Category Archives: TRAVEL GUIDES

TAIWAN: VISA-FREE entry for Filipinos extended until July 2020

Are you an avid fan of F4 in the 90s? Do you love food-trips? Do you want to experience the High Speed Rail with top speed of 310 kmh?Taiwan is waiting for you!  VISA-FREE entry for Filipinos is extended until July 2020. Taiwan Embassy announced that the visa-free privilege for Filipinos will continue for another year from August 1, 2019 to July 31, 2020. It is now about time to fly to Taiwan as free as a bird. 

Is it expensive to Travel to Taiwan?

  • NO, it is not as expensive as the 1st world country or OECD Member countries

Will we go back to Taiwan again?

  • Absolutely YES! Particularly in Taipei

What are the other places we’d like to visit if we are going to go back to Taiwan outside Taipei?

  • Sun Moon Lake and Orchid Island

When is the best time for us to travel to Taiwan?

  • WINTER, we are from oriental country, the Philippines. We do not have Winter season. We only have summer. It is hot all year round.

Let us get to our 7-Day Itinerary & Budget in Taiwan

DAY 1: Lost in TAIPEI

  • 02-24-19 Sunday: Arrived at Taipei International Airport aka Taoyuan International Airport
  • Changed PHP to NTD at Bank of Taiwan (inside the airport)
  • Rented Pocket Wifi via Klook (claimed inside the airport)
  • Express Train Ride from the Tayouan International Airport to Taipei Main Station
  • Headed to our accommodation (Neosoho Hostel), it is situated just 3 minutes away from Taipei Main Station. We were lost on our way to our hostel, it was raining cats and dogs, so we first ate at Mc Donalds and then took a taxi ride to Neosoho Hostel 
  • We took a rest at the hostel. While we were in the our hostel, we figured out our next activity for Day 2. We actually disregarded our planned itinerary for Day 1. The weather was not good and  cold, it was raining hard on  Day 1. We agreed to book Taipei Sightseeing Bus for our Day 2activities. We could not afford to DIY for each tourist destination if the weather was unfavorable.

DAY 2: TAIPEI SIGHTSEEING DOUBLE DECKER BUS-the weather is perfect!

  • 02-25-19 Monday: Looked for our breakfast near Neosoho Hostel. We tried noodles on the sidewalk, we were shocked of the undesirable taste, we went to Family Mart and had some Japanese rice and coffee instead.
  • Headed to Taipei Main Station where the waiting area of Taipei Sightseeing Double Decker Bus stops. It is located outside Taipei Main Station M4
  • TAIPEI SIGHTSEEING DOUBLE DECKER BUS is highly recommended in visiting Taipei metropolitan’s top tourist destinations, you can get away from the hassle of finding each and every top destination of Taipei by yourself. For a more detailed information about TAIPEI SIGHTSEEING DOUBLE DECKER BUS, please visit TRAVEL GUIDE | Affordable Taipei Double Decker Sightseeing Bus | Hop On-Hop Off

    Taipei Top Landmarks Lines

    • Blue Line – bus route heading to National Palace Museum, you can hop on and hop off to any attractions/landmarks, bus arrives every 40 mins
    • Red Line – bus route heading to Taipei101, you can hop on and hop off to any attractions/landmarks, bus arrives every 40 mins
  • We basically spent our day and night visiting Taipei Metropolitan’s Top destinations and landmarks. Do not forget to get inside Taipei 101 to dine.  You really don’t have to go all the way up on top of the building, just get inside. The building view from the outside is magnificent and stunning! 
  • You can also go to each landmark by Metro or MRT, you can DIY all you can, Taipei’s landmarks  are very accessible by Metro trains.

Taipei City’s Top Landmarks

Taipei 101
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
National Palace Museum
Presidential Office Building
Taipei Main Station
Taipei Old North Gate
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

DAY 3: Historical trip to SHIFEN OLD STREET

DAY 4: Be awed of GONDOLA RIDE & Finding Maria-The PANDA

  • 02-27-19 Wednesday: AM-Since we booked our Taipei Sightseeing Double Decker Bus with free Gondola ride, we took a Metro Train ride from Taipei Main Station to Taipei Zoo where Gondola Ride is located. The Gondola Lift/Cable Car Ride surprised us big time. We initially thought it was just an orrdinary cable car ride. Well, it was a 4.3 kms. long cable car ride with four stations all the way to Maokong Peak.  We also went inside Taipei Zoo. It is situated on the same site. We searched for Panda. We’ve found her but she was sleeping that day. 🙂 We spent our half day in this place. For a more detailed Travel Guide about Gondola Ride, please visit TRAVEL GUIDE | How to get to Maokong Gondola in Taipei, Taiwan
  • PM: We headed back to our Hostel in the afternoon. We chilled a bit, then we booked our Train ticket to Chiayi City, it is 261 kms down south of Taiwan. Interestingly, our intention was to take HSR (High Speed Rail) but we booked the train ticket at the wrong window and so we ended up on board on a regular train  “no seat“, we were almost standing for 3 long hours all the way to Chiayi City. We could only sit if someone left their seat. So make sure if you are going to buy a ticket, advise the ticket counter that you want to get a reserved sit. Also ask them if it is HSR or Regular Train. Regular train’s speed is fast but it is not as fast as the HSRBullet Train  has its own dedicated railways.
  • We arrived at night in Chiayi Main Station, we’ve met our friend,  we headed to our hotel first at Gene Long Att Hotelto leave our bags, and then our friend strolled us around at Chiayi Night Market.

DAY 5: CHIAYI TOWER, HIGH SPEED RAILWAY, SKIPPED ALISHAN

  • 02-28-29 Thursday: We were supposed to visit Alishan but we changed our itinerary in an instant for Day 5. Although Alishan is the main attraction in this region, we skipped visiting the place due to travel time. We realized that we had had enough of nature park adventures when we explored Shifen Old Street in the Northern region of Taipei.
  • AM: We decided to just go to CHIAYI TOWER in the morning instead. Chiyai Tower was just 5 mins away by taxi cab from our hotel (Gene Long Att Hotel). We went all the way up the tower for a 360 degree overlooking view of the city of Chiayi. We are based in Makati so nothing is spectacular as far as skyscrapers are concerned. 
  • PM: We decided to head to the Southernmost part of Taiwan to Kaoshiung City via High Speed Rail. I asserted to my friend that  one of the reasons why we visited Taiwan was to experience the High Speed Rail. We had luckily booked the correct HSR ticket this time. Always take note that High Speed Railway is different from Taiwan’s regular railway.Due to lack of research,  we never expected that Chiayi HSR Station was several miles way from Chiayi downtown, and as a result, we paid hefty taxi fare of NTD 480. If we did our homework and research, we should have taken a bus ride from Chiayi downtown to Chiayi HSR Station instead. HSRis a must-experience in visiting Taiwan, it has top speed of 310 kmh
  • HSR Train from Chiayi HSR Station to Zouying District HSR Station (25 mins travel time), then train transfer from Zouying Station to Kaoshihung Main Station
  • Took a taxi ride from Kaoshuing Main Station to our accommodation at Home Lane Busniess Hotel, left our bag anf strolled around the vicinity to Love River. We also had Starbucks Coffee along the love river in Carefour
  • Liuhe NIght Market, delight your eyes with all sorts of Taiwanese foods, full your stomach with the variety of Taiwanese cuisines. For a more detailed information about Liuhe NIght Market, please visit TRAVEL GUIDE | Night Markets in Taiwan: It is a way of Life!

DAY 6: Chillin at CIGIN  & Make a wish at LOTUS LAKE

DAY 7: Walking by the LOVE RIVER, Buy “Pasalbong ” & Souvernir Items, Kaoshiung International Airport

  • 03-02-19, Saturday: We just walk all morning to Love River and went to Carefour to buy “Pasalubong and Souvenir. For a more detailed information about LOVER RIVER, please visit TRAVEL GUIDE | Love River & Ta Kang Creek of Kaoshiung, Taiwan
  • In the afternoon, we headed to Kaoshiung International Airport, it was our exit point to the Philippines

DETAILS OF TOTAL EXPENSES

  • AIRFARE & PRE-DEPARTURE EXPENSES |  PHP 10322
    Airfare RT = P8500 (the aifare booked from Air Asia is low cost but not on promo, still considered as expensive, you can get it for as low as P2000 to P3500 RT if on Promotions)
    Travel Tax = P1620
    Grab from Makati to NAIA III = P90
    Grab NAIA III to Makati = P112
  • ACCOMMODATIONS | PHP 3750
    TAIPE CITY: Neosoho Hostel (3 Nights) = P1500
    CHIAYI CITY: Gene Long Att Hotel (1 Night )= P750
    KAOUSHIUNG CITY: Home Lane Busniess Hotel (2 NIGHTS) = P1500
    **We booked these hostels and hotels via agoda while we were still in the PH

  • TRANSPORTATION, TRAINS, & ENTRANCE FEES IN TAIWAN | PHP 5056
    Express Train from Tayouan International Aiport to Taipei Main Station = P250
    Pocket Wifi (7 Days) = P250
    Taipei Sightseeing Double Decker Bus booked via Klook (24 hrs) = P1015
    TMS Local Train to Chiayi City Station (The local train will pass city to city as you head south) = P1010
    Shinkansen BULLET TRAIN HSR with Top Speed of 281 Kmh from Chiayi to Kaoshiung = P693
    Total Taxi Expenses (Taipei, Chiyai, & Kaoshiung) = P1149
    PingXI Line DIY North of Taipei – Shifen Old Street Lantern Flying, Shifen Warerfall Xing PI, Jungtong 
    *Taipei Main Station to Ruifang (Regular Train) – P72
    *Transfer to PingXi Line (One Day Pass for PingXi Line & Sheniao Line) – P135+
    *Taruko Express Train from Ruifang to TMS = P128
    *Lantern Flying = P253
    GONDALA RIDE, CHERRY BLOSSOMS, & TAIPEE ZOO (Panda and Koahla Hunting) at Maokong Peak*Gondola (3 Mountains Ride RT) = Free from Klook 🙂 
    Walk-in for Gandola would cost you P405 RT 🙂
    *Taipei Zoo Entrance = P101

  • FOOD & DINING | PHP 7000
    Average of P 1000/day – you can cut it down, it depends on where you will eat & DINE 🙂

  • “PASALUBONG” & SOUVENIRS | PHP 2502
    Pistacio & Alician Tea = P 1014
    Souvenir = P 474
    Souvenir Bag for myself = P 1014

SUMMARY OF TOTAL EXPENSES
AIRFARE & PRE-DEPARTURE EXPENSES – P 10322
ACCOMMODATIONS – P 3750
TRANSPORTATION, TRAINS & ENTRANCE FEES IN TAIWAN – P 5056
FOOD & DINING – P 7000
PASALUBONG & SOUVENIRS – P 2502
TOTAL = P 28630

You can always trim down your expenses as short as your military haircut, it is all up to you, whether you are in Taiwan or Manila 🙂  However, you have to take note that you are on Holiday Vacations, I just learned that from an American friend that If you are on Holiday, try to live like it is your retirement already. My travels though in the past 10 years were mostly budget meals 🙂

Do not book a HOSTEL!

Do not book a Hostel if you are traveling as a family. Booking a hostel is the most impractical decision you will ever make when traveling with you family. No doubt! Hostel accommodation is the most cost-effective accommodation but it is not going to work if you are with kids. In hostel, almost everything is common; kitchen/pantry,toilets, and laundry. You will surely be sharing most of the stuff  from toothpaste to comb. It will be very hard for you and your kids to move with this kind of accommodation. 

Hostel is highly recommended for backpackers or if you are traveling with your friends. You will get to meet travelers from all colors and all languages all over the world.

Hostel accommodation is affordable but small. Do not expect for an spacious and roomy feel with an overlooking view of skyscrapers or breathtaking views. In some cases, the window is even artificial.

We, ourselves, tried Hostel accommodation and it was amazingly way way cheaper than a regular 3 to 4 star hotel. If you want to have a big saving on accommodation. Hostel accommodation is waiting for you!

If you are visiting Taipei and you want an affordable hostel accommodation, we would like to recommend Neosoho Hostel, it has 5 star ratings from Agoda. In addition, the hostel’s location is just 3 mins. away from Taipei Main Station. 

From our personal experience, if we are going to go back to Taipei in the future, we may book the same hostel – Neosoho.

I will surely go back! I’ve missed the toilet. 🙂

TRAVEL GUIDE | How to get to Historical Malagunglong Bridge in Tayabas City. Wait! There is more!

Why visit Malagunlong Bridge?

The Malagunlong Bridge aka “Puente De Malagunlong” is a 445 ft  long bridge with five-span stone arch which was built during the Spanish colonial period in Tayabas, Quezon, Philippines. The bridge is known as one of the oldest bridges as well as the longest bridge made during the Spanish era. 

Why visit Quezon Province?

Unlike other provinces in CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Quezon Province is not yet, at this point, consumed by industrialization. The province still has the rural ambiance, the balance of ecological system is still present. It is not as crowded as the outlying provinces of National Capital Region. Most of all, it is just 2 to 3 hours away from Metro Manila.

Quezon has many attractions to offer but on top of it is the Quezonian’s culinary. It is one of the best in Southern Tagalog Region, there are variety of delicacies uniquely Quezonian. Absolutely, Food Trip is at its best! Nonetheless, the friendliness and hospitality of the people!

Commuting by Bus

  • Go to Jac Liner/Jam Liner/DLTB Bus Station either Araneta Center in Cubao or LRT Buendia in Pasay, Bus Fare to Lucena as of 2019 is P250
  • Take a bus ride to LUCENA – signboard must be LUCENA, advise the driver to drop you off at Jollibee Lucena diversion
  • Right beside Jollibee Lucena Diversion is Jeepney Terminal going to Tayabas, advise the driver to drop you off at Tayabas Public Market
  • Take a tricycle ride right in front of Tayabas Public Market right across Primark Town Center Tayabas, advise the trike driver to take you to Malagunlong Bridge, Tricycle fare should not be more than P50

Driving your own Car

  • Drive all the way to SLEX and g all the way south to Calamba exit, it has a signboard from your right to Lucena, the easiest way is to use google map and wayze You will not surely get lost using these apps. Travelling has been very easy nowadays with the aid of technology 😊

How to get to Kwebang Lampas in Pagbilao, Quezon
How to get to Air Summit Kamayan sa Palaisdaan in Tayabas City, Quezon
How to get to Nawawalang Paraiso in Tayabas City, Quezon
How to get to Kamay ni Hesus in Lucban, Quezon
How to get to Mainit Hot Springs in Tayabas City, Quezon
How to get to Graceland Estates & Country Club in Tayabas City, Quezon
How to get to Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon

ORIGINAL KAMAYAN SA PALAISDAAN – TAYABAS
NAWAWALANG PARAISO – TAYABAS
GRACELAND ESTATES & COUNTRY CLUB – TAYABAS
MANASA FARM – LUCBAN
CAGBALETE ISLAND – MAUBAN
KWEBANG LAMPAS – PAGBILAO
SILANGANG NAYON – PAGBILAO
KAMAY NI HESUS SHRINE – LUCBAN
MAIINIT HOT SPRINGS – TAYABAS
ALITAO RIVER – TAYABAS
PUEBLO POR LA PLAYA – PAGBILAO

TRAVEL GUIDE | How to get to VILLA ELMA, Lucban, Quezon

If you want to commune with nature away from the noise of metropolitan, Villa Elma is the perfect weekend getaway for you.I am a native of Quezon Province, however it was also my very first time to visit the place this weekend.  I was not even aware it ever existed. Let us call it an astounding hidden getaway!Villa Elma is located in the town of Lucban in Quezon Province. Many of you may have heard already about the world renown “Pahiyas Festival”. Yes! It is where Villa Elma is also situated, its address is at A. Mabini St, Lucban, Quezon.

What to expect at Villa Elma?

  • Expect the unexpected, the downhill walk/trek is full of surprises
  • Communion with nature; breathtaking view of Mt. Banahaw
  • It is a good place for family bondingthe cool breeze climate, ecological balance is at its best

When is the best time to visit Villa Elma?

  • If you enjoy crowd – go during summer or holy week
  • If you are after to bliss and you want to enjoy the nature as it is yours, go during off-peak season – weekdays and non-summer days

How far is Lucban, Quezon from Manila?

  • 3 hours travel time form Manila, 123 kms.

How to get there:

Commuting by Bus

  • Go to Jac Liner/Jam Liner/DLTB Bus Station in either Araneta Center in Cubao or LRT Buendia in Pasay, Bus Fare to Lucena as of 2019 is P250
  • Take a bus ride to LUCENA – signboard must be LUCENA, advise the driver to drop you off at Jollibee Lucena diversion
  • Right beside Jollibee Lucena Diversion is Jeepney Terminal going to Lucban, advise the driver to drop you off at Lucban Public Market
  • Take a trycicle ride to Villa Elma

Driving your own Car

  • Drive all the way to SLEX and g all the way south to Calamba exit, it has a signboard from your right to Lucena, the easiest way is to use google map and wayze You will not surely get lost using these apps. Traveling has been very easy nowadays with the aid of technology

TRAVEL GUIDE | Why Macau is our favorite among the East Asian Countries?

Why visit Macau among the East Asian Countries?

If you want to experience the true feel of East meets West, then visit Macau. This country/state is part of China however the ambiance is like in Europe except that its citizens are Chinese Macau.

Macau is one of my favorites among East Asian countries, I love the weather, it is lovable during February. Since Macau is a small country/state, It is a walkable city, 

Macau is dubbed as the Las Vegas of Asia or the gambling capital of Asia, so Casinos are everywhere! The casinos are the attractions itself. The favorite hang out of the wealthiest Asians who enjoy throwing away money! They should give me some! 🙂

I am not into Casino gambling anyway, I just enjoyed strolling around at Senado Square, it is the popular spot in Macau where most of the European architectures are abound. Casino-hopping though must be part of your itinerary, you can get your stomach full eating some freebies (Cup Cakes, Milk, Mineral Water) inside the casino. 😊 You can also roam around the entire Macau for FREE by utilizing Casino’s shuttle services, you can travel as far as the border of mainland China. 😊

We’ve spent like 3 days in Macau and this was the place we’ve always missed in East Asia. It may also because when we traveled to Macau, we stayed with our friend’s apartment, so we had an opportunity to feel the realities of life in Macau. Let us also say that the “colonial mentality” inculcated to me by the Spaniards was telling me that one day I could visit Europe. 🙂

MACAU CASINOS FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE

Taking advantage of Casino’s shuttle service is for free, but make sure you know where it is heading or you may end to the border of Mainland China. You cannot cross the border though as it requires VISA to enter China.  Macau is technically part of China but it has border. 🙂 Macau is a SAR (Special Administration Region) state of China. It is like a country but at the same time a state. The political system of China is complicated. Do not be surprised, West Philippine Sea is now part of China. 

MACAU IS HOME TO 38,000 OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS

If you visit Macau, you would surely come across Filipinos, many of them works in Casino. Nothing new though, Filipinos are everywhere around the globe. 

TRANSPORTATION

Macau does not have Metro Rail but it has efficient Bus Transportation System

Taxi is also available like in any other city 

FOOD & DELICACIES

Macau is famous for its Egg Tart and Portuguese Seafood Rice

POPULAR ATTRACTIONS

Senado Square, Ruin’s of St. Paul, Macau Tower,, Guia Fortress, and a bunch of Grandeur Casinos 

RUIN’S OF ST. PAUL
GUIA FORTRESS
GRAND LISBOA

TRAVEL GUIDE | When not to travel Do-It-Yourself?

While most of the bloggers advocate and promote budget travel through Do-It-Yourself, I will not If you are travelling with your family. When I say family, it pertains to grandparents, parents, and children. In other words, if you are traveling with your children plus the seasoned citizens. I strongly suggest, take advantage of tour packages from a reputable travel agency.  

Doing it by yourself brings more hassle and a lot of works to do; from booking your own airline tickets to crafting your own itinerary. The worst scenario is the itinerary you yourself created is just a sheet of paper. In the real world of travels, you know nothing about your destinations yet, unless you are on a travel show where you have a production crew, everything is spoon-fed. You just have an idea and your adventurous spirit, you will surely end up leading the trip for your family, and so you need to find each destination by yourself the entire duration of your family trip.

Always take note that you are with your family to enjoy a memorable vacation not to go for a maze. Never compromise your family’s memorable trip. Do not put your family to unending search of where to go which may also lead to annoyance and disappointment of your family.

Yes, you can have a hassle-free family trip if you have a tour package. All activities have program from your arrival to departure. All your family must do is to follow the activities from the itinerary provided by the tour agency. There  are tour guides and tour operators to take care of your family travel. Tour package however is much more expensive, but it is a stress-free travel for your family.

The only thing I don’t like with tour package are the tour guides in some travel destinations are selling all sorts of stuff like the souvenir photographs and souvenir items which are expensive! 🙂 You can refuse to buy!

PHP7,299 4D/3N HONGKONG AND SHENZEN WITH FREE DISNEYLAND

REROUTE: Change of Travel Plan

This weekend, we’ve changed our Travel Plan. We decided to postpone our not so well-planned trip to Japan for this month. Where is the  Peso Fare of yesteryears?

We are going to travel to take some holiday vacations, to take some off from our daily routine, definitely not to stress ourselves out completing the required documents just to log our VISA applications on a very short notice, and as the target date of our holiday vacation is approaching, the price of airfare is sky-rocketing as well. This is a NO-NO, we will pursue Japan in the right time.

We ended up crafting our 7-day itinerary for an alternative country. 🙂 We booked our airline tickets way way cheaper than Japan via low cost airline. My goal of riding a Long Distance High Speed Train is still achievable. The alternative country that we are going to visit 11 days from now is one of the few countries in the world with High Speed Rail.

We are minimal to moderate spenders when it comes to international travels. We cannot afford to pay high airfare when we can get it 70% lower, if we planned our travel earlier.

Traveling without breaking bank account is my core belief. I started travelling on a budget, by DIY,  this was the very reason why I made it to travel abroad in the first place; with the generosity and hospitality of others, and as a result, it trimmed down my accommodation costs. Call me a beggar, I call it wise spender. It was me, and this was how I started travelling!

Though I was blessed to have had some free accommodations on my international travels, I did not gate crash, It was all invitations.  If I was welcome, then I was, if not, then I was not!  My traveling style has also changed as time passed by. The taste of adventure also depletes as I age. My traveling style now is more of chill and relax.  I don’t care if I would be in just one spot for a week. I am not in a competition, I am taking a holiday vacation for myself. 🙂

It has been three years already since I traveled out-of-the country. I could not move on as of yet on my ultimate dream travel destination, Europe. It still runs all over my body for 3 years. 🙂 It is about time to explore another Train Travels. My interest to Train Travel is my new source of excitements.

We are going to reroute! 😊

High Speed Train

VISA: Crafting an Itinerary for travel abroad on short notice is not a joke!