Real Honeymoon: Italy

I’m always excited to share Real Honeymoon posts about Italy because it is such a popular destination and every couple’s itinerary is different. This week we have Laura and Ryan’s Italian honeymoon from earlier this summer, and it sure is a good one. Rather than spending too much time in the major cities, they decided to mostly relax in wine country and on the beach. A pretty good strategy for a honeymoon if you ask me! Read all about their amazing honeymoon in Italy below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We spent our honeymoon in Italy in June [2015].  We flew into Rome, spent a few nights at a resort in Porto Ercole, then traveled to Tuscany and ended with a few nights in Praiano and Capri.

Italy honeymoon

Italy honeymoon


How long was your trip?

Two weeks (2 days total in Rome, 2 nights in Porto Ercole, 3 nights in Tuscany, 3 nights in Praiano, and 2 nights in Capri).

Italy honeymoon

Italy honeymoon


How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We had both been to Rome before but hadn’t traveled elsewhere in Italy.  We both love Italian food (and wine!) and thought spending some time in wine country and on the beach would be the perfect relaxing mix for us.

Italy honeymoon


The best part about our honeymoon was…

Il Pelicano, the resort we stayed at in Porto Ercole.  It has amazing old world charm and the service, food, views, everything is excellent.  It is just such a special place!  I recommend it to everyone!

Italy honeymoon

We also did a boat day in Capri that I really loved.  We rented a small wooden boat with our guide Tonino who took us around the island.  We drank his family’s wine and ate small snacks from his wife’s restaurant while he showed us the island’s grottos and beaches.  It was so much fun and great to see the views from someone who had lived on Capri his whole life and was so passionate about it!

Italy honeymoon


If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Our time in Tuscany — we didn’t plan our time there as much as elsewhere and it was more difficult to fit in everything we wanted to do.  I would love to go back and do more wine tasting, pizza making and general touring!  I also wish we could’ve planned time for Cinque Terra.  It looks so beautiful but we just didn’t have the chance to visit.

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Real Honeymoon: Thailand & Bali

I don’t think I know anyone more excited for their wedding than my friends Chris and Jason. After a gorgeous wedding at City Hall in San Francisco, they went back to work for a few days before leaving for their absolutely incredible honeymoon in Thailand and Bali. If you’re considering visiting either country anytime soon, you won’t want to miss out on Chris’ thorough recommendations below.

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Thailand and Bali for just over 2 weeks during the last 2 weeks of June into July 2015. Specifically we were in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ubud and Seminyak.

Thailand Honeymoon

I think it’s helpful to note that we got married on the 13th, we took off the following Monday from work which was a godsend. I maybe slept for 18 hours straight due to pure exhaustion from the wedding weekend festivities. Because we went back to work the week after the wedding and everyone was aware we were headed out for our honeymoon the following week the workload was lower than usual – no one is going to have you start on something when you’re leaving for 2+ weeks. It was really nice to come back into the office to retell the best parts of the wedding, catch up on emails from the week of the wedding, and then wrap things up before your honeymoon. If we ever renew our vows and decide to go all out with another honeymoon I would 100% do the same thing when it comes to the work schedule. Game changer.

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How long was your trip?

17 days. We left San Francisco on Friday, June 19th and flew into Tokyo. We had a few hour layover which gave us enough time to have semi-authentic Japanese sushi at the airport, then we flew into Bangkok. We were in Bangkok for 3 nights and then went to Chiang Mai for 2 nights. From Chiang Mai we had to layover in Bangkok before heading to Bali and were in Seminyak for 4 nights, followed by Ubud for 4 nights. After Ubud we flew back to Bangkok for 2 more nights and then head back home via Tokyo again.

Bali honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

Between Jason and me, we have hit up almost every continent and most major countries. We wanted to spend our honeymoon somewhere where neither of us had ever been before. It was also important that there would be good sun for me to get a nice tan and for us to go to a place with a lot to do as Jason canNOT spend all day everyday laying out.

Bali honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

2+ unadulterated weeks away from work and responsibility! It’s the one time in your life that you’re encouraged to be fully obsessed with your partner and celebrate how much you love each other! The food was also ridiculous – some of the best I’ve ever had in my life! And the memories… I will never forget our honeymoon – Best. Trip. Ever.

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We stayed at the Oberoi in Seminyak which was our favorite hotel for the whole honeymoon – everything from the rooms, the service, the pool, the food, everything was the best we’ve ever experienced. The hotel set us up with some concierge at the airport so that we got whisked away through customs where the diplomats go (no line) and he carried our bags and got us to cut every line. It was awesome. I’d recommend you call your hotel and say ‘YES’ to the car service and ask if they can hook you up with the airport concierge service so that your travels through the airport are seamless. It was a game changer! Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Myanmar, Laos & Vietnam

Two years ago my friends Ben and Yoninah set the Peonies to Palm Trees record for the most flight legs during their honeymoon to Asia (12). But this week, a new couple takes the crown. Sarah and Dos took a total of 13 flights during their incredible trip to Southeast Asia this summer! Read all about their adventurous honeymoon in Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Since we were fortunate enough to have an extended time for our honeymoon, we decided to venture to Southeast Asia. We spent a total of 3.5 weeks in Myanmar (formally known as Burma), Laos, and Vietnam. We left San Francisco June 19 [2015] and returned July 13.

Sarah and Dos in Halong Bay

Sarah and Dos in Halong Bay

Myanmar:
– Yangon (you will have to fly in and out of here. We stayed at the Chatrium Hotel as well as the Sule Shangri-La Hotel)
– *Bagan (stayed at Aureum Bagan Resort)
– Kalaw (stayed at Pine Hill Resort)
– *Inle Lake (stayed at the Inle Resort)

Laos:
– *Luang Prabang (stayed at Maison Souvannaphoum)

Vietnam:
– Hanoi (stayed at Movenpick Hanoi Hotel)
– *Halong Bay (stayed on the Emeraude)
– *Hoi An (stayed at Victoria Hoi An Resort)
– *Nha Trang (stayed at the Mia Resort)
– Ho Chi Minh City (stayed at Majestic Hotel)

I would be comfortable recommending any of the places we stayed. The ones with the stars were our favorites, city wise as well as accommodations wise.


How long was your trip?

3.5 weeks: eight days in Myanmar, three days in Laos (was supposed to be four but our flight was cancelled and we had to spend the night in Bangkok), and 12 days in Vietnam.

Victoria Hoi An Resort

Victoria Hoi An Resort

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

We had originally thought of going to Bora Bora but were worried there wouldn’t be enough to do to the fill the amount of days we wanted to be gone. I had never been to Southeast Asia and Dos had been to Thailand and loved it. We have done a lot of traveling together and wanted to try some place new. Southeast Asia has a good combo of lazy beach life and sightseeing adventures so it was a good compromise. It also has DELICIOUS food!

Fortunately we had a family friend very familiar with that part of the world and planned our entire trip for us. He was adamant we go to Myanmar and connected us with a travel agency, Destination Asia. If going to Myanmar, I would recommend getting a guide. We were so happy to have guide/driver meet us in each city; I don’t think we would have seen half the stuff we did if we didn’t have a guide.

Monks in Luang Prabang

Monks in Luang Prabang

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Too many things! I think our highlights in Myanmar were Bagan and Inle Lake. Bagan feels like you’re on a different planet; everywhere you look are temples dating back to the 10th or 11th century. Our guide said there are about 3,000 or so temples remaining. Inle Lake was beautiful as well.

Bagan Temples

Bagan Temples

The only city we went to in Laos was Luang Prabang, which we loved. Highlights there included going to the Elephant Village to spend the day with elephants as well as getting up quite early to see the monks receiving alms. It also has a nightly market that they shut down the main street for.

Elephants in Laos

Elephants in Laos

Highlights in Vietnam were definitely spending a night on a boat in Halong Bay, Hoi An (you must get custom made clothes here!!), and our resort in Nha Trang. Since we went to all of these places towards the end of our trip it was nice to relax by the beach/pool and enjoy a cocktail or two.

Shopping in Hoi An

Shopping in Hoi An

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Real Honeymoon: Italy

Nearly one year after their beautiful Los Angeles wedding, my friends Grace and Victor recently went on an incredible honeymoon in Italy. I absolutely love everything about their trip! Hope you like Italian food because they have tons of great restaurant recommendations below.

When and where did you honeymoon?

Italy in April/May 2015. We started in Venice and worked our way down to Southern Italy. From Venice, we took a train to Bologna and from there, we rented a car! Victor drove us to Portofino, Florence, Tuscany (Montalcino), the Amalfi Coast (Ravello, Positano, and Capri), and Rome. He did great, especially driving through the windy roads in Portofino and Ravello.

Italy Honeymoon

How long was your trip?

Three weeks.

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How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Italy is known as one of the most romantic places in the world and we had never been! Plus, Italy offers picturesque villages, rich history and art, and amazing food and wine. Victor and I picked cities to satisfy both of our needs. I enjoy exploring cities while Victor appreciates a slow paced way of life to relax. Florence and Rome allowed me to marvel at inspiring art and architecture, while Tuscany allowed Victor to relax on the countryside after visiting bustling cities.

Italy Honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Portofino and Hotel Splendido are almost synonymous. Portofino is a pretty fishing village with pastel shaded villas on the coast of Liguria. The hotel is perched on a hillside overlooking the harbor below. From the moment we entered the reception area, we knew we were in for a treat. The views are incredible and you are surrounded by lush greens, hydrangeas, and pots of lemon trees. From the reception area, you walk past the Piano Bar and onto La Terrazza, where I had my favorite meal, Spaghetti alla Elizabeth Taylor, made with fresh tomatoes.

Italy Honeymoon

We also enjoyed breakfast each morning on the Terrace, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We spent a lot of time on our balcony, enjoying mystic views of the Portofino bay beneath and dancing to distant music from the piano bar. We also took a day trip to Cinque Terre, which was unforgettable. We both hope to return to Portofino one day.

Italy Honeymoon

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Real Honeymoon: Greece

This week’s post comes from Jaclyn and Chris who recently traveled to Greece for their honeymoon. Despite the country’s major financial crisis, tourists have been reporting that their travels have not been majorly affected in a negative way. (Blogger Adventurous Kate wrote a great post about this a few weeks ago, and I highly recommend checking it out if you plan on visiting Greece soon.)

Unless you’re really into historical sightseeing, most tourists prefer to spend the majority of their time in Greece on the islands rather on the mainland. In fact, you can pack in a lot of the major Athens sites in just one day. Read all about Jaclyn and Chris’ Greek island hopping honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

June 25th, 2015 – July 6th, 2015 in Greece (specifically, Athens, Mykonos & Santorini).

greek honeymoon

How long was your trip?

11 days/10 nights – we stayed in Athens for one night on each end and the two island for 4 nights each.

greece honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

I love to relax by the pool/beach and my husband can’t sit still. We were looking for a place where we would have ample relaxation time but would have the latitude to be active when we wanted.

Additionally, we did not want to feel trapped at our hotel with nothing to do. Greece appeared to fit the bill as it has it all: pools, beaches, activities and nightlife.

greece honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Kayaking in Mykonos. We found a family-owned business called “Mykonos Kayak Tours & Trails.” They took us into the Aegean on two person kayaks in a group of about 16. They were so knowledgeable and helpful and we got a great workout while having fun. Also, at the end of the trip, they provided a lunch which was made of all locally sourced products: bread from a local bakery, feta from a local cheese shop, produce grown on the island and olive oil from Greece. It made for a simple sandwich, but my husband and I both called it the “best sandwich we’ve ever had.” Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Italy

That’s right, two weeks of new Real Honeymoon posts in a row! This week’s post comes from Caroline and Jeff who honeymooned in Italy earlier this summer. It’s no wonder that Italy is the most popular honeymoon destination on this blog — it has something for everyone! Whether you want your honeymoon to be all about great food and wine, sightseeing, shopping, or just soaking up some sun, you can do it all in Italy. Read all about Caroline and Jeff’s amazing trip below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Italy from June 30-July 17 [2015]. We flew non-stop from Los Angeles to Rome and spent our first few days there. Then we took a train to Florence, where we also did a day trip to Tuscany to visit some wineries. From Florence, we traveled to Venice, where we took a day trip to the Murano and Burano islands. From Venice, we travelled to Bologna. After Bologna, we spent 5 days and nights in Positano, which included a day trip to Capri. We then returned to Rome for another day and night before flying home.

italy honeymoon

italy honeymoon

How long was your trip?

2.5 weeks

italy honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Neither of us had ever been to Italy and wanted to experience something new together so we picked Italy! Plus, there is so much history there and we wanted to see it all in person.

italy honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Relaxing with my new hubby, eating and drinking our way through Italy, and not having to think about wedding planning or work for almost 3 weeks! We also received some proofs of our wedding photos while on the trip and it was so much fun reliving our wedding day while sharing a bottle of delicious wine.

italy honeymoon

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Real Honeymoon: Ireland, France & Italy

Get excited because this week we finally have a great new Real Honeymoon post to share! This week’s post was sent from Caitlyn and Jason who recently honeymooned across three countries in Europe. Read all about their wonderful trip below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Jason and I adventured through Europe for our two-week honeymoon, visiting Dublin, Bordeaux, Paris, and Venice and taking many day trips from each city. We left June 19 and returned July 4. Small piece of advice: avoid the middle of the summer. It. Was. HOT.

How long was your trip?

Two weeks – Saturday to Saturday. We highly recommend returning on a Saturday – everyone can use a Sunday to unpack, do laundry, and brace yourself for Monday morning work emails.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

Jason and I took a long time to decide where to spend our honeymoon – when else do you get to take two weeks off work?! We definitely don’t consider ourselves “beach people” so a tropical location was quickly ruled out. Other places we considered were Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, but ultimately decided that we wanted our honeymoon to be a little more romantic than how we envisioned those destinations. What can I say? We’re newlyweds! Jason had never been to Europe and I knew the atmosphere was perfect for a romantic, semi-adventurous (but also relaxing!) trip. So, off to Europe we went.

We chose Dublin because Jason is a huge whiskey and beer enthusiast. From the Irish Whiskey Museum and the Jameson Factory to the endless amounts of ice cold Guinness (please note, my husband would like to specify the Guinness was not actually ice cold – I disagree…#marriage), we definitely had our fair share of cocktails. We stayed at The Arlington – located the perfect distance from pretty much anything you’d want to do – just a short walk to pubs, museums and everything else. If you don’t mind a slightly older hotel, we highly recommend The Arlington.

Ireland honeymoon

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While we were there, we took a day trip to the other side of the country to experience the insane beauty that is the Cliffs of Moher – and I mean INSANE. The most breathtaking scenery you can imagine. From the moment we hopped on the bus, we were hooked. Every nook and cranny of that country is a shade of green you’ve never seen … and never want to unsee.

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Our next stop was Bordeaux, a small town in the south of France known for its red wine and gorgeous châteaux. Jason and I love wine and absolutely couldn’t wait to get here. Every day we took a trip to a different region to learn about (read: drink) Bordeaux wines. While visiting château after château is definitely recommended during the day (our favorite regions were Saint-Émilion and Médoc), take some time to walk along the river and enjoy the view. The river walk was renovated from parking spots to beautiful gardens and bike paths – a great spot to enjoy an after dinner treat. This was my favorite hotel of the trip – La Maison du Lierre – a small bed and breakfast that was straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. If you stay here, make sure to have breakfast on the patio – it’s so quaint you almost forget you’re in the middle of a city.

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Real Honeymoon: The Maldives

My friends Cara and Eric went on a quintessential tropical honeymoon in the Maldives last year. While the Maldives can certainly be one of the world’s most expensive vacation destinations, Cara and Eric were smart about splitting up their trip between two differently priced resorts, and the result was perfection! Read all about their incredibly gorgeous Maldives honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Eric and I decided to honeymoon in the Maldives, which is a grouping of 26 atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  The Maldives is basically as far away from San Francisco as you can possibly get.  We went for two weeks directly following our labor day weekend wedding [September 2014].  We stayed at two resorts, to break up the trip (and the second hotel allowed us to not break our bank account).

Maldives honeymoon

Tennis in the Maldives

yoga in paradiseResort #1: Anantara – Dhigu
Amazing customer service.  Over water bungalow is a must.  We went with the half board, which consisted of a fantastic breakfast buffet (could not get enough of the local  fresh fruit) and  a 3 course dinner at all restaurants on the island.  Water surrounding hotel is a like a lagoon, so there are no waves and allows for a safe haven for baby sea life – including friendly reef sharks!  The resort supplies you bikes you can take around the island and had they had a fantastic spa that we would highly recommend.  Not as much of a water activity focus here, but there are islands you can swim or kayak to within the resort that allows for great snorkeling.

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Resort #2: Kuredu Island Resort 
This was more of a party resort – which we later discovered when we arrived.  We did the all inclusive option, which allowed us access to 3 buffets per day and all the drinks we wanted!  The water there was rougher, so we spent more time in the resort pools.  The activities were plentiful, giving options for diving, snorkeling, tours and tennis.  They also throw a white party every Friday, which I judged at first, but ended up closing the place down.

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How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

I had some big dreams for our honeymoon and one requirement: I wanted to stay in an over-water bungalow.  Surprisingly, there are not many places in the world where these villas exist, so this limited our selection right off the bat.   We created a short list of destinations and compared average hotels costs and airline costs.

10355441_10100339553493944_3809910131736898347_oUltimately, we decided to splurge on a “once in a lifetime experience.”  Our close friends did their honeymoon there the previous year and raved about the location, so we also felt comfortable staying in a resort that someone was able to vouch for – because who wants a bad honeymoon experience?

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The best part about our honeymoon was…

The water.  It was crystal clear, allowing us to see all of the baby sharks, fish and sting rays that swam by.  At night the hotels would put lights on in the water, which would attract all types of fish and allow for viewing at dinner.  The snorkeling was amazing, I have never seen so many different types of fish in one place.

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If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Nothing really.  One thing to keep in mind is when you are booking your travel is account for travel back to the airport from your resort.  We had to take a seaplane from Kuredu and the last one the resort had out was at 4pm, while our flight was at 10pm out of the Maldives airport.  Spending 6 hours at an airport where alcohol is illegal and the fine dining was Burger King left more to be desired.

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Real Honeymoon: Bali

High school sweethearts Johanna and Arthur were married at one of my favorite places in wine country, then jetted off to Asia for additional wedding celebrations with their families. To cap off the festivities, they went on a spectacular honeymoon in Bali. I have a particular fondness for Bali honeymoons (ahem), but I think you’ll love reading about their trip, too:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We both have quite a lot of family who live overseas, so shortly after our wedding in the fall, we planned to also do dinner banquets in Hong Kong and Taipei during the holidays for our families who couldn’t come to the wedding.

Since we were “in the area” for our families, we wanted to go someplace close by in Asia for our honeymoon. We wanted to go somewhere that would be a good mix of tropical, relaxing (but not boring!), fun to explore, and lastly, someplace new for us. After running through a bunch of location ideas, Bali was definitely our top choice! Our itinerary was a bit different from what most people do, since we didn’t go to the southern part of the island where a lot of the water sports are in Seminyak and the party area of Kuta. We spend most of our time in the cultural center of Ubud, which is in the middle of the island, and also in the more remote western coast, in Manggis.

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In Ubud, we stayed at Amandari, and at Amankila in Manggis. They are part of a larger hospitality group called the Aman Resorts. We loved the properties and the hospitality at Aman, it’s very warm, welcoming, and well run. The properties themselves were gorgeous. Amandari was built to resemble a Balinese village, and Amankila was built in homage to one of the water palaces in that part of the area, so it was a really unique experience.

How long was your trip?

We were in Hong Kong and Taipei for 2 weeks (or, as Johanna’s coworkers called it, the second and third weddings!), and in Bali for a little under a week.

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How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to travel throughout East Asia quite a lot, so we both really wanted to go somewhere new in Southeast Asia. We wanted to go somewhere that had a good mix of culture, exploring, and relaxation, and we really found Bali to be that perfect fit. The history of the island, religion, art, and plethora of outdoor activities just made for a super fun and well rounded trip for us.

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The best part about our honeymoon was …

This was definitely was biking through the terraced rice fields that Bali is known for (the island is 20% rice fields!), jungle, and villages, and somehow ending up a coffee shop; and taking a Balinese cooking class. We were able to go to the street market to learn about/buy all of the ingredients for the day, try our hand at bargaining down the prices at the market, and then go to our guide’s family home to cook in his courtyard underneath a mango tree, and eating our meal in the middle of the jungle overlooking a river. And now I can make Balinese curry at home!

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Real Honeymoon: Vietnam & Sri Lanka

I’m excited to share our first real honeymoon of 2015! There are several more in the pipeline, so make sure to come back to the blog in the next few weeks to read those as well. This week’s real honeymooners Gaya and Tim recently got back from an exciting honeymoon in Vietnam and Sri Lanka where they spent time with friends and family who live there. Read all about their trip and check out the gorgeous photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Our honeymoon started on Dec 15th – Dec 22nd [2014] in Vietnam, then Dec 22nd [2014] – Jan 2nd [2015] in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Elephantride

Riding elephants in Sri Lanka

Friends in Sri Lanka

Honeymooning with friends in Sri Lanka

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 3 nights in Ho Chi Minh City (stayed with friends)
  • 1 night in the Mekong Delta (at a homestay)
  • 2 nights in Hoi An (at a homestay)
  • 3 nights in Jaffna (stayed with family)
  • 2 nights in Trincomalee
  • 1 night (but recommend 2) in Kandy
  • 1 night Nuwara Eliya (recommend staying here or here)
  • 1 night (but recommend 2) in Bentota
  • 3 nights in Colombo
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Vietnamese food… yummmm

Sri Lanka seafood

Sri Lanka seafood


How long was your trip?

Our trip was approximately 3 weeks.

Hanging out with friends in Vietnamese rice paddies

Just hanging out with friends in Vietnamese rice paddies

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Tim and I are both Sri Lankan, but he has never visited and I haven’t been since I left, which was close to 25 years ago. We knew that Sri Lanka would always be our honeymoon destination.  Vietnam was nice as well. We have some friends that live there and we thought this would be a good opportunity to go and visit them.

Traveling around Sri Lanka with friends

On the road in Sri Lanka


The best part about our honeymoon was…

This is such a hard question to answer; there were sssoooo many great parts of our honeymoon. Vietnam is such a magical country, rich with culture and a heighten sense of movement. Sri Lanka is just absolutely beautiful, only 25,332 sq miles in total area, and every area, every mini city is so different from the last. We also were fortunate enough to travel with some friends for portions of our trip. But if I had to pick just one part, it would have been the history that I was able to discover in Sri Lanka.

Sigaria

Sigaria

Sri Lanka dancers

Sri Lanka dancers

Sri Lanka tea estates

Sri Lanka tea estates

Hot springs in Sri Lanka

Hot springs in Sri Lanka

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