GLOBAL. One of the greatest opportunities students and young adults should seize is traveling to unknown lands. We are at our mental and physical prime, and not yet tied fully to the commitments of family and a career. Of course, there are certain obstacles such as finding a program that will earn academic credit; financing the trip, especially with the cost of airline tickets; and simply saying good bye to family, friends and the comfort of home. However, whether you travel for one week or one year, to the other side of the state or the other side of the world, the rewards of travel are unparalleled. Travel allows liberation from daily routine; exposure to people, places and cultures that were once only accessible through the media; and ultimately, the opportunity to challenge the boundaries of what you know, and further realize who you are.

At GAPBRAVE, we believe that money should not prevent young travelers from becoming the next global citizens and gears for positive change. Many students can attest to the unparalleled experience of travelling and living abroad.

GAPBRAVE is beginning a monthly series in which we will feature young adults with advice proving that it is possible to travel on a budget without sacrificing any adventure. 

This week, we would like to introduce Richard Chan, a multi-cultural and multi-lingual citizen from Venezuela. He is an international student at San Francisco State University who is currently on exchange at City University of Hong Kong. Richard enjoys running marathons, taking photos, playing soccer, trying new cuisines, traveling, blogging, and bonding with the new friends he meets along the way.

From all the places that you have been to, if you had to pick one destination to go to as a student or a young person on a budget, where would you go? 

Richard Chan: From all the places I’ve been during the last 6 months I’d definitely choose Ko Phi Phi, an island in the Phuket Province in Thailand, as a destination to repeat and would recommend it to everyone.


Why is this destination particularly student and budget-friendly? 

Ko Phi Phi is definitely a place to be if you want to relax and take a break from a fast-pace life because it offers beautiful beaches, awesome and inexpensive food and drinks, tours around other wonderful islands, a good variety of local shopping stores and massage places, as well as a great nightlife every night!

Fire performers and nightlife on the island of Ko Phi Phi.

Fire performers and nightlife on the island of Ko Phi Phi.

Although the island of Ko Phi Phi is relatively small, it offers a spectacular blue and clear water  beach called TonSai Bay on one side while on the other side there’s another incredible beach with fantastic landscape called LohDalum Bay, both which are free. It’s also in LohDalum Bay where all the nightlife goes on after the sun goes down. Once you are on the island you can go shopping for local handmade clothing, which costs are between 100 to 200 baht / $3.33 to $6.66, and accessories, which costs are around 50 to 150 baht / $1.66 to $5, along the Main Road and almost every corner of Ko Phi Phi. In case you feel more adventurous you can go for a short hiking with an amazing view at Phi Phi Viewpoint.

You can find more info about my experience in Ko Phi Phi in my blog post here.

What about cheap eats?

Food in Ko Phi Phi is really cheap. Whether you have a budget for food or not, you will still enjoy a variety of food ranging from Thai food to Mexican food, as well as European cuisine. Street food is a must. Try out street pancakes and shakes! Some of my favorites restaurants during my visit were Unni’s Restaurant and Anna’s Restaurant.

Where should we sleep and stay?

Accommodation is as easy to find as food in the island since a great number of backpackers visit Ko Phi Phi during the entire year. I stayed at Ibiza House and the location is not bad because it was close to the nightlife and beach. Although you can listen to the music during nighttime, it was a good price, clean, and comfortable. I would recommend this place to anyone going to Ko Phi Phi and I would stay there again if I were to visit.

Do you have any general recommendations for students abroad or those traveling on a budget? 

Try to plan the trip ahead of time by writing down every detail on a notebook or spreadsheet. Go to websites such as SkyScanner or Kayak and request a price alert so you are aware of the price and keep checking it for at least one week. If you are in Asia or Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific has deals every Tuesdays and these are really cheap flights!

Get visas ahead of time as well. Remember to tell friends and family members where you go and for how long. Last but not least, travel with friends because they are who make the travel experience different, special, and unique. Don’t forget your camera!

"Travel with friends because they are who make the travel experience different, special, and unique." | Richard Chan

“Travel with friends because they are who make the travel experience different, special, and unique.” | Richard Chan


For more information on Koh Phi Phi, check out the Lonely Planet guide. You can read more about Richard through his blog at