Saturday, September 1, 2012

Intro To Indochina 2012: The Interest, The Plan, The Budget

I’ll admit, I was not extremely interested in traveling around Asia at first. I’ve always thought that I live in the nicest country in Asia – even though the Philippines is a third world country. I’ve always felt proud that we have the most beautiful beaches in Asia...and the world I believe.

My interest for the Indochina Adventure was sparked by loads of FB friends who uploaded pictures from their “Indochina” adventure. Researching more, I learned that:

1)    It is affordable
2)    You can visit a lot of countries by land travel
3)    You don’t need a visa – the perks of having a Philippine passport!

So...  the Asian countries became part of the travel bucket list. 

The result of the plan. Success!

Drafting the Plan
After using almost all my leaves in my Europe 2011 trip, I was eager to plan my 2012 travel adventures. I had to maximize the holidays! I realized that August had three (3) holidays in a span of two weeks. I planned my travel dates around it:

3 Holidays in August – Ninoy Aquino Day, National Heroes’ Day and Eid-ul-Fitr
4 weekends – two sets of weekends
6 vacation leaves – actually, (actually, I could go with 5 but I decided that I want to rest when I arrive)

I decided that I would enter Vietnam and exit Bangkok – because I would probably shop a bit (or a lot) in BKK. I had no definite plans what would happen in between. Cambodia would definitely happen. Laos, I hoped, but only if it fits. I pegged the total target cost at Php 30,000 or around USD 700 max - excluding airfare, including all the shopping.

By the end of October 2011, I already mapped out my target dates, target destinations and target travel budget for 2012. I marked my calendar. I was on the lookout for seatsales. OA no? But that advanced planning all worked out to make Indochina 2012

The Opportunities
BOOM! The plan came alive with Cebupacific’s 11/11/11 seat sale. I scored a Bangkok-Manila flight for THB 11. Applying all the other charges, the total cost was THB 1,603.91 or PHP 2,396.69 – including a 20kg baggage allowance. The Manila to Ho Chi Minh flights wasn’t on sale so I didn’t buy that yet. Meron at meron ding seatsale.

After two months, Cebupacific did not disappoint me. On January 20, 2012, the Piso fare was on! I scored my target MNL-HCMC flight at a really good price. With Php 1.00 as the base fare, the total price amounted to PHP 1,313.00 – with 15kg luggage.

Solo Again?
Prior to booking the MNL-HCMC flight, I already booked two local destinations for 2012 which I was planning to do solo. (Solo travel just gave me the courage to just book and go with it!) I was also planning on going solo for another dream international destination. Grabe, biglang from travel groups eh nag-solo naman ako. So I shared my plans to best friends (a.k.a. Amigas) and volunteered to be in charge of the itinerary. Para naman may kasama na ako. Sarah booked her flights two months after. YAY! WOHOOOOOO! I was so excited that I will be traveling with one of my best friends! :)

Although traveling alone has its own advantages, having a travel buddy means you can share the cost AND someone will take your picture (really important!).

And you'll have someone as crazy as you are to do these poses

Indochina 2012 planning begins.

The Plan

Some acronyms I’ll be using throughout this series:
5J - Cebupacific
MNL – Manila
HCMC – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
PP – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
SR – Siem Reap, Cambodia
BKK – Bangkok, Thailand

Day 0
Depart MNL. Midnight flight via 5J. Proceed to hotel and rest. Overnight HCMC
Day 1
Rest. Late morning, start DIY HCMC tour. Overnight HCMC
Day 2
Bus going to Mui Ne. Sand Dunes tour. Overnight in Mui Ne.
Day 3
Bus going back to HCMC. Rest. Wander around. Shopped in HCMC at night. Overnight HCMC.
Day 4
Cu Chi and Cao Dai tour. Overnight HCMC.
Day 5
Travel to PP Cambodia. Tour Killing Fields and Genocide Museum. Overnight PP.
Day 6
Travel to SR Cambodia. Lake tour (not the boat tour though). Apsara show. Overnight SR.
Day 7
Angkor Wat near temples. Overnight SR.
Day 8
Angkor Wat far temples. Overnight SR.
Day 9
Bus travel to BKK. Arrive BKK late at night. Explored Silom area. Overnight BKK.
Day 10
Start late morning. Chaktutak Weekend Market. Bangkok markets win vs. me. Overnight BKK.
Day 11
Grand Palace Tour DIY. Overnight BKK.
Day 12
Ayutthaya DIY Tour. Overnight BKK.
Day 13
Final shopping day. Ubusan ng pera day. Midnight flight back to MNL via 5J.
Day X
Arrive in MNL. Back to reality

The super skeleton plan was done in a week. But I was juggling planning and budgeting my 2012 trips so I wasn’t able to focus on Indochina completely. Lots of tweaking done. I finally decided that we would only do Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. At a time, I was trying to fit in Hanoi and Laos but it would be an Amazing Race kind of trip so I decided to drop those countries. There will be a next time. I finalized the reservations of the hotels around one month before the trip.  

Asia, here we come.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Whoa! I left HCMC on the 16th of August. Can't wait to read about your Indochina trip!

  3. nice..we have done that too HCMC to SR..saya lang ng experience..nakakapagod ang road trip pero worth it nman..ang ganda ng SR..temples


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