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From Thailand to the Highlands: A Week in Scotland

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scottish highlands skye high tour

Okay, so before this gets awkward, I have to confess, I went to Scotland from Vietnam, but for the sake of a rhyming and catchy title, let’s just go with Thailand.

In my weak-armed defense, I was in Thailand before I arrived to Vietnam, so technically, it’s the truth 😉

Right, now that we’ve got that out the way… let’s talk about my trip to the Scottish Highlands.

I arrived in Scotland the first week of December, excited, freezing and ready to take my 3-Day Sky High Tour with Haggis Adventures.

I checked into SmartCity Hostels in Edinburgh, which was one of the coolest hostels I’ve ever stayed in, so I’ve decided to feature it on a new page on this blog, with my other favorite accommodations around the world that you can see here.

I arrived to my hostel exhausted from over 20 hours of airborne travel, leaving Ho Chi Minh City, with a brief stop in Istanbul, before finally arriving to Edinburgh.

I was greeted with the happiest and warmest faces by the two lovely ladies working reception. Immediately, I knew I was going to like this place.

The reception area was large, bright, and very welcoming to someone [especially] like me, who was in zombie-mode and ready to pass out from jetlag.

smartcity hostel edinburgh
The reception desk of SmartCity Hostel in Edinburgh.

I made my way into the restaurant/bar/lounge area which is where I went on to spend a majority of my time while at the hostel.

Imagine one big game room, widescreen TVs, comfortable sofas, and then a bar lining one side of the wall.

Yep, pretty much all I needed in life, let’s be honest.

So I chatted it up with some Italian students who were in Edinburgh on a school trip, and made myself at home.

And unlike most hostels, this one was very inclusive and had just the right mix of a party atmosphere, but still clean and tame enough where multiple families and even a couple people on business felt comfortable staying. It truly is a pretty inclusive place!

I highly recommend their breakfast buffets as well. The hilarious contrast of Vietnamese Pho for a month straight to a proper Scottish breakfast of eggs, hashbrown, fried tomatoes, haggis, sausage, and toast was unknowingly exactly what my body needed to gain the other 5 pounds of weight that I’d bring back to America as a souvenir. Ha!

To read my full review of SmartCity Hostels on Tripadvisor, and how I had the best shower of my life, click HERE!

So Scotland was the first country I visited solo back in 2012, so it will always have a special place in my heart. My third visit to this gem can basically be broken down into three words: Castles, Lakes, and Whisky.


Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye // Scotland, UK
Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye // Scotland, UK
Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye // Scotland, UK
Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye // Scotland, UK

You ever feel like such a peasant that the mere sight of such remarkable beauty made you want to start wiping down the cobblestone ground that your feet have stained the grounds with?


I truly felt unworthy in the company of the Eilean Donan Castle.

It’s the type of place I’d bring my imaginary boyfriend to so he could do an imaginary proposal for our imaginary wedding.

I know, I can be such a romantic when it comes to things like this.

Eilean Donan Castle was one of our stops on Day 2 of the 3-Day Skye High Tour and probably my favorite and the one where I believe a fellow passenger confessed to crying at.

The tears could’ve been a result of the pain from the sharp winds of the Scottish winter, or she was just so moved by the experience. I’m going to take a safe guess and say it was probably a combination of both.


skye high tour loch ness
WHAT UP, LOCH NESS!? // Scotland, UK
skye high tour loch ness
Portree Harbour, Isle of Skye // Scotland, UK

While I sat at the foot of the famous Loch Ness, I learned from our awesome guide Nick, that there were over 1,000 eyewitness accounts from monks, doctors, scientists, military officers, farmers, and policemen, all claiming they’ve seen Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

Now… either those are some really strong drugs, or there really is a monster in this world other than Donald Trump.

You decide.

skye high tour loch ness
Not convinced. // Loch Ness, Scotland, UK

The best part about the lochs and lakes were how calm they were. It was such a serene sight.

So many times I find myself having this image of what something is supposed to look like before I arrive, and I get there only to have my imagination completely shattered by a view and experience 10x better.

There’s so much magic about the highlands and despite us fighting harsh winds and rain, the beauty was undeniable.


I can’t tell you what it’s like to try 70% alcoholic whisky. But I can, however, tell you what it’s like to feel like your entire life just flashed before your eyes.

One doesn’t simply visit Scotland without tasting some pure Scotch whisky, and we got to tour a distillery and see the process of how whisky is made.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been one to voluntarily whisk myself (hehe, see what I did there) into a whisky (read: risky) situation like touring a distillery, knowing complimentary drams (Scottish Gaelic word for ‘drink’) would follow.

Alas, I took one for the team, and despite the rest of the day subsequently being a blur, my camera came to the rescue and reminded of the beauty my two eyes weren’t coherent enough to process.

sky high tour the blog abroad
We weren’t allowed to use the ‘C’ or ‘F’ word. ‘COLD’ and ‘FREEZING’. So yeah, you can clearly see this was basically beach weather.

sky high tour the blog abroad sky high tour the blog abroad sky high tour the blog abroad

sky high tour the blog abroad
A big thanks to Haggis Adventures for sponsoring this amazing 3-day tour through the Scottish Highlands!

  • TheBritpacker

    I loved this! Despite being from England I’ve never visited Scotland (I know, I know, I’m ashamed of myself!), and after reading this I know I have to go. Although maybe I’ll bring a couple of (hundred) layers of clothing with me…

  • Teacaketravels

    You crack me up girl! Your writing is so funny >< I've just got back from their 3 day Isle Of Skye tour too and you're right…THAT CASTLE! Fricking amazing. Totally get that passenger cried from it's beauty (and the weather). Gonna come back to Scotland? I think I need to hang out here more (whisky, scottish men, castles to marry them in).

  • Holiday Highlands

    Eilean Donan is so beautiful and your photos are stunning.