Beach Days In Pattaya

Knowing that I’ll be travelling mostly inland during my Indochina solo backpacking trip, I made it a point that I’ll see the sea. At least once. It was kinda difficult finding a way to put Pattaya on the route to Cambodia without going back to Bangkok. There was little information about transportation  from there to the border town of Aranyaprathet. The backpacker instinct in me though said there must be some form of transport going from there to the border. So I said, heck yeah I’ll just wing it!

How To Get To Pattaya From Bangkok

To get to Pattaya, you need to find your selves at Mo Chit bus station to take a bus all the way to Pattaya. Getting to the Mo Chit Bus station can be a bit tricky as it is not connected to any train station. So if you are not taking the train, the next best thing is get a cab or book a grab specially if you have luggage.

By train get off at the Mo Chit BTS station or the Kamphaeng Phet station if you are using the subway. From there it is advisable to take a motorbike taxi or a cab if you are press for time and it should not cost more than 120 Baht.

At the Mo Chit find the counter for your destination, Pattaya. Fare from Mo Chit to Pattaya is just about $4.50. Alternatively you can also conveniently book online.

Bus travel from Mo Chit bus station to Pattay takes 3 to 4 hours via public bus. You will alight at the Pattaya bus and van station. From there you can get another Motorbike Taxi or a local cab to your hostel.

Where To Stay In Pattaya

I wish I can recommend you the hostel I stayed at but unfortunately they’re closed now. To give you some ideas though, most of the cheap hostels are off of the down town area which is dominated by big hotels. If you are someone who doesn’t like crowds that’s good new for you. Most of the cheap accommodations are located nearer to Jomtien beach rather than Pattaya’s main beach. But that shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Pattaya’s main downdown area’s draw is mostly for its  night life so staying for the day near a better beach is actually a good thing! Compared to Pattaya beach, Jomtien actually has a better shoreline.

 

CHECK PATTAYA HOSTELS HERE

Pattaya Beaches

There are a few beaches in Pattaya where you can hang out. One word of caution though, they are crowded. Mostly of middle aged Russian tourists. Having so little time and energy to convince my self to go out and explore the nearby islands, I found my self mostly hanging out at Jomitiem Beach. I think this is the quieter side of Pattaya. The water though is not that great compared to most Philippine beaches (not sure about southern Thailand beaches, I haven’t been), so do not expect much.

There are better beaches though at nearby islands. These islands can be reached by public ferry but you should go early. It can be a bit pricey for backpackers too as there are no public transports in the island. But if you want to see better beaches and you don’t have time to go south, you might want to spend a bit more on renting scooters to get around the island.

Jomitien

But then if you just want to look at the sea and just chill,  I think that Jomitien will work for you. I soak at the warm waters which was a perfect contrast to the cool breeze blowing that day. You can rent one of the beach lounge chairs and buy drinks at the care taker of the chairs. Just keep in mind though that it’s gonna be on a premium price so better to bring your own drinks. Jomtien beach is a public beach so you can just bring your own umbrella, food and picnic cloth to lie down to.

The water was warm at the time of my visit (November). The sand was okay nothing special, but it does give you that sense of having a break or vacation being far away from the bustling city of Bangkok. There are numerous cheap restaurants around the area

 

My time in Pattaya was cut short mainly because I messed up my itinerary and stayed a day longer in Bangkok. But it felt that it was time well spent. The people in The Five-O hostel (don’t search, they’ve closed) was awesome from the staff, the owner even fellow travelers I met there. Personally, I would love to spend more time in Pattaya as it seem to be an exciting part of Thailand with its beaches, parks and night life. If you plan to visit Pattaya give it about 2 days or more before you cross to Cambodia to truly enjoy it.

Read More: How To Travel From Pattaya to Aranyaprateth

S21: Cambodia’s Concentration Camp

Most backpackers when doing the Indochina trail either from Vietnam or Thailand would jut breeze through Phnom Penh.  Cambodia’s capital can be a bit boring if you would think about it. Yeah there are Museums, temples and food places that you can visit but there are such as well in Siem Reap right?

Before you dismiss and take Phonm Penh off of your list even just for a stop over, try to consider this. Phnom Penh actually holds a lot about what Cambodia is today. The city hosts a couple of Museums that you will not find in Siem Reap. Though emotionally bothering, these museums are important to Cambodia as a reminder of what the past has thought them.

phnom penh

History

One of these Museums is located right at the heart of the city is called S21. Formally known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the museum got its name as it was concentration camp #21.

The property was a former high school for the city with several buildings to educate the children of Phnom Penh. As the Khmer Rouge took over the country, it’s idealist leader wanted to “reborn” the country. This rebirth means realigning the country’s priorities and goals. Pol Pot, Cambodia’s defacto leader at that time decided that the country should strengthen their agricultural productivity. He sent every one to  the country side forcing them to become farmers .

But these people whom he sent from the city do not know how to farm and use the tools. While it should increase agricultural productivity, Cambodia’s population starve instead as real farmers were killed and replaced by city dwellers. Intellectuals and educators on the other hand were also purged out of the population as the Khmer Rouge’s Pol Pot see them as a threat to his reign.

I know I could never summarize the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. This is why you should visit Phnom Penh even just for a stop over. I firmly believe that as part of traveling, be it for leisure or backpacking, should include understanding a bit of a place’s history. This allows us to know how to respect each place that we visit.

What You Need To Know

Entrance fee : $5
Audio Guide: $3
Adddress: St 113, Phnom Penh 12304, Cambodia
Dress code: None

So next time you visit Cambodia traveling to or from it’s neighboring countries, check out their historical sites. They can be as recent as a few decades ago but it surely have shaped the nation as it is right now.

 

Taipei Hostel: Ximen Wow Hostel

Being centrally located in the up and coming travel destination that is Taipei is a must when exploring the city. Fortunately, the Ximen district  -Taipei’s heart – houses more than a handful of hostels and hotels that can fit most of your accommodation needs. Being my group of friend’s defacto organizer I began searching for a good hostel that would fit everyone’s wants while working on a budget. After adjusting my filters on my search in Booking.com I was so happy to find a property that met all of what I was looking for; Ximen Wow Hostel.

Continue reading

Travel Guide: Best 1 Day Angkor Wat Tour Itinerary Tips

One of the most amazing complex of structures made man, The Angkor Wat is truly a must see when in Angkor Wat. However, if you are on a budget and only have a day to do the tour, this is the best way to see the temples.

  1. Hire a Remorque

    Yep those vehicles that everyone calls Tuktuk isn’t really one, lol! Anyways get your self one and make sure to haggle. Most will offer about $15-$18 for the small circuit. Do not try to outsmart the drivers and not tell your entire route/itinerary or you’ll end up paying more. Your day will start at around 4:00 AM to buy the tickets, be sure to be early as the line gets long quickly as early as 4AM. The tour ends with the Sunset view from Phnom Bakheng, returning back to the hostel 7:00 PM. It costs me about $23 to hire him for more than 12 hours. I like hiring this guy because he speaks enough English and always makes sure that my friends are comfortable just like how he was the first time I hired him.You can contact Som through +855-9365-9332

  2. Take the Small Circuit tour.

    Many would chose to take the Big Circuit tour thinking that there are more to see and experience with it. But the thing is, most of the temples in the big circuit are still in ruins. If you want to touch, see and experience more the small circuit is ideal. You can also request your hired driver to go counter clockwise on the circuit to avoid crowds. source

  3. Bring food.

    Although most drivers would provide you water during the trip, finding reasonably priced food inside the complex can be a challenge. If you can, bring a packed lunch and some snacks; Picnic under the shade of trees overlooking the temples isn’t a bad idea after all.

  4. Clothes to wear.

    Most if not all structures in the Angkor Complex are temples, hence respect is expected from everyone. Make sure that your shoulders (especially for girls) and knees are covered to avoid any inconvenience. You may also want to wear something bright and light colored clothes so that you stand out against the dark colored stones of the temple in your photos.

  5. Respect.

    The structures that you will be visiting are not just mere tourist spots, they are all working temples that people go to pray. Not just because they opened it to tourists means that you are given the license to do whatever you want. It is expected of you to know what are the things that you should and shouldn’t do while inside these sacred structures.

  6. Be Alert

    Make sure that you are always attentive of your surroundings. Be cautious of people trying to sell you something or trying to take your attention to your belongings. Be careful of your belongings don’t just leave them lying around or just sitting unsecured in your bike’s basket. Coming from locals, I’ve been warned that there are people who will try to snatch you things while driving round with your bike or walking around.

To be honest spending just one day to see the temples can be really tiring. I would actually recommend getting a multi-day pass then renting a bike or moped to go around at your own leisure. Then again, there’s this guide if you only have a day to burn. Hope this helps some of you. If there you have any question or something that I forget to cover on this guide, please do let me know. I’ll do my best to update this guide.

Bangkok Hostel: Zee Thai Hostel

We were on a 12 day backpacking trip of the Indochina region of Southeast Asia and a few of my friends went ahead to Thailand. They didn’t have the luxury of time. They were booked at the same hostel where the rest of us will be staying. But when they got to the hostel, they were quite disappointed with the accommodation. I got into panic mode and re-booked our group to a different hostel.

wanting to stay near Khaosan road, to be just a stone throw away from the main attractions of the old city so we can just wander around saving us money. Though there are hundreds of hostels in and around Khaosan, I had a budget to work around and a level of comfort to provide for my friends -they aren’t really thrifty-stingy-backpackers like me.

I scoured through the pages of online booking sites like Booking.com and Agoda. I sorted out options and trying out different types of accommodation just to keep the group together in one room. I kinda gave up and chose Zee Thai Hostel. According to the map, the hostel is almost 1k from the Khaosan area, it felt a bit too far.

LOCATION

I thought that it far from the action in Khaosan road. I was wrong. Though the map tells me that it was almost a kilometer away, but the actual walk from the hostel didn’t feel like it.  It was a leisurely 3-5 minute walk along the alleys of boutique hostels. Turns out that being tucked away from the noise of Khaosan became an advantage.

The location also allowed us to hail taxis and tuktuks without worrying abut competing with other tourists. Every night there are also a lot of pop-up shops that sets up their stores in front of the hostel so food isn’t gonna be an issue if you’re lazy to go to Rambuttri alley. During day time there are barbecue shops around the area where we eat to our hearts content! price starts at 10-20 bhat a piece for grilled chicken.

 

ROOMS

My friends definitely love the rooms. Each dorm bed had curtains that provides some privacy when you sleep.  Each room has its own split type climate control, this was awesome for us since we rented the entire dorm room. They left the controls to us so we were able to adjust the temperature to a comfortable level. However if you are staying with other solo travelers, you can still request the front desk to adjust it for you.

 

AMENITIES

Our stay in Zee Thai Hostel was really comfortable. We would just hang out at the common area and watch cable TV or movies online on their massive smart TV during our free time. Other travelers take advantage of the free use the computer while some just play with the instruments around or read a book that is readily available from the shelves.

 

One thing though that really convinced me that Zee Thai Hostel is one of, if not the best hostel near Khaosan; The washer! It was our group’s last day together -them going back to Manila and me staying behind for business. I had to decide whether I’d extend in Zee Thai Hostel or move on to a cheaper one. Then while hanging out on their roof deck a poster caught my attention. It said yes its free to use! Along with photos of hotel amenities including the clothes washer!  Having clothes washed  will cost you about  $1-2 per kilo and if you have jackets and pants that would cost a lot! So I thought that instead of having my clothes done for me I’d rather stick to this nice hostel and wash my own clothes. I actually saved money by not moving to a cheaper hostel!

For digital nomads, the hostel’s  internet connection is just awesome. We can download an entire album in just minutes on our phones! I was also able to upload photos from a recent wedding I covered in less than 15 minutes!

PRICE

The Zee Thai Hostel offers different price ranges depending on what season, month and how long you will be staying. They offer good discount during lean season and extra discounts for people who will be staying long term in the hostel. We were able to secure our beds for about $8 a night. Being the one who booked for the group, I initially felt that it was a bit pricey.  That notion though changed when we got to the hostel, The interior was so refreshing and the staff was just so warm in welcoming us.

THE VERDICT

I’d say that the Zee Thai hostel is a great choice if you want to stay near Khaosan and still want to have some peace and quite when you retire for the day. There can be other options that way cheaper than the Zee Thai Hostel  if you are trying to slow down your spending – I use to stay in a $2 hostel. However, if you spending a few more dollars is not an issue, or if you are staying for a few days and you want to enjoy your trip without breaking the bank Zee Thai Hostel can be the best choice for you.

Backpackers hanging out at the roof deck.

Zee Thai Hostel
Address: 258/1, บ้านพานถม, พระนคร, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
(258/1 Wisut Kasat Road Pranakorn 10200 Bangkok, Thailand)
Phone: +66 97 201 6317

Travel Guide: Guam

Guam is an island territory off the Pacific, four hours flight from the Philippine’s capital. Similarly colonized by the Spanish conquistadors and still under the American federal government Guam shares a lot more cultural similarities that we thought we knew.  The island is popular for Japanese and Korean tourist who you’d mostly find at the shopping areas such as the Guam Premier Outlest and the hotel lane which is dotted with good stores to shop at.

Prepping for a trip to the island can be intimidating as not a lot information on how enjoy the island backpacking style is available. So on a recent trip I tried my best to find the best way to enjoy the island without spending so much.

Visa Requirements

Being a teritory of the United States of America, Guam requires you to have a US Visa. There are no special visas for Guam so you still have to go through the usual US Visa application.

source

Getting There

Most of the time Cebu Pacific Airlines offers the cheapest fares from Manila. Yes most of the time specially when they are on sale (got mine for $52 RT) just make sure you don’t book your hotels right away or book rooms that are re-bookable in case one of the airlines “Flight Realignment” issues happens again. Other airlines that fly from Manila to the island are Philippine Airlines and United Airlines.

source

Accommodation

Accommodation in Guam mostly consist of Hotels and Resorts leaning towards the higher end of the market. I guess it is safe to say that Guam is not backpacker friendly but it does not mean that it is not doable. If you are willing to spend more than than your usual trips you may want to look for accommodation around the Tamon Bay area where you can easily access the beautiful Tamon Beach. This area is also the best places to stay for shopping.

 

If you are still not willing to let go of your backpacking principles (lol) the best way to get around the high prices is through Airbnb. You can snag a room, condo or apartment for about $30-$60 a night that you can split if there’s two of you. Make sure to stay near one of the Lamlam bus stop so that getting around the area wouldn’t be an issue if you aren’t driving. Just be sure that you are ready for emergency money that you can spend incase anything happens to your reserved room just like what happened to me. (will post an airbnb review later). Some of the destinations are walk-able (1-2kms) but the heat may be a challenge so just be ready with umbrellas, Guam roads aren’t fans of sidewalks so you might find your self walking on unpaved road sides.

Transportation

Best Option: Car rental – rent a car for just $20-$25 a day. Gas cost around $3-$4 a gallon which is enough for you to go around the entire island at least four times! Just bring your drivers license and you can drive for a maximum of thirty days while in the territory.

For non-drivers here’s how you can get around the island.

Lamlam Bus Service

Lamlam seems to be Guam’s de facto public bus service. The bus service is operated by Lamlam tours company and has several routes around the main area of the island with most of them terminating at Micronesia Mall and Guam Premier Outlets (GPO).  One way single use tickets costs $4 per way while day passes starts at $12 for one day, $15 for 2 days, $25 for 5 days while child pass costs $13. They also have special buses that will get you to special points of interests such as Two Lovers Point and Chamorro Village among others.

If you are trying to get out of the airport, they also have an airport shuttle that will take you to T-Galleria Mall in the downtown are. Bus service usually starts by 10 AM.

Taxi

From the airport taxi service (meter) will cost you about $25 for the entire 2.8 miles (5kms) journey. Expensive yet somewhat convenient except when you are in area where there are no taxi waiting area. See, taxis do not go around and pickup passengers. Most of the time they are stationary in an establishment with a kiosk where you can book their service.

Stroll & LamCar

There’s no Uber, Grab or Lyft in Guam. Instead they have Stroll. Similar to other ride hailing apps Stroll will provide you the estimated price and pick you up from your location. The only set back for this is that there are not a lot of Stroll cars around the island so it may take a while before you can actually hail one. However, it may be worth the wait compared to taxis as the price per mile are way cheaper.

Another option is the LamCar, similar to Stroll this app also helps you to hail one of the Lamlam tour company’s

Food 

There are lots of great food options in Guam. From food courts, restaurants, diners and of course there are fast food options as well. Pricing though does not differ whether it is fast food or a mom-and-pop food store, only the specialty restaurants actually border on the “pricey” end of the spectrum.

To give context to how much you will be spending and should be allotting for your food budget, here are the actual prices I paid for.

Mc Donalds
……….Big Mac Meal ………..$7.90
……….Big Mac (Sandwich only) ………..$5.00

Denny’s 
……….Grilled Chicken Breast with Mash Potato and Brocolli………..$8
……….Hamburger Gravy Bowl………..$8.00
……….Unlimited Hot Choco………..$3.60

Note: Denny’s have breakfast options for as low as $2 some if the servings are big specially those with rice like the Hamburger Gravy Bowl I had to put them on take-away bags so I can finish them later, so maybe you can just share.

Cinnabon (Classic)………..$3.99

Infusion Coffee and Tea Shop
……….Shangri-La Iced Tea………..$2.50
……….Chicken Pesto Pasta………..$2.00

Figaro
……….Java Chip Coffee………..$5.74

If  you are traveling in a group better cook your selves food it’ll be cheaper!

Activities

Shopping

Guam Premier Outlets
Micronesia Mall
Downtown Shopping Lane (Hotel road)

Guam Ocean Venture

Chamorro Village

Watch Las Vegas Style Magic Shows

Beaches

Tumon Beach
Gab Gab Beach
Gun Beach

Food Trips

Guam National Museum

War In The Pacific Nat’l Historical Park

Asan Bay Overlook

Guam Legislative Building

Dulce Nobre de Maria Cathedral

Two Lovers Point

Source

Source

Crystal Chapel

Source

Though honestly, the best thing still to do in Guam is to shop. However, there are still a lot of things to do in the island that you don’t have to spend so much. But then again if you see the prices in the outlet stores and duty free shops you would definitely panic and your card may get overloaded. I am not even exaggerating. My favorite store still and probably will always will is Ross, thought it was tough to find something for my size, that store still my heart (yeah we got a long history way back 2006 hahaha).

Nevertheless if shopping is not your thing, the Chamorros are one of the jolliest people I’ve ever met, you’ll have a great time around them for sure! Best to bring a friend or two with you to split the cost of your Airbnb, car rental and gas. Lastly stop converting to your local currency! hahaha! yes let lose for a moment when in Guam and you’ll surely enjoy your stay. Haf Adai!

Must Try Food In Taipei

They say Taiwan is how China could have been if it wasn’t for the cultural revolution. They shunned many of their traditions and beliefs and turned themselves to the communist ideology. None the less, there is one thing that China and Taiwan shares best; Food Culture. Not known to many Taiwan is one of the best places in Asia to discover flavors that you did not know existed. Taiwanese Food combinations that can be quite odd but taste so good. Continue reading

Crossing From Singapore To Malaysia

If you are on a Southeast Asian trip or just trying to maximize your trip in Singapore, a quick trip to Malayia can actually be done via land. Singapore is connected to Malaysia via a few entry points. From thee you can start exploring places like Joho Bahur or Melaka, or even as far as Penang or Kuala Lumpur via an overnight bus. Yes you can always book a flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, but if you are aiming for a cheaper alternative a night bus can save you a lot.

How To Book A Bus From Singapore To Malayia

While in Singapore I tried looking for a travel agency that where I can physically buy a bus ticket from. It was quite a challenge specially in the area where I was staying (Bukit Pajang). So after scouring the mall (Bukit Pajang Plaza) I went back to my accommodation and just checked online.

There are several sites that you can book your bu tickets, it is actually a lot more convenient it just my traditional thinking that’s kicking in. I choose BusOnlineTicket.com based on the price and departure times available. I booked a trip departing 12AM that night, cost was SG$28

Upon arriving at the pickup point, I just showed my phone with their email confirmation and I was admitted to board the bus. The same bus will be taking you from the pickup point, through immigration then all the way to your ultimate destination. It was Kuala Lumpur for me.

Immigration

The bus crosses the causeway bridge and takes you to the Singapore Immigration processing center. The center was large and well organized just like an airport. There were not much people at that time since it was midnight so everything went quickly. We went back to the bus and once every one was in we then journeyed to the Malaysian side of the border to be stamped in. The Malaysian immigration office was remarkably smaller compared to Singapore but since it was midnight everything was done quickly.

Timetable

Travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is about 5-6 hours. If you are traveling after summer you might consider a few things when you travel. You will arrive when it still is dark at around 5 AM and if you are getting off at Berjaya Times Square make sure that you have changed your money to Ringgit before you leave Singapore. There are no 24 hours money changer around the area.

 

Got more tips about crossing to or from Singapore and Malaysia? Leave them on the comment section and we’ll try to add them!

Travel Guide: How To Get To Taipei From The Airport

So just landed in the Taoyuan Internation Airport and you are ready to explore Taiwan. But then there you are standing in the arrivals area, over whelmed on all of the Chinese characters you see. Inside your head you are lightly freaking out asking your self How to do you get to Taipei from the Airport? Continue reading