Japan Navigation App: Hyperdia

Go to Hyperdia.com.
Click on ‘More options’.
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Tick/untick boxes like the figure below (if you’re using JR Pass).
Input your starting point and destination and then Search.
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It will display different routes and other details.
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If nothing is being shown, it means that you have to consider using Private lines. pic11

Just tick on ‘Private Railway’ then ‘Search’.
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Note: You need to pay the cost of using Private lines separately.

Since Rinkai Line (based on the example figure above) is a private line, you will need to buy a separate train ticket from Osaki Station going to Tokyo Teleport Station which costs 330jpy. Osakajokitazume to Osaki station is covered by JR Pass.

You may also check this 9D10N detailed budget itinerary for Japan. It covers tourist spots in Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka.

Siem Reap, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – Preparations and Itinerary

My friends and I can’t help but laugh at all the things we experienced in Vietnam and Cambodia. They may not be a dream destination like Japan and South Korea but overall, everything was indeed an “experience”. You should see for yourself!

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Thanks again to Cebu Pacific’s Seat sale we were able to go on a budget trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. The total air fare (round trip) was 5130PHP (99USD). Our entry point was Siem Reap, Cambodia and exit point was Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

The overall budget for one person for the whole trip 4D5N to Vietnam and Cambodia cost 14,547.983PHP (US$280). This includes airfare, travel tax, hotel, food, transportation, and admission fees to Angkor Wat, Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels.

This is the summary of our trip and budget breakdown.
VCsummary VCbudget

*Exchange rate as of Nov 2017

Click HERE (not the photo below) to get a US$3.2 discount when you sign up.

Klooksignup

 

Preparations:

1. Itinerary and Budget
You can download our detailed itinerary here.

2. Pocket Money
As per our experience, you do not need much local currency both in Vietnam and Cambodia since they accept US dollars. Most items are priced in USD. In Vietnam, when shopping in Ben Thanh market, the vendors accept all kinds of currency. We used PHP and USD in shopping there because we ran out of VND. I think you will only need local currency when you eat at a restaurant or a fast food. Better be prepared with cash. Usually, only big establishments accept credit card as payment. As per my research and experience, the best place to exchange money is BDO. You must have an account first before you can exchange local money with another currency. Usually, they will have it prepared for you in a week.

3. Hotel / Place to stay
Choose a hotel that offers Sleeper bus from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. For us, I chose Happy Guesthouse in Siem Reap. The hotel room rates are very cheap but the actual room is really quite better and so much bigger compared to Hong Kong budget hostels. Also the food is good and affordable and the receptionists are very accommodating. In Vietnam, since the room rates are also cheap we opted to book for a 3-star hotel which is the Dragon Palace II Hotel and it also offers free breakfast. It is very near to the Sleeper bus terminal station. Blue River tour (Tour company) is also right in front of it. There is a money changer beside it. And it’s just a walking distance from the tourist spots especially Ben Thanh market. I booked both of them in Agoda.
Happy Guesthouse – You ONLY need to book services/taxis offered by the Airport (from Airport to any destination, e.g., your hotel). We chose a taxi. The taxi cost 10USD. Happy Guesthouse was just a 15-30min ride from the Airport.
Dragon Palace II Hotel – From the bus terminal, ask the people there (or traffic enforcer) and they will teach you how to go to Dragon Palace II Hotel. Just show them the address. It is so near. You do not need to ride a taxi. If you have a Wifi, just use Google Maps.

4. Tour Company / Tour Guide
In Cambodia, we were offered by the Taxi driver that we booked going to Happy Guesthouse to avail their tour services. The listed price for a Day tour (Temple hopping tour) is 40USD but we haggled for 30USD and he agreed. I think our service was a white Toyota Expedition.
In Vietnam, I recommend Blue River tour. They offer a cheaper priced tour/s than that of any hotel. I think the hotels also coordinate with them and make the price higher. We booked Mekong Delta tour and Cu Chi Tunnels from them. Their email address is airbusboattour@gmail.com. Their service is a van. You will also get to meet other foreign tourists from different countries during the tour if you book from them.

5. Wifi (Optional)
You will need internet to use navigation apps to help get you to your destination but if you availed a tour service, you do not really need one. You may avail one from any shops or agencies that offer budget pocket wifi for tourists. We availed ours from Klook which can be used only in Vietnam (because they do not offer a single wifi that can be both used in Vietnam and Cambodia or a wifi that can be picked from Siem Reap and be returned to Ho Chi Minh).

You may also refer to 10 Tips on How to Plan your DIY Itinerary on a Budget to help you in creating your Itinerary.

Notes and Tips:

1. We opted for Toyota Expedition service rather than a Tuktuk tour service since it was too hot in Cambodia. You will thank yourself if you do. I swear! For only 30USD 🙂
2. In Angkor Wat, don’t wear revealing clothes or short shorts or short skirts.
3. Temple hopping is SOOOOOOO tiring and boring. We only got to 3 temples: Angkor Wat and I don’t remember the names of the other two. The 37USD admission fee is applicable to all the temples.
4. I don’t really recommend the Elephant ride but for your information, the price is 20USD (one way only). I don’t promote animal cruelty. 🙂
5. We booked the Sleeper bus to Ho Chi Minh at the reception of Happy Guesthouse for 21USD. Keep the receipt. You will use it later.
6. A representative of the Sleeper bus company will pick you up from the hotel and will send you where the bus is parked. As per the banner posted in the hotel and bus terminal, there was wifi but there was none. We felt scammed. You know.
7. At the bus terminal, a guy will give you your ticket/s but you have to show your receipt first. The receipt is given by the hotel receptionist. KEEP your Sleeper bus ticket/s and receipt. You will use them later.
8. I am not sure with others but as per our experience with the sleeper bus, it has (tiny) beds inside with two floors. The first sleeper bus is not going directly to Ho Chi Minh. I think, after the 3rd stop (I am not sure where exactly it was but it was still in Cambodia), when everyone is asked to go down, you will have to go down and wait for the next sleeper bus going to Ho Chi Minh. Another representative from the bus terminal will check your previous ticket and will give you another one.
It was really hard to communicate since the driver was not speaking in English. No one bothered to explain. Other foreigners also didn’t know what to do. We really didn’t know when and where we must go down the first sleeper bus since there were several stops along the way. I think you just have to keep on saying “HO CHI MINH” and the driver will tell you when to go down.
This was our time line during the Sleeper bus trip as I remember.
11pm-5am – 1st Sleeper bus going to 2nd terminal (after 3rd stop-not really sure)
5am-7:30am – Waiting time for 2nd Sleeper bus to Ho Chi Minh
7:30am-2:30pm – 2nd Sleeper bus to Ho Chi Minh
9. At the 2nd terminal, just IGNORE those people who will offer a faster ride from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh. Their price is very expensive. I also believe they are SCAMMERS. Besides, the whole trip has already been paid for 21USD. You do not have to pay again at the 2nd terminal. Just show your ticket when asked by the terminal representative. He will provide you another set of tickets.
10. BEWARE of SCAMMERS. They are everywhere especially in Cambodia.
11. I don’t really recommend booking for a sleeper bus because the whole trip going to HCM has been very tiring, long and uncomfortable.
12. I actually did not see any convenience store in Siem Reap. I saw one in HCM on the way to the airport going home.
13. Ho Chi Minh is more like a normal and livelier city than Siem Reap with fast foods everywhere. Siem Reap is kinda remote for me.
14. At first, we also planned to go to Hanoi but as per my research, the trip will be atleast 14 to 20 hours from Ho Chi Minh so we cancelled that plan during preparations.
15. For me, there is not much to do in Siem Reap except for temple visits. I only recommend to stay there for 1 day but it also depends on your preference.
16. Try Pho in Vietnam. We tried a Pho restaurant just beside the Dragon Palace II Hotel. I forgot the name but I think it’s a known Pho restaurant since it has many branches. It does not cost that much though. I also liked their spring rolls.
17. We found it kinda hard to cross streets in HCM since the vehicles weren’t really that “giving” to people. They just won’t stop for you. You should cross at your own risk. It’s just our observation.

Hong Kong and Macau – Preparations and Itinerary

I think every child’s dream is to be able to treat their parents a trip to abroad just as a way of saying thank you for all their hardships for us. To do this, I really do save a lot. My older sister also shared the expenses with me for this trip. This was also the first time my parents and my younger sister were able to ride the airplane. My next plan is to treat my grandparents. Wish me well in saving a lot more!

Luckily, I was able to book the four of us (Mom, Dad, sister and me) a Piso fare (seat sale) from Cebu Pacific. The All-in round trip ticket to Hong Kong only cost 2,698PHP (US$52) for one person. The overall budget for one person for the whole trip 4D4N to Hong Kong and Macau cost 18,725.24PHP (US$361). This included airfare, travel tax, hotel, food, transportation, admission fees to HK Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360, Macau Tower, The Peak, Sky Terrace, and Wifi. You can lower the cost if you prefer not to go to places with admission fees. If I remove them, the whole trip for one person will cost only about 10,000-11,000PHP (193-212USD).

I usually know how much the whole trip will cost (estimated value) when I make the itinerary. I usually book almost everything in advance using my credit card so that everything is prepared when I arrive there and I will only exchange the foreign money that I need for food and transportation. For me, this is more “tipid” (economical) and time-efficient.

This is the summary of our trip and budget breakdown.
summary
budget

*Exchange rate as of Nov 2017

Click HERE (not the photo below) to get a US$3.2 discount when you sign up.

Klooksignup

Preparations:

1. Itinerary and Budget
You can download our detailed itinerary here.

2. Octopus card for train transportation
You may check here for Octopus card details.
We availed ours from Klook which is cheaper for only 12.5USD. It is already preloaded with a deposit of HK$50.

4. Transportation apps
Aside from GoogleMaps, these SPECIFIC apps will be very helpful in navigating your way in HK & Macau. You can download them from AppStore or GooglePlay. I really like how detailed CitybusNWFB and Macau Bus are. You can just input a landmark (from and to) and they will simulate the right bus for you unlike other bus apps that only show Bus routes.
MTR Mobile – for trains in HK
CitybusNWFB – for buses in HK
Macau Bus – for buses in Macau
tranpohkmc

5. Internet / Pocket Wi-Fi
You will need internet to use the above apps to help get you to your destination. You may avail one from any shops or agencies that offer budget pocket wifi for tourists in Hong Kong.
We availed ours from Klook which can be used both in HK and Macau.

6. Hotel / Place to stay
Your hotel MUST be strategically placed. Your chosen one will be your starting point. Best place would be a walking distance to a train station or along Nathan Road.
Ours was Park Hostel in Mirador Mansion just beside the Tsim Tsa Tsui station along Nathan Road.
The Airport bus terminal station is also very near there.

7. Pocket Money
Better be prepared with cash. Usually, only big establishments accept credit card as payment. As per my research and experience, the best place to exchange PHP to HKD is BDO. You must have an account first before you can exchange local money with another currency. Usually, they will have it prepared for you in a week.

You may also refer to 10 Tips on How to Plan your DIY Itinerary on a Budget to help you in creating your Itinerary.

Notes and Tips:

1. Check for good deals from Klook. I booked all of these from Klook: HK Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360, Macau Tower, The Peak, Sky Terrace, Turbojet and Wifi.
2.
We used Airport bus which costs only 33HKD instead of Airport Express which costs 65HKD (one way) to travel from Airport to city proper and vice versa.
Check for the one that passes along the way to your hotel.
3. There isn’t much convenience store there compared to Japan and South Korea.
4. We bought our “pasalubong” from iSquare grocecy/supermarket in Tsim Tsa Tsui (just very near the station Exit C1). You can find many good deals there especially cup noodles which are very cheap.
5. If you prefer rice for lunch and dinner, you may opt to eat at KFC. The mushroom rice bucket for sharing only costs 25HKD and it is so YUMMY. Also try their egg tart which is my favorite.
6. We ate our own baon from Manila for breakfast. We brought rice cooker and canned goods. Luckily, our hostel had free water dispenser outside our room so we did not have to buy water outside that much.
The water from convenience store is quite expensive. Food is also quite expensive in HK and Macau so you better have a good budget for food. I suggest about 35-70HKD for one person per meal. The food in tourist spots is far more expensive.
7. You can’t bring food and water in HK Disneyland but we DID. Just don’t get caught since food inside the park is quite expensive. Cover and hide them wisely.
We bought our lunch from McDonald’s near our hotel.
There are water dispensers inside the park. You can just drink from there.
8. For Ngong Ping 360 cable car, we availed the One Way Standard Cabin + One Way Crystal Cabin (Roundtrip) from Klook for only US$21.3.
9. In Macau, you can maximize the use of free shuttles c/o the hotels and casinos there. Please also bear in mind that some of them tend to wait for the shuttle bus to get full before going especially those waiting in Macau terminal so better check for public buses which are very affordable. Just refer to the Macau bus app for details. Also outside the Terminal there are people (tour guide/s) offering a tour package which costs about 100HKD for one person. We didn’t avail it because you know, I came prepared. 🙂 Thanks to Macau bus app.
10. Also in Macau, you cannot use Octopus card for bus transportation fee but you can use your HKD. The exchange rate does not have much a difference though and prepare for an exact fare since they won’t be giving you a change. You should press the button before arriving at your destination when the monitor/screen shows the next destination to notify the driver that you will go down to the next station since the bus won’t be stopping at every station.
10. People in HK and MC do not usually speak in English so you better be prepared.
11. When shopping at Ladies’ Market (open from 10am-11pm only), ask for more discount (usually half or quarter of the introductory price). The introductory price of items is usually very expensive.
We only bought T-shirts, key chains and magnets there. Also my friends say that the vendors are also quite sensitive. Don’t touch their item if you won’t buy it or you’re gonna see their wrath!
12. Minimum Octopus card (re)load is 50HKD. You may check here for Octopus card details.

Japan – Preparations and Itinerary

Planning to go Japan on a budget but you don’t know how?

Here is a guide on how we planned our Japan Trip.

Japan is very popular travel destination but you have to be financially prepared since traveling to Japan can be quite expensive so I save and save so that I can be where I want to  be.

But, but, but you can always make your own DIY Itinerary instead of availing one from travel agencies which really costs a lot. You just have to do some research.

Finally and luckily, my friends and I managed to book a round trip to Japan (December 2016 – Winter) for only ~4850php each. Thanks to Cebu Pacific’s Seat Sale. It’s really a big help to budget travelers like us.

Since Japan is very big, our entry point was Nagoya and our exit point was Fukuoka so we didn’t have to go back to Nagoya during our flight back to Manila.

By the way, we had a 9D10N trip in Japan which is quite long that made it a little expensive since we also traveled from one region or prefecture to another.

But thanks to JR Pass we were able to do so on a budget of course. Just to give you a preview of how much is the cost of a one-way trip from Osaka to Tokyo.
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14270jpy to PHP is roughly 6400php. Expensive, right? We also needed to travel back from Tokyo to Osaka on the same day. So another 6400php. So it’s 12800php for one whole day. BUT with JR Pass you do not need to consider the cost of traveling from one region to another since you will be covered for X days. You do not need to buy it if you’re just going to stay in one region. You can just buy a Day pass from there which is way cheaper like what we did during our stay in Nagoya and Fukuoka. We bought it because we traveled to Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Fukuoka.

Click HERE (not the photo below) to get a US$3.2 discount when you sign up.

Klooksignup

Preparations:

1. Visa
You can refer to this blog on how you can get your Japanese Tourist Visa.

2. Itinerary and Budget
You can download our detailed itinerary here.
You may also refer to japan-guide.com to search for more details about Japan.

3. JR Pass
You may check here for JR Pass details.
You cannot buy JR Pass in Japan as per my research. If it is available there, it is only for a limited time plus it is more expensive when you buy it there. It is usually available from travel agencies or you can buy it online which is also from travel agencies offering JR Pass. We bought our 7-Day pass for 13973php (for one person only) from one of many travel agencies located in Dusit Thani in Makati. Yes! It is quite expensive but it is worth it. SULIT!
Update: Klook offers a cheaper price. That time I did not know much about Klook. I should have booked from them.
You may also check for other rail passes that you can avail depending on your preference.

4. Hyperdia
It is a service which offers the route and the timetable of the railway and the aviation within Japan.
This will be your best buddy during your stay in Japan. You can download this from AppStore or GooglePlay which requires subscription. Or you can just go to this link and use it for FREE.
You can refer to Japan Navigation App: Hyperdia on how to use Hyperdia with consideration of the use of JR Pass since not all trains are covered by JR pass.

5. Internet / Pocket Wi-Fi
You will need internet to use Hyperdia, Google Maps and others to help get you to your destination. You may avail one from any shops or agencies that offer budget pocket wi-fi for tourists in Japan. If you’re lucky, some hotels offer free pocket wi-fi.

6. Hotel / Place to stay
Your hotel MUST be strategically placed. Your chosen one will be your starting point. Best place would be a walking distance to a train station.

7. Pocket Money
Better be prepared with cash. Japanese people prefer to use cash. Usually, only big establishments accept credit card as payment. You cannot use credit card when buying train ticket. As per my research and experience, the best place to exchange PHP to JPY is BDO. (I am not endorsing BDO, but thanks to me, BDO. LOL!) I opened only an account in BDO just for me to be able to do that transaction since it is a prerequisite. You must have an account first before you can exchange local money with another currency. Usually, they will have it prepared for you in a week.

8. Attire
Always be prepared with the weather. We went there during December, so it’s already winter.

9. Manner
Japanese people are very well mannered. Refrain from being noisy at all times especially in public places. Be mindful of the Japanese etiquette.

You may also refer to 10 Tips on How to Plan your DIY Itinerary on a Budget to help you in creating your Itinerary.

#Japan, #JapanTrip, #Budget, #BudgetTravel, #Itinerary, #DIY