Contributed by Hannah Jenina
Are you tired of the never-ending plans that you and your friends talked about that are still not happening? Are you having a hard time deciding where to spend your summer vacation? Are you sick of the people who told you to be with you on your planned trip but are not going? Are you sad because once again you will fail a subject or two in your course? Are you lost and want to find yourself? Are you planning to have a holiday with your family? Are you alone but wanted to be adventurous? Or are you celebrating life’s success? Let’s go now! Pack your bags and let’s have an adventure!
A lot of us think that going out of the country is expensive, but that’s not always the case.
I have written 4 entries about the different countries that we have been to on this trip. I would like to show how we (my siblings and I) planned and prepared for our 2016 holiday.
Here’s how to travel to 4 countries for 10 days on a budget.
We have booked a flight from Manila (MNL) to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (HCM) with 15-hour stop to Singapore. We availed the flight ticket for ₱7,804, one-way trip from Manila to Vietnam. Our flight was booked just a month before the flight which was a wrong move since the fare is much expensive. So here’s a tip: BOOK YOUR FLIGHT EARLY (as early as a year or months before your flight). By this, you can have more affordable airfare tickets. You can also constantly check airline websites for their promos, you just need to be enduring and persevering.
Arrival at Singapore
We had the chance to visit Singapore for a short period of time, but since we arrived past 2am, we went to my sister’s apartment to stay for the night. My eldest sister works in Singapore so we decided to take a flight with a stopover in Singapore so that the three of us can go to Vietnam at the same time.
Singapore City half day tour
Early and excited, we spent half a day roaming around Singapore City. We went to Merlion Park and Esplanade Park first. Crossing the Helix Bridge, we went straight to the Marina Bay Sands and the SuperTree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Since this is my second time visiting Singapore, it was still the place so easy to enjoy yet so hard to forget.
After going to these places, we returned back to Changi Airport for our 3pm flight going to Vietnam.
*For more details, read The Lion City- Singapore
Exploring Ho Chi Minh
Upon our arrival at Ho Chi Minh, we first hired an airport taxi going to the hotel that we booked before our trip. We booked at Yen’s Hotel 2 located at #65 Bui Vien St. District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam. The hotel was just 30 minutes away from the airport but it was the rush hour so we almost had an hour ride due to heavy traffic. Yen’s Hotel 2 was also just a few blocks away from the travel agencies, bars, massage stores and restaurants.
We spent the rest of the night walking around the area. We had our dinner just a few steps away from our hotel. We ate street foods. Street food is a major part of Vietnamese culture. Ending our Day 1 at Vietnam, we visited Ben Thanh Market where you can find many fun clothing and food stands.
We also booked a promo tour package for our May 26 half-day tour and May 27 whole day tour. We availed it from SAPPHIRE TRAVEL AND TOURS located in #266 Bui Vien St, District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam.
Cu Chi Tunnels and City Tour
We spent our half-day at Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were utilised by the Vietnamese soldiers (Viet Cong soldiers) for them to hide during wars.
In the afternoon, we went back to the hotel to freshen up. After that, we explored the city by visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office and bought souvenirs at Saigon Square.
Mekong Delta Whole Day Tour
Our Mekong Delta tour includes the following:
- Vinh Trang Temple
- Coconut Candy Factory
- Mekong Delta River
*For more details, read Pearl of the Far East- Ho Chi Mihn, Vietnam
Our Cambodia Tour Package was also availed from SAPPHIRE TRAVEL AND TOURS.
The Cambodia Package includes the following:
- Bus ride from Vietnam to Phnom Penh
- 2D1N accommodation at Pacific Phnom Penh Hotel
- Free breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner
- Private Tuktuk ride and tour guide for Phnom Penh Tour
- Bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- 3D2N accommodation at Residence 101 Hotel
- Free breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner
- Private Tuktuk ride and tour guide for the temples
Phnom Penh City Tour
After an 8-hour ride from Vietnam to Phnom Penh, we immediately visited the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, Independence Monument and the Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Phnom Penh is the bustling capital of Cambodia.
Historical Tour about Pol Pot’s Regime
We went to the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This tour gave us a glimpse of Cambodia’s bitter history. By visiting these places, we have seen how tragic and sad their past was. It was really heartbreaking.
After these visits, we went to Siem Reap. We travelled via bus to get there.
The tour around the breathtaking temples
We visited the following temples during our Siem Reap Tour:
- Angkor Wat Temple
- Angkor Thom
- Bayon Temple
- The Baphuon
- Ta Phrom
Visiting these temples was the best part of my holiday. The entrance fee to a one-day visit of the temples is $20 (₱900).
*For more details, read The Kingdom of Wonder- Cambodia
Arrival and stroll around our hotel area
From Siem Reap City, we again rode a bus to Siem Reap- Thailand Border. After that, we hired a Tuktuk going to the train station at Aranyaprathet, Thailand. We experienced an open train ride for 8 hours going to Bangkok, Thailand.
We stayed at The Mix Bangkok Boutique Hotel for 2 nights. We booked our accommodation in this hotel before our trip.
River Kwai Bridge Tour
We again availed a tour package for our Day tour. This includes the following:
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
- J.E.A.T.H. War Museum
- Bridge over the River Kwai
Shopping Malls and Departure
Before heading back home in the Philippines, of course, we visited malls and shopping centres. We went to the Siam Paragon which was the 3rd largest shopping mall in Thailand and one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia. We also visited Siam Discovery Center, Hello Kitty House Café and Siam Square.
We also entered the Bangkok Art and Culture Center. Here, admission is free and the centre is open from 10am till 9pm every day except Mondays.
After all of these, we had an eat-all-you-can dinner for only Baht139 (₱201.91) before going to the airport for our flight back home.
*For more details, read The Land of Smiles – Thailand
List of the expenses
Again, the prices may vary depending on the season. The allowance for food and others are quite low since all the Package Tours availed included breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will be a huge difference if the airplane tickets were observed, so again, book your flight early.
- We suggest that you book a cheap hotel since it’s just a place for you to stay. You will not be in the hotel the whole time so just choose the cheap ones.
- Read and research. Read blogs and articles of the places you will visit. This will help you greatly.
- Travel with your friends.
- Eat at affordable restaurants.
- Haggle hard at souvenir shops.
- Philippine time is 1 hour ahead of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. While Singapore shares the same time with the Philippines.
- Don’t let the local vendors scheme you so always ask for prices beforehand.
- There are many travel and tour agencies which can help you to organise your trip.
- Always show gratitude. Learn how to say “Thank You” and “Hello” in their language.
- Be wary. Be bold. Enjoy
If you have questions, ask me! Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box. Please check my other blog entries too! 🙂