ASEAN Backpacking: The Banana Pancake Route

June 27, 2016 ASEAN Backpacking

I usually do a recap of my ASEAN backpacking trips for friends who ask how and how much.  So far, we have done:

1. The Great Mekong Adventure (Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap – Bangkok); 

2. Indochina Love (Bangkok – Vientiane – Hanoi); and
3. Dutch East Indies (Jakarta – Yogyakarta– Bali). 

This trip is a repeat of the first (Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap – Bangkok). My friends added Chiang Mai – Kuala Lumpur because I requested. I joined them in Bangkok.

Why it's called a banana pancake? I also do not know.

Day 0 Flight from Manila to Bangkok

I took a direct flight from Manila to Bangkok, arriving shortly after midnight. From the airport, I took a cab to our hotel, Suneta Hostel Khao San.

I did consider other transportation options, but it was too late, and I wanted to rest already.

From the airport, I followed the directional signs to the taxi stands. It was easy, and there was an automatic queuing system that hands out slips, including the name of the taxi driver and the lane where it's parked. I had a printout of the hotel address, and the taxi driver called the hotel for directions. Good thing. I initially thought the hotel was on Khao San Road.

I paid almost 500 Baht, covering cab fare, toll fees, and an airport taxi fee.

Suneta is a backpackers' place. On my first night, I was booked in a 6-bed dormitory (490 Baht), then transferred on my second night to a 4-bed mixed dormitory. This time, I was joined by my friends who came from Siem Reap.

Suneta is a nice and clean hostel. They offer free coffee throughout the day and complimentary breakfast. Even toiletries are provided for free. At first, I questioned myself why I didn’t book in a proper hotel, but after my first night, I enjoyed Suneta.

Day 1 in Bangkok
Soi Rambuttri and Khao San Road

On my first day in Bangkok, I explored Soi Rambuttri, my favorite street in the city, and Khao San Road, the renowned hub for backpackers.

Day 2
Temple hopping

On our second day, we embarked on a tour of Bangkok's must-see temples in the morning, followed by lunch at Prachak Roasted Duck, renowned for its roasted ducks. In the afternoon, we explored Ayutthaya, just an hour away from Bangkok.

The van rental for the entire excursion cost us a total of 5,500 Baht.


That same evening, we hopped on a train to Chiang Mai, securing the lower bunk beds in the first-class sleepers for 1,500 Baht.

By the way, never book the upper bunk beds; they are not comfortable.

Day 3

We arrived in Chiang Mai past noon. From the terminal, we took a red taxi or a Songtaew and paid 20 Baht each.

Our accommodation in Chiang Mai was Yindee Stylish Guest House, priced at 1,700 Baht per room.

I like Yindee Stylish Guesthouse. It is clean, uncluttered, and spacious, conveniently located near some of Chiang Mai’s best bars and restaurants. There is also a 7/11 nearby.

Much of our first day (or night) was spent at the Saturday Night Market.

Day 4 Northern Thailand Escapades

On our second day, we took a tour from Travel Hub that included elephant riding, white water rafting, bamboo rafting, and waterfall trekking. The cost for the entire group was 12,400 Baht.

We also requested a visit to the Karen Long Neck Village, and we paid an additional entrance fee of 300 Baht.

After the tour, we headed to the Sunday night market, which was on a different street. It was there that I discovered the best street food ever.

It's seafood cooked with egg and stuffed with fresh bean sprouts. Yummy! And, surprisingly cheap. Food in Bangkok and Chiang Mai is incredibly affordable.

Day 5 Around Kuala Lumpur

The next day, we flew to Kuala Lumpur and hired a van to take us around Batu Caves and Kuala Lumpur. The van rental cost us 580 Ringgit.

Our flight was an AirAsia FlyThru, so we didn't have to worry about claiming and lugging around our baggage.

After a very quick dinner at KLIA2, the new budget terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, we flew back to Manila.

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