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 

(Source)

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Oras Falls Tabaco City’s Hidden Gem

One of the things that I love about Tabaco City is how close the nature it is. Just several minutes away from the down town one can find himself surrounded by nature at the heart of an abundant forest. There’s no need to hike so much though to find Tabaco City’s hidden gem because just a few minutes of walking from the jump off point you will find the Oras Falls.

 

Oras Falls

Unlike the better known Vera falls, Oras Falls enjoys a bit more relaxed environment as it doesn’t get flooded much with tourists. I also love in particular the multi level small cascades at the food of the falls where the water runs downhill. You can just sit on one of the boulders and feel the water rushing through your body giving you some kind of whole body massage effect.

I really enjoyed my time spent in Oras Falls. It’s a great thing to find places like this that doesn’t take much effort to see natures beauty. Not that I don’t like hiking, but sometimes if you just want to escape the toxicity of your city life it helps going to places like these where you can commune with nature at whim.

Oras Falls

How To Get To Oras Falls

The easiest and most convenient way to get to the falls’ jump-off point is to rent a tricycle from the city proper. Alternatively one may take a jeepney from the city and get off at Brgy. Oras and then take a tricycle to the jump-off point. From there it only takes about 10 minutes or less on foot (depending on your hiking skills) to get to the falls.

For more information please contact the Tabaco City Tourism Office you can also check out Celineism’s detailed post about this destination

Tabaco is a fourth class city in the province of Albay. The best way to reach the city is by taking a 60 minute plane ride to Legazpi City  Airport, its nearest airport then a bus to the city’s downtown. You can also take a 12 hour bus from Manila that takes you directly to the city. 

 

Tabaco City’s Tabak Festival

With a confused mind I was on a bus bound to Bicol to a city called Tabaco. I was one of the the bloggers that the city invited to witness the Tabak Festival. I was battling in my mind why would the city celebrate Tabak instead of Tabaco which is a type of plant used to make cigars. Anyways, I just slept on the bus on a 12 hour journey from Manila. Well, at least I tried to sleep.

As soon as the light came in, I was greeted by this majestic view. Something that I’ve only seen on books until that day, The Mayon volcano. I was truly blessed as Mayon showed it self clearly that day, as if he was welcoming me to Bicol. I’ve heard of friends who spent days even up to a week at a time and never got to see the glorious Mayon in its entirety. With that I am grateful. Not bad for a welcome for a Bicol virgin like me.

I hopped off the at Tabaco City bus stop and was fetched by Verna our ever caring tour coordinator. After checking in I was introduced to Dave of silverbackpacker.com  who’s also my room mate for the next few days. Celine of Celineism.com on the other hand arrived the day after.

The Festival Origin

The Tabak Festival celebrates the city’s renowned craft of making the Tabak, a type of sword used mostly by farmers to cut through shrubs and other plants to clear a field or just plainly cut open a fresh coconut. The city formulated the festival to celebrate annually the its cityhood in 2003 just a year after it was granted such status.

Festivities

The festival focuses on the Tabak’s culture and its people’s daily lives. It aims to celebrate the spirit of the city’s community caring for each other and living harmoniously. Fittingly, the city hashtagged #cityoflove during the festivities and yes, you can see love all around. You can feel that more than competing with each other contenders enjoy and show their best for the love of their city.

The Festivities

Focusing on its residents’ daily living the festivities include boat racing, pedicab race, coconut husking and beauty pageants. The week long festivities are then capped with the Tabak Festival grand parade.

 Boats waiting for the race to start

 

 Pedicab Race Finishers waiting for the rest of the pack

 

LGU night performers

 

 

 Mutya ng Tabakla Candidates

Related Article: Mutya ng Tabakla Queens

 

 Rock Tabak Concert

 

 Mayor Krisel enjoying the night with senior citizens during the seniors night

 

 Live band for the city’s senior citizens

 

 Mutya ng Tabak Candidates

During the LGU night w had a chance to chat with Mayor Krisel and asked about the city’s name. It was really difficult to focus on her story. looking at such beautiful and intelligent mayor (yeeeee kakakilig hahaha) telling a story??? Hahahaha! Anyways, She told the story of how the city came to be known at Tabaco City. Once upon a time…. Kidding! According to a fable (not kidding now) there’s this heroine who fought with a Tabak. She was caught off guard without her Tabak, she commanded her offspring “Anak ang Tabak Ko!” (son hand me my Tabak) hence Tabak Ko which later evolved to Tabaco. According to the good mayor, there’s not even a single Tabaco plantation n the city.

To be honest, the Tabak Festival isn’t as big as many of the famous festivals in the country. What’s special about this though is that it celebrates humanity. That we need each other, care for your neighbor. there are very few festivals that celebrates this side of us being humans. Many celebrate saints history but very few celebrate who we are and who we should be. I think it is a good thing to visit Tabaco City and experience the Tabak Festival and see for your selves how people take care of each other in Bicol’s City of Love.

Read more about the Tabak Festival from Celineism and Silverbackpacker

The Tale of Two Tabacos

Tabak Festival Fun Games

 

Hong Kong In Photographs

I could be the worst blogger there is. A few years back,  I had the chance to travel with my dad to Hong Kong, and I don’t have the right words to describe that trip. So here I am telling you that very story of our trip to Hong Kong In Photographs

 

On board our Cebu Pacific flight to Hong Kong, Dad’s first time abroad!

>>> See Story Of My Dad’s First Time Abroad<<<

 

 

 

First meal in a typical restaurant within our hotel’s block

 

Disneyland Day! Sorry the kid in me can’t just let this pass. It has been almost a decade since I last experience Disneyland in Anaheim at this point.

 

Goofy!

 

Disney’s magic never fails me.

 

Tea Cups anyone?

 

Strolling along the Avenue of Stars

 

 

Busy streets of Kowloon

 

Crossing the harbor to Centeral Hong Kong

 

Streets of Central Hong Kong

 

The view from The Peak

 

Goodnight and good bye Hong Kong till we meet again

 

Beitou: Bathing Nude In Sakuraoka Hot Springs

One of the activities that I look forward every time I visit Taiwan is a visit to one of their Hot Springs. The Beitou district of Taipei is heaven for hot springs junkies like me and if you are comfortable bathing nude in public you will absolutely enjoy this activity.

On my second time in Taipei, I went out of my way hunting for this particular spa; The Sakuraoka Hot Springs Spa. I knew about this hot springs facility way back but couldn’t find it. So this time I made sure to find it and experience the spa. I was really interested by their website where they show that can see the Taipei 101 and a good view of the forest while dipping in their hot tubs.

So i got off at the XinBeitou MRT terminal and started to look for the place. Maps.Me seem not to be working so I tried to use Google Maps. Both couldn’t find the address so I keyed the name of the place instead. It worked! But….. the map threw the pin on an off road destination in the mountains. I checked if it was walk-able but it’s just too far, and the incline could be too taxing. So I hailed a cab.

Finally, I got to the Spa.

The interiors are okay nothing grand but gives you a sense of Japanese influence to it. I approached the counter asked for admission.

Entrance Fee: NT$ 200 (Monday – Friday), NT$ 250 (Holidays, Friday night till Sunday)
Towel Fee: NT$ 50 (you can bring your own)
Visit Duration: Unlimited

One of their staff walked me to the bathing area. I then undressed and kept my clothes in a shelve, of course I’ve got no photos of the wet area, I mean people are naked… duh! LOL!

The Men’s area has two pools. One has water jets that are really relaxing. The wet area isn’t that huge so it can be crowded specially on weekends and holidays so always check first before you commit. That applies to any spa that you go to. Their second pool in the men’s wet area is the hot tub, and when I say hot -it really is hot. It takes some time to adjust to the pool’s temperature, but once you get comfortable it’s just gonna be heaven.

 photo from sakuraoka website

How to get to Sakuraoka Hot Springs

  1. Take the MRT and get off at the Shipai Station in the red line.
  2. Take any of the buses 508, 535, 536 or 612
  3. Get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down Lane 300 take the road down hill on where the road forks. The spa is on the right side.
  4. Fare is NT$ 15

You can always take a cab either from Shipai or Xin Beitou station, costs around NT$ 150.

 

For someone comfortable in public bathing like me, this was one of the best that I’ve experience, comparing to what I’ve experienced around Asia (note: haven’t been to Japan though). Soaking for hours while staring at the forest with the Taipei 101 emerging like its one of the trees there was just relaxing. Honestly, I’ve never felt so much peace of mind ever than how I’ve had while I soak in the tub. It felt like it was just me, the tub and nature communing. Not a single negative thought came across my head.

I’ve also heard that there’s another Hot Spring spa in the area that’s better (there’s actually a lot of hot spring spa in that area including a gay spa so be careful if you don’t want to end up in one like me, LOL!) called Emperor Spa. But that’s for another visit. If you haven’t done public bathing the japanese way, I strongly suggest you do. You’ll appreciate your body a lot more and it will feel very liberating. It will make you think, why have I been embarrassed on doing this; there’s nothing to it really!