My husband, siblings, and I recently took an out-of-the-country trip, this time to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Bangkok, Thailand. In this post, I will be sharing with you the planning, budgeting, actual expense, notes, and some budget tips and tricks for this trip.
TOTAL EXPENSE: P26,039.48
|Angkor tour + War Museum||P3,215.00|
|Dusit Zoo + Chao Phraya boat||P547.00|
|Ayutthaya tour + floating market||P762.00|
|Siem Reap 1 night||P312.50|
|Bangkok 5 nights||P1,254.30|
|AIS pocket wifi x 6 days||P1,650.00|
|CebuPac extra baggage||P1,200.00|
I booked our Cebu Pacific plane tickets September 2016, which was 11 months before our scheduled departure date. The cost of our Cebu Pacific tickets with the route Cebu-Manila-Siem Reap and Bangkok-Manila-Cebu was P6,852. I booked our Air Asia tickets May 2017, which was three months before our departure date. The cost of our AirAsia ticket with the route Siem Reap-Bangkok was P3,050.
While I have nothing really to complain about Cebu Pacific’s promo fare, I just feel it necessary to share that on June 29, CebuPac rescheduled our Manila to Siem Reap trip from August 8 to August 10. By June 29, our accommodation were all booked and paid, and I had to cancel our original Siem Reap accommodation booking without a refund because I choose an Agoda booking that did not guarantee a cancellation refund.
Good to note: Book connecting flights with Cebu Pacific. I don’t know if this is a automatic option when booking online but I booked our tickets through their office. Booking connecting flights will guarantee you that if one of the flights in the connecting flight is rescheduled, you can also reschedule the other flight without any rebooking fees.
Good to note: The popular and cheaper backpacking route of Siem Reap to Bangkok would take nine hours by bus and two immigration checks and cost only P1,200. Since we are taking a night trip to Bangkok, we just decided to get the one hour AirAsia flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok. Note though that AirAsia flights land in the Don Muang Airport, which is not serviceable by train. Another note, AirAsia charged me US$24 for paying online through a debit card.
For Pinoy passport holders, we are given up to 30 days in Thailand for leisure visit if arriving from an international airport. If arriving by land (such as Siem Reap land crossing by bus), Pinoy passport holders are given only 16 days in Thailand for leisure visit.
For this trip, I made use of Agoda’s pre-booking options, which allowed me to lock in an accommodation at a certain price and gave me until a specific date to pay for that accommodation. In Siem Reap, I booked a family room with Pan Pan Saga Villa Hotel. In Bangkok, I booked another family room with shared bathroom with Orchid Hostel.
Our major sightseeing expense was the one-day tour of the Angkor archaeological park, which was arranged by Kifi of Pan Pan Saga. In Bangkok, we availed of the Chao Phraya river boat, which we can use to hop on and off piers that would lead us to most of Bangkok’s tourists spots, such as the Royal Palaces and the Dusit Zoo. In Ayutthaya, we made a bargain with a songthaew driver for a four-hour tour of the Ayutthaya archaeological ruins but we felt we were overcharged at the Ayutthaya floating market.
We did not pay for any transportation in Siem Reap because our tour driver, Kim, drove us around town. In Bangkok, our major transportation expenses were probably the rides from and to the airports. We paid 300baht for an Uber ride from Don Muang to Orchid Hostel, and 520baht for a Grab ride from Orchid Hostel to Suvarnabhumi airport. These expenses were split in four because there were four of us. We thought it imperative to at least ride a tuktuk once and we paid 100baht (split by four) for a one-block ride. All the rest, we took the trains and walked.
Good to note: Grab is really useful in estimating the amount to pay for a certain distance. Grab also eliminates miscommunication with the driver, although it is not guaranteed that the driver knows the location of your destination. If you do not have a smartphone, you can print the address of your hotel or destination in the local language and just present it to the driver. If these two fail, make sure you can contact the hotel to ask the front desk to help you. Uber is illegal in Thailand, by the way.
Siem Reap’s food are in dollars, and they give you kriels as change. Siem Reap’s food could be expensive in the long run but thankfully we only spent one day and it set me back $17 or P872 for one serve of really delicious fried spring rolls, a big plate of lok lak, and a cup of coffee and a pasty at Blue Pumpkin.
Bangkok was a different story. Food is cheap and food is delicious — street Thai food, that is. I spent 259baht for a Domino’s pizza lunch set, and about 100baht for a KFC and McDonald’s set, separately. Western food in Thailand also did not taste as delicious as the local Thai food.
To give you an idea of how much food in the Patpong area costs,
Thb50 (P77) – rice meal
Thb50 (P77) – sweet sticky rice with mango
Thb50 (P77) – fruit smoothie
Thb30 (P46) – cold-pressed juice
Thb30 (P46) – sandwich
Thb20 (P31) – street coffee (not coffee shop coffee)
Thb20 (P31) – 1 liter water
Thb15 (P23) – soda
Thb10 (P15) – sticky rice/steamed rice
Thb10 (P15) – barbecued pork
Thb10 (P15) – local snacks
I booked a travel wi-fi with Klook, which charged me P275 per day x 6 days = P1,650. There is a Thb2,000 deposit. However, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that wi-fi here in Bangkok was fast, and Orchid Hostel had really fast Internet connection my sister was streaming TV shows. Siem Reap was another story though. The Internet connection at PanPan Saga was very slow but it was okay since we were not using it anyway.
Other expenses, included 1,200pesos for extra baggage, 338.94pesos ATM withdrawal charge using my BDO debit card, 42.36pesos for one round of laundry, and 40baht as trip in Ayutthaya.
Shopping: I think I spent 7,000pesos for shopping in Bangkok and Siem Reap. Most of the things I bought were clothes, some jewelry, and four books from a secondhand bookshop near Khao San Road.
Budget Tips and Tricks
- Use MRT and BTS. First, choose accommodation that is walking distance to a train station. Major malls, such as Siam Paragon and Silom Center, the Chatuchak weekend market, the pier to the river cruise, and the airports are connected by the train stations.
- Use the Chao Phraya to go to popular tourist spots. I realized that most of Bangkok’s tourist spots are not walking distance from the train station, but are walking distance from the Chao Phraya river, which makes sense because the city is built around the king of rivers. So, I suggest, you take the train to Saphan Thaksin Pier, and get a hop on, hop off day pass and do your sightseeing through river cruise.
- Eat on the streets. This tip I can recommend for both Siem Reap and Bangkok. Just be careful with your stomach. If you have sensitive stomach or existing stomach problems, then budget some more for your food so that you can eat in more sanitized environments. A McDonald’s cheeseburger + fries + drinks cost 109baht while local burgers will sell for as low as 45 baht.
- For souvenir shopping, buy light things, such as paper, or silk scarves. If you did not buy excess baggage, then do not go overboard in buying pasalubong. If you can’t help but buy lots of pasalubong, buy excess baggage before you check-in so that the charge will be cheaper.
- Plan ahead. As always, the best budget trick is to plan ahead. Save ahead so that you won’t be crunching for money when the travel day nears. Worst, don’t go borrowing money just so you can enjoy your travel, unless the borrowed money will earn you credit points (e.g. credit card expenses). For me, it is best to bring cash. Because international credit and debit card transactions will have service charges. The charges may not be that much, but it will add up if you make several transactions.
- Travel in groups of four. If you will travel in groups, make it a group of four (or a group divisible by four). This is because a car can comfortably sit four, and a taxi can accommodate only four adults.
- Say No. If hawkers offer you their goods, and you don’t want to buy them, politely say No, and walk away. I find that children hawking souvenir items in Siem Reap were very persistent that I ended up scolding one teenager who got angry at me for not buying the books he was selling. I did not feel bad but the incident kinda irked me for a moment and I realized I could have prevented if when I said no in the first place.
|Day 1||McKinley Heights, Resorts World||5:00|
|Day 2||Angkor + Siem Reap||11:00|
|Day 3||Chatuchak Weekend Market||5:00|
|Day 4||Grand Palace + Dusit Zoo||5:00|
|Day 5||Ayutthaya + floating market||10:00|
|Day 6||Chao Phraya boat cruise||7:00|
|Day 7||Flight back home|
Siem Reap and Bangkok could be very touristy places, depending on the month. I found Siem Reap souvenir items to be expensive, but I loved the place and all of the food I are there all exceeded my expectations. Kim and Kifi, who are half siblings, felt like our brothers as well. Bangkok is expensive when you eat often in Western restaurants — and Bangkok is a cosmopolitan with many international food chains and restaurants.
This budget and itinerary is based on a group of four people sharing the expense for accommodation, sightseeing, transportation and food. One good thing about Bangkok, though, is that street food are usually single serve.
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