Backpacking Indochina Part 1 of 4: Vietnam

Backpacking Indochina Part 2 of 4: Cambodia

Backpacking Indochina Part 3 of 4: (Thailand +) Myanmar

Backpacking Indochina Part 4 of 4: Thailand

I was talking with a fellow travel junkie friend about where we wanted to go next. I told her I wanted to backpack Indochina and Karla was game for another adventure so we waited for a seat sale and I got lucky on the third one 🙂 What was previously just another item in by bucket list was finally coming true. We had a year to plan and visualize everything we wanted to do. We knew when we were finalizing the itinerary that we would lose plenty of  sleep but we didn’t care. We wanted to squeeze whatever we could in our 10-day itinerary. I’m glad that my friends shared my enthusiasm 😀

My Companions:

It was my first time traveling with Karla and Jayvee. I was kinda apprehensive at first because it was a long trip and I was afraid our friendship wouldn’t survive. But it did! I was happy to discover that we thought alike and we complemented each other. Looking forward to another trip with them 🙂

Jayvee, Ruby and Karla. Trying and failing for a jump shot. Haha.

Jayvee, Ruby and Karla. Trying and failing for a jump shot. Haha.

The Flight: Cebu Pacific

I met with Karla and Jayvee at NAIA Terminal 3. My wallet was protesting a little bit because our expenses already started at the airport and we haven’t even flown yet. The process for international flights are:

  1. Pay travel tax (Php 1,620)
  2. Check in at Cebu Pacific counter
  3. Pay terminal fee (Php 550, though passengers who bought tickets after Feb 2015 no longer need to pay at the airport since this is already included when they purchased their tickets)
  4. Immigration (make sure to fill out an immigration card before approaching an immigration officer)

Our flight was leaving at 10:50 PM so we ate dinner at the airport. We chose tapsilog since it was a classic Filipino meal and it would be 11 days since we get to taste familiar Filipino food again 😀

Surprisingly, our flight was on time. We arrived in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam after midnight. I already had Vietnamese Dong with me because I thought money changers would be closed at that time. But we saw several open money changers there. Karla and Jayvee were able to exchange their US dollars for dong.

From what I researched, taxi is the only way to get to our destination from the airport. Upon exiting the airport, we walked to the left side. Immediately there were drivers offering their services to take us to District 1 (where we’ll be staying for 700,000 vnd). We ignored them because we knew that the rate was overpriced. Walking a bit more the offers went down to 400,000 vnd but that was still twice the normal fare for a taxi. We kept walking until we saw the line for regular metered taxis. Our rate from the airport to District 1 was 160,000 vnd. But our mistake was asking the guard for an estimate of our fare (he said 200,000 vnd and we said ok). He must have told the driver that we agreed to that price so we didn’t get our change. We didn’t make a big deal out of it though since it was only a small amount, it was nearing 1 AM and we got to our destination safely 🙂

Our Accommodation: Lily’s Hostel

I found this quaint hostel while browsing through available options in Agoda. We paid around Php 1,100 per head for a 3-night stay with breakfast. So sulit! We stayed in the dormitory-type room with its own bathroom. It was a little awkward to take a shower at night though because of the noise.

Lily’s Hostel is located in District 1 which is a very convenient location for backpackers. Several bars, restaurants and cafes are a short walk away. Most travel offices are located here as well. It can be noisy at night because of the bars but Lily’s was luckily a few meters away from the main road.

Reception area at Lily's Hostel

Reception area at Lily’s Hostel

If I had to choose the 3 best things I liked about the place, these are: the soft and cool comforters, the delicious breakfast and the super friendly and helpful staff.

We arrived very late but someone was waiting for us and she didn’t waste any time to usher us in our rooms so we could rest. It was past 1 AM and we were planning to go to Mui Ne. The staff told us she would be reserving our tickets for us. There is an additional fee for reserving through them but we grateful for the convenience. Continue reading

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Indochina 10-Day Backpacking Budget and Itinerary

I went on a 10-day Indochina trip with friends last September. Upon my return, several people have asked me how much I spent on this trip. So I decided to share our budget and itinerary before I create detailed blog posts about the countries we visited. I tried my best to record everything that we paid for on our trip and the conversion rates I used are as of September 2015 with a little bit of padding.

How much did I spend?

I spent a of total of Php 39,000 for visiting 4 countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. This includes all the airfare, taxes, tours, transportation, accommodation, meals and PASALUBONG! 😀

Indochina Itinerary-page-001

Please click on the picture to zoom in on the details 🙂