Gatekeeping our destination wedding from social media and bouncing around my favorite countries for a solid 4 weeks for the ultimate SE Asia honeymoon was just the start of our fun with wedding planning. We wanted a smaller wedding so we could really splurge on excursions, beautiful resorts and ultimate relaxation + sightseeing for James’s first time out of the country. Quickly after deciding we would plan a Thailand wedding, we simultaneously started planning the trip of our lives.

This blog post is our full 4 week journey through SE Asia and how we managed a long travel vacation on top of hosting the wedding of our dreams. Enjoy!

Singapore, Singapore

We purposely took a longer route to Thailand for one reason: a 20 hour layover in Singapore.

Throw in some extra travel bug fever after watching Crazy Rich Asians and you have two excited fiancés ready to see this modern marvel city together. Even better, my good friend Candy lives there and is the best gal pal to take you around the city. After picking us up at our hotel and taking us out to eat at none other than Newton’s Circus Food Carts, we got changed in the Maya Bay Mall for some rooftop cocktails.

Core memory at this spectacular bar you ask? A cockroach landed on my head and fell into my lap and I, of course, had to make a scene and scream. To my defense, it was the biggest cockroach anyone had ever seen… Of course.

After socializing all night and sleeping in, we still had enough time to go check out Gardens by the Bay and their colorful floral garden exhibit.

Then the travel troubles began…

To begin, I’d like to preface this that planning a wedding and a very extended trip at the same time causes something worse than “wedding brain.” On top of being a wedding vendor myself during busy season, there was no way everything was going to go perfect. Even as helpful as James is, it was inevitable with all the details we had to remember.

One giant, fat, stinking detail I personally dropped the ball on was filling out our Vietnam visas on time.

Unfortunately, they got delayed and tried to deny us boarding from Seattle. I begged them to let us at least fly to Singapore so we can contact someone during our 20 hour layover there to get our visa then and the lady pitied us. After calling and calling and talking to several airport employees at help desks, we were given the worst news. We couldn’t fly to Vietnam from Singapore.

So, instead of panicking or feeling disappointed, we decided to turn it around and use it as an opportunity to plan a “last minute” trip to a city we’ve always wanted to go. With crazy excitement, I asked James, “IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN SE ASIA RIGHT NOW, WHERE WOULD YOU WANT TO GO?!” And he said, “Bangkok!”

We both stood in the middle of the Singapore airport with our bags and found the next flight to Bangkok in 2 hours. We were checked into the greatest hotel on the water and eating pizza in front of neon party yachts and lightning storms that same night. It was at this point I knew, James is officially the easiest and most fun person I’ve ever travelled with and I’m so glad that of all people, he’s my husband now too.

Our spontaneous Bangkok adventure!

Thankfully, I’ve already written a blog post “Where to Elope in Thailand” and had a whole Bangkok itinerary to guide us.

Bangkok Stay + Things to Do

Hotel: Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers

Sightsee #1: Ancient City

Sightsee #2: Night Markets

Sightsee #3: Wat Samphran

When the Vietnam Visa finally arrived…

Keep in mind, the entire 3 days we were in Bangkok, we were constantly refreshing our phones. We were on the edge of our seats every time to see if our Vietnam visa had arrived. It wasn’t until we were 2 hours from our hotel driving back from Wat Samphran when it finally did come.

We got so excited, our hearts were racing. I remember us literally cheering in the taxi! We were so happy there was ONE flight out of Bangkok in 3 hours.

We quickly booked the flight and asked our Grab driver to hurry.

But then disaster struck. Or… maybe just poor planning on our part.

We got hit with weekday traffic on our way back to the hotel and what should’ve been a 1.5 hour drive, turned into 2 and a half hours leaving with us only a 30 minute window to grab our suitcases and check into the airport still 15 minutes away.

To make things worse, the traffic was even more at a dead stop from the hotel to the airport.

And the entire 4 hours we were stuck in the taxi, I was stressing out too much. To the point where my throat started closing and became inflamed. We were out of water and I honestly felt claustrophobic.

After missing boarding, we had to call the airline just to be told the tickets were non-refundable. Plus, the next flight out was at 7am the next morning. Aka, we were going to miss one of our excursions, darn.

James and I checked into a hotel next to the BKK airport and went to bed frustrated and terribly sick.

James immediately started taking care of me and ran to get me soup and medicine. It ended up being way too spicy (of course) and it only hurt my throat more. I think this was our lowest point haha.

Miraculously, we got some sleep and made it onto our 7am flight to Hanoi the next day.

I am glad to say, things started to turn around from here!

Hanoi, Vietnam

A magical city I want to come back to annually if I can. The buzz of hundreds of motorbikes zipping through traffic, the wild street vendors walking around with bamboo goodies, and the smells of fresh coffee brewing and iconic pho shops made this city my FAVORITE in all of SE Asia.

The sickness I had just the night before lingered, but the city literally felt like it jolted through me. I felt alive and so excited to just walk everywhere.

From a photographer/videographer perspective, this city is so diverse, eclectic and can drive the best creativity. The composition of old hotel balconies with mixed french architecture blending with the vietnamese sidewalk trees and parked motorbikes made me want to take pictures of every little thing I saw.

I practically went on Instagram and begged anyone who wants me to plan their elopement to choose Hanoi. This city has it all and the cascading countrysides to adventure in. I promise you, if I knew this existed before choosing Phuket as our wedding place, we would’ve chosen Hanoi!

Hanoi was even more fun when my mom and brother arrived just hours after us. My new favorite photo of my mom and I is from our excursion to Ninh Binh below.

Hanoi Stay + Things to Do

Hotel: Light Hotel

Sightsee #1: Old Quarter of Hanoi (you can walk around forever and find hidden gems at every corner!)

Sightsee #2: Excursion to Ninh Binh

Sightsee #3: Excursion to Halong Bay (we unfortunately missed our booking for this, but this would be 10000x worth it, i’m sure!)

Hanoi, Vietnam on 35mm Film

And then we flew to our wedding country!

Combining our destination wedding with our 4 week SE Asia honeymoon was the way to go.

We flew back to beautiful beautiful Thailand. But, this time, we flew straight to Phuket. The island we chose out of everywhere else in the world to host our wedding at the epic Rosewood Resort.

Our first night in Phuket

Good planning on our end had us land 5 days ahead of the wedding. To start, our first night in Phuket was actually Michelle’s birthday! And just earlier that day, Michelle and Maddie, my best friends and bridesmaids had already settled into their airbnb. James and I quickly got changed and we met them at the Rosewood for espresso martinis to celebrate. I’ll never forget that moment seeing our first friends in our wedding country! After taking tipsy photos, we quickly jetted off to the restaurant I reserved for Michelle’s 26th: Sizzle Rooftop Restaurant

Then, our days outside of the wedding were spent with our families and friends like this!

Stay: Rosewood Resort

Sightsee #1: Rooftop cocktails at Sizzle

Sightsee #2: Sunrise Snorkeling Tour around Phi Phi islands

Sightsee #3: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Tour

Sightsee #4: Wat Chalong Temple

Sightsee #5: Shop around downtown Patong and go to a spa

Sightsee #6: Fine dining at Su Va Na (largest underwater restaurant in the world!)

Sightsee #7: Fine dining at Hom Restaurant (the most beautiful temple-turned-restaurant experience)

Sightsee #8: Clubbing on Bangla Road (we did this after our wedding!)

Sightsee #9: Shopping in Old Town Phuket

Our Snorkeling tour on 120 film

This tour was captured by our talented photographer @kristakphotos!

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Tour on 35mm film

All of these photos were captured by our bestie!

Having a destination wedding for us was 1000x worth it for this reason. All of our favorite people coming together to experience not just a couple of hours together, but an entire week! Exploring new landscapes and eating new foods were a must. But for me, it was the shopping for hours on end and dressing up and going to fine dining restaurants. For James, it was snorkeling and swimming in limestone lagoons. Having our wedding in Oregon would’ve never matched this. We have zero regrets!

Our first honeymoon hotel: Sawasdee Village

We had a couple days after our stay at the Rosewood Resort ended before we flew off to Bali. So we knew this first hotel in Thailand is technically considered the start of post-wedding honeymoon!

Randomly scrolling through the app, and I stopped abruptly at Sawasdee Village. It was like Morroco meets Thailand. A swim up pool bar and exotic decor suites caught my eye. I thought this would be fun and very different than Rosewood, so we booked it.

Our first day here, we swam all day in the pool with pina coladas and had a long lunch at the restaurant. I can confidently say their food was the best food I’ve ever had. The appetizer platter is to die for. I still think about the satay dish with the different sauce combos. We highly recommend this hotel!

Sawasdee Village on 35mm film

They also offered a 2 for 1 massage on arrival I quickly purchased. It was one of the best massages i’ve ever had!

Our Bali Honeymoon

Another huge reason for why we wanted our wedding in Thailand, so we could honeymoon in Bali. Throughout the years of us dating, I would talk about Bali a lot to James. We wanted our honeymoon to be a rustic adventure in Ubud that involved monkey forests and honeymoon themed excursions.

This is everything we did!

Stay: Tejaprana Resort

Here, we booked a flower bath for our villa’s plunge pool, a couple’s massage, and a candlelight dinner. We even added on a floating breakfast last minute! We loved our room and the people here were so nice!

Bali Itinerary – the ultimate SE Asia country for your honeymoon!

Other things we did outside of the resort involved a lot of pre-booked excursions! Our favorite memory was the baby monkey picking at James’s hair!

Excursion #1: The Sekumpful Waterfall and Temple Tour

Excursion #2: Day pass at Kayon Jungle Resort

Excursion #3: Monkey Forest, Jungle Swing, Rice Terrace and Tirta Empul Tour

We also checked out of Tejaprana and stayed at the Owl Cabin House on Airbnb. To conclude, we did not like our stay there. It was a little too open to the nature than we wanted and the a/c promised was just a fan. Additionally, the photographer we hired there agreed to give us the RAWS with his prices. But, they ended up being in JPG format so my editing wasn’t my favorite.

Aside from that random 20 hours overnight at a jungle airbnb, we finally went back to the airport. Our last stretch home to Portland, OR just in time for Christmas tree shopping.

Overall, we both had the most amazing trip for our SE Asia honeymoon. Despite the sickness and travel mishaps, we had so many more things go right for us. And we can look back at this incredible trip and say we truly splurged for our wedding and honeymoon. We invested in these memories and they truly gave us an amazing time.

Finally, if you’re thinking of getting married in SE Asia, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’ll gladly come back and share more of our favorite places with you! We can do photo, video and help plan your itinerary if you’re eloping. Our slow season is the same time as Asia’s cool season which is… kind of perfect.

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