Category Archives: Budgets and Expenses

May 2011: Beijing and Xian: MY ITINERARY AND BUDGET!

There are a lot of people who buy tour packages for Beijing in a very expensive price ($1000 USD) When in truth and in fact you can go here and tour the city for less than Php 10,000 or ($232 USD) airfare included.

Click links to see my review/posts about that place. ūüôā

For our Beijing and Xian trip, we spent PhP 31,000. This includes everything, from airfare, land accommodations to visas. But the reason which made this a bit expensive is that we opted to choose to travel to Xian and sleep on Soft-berth (4-bed) sleepers on the train (Beijing-Xian) and that our air ticket was more on the expensive side.

We didn’t avail the sale, since during that time I still don’t know the mechanisms of “seat sales”.

However, I always knew that If you will book to travel operators in the Philippines, they always give you the price of ($1000 USD or higher), so somehow I still made some savings.

Also take note that I arranged my tours directly to travel operators in China. All I did was booked my trip with them using the Internet!! And Chada! I saved at least 300USD! It is just like communicating with your travel agent here in the Philippines!

Anyway here is my itinerary for my Beijing and Xian Trip last May.

May 12, 2011‚ÄĒManila

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Flightgoing to Beijing (we had a red eye flight)

May 13, 2011 Beijing-  Overall Costs (Php 2520.00 or $58.60 USD including transfers, day and night tours)

PLACES WE VISITED: Ming Tombs, Great Wall (Mutianyu), Birds Nest, Watercube, Wangfujing Street, Drive to the Central Business district.

  • arrive Beijing by 3 am and transfer and check in hotel (I arranged a transfer from airport to hotel which costs 250CNY or P1750.00 or $41USD, I arranged this because it is so early in the morning and we are scared to hire a taxi due to the bad comments of hiring taxis in Beijing. The costs is not per person, it is for the four of us. So, to know the costs per person, I divided the costs into 4, so each person will pay, P437.50 or $11 USD each. We used¬†www.gowithzz.com, they are the cheapest that I found in the net.
  • tour MING TOMBS (underground tomb), GREAT WALL (Mutianyu) –> for this tour we used Sinohotelguide and paid (P1,208.00) or ($28USD)¬†per person for a group tour. Don’t worry the tour group is just small, there will only be about 10 persons per group. We used http://www.sinohotelguide.com for this particular trip. The tour includes a lunch meal, which is really yummy!
  • For Night tour, we visited the Bird Nest, Water Cube, Tiananmen Square, Wanfujing (Yum!) and the Central Business District in Beijing, we booked a private tour, with Shane which costs 500CNY or P3500 or $81 USD for a 5 hour tour. The price is per group not per person. Since we are only four persons traveling, I divided the cost to 4, so each person costs P875.00 each or $20USD. If you will book to a group night tour, it will cost 50USD each, which is really expensive. So if you wanna tour the city by night, I suggest you email Shane. His website is¬†http://www.yangshane.weebly.com¬†or use Vivie (Unfortunately, I did not use her since I already booked my tour with Shane. Her rate is much cheaper, only 350CNY or P2450 or $57USD, you can contact her by email: vivietour@yahoo.com.cn

We opted Mutianyu because it is less crowded than the more famous Badaling. If you choose the Badaling side of the wall, the tour only costs ($18 USD) or P774.00

May 14, 2011 BEIJING  (total costs- P3908.00 or $90 USD)

  • tour TEMPLE OF HEAVEN, SUMMER PALACE, FORBIDDEN CITY, TIANAMEN SQUARE. We also used http://www.sinohotelguide.com. After the tour, the tour guide dropped us off the train station. Tour Costs $28 USD each or P1208.00
  • Evening- train going to Xian. We chose the soft sleeper. It is a cabin for 4 persons. The cost is 430CNY or P2700.00 (62 USD) for the higher bunk beds. I forgot the price for the lower bunk beds because the lower beds are more expensive than the higher bunk beds.

May 15, 2011 XIAN (P6235 OR 145 USD)

For our trip to Xian, we hired a private tour guide. They are the cheapest among the tour guides in Xian. The total costs for a 2 day 1 night tour package was $145 USD or P6235.00 each). This include 2 lunch and 1 dinner.

I recommend Xian Travel Service since they gave me the cheapest quotation for a private tour. If you will research in the net, the costs is almost the same if you choose a group tour.

Click here to see my experience in buying train tickets and my overnight train ride in China (Beijing to Xian) 

  • Transfer from Train Station to Hotel
  • tour XIAN CITY (Big Wild Goose Pagoda, City Wall, Shaanxi Provincial Museum, Great Mosque)
  • Evening: TANG DYNASTY AND DINNER SHOW (Dumpling banquet).. After this night, I don’t wanna eat dumplings for another year or two!

May 16, 2011 XIAN (P2700.00 or 62USD)

  • TERRA COTTA WARRIORS (8th¬†wonder of the world), EMPEROR QIN‚Äôs TOMB (1s¬†emperor of Qin Dynasty), HUAQING‚ÄôS POOL, ¬†HANYANG TOMB, BANPO MUSEUM
  • Evening- train going to Beijing (with cabin/ beds) same price as before:¬†430CNY or P2700.00 (62 USD).

 May 17, 2011 BEIJIING tour and Departure (P1208.00)

  • 8:00- Hutong and Shopping Tour, I opted again Sinohotelguide for this tour it costs $28USD each or¬†¬†(P1,208.00)
  • 6:30 pm- transfer going to airport, we used the taxi
  • 10:30- take flight going to Manila

May 18, 2011- HOME SWEET HOME

  • Arrive Manila
HOTEL ACCOMMODATION (P2237 each or $52 USD_)

TOTAL COSTS:

  • Airfare –> ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†PHP 11,000.00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $255.81
  • Land Tours ¬†and train tickets–> PHP 16,571.00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $385.38
  • Hotel Accommodation ¬† ¬† —-> ¬† ¬†PHP ¬† 2237.00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $ ¬† 52.02
  • Food (dinner etc. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†—-> ¬† ¬† PHP ¬† 1000.00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $ ¬† 23.25
  • Chinese Visa ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†—-> ¬† ¬† PHP ¬† 1400.00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $ ¬†32.56
  • ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† TOTAL ¬† ¬†PHP 32 208.00 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $ 749 USD
IF NO XIAN: ONLY BEIJING –> LAND ACCOMMODATION WITH A ¬†LOT OF TOURS –> 7,000.00PHP and if you chanced upon an airfare –> which is only 3000PhP then you only need to pay P10,000 for your beijing trip! this quotation is for a 4 days 3 nights stay in beijing.
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Hong Kong: Tips on how to save money in HK, Expenses and Budgets for your Hong Kong Escapade (Based from my observation and experience)

The 1st time I visited Hong Kong was on August 2009. I’m only with my Mother that time. However, in this trip, we used a travel agency. Since I’m still a beginner in the world of travel. My Mom usually is our travel organizer but now, I’m the one whose planning it all..The travel agency¬†we used was¬†T&J Travel and Tours. Our entire trip costs P17,000.00 each or ($400 USD) including airfare. We used Cebu Pacific for this particular trip. The package consists of breakfast, hotel accommodation and seat-in-coach tours. This is a 4 days 3 nights package with overnight stay in Macau. We stayed in a 4 star hotel, the Royal View Hotel in Hong Kong and Best Western Taipa Hotel (3 stars) in Macau.

The 2nd time I visited Hong Kong was December 2010. This time I’m with my whole family. (My Dad, Mom, brother, sister-in-law and my nephew) and we also booked our trip using a travel agent. We used 99 Gem Travel and Tours. They charged us P33,000.oo each, ($768 USD) since almost of our tours are private (it is expensive due the fact that December is a peak season). We also got a 4 days 3 nights package with overnight in Macau. We stayed in a 5 star hotel which is the L’Hotel Nina in HK and Casa Real Hotel in Macau.

For my third time in Hong Kong, I only spent a total of P10,000.00 or $232 USD including airfare and shopping! This is the cheapest travel I made in Hong Kong (so far!). For this trip, I traveled with my friends, so cheap accommodation is okay. Instead of staying in a hotel, we stayed in an apartment (located in Hong Kong Island) which I booked through Airbnb. We stayed there for 3 days and 2 nights then went back to Manila.

NECESSITIES IN HK: How much are those?

Food is a little bit expensive in Hong Kong compared to Manila. The food there ranges from P250.00 to P500.00 ($6 to $12). Even Mcdonalds costs P250.00 up ($6). In the Philippines, Mcdonalds only costs P50.00 to P150.00 (1$ to 3$) for each variant.

If you travel with kids, beware since the chicken served in Mcdonalds is spicy, so Filipino children (who doesn’t like spicy food) will not be able to eat there. Don’t even look for Spaghetti or even rice since you cannot find it there. You can find ¬†a lot of burgers instead of the usual Filipino food. If you want to eat rice, you can try other places instead. You can eat in KFC since they serve rice. However, take note that when you order fried chicken, there is no rice included, instead, you should order the rice-toppings (it tastes like a mushroom soup mixed with rice).

Water is also a bit more expensive compared to prices in Manila, but the prices is tolerable (unlike Singapore, where water costs $2 USD for a 500 mL of bottled water). Moreover, in theme parks, the food and water they sell are really expensive. In Ocean park, for example, the water there costs around $1.50 USD or P75.00 for 800mL which you can buy outside (any convenience store in HK) for only P25.00 or 0.50 USD. So, if you are going to theme parks, bring some water with you.

COMMUTING IN HK: THINGS TO MAKE YOU SAVE A LOT OF MONEY:

If you are going to commute all the time in Hong Kong, I suggest that you buy the Octopus Card. To get one, you will need to pay a deposit P700.00 (as far as I remember) and load it. Don’t worry your deposit will be given back to you once you return your card. If you purchase one, you will get discounts for fares and it is very convenient. To add, there is a big difference in the fares when using a regular ticket and the octopus card (the latter has a lot more discounts than the former) And it is also convenient since you will only need to touch the card to the reader and VOILA! you are set to go! This is better than lining up and buying individual tickets in the subway station, or making sure that you pay the exact amount when you ride the bus!

One more tip… If you don’t have an octopus card and opt to pay the traditional ¬†way then make sure that when you get into the bus, you have the exact amount of fare with you, since bus drivers will NEVER..EVER.. give change to you.

To buy an octopus card, you can get one by buying in their website prior to your trip or buying it to the counters in the airport. You can purchase it in the first counter you see when you go out the doors of the customs. You will notice that there is a money exchange counter and in front of which is where you can buy the octopus card. Take note that they only accept HKD! So exchange your money first before trying to buy one!

If you don’t have a pre-booked airport transfer vehicle, worry-no-more, since you will save a lot of money by commuting by yourself! I’m not saying to commute using the airport train (which is luxurious and very expensive) or hail a cab, but to use this two simple steps:

1. When you already passed by the immigration and baggage claim counter, you can go to the lobby of the airport, you can ask where the elevator leading to the exits. When we went there the elevator is beside a coffeeshop. The farthest elevator (when you are coming from the customs) is the one you should ride.

2. Wait for the S1 bus, this will take you to a mall which is linked to a subway station (Tung Chung station). Just walk and pass by the fountain or the park (you don’t need to go inside the mall). Then, use the subway going to your desired station (where your hotel is).

More tips is to use the subway (it will save you a lot of time and money). But if you are going to the Victoria Peak, I suggest to ride a taxi, since the bus ride is long (will take you 1 hour to get to the peak, while the tram ride (although a good experience, the line to ride such is really long). The taxi ride is expensive if you are going solo, but if you travel by 3s or 5s the price is reasonable.

Take note that taxis in HK can accommodate 5 passengers. Which means it is bigger than the one here in Manila.

HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON TICKETS

While researching for discounted tickets in Hong Kong, I found CTS Hong Kong which stands for China Travel Service. They offer discounted tickets on any attractions in Hong Kong and Macau. They offer package tickets which will make you save a lot of money. My favorite is the package ticket going to Victoria Peak.

They have tickets for Ocean Park, Disneyland (they also offer this package —> admission ticket + transfer or train ticket + food voucher) and Victoria Peak (Madamme Tussauds, Tram (one way), Sky Terrace.

You can see the prices here

You can opt to buy tickets using their website (you need to pay using your credit card or through bank deposit) and they will deliver your tickets in your designated address (whether in HK –hotels or residences— or abroad). or the easiest way is to go to their counters in the airport. Their counter is the nearest one to the elevator (which leads to the exit). Just ask the guards and they will tell you where it is. Don’t worry they speak english!

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY OTHER POSTS FOR HONG KONG, CHINA SAR
HAPPY WANDERING!

May 2011: Wrapping Up My Seoul Adventure (My own observation, tips, budget, places to visit)

Well, to wrap up all of my experiences in Seoul, I wanna say that Seoul is really a nice city to visit. I’m saying this in an unbiased way (even if I’m a korean series addict). I can see that it is way better than Hong Kong or Singapore in terms of things you can do, places to visit, and performances that you can watch. You have a lot to choose from if you visit Seoul….

Anyway, here are my observations:

1. South Koreans love coffee…

In Seoul, you can’t see a corner without a coffeeshop. Kyo (Korean friend and volunteer tour guide) told us that only few of the coffee shop there goes bankrupt.

Moreover, Seoul is not invaded by Starbucks or Coffeebean franchises instead locals make their own brands and own shop. So, you can see a lot of coffeeshops with an unknown name or brand. And you can see that each of the coffee shops have their own themes. So, next time I’ll visit Seoul, I will go coffeeshop–hopping!

2. South Koreans can walk alot— with high heels!

I noticed that they are not that tired walking around the city…. Moreover, they walk using some high powered heels! When I say powered it means totally high. I stated this in my previous post.

3. Seoul is a safe place

Unlike Manila, if you leave your things unattended for some time, you will never see those things again… I tried not attending to my things while in Seoul, and when I look back “Chada! My things are still there” Unbelievable but true! But, for your own safety, don’t be too lax since bad guys are all over the planet

Moreover, we are ladies who strolled in the city streets during the darkest hour of the night… but nothing happened to us. We even enjoyed ourselves without worrying that something might happen to us

4. Some South Koreans are helpful

Well, if without the language barrier, they will really love to help. My friends and I were in trouble looking for the bus to go to the airport, and we didn’t know where the bus stop is. We really looked worried. Maybe that guy also waiting for his bus noticed our dilemma, so he helped us and pointed us the bus stop. I really thank him for that!

5. In Seoul, water is cheap

Unlike Singapore, the water in Seoul is really cheap. So, you have no worries on buying bottled water there

6. Seoul is cheap if you come by 3s or 4s

Food in Seoul is expensive if you eat alone, but if you eat in groups, it would not make your wallet cry that much. The serving size in Seoul is big… It is good for 2 or 3 persons, so food cost is not that big if you have someone to go together

Taxis are also expensive if you come alone (I’m comparing here using Philippine standards) ¬† ¬†(But Singapore taxis are more expensive) since the cost will not be shared by the others. If you are traveling in 3s or 4s, taxi is a good option in traveling Seoul but walking in the city is better since you can see the sights and get acquainted with the city without spending any money.

Almost all wonderful sights are free or with a small charge (Cheongyecheon Stream, Banpo Bridge) only 10,000 KRW to all of the palaces or 1,000 KRW for each of the palace.

Airport bus is a good option, you will pay only 10,000 KRW and you are in Seoul already.

TIPS: (Especially for budget travelers)

  1.  Get discount coupons in the internet (through South Korea official website, click here)
  2. When you arrive in the airport, don’t forget to grab the map of Seoul in the information counters. You can also find some discount coupons there
  3. if your phone is not 3G, you can rent a phone in the airport
  4. Always bring a copy of your hostel or the place you wanna visit in Korean
  5. Buy a TMoney card. It is like an octopus card in Hong Kong, it is a rechargeable card where you can use for your transportation (even in taxis) and buy some stuff. When you pay using TMoney, it gives you discounted fares and you can also get some cool coupons if you buy one. You can buy one of these in any Convenience store
  6. If you wanna buy souvenirs, do it in Nandaemun Market
  7. If you wanna buy clothes do it in Dongdaemun Market (much cheaper)
Places to Visit (Things to do)
  1. North Tower (Namsan Tower)
  2. Palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changdaekgung, Deoksukgung)
  3. Cheongyecheon Stream
  4. Nami Island -unfortunately, we are unable to visit
  5. either Lotte World or Everland –> these are theme parks, and kids will love them. Everland is bigger than Lotte World but the latter is nearer if you are staying in Seoul
  6. Watch JUMP or NANTA
  7. Eat Korean street food, they are good! Then say to the seller “mahjisso” ma-ji-so which means yummy

My Budget

In the Philippines, the package tours going to Seoul is $1,000 (USD) for only 4 days and 3 nights stay. But if you go there without having to apply for package tours, you can save a lot more money. I only spent in Seoul P20,000.00 (Philippine peso) with some souvenir shopping. So, overall, I spent 25,300 Pesos for the entire trip including the airfare.

My budget was $1500 USD but I only spent less than $600

RECORDED EXPENSES: (Next Time I travel I will record everything.. sorry ūüė¶ )

Hostel –> 75000 KRW per night x 4 nights / 3 persons == 100,000 KRW or P 3950 or $91.86 USD

Air Ticket –> we chanced upon a sale: 134 177 KRW or P5300 or $123.25 USD

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY OTHER POSTS FOR SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

HAPPY WANDERING!