Backpacked Southeast Asia in 2015: Hostels

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.)

Youth, Celebrating Moon Festival

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.

21 days.
$900 pocket money.
4 countries.
7 cities.

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.

Jetstar ★

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.

I spent my remaining hours in Siem Reap reading this book

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.

Mezzanine in One Stop Hoste, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Roommates in Eco Backpackers Hostel, HCMC, Vietnam

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

Hiring bulletin in Vietnam Backpackers Hostel, Hanoi, Vietnam
Backpackers Garden Hostel, Vientiane, Laos
Wall in Backpackers Garden Hostel, Vientiane, Laos

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.

Bathroom in Au Bon Hostel, Bangkok, Thailand

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)…