Filmmaker Kulap Vilaysack counts Laos and Hawaii as favorite destinations.
Filmmaker Kulap Vilaysack counts Laos and Hawaii as favorite destinations. (Aaron Rapoport)

Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Eagan, Minnesota, filmmaker Kulap Vilaysack traveled to Laos to search for her birth father. As a child, she hadn't realized he even existed. She filmed her trip for her documentary "Origin Story" (

, available on Amazon Video On Demand. Vilaysack is also known for creating and executive producing the comedy series, "Bajillion Dollar Propertie$." A resident of Hollywood, she may be reached via Instagram (


) and Twitter (


Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Hawaii. My husband, Scott, and I honeymooned in Kauai and we've been to the Big Island twice. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is heaven on earth and we've experienced it just the two of us and with a big group of friends. If you are planning a trip with a bunch of pals, I would recommend looking into staying at one of the residences on the resort. We found a beautiful place on a vacation rental site, with a large open concept kitchen-dining-living room, where we cooked together and played Mafia. When we wanted to go into the resort to enjoy their beach or restaurants, we loaded up into the two golf carts that were in the garage. It was such a fun and perfect vacation. I guess I am basically recommending soaking up the island beauty in the company of your friends.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. Laos, of course! There is much to see, eat and experience at a laidback pace. A lot of the country is undeveloped and has become an eco-tourism travel destination. It's abundant with ancient ornate temples, cascading waterfalls and gorgeous textiles. The people by and large are kind, generous and chill. What hakuna matata is to Swahili, baw pen nyang is to Lao. It translates to it's nothing. I have yet to visit the former capital, Luang Prabang, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Centre, so that's at the top of my list for my next trip to the motherland.

Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?

A. It's to make dinner reservations well in advance and have a rough schedule before you land. I like to plan ahead so that I can relax. I'm the type who has to unpack within the first hour of arriving. I'm going to have a Google doc of collated friend recommendations and travel trips ready to go.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Ojai, California, to the Ojai Valley Inn or a house rental. I love the smell of pixie tangerines and the pink moment right before sunset.

Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?

A. One year we went to Costa Rica and spent Christmas in the cloud forest for the first half of our trip at the El Silencio Lodge & Spa. The second half we stayed at Punta Islita on the Pacific Ocean side, so we got to experience two different climates.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Los Angeles, Paris, London, New York, Tokyo.


Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?

A. Minnesota? Big Bear in the winter!

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I still haven't gone to New Orleans! Internationally? Iceland, Italy, Spain, Bali, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti and Vietnam.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. After lugging books around for years, I'm the last person to get a Kindle and it's changed my life. Travel sizes of my Korean skin care. Adidas track pants. APL TechLoom Bliss in all black. (They're) lightweight, comfortable, pull on tennis shoes. My black/gold Laos In the House sweatshirt.

Q. What would be your dream trip?

A. I want to stay in one of those over-the-water bungalows somewhere far, far, far away. A real do-nothing-but-eat-drink-read-lie around-type trip.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at

. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on

where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)