Celebrate the Festive Season in Style with I’M Hotel

I’M Hotel, an official nominee for best Urban Hotel in Asia for 2017 is proud to release its first edition of Christmas and New Year Offerings to celebrate this joyous season.

 

True to our name, we have kept the people that have made our business – our guests – at the forefront whilst curating these special offerings this year. Our Christmas treats aim to delight both the giver and the receiver with memories to last them for years to come.

 

Our Christmas offerings are versatile, including dining, spa, and celebratory experiences to be enjoyed with friends and family, or gifts and hampers that you can conveniently take home for a loved one who may not be physically present to experience our festive events at I’M Hotel.

 

Festive Season Direct Booking Offer

Book direct with us this festive season to claim your free upgrade! All bookings made on www.imhotel.com and reservations@imhotel.com will be entitled to enjoy the lowest rates available online, coupled with complimentary buffet breakfast. On top of that, enjoy a free upgrade to the next available room category. Terms and conditions apply and is subject to availability. Valid for bookings until 28 December, with the promo code “UPGRADE ME. For more information: www.imhotel.com/why-book-direct/

 

Spa-cation (One Night stay)

By popular demand, we are releasing a package that includes a 60-minute massage for 2 persons at I’M Onsen Spa (number one on Tripadvisor), buffet breakfast and lunch or dinner for 2 and a complimentary mini bar, amongst many other perks! Prices start at only P8,340 for a Classic Studio room package.

 

Hello 2018: Official Countdown Party at Antidote Rooftop Bar

Spend a magical evening at our stunning jellyfish bar and usher in the New Year at the very top. Be one of the privileged few to experience unobstructed 360 degree views of fireworks lighting up the city skyline and party the night away at this all-inclusive bash. A ticket is priced at P3,600 and includes a 3 hour open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight.

 

Book a room directly with us on imhotel.com or reservations@imhotel.com to enjoy P900 off each ticket purchase. One bedroom and suite categories for this package will come with 2 tickets (valued at P 7,200), and two bedroom suite categories for this package will come with 4 tickets (valued at P 14,400).

 

For tickets, enquiries, or more information on table reservations, call +632 7557 888 or email reservations@imhotel.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the front desk of the hotel.  www.imhotel.com/hello-2018/

I’M Onsen Spa Signature Christmas Journey

The number 1 spa in Manila on Tripadvisor is proud to launch its signature spa journey during this festive season. As our gift to you, we will be launching it at 30% off our retail rate at only PHP 4,500 per person. This special treat allows you to luxuriate the day away at our swimming pool and includes: (1) A 15-minute Aroma Steam and shower (2) A 60-minute signature massage (3) A 45-minute eye care of hot oil treatment (4) Complimentary use of wellness facilities (Steam, Sauna, and Onsen) (5) Complimentary 3-hour parking on the day of your treatment (6) Complimentary access to our swimming pool on the day of your treatment (7) A Lunch or Dinner buffet at Bloom Restaurant on the day of your treatment (8) A 100 PHP Voucher at Antidote Rooftop Bar (9) A Complimentary departure gift

 

Gift Certificates can also be purchased in advance. Reservations are recommended and can be made by visiting www.imonsenspa.com , emailing spareservations@imhotel.com, or calling +632 7557 877

 

I’M Onsen Spa Retail Merchandise and Gift Hampers

Due to popular demand, we are happy to announce that some of our Onsen favourites are now available for retail sale so guests can take home the spa experience they have come to know and love at I’M Onsen Spa. Prices range from P288 for a moisturizing lotion, to P1,488 for a delicate tea set and P2,700 to take home your very own custom Yukata, which is a lounging robe fashioned after a Japanese traditional Kimono.

 

Christmas Caroling at the Lobby

To further add to the festive atmosphere, we welcome all guests to join us at our lobby every evening from December 16 till Dec 31 to be serenaded by the best choirs in the Metro. Sing along and spread some Christmas joy with us!

 

An Exquisite Yuletide Set Meal at Empress Jade

Enjoy an intimate set dinner at Empress Jade. A 10 course feast of gastronomic proportions awaits. Savour our signature seafood, meat, vegetable dishes and delectable desserts from only P1,688 per person.

Available Dec 24-25 and Dec 31- Jan 1. Advanced reservations recommended.

 

Gifts and Hampers Artfully Curated by the Chefs of I’M Hotel

A smogasbord of epicurean delights are generously filled to the brim by our chefs for you to elevate the Christmas festivities. The perfect centrepiece for any home kitchen also includes gift certificates to our F&B establishments. 4 different hamper varieties are available and range in price from P3500 – 4488 only. Place your orders via email or physically registering your orders at our front desk or any F&B outlets within the hotel.

Traditionale: P3500 | Non Alcoholic: P3500 | Farmer’s Gourmet: P3500 | Sparkling and Cheese: P4500

 

For more information: www.imhotel.com/christmas-hampers/

For special/bulk orders or other enquiries, please email p.cruz@imhotel.com or call +6327557888

 

Acoustic Barbeque Nights at Mermaid Pool Bar

Throughout December, lounge by our iconic acrylic bottomed pool on the 2nd floor and enjoy our Barbeque Platter every Friday to Sunday from 5-9PM. At only 1000 pesos nett for two persons, this package includes an assortment of barbecued meats and vegetables, and comes with a choice of two alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. On Dec 24-25 and Dec 31- Jan 1, this buffet spread is elevated with a wider selection of seafood and premium meats and can be enjoyed for P1000 nett per person.

For more information: www.imhotel.com/mermaid-pool-bar-barbecue-platter/

Christmas around the World at Taal Vista Hotel

Taal Vista Hotel has everything wrapped up to give you the perfect staycation for you and your family this Holiday Season. Feel the yuletide spirit with our Holiday Escape packages starting at Php9, 500 and experience the charm of a Filipino Christmas with special holiday activities and treats – Meet and Greet Santa, Caroling at the Lobby Lounge, Gingerbread House, and Christmas Day Mass at 10:00
AM.

Create wonderful memories with loved ones and gather in one of our restaurants – Veranda and Tāza Fresh Table for an extraordinary holiday feast. Partake of the Christmas Eve dinner buffet on December 24 at the Grand Ballroom. For a lighter fare, Christmas set lunch and dinner will be also be available at Tāza Fresh Table.

Experience the magic of Christmas around the world here in #TaalVistaHotel!

Call (02)9178225 or visit our website at www.taalvistahotel.com for our Christmas packages.

#christmasaroundtheworld #christmasseason #christmasatTaalVistaHotel

Posted by Taal Vista Hotel on Sunday, 3 December 2017

Start off the year with a bang as Taal Vista Hotel invites you to a New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at the Grand Ballroom from 6:30 PM onwards. Tickets are at PhP3, 500 nett per person inclusive of dinner buffet with live band, DJ and fireworks show. Give cheer this Christmas with the hotel’s signature Pasalubong collection and hampers are available at the Gingerbread House Holiday Store located at the Lobby Lounge.

Taal Vista Hotel is located along Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City 4120 Philippines. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 (2) 917 8225, +63 (46) 413 1000 or +63 (917) 809 1254. Stay connected with Taal Vista Hotel. Visit our website at www.taalvistahotel.com and join us on Facebook (facebook.com/taalvistahotel) and Twitter and Instagram (@taalvistahotel).

Travel Guide: Guam

Guam is an island territory off the Pacific, four hours flight from the Philippine’s capital. Similarly colonized by the Spanish conquistadors and still under the American federal government Guam shares a lot more cultural similarities that we thought we knew.  The island is popular for Japanese and Korean tourist who you’d mostly find at the shopping areas such as the Guam Premier Outlest and the hotel lane which is dotted with good stores to shop at.

Prepping for a trip to the island can be intimidating as not a lot information on how enjoy the island backpacking style is available. So on a recent trip I tried my best to find the best way to enjoy the island without spending so much.

Visa Requirements

Being a teritory of the United States of America, Guam requires you to have a US Visa. There are no special visas for Guam so you still have to go through the usual US Visa application.

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Getting There

Most of the time Cebu Pacific Airlines offers the cheapest fares from Manila. Yes most of the time specially when they are on sale (got mine for $52 RT) just make sure you don’t book your hotels right away or book rooms that are re-bookable in case one of the airlines “Flight Realignment” issues happens again. Other airlines that fly from Manila to the island are Philippine Airlines and United Airlines.

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Accommodation

Accommodation in Guam mostly consist of Hotels and Resorts leaning towards the higher end of the market. I guess it is safe to say that Guam is not backpacker friendly but it does not mean that it is not doable. If you are willing to spend more than than your usual trips you may want to look for accommodation around the Tamon Bay area where you can easily access the beautiful Tamon Beach. This area is also the best places to stay for shopping.

 

If you are still not willing to let go of your backpacking principles (lol) the best way to get around the high prices is through Airbnb. You can snag a room, condo or apartment for about $30-$60 a night that you can split if there’s two of you. Make sure to stay near one of the Lamlam bus stop so that getting around the area wouldn’t be an issue if you aren’t driving. Just be sure that you are ready for emergency money that you can spend incase anything happens to your reserved room just like what happened to me. (will post an airbnb review later). Some of the destinations are walk-able (1-2kms) but the heat may be a challenge so just be ready with umbrellas, Guam roads aren’t fans of sidewalks so you might find your self walking on unpaved road sides.

Transportation

Best Option: Car rental – rent a car for just $20-$25 a day. Gas cost around $3-$4 a gallon which is enough for you to go around the entire island at least four times! Just bring your drivers license and you can drive for a maximum of thirty days while in the territory.

For non-drivers here’s how you can get around the island.

Lamlam Bus Service

Lamlam seems to be Guam’s de facto public bus service. The bus service is operated by Lamlam tours company and has several routes around the main area of the island with most of them terminating at Micronesia Mall and Guam Premier Outlets (GPO).  One way single use tickets costs $4 per way while day passes starts at $12 for one day, $15 for 2 days, $25 for 5 days while child pass costs $13. They also have special buses that will get you to special points of interests such as Two Lovers Point and Chamorro Village among others.

If you are trying to get out of the airport, they also have an airport shuttle that will take you to T-Galleria Mall in the downtown are. Bus service usually starts by 10 AM.

Taxi

From the airport taxi service (meter) will cost you about $25 for the entire 2.8 miles (5kms) journey. Expensive yet somewhat convenient except when you are in area where there are no taxi waiting area. See, taxis do not go around and pickup passengers. Most of the time they are stationary in an establishment with a kiosk where you can book their service.

Stroll & LamCar

There’s no Uber, Grab or Lyft in Guam. Instead they have Stroll. Similar to other ride hailing apps Stroll will provide you the estimated price and pick you up from your location. The only set back for this is that there are not a lot of Stroll cars around the island so it may take a while before you can actually hail one. However, it may be worth the wait compared to taxis as the price per mile are way cheaper.

Another option is the LamCar, similar to Stroll this app also helps you to hail one of the Lamlam tour company’s

Food 

There are lots of great food options in Guam. From food courts, restaurants, diners and of course there are fast food options as well. Pricing though does not differ whether it is fast food or a mom-and-pop food store, only the specialty restaurants actually border on the “pricey” end of the spectrum.

To give context to how much you will be spending and should be allotting for your food budget, here are the actual prices I paid for.

Mc Donalds
……….Big Mac Meal ………..$7.90
……….Big Mac (Sandwich only) ………..$5.00

Denny’s 
……….Grilled Chicken Breast with Mash Potato and Brocolli………..$8
……….Hamburger Gravy Bowl………..$8.00
……….Unlimited Hot Choco………..$3.60

Note: Denny’s have breakfast options for as low as $2 some if the servings are big specially those with rice like the Hamburger Gravy Bowl I had to put them on take-away bags so I can finish them later, so maybe you can just share.

Cinnabon (Classic)………..$3.99

Infusion Coffee and Tea Shop
……….Shangri-La Iced Tea………..$2.50
……….Chicken Pesto Pasta………..$2.00

Figaro
……….Java Chip Coffee………..$5.74

If  you are traveling in a group better cook your selves food it’ll be cheaper!

Activities

Shopping

Guam Premier Outlets
Micronesia Mall
Downtown Shopping Lane (Hotel road)

Guam Ocean Venture

Chamorro Village

Watch Las Vegas Style Magic Shows

Beaches

Tumon Beach
Gab Gab Beach
Gun Beach

Food Trips

Guam National Museum

War In The Pacific Nat’l Historical Park

Asan Bay Overlook

Guam Legislative Building

Dulce Nobre de Maria Cathedral

Two Lovers Point

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Crystal Chapel

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Though honestly, the best thing still to do in Guam is to shop. However, there are still a lot of things to do in the island that you don’t have to spend so much. But then again if you see the prices in the outlet stores and duty free shops you would definitely panic and your card may get overloaded. I am not even exaggerating. My favorite store still and probably will always will is Ross, thought it was tough to find something for my size, that store still my heart (yeah we got a long history way back 2006 hahaha).

Nevertheless if shopping is not your thing, the Chamorros are one of the jolliest people I’ve ever met, you’ll have a great time around them for sure! Best to bring a friend or two with you to split the cost of your Airbnb, car rental and gas. Lastly stop converting to your local currency! hahaha! yes let lose for a moment when in Guam and you’ll surely enjoy your stay. Haf Adai!

Must Try Food In Taipei

They say Taiwan is how China could have been if it wasn’t for the cultural revolution. They shunned many of their traditions and beliefs and turned themselves to the communist ideology. None the less, there is one thing that China and Taiwan shares best; Food Culture. Not known to many Taiwan is one of the best places in Asia to discover flavors that you did not know existed. Food combinations that can be quite odd but taste so good.

On my recent trip to Taipei, Taiwan’s beautiful capital I’ve indulged my self into an eating free in one of their famous night markets and some other random street foods. Here are a few of the Taiwanese food that you should try when in Taipei!

Huajiao Bing

Pepper seasoned pork filled bun baked inside a tandori looking kind of oven. Unlike other pork filled buns, The Huajiao Bing’s bread is hard outside and crumbling inside.

Carbon Barbecue

Bacon or Chicken fillet wrapped spring onions wrapped barbecues grilled over charcoal. They are cooked in batches and are sold separately. Each one are individually skewered with a toothpick to keep them together. Each one cost about NT24 a piece.

Taiwanese Pancake

Also known as a  Scallion cake, this pancake is cooked on a flat pan like a roti. Scallions or onion springs are added to the batter mixture giving it its name scallion cake. It is a cheap yet filling food that you can bite on if you need something to eat yet don’t have the time to eat a proper meal.

Stinky Tofu

Probably the most famous dish that comes as a dare to a lot of western tourists. Before being grilled or fried and topped with vegetables.

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Cranberry Juice

Made from fresh Cranberries you can find several of these stalls around Shilin Night Market. This is a perfect first stop before starting your food trip around the market so you’d have something to drink along with your food.

Gong Rou Fan

Rice in a bowl topped with tender pork chop that just melts in your mouth. The dish also has pickled cucumbers to cleanse your palette. The best Gong Rou Fan can be found in Ximen area  and costs about NT65

Hot Star Whole Chicken Breast

Though Hot Star has branches here in Manila, I’d say that it is still worth trying out this food on where it started. You find this stall with a line of customers most of time waiting for another batch of fried chicken breast goodness to be served.

 

Bubble Tea 

It wouldn’t be right not to try out Bubble Tea from its place of birth. Yes, the bubble tea that wee know was born in Taipei! It’s amazing how many flavors one can try with each Bubble Tea shop that one can find in every corner of the city.

Ice Cream Burrito

I am not sure if this is a Jiufen specialty but I didn’t notice this sold anywhere else. The Ice Cream Burrito (just made that name up -can’t remember sorry bad memory) is basically a scoop or two of ice cream wapped together with peanut shavings and cilantro in a spring roll wrapper.

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Taro Balls

Also found this one in Jiufen, where they serve it either hot or cold with milk. Its basically just taros shaped in spheres served with milk. I specially liked this one hot when I tried it in Jiufen when it was freezing cold that day. Oh yeah, this reminds me of our Filipino Ginataang Halo-Halo

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Got a Taipei Food Must Try that you’d like to share? Put it down on the comment section so we can add them up on the list!

Hover Over Trees At The Maokong Gondola

Blessed with a mountainous topography, Taiwan is rich with mountains and hiking trails that you can leisurely trek in one of your visits. Together with a good climate, it could actually be a good place to grow herbs such as tea. Maokong is a little village at the top of the hills of Taipei.

Maokong is specially known for its awesome teas and plantation. However, recently this small village is starting to be known more for something else. Last 2010, the Taipei MRT (operator of the Maokong Gondolas) launched a new type of cabin called crystal cabins. These cabins features a clear glass that allows passengers to see the ground where their gondolas are hovering over. maokong

After taking a leisurely ride on the Maokong Gondola, you will arrive at the terminal station of Maokong. As soon as you alight the station walk uphill until you see various tea shops offering different kinds of teas, food and the beautiful view of Taipei from a distance.

How To Get To Maokong

The most convenient way to get to Maokong is via the Taipei MRT. Just get your self on any line (they are all interconnected) and get off at the Taipei Zoo MRT. From the MRT station walk about 400 meters south of the station then take the Maokong Gondola.

maokong Photo from wikipedia

Gondola Fares

maokongtaipei gondola website screenshot

What To Do In Maokong

Riding the gondola alone is an experience in Maokong. However, I think that one must also experience dinning and sipping that cup of tea at this hill top village. The calming effect of the tea is complimented by the breath taking view of Taipei. There are also shops that havegood selection of food choices that will just tickle your taste buds.

maokong

Do you have something to share about Maokong or the Maokong Gondola? Share it with fellow travelers on the comment section.

Siem Reap Hostel: Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool Bar

Cambodia can be pretty awesome when it comes to accommodation and they can be pretty cheap if you know what and where to look for them. You might also be surprised on how epic they can be. So on my first Indochina trip last year, I made sure to find the best hostel that I can and I think I found one of Siem Reap’s hidden gem of an accommodation The Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool Bar

Location

This hostel is tucked in along one of the small alleys of Sok San road just about a hundred meters off of Pub Street and the Night Market road making. Its location is ideal as it makes points of interest are just walking distance

The hostel also has a 24 hour reception so anyone can check in at any time that they arrive in Siem Reap. They also offer free bus station and airport transfers!

Rooms

Most of the rooms are air conditioned so you don’t have to worry about melting under the Cambodian weather. They are also cleaned every day by the hostel staff making sure that you are comfortable during your stay. The bed I had was in an 6 bed room (I don’t like big dorms) though they also have bigger dorms (16  and 8 bed dorms) that costs way lesser. If you are looking for some more privacy they also offer private rooms at a very affordable price.

 

Facilities and Service

As the name suggests the hostel features a nice pool and a bar that comes alive at night with backpackers trying to have a great time. Drinks are also at a reasonable price and I’m pretty sure that you’ll have an epic night partying. This Siem Reap hostel also has a nice soccer and beach volley ball court where you can play a good game with your new found friends.

Siem Reap Hostel

The best part that I love most about this hostel is that they have a 24 hour kitchen where you can order their awesome drip coffee at any time of the day, yeah coffee addict here. How much is their coffee you might ask? 1 freakin’ dollar! This Siem Reap hostel also amazes me of their service. Hostels usually tend to be lean towards being self service, but the Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool bar has a ridiculous number of staff at any given time that are ready to assist you of anything that you need giving you some sort of Hotel vibe. They also have a concierge desk where you can book your bus tickets which is awesome since they’ll also be the one who’ll coordinate with the bus company to pick you up from the hostel.

 

Siem Reap Hostel

Siem Reap Hostel

How Much This Siem Reap Hostel Costs?

Now here’s the bomb. You can get a bed at this hostel for as low as $4 for their non air conditioned dorm, the bed that I got though only costs $6! I mean, I’d be staying with lesser people in a room that is air conditioned. You just can’t over look what value that extra $2 gives you. Yeah that cheap!

There are other Siem Reap hostels that you can find that has pool but I think the Garden Village Guesthouse and Pool Bar is one of the best there is in Siem Reap.

 

Like this hostel? Check rates at  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Taal Vista Hotel: Ghost Hunting at the Ridge

Join the annual Halloween bash for an amusing fright and the most creative costumes in sight!

Kids and kids alike are invited to dress up in their favorite scary costumes while enjoying spooktacular shows
and amazing activities that includes creepy maze, magic show and special performances. Spookilicious
prizes awaits those kids who will be awarded best in costume!

Event will start from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM at the Sampaguita ballroom on Sunday, October 29. Tickets are
at Php650 net for children ages 3 to 12 years old and Php900net per adult inclusive of snack buffet. Reserve
your tickets now and avail of the early bird rates.

For inquiries, please contact Taal Vista Hotel at (02) 917 – 8219 to 20, (46) 413 1000 and (0917) 557 8265
or email foodandbeverage@taalvistahotel.com. Join Taal Vista Hotel on Facebook
(facebook.com/taalvistahotel), Twitter and Instagram (@taalvistahotel) for updates.

Taiwan Now Visa Free For Filipinos Starting November 1, 2017

Starting November 1 2017, Filipinos will be allowed to enter Taiwan Visa Free on a trial basis until July 31, 2018. The said visa free policy will allow Filipinos to enter Taiwan specially for tourism for up to 14 days at a time, annouced by the Taipei Economic and Cultural office (TECO) in the Philippines.

Filipino citizens are able to avail of this privilege under these qualifications.

  1. a regular passport with remaining validity of at least 6 months from the date of entry (diplomatic and official passport holders are not eligible for visa-free treatment)
  2. a return ticket or a ticket for the traveler’s next destination and a visa for that destination if required
  3. no criminal record in Taiwan
  4. proof of accommodations (such as hotel booking) or host/sponsor’s contact information or arrangements of tour, travel, visit, events, meetings, etc

Visitors who are intending to stay beyond 14 days however, are still required to apply for a visa be it for any reason.

After these announcement Taiwan is hoping for reciprocity from the Philippine government in allowing Taipei Nationals to enter the country under the same provisions.

Planning to visit Taipei? Check out our Taipei Travel Guide 

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SkyJet Airlines Joins Travel Sale Fair Year 3!

Kickstart the holiday cheer with Skyjet Airlines on October 13-15, 2017 at the Travel Sale Fair in World Trade Center. Visit SkyJet Airlines’ booth at 8F, Hall B to grab the exclusive flight deals starting at Php 2788++ for Batanes (Basco), Php 1088++ for Boracay (Caticlan), Php1288++ for Coron (Busuanga) and Php3088++ for Siargao with the travel period of October 16, 2017 to September 30, 2018 (except for the embargo dates).

 

 

The Philippines’ only jet service airline provides complimentary refreshments and snacks plus a 10-kg baggage allowance per passenger. It also takes pride in its 90-seater British Aerospace Jet that offers spacious legroom with free seat selection. For more information about the exclusive offers and best deals, visit their website at www.skyjetairlines.com or call (+632) 863-1333.

 

immage by Aeroprints.com via wikipedia CC

Crossing From Singapore To Malaysia

If you are on a Southeast Asian trip or just trying to maximize your trip in Singapore, a quick trip to Malayia can actually be done via land. Singapore is connected to Malaysia via a few entry points. From thee you can start exploring places like Joho Bahur or Melaka, or even as far as Penang or Kuala Lumpur via an overnight bus. Yes you can always book a flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, but if you are aiming for a cheaper alternative a night bus can save you a lot.

How To Book A Bus From Singapore To Malayia

While in Singapore I tried looking for a travel agency that where I can physically buy a bus ticket from. It was quite a challenge specially in the area where I was staying (Bukit Pajang). So after scouring the mall (Bukit Pajang Plaza) I went back to my accommodation and just checked online.

There are several sites that you can book your bu tickets, it is actually a lot more convenient it just my traditional thinking that’s kicking in. I choose BusOnlineTicket.com based on the price and departure times available. I booked a trip departing 12AM that night, cost was SG$28

Upon arriving at the pickup point, I just showed my phone with their email confirmation and I was admitted to board the bus. The same bus will be taking you from the pickup point, through immigration then all the way to your ultimate destination. It was Kuala Lumpur for me.

Immigration

The bus crosses the causeway bridge and takes you to the Singapore Immigration processing center. The center was large and well organized just like an airport. There were not much people at that time since it was midnight so everything went quickly. We went back to the bus and once every one was in we then journeyed to the Malaysian side of the border to be stamped in. The Malaysian immigration office was remarkably smaller compared to Singapore but since it was midnight everything was done quickly.

Timetable

Travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is about 5-6 hours. If you are traveling after summer you might consider a few things when you travel. You will arrive when it still is dark at around 5 AM and if you are getting off at Berjaya Times Square make sure that you have changed your money to Ringgit before you leave Singapore. There are no 24 hours money changer around the area.

 

Got more tips about crossing to or from Singapore and Malaysia? Leave them on the comment section and we’ll try to add them!

Tagaytay Hotel: Taal Vista Hotel

Over the last half a decade or so, development over the Tagaytay ridge has been aggressive.  Sometimes, leaving behind the atmosphere and nostalgic experience that Tagaytay use to be. But there are things that has thankfully there are places that seem to have stood still in time that you can always go back to and relieve the Tagaytay that you or parents knew on their younger years, the Taal Vista Hotel

 

 sweet welcome confectionery  

Built during the 1930’s president Quezon ordered Manila Hotel Company to buy a parcel of land from to be developed as a destination for rest and relaxation. By the 1939 construction of the Taal Vista Lodge commence and was soon completed and inaugurated by the same year. Today the same establishment is now known as the Taal Vista Hotel has retained much of its old world charm, bringing you back to the pristine Tagaytay that people knew about.

As I entered the lobby, I was warmly greeted by everyone at their front desk. The lobby was classy yet not that intimidating giving that homey feel like how it was at grandma’s place.

After checking in, I was lead to my room passing through a corridor adorned with memories of the hotel’s colorful history. The secondary lobby opened up to a beautiful veranda, albeit filled with fog because of the weather.

Also Read Travel Guide: 1 Day Tagaytay Itinerary

 

The Food

My first night’s dinner was the Veranda restaurant. Their menu is collection of cuisines that are familiar from my travels around Southeast Asia and beyond. I asked about how much is a serving good for and was told that it was for one. However, I don’t eat much so I guess a couple can share the food that I ordered, hahaha! I indulged my self starting with the Chef’s salad which is a medley of crisp and fresh vegetables tossed in a special vinaigrette. I love the subtlety of the dressing allowing the fresh flavors of the salad become the dish’s feature.  My main dish was a Nasi Goreng. The Nasi’s flavor reminded me of the *insert Street Name* colorful food scene. The tenderly flavored beef seem to have just transported me back to Malaysia. It was everything I remember. Like they say always leave room for dessert. But no, I made room for dessert. The Brazo de Mercedes was just exquisite, it felt like they know how I wanted my food. The cake wasn’t too sweet just enough for you to appreciate heaven.

 Chef’s Salad

My last dinner was hosted by the hotel’s Taza restaurant. I was sat down in a table and was asked if wanted something to drink while waiting for my food. I asked if they have juices or tea (which they do) but I pushed a little further. See I rarely drink sodas and powdered drinks, so I asked i those were either house brewed ice tea or real fruit juices. Dinner started appropriately with some soup followed by some appetizers. The main star of the night’s dinner table was the Tomahawk Rib Eye. The meat was just heavenly to chew on and cooked to perfection. The juice from the steak was just so full of flavor.

After an entire full 8 course dinning experience, I spoke with the restaurant manager and learned that their meat are locally sourced to as far as Bukidnon for the best ingredients. Something that I feel needs to be commended in a world where everything is flooded by cheap imported goods.

The Room

 

The room booked for me was a premier room at the Lake View wing of the property. The sight of a gorgeous bed was a welcome site for me. Having traveled from the northern part of the metro all the way to the south was a challenge. But after all that hassle, the warm embrace of the comforter and the soft hugs of the bed made it all worth it.

The suite is well appointed with wood furnishing. But the true test for me in any good hotel is the bathroom, and I was not disappointed. The huge bathroom has separate showers and toilet and a good mirror between them. Water pressure was awesome, unlike some hotels where you just want to beg for more water to come out, Taal Vista’s water pressure was just right. The toilet is equipped with a bidet, that’s an extra point no need to touch you tushy.

 

I appreciate that the room smelled clean. I mean yes of course hotels should smell clean but do they most of the time? Though the Taal Vista Hotel was built in the 1930’s the management actually closed it down for a couple of years and had it renovated and restored to its original architecture during the early 2000’s. The furniture are all updated to a modern taste and yes it doesn’t smell mold like any other old hotels. The room also had a big TV that kept me entertained with cable programming. I don’t really watch TV but it helped a lot keep me updated since there was a storm that time and I couldn’t really walk outside of the property.

 

The View

This here deserves a separate insight. Probably the best thing about mornings in Taal Vista Hotel was waking up to an unbelievable view. You know that feeling when you watch movies where the character starts his or her day? They pour in their coffee and open up this huge glass panel door, walks right into their veranda and breathes in the cool crisp air while looking into that awesome view as they drink their coffee? That feeling! I couldn’t just get my self to close that window. My bed was near the huge glass doors and I just spent so much time lounging at the bed, working on my laptop and just giving that view a glimpse form time to time. It was all the motivation I needed to work that day.

The room has a veranda that could have been perfect to spend your afternoons at. If not for the strong winds and occasional rains I would have ordered my self a pot of brewed coffee and just admire that picturesque view.

 

 

The Taal Vista Hotel Property

If you have ever passed by Taal Vista Hotel’s area, you might have the notion that the property’s area is a bit small. Well that was my impression before, at least. However passed the main building and this hill (which was actually a wall) that separates areas of the property. I walked around and explored the property a bit further.

The Gym

I’m not a fitness freak, but I do try to get some exercise. I just don’t want to gain those pounds again (#paranoid) and it was a good thing that Taal Vista Hotel has gym with ample equipment that you can use to burn those extra fat. Though it was raining and foggy outside, I appreciate that they air conditioning was still on. See when you burn more fats when you work out in a cold environment. This is because your body uses more energy to heat up your self and perform its functions. Now that’s one good fitness tip for you 😉

The Pool

I’m not quite sure if the pool is heated or not, but i tried to take a dip on that gloomy day and the water was just perfect. I admit that I am quite squeamish with cold pools, but the water was just fine! It is also notable that the pool is hidden from plain sight from the public areas. Remember that hill looking wall? This is what was behind it. The pool also has an on duty life guard so kids are safe, still of course don’t leave minors unattended.

Sky Ranch

If you are staying in Taal Vista Hotel, you can also gain special access to the Sky Ranch theme park. The hotel has a special access to the theme park so there is no need to go out and walk on road side. This is also great since your room is easily accessible from the park. May also ask for a special rate for the park.

My Goodbyes

 

 

On my last day just before I check out of the property, I asked for a cup of coffee. It was a good cup. The bitterness just strikes my palate at the right spots with notes of rubbery goodness. Everything that I am looking for in cup of coffee while I gaze at the incredible view of the Taal Volcano one last time. The Taal Vista doesn’t just offer a room for everyone. It offers an opportunity to travel back in time and feel how it was back in the days when the ridge was uncrowded through its wide open spaces facing the lake.

If you have just one day and couldn’t stay, I’d say give the spot a few hours, buy a cup of coffee and just stare at the amazing view of the Taal Lake. Slow down a bit and feel the beauty of life at Taal Vista Hotel. 

Boracay Hostel: W Hostel Boracay

 

Boracay can be a lonesome place for a solo traveler, but thank God for Hostels. Hostels are a very good place to find travel buddies even for just a short while. That’s why I love staying in Boracay hostel. So on my uhmm…. fourth (not sure though) time in Boracay, I scouted for a cool hip place to stay where I can meet new people and I was not disappointed.

This Boracay Hostel is strategically located along Bulabog road. Just right between the kite surfing famous Bulabog Beach and the world famous White Beach of Boracay. The hostel occupies two floors of the building allowing them to offer dorm type, en-suite and private rooms for travelers of different kinds.

What I Love About This Boracay Hostel

The Hostel

As soon as I enter the reception of the hostel I was warmly greeted by the staff as if they know me (yeah you get the warmest hellos in hostel – not at all hostels though, unfortunately). Jen their lead front desk officer assisted me in checking in and helped me settle in the hostel. Really felt I was genuinely welcomed.

The hostel doesn’t have those super dorms putting in 12 or more people in one room making it bearable. I was assigned on a four bed dorm with fellow travelers from France and Germany . Each room has a corner table where you can work on. Every bed also has a certain level of privacy. Each one of them has curtains installed to cover, giving you a capsule like experience. And yes all rooms are air conditioned. I was also happy that they have multiple showers and toilets for each floors. available so using the bathroom was never an issue.

It was raining my entire stay in the island and you know what my saving grace was? This Boracay hostel! Since the weather was bad most of the time with the sun peeping every now and then, it was awesome that they have this roof top where I can hang out. the rooftop has a small pool where you can hang out while looking out to Bulabog Beach. They also have some weights that you can use to keep your self fit while lounge chairs  are enough for people to catch some of that Sun.

 

Location

The hostel is also located between the two most popular beaches in Boracay giving you easy access to both of them. Food selection, grocery and night life is also not a problem. WHostel Boracay is just a several meters away from good Filipino eateries, water refilling station, D’Mall, grocery store, spa and restaurants around station 2.

Price

I got my bed for a little over $6 a night. The price includes breakfast that usually are bread, jams, congee, flowing brewed coffee and each guest gets one egg for free which the staff can cook for you. I choose to cook my own to a fluffy consistency ^_^ .  Do I need to say anything more? I mean the price was just amazing having those amenities and inclusion at your disposal. I say it was a good deal.

 

Verdict

This boracay hostel is a great choice if you are looking for value. Yes, it may not be a beach front property but access to both Bulabog and White beach is good. It also provides you a more decent accommodation in the Island. At around that price considering their facilities and that free breakfast just cuts the deal. Cleanliness is also exceptional and their wifi connection is excellent. Imagine having your own router in your room so that you don’t have to compete with others in connecting to the internet. With that I’d say that I’d highly recommend this Boracay Hostel

 

 

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

 

 

Sinagpa Backpackers Your True Escape In Boracay

Known to be one of the best islands in the world, Boracay can be a bit tiring after all the partying all night. But getting good accommodation in Boracay’s Station 1 area  at an affordable price is next to impossible. After extensively searching the entire Boracay inventory of Agoda.com one property stood out among them, it was Sinagpa backpackers.

Tucked at the northern end of Boracay’s Station 1, Sinagpa Backpackers joins other high end accommodations such as Punta Rosa, Boracay Terrace Resort and The Strand. The property’s beach access seem to be a semi private part of white beach’s stretch as it curves into a little cove like  area giving you a bit more privacy in you own little stretch of the beach.

What I Like Most About Sinagpa Backpackers

Being a backpacker at heart, my attention was quickly taken by Sinagpa Backpackers’ rating and price range. Being so near the high-end resorts around I was surprised with the price range that it was showing. I thought that it was too good to be true, so I checked the reviews and it was a real value for an accommodation having a 7.9 rating in Agoda.

Sinagpa Backpackers offer rooms that has a well equipped kitchenette. The utensils and kitchenware were all clean with the counter top sparkling clean. Since it is located on a non-commercial residential area of Boracay, I was able to buy food and other things from the store at normal non-bloated prices! Like how they would sell you things at your local sari-sari store. I bought 5 eggs at 8 pesos each and some oil so I can cook my scrambled eggs.

Digital nomads also do not have to worry about internet connection as the rooms has access to a decent WiFi connection. I was able to finish a lot of social media tasks and upload photos for the day to update people who follow me on social media.

I also enjoyed the soft bed and pillows that smelled really clean! It really made my sleep comfortable and I always wake up well rested. See it is important for me to get good sleep while I travel not only because it feels good waking up, but that also means that even if I sleep short I will feel energized and enjoy more hours of exploration in my destination.

Location

Sinagpa Backpacker’s location is pretty good for those people who would like to experience a quieter Boracay without straying away from the vibrant scene of white beach. You may feel that the location is a bit far flung as you take Boracay’s road network. However, once you are settled station 1 and station 2 is just a good 10 minute walk via the soft powdery sands of white beach.

Boracay Hostel

Verdict

I’d say that Sinagpa Backpackers offers something that only the high end market can afford most of the time. Sinagpa Backpackers offers the accessibility to Boracay’s finest sand at station 1 while locating you on a community that offers affordable commodities. That alone gives you a bang for your buck at Sinagpa Backpackers. But what most appeals to me is that the accommodation is located far enough from the crazy scene of white beach but still is accessible enough to reach the usual areas of activities. Because of its unique location you can enjoy some peace and quite moments by beach letting you commune with the sea, the sun and the wind.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

The Hot Springs Of Beitou

One of the best things that the Japanese colonizers has left in Taiwan is the Hot Springs or Onsen culture. Beitou, a district at the northern end of Taipei is where you’ll find the best onsens. Throughout the district you will find Onsens that range from a local hotspring just like the Lung Nai Tang to high end facilities. With so much choices, here are my favorite Hot Springs Of Beitou

XinBeitou Area

This area is the easier one to get to. Just take the Red MRT Line to Beitou station then change trains to the Branch line going to Xin Beitou. This area is the toursity part, but for a good reason. Here are some of the spots that you can check out while in XinBeitou.

Taipei Library

While the building exudes beauty by it self alone, it also sets an example as it is also a green building. you can come in and just wander around the facility

Address: No. 251,Guangming Rd,,Beitou District,,Taipei City,Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Sun-Mon (09:00-17:00), Tues-Sat (8:30-21:00), Closed on Holidays and first thursday of the month
Fees: Free

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Beitou Hotsprings Museum

Know the history of how Taipei acquired the hot springs culture. The museum is house on a former bath house built during the Japanese era, when Taiwan was still its colony.

Address: No. 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112 (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Tues-Sun (09:00 – 17:00), Closed on Mondays and National Holidays
Fees: Free

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Long Nai Tang

The Long Nai Tang is the oldest still in operation public bath house in Taipei. The bath house traces its history back to the Japanese era when the colonizers introduced the Onsen culture to the Taiwanese people. Do not expect much with the facilities though. The public bath is as local as you can get. There are no lockers just some shelves where you can put your clothes in. The shower area is on one corner of thee bath house where you use a dipper to clean your self from the cold flowing spring water. There’s no separate wet and dry area where you can change, basically its just one space (about 25sqm) where you undress,clean and bathe. Though it lacks the glamorous facilities, its historic value as the oldest hot springs of  beitou sure makes up for it.

Address: No. 244 Guāngmíng Road, Běitóu District, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00
Fees: NT$90 (Adults), NT$50 (Children)

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Ketagalan Culture Center

Know more about Taiwan’s aborigines, Taiwan’s first inhabitants. Entrance is free for the museum but no photos are allowed to be taken. The museum hosts a large inventory of aborigine dresses, artifacts as well as historical and educational materials where you can learn about the peoples origins and culture.

Address:  No. 3-1, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00
Fees: Free

Note: Photographs not allowed inside

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Beitou Thermal Valley (Hell Valley)

Like a scene reminding you about that hot place where souls are punished is how the Beitou Thermal Valley got its nickname Hell Valley.  The park showcases the process of how Beitou gets its therapeutic hot spring waters that feeds to the hot springs of beitou.

 

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Puji Temple

A Japanese era temple, Puji Temple has survived the years making it a rare example of Japanese Buddhism

Mankewu Ramen

A must try when in Beitou, Man Ke Wu Ramen (Lamian in Taiwanese) are prepared using hot spring water that makes it special. Price ranges around NT$ 110 -200.

Address: 110 Wenquan Rd, Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan (ROC)
Hours: 11am-2pm, 5-9pm Tuesdays to Sunday

Xinyi Road Area

Hot Spring Area

Most of the mid-range hot springs resorts are located in this area. The resorts are built around the sulfuric hot springs where the therapeutic waters are sourced from. Price range from this are varies from 200 – around 500 NT

Sakuraoka Hot Springs

Aside from Lung Nai Tang, The Sakuroka Hot Springs resort is the other hot spring resort that I have tried so far. Sorry I don’t have any personal photos of it because I forgot to take a photo when there was still light. Then, it was dark already when I got out because I really enjoyed soaking in their hot tubs.

Yes, you are required to be naked while taking a bath. I strongly suggest you try it, you’ll bathe together with families of fathers and sons for me and mothers and daughters for girls. You’ll feel relieved in the sense that you’ll realize that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about bathing together in public.

I promise to make a proper review of the place when I get back to Taipei. This is a good one though.

Hot springs of beitou

Other Spas that I recommend

Emperor Hot Springs – Better than Sakuraoka Hot Springs as per reviews.

There are gay spas so please ask the reception if they are one. I mistakenly got into one, there are no signs like the LGBT flag on their doors and reception. I just kept an open mind. They were all behave…. it was way too early for the rush hour people to come in anyway… hahaha!

Suggested Itinerary

You can go around the Beitou tourist area first and visit the museums and eat ramen for lunch then later in the after noon you can go to the hotsprings and enjoy the therapeutic waters of the hot springs of Beitou.

How To Get To The Hot Springs of Beitou

To get to Xin Beitou, just take the Red Line MRT the change platforms to the branch line going to Xin Beitou. If you want to go straight to the Onsens, just take the red line and get off at Shipai Station. Get on a 509 Bus and get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down the street. Fare from Shipai Station is NT$15

 

 

Free Things To Do In Hong Kong

Just recently Hong Kong has been listed as the world’s most expensive city. Despite this label for Asia’s World City, Hong Kong still proves to be one of the favorite destinations for Filipinos. Aside from its visa free entry policy for Filipinos Hong Kong is just 2 Hours from the Philippines capital city of Manila.

When visiting Hong Kong, visitors will surely have no shortage of places to visit and activities to do. However, stretching your dollar can be a challenge if you want to squeeze more into your day and experience more of Hong Kong. Fret no more though, we’ve come up with the top free tourist

Avenue Of Stars

Walk across a concrete board walk above the waters of Victoria Harbor and see Hong Kong’s tributes to its past and present brightest stars. The promenade was built in the 1980’s, by 2004 the same promenade around the New World Centre was developed into what we now know as the Avenue of Stars.

Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong

Chi Lin Nunnery

Built in 1934 and renovated in 1990, the Chi Lin Nunnery is wooden temple complex that features a series of temple hall and deity statues. The Buddhist temple complex is found at Diamond Hill in Kowloon

Hong Kong

Nan Lian Garden

Just right across the Chi Lin Nunnery is the Nan Lian Garden. A well kept public park one can find himself relaxing in this lush garden filled with amazing flora and sculpture. The garden was built in Tang Dynasty style hence the ancient feel of the entire place.

Hong Kong

 

Lady Market

walk through this expansive market place that comes alive specially at night. The Lady’s Market got its name from the women merchandise that are mostly sold ranging from cosmetics accessories and trinkets. There are also good food finds around that market where you can experience authentic Hong Kong style cuisines.

Hong Kong

Noon Day Gun

Every noon time this huge gun is fired facing the Causeway Bay. The gun is actually privately  owned by the multinational giant Jardine Matheson hence, a Jardine employee has the honor. This ritual traces its origin way back in the 1860’s ironically as a penalty. During those times everytime Jardine’s  tai-pan arrives the company would fire the gun as a salute. However, a new comer British naval officer got annoyed of it and penalized the Jardine Matheson company by ordering it of firing the gun for all eternity! Jardine however up to this day has kept its side of the deal.

Hong Kong

Central Plaza Sky Deck

One of the best views of Hong Kong is actually offered for free. Find your selves at the Central Plaza sky deck where you can get an unobstructed view of Hong Kong for free. Best part of it is that not a lot of people know about this !

Hong Kong

Central Mid Level Escalator

Declared as the world’s longest escalator, The Central Mid Level escalator connects the lower part of Central to the upper part through the steep hill side via a series of 20 escalator and inclined walkalator. Total travel time from the lower part to the top of the escalators is about 20 minutes.

Hong Kong

Man Mo Temple

The Man Mo Temple is a tribute to the God of Literature and God of War. It is said that many have flocked to this temple since the 1800’s to pray for their studies. People offer coiled up incense and hang them up in front of the altar for their prayers.

hong kong

Hong Kong Museum Of History

The museum offers some free galleries showcasing 400 million years of history that includes artifacts, ethnography and other natural histories about Hong Kong and South China.

hong kong

Symphony Of Lights

Back at the Avenue of Stars, a free nightly show comes to life as soon as the clock strikes 7. The entire Hong Kong island becomes a big stage as its famous skyline dances with lights to the beat of a common music.

 

 

Hong Kong Park

Take a break from the chaotic city scene of Hong Kong without going to the country side. The Hong Kong park offers respite for those who need to breath a little. The park is located just right off of the Hong Kong Zoo

 

If you need more information about Hong Kong you can check out this Free Travel Guide and Itinerary to help you plan your trip.