I’ve always been curious about the beauty and historic importance of our neighbouring countries in Asia and I was lucky to get to travel to three of them earlier this year. While going to the beach is a great option, going to the province of Siem Reap or the metropolitan city of Bangkok isn’t that bad, either.
Planning where to stay is essential when you’re embarking on a backpacking adventure in a city. We all booked an Airbnb in all six cities—from an owned house with a swimming pool in Siem Reap to a penthouse in Phnom Penh to a ridiculously clean hostel in Bangkok. We only spent a maximum of Php3,000 for the entire six days and all the hosts were friendly and accommodating, too!
If you’re not like me who prefers to walk to get around a city, Grab and Uber are cheap in Ho Chi Minh. Bus companies line up on the streets of District 1, as well, leaving you lots of options.
The setup is the same in Phnom Penh, but I suggest you book a VIP van instead if you plan on leaving for Siem Reap or Bangkok in broad daylight.
Hiring a tuktuk driver for an entire day of touring in Siem Reap is the best option for transportation because it’s cheaper (the driver we hired only charged us $7 each for the whole day). Plus, going to and from your hostel is free. Of course, we paid him more for reliable and safe rides, though. Be reminded that some tuktuk drivers charge a maximum of $50 for an entire day tour, so please explore your options.
The BTS in Bangkok is the most accessible mode of transportation. Some stations are directly connected to renowned retail landmarks in Bangkok. For departure, just alight from Phaya Thai station and walk towards the Airport link; the last station is Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Entrance fees for major tourists spots in these countries can be looked up online. Fees for Angkor Wat tours increased painfully from $20 to $37, though, so make sure you’re physically ready for touring all the temples in one day to make the most of the prices! When in Bangkok, get out as early as possible if you’re planning to visit the Grand Palace. We weren’t able to visit it because of time constraints. Plus, the line for tourists was ridiculously long!
I highly encourage you to try some local foods. They’re affordable and the taste will linger long in your mouth. If you really want to immerse yourself in these countries’ cultures, try dining at eateries found along the sidewalks. Locals flock around them. Chances are, you’ll make friends with locals and get some tips and tricks about going around the cities over delicious pad thai, or simply get the best company with complete strangers whose smiles never leave their faces.
When on a backpacking trip, something might pique your interest and feed your curiosity along the way, so don’t be afraid to discover new stuff. At the end of the day, it’s how you make the most out of your trip and not how you stiffly managed to follow what’s exactly outlined in your itinerary. Adventures await out there! Enjoy!