atmosphere, definitely worth sampling!
Swe Yar Su
This is a great little traditional Burmese eating spot located on Strand street across from the water. It’s often packed with locals.
The first point in its favor is that it is the restaurant of choice for the largest tour company in the area’s (Life Seeing Tours) food tour, because, as tour company owner Andre says, he can trust that the food is always delicious, clean and safe for tourists to eat.
You needn’t be on a food tour to eat here (though if you are, you are guaranteed a selection of pretty cool dishes that aren’t all on the menu and an English guide to walk you through what each is).
On the regular menu here are lots of fresh BBQ seafood options, many curries and fresh cold beer. It’s always pretty packed from early evening onward, in our experience.
We recommend you come just before sunset so you can enjoy the views of the sun setting over the water while you eat. Service is super quick, prices are reasonable.
G Apparao Restaurant
This hole in the wall Muslim teashop near the waterfront serves up hot fresh tea as well as some snacks, rice and noodle dishes. The food was fresh whenever we went, and the place never closes (bonus!)
There are many teashops in town and this is just one.. we recommend you wander around and poke your head into the teashops you pass by – they’re a great place to get some interesting local culture.
Kanphyar Rd., Myeik, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar.
In January 2020, Josh and I spent 20 days travelling up through Southern Myanmar by motorbike and bus.
The trip was incredible.
This is an area of the world only recently opened up to foreigners and is still well off the beaten path. In all the time we spent in Southern Myanmar (or as some still call it, Burma), we encountered only a handful of other foreigners.
The south of Myanmar covers a truly huge area.
The logical travel path to take, beginning at the southernmost port city of Kawthaung, works its way north through the quaint seaside city of Myeik, through the biologically diverse Myeik Archipelago (made up of hundreds of islands with coral reefs and beaches), the beach-lover’s paradise of Dawei, quaint and charming Ye, hectic Mawlamyine and finally picturesque and cave filled Hpa An (pronounced Pa An), where many travelers opt to cross east into Thailand at the Mae Sot border crossing.
Though still undiscovered, we found Southern Myanmar a vibrant, complex and intriguing place worthy of exploring.
Gorgeous tropical weather, ancient Buddhist temples and pagodas, vast unspoilt white sand beaches, unique local cuisine, graceful colonial architecture, Burmese hip hop music blaring from market stalls, warm welcoming people and the endless symphony of motorbike horns—combine these and you get a melting pot of curiosities.
Speaking only English sometimes felt like a handicap here to be sure, though we felt totally safe throughout our journey. Even when English was useless, a smile and a gesture was always enough—the Burmese people are some of the most truly warm, genuine and gentle hosts we’ve encountered.
Passing through various towns and markets we felt like superstars, smiles and waves and even occasional shouts of “Hi, I love you!” coming at us from the Burmese children who would do a doubletake to see us passing by.
The industries here are mainly agricultural and fishing—rice, rubber cashew and betel nut operations are bustling throughout Myanmar. And of course, the religion is predominantly Buddhist.
We set off on our journey in early January 2020, entering Myanmar via Thailand’s Ranong. We got ourselves set up with 28 day e-visas in advance online (you must do this), and packed lightly, bringing just one small bag each.
This article covers our itinerary, highlights, and overall tips for travelling in Southern Myanmar on the cheap and without guides. It was written in February 2020.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
Feel free to skip ahead to the part that interests you!
Day 6 – 8: Dawei Myanmar
Where to Stay in Dawei
Motorbike Rental in Dawei
Popular Things to do in Dawei
Shew Taung Zar Pagoda
Tanintharyi Region Cultural Museum
Massage at Hotel Dawei
Daytrips from Dawei
Visiting Dawei’s Southern Peninsula Beaches
Sin Htauk Bungalows
Violin beach Dawei
Paradise Beach Bungalows
Brief Southern Myanmar Itinerary
Our Southern Myanmar | Burma Itinerary in brief looked like this:
- Day 1: Ranong to Kawthaung Border crossing, Explore Kawthaung
- Day 2: From Kawthaung to Myeik
- Day 3-4: Explore Myeik
- Day 5: Myeik to Dawei
- Day 6-7: Tour and Explore Dawei
- Day 7-8: Dawei to Ye
- Day 8-9: Explore Ye
- Day 10: Ye to Mawlamyine
- Day 11: Mawlamyine to Hpa An
(You can also do this route the opposite way if you prefer to begin north and travel south)
We came to Southern Myanmar with only a sketch of a plan and while we definitely wanted to hit some hot spots, we also wanted to see where the wind took us and what we found on our own while exploring and talking to people.
Here’s an overview of our route through Southern Myanmar, travel tips and awesome highlights that opinion, you really shouldn’t miss along the way.
Southern Myanmar Itinerary Day 1: Ranong to Kawthaung Border Crossing
Pro tip: have a photocopy of your passport and any Myanmar visas printed, they need these in paper form, showing your phone screen won’t work, this aint a Taylor Swift concert 😉
We started our journey to Southern Myanmar at the border crossing via Thailand’s Ranong.
When you get near the border/ pier area in Ranong, at the gas station just outside immigration a bunch of guys walk around, waiting to sell tourists tickets for the longboats to Burma.
They’re a bit (okay a lot) pushy, crowding you and asking “Burma? Burma?”, but the best thing to do is walk past them, as you can get a much cheaper boat ticket by going straight to the boats on your own. These first guys try to sell you tickets at 300 baht, but if you pay directly at the boat it is 100-50 baht per person, depending how hard you want to haggle.
When you get into the building, It isn’t totally obvious what to do (or it wasn’t for me), but you should look for the small immigration desk.
At the immigration desk you’ll hand your passport and the little paper they gave you when your plane landed in Thailand over and the agent will take your fingerprints and a photo of you.
From there, walk down to the boats on your own. Again people will try to sell you tickets again here, remember you should be paying 50 baht, or if you’re in a rush and don’t want to haggle, 100 baht per ticket. Ask the boat drivers directly.
Pro tip: ask the boat drivers for a ticket price directly, don’t listen to the middle men. The boat drivers can’t leave until they fill their boats, so an almost full boat will be eager to take on new passengers.
Once you’re on board, your boatman will want a copy of your passport and may need you to fill out some forms. The longboat ride is about 20-30 minutes.
When you hit the shore, you’re in Myanmar. Welcome to the start of your journey!
When you get off the boat at Kawthaung, walk the promenade to the immigration area; there are people there to show you where you’re going. Hand in your pre-arranged visa and a copy of your passport and the visa at the immigration office.
Kawthaung (pronounced “Cowsong” and known previously as Victoria Point), is Myanmar’s southernmost town.
We only wanted to spend one night in Kawthaung as there isn’t a TON to do, but we found some neat markets and used our time to get set up with SIM cards and ATM access. We booked the last room at the small, clean and pleasant Penguin Hotel for around $40CAD per night.
The front desk agent at Kawthaung’s Penguin hotel was nice and spoke decent English, and our room came with free breakfast and wifi. You can rent a motorbike from the hotel for $10/6 hrs.
After dropping off our bags off in our simple but tidy room, we went wandering through the nearby market and picked up two Burmese sim cards.
Best SIM Card for Myanmar
For your sim card, MPT has the best country-wide coverage, and for the sim and a data package of 10GB each it was roughly $13 for each of us.
We inserted the MPT cards into our phones and boom – we were in business with fairly decent internet that was good enough to stream Netflix movies and for me to tether my computer to to do some work occasionally.
In retrospect we should have added a bit of money to make voice calls, we only did a data package and regretted that a few times when a local call would have helped out.
ATMs in Myanmar
Then it was off to the ATM. There are ATMs in almost every city in the South of Myanmar and depending on the machine, where you can take a maximum of the equivalent of $300- 400 CAD out each day. The ATM fee is usually $6.50.
Palautonetone Day Trip
While in Kawthaung, we went to a small fishing village called Palutonetone.
Palautonetone is a really cute peninsula a few kms north of Kawthaung linked to the mainland by a (freakin’ sketchy) wooden bridge.
We hopped on our motorbike and were soon on our way, arriving at Palautonetone in about ten minutes.
Palautonetone was worth the nerve wracking drive over the creaky old bridge though – this is a really beautiful and super rustic area where you feel like you’ve walked into a time machine and popped out thirty years in the past.
The east side of the island has a flat of mangroves and the other side faces the sea and has a long sandy beach. Past the wooden bridge you’ll find a fishing village that sees very few tourists, we saw none at all the day we were there.
Dirt roads, goats and plentiful cats, dogs, chickens and puppies wander on the road, and we got lots of smiles from the villagers.
We were starving so stopped for a quick tea and bite to eat at one of the roadside tea shops and then continued down toward the beach for another 5 minutes or so of driving.
The beach area has some really cool colorful little seaside restaurants, statues, art and beer gardens.
We got a bag of homemade potato chips and two Myanmar beers and had a nice cat come eat chips with us. Some locals came over and wanted to share their fried squid with us – it was delicious.
Organizing A Bus Trip from Kawthaung to Myeik
Then, knowing we wanted to head to Myeik the next day, we gathered our things went to the bus station to get a ticket. Myeik is a 10-11 hr bus ride away from Dawei, and there’s really nowhere to stop and spend the night along the way.
We’d heard about a bus company called Toe Bagandan, which was supposed to have nice roomy busses, but we couldn’t for the life of us find it, so we finally relented and bought two tickets on another bus company to Myeik, leaving the next day at 12:30pm, for $23 (23,000 kyat) each.
From there, we went exploring again, just occasionally looking at Google Maps and trying out different roads and areas. We took our underpowered little scooter up and down crazy hills (Josh had to get off and push me up one especially gnarly hill. Pushing someone with a hurt foot up a hill on a bike in 30 degree weather is true love).
At the top of the big hill, we found a really beautiful monastery and friendly monk. After taking in the view, we drove some country backroads through local towns and headed back to our hotel, where we arrived at around 5pm. I’d advise anyone to explore a bit in Myanmar – people don’t mind when you wander onto their property as long as you’re respectful.
That night we grabbed some fruit at the market (definitely try a pomelo!) and settled down for some internet time and to charge our devices and get ready for our long bus journey the next day.
Day 2: Travel From Kawthaung to Myeik
After starting our morning in Kawthaung with a simple free breakfast at the Penguin Hotel (coffee, banana, toast and egg), we wandered down to the market to pick up some snacks for the big 11-12 hour bus ride to Myeik.
I figured a pillow, blanket, some snacks, and a cheap zippered bag to hold everything in would make the bus ride more comfortable (your big backpack goes down below so you don’t have access to it during the trip).
We strolled up and down the market aisles where there’s no shortage of clothing, bags and local food. I managed to find what I needed fairly easily.
Then we took a taxi from the Penguin to the bus station. Our bus to Myeik was set to depart at 12:30.
And then my Bus Ride from Hell, Aka Bus Ride from Kawthaung to Myeik, began
Now, let me say upfront the bus itself wasn’t that bad.
It was a big bus that had air con and the seats were an okay size, and they even gave us a blanket, pillow and bottle of water.
The driver offered us barf bags and anti nausea patches, which I waved away with a smile. Thank you good sir, but I don’t get motion sickness.
Well. I think you know where this is going.
I don’t know what it was, maybe the relentless blaring Myanmar pop music and flashing disco lights that were on for the entire ride, maybe the weird chemical air freshener smell, or maybe the ungodly number of twists and turns in the road – but for whatever reason I was ready to puke the whole bus ride from Kawthaung to Myeik.
I popped two anti-nausea stickers behind my ear, which did nothing. I held my temple and did deep breathing. I counted the minutes.
I’m proud to say I made it through the 12 hour bus ride without tossing my cookies, but just barely.
We made one stop in the tiny town of Bokypin. Earlier when doing our research, we’d considered trying to break the long bus trip to Myeik up by staying at Bokypin, but had busses will let you off here but curiously don’t want to pick you up. Though we were sure we could have gotten on a bus eventually if we’d spent the night, upon seeing Bokypin we decided was pretty much a one horse town (actually a 26 dog town) so I wasn’t sad to carry on. I was sad to get back on the bus though.
Finally, around 10pm, we rolled into Myeik.
Day 3 - 4 Myeik
Myeik is located on an island in the Andaman Sea, just off the coast.
It’s the largest city in the Tanintharyi Division with an estimated population of 250,000, colonial era buildings, and long proud nautical history.
Among other things, Myeik is famous for its great archipelago across the Andaman Sea consisting of hundreds of islands and coral reefs that you.
Most of the activity in Myeik proper is happening around Strand street and the waterfront, though there is also a bustling market in town.
The night market in Myeik happens on Strand street, and the port area is full of fishing boats and lots of hustle and bustle during the day. We found some great places to eat in Myeik.
There are very few foreigners wandering Myeik and a total of 7 (!) expats live here, according to one expat we met named Andre, who runs Life Seeing Tours, which offers a variety of daytrips and food tours.
There is a large food and clothing market in the middle of town that we had fun exploring. Locals were so kind and smiling, and even gave me a piece of ginger for free when I tried to buy it in preparation for my next bus ride (it helped!).
While there are a few hotspot type things to do in the town of Myeik such as tours of the cashew factory and food tours, it seems that mainly people like to get out on the water and explore the Mergui Archipelago islands, which Myeik is one jumping off point for.
To reach the Mergui Archipelago there are liveaboard multi-day trips that range around $200 USD per night, or organized day tours where you don’t spend the night for $80 USD per day.
We also found out there are also some more ‘under the table’ type tours (at about ¼ the price) as while we wandered the night market, we were approached by a fisherman with good english who offered us a one night stay at an island and showed us photos of his boat and tourists enjoying the islands with him on his phone; these types of tours certainly aren’t licensed so buyer beware.
Things to do in Myeik Other than the Archipelago
We decided that while the Islands sounded very interesting, the going rate was rather steep for us and since we live on an island half the year, we would try to get out to these islands again at another time.
Instead of island hopping, we rented a motorbike and spent our days wandering the twists and turns of the city, watching rubber being processed, viewing pagodas, seeing what delicious Burmese eats we could find and what other trouble we could get up to.
We found that the 280 year old Thein Dawgyi Pagoda in particular offers brilliant city views, if you can get your butt up the stairs! Bring your shoes with you as you may want to exit from the other side).
We sampled local foods, drank cold beers and visited many motorcycle shops—we almost bought a new bike to ride up north to Mandalay and sell, but opted out at the last minute.
We also thoroughly enjoyed kicking back at our hotel pool (we stayed at the Regent), which at around $40 CAD a night offered tremendous value, with it’s perfect location, high end, sparkling clean rooms and free gourmet breakfast spread that came complete with an omelette chef on hand to make eggs to order.
Also, unusually for the area, some of the rooms (but not all, as the website wrongly claims) have baths. I personally loved having long baths in our deliciously warm water and deep tub.
Never underestimate the power of a hot bath to help you feel reborn when you’ve been travelling, sweaty and a particular brand of ripe for days.
Day 5: Myeik to Dawei
The bus ride from Myeik to Dawei took about 6 hours and while the road is fairly well paved, it does have many twists and turns.
Although there isn’t much information online about which busses depart from Myeik to Dawei when, by asking around we found that there are generally busses every day at 5am, 12:30pm and 5pm, and possibly more in between (not just 5am and 5pm as many folks think).
You can book your bus through whatever hotel you’re staying at or at any of the bus station ticket counters you see all over town. Usually a small van will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the bus station, this is included in the bus ticket price.
We booked on to the Shew Wei Thu bus through Life Seeing Tours and were super happy with it’s size and comfort (and lack of blaring music and flashing lights).
Happily chewing ginger, and this time sensibly taking anti motion sickness medicine an hour before the trip, I had a much better time on this bus ride , even though it was equally twisty, turny and windy and our driver was going pretty fast.
Day 6-8: Dawei Myanmar
Dawei, also sometimes called Tavoy, and is located about a 6 hour bus ride from Myeik.
Dawei is a mid-size city dotted with a clutch of pretty and famous historical pagodas (that locals claim are the best in Burma) and is considered a beach lover’s paradise.
You’ll find some cool dining options in Dawei: a handful of expat run swanky bohemian restaurants dotted throughout the town, as well as two markets and many traditional noodle and tea houses.
We found Dawei to be a bit more cosmopolitan than Myeik, boasting slightly more modern clothing and dining offerings.
Dawei’s main local markets are both located on Arzarni Road.
The vivacious riverside morning market concentrates mostly on seafood, fruit and vegetables and it’s fun to sit and watch the action from a nearby teashop.
Where to Stay in Dawei
While in Dawei we initially stayed at the Shwe Moung Than Hotel, which unfortunately I can’t say I recommend.
It is aged, the rooms a bit dirty and grubby, bedding not totally clean, and has flashing neon lights on the exterior and is right next to a school that blares party music most of the night. It does actually seem to get good reviews though, so perhaps we had an unusual experience. The staff were very nice, I will say that.
We switched over to the Best House Guest House, and though it has a shared bathroom situation (there are numerous shower stalls and toilet stalls though) and no free breakfast, it was quite clean, affordable and pleasant, and I would recommend it.
Motorbike Rental in Dawei
You can rent a motorbike easily in Dawei, usually through your hotel, or go straight to the source and walk into Focus Bikes.
Our rental was $10,000 kyat per day, we got a discount as we rented for 3 days. It’s a great way to get around the city. Do be sure to wear a helmet, first to protect your noggin, second to avoid the $50 USD fine.
Focus Bikes was great to deal with and even kind enough to take good care of our bags when we did an overnight trip to the Southern Peninsula.
Popular Things to Do In Dawei
Shew Taung Zar Pagoda
For our exploration of Dawei, we started with the Shew Taung Zar Pagoda. This temple is set within lush tropical forest and the main building is comprised of a chedi and large reclining Buddha statue. We wandered around then sat and enjoyed the some quiet moments at a local teashop.
After that it was off to Maungmagan Beach (a 40-minute drive out of town) for some toes in the sand and a seaside seafood lunch.
This is a local’s favorite beach and rather busy with restaurants and cafes and traditional Burmese tea shops. There was more garbage on the beach than I was expecting though.
There are some other neat areas right near Maungmagan that you might miss if you don’t do a little exploring. If you walk along the water to the north, you’ll find the less busy but stunning, Nabule Beach.
If you walk south, you’ll find the Myaw Yit Pagoda, to get there you will need to follow a scenic track which will then lead you to a bridge that crosses over onto the island. As well as the main pagoda here you can also enjoy the boardwalk on this island, which makes a great place to go for a stroll and take in the pagoda and azure sea views.
Tanintharyi Region Cultural Museum
If you’re into learning about Mon history, the Tanintharyi Region Cultural Museum is definitely worth a visit. Here you can wander around and learn more about the story of Dawei and the traditions and cultures of the Dawei, Moken and Mon groups.
Massage at Hotel Dawei
On our second day in Dawei, we decided to start things off right with a massage at Hotel Dawei, a very cool old colonial building with a beautiful swimming pool. For $25 you get an hour long massage and access to the pool all day.
Daytrips from Dawei
If you’re keen to see some sea and village life, there are a variety of daytrips you can book to the local islands from Dawei.
From the busy fishing village of San Hlan you can hop on a boat to spend a day out on the ocean swimming, snorkeling and taking in the sun.
Many people claim the coral here is a much better quality than that found further south around the Mergui Archipelago.
Visiting Dawei's Southern Peninsula Beaches
Dawei’s southern Peninsula is vast and full of isolated expansive beaches. It’s about a 2-3 hour drive from the city, and the best plan is to stay there for a night or two rather than attempt a daytrip as the journey is a bit taxing, particularly on a motorbike, and when the sun goes down there is of course no road light.
We set out early on our motorbike to check out two offgrid bungalow operations, Sin Htauk Bungalows and Paradise Beach Bungalows.
The journey to the first, Sin Htauk, was a bit more than we bargained for. It was a long and dusty ride on the bike, and the side road to get to Sin Htauk was bumpy and a bit nerve wracking, but doable. I wish I had gotten a bike helmet with a visor, for all the dust.
Sin Htauk Bungalow
When we arrived at the area Maps.me said was Sin Htauk Bungalow (note: Thank god we downloaded the Maps.me maps, as there was no signal out here), we realized you were supposed to park your bike at the parking lot at the top of the road and do a 6k walk down to the bungalows – not super awesome in the blaring sun with backpacks.
So, we drove about 7 minutes more to the end of the road where there was a beach and beach parking, grabbed our bags and walked up along the beach with the sand in our toes and ocean water lapping our feet instead of on hot pavement.
We arrived at Sin Htauk Bungalows hot and a tad bedraggled, and were a little irked to see that the prices of bungalows were higher than we expected (60,000-90,000 kyats depending on the level of bungalow you want) and a simple meal was around 8,000 kyats, far more expensive than in town (about double). Not that these prices are high in comparison to home, but in relation to the other offerings and going rates, they were steep and felt a bit like they took advantage that people arrive tired.
Still, we *were* tired, and the beach *was* beautiful….
But, after having lunch and interacting a bit with the disinterested and not particularly friendly staff we decided the vibe wasn’t what we were after, and we’d get back on the bike and search out Paradise Beach Bungalows next, about an hour and a half away.
But before leaving the Sin Htauk Bungalow area, after looking at our maps, we decided to explore the area a bit, since it appeared there was a second beach nearby.
Boy, were we glad we did!
A five minute walk took us to Violin beach – 7kms of totally isolated gorgeous sandy beach.
We did what anyone would do – got out of our gross sweaty clothes and went for a quick refreshing skinny dip!
After that we were back in business. We were cooled off and ready to get back to the bike and continue onwards to Paradise Beach Bungalow, where we hoped to spend the night.
Paradise Beach Bungalows
When we got to Paradise Beach Bungalows (again some difficult motorbike riding on the sideroads, but nothing impossible, even with two of us and our bags on one small bike!), we decided this was much more our speed.
Paradise Beach Bungalows is set right on a giant beautiful beach and is full of warmth and smiles and had a really welcoming atmosphere, the restaurant is lovely and the bungalows are really nice.
Sadly, when we arrived they were full – but they offered to set up a tent for us, right on the beach for 35,000 kyats. We decided to go for it.
The tent was decent – though maybe not the “Arabian nights” experience we had hoped for haha.
In the evening Josh made friends at the bar with some English travelers, and I, ever the introvert traveller at times, decided I needed a solo recharge and walked the dark beach, amazed at the phosphorecents that lit up the sand around my feet. It was magic.
The best part about our Paradise Beach Bungalows tent experience was waking up with the ocean and beach directly in front of us.
It seemed like people generally spend 2-3 days here to unplug and relax.
Paradise Beach Bungalows has 16 bungalows and will also rent snorkel gear (we heard the snorkeling was pretty good but nothing amazing).
The restaurant is yummy—breakfast and all the coffee you can drink is included in your room rate. There is no internet signal at all, but there is a signal in the nearby town.
Day 8: Dawei to Ye
We did a minivan trip from Dawei to Ye. It cost 8,000 kyats each, and was definitely snug with three of us crammed into each of four rows on the minivan. The van spent way longer than we expected in town, making random stops for who knows what (the bus was already full) with no air con turned on. I was ready to get to Ye asap. Finally, about 3.5 hours in, we arrived in Ye.
Day 9 - 11: Exploring Ye Myanmar
We super loved Ye!
Ye (which is pronounced “yay”) sits south of Mawlamyine, halfway between it and Dawei.
Ye, with a small population of just 40,000, only opened to foreigners in 2013 and is certainly what we’d call well off the worn travel path.
This cute and walkable town sits near a lake (that has fish you can hand feed in it) and is a great area to explore.
There are numerous pagodas and temples, two markets and a gold market, and out of town many things to explore. We recommend you rent a motorbike in town (or a tuk tuk) so you can get around to see and do many things. About 2-5 days in Ye seems ideal.
It was just the right size for exploring and full of interesting sights and friendly people. We definitely got the small-town vibe here and there are almost no tourists at all.
Where to Stay in Ye
There’s pretty much only one great place to stay in Ye, so book early!
It’s the Starlight Guest House, run by American expat David and his Burmese wife Winny. Prices here are reasonable and the grounds are beautiful.
The rooms are supercute standalone bungalows with great décor, aircon, and gardens all around. There’s a restaurant on site that makes great Thai food at good prices. We rented a motorbike here and thoroughly enjoyed our stay and meeting David and Winny.
Banana Mountain in Ye
We liked Ye so darn much we wrote a whole separate article about Things to Do in Ye, but if you do only one thing, go to Banana Mountain.
Though Ko Yin Lay (the local name for it) means Banana Mountain, it is not a mountain—it’s a uniquely-styled Mon temple complex different from typical pagodas in the south with many domes featuring a 9-story, 4-seated Buddha you can walk up inside.
This is a sacred monument to the Mon state locals. At the top (there are a lot of stairs.. brace yourself), there is a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.
If you arrive at 10:30-11:00am you may be invited to sit down for a traditional Mon/Burmese lunch. All the food is vegetarian, and delicious; you won’t be asked to pay for the food but a donation to the temple is appreciated. There is a very large reclining Buddhas at Ko Yin Lay as well as a private school.
No guide is required
Looking for a DIY homemade nicotine bug spray repellent recipe to protect your garden from nasty pests like mealy worms and caterpillars and more?
Look no further: This homespun nicotine spray will zonk the bugs in your garden, and it’s very simple to make at home. Heck, it even smells nice!
When I got to Thailand this year and surveyed how our garden held up while being neglected over the rainy season while we were gone, to my dismay bugs had ravaged the plants. Hornworms, aphids, slugs… a whole host of nasties were evident.
Particularly, what is in my mind a pitchfork wielding maniacally laughing herd of caterpillars had feasted on the many hibiscus trees surrounding our house.
Our beautiful bird’s nest fern was also valiantly fighting off an infestation of mealy bugs. I must say I hate these little tropical plant pest bastards.
So. Once I arrived in Thailand there was a new sheriff in town and I let the little rascals know this garden bug infestation was over.
Job one was to create a batch of my favorite super duper plant bug killer: SUPER DEAD BUG JUICE! Woot.
This nicotine spray mixed with garlic is awesome at killing bugs on your plants, deterring future visitors without hurting the garden or plants themselves.
Ready to make up your own batch?
Here’s the recipe for this wicked homemade plant pest repellent spray.
Super Dead Bug Nicotine Spray Ingredients
1 tin cheap nicotine, approx. 200g (or gather a bunch of used cigarette butts if you smoke)
1 cup water
1-2 TBS garlic, chopped finely
1 TBS regular kitchen dish soap
Filter material (coffee filter, old fabric, cheese cloth etc.)
1 plastic funnel
1 spray bottle
Method: How to Make the Bug Spray of Doom
Mix water and tobacco in pot on stove and stir
Bring to a gradual boil
Once simmering, let cool, stirring occasionally
In a separate pot, put garlic and a ¼ cup of water and bring to a boil
Once garlic water is boiled, mix with nicotine water
Pour into jar, let sit approx. 1-2 hours to cool
Add 1 TBS of dish soap and stir gently
Drain nicotine, garlic and soap mixture into a jar through a sieve or mesh (or even an old piece of fabric or cheese cloth works)
Using a funnel, funnel liquid extracted from filter into spray bottle
Spray on your plants – on top of and below the leaves
Kill all the things
I hope this homemade bug spray for garden pests works as well for you as it does for me in our Thailand garden. Garden pests are very common where we live, on the island of Koh Chang near the southern tip of Burma, which is basically right in the jungle, so I spray thoroughly about once a year and reapply a bit after any heavy rainfalls.
That usually that does the trick, but do keep an eye on your plants to make sure your concentration was strong enough.
Your plants will thank you for ridding them of garden pests with this awesome DIY plant bug spray!
Have you tried this pest killer?
Let me know how it went in the comments below.
How to Pack for Two Weeks in Thailand (or Way Longer) In One Small Bag
Whether you’re spending two weeks in Thailand or four or five months like we normally do, you’ll want to pack carefully and keep it light.
It’s now my fourth year spending each winter in Thailand and I have to say – it takes actual effort and planning to pack smart for Thailand. You’ll want outfits and other items that work for Thailand’s raging humidity and hot heat, intermittent rain showers and sometimes cold nights.
“What should I pack for Thailand?” is a question I seem to get all the time, so I’ve created a tidy little resource of what I consider to be Thailand essential packing items for women.
Who is this Thailand Packing List For?
This one bag packing list is geared especially for a 25-to-40 year old woman travelling to Thailand cities and/or beaches wanting to be fashionable and not look like a wildabeast (did I mention the humidity?) but who also wants to pack light.
Don’t get me wrong when I say “packing light” – I still bring a heck of a lot of stuff, I just do it in one carry-on bag size.
Thailand Packing Myth: Can’t I Buy Most of What I Need in Thailand?
The first time I went to Thailand everyone told me, “Oh, don’t bring much, you can buy everything there!”
To that I say one word: LIES.
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but in reality it’s hard to find decent quality clothes in Thailand that fit our north American sized bodies without spending a lot of time and effort.
For day-to-day basics, I’ve learned to bring quality stuff I know I love so I am not scrambling to find things on the road that will fall apart easily anyway.
And what about toiletries for Thailand? You can buy all the toiletries there right?
Again I say.. yeeess.. but do you want to spend your time tromping around Thailand’s pharmacies trying to find a product you trust?
And here are two weird facts about toiletries in Thailand:
One, Ibuprofen is prescription only in Thailand (?weird?).
Two, almost all basic personal care products (think sunscreen, deodorant, body wash, body lotion and soap) have a skin bleaching/whitening ingredient in them. I’m usually trying to get a golden tan – Thailand I love you but keep your freakin’ skin bleach away from me!
Anyway to sum it up – After several years of making extended (think four month long) trips to Thailand each winter with one bag, I feel like I’ve now got the Thai packing essentials thing down.
Without further ado, let’s jump into my essential packing guide for women travelling to Thailand.
Here We Cover:
The Best Backpack for Thailand
Your Travelling Outfit | Plane Outfit
Things To Keep Handy Near Your Plane Seat
Main Packing List
Clothing: (Bottoms, Dresses, Tops, Bathing Suit, Underwear)
Best Shoes for Thailand
Misc Things to Bring
Personal Beauty Items
Electronics to Bring to Thailand
General Tips and Packing Hacks for Thailand
Feel free to jump ahead if a particular section is of interest. And now, here we go, starting with what I recommend as the best backpack:
The Best Backpack for Thailand
Nowadays, after much trial and error, I travel to Thailand with a 60 L Osprey bag with wheels and backpack straps that also has a detachable daypack.
My bag of choice (pictured here) is the Osprey Meridian, which is a convertible backpack – so it has wheels, but also morphs into a backpack when needed. I love it (read more about why this bag might be perfect for you here).
I went this rolling bag-by-day backpack-by-night route because carrying a heavy pack all day doesn’t work for my shoulders, and I also wanted the option of backpacking it in areas with bad footing.
Whatever bag you choose, size wise, I suggest getting a 35L-60L pack, depending on how much you are bringing. Much bigger than that is too much stuff to comfortably carry.
It’s also not a bad idea to get fitted for your pack when you buy it.
Backpacks can be pricey but they are definitely an investment. You can read a bit more about different backpacks that I feel work for Thailand here.
Your Travelling Outfit | Plane Outfit
When I was in university, I had a pretty unique job. I was a part time Customs Officer at the Vancouver airport. It was a fascinating place to work, but what I loved most was the people watching.
Every day I saw how thousands of people decided to dress for their travel day. From fancy outfits to inappropriately skimpy ones, giant baggy jogging suits and everything in between, travel outfits run the gamut!
I now have my own plane outfit that is tried, tested and true. It’s simple, comfy and maybe not glamorous but not offensively ugly either.
Factored in to my plane outfit are two realities: One; you never know what the temperature will be on a plane (layers are a must) and two; you always have to be prepared to walk long distances between travel gates, so good shoes are key.
Here is the plane outfit I recommend for women:
Black light fabric pants
Comfy wool socks and runners (mine are black)
Up top, it’s a tank top,
a long linen man’s style shirt (this artizia one is a classic and fave for many)
and a thin warm cashmere scarf.
A light puffer jacket, crammed into a tiny little travel bag and stored in my daypack just in case it gets really cold.
Once I’m on the plane, I don my ever so sexy compression socks, then pop my wool socks back over those (the floor is ALWAYS cold on planes, am I right?)
Things To Keep Handy Near Your Seat While In Flight
While on the plane, I keep my detachable daypack under the seat, and it contains:
Iphone and earbuds
Noise cancelling headphones
Laptop (just so it’s near me, I rarely pull it out)
Camera (I also don’t want to risk losing this)
Pen (underrated but important!)
Paper notebook (I always seem to get ideas I want to write down while flying).
A little toiletries kit with moisturizer and lip balm
Snacks! A couple kind bars and some dehydrated cheese (super light items)
A refillable water bottle
Chargers and a portable battery
What I Bring To Thailand: Main Packing List
Once you’ve survived your flight and landed in Thailand proper, what should be in your suitcase? Here’s a picture of what’s in mine:
Here’s the overall women’s packing list for Thailand I recommend:
Bottoms: Note: Be SURE your bottoms are nylon, silk or viscose type materials. Anything else is just too dang hot. I like my light Lululemons and MEC materials.
1-3 pairs | Flowy pants
1-2 pairs | Yoga pants/leggings
1-3 pairs of light quick dry nylon material shorts (not too crazy short..Thailand is a bit more conservative)
4 pairs light underwear
1 Maxi dress
1 Midi Dress
I wear tank tops pretty much every day in Thailand and you probably will too. They’ll keep you cool and don’t show sweat stains — win win.
3-4 tank tops – Some flowy to keep you cool on hot days, some more fitted for yoga/exercise. I like Uniqlo airism (again, you will probably pretty much live in your tank tops.)
A super thin tshirt – Again I go for Uniqlo airism
A silk cover-up type cardigan
A silk ‘nice’ fancier top
1 long sleeved linen shirt (I love my Artizia one)
1 long sleeved MEC No Fly Zone shirt (anti mosquito)
1 lightweight thin gortex rain jacket (I use this jacket ALL THE TIME, it rains a lot in Asia and when it does it comes down hard) stuffed into a ziplock bag so it doesn’t take up too much room in my bag
1 warmer cardigan (bring one that goes with everything, for those semi chilly nights out)
Light puffer jacket (travel size) stuffed into a small travel bag , some nights up north in Thailand get freaking COLD and there’s no heat or insulation, and busses are kept at near arctic temperatures with their out of control A/C
Best Shoes for Thailand:
Flip flops (or slip on shoes) are a MUST – I recommend a comfy and supportive pair of sandals you can easily slip on and off like Birkenstocks. A lot of people wear Havania’s too. You’ll be taking them off and putting them back on a lot so something easy to slip on and off.
1 Pair Hiking Shoes/Runners (these are on my feet while I travel to Thailand so they don’t eat up space in my bag)
1 pair Birkenstocks
(Yeah, I’d love to bring more but shoes take up SO MUCH ROOM. I’ll often also buy cheap flipflops on the road)
1 airy light cashmere scarf – this is great for covering your shoulders in temples and doubling as a warm cozy thing in air conditioned environments, or even to sit on in a pinch. My BlueSky scarf is one I just love, it’s sturdy and soft as butter.
1 silk robe: I love having this to throw on in the morning etc so I don’t have to immediately get dressed in “real” clothes
2 Pairs sunglasses (you will lose a pair almost for sure) – I have a pair of Ray Ban Erikas and a cheap no name pair.
Elastics, a small pair of scissors (you’re never sorry to have these when you need them)
Face sunscreen (I go for Tizo, a high quality tinted mineral sunscreen that is also a primer)
Sunscreen lip balm
Nail polish and a small bottle of polish remover (they have stuff there but not as high quality as what we get at home, I like Essie treat polish)
Personal Care Items
Bug spray: Incognito Mosquito (natural) and Watkins Great Outdoors (deet) fill a good portion of my bag.
Biteaway Stick: If you tend to be one that mosquitos love, I can’t say enough about this life changing little stick. It denatures the protein of the mosquito juice and your bite stops itching and starts healing immediately
A little tub of shea butter for body moisturizing skin
Disposable shaving razor (remember you’ll probably be on the beach a lot)
Nail clippers (You are never sad to have nailclippers when you need them)
Shampoo/conditioner (I put them into Goob Tubes. Yes you can buy this there but again I like my home quality products).
Nipple covers (for when it’s too hot for a bra, which is basically always)
Lavender oil – A little vial goes a long way. Lavender is an amazing cure all essential oil – great for wounds, scars, mosquito bites and smelling awesome.
Little travel tube of aloe vera gel – Also great on mosquito bites and wounds
Collagen powder (I love this stuff in my coffee each morning. I use the travel sticks of WithinUS true Marine collagen..you totally don’t need it, but I love it)
Starbucks Instant Coffee sticks (awesome in a pinch when you’re in a place without great coffee)
Emergen-C packets – Good for electrolyte replenishment, you’ll be sweating a lot and any bouts with diarrhea can leave you seriously dehydrated, which can be dangerous in a hot climate, electrolytes will get you balanced again
Any of your prescriptions – I put mine in wee screwtop travel cases and label them – Note you can refill a lot of your meds at the pharmacies in Thailand, but I still like to bring my stuff from home.
Note: I am sort of weird and like to have an antibiotic or two on hand, just in case something comes up. Call me Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. I know, I know… you can’t be flippant with antibiotics, but my stash has been super helpful from time to time for me and fellow travellers and pets.
Electronics to Bring to Thailand
iPhone + 2 charging cables
2 pairs of head phones
Kindle + charger
Macbook Air + charger
iPad + charger
INIU portable battery
Portable mini speaker
Small camera (I use the Fuji xt100)
Noise cancelling headphones for the plane
And that’s it for my comprehensive list for what to pack for Thailand as a woman. Get this stuff all set up in some neatly organized packing cubes and you’ll be super happy to have everything you need on hand.
Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
I’ve got another super easy Christmas cookie recipe comin’ in hot at you today. These chocolate chip orange ricotta cookies are actually quite special. They’re pillow soft, have that zesty citrus orange bite, and aren’t too sweet. They’re honestly hard to have around the house, I keep eating and eating and eating them.
One caveat: these are delicate so be sure not to burn the bottoms. I wouldn’t use a dark pan, as this can encourage burning. I like my brightly coloured silicone liners.
Orange Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp orange zest
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
Cookie Glaze Ingredients
1 1/4 cups (154g) powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest (about 1/2 navel orange)
Instructions: How to Make Your Orange Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In one bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt
In second bowl fitted to an electric stand mixer cream together sugar, butter and 1 Tbsp orange zest
Add egg , ricotta and vanilla to wet ingredients. Once combined add in flour mixture and chocolate chips.
This one is up to you: chill for two hours, or if aint nobody got time for that, just be okay with working with slightly soft dough 🙂
Scoop dough onto cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop (about 1 Tbsp per cookie)
Bake 13 or so minutes until almost set.
Let cool a few minutes. Move to wire rack.
For glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Spoon over cookies.
Let glaze set. Enjoy!
What did you think of these cookies? I’d love to hear from you!
There’s just something rad about wanderlust travel quotes to get you fired up to travel.
If you’re looking to have your zest for adventure inspired, look no further than this collection of my favorite travel and wanderlust quotes.
I personally like quotes and proverbs that are short and sweet and give me that je-ne-sais-quois it’s-time-to-get-on-a-plane feeling. I hope you love these wanderlust quotes too, and that they inspire you to pack your bags and go on a crazy travel journey or epic expedition of your own.
Whether you’re planning a trip, pining or a future potential vacation or mapping out an epic trek, use these wanderlust quotes to stoke your travel fire and start saying yes to adventure. Travel can change the way you see the world, and so can inspiring travel quotes.
Let’s dive right in. Wanderlust…engage!
Here We Cover:
Famous Wanderlust Quotes
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” -Antoine de St. Exupery
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” —St. Augustine
“Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else.” — Tennessee Williams
“I tramp a perpetual journey.” — Walt Whitman
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” —Lao Tzu
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” —Robert Louis Stevenson
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
“So shut up, live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry.” — Jack Kerouac
“Cover the earth before it covers you.” — Dagobert D. Runes/Proverb
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.” – Asian Proverb
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” —J.S. Eliot
A traveling fool is better than a sitting wise person. – Mongolian Proverb
Best Wanderlust Quotes to Inspire Adventure
15. “Wander, and leave a trail of freedom wherever you go.” — Marty Rubin
16. “Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.” — Martha Barron Barrett
17. “The best journeys are the ones that answer questions that at the outset you never even thought to ask.” — Rick Ridgeway
18. “The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them.” — J.K. Rowling
19. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. —Mark Twain
20. “You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.” — Sue Fitzmaurice
21. “Wanderlust is like itchy feet. It’s when you can’t settle down. But Wanderlove is much deeper than that…it’s a compulsion. It’s the difference between lust and love”. — Kirsten Hubbard
22. “What is a Wanderess? Bound by no boundaries, contained by no countries, tamed by no time, she is the force of nature’s course.”
― Roman Payne, The Wanderess
23. “Ownership of most things is overrated. Ownership of worldly experience is not.” — Dave Levant
24. “There’s a part of me that thinks perhaps we go on existing in a place even after we’ve left it.” — Colum McCann
25. “There is always an adventure waiting in the woods.”
― Katelyn S. Bolds
26. “Travel is costly yes, but it pays dividends too.”
― Aaron Lauritsen, 100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip
27. Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” — Erol Ozan
28. “I am free to go wherever I want for the rest of my life.” — Faith Ringgold
29. “Travel, leave everything, copy the birds. The home is one of civilization’s sadnesses.” — Gustave Flaubert
30. “Explore often. Only then you will know how small you are and how big the world is.” — Pradeep Pandiyan
31. “To wander is to be alive.” ― Roman Payne
Whimsical Wanderlust Quotes
32.“Wanderlust is incurable.” — Mark Jenkins
“Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind.” — Marty Rubin
“Travel to unravel.” ― Richie Norton
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop
“Do no follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The Wanderlust has got me… by the belly-aching fire”
― Robert W. Service, Rhymes of a Rolling Stone
“It is good to collect things, but it is better to go on walks.” — Anatole France
You seldom, if ever, get lucky sitting down. – Zig Ziglar
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”― Dorothy Parker
“The earth is round, we shall meet” – African Proverb
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” —Mark Twain
“Jobs fill your pockets, adventure fills your soul.”
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” —Susan Sontag
“We wander for distraction but we travel for fulfillment.” —Hillaire Belloc
“Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you.”
“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” —Paulo Coelho
“Let’s wander where the wifi is weak.”
“Drink heavily with locals whenever possible.” —Anthony Bourdain
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” —John Steinbeck
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” —Winnie the Pooh
“One day your life will flash before your eyes, make sure it’s worth watching.”
“Travel is still the most intense mode of learning. ” —Kevin Kelly
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Prousted by Megan TatemGetty Images
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” – David Mitchell
“I travel light; as light, that is, as a man can travel who will still carry his body around because of its sentimental value.” — Christopher Fry
And there you have it! My favorite wanderlust quotes, all zipped up and ready for you to consume. I hope you loved them. How did I do, did I miss any of your fave travel quotes or sayings? Leave them in the comments below. Bon voyage…fuel your wanderlust baby!