Ranking of my favorite recreational sports by locations

Scuba Diving:
1. Bohol: Balicasag (2018/08/24)
2. Taipei: Long-Dong (2018/08/1)
3. Phu Quoc: South Tip (2018/09/20)

Snowboarding:
1. Gangwondo: Eysian (2018/02/03)

SUP:
1. Okinawa: Miyuki Beach (2018/05/)
2. Taipei Jingshan (2018/06/)

Surfing:
1. Yilan: Wu-She
2. Seoul: Yang-Yang

Canyoning:
1. Dalat: (2018/09/17)

Stand-Up-Paddling.-001.jpg

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10/26-10/29 Sapadan islands Scuba Diving trip, Malaysia

10/26 Airport: BKI
TPE->BKI AK1511 0955-1325
ICN->BKI ZE501    1930-2335

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.13.26.png
This trip was originally planned just for 4D/3N in Kota Kinabalu before knowing there’s a much more famous diving spot nearby called Sipadan. Prior to digging deeper into Sipadan after just knowing it, we promptly bought a domestic flight from BKI to Tawau, which is main airport serving Semporna, the main town nearby Sipadan located on the South East coast of Malay Borneo.

How to get to Mabul/Kapalai/Sipadan:
From Kota Kinabalu (BKI) to Tawau Airport (TWU)

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 23.17.09.png

Sipadan is actually one of the surrounding islands off the coast of Semporna on the Celebes sea.

Semporna and the 3 main surrounding islands: Sipadan/Mabul/Kapalai

KakaoTalk_Photo_2018-10-04-23-19-09.jpeg

When you arrived in Tawau, your resort will transfer you to Semporna. From Semporna, you will take the resort speed boat to Mabul Island, the main island for the stay. The transfer from Tawau to Semporna takes around 90 minutes while the boat ride will take another 45 minutes.
Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 11.26.21.png

Later on,  we have learned that Sipadan is restricted to 120 permits per day only (hence not every dive shop/resort is able to offer you the entry permits for diving in Sipadan, and even if they do the price could get a little on the high side compared to dives on other islands.

Some of the dive center that offers diving package that we’ve found:
Mabul Divers.com
http://www.mabuldivers.com/Budget-Diver-Packages.html
Billabong Scuba
http://www.billabongscuba.com/prices.html
Scuba Junkie
http://www.scuba-junkie.com/prices/#nonsipadandivingpackages
Big John
http://bigjohnscuba.com/#combos
Others:
https://asiadivingvacation.com/resort/borneo-divers-mabul-resort/rates
http://www.diverse-borneo.com/kota-kinabalu-diving-package/fun-diving/

 

sipadan1.jpg
6556-Diver-obscured-by-fish-at-Turtle-Patch-diving-Sipadan-Malaysia-DPI-6556.jpg

10/27
Scuba Diving: 3 dives

10/28
Scuba Diving: 3 dives

10/29
In the morning, perhaps there’s time for us to do one or two more divings. If not, we will just do some snorkeling or free diving or just relax on the beach.
On the evening (21:50)  we will take the return flight back to Kota Kinabalu (BKI) to transfer back to our main flights back home.

10/30
BKI->ICN ZE502    0030-0640
BKI->TPE AK1510 0610-0925
map-sabah.gif
Remarks:
For divings:
@ Semporna:
Sipadan
Mabul Island
Kapalai

@ Sabah:
Manukan Island
Lankayan Island
Mantanani Islands

 

diving-sites.jpg

9/13-9/27 Spendings in Southern Vietnam + Siem Reap

Cost list-(per person) 400USD
Money Exchange (USD->VND):
– 9/13/2018: 50USD -> 1,165,000VND
– 9/14/2018: 100USD -> 2,321,000VND
– 9/15/2018: 100USD -> 2,321,000VND
– 9/16/2018: 100USD -> 2,340,000VND
– 9/18/2018: 100USD -> 2,330,000VND
– In Cambodia, USD is being widely used and accepted.

Airfares:
– 9/13/2018: TPE->SGN/REP->TPE (255USD) | ICN->SGN/REP->ICN
– 9/16/2018: SGN->DLI (33USD)

– 9/18/2018: DLI->SGN  07:10-08:00 (33.5USD)
– 9/18/2018: SGN->PQC 10:10-11:05 (49.3USD)

– 9/21/2018: PQC->REP (via BKK) (171.5USD)

Ground Transportations Airports<->Hotels:
– 9/13/2018: Taxi SGN Airport to hotel(Saigon)(200,000VND)
– 9/16/2018: Taxi Hotel to SGN Airport(Early Morning rate: 245000VND)
– 9/16/2018: Taxi DLI Airport to hotel (300,000VDN + 6USD) (ask for a fixed rate at around 250,000VDN)
– 9/18/2018: Taxi Hotel to DLI Airport(250,000VDN)
– 9/18/2018: Taxi PHQ Airport to Hotel(100,000VDN)
– 9/21/2018: Hotel to PHQ Airport (100,000VDN)
– 9/21/2018: Tuktuk REP Airport to Hotel (free of charge, paid by Hotel)
– 9/26/2018: Tuktuk Hotel to REP (8USD)

Accommodations
– 9/13-16: Bui Vien Hotel (34.34USD)
– 9/16-9/18: Maxim House Dalat (23.93USD)
– 9/18-9/21: Chang’s house ( 32 + 16.50USD)
– 9/21-9/26: Krong Siem Reap Hotel(60USD)
– 9/26: Krong Siem Reap Hotel late check-out (6USD)

Tickets:
– 9/14/2018: Sky bar entrance (300,000VND)
– 9/22/2018:
3-Day pass for Angkor Park (62USD)

Recreational Sports:
– 9/17/2018: Canyoning (50USD 08:00-15:00 lunch included)
– 9/20/2018: Phu Quoc Scuba Diving in the South (80USD/2 dives)

Visas:

– 9/13/2018: e-Visa(Vietnam): 6+25USD: 31USD
– 9/21/2018: Visa on arrival(Cambodia): 30USD

Foods:

Others:
– SIM card 4G unlimited/10days (Vietnam): 180,000VND 
– Miu Miu Body Massage in HCM: 380,000 VND
– Foot Massage in HCM: 150,000VND
– 1 day scooter rental in Dalat: 120,000VND
– Laundry Dalat Hotel: 45,000VDN
– 2 days scooter rental in Phu Quoc: 300,000VND
– SIM card 4G unlimited/14 days in Cambodia: 6 USD
– 4.5 days scooter rental in Siem Reap: 41USD
– Laundry Siem Reap Hotel: 4.5USD
– Foot massage in Siem Reap: 5USD
– Foot massage: 3USD
– Salon in Siem Reap: 3USD

List of places to go

Places that I wanna visit:

North East Asia
Japan
Okinawa: Miyako jima
– Sendai: Zao Onsen

South Korea
– Yang Yang
– Busan

Taiwan
– Hualien: Taroko Gorge
– Jade Mountain
– Ali Mountain Giant Trees
– Taitung: Jiaming Lake

China
– Longmen Grottoes (龍門石窟)
longmen-grottoes-EDIT1.jpg

– Longyou Grottoes (龍游石窟)
1408190251351664-600x400.jpg

Pacific
– Saipan

South East Asia

Indonesia
– Bali
– Pulau Bangka
– Parai Tenggiri
– Central Java: Borobudur, Prambanan, Karimunjawa Islands
– Nusa Penida Island
– Komodo Island
– Indonesian Borneo (Nabucco, Kakaban, Sangalaki and Derawan)

Thailand
– Phi Phi Island
– Ko Chang Island
– Lopburi

Myanmar
– Bagan
bagan-temples-view-e1440868683997.jpg

Cambodia
– The temples of Angkor

Malaysia
– Kota Kinabalu (Borneo Island)
– Semporna: Sipadan, Mabul
– Redang Island
– Lankayan (Borneo Island)

The Philippines
– Bohol
– Palawan
– Cebu Kawasan
– Enchanted River

Vietnam
– Ho Chi Minh
– Phu Quoc Island

South Asia
India
– Orchha
– Gwalior
– Ajanta Caves
ajanta-caves-EDIT1.jpg

– Ellora Caves
4565.jpg

South America
Peru

– Machu Pichu
– Chavín de Huántar

Venezuela
– Mount Roraima
kHliR.jpg

 

Europe
Turkey
– Gobekli Tepe

Egypt
– Cairo

 

9/13-9/27 Southern Vietnam + Siem Reap tentative planning

Itinerary (Updated 9/12)

Here I am posting the researches I’ve collected and summarized for our 2 weeks getaway to Ho Chi Minh & Siem Reap from September 13-September27, 2018. We were originally planning to go to more places like Nha Trang in Vietnam and Sihanoukville in Cambodia, but after some extensive plannings on the routes and limited days available for us, we’ve decided to focus on fewer spots in order to increase the quality of this journey.

A. HCM City
13 Taipei(TPE)/Seoul(ICN) ->Ho Chi Minh Airport(SGN) (late night arrival)(2125)(2105)
Accom: Bui Vien Hotel (10USD)(9/13-16: 34.34USD)

Vietnam e-visa:
– Visa-Approval letter: 5-19 USD (http://visadovietnam5usd.com/, http://www.vietnamvisapro.com/)
– Stamp fee(paid at airport visa counter): 25 USD
– Visa Application form (entry and exit form)
– 2 passport photos

14 & 15  HCM City
saigon-map.jpg
Day
– Pham Ngu Lao (Backpacker Street)(CBD)(District 1)
– Ben Thanh Market (Night market outside at night)(District 1)
– Bitexco Financial Tower (Ob. Deck: 200,000 VND)(Cafe: 130,000 VND)(District 1)
– Cathedral of Notre Dame (District 1)
– Binh Tay Market (More local and less pricier compared to Ben Thanh Market)(District 6)
– Local wet markets
– Cafe Apartment – 42 Nguyen Hue Street(District 1)
– Tram Cafe (cool tropical style cafe)(District 15)
– Du Mien Garden Cafe (District 10)
– Nguyen Hue (Walking Street)(District 1)
– Bosgaurus Coffee (QPQC+H7 Phường 22, Bình Thạnh, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
– Miu Miu Spa 1 (QPJ3+PX Bến Nghé, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
– Cho Vuon Chuoi market (local market)

Night
– Turtle lake (District 3)
– Backpacker Street (Khu phố Phạm Ngũ Lão)
– Rooftop bar (Shri Restaurant and Lounge)
– Ben Thanh Market (Night market outside at night)(District 1)
– Chill Skybar (no admission fees)
– Saigon Outkast (Bar)(District 2)
– City hall
– Ruong Pub & Hub (33 Nguyen Trung TrucDist. 1,)

*must eat:
Banh Trang Nuong(Vietnamese Pizza)(Banh Trang Nuong C002)(opens at 1630)(002 Lô C, chung cư 23/49 Đinh Tiên Hoàng, phường 3, Phường 3, Bình Thạnh, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam),

Banh Trang Tron
(Mixed rice paper salad)(Street vendor)

Banh Khot (crispy mini-rice pancake)(Banh Khot Co Ba Vung Tau: 40B Tran Cao Van Street, Ward 6, District 3)

Banh Mi Sandwich
(1. Banh Mi Huynh Hoa: 26 le Thi Rieng P. Ben Thanh, Q.1,)(3pm-midnight)
(2. Banh Mi 37 Nguyen Trai: 37 Nguyễn Trãi)(5pm-730pm)

Pho

http://scootersaigontour.com/10-best-pho-in-ho-chi-minh-city/
http://www.vietnam-guide.com/5-best-pho-in-ho-chi-minh.htm
(1. Pho So Ha Noi: 25 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Saigon, Vietnam)(24 hours)
(2. Pho Phuong 25: 25 Hoàng Sa, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)(6am-9pm)
(3. Pho Le: 414 413, Nguyen Trai Street P.7,District 5)(6am-1am)
(4.
Pho Hoa: 260C Pasteur Street, District 1)(6am-12am)


(5. Pho thin Ha Noi: 170 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, District 3)(near Turtle lake)
(6. Pho Cao Van: (25 Mạc Đĩnh Chi street, District 1)(Northern style)

Com Tam Suon (Com Tam Ba Ghien:  84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, P. 10, Quận Phú Nhuận, Ho Chi Minh City)(6am-10pm)

Bo La Lot(Minced beef wrapped in leaves)(Co Lien Bo La Lot: 321 Võ Văn Tần, District 3)(10am-9pm)

Op La (eggs cooked dish-breakfast)(Banh Mi Hoa Ma)(53 Cao Thắng, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City)(7-10am)

Banh Xeo
(Vietnamese Crepe 1. (Banh Xeo 46A:46 Đinh Công Tráng, Tan Dinh, District 1)(9am-9pm)

Bot Chien (Carrot cake)(Chợ Bàn Cờ market)

Goi Cuon/Cha gio
(non deep-fried/deep-fried spring rolls)

Kem Dừa Nướng Thai Lan(Desert)(Che Nguyen Huong: District 2)(029, Lô H Sư Vạn Hạnh, Phường 2, Quận 10, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam)

Accom: Bui Vien Hotel (10USD) 84/12b Bui Vien street


B. Da Lat
 (Total travel fare: $22USD)

http://www.thanhniennews.com/travel/vietnams-little-paris-also-has-an-amazing-culinary-culture-to-match-57175.html

Banh uot ga (wet rice pancake with chicken)(47 Tang Bat Ho Street.)
Banh trang nuong (180 Bui Thi Xuan Street)
Nem nuong (ground park, bamboo stick, rice paper)(254 Phan Dinh Phung Street.)
Banh mi xiu mai (pork ball baguette)(Tran Nhat Duat and Hoang Dieu streets.)
Sua chua pho mai
(Cheese yogurt)(48 Khe Sanh Street)

16 Saigon -> Dalat 0800-0850
Option B.1: Plane SGN -> DLI (Jetstar Pacific BL-354 with a 15Kg checked baggage 775000VND = 33USD)
Total estimated traveling time: 1 hour

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 12.31.51.png
Option B.2: Bus: Futa Bus: 210,000VND (9USD)
Total estimated traveling rime: 7-9 hours

Must eat: Nem Nướng Bà Hùng (D51-52 Hoàng Văn Thụ, Phường 4, Thành phố Đà Lạt)米紙烤肉

Elephant Falls
Accom: (12-20 USD)

17 & 18
Dalat

Dalat Train station:
– Thác Liêng Rơwoa/Thác Voi (Nam Ban)(waterfall)

Accom: (12-20 USD)
must eat: Kem Bo (Vietnamese Desert)(sinh tố bơ – avocado shaved ice)

C. Ha Tien & Phu Quoc Island (Total travel fare: $50 USD)

19 DLI -> SGN -> PQC BL355+VJ325 0925-1015->1210-1315 (50USD)

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 12.24.59.png

20 & 21 Phu Quoc island
Flipper-Dive-Map-2016-17-1.png
http://visitphuquoc.info/guide/diving-or-snorkeling-the-reefs/

Sao Beach

D. Cambodia border (e-visa: 37+3USD / visa on arrival: 30-35USD)

Option D.1: Ferry+Bus+Plane (Total travel fare: $10+15+33=58USD)
total estimated traveling time: 25 hours


For option 1, it would take about 1 and half days to get from Phu Quoc to Siem Reap via Sihanoukville. The main reason for this long traveling time is because of the flights from Sihan airport(KOS) to Siem Reap would not be available after 12pm (afternoon)
22 Phu Quoc -> Ha Tien -> Sihanuokville -> Siem Reap
a. Phu Quoc -> Ha Tien (0830-1030)
Ferry (0830-1030/$10USD)

b. Ha Tien -> Sihanoukville (1230-1700)
Bus (1230-1700/$15 USD)

Border opens only between (0600-1800)
Visa on arrival to Cambodia:
– VISA fees: $35USD (Only in US dollars)
– 1 passport sized photo. Or $2 USD on site
– medical record. Or $1 USD on site
E-Visa: Not available

23 Sihanoukville KOS -> Siem Reap REP 0900-0950 ($33USD)Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 18.11.10.png

Option D.2 Plane (Total travel fare: $125USD)
Total estimated traveling time: 6.5 hours

22 Phu Quoc -> Saigon -> Siem Reap 1225->1430->1840 ($125USD)

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 18.36.05.png

E. Siem Reap

For Visa info:
– E-Visa: 40USD (30+6+4)
– Visa on arrival: 30 USD
cambodia-visa-map.png
As of Jan 2nd, 2017, the ticket price for Angkor Park has changed:

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 19.03.22.png
The ticket counters now accept not just cash but also payment with Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay, JCB, Discover and Diners Club.

Practical: With a 3 or 7-day pass, the viewing days do not have to immediately follow on from each other.

  • 1 Day: This ticket is valid only on the day of purchase.
  • 3 Days: This ticket is valid for 10 days from the date of purchase. You can choose which three days you wish to visit the Angkor temples on.
  • 7 Days: This ticket is valid for one calendar month from the date of purchase. You have a whole month in which to visit the Angkor temples on the seven days of your choice.

Transportation Cost (Roughly)
-TukTuk(1-4 person ): $15-20 + $5 for Sunrise
-Car (1-4 person ): $25-35 + $5 for  Sunrise
-Van (5-10 person): $30-40 + $5 for sunrise

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 19.11.08.png

Night: Made in Cambodia Market

23 Siem Reap
Small Circuit:
Angkor Wat -> Phnom Bakheng -> Baksei Chamkrong -> South Gate -> Bayon -> Baphuon -> Terrace of the Elephants -> Terrace Of The Leper King -> East Gate (Victory)->Chau Say Tevoda Temple -> Ta-Keo -> Ta-Nei -> Ta-Prohm(Tomb Rider)

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 16.25.11.png
24
Siem Reap
Outer Circuit: 1000 Lingas, Kulen National Park ($20USD) (Waterfall), Banteay Srei, Roluos Group (Bakong, Lolei, Preah Ko)

25 Siem Reap
Extended Outer Circuit: Beng Mealea (Jungle Temples)($5USD) & Prasat Thom Temple (Koh Ker)(Mayan)($10USD)

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 16.25.00.png
26
 Siem Reap
Big Circle: Phimean Akas temple -> North Gate -> Preah Khan ->  Neak Pean-> Ta Som -> East Mebon ->  Pre Rup -> Srah Srang -> Banteay Kdei
Siem Reap(REP) -> TPE/ICN (2135->2245)(2345->0640)(0205->0645)

27 Arriving early in the morning
Seoul & Taipei

Vietnam – best place for money exchange rate in Ho Chi Minh

There is nothing coming home from a great trip abroad thinking you had been really savvy about sticking to your budget only to be hit with unexpected currency-exchange fees on your bank statement and credit card bill.

Almost every overseas traveler needs to exchange currency at some point during his or her trip. If you don’t know the tricks, it can be extremely expensive.

The official currency in Vietnam is called Dong (VND). Banknotes are available in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000, and 500,000 dong. The 20,000 and 500,000 bills look similar so be extra careful when paying with these notes.

Foreign visitors in Ho Chi Minh can buy local currency upon arrival at the airport. The exchange rate is not favorable but it might be necessary to pay for taxi fare and other immediate needs.

For the best exchange rates, you are recommended to visit the money changers and gold dealers around Ben Thanh Market and Ho Chi Minh Square.

Some big hotels in Ho Chi Minh also offer currency exchange service, use it for your convenience only as the rates are quite poor.