Sounds of: February 2019

Welcome to Sounds of: February 2019 where we bring you 36 new songs to add to your playlists and one important podcast episode you absolutely need to listen to. Don't worry, we're only talking about a few here and you'll be able to add the rest from our monthly Spotify playlist

 

Honesty | Pink Sweat$

acoustic R&B wrapped up in longing and aesthetics

 

r&b pop reminding ourselves to love ourselves

A ode to reminding ourselves to love ourselves. The video's aesthetics are a total contrast from Pink Sweat$ but the message is very clear. 

We're here for any music that bring positivity to ourselves. Olivia O'Brien has penned a letter to LadyGunn in regards to the song. It's a beautiful read.

 

Pearl Cadillac | Gary Clark Jr.

smooth and soulful guitars and vocals

"I don't want to let you down / I only want to make you proud" is probably the anthem for everyone living their lives hoping to be the best version of themselves for the people they love. Lyrically, the song is beautiful and can be interpreted in many different ways. What really brings it all together is the guitar and drums that bring us through the journey of this song.

 

Empty Streets | Late Night Alumni

does anyone picture michelle phan putting on makeup to this music too?

An older song but still so good. Released in 2005, this song probably rang throughout your bedroom in the form of Michelle Phan's Youtube Videos. In fact, she loved them so much she still posted about LNA in 2015. There's no doubt that Becky Jean Williams' vocal will hook you in. 

 

everyone has a Christmas album, but not as much of a banger as Kaskade's version

Oh hell yea, it is indeed March and I'm sharing a Christmas album. While the holidays are long gone, there's no doubt that you can accidentally turn on Kaskade's Christmas album and not realize it's Christmas themed. 

It was about time for Kaskade to jump in on the Xmas theme. Most of your big, favorite artists has but his is probably the best. Save this for December when everyone else is playing a terrible version of the same song. Your party is definitely going to be a hit.

 

yøu løøked sø beautiful that night (falling før yøu again) | cøzybøy

bedroom sad jams about re-falling in love with someone

heartbreak and longing, cøzybøy is back with a new song (of many new songs) bellowing out about "about re-falling for someone you fell for before 😔🥀"

You can learn more about the song and see what he has in store next on his Instagram.

 

A Night Off | Drake ft Lloyd

10 years later, still so good

Drake needs no introduction. One favorite song from his re-released So Far Gone Mixtape (yes, the original came out 10 years ago), you can't help but reminisce back on the times when Lloyd was always on your radio (Southside, anyone?). 

According the Forbes writeup, the album was re-released as it was never commercially backed making it ineligible for the Billboard charts. However, with it re-released, it shot right up to No. 5 proving that Drake's music is here to stay and lasts, at least, a decade long.

 

L$D | A$AP Rocky

love sex drugs

Alright, we're feeling pretty nostalgic but just because it's an old song, doesn't mean it's dated. L$D from A$AP Rocky crept back on our radars.

Oozing, trippy, and drawn out, A$AP finds a way to morph visuals into sound that transforms back to visuals in his music video that can kind of blow your mind. Maybe, it's not CGI, trippy sci-fi stuff but we always appreciate when a song and it's visuals work so well together.

 

Daytrip | Stephan Looney, Current Blue

daydreamy bedroom pop

We've all felt this, where things just don't feel right and you gotta just get out. This song is practically that where Stephan Looney and Current Blue talk about taking a day trip.

According to Genius and cosigned by Current Blue, this song is "an expression for feeling isolated." Hopefully more to come on who Current Blue is as this is their debut single.

 

Love | Anthony Russo

another love pop acoustic song you can't help but to sing along to

Simple, when you're in the mood to bask in a little love. 

He's also a self-described millennial Justin Timberlake.

 

GOODBYE FOREVER | sakehands, Lo

dance/electronica ish

 

Beyond Parkland: Oakland Kids Who Experience Gun Violence Everyday | It's Been a Minute Podcast 

 

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Welcome to the Sounds of Series where each month, we deliver music, podcasts, audio-visual experiences for you to discover and enjoy. We accompany each piece with a backstory to bring to life beyond what you hear. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


New York: Top Japanese Spots in Lower Manhattan List

Upon moving to New York City, one of the least expected findings was the wide variety of incredible Japanese eats and drinks in Lower Manhattan. From udon to sake-based cocktails, there will be something for everyone on this list. 

Love the list? Support west & ease by becoming a patron today at patreon.com/westandease.

 

Angel's Share

Inside Village Yokocho at 8 Stuyvesant St New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Speakeasy "hidden" on the second floor within a sushi restaurant, once you've gotten a seat and tried a drink, you'll know why it's worth the wait. They have incredible cocktails that are worth every penny.

 

Bar Goto

245 Eldridge St New York, NY 10002 | Yelp

Rectangular okonomiyaki, celery sticks, and miso chicken wings. The three things you need and only need in life. This spot is a bit unsuspecting and upon first entry, you could be pretty skeptical. However, the food is quite delicious. There are also cocktails and beer to compliment your food (or I guess you could just drink).

 

Benemon

108 E 4th St New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese comfort food for the soul including some of the best curry and rice bowls.

Favorite dish will always be the una-tama don which includes a delicious mix of unagi, egg, mushroom, and sauce over a bowl of rice.

 

Cha-An

230 E 9th St, Fl 2 New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese tea room serving delicious savory, sweet, and bubbly varieties. A little pricey for a smaller portion but worth the try.

Favorite dish will always be the warubi mochi.

Tip: This place is normally packed for dessert but you can also do dinner and drinks here.

 

Cocoran

37 Kenmare St New York, NY 10012 | cocoranandgoemon.comYelp

Soba to stay, please. Cocoran is known to serve up both hot and cold soba styles in a large menu of your choosing.

Favorite dishes include the warm mera mera soba and mentai mochi spring roll.

Tip: There are two locations basically on the same street (Delancey turned into Kenmare). If one is closed, the other is probably open.

 

Goemon

29 Kenmare St New York, NY 10012 | cocoronandgoemon.com | Yelp

Japanese curry to warm the soul! If you need dense, flavorful, and hearty sauce to rice ratio for the day, Goemon is your go to.

Favorite dishes include Mama's Taste curry, Aged premium curry, tempura mushrooms, and any of their lassi.

Tip: Cash only so be prepared. Also, yes, this establishment is also owned by the same owners of Cocoran and Mocoran.

 

Hi-Collar

214 E 10th St New York, NY 10003 | hi-collar.com | Yelp

Sit down only (no standing room) sake bar with good small bites and sake cocktails. This is a great spot for two or three people at a time to share a bite and enjoy delicious drinks while being able to enjoy the company of one another. There are also unique menus for the early night (breakfast and lunch) which differ from the late night drinks.

Favorites for the late night include Sumi Ika (charcoal grilled squid), Ankimo, all cocktails and of course, ask for a recommendation.

 

Ise Restaurant

63 Cooper Sq New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese focused on handmade buckwheat soba.

Favorite dishes include the Hexagon bento which comes in 3 levels with cold soba, nigiri, salmon prepared in three ways. Also, squid ink soba with ikura and uni.

Tip: Book a reservation ahead of time to make sure you get a seat. This place gets packed at dinner. There's also good lunch special pricing.

 

Kuro-Obi by Ippudo

Various Locations including within Canal Street Market and Urbanspace | kuroobi.nyc

While we're all familiar with Ippudo, the same owners have introduced the quick serve, small bowl/format of Kuro-Obi presenting just a few options, prepared fresh for you on the go. While the portions and topping aren't mind-blowing, it'll be satisfying enough.

Favorite dish is the Red Belt.

 

Kuu Ramen

20 John St New York, NY 10038 | kuuramen.comYelp 

A very unexpected find, Kuu Ramen, located in the Financial District serves up quality ramen that's suitable and affordable for the lunch crowd (also for dinner). The no-fuss menu includes several ramen types, dons, and appetizers.

Favorite ramen will always be Kuu Chili.

Tip: The lunch crowd is always packed but well worth it. They prepare very well for takeout.

 

Raku

342 E 6th St New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese udon to warm your soul. They're a small establishment now with two locations that'll serve you some of the best warm and cold udon. Try the East Village location for true small format Japanese restaurant vibes.

Favorite dishes include ankimo pate (monkfish liver), Chikara udon (chicken, toyko negi, and mochi), Niku udon (honeycomb tripe and beef short rib), and always with yasai tempura (vegetable) on the side.

Tip: You can join the line on the waitlist from the Yelp app which will save you some wait time outside the restaurant.

 

Sake Bar Decibel

240 E 9th St New York, NY 10003 | sakebardecibel.com | Yelp

Dive, grungy, literally underground. Sake Bar Decibel is probably the definition of character. This spot, which you can find by looking for the "On Air" sign, fills up all night but worth the wait to get into a crowded bar (the front and the back). Specializing in a ridiculous amount of sake, they also provide some cheap eats that's not going to be the most mindblowing but still delicious (frozen foods, prepped ingeniously via microwaves and small ovens).

Tip: Ask for a sake recommendation. Also, get the takowasa to have along with your drinks.

 

Sunrise Mart

sunrisemart-ny.com 

Japanese grocery store delight with inexpensive warm and cold meals to go for the lunch crowd.

Tip: The Broome St location is larger and has a better variety of cooked foods. 

 

What's your favorite?

Leave a comment and let us know your favorites. We'll also update this post periodically to keep our faves up to date.

 


west & ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


Mi Quang Noodles

Eating through Vietnam: Hoi An

One of the best ways to experience Hoi An in Vietnam is through eating. Along with Vietnam's rich history—the way food is prepared, consumed, and shared is full of love, craft, and hard work. Street food is characterized by cheap, low plastic chairs, something always boiling or being grilled, and people of all walks of life are coming together for meals to fuel the day.

For a full map of recommended eats, feel free to see here or at the end of the post. This trip was originally taken in April 2017.

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Hoi An

Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Hoi An attracts many tourists especially in the evenings when the sun has set. Aside from the Japanese Bridge, and endless activities that locals sell such as boat rides and floating lanterns, there are great eats that are very specific to Hoi An that you won't find anywhere else.

 

Bánh mì

Bánh mì is unique in Hoi An. It's different from the South and what many are used to in the American varieties. From the pointy bread to the mix of sauces, a variety of meat, sometimes an egg and Pâté, you can't help but be head over heels.

 

Banh Mi Phung
Banh Mi Phuong

Banh Mi Phuong

2B Phan Châu Trinh, Minh An, tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam | +84 90 574 37 73

Anthony Bourdain paid a visit here a long time ago for one of his shows. You'll know it's the right place because his picture is right outside.

 

Banh Mi Queen Cart
Banh Mi Queen Cart
Banh Mi Queen Sandwich
Delicious banh mi from Banh Mi Queen

Banh Mi Queen

This queen only makes one type of sandwich, and it's a favorite of many. The egg, Chả, and hot sauce that kicks you in the mouth is such a rewarding combination. Plus, she has ample space inside so you can enjoy your sandwich while cooling off.

 

Banh Mi Lanh Cart
Banh Mi Lanh Cart

Bánh Mì Lành

430 Cửa Đại, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam

Perhaps not famous, but just as satisfying as the places mentioned above. This spot is only a small cart that many commuters frequent.

 

Mì Quảng

Originating from the Quảng Nam Province, this bowl of noodles hits the spot with crunchy bits, quail eggs, and egg and rice noodles. It barely has any soup but packs a punch of flavor.

You can find Mì Quảng at Central Market. The stall we went to was off to the corner (not the middle aisles) run by a mother and daughter.

Mi Quang Noodles

Central Market

73 Phan Bội Châu Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Quảng Nam 越南, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam

 

Cao lầu

A Hoi An specialty, this braised pork noodle with crunchy bits and savory sauce. You can also find this at the Central Market from the same stall (see Mì Quảng).

Cau Lau Noodles

 

Phở

Good old' Phở! Broth, vermicelli noodles, topped with vegetables and meat. What more could you ask for? Phở is typically eaten for breakfast, but it's definitely enjoyable whenever.

 

Pho Muoi Noodles

Pho Muoi

301 Cửa Đại, Cẩm Châu, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam

Locals filled this place to the brim, and the side plate had thinly sliced green mangos which were very tasty. Basically, toss a bunch of chili and fish sauce. Then dip, and enjoy!

 

Banh Dap (Smashing Rice Paper)

This treat is basically smashing rice paper then ripping it to dip in the sauce. A fun snack food to eat with your hands.

Banh Dap Smashing Rice Paper

 

Che Bap (Sweet Corn Soup)

The most unexpected treat. Che Bap can be served hot or cold and in the heat, having glutinous bits mixed with sweet cold corn over ice is probably the treat you never thought you wanted but is precisely everything you needed.

Che Bap Dessert

 

Hen Xuc Banh Trang (Minced Clams)

This little bed of baby clams and the sauce is one of the more fun treats to eat.

Hen Xuc Banhh Trang Clam Dish

Just a short walk south of Hoi An is Cam Nam Village. If you're willing to venture out, there's a restaurant by the water tucked away that serves a few varieties that will help you snack your way to bliss. You can find Che Bap, Hen Xuc Banh Trang, and Banh Dap all at Quán Ăn Bến Tre (Xuyên Trung, Cẩm Nam, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam).

 

And a bit of everything else...

I didn't quite know where to pack this in as they aren't quite specialties of Hoi An but still loved every bit of here.

 

Lemongrass Pork
Lemongrass Pork
Banana Flower Salad
Banana Flower Salad

Kumquat BBQ Restaurant and Cooking Class

Tra Que Village, Cam Ha, Cẩm Hà, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam

We stopped by here out in the village side based on a Tripadvisor search. This place is run by a couple with kids where restaurant patrons can take a cooking class. We opted just for picking our plates and enjoying the meal.

 

Banh Beo at Central Market
Banh Beo at Central Market

Central Market

73 Phan Bội Châu Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Quảng Nam 越南, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam

Central Market also has a few more delicious items. Bánh Bèo is an absolute favorite which can be found at the same mother/daughter vendor had large versions and a tasty sauce. There was also a great fruit juice and coffee stand where you can enjoy the owner gossiping with her friends.

 

There are a ton more Hoi An specialties that you can try including:

  • White Rose Dumplings
  • Com Ga (chicken rice)
  • Bale Well Restaurant
  • Mango Cake (It's rice flour with peanuts inside)

 


The Full Map

Everything mentioned above is compiled in this map. Best of luck on your food hunt! Share what you've tried. Always looking for new places to add to the list as well.


Great resources that helped me throughout this food journey:

Special thank you to Andrew H. for being my personal tour guide, the one to order all the food, and explaining and answering all my questions.

 


west & ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


Vietnam: Pack & Plan in One Month

In April 2017, I left to Vietnam for two weeks having planned nearly nothing and packing my backpack and a duffel. This post is dedicated to getting ready and things to do on the trip with little notice.

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What I Packed

For the two week trip, I had a few essentials:

  • Everlane Nylon Weekender Pack
    • As much as I would love to opt for a carry-on with wheels, a softer bag means more flexibility and the ability for me to carry when running for the train or plane.
  • 20L Backpack
    • Relatively small for traveling but because of size constraints, it made me more conscious about what to pack. Be careful with larger bags as being able to stuff more doesn't mean you're ready to lift it.
  • Muji Garment Organization Packs (2 Large and 1 Small)
    • Bought these on a whim and never looked back. While my folding skills are pretty terrible, they've helped me organize my clothes so instead of sifting through everything, I just pull out the appropriate bag.
  • Muji Toiletry Bag
    • Who else digs through all their toiletries and finds spills every time they travel?  Sure, TSA requires your liquids to be in a plastic bag, I still pack those in, but I stuff everything else in its appropriate compartments in this bag. Also, the hook allows me to hang it up wherever I am without having to take everything out.
  • Anti-Theft Waist Wallet aka the Fanny Pack
    • Safety while traveling is crucial. My overly paranoid self decided on getting this waist wallet which became my favorite thing ever literally attached to my hip 24/7. It was perfect because the boiling hot heat meant clothes with no pockets.
  • Sample Sized Everything
    • Shoutout to my roommate, Coffee & Cashmere, I learned this tip from her. Both of us are pretty much skincare and makeup junkies with an overwhelming amount of samples. I've started saving them and using on my trips. I can just throw out the packs after I'm done.
  • Snacks
    • Honestly, you never know where you might end up and where you might get stuck at mid-travel without access to food. On one of the nights, we were locked into a hotel room when we first arrived in Hanoi a little after midnight (the new bellhop accidentally closed the door the wrong way). We couldn't go out to get food and luckily I had a few energy bars stashed. Just remember international customs laws and pick and choose your snacks wisely!
  • You can also all these products and more on my whole list on kit.com

 

Planning: Experiences & History

My general rule of thumb is to have a loose schedule of things I'm interested in doing and how to do them. Unless it requires advance notice for tickets/admission, let the day determine what you do.

Things I always want to know is set in stone: where I'm sleeping that night and how to get to where I need to get to. For example, when traveling to Vietnam, a Visa is required if you are from the US. We used this site and got through immigration fine.

For other in-depth guides, I used:

Otherwise, everything else is fair game. The following are some of the activities that we planned around with most booked the day before. Many locations and events are flexible, and we tried to find reputable experiences to support locals.

 

Northern Vietnam

 

Sapa Sisters Trekking & Homestay: 1, 2, or 3 Day Trek

In the mountainous, cooler regions up north near the Chinese-Vietnamese border are these incredible rolling hills where Hmong villagers live. Sapa Sisters offers a 1, 2, or 3-day trekking, homestay, and Bac Ha Market experience where local Hmong women guide you through the region to show you the beautiful landscape. We did a 1-day trek and 1-night homestay. We hiked an easy and hard trek through the mountain-side which meant going up and down through wet mud and rice paddies. Our guide, Pen, is an incredible woman who taught me how to make a friendship bracelet, carefully guided us through the rice paddies, and ensured that we were healthy even through the rough experience.

We booked this a few nights before. We chose to go up by train to Lao Cai station in our own cabin (for 2). Just a heads up, when you're first greeted, you are introduced to only 1 official Sapa Sister guide. However, local villagers will tag along to walk with you. Lily came with us along the way and practically saved my life in multiple instances as I slipped through the wet mud. By mid-hike during the lunch, the ladies (not the official guide) will let you know that they are returning to their villages and would like to sell you some handmade goods. The crafts are beautifully handmade. If you can, do support these wonderful women.

More Info: Website | Sapa, Vietnam | FAQ & How To Book

 

Ha Long Bay Cruise: 2 Day, 1 Night Tour

Ha Long Bay is made up of these gorgeous rock formations that everyone should experience. There are a ton of cruises that operate and there's a wide variety to choose from. When we went, there was a ban on kayaking so unfortunately, we couldn't kayak through. I would say though, this is an incredibly touristy thing to do. Each hour is planned out for you down to your meals. However, it was a great way to bond with our cruise mates as we chose a cruise that fit only about 10 people. My favorite part was actually the late night squid fishing where I almost caught one! Our guide was pretty funny, and since we were a small group, it was much easier to be attentive to our needs.

More Info: Carina Cruise Website | Ha Long Bay, Vietnam | You can find more cruises on Tripadvisor

 

Hoa Loa Prison Model

Hoa Loa Prison: 2-3 Hour Visit

Located in the French Quarter in Hanoi next to Old City, Hoa Loa Prison was used during the French colonization to imprison Vietnamese peoples and then used to house American Prisoners of War (POW) during the Vietnam / American War. I would recommend reading this Wikipedia article to get another view of the information shared inside the museum.

During the French colonization, both men and women were imprisoned. Many of whom rose up and led much of the Northern Vietnamese revolution. It was very humbling to see the rooms and to feel the heat that the prisoners experienced in the prisons. To look at the numbers, names, and faces of those who suffer the imprisonment are indescribable. To travel is to understand and open your mind to another person's culture.

More Info: TripAdvisor Info | Hanoi, Vietnam 

 

Central Vietnam

Hai Van Pass
Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass & Marble Mountains: 3-4 Hour Drive Through

From Hoi An, we took a private car to the city of Hue allowing us to stop as we wanted. Along the way, we first made a stop at the Marble Mountains. It felt a bit touristy, and the heat was a bit too much for high elevations for me. However, making it to the top (with good stops was helpful) meant a great and hot view of Da Nang. The Hai Van Pass is also this long winding road alongside the mountain between Da Nang and Hue. Before this pass, there was only one way to get through. The pass is not for the faint of heart and more comfortable to go through via car than a motorbike.

More Info: Website | Da Nang, Vietnam

 

I Heart Hue Female Motorbike Tour: Half Day Tour

We went on the Hue City Tour which included a stop at a local village to see the markets. We, then, went to visit the tombs of previous kings. Hue is where the Imperial Palace is located where the dynasties once ruled. Hence, it was crucial for us to visit and learn the history. We also had a stop at a pagoda and Vong Canh Hill which provided a beautiful panoramic view of the Perfume River. Lastly, since we finished quite early (we didn't have many questions as we were familiar with Vietnamese history and culture), our excellent guides took us to the abandoned water park which is crazy eerie on its own. Typically, this isn't included in the city tour, but they were wonderful enough to give us the best experience! We ended at a vegetarian restaurant.

Motorbiking is the best way to get around Hue. Our tour guides were college students hoping to practice their English, and I loved that the mission for the company is to empower women with the work they do on the tours.

More Info: Website | Hue, Vietnam | Specific Tours

 

Imperial City & Citadel, Hue: 2-3 Hours

Within the Imperial City in Hue, the Citadel still stands with some impressive architecture that was used during the era of the dynasties. Modeled closely after the Forbidden City in Beijing, it's worth a quick trip over to see and learn about the history. If you are a Vietnamese resident, you can get the Vietnamese pricing. Otherwise, everyone else has separate pricing. P.S., my favorite part was donating some change to feed the fishes inside the ponds in front.

 

Southern Vietnam

 

Mekong Delta Motorbike Tour: 1 Full Day Tour

Get ready to get a sore butt! We went on the Mekong Delta tour on a motorbike... about 75 miles each way on the biggest bikes (don't worry, they have a granny seat in the back, so you don't fall off). Thanks to Tuan and Duc, our excellent tour guides, we were able to get the full experience. From Hu Tieu breakfast, seeing dragonfruit farms (and eating a giant red dragonfruit at the side of the road), sugarcane juice, and a full Mekong Delta tour filled with so much food, we could barely move. We saw how bricks were made, mats were weaved, coconut husked and used for a variety of things (most importantly, candy!), and more. We traveled by motorbike, boat, truck, rowboat, and back on a motorcycle throughout the whole trip. It's a totally surreal experience with the funniest guides. We did 1 full day, and while it's a bit pricey, it's worth it.

We were also lucky enough to hang out with the tour guides who scoped out Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnel tours. These guides are true veterans who made the entire journey super seamless and fun. By the way, watch their video, you will want to go right after seeing this.

More Info: Website | Mekong Delta, Vietnam 

 

Saigon City Tour: Half Day tour

This is a very inexpensive tour as it's led by local college students who use this as a great way to practice English. Highly recommend giving a tip for the students for their time, our wonderful guides led us through a private tour of the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Library Street, and the Post Office. I wanted to see more of what everyday life was so we got to see the Pagoda that Obama also visited. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a busy place but having a guide on your side is always a helpful way to get oriented.

More Info: Website | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 

 

For both of these tours, we booked with the Airbnb that we stayed in which is all part of Christina's. It was an excellent concept where there is a coworking space in the lobby, Airbnb's (very comfortable!) and tours to all book together. I highly recommend Christina's to anyone in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) who can afford to spend a little more during their stay.

 

So where and what should I eat?

Eating Through Vietnam: Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi & Sapa, and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

 


Of course, huge thanks is to Andrew H., my other half for planning 90% of this trip. He did the majority of the work contacting the tours and setting things up. Finding the best travel partner who you can work well with planning and be able to enjoy the trip is crucial.

There you have it! I hope this travel guide and series on Vietnam has been helpful to you. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Looking forward to hearing about your wonderful, enriching travels.

 


west & ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


New York: Eats in East Village List

Welcome to our brand new Lists series where we bring you quick, pocket list guides with no fuss details on what, where, when, how and why to visit, enjoy, and experience.

Kick it off, we'll be sharing our favorite Eats in NY's East Village. Love the list? Support west & ease by becoming a patron today at patreon.com/westandease.

 

Benemon

108 E 4th St New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese comfort food for the soul including some of the best curry and rice bowls.

Favorite dish will always be the una-tama don which includes a delicious mix of unagi, egg, mushroom, and sauce over a bowl of rice.

 

Caracas Arepa Bar

91 E 7th St New York, NY 10009 | Yelp

Venezuelan arepas that'll remind you of being on the beach if you've ever been to Rockaway. Basically, really great arepas and drinks.

Favorite arepa is La Sureña which is grilled chicken, chorizo, avocado, and chimichurri sauce.

 

Cha-An

230 E 9th St, Fl 2 New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese tea room serving delicious savory, sweet, and bubbly varieties. A little pricey for a smaller portion but worth the try.

Favorite dish will always be the warubi mochi.

Tip: This place is normally packed for dessert but you can also do dinner and drinks here.

 

Ise Restaurant

63 Cooper Sq New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese focused on handmade buckwheat soba.

Favorite dishes include the Hexagon bento which comes in 3 levels with cold soba, nigiri, salmon prepared in three ways. Also, squid ink soba with ikura and uni.

Tip: Book a reservation ahead of time to make sure you get a seat. This place gets packed at dinner. There's also good lunch special pricing.

 

Raku

342 E 6th St New York, NY 10003 | Yelp

Japanese udon to warm your soul. They're a small establishment now with two locations that'll serve you some of the best warm and cold udon. Try the East Village location for true small format Japanese restaurant vibes.

Favorite dishes include ankimo pate (monkfish liver), Chikara udon (chicken, toyko negi, and mochi), Niku udon (honeycomb tripe and beef shortrib), and always with yasai tempura (vegetable) on the side.

Tip: You can join the line on the waitlist from the Yelp app which'll save you some wait time outside the restaurant.

 

Root & Bone

200 E 3rd St New York, NY 10009 | rootandbone.com | Yelp

Brunch me, please. If you're in the mood for American brunch that's worth the wait time, Root & Bone serves up top dishes including biscuits & gravy, fried chicken, and the sticky buns.

 

Somtom Der

85 Ave A New York, NY 10009 | Yelp

Northern Issan Thai that'll give you spice and bang for your buck. The spice is no joke here, be sure to clarify if you want Thai spicy or American spicy. Hint: Thai spicy is  🔥.

Favorite dishes include pad thai with crab, papaya salad with salted black crab, grilled rice (on the stick), coconut rice, and larb. Oh, and always with an iced longan tea.

Tip: Go with a friend so you can try all the dishes. It's worth it.

 

Thursday Kitchen

424 E 9th St New York, NY 10009 | thursdaykitchen.com | Yelp

Korean tapas perfect for drinks and a bite to eat. They're known for their alcoholic capri-suns but we recommend opting for a regular drink.

Tip: No reservations so show up early.

 

What's your favorite?

Leave a comment and let us know your favorites. We'll also update this post periodically to keep our faves up to date.

 


west & ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


Sounds of: January 2019

It's been a whole year since January 2019 has ended. Most importantly, since it was the longest month ever into 2019, we've also got a ton of music to listen to. Seriously, our monthly playlist includes 45 songs. Don't worry, we've covered just a few to get you started. Ready? Let's go.

 

Nanã | Polo & Pan

French Electro Pop, catchy as hell

 

indie taking it slow, some might call it bedroom pop

A total contrast from Nanã, Brad Stank's O.T.D. slows it all down to his bedroom pop style where we enter slow with as the percussion, bass, guitar and eventually vocals come in. In what seems like an effortlessly cool song, Brad Stank sings about desire that's showing but unwilling.

Just like his songs, he seems to be in a low-key mood as it comes to building out his musical career according to a quick interview with Clash Music.

 

Rainy Day Loop | SALES

lofi loneliness wrapped up in vocals and guitar

This is a really sad song. Seriously, read the lyrics. However, SALES, comprised of Orlando based Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih finds a way to weave in a whole mood without the vocals that leaves you wanting more.

Fun fact, SALES debuted in 2014 on Chinese New Year, subsequently naming their second single "chinese new year".

 

Dancing with a Stranger | Sam Smith, Normani

pop singalong to a broken heart

We're here for all the beautiful androgynous dancers. Sam Smith returns with Normani singing about being out of emotions and sorts to ending up dancing with strangers. You can't help but to sing along and this song delivers.

 

Your 90s boy band is back and sounds just like your 2010s boy band.

So since the Backstreet Boys came first, is it wrong to say this sounds a little Charlie Puth or One Direction? Also, who knew the Backstreet Boys were back and released an album in 2019!?

There's also no way of going a search for this song without "I want it that way" being the top search result.

 

Falling for the Wrong One | Dreamer Boy

More indie dream pop ft a boy in front of a horse

According to Elevator Mag, Dreamerboy or Zach Taylor calls his music, Cowboy Pop. This is more synthy-lofi pop topped with Dreamerboy's ethereal vocals cooning about a breakup and teenage love.

Read more on his thought of his album release of Love, Nostalgia on milk.xyz

 

Mile High | James Blake ft Travis Scott & Metro Boomin

Wavy and probably on every playlists for chill vibes

Some of the least likely collaborators got together and created this masterpiece where it leaves you wanting more.

P.S., I'm probably a bigger fan of James Blake now because of his incredible partner, Jameela Al-Jamil. She's an incredible human, actor (Tahani from The Good Place), and activist (@i_weigh). Here's an interesting article from the Guardian detailing how James Blake because hip-hop's favorite brit and of course, my favorite, nod to Jameela Al-Jamil and her influence on his latest album, Assume Form.

 

One Man Band | Old Dominion

Good ol' country singalong for those of us wanting to be more than a soloist

Alright, once in a while, there'll always be a country song that'll play all month and this month, it's One Man Band. A few negative points of the lack of creativity in this music video but major points for lyrically driven cuteness.

 

Monte Carlo | Toro Y Moi, Wet

autotuned Chaz reporting for duty with references to the Bay

Riddled with slang from Bay folks, Toro Y Moi references BART, Uber, East Bay, The City, reminding you geographically how vast SF Bay Area is and our various modes of transportation to take you from A to B. Not to mention, the entire song surrounds a Monte Carlo.

 

This Old House is All I Have | Against All Logic

It's a journey of a song, promise it's worth it

This is one of those songs you should really have your headphones in first. It's an experience to hear the muffled beat in your ears, that then transitions to percussion, and then straight into a beat that feels as if though you've listened to a whole spectrum of music in one go. If you listen closely enough, this song also samples David Axelrods' The Warnings (Part II) which has a completely different sound.

Interestingly, Against All Logic is a project of Nicholas Jaar, an American-Chilean artist whose most known for his electronic, experimental work and this song is no different.

Read more with Pitchfork's take on the entire album to judge for yourself.

 

Jade | Lolo Zouaï ft Blood Orange

Lyrical duo that'll leave you wanting more via bedroom bangers

If Lolo sounds familiar, it's because you've probably heard for singles "Desert Rose" and "Blue" that flooded your playlists in the past. Read more on her recent interview with Highsnobiety.

 

Awake | Mars Today

 

 

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Welcome to the Sounds of Series where each month, we deliver music, podcasts, audio-visual experiences for you to discover and enjoy. We accompany each piece with a backstory to bring to life beyond what you hear. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


Sounds of: December 2018

With a blink of an eye, December is already here and we're at the end of our Sounds of Series for 2018. As we close out this year, you're covered with four albums, a fun Christmas themed release and six or so tracks. Enjoy!

 

JoJo 2018 Remastered E V E R Y T H I N G

Nostalgic Pop jams with grown-up vocals from the queen herself

December 20th with now forever be known as JoJo Day. If you missed it, Happy belated JoJo day to you, your mama, the boy you told to Leave (Get Out) because it's Too Little Too Late. If you couldn't tell already, I stan JoJo.

For those who hear these songs in their 20s and up and feel all type of ways. Why? Because fans have been deprived of her work from her old record label. If there were times throughout the year where you're like "What happened to JoJo? Why doesn't she make music anymore?" IT WASN'T HER FAULT. She was locked in a contract with a record label that's not only hindered her from her growth but also from being able to release music. You can read it for yourself in her point of view on an interview with Vulture. It's devastating to hear when talented people get stifled from the inner workings of industries with no real control.

Fast forward to December 20, 2018, JoJo has remastered her first two albums JoJo and The High Road, along with singles Demonstrate and Disaster. Remastering music is literally re-recording and rebuilding the song from scratch. It's especially a treat for fans of JoJo since it's all with her grown-up vocals where she previously recorded JoJo, her debut album at the age of 13 and The High Road at the age of 15. It's beautiful and connects with her longtime fans in another level and bridging audiences with the younger generation.

See all the love on Paper Magazine, MTV, and Noisey

CRAZYTALK | Mat Kearney

Hip-hop and folk blended together to get you grooving in your seat

This month, we've got Mat Kearney's album on CRAZYTALK on rotation getting us pumped up. There seemed to be no other music to get us in the mood to get working except this album.

Top songs include I Can't Wait For You To Get Here, Changes, Face to Face, and of course, Memorized.

 

Icarus Falls | Zayn

An hour and a half of sadboi pop 

In a very ZAYN way, he's released his latest album with 20+ tracks cooning through his emotions and more. There's a bit of lightness and optimism in the beginning and then the album falls to a bit of darkness. A few top favorites include his singles Let Me, Entertainer and others including Imprint, Natural, and Good Years.

 

A Very Spidey Christmas

A fourth wall breaking type of Xmas from your favorite neighborhood spidermen.

If you haven't already watched Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, you've missed out on a ton of great music, animation, and probably a few memes here or there. Just released as part of the holiday celebrations, a cute, short "A Very Spidey Christmas" was released with vocals from a few of the actors in the film. I guarantee you if you hate Xmas music, this makes it a little better.

 

Sundress | A$AP Rocky

Cheeky hip-hop leaning towards your favorite indie rock band vibes

First of all, whenever you hear A$AP Rocky, it never sounds like him but sounds exactly like him. This dynamic artist always has you on your toes trying to figure out what he's doing and where he's going. Even with this music video, you're at the edge of your seat trying to figure out what's happening with the frozen stills, nostalgic styling, and flashbacks.

 

Oh, It Is Love | Hellogoodbye

Ukelele profession of love

Let me take you back to 2006 when music was a little more bubbly and sweet exactly encompassed in this song. This track crept right back from Lauv Loves Playlist (which is stellar by the way). All the feels come back even with the ukelele.

 

Jetty | Tycho

Tycho style video game inspired music

Transporting you into the work of VR and video games, there's a very specific style of music that goes along with getting you into the zone and storyline of a game. Jetty is one of Tycho's first songs to explore this subgenre which blends in very Tycho like.

More from Broadway World about Tycho's foray into video game inspired music.

 

Sometimes | Goth Babe

Dreamy indie track longing for drifting thoughts

According to Goth Babe's Spotify profile. Griff Washburn currently lives off the grid in his camper with his dog going up and down the West Coast. His music is recorded in the back of his camper van run by solar power. To be honest, that's probably one of the coolest backstories with a completely unrelated artist name.

Anyways, this track brings you on a journey that you can definitely imagine driving down the Calfornia coast longing for passing thoughts.

Here's a throwback interview from 2015 with Goth Babe pre-west coast move.

 

Airy, dreamy, and a touch of longing

A poppier remix with ethereal vocals

Of course, we have to share what our 2018 sounded like. You can find our yours as well on spotifywrapped.com.

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Welcome to the Sounds of Series where each month, we deliver music, podcasts, audio-visual experiences for you to discover and enjoy. We accompany each piece with a backstory to bring to life beyond what you hear. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


Sounds of: November 2018

Warm jams for a cold AF winter. For November 2018, Sounds of is focused on fun and dreamy vibes. We've got six tracks to get you started to discover more.

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FUN! | Vince Staples

Hip hop banger bringing you back to a hint of hyphy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz9-pXuvFEU

In the latest lead single for Vince Staples recent "special project," FM!, we've got FUN! featuring E-40. This particular track's got a fun music video to go along with the track featuring a clever use of Google Maps UI and a storyline that feels eerily similar to habits of how audiences consume online content. 

Read more on FM! on Fader.

Dreamcatcher | Metro Boomin ft Swae Lee & Travis Scott

A little rated R hip hop track

https://open.spotify.com/track/6osMzmRHCVETbZMHceLRmh?si=qGZp9aFCST2-F24DOYGDIQ

Speaking of dreamy vibes, Dreamcatcher on Metro Boomin's Not all Heroes Wear Capes captures both rappers' style and blends it all together. As usual, Travis Scott's lines are a mix of a little about his love life, play on words, and then some while Swae Lee ties it all together with the hook. 

If you've never heard of Metro Boomin, I guarantee you're probably lying. He's collaborated with some of the biggest artists today and while you'll never hear his own vocals (he's a producer after all), you'll certainly hear his tag in the beginning of songs he's produced.

Here's more on Metro Boomin on Pitchfork's album review.

Drip | The Marias & Triathalon

Dreamy pop to melt the days together

https://open.spotify.com/track/5H8BPBnmDDeocTGbwCmYWm?si=q2vfk_9NTJm_6xLslUo1ug

If you loved Courtside from Triathalon, they're back with a collab alongside The Marías. It's dreamy, wavey, synthy and it feels like the two are doing two completely different songs but it works so well together bringing your attention back and forth between the two vocalists of their respective groups.

Here's Fader's take.

Headfucked | Shy Girls

A little warped track about being stuck in your own head.

https://youtu.be/dLZNJyucuww

Dan Vidmar of Shy Girls has some of the most complex music. His latest right after he released a gospel heavy Hallelujah explores the concept of "claustrophobia" of the mind. It's sort of dead simple and gives us a glimpse into his new project coming up in 2019.

Read more on Vidmar's take of his latest music on Complex.

FADED | Zhu (ODESZA REMIX)

A hazier take on the original

https://open.spotify.com/track/74tsW4h0WDYRpfD19gc10W?si=mJYZzf3DTFawdyDCZdcpDw

Zhu's style is often characterized by heavy buildup, dark tracks that transport you to probably the deepest, dark parts of your club nights. ODESZA, on the other hand, removes a layer of that with their chillwave, electropop sound but still keeping the core of the song. It adds a little more dimensionality to the song where it almost tops the original depend on the context you're playing it in.

Waste of Time | Lostboycrow, Bea Miller

A bit of a pop anthem on the opposite of time wasting

https://open.spotify.com/track/1ob5ZuwyCreXcKnWQQlACf?si=F78eBl4DSqSAl9kBcuIz2g

Ahead of Lostboycrow's much anticipated album, Santa Fe, which is due early 2019, we get Waste of Time, which leans heavily on a mix of both artist's vocals, heavy synths and a guitar solo. 

The lyrics themselves seem like an ode to the creative process cycling through feeling the pressures of creating something but ultimately understanding that it's not a waste of time.

Monthly Spotify Playlist

As usual, you can find all the songs mentioned above plus more from monthly Spotify playlist below. Get early access to this playlist by supporting west & ease on Patreon.

https://open.spotify.com/user/leslieluo/playlist/7zBfOlSxQ82J1IAKuf8Zt5?si=UcHLbVzERZORmTjbfNmITg

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Welcome to the Sounds of Series where each month, we deliver music, podcasts, audio-visual experiences for your to discover and enjoy. We accompany each piece with a backstory to bring to life beyond what you hear. 


Weightless Forest of Resonating Life

teamLab Tokyo | Borderless

Transcending all boundaries, teamLab is currently showing "Borderless," an exhibition focused around a world where art moves.

As described on the Borderless website, this exhibition is a group of artworks that form one borderless world. The 10,000 square meter space encompasses artworks that move throughout the area with some communicating with one another.

The exhibition contains various large rooms other rooms are easily discoverable and some hidden entirely. The area is meant to follow the principles of "Wander, Explore, and Discover," allowing the visitor to self-guide and enjoy the exhibition through the sense of self and discover. With artworks moving throughout the rooms, in the hallways, on the floors, and the ceilings, there's so much for your eyes and ears to hear and see.

There are various rooms including Borderless World, Athletic Forest, Future Park, and En Tea House.

teamLab is an artist collaborative based in Tokyo with work focusing on animation, sound, performance, internet, fashion, design, and nature. Exhibitions often invite the audience to participate bringing interactivity to a medium that is usually only about viewing. You can learn more about teamLabs hereBorderless is a permanent installation.

Wander, Explore, and Discover Signage

The Void
The Void
Aerial Climbing through a Flock of Colored Birds
Aerial Climbing through a Flock of Colored Birds
Weightless Forest of Resonating Life
Weightless Forest of Resonating Life
Universe of Water Particles Where People Gather
Musical Wall Where Little People Live
Musical Wall Where Little People Live
Peace can be Realized Even without Order
Peace can be Realized Even without Order
Forest of Flowers and People: Lost, Immersed and Reborn
Forest of Flowers and People: Lost, Immersed and Reborn

Visit

Getting there:

From Shibuya, take the JR Yamanote Line and switch to the Rinkai Line at Osaki Station for Odaiba. Google Maps provides excellent detail on how to take the trains. However, pay attention to which platform and time the train will come as the Rinkai Line runs several ways.

After getting off the Tokyo Teleport Station, head straight to the escalators where it says "palette town." Once you go up the escalators, turn left and walk through the indoor car showroom. Once you exit, it will be a few steps away on your right (it is directly opposite the Wendy's). There should be plenty of signage directing you to the building.

Follow the pathways from the escalator to the building.
Signage towards the building
Signage towards the building

Good to know:

Order your tickets ahead of time online. The website is in Japanese but there should be an option to switch to English.

To have the optimal experience, be sure to give yourself at least 2-3 hours. Your first hour will most likely be spent waiting to enter the museum, and the next hour or two exploring.

The line stretches around the area

There will be a long line even as a ticket holder. While the line is long, it does move relatively quickly as the museum allows large groups in at a time. The wait time was no more than 1 hour.

There are coin lockers and storage on the left. Coin lockers take a 100 yen deposit which will be returned once you unlock the locker.

Majority of the staff speak Japanese, but there is a lot of signage in Japanese, English, Mandarin, and Korean.

As it is mentioned on the website, this is a dark exhibition which flashing lights and varying terrain and ramps. There are also lots of children visiting the show so be prepared for a bit of chaos especially around the Athletic Forest experience.

 


west&ease is a collection of stories, sounds, knowledge, visuals, and “creative” work. Support by becoming a patron or follow for more on Patreon.


Tulum Beyond Beaches

Tulum: Beyond Beaches

When we dream about Tulum, we dream of sandy beaches, beautiful waters, and excellent food. Tulum is a bit of that a whole lot more.

As a small town along the coast, there's a vast area of eco-friendly beach resorts catering to every beach lover's dream. However, for those who travel by food and exploration, Tulum can be a paradise in a different way.

The following guide will take you through how to travel throughout Tulum, must-see sights, and food to keep your happy and nourished.


Get In / Get Out

For many people, getting into Tulum means flying into Cancun International Airport. Most folks tend to either stay in Cancun and take tours to Tulum, Valladolid, Merida, etc. To enjoy Tulum as much as possible, head straight to Tulum and stay within the town. There are two main ways to get to Tulum from the airport: rental car or by bus.

ADO Bus: We decided on taking the ADO bus as it was the easiest and most efficient way. To purchase a ticket, once you exit customs and baggage claim at Cancun International Airport, there will be a booth for ADO bus. The ADO bus is cash only meaning you should withdraw some cash at the nearby ATM before heading to the booth in the same area. After purchasing your tickets, the staff should direct you to where you need to go to board your bus. Depending on the time, you can find a direct bus from Cancun to Tulum. Otherwise, you can go from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen, then to Tulum.

Collectivos: Now that you're in town, one of the best ways to get around is by Collectivo. A trip from Tulum Centro to Casa Cenote is only 35 pesos. It's a bit tricky if you don't know where the main stops are but they are pretty simple to find since the vans should say "Collectivo." If you're in Tulum Centro, you should find Collectivos parked towards the direction of Playa Del Carmen before Calle Alfa Sur and across the street to the left if you're leaving from the ADO terminal bus stop.

Taxis: There were quite a few taxis around which made it easy to get around. However, prices are undoubtedly much higher, and it's best to taxi if you have 2+ people. Some locations have a fixed taxi rate so negotiating is a little more difficult. Don't be afraid to look around when you're at touristy spots to see if there is a fixed rate placard usually right by the taxi lines.

Getting Around

In general, most folks rent a car for their travels. We traveled mostly by bus, collectivo, taxis, and walking. In Tulum, there is also the option to rent a bicycle which is also economical and efficient (though maybe not at night due to lack of lighting).


Things To Do

Explore Nature

Si'an Khan Biosphere Tour
Lifejackets on for the boat rides
Si'an Khan Biosphere Tour - Dolphin
Dolphin sighting

Si'an Khan Biosphere Tour | MexiKan Tours | TripAdvisor

Tulum is located near the Si'an Khan Biosphere which is a protected nature park where land meets the ocean.

I highly recommend booking with MexiKan tours where our tour guide, Hugo, gave a grand experience through the drive, boat rides, swimming, and town tour. He spoke both English and Spanish for our multilingual group which was very helpful. We got to see manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, swim in beautiful clear beaches, and enjoyed an excellent meal in Punta Allen. Hugo was also fantastic where he practiced what he preached. That is, being incredibly eco-conscious and ensuring that our interactions with both consumption and contact with sea and land life were minimal.

These tours can often negatively impact what nature has created, but MexiKan tours and Hugo took steps to educate and reduce impact. Also, we didn't get the chance to snorkel since the waters were choppy. Know that there's a chance you might not be able to snorkel, but you can do that in Cenotes.

 

Swimming in Cenotes

It's hot, and if the beach is a further reach, cenotes or sinkholes offer a great alternative. Cenotes are great alternatives for non-swimmers. We brought our snorkels and rented life jackets which were very helpful. I recommend bringing your own snorkels which were awesome to see the underwater creatures.

 

Gran Cenote Turtle
Turtle sighting in Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is a freshwater sinkhole. There was a clean bathroom, outdoor shower, and hammocks to lay on above. At the cenote, there is staff who rent out life jackets, snorkels, and lockers. There are more shallow areas where you can build confidence first then hang out at the deeper ends where there are ropes to hold on—perfect for none swimmers. We spotted a turtle and some fish swimming around here.

 

Casa Cenote in the early evening

Casa Cenote

We reached by collectivo from Tulum Centro heading towards Playa Del Carmen. You can tell the driver "Casa Cenote," and they'll drop you off at the highway exit. It's a 15-minute walk to Casa Cenote. To get back, we walked back to the opposite side of the highway and stuck our hand out when collectivos passed to bring us back into Tulum Centro.

They have lockers and lifejackets for rent. This one is a mix of fresh and sea water with lots of wildlife. There is a baby crocodile named Panchito who lives here so if you're not into potentially getting bit, avoid the rocks where it hangs out. This cenote connects to the ocean where there are a ton more sea life and scuba divers. If you have time, the beach. is reachable through a short walk across the entrance of the cenote.

 

Mayan Ruins

The Mayan people once thrived in Tulum, and there are a few stops that you can quickly reach from Tulum Centro to see it in real life.

Tulum Ruins rights on the beach

Tulum Ruins  | http://inah.gob.mx | Carretera Federal 307 Cancún - Chetumal Km 230, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Right on the beach, Tulum Mayan ruins was once a fort where the Mayan people lived and thrived. The location is a unique experience where you can see the ruins along the coast. There are also spectacular views of the ocean as you roam around learning about the history.

You can take a taxi for a fixed rate from Tulum Centro (~ 100 pesos) to drop you off via centro. Go early in the morning before the tours come to avoid big crowds. The ruins are also reachable via bike.

 

Coba Pyramid
Looking down from the top of Coba Pyramid
Coba Pyramid
View from the bottom

Cobahttp://inah.gob.mx | Km. 47, Carretera Federal Tulum 307, 77793 Cobá, Q.R., Mexico

With one of the tallest pyramids on the East Coast of Mexico, Coba is a big attraction for tourists. Also, you're allowed to climb the tallest pyramid. If you are afraid of heights, this might not be the best activity but still worthwhile to peer from below.

Try to get here early to avoid large crowds. There are bikes for rent, or you can take a bike taxi inside for a fixed rate. It's not too far in so if you're able, walk it. There are also only bathrooms at the entrance, so go before you get inside.

To get here, we took a second class bus from Tulum Ado bus station. You can also book a first-class bus which only comes early in the morning. There are many departures throughout the day for Coba for second class. Once there, you should be dropped off either at the entrance or a little ways away which you can walk over.

To return to Tulum, collectivos are harder to come by. The larger buses that take you back to Tulum come around 3 PM. If you want to leave earlier, you can take a taxi for a fixed rate of 400 pesos from the entrance (there is a placard with the prices). If you have 2+ people, it'll be worthwhile. Other folks have also booked a taxi and pay extra for them to stay and wait for you.

 

Parks

Tulum Sign
One of many Tulum signs

Parque Museo de la Cultura Maya  | 77780 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Right in the center of town by City Hall, there is a quaint park with the Tulum sign great for photo ops. There are also street food vendors at night (eat at your own risk).

 


Eat & Drink

Tulum Centro

We spent the majority of our time in Tulum Centro, so we have more recommendations here.

 

Panna e CioccolatoPanna e Cioccolatowww.pannaecioccolato.com.mx | Ave. Tulum 72, Centro Tulum, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico77780 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

On hot nights, a cold gelato will be calling your name. In town, there are two Panna e Cioccolato along the main road. There are your classics and other fun flavors like dragonfruit, spicy chocolate, and my favorite, mango.

 

Flor De Michoacan Paletas
Paletas

Flor De Michoacan

Located on the main road, there are paletas sold here. While very popular in Valladolid and Mérida, this is the one place in town that sells these delicious popsicles. Google maps will tell you this place is closed, but it's actually open around the corner on the main road.

 

Antojitos La Chiapeneca
A sign from above
Al Pastor Tacos
Al Pastor Taco Heaven

Antojitos La Chiapeneca  | Av. Tulum, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Al pastor heaven in taco form. If you love al pastor, you must stop by this place to get some for an inexpensive price. Their menu is massive, but everyone comes by for the meat roasting on a giant stick out front.

El Carboncito Tacos
Al Pastor Tacos cooked by charcoal

El CarboncitoQ.R., Av. Tulum 7, Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Recommended by our guide from MexiKan tours, El Carboncito features al pastor tacos cooked with charcoal. These remind me of the flavors you can get from Los Tacos in Chelsea Market in NYC. However, I will say, I preferred Antojitos La Chapeneca. It's slightly smokier, and the texture of the meat is chunkier as other versions are thinly sliced on.

 

Taqueria Honorio Tacos
True breakfast tacos of champions, Mayan style

Taqueria Honorio | Satélite Sur, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Traditional Mayan meat in taco form, these delectable tacos are not only rich in oil but also flavor. It's unique compared to your typical al pastor taco thus worth the try. They make the meats early in the morning so they can run out by afternoon. They also serve delicious agua frescas including barley teas.

 

Seafood

 

El Camello Jr ceviche mixto
A mediano is massive

El Camello Jr.Carretera Chetumal-Cancun Locales 1 y 2 Lte 3 Mza 40, Centro, 77600 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Ceviche galore! El Camello Jr. is well known for their ceviche. Fair warning, we were overzealous and asked for a grande. Luckily, our waiter told us a grande was indeed more substantial and larger than the size of my head. Even with a mediano, it was too much food. I highly recommend getting small and then add more if you're still hungry.

Los Aguachiles Steamed Fish Tacos
Steamed fish tacos
Los Aguachiles interiors
Interiors

Los AguachilesMZA 40 LTE 1, Chetumal-Cancun, Centro, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Right next to El Camello Jr. is this friendly establishment. Known for their fish tacos, you must try the steamed fish taco which was the best on the menu. They also have everything else including tostadas, ceviche and more. The most surprising dish? The carrot cake. I ordered it on a whim since I'm always craving cake and it was incredible—warm and soft with cold vanilla ice cream on top. Go for the seafood, top it off with a delicious carrot cake and ice cream.

 

A mariachi band out front
Cute photo op across the street

El AsaderoAv. Satelite Nte. Mz 23 Lt.5 entre Sagitario y, Calle 2 Ote, Centro, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

If you're sick of tacos, try this spot for a change. A steakhouse for quaint outdoor eating right across the street from lit up trees and a swing. I promise you, even if you don't eat here, at least you'll get a cute photo.

 

Drinks

 

Ki'bok Coffee ShopKi'bok Coffee Tulumwww.kibokcoffee.com | Centauro Sur MZ05 LT11 kibok AV.TULUM Y Calle Andromeda, Centro, 77710 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

One of the best coffee shops in town. I hadn't paid much attention to coffee shops when I travel as I'd instead be running around and exploring. However, we stopped by here when we were picked up for our Si'an Khan tour. We ordered a regular chai almond latte, but the best one was the chai coffee almond lattes. It was robust and flavorful making me question why I ever drank chai tea lattes without coffee.

 

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Batey's Mojito and Guarapo BarCalle Centauro Sur, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

For a mojito paradise and live music, head to Batey's for a good night on the street where most folks would be drinking. A Tulum trip wouldn't be without Batey's. The night we went was Mexican night for the Latin Week Batey's was hosting. It featured a great mariachi band (storytelling) with a wonderful singer and her band that told stories along the way of Mexican history. The waitress spoke perfect English so no worries on brushing up on Spanish here (but it'd still be good if you did).

 

Tulum Playa

Seared ahi tuna
Seared ahi tuna
Octopus
Octopus

Kitchen Tablekitchentabletulum.com | Carretera Tulum a Boca Paila, Km 1.5, Ruinas, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

This jungle kitchen is located right off the coast near the public beach. We came here on our first night to celebrate a special occasion. We ate octopus, shrimp, and delicious seared ahi tuna. They also have delicious cocktails here including a fun "diablo" cocktail that had chilies for taste and garnishes.

 

Origami GelatoPlaya Esperanza Hotel beach, Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km 2.5 77780, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

On our first night, after dinner and before heading to Papaya Playa Project, we walked by this quaint little gelato shop. However, the mango gelato had me rolling on the ground—it was just so good. Fair warning, it's a bit pricier here versus the gelato shops in Tulum Centro.

 

Mateos

Mateoswww.mateosmexicangrill.us | Carretera, Boca Paila km 5.2, Manzana 10 Lote 16, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

While we were waiting to head to Papaya Playa Project, we stopped by Mateos by chance since there was a great live band playing. People were enjoying their drinks and dinner while other folks were dancing the night away.

 

Papaya Playa Project

Papaya Playa Project | www.papayaplayaproject.com | Km 4.5 Carretera Tulum Boca Paila, 77780 Q.R., Mexico

Papaya Playa Project is most well known for their full moon parties. If you're around on Saturday nights, this beach hotel also hosts beach club night parties where drinks served via tickets, and you can dance the night away. We stopped by for some drinks and hung around enjoying the ocean breeze. Be prepared for pricier drinks as you're on the beach.

 


Where to Sleep

Tulum Centro Hotel

Posada Luna Del Sur |Tripadvisor

We decided to stay in Tulum Centro given it's convenient location to the ADO bus stop and access to more inexpensive food. As much as we said we'd spend time on the beach, we're just the type of travelers to roam around a lot. Staying here allowed us to go in and out of the town very efficiently (even for our taxi and tour drivers who would take shortcuts to drive straight to our hotel.

The room was massive, provides free water via water jug, free breakfast, AC and includes a rooftop area to relax. At night, they close the gate for security which is a nice touch. We didn't stay in the hotel except to sleep.

Tulum Playa

We opted to not stay on the beach because of the higher prices and lack of AC. If you plan on a beach vacation, there are many places to explore which you can find via TripAdvisor and HotelTonight (get $25 off your next booking with code: LLUO23).

 


The Full Map

Everything is compiled on this map. Share what you've tried. As always, looking for new places to add to the list as well.

 


Resources used to plan this trip:

 


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