Find out how I went on a backpacking budget trip across Southeast Asia for 2 months with just 50,000Php, or just $1,000!
✈ 8 Countries – 60 Days – 18 Destinations – 1 Adventure ✈
- Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
- Legian/ Kuta Area, Bali, Indonesia
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Phuket, Thailand
- Yangon, Myanmar
- Bagan, Myanmar
- Vang Vieng, Laos
- Luang Prabang, Laos
- Vientiane, Laos
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
- Danang, Vietnam
- Hoi An, Vietnam
- Cua Dai Beach, Vietnam
- Hanoi, Vietnam
Travel Dates: 09.13.2016 – 11.13.2016
Hello dearest readers,
So it had been two awesome months across Southeast Asia – that’s a total of around 16 flights, 20+ hostels, 18 destinations, 8 countries, and a thousand miles and countless footsteps in just 60 days! Do you think you could do it?
Don’t worry, I’m here to share with you my itinerary along with many budget advice and travel tips that you could use should you decide to follow my journey in the future!
Find Cheap Airline Tickets..
Any budget trip begins with booking cheap fares from budget airlines. Thanks to the many promo fares nowadays, more and more of us could now travel for less.
For this 2-month trip, I’ve booked my tickets a year earlier, when I chanced upon Air Asia’s zero fare seat sale last September 2015. Other tickets like the Cebu Pacific’s Manila – KL ticket, and Jet Star’s short notice cheap buy also followed thereafter.
Here’s a table of all the plane fares for this trip: Php 15,700+ for a total of 16 flights.
Book Budget Hostels..
After securing your plane tickets, the next thing you’ll be doing is booking your accommodations. I booked mine at Agoda.com.
When booking in advance, most hotels listed in their site offer a FREE CANCELLATION, PAY LATER option. Better to book this ones because you could still cancel it for free if ever you change your mind.
Also, if you wanted to find the cheapest ones, you could sort the search results according to price from lowest to highest.
Here’s a summary of all my accommodation bookings:
Note: The ones highlighted in Orange are the ones I recommend base on my experience with them. Do remember that I am in no way affiliated or paid to recommend them. Reasons for my recommendations include the hostel’s location, comfort, cleanliness of the place, inclusions like breakfast, and the over all value for money of the hostel.
*The hotel in Singapore is in red because during my trip to Singapore, I stayed for free at a friend’s place therefore I ended up not booking the place listed above.
Total price I paid for my accomodations Php 14,700 for almost 60 nights, with an average cost of 200-300Php per day.
Two-Month Southeast Asia Trip Itinerary
Now on to my trip itinerary for this #60DaysinSoutheast Asia journey.
I’ll try to keep this post as short but detailed as possible. I’ll only be including here the simplified itinerary. I’ll save the lengthy blog posts for each destination that I’ll be posting weekly in the weeks to come.
1st stop: Ubud, Bali
Ubud is often described as the heart of Bali. It is known worldwide as a centre for Balinese culture, arts and crafts. In and around are magnificent ancient temples, great shopping, multi-leveled rice fields, waterfalls, a majestic active volcano, the largest freshwater lake in Bali, the Sacred Monkey Forest, entertaining dance shows, organic small coffee farms and much more.
Where to stay in Ubud, Bali: Dewa Hostel – 350Php/night – with breakfast
- Sept 15, 2016 – Arrival in Ubud
- Sept. 16, 2016 – Exploring Ubud, Bali via a rented motorcycle (went around in Tegalalang Rice Terraces – Bali Coffee Luwak Plantation – Goa Gajah Temple – Ubud Monkey Forest)
- Sept. 17, 2016 – Walking Tour around Ubud
- Sept. 18, 2016 – Sunday morning walk in Campuhan Ridgewalk, and
Ubud Palace – traveled from Ubud to Legian (still in Bali) 1 hour travel time
2nd stop: Legian/ Kuta Area, Bali
Kuta and Legian is the centre of mass tourism in Bali. Kuta Beach is considered Bali’s most famous beach resort destination – a five-mile stretch of clean sand that is a magnet for surfers and sunbathers.
Where to Stay in Legian? CX Hostel, Legian, Bali – 350Php/night – with FREE UNLIMITED Coffee and Tea PLUS FREE WASHING MACHINE to use!
- Sep. 18, 2016 – Arrival. Check in at Hostel
- Sep. 19, 2016 – Explored North Kuta by motorbike (to cover: * Taman Ayun Temple, * Alas Kedatun Monkey Forest, * Canggu beaches (popular beach for surfers), * Tanah Lot for Sunset).
- Sep. 20, 2016 – Around South Kuta (* Jimbaran Beach, *Nusa Dua, *Dreamland Beach, and * Uluwatu Temple (for Sunset) – Bali’s must see temple during sunset with views of the boulder rocks below and the waves crashing on them).
- Sep. 21, 2016 – Roamed around the beach area in Legian/Kuta – afternoon flight to Bangkok.
Total Expenses in Bali:
3rd stop: Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is the travel hot spot in Southeast Asia. You’ll find the ‘City of Angels’ to be truly a magical place – offbeat markets, upmarket malls, a riverside full of surprises, a vibrant nightlife scene, many fabulous sights and attractions, and much, much more. More than anywhere else in the country, Bangkok expresses Thailand’s uncanny ability to blend the old with the new. You’ll marvel at past glories, delight in present opportunities and love every minute of it.
Where to Stay in Bangkok, Thailand? Glur Bharani Hostel – 250Php/night – with free breakfast (their breakfast’s so good and sheets’ in their beds’ so comfy!)
- Sep. 21, 2016 – Arrival. Check in at Hostel.
- Sep. 22, 2016 – Strolling around Bangkok
- Sep. 23, 2016 – River cruising in Chaophraya River – visited Nonthaburi town and Chinatown
- Sep. 24, 2016 – Visited The Grand Palace, and Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Sep. 25, 2016 – Flight to Phuket
**Notes: Since this is my second time to visit Bangkok, this itinerary is a little bit ‘free and light’.. For other where-to-go travel suggestions (like I did visit during my first time in Bangkok last 2015), you could also visit:
- Khao San Road – Bangkok’s backpackers’ area, biggest food and shopping street
- Historic City of Ayutthaya – Thailand’s ancient capital, also a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Reclining Buddha
- Wat Pho
Total Expenses in Bangkok:
4th stop: Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, a mountainous province located in the southern tip of the Andaman Sea. It is also surrounded by many spectacular and popular islands such as Koh Phi Phi and the Similans. With its famous sandy beaches, natural environment, abundant attractions and daily connections to most major Asian airports, it is ideally situated for a short break or a relaxing vacation. You will find the island has so much to offer, that you can never really get bored on Phuket.
Where I stayed in Phuket? Patong Studio Apartments – 171 Php/night – personally, I don’t like the place that much.. so it’s not something I’ll recommend. hehe.
- Sept 25, 2016 – Flight from Bangkok. Arrival in Phuket. Check in at hostel. Rent a motorbike. Went to Promthep Cape in the afternoon for sunset.
- Sept 26, 2016 – James Bond Island Tour (includes visit to Monkey cave, and James Bond Island, Sea Canoeing in Talus Island, with buffet lunch at Pan Yee Muslim Village.)
- Sept 27, 2016 – Rent a motorbike to explore Phuket’s beaches and Old Town Phuket
- Sept 28, 2016 – Flight back to Bangkok – connecting to Bangkok to Yangon, Myanmar
Total Expenses in Phuket:
5th stop: Yangon, Myanmar
Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city, former capital, and the economic center of the country. Once known as Rangoon, it has been home to a fascinating melting pot of ethnicities and religions, and is the cultural and commercial heart of Myanmar. The city is one of the safest in Asia, and in it you will find a vibrant and overwhelmingly friendly city that is quite different to any other.
Where I stayed in Yangon, Myanmar? 20th Street Hostel – 345 Php/night – w/ free breakfast. Well located in center of Yangon.
- Sept 28, 2016 – Arrival in Yangon. Check in at hostel.
- Sept 29, 2016 – Walking tour around Yangon (visited Yangon’s Big 3 Buddha Relic Pagodas: (1) Sule Pagoda, (2) Botahtaung Pagoda, and (3) Shwedagon Pagoda (biggest and most beautiful of them all!); as well as the Mahabandoola Park and Yangon City Hall.
- Sept 30, 2016 – Another walking tour – visited the Reclining Buddha, Sitting Buddha, and had sunset at Lake Kendaw Gyi where you’ll find hundreds of flying crows in the skies too!
- Oct. 1, 2016 -Bought some souvenirs from Bogyoke Market before taking the bus to Bagan- JJ Bus express to Bagan (8pm to 5am travel time) for 20USD.
6th stop: Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan, fondly known as the ‘sea of temples’, is the capital of the first Myanmar Empire and is one of the richest archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. As the heart of Burma during ancient times, Bagan serves as home to temples and buildings built from the 11th century to the 13th century. There are more than 2,000 pagodas and temples to be found, most of which were built by the ancient kings and leaders of Burma. It is a pilgrimage centre and contains ancient Buddhist shrines that have been restored and redecorated and are in current use.
Where I stayed in Bagan, Myanmar? Shwe Na Di Guesthouse – 400 Php/night – w/ free buffet breakfast (located well in Old Bagan, and boy, their buffet breakfast will really keep you full the entire day! Once you consume all that’s in your plate and table, they’ll keep on refilling it until you say ‘no more!’ haha!)
Note: Everyone entering Bagan are REQUIRED to pay 25,000 Kyat (equivalent to 1,000Php) for Archaeological Entrance Fee. This covers all entrance fees to all temples also.
- Oct. 2, 2016 – arrived earlier in Bagan than expected, 5am. Since we can’t check in to the Hostel that early, we just decided to visit one of the temples to witness the sunrise before heading to the hostel. Sunrise. Check in.
- Oct. 3, 2016 -VISITING PHAYAS (PAGODAS) (Got up early to witness sunrise in SHWE SAN DAW. Rented a motorbike. Back to hotel for breakfast. Continued with temple hopping to cover (1) Shwezigon Pagoda, (2) Wet-Kyi Inn Village at Gubyaukgyi, (3) Htilominlo, (4) Ananda, — Lunch — continue at (5) ancient Tharabar Gate and check out (6) Thatbyinnyu, (7) Shwegugyi, (8) Gawdawpalin, (9) Archaeological Museum, (10) Sulamani, (11) Dhammayangyi Pagoda, window shop for lacquerwares at Myinkaba Village; visited New Bagan; and end the day with a sunset at Shwesandaw Pagoda.
- Oct. 4, 2016 – Rest day. Work (online freelancer duties). Explored MANISITHU MARKET.
- Oct. 5, 2016 – more TEMPLE HOPPING. Rent motorbike again. SUNRISE at BULETHI PAGODA. [ANOTHER OPTION FOR SUNRISE: LOWKA OU SHAUNG, nearby popular SHWE SAN DAW]. SUNSET at GUNI PHAYA (one of the less crowded secret spots of catching sunset in Bagan, located near Dhamma-yangyi.
- Oct. 6, 2016 – FLIGHT YANGON TO BANGKOK; BANGKOK TO SINGAPORE
Total Expenses in Myanmar (Yangon & Bagan):
7th stop: Singapore
Singapore has been Southeast Asia’s most modern and dynamic city. The world’s aspiring ‘City in a Garden’ is an unexpected wonderland. The city blends Malay, Chinese, Arab, Indian and English cultures and religions. Many slices of Singapore’s multi-cultural, colonial and wartime past are preserved in and around the city. You can visit monuments, museums and memorials, or for a real trip through time, take a walk along a heritage trail.
Where to stay in Singapore? Coziee Lodge – 600 Php/night – w/ free breakfast
Note: I was supposed to stay in this. Luckily, I have a high school friend in Singapore to whom I stayed for FREE. Special mention to Queeny, and her roomies – Glaiza and Analie, thanks much!
- Oct. 6, 2016 – arrival. I was met by my friend.
- Oct. 7, 2016 – Walking tour in SG at Night: Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Park, Merlion. Watched some light shows at Gardens by the Bay. Starbucks mugs and cards hoarding haha!
- Oct. 8, 2016 – Universal Studios Singapore (ticket at 55SGD via Klook.com (Favorite rides: The Mummy and the Transformers). At night: Orchard road.
- Oct. 9, 2016 – Attended Sunday mass.
- Oct. 10, 2016 – Walking tour around Singapore’s Colonial District & Central Business District to cover: 💡Clark Quay, 💡Raffles Place , 💡The Singapore River , 💡Cavenaugh Bridge > Fullerton Hotel, 💡Asian Civilizations Museum, 💡Singapore Art Museum, 💡Victoria Theatre, 💡City Hall, 💡St. Andrew’s Cathedral, 💡War Memorial Park, 💡Suntec Fountain of Wealth (said to be World’s largest fountain), 💡Merlion Park, and ending in💡Marina Bay. Took me almost half day of walking — *whew!
- Oct. 11, 2016 – Chinatown & Little India walking tour to cover: 💡Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, 💡Sri Mariamman Temple, 💡Chinatown Heritage Centre, 💡Bukit Timah Road in Little India, 💡Serangoon Rd, 💡Tekka Mall , 💡Little India Arcade, 💡Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, 💡Serangon Plaza, and ending in 💡Mustafa Centre.
- Oct. 12, 2016 – Bus from Singapore to KL – 8hrs.. 8am to 4pm (10sgd ticket booked at Redbus.SG). Stayed at YOUNIQ HOTEL in Kuala Lumpur for the night.
- Oct. 13, 2016 – FLIGHT KL TO VIENTIANE, LAOS
Total Expenses in Singapore:
8th stop: Vang Vieng, Laos
Conveniently located on the road between Luang Prabang and Vientiane, Vang Vieng is outstandingly beautiful. It is a place of a dreamlike landscape of bizarre limestone mountain peaks and scenic cliffs with the Nam Song River bisecting the town – the perfect mountainside chill-out spot. Mist-shrouded limestone karsts popping out of endless paddy fields, timeless caves, ancient ruins, mulberry groves and organic mulberry tea, adrenaline-charged river adventures, lazy bike rides are the trademark of Vang Vieng.
Where to stay in Vang Vieng, Laos? Pan’s Place Guesthouse – 220 Php/night
- Oct. 13, 2016 – Arrival in Vientiane airport. Traveled to Vang Vieng (3-4hrs)
- Oct. 14, 2016 – Rented a motorbike. Went around Vang Vieng to cover: Tham Phu Kham Cave (The Golden Cave) and The Blue Lagoon, Tham Chang cave, Vang Vieng Organic Farm, and Tham Nam Water Cave (popular for water tubing).
- Oct. 15, 2016 – Travel to Luang Prabang. Left Vang Vieng around 2pm (6-8hrs travel time)
9th stop: Luang Prabang, Laos
The ancient town of Luang Prabang in the centre of northern Laos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment. It can be considered the heart of Laotian culture, a tiny town encircled by mountains and is 700 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers.
Some of the most visited sites in Luang Prabang Town are Wat Xieng Thong, Mount Phou Si, Wat Visounnarath, (the former Royal Palace) and Wat Manolom. Just outside of the main town are the beautiful Tad Kwang Si Waterfall, Tham Ting Caves, Ban Xang Hai Village and the tiered waterfall Tad Sae.
Where to stay in Vang Vieng, Laos? Phanhthasone Guesthouse – 240 Php/night – with free coffee and tea. Well located in center of Luang Prabang downtown, near the night market road.
- Oct. 15, 2016 – Arrived around 8pm. Strolled at Night Market. Vegetable buffet for 10,000 Kip.
- Oct. 16, 2016 – Walking around Luang Prabang. Visited and had breakfast at the Morning Market. Afternoon stroll: Wat Mai Temple, the Royal Palace & National Museum, Nam Kham River, Tamarind, La Banneton for what they say is the best croissants in LP, to Mekong River.
- ** Surprised to find out that during that night, we happen to be in Luang Prabang, Laos just in time for their Bun Awk Phansa and Lhai Heua Fai (aka Festival of the Boats of Light) festival which marks the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent on the day of the full moon. And did I say that the full moon’s just amazing here tonight? 🌙 as the entire city, houses and temples were brightly lit with candles and lanterns everywhere. 🌇 These rituals are said to pay respect to the Buddha for blessings and to float bad luck of the past year away enabling the good luck to flow in. This colourful ritual has been carried on by the Lao people for thousands of year.
- Oct. 17, 2016 – Rise early – really early – to watch TAK BAT, the morning alms ceremony of the Laos people. Then back to hostel. Then prepare for a day tour in KUANG SI WATER FALLS.
Tak Bat Tradition – Alms Giving Ceremony
The Tak Bat – or the morning giving of alms to Buddhist Lao monks’ – is one of the most vivid images of Laos – from 5:30 in the morning onward, silent lines of saffron-clad Lao monks walk down the streets of Luang Prabang to collect alms.
The monks leave the monasteries early in the morning, then they walk single file, oldest first, carrying their alms bowls in front of them. Laypeople will then wait for them, sometimes kneeling, and place food, flowers or incense sticks in the bowls.
The ritual is done in silence; the almsgivers do not speak, nor do the monks. The monks walk in meditation, and the almsgivers reciprocate with respect by not disturbing the monk’s meditative peace.
For hundreds of years, the ritual has cemented the symbiotic relationship between the monks and the almsgivers who maintain them – by feeding the monks and helping the laypeople make merit, tak bat supports both the monks (who need the food) and the almsgivers (who need spiritual redemption).
The practice of offering food to monks is most visible in Theravada Buddhist countries like Laos and Thailand, where the practice sustains large monastic communities. Amazing right?
- Oct. 18, 2016 – A little bit of strolling at Wat Xieng Thong and Phousi Hill, before heading to the bus terminal to travel for Vientiane, Laos. (travel time: 6:30pm-4am)
10th stop: Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane, the capital, economic centre, and largest city of Laos, is situated on the Mekong River near the Nong Khai border to Thailand. Learn the word “Sabaidii,” (sa bye dee – hello, welcome) and you’ve unlocked the door to the land of 1,000 smiles. Vientiane is also the home to the most significant national monument in Laos, That Luang (Great Stupa), which is the symbol of Lao and an icon of Buddhism in Laos. It is surprisingly multicultural and has excellent French, Indian, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants that serve both Lao and specialty dishes. You can quench your thirst with a refreshing Beer Lao or fresh fruit shake from one of the many small restaurants found along almost every street in town.
Where to stay in Vientiane, Laos? Niny Backpackers – 216 Php/night – with breakfast.
- Oct. 19, 2016 – Early morning arrival. Sleep. After lunch, rented a bicycle to go around the city. Went to: Lao National Museum, That Dam (Black Stupa), Wat Sisaket (oldest existing temple in Vientiane), Patuxay Park (Victory gate during 1960s war), and Pha That Luang (most iconic Lao Symbol and the country’s most important monument). Ended with a sunset at the Mekong Shore Boardwalk , a visit to the Night Market, and dinner at the Moon the Night bar.
Oct. 20, 2016 – Flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Total Expenses in LAOS [Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, & Vientiane]:
11th Stop: : Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia, boasting gleaming skyscrapers, colonial architecture, charming locals, and a myriad of natural attractions. It has many interesting attractions like Merdeka Square, Chinatown, Petronas Twin Towers, Petaling Street flea market, Central Market and Batu Caves and much more. It is also a shoppers paradise with frequent sales events throughout the year and there are are numerous huge shopping malls where you can literally shop til you drop.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia? Suzie’s Guesthouse KL – 300 Php/night – with breakfast. Well located in heart of Chinatown in KL, walking distance to major tourist attractions.
- Oct. 20, 2016 – Vientiane Flight to KL. Arrived at 1:25pm. Dinner at Jalan Alor Food Night Market.
- Oct. 21, 2016 – Went around Bukit Bintang – Berjaya Times Square – by evening – around KLCC Petronas Twin Towers (took GO KL Bus – FREE BUS)
- Oct. 22, 2016 – Walking tour in Chinatown and Little India. Covered the following: 💡Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, 💡Temple Guan Di, 💡Central Market, 💡DATARAN MERDEKA, 💡Masjid Jamek, 💡National Textile Museum, 💡Music Museum, 💡KL City Gallery, 💡Sultan Abdul Samad Bldg., 💡Royal Selangor Club, 💡St. Mary’s Cathedral, to Central Market Chinatown.
- Oct. 23, 2016 – BATU CAVES + LAKE GARDENS, includes: Batu Caves, National Mosque, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Bird Park, Butterfly Park, and back to Central Market again
- Oct. 24, 2016 – KL to Siem Reap Flight
Total Expenses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
**Note: a big chunk of my expenses here in KL, went to the KLIA Express train that costs 1,200php (600php one way), traversing from the airport to KL’s town center.. so expensive! Cost even more than my airfare! :[
12th stop: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap, which literally means the “Defeat of Siam”, is the gateway to the millennium-old ruins of the Khmer Empire of Angkor. The Angkor Temple Complex is a designated UN Heritage Site and consists of hundreds of structures from the 9th to the 14th century that tell the story of the rise and fall of the Khmer empire. Yes, you come here to see the temples but there is plenty to do in and around the city, too: boat trips on the Tonle Sap, stilted villages and the bird sanctuary, silk farms, road tours through rural countryside and beyond. Don’t miss the heart of Siem Reap’s tourist district known as Old Market, home to a large concentration of restaurants and shops.
Where to stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia? Oasis Capsules Hostel – 200 Php/night. I love the walls decorated with travel quotes! Perfectly located in the heart of Siem Reap, just a step to the Night Market and Pub Street area. Another favorite is their Sky Lounge, located on the topmost floor of the hostel, it offers a good place to chill and work with a good view. Fast and reliable wifi too!
- Oct. 24, 2016 – Check in at Oasis Capsules. Dinner at Night Market Street Pub.
- Oct. 25, 2016 – Nothing much. work. Dinner and night eats at Pub Square.
- Oct. 26, 2016 – Angkor Wat Grand circuit tour + Bantay Srei. Dinner at Happy Pizza
- Oct. 27, 2016 – Travel to Phnom Penh.
13th stop: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh – set at the confluence of three great rivers: the mighty Mekong, the Bassac and the great Tonle Sap – is Cambodia’s commercial, economic and political hub. The city offers extensive cultural and historical attractions: the ornate Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, Wat Phnom, and the riverfront dining and shopping district. Khmer Rouge historical sites include the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Memorial outside the city.
Where to stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia? Aura Thematic Hostel – 250 Php/night.
- Oct. 27, 2016 – Check in at Aura Thematic.
- Oct. 28, 2016 – Afternoon stroll at The Royal Palace and Park, then sunset by the Riverfront walkway. Dinner at Handmade noodle house.
- Oct. 29, 2016 – Went to Russian Market, Toul Sleng Museum, and to the Independence monument before heading to bus terminal for land trip going to Ho Chi Minh.
Total Expenses in Cambodia [Siem Reap & Phnom Penh]:
14th stop: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City (also still called Saigon) is the most populated city in Vietnam. It is famous for its pho (traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) and pork rolls. HCMC is divided into 24 districts, though tourists rarely travel beyond districts One, Three and Five. The backpacker street of Pham Ngu Lao, with its boisterous street bars, cheap eats and good time vibe, is one of the best places to stay.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam? Phan Anh Backpackers Hostel – 260 Php/night – with breakfast. Well located in backpackers’ area in Pham Ngu Lao.
- Oct. 29, 2016 – Arrival; check in at Phan Anh Backpackers Hostel in Pham Ngu Lao
- Oct. 30, 2016 – Attended Sunday Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. Dinner at Royale Saigon
- Oct. 31, 2016 – Walking tour around Saigon, went to Cholon (Chinatown) to see Pagodas, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Post Office (designed of the same person who built Eiffel Tower), then on to Saigon square to shop for some North Face jackets and bags).
- Nov. 1, 2016 – Mekong Delta Tour by Asianalink. A tour around Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The trip includes a visit to Mekong delta – and to the towns of My Tho (where you’ll see serene Buddhist pagodas), and Ben Tre (a town which is famous for coconuts).
- Nov. 2, 2016 – Jet Star flight – Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang, Vietnam.
**Fun fact: Due to the intense humidity, iced coffee, known locally as “ca phe sua da”, is generally favoured, and is brewed with a dark roast over a single metal french drip filter called “ca phe phin”. Served with sweet condensed milk poured over ice, it’s the perfect kick-start.
*Other sites to visit (done during my first visit in Ho Chi Minh way back 2015):
- Cu Chi Tunnels – you don’t know the true meaning of claustrophobia until you’ve visited this vast network of interconnecting underground tunnels.
- The War Remnants Museum documents the brutality of the Vietnam War.
- The Gothic-styled Saigon Central Post Office began its life in 1886 and remains one of the country’s most celebrated structures, designed and built by French architect Gustave Eiffel (yes, the fairly famous Eiffel Tower!).
- The neo-Romanesque Notre-Dame cathedral, built between 1863 and 1880 by French colonists, was built on the highest land of Ho Chi Minh city with all materials imported from France.
- Visit the Reunification Palace for its significance and archival of Vietnam War.
- Visit Ben Thanh Market — there are more than 3000 stalls — where you will find practically every staple commodity imaginable but prices can often be inflated for tourists.
- Saigon Square offers one of Ho Chi Minh’s classiest, cheapest market experiences. It is one of the biggest indoor markets in Saigon where you can find a wide range of products for very affordable prices.
- Mekong Delta, dubbed the “rice bowl” of Vietnam, is a 39,000-square-kilometre labyrinth of waterways.
Total Expenses in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam:
15th Stop: Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang is the fourth largest city in Vietnam. It is one of Vietnam’s major ports, a city rich in history. It was where the French first landed in the 19th Century in their quest to control the area and where US forces established a large air base during the Vietnam war. It is also the perfect stop point for most travellers as it is very near to the well-known My Khe Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hoi An and My Son. Da Nang, in a way, is a place both so mediocre but special if you want to dig deeper than the surface.
Where to stay in Da Nang, Vietnam? Evelyn Hotel – 270 Php/night.
- Nov 2, 2016 – arrival in Da Nang. Sight seeing to see Vietnam’s Han River Bridge and Dragon Bridge at night (Dragon Bridge is Vietnam’s version of their Merlion like in Singapore). Went to Highlands coffee shop afterwards to work.
- Nov 3, 2016 – Lunch at Da Nang Jollibee in Vin-com Mall, passed by the Dragon Bridge. Travel by local bus to HOI AN.
16th stop: Hoi An, Vietnam
(Granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999)
Hoi An Ancient town is located in Viet Nam’s central Quang Nam Province. It is home to many temples, pagodas and the ancient homes that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. It is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Notable are the city’s many cheap tailors, who will whip up made-to-measure clothes in no time, and a culinary scene that ranks among the best in Asia. The Hoi An Museum of History and Culture is definitely worth a visit.
Where to stay in Hoi An, Vietnam? Hoi Pho Hotel – 450 Php/night – with breakfast. Located very near Hoi An’s Old Town. Hostels around this area are really quite expensive, and this is one of the cheapest already considering the prices of other hostels.
- Nov. 3, 2016 – check in at Hotel Hoi Pho. Dinner at Banh Mi Phroung (BEST BANH MI in Vietnam! Even Anthony Bourdaine agrees!)
- Nov. 4, 2016 – went around the ancient town of Hoi An (a World Unesco Heritage site)
- Nov. 5, 2016 – check out. Traveled to Cua Dai Beach.
17th stop: Cua Dai Beach, Vietnam
Cua Dai beach which was a long time favourite and the location of many resorts was largely washed away in 2014 due to nasty storms and climate change.
An Bang is now the best beach option for visitors in Hoi An.
Where to stay in Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An, Vietnam? Sea Sun Homestay – 300 Php/night – with breakfast. I was surprised of this room – for its price, it got a bath tub with it in its private bath! Just a stone throw away from the beach!
- Nov. 5, 2016 – arrival. Check in at Sea Sun Homestay.
- Nov. 6, 2016 – Lazy day Sunday – Beach time at AN BANG BEACH
- Nov. 7, 2016 – Flight from Da Nang to Hanoi
Total Expenses in Da Nang – Hoi An – Cua Dai, Vietnam:
18th Stop: Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi is the vibrant capital of Vietnam and the country’s second largest city. A city between the rivers, built from lowland, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and it is sometimes called “city of lakes”. Hanoi has rich food traditions and many of Vietnam’s most famous dishes, such as phở, chả cá, bánh cuốn and cốm are thought to come from Hanoi.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a charming, character-rich area that captures Hanoian life at its most authentic. It is wedged between the northern shore of Hoan Kiem Lake, the walls of the ancient Citadel, and the levies that protect the city from the Red River. Classic old buildings, market stalls, traditional businesses and busy restaurants line the seemingly endless interconnected streets that make up this unique part of the city.
Where to stay in Hanoi, Vietnam? Luxury Backpackers Hostel – 300 Php/night – with breakfast. For just 300php per night you get to stay in their dorm room of 6pax, and so far I could say it’s one of the best dorm beds I ever had! I just like how they make everything so organized, lots of storage places in your bed, and the showers and toilets are all so clean too! Location is great too as it’s almost walking distance to all must visit places here in Old Quarter in Hanoi. Plus they have this balcony for each room where you could sit and enjoy the top view, or work with your laptop while people watching from below.
- Nov. 7, 2016 – arrived in Hanoi. Check in at Hostel. Walked around Old Quarter Hanoi, ending in Hoan Kiem Lake at night to have dinner. Went to see some shops selling North Face items also.
- Nov. 8, 2016 – nothing much today. need to work. chill and work at Highlands coffee shop. Bought some North Face jackets and a Goretex pants.
- Nov. 9, 2016 – 2days/1night Halong Bay Cruise via Fantasea Cruise. To end this trip, I’ve splurged a bit.. For almost a hundred $$, I’ve booked myself a 2days/1night Halong Bay cruise aboard the Fantasea Cruise Ship — the cruise vessel featured 14 deluxe cabins furnished in classic Vietnamese style… Itinerary includes a visit to Sung Sot Cave/Amazing Cave/Surprise Cave, then on to Luon Cave area for kayaking and swimming (first time to kayak in the dark and in such cold weather), back to the boat for dinner, then during the evening squid fishing, movies or star gazing on the upper deck.
- Nov. 10, 2016 – Still on Halong Bay Fantasea Cruise. Rise early to hike Titop island, with an option to swim afterwards, back to the boat, enjoy a Cooking class of how to make spring rolls before having lunch, check out. Then enjoy more of Halong Bay on the way back. Return to Halong harbor for Hanoi with a short break on the way, be dropped off at your hotel in Old Quarter. Arrived from Halong Bay around 4pm. Went to Dong Xuan Market.
Have your breath taken away by Halong Bay in a single day tour (six hours from Hanoi) or take one of the many overnight tours that are available. Approximately 1,600 islands and islets are scattered across stunning jade green waters providing breathtaking views which visitors can appreciate from the comfort of an authentic junk boat.
- Nov. 11, 2016 – nothing much. time to work after much play (travel).
- Nov. 12, 2016 – Went around Hanoi on a walking tour to visit The Presidential Palace, HCM Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda,, and the sites around Hoan Kiem Lake – Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, and Thap Rua. By midnight, took my flight from Hanoi to Manila.
- Nov. 13, 2016 – arrived in NAIA Terminal 3 around 6am. Waited for my 1pm flight to General Santos City (to where home is in Tupi). Thus concluding this 2-month trip.
Total Expenses in Hanoi, Vietnam:
*not including the $95 payment for the Halong Bay Cruise.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel Southeast Asia for 2 Months?
The single most frequently asked question I get about my travel concerns the cost of budgeting for this 2-month Southeast Asia trip. Luckily, I was able to document every single expense from this 60 days journey, thanks to a mobile app called Trabee.
You can find the Excel sheet that contains all the travel expenses I’ve had for this trip here https://goo.gl/JrPGRi
For my pocket money and my day to day expenses for the entire 60 days, I’ve spent roughly about 50,000Php.
Note though that this doesn’t include the airfares (total amount of almost 15k), and hostels (14k), booked prior to the trip via credit card.
- Regular Food-stall meal: 80-200Php (US $2-5)
- Budget Hostels: 200-350Php (US $4-8)
- Bottle of Water (1L): 15-30Php
- Long-distance bus ticket: 400-800Php (US $10-20)
PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
Take as little as possible: you’re going to have to carry it everywhere. Pack your bag once and then repack it with a third less stuff. Repeat until your pack is small enough to fit into the aircraft’s overhead compartment which represents the average size of most stowage areas on buses and trains. The smaller your pack the easier it will be to climb on and off public transport and to explore a new place on foot – and you’ll look like less of a target for touts and hustlers.
💡Sticking to a Budget: Top 10 Travel Tips
- Eat like a local at street stalls or markets.
- Opt for dorm rooms or share a room with a friend (and win a friend!)
- Search for sights with free or no entrance fees.
- Snorkel instead of dive.
- Do a walking tour if possible. Download MAPS.ME (when offline), or use GOOGLE MAPS if you’re online.
- Hire a bicycle (for nearby sights), or a motorcycle (if going a bit far) instead of booking tours. Not only you can save, but you get to manage your own time too!
- Know the price of local transport and bargain accordingly.
- Track your daily expenses so you know your average costs. I use an app called TRABEE for this!
- If possible, when going to the airport or somewhere and you have no other choice but to use the taxi, find someone whose heading the same direction to split the cost / or use GRAB or UBER and find some promo codes! haha!
- Do souvenir shopping at the end of your trip with surplus funds.
Lodging will be one of your primary expenses so here are some tips for saving money:
- Choose one with a FREE BREAKFAST if possible. Trust me, having that one free meal in the morning to fuel you up may go a long way to avoid overspending in your next meal if you’ll eat with your stomach empty.
- If the price is too high, ask if they have a cheaper room.
- Once you’ve paid for a room, there’s no refund.
- Pay per day rather than all in advance to allow some flexibility in your planning.
- When making bookings, don’t rely on agents who charge a commission.
What are my Top 5 Favorite Destinations for this trip?
- Luang Prabang in Laos
- Hoi An in Vietnam
- Bali, Indonesia (both Ubud and the beach area, Kuta)
- Bagan, Myanmar
- Phuket, Thailand
Well my preferences may not be exactly similar to yours. It all depends on the kind of scenery you prefer – whether it be the beaches, landscapes, or city scapes. These are just my personal choices. In the end, I think it will still be best if you find out on your own by making a journey by yourself.
It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same.
Then you realized, what’s changed – is YOU.
Thank God for this trip.. for keeping me safe.. for the chance and opportunity to be able to live this kind of digital nomadic- backpacker – on the go – work wherever you are kind of life.
Thank you too for all of you who had followed my #60DaysinSoutheastAsia journey. My wish is for you to be able to make your own journey too someday!
Life is just AWESOME! Cheers to more journeys to come!
DREAM BIG. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have always imagined.
Wishing everyone to not be scared of your dreams. If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t BIG enough. 😉
Until next time!