Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia Escapade

Uncertainly exciting is how I can describe our trip to Southeast Asia. This trip is out of the blue. Few months back we booked our flight with no itinerary just pure travel or maybe because of seat sale. 🙂 I don’t have much preparation since I’ve other trips planned before hand. This trip wouldn’t be possible without the help of my generous friends who lend me some pocket money as well as booked hotels and plane tickets for me. I’m so blessed to have you guys. 🙂 I need to cut this off before I get too emotional and will just describe to you how our trip goes. 🙂

Day 1: Phuket

 

Our first stop is Thailand. I don’t know much about their history but I heard somewhere that they’re the only country in Southeast Asia not invaded by westerners. Sounds interesting right? I noticed that their way of life is almost similar to us Filipinos. Their food is delicious. (Disclamer: I’m not that picky when it comes to food. 🙂 )  The people is very accommodating. Although there’s an instance where you meet someone who can’t speak English but gestures can do the trick and wont be a problem at all. Those factors, I think, what make this country appealing to foreigners. Our first Thailand experience is in Patong, Phuket. Thank you again Cebu Pacific for allowing me to reach this place. (Not a paid advertisement 🙂 ) Patong is a beach resort town in Soutwest of Thailand facing Andaman Sea. It has a long stretch of cafes, restaurants and bars. It is famous for its busy night life. You can see various massage parlors, beer bars, go-go bars, night clubs and cabarets along the area. Prior to our flight, I secured my pocket money and have it exchanged from  PHP to USD, which is quite favorable since USD has a higher value. Our flight to Phuket is more than 3 hours. We arrived around 12am. Onboard also we met famous bloggers: @vernenciso and @verniecenciso. They are approachable and gave us tip how to get to our hotel from the airport. We exchanged our pocket money in the airport also. From Phuket International Airport, the cheapest way to go to your hotel is the minibus. Its 180THB and will drop you directly at your hotel. Its owned by a travel agency also who offered us a private transfer from our hotel back to airport at 800THB. You can get a private transfer from them or ask your hotel.

Kim’s Tip: Try the money changers outside the airport, they have good rates with almost 150 Baht difference. Depends on the current exchange rate.

We check in at The Little Moon Residence at 12am just in time for a good nap. Our hotel room is spacious. We are situated at the Balcony. After checkin, we bought our early breakfast at the nearest Family Mart. They offered decent meals at a very cheap price ranging from 25-50THB either rice meals or sandwiches.
After our short rest we headed to Patong Beach with at least 20 minutes walk depends on your pacing. We again bought our meal at Family Mart since no other open establishment yet, and on a tight budget too. 🙂 We don’t stay long at the Beach since their tour and water activities are quite pricey. We also visited Jungceylon Mall and along the way and bought souvenir items at the market. In the market try to haggle. It can help and will save you a lot. 🙂 Its so nice to see a mall in a province and I love the design of Jungceylon Mall as it resembles to an Ayala owned Mall. I ordered a sandwich from Subway here quite a full meal for me as it served as my next food is for dinner. 🙂 We went back to the Little Moon Residence to eat our rice meal dinner from 7/11. And waited until our scheduled pickup to airport.
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Day 2: Bangkok

After we settled everything at the airport, we hail an airport taxi going to the hotel. We paid the toll gate fees (2gates), airport surcharge and the taxi meter. We arrived check in at The Pavilion Place around 1am; bought something to eat at 7/11 again. 🙂 and have a good night rest in preparation for our tour later.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand is one of the top tourist destination in the world known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks. Including the infamous red-light district. Our itinerary for the day is to explore the Grand Palace Complex, buy souvenirs and walk around Bangkok. As starting point we headed to Grand Palace, we rode the BTS Train going Sepan Taksin Station. Thankfully our hotel is near the train station so there’s no need to take a cab. After the train we walk to the Pier Central for a boat ride going to the Grand Palace (Pier 9). There are two types of ride you can choose from, the tourist ride or the express ride. Choose the express ride to pay for a smaller price. As we reached Pier 9, we decided to eat brunch first. The food price on the restaurant we chose is inexpensive. For a rice meal, milk tea plus extra rice, its lower than 100 THB. The food is okay according to me. 🙂 And the milk tea also. After we our finished our delicious meal, we walk to the Grand Palace. We arrived a little late though, there’s a long queue on the place where you need to rent a long pants for those wearing shorts. We just stayed there and took a couple of photos outside and then proceed to Wat Pho instead.
The Wat Pho Temple is huge. They don’t require wearing a long pants. You’ll be amazed by the grandeur of their architecture. You can also find here the reclining Buddha. Such a great place to reflect and think about life. I enjoyed sitting for a moment at Ubosot, thanking God for allowing me to be on this great country. There are other Buddhas we visited. Its such a great experience for me.
Kim’s Tip: Start your itinerary early and have a good breakfast. Prepare for long walks instead of riding a tuktuk or taxi. You can save a bunch. 😃
As we’re walking for almost 3 hours, we dediced to take a Tuktuk ride going to Khaosan Road. Its a place where you can buy souvenirs. It looks like Divisoria. 🙂 Though most of the stores are quite pricey. But there’s one store that offers a good price. So we bought our souvenir items there. The owner is kind also.
After our transaction at the Khaosan road, we headed back to our hotel and freshen up a bit. We’re suppose to visit the Siam Paragon and the other malls near it but then we decided to just go to the mall near us which is the Silom Complex. We have our last dinner at Bangkok at a Japanese restaurant because Paul doesn’t like veggies. The restaurant is called Yayoi. They have a very nice meal set and the way to order is quite cool. With a tablet on each table where you can place your order electronically. The food I ordered is great, it has mix of tempura, fried veggies and meat. I also met a Filipino working here whose a friend of Edward. He shared some of his experiences, how he got the job. He speaks Thai language well. He accompanied us up to our hotel.
We just freshen up a bit when we returned to our hotel. And then proceed to a night market just outside our hotel. Our hotel is located to what they call the Red District. Its like a place where bars with “you know what stuffs” are widespread. They offered it as if renting a Laguna Resort if you know what I mean. 🙂 Anyway, we went to the night market as planned, bargained for the stuffs we want and then back to our hotel to rest for our flight early next day.
I’m deeply saddened by the loss of the great King Bhumibol Adulyadej. My thoughts are with Thai peopleSharing in your sorrow with love and friendship.

Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City

We’re 3 hours early to our flight when we arrived at the airport. We allot more hours to our flight to ensure that we make it on time. Thanks to Thai Airasia’s fast service we’re able to reach our destination earlier than the scheduled arrival. ( Not a paid advertisement again. 🙂 ) We reached Ho Chi Minh City almost noon. We learned from other travel blogs to be careful when transacting to this place as there are cases thefts and other modus. Anyway, we changed a bit of our USD to Vietnam Dong (VND) for travel to the City Center and for lunch. I don’t see any train station on the city but they have integrated bus lines that roams around the city. Of course there are a lot of motorcycles on this city. It seems that its their main mode of transportation. We’re suppose to drop by at Ben Than Market but we missed it so we walk back again. We reached Blue River 2 Hotel safe. And successfully overcome the challenge of crossing the streets. 🙂 The location of our hotel has many hardware shops but its tagged as the Backpackers area. Yes there are many foreigners im the city. The traffic is bearable actually. You don’t see busses piling up just to catch passengers. And they unload/load passengers in the designated bus stops. We’re assisted by Man, the hotel receptionist. He frequently says sorry because they have a repainting job in their lobby when we arrived. He happily assist us on how to navigate the city. He provided us a map describing the location of our hotel and other establishment we can visit. And remind us to be careful of our belongings. Its not widespread he mentioned but he still mentioned it for us to be vigilant. He also give us an option to Take a 2 day tour in Vietnam to visit places. Before finalizing our plans, we decided to take our lunch first along Ben Than Market. We eat some Vietnamese food at Pho 24. It has a restaurant Manila I think. I didn’t order a noodles instead a rice meal since they have a cheaper promo. After that we went outside to find a money changer, we found one. We’re still deciding if we’ll take a tour or not. In the end we followed our itinerary in order to catch our flight in Cambodia and used our hotel booking. We spent most of our times in Ho Chi Minh City in the Market. The Saigon Square is like Greenhills. It offers Class A branded items. Among them are North Face and Kipling. Most of the store owners told us that the North Face bags are legit original. But a Filipino buyer informed us that its Class A. I looked at the item and yes it looks legit. 🙂 The owner of the store Mrs. Hong knows how to speak Filipino. We asked her why, she mentioned because most of her customers are Filipinos. The next is the Ben Than Market it looks like our typical dry markets with wide variety of items. We bought our magnets here. Don’t be shy to haggle for price. It can save you a bunch.
Kim’s Tip: Be careful on what your saying, they know the Filipino language. 🙂 Always mind your belongings to avoid losing items.
After our endless tawaran in the markets, we headed to McDo for our dinner. We’re supposed to eat at Jollibee but there’s no store nearby. We returned to our hotel tired but with a smile on our face because of the items we bought. We also booked our bus ticket in advance going to Siem Reap before going back to our hotel.
Few observations while walking on the streets of Ho Chi Minh, they have many eateries specially noodles. They also have incense on the trees. Not sure why. They don’t drive fast I guess to avoid accident because pedestrians may come from anywhere. You might encounter someone who will ask you for tours just politely say no and they’ll bothering you. Paul has a friend in Vietnam as well he mentioned to him that their crime rate is quite low because most of the police are civilians. So you don’t know who will catch you if do bad things. But petty crimes involving money still exists. One good thing to note as well is that Vietnamese converse in English well.

 Day 4: Vietnam – Cambodia Border

We wake up early the next day to eat our free breakfast at Blue River 2 Hotel. Then headed to Panda Travel Tours to catch the bus going to Cambodia. Our assembly time is 8am. Since the bus company (Phuong Heng) is gathering all tourist who booked a ticket. The bus left around 9am. Along the way, the bus conductor collected our passports to be used later at the border. We reached the Vietnam border (Moc Bai) around noon. We’re directed to a warehouse like building. Its the part where you’ll be confused. Its not that chaotic actually since bus companies are the ones who made the arrangement on our proper exit to Vietnam and entry to Cambodia. After the stamping of passport, the tourist have to present their stamped passport for verification. Expect that your passport will be slightly folded since they process each passport by batch. We’re 30 tourist all in all. After that we went to Cambodia border (Bavet), our passports collected again by the bus conductor. This time, with stamp of proper entry to Cambodia. We’re asked to enter a building. Maybe to took a photo of us. We didn’t do anything but just walk inside then go out on the other side of the building. After that confusing part, thankfully our passports are still intact 🙂 , the bus driver brought us to a restaurant where we ate our lunch, I paid using USD. After that the bus conductor returned our passports and then proceed the travel to Phnom Penh. We reached the Phuong Heng office in Cambodia around 4PM for bus transfer going to Siem Reap. We transferred to another bus (Capitol Tour Company) to travel to Siem Reap. It took us another 7 hours to reach Siem Reap. The terminal of our bus company is quite secluded so we took a tuktuk ride going to our hotel. We officially check in at our hotel around 1am. We’re greeted by the friendly staff of Mantra Angkor Boutique. He converse in English well. He briefed us about the hotel’s amenities and then gave us a tip how we can do our Angkor Tour. We can’t decide yet as we’re so tired after long hours of land travel. We decided to sleep instead of taking dinner.
Kim’s Tip: If you’re travelling from Vietnam, make sure you convert all your VND to USD. USD is accepted in Cambodia, almost anywhere I guess. We used it as our main currency to avoid the hustle of changing back to USD.

 Day 5: Angkor Wat Tour

We wake up early the next day for our Day Trip to Angkor Wat. Friendly staffs of Mantra Hotel greeted us. We’ve again free breakfast which is included in our hotel booking. We also met Sir Thy our tuktuk rider for our Angkor Wat Tour. The hotel’s breakfast offers are choice of bread with cheese omelette, bread with ham and cheese and noodles with egg. Fo the drinks they have coffee and tea. I ordered the ham with cheese for now. After our breakfast, we discussed with our tuktuk driver about thr tour, there are two routes available, the Grand Circuit and the Small Circuit. Both circuits covers the Angkor Wat. We decided to take the Small circuit. He then take us to Angkor Ticket Booth, where we bought our 1 Day Ticket Pass to Angkor Wat. After securing our tickets, Sir Thy brought us to Angkor Wat.
I’m so amazed the moment I set my eyes on it. Who would have thought that a temple built in the early 12th century still standing today. Its the largest religious monument in the world measuring 162.6 hectares. The site consists of temples, hydraulic structures (basins, dykes, canals, reservoirs) as well as communication routes. It sshow spectacular Khmer architecture. Upon reaching the temple, we’re greeted ng a tour guide which charged 15USD. We opt to roam around on our own since its quite pricey. The first ite we visited is the Angkor Wat. Its a large complex. Its know for its 3 domes. Proudly standing up to this day. I don’t know much of the history behind the this temple but seeing how massive it is left me in awe. There’s a center structure where you can go up but a lot of people alreasy lined up so we decided to skip it. We walk on different passageways for almost 2 hours but there’s a lot of room to explore. We decided to go to the next temple which is the Bayon.
As we’re so exhausted we decided to eat first our lunch near Bayon Temple. After that we started walking again. Bayon is known for many smiling stone faces on its towers. It has the same design details like the Angkor Wat. I honestly can’t remember the names of the temples that we visited because we don’t have any tour guide at all. You might be tired of walking all day but it’s all worth it. 🙂
Kim’s Tip: If you’ve spare cash, its a must try to hire a tour guide even if for Angkor Wat only. They will share some historical information about the Angkor Wat. Also, try to go early around 4am, to witness the sunrise. 😃
We went back to our hotel after 6 hours of walking around the Angkor Complex. We rested for bit in order to catch our dinner and to visit the famous Pub Street. We dine at Cambodia BBQ which offers cheap foods. After which we went on two bars located on Pub Street, Cheers Bar which looks like Padi’s Point and Temple Club one with a lot of foreigners dancing. Of course I tasted their very own Cambodian Beer, the Angkor which tastes good. We went home a little late just in time again for our free breakfast and early checkin to our hotel.

Special Mentions:

I know this is quite a long post but I really wanted to mention the people who helped me to make this trip possible.
To Edward and Paul, Thank you so much for taking your time making this trip possible. From booking airline tickets as well as our hotel accommodation. I really enjoyed being with you guys during our whole trip. And I’m thankful because you’re budgetarian too. 🙂 See you on our next trip.
To Ate Rina, Thank you for lending some of your spare cash which I used as pocket money for this trip. Because of you I was able to survive 6 days out of the country. I promise to pay you back soon.:-D  I really appreciate the encouragement the moment you handed me the money. You said, enjoy the moment. And yes, I REALLY DO ENJOYED my whole trip.
Of course I also like to mention the hotels that served as our home for the last 6 days.
To The Little Moon Residence (Patong Beach, Phuket Thailand), Thank you to the friendly staffs of the hotel. Specially when you allowed us to stay while we wait for our next flight. Really appreciate the gesture. Also thank you for the free water. 🙂
To Blue River 2 Hotel (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) specially to Man, who’s the receptionist. He reminded us to be cautious at all times while roaming around the city. We took note of it and we enjoyed our stay. Special mention to your friendly staffs as well. And yeah, it’s fine with us even
To Mantra Angkor Boutique (Siem Reap, Cambodia), Thank you to the friendly staffs of Mantra Angkor Boutique. I enjoyed our stay at your hotel. Thank for attending to our needs. From extra water to an extra tissue paper because it’s scented. Special mention also to their Tuktuk driver who brought us to Angkot, Sir Thy. Thanks you for your kindness.
To all those reading this blog post, you might consider booking your next accommodation to the above mentioned hotel in Agoda. I hope this can help you plan your next trip to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Enjoy. 🙂
Possible Expenses:
Philippines:
Travel Tax: Php 1620 (as of November 2016)
Thailand:
Airport Taxi: Surcharge (50 Baht) + Toll Fees (ranging from 50-100Baht (Depends on your hotel location)) + Taxi Meter
Grand Palace Entrance: 500 Baht
Wat Pho Entrance: 100 Baht
Souvenirs Magnets/Keychain: 40-100 Baht (depends on the item)
Tuktuk Ride: More than 100 Baht depends on traffic and distance
Bottled Water 1L: 13-14Baht
BTS Train Ticket: 28Baht (From Sala Daeng to Sepan Taksin) or more depends on the location
Chao Phraya Express Boat to Grand Palace Pier 9: 14 Baht
Chao Phraya Tourist Boat to Grand Palace: 40Baht
Vietnam:
Green Bus 109 to Central District: 20000VND
Bags in Saigon Square: More than 100000VND depends on design
Magnets: More than 20000VND depends on design
Bottled Water 1L: 10000VND
Cambodia:
Angkor Wat 1 Day Pass: 20USD
Tuktuk Tour for Small Circuit: 15USD
Souvenirs:
T-Shirts: Able to get a shirt for 2USD/pc
Magnets: 4USD (4pcs)
Figurines: 10USD (2pcs) with free small item
Tuktuk Ride from Hotel to Pub Street (less than 5KM): 2USD
Tuktuk Ride from Hotel to Airport (less than 8KM): 4USD
Bottled Water 1.5L: .75cents USD
Airfare
Cebu Pacific (Manila-Phuket; Siem Reap-Manila) – 14529/3pax
Thai Airasia (Phuket-Bangkok) – 3600/3pax
Thai Airasia (Bangkok-Ho Chi Minh City) – 5550/3pax
Note: All flights are all hand carry (7Kilos allowance)
Accommodation
Hotel Accommodations Combined (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia) – 7830/3pax
Note: All hotel bookings are reserved thru Agoda.
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