iNDONESIA | Bali’s White, Brown and Black Sand Beaches

Bali is the most well known destination in Indonesia for all types of traveler who are either on short visit or for a those who intend to stay for longer period. It is a is a small island-resort near the island of Java in Indonesia, about 8 degrees below the equator. It is clearly the most tourist-friendly spot in this Southeast Asia country, which is made up of thousands of islands.This majestic island haw draw millions of visitors from all over the world ever since the movie EAT PRAY LOVE portrayed by Julia Roberts shown. While the majority of the visitors came to Bali the culture, the arts, the temples, diving, surfing or even the food, but one thing for sure it is for the beach. Travelers come to Bali for its long stretches of white sand beach, crystal clear sea for swimming, strong waves for surfing and volcanic black sands for sunbathing. There is an wide array of beach choices we can choose from people filled and full of energy beach to quiet, secluded or hidden beaches. Your 4 or 5 day escape to this beautiful island will never be enough in order to cover all the beaches. Bali is an island which is separated from the rest of Indonesian archipelago and if you stare at the map it is purely surrounded by the massive Indian Ocean whose waves that reaches the shore can sucked you up in the middle of the ocean.

Bali is not just a tropical getaway and a honeymoon hot spot, it’s also a paradise for surfers! Bali and the surrounding islands have some great surfing beaches, with beach breaks for beginners and huge barrels for the pro’s.

The island of Bali is often compared to the island-resorts in Thailand and the Philippines but Bali’s edge is its size. With a land area of only 150 kilometers by 80 kilometers, tourists and travelers could easily breeze through from beach to mountain, and from one tourist attraction to another. Bali has plenty in store – parks, shops, temples, mountains, hot springs, and a number of word-class beaches. However, tourists have been noticing that the many beaches in Bali are deteriorating in beauty and are in need of better management.

My 4 day Bali itinerary is a mix of everything from culture,religion,food and leisure. And of course my Balinese experience is not complete if I don’t hit the beach and surf through the rough waves of Bali. I explored 4 out of the countless stretch of white beaches and to name a few are Padang Padang Beach, Dreamland Beach, Legian Beach and the famous of all Kuta Beach.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE BEACHES I VISITED.

PADANG PADANG BEACH

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 View from the Hill.

We stopped here for a few hours after visiting Ulu Watu Temple.This beach is accessible down a few flights of steps and through a limestone crevice beside a bridge. Across the road before the bridge, there is a spacious parking lot. Among the island’s most favourite big surf breaks, Padang Padang’s white sand beach offers a great view, and a small sandy area for sunbathing and doing just nothing.

This is one of my personal favorite beaches that I have visited during my stay in Bali, located at Jalan Labuhan Sait, Pecatu village, situated north of the famous Uluwatu temple. If this beach looks familiar to you then your right, one of the scenes in the movie Eat Pray Love where Julia Roberts frolicked on the beach. I didn’t know it at first step here but in my mind I knew I saw this beach. It was only when my driver told me that a particular scene was shot here.

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Steep and Winding Stairs Going Down.

 The entrance is very unique. you will need to take a short flight of steep winding and quite slippery steps, very narrow, and it is as if the beach is inside the cave. And suddenly you hear the wave sound. and bang … you see the amazing view, white view, rock island, and clear water.. It’s a public (free) beach, smaller than New Kuta Beach and the sea is so calm, so some of the native with their family frequent to swim here, but still ample of space. Since Julia Roberts came for the film Eat Pray Love, the name of Padang-Padang Beach was the one who started the fore.

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Once you take a short flight of staircases down, you will see the beach right away. Sand was fine but littered with rubbishes. Wild dogs ran free and casually barked for food. This is the most quite beach in Bali that i ever visited compare with other beach. The beach view was great; blue water against rocks and greenery.

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It’s a Nice Way To Meet New Friends.

The rock formation by the beach was an added attraction to the natural beauty of its waters. The sun will be set down in few minutes which is just the right time to visit the beach. Padang Padang is a beautiful beach paradise carved out from the lush greenery of Indonesia. There are no shower facilities at the bottom, only some snack stands and hawkers, but it’s worth a visit if you are in the area. Small beaches like Padang Padang can be felt so private, but when it gets crowded it feels a bit uncomfortable.If you don’t feel like riding the surf board for some action then you can sunbathe or just make friends with other tourist. It wasn’t much crowded when we visited the beach so I kind of lay down of the sand for few minutes and just enjoy the view.

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Tables and Chairs Set Up Ready for Dinner.

. This beach is just a beach, with a local warung offering Bintang (local beer), water and some local soda drinks. Besides that you can enjoy the local food in the warung at the beach, prepared in typical local fashion and sometimes not for the weak of stomach. I also saw some locals setting up a mini stage made of wood in the sand – I think this quiet beach transformed into a mini lounge/concert bar at night. (i think it will be cozy place to chill out). Our time is very limited here so I did not have the chance to swim and I forgot to bring some extra clothes,perhaps I just take some snaps and just walked on the not so wide shore reminiscing every scene from the famous EPL movie (kung maka emote Julia Roberts lang).

HOW TO GET HERE:

It maybe close to the famous Uluwatu Temple but to get here easily without getting lost you can either ride a cab or ask your private driver to drop by here before going to Jimbaran for dinner.

DREAMLAND BEACH

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The path to the beach was pretty long and through the 2 big rocks.

Access to the beach is still down the rocky “path” generally by foot as it’s even hard going for bikes.

 Located at the Bukit Peninsula area, Dremland Beach can be reached  from Kuta-Legian area in about 30-40 minutes. From the capital Denpasar, it is roughly about an hour’s trip (depending on  traffic conditions).

My last day in Bali was spent hunting some of the gorgeous beaches. I promised myself that no way I’m going back to KL without a sun kissed tan skin. The night before, I called up my driver for the last 2 days in Bali and asked him that I will hire him again for a half day tour via motorbike. Yeah, you heard it right  a motorbike this time cause I need cut down some expenses as my Rupiahs are no longer in millions when I count it. She quoted me 100 IDR inclusive of the petrol,parking fee and driver’s fee. He picked me up 9 AM from Denpasar where my host is staying. I bid my sweet goodbye to my host for the last 2 nights and thanked him for being so nice to accommodate me. As much as possible avoid hiring a motorbike if you are doing a 10 hours tour around Bali-the temperature can be very annoying and it is so HOT which you can’t withstand. Travel time from Denpasar to Dreamland beach took 1 hour-it’s kinda far from what I imagine.

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 Improvised Signage on the Wall.

When my driver dropped me in the parking area, I was kinda lost and don’t where to head to due to the lack of signs. I approached a lay from the nearby store and asked where is the entrance to the beach and she pointed me to a narrow alleys lined up with stores selling goods and merchandise. Before hitting the beach you can buy your snacks or search for the items you can buy. It was a 5-10 minutes walk from the parking lot to the beach proper. When you see this improvised sign of dreamland beach painted on the wall then you’ll know your in the right place.

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It looks more of a private beach.

When you are down the rocks and the steps to the beach, you will be dazzled by views of rock cliffs on which there is a green pasture that is high enough. Many foreign and local tourists who like to enjoy in the meadow area.

Your just about to witness a vast stretch of soft pearly white sand, clear blue sky over the enchanting blue waters, and nothing but the fascinating sounds of waves hitting the shores.

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Pristine Beach.

One of the most gorgeous beaches I have ever laid my eyes on is fittingly named Dreamland. I felt like a just arrived in a private island in Caribbean.

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Towering Cliffs in Dreamland Beach.

I’ve never been to Gold Coast, Australia but when I saw this rugged hilly cliffs i can’t help but to compare it with the large and beautiful coast of Australia. In fact, I did some trekking into of the cliffs so I can get a nice view of the coastline. It was a scorching hot afternoon for us-leaving me with no choice but to wear my sleeper while doing my walk in the long stretch of the white sand (of course it’s hard to walk with sleeper). Tried walking barefoot few times but it was very uncomfortable feeling and felt like my soles are starting to get toast.

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Turquoise  Blue Water.

It is recently dubbed as the New Kuta Beach, but I think it is way better than Kuta and it has less tourist in the beach the time I was there. Very rare you can see locals selling different stuff to tourist aside from the surf board operators and massage therapist. First time I saw this beach, I fell inlove with the powdery white sand and alluring blue water.

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Surf Board Stall.

I will not let this opportunity passed without attempting to battle with waves with the surf board. I inquired in one of the surf board operator on how much is the charge for an hour of surfing. He gaved it to me for 50 IDR including some basic training and helping me wait for the my waves. It is a brave attempt for someone who doesn’t know how to swim. I can’t recall as to how many times I stumbled and sweep by the waves-it was scary as the waves are that HUGE but at the same time fun experience because it is my first time to ride on a surf board. I think I incurred some bruises at my back after my attempt to surf.

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Beautiful Indian Ocean reaching to the Shoreline.

Cliff ledge were lined up, lined up high at the shoreline. Seem arrogant facing the brunt of waves that came rolling toward the shore. sea breeze blowing, foam hit the shore, shaking the leaves of coconut trees, every dream away visitors.

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Me and My Yellow Surf Board.

It’s safe to say that dreamland beach is best for surfing-it is impossible to enjoy swimming here with your kid.Huge waves so near to the shore providing ideal place for the surfers. Too dangerous for kids and for first timers in surfing. Those waves I witnessed can kill someone in just a minute.

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 Sexy in her Two Piece Black Swimsuit.

  Dreamland is the only place in Bali that use of International Law. So the rules at this beach is more free. Visitors can consume alcohol or to bare-chested women on this beach without prosecution. But unluckily I wasn’t able to see naked guys and girls in the sand stretch.

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I Wish I knew How To Surf Like Him.

Apart from surfing you can also rent umbrellas along the coast so you can hide from the heat of the sun while a therapist is making you feel relax with a full body massage. In addition, here are also available toilet facilities if you want to change clothes and shower. But the pricing is quite expensive even for just pee in this area.

As the name implies, it is definitely a DREAMLAND destination. A must visit during your stay in Bali! I spent more or less 3 hours and I enjoyed it so much that I don’t want to leave the place. The bluest sea I had ever witnessed so far with clear blue sky. Dreamland has less crowds and noise so if you needed some escape from the busy and crowded Kuta Beach then this place is tapered for you.

HOW TO GET HERE:

The place is distant and secluded so your best choice of getting here is to charter a taxi or hire a private car with driver, The beach is now open to the public and no entrance fee is ask.

LEGIAN BEACH

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 First Glance of Legian Beach

Coming from the powdery white sand and less crowded Dreamland beach. Seeing Legian Beach is a bit of disappoint. I’ve traveled that far from Dreamland Beach only to see rubbish lined up in the coast.Let’s just say that Legian Beach is just a less crowded version of Kuta Beach. It is considered as the second most popular beach after Kuta Beach because of its close association with beach life and its parties.

As its name suggests, literally ‘sweet’ in Balinese, but for someone reason I can’ seemed to see the sweetness in this beach. Legian is on the south west coast of Bali, in between Kuta and Seminyak. It is quite a condensed area of Bali with very little trees or gardens on the streets. In resorts, hotels, residences.

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The beach has volcanic sand which is slightly darker and courser compare to common beaches we know.

Legian Beach is considered by many to be the United Nations of beaches since it is almost always filled with tourists from different nations. Americans, Europeans, Brazilians, Asians and local Balinese beach fans walk the sandy beach stretch side by side. Strolling along the shore and surfing the waves are the most popular activities here since Legian Beach is not really conducive to swimming.

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BE WARY OF THE RED FLAG.

You should look out where to swim and observe the surface for brownish health threatening foam. Don’t swim close to the streams either. At times the beach is totally shutdown to tourists if there is a threat of huge waves not suitable for tourist. And if you attempted to swim somewhere near the flag. always make sure someone will be able to see you right away if you feel like drowning. I managed to swim here despite of the rubbish everywhere just for the sake of experience but I was really cautious not to go farther.

The time I spent here is mostly for walking back and forth, enjoying the sand, sea breeze and the sound of water sloshing. If you have a budget you can rent a reclined chairs with umbrella for 50 IDR for 2 chairs. Across the beach are lined up restaurants,bars and stores very much open to all.

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 Colorful Beach Bean Bags.

It can be a nice beach if not for some rubbish, stray dogs, beggars and hawkers competing for your attention. If you headed down to Legian Beach early enough, the beach would be fairly empty and would be a lovely place for a morning jog and swim.

This place is always packed with surfers lining up to catch that perfect wave, while the non-surfing tourists content themselves by idly reclining on a beach chair listening to the surf and waiting for the sun to set.

The only good thing I can say about this beach is it doesn’t feel crowded even in peak hours because of it’s long stretch of brownish sand beach and you can easily pick your spot to sit and lie down compare to Kuta. Other’s may hate Legian but still this place has always been a favorite to some primarily for its very relaxed and tranquil atmosphere.

HOW TO GET HERE:

If you are staying within Kuta and Seminyak area then you can either walk, drive or bike to get to the beach and while on your way you will pass by numerous stalls selling all kinds of merchandise. You can also hire a taxi driver to bring you to the beach but take note that the road are dense and populated and cars get jammed in this area specially during rush hours.

KUTA BEACH

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Pura Lempuyang Door Welcomes You To Kuta Beach

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Define C.R.O.W.D.E.D…

Kuta is one of Bali’s best-known beaches and often the initial stop for Bali first-timers. It’s a good place for new arrivals to get their bearings. Visitors should be careful of side-street money changers though — it’s best to stick to banks or hotels as small operators are known for cheating customers.

Kuta Beach is my last beach and final stop for the day before my flight back to KL. It was past 4PM when we reached Kuta Beach from Legian. The distance is not so far from Legian like 15-20 minutes all depends on traffic. KUTA-LEGIAN-SEMINYAK are the most popular destination in Bali so everything is cramped here which makes it difficult for motorist. The roads in Bali are narrow and usually a 2 way lane.

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I’ve managed to sneak in to this beach on my 1st day in Bali while I was waiting for my host to come pick me up after his work. I was just strolling on the beach enjoying the sights and sounds on my 1st visit. I did not love it but nor hate it. Well, some may have spoken that it is the worst beach but there can be a 1 good reason why KUTA is still the famous beach here in Bali despite of the negative reviews.

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It is located side by side with other beaches such as the Legian, Seminyak, and Tuban. Kuta beach’s length is about 8 km through the beach from the North to the South of Bali. Kuta Beach is a beach with a wide spread of white sand and beautiful scenery.

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 Magpaka Sporty Tau..Mema Lang.. Mema Gawa Lang..

Some of the activities you can enjoy here are swimming, surfing, sunbathing, walking through the beach, sitting and relaxing at the beach.Other activities can be done around the Kuta Beach are including playing ball run through the beach.Before sunset, crowds rush to the beach waiting to watch Kuta’s legendary sunsets. At night, you can be see the gala of night life around the Kuta Beach area with the sound of music coming from cafes and bars located at the edge of the road.  When you’re having activities in the sea or the beach do not leave your valuables unintended.

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 Here’s the Red Flag again.

The flag is placed by the beach guard to provide visitors with signs on sea areas with big waves which are not save for surfing and swimming. Lifeguards are unfortunately quite rare in Bali. Some beaches have lifeguards and flags with yellow and red markings that indicate the presence of a lifeguard. These beaches are safe to swim in, as are beaches with no flags in sight.

I personally love Kuta because of it’s strategic location. Everything that you need as a traveler is here from budget accommodation (poppies lane), restaurants, bars, internet, mini markets, ATM, and shopping center. Other areas which tourists usually like to use as a base to travel around Bali are Legian, Seminyak, and Nusa Dua.

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Surfing Lesson is Ongoing.

Kuta is a well known destination amongst surfing enthusiasts. A long sandy beach with a lack of dangerous rocks or coral, makes the area attractive for beginners. The waves are higher here and the currents are strong making it a perfect haven for surfers.For 50,000-100,000 IDR you can make your surfing dream come true with the help of some professional surfing schools sprawled along the beach.

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Lovely Aussie Couple Ready To Hit The Beach

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Let’s Have A Walk With The Dogs.

If you’re a backpacker looking for cheap accommodation in Kuta, just go to Poppies Lane Alley, where you can pick your low-budget inns and restaurants. Almost every evening there is a performance of Balinese -dance somewhere in Kuta. You will find alot of warungs and touts which will force you to buy what they are selling but if you are not understand you can politely refuse or just start walking away. Balinese people are friendly but there are just less percentage who you will hate the most which most often than not scammers and opportunist taxi drivers.

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This Is Life…

Kuta has a serious problem dealing with the sanitation and cleanliness. It is just sad to reality that this place turns into a dumpster and the Indonesian Govt. are lacking the skills to prevent these things from happening. This is what happens when a place become so famous and things go beyond undercontol.

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And to complete the ultimate Bali experience, I bought a can of Bintang Beer while I was lying on the sand waiting for the famous sunset in Kuta beach.The noise can be annoying but I had fun doing People Watching.

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If you got tired of sand,sun and strong waves then you can walk across the street and you will see The Beachwalk mall ,housing a lot of branded stores, and other shops. I didn’t explore the inside of the mall as my time is very limited.

Overall it was not an outstanding experience in Kuta Beach but I kinda enjoy it at some point leads me to a realization that if you look beyond the obvious vile aspects of Kuta, you can still enjoy yourself here.

HOW TO GET HERE:

There are plenty of taxis that can take you to Kuta beach. You can rent these by the meter or by the hour. Taking your own car is not recommended as parking here is very tight. If staying along Seminyak and Legian then you can take a walk from your accommodation and pass by some interesting things within the area.

INSIGHT..

For some they will say that going to Bali is just a waste of time and money because the place is just an overrated and uber-populated with Aussie’s. But here’s my take.. You don’t say that a place is not worth seeing not until you see it from your eyes. There will always be bad reviews and negative hearsay but this Island will not attract millions of visitor every year if there is nothing worth seeing. For me, Bali is one of my favorite destination to date with and very close to my heart. Given another chance, Surely I will go back here again. Bali’s beaches may not be as pristine as the famous beaches of Thailand and Philippines but the beaches in Bali has it’s own charm which is embraced by all travelers who have come to Bali.

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Kampong Ayer Brunei| The Venice of the East?!

This is the 3rd famous attraction that I visited in Brunei as part of my 1 day visit to the Kingdom of Unexpected Adventures. From Royal Regalia Museum I walked back to the Yayasan Waterfront to witness what was dubbed as “The Venice of the East” It sounds promising and interesting  but I honestly doesn’t know what to expect. I arrived past 2 PM in the waterfront under the scorching heat of the sun. Then I saw this striking monument sitting right next to the waterfront. I cant help to wonder what does this symbolism means-the lack of tourist information and signage in BSB makes it difficult for tourist to appreciate this less traveled destination.

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The Mercu Dirgahayu

This monument commemorates the 60th birthday of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, and the gold-plated centrepiece of the monument actually represents the number ‘60’ in Arabic. Full of symbolism, the five sides of the monument represent the five pillars of Islam, and the fishing net design has also been incorporated to represent the water village lifestyle of fishing. Information aside, it is a striking monument – especially at sunset – and lends an air of grandeur to the waterfront.Straight ahead from the monuments are the restaurants, including the deservedly popular . Next to it is the old Royal Customs building, which has been converted into the Waterfront Art Gallery

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Waterfront Boat Station

Several wooden long boats greeted me when I reached the waterfront. The dock station seemed so busy because of the boats going back and forth-these wooden boats either will come pick up or drop passengers. You will not see them stay for more than 10 minutes from the boat station cause of tourist’s and locals who come every month to ride the boat.

When I had the 1st stare at the River-I honestly felt like I cant see any comparison with Venice Canal in Italy. It is far from being a TOP tourist destination and from afar those houses standing on stilts looks more of  a slum village (parang Pasig River lang).I believe this is the largest floating Village but there are many places exactly like this all over SE Asia although on a smaller scale

I was standing few steps away from the stairs where boats are docked when a boatman starts yelling and asking me to get him for the river tour. I asked how much?…he answered me with quoted price of 10 BND which I think was a ripped off. So I walk away a bit from the waterfront and act like I didn’t hear the boatman. He was still doing his sales talk with his loud voice and asked me how much I want but I just left and walk further so he wont pursue his desire for me to get him.

I waited until the boatman leaves and then I walked back to the Waterfront. I decided to come up with a game plan-to watch other tourist’s first on how they will barter with the boatman and how much the boatman will charge them. Unfortunately I forgot to do a quick research as to how much is the minimum charge for this ride. I needed to be sure as I am worried about my pocket money after spending 18 BND for a lousy room in KH SOON GUESTHOUSE. My budget for this trip is only 10 BND which should include all expenses including my fare going to Kota Kinabalu on the next day.

I stood for the next 30 minutes until I finally decide to approach another boatmen who just docked. I asked again HOW MUCH? … he said 10 BND again and it got me feeling disappointed. I was already having second thoughts if I should continue or just completely walk away and moved to the next attraction-then the boatmen asks me again how much I want then I said 5 BND and he had this  NO gesture with my answer-then I bartered again for the amount of 7 BND then he smiled and asked to come jump in to his boat so we can start going.

No need to book or wait if you want to see Kampong Ayer. Just ask one of the boat taxis to take you around.

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My Boatmen.

Let’s do a lil bit of History 101: Kampong Ayer has been occupied for 1,300 years. Antonio Pigafetta dubbed the “Venice of the East” when the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan stopped in the area in 1521 Brunei Culturally, this area is an important area that preserves the origin of the river banks populated settlements. By Professor Abdul Aziz of Universiti Brunei Darussalam , Kampong Ayer is the most extensive water settlements and famous in Southeast Asia . Historically, it is the identity of Brunei and also an important trade center in Borneo.

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On Board Now.

If you go on board don’t expect a journey down quaint canals. Nor should you assume that you’ll be guided along slowly on a gondola. You certainly won’t be walking across intricately decorated bridges and through wide open places. Kampong Ayer means ‘Water Village’ in Malay.

It was like a normal day with normal routine, where boats were seen here and there with locals lingering around their balcony. The water wasn’t clear and blue since it is an estuary.

People in the water village commute by motor boats. As seen elsewhere, there would be certain areas in these villages which are shabby with floating garbage. But over all its a novel and a very safe place to visit.

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My Boat Ride.

This is really an attempt to make a tourist attraction out of nothing. A boat trip around the Water Village in Brunei’s capital is a very nice experience.

I had to hold on tight to the sides of the boat as I felt I could trip over. During the ride the boatmen was doing his tour guide stuff of explaining where we are and a lil bit of storytelling about Kampong Ayer. But since I was busy taking snaps while enjoying the breeze of warm air dampens to my face-I did not get the chance to listen and understand his LITANYA. And maybe because the sound of the boat engine is too loud that I couldn’t hear him talking and his accent is hard to understands-seems like he is eating his words.

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Colorful Stilt Houses.

While it is quite fascinating that nearly 30,000 people live in BSB’s water villages, the conditions are quite appalling considering that Brunei is one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Interesting to see that the water villages have their own mosques, fire and police stations, and schools, and supply of fresh water. But I’m guessing from the smell that there’s no sewage treatment plant!

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Wealth and Poverty is Evident.

We passed by some famous attractions during the boat ride like the Omar Ali Mosque. This photo strucked me because of the reality that eventhough Brunei in portrayed as one of the wealthiest country in the WORLD but poverty is still exist no matter how rich a country is. So basically in Brunei, the higher class and the mid class citizens will own the land.

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Closer Look at the Houses Sanding on Stilt.

Because the pictures of Kampong Ayer that we usually see are taken from a boat and show only the outskirts where the differences between houses aren’t so obvious. People living at Kampong Ayer enjoy the same amenities as that of those Bruneians who opted to live on land. Houses are equipped with appliances (air-conditiong, TV, computers, ref etc), making daily living convenient for water village dwellers.  The traditional wooden houses come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes

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Boat Docks

These docks are where people stand at to signal an approaching boat. Same concept as bus stands for buses.

 This population roughly represents 10% of the nation’s total population. They purposely reserve this place as a Malay culture and tradition. Though it looks simple and plain from the outside (more to a slum), it is said that it looks nicer and better in the inside, with satellite, air-cond, internet and what not.

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One of the Mosque near the River.

Wooden, engine-driven water taxis at the jetties at the Yayasan shopping complex or on Jalan Residency provide the cheapest ($1 a person) rides to cross the river and into Kampong Ayer.

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The only Gas Station in the World built on the river.

Gas stations are also built on the water for the convenience of private boats and even ‘water taxi’ to refuel their vehicles water. This is one of the highlight of this river tour. I saw this once online and I was amazed on how a gasoline station was built on the banks of the river.

Kampong Ayer is basically where Brunei originated and how the country became Brunei. It’s full of history and well worth seeing before it’s replaced with new modern homes.

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Floating School.

The village is also home to 14 schools, including religious schools and two secondary schools.Oh, by the way, instead of school buses, Kampung Ayer has school boats, painted in green.

 People in Brunei are mostly friendly, welcoming and approachable. You will see most them smiling and waving from the verandas of their houses at as you pass by their houses.

While Kampong Ayer’s older houses are built on wooden stilts, the new ones are constructed with concrete.

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I felt like we were somewhere in the Jungle.

The boat also took me to mangrove swamps and riverine forests. When I saw the mangrove swamps, I initially thought that he would want me to see the Proboscis Monkey or the Long Nose/Pinocchio like Monkey which can only be found in the lush forest of Borneo. But it turns out I was just assuming as I did not witness any Proboscis Monkey hanging on the tree trunk neither an alligator or crocs. I asked him where can I find them and he said I have to make an additional payment as it is not included to the 7 BND price that we agreed.I had to calm myself from overacting and acting like a Biatch so I just smiled at him but at the back of my eyeballs is my heart pumping blood excessively because I felt like he ripped me off. So you better ask first what is inclusive of the price that you will pay so you wont end up regretting. The trip for you to see crocs and the monkey’s will cost around 20-30 BND-which you can lower than based on your barter skills. But don’t pay more than $30 for a hour trip and there’s heaps of water village taxi’s that will take you around, you can catch a water taxi from the water taxi terminal near the open market.

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Floating Fire Station.

You might be wondring why there is a fire station in this village-simply because fire is also common even in the houses standing on stilts just. Fire Man can easily respond to the fire scene if they were somewhere closer to the village that’s why it built. Village itself accommodates almost 40 000 people, some nice and modern houses, some poor houses.

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Walking on the Wooden Bridge.

It is not advisable to go walk on these wooden bridge at night because lighting is very poor and walkways above water very narrow. These wooden bridges serves as connecting walkways between each house and building in the village.

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Scared I might fall anytime.

Walking around the village you will see aged, rustic, traditional and wooden houses and bridges; very peaceful and charming, certainly and authentically Malay.  These boardwalk passes the front verandah of the homes of those who lives there. Just be careful where you step as the boardwalk is littered with cat poop.

While I was walking unto the wooden bridge I came to ask myself as to  “Why these people choose to settle and built there houses here when they can have normal life on land?”

Are they just stubborn people who doesn’t want to listen to the government or is there a deeper and meaningful reason?

It might be due to the legacy that can not be left unattended. They do not want to leave their turum inherited through generations. However, for some anyway, because that’s the only life they know ….. the river is their livelihood, from fishing or water taxi driving. Some also argue for a very different lifestyle than on land, where they must bear the cost of living is higher if moved to the mainland. They feel comfortable in it, because only pay the cost of electricity and water because they have no home. If staying on land they have to pay rent, and what about the car?

The tour took less than an hour, the boatmen just dropped me from where he picked me up earlier. But you can also tell your boatmen to dropped  you off to your preferred station if you plan to take a walk and explore the sleepy street of BSB.

There is not much attraction to see besides the houses, schools and shops that are built above the water. It is just a different way of living – instead of living on land, this village built on stilts above the water. But over all its a novel and a very safe place to visit.

HOW TO GET HERE:  If your hotel is located in downtown Bandar, it’s just a short walk down to the riverfront. The waterfront itself stretches from Yayasan Complex down Jalan McArthur till where it meets Jalan Sungai Kianggeh in the east, and is best patronized at dawn or dusk.

Venetian Macau | A 3 Hour Venice Experience In Macau

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Venetian Free Shuttle Bus.

From Sands Hotel and Casino, I took advantage of the free shuttle bus Venetian Macau Hotel where I can leave my backpack at West Lobby Wing of the Hotel. West Lobby is where the shuttle bus will alight and pick up passengers and aside from that, here you can find the shuttle terminal for other hotel free shuttle’s like the Galaxy Shuttle and City of Dreams Shuttle.

Getting to Venetian Macau is simple-you can either take the free shuttle from the Airport, Macau Ferry Terminal or from the Gongbei Border. The place is best to explore whether day or night but expect to do alot of walking here as the place is HUGE.

The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel has become one of the biggest landmarks for gamblers throughout Asia. Controlled by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands (LVS), the Venetian was the first giant casino to open on Macao’s Cotai Strip, an area of reclaimed land offshore from downtown Macao.

It took us less than 30 minutes to reach Venetian Macau from Sands Hotel and Casino. I rushed to the baggage counter in West Lobby so I can move around freely. The baggage attendant is a Filipino so I didn’t encounter any problem when I left my bag. I just handed it to him and asked if I am a hotel guest and he handed over a baggage claim tag that I have to present later. This is just 1 thing I loved about Venetian-they allow anyone to leave their baggage even though you are not a guest.It’s an answered prayer for backpackers who just aimed to explore Macau on a day trip. Anyways, So after getting my claim tag I started roaming around the grandeur Hotel. I have to admit that this is my first time to sneak inside a Hotel Casino as I am non a fan of gambling and anything that is of waste of money. I know that is a Venice inspired Hotel and Casino but apart from that I really don’t know what to do here and what to expect since I don’t gamble.

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Venetian Hotel Front View

The Venetian is classy & impressive from the moment you see the grand building structure from the main road, it sits there prouder than all the other buildings.

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The Hotel is Surrounded by a Man Made Lake.

This Venetian Macau resembles the Venice watercity in Italy,

Nowhere else in Asia will you find the finest in luxury suites, world-class shopping, sensational entertainment and irresistible dining- all under one roof. It has become a certified attraction drawer in Macau from that it became open to the public-inside the hotel you will mostly find Rich Chinese Mainlander’s and some Asian’s.

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Venetian Hotel Lobby Entrance

The Venetian Macao is the largest building in Asia and fifth-largest building in the world by area at 10.5 million square feet (980,000 square meters). Officially opening on August 28, 2007.

 The Venetian combines hotel, gambling, retail, exhibition, conference, sports and theatrical facilities. create an integrated resort experience for visitors. The main leisure area also houses multiple swimming pools, Jacuzzis, a luxurious spa and the fitness center.

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PACQUIAO AND RIOS POSTER

There were several posters of Pacquiao and Rios the time I went there-since the fight will be held in this Majestic Hotel for 1st time in history. Tickets though are a bit pricey but for boxing enthusiast this will be worth every penny. I came to Venetian around 1st week of October which 1 month away from the Live Fight.

The 1st hour in Venetian, I was just taking my time and walked slowly to fully adapt the Venice feel. The sight is just mesmerizing…and one of its kind. I feel like i was teleported in Europe with all the intricate European inspired design evident in all corners of the hotel.”Napa nga-nga lang talaga ako sa ganda ng hotel na eto”

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In One of the Hotel Hallway

My feet dragged me to this quiet hallway and I just can’t help but be amazed. I wish someday I can have the luxury to stay here even for 1 night and I think it would be an awesome experience. I am allergic to staying on Hotel but for this one I think I’m gonna need to pass on sleeping in bunk bed in guesthouse just for 1 night. These are the times when I wish I was born with the silver spoon on my mouth.

Apart from the Casino, the Venetian Hotel also offers hotel accommodation to gamblers from around the world.These rooms come in a variety of different price ranges so there is something for all visitors.

With 3,000 rooms available, each suite is split-level and at least 750 square feet or larger (70 square meters). Larger units approach 2,000 square feet in size and feature gold leaf and Italian marble in the bathrooms. No information was available on the Presidential and luxury suites but one can only assume them to be quite lavish.

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Oh My God…

In Venetian Macau there are two main areas—the tourist area and the casino area. In the tourist area, there are the Venetian styled buildings, canals and plaza. The most amazing thing is that all of these are on the third floor. The Grand Canal Shoppes is also on the third floor and is the largest indoor shopping mall in Macau with an area of 22 acres and with more than 350 stores. They are all internationally renowned names with clothes, jewelry, accessories and other goods. The famous brands and the duty-free advantage combine to give all the best shopping experience.

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Indoor Shopping Mall Inside Venetian Hotel.

There are over 350 brand name retail stores at the Grand Canal Shoppes taking up 1.6 million square feet of retail space. If you still can’t get enough of the shopping experience in Hong Kong and your credit card has still huge limit then you’d go GAGA checking out each stalls. There is a HUGE array of shops to choose from for Shopaholics but just make sure you bring enough money for purchases as the price tags are really expensive although there were few stalls selling  bargain items. Too bad.. cause I didn’t go inside any of stalls as I didn’t really come here for shopping experience but it was really tempting.

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Another Angle from the Inside.

 Shops open till about 10pm, making it a good stop before hitting the tables. This place is just amazing. Imagine, Venice inside a building!

The painted sky that hangs over the Venetian Macao’s canals is truly breathtaking and many visitors are surprised that it’s not actually real.

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It never gets dark inside.

There is approximately 1 million square feet of retail and dining areas in the Grand Canal Shoppes, strategically positioned along streetscapes reminiscent of historical Venice. The convention centre and meeting room complex occupy some 1.2 million square feet, while the 15,000-seat CotaiArena hosts a wide range of entertainment and sporting events.

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Nasa Italy na ba ako??

Even though it was indoors, the color of the ‘sky’ changed as night drew near. I wonder, if it rains outside, if they also show a rainy ‘sky’ inside?

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An Alley of Branded Shops.

The man-made blue sky can produce sunrise and sunset effects under the control of a computer. So it somehow kinda hard to figure out if it is day or night if you are inside the Venetian Hotel not unless you step out of the hotel premises.

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Feeling ko anytime dudungaw si Juliet.

The cloudy sky ceilings appears to move when you also move and start walking. Inside the Venetian Hotel are Venice themed romantic streets and canals.

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Staircases Set Up Over The Canals.

Standing over one these staircases will give a great view of the man made canals and the gondola boats passing by. The Venetian canal district comes complete with gondolas, gondoliers and canals with ceilings painted to photorealistic perfection to create an internal sky.

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The Gondola Ride.

Though the gondola may have originated in Venice, Italy ,but you don’t have to wait for a trip to Europe to ride the traditional, flat-bottomed row boat. The Venetian Macau offers Italian gondolas with serenading gondoliers gliding through the San Loco, Marco Polo, or Grand Canals. The casino has 51 gondolas with serenading gondoliers that ply the waters of the Venetian’s three indoor canals and outdoor lagoon

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The sweetest treat for your partner..

Tickets priced at 118 Macau Pataca (MOP) for adults and MOP 88 for kids are available at Boutique di Gondola (shop 2301) and Emporio di Gondola (shop 2660).

Daily Canal Opening Times

Grand Canal: 11:00 – 2200
Marco Polo: 11:00 – 1900
San Luca: 11:00 – 1900

It can be a UBER romantic/intimate experience for couples riding one of these gondolas and be serenaded with gondolier. In my case I didn’t try it because I am solo and second is I am on a strict budget for this day trip. But maybe next time I will try it and bring my love ones with me.

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One of the Costumed Artist.

For non players there is a complete level3 wherein you can visit and can enjoy various shopping experience, gondola rides, a good ambiance etc. etc. For those who wish to see level3 live in action, start from St Marks square wherein there are shows every 2 hours, go around and you might see some costumed artists, some live band, a huge collection of shops offering almost any brand in the world.

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Venice parin ba ako or Rome na…

The Venetian Macao is not only a hotel which offers luxury suites, but also comprises shopping, entertainment and dining.In every part of the hotel you will see alot of costumed performers very much willing to have your photo taken with them. Some of them will play some tricks or create a funny gestures to give smiles to those who are watching them. This guy wearing gladiator inspired costume is not a local but the costume looks good on him.

If you want to see an amazing and breathtaking performance, you can go downstairs to the first level. Here you can go to the ZAİA Theatre to enjoy the ZAİA Show as presented by the Cirque Du Soleil as a permanent show.

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Food Court inside the Venetian Macau.

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Need Some Energy Now..

It was definitely a distance to walk from one end to another. You’d probably need some roving scooters inside. After 2 hours of non stop walking and photo snaps, I had to take a break from brisk walking to eat some Portuguese delicacy in the food court. I can hear my stomach making sounds which means I needed to eat. I think I did 3 rounds around the food court as I can’t decide which cuisine to pick. But since I am in Macau so I opted to try one of the famous delicacy-it’s like a chicken stewed in coconut milk and some curry.Macau was once colonized by Portuguese so most of the food choices are of influence by Portuguese. Although nowadays Macanese Food has become a fusion of Chinese and Portuguese Cuisine-more on curry,coconut milk and lot’s of spices.

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It tastes like Chicken Curry.

Here you can find an array of food cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, Western food and snacks among which there is the largest restaurant in Asia with more than 1,000 tables.

The Venetian offers over 30 restaurants with cuisines from around the world. Their world-class catering facilities are capable of catering a 5-course banquet for over 10,000 guests!

Based on experience the hotel staff including those in the food court has a level of English understanding close to non existing. So if you order your food choice it can be a hassle as they cashier lady doesn’t speak English-so what I did is just point out the photo of the food I want from the menu.

There are many popular local food delicacies can also be found here like (pork burger and macau egg tart, which saves a lot of time than hunting them around macau. You are eating in a food court inside a famous hotel so expect that the prices of food can be a little higher and of course it less authentic rather than buying it from the street side stores.

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Amazing Spiral Staircases in the Casino Area.

The interior design is fascinating. It gives you a feeling that you’re really in Venice.

The Venetian Macao also features an upscale and unique entertainment experience, over 300 prestigious boutiques, 35 world-class restaurants, Asia’s premier spa retreat, first-class entertainment or sporting events in 15,000-seat The Venetian® Arena and 1,800-seat The Venetian® Theater.
The convention and exhibition facilities consist of a 75,000-sqm exhibition space and 25,000-sqm convention and meeting halls, with a 6,500-sqm pillarless ballroom and 108 flexible meeting rooms.

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The Pristine Decorated Ceiling.

I finished my meal in less than 30 minutes on purpose. I realized that I’ve only explore half of the Venetian Hotel and I still numerous sites to cover for the day. So I started walking with full stomach.

And my feet brought me to these golden spiral staircase leading to the casino area. From the staircase is as near you can take photo’s-because camera is not allowed in the casino hall. There are 4 entry points to get to casino and all of em are supervised by guards. They will ask you to keep your cameras inside your bag as part of security procedure before they can let you in.

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Kaching-Kaching Time..

There are lots of action here with dancers and variety acts performing as you gamble, and attentive waitresses dropping off bottles of free water as you play. The casino is visually stunning with it’s high vaulted ceilings and wide open walkways, it was a pleasure to simply walk around and take in the sites

If you’re going to/passing by the casino, make sure you have an ID with you, as they do ID inspection to see if you’re legally allowed in the casino.

The casino is located in the first level of the building, the casino is divided into four areas – the Golden Fish, Imperial House, Red Dragon and Phoenix. There are altogether 850 gaming tables and more than 4,100 slot machines with baccarat, blackjack, roulette and other gambling games. Due to the local laws, youths under 18 years old are prohibited from entering the casino area.

Smoking is not controlled making it not pleasant for non- smokers.

Being a non gambler type, I did not spend much time in the casino area cause in the 1 s place I have no business here except for sneaking out 4 bottles of distilled water which you can get for free. The place is crowded and it gets too loud-it’s like watching a movie scene from a Chinese Mafia Movie where gang lords play their best bet on the casino table. For the sake of experience you can try to play the slot machine and spend 100-200 HKD, well who knows you might go home BIGTIME.

The casino’s in Macau are of the biggest importance because it contributes to the big percentage of the GDP of Macau and provides jobs to may locals.

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Hallway to the Hotel Lobby.

It’s a totally different universe within the massive and pompous Venetian.

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Grandeur Design at the Lobby of Venetian Hotel.

I got tired of seeing shoppes,gondola and casino so I headed to the last stop inside the Venetian Hotel. I went to see the hotel lobby to see for myself how the hotel guest’s are welcomed and what sort of architectural surprise awaits them.

Next to the beautifully engineered canals is this part of the hotel. It was really AMAZING. Those yellow tame lights give the dramatic look to the structures on the lobby and even on the paintings on the ceiling. It’s like going in Italy in a snap.

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Reminds me of the Sistine Chapel in Italy. Every corners in the entrance lobby is good place for photo ops. The yellow gold structures are just dramatic and full of artistry

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Roofs have beautiful carvings ,paintings you can constantly look up to.

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Magnificient structures, painstakingly crafted backdrop are just everywhere.

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 A stroll around the resort gives you a glance of luxury—and a somewhat weird combination of facilities, attractions

I can’t help but admire. It was nothing like what I saw in my whole life. At 2PM, I headed back to the West Lobby again to continue my trip to the rest of the hotel casino trails in Cotai District. had trouble finding our way out, but I guess it is designed that way. I can’t recall how many times I got lost inside Venetian Hotel but it was numerous times as far as my memory can tell. I wish I could have more time here in Venetian, even a full day tour in the Venetian does NOT sound ridiculous at all !!!

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This photo was taken when I was on my way to Macau Airport inside the Venetian Free Shuttle. My last hotel stop for the day is Venetian Macau because it is where I took my ride going to the airport and I have to claim my baggage for my flight back to KL at 10 PM. The trip happened like a breeze and when I boarded the free shuttle that’s where I started feeling tired and exhausted. But overall this trip is one of the most memorable so far and one of the cheapest day trip I ventured.

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VENETIAN:

– The volume of sand used in the reclamation of land for The Venetian Macao, is enough to build one of Egypt’s largest pyramids

– They poured enough concrete to fill 318 Olympic swimming pools

– As many as 11,000 construction workers and 990 trucks entered the site each day. Twenty-two mobile cranes, 41 crawler cranes and 552 mobile platforms were operating on site at the same time during construction

– The total size of The Venetian Macao is equivalent to 56 football fields. That’s big enough to park close to 100 Boeing 747 jumbo jets!

-Notable sporting events held at the Venetian include: NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic (Oct. 20, 2007), Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras (Nov. 24, 2007), and Ray Mercer vs Derric Rossy (Jan. 26, 2008)

INDOCHINA | Drafting The Plan, Budget, Itinerary and the Story Behind It.

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INDOCHINA MAP

Of all the planning I made from my previous travels in the past few months, the INDOCHINA planning stage is the most difficult and mind bugging. Only because we are not just talking about 1 country but we are planning for 4 countries on very limited time and budget. This is technically my 1st time to go on a solo backpacking trip (so brave lang diba). Before INDOCHINA I have already traveled to Singapore and Malaysia, but that’s a different story because I knew nothing about backpacking at all when I traveled to SG and KL. This backpacking plan is too ambitious for an inexperience traveler but for me there is really no right timing. If your instinct tells you to go-if you are physically capable then book,pack and just GO.

INDOCHINA BACKPACKING GOALS:

1) Explore as many as countries 

2) Gain more stamps in my passport

3) Experience border crossing encounters

4) Experience and differentiate 1 country and culture to one another

5) Surviving with limited budget

6) See different famous attractions of each Country

7) Explore different cuisine’s

8) Meet new friends and fellow travelers

9) Go back home with life changing experiences

So how did it all started?

8 months after I arrived here in KL for my new work assignment-I feel like I needed a break and some breather cause of the stress and pressure from work.I felt like I am so exhausted that I just pack and hit the road. And before I renew my contract here for another year, I want to start fresh .

At first I really doubted myself if I really want to do it or am I ready for this journey and lastly I am not certain that I have enough funds to support the trip. Then 1day I woke up- my PINOY co workers here starts posting their photos in FB as most of em had been to Thailand, Japan and Vietnam. And I just start feeling envious of them that they can manage to travel and do whatever they want despite of being an OFW.

That was the turning point!, and I know to myself that I should do it as it is going to be a life changing experience and simply the best reward to myself for all the hard work and times not spent with my family and relatives back home in Manila.

Why INDOCHINA?

Initially it was just Thailand that I wanted to explore but thanks to all the readily available resources online. I was able to came across some blog articles about “INDOCHINA” and I got intrigued so I start looking at the MAP-then I realized that the 5 countries of INDOCHINA are so close to each other which (well in the MAP it is) gives me the hint right THERE and THEN that this is where I want to go.

Then I am all set doing Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam but at some point I feel like I am still not satisfied with the 3 line up of countries. So I had to study the MAP again and figured out that I can still accommodate Laos as part of the INDOCHINA trail. In the case of Myanmar-for me it deserves a separate trip because the country has so much character that 3-4 days is not enough.

Primarily my basis for choosing INDOCHINA is because it is CHEAP and AFFORDABLE. Given the fact that I don’t have much savings in my bank account so INDOCHINA is SWAK na SWAK. And another reason being is because Filipino’s are not required to secure VISAS to to travel to these countries and it is easy to cross borders and travel by land(just so cheap).

TIP: For 1st timers, traveling to INDOCHINA is your best bet. It is easy to maneuver in between countries and it won’t have much impact in your bank account. INDOCHINA will give you the best and authentic feel of what ASIA has to offer. Each country has a different appeal and culture which is distinct from 1 another. Locals may not speak good English when you approached them for HELP but they are very much willing to help tourist to the best they can.

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AIRASIA Website

The opportunity?

Few months before my contract renewal I am still left with 10 Annual Leaves. Right away I emailed my Manager that I will be applying for 6 days leave-then I prayed and 1 day after my Manager replied to my email that my “LEAVE  IS APPROVE”  and that I  need to file it to our Leave Filing Application Portal. In total I got 11 days including my rest days for this trip.

So now the next problem is FLIGHT BOOKING. I checked AIRASIA right away for cheap flights and lucky that they are running some promotional airfare to BKK Thailand which I have decided to  be my entry point.

One of the best things about working in KL is that it is the home to the WORLD’S LEADING LOW COST AIRLINE. It offers flight from KL to different parts of ASIA like Japan, Korea, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar and even cheap flights to Australia.

I booked my 1 way flight to BKK for only 70 MYR which is around 1050 in Philippine Peso (UBER CHEAP RIGHT?). The flight back to KL took me 1 week before I booked it , as I need to wait for the cheap flights from HCMC which will be my exit point.It costs me 204 MYR for the flight back to KL or 2652 PHP.

TIP: If you are planning on the same route then I highly suggest to make Laos or Vietnam as your entry point as it will save you time and some dime. For example Laos-Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam or you can try vice versa so that you wont have to go back again to BKK from Laos to get to Cambodia just like what happened to me in this trip. You really have to pay full attention on how do you plan to travel in between countries and which will be your entry and exit point.

Always book your flights ahead of time and make sure you sign up to the email newsletter of the airline sites so you will continuously receive updates and promotional offers specially if you are not the type who sits in front of your computer for long hours.

One of hindrance for some people to go on a trip is because they feel like they don’t really have the time and luxury to do it.

So when are really gonna have a time? When your already 50 retired and sitting down on your tumba-tumba? When all your kids have grown up, left your home cause they now have their own family. ……..JUST DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND TRAVEL….

And another is that for most people who has a regular job they find it hard to balance in between. But here’s the thing “We can always make money but its not always that you can make memories”. You have to reward yourself every now and then-just so you can feel you value yourself like how value and dedicate all your hard work for your family. You have to find an opportunity to balance life-what is 2-4 days Leave in every six months if you think it will help you improve your being.

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My 15 Kilos BFF backpack’s

Why backpacking?

After my flight booking has been confirmed-I knew right away that it is not going to just cost me 10,000K PHP for the 11 days trip. And thankful enough came across PINOY EXCHANGE FORUM SITES where I learned about the term “BACKPACKING”.

Backpacking is just define as a way of traveling may it be solo or with group which uses all sorts of cheap options like (traveling by land or taking long hours of journey inside train instead of taking the plane,sleeping in hostels or airport lobby instead of spending your night in a luxurious hotel and eating in street side or local cafeteria’s instead of fine dining.

Honestly, I don’t know how BACKPACKING works and the whereabouts so in order to understand more about backpacking-I had to go through some blog post’s of Pinoy backpackers which simply tells their experiences while on the road and of course their mishaps.I even had to asked a traveler what does he really do when he backpacks and how did he manage his finances while on the road without loosing track.

For this trip I had to buy a huge backpack-the ones you usually see being carried by mountaineers. Backpacking is just the best option for me to make this trip successful not only because it is cheap but also it is because it will be easy for me to move from 1 place to another with my backpack instead of the traditional wheeled luggage. This will also be of my advantage as I have total control over my budget.

TIP: Backpacking may not be appropriate for all types of people as each has their own preference when they travel.Some people may value convenience and the security of staying in hotels as their main priority. Choose the type of traveling which really defines you as a traveler and the one that will help you improve your self being as you go along your journey.You don’t just buy the backpack dahil gusto mu lang maki uso. Do it because you can see yourself as a matured traveler.

It maybe a cheap way of traveling but at some point you still have to splurge and enjoy bit. It doesn’t mean that just because you are a budget backpacker that you are just gonna let yourself starve at all times.

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Pinoy Exchange Website

On working on the itinerary?

Of all the planning stages-this is the most exciting part. It is where our senses are fired up and you start painting the images of the attractions and landmark in your mind that we been dreaming of.

So how do you really decide on which places and attractions?

And my answer is you have to make a LONG list of attractions/landmarks in per location.

IT CAN BE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

*Religious Temples and Sanctuary

*Museums

*Theme Parks

*Beach

*Historic Landmarks/Buildings

*Scenic views

*Breathtaking landscape

*Malls/Night Market

  AND SO ON………………………….If it interest you then jot it down…

If you think you have enough attractions then it is time for you to compile it.

After compiling is narrowing down your choices based on 4 factors budget, number of days, time constraint and accessibility.

I was so overwhelmed when I was working on the outline of my itinerary-as I have so many places in mind that I wanna see.

For instance I find Thailand more interesting and cheaper compare to Cambodia-that’s why I spent 4 days in Thailand and it was not a bad decision at all cause I was able to visit famous places outside BKK like Ayutthaya and Pattaya where in the travel time from BKK will not consume 1 day. Let’s say your budget in Thailand is only 2000 THB for 3 days and you are intended to travel outside BKK on you 2nd day and do alot of shopping in MBK Mall. Given 2000 THB for 3 days is very constrict budget. It will get by just around BKK but gonna work if you plan to travel to Pattaya or Chang Mai. In short UMARTE SA TAMANG GANDA AT WAG MAG YAMAN YAMANAN.

NUMBER OF DAYS…

Another instance is how to divide 11 days in four countries-Bangkok is more affordable to me so I spent 4 days, while Laos is very laid back and I learned that a day trip is possible in exploring Vientiane so I just spent 1 day, In the case of Cambodia, a friend told me they are using USD which looks like it will cost me more and spending 3 days of temple exploration is going to give me temple overload syndrome specially that I will be coming from Thailand and Laos on which several Buddhist Temples are scattered everywhere, so I’ve decided to just spend 1 night just so I can explore main temples, with only 2 days left it is easy to plan my itinerary in HCMC as the city has less attractions to offer and Vietnam is cheap for the record. Given 3 or 4 days in HCMC you can simplydo a side trip to Mui Ne Vietnam for the famous sand dunes. When working on itinerary you will also have to consider that traveling from 1 country to another will take hours and hours of land travel like when I travel to Siem Reap from BKK which took me more or less 9 hours, which only means it will eat up 1 day from my 11 days.

ACCESSIBILITY…

Accessibility is also another factor like in the case of Laos-I heard that Luang Prabang has more than to offer than Vientiane but the problem is it not accessible for me as the land travel will take 12 hours from Vientiane and I don’t have much days so I just have to crossed it out from the list of attractions. Another example is in Vietnam-where I wanted to see the Sand Dunes so badly but given the fact that I only have 2 days left in HCMC is enough for me to not push through with the side-trip. The journey is gonna take 6 hrs from HCMC by land travel+ a whole day tour in Mui Ne+1 night stay in Mui Ne if you came in a little bit later than after 1 PM+6 another hours journey back to HCMC (given this equation malamang sa malamang sa sakto lang un 2 days mu for this sidetrip. If the attraction is really far from the rest of your desired destination for a day then just drop it. Consider the travel time between the attractions like how much time you are gonna need to reach Chatuchack Market from Saphan Taksin Station after your temple tour or if you will be able to make it to the 8 PM SIM NIRAMIT show.

BUDGET…

Budget also comes hand in hand with the 3 other factors-this may include expenses such as fare going to and from,admission fees,food and unexpected expenses. You have to weight things if your proposed itinerary will be balance with your proposed budget for the trip. Like on my 2nd day in BKK after doing a temple tour for the whole day-I planned to take the Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise for around 1100 THB. But when I double checked my funds for BKK it appears that if I take the dinner cruise then my budget will be ruined and my THB will not be enough for the succeeding days in BKK. And so I had to cancel it few hours before and think of an alternative instead.

TIME CONSTRAINT…

In Laos since it is just a day trip-the available time I have is only 8 hours to cover all sites in the city center. Although I want to see the Buddha Park desperately-I had to drop it cause it will eat up almost 4 hours from the 8 hour available time. The park is located outside the city center where you need to take a public bus or hire a tuk-tuk driver. You only cover what your time can accommodate “WAG MAXADO GAHAMAN AT MAY NEXT TIME PA NAMAN”.

PINOY EXCHANGE FORUM SITE and several blog sites are a big help to me when I was finalizing my itinerary. It will  give you insights, DO’s and DONT’s, sample budget and basic HOW TO questions that most travelers are asking.

TIP: Know what you really want to see! If you have to google for you to see the image online just so you can decide better-then PLEASE DO SO!.Your decision in the itinerary takes a big chunk of the success of the trip. It is either you did it right or you ruined it. But don’t just make decisions based on the images already painted in your mind-DIG DEEPER…

Do an itinerary which has mix of everything. Say for your DAY 1 in BKK is plotted for temple tour then dahil maxado ka atat gusto mu pa idagdag yung ibang temples around Chinatown(goodluck naman sayo). What I do is interchange them like temple,food trip,museum or shopping or watch a cultural show like Siam Niramit. With this itinerary for sure you can cover culture,food,religion and leisure (hindi sya boring na DAY1) Play WITH IT and make it interesting…

Very important before i forgot is creating an ITI which is flexible. Meaning something you can modify,make some last minute changes,interchange and adjust on some certain factors. There will be times na the weather is gloomy or rainy and not ideal for you to go out of BKK for Ayutthaya. Unforeseen circumstances like anti govt. really in BKK which had cause severe traffic which will impact your city tour-or days when have mood swings and you suddenly feel like you don’t want to go visit this place thus moving it for tomorrow’s agenda.

It is also important that you do a lil bit of research about the place or attraction so you will understand  it’s history-that way you will be able to save few bucks cause you don’t need to hire an English Tour Guide which is a bit boring and monotonous. Knowing the history and a lil bit of glimpse of a particular landmark will help you set in the mood. Like, when visiting “Ayutthaya in Thailand-Find out why most of temples are burned down by the Burmese,who won and how battle has ended. Things like that will make a big difference. Don’t just take picture and stare at it-know the STORY behind it. “TRUE TRAVELERS AT HEART DON’T JUST TRAVEL TO SEE THINGS BUT TO EXPERIENCE THEM PERSONALY‘”

If you are traveling with group of friends or relatives then you have to collaborate and do brainstorming-main idea is make sure that both of you have agreed on the itinerary so you will not play the WHO’s TO BLAME GAME if your companion is not happy come travel time. A certain landmark may not be of interest of your companion but he let you work on the itinerary and come tour time he was complaining all throughout the day because he/she didn’t like it. SO SIT DOWN AND TALK IT OVER…. It has to be a combined effort (wag magdunong-dunungan)

 

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My currency collection from the INDOCHINA TRIP

On the proposed budget?

For me TRAVELING doesn’t have to be EXPENSIVE.I always find ways on how to cut down cost and staying within the budget. Whether  you are going in a 3rd World or 1st World Counctry-there always a way to travel around cheap.

How much can you really spend for this trip? This trip is supposed to be a 100 USD per country challenge which includes (food,fare,admission fees,accommodation and miscellaneous expenses). I’ve thought of the challenge just so I can make the trip more interesting. The approach is like me I am one of the contender for a reality travel show (oh diba lakas ng trip). It will also test my ability to spend and how far will I go in terms of PAGPIPIGIL.

But given that the days spent on each country is not equal so I have come up with another strategy. Strategy I came up is based on the number of days spent on each country and daily average spending for budget travelers per country which I googled online.

In BKK although I have a place to stay for FREE for 3 nights but I have also longer days here and I traveled outside BKK twice which is in  (Ayutthaya and Pattaya), so I allot at least 200 USD. In LAOS it is just a day trip but my allotted budget is 50 USD, Cambodia for 100 USD and Vietnam for 100 USD. The budget is tight but I have to make it work and in order to cut down I had totally cross out SHOPPING for this trip (with the exception of some cheap souvenirs like (ref magnets and key chains).

TIP: Stick to your budget as much as possible and try to avoid unnecessary expenses while on the trip. Come up with an ideal daily budget (food,fare and accommodation). It is like a rough draft which will serve as your guide so you will not overspend. Like for Thailand, my budget for food for 3 meals in a day is from 150-200 THB-which is attainable provided that you will only splurge once or twice. Thai Cuisine is one of the best cuisine I have ever tasted and for sure you will find it hard to resist so you really need to watch your budget. Most often than not the best and authentic foods can be found along street side which is way cheaper than eating in fancy restaurants.

During the trip, you can also separate the budget for each country and put it somewhere not easy for you to get.Cause when temptation is just around the corner it so gonna be so hard not to spend-like when visiting Chatuchack Market or Benh Than Market in HCMC where you will be surprise with lots of bargain items. When you know you have 50 USD on your pocket and saw this imitation bag in-definitely you will buy the bag cause you know for a fact I have money in my pocket. So try to set your money aside so that you will not end up spending your budget for HCMC in buying stuff in BKK.

Create a budget plan which is FLEXIBLE and not really exact. It will allow to play within your budget.

Always set aside an amount for unexpected circumstances. As it will be not all the time that things will go along well with your plan. Like for instance when crossing the Thailand-Cambodia border. Your plan is to mingle with other tourist/make friends so that you can share the cost of the taxi from Poipet border to Siem Reap. But what happens when no one likes you and the ones that you spoke is with a groups of 3-4 people. Then your budget will jeopardize as you have to shoulder 45USD instead of maybe 15 USD atleast fi shared with 2 other tourist. Another sample is when you charter Tuk-Tuk to bring you to your accommodation. Come paying time he quoted you a whooping 500 THB for a 5 minute ride. That’s a total ripped off. You are in a unfamiliar place and although there will be lots of nice and caring people-there will always be those who will do bad things just to make money from the tourist by scamming them or ripping them off in any means they can. There will be times you will really need to take a cab as you need to be in the train station at this time so you can take the overnight train to Laos.Something most travelers overlooked when they plan.

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Bou Savy Guest House in Siem Reap

On choosing the cheapest accommodation?

Choosing the place to stay is the least of my priority in this trip. My itinerary is designed where most of days are spent traveling via overnight bus or CouchSurfing.

 I also found out about CouchSurfing through PINOY EXCHANGE FORUM SITES. At first I have second thoughts about it cause of the security-imagine sleeping in someone’s bed that you have not met in your whole life. But the site is legit and you just have to be cautious when it comes to choosing your host. The site is free and easy to use,you just need to send invite to your preferred host and wait for them to reply that you are welcome to come to their place. This is my 1st time CouchSurfing and I was lucky to be hosted by a South African guy who is based in BKK as an English Teacher-he hosted me for 3 nights and he even introduced me to his friends who is also based in BKK. We had a great time partying in Khao San Road on my 1st night in BKK. I have also sent some request in Laos,Vietnam and Cambodia but unluckily most of them are not able to accommodate me on the date of my travel. Just to give you a heads up not all members of CS can offer free place for you to jump in as of them can offer to accompany you around the city and show you around for free. Like the host I met in HCM, he did not host me in his place but he showed me around HCMC in my 2 days stay in HCMC with his motorbike.

I did not booked any accommodation prior to the trip cause it is not unnecessary for me. I am not so keen about my bed for a night for as long as it is comfortable and has shower then I am all set. I only lodge my reservation for my 1 night stay in Siem Reap in Bou Savy which is more most Filipino’s stay during their trip to Siem Reap (recommended in PEX site for CAMBODIA). I had to make a reservation as rooms get filled always cause the increasing number of Pinoy who choose to stay in Bou Savy. There are other choices around the Night Market very strategic if your a fan of attending night bazaar. Accommodations ranging from 6-20 USD.

In HCMC, there are handful of choices to choose from ranging from 7-20 USD-I just asked the taxi driver to drop me in Pham Ngu Lao district known to be the backpackers hub in HCMC. The place is strategic because it is waking distance from most of the city attractions like Benh Than Market, Notre-Dame Basilica and Saigon Opera House. On a sleepless night in HCMC you walk safely walk around the city center and just enjoy people watching and the bustling motorcycles (primary mode of transpo in Vietnam)

Traveling overnight saved me atleast 20-30 USD and it is advisable cause it also saves you daylight-as you will leave one place at night and when you wake up you just arrived to your destination and ready for another city tour. Although the issue of safety is always there if you choose to travel at night -but my best advise is to book your land transfer to bus operators who are reputable and highly recommended by other travelers like in TRIP ADVISOR and PINOY EXCHANGE. Google them if they have recorded accidents in the past 5-8 years which cause the death of numerous innocent lives. There are real life accidents documented (just so you know) but don’t be frightened and instead just PRAY as GOD will keep you safe from harm and danger as long as you keep your faith.

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A sample fo Couch Surfing Member Profile

WHAT IS COUCHSURFING? Couchsurfing was founded in 2004 and sold to the private for-profit corporation Better World Through Travel in 2011. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event. Also referring to the practice of moving from one friend’s house to another, sleeping in whatever spare space is available, floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on to the next house. Free to register. Members are encouraged to provide information and photos of themselves and of the accommodation they offer, if any. More information provided by a member, and other members, improves the chances that someone will find the member trustworthy enough to be their host or guest. Security is measured in a variety of ways, including member references, verification and the vouching system. Members looking for accommodation can search for hosts using several parameters such as age, location,gender and last login.No monetary exchange takes place except sometimes for compensation of incurred expenses (e.g. food). It is common practice for guests to seek non-monetary means to show their appreciation, such as bringing a gift, cooking a meal or teaching a skill. In short it is being hosted by a local from a specific place and getting it for free. But it is only about FREE accommodation as it connects you to people who shares the same passion and these are people who chose to open their doors to get to know other travelers whom they can share stories.It is by far your best source of basic information about the country cause technically they live there so they know better than what GOOGLE can offer.

TIP: Accommodations in S.E.A is cheaper than you can imagine and if you are not that delicate you can get a bunk bed for 5-10 USD with FREE WIFI and sometimes with free breakfast.Just make sure you secure your belongings well and you bring your important stuff with you at all times.You can also bring your own padlocked to secure your items in the locker while you were out exploring the city. Remember you cannot  TRUST anyone at this point. People in the hostels maybe friendly and carefree but deep inside has bad intentions.

Consider CouchSurfing! so you can meet new set of people from around the World apart from the travelers you will meet along the way. It is always nice to exchange ideas and thoughts to people who shares the same passion as there is no need to think what topic to discuss-the conversation is just free flowing and you will not even noticed time has passed. If CouchSurfing, DONT just sleep and go! Make an effort to cook for your host or allot an ample of your time for a bottle of beer or a cup of coffee. Always check the reviews and ratings of the hostel/guest house before you BOOKED-the best recommendation will always come from people who experienced the place. Talking to people whose 1st language is English will help you improve on your communication and people skills. Not only you gained a new friend but when you go back to your comfort zone-you will feel confident and ready to face the WORLD.

Use AGODA,TRIPADVISOR,BOOKINGS.COM,HOSTELBOOKERS,HOSTELWORLD and AIRBNB when looking for the place to stay. Most often than not it is cheaper to booked your accommodation from 3rd party booking sites instead of booking directly to the hostel website but you can also check their sites for any promotional offers.

If you are traveling overnight via bus-it is suggested to always keep an eye to your belongings as the people inside the bus are strangers (trust no one). Also keep your senses alerted and alive as unexpected things may happen at night. DON’T FORGET TO PRAY for a safe journey..

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BKK Train

On getting around the City?

INDOCHINA has one of the most convenient modes of transportation. Getting around the city all depends on you preference if your the type of traveler who values convenience over experience. You prefer taking cab from BKK Airport instead of the public bus to to your hotel.

But mostly the most reliable way of getting around is using the public modes of transportation like train, tuk tuk, bus, mini van and so on. In places where it gets crowded due to the number of tourists like in BKK it is not advisable to hire a cab or tuk tuk as most of them will ripped you off for the sole reason that you are a TOURIST. Your best bet in getting around in BKK is riding the train or public bus which maybe confusing at times as some destination board is written in Thai. For short distances expect to pay around 15-40 THB. But if you plan to take tuk tuk or cab you just have to research about the usual or mininum fare they suppose to charge you as a passenger and try not lo look like you are really a tourist wearing your 24 carat gold necklace and your uber laking dangling earings. In Cambodia and Laos tuk tuk is the famous mode of transportation ranging from 0.50-3 USD for short distances and public buses are available for longer distance like when getting to Buddha Park from Vientiane or if you plan to do a side trip to Pnom Penh from Siem Reap. HCMC can be discovered on foot, via motorbike or taking taxi. For longer distances like if you want to see the Cu Chi Tunnel or the see how locals live in Mekong River then you can opt to hire a tour for that which will only cost you 6-10 USD.

TIP: Before getting into a foreign soil, you have to at least make an effort to make a print out of the transportation route of the place and study it carefully. It gives you an advantage if you know where are you going and eliminate the chances of getting lost and times that are wasted because of poor planning. You can grab a map from the airport,tourist information booth across the city, bus stations, mall and even in travel agencies. What I usually do is write down on my mini notebook the step by step process on how to get to this place to that place and how much will it cost me. Your common knowledge and research will be of your great defense against scammer’s and touts.

For trains be very mindful where to board and alight-cause if you alighted on wrong station then it is going to be additional cost and lesser time for you. Riding public buses and rubbing elbows with locals maybe a shocked but you can make a good and memorable experience out of it. Talk to them and observe them as how they react to unfamiliar faces like you. It can be a good photo ops for aspiring photographers-those portrait photos and skeptical gestures of the locals inside the bus will be your subject.

On how and what to pack?

Just one very important word of advise ” PACK LIGHT”. Something I am ashamed of cause I got so excited with the trip that I ended up almost bringing half of my closet with me. In fact I had to upgrade my baggage to 15 kilos which is an additional cost on my part that could have been avoided only if I bring just enough of what I need. If possible just make use of the 7 kilos allowable hand carry allowance by airlines. This is by far my biggest mistake I’ve done in this trip cause when I did a day trip in Laos under a striking heat of the sun (40 degrees Celsius) and I am carrying this bulky 13 kilos backpack is a bad bad idea at all. I have no where to deposit my bag cause I have no hotel accommodation cause i was just there for 8 hours and Laos is not Japan so there are really no lockers you can deposit your baggage. At the end of trip I noticed I only get to wear half of what I bring.

WHY PACK LIGHT? You are gonna have hard time moving as fast as you can because you are carrying a heavy backpack. In cases you need to run because the train has just arrived or your you will be late to your flight back home and you need to rush before boarding gate closes. So you can easily get from the backpack the things you need-with so many things inside your backpack it will be difficult for you to look for small items like charger,hanky or any important documents. Carrying a heavy backpack for like 2-4 hours while walking will give backache and shoulder pains. It can save you few bucks instead of upgrading your baggage allowance not unless you plan to shop alot then you really need to upgrade your baggage going back home.

Recommended things to bring:

*7-10 pairs of shirt

*2 pairs of short

*2 pairs of pants

*2 pairs of socks maybe

*underwear

*towel which is not bulky and will dries up fast once use

*face towels or handkerchief

*spare battery for gadgets like camera and mobile phone (for longer hours of travel like in bus or train or overnight bus to your next destination it is advisable to all bring spare batteries

*adaptor (if you can bring one its better as those you can find on the market is twice it’s normal price)

*can also bring power cord extension (if you have couple of gadgets and there is only one available power outlet then this is goin to be your bestfriend)

*small flashlight

*medicine kit (bring all sorts of medicine for any illness cause you don’t know if you’r body can easily adapt to the new surroundings.

*1  pair of slippers (not the space consuming like CROCS)

* 1 pair of rubber shoes or sneakers (should be the one that will give you comfort and support for long hours of walking)

*Swiss knife maybe

*PEN (of course,specially in Thailand and Cambodia where you need to fill out a form during your entry)

*inflatable water pouch (it will save you few bucks instead of buying a bottle of water from the store-you can simply refill your it from any establishment.

*neck pillow (for long bus travel)

*umbrella/cap

*small handy pouch where you can put all your important documents.

*padlocks.

*light fabric jacket (as weather can be unfavorable)

*MP3 Player/Ipod or book (it will make you busy for long hours of land travel)

*your hygienic paraphernalia (soap,shampoo,toothpaste/tooth brush,mouth rinse and kung anek anek pa) should be of the of the smallest of it size and contained in a sealed zip bag.

*money belt (very important if you are backpacking alone as the belt is attached next to your skin)

TIPS:

-bring something you can easily mix and match either you are wearing trousers or short but still fashionista.

-light color and cotton fabric ones-the temperature in INDOCHINA Countries are humid and HOT.

-clothes that dries up fast and easy to wash in cases that you run out of shirt and you need to do some hand washing in your guest house.

-those with thin fabrics so you can maximize every space in your backpack

-rolling the shirts is one of technique I used to save space

-try to avoid clothes that needed to be iron and those that gets crumpled easily.

-as much as possible avoid bringing jewelries and anything that can attraction attention.

-always keep an eye and bring your important belongings with you even if you are buying food or going for a quick shower.

-check your things and your backpack every now and then to make sure nothing is missing.

-apart from your big backpack you also bring with you a small backpack you will have to hang in your front-this where you will need to put all important things (money,passport,print outs,camera,phone) so that way you can easily guard your items.

-things you should put in the big backpack should all be clothes and other heavy items.

-wag masyado OA sa pagdamit dahil hindi FASHION WEEK ang pupuntahan mu.

-dress appropriately when outside to keep you away from any trouble or danger.

-always double check your assigned locker (hostels/guesthouse) before going to sleep it it is safely locked.

-come sleep time you can put underneath your pillow some of the important documents with you like passport,credit cards,ID’s and so on.

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POIPET-CAMBODIA BORDER

On border crossing?

This is part of the itinerary where I exerted so much effort-cause I have to be able to understand HOW will travel to the next country. And again PINOY EXCHANGE and Blog Post’s are my only source of information. Planning the border crossing includes choosing the mode of transportation to get to the border, what to do once arrived in your exit border, how to get to the other border of you entry, knowing the procedures on what papers to fill up and where to fall in line until you reached your hostel. It is very dreadful and confusing so I have write the steps one by one in my mini notebook. Border Crossing in INDOCHINA is easy for us Filipinos as we are not required to secure any VISA. We just fall in line in the immigration booth and watch the immig officer stamped our passport and you are done. This is the only time you will appreciate holding a Philippine Passport. All of my border crossing experiences went smoothly and it was an overland travel by bus. It is cheaper compared to taking plane but it will drain your energy.

TIP: Make sure your IPOD or MP3 player is fully charged before boarding the bus cause you will be needing it to get by the long hours of travel. Bring a PEN and DO NOT take photos once inside the immigration or border.

On traveling SOLO?

WHY SOLO? Because I want to have more time for myself and get to know more of my personality. Other reason being is because most of my colleagues are not that brave enough to take the risk like what I did-they are also not into travel as they prefer to find pleasure in material things. Well anyway’s it was a VERY GOOD DECISION afterall cause it made me realized alot of things in the duration of the trip. If you are traveling SOLO then you can simply travel on your pace, you don’t have to think of your companion if he is already tired or hungry and you can pretty much do what ever you want. One disadvantage for me is when it comes to transportation as I have no one to split the cost EX: In Siem Reap when I hired a tuk tuk for 11 USD for the temple tour instead of splitting the cost with someone I have to burden the cost on my own. Although you can make friends with other travelers and ask them if you can share the transportation with them EX: Kahit na hindi ako friendly talaga kinapalan ko mukha ko na kaibiganin ang 2 Westerns na nakilala ko lang sa bus on my way to Aranyaprathet Border kasi kung hindi mag isa ko babayaran ang 45 USD taxi fare from Poipet Border in Cambodia to Siem Reap.

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Leaflets,Brochures,Print Outs,Map and Admission Passes

On executing the planned itinerary?

It was dreadful 1 month of back reading in PINOY EXCHANGE into 4 different threads plus several open tabs of blog post in my pc before I have come to finalized my itinerary for the 11 days trip. I started printing out the itinerary in the office (diba user friendly lang) it includes city map,train route map,attractions, day to day itinerary and instructions on getting to one attraction to another. Apart from that I also bought a small notebook where I jot down some important details of the trip. I also list down some common phrases use in each country just so you can make tawad or strike a conversation with a local. I have 2 backpacks with me the big one at the back where all of my clothes is neatly packed and a small bag hanging on my front where most of my important belongings are like Passport,printed plane ticket,personal ID’s,wallet,gadgets and so on. If you are in doubt DONT HESITATE to ask locals and make use of the FREE WIFI if there is a chance.

NOTE: Always bring a PEN with you.

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VIETNAM-LAOS-CAMBODIA-THAILAND

Careful Planning is the key to the success of my SOLO BACKPACKING TRIP. Something which cannot be done if you are not keen with details and if you lack patience. You gotta trust your instinct at all times. I also started like other 1st timers with 0 knowledge about backpacking and traveling but I managed to make this trip successful.

11 Days Backpacking INDOCHINA Detailed Itinerary and Budget| Thailand | Laos | Cambodia | Vietnam

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Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND 

DAY 0 | April 13, 2013 | Saturday

AGENDA: Arrival, Meet up my Host and Party in Khao San Road

19:50  | Arrived in Don Mueang Airport in BKK

20:00-20:40 | Clear Immigration and Checked In Baggage Claimed

20:40-21:00 | Exchange USD to THB in the Airport

21:00-21:20 | Paid the Taxi Coupon in Don Mueang Airport | 400 THB

21:20-22:30 | Traveled from Don Mueang Airport to Lat Krabang by Taxi

22:30-23:40 | Meet and Greet with my Host from CouchSurfing, Took a Rest and Freshen Up

23:40-00:20 | Took a taxi to Khao San Road from Lat Krabang

00:20-02:40 | Celebrating Songkran in Khao San Road/Party Party |80 THB (dinner)

03:00 | Home |300 THB (cab going back home)

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DAY 0 TOTAL EXPENSES

780 THB

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Bangkok Skyline from Baiyoke Sky Hotel

 BANGKOK, THAILAND 

DAY 1 | April 14, 2013 | Sunday

AGENDA: Naudlot na Ayutthaya Temple Tour, Explore around Victory Monument, Baiyoke Sky Hotel and Night Market in Ratchaprarop.

12:30 | Wake Up (late gising dahil sa sobrang party)

13:30-14:30 | Travel from Lat Krabang to Victory Monument |120+40+15=175 THB

14:30-15:10 | Lunch | 150 THB

15:10-15:40 | Walk Around Victory Monument, Bought Thai SIM, Proceed to Mini Van Station | 150 THB (thai SIM)

15:40-16:00 | Travel from Victory Monument to Ayutthaya (journey takes 1 hour) 140 THB (roundtrip fare)

16:00 | Arrived in Ayutthaya Van Terminal

17:30-1840 | Decided to go back to BKK cause of bad weather

18:55-19:20 | Train ride from Victory Monument –Ratchaprarop Station | 40 THB

19:35 | Bought Admission Ticket to Baiyoke Sky Hotel (Tallest Building in BKK) | 464 THB

19:45-21:10 | Baiyoke Sky Hotel Skyline and Roof Top Bar (with complimentary drinks)

21:25 | Left Baiyoke Sky Hotel

21:30-22:35 | Food Trip and Explore Night Market In Ratchaprarop | 100 THB

22:35-23:50 | Travel back to apartment in Lat Krabang | 120+50 THB

(train ride from Ratchaprarop-Phaya Thai-Lat Krabang then cab to apartment)

23:50 | Home

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DAY 1 TOTAL EXPENSES

1389 THB

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View from the top of Wat Arun

 BANGKOK, THAILAND 

DAY 2 | April 15, 2013 | Monday

AGENDA:  BKK Temple Tour, Mall Hopping (MBK, Siam Paragon, Siam Center) and some Shopping 

08:06-09:40 | Travel from Lat Krabang-Phaya Thai-Siam-Saphan Taksin Train Station |125+22+34 THB

09:45 | Arrived in Saphan Taksin Ferry Terminal

09:55 | Rode the ferry from Saphan Taksin-Wat Phra Kaew 40 THB

NOTE: From the skytrain stop at Saphan Taksin, take a boat upriver to the pier at Tha Chang and you will see the complex on your right hand side before you alight at the pier. The entrance to Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace is located on Thanon Na Phra Lan.

10:35-| 11: 55 | Explore Wat Phra Kaew | FREE

12:20-13:20 | Lunch |250 THB

13:35-14:50 | Explore Wat Pho and Reclining Giant Buddha | FREE

15:00-15:25 | Rode the small shuttle boat from Tha Chang Pier to Wat Arun | 3 THB

NOTE: To get to Wat Arun from the Grand Palace you can take the ferry at pier number 8. At pier number 8 you can see Wat Arun across the river. There is a small ferry that can take you there. The crossing costs 3 baht per person. Pier number 8 is next to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.

15:25-16:10 | Explore Wat Arun | FREE

16:20 | Go back to Saphan Taksin Terminal to take the free ferry to Asiatique Mall

16:50-17:55 | Asiatique Mall

17:55-19:05 | Ferry to Saphan Taksin Pier and train from Saphan Taksin-National Stadium | 37  THB

19:05-20:05 | Dinner in MBK Mall and bought souvenirs | 940 THB (keychains and magnets)

20:10-20:32 | Train from National Stadium-Siam Station | 15 THB

20:40-21:20 | Siam Paragon Mall

21:20-22:10 | Siam Center Mall (stroll around and coffee in Sbux with new Pinoy friends)

22:10-23:45 | Train from Siam-Phaya Thai-Lat Krabang and cab to apartment | 22+40+125 THB

23:45| Home

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DAY 2 TOTAL EXPENSES

1653 THB

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Nong Nooch Tropical Garden

PATTAYA, THAILAND

DAY 3 | April 16, 2013 | Tuesday

AGENDA: Nong Nooch Garden,Jom Tien Beach,Khao San Road Experience

07:35-07:50 | Taxi from Apartment to Lat Krabang Train Station |130 THB

07:50-08:13 | Train from Lat Krabang-Suvarnabhumi Airport | 20 THB

08:15-08:40 | Breakfast at Suvarnabhumi Airport | 110 THB

08:50 | Bought bus ticket to Jom Tien in Pattaya (located at the ground floor of the airport) | 134 THB

09:05-11:00 | Bus travel to Pattaya

11:30-11:55 | Explore Jom Tien Beach

12:01-12:30 | Travel from Jom Tien Beach-Nong Nooch Garden(hired private car) | 300 THB

12:30-13:28 | Explore Nong Nooch Garden (1st part) | 500 THB (entrance fee)

13:28-13:50 | Lunch | 90 THB

13:52-16:45 | Explore the rest of Nong Nooch Garden (2nd part)

17:00 | Snacks  Time | 60 THB

17:53-20:10 | Traveling back to BKK from Pattaya via Mini Van | 135 THB

20:10| Drop off Point at Ekkamai Train Station

20:27-21:30 | Train ride from Ekkamai-Phaya Tha-Lat Krabang | 42+40=80 THB

21:35 | Taxi from Lat Krabang to Apartment | 120 THB

21:53 | Taxi from the Apartment to Khao San Road | 250 THB

22:50 | Checked in at Rambuttri Guesthouse | 500 THB (single room)

323 Rambuttri Road, Pak Kret, Thailand

Website : http://www.rambuttrihouse.com

22:50-00:30 | Rest

12:50-04:30 | Explore Khao San Road

“Activities”

*Dinner | 150 THB

*Thai Food Trip | 150

*Thai Massage | 300 THB

*Drink Thai Beer | 120 THB

*Walk around Khao San Road

*Clubbing (FREE ENTRANCE)

*Bought an adaptor | 100 THB

*People Watching

04:40 | Back to Guesthouse/Sleep Time

_______________________

DAY 3 TOTAL EXPENSES

3249 THB

______________________

Wat-Mahathat_08

Buddha head perched on the tree in Wat Mahathat

AYUTTHAYA, THAILAND

DAY 4 | April 17, 2013 | Wednesday

08:05 | Breakfast along Khao San Road | 90 BHT

08:50 | Check out from Rambuttri House

09:01 | Pay for the Ayutthaya Land Transfer from Lampoo Travel Services in Khao San | 450 THB

09:40 | Left Khao San Road to Victory Monument via mini van then transfer to another mini van from Victory Monument-Ayutthaya

11:36 | Reached Ayutthaya

11:40-15:27 | Ayutthaya Temple Tour via Tuk Tuk | 700 THB

*Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol | 50 THB

*Wat Maha That | 50 THB

*Wat Lokayasutharam (free)

*Wat Thammikarat (free)

*Wat Phu Khao Thong (free)

* Wat Phra Sri Sanphet | 30 THB

*Wat Chain Wat thana ram | 50 THB

*Chedi Phukhao Thong (free)

*Wat Phanan Choeng | 50 THB

15:35-16:40 | Travel back to BKK from Ayutthaya via Mini Van | 70 THB

16:50 | Hailed cab from Victory Monument to Khao San Road | 95 THB

17:10-17:40 | Look for travel agency selling bus ticket to Vientiane | 1120 THB

17:40:16:03 | Dinner in Khao San Road, Take Out in Burger King, OTHERS | 255 THB

18:15 Pick up from Travel Agency for the overnight bus to Laos

19:20-08:26 | Overnight bus from BKK (khao san road) to Vientiane, Laos (border)

______________________

DAY 4 TOTAL EXPENSES

3010 THB

______________________

THAILAND TOTAL EXPENSES FOR 5 DAYS

10,081 THB or 307 USD

====================

PROCEDURE:

THAI SIDE

-Bus stops first at Thai Immigration side for immigration formalities (exit stamp)

-Bus will wait for all passengers until they are done

-No need to bring the luggage.

-Jump on the bus again to take us to Lao Border.

LAOS SIDE

-We had a stop over in a restaurant before getting to Thai Immigration and we were asked to fill up the Laos Embarkation Card for entry.

-Hop off the bus in the Lao Immigration.

-Bring luggage.

-Have you passport stamp for entry to Laos.

-It may take awhile as most of my co passengers are WESTERN’s who still needs to get their VISA on ARRIVAL.

-Filipinos can visit Laos (VISA FREE).

-After all passengers are done with the immigration we were asked to transfer to a mini van to bring us to Vientiane (included in the bus fare).

-Hired a tuk tuk to bring us to Lane Xang Avenue where most of the attractions are located (the mini van doesn’t drop you to your desired destination).

IMG_27407-VIENTIANE

That Luang Temple

VIENTIANE, LAOS

DAY 5 | April 18, 2013

09:00 | Arrived in Vientiane City Center via Tuk Tuk |150 THB

09:00-09:40 | Explore Patuxai Arc (climb up the top and bough some souvenirs) | 13 THB (3,000 KIP)+200 THB (souvenirs)

10:00-12:10 | Tambay sa True Coffee Shop (nag charge, FB status, freshen up) | 63THB (15,000 KIP)

12:10-12:35 | Walked to Pha That Luang (closed for lunch)

12:35-12:50 | Explore the souvenir shops near to Pha That Luang

12:50-13:30 | Lunch | 120 THB (33,000 KIP)

13:34-14:03  | Explore Pha That Luang | 20 THB (5,000 KIP)

14:03-15:20 | Long Walk from Pha That Luang to Wat Si Saket

-Bought big mineral water and Lao Beer in can | 90 THB

15:20-15:36 | Wat Si Saket | 20 THB (5,000 KIP)

15:37-15:52 | Wat Phra Keo | 20 THB (5,000 KIP)

15:59-16:10 | Chao Anouvong Monument and Mekong River

16:10-16:40 | Walked from Mekong River Front-Talat Sao Mall and Market

16:40-17:35 |Stroll around  Talat Sao Mall, bought a cup of Frap | 63 THB (15,000 KIP)

17:50 | Reached bus station at the back of Talat Sao Mall

*bought bottled water and baguette | 65 THB

18:15-18:50 | Bus ride from Vientiane (Talat Sao Bus Terminal)-Lao Border | 55 THB

*takes around 35-5- min*

NOTE:  It is also known as the Morning Market Bus Station, Central Bus Station, and Vientiane Capital Bus Station.The Bus Station is located on Mahosot Road opposite to the Talat Sao Shopping Mall Morning Market . It serves buses running within the capital to nearby cities and a few destinations outside of the Vientiane as well as to neighbouring countries such as Thailand.

Here are some common routes taken from the Talat Sao Bus Station:

 
Destination Departure Hour Approx Price
00 – NongKhai Friendship Bridge 7:30/9:30/12:40/14:30/15:30/18:00 15,000 kip
01 – Vang Vieng 7:00am to 1pm every 2 1/2 hours 40,000 kip
04 – KaSy – Nam Lik waterfall 8:30am 50,000 kip
14 – Thadeu – Buddha Park 5:35am – 3:45pm every 15 mins  6,000 kip
07 – ParkJeng Airport 7am 12pm 3pm 15,000 kip
29 – DongDok Southern Bus Terminal 6:30am – 6pm every 30 mins  2,000 kip

-paid 100 THB for transport to Nong Khai train station.

PROCEDURE

*need to get off the bus for passport exit stamp

*no need to bring your heavy luggage yet but make sure to bring your important items

*after exit stamp from Lao Immigration/Back to bus again

*distance is not that far between 2 immigrations

*bus will take us to the Thai Border (Nong Khai)

*get off the bus and bring all your belongings

*fill up the Thai Embarkation Form (bring a pen always)

*fall in line to the Immigration Counter

*the officer will stamp your passport for your entry in Thailand

*pass through the immigration

*charter a tuk tuk or van to bring you to the train station going to BKK

19:15| Reached the train station via mini van, Bought a 1 way ticket to BKK (overnight) | 213 THB (standee passenger)

NOTE: Journey takes 12-15 hours (no aircon)

19:30 | Train departs  “LONG JOURNEY”

______________________

DAY 5 TOTAL EXPENSES

1092 THB or 33.31 USD

______________________

 

DSC03475

BORDER CROSSING BKK-ARANYAPRATET-POIPET-SIEM REAP

DAY 6 | April 19, 2013

10:02 | Arrived in Hua Lamphong Railway Station in BKK

10:09 | Breakfast in Hua Lamphong Railway Station | 60 THB

10:30 | Took a cab from Hua Lamphong to Ekkamai Bus Station | 150 THB

10:50 | Reached Ekkamai Bus Station and purchased ticket to Aranyaprathet (Thai Border) for 12:30 PM |220 THB

11:20 | Took a shower in Ekkamai Bus Station | 20 THB

11:40 | Lunch | 80 THB

12:00 | Wait inside the bus terminal and asked a store to charge my gadget | 100 THB

-bought some snacks in the terminal | 90 THB

12:40-17:31 | Travel from Ekkamai in BKK-Aranyaprathet Thai Border via bus

PROCEDURE:

THAILAND-ARANYAPRATHET SIDE

-We were dropped few blocks from Thai Immigration in Aranyaprathet.

-Have to bring all our luggage.

-Head to Thai Immigration for exit stamp.

CAMBODIA-POIPET SIDE

-After being cleared from Thai Immigration we have to take a walk going to the Cambodia-Poipet Border (not so far from Thai Border).

-Just follow the tourist trails.

-You will know you are already in Cambodia when you see the BIG ARCH with “Welcome to Cambodia”

-Directly head to the Poipet Immigration.

-Fill up the Embarkation Card.

-Have your passport stamp for entry in Cambodia

-No visa required for Filipinos

-Take the exit leading to the taxi stand

18:25 | Finish the border crossing successfully

18:30 | Chartered a taxi shared with 2 Westerns that I make friends to Siem Reap | 45/3=15 USD

20:45 | Arrived in Siem Reap (a tuk tuk picked us up to bring to our hostels which we thought is FREE but at the end it was 1 of the SCAMS as the driver is obliging us to get him for the temple tour the next day)

21:20 | Checked in at Bou Savvy Guest House (made my reservation prior to trip)

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Mr. Horn. Bovorn (Owner Bou Savy Guesthouse)

Address: #261 Group 17 Khum Svay Dangkum Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

Office Tel: (855)63 964 967

H/P: (855) 12 898-627, 85512369600

E-mail: services@bousavyguesthouse.com 0r savy7777@hotmail.com

21:45 | Dinner in Bou Savy and free time onwards

12:05 | Sleeping Time (didn’t make it to night market cause I was so tired)

______________________

DAY 6 TOTAL EXPENSES 

530 THB + 15 USD

______________________

DSC_0113

Angkor Wat Temple

SIEM REAP. CAMBODIA

DAY 7 | April 20, 2013

05:00-06:30 | Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour | 4 USD+20 USD (1 DAY ADMISSION)= 24 USD

06:50-08:10 | Breakfast, Rest, Took a Shower and Check Out and left bag in front desk | 7 USD (Breakfast)+11 USD (Temple Tour via Tuk Tuk from Bou Savy Guesthouse)+15 USD (1 night stay)=33 USD

08:20-18:00 | Whole Day Temple Tour

*South Gate of Angkor Thom

*Central Angkor Thom

*Bayon Temple

*Baphoun Temple

*Terrace of Elephant

*Terrace of  Leperking

*Takoa

-LUNCH IN BETWEEN INSIDE THE COMPLEX | 8 USD (Chicken Amok and Soda)

*Ta Prom

*Bantay Kdey

*Sra Srang

*Sunset at Angkor Wat Temple | 1 USD (bought some noodle dish outside Angkor Wat)

06:30-09:34 | Explore Pub Street and Night Market (asked the tuk tuk driver to drop me in Pub Street)

List of Activities

*Dinner | 7 USD (Beef Lok lak)

*Bought Souvenirs | 15 USD

*Bought some snacks and Cambodian Beer | 6 USD

*Foot Massage | 1 USD (FOR 15 MINUTES)

*Food Trip | 2 USD 

09:34-09:50 | Travel back to Bou Savy Guesthouse via tuk tuk | 2 USD

09:50-12:10 | Rest, Packed Things, Pay for the overnight bus to HCMC, FB FB | 21 USD

12:10 | Pick up from Bou Savy Guesthouse for the overnight bus to HCMC

______________________

DAY 7 TOTAL EXPENSES 

120USD

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7812677370_815b9d0581_z

Moc Bai Immigration (Vietnam)

BORDER CROSSING SIEM REAP-PHOM PENH-BAVET-HOCHI MINH

DAY 8 | April 21, 2013

06:30 | Arrived in Phnom Penh (change bus/8:10 AM departure to  HCMC)

-we all thought that it is going to be just 1 bus ride from Siem Reap-HCMC.

-the ride to Phnom Penh-HCMC is already included in 21 USD.

-it is another 6 hours land travel.

06:50-07:40 | Breakfast and stroll around Phnom Penh just near the bus terminal | 6 USD

08:20 | Bus departs from Phnom Penh

09:50 | The bus boarded a barge. It took less than 10 minutes before the barge went on, & another 10 minutes for the river crossing. I learned later on that for faster travel, the bus should cross Mekong river to Neuk Leung town.

11:50 | Lunch | 6 USD

12:25 | Reached Cambodia-Bavet Border

PROCEDURE:

CAMBODIA-BAVET SIDE

-The  bus steward already collected our passports as he’ll be going ahead of us to give our passports to the immigration officers.

-Upon arrival at the Cambodian exit, we were just asked to get out & fall in line at the immigration counter for our exit from Cambodia.

-We boarded to our bus again which is going to take us to Vietnam-Moc Bai Border

VIETNAM-MOC BAI SIDE

-We alighted the bus again

-Bring all our luggage

-Head to Moc Bai Immigration

-Fall in line to check our baggage by scanner

-Fall in line again to have our passport stamp for entry in Vietnam

-Waited for the rest of the passengers

-Boarded back to the bus for another 2 and half hour journey to HCMC

13:05 | Successfully finished the border crossing

15:39 | Reached Pham Ngu Lao District via Vinasun Taxi 7 USD

15:39-16:30 | Hostel and Guesthouse Hunting and change my USD to VND

16:30-17:30 | Chill in Highlands Coffee | 0.85 USD (18,000 VND)

17:30-18:55 | Hostel and Guesthouse Hunting Continuation

19:20 | Checked in at Ms THU GUEST HOUSE | 20 USD (2 nights stay in single room/no breakfast)

LOCATED AT: 39/15 Do Quang Dau St. Pham Ngu Lao Ward, Dist 1 HCMC

20:10 | Meet and Greet with my new Vietnamese friend from CS/He picked me up from the hostel

20:32-21:20 | Dinner with my Viet friend | 5.62 USD (120,000VND)

21:20-23:05 | Explore HCMC via the motorbike of my Viet friend

*Activities*

*Saigon River

*Saigon Opera House

*People’s Committee Hall

*Night Market outside Ben Than Market | 4 USD

23:45 | Back to Hostel/Sleep Time

______________________

DAY 8 TOTAL EXPENSES

45.47 USD 

______________________

IMG_2221

Mekong River Tour

HOCHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

DAY 9 | April 22, 2013

07:20 Breakfast | 3 USD

08:04-17:30 | Mekong River Tour (lunch set included) | 10 USD

17:45 | Back to Guesthouse, Rest and Took a Shower

19:10-19:45 | Stroll around Pham Ngu Lao District

*Dinner | 4 USD

*Baguette Tasting | 0.76 USD

*Coffee Tasting again in Highlands Coffee | 1 USD

*People Watching

20:15 | Vietnamese friend picked me up from Highlands Coffee Shop

20:15-23:15 | Stroll around Saigon via motorbike and met some new Vietnamese friends.

23:17 | My Vietnamese friend drop me off in my guesthouse/Sleep Time

______________________

DAY 9 TOTAL EXPENSES

18.76 USD

______________________

$1BE956CA61A4F471

Notre-Dame Basilica 

HOCHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

DAY 10 | April 23, 2013

AGENDA: Half Day Cuchi Tunnel Tour, Half  HCMC Walking Tour, Flight back to KL

07:20 | Breakfast | 2.85 USD

Banh Mi Sandwich (baon sa Cu Chi Tunnel)-0.76 USD

08:10 | Pick up from Guesthouse

09:00-14:30 | Half Day Cu Chi Tunnel Tour | 6 USD+4 USD(entrance fee)=10 USD

-Coke in Can bought in Cu Chi Tunnel |1.41 USD

14:30-18:10 | HCMC Walking Tour

*War Remnants Museum |0.76  USD (15,000 VND) 

*Notre-Dame Basilica

*Saigon Central Post Office

*Saigon Opera House

*Reunification Palace

*People’s Committee Hall

*Ben Than Market

18:10-18:40 | Dinner in Pham Ngu Lao before flight | 4 USD

Miscellaneous Expenses (souvenirs,beer,snacks and pasalubong) | 20 USD

18:40-19:30 | Freshen Up, Check Out, Take the Taxi to Ton Son Hat Airport | 7 USD (can from Pham Ngu Lao to airport)+2 USD (TIP TO DRIVER)

21:10 | Bye Bye HCMC

_______________________

DAY 10 TOTAL EXPENSES

93.56 USD

_______________________

PRE DEPARTURE EXPENSES

KL-BKK (AIRASIA)-124 MYR (with 15kg baggage)

HCMC-KL (AIRASIA)- 226 MYR (with 15kg baggage)

AIRFARE TOTAL: 350 MYR or 100.33 USD

______________________

GRAND TOTAL:

749.59 USD

33.862 PESO

2490.89 MYR

IMG_2769

My Boarding Pass back to KL from HCMC