This blog post is 3 long years overdue but I hear people say, it’s better late than never.
25 is the age most humans refer to as the quarter life. Yea me, too. It was a crisis. I began to question many things like my life’s purpose. In short, I was quite immature then to leave everything behind.
(Fast forward today, I have no regrets.)
One of the best decisions I made was to take a break from everything (work, studies, etc). Just to clear though, none of those decisions were planned except for the 21 days backpacking trip.
$900 pocket money.
Airfares (Php 17,682.73)
Manila – Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Ho Chi Minh – Hanoi -Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Bangkok – (Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Manila)
I booked my Manila – Siem Reap – Ho Chi Minh – Manila in late 2014 during one of Cebu Pacific’s seat sale for only Php4,450.38.
Additionally, I availed AirAsia’s Asean Pass for Php 7,200. I first used my credits to travel from Udon Thani (the closest city from Vientiane, Laos) to Bangkok, Thailand. Taxes and other fees such as airport fees weren’t included (+ Php 3,991.57). I flew 4 more flights (Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Manila) and I’d say it was worth it.
Since I wanted to maximize the Asean Pass on the last legs of my travel, I had to separately book a Jetstar flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi for Php 2,040.78. This was to save time and this option was cheaper than the train.
Accommodation (US$170 or Php 7,820 in 2015)
All my hostels were prebooked prior to my flight. Meaning, I paid 15% deposit online and the rest I paid directly to the hostels. Each bed costs roughly around $6 – $8 a night. In Bangkok, my sister and I booked a private room en suite with a bathroom so it cost me a little over $11 a night.
For both cities in Cambodia, I booked beds in One Stop Hostel. Their location in Siem Reap ($24 for 3 nights) was close to Pub Street and a minibus station. Siem Reap rooms were spacious and same with the common areas. However, the water in the ladies restroom smelled rusty! While the Phnom Penh ($21 for 3 nights) location was also close to the bus station, there’s nothing exciting around the area. Maybe KFC? But I really like their common area. I think I watched 2 – 3 movies on a day I didn’t feel like leaving the hostel. Despite the proximity to city proper to-go places, I’d say one can still survive strolling without the help of a tuktuk. I was able to walk from hostel to the national museum to the central market and back to the hostel.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I stayed at Eco Backpackers Hostel ($24 for 4 nights) which was also close to the bus stop. I didn’t like how their top bunks are too high though it gave so much privacy. It was 2 blocks away from my favorite pork and broken rice meal vendor (grilled meat matched with their special sauce!!!). While Vietnam Backpackers hostel (The Original) ($15 for 2 nights) in Hanoi was a bit far from the van drop (shuttle service from the airport) and location was a bit sketchy. I wasn’t able to sleep on my last night because I was scared. The room was very spacious and I was all alone lol
Hostels in Luang Prabang seemed like residential houses converted to hostels to accommodate the influx of tourists. The dorm room for 4 mixed individuals is too small (for me to smell travelers who totally disregarded hygiene or some sort) in Kounsavan Guest House ($27.60 for 4 nights). The shower area and restrooms were also open to both sexes. Glad to have picked this guest house because if not I wouldn’t be able to see the Canadians who I loaned some US$$$$ for their Laos visa (more of that in a different entry). In Vientiane, I stayed in Backpackers Garden Hostel ($14 for 2 nights). The hostel was easy to miss so when Google Maps showed we passed the hostel already, I panicked. Had to walk back for 5 minutes and look for the hostel on my own at around 7 – 8 in the evening. They only had mix dorm rooms which was fine because there were two female Thais in the same room. What I didn’t like was the shower and restrooms were on the ground floor while the dorm rooms were on the second floor.
In Bangkok, my sister and I stayed in Au Bon Hostel ($88.80 for 4 nights). Their location wasn’t far from Khao San Road. We also walked to/from the Grand Palace (or did we???). Finally on this trip, an en suite bath and a larger bed!!!! Since it was few blocks from the infamous backpackers’ area, it was quiet and peaceful. I got to walk to/from Thipsamai Pad Thai.
To be continued (I need to face my school requirements lol)…