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.

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12 thoughts on “INDOCHINA | Drafting The Plan, Budget, Itinerary and the Story Behind It.

  1. @boundfortwo

    HAHAHA! Natawa naman ako dun sa slow clap. Thanks for reading bro my simple way of helping fellow travelers. Wala rin ako masyado time and leave when I planned the trip pero kung anung merun pinag kasya ko nalang. Kaya mu rin yan for sure.

  2. wow! super helpful…

    We’ll do the same route: Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia-Thailand, from June 28 to July 06.

    I also take note of this, being the organizer of all our trips, – 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.

    Thanks again! 🙂

  3. very nice! nkrelate ako. I also travelled solo last year, biglaang desisyon kasi dapat local trip lang kaso nakita ko nagsale ang cebupac. i agree, napakahelpful ng mga regular sa PEX, talo ang Lonely Planet at tripadvisor. medyo nahirapan lang ako ng konti sa zero visibility ng English sa Vietnam pero ok naman. you learn from experience, matuto kang magtanong ng mga hanggang limang tao hahha. after my successful North and Central Vietnam trip, got braver and will do IndoChina in two weeks tho I’m going with a friend na. Bangkok nga lng entry point namin sana ayos na that time. anyway, that solo trip was a very liberating experience.

  4. @Anne Enriquez

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Importante talaga idiscuss nyo sa mga kasamu ung itinerary para malinaw ang lahat and alam nila pinapasok nila and para narinmagkaroon ng exchanging of ideas kasi mamaya yung isa may alam pala alternative pero hindi naman kau nag usap about it.

    • Lapit na trip namin… 🙂

      Thank you for this detailed and very informative blog! This really helped me to complete our itinerary…

      Cheers!!!

  5. This is very cool and informative. Thank you very much for taking the time to type this down.
    Gusto din ng mga ka-tropa ko maka-experience ng ganito. ^_^
    Salamat, bro. =)

  6. hi, my friends and i are planning for indochina + myanmar next year LW. was hoping you could share with us your detailed iti. thanks muchos!

  7. So binasa ko talaga ng bongga! Grabe ang galing! My hubby and I are planning to do backpacking in Indochina and I’ve been doing a lot of research online. Sigh. It’s really hard. Can I ask your full detailed itenirary pleaseee! It would be very helpful. Thank you very much. ❤️💚💙💛💜

  8. Hi Nick,

    Thanks for sharing man! I really appreciate your very detailed Indochina tour. This is my main goal this 2017. I already filed a two weeks leave in the office and planning to hit IndoChina on June 2017. My budget is around 30-40K but it should be up to 35K only, 5K is allotted for an emergency expenses. I don’t have questions but I just want to appreciate your time putting all these information to help other travellers. I’m a travel blogger as well that’s why I know the feeling. Haha. Thanks man! I really appreciate your effort. Looking forward to meet you on the road. 🙂

    P.S. Please visit my website: http://www.vinzideas.com. And let’s collab if possible or travel together. 🙂

  9. Hello! Ask ko lang pag BKK ang entry then HCM yung exit point ko, pano ko ma prove sa BKK immigration na uuwi naman talaga ko sa Pinas? Kasi ang exit ko is HCM edi ibang bansa.

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