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Our Southeast Asia Itinerary: 12 days in Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore

posted by Liza 25th March 2016 2 Comments
Travel to Asia

Are you planning to travel to Asia anytime soon? You don’t have enough vacation days to spend a month in Thailand alone? Then you should definitely read this post about our Southeast Asia itinerary: 12 days in Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore.

Recently we have published our planned Southeast Asia travel itinerary with all the hotel and flight details. Well, the trip is over, so it’s time to make conclusions: was it really good planning or not and what could be improved.

You can read our first post here.

Well, I can say that I’m totally satisfied with our Southeast Asia itinerary! The trip was amazing. In case you only have 11-12 days of vacations, you can do something similar like our Southeast Asia travel itinerary, but you need to know: it’s not a relaxation trip. Maybe you’ll be able to swim a couple of times but don’t even think about relaxing on the beach – you won’t have time if you want to see as much as possible. And you’ll get tired. Very tired.

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So, let’s get started with our Southeast Asia travel itinerary:

Arriving at Pattaya right away on the first day was a great idea because we were exhausted from our long haul flights and could sleep a bit in the hotel.

We stayed in the hotel called Siam Bayshore and it was truly wonderful. The location of the hotel, as well as the service, was perfect. We couldn’t wish for more: in the middle of party district but covered from the noise and crowds. A resort in the middle of a busy city!

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Pattaya is not the best place for swimming, so the proximity of the hotel to the ferry terminal was very helpful: we went to swim to the Ko Larn island.

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Pattaya has a lot of street food: and it’s mostly very tasty and cheap. You can have some very fresh pad thai for 40 baht (just a bit more than 1 US dollar) and some meat skewers for just 10 baht! We tried almost everything and didn’t even get sick.

Also on the walking street, there were plenty of restaurants, so it’s was possible to eat there. Just 50 meters away from the hotel there was an amazing place, Anytime cafe, which looked quite posh for Pattaya standards, and it had a choose of wonderful all-day breakfasts! They weren’t very cheap : around 9 US dollars (300 baht) but they were totally worth their price!

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In Pattaya there aren’t many things to do: it’s mostly chilling in the pool, shopping and partying at night. And Pattaya definitely doesn’t look like a tropical paradise.

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So if you want some nice beaches and real tropical vacations – better head to one of the islands. However, there are some activities you can do: visiting the Big Buddha, Botanical Garden, the Sanctuary of Truth, riding the elephants & watching some shows. You can check TripAdvisor for more activities.

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After Pattaya, we headed to Bangkok. The journey took much more time than expected. First of all, the bus terminal was quite far from our hotel, so we had to take a taxi, which due to heavy traffic took a lot of time. So we arrived at the bus terminal around 1pm and bought the earliest possible tickets for 2:30 pm! The price is around 110 baht. The terminal really isn’t pleasing: it’s tiny, hot, full of flies. The three possible bus destinations are Ekamai, Mo Chit and the Southern Terminal not very far from the Khao San road.

So, we arrived in Bangkok around 4:30 pm. The biggest mistake of our Southeast Asia itinerary was not taking the BTS which would take only 30 minutes. Instead, we took a taxi and stood in a traffic jam for nearly 2 hours! Traffic in Bangkok is very heavy during the day, so try to avoid the taxis and use metro as much as possible, otherwise, you might end up spending half of the day in the taxi instead of going sightseeing.

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In Bangkok, there are lots of activities, I think, for that I’ll write a separate post (or maybe 2) about sightseeing, eating and getting around in Bangkok.

We stayed in the sort of “financial district” of the city, Phaya Thai, between Victoria Monument and Phaya BTS stations in the hotel “Le Tada Parkview”. The hotel has an incredible rating on Booking.com, and yep, in the reality it was as great as described.

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The proximity of the hotel to the shopping malls made choosing of place to eat very easy: we went to a food court in the Center One shopping mall. We chose a hotpot place “Neo Suki” and it was great and very very cheap! For a dinner for 2, we paid just 240 baht ( around 7 dollars).

After that, it was already 8:30 pm, so the traffic got much less heavy and we took a taxi to China Town. I must admit that China town in Bangkok looks like China (and even smells like China): it’s full of street food and local restaurants, hanging out the Peking Duck; it’s also extremely crowded and there is almost no place to walk. This place reminded me a lot of Mongkok in Hong Kong.

There wasn’t much to do in China Town, so we took a taxi again to the Khao San road, the backpacker district of Bangkok. It’s a great place to drink, eat some cheap street food and party a little bit.

When in Bangkok, always ask the taxi drivers to switch on the taximeter. They refuse to use it very often but they are actually obliged to use it by the law. So if one driver refuses to take you somewhere with his taximeter on, just try another taxi, otherwise, you mind end up paying 2-4 times more.

On the next day, we went to the Grand Palace. It’s better to go early because it closes around 3:30 pm. The ticket price is 500 baht. Remember that you should wear something that covers your knees and shoulders, otherwise you’ll need to rent some clothes (it costs nothing, but the clothes are a bit dirty and very uncomfortable and hot, I felt like dying in them).

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Grand Palace was extremely overcrowded! Honestly, I must admit that visiting it was not pleasurable at all: endless Chinese tourist groups with umbrellas pushing you and hitting you with their umbrellas, just stepping up in front of you in process of taking a photo of some temple in order to take theirs, uncomfortable clothes, no water sold inside and a terrifying heat. I couldn’t wait to get out of the palace and go somewhere else. Even though the palace looked majestic and gorgeous, all those factors from above really affected our experience.

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So when we got out, we decided to take a private boat tour through the canals of Bangkok. The private boat was around 500 baht per person (so 1000 for us both) and took a bit more than 1 hour. We could relax from crowds and heat and enjoy the ride alone. Unfortunately, at this time, the floating market was already closed (it works until 2:30 pm) but anyway, the view was nice.

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Afterwards, we stood in traffic for 1.5 hours and got back to our hotel and went for a dinner in the neighbourhood.

Next morning, around 11am we had a flight to Singapore with Jetstar. We took the airport metro line in order to get to the Bangkok airport (the ticket price is 45 baht and the journey time – around 35 minutes, the closest to us station was Phaya Thai). Jetstar surprised us a lot: it was such a great experience for a low-cost airline.

In Singapore, we took a bus 36 to our hotel.

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The price was just 2 SGD! And it left us just in front of our hotel (though the ride was around 1 hour, the public buses are really really slow in Singapore). We stayed at Rendezvous Hotel near the Bras Basah station. Again, the district was amazing and we were fully satisfied with the hotel (although, if it was a bit cheaper, it would have been better :D). The hotel is located just a few stations away from Marina Bay and a 30-minute ride from Vivo City (from where buses and train to Sentosa island depart).

On the first evening we went to Marina Bay to watch a light show at 9:30 pm (it’s not impressive) but the panorama of the city looks great!

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And then went to Se la vi sky bar on top of Marina Bay Sands for a cocktail (there is no need to pay 24 SGD for the entrance to Sky Deck because the panorama from the bar is almost the same and you can spend this 24 SGD for a cocktail).

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Later we went to Gardens by the Bay, which was empty and very impressive and got back to the hotel.

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The next day in Singapore was assigned to Universal Studios. There definitely will be a separate post about Universal Studios Singapore, but for now, I’ll just say that it’s better to go there with an express pass if you don’t want to queue up for 60-120 minutes for each attraction!

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In the evening, we went to Clark Quay for a drink & to meet a friend. I must admit, that Clark Quay is probably the best restaurant/bar zone I’ve seen in my life! It’s simply amazing.

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On the third day in Singapore, we went to Sentosa island again (Universal Studios are also located on Sentosa) in order to relax a little bit on the beach. The beaches look great & very tropical though the view on heavy loaded ships isn’t very tropical. The water isn’t clean either but it’s more or less suitable for swimming. What’s really great on Sentosa beaches is the super soft sand!

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Later in the evening, we checked out the Vivo City mall in order to do some shopping & went to have a dinner in the Privé restaurant in CHIMES restaurant zone. There were lots of different restaurants, I personally liked the Japanese hotpot one the most, but it was closing in 30 minutes, so we had to choose a different place. Actually, the restaurants in Singapore stop serving food quite early, around 10-10:30 pm, otherwise, you might end up going to sleep hungry. Afterwards, we also went to the Cineplex nearby to watch a movie. The ticket price was around 12 SGD and the screen was very tiny for this price.

On the next day around 1 pm, we had a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia – almost the last point of our Southeast Asia travel itinerary. Again, we took the bus 36, the journey time was around 50 minutes, and we arrived at the airport on time. Singapore airport is simply amazing! It’s almost fully automatized: self-check-in, self bag-drop. Very impressive.

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Cambodia, on the contrary, is far from being automatized. We spent almost an hour waiting for the visa-on-arrival & paid 32 dollars (if you bring a photo of you, it’s cheaper). Luckily, we had the airport pick up from our amazing hotel Lynnaya Urban River & Resort. It went nice and smoothly. The hotel was simply amazing: calm, quiet and luxurious.

In Cambodia, you don’t have to change money: all the prices are in US dollars, and it’s very convenient. However, if you want to pay by card or withdraw money from the ATM – it’s a challenge! So better bring some cash. Food in Cambodia is very cheap: you can eat some fried rice or noodles for 1-2 dollars in a nice restaurant. More sophisticated dished like crab or fish would cost you 4-7 dollars. And if you want to try the signature Khmer BBQ, prepare to pay 18$ for two (but for that money you’ll try 6 sorts of meat including crocodile!).

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Nightlife in Siem Reap is amazing! Check this post in order to read more about the Nightlife in Siem Reap! Alcohol is cheap (ridiculously cheap – you can find some cocktails in mini-bars on the streets for 1.5 dollars! And they taste nice & a glass of draft beer is 0.5 dollars even in a restaurant!)

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On the next day, we finally were able to sleep enough and went to the city of Angkor around 1pm. We hired a tuk-tuk in front of our hotel for 18 dollars (including the sunset) to drive us around the ancient city and wait for us where necessary. The entrance to Angkor is 20 dollars for one day (per person) and for this price you get a nicely printed ticket with your photo on it. Such a great souvenir!

The weather in Angkor was almost unbearable: 39 degrees in the shadow! I consumed almost 4 bottles of water while discovering, climbing and exploring the ancient temples.

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In the city of Angkor, we went to a plenty of temples including Angkor Thom and others and arrived in Angkor Wat around 5pm to walk around and see the sunset. The sunset wasn’t impressive (everyone told us that the sunrise is 1000 times better, but for that you need to wake up at 5) but the temple itself was gorgeous!

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At night, we went again to the Pub street for some food & cocktails and returned to the hotel early in order to sleep enough before exhausting 9-hour bus drive to Bangkok. We purchased the tickets at bookmebus.com 1 day in advance for 29 dollars per ticket. Our bus was just 25% full (luckily, because in the end on the bus it smelled like pee due to the proximity to the toilet). The bus was actually very comfortable (it was almost possible to sleep horizontally) but the border control was tiring and stressful (it took around 2 hours). There will be a separate blog post about getting to Bangkok from Siem Reap later.

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We arrived at Mo Chit bus station and tried to take the taxi, but the traffic was just enormous, so we walked to the Mo Chit BTS station (25 minutes walk through construction work, busy road & a wonderful Chatuchak park) and took a train to our hotel (this time, True Siam hotel). I agree that this twist looks a bit strange in our Southeast Asia itinerary, but it was necessary. 

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The hotel wasn’t nice but was fine for the 1-night stay. Moreover, it was just 4 minutes away from the Phaya Thai airport express station, so it’s perfect for getting to the airport on time.

On the last night, we met friends, who drove us around Bangkok and showed us some great restaurants. Finally, we were able to eat Thai food and actually understand what it was (not just order something randomly). Later, we went to a Sky Bar Cloud 47, which is a sort of hipster not expensive sky bar with fabulous view over Bangkok.

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To summarise, the trip was truly amazing! We enjoyed a lot. And, surprisingly, the planning was perfect: we were able to do everything that we had planned before & even more as part of our Southeast Asia itinerary! The hotels were also well selected and very comfortable. So in case you need any advice, don’t hesitate to comment below or drop us an e-mail!

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2 Comments

Tracy 30th April 2017 at 10:19 am

Wow that was a lot packed into 12 days! I am planning something similar – but thinking of taking the bus to Siem reap from Bangkok – sounds all doable though!

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Liza 2nd May 2017 at 12:10 pm

It’s perfectly doable 🙂 The good thing about this bus even though it takes so long – you can always work in the bus 🙂

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