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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Backpacking VIETNAM-CAMBODIA-THAILAND in 7 Days Preview Post

Three countries ---Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Five cities, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Bangkok and Pattaya in 7 days? It is possible. Given the proper research and good preparation coupled with the passion to explore.

In his blog post 11 BIGGEST BUSINESS TRENDS in the Philippines 2014 , Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet beautifully describes the emergence of Filipino Free Independent Travelers. "They travel by setting up their own itinerary like a backpacker, but live luxuriously and travel leisurely without the need for a travel agency". I agree. And I am proud to say I am one of them.

If you are a young urban professional or a student transitioning to college/ university, I suggest you take a week off and go for a backpacking tour of Southeast Asia. Seven days through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand would be a good start. If you have two weeks to spare, you can continue as far as Malaysia and then end up in Singapore before flying back to the Philippines.


We flew from Manila to Ho Chi Minh City which served as the set off point for this particular trip.From there, we took the bus to Phnom Penh the Capital of Cambodia and eventually to Siem Reap where Angkor Wat is. We also crossed the border to Bangkok Thailand and we even had the chance to do a side trip to Pattaya. In this post, I will show you how it is possible to go backpacking Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand in 7 days. Read on.

Itinerary 7D/6N 

Day 1:
10:50pm -ETD Manila

2:00 -ETA Ho Chi Minh City
2:30-8:00am -Sleep 8:00am -breakfast
9:00:2:00pm - walking city tour
2:30pm -back at hotel
3:00pm : leave for Phnom Penh (by bus)
9:00pm -ETA Phnom Penh
9:30pm -late dinner/drinking 1:00am-sleep


HONG HAN HOTEL Bui Vien: backpacker friendly + very helpful manager
The rooms are spacious.Two on each floor only.Understand therefore that the orientation of the building is that it's a rectangular edifice with the narrow side facing the road and I reckon that it's a 7-storey building with no elavator.Di uso ang elevator dito given the small space.We stayed at the 4th floor so it was an effort going up and down.make sure you have all that you need before you go down.

READ: HONG HAN HOTEL Bui Vien: backpacker friendly + very helpful manager
for detailed review.
Nha Hang Ngon
The manager of our hostel, suggested a good place to eat which is is just a few blocks away from Notre-Dame Cathedral.Nha Hang Ngon is a posh restaurant housed in a nice colonial style building. It gives the impression that its expensive but we were surprised that their food is not the expensive. We ordered some of the food I researched via CNNgo and we really enjoyed our meal.Will talk about it on a separate post soon and will link it here in this section.

READ: Cha Ca, Banh Xeo, Rau Mong and Nem Ran at NHA HANG NGON Restaurant HCMC for full review.


Price:135,000 Dong
chunks of fish seasoned with garlic, ginger, turmeric and dill on a hot pan tableside.
Banh Xeo
Price:56,000 Dong
crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the garnish of fresh herbs that are characteristic of most authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Rau Mong
Price: 70,000 Dong 
stir-fried and seasoned with slithers of potent garlic.
NEM RAN / Cha Gio
Price: 58,000 Dong
Bite-sized crunchy spring rolls.Crispy shell with a soft veggie and meat filling.

War Remnants Museum

We took the cab to War Remnants Museum.The perfect place to start your City Tour as it will give you a glimpse into the war past of Vietnam (Vietnam War) which has significantly shaped the contemporary psyche of this nation.Will talk about it in my next post.

It's interesting to see a Catholic Church in a communist country honestly.I know there are many more in HCMC and Vietnam but this one is grand and elaborate in its design.Lakas maka-European feel.I noticed that it's not open to the public though so we had to contend ourselves to having pictures around it. Just across the street side of the church is the Central Post Office.


The Central Post Office is another manifestation of French architectures legacy to the city.It is fully functional until now and inside you can find atm's, souviner shops and money changers. We rested in some benches inside and at some point I felt like I was in an old European Train Station.

Bến Thành Market
From the square, we took the taxi to Bến Thành Market in hunt for souvenirs It's a public market but surprisingly, goods are expensive. I was disappointed coz I thought they are outrageously pricey.I guess for tourists like us who are easy prey to local merchants.Haggling is the order here of course and unfortunately,that's where me and my friends are not very good at. I bought a black Ho Chi Minh shirt for 420pesos after minutes of trying to lower the price.

Read: Walking Tour of HO CHI MINH CITY
Ho Chi Minh City to PHNOM PENH 
via Mekong Bus
The bus ride from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh (the capital of Cambodia) took 6 hours via Mekong Bus at $14/ pax. I am not sure if it due to speed limit restrictions but I noticed that the bus didn't go beyond 50 kph despite light traffic or navigating the highway.No wonder why Mekong Bus Line is reputed as the safest plying this route.
Read details >>>here
Day 3:
7:00am -breakfast
8:00-start tour
1.Royal Palace
2.The Killing Fields
3.Genocide Museum
4.Public Market + lunch
3:00pm --leave for Siem Reap
9:00pm ETA Siem Reap
9:30-late dinner + night out
11:00pm-sleep (need to wake up early for sunrise at Angkor Wat)


Among all the accommodations we tried during our Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand trip , KHA VI GUEST HOUSE in Phnom Penh was the worst.I mean, $10 overnight accommodation (good for 2pax w/o breakfast) is not expensive but I am sure you can find a better place at the same rate.If I am to describe it in one word, it would be ----- dysfunctional. Or should I say, where NOT to stay in Phnom Penh.
Read full review >>here

The 6-hour bus ride from HCMC to Phnom Penh was kinda tiring but we didn't want to waste time since we have only one night to spend in Cambodia's capital.We therefore settled our things at our hotel and immediately went out to hunt for a good restaurant.

Gladly, our tuktuk driver was reliable.He suggested to us a good restaurant by the avenue near the riverside.
Full details >>>here

Tom Yam Hot Pot (seafood) --$7
The best Tom Yam I have ever tried in the entirety of this trip. Yes, not even the Tom Yams in Thailand could match it. At least in the places we tried.

Streamed Fish with Lemon --- $8
And the Steamed fish with lemon was awesomeness.The fish was really tender and fresh tasting.They do catch good fish in Mekong river or wherever it was from.

Amok Fish (In Coconut) --$4
Not that impressive but I give it an A for presentation.

We were advised to skip Phnom Penh and head straight to Siem Reap but how can one snob Cambodia's capital when there is so much contemporary history in it.

Phnom Penh is the current capital of Cambodia after it was moved there after the fall of Angkor, the old capital.It lay witness to the continued struggle of the country being pawn to its powerful neighbors ----Thailand and Vietnam.

It is important to note that Thailand (Ayutthaya) was responsible for the fall of Angkor and Vietnam's communist struggle also affected Cambodia in a big way.Khmer Rouge, the notorious communist group lead by Pol Pot was a result of the victory of communist North Vietnam (which by the way was also responsible for the defeat of the group later on).The civil war of 1969-1975 eventually lead to the victory of the repressive regime (helped by communist North Vietnam) which orchestrated the Cambodian Genocide.

One should not miss The KILLING FIELDS in Choeung Ek when visiting Phnom Penh. This is one of the most popular mass graves where victims of the Communist Regime of Pol Pot were dumped.
Read full post >>>here
I thought paying $8 just for a 30-minute peek inside the Royal Palace Complex in Phnom Penh was one desperate move but we had no other choice.I asked my friends and they all agreed ----since we were already here, why not make the most out of it. 

Full article >>> here
souvenir hunting + lunch at 
Since the Killing Fields is 15 kms from downtown, our tuktuk driver advised that we go there first.It was a wrong move.He didn't mention of that the Grand Palace actually closes during lunchtime.When we got back to the city center therefore, we were for a few minutes puzzled about what to do.Good thing Katsu (our Japanese buddy who we met during the trip) suggested that we go to the market. Perfect because it's just nearby plus we were in the mood to look for some souvenirs and trying some local food 'market style'.


Roam Saver
Enjoy 50% discount on calls and texts for up to 7 days while roaming in over 60 international destinations worldwide, for a fixed registration fee of P199.

Yes, you can be connected even in remote Cambodia. You get not just the best value for your money; you also get your message across, loud and clear.

Roam Lite gives Globe Postpaid subscribers a bundle of calls and texts to use for up to 7 days while travelling in Asia or Australia. Perfect for 7 day backpacking trip of Southeast Asia!
Plus, you can also avail of FREE travel insurance with Globe TravelCare.

Choose a plan that best meets your usage needs*. All incoming SMS are free.
Please note that if you are travelling to multiple countries, you will need to purchase one Roam Lite plan for each destination. Perhaps it could be a good strategy to consider in which country you will stay longer. In our case for example, we stayed in Thailand longer so it was there where I activated my international roaming services with Globe. Still , this P199 rate is a good deal.

Learn more about Globe's INTERNATIONAL ROAMING


GOLDEN TEMPLE VILLA Siem Reap: Small hotel with a BIG Statement
It was another 6 hours ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, supposedly, but it took ud only 5 hours because we took the van instead which I think is more efficient especially given the poor road condition between two cities.

It was the same scenario from HCMC, we left the capital 3 pm so we were in Siem Reap by 8pm. We went straight to our hotel for check in. Knowing that a nice accommodation is waiting for you is one of those simple pleasures of tiring road journeys.

GOLDEN TEMPLE VILLA Siem Reap is love.
Read review >>>here

Read review >>>here

Khmer Sour Soup
If it was mostly fish,fish ,fish in Phnom Penh, the food we had in Siem Reap were mostly meat.Pork,meat or chicken. I noticed that in this particular set that we ordered, there's a peculiar "coco-nutty" flavor. Not to mention the curry of course with its flavorful taste.
Day 4:
4:00am-wake up
4:30am-leave hotel for Angkor Wat
6:00am- Sunrise at Angkor Wat
7:00am-breakfast at Angkot Wat
8:00am-Resume tour
1.Angkor Wat
2.Wat Arun and sorrounding Temples
3. Bapuon
4. Angkor Thom
2:00pm-back at hotel + quick lunch
3:00pm -leave to Thai border (via taxi)
6:00pm-ETA Thai Border
6:30-leave for Bangkok
10:30pm -ETA Khao San Bangkok
11:00pm -late dinner +night out



Sunrise At Angkor Wat
Many highly suggest that you either go to Angkor Complex before sunrise of sunset as the view of the temple is really amazing during this time especially during sunrise when you can see the reflection of Angkor Wat on the pool in front of it.There are two pools actually on both sides but the one on the left was with more water during our visit (summer) so that's where most people gathered.When we came, it was already full of tourists and it was quite difficult to find a spot. Whether you are here to take photos or simply marvel at the view, the experience is equally rewarding.

Unlike other temples, Angkor Wat faces West.It could also be appreciated best therefore during sunset.
Angkor Wat_Siem Reap

Continue reading the Full Article >>>here 


  1. These countries are very affordable. Nice to share your tips and experiences.

  2. Wonderful blog! with beautiful tips and awesome pics!

  3. Do Filipinos need to pay at the borders? If so, how much? I've read that that's where the scams usually happen, so I'm a bit concerned if I need to learn more if we'll be crossing borders as a family with young kids. Thanks!

  4. This post is very informative. Do Filipinos need to pay when crossing borders? I'm planning a trip with young kids and I've read that scams usually happen at the borders, so I'm a little concerned. Thanks!

  5. NO PAYMENTS are collected for Filipino citizens.Worry not ^^

  6. Nice blog! May link ng last part ng blog?

  7. Artistic Vision Design

    The project of small apartment is combined craft and materials from around the world to discover the soul of the owner, according to furniture shop in Phnom Penh construction materials cited.

    One more thing this apartment is designed with the contemporary and artistic vision of the architects and the nice continuity is achieved throughout this apartment by using single timber materials for cladding, even though all premises has their one identity connect to different artistic solutions.

    Moreover there is a colorful cement tile carpet in the kitchen, concrete and tile with whimsical balloons in the bathroom and interesting bookshelf wallpaper in the office.

  8. very helpful! Thanks for posting

  9. Your blog is really helpful, but I can't seem to find the link for the last part (Thailand). I hope you can share it. Thanks

  10. Your blog is a big help. But I can't seem to find the last part (Thailand). I hope you can share it. Thanks

  11. Jen ---sorry diko pala nalink yung article ko sa Globe sa end ng blog na to. Thanks for asking if not diko na napansin. Updated the post, just in case you missed, here is the continuation. Cheers!


    1. Hi the link you posted wasn't working.. 😞

    2. The link wasn't working huhu

    3. can't view the full article :(

    4. Hi. Can't open the link you posted.
      Hoping you could fix that because I'm kinda prepping for a tour like this. :)

  12. How about travel permits in borders/visas?

  13. Basta Southeast Asia No need for Visas for Filipinos. ^^

  14. The Comfortable Holiday House

    Here is the comfortable holiday house has been developed by the architecture team at Owen Dalton Masterbuilder77, leading to furniture shop in Cambodia construction materials provided.
    One more thing, this house has two levels and it is cleverly suspended on a wooden plat form above the beach and takes advantage of the staggering surrounding views.
    The special part of this house is the open plan living and dining space of the first floor is linked to the exterior terrace.
    By this way, its style is simple and minimalist, because the simple color palette composed of white, black and grey goes wonderfully with the serene atmosphere of the site.

  15. Vacation hub by Katrine Formby

    According to reliable furniture shop in Phnom Penh construction materials information, this semi-rustic style kitchen is part of a vacation house which friend and family members gather for a break. Hence, the need of introducing an informal, relaxing, and entertaining sensation to the space.
    "We felt that when people are away on vacation, everyone wants to be together after the day's activities. The kitchen and living spaces need to be closely connected so people can communicate comfortably and easily," said designer Katrine Formby.
    "We chose curved islands between the kitchen, living and dining areas to soften the spaces, improve the connections and add charm to the design," continued Formby.
    "We also felt that with a backdrop of such spectacular views, the interior colors needed to be understated, subtle and natural," Formby spoke. Hence, the choice of subtle hues such as black, white, gray and brown with caramel and beige tones that dominate the entire design.
    "We wanted the apartments to be warm, welcoming and easy to stay in. When you're on vacation, you don't want surroundings that are precious and easily damaged," Formby added.

  16. Artistic approach by Bonnie Settle

    Provided by notable furniture in Cambodia construction materials, the above kitchen, designed by Bonnie Settle, is a prime example of a sculptural space that focus on both functionality and visual statement.
    The designer settled with Decorá maple cabinetry with a Leyden door style and cobblestone finish for their versatility towards wear-and-tear effect and beautiful forms. The tiled backsplash provide an artistic accent even further.
    The kitchen renovation was a combination of both chic and classical look. "A crackle-glass bar top lends a lightweight feel to the more traditional look of the granite countertops. An Askö dishwasher and Viking warming drawer are integrated for a sleek look. Viking Designer series appliances, a Zephyr hood and a Franke sink add to this effect."

  17. The Attractive and Spacious Living Space

    This living area is really attractive and spacious with its design arrangement, trustworthy to furniture shop in Cambodia
    construction materials said.
    One more thing, the interior has been designed by focused mainly on functionality, quality and design details, which create character to the space.
    In addition, the main ideas of the design are the least intervention in disposition and use of black and white materials and solid floor decking in white spruce. Anyway, all the furniture is designed in a combination of wedge and white color.

  18. The Impressive Lighting Fresh House

    Here is the beautiful lighting fresh house has been created to meet the owners’ lifestyle, leading to furniture shop in Cambodia
    construction materials
    One more thing, this house has been developed by Seattle-based David Vandervort Architects to reflect and frame the waterfront views, through mirroring glass walls.
    According to the architects, “the exterior materials allude to island appropriate but substantial design, with CMU block, naturally stained cedar siding, hot rolled steel and metal roof being the predominant elements.
    These materials are brought inside as structure and accent, with the great room fireplace set in CMU and steel columns evident throughout.
    These columns support a nearly two story curved window wall and loft overlook in the Great room”.

  19. The Luxurious Mexico Residence

    Here is the modern open plan living space of the luxurious Mexico Residence, trustworthy to furniture shop in Cambodia
    construction materials
    According to the architects said, “A strong connection between indoors and outdoors is constantly nurtured by sliding pocket doors and multiple outdoor living spaces, as well as by impressive cantilevered overhangs.
    A generously-sized swimming pool with mesmerizing views of the surrounding landscape adds up to the general design extravaganza”.
    Further information, “A central, two-story gathering space separates the public areas – living, dining, kitchen and catering – from the master suite.
    An upstairs floor containing bedrooms, bunkrooms, bathrooms, and a kids’ area can be closed off, maintaining an intimate feel”.

  20. The Beautiful Waterfront House

    Here is the beautiful waterfront house has been designed as contemporary place for living, leading to furniture shop in Cambodia construction materials stated.
    As the architects said, “The Tree Court is bound by the Florida keystone-clad wall of the Guest Quarters volume and the focus ripens covered volume of the garage.
    The court is sheltered by the natural canopy of the oak trees. The first perpendicular element, a glass-clad bridge that contains the children’s bedrooms, extends from the main bar and rests on the Guest Quarters volume.
    It shields the entry to the house and frames the entry to the second court. This court, the Rain Court is bound on three sides by the circulation spine of the main bar, the Guest Quarters volume, and the two-story living room and opens onto a dense garden wall.
    The third court, the Water court faces the Bay, and contains the pool and spa and was designed to create an exterior environment that encouraged full access and enjoyment of the Bay and its long vistas and sunsets.
    The second canopy to shield a court is the concrete “parasol” that extends above the living room volume”.

  21. Architectural value

    According to reliable furniture shop in Phnom Penh construction materials information, owner of the featured house commissioned Pinnacle Architectural Studio for the design of the above property.
    "With over 15 years' experience in the fields of architecture and high-end custom home design, Pinnacle considers every house a direct reflection of the client's tastes, desires and needs," said president Quinn Boesenecker.
    "In addition, all our clients receive personal, professional service and are never passed from one representative to another – our focus is always on the individual."
    The outcome is a home that contains privacy and a free-spirited link to the natural setting of its surrounding.
    "This house interacts seamlessly with its environment – a comprehensive site study was undertaken to ensure every possible outlook was maximized," added Boesenecker. "Direction, height, and possible future constructions were all taken into account."

  22. hi. is it safe to travel ALONE?! thanks.

  23. hi i would just like to ask if the buses leaving from HCMC to phnom penh leaves every hour? and what van did you take from phnom penh to cambodia and how much?thank you.

  24. how much did it cost you? can you give the estimated total of expenses for the whole trip? Thank you

    1. I spent around 23 k for me and my wife. Including promo fares na yun ^^

  25. how was much was your overall expenses?

    1. I spent around 23 k for me and my wife. Including promo fares na yun ^^

  26. Hi! I still cant see the continuation of your blog.. You have one big informative write up here. Planning to do the sane trip by January2016 :)) and, 23k is for both you and your spouse? More power!

  27. Pa post naman ng continuation ng blog nyo. . .this is a very interesting trip to follow. . .salamat! :) looking forward sa continuation ng blog. . . :)

  28. Hi.. Can you please post the continuation of the blog.. Thank you!

  29. To Everyone who is looking for the FULL STORY . Here it is.
    Sorry if the pictures don't appear anymore. This used to be a writing project with Globe's Roam The World page but they have decided to flag it down after a while so here goes the full report. Hope you make sense of the story less the photos. Cheers!


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  39. A very helpful blog. Around how much will be cost for a budgeted tour like this? thank you

  40. how much is the cost?

  41. hi, thanks for this blog, really helpful for research i hope you wouldn't mind if I follow this for november tour...medyo need ng guidance if I'll go alone for the cambodia part for first time traveler...

  42. Hi there! Where is the dropoff point in Pnom Penh from Ho Chi Min City? and Where is the pickup point in Pnom Penh to Siem Reap?

  43. Hi,
    Do you kmow if may bus from Siem reap to Bangkok ng gabi. We prefer to travel kc from SR to BKK after dinner. Also how was you experience in Thailand immigration?


  44. hi i would like to ask if you need to convert PHP prior to the trip...I saw in some trip videos that in Cambodia they use USD as payment and Riel as change...I was wondering if its best that I convert to USD or exchange in dong/riel/baht...prior to trip or during?


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