It’s summertime once again. And like the three previous years, it’s time to break the piggy bank, pool our money on the table, and backpack around Asia once more.
My first outing of the kind with my longtime travel partner, Blissfulguro, was an unnamed one that had us scouring the streets of Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The second one, the Asean Summer Loop, was more extensive. We rounded up six countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. Last year’s Beach Hop Asia had us hopping from Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Singapore.
This time around, well, it’s more of the same. We’re again flying to Malaysia (where we’d be bring our moms along, we’ll see how’d that go, lol), Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. Places we have been to previously, but not quite.
Our route wasn’t really dictated by the places we were aching to visit, but rather by airline seat sales. Booking later than usual, like eight months prior to our flight date (we usually book a year ahead), we really weren’t that choosy as to where the promo tickets available would lead us. And with unbelievably low fares, our route took shape. And that shape seemed somewhat familiar.
Manila ► [Malaysia] Melaka ► Kuala Lumpur ► Penang ► [Cambodia] Siem Reap ► Phnom Penh ► Sihanoukville ► Koh Rong ► [Thailand] Trat ► Koh Chang ► Bangkok ► [Vietnam] Ho Chi Minh ► Dalat ► Mui Ne ► Hoi An ► Hue ► Ninh Binh ► Sapa ► Halong ► Hanoi ► Manila
Surprisingly, that’s only six flights plus one land border crossing from Cambodia to Thailand. The total flight cost, PHP8,294.53. That’s more than half the price of what we paid for last year. And it would’ve been lower too if only flying out of and into the Philippines weren’t so darn expensive.
Almost half of our trip would be spent on Vietnam, with us flying to Ho Chi Minh and crawling our way up the country all the way to Sapa via their unbelievably cheap hop-on hop-off tourist bus.
And yes, as I mentioned previously, we’ve been to all four countries we’re gonna visit. But this time around, we’re going to places within those nations that we really haven’t set foot yet—give or take a few select cities we really wanted to come back to like Siem Reap, Bangkok and Hanoi. So, why travel to the same countries, you might ask? Besides having no money to have a real choice, there’s a phrase that most backpackers who has tramped around South East Asia know by heart—same same but different.