Traveling–it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.
I went on a three-day birthday adventure in Thailand with my friends. It took us seven months to prepare for a very short trip but it was all worth it, and here’s the result:
|Budget breakdown||Description||Total amount per person|
|Plane ticket||Return flight CEB – MNL – BKK – MNL – CEB||Php 7,102 / USD 158|
|Airport Transfer||Airport to Hotel and vice versa||Php 1,168 / USD 26|
|Accommodation||Rambuttri Village Inn and Plaza for 3 nights||Php 2,560 / USD 57|
|Activities||Temples and Tours for 3 days||Php 4,575 / USD 102|
|Transportation||Tuk-tuk, Taxi, and Ferry for 3 days||Php 245 / USD 6|
|Meals||Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner for 3 days||Php 955 / USD 22|
|TOTAL||Php 16,605 / USD 371|
Knowing how crazy expensive the plane tickets are, we had to wait for promo fares. Around November 2014, there was a promo fare for Manila-Bangkok from Cebu Pacific that only cost Php 5,500 ($122) for a round-trip flight. Since we were from Cebu, we had to book another flight to Manila. Just a few weeks later, the same airline had a piso fare promo in all domestic flights, and it only cost us Php 1,602 ($36) for the round trip. Thus, we spent a total of Php 7,102 ($158) for the plane tickets.
It took us a while to book for the best and most affordable place to stay that was a walking distance to the temples. Two months prior to our trip, we finally found a hotel (via booking.com) at the Khao San Road, the Rambuttri Village Inn & Plaza. It offers a clean, comfortable accommodation and a superb location for guests. For a superior twin room without breakfast, it cost 950 baht ($21) per night; and for three nights, that was a total of 2,850 baht ($63) plus a security deposit of 1,000 baht ($22), which was returned to the guests once they checked out. It was a good thing that I was sharing the room with my friend, so I only had to pay 1,925 baht (Php 2,560 = $57) for the room inclusive of the security deposit.
Now, this one is optional. We used an airport transfer because of the following reasons: (1) We were not familiar with the place; and (2) our flight arrived at midnight, and we wanted to get to the hotel as soon as possible. We booked our airport transfer through airporttransfersthailand.com and cost us Php 4,671.70 ($104) for a 3-4 person private transfer. Thankfully, there was four of us in the group and we got to share the cost. I only paid Php 1,168 ($26). TIP #1: It’s always best to travel in groups. Chances are you have someone to split the cost with.
Local food is highly recommended, especially when it comes to Thai cuisine. We found a number of restaurants just on the other side of the street where we were staying, along Rambuttri Alley. You can easily find them on the sidewalk. A pad thai costs 50 baht (Php 67.00 = $1.50) while a tom yum fried rice cost 60 baht (Php 80 = $2), on average. For three days, we spent a total of 720 baht (Php 953 = $22) for our meals.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, it is best to travel in groups when commuting. From tuk-tuks to ferries and taxis, I only paid around 183 baht (Php 243.39 = $5.50) for the whole duration of the trip.
Prior to the trip, we had an itinerary, down to the hour. However, all of which were changed before we even got to our first destination. TIP #2: Make your itinerary as flexible as you can; you will never know what will happen when you arrive at your destination. It’s a good thing that we really didn’t mind that we didn’t get to follow our original itinerary.
We started our day with the famous “buddha day” scam, which I will go into detail on a follow-up article. We took a river canal tour, which cost 500 baht (Php 665 = $15).
It’s an hour-long ride on a small teak boat. It will take you to the other side of the city, a more intimate way of getting to know Bangkok. However, I wouldn’t recommend this as it’s quite expensive when you don’t know where to book them. We got our tickets from a booth situated at Rama 8 Express Boat Pier (Wisut Kasat Pier).
The next stops were the standing and sitting buddhas. The Wat Intharawihan holds the Standing Buddha, which is 32 meters high and 10 meters wide. It is located on Thanon Wisut Kasat, close to the Rama VIII bridge crossing the Chao Phraya river.
While the Wat Sam Phraya holds the Sitting Buddha, which located in the Phra Nakhon area of Bangkok.
Both temples open daily from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM, and admission is free. Right after, we went to Baan Thai Gems, then had lunch at a nearby restaurant before heading to the Grand Palace.
The place was truly majestic, but just be sure to arrive early before it gets too crowded. By the time we arrived at the Grand Palace, it was already 2 PM and extremely hot. We weren’t able to stay long enough because of the weather. There’s an entrance fee of 500 baht (Php 665 = $15), which includes an entrance to the Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.
TIP #3: Bring anything to cover up like a sarong, umbrella, hat, or cap and wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There’s a strict dress code when entering the palace. Visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves and women must be similarly modestly dressed. No see-through clothes, bare shoulders, tank tops and bare feet. If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes to cover you up properly. A deposit of 200 baht (Php 266 = $6) is required and will be returned once you leave the palace.
We walked back to the hotel and passed by the Bangkok National Museum and the National Theatre and only took photos of the area. We bought a few souvenirs along the way before reaching our hotel. Around dinner time, we headed to the other side of the Rambuttri Alley where we ate, saw a band playing, and strolled around the night market. Afterwards, we got a massage right outside our hotel, a one-hour back-and-foot massage for 200 baht (Php 266 = $6) before ending the night.
We booked a joined group tour for Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and an elephant ride through Asia Discovery. It cost 1,150 baht (Php 1,530 = $34) per person. It took half a day for the tour to finish. You can check their detailed tour itinerary here.
For our afternoon itinerary, we headed to the Tourist Information Centre (still part the scam, apparently) and booked our Ayutthaya Tour for our last day in Thailand which only cost 750 baht (Php 998 = $22) per person. It’s relatively cheaper than booking online. Right after that, we headed to the Golden Mount Temple.
There’s an admission fee of 20 baht (Php 26.60 = $0.60). It’s a long way up; but when you get to the top, you get a 360-degree view of Bangkok, which is breathtaking.
Next stop was Wat Pho. On the way there, we got to see the Giant Swing but weren’t able take a photo. There’s an entrance fee of 100 baht (Php 133 = $3), and it comes with free water when you reach the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
TIP #4: For the best shot, you need to be situated at the foot of the buddha to get the full body shot.
We headed to the main temple and took a few pictures before walking down to the pier.
We took a ferry ride to Wat Arun, but sadly it was under renovation. Yet you can still see the beauty up close.
We took another ferry ride to Chinatown. We weren’t able to stay long since we really didn’t know which way to go and most of the stores were either closing up or already closed. So we decided to head to Central World Mall for dinner and for some last-minute shopping.
Our last day in Thailand was spent in Ayutthaya, the old capital city. Since we booked a tour the day before, it went smoothly and only spent less than 40 baht (Php 53 = $1.18) for ice cream, water, and comfort room. Our guide picked us up at around 8 AM and drove for almost two hours. The first stop was the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, which is situated in the southeast of the city.
Next was the famous Wat Phra Mahathat. The highlight of the area is a buddha head entwined by tree roots. It is believed that this happened during the Siam War when the Burmese vandalised many of the buddha images by looping off the heads. There is still no exact record on how the buddha head became entwined by the tree roots. One theory suggests that the tree simply grew around the buddha head when the temple was abandoned while another theory suggests that a thief moved the buddha head away from the main temple to hide it. But after moving the stone buddha head away from the ruined main temple, it is believed that the thief could not move the head beyond the walls surrounding the temple. Instead, the buddha head was left by the wall where it got entwined by the tree roots overtime.
Right after that, we went to Wat Lokayasutharam. The most striking feature is the giant reclining buddha, known as Phra Buddhasaiyart, which is thirty-seven meters long and eight meters high.
We had an hour lunch that offered the local cuisine, which is included in the tour package. For the afternoon itinerary, we drove to Wat Phu Khao Thong, passing through the monument of King Naresuan the Great. Before getting to the main chedi, you will be greeted with the images of fighting roosters.
For our last stop, we headed to Wat Phra Si Sanphet before going back to the city. You will pass by the Viharn Mongkhon Bophit before entering the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. One of the famous sights in Ayutthaya is the distinctive three pagodas of Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
Once we got back into the city, we went to our hotel to get a quick dip in their pool and to freshen up. We headed to Steve’s Cafe by the river for our last dinner. (We almost got lost on the way there. Haha!) After dinner, the car service picked us up and took us to the airport.
And we bid goodbye to Thailand for an amazing trip and will definitely come back for a much longer stay.