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. 

Singapore Hotel: Marina Bay Sands

As a backpacker, you know that I am not a big fan of luxury accommodations. So when the opportunity came to experience the hotel at no cost (thanks to my cousin – so pretty 😉 ) I jumped into it right away. The Marina Bay Sands, located in Marina Bay in Singapore, is an integrated resort touted to be the most expensive in the country. The property is not only famous for offering 5 star service. The building it self has become a tourist attraction as its top shows to be shaped as a big ship.

Marian Bay Sands

While the Marina Bay Sands hotel also has a massive shopping mall and casino. The main draw for non gambling tourists is actually the ship shaped roof deck of the hotel.  The roof deck allows people see Singapore from a bird’s point of view during the day and a crazy party spot at night. While the viewing deck and the roof deck club is a great spot, people actually check-in in the Marina Bay Sands because of its unbelievably beautiful infinity pool.

What I Like About The Marina Bay Sands

The Rooms

Obviously, the Marina Bay Sands exudes luxury throughout the hotel. The rooms are spacious and offers a great view of  either the Gardens by the bay or a gorgeous view of the city.  The room that we got at first was the Grand Club Room thinking that it was on the higher floors. The room was spacious at 79 sqm with a stunning view of the Gardens By The Bay. However, since we were looking for a room at the higher floors at tower three we asked to be relocated. Why? Tower three has the access to the Infinity pool and it would be more convenient to access the pool from the higher floors. We made a mistake of booking the Grand Club Room assuming it would be on higher floors. We thought so because it was more expensive, well lesson learned. Thankfully the hotel was easy to deal with.

marina bay sands

 

The Infinity Pool

One, if not the biggest draw for people to stay in the Marina Bay Sands is the Infinity Pool. It stands to be the worlds largest rooftop infinity pool there is. Honestly, I never imagined my self seeing this awesome view from the pool. Like I said I am not a fan of paying so much, yet still the rooftop infinity pool was something to experience at least once in a lifetime. Yeah, you can call me lucky.

The Infinity pool faces the beautiful Singapore skyline. Since check in time was at 3 PM we only got to catch the sunset and it was beautiful. The pool may be a bit crowded that day since it was a weekend but the view was still mesmerizing. We enjoyed the sun while lounging on the sun beds until sunset.

Marina Bay Sands

 

marina bay sands

The Location

The Marina Bay Sands is very accessible. In fact, it is directly connected to one of the MRT Stations. It’s that convenient! The hotel is also just across the Gardens By The Bay so I just crossed the street and I was there! The Merlion and the famous Singapore skyline is also just a short walk away from the hotel passing by the Science Museum and Esplanade and through the iconic Helix Bridge.

What I Didn’t Like About The Marina Bay Sands

Thinking that the Marina Bay Sands is one of the most expensive hotels in Singapore, I was quite surprised about their pool. Why? Well, the pool is freaking cold!!! Yep the infinity pool is not heated. I had to brave the cold water on sunset. Your body will eventually adapt, of course but it could have been a way more comfortable if it was heated!

Another thing that I felt off about the hotel is when we checked in. Checking-in an expensive hotel should feel classy and sophisticated. But when we checked in at the Marina Bay Sands, it felt like we were in a Mall! The interior felt too stiff that even the high ceilings didn’t compensate the feel that I was looking for. The staff wasn’t actually that bad, but I feel that they could be a bit more polite and warmer. Just saying that I’ve experience better hospitality before.

What I Think About The Marina Bay Sands

If you can afford it go ahead it is worthwhile experience. Sitting at the roof deck under the Sun in the morning and watching the Sunset at night was awesome. But if you feel that you’d actually spend this into something more and stretch it further I’d say skip it. What I am just trying to say is that do it only if you really like it. I don’t have strong recommendation like it should be a must do, that your Singapore experience will be incomplete without it. But then it would be like a cherry to your icing if you do. If you have around a hundred USD and couple more friends to split the cost with and you want it, go push for it!

 

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Got a different experience with the Marina Bay Sands? Leave your story at the comment section, let us know!

Liwliwa Hostel: Limbonis Hideout

The newest and possibly the most backpacker friendly the Limbonis Hideout is a a hostel found and built by a traveler himself. This Liwliwa hostel offers private and dorm accommodation.

What I Like About Limbonis Hideout

Aside from the fact that it was built by a backpacker for backpackers, here are a few more things that makes this place stand out.

The property is located on a corner lot bordered by a river backdrop with lush greenery. Each morning will just be just so calming with the birds chirping. Because this Liwliwa Hostel is located on a corer lot that means there are way lesser noisy neighbors g

Liwliwa Hostel

Being a widely traveled person the hostel truly exudes a travelers ambiance. The owner of this liwliwa hostel recreated some of the architecture that he has seen throughout his travels in Southeast Asia. Some of the structures resonate the vibes from Bali while some comes familiar as houses on stilts.

Liwliwa Hostel

Liwliwa Hostel

 

Liwliwa Hostel

 

liwliwa hostel

Liwliwa can be a tough cookie to break when it comes to getting cheap prices specially if you are a solo traveler. However, at the Hideout Liwliwa Hostel you will feel that you are very much welcome as a solo traveler. I have tried to search for a good price for Liwliwa Hostels before but the best one that I could get before was about Php 550 for a freaking hammock!

I also love Hideout Liwliwa Hostel’s coffee bar where you can ask for coffee made from different parts of southeast asia and the Philippines! While the beach is just five minute walk from the property, the two main stores are just about two minutes away by foot! For the adventurous type, if you are into surfing they have surfboards that you can rent. For novices, you can also ask for an instructor to help you take that first stance on the board!

If you like this liwliwa hostel or would like to know more details you can check them out through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Hostels aren’t that popular for Filipinos but I think one must try staying at this hostel called Bugoy’s Biker Bed and breakfast. Hotels tend to provide canned customer service of some sort like they smile all the time and everything but experiencing real personal customer service is something that one can only experience when the people who own the accommodation actually attend to your need.

I booked Bugoy’s Bed and Breakfast six months ahead of the festival, honestly I had hesitations with it because the location doesn’t seem to be at the center of Cebu and the place looked like it was an old house. Though admittedly, the owners does say it is thus prohibiting smoking inside the accommodation.

Cebu Hostel
But I guess, I was wrong, Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast is just a 15 minute ride away from where the Sinulog action is. It is also conveniently located near JY mall where I was able to find a travel agency that helped me book a ferry to escape the rain in Cebu to Boracay. It is also walking distance to the market, supermarket, fastfood and cheap eateries where I often eat.

The best thing I like about Bugoy’s Bikers Bed and Breakfast is the owner’s personal touch of service. They are really honest and would make sure that you are comfortable. Jens with his wife who owns the B&B will attend and tour you around the property informing you of everything that you need to know.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

I also admire their honesty. I really appreciate the fact that they are very transparent and fair with their prices. I booked through a certain website that gave me a different price which was 25% more of what other guests are paying for. I gaveRenz the amount stated on the website as I checked then she pulled at the back of the property and insisted on giving me back the excess of the price that I was suppose to pay. If that is not enough honesty and integrity, what more can I say? I mean that is money for them already and that is not even cheating or anything since that is the price that I signed up for but she gave it back to me because it was not right. I am really impressed.

They also provide free water and brewed coffee which is awesome, specially for digital nomads like me who need s caffeine to keep our bloods running ^_^. They also serve continental breakfast which is awesome and helpful when it was terribly raining because we didn’t have to go out and find food.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Most of the people who stay there are westerners and I was able to speak with one of the owners who quite sad about locals (people from the country) who book at their hostels and just don’t show up, mostly because they are expecting of some sort of hotel like accommodation. I just hope that Filipinos could open up and actually try staying in hostels and get to know more people.

Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast definitely delivers exceptional service. It has nothing like the luxurious amenities of a hotel but it has more than what you can experience more than a hotel.

It is also worth mentioning that Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and breakfast can be one of the few accomodations that does hostels right. Some accommodations would label them selves as hostels only because they offer dorms of accomodation below the standards of a hotel, but that is not what hostels are all about. Hostels are about meeting new people and keeping accomodations low.

In general, I would highly recommend Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast because of their excellent personal service and hospitality.

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

Note: this post is the sole opinion of the author who is not associated with the hostel in anyway. If you are booking for Sinulog make sure that you book at least 6 months ahead.

Where To Stay In Hong Kong: Dragon Hostel

 

where to stay in hong kongHong Kong is a ultra dynamic city that never sleeps and staying in location that offers quick access to the train and basic things such as restaurants, convenience stores and a like can be easy so long as you stay within the city centers like Kowloon.

However, getting clean and decent rooms can be challenging specially with so many competing hostels that there is.

After searching over and over the internet for the best and affordable place that there is, review after review we ended up booking Dragon Hostel and yes with no regrets.

Dragon Hostel sits at the heart of Kowloon just a block off from the nearest MTR station. Convenience stores and restuarants are within reach and the neighborhood it sits in offers affordable basic commodities.

 

The building has four elevators two on each side servicing just fifteen floors. Though the elevators, since they are smaller than standard once can be a bit crowded at times it can be a lot more forgiving than the Chung King Mansions -which we suggest should be your last resort.

Dragon Hostel offer rates that are reasonable, I tell you if you get prices lower than what they offer better think twice of how decent they are.

where to stay in hong kong

Overall, our experice with Dragon Hostel was excellent the wifi was fast -like really fast, the beds and the room and the bathroom were clean and no bugs! The rooms a bit small specially for westerners but that is just how the roll with Hostels in Hong Kong. What made our stay extra special was being at the heart of the action where all those haggling and bartering happen.

Like they say there Hong Kong has two faces – Central and Kowloon, and Kowloon is the face of Hong Kong that I love.

Here are the good points I have for Dragon Hostel

  • Clean
  • Accessible and near the MTR
  • Near food stores and convenience stores
  • Friendly Staff
  • I found no bugs in the room
  • Has CR inside
  • Best price there is for quality hostels
  • Offers various assistance for travel
  • Offers discounted rates for Hong Kong attractions

Cons

  • Staff isn’t that good with English but will do their best to help you
  • Elevator sometimes gets too busy going down, but there are four of them so just be patient and it is better than what Chung King Mansion has.

Quick Tip

You can also buy your tickets for amusement parks at the reception at a discounted rate!

If you find this review helpful please help support us by booking through Here where you’ll find the best prices available

>>>Check out my Hong Kong Travel Guide Here<<<