SOUTH-EAST ASIA TRIP 2K18 (WHEN, WHY & HOW?)


My traveling year of 2018 has started with another long trip. I went on a two months long trip to South-East Asia. Again. Second year in a row. You might be asking why and I will explain my decision a bit later. This was my longest trip but it did not take that long time to plan it because traveling around this region is quite easy and I have already traveled around some of the places so I was a bit more familiar with that as well.


WHEN?

My trip lasted for 64 days in total from the time I left from home till I got back home. I was traveling between 18th of February and 22nd of April. February is a great time to visit Bangkok. There might be some occasional rain showers although in my case I mostly experienced dry conditions and it is also not that hot yet but closer it gets to April hotter it gets. Through the center of the peninsula and in both Kuala Lumpur and Malacca you can expect low monthly rainfall during February, although short tropical showers are likely in the afternoon and in my case it did rain practically every afternoon when I was in those two places. While February is an excellent month to visit the island of Penang. Days are typically hot, humid and sunny as the region experiences one of its driest months of the year. March is still a popular time of year to visit the Philippines. It is not that hot yet and there is not that much rain yet as well and for cooling down a great option is to travel to the mountainous Cordillera region. My last leg of the trip was in Indonesia. I was there in April which marks the end of rainy season. Across the island, following months of rain, the flora is in full bloom and rice paddies are green, making journeys through the countryside particularly picturesque and Borobudur especially photogenic, surrounded as it is by greenery. It is a great time to visit.


WHY?

I went on this trip to experience new cultural things and try new food. One of the main goals was also to see famous volcanoes like Taal, Mount Mayon and Mount Bromo that have been in my study books since elementary school and now that I’m studying geography have became even more important. Georgetown in Penang is known to have the best street food in the world so I was looking forward to that as well and it did not disappoint. So I can say that my main reason for going there was a combination of nature, culture/history, and food. As I’ve mentioned in the beginning I have already been to two of the places last year (Bangkok and Singapore). I started with my trip in Bangkok again and Singapore was in the middle of the way to the Philippines with a contrast to last year when I have finished my trip in that place. There were still a lot of things (especially in Singapore) that I did not see yet and foods that I have not tried yet. Written below are some of the highlights from my trip although there are too many to include in this list

  • BANGKOK
    • Exploring Chatuchak Market, one of the biggest markets in Asia
    • Aor Tor Kor Market ranked the 4th spot in the CNN’s world’s best market list
    • Historic Bangrak Food Tasting & Culture Tour with Bangkok Food Tours
  • MALAYSIA
    • Kuala Lumpur Street Food with Food Tour Malaysia
    • The historical city of Melacca (UNESCO) where I witnessed the last day of Chinese New Year celebrations
    • Exploring Taman Negara National Park, world’s oldest rainforest
    • DIY Food and Street art tour of Georgetown (UNESCO)
  • SINGAPORE
    • Eating at the cheapest Michelin star rated hawker stall.
    • Watching amazing water & lights projections during the I Light Marina Bay festival, Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival
  • PHILIPPINES
    • Exploring the old and the modern Manila, with DIY street art tour of BGC
    • Culinary and historic tour of Binondo, one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world, with Old Manila Walks
    • Hiking on Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province (UNESCO), believed to be more than 2000 years old.
    • Staying in a hostel in the middle of rice terraces and coffee plantations 5 kilometers north of Sagada
    • Being the only foreigner for a whole day of jeepney rides from Sagada to Banaue (In the Philippines that happened to me a few times)
    • Seeing the smallest monkey in the world, called a tarsier
    • Riding an ATV for the first time under Mount Mayon
    • Trying the infamous delicacy called balut
  • INDONESIA
    • Seeing changing landscape on train rides from West to East Java
    • The breathtaking Borobudur (UNESCO) and Prambanan temple (UNESCO)
    • Trying the most expensive coffee in the world
    • Climbing Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia
    • Hiking to the viewpoint of  Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in the middle of the night to catch the sunrise
    • See the Blue Flames and the sulfur miners in Ijen Volcano*

* Due to the activity of the volcano it was not possible to see that.


HOW?

Planning this trip was easier than last year because I gain quite a lot of experiences last year and I was going to the same part of the world so I knew a bit what I can expect. Like last year, I decided to book an open-jaw flight, meaning that I started my trip in one city and ended in another so that I did not have to go back to the starting point. I saved some time by flying to and from some places (i.e. Kuala Lumpur to Penang) and especially in the Philippines where it is the most convenient way to travel to different parts of the country since it is a huge archipelago.

  • PLANE TICKETS
    • I bought the return open-jaw flight Zagreb – Doha – Bangkok & Jakarta – Doha – Zagreb in December 2017 because I got an excellent offer with Qatar Airways for just 480 euros. I have not flown with this airline before but since it is the best airline in the world I was not worried and all of the flights were one of the best I had so far, if not the best. On the way back I decided to choose a longer layover in Doha so that I could have gone on a city tour as well which was until recently free but now it is 40 QAR (9,5 €) which is still quite affordable for a 3-hour long tour with a free bottle of water included as well. Note: I purchased checked baggage for all the flights where I had to.
    • One way flight Bangkok DMK – Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia = 70 €
    • One way flight Kuala Lumpur – Penang with Air Asia = 27 €
    • One way flight Penang – Singapore with Air Asia = 35 €
    • One way flight Singapore – Manila with Philippines Airlines = 103 €
    • One way flight Manila – Tagbilaran with Philippines Airlines = 60 €
    • One way flight Cebu – Legazpi with PAL Express = 39 €
    • One way flight Legazpi – Manila with Cebu Pacific = 32 €
    • One way flight Manila – Jakarta with Air Asia = 68 €
    • One way flight Banyuwangi – Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia = 46 €
  • ENTRY VISAS
    • This information is for travelers from Slovenia, for information regarding visas for other countries check at the embassies or ministry for foreign affairs in your country. I did not need any visa this time in contrast with my trip to Asia last year when I needed a visa to Cambodia and Vietnam.
    • Thailand – I do not require a visa for up to 30 days when entering by air
    • Malaysia – I do not require a visa for staying there up to 90 days
    • Singapore – I do not require a visa for staying there up to 90 days
    • The Philippines – I do not require a visa for staying there up to 30 days
    • Indonesia – I do not require a visa for staying there up to 30 days
  • TRAVELING AROUND THE COUNTRIES
    • I used all sorts of transportation during my trip from day and night buses, minivans, a boat, jeepneys, tricycles, a fast ferry, and trains.
  • CURRENCIES
    • Thailand uses Thai Baht (THB). The current rate is 1 EUR = 36,59 THB
    • Malaysia uses Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). The current rate is 1 EUR = 4,69 MYR 
    • Singapore uses Singapore Dollar (SGD). The current rate is 1 EUR = 1,55 SGD
    • The Philippines uses Philippine Peso (PHP). The current rate is 1 EUR = 59,79 PHP
    • Indonesia uses Indonesian Ruppiah (IDR). The current rate is 1 EUR = 16.371 IDR
    • I also used Qatari Riyal (QAR) during my layover in Doha. The current rate is 1 EUR = 4,12 QAR
    • The rates are valid for 2nd of January

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