I travelled solo to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore for 10 days (June 13-22, 2017). I was excited as well as worried of course that things might go wrong. However, my worries subsided once I have prepared for the trip. It’s always best to be prepared before any trip not just to lessen your worries, but also to see what else you may have missed. You know what they say, “Prevention in better than cure.”
1) Your Passport, Documents and Bags
Make sure you have your passport accessible and ready to be brought up from time to time as it would be the most used on your entire trip. If you can memorize your passport number, the better. I made photocopies and took a picture of my passport and government ID’s on my phone as well as uploaded them in google drive so I have copies it in case it’s needed. Hotels would usually have a safe where you can put in your most valuables before you leave.
The most common question asked by travellers: Should I bring my original passport with me when I travel outside? or Should I just bring a photocopy and leave my passport on my hotel safe? Most would recommend just bringing a photocopy as your passport is the most valuable item you have on your trip. If you lose it, expect an enormous hassle and you might even get detained or would need to go to the embassy to get home. Most of the time, a photocopy is honoured. Some keep the original copy with them at all times since they also don’t trust hotel safes as well as just in case they would need the original copy in the places they go. It would really be a waste going back and forth to your hotel in case the original is needed. Although I brought my original passport with me at all times, I only showed the photocopy when asked. So far as all the establishments I have been, a photocopy is accepted. Know that your passport is your worldwide accepted ID. Your original passport is also very valuable in the black market and pickpockets so it is up to you what you feel would be the safest place for it.
When you are in airports, documents that you should bring would be your flight tickets/boarding pass, a printed copy of your itinerary and financial documents. For Financial documents, make sure to include your company ID if you are an employee or some business documents and your business card if you own a company.
Aside from my main bag for the clothes and others, I always brought with me a small sling bag for my documents, power banks, charger and headset. I actually packed just one bag of clothes and a small carry on sling bag. Yeah, just one bag as I planned to just either have the hotels wash my clothes or buy the shirts and others when I need them. You can buy cheap shirts along the way and would serve as well as your souvenir. I planned to go local and hit their streets for a more native experience and experience their day to day lives. Eat their food, blend in, and explore their cities and sceneries. The beauty of traveling solo.
2) Airport and Immigration requirements
The first thing you need to do when you get to the airport is find the check in counter of your flight. This is where you leave your check-in baggage, confirm that you are already in the airport and get your flight tickets/boarding pass. You can check-in online on most airport couriers. That would be best if you do not have a check-in baggage. Try to be there at least 2-3 hours before your flight as there is usually a long line on the check-in counter as well as the immigration counters. Some tickets sold online do not include travel taxes so ask when you check-in if it was included on what you paid for or if you need to pay anything else. If you still need to pay travel taxes or others, go and get those done first before going to the immigration counter.
The check-in counters usually also have the immigration forms or card. Get one and fill it out, get your passport and travel documents ready, and fall in line on the immigration counter for international flights. The immigration personnel would usually require the following – a) Passport, b) ID’s c) Flight Tickets/Boarding Pass and Travel itinerary if you have d) Financial Documents – They usually ask for a company ID but as I am a company owner so the immigration counter asked for some proof of financial capability such as if I have a credit card and business documents with me. This time though, they just asked me for my calling card. Gladly I brought a calling card which was enough for the immigration officer to let me through. They will ask you for your purpose of travel and identification questions. Just answer their questions calmly and politely. Stand still for your picture to be taken (on some airports, you would need to press your fingers on the scanner for your fingerprints) and you should be all set.
3) Your ATM and Credit cards
One important thing to remember is to call your banks and credit card financial institutions to let them know you are going to use them outside the country. I mainly use BPI and you can use your ATMs issued here to withdraw on any ATMs they have abroad with the Cirrus logo on it. There will definitely be additional charges for using it abroad (about P150-300) each time as well as the currency exchange rates higher than usual. I hear though that if you find a Citibank ATM, there won’t be the charge of using your card abroad. Ask your bank what kind of ATMs you can use abroad and how much will be the charges.
Don’t try to bring a big amount of cash as there is a law that prohibits us to bring more than P10,000 cash when you go out the country aside from its probably not safe bringing that chunk of money on your check-in or carry-on bags. Note that the ATMs abroad will only shell out their currencies so if you plan to use your ATM, no need to exchange much currencies. Just make sure you already know how much in their currency you want to withdraw so you don’t have to withdraw every now and then and get the additional charges each time.
When using your credit card, also check if the establishment has the option can charge in our currency. This is usually cheaper than if it is on dollars or their currencies.
4) Your cash and currencies
It’s best to exchange the currencies you need here with the banks. The banks sometimes need though a few days to get the currencies you need so make sure you exchange them early. You can also go around money exchangers. Just make sure you know how much the exchange rate is and compare how much it is compared to the bank or in google. There are a lot of money exchangers who will try to trick you if you do not come prepared. Also, don’t expect the money changers would have all the currencies you need. You may need to go around and look for money changers that have the currencies you need. A friend of mine advised me you can find cheaper and more money changers in Cubao. Fortunately, I was already able to find one near me. The rates were a bit higher but it’s understandable rather than me travelling to Cubao and spend time looking around.
Try to determine how much you will be spending and the currencies you need so you don’t need to exchange often when you are already there. It’s also best to always bring a few US Dollars with you. It’s widely accepted anywhere. Bring smaller amount of bills if possible for easy usage and you don’t need to exchange them when needed. Just like in any countries, avoid flashing a lot of cash when you are going around.
5) Your mobile calls and data
Call your mobile network to check if you’re mobile roaming is activated if you plan to use them abroad. For Globe post-paid users like me, fortunately, the CS rep advised me that its automatically activated and I just need to restart my mobile when I land on the countries I wish to use my mobile and data. Mind you though, it costs about P499-P599 per DAY to use your data abroad. The rates are also really high when you receive and dial out from your phone. The perk though is your friends or family members can call you like you are just in the Philippines without the extra charge to them. Be careful of the charges though when you dial out. My Bill after my 10 days tour ballooned to P17k+. The internet is really fast though. I usually get like 20-50mbps speeds. If you wish to save on it, you can check the call and data sim being offered at cheaper prices on the airports or just use your hotel Wi-Fi.
6) Your mobile phone, SD Card, USB OTG, camera and a decent power bank
I did not bring a camera as I am really not into bringing a lot of stuff. I used to even go to school with only my pen and ask around papers when needed. So my Samsung 8+ was more than enough. Before I left I backed up and cleared my SD card and phone memory so I have a lot of space reserved. I also brought a 64 GB SD card in case the 32 GB won’t suffice. I also brought my 32 GB OTG in case additional space is needed, plus, I saved some movies and TV series for those long waiting time during flights and long queues. Make sure you also bring your fast chargers, chords and headsets. On some countries, you may find sockets that are not compatible to what we normally use but you can always ask your hotel concierge or if you have, bring those adaptors.
My trip was mostly going around the cities, beaches and sights with my mobile phone to take pictures, power bank, charger, my passport, ATM, credit cards and currencies on my sling bag. I was mostly on my comfortable shirt, pants and sandals/slippers. Gladly, I haven’t encountered a place where you must be on your socks and shoes. The one time I wore my shoes, I had a hard time getting them on and off especially when you visit temples and other holy places.
As for the souvenirs, you can ask around for the places where they sell cheaper souvenirs. They are definitely a lot cheaper than those in malls, airports and Duty Free. The locals would usually of course give higher prices seeing that you are a foreigner. It doesn’t mean though that you can’t bargain with them. Trust me when I say that especially if you buy in bulk or packs, you can bring down prices to almost half or more. Just be mindful though that if you try to bargain for something, make sure that you would really like to buy them. Don’t ever try to bargain for something and when they give you the price that you have asked, you decide not to get it or bargain for lower prices. This is definitely a no-no in which you would experience the ire of the locals.
As I have mentioned on my previous blog, travelling solo on these three countries was quite an awesome experience. You get to bring yourself wherever your feet moves you till you tire your whole body out free from any hassle, worries and considerations you would have to do when you are travelling with others
For my Thailand adventures, click the link below:
For my Malaysia adventures after Thailand, click the link below:
For my Singapore adventures, click the link below:
If you wish to see a quick view of the whole 10 days itinerary of my Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore trip, you can check out the post below:
For pictures of my Thailand. Malaysia and Singapore adventures, click the link below:
Though this is just a personal blog, feel free to send me a message if you have any questions or inquiries that I may be able to help.
Thanks for dropping by!