Donnie's (Budget) Asian Vacation Travel Guide Part 1: Thailand and the Philippines


So I read Nate’s blog a few weeks ago about needing to get out of New York City and things got prettay prettay dark.

every 2 weeks you get a paycheck that isn’t quite enough to be happy with, especially because so much of it goes to paying rent in a tiny apartment just so you can do that stupid fucking job in this crowded, smelly city. It’s a never ending circle. So you do that for 40 years, maybe make your life even harder along the way by adding a wife and kids, and then one day hope you have enough money to retire, which is unlikely. Meanwhile, the fucking Northern Lights exist in this world. This same exact world where we hustle and bustle and work and grind and deal with all the stress of just living life, something as incredible as the Northern Lights are just a plane ride away. It’s just nuts to me. We need to travel more.” – @barstoolnate

I worked out of NYC for a little less than a month last year and  could already feel the city starting to beat me down so can only imagine what it’s like working there year round. That being said, I think pretty much every single NYC resident except for Nate is on the same page about needing to get out of the city during the Summer.

“Last Summer I didn’t really leave NYC/Hoboken at all, and I will not make that mistake again this Summer. Maybe I won’t see the Northern Lights, but maybe…upstate New York! Florida! Coney Island! Let’s travel, folks.” – @barstoolnate

The fact he never got out of NYC last Summer really puts his blog in perspective. I can only imagine the rage slowly boiling up inside him as he watched the beautiful people at Barstool like Francis and Feits gallivanting in seaside communities such as Montauk and Newport (and the less beautiful but better connected people at Barstool like Sales Guy move into Portnoy’s Nantucket house rent free) while the closest thing he was getting to a yacht was the Hoboken Ferry. Must have been infuriating but he really has no one to blame but himself (and his elitist co-workers for not extending an invite).

Now I’m clearly a HUGE proponent of travel. You don’t become the foreign correspondent of a media powerhouse like Barstool being a homebody. Travel was the reason (SPOILER ALERT) I took a teaching job in China immediately after college as it would allow me to make some money while also exploring Asia on my weekends and holidays (I have blacked out at Legal Seafoods at Logan Airport but that’s not how I ended up in China. There I said it). Now I understand most people reading this don’t live in Asia. I also understand some of you may be grinding paycheck to paycheck (or are still broke students) and a trip to the other side of the planet may not be super realistic. However, I also know TONS of people reading this are folks who claim they can’t afford to take an exotic vacation but then won’t hesitate to blow a shit load of money on a trip to Vegas or “accidentally” drop 1-3K at the strip club because every time Tonya grinds on his cock this song starts playing in their head.

Well If you fall into this category, this blog is for you. It’s a sparknotes version of an Asian travel guide for readers who may decide they want to go “off the basic path” on their next vacation.

(SIDE NOTE: I don’t think the Summer is a great time to leave the good ole USA. Not much on earth can beat hanging with your friends on a boat or at the beach, lake, bonfire, ballgame, or barbecue. Personally, I have a couple friends with boats(NBD) and like clockwork on the first nice boat day of the season I throw out my chopsticks, burn my copy of Mao Ze Dong’s Little Red book, toss on my American flag tank top,  and show up on their doorsteps. The communist revolution can wait.). First off, lets talks about…


Probably the main reason people think trips to Asia are unrealistic are because the flights are so long and you have to deal with jetlag. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about it until Elon Musk decides to put his Mars plans on the back burner and make this his priority.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 11.02.05 AM

Personally I don’t mind long flights. When I’m 7.5 miles in the sky with access to complimentary booze(every flight to Asia does this) and a selection of 100 movies and TV shows at my fingertips all of my earthly worries and responsibilities disappear faster than Nate’s bitcoin investments. I know this isn’t the case for everyone so for everybody else, there’s xanax. I feel weird encouraging people to do Xanax after the tragic death of Lil Peep but when you record yourself taking 6 Xanax on IG story, death is sometimes one of the symptons. Take Xanax to sleep on flights, not for fun, kids. Just make sure you’re dealer doesn’t give you “edible marijuanna”(read: Bath Salts) instead.

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 4.16.02 PM

Now technically speaking xanax without a script is illegal so if you want a legal option poor man’s xanax(2 nyquil and 3 glasses of red wine) will do just fine. Whatever you do, just make sure you sleep on the flight as it will help you better adjust to the jet lag once you land.


As for the cost of a round trip flight, it can vary drastically. With enough planning you should never have to pay more than 1K for a round trip flight to Asia. However, sometimes it can be closer to $500. Before I was making these fat Barstool staxx my funds were very limited but just like Nate, I was suffering severe cabin fever and needed to get out of the US for a bit. had roundtrip flights from NYC to the Philippines for around $450. From Chicago it was still just $500! (Flights from Boston to Philly can be that much if you wait too late to buy them). Now many of these super cheap flights will have one super long layover(8-18) hours but I honestly love those. They give you an opportunity to explore another country pretty much for free. One time I had a 15 hour layover in Istanbul on my way to China and Turkish Airlines gave everyone with long layovers a free guided tour of the city’s most popular tourist attractions that came with complimentary breakfast and lunch. Hands down the nicest thing an Airline has ever done for me. After the tour they let us explore the city on our own and I got waltz around some of the most historic streets on earth sipping Raki. Unreal.  Another time I had a 21 hour layover in Tokyo on my way home from China and was able to film one of the best “Whoa That’s Weird” videos that’s not officially a “Whoa That’s Weird” video.

I just checked and currently you can find some roundtrip flights to the Philippines in October for $546. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 9.47.25 AM

It has a long layover in Bejing but imagine seeing one of the Great Wall, one of the WONDERS OF THE WORLD, during your God Damn layover! I’m pretty sure you don’t need a visa either if you will only be in China for less than 72 hours.

For roundtrip flights to Bangkok the cheapest I’m seeing right now is $686. These ones have a long layover in Hong Kong which could be worth $686 alone as Hong Kong is easily the most fun city in Asia IMHO.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 12.06.27 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-02 at 12.05.54 PM

When I look for flights I usually use either CheapoAir or Google flights but I’ve heard good things about SkyScanner too. There are also websites  such as SkipLagged which helps you find cheap flights by showing hidden-city ticketing trips in addition to what sites like Expedia and KAYAK show. This is what hidden-city tickets is

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 12.30.21 PM

There’s also ways to get absurdly cheap or free flights using credit card points and I know some people who use this method religiously but I know nothing about it. The @thepointsguy should be able to help you out.


In order to fully enjoy yourselves and not feel too rushed I’d recommend making your trip at least 10 days long. Due to jet lag you’ll want to give yourself one day to recover before returning to your job so take that into account as well. That being said, I do know some people who flew out to Hong Kong just for a long weekend to attend the HK Rugby 7s tournament and they sure as fuck didn’t regret it.


Thailand: (I’m actually in Thailand at the moment but wrote this blog before the trip. Every thing below still holds up but will posting a more detailed report on my travels next week)



Thailand is the quintessential destination in South East Asia. It’s so popular amongst British and Australian backpackers and students on their “gap year” that it might even be considered “basic” in those parts of the world but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it. Tourism accounts for 20% of Thailand’s economy which means they take showing foreign visitors a good time VERY seriously. Whether it’s the full moon and jungle parties on Ko Phangan, the limestone cliffs and pristine beaches of the West coast, the jungles, rice paddies, and Elephants of Chang Mai, or the hookers of Pattaya(as well as every other destination previously mentioned), I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for.

An ideal 10 day trip would be

Day 1-2: Land in Bangkok, check out party scene on Khosan road, check out some temples and a floating market.

Day: 3-5: Chang Mai


Day 5-9:  Take an overnights train or $50 flights down to the Islands. You’ll probably have to chose whether you want to do the East Coast Islands or the West coast islands so here is a run down of both:

East Coast:

 – Koh Phangan (Full moon/half moon/jungle parties. Highly recommend the mushroom shakes, in fact, you can find shroom shakes everywhere in Thailand. Got a video about them coming soon.

– Koh Samui

– Koh Tao

West Coast:??-??-??- Koh Phi Phi (party island, cool limestone clifffs)

- Railay Beach

railay-beach-900x900- Koh Lanta (more chill and relaxed. Can Kayak with monkeys in mangrove swamps)

(This was kinda terrifying)

Day 10: Head back to Bangkok

If you didn’t want to be as rushed you could skip Chiang Mai and just stay chilling down on the islands. It all depends what you’re looking for. Wherever you are in Thailand(except for Bangkok), I’d recommend renting a motor-scooter and using it as your main source of transportation. Drive responsibly though.

Philippinesccimage-shutterstock_587590211-770x430I’m aware that the president of the Philippines, Philippe Duerte, who has made headlines for openly encouraging the murder of both drug dealers and drug addicts and calling Obama a “son of a whore” may have given this place a bad wrap but I’ve been three times and have never felt in danger. That being said if you’re a drug dealer or a drug addict it’s probably not the spot for you. The key is to get out of Manila as soon as possible. It’s hot, crowded, smelly, has horrible traffic, and is the only city where I’ve been accosted by hookers on my way to breakfast. However, if watching midgets box each other is on your bucket list you may want to schedule one night there on your way out of the country as there is a bar that offers that. I personally don’t condone the exploitation of little people (but I obviously had to check it out at least once. Remember guys, try everything once except YABBA).

From Manila, there are tons of super cheap flights  that will get you to some of the most incredibly beautiful islands on earth within an hour. I’ll just talk about the ones I have been to.

Boracay: 9e335432-2282-11e8-b079-e65f92ed111a_4000x1584_121722By far the most touristy place in the Philippines (they have a McDonalds and Starbucks right along the beach) but for good reason. It’s routinely voted as having one of the top 10 beaches in the world and voted as the best island in the world by the Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. This is the biggest party island in the Philippines too so if you’re idea of a vacation is lounging on the beach all day and hitting the sauce hard at night* this is the island for you. I’d also highly recommend the boat tour that takes you to the far side of the island for cliff jumping

This may be the only island in the world where you can swim with whale sharks. Environmental groups say you shouldn’t swim with them anymore as over the years the whales have forgotten how to find food for themselves and have  become dependent on the tour operators to feed them. That really sucks but doesn’t that mean if tourists stop going on these whale shark tours the whales will starve to death?? Sounds like the damage has been done and I might as well still cop a selfie for the gram.


Besides whale sharks, this island has some of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen in my life. Would specifically recommend hitting up Kasawan Falls to go canyoneering, which pretty much just means floating and hiking down a river while jumping off waterfalls.



 and taking a golden shower at Tomalog falls. 


One of the more rural islands in the “the Peens” but hands down the most pristinely beautiful one. The highlight of this island for me was El Nido, a costal community on the northern tip o the Island that tourists use as a base for exploring the stunning Bacuit Archipelago. Just look at this place.

El Nido, Philippines Island.
Be warned though, as El Nido has exploded as a first tier tourist destination over the last five years, it’s infrastructure has had a hard time keeping up, which has resulted in a water supply that often gets tainted with sewage.  I don’t think I need to do the math for you but I will anyways “Poop in the water = RAMPANT FOOD POISONING.” I was actually in  El Nido the week before I started to work for Barstool and decided for my first video I would travel 20 minutes out of town to film a cockfight, the national sport of the Philippines. I grabbed a burger there during half time(?) and the lettuce must have been washed in sewage because over the next three days I was on the verge of death. Nothing solid left my buddy for 72 hours. Pooping was the equivalent of peeing just at a higher volume. I honestly thought I had malaria and would have to postpone my job at Barstool and return to the states but I went to their health clinic(read: shack) and after taking my stool sample the doctor reassured me that I  was Malaria free and just had loads of amoebas and E. Coli in my poop. What a relief!

lettuce fever

(craziest part of this experience is that when they sent me into their bathroom to poop in a cup for the stool sample, which I did, the bathroom didn’t have toilet paper! I had to waddle through the place with a shitty butt the rest of the day). #LettuceFever is no joke people. That being said I would still highly recommend going to El Nido, just only drink bottled water and eat at the fanciest looking places you can find.

Accommodation (Thailand and the Philippines):

While a flight to Asia is usually going to cost you more than somewhere in the US, it’s incredible how little you need to spend once there if you’re trying to stay on a budget. Accommodation falls into three tiers.

Poor People Shit:
It’s common to find a bunk bed in a dormitory style hostel or a rustic beach hut for between $8-$15 a night.
You’ll probably have to share a bathroom with strangers and may run into some interesting characters but if you’re just looking for a place to rest your head at night and plan on spending most of your time out and about exploring paradise this will do the trick just fine.

Salt of the Earth:
For between $20-$50 dollars a night you can book a perfectly comfortable double room and or beach bungalow. Take a look at these prices.
Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 12.26.52 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-03 at 12.36.15 PM

I just stayed at the place below and it was around $45 a night

50 dollars

The Finer Things Club:
If you’re willing to spend $50-$100 a night (only $25-$60 per head if you’re sharing it with a friend) you can stay in some postcard worthy resorts that will make it seem like you’re way wealthier than you actually are. Below are pics and vids of resorts that are all less than $100 a night.


(posting this blog from the above spot. Called Railay Phutawan resort. Definitely recommend it.)


Food and Drink Expenses (Thailand and Philippines):

Whether you go to Thailand or the Philippines, don’t expect to break the bank when getting drunk and eating delicious food. The only difference is that the food in Thailand is INCREDIBLE while the food in the Philippines is…nothing to Skype home about. Here are some fun facts.

  • In Thailand you can get a bowl of the best Pad Thai you’ve had in your life for $1.20.a4e95c9afb775a5d7d519b7c31ab1c7f
  • You can easily avoid ever spending more than $5 per meal. Nice restaurants will be more expensive but can still keep them below $7 per person.
  • Convenience store beers cost roughly 50 cents. Can get a 1L bottle of rum for as cheap as $5.
  • Local or small style bars will have beers for $3.31 and buckets of whiskey and soda for around $3.31 – $6.61.cad3bef748d481e314817ddd499b3f1e

As a rule of thumb, budget travlers should plan to spend around $25-$35 per day in Thailand or the Philippines. I know a guy out here in Shanghai who did a youtube series where he would visit different places in Asia and live off $20 a day so watching those can give you a good idea of how to travel on the cheap.



Honestly wouldn’t recommend coming to China unless you have a friend who is currently living or studying there as getting around without knowing Chinese can be tough without a tour guide and you’ll have to shell out at least $140 for a visa. Plus I don’t need hordes of stoolies blowing up my spot. Who knows though, maybe someday we’ll get Barstool Travel off the ground and I’ll be able to lead guided tours around the country. Wouldn’t be the worst way to supplement my income.

I’m going to sign off for now but stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll cover Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Hong Kong. If you want more details on things I discussed in this blog I’d recommend doing a little google search as the internet knows way more than I do. That being said, feel free to shoot me over questions on Twitter as well and If I have any quick travel tips I’ll get back to you. Safe travels everybody and remember….

beating off