For Filipinos, it is sometimes difficult to plan an overseas trip because of a small budget. However, with many airfare deals and cheap hostels, it is actually possible to visit 8 cities in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam with just PHP 25,000. You just have to be creative in how to go about your travel.
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Ayutthaya, Thailand
- Kanchanaburi, Thailand
- Sai Yok, Thailand
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
- Vung Tau, Vietnam
A flight from Manila to Bangkok would cost about 3,500. When you reach Bangkok, a bus ride from the airport to a hostel of your choice (like the Bed Station Hotel) would cost around PHP 250. After settling in, your day starts off and it’s time to get your camera ready for the lots of picture-taking and your shoes for a day’s worth of walking.
The Grand Palace of Bangkok is a must-see attraction because of the architecture and intricate detail. It is a famous landmark that was built in 1782, and many tourists are impressed in the palace complex. It is free for Thai nationals but tourists must pay the entrance fee of 500 baht, or roughly 843 php.
Just a 10-minute walk south of the Grand Palace is another great destination worthy of attention. Commonly known as Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is one of the most popular temples in Thailand. The giant reclining Buddha is 46 metres long. There are many Buddha images and murals around the area that should also be checked out.
Another top temple in the country is the Wat Arun or the Temple of the Dawn. It is just a quick boat ride across the river from Wat Pho. It is a stunning temple that is colorfully decorated, known as one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand. Within the patterns, visitors can see colored glass and Chinese porcelain decorating it.
There are many attractions around Khao San Road aside from the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. You can also visit temples like Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Saket (the Golden Mount).
In just the first day, there was already a lot of sightseeing. There’s enough time to pay the temples a visit and learn about their history.
The second day in Bangkok can be reserved for a city tour. Having crossed off the popular temples, you are now free to visit other tourist destinations. Going around the city is also the best time to have a food trip and experience Thai street food and desserts. Aside from the famous mango sticky rice, Pad See Eiw and Roti are worth a try.
For a bit of shopping, the Chatuchak Market has more than 8,000 market stalls selling various items like clothing, handicrafts, ceramics, antiques, furniture, and more. Make time to roam around the weekend market and choose among the products that vendors have to offer. Bring enough cash and wear comfortable footwear, and you’ll be prepared for going around the market.
After taking a break for dinner and leaving souvenirs off at the hotel, it is best to experience the Night Life at Khao San Road. It changes into a completely different place at night, with brightly-lit signs and loud music. There are many bars, clubs, and bistros that come alive after sunset. It’s a perfect way to cap off the trip to Bangkok.
An Ayutthaya Full Day Trip Package costs only 1000 php, and that is a cheap price considering that it is UNESCO World Heritage city. The place is an archaeological gem, full of temples and statues worth seeing. Some of the places that are likely to be included in the tour are the Ayutthaya Historical Park, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet (Temple of the Holy, Splendid, and Omniscient), Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon, and Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. There is a chance to relax and unwind as the tour takes care of the itinerary and destinations.
The town of Kanchanburi is great for solo or self-guided travels, and the train going there just costs 150 baht (appx. PHP 253). Tourists can have a staycation in the Sai Yok district in the Kanchanburi Province by staying at the Home Phutoey River Kwai Resort.
The fourth day is best for a Kanchanaburi Day Trip because you can have a much slower pace than the previous days as the town is full of natural attractions.
The serenity of River Kwai is very relaxing, and tourists can even walk over the popular bridge. Visiting the war memorial Hellfire Pass can be interesting to some, and it can be a quick stopover on the way to Sai Yok National Park. It has hot springs, waterfalls, and caves that attract many locals and tourists.
For more war history education, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery is just across the railway station near River Kwai. If you don’t plan on spending too much time there, try visiting another park, Erawan National Park. The famous Erawan Falls are located there and you can swim in the beautiful pools of water. The entrance fee to the park is 300 baht (roughly PHP 505).
Thailand is popular for its elephants, and a trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting an elephant sanctuary. Most attractions abuse and hurt elephants, but the Tham Than Lot National Park lets visitors interact with the elephants without coercion. There are more attractions around the park aside from the elephants, so it is worth your time to go around.
After a fulfilling day, it is time to return to Bangkok and prepare to go to Cambodia for the next day. It is possible to spend the night at a hostel near the Hua Lamphong station and get some much-needed rest.
Thailand to Cambodia
For the fifth day, it is important to wake up early and ride the train going to the edge Cambodia. It costs 100 baht, or around 169 php. After the train ride, tourists can ride a tuktuk for 100 php each and also a bus going to Siem Reap for PHP 500. It can be quite an exhausting trip, and if the commute didn’t have many troubles, by around 4 in the afternoon, you could be checking in to Siem Reap Pub Hostel to rest.
There’s plenty of time to turn in for the day and sleep, but for those who don’t want to waste the day away, the hostel is a 2-minute walk to the Angkor Night Market. There are lots of items to buy and shops to explore before preparing for an Angkot Wat Day Tour for the next day.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia is popular for Angkor Wat, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angkor, the city where the temple was built, used to be the largest city in the world before the Industrial Revolution. It contains hundreds of temples that are worth the visit. To fully experience the iconic temple complex, it is best to have an Angkor Wat Day Tour.
Such tours start from 5 A.M. to 3 P.M., and for a good reason – seeing the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Tourists love to experience a beautiful start to their day at what is considered to be the largest sacred structure in the world. After witnessing the sunrise, continue to go temple-hopping and visit centuries-old monuments.
After taking a break and having dinner, it is time to explore Siem Reap at night. There are many outdoor shopping venues, night markets, and live music performances everywhere. If you haven’t explored the entirety of the Angkor Night Market the night before, there’s still a lot of time to return to the items you eyed and haggle over their prices.
At around 11 P.M., ride a sleeper bus going Phnom Penh. It costs around PHP 1000 and you’ll be in a different city when you wake up.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
By around 5 in the morning, you’d have reached Phnom Pehn already. Check in to a cheap hostel and take a breather. At noon, it is time to go out and explore the beauty of Phnom Penh. There are many fascinating and educational locations to visit in the city, and there’s enough time to go through it all.
The Royal Palace is a striking structure that is a top choice for tourists. It is the actual residence of the king of Cambodia so some areas are closed off to the public. Within the area is the Silver Pagoda, which is a Buddhist temple that is included in the 40,000 riel (~PHP 502) admission to The Royal Palace. Among many Buddha statues, there is an iconic crystal sculpture called the Emerald Buddha. Within the general area, there are many attractions to see.
Just north of the Royal Palace is The National Museum, containing a beautiful collection of statues, sculptures, pottery, and bronzes that trace back to centuries ago. Admission costs $10 or around PHP 508. Since the day started at noon, there’s not much to do on the day other than to take it easy and visit minimal places. It is essential to rest enough for the city tour the following day.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A quality Phnom Penh City Tour would cost around PHP 1,000, involving places that tell much about Cambodian history. The best temple to visit would be the Wat Ounalom. It is located near the Royal Palace and its shrines are beautiful and unique. Wat Phnom is an important Buddhist temple in the city, proven by the number of locals who visit it and leave offerings.
Between 1975 and 1978, thousands of people were tortured in the S21 Torture Prison which is now the Tuol Sleng Museum. This might be what some people consider under “dark tourism,” seeing human bone fragments of the people who were detained. The Memorial Stupa, which was made in 1988, shows more than 8000 skulls and are available for viewing.
The mass graves of these victims are in one site called the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. These locations present chilling information and give much insight into the past. They may be disturbing for children and some adults, so take precautions when visiting these places. With that, the day is over and what’s left is to spend some personal time unwinding. Like the day prior, ride a bus going to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) at night to maximize the time.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
In the morning, check-in at a cheap hostel in the city. By 10 A.M., it would be the best time to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a popular tourist attraction that shows the intelligence of Vietnamese guerilla troops. A tour would cost around PHP 700 where you’d learn about its rich history.
The exhibitions help travelers understand the conditions of how the Vietnamese lived during those times. These people lived underground and built villages to hide from the enemy. They have living quarters, kitchens, and even hospitals underground to avoid the bombing.
The Ben Dinh and Ben Duoc sections are open to the public, and there are tunnels that tourists can visit while the rest are closed off for safety reasons. In the Ben Duoc tunnels, you can choose to see the temple, shooting range, or simulation areas. In the Ben Dinh section, tourists can watch a documentary, understand the tunnel system, and learn about their ventilation system underground.
At night, have a wonderful Night Food Trip around the city. This a free time to explore and try out lots of new experiences around the area. Near hostels, there are always night markets that sell great items at a cheap price.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
It is a good day for a Ho Chi Minh City Tour. There are lots to explore and knowledge to learn in this great city. It might be surprising to some but one of the most appealing attractions in the city is the city hall. The Ho Chi Minh City Hall has a beautiful French colonial architecture that is simply stunning. It is not open to the public but many people, even locals, love taking photos outside it because it’s the structure that’s the target.
The Saigon Central Post Office is also a remnant of the French colonial times. It considered to be one of the grandest post offices in Southeast Asia. The interior of the structure is a wonder to behold as it shows the beauty of the past. The Notre Dame Cathedral is another famous landmark in the city, with its popular and iconic red bricks. These two places are free to visit, so go ahead and add them to the itinerary.
For souvenirs, handicrafts, and artworks, the Ben Thanh Market will have all of it at a cheap price. There are also lots of food and fresh juice stalls if you get tired of going around viewing the interesting items. Try haggling to get some products at an even lower price.
Before turning in for the night, visit the Bitexco Financial Tower. It was completed in 2010 and was the tallest building in the country until 2011. Within this tower is the Saigon Skydeck where you can have a great view of the city. The city lights would look best at night.
Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
At about 10 in the morning, you can ride a ferry boat going to Vũng Tàu for about PHP 1500. By the time that the ferry has reached the destination, it would be about 1 P.M. There is a good hotel in the area called Anoasis Resort Long Hai where you can check in your luggage.
The Bai Sau Beach (or the Back Beach) is one of the best beaches in Vietnam. It has many food stalls and hotels, not to mention a great ocean to swim in. There’s no entrance fee here so it’s a great place to relax. The best time to go would be around 3 – 5 P.M. where it’s not too hot. There is also the Hon Ba Island that is only accessible during the low tide because of the footpath. This is not such a popular place to visit so if you want to get away from big groups of people, this is your best bet.
Not many people know this but there is a statue in Vũng Tàu that is similar to that of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. The Christ the King Monument is located at the Little Mountain. Tourists can climb to the top and have a majestic view of the city. It is open from 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. and there’s no entrance fee, although it is important to note that it is closed on rainy days to ensure everyone’s safety. Tourists have to make time for this wonderful and iconic work of art.
While you’re at the Little Mountain, pay a visit to the Vũng Tàu Lighthouse. It gives tourists a picturesque view of the city, and there’s even a local café nearby. There’s also no entrance fee required to visit the place.
Nightfall will come soon enough before you know it, and it’s yet another day well-spent.
Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
This day would be the last full day you’ll spend in Vietnam, so spend the time wisely. There are still a lot of popular tourist attractions in the city that can be visited.
There is the Thang Tam Temple that dates back to the Minh Mang Dynasty. There is also the Avalokiteshvara Pagoda which is said to provide an aura of calmness and tranquility to those who visit it. For more war history, there’s the Battle of Long Tan Cross which was built to commemorate the Australian soldiers’ death during the Vietnam War. All of these locations are free to visit.
The Robert Taylor Museum of Worldwide Arms is home to thousands of army items from various nations globally. It is interesting to explore because it tells a lot about cultural differences and historical backgrounds by seeing the weapons and uniforms of various countries. The entrance fee costs around 50,000 – 100,000 VND, or PHP 110 – 220.
There is a lot of free time on this day to take it slowly. There is no rush, and you’ll just focus on making the most out of your time.
Vũng Tàu to Ho Chi Minh to Manila
If you wake up early, there still half of the day to spend in Vietnam. Around 3 in the afternoon, it is time to go back to Ho Chi Minh. With a PHP 4,500 flight scheduled at around 11 P.M., you’ll be back at home by the following day.
By going through the itinerary, you’ll see that it is entirely possible to have a budget trip through 8 cities in 3 countries. It wasn’t even a rush kind of travel and there was always enough time to rest and relax. You have full liberty to choose which places to visit, but the destinations mentioned are already the most popular ones in their respective countries.
Overall, what this budget travel shows is that you just have to be creative and enough to get by and accomplish a lot within the span of 2 weeks. There’s no need to spend a huge amount of money when you can save up in the little ways that are possible.