Saigon Airport to Manila, my trip from Hell

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I almost didn’t make it home from Saigon airport, this is my story.


  1. Hey there Paul.

    Thanks for your “Nurse Ratched” story. Your older viewers will remember Nurse Ratched from the 1975 movie “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” starring Jack Nicholson. Your intellectual viewers will know the character from the 1962 book of the same name.

    However, I thought you might have some younger viewers who might be unfamiliar with the character so I thought I’d leave this note as my own public service announcement.
    Cheers 🍻

  2. Paul…you made a comment on your experience of getting from Vietnam to the Philippines that raised a question in my mind. Perhaps you have discussed this in other videos, but there are so many, and I may have missed where you discuss this issue! You stated that you were going to use an “onward ticket” to show to the agent before boarding the flight to the Philippines, to prove you would be leaving. But…you have been living in the Philippines for years….why would you need to show you were leaving. Don’t you have a residency visa? If not…why not? And doesn’t that create issues if you wanted to travel back to the US for instance, with Philippino immigration?

  3. Funny story not really but now it is….i bought a tix for $29 to Manila to HK on cebu just rather have an actual tix even if it costs few bucks more….Cebu motto “we get to it when we get to it”.

  4. My experience at Saigon airport the airport officials all wore the military uniform and never smiled. 150.00 for a hotel room? Just take the bus from the airport to near bui Vienna street plenty of rooms for 20 to 25.

  5. I always use “best onward ticket”, I print it out on paper. $12. I buy it the day before flying. Never had a problem flying into PH. Of course I never overstay, I keep my visa valid and I do fly out when I am required to. But I’ve never bought an actual “fared” onward ticket.

  6. I’m listening to this through the stereo in my 980H Cat loader as I am loading trucks with sand. Around the 14 minute mark, I was laughing so hard I was crying. Thanks for helping me through my Flintstone style workday.

  7. Paul, from your early first videos, you didn’t look so healthy but now you look like 2-4 years younger and it amazes me so I think I need a vacation there to check it all out. Thanks for the videos to help us out with the psyche and getting around, not getting whittled down. Afterhours downtown. Peace Inn.

  8. Im a Filipino so I do not know how immigration laws work in my country .

    But is there anyway you can have like a permanent visa ? They should do it for retirees .

  9. so I thought I had this all figured out (throw away ticket) but maybe I don’t. can someone answer this. so I fly from USA to the PH (I book a plane ticket PLUS the throwaway ticket). and I get to the PH and start living there. but 6 months later, I decide I want to spend a month in vietnam. so in that instance, do I only book the actual ticket (from manila to saigon)? I don’t need a throwaway ticket for that flight right? it’s just the plane flight back from vietnam to the PH in which I need a throwaway ticket?

  10. Enjoyed the video about “Nurse Ratched” at the airport. They also work in banks here BTW! I’ll be having to do the onward ticket thing as I’ve been living here under SRRV and now I want to cancel it and go to a tourist visa. That process takes 3-4 months and a lot of patience. Once that’s over I’ll have to worry about the onward ticket dilemma. I’ve never had immigration ask me for it and when they see I have an SRRV visa they may ask to see my ID card. The last time the card had been expired for six months while I was out of the country and they just stamped my passport and sent me through.

  11. They don’t transfer your luggage from international to domestic here. Gotta do that yourself generally but I guess they may have made an online thing for a *fee*. Onward ticket thing sucks but its because they force the delivering airline to give you a ride out of the country to your home country should you be denied entry and don’t have an onward ticket. Immigration as well does occasionally ask to see the onward ticket as well but usually not because of long lines and such and they expect the airline to have checked.

  12. It is a hit and miss, my last entry the check in agent was not really interested in checking even though I showed an outbound ticket. Previous times I have been asked. There are ways around all this mess without having to buy a ticket you don’t intend using. One option is by buying through the American domain of, there are flexible tickets available which you can cancel at no charge, the inital cost is more but your refunded 100%. Other option is United airlines 24hrs to cancel ticket service. Buy the ticket before check-in at your port of call before the Philippines and cancel once your in the Philippines at no charge, just remember the United option only allows a 24 hr window to cancel. You don’t pay any out of pocket expenses using those to methods as you’ll get a full refund.

  13. Hey Paul, great “community service!” I believe you just saved a lot of people from going through all the frustrations you went through. It’s cool that you are now able to laugh at the experience. Maybe the “ticket nazi” will give you a pass next time. Lol. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Geez! Glad I don’t have these issues. Can come to the Phils and stay for up to 12 months on a Balikbayan. Just have to travel with my Filipina wife and show a copy of our NSO issued marriage certificate. Simples!

  15. ROFLMAO – You had me at “Where are you going? I don’t know.” At that point I had to press the subscribe button. Nurse Rachet, LOL.

  16. Thanks Paul for the very interesting saga of your return trip to the Phil’s,, look forward to what you di there on your Vacation…

  17. What are your thoughts on buying a round trip ticket 3 months out ? Now I am traveling with my wife so we should be able to get a balikanbyon stamp and stay for a year but if they don’t want to give you the stamp because there having a bad day rrrrr onward ticket dot com here we come we’re a little nervous. Of the Taal volcano closing down the airport tooshould we also book to Cebu vs Manila?

  18. Dont like blue eyed white skinned males, eg, Americans, i’m not an American, but i have felt this from officials on my many trips to the Phils as well, i’m 15 years older than your good self. Can’t do anything about it either, if you protest, they will ban you from boarding.

  19. Hi Paul. I too have been burnt by the onward ticket BS flying into Manila. Its a joke. As long as you are out of the country before your visa expires whats the big deal. The ticket Nazi’s that work for the airlines are over stepping their area of responsibility. I would have thought onward ticket issues would be the responsibility of Philippines immigration.

  20. I just flew over to Thailand the end of December from Spain and after my first flight I had 11 hours to kill in the airport. It was over night so no leaving the airport. It was the longest night in my life however, they sent my luggage direct which was a big plus. They have always done that for me in the airport and never had to do it online. She clearly didn’t like you! Jobs worth!

  21. Holly Cow Paul, I have been following your site along with Reekay and Gio for awhile and got into Philippines on the 9th Jan. for three months to see how i like it here. You have me rolling with laughter, people must be wondering what’s going on next door. I got to come to Dumaguete to meet you now. I have been in Cebu for a few days and was going to Tagaytay then the Volcano erupted. Going to Manila to meet a gal there from Tagaytay, but coming back and have to look you up.

  22. So I don’t meltdown in the future, if I have a Military SRRV and travel outside the country would I need a throw away ticket when returning? Glad you held your tongue at the airport. Hehehehe

  23. Oh the joys of travelling eh .? I’m glad you managed to sort it out eventually. My biggest concern with situations like that has been when there has been no internet connection at the airport, and I had to run around the different airlines’ ticket offices trying to buy a ticket on the quick so didn’t miss my flight. Welcome back Paul.

  24. Reason they are so strict about is that its the airline who is responsible for you having documentation you will leave the country . The can be fined really bad if they dont do it.

  25. You could have had the sweetest check-in girl imaginable and the result would be the same… they can’t let you onto the plane without a valid onward ticket. And there is nothing wrong with onward tickets per se, as long as you pass through immigration before they expire! Always check that fine print!

  26. If you use a budget airline, and have checked baggage, then ALWAYS prepay online for the luggage that you have with you. Also anytime you have an onward flight in a foreign country (different from your passport nationality), you are required to collect your baggage at the first point of entry into a country, then check it in again.

  27. the trick is read the small print and also plan in advance were you want to do so you didn’t have to try and get an onward to Duma.

  28. I have friends that also had problems with their onward rental ticket where they were not able to activate it when they get to the departure airport. It’s hit or miss with these outfits. You are lucky you were able to buy a cheap onward ticket at the last minute. Good video!

  29. I wonder how they knew your ticket wasn’t valid. I talked to a guy from Switzerland at the Singapore Changi airport. He said he flew all over the world and never paid anything for the onward ticket. He showed me how to do it. It seemed plausible but, I don’t use the method. I do things legal and above board.

    I haven’t been to Vietnam. Can you flew there from Cebu?

  30. Definitely you will remember 2020 of life. I think as we get older we can recognise these special people from a distance. 🤪🤪
    You can feel the love as you get closer. 🤔😜😝

  31. Yeah, the “ticket nazi” was the crux of your problem. I’ve never had an airline counter person actually check on their computer if my onward flight is valid. Good thing, too, because I fill in a blank travel itinerary from Expedia with real flight info(there’s an obscure website for that). Another thing I do is wait until the last boarding call to approach the counter agent. That way they’re in a frantic rush to get you onboard so highly unlikely the agent will take the extra time to check if your throw-away ticket is valid

  32. Can’t excuse the lady’s behavior if she was rude about it but in terms of verifying that you had a legit ticket, she’s just doing her job. The reason for that is that it’s the airlines that get huge fines for allowing passengers to board without an onward ticket. Though I don’t understand the point. There’s a dozen tricks to get around it and even if there weren’t, it’s not like it would stop anyone from throwing away the ticket and staying in the country anyway. But it is what it is.

  33. Glad you made it back safely. I’m sure you will never forget your experience traveling from Saigon to Manila. One thing I can always depend on when I view your blogs, they are entertaining and usually there is a lesson to be learned, Glad to hear you weren’t the ugly America. Hopefully the experience from Manila to Dumaguete went much smoother.

  34. Great insight on the ongoing ticket issue. Last week, I booked a one-way ticket from Tampa to Hanoi, then knowing I had to show my onward passage booked directly with an airline (Vietnam Airline). It took 7 days for my ticket next month to be processed in their system. Finally, I printed off a physical copy – always worried my cell phone will die at the ticket counter :-). BTW, you’re right in your assessment…there’s worse places to be stuck, like LAX! Lol

  35. I’ve had both fake and real onward tickets, only ask a few times in Kota Kinabalu and most recent in Shanghai, I found out the hard way in Inchon korea when I left the terminal and came back about 5 years ago, I had no idea that i needed a onward at that time, fortunately they let me through so i learned a valuable lesson, apparently they screen old foreign guys in Vietnam the same

  36. Hi Paul.After working within the airline industry for my whole career this story is just one of many I have seen.If passengers arrive into a country without correct documentation ,ie..onward tickets.The airline can be fined and the passenger is denied entry.The best and easiest things I have ever done was to get a SRRV many years ago.
    Keep up the good work and I always get a laugh from your stories.

  37. I can’t help but lol… My gf and I just got back from a 3 week trip in VN. Round trip from Cebu to Saigon with 2 prepaid bags also on Cebu Pacific.
    Cebu Pacific is the biggest pain in the a$$ airline I’ve ever experienced.
    I prefer any carrier over them but, as luck would have it, they are just sometimes the best choice.

    Anyway, all was good going to Saigon but, trying to leave Saigon was another matter. I believe that I had nurse ratchets younger sister. Hahaha…
    Once I knew that we were actually making the VN trip, I bought a one way ticket to Tokyo for Feb 2020 and our return to Cebu from VN was later in December. Had the ticket all printed out and ready to go for the onward ticket request. She didn’t even bat an eye on it and didn’t hassle me on the date. Nor did immigration when I arrived in Manila btw. Just told me to be sure to renew my visa to stay in compliance since my flight was 2 months out. Cool beans I’m thinking, patting myself of the back for being well prepared.

    So, back to Saigon. Unlike you, I had the displeasure of having what looked like 200 people ahead of me in line to check in even though I was hours early and only 2 agents working the counter. I’m not a very patient person in the first place but persevered and waited my hour to actually get to the counter to check in and dump my 2 suitcases. So breezing past the onward ticket, passports, etc. with Sis Ratchet, I am informed that my two round trip tickets only including one way on baggage. WTH!!!!
    That’ll be 180 usd for those bags. Heavy and not paid in advance. Heavy my a$$. 11 and 9kg, I know the 20kg total limit. 🙄
    Tried arguing the point to no avail and she informs me that if I don’t pay it, the bags aren’t going on. Hands me a slip to go pay it at the same counter you were sent to and tells me to take it up with Cebu Pacific if I have a complaint.
    So I left my girl with the 2 bags at her counter as I’ll be damned if I’m waiting in that line again. Went and paid the ridiculous fee and came back and marched right to the counter holding up the paid slip. She tells me to wait a minute, finishes with the girl she was checking in and looks at the paid slip, put my bags on and runs them off of her little conveyor belt. She then asks to put our backpacks on the scale. Ummmm, your carryons are overweight by 1kg in total, you’ll have to pay extra fee. Oh, I don’t think so I told her. I took a jacket out of my carry on and put it on, had my girl put a sweatshirt on from her bag and we were good to go. Hate, hate, hate that f***ing airline.

  38. They should’ve named that website “mythrowawayticket” dot com but then the airlines would probably catch on to their game, lol.

  39. I have used Best Onward Ticket three times with no problem, but yes, if they check the flight it will show cancelled. The one thing I do is actually print out the onward ticket, I show it to them but don’t give it to them. So far, so good but if they check, you may be screwed! Welcome home!

  40. Thanks for the public service video Paul and welcome back.
    Funny thing… I heard almost an identical story yesterday from a fellow coming back here from Canada.
    Turns out his hassle was at Immigration here.
    Airline didn’t scrutinize his exit flight that was past 30 days.
    He was very volatile about the immigration officer (also a lady) but for what?
    His mistake?
    And as you said, she has to do her job.
    Looks like more focus on this everywhere.
    Looks like you have delineated an issue we must all pay even closer attention to and make sure we in line with the rules.
    I would have probably melted under that pressure so congrats on taking a “time out” to catch your breath.
    Easily said but hard to do .. in the moment.
    Looking forward to your next vlog and again… Welcome Back!-)

  41. Humm, so let’s see if I get the gist here, you met and fell hopelessly in love with a Vietnamese girl with German roots that works for Cebu airlines…that my friend is so international… when’s the wedding and will there be free beer? Oh the Nazi thing, well I’m sure you’ve heard this before but you sure know how to pick em!

  42. See ya at the Duma dive shop bar on the Blvd soon my friend . Can wait to see how many expats survived since last year when I was there. HA🤣 . Some great guys down there .

  43. Sadly, this was not the fault of the check-in lady; she was just following the rules. And thank you to inform us that the Onward ticket service is good for only 48 hrs. Glad you are back home !

  44. Rent a tickets are dicey… some people buy them , but it’s cheap to by a REAL ticket to where ever . Been at the game a long time back and forth to the RP . Cebu pacific cheap tickets and reasonable comfort , but are unreasonable with there bag weights. One pound over and your paying big bucks . I think they get commission frankly. Some of the ticket clerks are power mongers bitches . Off to MNL – Tarlac- Subic- Siquior- and Duma Feb04. Moving target gathers no “eyes” HA!!!! 😂

  45. Oh ya !! Man haters everywhere- surprisingly even in SE Asia. I always go to the guy/ man at the immigration and the feminine looking women – Never the “ butch “ females. Just man- eaters!!

  46. Great information. There are a few onward ticket companies and you can get an affiliate link and make 10%. I did not know they existed. Thanks.

  47. The onward ticket rule in the Philippines is absurd and such a pain in the ass not to mention one of the many stupid reasons tourism isn’t more popular in the Philippines…

  48. Welcome Back From NAAA Train ggg smart as a whip !! Cebu Airlines connecting flight end in Cebu .. Connecting ticket !! Yikes the one with an eye for Evil !! Darn those rules …. back of the line again you are tooo funny …

  49. Funny how this video pops up while stuck between flights and wondering how anyone enjoys holidays. I can’t stand how much traveling sucks for: planning flights, booking hotels, airport queues, dealing with taxi drivers, …and that’s a ‘smooth’ trip. I think I am done traveling, unless it is out of necessity. I do not see the fun in it at all!

  50. Sir Paul maybe that lady likes you that’s why she doesn’t want you to get thru haha. 😂😂
    Anyway ..welcome home.glad see u smiling and laughing again🎶👏

  51. 24 or 48 hours is correct for those ticket services. Figuring the chances of flight delays and all the cool things that can happen….I’ve never tried the cheap services.

  52. I have experienced exactly the same issue you did & done exactly the same things,have comfort in knowing,your not alone.Got an airport experience here,though a little humourous on this occasion,myself & my mate were at Manila going through immigration.we had the exact same bags(he bought the same one as a gag as I showed him my bag & he was keen on getting on the same,i said,ok but just don’t get one the same colour as it looks gay)we were inline chatting & accidentally picked up each other’s bag,grabbed each other’s passport out of the front pocket,we went through different customs counters as you do & just handed our passports over,they both checked us out & sent us through.true granted,we are both 6’tall with dark short hair.but that’s it.i only realised we had swapped when I was looking for my wallet in duty free. & they say westerners say all asians look the same😂

  53. I just buy the throw away ticket. I use to use the rental ticket thing but people were complaining about not getting tickets or ticket not being good. You can buy the refundable ticket but the money is tied up until they refund it. As a side note I have been asked by Philippines immigration 3 times for an onward ticket. Maybe I just look like a pervert, then why haven’t they been checking you ??

  54. Yes Paul my daughter just had a run in with the airline ticket agent denying her boarding because when she was in the Antarctic they stamped her passport with a penguin stamp at the post office there. The ticket guy at Asia air decided that this damaged her passport so wasn’t allowed to board on her way to Malaysia cost her a small fortune in missed flights. She rebooked with United who waived her through btw her friend who also had penguin stamp pasted through Asia Air ticket guy with no hassle. I think the ticket people are getting a little power crazy.

  55. Remember “Its more fun in the Philippines ”
    The best way around that is a SRRV Visa. I have one and can come and go as I please . No BI Clearance or on going ticket . I was on a tourist Visa from Dec 2012 until March 2017 When I got the SRRV !

  56. Thanks for the story. Some people escalate situations until a breaking point, others deescalate and say ‘ok, what’s next?’. I think Western vs SEA cultures do generally differ here. I have found the Zen approach better for my happiness and health. “Being is always becoming.” – Buddha

  57. Well, you’re starting us out with a bang (courtesy the Ticket Nazi). Very gracious of you to provide all the nitty-gritty details on these onward-ticket deals. You must be glad to get home. Imagine… the time it took you to go from Saigon to Dumagetty (however it’s spelled), you could’ve gone all the way around the world. Looking forward to more tales as you get rested up from your vacation. (Hopefully some good ones!)

  58. Well I’m glad to see you are OK Paul ! …and home again! – Kept looking for ”Gary’s apartment video, and began to worry that something bad had happened to you. – That’s good info about the onward ticket thing! Guess you have to have one every time you inter the PI even if you have extensions on your visa there already ??…..I’m not getting a clear picture of how that all works, but will do so before I venture into the PI area!~! 555 …..VegasJim

  59. paul had it happen to me many times just got to bite my tongue its a power play with some of those girls at least you keep your cool rob Darwin australia

  60. My uncle also had trouble getting out of Saigon in 1975. Maybe that ticket agent was old school VC. 😉
    Glad you are home safe in Dumaguete.

  61. …Paul…sorry about your experience…she was soliciting you for a bribe…very common in Vietnam! Folded $5 dollar bill would have worked wonders!! Very annoying but it is what it is!

  62. Don’t you just love traveling. I have many a story similar to yours. But at the end of the day with a little extra money you make your way out of the frustrations of traveling. In the midst of paying extra money, I try to tell myself how long will it take for me to forget about the extra $200 to $300 to get out of this mess. Most of the time it doesn’t take that long.

  63. hmm flying into cebu from hong kong (out of UK) on 27 Feb. (may well extend the stay beyond 29 days). then a week later need to go Dumaguete to Bhutan which is via Cebu. should be interesting !

  64. Thanx for sharing…makes this snow and cold feel just a little better…lol I had heard some negitive stuff about that site 48 hours and then they resell to someone else. Glad you are SAFE and still with a good Attitude…Welcome Home! Relax+

  65. Since round trip tickets are typically the same price as one way tickets you may as well just buy round trip tickets. Problem solved.

  66. Thanks for the info Paul great share.

    Paul, from Vietnam do you have a choice to go direct to Cebu and avoid landing in Manila? The Vietnam ticket line can I presume you had no choice in choosing another person.

    If you have choices Paul look for a Sanguine type of personality rather than a Melancholy type. Most Melancholy temperament do their job by the rules and they know the rules more than all other temperament types. Sanguine temperament are people person.

  67. welcome back…a funny thing happened on the way to the ticket counter. just happy you are in one piece, waiting for the next video…rest, have beer, cheers.

  68. First off let me say that really appreciate your commentary it gives me a good laugh. Great stories.. I have had my own run in with Cebu Pacific where I have purchased 2 individual tickets one from Bahol to Manila and then Manila to General Santos. Let’s just say that going to Manila 1 hour late due to the 1 hour delay getting the plane to Bahol caused us to miss our flight to Gen San and after waiting in line for 3 hours at “Customer Service” ( if you can call it that in the Manila airport) we were unable to even get replacement tickets for the onward flight. No refund, no discount and no help at all to get us to our destination, just buy another ticket at your own cost. After that I realized that I will not be flying Cebu Pacific again and that Philippine Air might be a few bucks more but you can tell by the lack of 3 hour waits in customer service that they know how to take care of their customers a little bit better.

  69. Mate my last trip to Viet Nam a few years back involved an internal flight with Vietnam Airlines. The boarding pass had my first and middle names mixed up, they made m buy an entire new ticket! Again I had bought it cheaply online. I may have got the same check in ‘lady’ as you. So don’t sweat it, it’s just the way some staff there are 🤔

  70. You’re the best Paul! Can’t tell you how similar our thought process is and that’s not intended to be an insult 😂 can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Vietnam 👍

  71. Is it possible to purchase an overpriced first class ticket which is fully refundable? Show the confirmation going through and then get a full refund on the ticket?

  72. Nightmare Paul I’m going to Manila in June but I want to stay longer than 30 days so I’m guessing I’m going to need a 2-month visa is that a straight forward thing I’m from the UK I will probably go for 6 weeks cheers Dave

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