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.

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

 

 

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. 

 

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!

 

 

 

The Baguio List: What To See In Baguio

The summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio is easily one of the top destinations in the Philippines. Just a bus ride away from Manila, the capital city, Baguio transports you a world away from the chaotic atmosphere of Manila. To maximize your enjoyment in the city of pines, I’ve come up with a list of everything you need to know on what to see in Baguio City.

 Burnham Park 

Named after the architect of the City of Baguio, Daniel Burnham, Burnham park sits at the center of the city making it a great place for the community to come together. The park features several gardens and a lagoon where one can paddle a boat on high altitude. Biking also is popular on this park. Having sloped roadways this piece of flat land in the city sure is the best spot to learn biking.  what to see in baguio

Photo by Res Pe (used under CC License)

Mines View Park

Probably the second most popular spot in Baguio is this small promontory called Mine’s View Park. Located at the northern end of the city, the park offers a view of the nearby mountains and valley bordering other municipalities surrounding Baguio.

what to see in baguioPhoto by  ginomempin  (used under CC License)

 

Wright Park

If you are up for some adventure, try out horseback riding at wright park. As soon as you arrive at the park you will be welcomed by lanes of ponies and horses along with the distinct smell of horse poo. LOL. It’s worth trying though specially if you haven’t ridden a horse yet. You can also visit St. Joseph Parish Church  where a famous celebrity couple got married. Guess who! Write your answer in the comment section!

what to see in baguio

Photo by Constantine Agustin (Used under CC License)

Lourdes Grotto

Walk 252 steps up the stairs going to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Located at the western side of Baguio city in Mirador Hills one can say their prayers as they arrive at the top. Some do this as penance and as a sacrifice for a wish made.

what to see in baguio

Photo by LeylanR (Used under CC License)

Baguio Cathedral

Built during the American occupation with a Neo-Gothic architecture the Baguio Cathedral is the seat of the archdiocese of Benguet.

what to see in baguio

Photo by JanLendL [too busy! (Used under CC License)

Strawberry Farm

Fancy picking strawberries straight from the farm to your basket. Strawberry picking has been a tourist attraction specially for those who like their berries ultra fresh. It is also a fun activity that the family can enjoy together. Strawberry farms are found in La Trinidad, Benguet a several minutes outside of Baguio.

what to see in baguio

Photo by mykel7873 (Used under CC License)

Ben Cab Museum

Home of the world renowned visual artist Benedicto Cabrera’s art works is found in Tuba, Benguet. The BenCab museum offers a visual feast for your creative minds.

what to see in baguio

Photo by penmanila (Used under CC License)

Tam Awan Village

Created as an artist’s haven the Tam Awan village can be found within the outskirts of Baguio City. One can enjoy watching cultural shows and shop for handicrafts created by Benguet’s artisans.

what to see in baguio

Photo by girlpixieshoot (Used under CC License)

Mount Costa

One of the newest attractions that you can add on your what to see in Baguio list, though outside of the city, Mount Costa is just several minutes drive from Baguio. This attraction has a hand full of full size and pocket gardens that you can just let your self get lost and marvel at the beauty of nature.

The Mansion

Officially called as The Mansion House, This white washed stone house becomes the official summer residence of the president of The Republic of the Philippines during the hot months. The structure was built by the Americans in 1908 as the summer house of US Governor Generals

what to see in baguio

 

Editors Note: This article will be updated each time we find something worth visiting. Please like our FB Page and Instagram for more updates.

 

Best Free Tours In Taipei

One of the best things about Taipei is it’s very walkable. Taipei has good sidewalks and the city is well planned. This makes walking from one district to another actually a bit leisurely. I my self think that the on of the best ways to see Taipei is through free walking tours. Here are the best free tours in Taipei that you can join.

 

Tour Me Away

Tour Me Away offers 5 free tours in Taipei and also offers a pub crawl around the city. The group also offers customize tours if you are tight with time and would like to cover specific areas only. The team is composed of young energetic individuals aiming to promote Taipei’s Culture and Heritage through these free tours in Taipei.

The free tours that the group offers are Old Town Taipei, Chill Out Taipei, Long Shan Temple Tour, Hunger Game and the Vintage Tours. Tours typically starts around 4 in the afternoon (be sure to check their website for schedule changes) with meeting places near MRT stations or popular landmarks making it easier for people to locate.

If you want to have a feel of how it’s like to be in one of their tours you can watch the video below of Haley Dasovich’s tour with them on her trip to Taipei with Ave and Daniel Marsh.

Website: www.tourmeaway.com
Email: service@tourmeaway.com

 

free tours in taipei

 


Like It Formosa

An independent group established by young Taiwanese to promote Taiwan’s culture. The team aims to let people see Taiwan by trying to present the country they way locals see them. The group offers five free tours in Taipei namely: The Historic, Modern, Golden Age, Beitou and LGBT Tour.

 


 

free tours in taiwan

 

Now that the Philippines will have been accepted to the country visa free, now’s the best time to plan your trip starting with these free tours in Taipei. So make sure to join one of their fun tours and learn more of Taipei’s culture and heritage!

Got more information or know another group offering free tours in Taipei? Let us know so we can add them up on the list!

Travel Guide: Shilin Night Market

The biggest night markets of all of Taiwan, The Shilin Night Market offers a wide array of delicious Taiwanese food!

wandering around you can just get lost through the maze of streets offering a wide array of food options. Grilled, stewed, baked, just about any way of cooking can be found in the streets of the Shilin Night Market!

The Shilin Night market will not just satisfy your tongue with great Taiwanese foods but with great fusion food as well.

I love starting my Shilin run through by getting my self some cool drinks that will help cleanse my palate one dish after another! No wonder even lonely planet recommends a visit.

Shilin Night MarketCranberry juice lady, they even offer to customize your drink for the same price

 

Shilin Night MarketBarbecued asparagus wrapped in marinated chicken meat is just savory!

 

Shilin Night MarketThe biggest fried chicken I have ever seen! It’s actually a whole chicken fried without the wings and legs!

 

How to get to the Shilin Night Market

The best way to get your self to the night market is through the Taipei Metro. Some might tell you to get off at the Shilin station but it is easier to reach the night market via the Jiantan Station which are both on the MRT red line.

Via bus:
1. Take minibus no. 15 (小15), 16(小16), 17(小17), 18(小18), 19(小19) to Yangming Theatre stop (陽明戲院站).
2. Take bus no. 109, 203, 216, 220, 260, 267, 279, 280, 285, 310, 606, 612, 646, 685, 902 or Zhongshan Line (中山幹線) to Ming Chuan University stop (銘傳大學站).
3. Take bus no. 203, 216, 218, 224, 266, 280, 304 Chengde Line (304 承德線), 308, 310, 606, 616, 618, 665, or minibus no. 18 (小18) to Xiaobei Street stop (小北街).
4. Take bus no. 41, 529, 620, or 30 Red (紅30) to Shilin Market (士林市場).
5. Take bus no. 109, 220, 203, 260, 267, 277, 279, 285, 612, 646, 685, 902, or Zhongshan Line (中山幹線) to MRT Jiantan Station (捷運劍潭站).

Since starting June 1, 2017 Filipinos can now enter Taiwan visa free, you will surely enjoy the amazing food adventure in Shilin Night Market! So make sure that you put this on your list!

 

 

Liwliwa: Lubong-Nanguloan Falls

Apart from the beautiful waves, another attraction in Liwliwa is the Lubong-Nanguloan falls. A lot of articles online refer to it as Anghalo Falls so I was quite confused when I saw the sign saying Lubong-Nanguloan Falls.

The falls is actually a three tier fall. Unfortunately since the dry season has started already, two of the falls doesn’t have water gushing down. Surprisingly it is the middle tier that has water falling! The water was a bit greenish because of some algae starting to form due to the hot weather. It was a refreshing dip nonetheless.

ANGHALO FALLS

It was also quite an adventure trekking up the rocks going to the third tier. If you are up to jumping cliffs this falls is a great one to jump off. Our guide was telling us how foreigners that are sooo tall try to reach for the bottom of the fall’s lake but couldn’t!

ANGHALO FALLS

 

How to go to the Anghalo Falls (Lubong-Nanguloan Falls)

ANGHALO FALLS

Upon arriving in Liwliwa, you can rent a tricycle for about Php500 ($10) but you I read somewhere that you can haggle down to Php 400 ($8) good for two people. The tricycle will take you up to the jump off point from where you’ll have to hike for about 10-15 minutes across a river (it was dry when we came). Entrance fee is about Php 50 ($1).

ANGHALO FALLS

 

There are cottages that you can rent near the falls and I really like how they set up those cottages away from the falls. If you are not keen on renting one you can just set up some sort of picnic area near the falls and just chill out. If you don’t swim or swim, I think it would be cool if you can bring some floaters and you can just lounge around the fall’s pond.

Note: Exchange rate used is $1 = Php 50

 

 

Baguio: Mount Costa Living Gardens

Just off of the city of Baguio, a new attraction just opened up in La Trinidad Benguet. Yeah it’s technically not in Baguio but it still is just a few minutes travel from the city. This is Mount Costa.

According to its website www.mountcosta.com, Mount Costa is a garden of gardens filled with beautiful scenery where you can stroll and just relax. If you are from Manila, think of it like the Picnic Grove in Tagaytay only a lot better!

 




 

From Baguio City to Mount Costa via Jeep:

Go to Shagem St. (across Rose Garden, Burnham Park) and ride a ‘Long trip’ jeep that will take you all the way to Lamtang. Get off at Lamtang Irisan Cockpit.
Ride a jeep with a sign ‘Puguis Junction’ then get off at Mount Costa.

(Directions as per Mount Costa website)

Mount Costa

Please go to their website for more information.

You can find more rooms in Baguio here

Bambanti Festival: The North’s Grandest Festival

It is said that in the Philippines have at least one festival or fiesta somewhere in the country every single day. With over 7 thousand islands there sure is one waiting for you! The most famous ones namely Sinulog, Dinagyang and Panagbenga are all great but sometimes it gets too crowded and you just can’t enjoy the parade.

The Bambanti Festival celebrates Isabela’s agricultural heritage hence the Bambanti which is the Ilocano word for Scarecrows. The week long festival starts with its agricultural shows, competition  and exhibits. This showcases the province’s advancements when it comes to agriculture and how it enables them to raise the bar of food security for the country. It is ideal to see this part of the festival as it will let you discover the business potential that there is for you in Isabela.

bambanti

Aside from these exhibition, the best part of the festival comes on its last two days. The street dancing competition and the dance show down occurs a day before the closing ceremonies which is also something to watch for. Almost each of the 15 municipalities and cities of the province sends their delegation to compete, while repressenting their individual festivals in their own towns. It is almost like a competition of what the best festival is in the province! You can actually have a glimpse of what each town offers when it comes to feasts!

Agricultural Exhibition

See what Isabela has to offer in terms of advances to agricultural opportunities. Visit the Bambanti Village composed of booths made up of Isabela’s agricultural produce. It actually reminded me of the Pasadena Rose Parade and the Panagbenga where floats are made up of flowers and seeds, this however is far more extravagant including vegetables and crops as materials in constructing their booths.

Street Dance

Teams are challenge to dance to a single song playing while showing their creativity and uniqueness. I just love their costumes specially the Cauayan City delagation all dressed up as scarecrows!

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B-Boy Competition

On a more modern note, contestants showed their acrobatic skills as they try to snag the coveted title of being the best dance crew in the province.

bambanti festival

bambanti festival

bambanti festival

bambanti festival

 

Dance Show Down

Probably my favorite part of the festival is the dance show down among the municpalities of Isabela. Each contingent showcased stories from their towns with colorful costumes and energetic dance routines.

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Festival Kings and Queens

The festival also picked their Festival king and queen. Each delegate’s festival costume will just make you admire their creativity and taste.

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

bambanti festival kings and queen

But it doesn’t stop there, to be the festival royalty for the year you don’t just have to look good; you also need to be talented!

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Festival Concert

Of course what everybody was waiting for is the festival’s culmination concert. It was a star studded night! Present that night to entertain are PBB’s Myrtle Sarrosa, Kristof Garcia and the Pinoy Boyband Superstar winners. The highlight of the concert night though was the four exquisite divas of the Sunday show ASAP – KZ Tandingan, Kyla, Angeline Quinto and Yeng Constantino.

Kristof Garcia

Myrtle Sarosa

Pinoy Boyband Superstar

ASAP Divas

ASAP Divas

ASAP Divas with the governor and vice governor

No wonder people refer to it as the grandest festival of northern luzon, The Bambanti festival does deliver to this title. It has won 2 Aliw awards for the best festival performance consecutively for the past two years and it really shows. I honestly was overwhelmed with how much effort has been put to this festival. The program was so tight that there are no dull moments. It was a world class production indeed, resonating their theme for this year as Isabela for the World. Forgive me for rambling so much about this but, I just cant help to express how surprisingly awesome the show was and not a lot of people know about this!

Fittingly the festivities was closed with a bang by a fabulous fireworks display that lit up the night sky of Isabela!