We moved around a lot in November. Our high transportation costs do not include the three flights we purchased using points. Our points are now almost gone, we are hoping to replenish them enough to get us home. We used up most of the Capital One points on the Amman to Bangkok flight. Meanwhile, overland journeys and Asia’s discount carriers will get us around. We’ll pay those out of pocket mostly. We are hoping to pick up an AirAsia ASEAN pass that will get us to up to 10 cities in South East Asia for around CAD$170. I’m currently researching the most expensive AirAsia flights we hope to take. So far, it seems it’s less expensive to fly between Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. We are hoping to reach Bali and the Philippines both carry higher price tags for flights on AirAsia. For the worriers out there thinking about the recent AirAsia crash: the chances of a plane crashing are so much lower than the chances of dying in a car crash. Cars are scary.
Here’s the breakdown:
Total spending: $4941
We managed to bring our budget down to $159.40/day. Still, way over budget. Even though we were in less expensive countries, moving around costs a lot. We also hired private transport to get us around in Jordan. Had we planned differently, we could have taken public transportation. We made a last minute decision to do an overnight excursion into the desert and with only five days in the country we’d be rushing around. This meant we had to hire a driver at a whopping $136CAD to take us from the desert to the Amman airport in time to catch our flight. The public bus would have cost us around $50CAD. Ouch, but when were we going to get to go into the Jordan desert again? On a camel?
Our total transportation costs for the month: $718
There were a few big transport costs this month. We did manage to spend less on trains in November than we did in previous months. There was one long train ride from Bucharest to Sofia that set us back about C$150. We’d intended to do the overnight train and save a night’s accommodation. Unfortunately, we’d left the planning to the last minute and tickets were completely sold out.
We also hired a private driver four times in Jordan: to visit the Dead Sea, Madaba and Mount Nebo (C$85), to go from Amman to Petra (C$72) and from Petra to Wadi Rum (C$72) and as mentioned above, to drive us to the airport.
We rented apartments in Sofia, Bulgaria and Istanbul which meant we cooked at least one meal per day for about 10 days of the month. Eating in Jordan was very inexpensive. We had a couple of expensive meals, including some of the best pizza ever at a restaurant in Brasov.
I was expecting to spend far less on booze because we visited two Muslim countries in this month. In Jordan we didn’t drink at all. In Turkey, we bought cheap wine at the supermarket. Romanian and Bulgarian wine was overall very good and very inexpensive.
We splurged for some expensive, but incredibly worthwhile excursions this month including Petra and a desert camel ride/overnight in a Bedouin tent. Other highlights were the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, Halloween (on Nov 1) at Bran Castle, and the Grand Palace/Wat Pho in Bangkok.
Overall our accommodation spending was within our expectations. Our most expensive place was for one night in a hotel near the train station in Sofia. After a long day of travel by train from Bucharest, arriving late at night we wanted a nice comfortable place for the night so we splurged for an $85 hotel. The hotel did include a free breakfast, which made it a little less painful. We also splurged on the apartment in Istanbul at $71/night because it was so nice and they offered us a significant discount (it was listed at $100/nt). Well worth it, the apartment is still one of our favourite places we slept on the whole trip.
It’s hard to say what was the bargain hotel of the month. The $46/nt hotel with pool in Bangkok? Or the $44/night triple room in Plovdiv, Bulgaria? It’s hard to compare. I counted the Bedouin tent in the desert at $96 night, but it included full board. AND was a tent in the desert. A bargain, I’d say.
We spent a lot on visas this month. Our Turkish visas were $200CAD and the Jordanian visas were $190.
The big bargain of the month was our decision to get our Japanese Encephalitis vaccine in Bangkok instead of Vancouver. In Vancouver, we would have need two shots each at $200CAD per pop. That would have been $600 for the three of us. In Thailand, they have access to a single dose version, and the total came to about $20CAD. The Thai travel clinic is a spotless modern facility. The travel doctors on duty have a much more intimate knowledge of regional issues with regards to malarial regions and other local health advisories. I was impressed by the professionals who helped us in very fluent English to decide which vaccinations were best for our family. Our anti-malarials were covered by my extended medical at work, but if they hadn’t been, I would have purchased them at the clinic in Bangkok. For more info on the Thai Travel Clinic: http://www.thaitravelclinic.com/
We also spent $20 on sunscreen in Bangkok! Eep! One of the few things that are significantly more expensive here.