Exploring Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for Just ₱15K All-In

Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand in 7 days and just ₱15,000 ALL-IN -- whoa!

Contributed by Janice in Wanderland

Disclaimer: Expenses may be different from how you will travel.

I work in a corporate company that implements a 2-week mandatory leave for their employees annually. The 10-day holiday that was given to us is like a gateway to a vacation. Since I travel a lot, I wanna use my leave to just wander.

When I was planning for the trip, I was thinking about the Philippines since I am trying to finish all the 81 provinces which most traveller calls “Project 81” or “PH 81”. I’d probably tick off about five provinces in a span of two weeks, but I wanna challenge myself, that’s when I decided to go out of the country, alone.

Also read: Why Female Solo Travellers Are Not Your Average Women

Upon research, Indochina is one of the budget-friendly and safe places to go for solo travellers. I was hesitant at first because of the fact that I am a girl, alone in a place that I am unfamiliar with. But I thought, “if not now, when?”.

I booked a multi-city ticket from Manila to Ho Chi Minh then Bangkok to Manila and scored the flight at a cheap price. I made a lot of research, I read blogs, until I drafted my final itinerary. Plan. Plan. PLAN AHEAD!

Vietnam

I landed 1am at Tan Son Nhat International Airport which is about 40 minutes away from the city. Since it’s already late, I waited till morning before I head downtown. And if you’re thinking why I chose a late flight to Vietnam, well, most flights from Manila to HCM departs at night.

I went around the city on my first day in Ho Chi Minh. The tourist spots are not too far from each other which made it easy to move to places. Just be cautious when crossing the street as motorbikes are popping from all directions.

vietnam cambodia thailand budget travel

Make sure not to miss trying the Vietnamese coffee ‘cos it’s one of the best! The famous coffee is sold in every corner of the city. Their foods are also sumptuous. I mostly enjoyed my stay in Vietnam because of the food.

Also read: 12 Experiences Every Traveller Should Have in Vietnam

I also did Mekong Delta tour to learn more about their culture, but unfortunately, the day tour didn’t suffice my culture cravings. I suggest to get a 2-day tour (or more) to immerse with the locals and to know in-depth of the country’s traditions and beliefs.

vietnam cambodia thailandMekong Delta river

Most of the hostels offer tours like this, but the hostel where I stayed offers Mekong Delta tour for about US$20. So, I decided to look for a cheaper offer and I luckily found a US$9 Mekong Delta tour at Do Quang Dau Street. The tour includes an English speaking tour guide, lunch and transportation.

Cambodia

It took me 14 hours via bus from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap. It felt like it’s never gonna end. Haha! I tried looking for cheap flights but most tickets are seven times the fare for the bus. So, I took the land trip since it was a lot cheaper.

I booked with Mekong Delta Express, one of the biggest bus line in Vietnam. The bus has WiFi, free food and water. We were given two sets of food during the whole trip. Each set contains one box of bread (2 varieties), 1 bottled water and wipes.

FARE? It was half a million. I paid 598,000‎₫ (₱1,305 or US$26)

Also read: 15 Experiences You Must Have in Cambodia

Siem Reap is mostly known for their ancient temples, so I am expected to go “temple-running”. I woke up at 4am to see the sunrise in Angkor Wat, and it didn’t fail to amaze me. Just make sure to find the perfect spot, which is on the left part of the entrance and be there early if you wanna see the sunrise as there are A LOT of people waiting for the sun to show up too. My favourite temple would probably be Ta Phrom, where Tomb Raider was shot. I felt like I was Lara Croft roaming around the temples. It’s so surreal!

vietnam cambodia thailandAngkor Wat Temple

Pub street and night market are also a not-to-miss when in Siem Reap. These two are on the same location. Night Market is a good idea for pasalubongs, I got a good bargain for the bags and trousers there. And the Pub Street? I’d say it’s pretty wild. Haha!

If you only have a limited time like I mine, there’s a standard list of famous temples that you should see. You can contact our energetic/talkative/entertaining tuktuk driver who made our tour light through his funny stories.

Com: +855 17 482 817. He has Viber so I suggest contacting him in advance.

Thailand

My last leg is Bangkok, which took me 8 hours from Siem Reap. The border crossing isn’t as smooth as when I crossed Cambodia since we literally have to cross the border and walk. No instructions were given on how we’ll get to the office and have our passport stamped. We just figured our way to the immigration. Peew! Amazing race in Thailand. Lol

I bought the bus ticket from the hostel where I stayed for US$10 only. It’s pretty cheap cos when I was checking online, it costs US$26. Some of the other passengers on the same bus paid US$26 and they even booked directly from the terminal. I saved US$10! YAY!!!

Bangkok is pretty overwhelming (at least for me), it’s like Manila minus the language. It’s a busy city with vibrant people and great street food. I felt home away from home. And beyond the dust and chaos of Bangkok, it is packed with things to see and do.

Aside from the exotic foods like fried insects, temples in Bangkok are also on my list. There are free shuttles going to the Grand Palace for all who are going to pay respect to the King, so I took advantage of it. There are even free foods everywhere around the area to show how much they love their King. I saved few bucks from transportation and food.

vietnam cambodia thailandAt the Grand Palace

The architectural structures of their temples is incomparable. Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are neighbouring each other so I decided to visit them on the same day. The glittering pillars of the Buddhist temples were just beautiful!

Please be mindful of the colour of your clothes when visiting the temples especially the Grand Palace. Thai people would appreciate if you wear black or white during the mourning of their beloved King, which would last for a year. Also make sure to wear trousers or skirts that are below the knee and shirts that would cover your shoulders, long sleeves and pants would be perfect as most of the city temples have a strict dress code.

If you’re thinking of a side trip but have a limited time, Ayutthaya is a good option. Ayutthaya is just an hour and a half from Bangkok, you can go there either by train or bus then hire a tuktuk to take you around. You can see more temples in Ayutthaya and it’s probably the nearest province to see an elephant stay.

Also read: A Traveller’s Bucket List for Vietnam, Thailand & Cambodia

BUT PLEASE, DO NOT RIDE THE ELEPHANTS, most of these elephants are tortured to tame down just so us, humans, can ride on them. This an abuse and should be stopped. Best thing to do when visiting an elephant is to just feed them.

vietnam cambodia thailandOne of the temples I visited in Ayutthaya

If this has urged you to travel these countries, the best time to go would be from November to February. As we all know, these three are tropical countries so it can get very warm during summer or you may experience unpredictable rains during wet season.

And, remember that NO PLAN IS THE BEST PLAN. Just go out and be local. *wink*

Accommodation

Vietnam

I stayed in Town House 23 located at Dang Thi Nhu st, which is in the heart of Ho Chi Minh. It is near Ben Thanh Market and is accessible to most tourist spots in the city. The staffs are friendly and can speak english fluently which for me is a big point as I don’t speak their language.

Cambodia

I booked a bunk bed in a female dormitory in The Luxury Concept Hostel located Stung Tmei, Svay Dangkum. It’s just a five-minute walk away from Pub Street and market. The bed is huge!  The staff is very accommodating and helpful.

Thailand

I was fortunate enough to have a friend accommodate me during my whole stay in Bangkok. I saved $$$ for hotel, food and package tours in Bangkok. However, I would suggest you to stay in Khao San Road if you’re more of a party person and would like to meet fellow travellers. KSR is also near the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Or, stay around Pratunam area if you’re more of a shopaholic as it is near Platinum area and Central World.

Itinerary

Day Time Place
VIETNAM
Day 0 10:45 NAIA Terminal 3
00:20 ETA in Vietnam (Tan Son International Airport)
Day 1 5:00 Check-in
7:00 Breakfast
8:oo City Tour:

Notre Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post, Reunification Palace (Independence Palace), HCM City Hall Building, Opera House

12:00 Noodle Palace at Ban Co St. near Ban Co Market
14:00 Jade Emperor Pagoda
15:00 Ben Thanh Street Food, Ben Thanh Market, Bitexco Financial Tower, Pham Ngu Lao Street, Thanh Binh Store
Day 2 7:00 – 17:00 Mekong Delta Day Tour
CAMBODIA
Day 3 7:00 Bus to Siem Reap / Cross border
21:00 Arrival in Siem Reap
22:00 Dinner at Khmer Kitchen Restaurant
Day 4 4:00 City Tour:

Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, Bayon Temple

11:00 Back to hotel
12:00 Lunch
14:00 Old Market. Buy pasalubong.
16:00 Bike around the city
18:00 Laundry
19:00 Wash up
20:00 Dinner at Khmer Family Restaurant
BANGKOK
Day 5 7:00 Cross border to Bangkok
20:00 Arrival in Bangkok
Day 6 9:00 Wake up call
10:00 Breakfast and prep
11:00 Lunch at Terminal 21 Mall
13:00 Back to condo
14:00 ETD to Ayutthaya
15:00 ETA to Ayutthaya.

Temple tour:

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Wat Chai Wattanaram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Na Phra Men, Wat Mahathat

19:00 Dinner by the river
21:00 JJ Night Market
Day 7 9:00 Wake up call. Breakfast.
11:00 City tour:

Bangkok National Museum, Grand Palace and Temple of Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun, Wat Lokaya Sutha

18:00 Back to condo
20:00 Khao San Rd. Party!
Day 8 6:00 Breakfast
7:00 ETD to Suvarnabhumi International Airport
9:35 ETD to Manila
13:55 ETA in Manila

Expenses

Conversion:

US$1 = ₱47, ₱1 = 458₫, ₱1 = ฿0.79

Day Particulars Cost in Peso
Day 1 Local desserts 75,000‎₫

(split to 3= 25,000‎₫)

₱160
Noodles for lunch 25, 000‎₫ ₱55
Barbecue 220,000‎₫

(split to 3= 73,333‎₫)

₱159
Marou Coffee Shop 40, 000‎₫ ₱87
Coconut juice 25, 000‎₫ ₱55
Beer 15, 000‎₫ ₱32
TOTAL ₱548
Day 2 Mekong Delta tour US$9 ₱423
Banh mi 20, 000‎₫ ₱44
Coffee 20, 000‎₫ ₱44
Pho 35, 000‎₫ ₱76
Spring rolls 15, 000‎₫ ₱32
Beer at Benh Thanh street food 30, 000‎₫ ₱65
TOTAL ₱684
Day 3  Uber to Bus Station 20, 000‎₫  ₱44
Coffee 20, 000‎₫ ₱44
Bus Fare to Siem Reap 598,000₫ ₱1,305
Tuktuk to hostel US$3 ₱141
Khmer Kitchen Restaurant US$4 ₱188
TOTAL ₱1,722
Day 4 Temple day pass US$20 ₱940
Tuktuk to temples US$10 ₱470
Banana pancake US$1 ₱47
Water US$1 ₱47
Khmer Family Restaurant US$5 ₱235
TOTAL ₱1,739
Day 5 Bus to Bangkok US$10 ₱470
Pang Hoy Coffee Shop (latte and french toast) US$4 ₱188
TOTAL ₱658
Day 6-7 Traditional ice cream ฿15 ₱19
Strawberry smoothie ฿25 ₱32
Grand Palace ฿500 ₱633
Wat Pho ฿100 ₱127
Wat Arun ฿50 ₱63
Ferry to Wat Arun ฿3.5 per way / ฿7 round-trip ₱8
Noodles at Terminal 21 ฿80 ₱101
Pad Thai ฿60 ₱76
Fried insects at Khao San Road ฿40 ₱51
Taxi to airport ฿200 ₱253
TOTAL ₱1,363

Subtotal – ₱6,714

Accommodation and Airfare

  • Vietnam – ₱958
  • Cambodia – ₱621
  • Bangkok – FREE!
  • Airfare – ₱6,389 (with 20kg check-in baggage)

Subtotal = ₱7,968

GRAND TOTAL = ₱14,682

Total savings from ₱15K budget is ₱318 which I used to take a cab to my house when I landed in Manila.

Also read: Backpacking Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos & Thailand: 11-Day Itinerary & Cost Breakdown

Happy travels!

Love,

J

About Author

Janice Estabillo
Janice Estabillo

When clocked out from her corporate job, Janice is either at the beach watching sunrise and sunset or on the mountain enjoying a bird's eye view. She believes that travelling shouldn't have to be expensive, it just got to be planned. That's why she started writing the "Tales of Wandering on a Budget", follow her journey at Janice in Wanderland.

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