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 (P26,000), notes, and some budget tips and tricks for this trip. Read on for more.
Total Expenses: P26,338.56
I booked our plane tickets last September 2016 when I chanced upon a seat sale at Cebu Pacific’s Facebook page. I had a few savings left after our Singapore + Melaka trip and I used that to pay for our plane tickets. I thought it was sayang not to avail of the seat sales that time, and I think I was right because I never saw the same seat sales again and my interest to travel also waned. However, I now hate seat sales and for weeks now I have been swearing off seat sales. This is because CebuPac’s crazy rescheduling of flights. Specifically, on June 29, CebuPac rescheduled our Manila to Siem Reap trip from August 8 to August 10. By June 29, I had almost all of the things for our trip set. Accommodation were all booked, and the itinerary I prepared was already edited a thousand times to near perfection. Maybe it was my fault to have trusted CebuPac so much or maybe it was my fault to have prepared so much.
Anyway, each of us paid the following for airfare:
Note 1 on CebuPac. Where to pay in cash in Cebu? I did not pay for our CebuPac tickets via credit/debit card. Instead, I opted to pay cash in a payment center. While booking the tickets online, I choose the payment center option. In Cebu City, you can pay at the payment center in Robinsons Fuente and Galleria. I had a problem with the Bangkok-Manila ticket because it was calculated in Thai baht so I went to the CebuPac office in Robinsons Fuente. There was a long queue. We waited for almost an hour and that was a Saturday, but I was glad I went to the CebuPac office because the attendant there helped us find options cheaper than the ones published in the website. That is why in the BKK-MNL-CEB receipts above, there were different prices. It was also because my siblings went home earlier than my husband and I.
Note 2 on CebuPac. Flights cancelled and rescheduled. On Jan. 15, I received a text message from CebuPac rescheduling our CEB-MNL flight to an earlier time. Instead of flying at 9:30 AM, we will fly at 8:10 AM. On June 28, I received three text messages from CebuPac rescheduling our MNL-REP, BKK-MNL, and MNL-CEB flights. Our MNL-REP flight was rescheduled from August 8 to August 10. The problem is, our CEB-MNL flight was not rescheduled to Aug. 10, so if I don’t do anything we would flying Aug. 8 to Manila and be stuck there until Aug. 10 when we fly to Siem Reap. So I paid the Robinsons Fuente office a visit again, and there was no queue, and my CEB-MNL was rescheduled to Aug. 10, with no charge, in less than 5 minutes.
Note 3 on CebuPac. Book connecting flights. When I received the text messages from CebuPac rescheduling our flights, I was majorly agitated because I don’t want to spend another cent for the airfare anymore as our trip is nearing as I was saving all of my money for the actual trip. I was glad though that I was not charged anything for the rebooking because I booked “connecting flights.” CebuPac has no direct Cebu-Siem Reap flight, and the lady who originally booked our flights said I should book a connecting flight instead of separate flights for Cebu-Manila and Manila-Siem Reap. I did not see the logic until the rescheduling happened. Because I booked connecting flights, the whole flight — CEB-MNL-REP — will be rescheduled. Hope this makes sense. 🙂
The popular backpacking route would be to take the 9-hour bus ride from Siem Reap to Bangkok. But we decided not to take this because none of us wants to burn our bums in a 9-hour bus ride. Also, we got traumatized by our Tuas, Singapore immigration ordeal, which was border crossing by land. The Siem Reap-Bangkok travel by bus would have cost us only around P1,200 (excluding any fees collected at the Cambodian and Thai immigration) and we could have saved around P1,850, but then the plane ride from Siem Reap to Bangkok took only about an hour, and we saved 8 hours.
I was bummed for not booking the AirAsia REP-BKK flight as soon as I booked the CebuPac tickets. By the time I booked the AirAsia tickets in May, the cheapest tickets falling in our most convenient time cost US$55.00 each, and the exchange rate was already P50 to a dollar.
Note 1 on AirAsia. Charge for online payment through debit card. I got charged US$24 for paying online through a debit card. I realized there is an AirAsia office at the third level of E-Mall and I should have went there to save on the US$24.
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.
This is also one of the reasons why I decided to fly from Siem Reap to Bangkok because my husband and I would stay for more than 16 days in Thailand, and I am afraid our visa-free visit would expire. The Thai immigration at Don Muaeng airport (which has an ASEAN line) gave us 30 days.
I love AirBnB but 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. One Sunday in January, I booked and pre-booked all of our accommodations and just slowly paid for everything on the specified payment date.
|Location||Hotel||No. of Nights||Cost|
|Siem Reap||Pan Pan Saga Villa Hotel||2 nights||P625.00|
|Bangkok||Orchid Hostel||5 nights||P1,240.80|
TIP: If you using a debit card, just take note of the dates the accommodations are to be paid and make sure you have enough money in your debit card.
I had to make last minute changes to our accommodation because of the CebuPac rescheduling. I booked two nights with Pan Pan Saga Villa Hotel but we ended up staying only one night. We stayed five days at the Orchid Hostel, a simple accommodation near Bangkok’s Patpong Market and train stations.
Sightseeing and Tours (P4,229)
Our major expense in sightseeing was the Angkor 1-day tour, but I think the tour was worth it. The tour was organized by Kifi of Pan Pan Saga Villa Hotel and our tour driver was Kifi’s stepbrother, Kim. Kim drove a Lexus, which was air-conditioned, and he provided unlimited drinks to us all throughout the tour. The tour also included the one-day Angkor pass, which costs $37 per person, two-way airport transfer, and a dinner buffet.
In Bangkok, it was a holiday (Mother’s Day and the Queen’s birthday) and there were just too many people in the major tourist spots, such as The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. On our first day, we spent the morning relaxing and the afternoon shopping at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. The following day, a Sunday, we spent it at the royal palaces — Grand Palace and Dusit Palace — and the Dusit Zoo. On Monday, we decided to do a DIY trip to another UNESCO World Heritage site, Ayutthaya, a former capital in Thailand, and lunch at the ancient city’s floating market. On the last day, we planned to do a DIY riverwalk but ended up touring most of Bangkok’s famous sights through a Chao Phraya River Cruise.
Here’s a breakdown of our sightseeing expenses:
|Angkor Tour||$58 (P2,958)|
|War Museum||$5 (P257)|
|Dusit Zoo Entrance + Tram||Thb175 (P270)|
|Ayutthaya Tour||Thb295 (P454)|
|Floating Market||Thb200 (P308)|
|Chao Phraya River Cruise||Thb180 (P277)|
Land Transportation (P836.85)
Our transportation cost looked like this:
Uber Don Mueang Airport to hostel – 300/4 = 75.00
To/fro Chatuchak Weekend market = 96.00
Taxi to Grand Palace – 95/4 = 23.75
Tuktuk to Dusit Zoo – 250/4 = 62.50
Taxi from Dusit Zoo to hostel – 130/4 = 32.50
Taxi to Hua Lumphong station – 45/4 = 11.25
Train to hostel = 19.00
To/fro Saphan Thaksin pier = 68.00
Tuktuk ride = 25.00
Grab hostel to Suvarnabhumi – 520/4 = 130.00
Our total transportation cost was 543baht, or P836.85, per person. We did not pay for any transportation in Siem Reap because Kim drove us around town. (Kim and Kifi are highly recommended!), and, in Bangkok, because there were four of us, we were able to split the taxi and tuk-tuk fare by four, lowering the cost. For group travelling, it’s best to travel in groups divisible by four because a taxi can accommodate a maximum of four passengers.
The location of our hostel was also an advantage because it was near the BTS and MRT, which made it easy for us to go to the Chatuchak weekend market and Saphan Thaksin station where the Chao Phraya tour boats are located.
To eliminate miscommunication with taxi drivers, we mostly used Grab and Uber (until we learned that it is illegal in Thailand), and used Agoda’s Taxi Helper feature to show the address of our hostel to the taxi drivers. If you don’t have Internet connection all the time, screenshot or print the address of your hostel or the places you will be going to.
Tuktuk was the most expensive mode of transportation. From the Sala Daeng station (2 blocks away from our hostel), we paid Thb100, and from the Grand Palace to Dusit Zoo, we paid Thb250. But tuktuk, I think, is a must experience in Bangkok because this mode of transportation is like no other. Be prepared to fly!
For most of the months I planned this trip, I listed down the best places to eat and have coffee. It was so overwhelming that I erased everything I wrote and vowed to just eat anywhere our feet would take us. One day in Siem Reap set me back at $17 or P872. One day travel from Cebu to Manila set me back at P615. A cup of Americano at the Mactan International Airport cost me P150 (!!!), and it was not even good.
In Bangkok, we mostly ate street food, but I spent Thb259 for a Domino’s pizza lunch set because I was very hungry and I loved their chicken wings. After eating in KFC and McDonalds, I have come to the conclusion that Western-style fastfood is not inexpensive and not delicious as well. I found the sandwiches at the nearby Family Mart delicious, and I ate several from there, which also added up my expense in food.
When in Bangkok, and maybe in the rest of Thailand, it is best to eat local food. You have to be brave with the smell though. And if you are not sure whether the food is clean or not, don’t make a fuss with the vendor, just walk away and head to the nearest cleanest restaurant you see.
In the Patpong area, you can budget the following for Thai street food:
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 think I ate a total of 19 full meals and 6 snacks/coffee during the 7-day trip. I paid for 18 meals because one meal — the dinner in Siem Reap — was included in our tour package. Based on the total expenses, my expense per full meal would be P238.69 or P179 if I divide it by 24 (18 full meals + 6 snacks/coffee).
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. Here is my guide on the travel pocket wi-fis available here in the Philippines and why I choose to book with Klook and a guide on how to book a travel wi-fi with Klook.
For other expenses, I spent more or less P3,263.84 for the following:
Extra baggage – P1,200.00
Airport taxes – P1,620.00
ATM withdrawal charge – Thb220 (P338.94)
Laundry – Thb27.50 (P42.36)
Ayutthaya tip – Thb40 (P61.62)
I bought extra 15 kilos baggage from CebuPac on our trip to Siem Reap and another 15 kilos in the Bangkok-Manila trip. This cost me P1,200. It is best to buy extra baggage ahead because paying for excess baggage in the airport is more expensive, and a hassle.
I also withdrew Thb2,000 at the Chatuchak Market because, silly me, I only bought Thb100 with me, and the ATM machine charged me Thb220 for the transaction. The machine informed me ahead of the charge though so I was aware of it before I continued to the withdrawal.
My husband and I brought little clothes and planned to do laundry. We were charged Thb40 for laundry and Thb15 for the laundry powder and we split the expense into two.
In Ayutthaya, I gave a Thb40 tip to our tour driver and his wife, who accompanied us, because I felt that they tried their best to communicate with us (none of them spoke English) and they wanted us to maximize our tour.
I did not include the Thb100 key deposit I made with Orchid Hostel, which I got back after checking out, and the Thb2,000 deposit of the Smile Pocket Wifi. My husband and I split the Thb2,000 wifi deposit.
I also did not include here my shopping expense, which was not surprisingly that much. But here is my guide to budget shopping in Bangkok.
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. See here for my attempt to tabulate how much BDO charges for international 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.
I spent a total of P26,338.56 (without shopping expense) for the seven-day trip, and P16,238.28 was already paid before our trip, leaving P10,100.28 expenses during the trip. Regardless of how less or much you spend, what is important is the expense is worth it. 🙂 I hope you find this guide helpful, and if you have more budget tips and tricks, please share.