October 4, 2011

3 Countries in 24 Hours

Lunch in the Philippines, dinner in Malaysia, breakfast in Singapore - that’s how seamless one could hop on from one country to another now with the varied and cheap transport connections in Southeast Asia - and exactly how we did it on our recent lakwatsa. Crossing to Indonesia from Singapore was not far from our minds, but sometimes the mind is willing but the body is weak.

A makeshift Philtranco bus terminal is situated behind SM Megamall Building A. We were there by a few minutes shy of 7 AM and there are already a handful of people and luggage on standby. Impressively, the 40-seater air-conditioned bus came to a halt at exactly7 AM and we were soon cruising along SLEX to get to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark Pampanga, 80 kilometers north of Manila. The ride took an hour and a half and the fare was Php 400 per person.

The departure times of Philtranco is synchronized with that of AIRASIA'S FLIGHT SCHEDULE and is available week long.

DMIA’s is one of the biggest aviation complexes in Asia with its two 3.2 kilometer parallel runways. Groomed to be the next premier gateway of the Philippines in the next 10 years, it’s now operating 24 hours a day. There’s a shorter check in queue and terminal fee is Php 600. Airport code is CRK.

The flight from Clark took 3 hours and the Malaysia based no frills budget airline’s hub is at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang District 80 kilometers away from Kuala Lumpur. Cebu Pacific Air and Tiger Airways also lands here.

Before immigration, a currency exchange rate counter is on your left but the one after the baggage carousel offers a better rate. As is usually the practice, airport stationed currency exchange shops rates’ are inferior compared to their city counterparts so just exchange a few to tide you over till you get to town.

As the airport is quite a long distance from the city, we opted for the KLIA TRANSIT TO LCCT service  It is a combination of a shuttle bus that departs from the shuttle service bay opposite Domestic Arrival and the Coffee bean and Tea Leaf cafĂ© to Salak Tinggi station where we then transferred to a high speed train that transported us all the way to KL Sentral.

A porter was in attendance to assist us with our luggage between the bus and train transfer. Fare is RM 12.5 per person for a single journey, return is RM 22. Ticket counter is at the Domestic Arrival Hall, on your left as soon as you exit customs. The transit was comfortable and took just a little over an hour leaving us ample time to catch our breaths, grab some nourishment and just wait out the departure of our diesel hauled overnighter train that will deposit us to Singapore.

From July of this year, train to and from Malaysia will now arrive and depart at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint. The train travel from KL to SG deserves its own post and that is NEXT.

That was a crazy consecutive “Amazing Race-ish” transit in 24 hours to get to the Republic of Singapore. And what’s probably crazier is that in between the struggles of some heavy lifting peppered with irritated and mildly heated arguments, we have to say we still have enjoyed it and looking back elicits a few good laughs.

To answer your question, we do know that there’s a direct flight from the Philippines to Singapore and we regret to say that we don’t have a concrete explanation to offer why we even subjected ourselves to the brutality and inconveniences of transits. Perhaps it’s the impracticality that could be blamed on our too romantic notions on old world long and slow travels. Could also be our shared belief that the journey is just as important as the destination? Or maybe, we’re just too cheap to pay for a direct flight.

You can guess but we’ll never tell.


  1. Amazing Race talaga! mukhang di ko carry ito pero kung mas makakatipid, kakayanin ng lola :)

  2. hehe nice and exciting. adrenaline rush airport moments!
    got a similar experience, 3 countries on my bday itself! so yes, i spent my bday flying.. hehe

  3. We saved 2 night's worth of hotel accommodations for the round trip sleeper train rides, yay! haha! although we vowed never to do it again hahaha.

  4. Ahh yes, we're just too pumped with it kaya medyo namani lang ang pagbubuhat ng bagahe. Pagdating na lang sa hotel naramdaman ang pagod, alaxan moment!:-) Yay for bday trips!

  5. sobrang inggit ako sayo. :) wanna do this too. :) 3 countries in 24 hours. :)

  6. Ay forteng forte mo ang ganitong trip Olan, we're sure you wouldn't have had second thoughts with the 45 minute crossing to Indonesia even haha.

  7. inaabangan ko talaga tong series na toh. magagamit ko kasi. hehe :D

    teka, to clarify lang. train travel is 12.5 RM? -- or sa bus yung papunta sa train? :D

  8. Hi Ed, the fare RM 12.5 is for the combination of the bus and high speed train. The bus will depart from LCCT and will bring you to Salak Tinggi train station where you transfer to a high speed train all the way to KL Sentral. The trip took about an hour and 15 minutes or there about. If you buy the return ticket, it's discounted at only RM 22 and the return trip is valid for a week:-) Sulit:-)

  9. sana man lang nag stay muna kayo ng matagal tagal sa kl.kakapagod pero nakaka amaze na in 24 hrs you were in 3 countries.

  10. Hi Chris! We have 5 days in between our KL-Siem Reap trip so we squeezed Singapore na lang in between. Late na kasi ang dating namin sa KL and we won't be able to do much so we just went ahead and crossed to Singapore same day to maximize our travel time. Bumalik din kami ng KL actually and even got to squeeze Melaka and the Batu Caves before flying to Cambodia.:-D


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