(*Updated : Jan 2020)
My Indochina Escapade (Vietnam-Cambodia-Chiang Mai-Bangkok Thailand) for 11D / 10N DIY Trip, Full Itinerary, guide, budget, hostel, food and crossing border.
Planning for your Indochina Trip? Budgets, Itinerary, crossing borders, restaurant, Food and places to check out plus tips for you to avoid SCAM and the notes to consider when you venture on this trip. So read on…
I have always thought that the Indochina Backpacking Trip would be one hell of a crazy adventure but would be rich with new experiences that is definitely worth the try. This was my longest trip to date since I started loving the idea from travelling way back 2015.
I used my most number of Vacation Leaves for this trip hahahaha!! Plus months of planning for a perfect itinerary that would perfectly match my personality and type of adventure I was looking for.
Trust me, that you wouldn’t find any other blog as complete and detailed as it is hahahah!!! (*super struggle to complete this!!). It took me several months to really come up with my own itinerary without wasting any time and maximizing each place has to offer. Basically my entire itinerary is written below, while specific sites may be accessed per day so you get to see it further as well.
So why Indochina?
I have my Travel Bucket List to start with South East Asian Countries and I wanted to make sure I do it in an order that best interests me. Indochina according to blogs and write-ups is literally cheap and you can go to 3 countries with just Php 20,000.00 / USD 400 for like more than a week. So was it really possible? — yes. But see how I did it.
But first, what and where is Indochina?
You might confuse it with Indonesia and China as it sounds like a shortcut for both countries (*my brother even asked me If I’ll be going to the Great Wall of China upon hearing I’m bound for my Indochina Trip hahaha!*)
INDOCHINA, Mainland Southeast Asia is the continental portion of Southeast Asia. It lies east of the Indian subcontinent and south of China and is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. It includes the countries of Myanmar, Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
You may start at whatever country best interest you but what I did was to start it from Vietnam – Cambodia – Thailand before heading back to Manila. I did it for 11Days and 10Nights, you can skip the Chiang Mai part of the trip and make it 7D / 6N if you only have a week for a vacation and it would still be great and fun.
AIRFARE / CROSS BORDER / BUS
Going to Vietnam :
- There is a direct flight from Manila going to Saigon via Cebu Pacific (I booked mine for Php2,500 / 47 USD / 1099962.17 VND
- Travel Time is roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes
- We alight at Saigon International Airport by 9:00PM *take note that there is a time difference bet Philippine Time and Vietnam of 1 hour (Philippine Time – 10:00PM)
- so it kinda feel we even had more time as soon as we arrived in Saigon! hahah!
Going to Cambodia :
- You may take a flight directly to Siem Reap Cambodia if you want to spend less time and have more budgets as well.
- Or you may cross border from Vietnam going to Siem Reap
*detailed blog post in cross bordering from Vietnam to Cambodia; also read : Crossing border from Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) to Cambodia (Siem Reap) via bus
Going to Bangkok :
*detailed blog post in cross bordering from Cambodia to Thailand; also read : DIY Guide : Crossing border from Cambodia (Siem Reap) to Thailand (Bangkok) detailed guide
Going to Chiang Mai :
- this is optional for your Indochina Trip, you may stop in Bangkok and maximize it.
- If you have more time to spare, Chiang Mai is definitely another city to look out in Thailand. You may ride a bus from Bangkok bound to Chiang Mai
*detailed blog post going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok; also read : DIY Guide : Going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok
*you may check out riding the train going to Chiang Mai, I initially planned for this as it sounds more interesting, however it gets fully booked online pretty fast!! So make sure to book in advance if you have plans of going to Chiang Mai.
When it comes to changing money, I always thought of searching online where I could score the best deal for my money but thinking about the time I have to invest in it. I only changed my money at the airport, the exchange rate was not too bad and it was still a good deal after all.
- Vietnamese Dong is currency used in Vietnam
- Vietnam money is called Vietnamese Dong = VND
- PHP 1 = VND 439.98
- Cambodian Real is the currency used in Cambodia
- Php 1 = KHR 77.13
- However, mostly in Cambodia they accept and use USD in doing business. So I have not used much of my KHR in Cambodia, instead I’ve been spending my USD the entire time. It is then however feels more expensive for us Filipinos
- Thailand Baht is the currency used in Thailand
- Php 1 = THB 1.70
*Note : it is better to exchange all your pocket money to US Dollar instead of keeping a Philippine Peso with you, in other countries they do not accept PHP. You would end up withdrawing from the ATM and the bank charges is definitely big.
Though for emergency purposes, withdrawing is also still possible I used BDO and it is very convenient, my Bestfriend Kim uses her Paymaya Card to withdraw instead and it was also okay (Metrobank have hard time on this part)
- In these 3 countries, English Language is widely used. You’ll definitely survive with this.
- The hardest we get to communicate is in Vietnam where there are still locals that cannot understand English well
- Cambodia on the other hand can speak well in English but with the twang but still manageable
- While Thailand, being the tourist destination have so many foreigners and locals who does speak the language well.
TIME DIFFERENCE FROM PHILIPPINE TIME
For the 3 countries – Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand there is a time difference of 1 hour from our Philippine Time.
We are 1 hour ahead in the Philippines.
MODES OF TRANSPORTATION :
- In Vietnam, it gets too traffic similar with the Philippines. Mostly the locals used Motorcycles or Scooter as a main form for transportation. You would literally see a bunch of them in scooters and there are everywhere.
- Taxis and Grab Car is also widely used however, as mentioned, traffic is really bad in Vietnam
- I was never a fan of Motorcycles in Manila hahaha! But in Vietnam, we had to ride via Grab Bike to be transported in time, what is good about this is they only limit up to 1 passenger per motorbike plus they have helmet for each passenger for safety.
- In Cambodia, Tuktuk Ride is where there are used to. It is a 3-wheeled ride almost similar with the Kalesa feels in Manila
- We only used our 1 tuktuk service during our entire stay in Cambodia, there are everywhere but SCAM is rampant as well, so be sure to have someone to trust for your stay in Siem Reap
- Our contact was from our Airbnb Accom. Where we were fetched from the Bus Terminal all the way to all our city and temple hopping trip in Siem Reap, we also agreed first with the cost for all the service and trip before saying yes and agreeing to it. Just to make sure you get the value for your money well.
- In Thailand it varies, when we were in Chiang Mai there is a mini jeep which they call as “Red Taxi” it can accommodate even up to 10 or 12 pax
- In Bangkok, there are trains available but we opt to go for more Grab Rides
- They also have a Tuktuk in Thailand where you can ride for short distance location
As a whole, I could roughly say that I was able to spent around 40k – 50k if you’ll follow the exact itinerary I have for 11 Days, that includes EVERYTHING!!! my flight, my food and accommodation, my pasalubong and everything in between! You can totally spend around Php 20,000 – 30,000 for this as well if you could cut the trip to 7 days or so, or limit your booked activities.
- Budget Wise, Vietnam is really cheap!!! I only had Php 2,000 at hand and we manage to survive for 3 days, food is cheap and everything is really cheap!! It might appear expensive because of the currency and you’ll feel like spending for a piece of bread for VND 60.000 already hahahah!! (*they use thousands as currency)
- Make sure to buy your pasalubongs in Vietnam already, as it has the cheapest finds already.
- In Cambodia, since they mostly used USD for business here, everything appears a bit expensive. I actually and even spent almost Php 8k for 2 days in Siem Reap. You’ll get to save better if you are 3 or 4 in a group travelling — as you get to save and divide the expenses more.
- Budget in Thailand is somehow reasonable, you get the product or service for the price you paid for. Though there are some tourists area where the price gets a little expensive, just be sure to check out everything. Chiang Mai was a little bit more expensive in terms of the tour cost and transportation costs.
For accommodation make sure to check out : Hostelworld.com, Agoda.com or Airbnb for options to choose from.
If you are booking Airbnb for the first time, please use my special link to get discount on your first stay! : https://www.airbnb.com/c/nathalies2488?currency=PHP
I usually reserve and book in advance prior my trip for my accommodation as I hated being stressed on this part of the trip. Better also if the hostel offers free breakfast already as you get to save on that part. I also make sure to stay where I think is the center of the sites and places I’ll be visiting so I’ll get to save on transportation expense at some point.
This is where I stayed during my trip that you may want to check out :
Vintage Hostel Saigon
80 Bui Vien District 1, HCM Vietnam
Cost : Php 400 / VND 175,993 / USD 7.59 per night with FREE Breakfast (bunk bed)
Booked via airbnb : If you’d want to book for this room also you may search it thru the Airbnb Site : https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16848359?
If you are booking via airbnb for the first time, please do click thru this link : https://www.airbnb.com/c/nathalies2488?currency=PHP
Cost : Php 1,400 / USD 26 per night with FREE Tuktuk pick-up from Terminal to Accom.
248/25 Mani Noppharat Rd. Tambon Si Phum, Amphoc, Chiang Mai
Cost : THB 383 / PHP 633 / USD 12 per night per pax
This hostel was super quiet and chill, it is near restos and temples around, fastfood and convenient shops around.
Everyday Bangkok Hostel
314/3 Samsen Soi 4, Ban Thom, Pranakorn Bangkok
Cost : THB 370 / PHP 630 / USD 12.05 per night
What’s good about this hostel, it is near Khao San Road but still remain it’s calmness during night. It is near resto food finds, bank, and easy to navigate going here.
If you are a coffee lover I swear you’d love VIETNAMESE COFFEE!!!! This is where I tasted the best coffee experience to date!! Hahaha!! (*I’m over reacting – but we even end up palpitating coz of too much caffeine hahaha!!!) Buy a lot for pasalubong!! this is soooo perfect!!
The Sound Pub
Try the best sellers in this small resto offering Bahn Mi, and Rice Noodles. It was really delicious and cheap at the same time.
Street Food Market (*across Ben Than Market)
If you opt for Food Night market and wanted more variations of food from Vietnamese Cuisine to Western, Chinese and the likes this is a place you should see.
Authentic Pho, rice meals, milkshakes, seafoods are all here.
The 1 Dollar Nutella Pancake is a must try!! It is available along the streets and you’ll see it everywhere.
There wasn’t much of a special food or delicacy available in Cambodia, maybe primarily because the country has a lot of influences from various places, foreigners are everywhere and it does reflect on the food offerings as well.
They have scorpions, insects and exotic food that you may want to try out.
Curry is life in Thailand! Spicy food and flavorful dishes is everywhere.
What to try in Thailand (Khao Soi – ramen version in Thailand, Pad Thai!!!, Mango Sticky Rice and curry flavors to check out)
Never miss out authentic Pad Thai!!, Mango sticky rice, curry everywhere, and the famous street foods in Bangkok!!!
The rest of my food finds in Thailand over my Chiang Mai Travel Guide : 4D/3N Itinerary, Activities, Budget blog post.
DAY 1 – MNL TO SAIGON
Overview : Officially starting the backpacking journey to Indochina. Our first day was literally a travel from MNL to Saigon, exploring nearby food streets and getting along with our accommodation.
Detailed Blog Post of Vietnam Itinerary; also read : #SaigonWithTheWind : Vietnam Itinerary for 4D/3N
- arrival in Ho Chi Minh
- Pick-up from airport via car service (booked thru http://www.klook.com)
- Check-in at Vintage Hostel
- Dinner and nightlife around Bui Vien Walking Street
Our hostel was situated right in front of all nightlife activities, restos and night market, clothing and coffee shops around.
DAY 2 – SAIGON
Overview : Saigon City Tour | Decided to do it the DIY style, tons of walking with the help of waze or google map at hand. With Cu Chi Tunnel Trip
Detailed blog post of the itinerary; also read : #SaigonWithTheWind : Vietnam Itinerary for 4D/3N
SAIGON CITY TOUR
- People’s Commitee Bldg.
- Saigon Notre Dame Basilica
- Saigon Central Post Office
- Reunification Palace
- War Remnant Museum
- Ben Thanh Market
Lunch : The Sound Pub
- Cu Chi Tunnel Tour via http://www.klook.com
Dinner : Ben Than Street Food Market
DAY 3 – SAIGON
Overview : Check out Mekong Delta Tour as it is jampacked and chill at the same time
Booking : Mekong Delta Tour via http://www.klook.com
Detailed blog post of the itinerary, read : #SaigonWithTheWind : Vietnam Itinerary for 4D/3N
Whole Day Mekong Delta Trip (booked via Klook.com) the tour includes a bus ride from and to the meeting place, all entrances, lunch, Boat ride, Sampan ride and the english speaking tour guide!!!
- Boat ride to Mekong Delta
- Coconut Candy Place
- Lunch (part of the package)
- Stopover to change for Sampan Ride
- Village for Honey Tea and Tropical Fruits and Folk Songs
DAY 4 – TRAVEL FROM SAIGON (VIETNAM) TO SIEM REAP (CAMBODIA)
Overview : Bidding goodbye to Saigon as we embark to Siem Reap, Dinner and Night out at Pub Street
Detailed cross bordering details from Vietnam to Siem Reap; also read : Crossing border from Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) to Cambodia (Siem Reap) via bus
- Check-out from Vintage Hostel
- Bus ride from Vietnam to Siem Reap (booked via Mekong Express Bus)
- Arrival in Siem Reap
- Pub Street
DAY 5 – SIEM REAP TEMPLE HOPPING
Overview : Temple Hopping the entire day at Siem Reap, sites and places to see and explore
Detailed Cambodia Itinerary for 3D/2N also read; Temple Run in Siem Reap, Cambodia (Full Itinerary guide for 3D/2N)
Siem Reap Temple Hopping trip
- Sunrise at Angkor Wat
- Angkor National Museum
- Temple Hopping ( Bayon, Baphoun, Royal Enclosure, Terraces of Elephants)
- Bantay Kdei, Ta Phrom
- Sunset at Phnome Bakeng
DAY 6 – TRAVEL FROM SIEM REAP TO BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI
Overview : The day was spent specifically for travelling from one country to another, from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand to Chiang Mai.
Crossing border from Siem Reap to Bangkok; also read : DIY Guide : Crossing border from Cambodia (Siem Reap) to Thailand (Bangkok) detailed guide
Going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok; also read : DIY Guide : Going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok
- Check out from Siem Reap Airbnb Room
- Travel from Siem Reap to Bangkok via bus ( book via Giant Ibis Office Official site)
- Arrival in Bangkok
- Travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via sleeper bus ( book via 12Go Asia site)
DAY 7 – CHIANG MAI
Overview : City and Temple Tour around Chiang Mai. This place is a paradise within the city vibes, the food finds and the calmness of the place.
Detailed Chiang Mai Itinerary; also read : Chiang Mai Travel Guide : 4D/3N Itinerary, Activities, Budget
- Arrival in Chiang Mai
- Check-in at @25 Hostel
- Breakfast at Amaka Cafe and Breakfast
- Chiang Mai Land Tour (DIY service via Red Taxi)
- The Giant, Chiang Mai
- Temple Hopping
- Dinner at Thai BBQ Buffet
DAY 8 – CHIANG MAI
Overview : Had a day trip to the Elephant Sanctuary where the experience was really priceless!! Never miss out this in Chiang Mai. And let us all spread the word “NO TO ELEPHANT RIDING!” this is what this sanctuary believes in as well so better to support this causes as well.
Where to book : http://www.elephantjunglesanctuary.com
Detailed Chiang Mai Itinerary; also read : Chiang Mai Travel Guide : 4D/3N Itinerary, Activities, Budget
- Book half day Elephant Jungle Sanctuary from http://www.elephantjunglesanctuary.com
- Pick-up from hostel to the sanctuary
- A short overview and background about the Elephants
- Feed the Elephants, Bathe with them and placed mud all over their bodies as protection
- Lunch is part of the package
- and a service back to the accommodation
DAY 9 – CHIANG MAI | and a travel back to Bangkok
Overview : A whole day of Garden Inthanon Trip in Chiang Mai. And a travel back to Bangkok via sleeper bus.
Where to book : http://www.klook.com; it cost Php 2,180 per pax for the Doi Inthanon Trip
*detailed Chiang Mai Itinerary via : Chiang Mai Travel Guide : 4D/3N Itinerary, Activities, Budget
Whole Day Trip via klook.com
- Wachiritham Waerfalls
- King and Queen’s Chedis *Buddhist Stupas
- Thailand’s Highest Peak
- Angkha Nature Walk
- Royal Agriculture Station Inthanon of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
After tour — back to hostel . The package comes with a free pick-up and drop off from the hostel via van, the transportation the entire day per each site, lunch and an English speaking tour guide which is definitely helpful!!!
- Check-out from hostel
- Travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok via bus (book via 12Go Asia.com)
- Sleeper Bus back to Bangkok
DAY 10 – BANGKOK
Overview : Songkran Festival in Thailand! Quick food trip around the city. Unexpectedly, our temple Bangkok Itinerary turns out in time for Songkran New Year in Thailand!
Our first Songkran Festival in Bangkok; also read : Thailand : My first Songkran Experience in Bangkok
- Check-in to Everyday Hostel in Bangkok
- Songkran New Year the entire day!! — my detailed experience over the link on top for Songkran
- Food Escapade thru the streets of Bangkok where street foods is definitely love!!!
DAY 11 – BANGKOK TO MANILA
Overview : Bidding goodbye for the Indochina Trip and adventure.
- Since it was Songkran on the day we were leaving Bangkok, we made sure to book a grab ride and pick us up straight from hostel to save ourselves from the Songkran Water everywhere!!!! hahahaha!!!
Should you wish to see the actual places over my itinerary above, please do follow me on IG : @nathaliecsalcedo and check on my story highlights for this tri-city.
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TO MORE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS. – XOXO
*All photos were originals from the blogger @nathaliecsalcedo