oh my beer

There are a lot of different Asian beers and lets be real a good chunk of them are interchangeable (literally, Angkor and Anchor???) but these, these are the standouts…

BeerLao (Laos)

beerlao1

Is BeerLao the best beer I’ve ever tasted? No, but it’s crisp and refreshing with a nice and mild flavor. What makes it my favorite beer is the nostalgia, it fueled my first trip to SE Asia and it’s tied to so many memories, some clearer than others. BeerLao is owned by Carlsberg (Denmark knows what’s up) and brewed by Lao Brewery. They use rice from Laos and import hops and barley from Europe. I honestly don’t know what any of this means besides the fact that it makes for one of Asia’s best beers. BeerLao is the most popular beer in Laos and has slowly become available worldwide. They’ve built on their popularity by also releasing a dark and gold variety.

Tiger (Singapore)

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Tiger, a Singaporean beer, is probably the most famous SE Asian beer. It’s easily found all over the world, I just had one here in Denmark the other week  and at $5 dollars it really made me miss Asia. Maybe Heineken is trying to make back the $4.1 billion it spent acquiring Tiger. But Tiger is much more than a beer, it’s become a cultural icon, cultivated by travelers. There is good reason Tiger is so popular, it’s a good beer, a really good beer and the perfect chaser for a spicy curry.

Bia Saigon (Vietnam)

Biasaigon

It tastes like most other Asian beers, light and easy to drink in the heat and humidity. Bia Saigon comes in two varieties: red and green. I usually ordered the red. Why? I have no idea, I was never actually able to tell the difference between red and green. But if you want to step up the class there is also a Saigon Special, the green bottle and taste remind me of Heineken, not surprising considering how popular Heineken is in Vietnam.

I was not that surprised when I found out that Vietnam was the 3rd biggest beer market in Asia, after China and Japan. What I did find interesting is that Bia Saigon isn’t owned by a big beer conglomerate, a quaint idea until I realized it’s owned by a state controlled company.

Pasteur Street Brewing Company

I’ve written about this brewery before but I think they deserve the repeat. I’m going to make a bold statement here but the beers from Pasteur Street are my absolute favorite.  Pasteur is an American craft brewery in Ho Chi Minh City. They use imported ingredients alongside locally grown ingredients which has resulted in some truly unique beers including a durian beer. If durian doesn’t entice you, they’ve also got a passion fruit wheat ale and jasmine IPA that are just beautiful.

 

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travel inspiration: waterfalls

I don’t go chasing waterfalls, but I somehow always manage to end up at one during my adventures. (I hope you caught that crazy, sexy, cool 90’s reference)

I’m always this happy around waterfalls

To get you over the end of the weekend blues here is a short list of some of my favorite waterfalls in Southeast Asia. Hopefully they will inspire your next holiday or at least your next daydream…

Kawasan Falls, Cebu Island, Philippines

#nofilter

I saw a picture on Instagram of Kawasan and I knew I had to go there. I booked my entire trip to the Philippines based off of that one picture and it did not disappoint. Words and pictures can’t do this place justice, there is just something magical about that blue water.

Hop on the raft and float through the falls

I’m sure you can hire a car to take you there but why do that when you could jump off cliffs and swim through a canyon to get there? We chose the latter and booked a tour through Cyan Adventures, highly recommended, it turned the whole experience into one epic adventure.

Tad Sae & Kuang Si, Luang Prabang, Laos

I visited Tad Sae in 2011 and being the adventurous newbie I chose to ride a mountain bike out to the waterfalls, all 16 kilometers. Learn from my mistake and hop in a tuk-tuk. Most street corners will have drivers offering to take you to both waterfalls.

The many pools of Tad Sae

Tad Sae is a place you could spend all day with a big ‘pool’ to swim in. I recommend packing a lunch and camping out for the day. It can get a bit noisy and crowded with local kids but watching them dive off rocks was all part of the fun.

Show off

I visited Kuang Si more recently and worked equally as hard to get there, we drove the 30kms on a motorbike. (Correction, I drove the 30kms with a 6 foot something Aussie on the back of the moto.) I wouldn’t recommend driving there, it’s quiet boring and you can probably get there for cheaper in a shared tuk-tuk.

The pools at Kuang Si

Kuang Si is a beautiful trail of small waterfalls. You can pick and choose one to swim in, although the water can be quiet chilly. While Kuang Si is stunning to look at and is well maintained I found it my least favorite place to go swimming. The photo at the beginning of this post is of the main falls at Kuang Si, no swimming in that bad boy *sigh*

Mo Paeng, Pai, Thailand

A friend and I rented a motorbike to drive out to the falls and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable motorbike drives I’ve had in all of SE Asia. Just hills of green everywhere you look and not another motorbike in sight.

Also, driving on the wrong side of the road

It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the falls, where you have to do some mild rock climbing to get to the main swimming pool.

 

View from the top of the waterfall

Some of the rocks are covered with water and algae making them quiet slippery. I happened to slip and fall not once but twice. I tried to ease my pain by sitting in the pool at the top of the falls and taking in the view of the valley below. The icy cold water was actually refreshing, but my arm was in some serious pain so we headed to the hospital. I didn’t get the chance to explore the waterfall as much as I wanted to but it’s a big must if you’re spending a few days in Pai.

Thai hospital, check!

Good news, it wasn’t broken but I got a sweet sling to wear and some nice pain meds.

city inspiration: cocktails in saigon

I lived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) for about two years. In those two years I matured from street side beer drinker to sch-mancy cocktail drinker. Below I give you my run down of the best cocktail bars in Ho Chi Minh City….and one brewery.

Living it up at Eon Heli Bar
Racha Room 

I fall asleep at night dreaming of the cocktails at Racha Room. The Racha Room is a Thai, street food inspired restaurant in central District 1. I HIGHLY recommend the Concubine, a sweet vodka and lycee concoction and the Sin Gin Sling, gin based (surprise!) with a  nice basil aftertaste . What makes their cocktails even better is that the Racha Room has happy hour Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 8pm.  

The Racha Room 12-14 Mac Thi Buoi, D1, HCMC

O.M.G.
Normally I would never advocate drinking at a bar named after a valley girl expression, but the view will soon have you forgetting about the name. O.M.G. is on the 9th floor of the Tan Hai Long Hotel, overlooking the always busy Benh Thanh round about. It’s a great alternative to Skybar or EON Heli Bar (Bitexco) you still get a killer view and drink without the ear popping elevator ride. Or is that just me? I recommend the passion fruit mojito with less sugar (ít đường)
O.M.G.-Tan Hai Long Hotel, Nguyen An Ninh, D1 HCMC
 
Broma: Not a Bar
When O.M.G. gets too loud head to Broma for another rooftop with a more chill/laid-back vibe.  Broma has a solid cocktail menu and a serves an even better sangria. If your lucky enough to become besties with the staff you can host your own 90’s dance party. If your going to add to the noise pollution 90’s music is the way to go.

 

 The view from Broma- 41 Nguyen Hue, D1, HCMC
The Deck
The Deck is the most expensive on the list especially if you factor in the Uber ride to get to District 2. It’s definitely worth the ride as you’ll be sitting right on the Saigon River, plan it accordingly and you can be sitting on the river at sunset, swoon. My experience with their menu is limited but not much experience is needed to conclude they were perfect. 
The Deck- 38 Nguyen U Di, D2, HCMC
Pasteur Street Brewing Company
I don’t discriminate when it comes to alcoholic beverages, but beer is usually low on my list, except this beer. Pasteur is a craft brewery that literally makes the best beer I’ve ever had. I always recommend the flight as the beers on tap. My personal favorite is the passion fruit wheat ale and the jasmine IPA. The location on Pasteur can be difficult to find as it’s hidden down a sketchy alley, but that’s part of the charm. 
Pasteur Street Brewing Company- 144 Pasteur, D1, HCMC