Months back before my vacation leave started, I’ve been thinking of which places to visit aside from going back home in the Philippines. Visiting the neighboring countries was at the top of my lists. I’ve always wanted to explore SE Asia so I decided to go Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for 18 days. Initially, I planned to travel alone but ended up joined by my friends along the way.
Three of my friends traveled with me but since we don’t have same schedule for holidays and not living in the same country either, we decided to just meet along the trip. My childhood best friend (who’s working in Singapore) and I spent 4 days in Vietnam, visited two cities Ho Chi Mihn City and Hoi An. On my 5th day of travel, my buddy Yana(based in Dubai) and I met in the city of Phnom Pehn Cambodia and traveled all the way to Siem Riep on our 7th day where another friend Winrey (based in the Philippines) has been waiting. The whole trip included 7 cities on 3 countries in 18 days.
For a Pinoy traveler, every penny counts. The most common question asked by fellow friends and relatives was how much money I’ve spent for the whole trip? Baka sobrang gastos! (Maybe you’ve have spent much). Did it cost you a lot? Did you ask the help of a travel agency? I decided to do the itinerary for the whole trip with the help of my traveling friends. We checked how much the airfares would cost, shared ideas on where to stay and researched on foods and activities that we will do. Was it not difficult to do it by our selves? It was a bit hard. It’s tiring, exhausting and fulfilling at the same time. I personally like the thrill of doing the itinerary without the need of a travel agency. It leaves you with the familiarity of places to visit and gives you an imagination of things to do and try. With some thorough research, blogs, exchanged of ideas and opinions with the travelling mates and added passion for traveling, we came up with the itinerary that best suits and favors everyone of us.
I bought a one way ticket coming from the Philippines (Manila) to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) that costs around 3300PHP/ 73 USD/ 28 OMR and a return ticket from Thailand (Bangkok) to Philippines (Manila) around 3600PHP/80 USD/31 OMR. I got it on sale, booked it like 2 months before my travel!
Airfare ————– 6900PHP/ 153USD/59 OMR (2 way ticket)
We searched through Agoda.com , booking.com, Airbnb, hostelworld.com to compare prices for the accommodations. I exchanged emails with my friends from time to time to finally come up with the best place to stay. Instead of staying in a hotel, we all decided to book hostel, Inn or guesthouse where prices are affordable.
Listed down are the breakdown of our expenses for accommodation. My friends didn’t join me in the whole trip so as you can see down below I paid for some accommodation alone. Tip: It’s good to travel with friends to save up money! But there are ways where you can save up money by staying in a shared room with other travelers and spend less than 10usd if you don’t mind privacy.
|Pho Hoi Riverside Resort
(Hoi An, Vietnam)
|59.16usd/ 2 nights||with breakfast||29.58usd
|Lan Lan 2 Hotel
(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
|41.26 usd/ 1 night||with breakfast||20.6usd
(Siem Riep, Cambodia)
|36usd/3 nights||with breakfast||12usd
|D & D Inn
|46.7/1 night||with breakfast||15.9usd
|Patong Buring Hotel
|38.9usd/ 2 nights||W/o breakfast||12.9USD|
(Chiang Mai, Thailand)
|73.9usd/ 5 nights||W/o breakfast||36.8 usd|
|Hostel near Kao San Road
|23.7 usd/1 night||W/o breakfast||23.7usd|
Out of the listed accommodations we have stayed, I personally like Pho Hoi Riverside Resort. The place is clean and peaceful. They have amenities like pool, nice garden and just located near the river where you can just sit and relax .I also like D and D Inn for the swimming pool on the top of their Inn and accessibility of the place and Parami Guesthouse for the laid back stay and cozy feeling on the wooden house and helpful owner.
Accommodation: 6833PHP/ 151.5USD/ 58.4 OMR
Whenever I travel, I eat local foods as much as possible. I enjoyed trying and tasting the local cuisine. Sometimes the best local foods can be found on the streets and that was very true in Thailand and Vietnam. I spent an average of 570PHP/13 USD/ 5 OMR per day for the foods. Of all the 3 countries I have visited, I liked Thai foods most. Second, Vietnamese foods and lastly Cambodian delicacy. Part of the food trip is trying the exotic foods which are very popular in Cambodia and Thailand such as eating insects. But you have to be careful on trying certain foods! I ate fried grasshopper in Thailand and ended up getting itchy and some redness on the face. It was funny I had an allergy with the fried insects. I also tried drinking some few local beers which added up the cost of my food allowance.
Foods & Drinks—- 11,700 PHP/259USD/100 OMR
Unsure of what could possibly happen to me I opted to secure myself with a travel insurance that cost 2100 PHP/ 52 USD/ 20 OMR that covers one month of my travel ( Vietnam,Cambodia,Thailand and Philippines). I bought mine here in Oman.
Travel Insurance ——- 2,340PHP/ 52USD/ 20 OMR
For the sightseeing and activities,it paid off to research so you will know what you want to see and do. I recorded the major expenditures I have which included temple and museum entrance fees like Angkor Wat Complex in Siem Riep, Grand Palace in Bangkok, War Remnants Museum in HCMC ,Royal Palace & Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Pehn.We did Island hopping in Phuket, trekking, Mahout (Elephant) training& cooking lesson in Chiang Mai and boat cruise in Ho Chi Minh City as well. I indulged into Thai Massage( 200-300baht per hour) and some Body Scrub (700baht) in Bangkok as well. Even though there are some activities we ended up not doing, we were still happy of the overall experiences we had.
Sightseeing and Activities- 8200 PHP/ 181 USD/ 70 OMR
Well I spent most of my expenses on transportation. I had taken few domestic flights like going to Da Nang from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Bangkok to Phuket and Phuket to ChiangMai (Thailand) which are bit necessary to save up time. To saved up few cents,I booked all the domestic flights like a month before my trip so prices were so still affordable.
I have also taken the bus, taxi and van from transferring one country to another like going to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Pehn Cambodia, and crossing the border of Cambodia to Thailand. I’m quite hesitant to book from the hotel/hostel/guesthouse as often times its bit pricey compared if you will do it by yourself. We took tuktuk, red truck in Chiangmai for cheaper way of going around and tried the sleepers train 2nd class from Chiang Mai to Bangkok which is one of a must try for me to do in Thailand.
Transportation – 14, 000PHP/311 USD/120 OMR
Maybe you will ask me if I spent on any other things aside from the one listed above. Well yes I bought some clothes like tshirts, comfortable pants and dress! I also bought some pasalubong (gifts) for my family and friends. I told myself at first I wouldn’t buy on my trip but given the chance since most of the items in Thailand/ Cambodia and Vietnam are cheap ,I grabbed the opportunity to buy some items.
Other expenses 5000PHP/ 111 USD/ 42 OMR
Aside from those mentioned above, I also spent money for the travel tax in the Philippines. I paid 1620PHP /36USD/14 OMR.
TOTAL: 57,000PHP/ 1,256 USD /484 OMR
Was the backpacking trip cheap? The answer will be what kind of traveler you are and how comfortable you are to spend money on certain things. But for me, I did have a great time in my mini adventure- seeing great places, eating great foods and meeting & gaining new friends around the world!
Do you have any plans of doing backpacking in Asia? Share it with us on the comments below.