Round up of our Footprints Across Asia Journey

Here’s a summary of our entire 10 months Footprints Across Asia journey which includes the countries that we’ve visited, how much we spent in each country, our favourite experiences and useful tips!

*Expenses below are all calculated in US$


1. China

We spent most of our time in China scaling different mountains and taking their trains. It was relatively easy to travel in China as we spoke their language and we’re pretty much used to their food as well.


Climbing the world’s most dangerous mountain – Mt Hua

Our favourite experience: Climbing the world’s most dangerous mountain, Mt Hua.

Most challenging experience: Taking a 12 hours overnight with only standing seats. It was horrible. Imagine smoke filled cabins, hordes of people squeezing their way around, beyond dirty floors where it was common for the locals to simply spit anywhere. It was torturous trying to stand up without falling asleep throughout the entire night!


How long were we here for: 1.5 months

How much we spent per person: $30/day

Useful tip: if you’re planning on travelling to the less travelled places in China such as Chi Sui, Chong Qing, Dehang etc, be mentally prepared to have a hard time finding a budget backpacker hostel! Most of the cheaper hostels were only for locals and upon seeing our foreign passport, they informed us that we couldn’t stay there and that we had to stay at a 5 Stars Hotel! Eventually we managed to find a cheap hostel that was flexible enough to bend the rules for just one night to accommodate us.

The smallest room that we've ever stayed in!

The smallest room that we’ve ever stayed at in China!

2. Mongolia

This was one of the countries that we looked forward to the most. We definitely enjoyed chilling and admiring the beauty of the vast Gobi Desert, riding the cute fluffy camels, trekking up and down steep sand dunes and mustering up our courage to try all sorts of weird food.


Our favourite experience: 8 days Gobi Desert tour where we spent several nights dining and camping in the middle of the canyon under a blanket of infinite stars. We also enjoyed staying together with the nomads in their traditional yurts and getting to experience their way of life.


Our most memorable night spent under a blanket of infinite glittering stars

Most challenging experience: Getting on board a supposedly 50 hours bus ride from Ulaanbaatar to West Mongolia (Khovd). To make matters worse, Gina was having a high fever due to a bad sore throat infection. Thankfully, instead of 50 hours, we reached our destination in 38 hours! That’s not the end yet.


When we reached Khovd, it was almost 12am and we found out that the only 3 hotels there were fully booked. Again, we were so lucky that the hotel staff took pity on us and allowed us to use the bed behind the hotel counter instead! So happy at that time as it was too cold to camp outdoors and we were grateful to at least be in a warm place with a toilet too! 🙂


Our cozy warm crib for the night!

How long were we here for: 1.5 months

How much we spent per person: $30 /day

Useful tip: Wear thicker pants when riding a camel! No joke, we had quite bad abrasions after our 2 hours of camel riding!

3. Kazakhstan

We didn’t do much in Kazakhstan as we weren’t big fans of cities. Kazakhstan was also quite an expensive place to travel in. But you must check out the capital, Astana, it was so futuristic and beautiful! We were there during winter though and it was literally biting cold when we were there, -20 degrees!


Amazingly futuristic Kazakhstan!

Our favourite experience: Exploring the Aksu Zhabagly National Reserve and camping in a local’s backyard where we almost froze to death in the middle of the night, frost was everywhere!


Most challenging experience: Trying to spend within our budget! Kazakhstan’s one of the more expensive “Stans” in Central Asia.

How long were we here for: 2 weeks

How much we spent per person: $22/day

Useful tip: Couch surfing’s quite popular in kazakhstan and we couched surfed with a local when we were in Almaty. Great way to meet the locals and to save some money too!

4. Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is more for the nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Lots of wonderful trekking opportunities here! Picturesque landscapes, warm & friendly people and also one of the cheapest places to travel in Central Asia!


Horse riding in Arslanbob

Our favourite experience: Horse trekking and snowboarding at a quaint little village, Arslanbob

Most challenging experience: Trekking in Altyn Arashan where we bumped into some unexpected visitors.


Hitching a ride with a bunch of friendly woodcutters in Kyrgyzstan

How long were we here for: 1 month

How much we spent per person: $25/day

Useful tip: Bishkek is a useful place to wait for the application of your visas as it’s cheap and also you don’t need a visa to travel in Kyrgyzstan.

5. Tajikistan

Think long scenic drives, authentic village stay experiences, friendly & curious locals, beautiful treks.


Roadtripping along the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan

Our favourite experience: Road trip along the Pamir Highway & Wakhan Valley

Most challenging experience: Enduring the coldest temperature ever at -38 degrees while taking a walk to the largest salt lake, Bulunku. Our hair literally froze and frost covered our entire face!


Check out Gina’s frozen hair! Experiencing -38 degrees in Tajikistan.

How long were we here for: 2 weeks

How much we spent per person: $40/day

Useful tip: Try travelling in Tajikistan during winter where you’ll get to see the snow covered mountains along the Pamir Highway, a totally different view from what you’ll usually see in the other seasons. Also during winter, there’s a higher chance of spotting the super rare Marco Polo sheep!


Super lucky to be able to spot these rare creatures,  the Marco Polo sheep, just right before our eyes!

6. Uzbekistan

If you appreciate architecture, you will like it here at Uzbekistan. It’s all about their grandiose mosques and the intricate artwork of each mosque. Every mosaic tile has been pieced together by hand.


Admiring the breathtaking architecture of the mosque in Samarkand.

Our favourite experience: Getting invited to a local’s home after chatting with him in the train. Turned out to be one of our best and most authentic homestay experience in our lives!


One of our favourite homestay experiences ever!

Most challenging experience: Braving the strong cold winds while trekking in Nurata. The weather wasn’t on our side and it was really foggy and cold that day we were trekking. The wind felt so strong that it could almost blow us away!

How long were we here for: 1 month

How much we spent per person: $30/day

Useful tip: Have an open mind and learn to trust. That was how we opened up to one of the strangers on the local train and ended up becoming friends! He even invited us over to his place to meet his family where they prepared a sumptuous meal for us and stayed in their place for a night!

7. Turkmenistan


Standing right in front of the Gates of Hell. Can you spot us?

Our favourite experience: Waking up in the middle of the night to make our way to the Gates of Hell. It was definitely one hell of an experience! No words can describe the moment we stood at the edge of the huge burning crater.

Most challenging experience: Daniel sprained his ankle here when we were on our way to the underground lake. Thankfully it wasn’t a fracture! Had to hobble around with a sprained ankle for a month!

How long were we here for: 5 days

How much we spent per person: $43/day

Useful tip: Forget about getting the tourist 30 days visa, it’s expensive and difficult to get. We heard that for the tourist visa, you need a local guide to follow you every day and you’ll have to pay for the guide’s services, accommodation, food and transport! That’s more than $100 USD per person per day! Just get the transit 3-5 days visa, it’s enough to see the main highlights of Turkmenistan 🙂

8. Iran

The people sums up our experience in Iran. The Iranians are really the epitome of hospitality. Everybody was always so genuine, helpful and kind to us.


At the holy shrine of Haram-e-Razavi in Mashhad

Our favourite experience: Couch surfing with Mosslem and his family where Mosslem brought us to see the kaluts and camped over night at the Shahad desert together!

Most challenging experience: Ensuring that we do not exceed our visa stay in Iran. Everybody was just so friendly and we kept getting invited into people’s home for tea/lunch or to even stay for a night! Because of that, our original travel plans kept postponing and we ended up staying at one place for a much longer time than we intended to! 30 days is really not enough to travel Iran…

How long were we here for: 1 month

How much we spent per person: $30/day

Useful tip: For the ladies, use a scarf as a head scarf for convenience. If you’re going to be here for 2 weeks or more, it’ll be useful and fun to learn the numbers in Farsi. The Farsi numbers are not like our regular numbers, they use symbols instead as their numbers. We had a lot of fun identifying numbers around us!

9. Armenia

Beautiful and mesmerising churches, and many more churches! 🙂 But the interesting thing is that each church is being set in a very different landscape and that makes it even more endearing.


Khor Virap Monastery against the majestic Mt Ararat, simply breathtaking!

Our favourite experience: Being inside one of the oldest cave churches that has been carved out entirely from a rock! The experience was just unbelievable, the way the ancient people knew so much about architecture and acoustics. The church was built in such a way that when you stand at this spot and say something, the entire church would be able to hear your echo.


Right where we were standing, the natural acoustics were one of the best in history

Most challenging experience: Not much challenges as our trip was sponsored and nicely planned out for us 🙂

How long were we here for: 1.5 week

How much we spent: Our trip was sponsored, hence our cost wouldn’t be accurate. Armenia’s quite an expensive country to travel in.

Useful tip: If you’re a wine lover, be sure to visit on of the wine factories in Armenia! Armenia’s well known for their wide variety of wines and they’re also the oldest wine producing country in the world. We really enjoyed their apricot flavoured wine.

10. Georgia


Incredibly photogenic 18th century city, Signagi, famous for their grapes and wine

Our favourite experience: Exploring and losing our way in the intriguing 13th storeys cave city, Vardzia.


At the fascinating 13th storeys cave city, Vardzia!

Most challenging experience: Not much problems as our entire trip was sponsored and nicely planned out for us.

How long were we here for: 1 week

How much we spent: Our trip in Georgia was sponsored.

Useful tip: Don’t forget to try the local delicacy, Acharuli Khachapuri. It’s really very savoury and delicious! (Especially if you love cheese)


11. Turkey


At the Ishak Pasha Palace in Dogubayazit

Our favourite experience: We have too many favourite experiences in Turkey! But one of our ultimate favourite was the Lycian Way trek from Oludeniz to Patara. Blog post coming up soon!


our 3 days Lycian Way trek from Oludeniz to Patara beach!

Most challenging experience: Trekking to Mt Nemrut during winter when everything including signages and buildings were entirely covered in snow! This was also the place where Gina had both eyes burnt by the snow glare 🙁


Hiking to Mt Nemrut in winter!

How long were we here for: 2.5 months

How much we spent: $43/day

Useful tip: If you can afford the time, explore the often neglected east side of Turkey where there’s so much more to see! Eg. Van, Diyarbakir, Dogubayazit, Ani and more! Will be doing a post soon on travelling in the eastern part of Turkey!

12. Greece


Cycling around the island, Chios, in Greece

Our favourite experience: Exploring the island on a bike!

Most challenging experience: Spending within our budget. Everything here is in Euros and twice as expensive! Because of this, we only stayed here for 1 night and headed back to Turkey the next day.

How long were we here for: 2 days

How much we spent: $55/day (one of the most expensive places so far!)

Useful tip: There’s no money exchanger on this island. The only way to get Euros is via the ATM. So make sure you bring along your ATM card or some spare Euros!

Check out our guide on visas for more information on the visas requirement for the above countries and how to go about applying for them. So there it is, a round up of all the 12 countries that we visited during our Footprints Across Asia journey. Hope you guys enjoyed reading about our adventures!