Monday, November 14, 2016

Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia for less than PhP20,000 in Ten Days

You might think that this is another budget travel where you closely monitor your expenses. Nope, this isn't. You should know that I spent one night at a 4-star hotel, I bought 50-USD worth of pasalubong and I even checked in at an inn just to use the bathroom. I didn't splurge but it surely wasn't the typical tight 'budget' travel.

Here's the itinerary (with details of my expenses) of my 9-day Indochina trip. Details of each day will be posted soon.

Day 0 (Oct 27; Thursday) Leaving on a Jet Plane  (PHP2,409)

The exchange rate at Ha Noi International airport is much better than at NAIA
0800hrs: ETD from Baguio for NAIA P455; snack at bus stopover P35
1400hrs: ETA Cubao; late lunch P120; MRT to Taft P24; Taft to NAIA 3 (Airport Loop bus) P20
1700hrs: ETA NAIA; Travel tax P1620 ; food (KFC) P135
2215hrs: ETD for Hanoi (Cebu Pacific Flight 5J744; NAIA Terminal 3)

Day 1 (Oct 28; Friday) BIG DAY; Ninh Binh (Vietnam)  VND612,000 (PHP1,332)

The not-so-touristy side of Tam Coc

0030hrs: ETA Hanoi (Noi Bai Int’l Airport Terminal 2); buy USD and VND using PHP; loiter/sleep at the airport
0500hrs: ETD for Hanoi city center (bus # 7) VND8,000; city center to Giap Bat bus terminal (bus #27 VND7,000 + bus #16 VND7,000)
0700hrs: ETA Giap Bat terminal; book a ticket for Ninh Binh; breakfast VND22,000
0730hrs: ETD for Ninh Binh by pink bus VND70,000
0930hrs: ETA Ninh Binh; take a cab to Tam Coc (Nam Hoa Hotel) VND80,000 (dodgy taxi meter);
1100hrs: Lunch VND130,000
1300hrs: Ride a bicycle (free at Nam Hoa Hotel) to see spots in Tam Coc; Climb up Hang Mua cave/peak (VND100,000) for a good panorama of Tam Coc at dusk
1700hrs: Go back to the hotel; dinner +beer VND188,000

Day 2 (Oct 29; Saturday) Vinh (Vietnam)      VND1,018,000     (P2216)

The accommodation in Vietnam costs much less than in the Philippines
0600hrs: breakfast (included in the booking)
0700hrs: more shots of Tam Coc
0900hrs: Check out of the hotel (VND550,000); ETD for Vinh. Hotel staff calls an honest cab driver VND40,000; take the sleeper bus at the highway VND200,000
1230hrs: ETA Vinh; Check in at Saigon Kim Lien Hotel Lunch (hotel room service: ham and chicken sandwich + fried potatoes) VND35,000
1500hrs: walk to the bus station (1km away) to check the schedule for the trip to Phonsavan tomorrow.
1600hrs: soak in the bath because the pool isn’t very inviting
1800hrs: watch TV; drink get some beer from the mini bar; VND63,000
1900hrs: Dinner; pork steak + baked potatoes VND130,000
2200hrs: Have a good night’s rest

Day 3 (Oct 30; Sunday) Phonsavan (Laos) VND1,042,000 + LAK70,000  PHP2687

The Plain of Jars in Phonsavan

0500hrs: early breakfast (included): check out VND630,000; ETD for bust terminal by taxi VND12,000
0600hrs: ETD for Phonsavan by sleeper bus VND400,000
1100hrs: free lunch en route to Phonsavan
1200hrs: border crossing
1700hrs: ETA Phonsavan. Stay at some guest house (not recommended guest house): LAK40,000
1900hrs: Dinner + snacks LAK30,000

Day 4 (Oct 31; Monday) Phonsavan  (Laos)          LAK422,000  P2517

Plain of Jars (Site 1)
0600hrs: Breakfast LAK10,000;
0730hrs: hire a motorcycle to see Plain of Jars LAK100,000; Site A entrance fee LAK15,000
0930hrs: Go to Phonsavan for lunch and to visit UXO Information Center (tuktuk) LAK20,000; buy some souvenirs LAK25,000
1200hrs: Lunch LAK32,000
1300hrs: Go back to the guest house to check out (tuktuk) LAK25,000; beer + pho LAK25,000
1700hrs: Head for the bus station (tuktuk) LAK25,000; dinner LAK15,000; bus ticket for Vientiane LAK130,000
2030hrs: ETD for Vientiane

Day 5 (Nov 1; Tuesday) Vientiane       LAK221,000 + THB825  (PHP2480)

Just take a photo of Patuxai monument then head straight to COPE Center
0500hrs: ETA Vientiane northern bus terminal; wait for the green bus to get to the city (every 30 minutes) LAK3,000
0600hrs: ETA Vientiane morning market; breakfast (pho) LAK15,000
0700hrs: get a room to steal some sleep and take a shower LAK70000;
0900hrs: city tour; go to COPE; buy souvenirs LAK103000
1200hrs: lunch (pho) LAK15000
1430hrs: Take the bus at the morning market for Nong Khai (Thailand) LAK15000
1600hrs: ETA Nong Khai; get off near the train station. Dinner THB70
1910hrs: ETD for Bangkok (Train #70 second class lower berth) THB755

Day 6 (Nov 2; Wednesday) Bangkok (Thailand)             THB760      (PHP1055)

The reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
0600hrs: ETA Bangkok (Hua Lamphung Station);
0630hrs: Take a cab to hotel THB65. Check in (or leave stuff) at Rambuttri Village Hotel
0700hrs: Laundry THB60;
0900hrs: Wat Pho THB100; 7-11 snacks THB45
1200hrs: lunch THB40
1500hrs: buy souvenirs THB450
2100hrs: Night life at Kao San road (meet Japanese friends)
2400hrs: rest at the hotel

Day 7 (Nov 3; Thursday) Siem Reap (Cambodia)       THB1997 + USD7     (PHP3110)
Departure and arrival cards for Cambodia and Thailand
0600hrs: early breakfast (included in the booking); check out THB1100
0630hrs: take a cab to Mo Chit Terminal. THB110
0730hrs: ETA Mo Chit. Catch the 8am bus to Siem Reap (Transport Co / Nattakan) THB750
0800hrs: ETD for Siem Reap
1100hrs: lunch @ 7-eleven (complimentary); buy snacks THB37
1700hrs: ETA Siem Reap; tuktuk service to the hotel (compliments of Nattakan); check in at I Lodge
1800hrs: rent a bike for the early morning ride tomorrow USD5
1900hrs: Dinner USD2

Day 8 (Nov 4; Friday) Phnom Penh (Cambodia)                    USD56.5    (PHP2770)
The savage Ta Prohm
0400hrs: early breakfast (not included in the booking) USD2
0600hrs: Explore Angkor Wat USD20
0900hrs: done with Angkor Wat; bike back to the hotel; refreshments USD1
1100hrs: lunch USD3.5; check out USD16
1230hrs: ETD for Phnom Penh (not recommended van service) USD10 snacks at stopovers USD2
1700hrs: ETA Phnom Penh (night market); walk to G Eleven Hotel ; check in
1900hrs: Dinner USD2
2100hrs: Drink with Japanese friends
2400hrs: take a rest at the hotel

Day 9 (Nov 5; Saturday) Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)  USD59 + VND80,000 (PHP3067)
Detention cells at Tuol Sleng (S-21)

0700hrs: Breakfast (included in the booking); check out USD19
0800hrs: Visit S-21 (Tuol Sleng) USD1 (tuktuk) USD3 (admission fee)
1030hrs: go to the Kumho Samco Bus office
1100hrs: ETD for HCM (Kumho Samco) USD10; lunch and snacks at stopovers USD2
1800hrs: ETA Ho Chi Minh; at the bus terminal take the yellow airport bus #109 to the airport USD1
1900hrs: Dinner VND80,000 ; souvenirs USD23

Day 10 (Nov 6; Sunday) Transit/Ho Chi Minh – Manila            PHP660

My last pho (at Thanh Son Nhat Int'l Airport)

0100hrs: ETD for Manila @Tan Son Nhat International Airport Terminal 2, Ho Chi Minh Cebu Pacific flight 5J752
0445hrs: ETA NAIA 3
0500hrs: Take the airport loop bus to the MRT station PHP20; breakfast PHP85
0700hrs: ETD for Baguio (Saulog Bus) PHP455; lunch and snacks at stopovers PHP100
1400hrs: ETA Baguio City (Home Sweet Home)

TOTAL EXPENSES: PHP24,303 (Exclusive of airfare)

Minus accommodation cost (PhP6324) = Pocket money of PhP17,978



  1. Great! Just noticed wla ka masyado gnawa sa Ho Chi Minh? Your post can definitely help us with our Indochina next yr. Kayalang from South kami
    Vietnam - Cambodia - Thailand, hopefully we can go to Laos too. Cheers!

    1. Well, I was not in the mood for Chill Skybar. Nor was I interested in the Jade Emperor Pagoda. And with the stories I got in Vientiane and Phonsavan in Laos, I lost interest in the the lackluster stories behind the Cu Chi tunnels.

      Good luck on your trip next year. Don't forget to buy souvenirs at COPE Visitor's Center in Vientiane. It will help the farmers injured by the unexploded ordnance left in the Vietnam War. They badly need help.


YOU deserve a holiday!
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