Kanchanaburi, the Place to Be

Oh, what a place to go! Kanchanaburi is a town about 2.5 hours from Bangkok. It’s a small town, and not as developed as other tourists cities in Thailand, but manages to offer a little something for everyone: history buffs, foodies, and naturists. And the best part, it’s cheap to visit!

Erawan National Park
Erawan Waterfall, 7th Tier

How to get to Kanchanaburi:

If you have been reading my Under $100 Series, then you know minivans are the cheapest way to travel in Thailand. You could also take a train, but it will cost more. Booking through 12go.asia is easy, cheap and even gives you maps and detailed itineraries.

Once you get there, there are a few side-car taxi’s that range from 50-100 Baht depending on where you’re going.

Getting to Erawan National Park:

The cheapest, easiest way to travel to Erawan National Park, is to catch the local bus at Kanchanaburi Bus Terminal, or on Thanon Sangchuto (on the side of the War Cemetary, not on the Train Station side). This will take you straight to the park. To get back to town, simply take the same bus down to town. It’s only 40 Baht to ride!

8170 Kanchanaburi- Erawan Bus

History:

Kanchanaburi has quite the tragic history. During the Japanese Expansion, Japan used POW’s and their captives to build the Thailand-Burma Railway from Yangon, Burma (today’s Myanmar) to Bangkok, Thailand. The conditions were dangerous due to the malnutrition, malaria, infections, along with the danger of building on rocky cliffsides, causing an estimated 150,000 men to die. For this, the Thailand-Burma Railway got it’s nickname, Death Railway.

Bridge over River Kwai

This story in history has led to books turned films like The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Railway Man, which I highly suggest reading or viewing before visiting Kanchanaburi.

Bridge over River Kawai

I will admit, seeing and walking on the bridge did leave a haunting feeling in the pit of my stomach, but it’s important to learn and share these pieces of history, for so many innocent men lost their lives for.

Where to stay:

Kanchanaburi has numerous resorts, but if you’re looking for something budget friendly, here are my suggestions based on price and location:

Wee Hostel
$15/nt
Sky Resort Kanchanaburi
$27/nt
U Dee Room and Coffee
$23/nt

How much will it cost you?

Here is my approximate list of costs:

I hope you consider Kanchanaburi into your Thailand itinerary! And if you need help packing, be sure to check out my Sensible Packing Guide for Thailand. Sawasdee, ka!


Jungle Fever in Bang Krachao

In the heart of Bangkok, lies an island formed by the Chao Phraya River and a small canal -better known as, The Green Lung or Bang Krachao.

For people of Bangkok, it is the perfect escape from the crowded, noisy and down-right overbearring streets of Bangkok. Just a 5 minute boatride to natural bliss.

If you’re like me, and don’t like the city, you will appreciate being surrounded by luscious forests as you bike your way through small paths. Where do the paths lead? That’s half the fun! Wandering through the jungle and seeing what you can discover is what makes this weekend trip so thrilling. Don’t worry about getting lost. The island is small and is actually rather easy to navigate with handwritten signs along the streets and trails.

So, let’s dissect this trip so you know how to get there, where to stay, what to do, and how much it’ll cost you:

The easiest and cheapest way would be to take the BTS to Khlong Toei and from there take a motorbike to Khlong Toei Pier. Once you are there, you will walk toward the river (many people by the temple will voluntarily steer you to the right directions) and board a small boat that will take you across the river to Pae Jeab. Here, you can rent a bicycle for 80฿ per day!

The oh-so popular Bangkok Treehouse is the choice of many, unknowing, tourists. Truth be told, it is extremely overpriced for the accomomodation and for the service. My suggestion is 88 Homestay. The staff is extremely friendly and accomodating, the price is right, and the hotel grounds are beautifully landscaped.

Room at 88 Homestay
Garden at 88 Homestay

At night, sit in the garden and enjoy a beer (or a few) and listen to the fountain and sounds of nature!

Tour the jungle.
Visit Bangnamphueng Floating Market.
Visit the largest Ganesh temple in Bangkok @ Wat Pram (MahaDewalai Hindu Temple).
Relax and explore Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park.
Blend in to your surroundings.

So, here is the financial breakdown for one night in the jungle:

I know, we only stayed for one night, but two days and one night is really all you need for such a small area. But, if you really love it, one more night will come to an even $100! So, go for it and send me pictures when you go!

xoxox,

jess


Beach, Please! A Weekend in Hua Hin

Those of you that read, International Affair: Kuala Lumpur, know that it was the first trip of my “Trips Under $100 series.” If you haven’t read it, shame on you! Haha , totally kidding. But you can check it out here.

This time, I took my keister to a town I am both familiar with and in the same country…. Hua Hin. Since I used to live in Hua Hin, I already had an idea of how and where to spend less than $100. So here’s the scoop: (you’ll have to stick to the end to see if I succeeded 😉

Cheapest Way to Get To Hua Hin: 

Unfortunately, the cheapest way is also my least favorite way because I get carsick easily.  But it’s not only the cheapest way, it’s the most convenient…. minivans. 

Photo credit: 12go.asia

Catching a van to Hua Hin can be done by various locations around Thailand: Victory Monument, Ekkamai Bus Terminal (Eastern Bus Terminal), Southern Bus Terminal, and a few others.  I live in Sukhumvit so I hop on the BTS to Ekkamai and go from there.  They have vans that run just about every hour, so it’s easy to go at odd hours, like after work. AND, would you believe it’s only 180 ฿ to take a van?! That’s only $5! Prices can go up to 280 ฿ if you want a hotel transfer, which I did because I was getting in late. (I had to leave right after work.)

Cheapest Places to Stay: 

If you’re traveling solo:

There are a handful of adorable, and clean, hostels in Hua Hin. But the best is Jetty Hua Hin Hostel. It’s clean, the owner is such a doll, AND you can see the ocean. It’s not on the beach, but its right by the water and just a 5 min walk from the night market, which has THE best seafood ever! 

Traveling as a Pair: 

G House Hotel is the best bang for your buck if you’re with another traveller. It is clean, quiet and they have a free shuttle to take you to the beach, golf course, and market. It is not the best location, but the free shuttle is a great way to make up for that. 

Photo credit: booking.com

Getting Around:

It is super easy to get around Hua Hin. Mostly because it’s not that big of a town. But, if you don’t like walking, and you don’t want to pay for a Grab, Tuk Tuk or motorbike, you can take the town songthaew (song tao). They are either green, orange or white trucks with 2 rows of seats and writing on the side of the vehicle. See photo below becuase it’s real hard to describe these things if you’ve never seen one before.

Only 15 ฿ to ride from one side of town, to the other!

Things To Do:

Eat the “catch of the day”:

Seriously, Hua Hin is a big fishing town. And all the seafood is fresh and most likely caught that morning. Here are my favorite places for fresh seafood:

Hua Hin Night Market
Fried Mussels 50 ฿ Hua Hin Night Market
Seafood bucket 200 ฿, Tamarind Night Market
Grilled Prawn 250 ฿,Hua Hin Night Market @ Hua Hin Seafood
Baan Khun Por Food Court
Grilled Prawn, Baan Khun Por
As you can tell, I’m a fan of prawn – 150 ฿ @ random stall in ALL Thai
Chicken Satay 60 ฿, Baan Khun Por @ the only satay stand at the end of vendors

Free Activities:

The beach… duh
Hang with elephants at Hutsadin Elephant Foundation
Feed monkey’s at Hin Lek Fai Viewpoint
Enjoy a romantic sunset with a monkey @ Hin Lek Fai Viewpoint
Peruse the night market
Make new friends!
Watch the sunrise @ Hua Hin Pier
Watch the ships roll in @ Hua Hin Pier
Watch the trains roll in @ Hua Hin Railway Station
Visit a pineapple farm (no, they don’t grow on trees)

If you are looking for more to do in Hua Hin, check out the best of Hua Hin.

Wrapping it up:

Ok, not including the free activities, here’s my itemized list for approximate cost:

Woo hoo!!! I succeeded on my quest to take a trip under $100! I gotta be honest, I was shocked at how cheap Hua Hin could really be and that I actually came up $40 ahead! Hua Hin isn’t the most exotic of locations in Thailand, but it is the most charming and has the best standard of food (which is really what drives me to go anywhere, haha).

Stay tuned for my next Trips Under $100 journey. Where do you think I should try? Leave your suggestion in the comments section below 🙂


The International Affair: Kuala Lumpur

As the first trip for my Under $100 series, I took the daring chance to go international. Our journey to Malaysia started out great! We made it on the bus to the airport (and actually got seats), found a prime location (bar) for preflight drinks, got bumped up to “Hot Seats” on AirAsia (which is the equivalent to first class on Southwest), and got a discounted ride to our hotel via our flight attendant. Things seemed to be goin our way. That is, until we got to our hostel.  Let’s just say that Internet photos can be deceiving (For the protection of the establishment, I will not disclose the name but later on give you insight as in which area to stay in, which is nowhere near our hostel.) But, once we got some sleep and coffee, we headed off to explore Kuala Lumpur! All while trying to spend less than $100/ each.

So what does a trip from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur cost?

I was really trying to keep within the budget. I know to those living in more developed countries it sounds impossible but traveling around SE Asia can be quite economical. Here is my quantum spent on a weekend in KL:

Best bet is to take a LCC from Bangkok. I suggest Air Asia. Tickets range from $60-80 RT!

Once you arrive in KL, you can get a Grab (costing about $16/ 65 MYR) to your hotel, OR take the train which is about the same price to get to KL center.

As you already know, we weren’t exactly pleased with our hostel- the owners were extremely kind and hospitable, it just wasn’t for us. And, truth be told if you’re traveling with someone else, it is about the same price per person to stay in a hotel. Hostels are best when traveling solo.

I can tell you, with confidence, that it makes sense to stay in KL Center. The train is so convenient and makes getting around much more efficient because all the lines go through there.

Anyway, back to hotels. They range from $25+ (101 MYR+) per night. Hostels about $15-17 (61-70 MYR) per night. I always use Booking.com for my accommodation arrangements.

I suggest taking the train but that’s because I have no faith in traffic. And unless you have an international data plan to order a Grab, then you money-raped by the taxis. NOT actually raped because everyone is nice and I felt very safe!

Train tickets- vary $0.50- $1.50 (2-4MYR)

Peruse the Chinatown market for severe knockoffs- free

Eat street food- $1-2/ 2-5MYR

Flavored Mochi, covered in crushed peanuts.
Warm tofu in mild, sweet sauce.

Get your steps in at Batu Caves- by train $1 / 4 MYR

Play with, or get pick-pocketed by, the monkeys- free-broke

Crafty lil basterds.

Eat Indian cuisine after the caves- $.50-1/ 2-4 MYR

White sauce was the best sauce! Tasted like spicy grits!

Get a Henna Tattoo- $2.45/ 10 MYR

Has medicinal AND cooling properties!

Eat Szechuan and Dim Sum at Jalan Alor (Food Alley)- $2-3/ 10-12 MYR

Spicy La La washed down with a crisp, cold Tiger!
Try them all! Because they basically all taste the same, ha.

As you can see, we kept ourselves pretty entertained, and full. Mostly because my travels are based around food 🙂 But here’s the Approximate Breakdown:

Needless to say, I failed at taking this trip for $100 or less BUT check out my weekend trip to Hua Hin to see if I succeeded in staying within my budget!

Sawasdee ka!