Category Archives: Travel Tips for Each Country I Visited

CAMBODIA ADVENTURE: MY SEVEN DAY ITINERARY AND TIPS

This is my seven day itinerary with tips in Cambodia:

3 days in Siem Reap and 3 days in Phnom penh

FIRST DAY- arrived Siem Reap at 10pm. Transfer to hostel. There are a lot of vans offering you transfer from the airport to your hotel. It costs 10 USD, well depending on the size of the vehicle, the airport staff will give you a coupon. However, you can opt to use the friendly tuktuks which will cost you around 5USD. By the way Tuktuks can seat up to 6 persons. Don’t be fooled if the tuktuks say that there’s a regulation that say that only 3 persons can seat per tuktuk. 😀

By the way, unlike other countries, such as South Korea, Kuala Lumpur, or cities like HK, where airports are located far away from the city center, the airport in Siem Reap is just a 10 to 15 minutes ride. So, spending a lot in a van than a tuktuk, is not a wise choise, especially if you are just 2 persons traveling together. 😀

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The taxi/van driver will most likely offer you a tour for the next few days. You will most likely say Yes because it is cheap. However, you can save more money if you’ll just hire a tuktuk and bring you to the Angkor Wat, especially if you are in a budget. But, the good side of saying yes, is that the package that the van/taxi will offer you includes a very knowledgeable tour guide. Which, we did, and we were happy with our choice. However, skip the other tours that he will offer you, such as the side trip to the floating village known as Tonle Sap. For your own sake, don’t go there. It is a waste of time and money. (I’ll tell you in another post) 🙂

Since we arrived late in Siem Reap, we went out to eat in a restaurant located in pub street. Well, as the name suggests,  is a party place! 🙂 full of bars and people dancing on the streets.

pubstreet.jpg pubstreet.jpg

SECOND DAY- In the morning, while waiting for our tour driver to pick us up. My friends and I decided to rent a bike in our hostel and to look around the nearby area.  And we saw some mini temples akin to that in Thailand. Well, we learned of it by accident so I wasn’t able to know its name. Though, Siem Reap is so small that you can probably see it if you rent a bike. 😀

Temples in Siem Reap city. Temples akin to that in the neighboring country-Thailand.
Temples in Siem Reap city. Temples akin to that in the neighboring country-Thailand.

We were also able to see the pub street during the morning and tried the infamous Pizza place.

aroundsiemreap2.jpg aroundsiemreap3.jpg aroundsiemreap5.jpg

In the afternoon, we went to Tonle Sap, as recommended by our driver/tour guide (skip this. not worth it! I’ll be writing about it in another post) Just go to Angkor Wat. You can opt to get the 2 day Angkor Wat visit, as there are a lot of Angkor temples other than Angkor Wat.

Well, it is interesting to see these, but I will tell you in another post that the cons outweighs the pros
Well, it is interesting to see these, but I will tell you in another post that the cons outweighs the pros

Tonle Sap is a place full of scams and rip offs. Though, I must admit, it has a colorful and amazing sunset view

On our way back to Siem Reap after visiting the water village
On our way back to Siem Reap after visiting the water village

THIRD DAY- Angkor Temples

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sunset.jpg

FOURTH DAY- Go to Phnom Penh (6 hour bus ride)

We opted to have a day trip, so we bought our tickets at the night market. Well, the ticket costs around 500 pesos. 😀

FIFTH DAY: Phnom Penh,

Tuong Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Killing Fields– Well, I didn’t realize that I’m really into this kind of stuff. haha. 🙂 Well, there’s an eerie feeling into it that makes it interesting. Moreover, I learned a lot of Cambodia’s history because of it.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos inside the Genocide Museum because the thought that a ghost will appear in one of the photos, scared the hell out of me 😀  Well I’ll write a separate post for this 😀

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SIXTH DAY– Went to the Central Market and then went back to Siem Reap (traveled for 6 hours)

The central market is really a nice place to visit. I don’t know why? maybe of the cheap things that they sell there??

The Central Market in Phnom Penh
The Central Market in Phnom Penh

Don’t ever plan to go to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh using a van. Bus is better. My gosh, the road is really rocky. And riding a van make it worse. And if you are unlucky enough to sit at the back of the van, just get ready for a trip with no nap or sleep time. I’m not even sleeping but I always found myself at the floor every single time. Well, if you cannot picture it enough–think of the time you rode a horse. Yeah, it’s that harsh!

7TH DAY

Just walked around the pub area. 😀

TRAVEL TIPS in Cambodia

1. Well, Cambodia uses US dollars as their currency but they don’t have the US coins, (currency below 1 USD)  instead they use their own money. And yes, it is confusing. Until now I can’t figure out how much is the equivalent of their money compared to USD.

2.  There are a lot of scams going on. Well, not necessarily scams, but they overcharge you in everything. Especially in Siem Reap. Be careful with the Tuktuks, always, ALWAYS, always, I MEAN ALWAYS, HAGGLE. and if you are a group of 4 or 5 or 6 and tells you that you should rent separate tuktuks because of a traffic regulation. No, don’t believe that. During my stay in Cambodia (phnom pehn or siem reap) I always see more that 4 even 8 passengers in a tuktuk. I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos though, but this is one I got:

Do not believe the tuktuk drivers. They just want to earn more income
Do not believe the tuktuk drivers. They just want to earn more income

3. Another thing, please bring your own medicine from your home country. Why? I got sick in Cambodia, and my Cambodian friend told me that I should not buy medicine there instead take the medicine I have from my country. She even went home to get the medicine she got from her husband (who is from a country in Europe) because she said that the medicine in Cambodia, instead of making you feel better, can make you feel worse. She said that they sell medicines even if they are already expired. Scary right?

4. If you plan to visit Phnom Penh from Siem Reap, you can buy bus tickets in the Night Market. There are a lot of travel agencies that sell tickets toward Phnom Penh, or even Bangkok. You can buy it there. But never, try riding a van. It is really a bumpy ride and a good looking van doesn’t make it better.

5. Don’t go to Tonle Sap.

6. Well, as for the sarongs or long skirts whatever. It is not really “mandatory” in the whole angkor complex. It is just necessary in hiking up the main temples in Angkor Wat. But, I suggest that you still wear the proper attire, so that if you opt to hike the temples, then you can do so without a problem. You can buy long pants or sarongs in the “NIght Market” for around 2-3 USD each.

So, here’s my outfit while in Angkor Wat. Yeah, I look so dirty already, and that’s around 4 pm already, and we started touring at around 7am. That’s why I look so “dugyot”. I bought my pants in Siem Reap’s market since I wasn’t able to pack well 😀

yeah, I don't look good. haha.
yeah, I don’t look good. haha.

 

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HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR WINTER ESCAPADE?

Last December 2012, my friends and I went to Beijing, China, and as you know, December is part of the winter months in Beijing. The temperature may drop up to -15 degrees celsius so, before going there, I made sure that I was ready to face the cold winter weather in Beijing!

Beijing China winter back drop near Bird's nest
Beijing China winter back drop near Bird’s nest

Snow in Jingshan Park

Well, I’m in love with the cold weather, so I was really excited to enjoy this climate-change (no, not that climate change that you are thinking! :))  but what I didn’t know about is the craziness, yes the craziness of preparing for a winter escapade! The craziness started when I knew that the cold freaking weather can go down at -20 degrees celsius, crazy right?? A person living in the tropics might just die (o, ika nga sa filipino, mangisay nalang ako! haha) Therefore, as early as 2 months before my flight, I started shopping for my winter outfits…. it is crazy ‘coz unlike my other trips, I just wear whatever I already have, but this, this needs preparation.  if we are not prepared going to that “war” ! Knowing that our climate is +32 degrees celsius more, and the lowest that we can get is 18 degrees. If we weren’t ready we will never be able to go out and look around the areas that we are supposed to see, so before going out your tropical-usually hot climate country, you should be prepared. Anyway, nuff said. So here are my little tips, for your crazy climate temperature-change, ermm… snow-laden vacation:

1. Research on how low the temperature can get. If the temperature goes down to a negative, then you need to follow my advice, if it’s not, but you are the type of person who cannot withstand a 20 degrees airconditioned room, then you can also follow my advice (especially those going to HK, since last year December 2012, when I went there, the temp dropped to 5 degrees celsius, which it is not supposed to do because HK temp is usually above 10 degrees!! and yeah, I was really glad that I have my Beijing clothing with me that time! :))

2. If you can fathom buying second hand clothing for your winter escapade, then why not? that’s what I did. I bought clothes from the ukay-ukay or thrift shops in Harrison Plaza, just behind the national book store. For only P150,00 to P350.00 you can get a down jacket or a coat. This is the best way to save money for your trip, why? because a down jacket or a coat may cost you more than your airticket going to your destination (I’m talking about my kind, who patiently waits for seat sales of various airlines and get the usual P15,000 worth or airticket for only P2000-P5000). heh! 🙂  But, if you have the money, why not splurge? My philosophy why I bought second hand clothing is that I will only use it once. Just make sure that you soak it up with the best cleaners that you have! But, if you are the yucky-it’s second hand type, then try the Surplus stalls located in the Mall of Asia (the biggest surplus store, they sell coats and down jackets too, quite expensive than the usual second hands but it is all worth it too). However, I bought my other two coats in the Surplus Store inside a mall in Divisoria, that mall nearest to Lucky China Town, and along Reyna Regente Street, it is before you arrive the much well-known 168 mall. I’ll put the name here when I remember its name. Well, in the top floor of that mall, there is this surplus shop which sells various branded clothing for only a dime. I bought there an Anne Klein coat for only P100.00. hah! such a great deal? ayt?! Well, these are surpluses, so they are not “ukays” or second hands, they are overruns or surpluses, but always check for damages! 🙂

3. The type of textile/cloth used in your clothing may make or break your vacation, so please.. please…. please… (3 cute pleases, with a wink! :)) you should remember this clothing that will never ever ever ever make you warm during this vacation, don’t make any of these are your jacket, but you can use them as an outer pants. 🙂

  • Cotton
  • Maong or those in your jeans
  • leather – don’t use leather jackets there, except if you wanna die or  if you have a bike! hah! 🙂 peace, to the leather lovers!

Because these textiles or tela does not retain moisture, they absorb them! your clothes need to retain moisture because that very same moisture will warm you up. Nah, I don’t get the idea, but from my thorough research, that was what I found.

Best textiles/cloth that can help you:

  • wool
  • polyester
  • and alike..

So, just check while you buy your clothes, it can be found in the tags of the clothes.

  1. Things to buy for your winter escapade!
  • Outer Jacket – must be made of wool, or goose feathers (you know, the one which will make you look like a Michelin man, but if you have this you will definitely survive the battle 🙂
  • Inner Jacket – you should have 3-4 layers of clothing, so here is the other one, it can be a cardigan made of wool, polyester and all. But not those mentioned above that should not be worn.
  • Your woolen or stitched/ gantsillo kind of sweater.Or any shirts not made from those mentioned above (cotton etc.)
  • Underwear– no, not that usual underwear we use in the tropics, but you can still wear them. No, you should still wear them. So what I’m saying here is that, after wearing your usual panties-bra or briefs, you should wear this “winter-ready underwears” which is called long-johns, or what we call warmers with heat-tech technology. It looks like leggings and tights, but aside from the same appearance, the latter does not have the same capability of making you stay warm. What you buy here is the heat-tech technology. I bought one pair mine in UNIQLO which is P795.00  and one pair from Marks and Spencers which costs P1395.00 per piece. For a pair in M&S I bought it for P2500.00 and it will depend on the type or quality of the warmers you’ll gonna buy. But, you can go to 168 mall, 2nd floor, and there is a stall there selling underwear, ask them to give you warmers or long johns. And you can buy a pair for P450.00. Well, the difference between those sold in UNIQLO and 168 mall is the thickness. the one sold in 168 is thicker which means it will be bulkier to look at once you worn all the outfits, on the other hand those sold in Marks and Spencers or UNIQLO are super thin, it feels as if it’s your second skin. By the way, this is very important, don’t forget to buy this!
  • Socks – Please buy a pair of heat-tech socks, not those ordinary ones as most of them are made in cotton, which is not a good textile to use because when it gets wet, it absorbs it, and stays cold for the rest of the time. Remember, you are going to a snowy filled place, and snow is water, and when it gets to you, it will feel wet and cold. This happened to one of my friends who used cotton  or ordinary socks, she said, her feet felt numb.
  • Scarf – Buy one in any stores that you will find, Buy those stitched/gantsillo/knitted ones, or those pashmina kind of scarves not those bought for the beach, the ones which are transparent or look like it would not shield you from anything.
  • Gloves – Don’t buy leather gloves unless you want to sacrifice your hands by making them feel numb all the time. leather does not, never, makes you feel warm, and actually it will make you feel cold. Knitted or mittens are recommended.
  • Hat – Though you can buy it in your destination, it is still good if you already have this with you. It is one of the most important, as heat escapes almost 90 percent from our head. Hence, to keep you warm, you should make sure that you have a head gear
  • Earmuffs- Oh, I tell you, this is not for show! They have their own use, which is to make your head and ear nice and warm. I’ll tell you, you wanna protect your ears, they are also prone to frost bite. you don’t wan’t to home, earless, aren’t you? hahaha. But you can buy this in the place of your destination, as it is cheaper there than buying here.
  • Boots/ Shoes- don’t use leather, unless your shoes are those trekking-in-southpole-mount-everest- kind of leather shoes, then why not? Boots sold here in our country is nothing but for the purpose of design, not functionality, so it would not help you at all. I saw one in Aldo, it’s an uggs type, so it would be helpful. You can also try buying in Forever 21, or if not, visit the thrift shop I metioned above, since they also sell these goodies. However, I didn’t buy it because I’m afraid of athletes’ foot. 🙂 So, I got mine in F21. Make sure that it looks warm and cozy. Rubber Shoes ladies and gentlemen, is not, never will be a winter shoes. the cold slips through the rubber, which will make you say “I’m cold” all the time. Trust me, my friend told me that she had made a mistake! hahaha. But, I tell you, you can buy shoes in the place of your destination. It’s actually better to buy there as it is cheaper, so you can use your rubber shoes for a time, then just buy there, make sure, you will be shopping during your first day, but if not, better buy here or in your home country
  • Petroleum Jelly – Instead of the usual lip balm, use this. Your lips will be extremely dry that an ordinary lip balm (may it be burt’s bees or nivea) cannot withstand. Petroleum Jelly is the best to prevent wind burns and dryness. Believe me, in our group, they insisted in using their balms and later on they said that it doesn’t work, and they asked to share in my petroleum jelly
  • Skin lotion and face moisturizers- due to the dry temperature, you need this to prevent wind burn.

One of the down side of traveling in winter, is how bulky your luggage can get, or that you will have the same jacket for the rest of the trip. Worry not, my fellow travelers who loves winter clothing. You can minimize your luggage by buying those vacuum bags that make your clothes thinner when you put it in your luggage. Trust me, they will be flat, but there’s no need to iron it again!

I bought 5 vacuum bags from Japan Home Store for P88 or P66 pesos each. and then…. it does it magic.

Winter clothes in a vacuum bag
Winter clothes in a vacuum bag

This is how we looked! BTW, i practiced wearing my clothes before my flight to Beijing, just to see how it looks, but nah! when you’re there already, sish to fashion!! This is true, I didn’t care about how I look because I care more about how I’ll survive the cold! 🙂

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winter clothing
winter clothing

So, that’s all! Hope this helps!

Tips and Things to do in Caramoan, Philippines

Caramoan is a peninsula, it consists of a lot of islands which you can visit and explore.

Here are the lists of things you can do while you are in this paradise

  1. Island Hopping–  anyone in Caramoan should do this! you should not miss the wonderful islands in this peninsula… Staying in your hotel is a no-no! Get out and have a tan! and choose the island/s that you wanna visit!
  • Most of the accommodations offered in Caramoan are located in their “bayan” or the municipality proper. Take note that staying in Caramoan proper, or the baranggay only means that you won’t be staying in a beachfront hotel, you need to travel 5-10 minutes by vehicle to have a glimpse of sparkling sand and water.  The wonderful islands here doesn’t have on-site accommodation or any hotels.. only sand, water and nature… but I learned that you can pitch your tent in Matukad Island.
  • There are beachfront hotels available such as Gota Beach Resort and Hunungan Cove, however, it is quite expensive. And these hotels are not located in the captivating islands themselves… They are located in another island (near the center of Caramoan). The beach in those hotels are nothing compared to those you’ll see during your island-hopping adventure.
  • Islands not to miss: 1.) Matukad 2.) Lahos—love the strong waves! 3.) Cotivas Island 4.) Manlawi Sandbar 5.) Sabitang Laya--here you can see a lot of gorgeous limestone formations

2. Gear up your feet while you climb  527 steps of stairs to see the wonderful Grotto and the captivating view of some islands in Caramoan… However, this is not for the easily tired people like me since you really need to walk in steep stairs.

3. Eat Kinalas. This is Bicol’s specialty and Caramoan has its own take n making Kinalas.

4. Visit St. Michael’s parish. a 17th Century old Church… it’s made of red bricks, which made it a lot more interesting! It’s a wonderful sight!

5. Visit the underground river! It’s small but after heaving to soak in salt-water, it’s time to rinse in fresh water…. Underground river is the best with its clean, cold yet refreshing water

6. Buy some souvenirs! And try their pilinut candies!!

Tips while you are in Caramoan:

  1. Book your vacation in advance, especially if during peak seasons (March-May), you should book 2 months before your travel, so that you can make sure that you have a place to stay.
  2. Bring sunblock to protect your skin (You will be outside most of the time, so tanning is inevitable). Using sun block will protect you from sunburn)
  3. Bring a lot of water. After swimming in salty water you might need some fresh drinking water to revitalize yourself to swim again… in short, to quench your thirst. It’s better if its cold. 🙂
  4. If there’s no food included in your travel package, I advise you to bring food (pack lunch) since the city center is far from the beautiful islands of Caramoan. You really need to take a boat to come and go. Moreover, there are no vendors or any establishment in the islands I mentioned. It’s only you and nature. Nothing else.
  5. Bring your camera.. The places you’ll be visiting are really photogenic!
  6. No bar, no nightlife, just karaoke and some beers… If you want all-night partying, go to Boracay and have fun there! Caramoan is nature at its finest.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY OTHER POSTS ABOUT CARAMOAN/ ITINERARY/ HOTEL REVIEWS/TIPS/PLACES TO VISIT/HOW TO GET THERE ETC. 

Caramoan, Philippines: Why Hire A Travel Agent?

Although I’m the “travel” agent of my family, friends and colleagues; which means I’m the one who arranges our trip without having to use local travel agencies— or sometimes I’ll be the tour guide myself…. For this trip, I opted to get a travel package for my Caramoan Adventure.

I made this kind of arrangement so that I can get rid of being stressed and looking haggard throughout the trip, even though I know that it is easy to come-and-around in Caramoan; however, the planning especially of the things like place to stay, a boat and a boatman, food, tour guide will make you crazy especially if you do this by yourself.

Having a travel agency to arrange for you your most awaited vacation is a totally good idea! Especially if you are like me, who is always the travel planner in your group or family —You know what, sometimes I get tired and angry too…although I enjoy booking and researching for the trip..sometimes I say, ‘I just want a vacation which I won’t think about anything else… just have fun and relax’

Getting a travel package is a little-bit expensive than DIY, since of course, you need to pay for their service for prearranging your vacation–from booking hotels, food, ‘bangka‘ boat, and others… But, since you are in a vacation and a paradise like this… why not spend some more in order to fully enjoy and relax! Don’t let yourself or your friend be stressed, just hire a travel agent— This will be my message for my friends who are looking at this at this very moment 🙂 Peace!

Below is a list of some travel agencies in Caramoan (click the link to go to their websites)

I’ll add more as soon as I can see other travel agencies 🙂 I’ll keep you updated!

What to look at when hiring a Good Travel Agency for your trip:

  1. Department of Trade and Industry Registered.
  2. With Bank Account named after the tour company (if none, then reviews from their previous customers in Facebook or other networking sites—this will prevent collusion and false advertisement
  3. Check the prices (If it is too low compared to other travel agencies, it’s questionable)
  4. The smaller the reservation fee the better it is, since if you cancel the trip it won’t be that ‘Ouch!’ or it won’t hurt too much; and your wallet will stay healthy 🙂

Happy Wandering! 🙂

Some Tips and Advice when you travel to China

China is indeed a big, beautiful and historic city. Going to this wonderful place might be part of your bucket lists.. So, here are some of my travel tips for you.

Some Tips for Surviving China

  1.  If you have limited time for your trip, make sure to go to the tourist trails before going to any other places 
  •       I have a list of Recommended places to visit in Beijing: Click here
  •       I also have a list of recommended places to visit in Xian: Click here

2.When you visit China, make sure to wear comfortable clothing

  • unlike South Korea or Paris, people here doesn’t mind about what you wear… Chinese seems to believe in Simplicity… and they choose comfort than glamour.. so don’t mind wearing any glamorous clothing while you are in China. T-shirt, pants, or short-pants will do
  • But make sure to wear according to the season. If it’s winter then bring some winter clothing. If summer, then wear summer clothing

3. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes

  • In a big country, such as China, it isn’t a shocker, when parks, palaces and other tourist attractions is 4 times bigger than a soccer field. So better yet get ready and wear comfortable shoes
  • I wore my trusted fitflops when traveling here in China, and it wasn’t a problem. Which is unlike Bangkok, where you can’t go inside if you’re wearing slippers.

4. When you go to tourist attractions... DON’T ever try to talk to vendors!

  • There are a lot of vendors selling you stuff in tourists attractions, and they will just pester you and ruin your day if you try to talk to them.
  • Our tour guide told us some horror stories when you try to buy to these vendors:
  • According to our tour guide, Selena of Sinohotelguide, she said that one of the tourists bought something from a vendor in the great wall of Badaling, and the tourist got a fake note (money RMB)  as a change.
  • Another client of hers, also asked the vendor how much the price of the souvenir was, but the client just wanted to ask (since a buyer has the right to ask questions right?) unfortunately, she was forced to buy the thing because the vendor followed her and keep pestering her to buy the item

>> Moreover, we saw the real deal when we came to Ming Tombs, a foreign woman asked the fruit vendors (just outside the Ming Tombs) how much was the apples…and she touched it, and then she went away, and then the vendor tried to follow the foreigner and as the vendor moved, the apples that she was selling fell to the ground (the basket “bilao” of apples seemed to be accidentally attached to the apron of the vendor, that was why the apples suddenly fell), then suddenly she was throwing the apples to the foreign woman.. —this time we are just about to buy some fruits because my dad was so hungry! and we are like her next customer (we are at least 1 meter when it happened) and after seeing that kind of disaster, my father said “Halika na!” which means “Let’s go”…. harhar.. such a scary encounter!!!

5. If you travel DIY, you should put the attractions, places you wanna visit and your hotel in their local language

  • Traveling to China is difficult because of the language barrier… even in train stations or ticketing counters and even the policeman doesn’t know how to speak English… so foreign visitors… it will be really hard for us!
  • However, If you are well-versed with their local language (Mandarin) then you will have no problem at all, but for a lot of people who doesn’t understand this language then you should get ready.
  • Start by putting the name of the attractions and hotels in Chinese.
  • You can let the front desk staff of your hotel to write the places you wanna visit in their local language
  • Or before coming here, learn some basic Chinese! 🙂

6. Exchange your money in their currency before its too late!

  • There are no Money Exchange shops in China, you can only find one in the airport and some reputable hotels (Hilton, Novotel) and of course the trusted Bank
  •  I tried exchanging my money in the reputable hotels (My family and I are really worried) but they didn’t allow because only hotel guests can avail of the service)
  • For those who are budget-travelers, and your hotel doesn’t have a money exchange counter, then your only option is the BANK. But take note that the opening hours is by 9am to 5 pm  and they are closed during Chinese Holidays, Saturday and Sunday.
  • But, no worries for ATM card holders, if your bank is loaded with cash 🙂 then you can just withdraw from ATMs in China. However, they have limit of 2,000 to 3,000 CNY per day. We tried withdrawing in the ATMs of different banks in China, but it doesn’t work, the maximum (to all banks in China) is the limit I mentioned before.
  • Moreover most of the establishment does not accept USD! So be careful people! 🙂

7. When you go to China, especially DIY or even if you have a tour guide, you should read some basic history of the places you wanna visit, so that you can understand thoroughly the underlying mystery that covers the place. This will make it more interesting! 🙂

8. Bring water with you

  • walking…walking…walking.. is the only thing you will do when you visit an attraction in China, and you will need a lot of water to re-energize and to refresh you…and also this is to avoid the pesky vendors in the attractions… Instead of buying to them.. just bring your own. It will make you safe and refreshed throughout the trip.

9. If you are going to ride the long-distance train, I suggest you buy the ticket earlier or reserve it online (Now, they have online reservation facility) or if not, go early to the train station and buy the tickets) especially if your train is Xian to Beijing, since sometimes they have only 1 train leaving the place. So, watch out people!

TIPS FROM FELLOW BLOGGERS:

1. When you come to China, as much as possible, avoid street foods-especially those cooked in oil. One of my fellow blogger stated that Chinese tend to cook their food in recycled oil.

> Food cooked in oil is very unhealthy—not only because it was cooked in oil— but because the oil is recycled by those vendors.. And we all know recycling oil and eating the food cooked in it is carcinogenic…

FOR THE READERS: If you already traveled to China, please put your other “tips and suggestions when traveling to China” on the comment box below.. I can add it here in this list..

If you have more tips, list it down in the comment box below and I will add it here 🙂

Thank You! Hope this helps! 🙂

HAPPY WANDERING! 🙂

Hong Kong: Tips on how to save money in HK, Expenses and Budgets for your Hong Kong Escapade (Based from my observation and experience)

The 1st time I visited Hong Kong was on August 2009. I’m only with my Mother that time. However, in this trip, we used a travel agency. Since I’m still a beginner in the world of travel. My Mom usually is our travel organizer but now, I’m the one whose planning it all..The travel agency we used was T&J Travel and Tours. Our entire trip costs P17,000.00 each or ($400 USD) including airfare. We used Cebu Pacific for this particular trip. The package consists of breakfast, hotel accommodation and seat-in-coach tours. This is a 4 days 3 nights package with overnight stay in Macau. We stayed in a 4 star hotel, the Royal View Hotel in Hong Kong and Best Western Taipa Hotel (3 stars) in Macau.

The 2nd time I visited Hong Kong was December 2010. This time I’m with my whole family. (My Dad, Mom, brother, sister-in-law and my nephew) and we also booked our trip using a travel agent. We used 99 Gem Travel and Tours. They charged us P33,000.oo each, ($768 USD) since almost of our tours are private (it is expensive due the fact that December is a peak season). We also got a 4 days 3 nights package with overnight in Macau. We stayed in a 5 star hotel which is the L’Hotel Nina in HK and Casa Real Hotel in Macau.

For my third time in Hong Kong, I only spent a total of P10,000.00 or $232 USD including airfare and shopping! This is the cheapest travel I made in Hong Kong (so far!). For this trip, I traveled with my friends, so cheap accommodation is okay. Instead of staying in a hotel, we stayed in an apartment (located in Hong Kong Island) which I booked through Airbnb. We stayed there for 3 days and 2 nights then went back to Manila.

NECESSITIES IN HK: How much are those?

Food is a little bit expensive in Hong Kong compared to Manila. The food there ranges from P250.00 to P500.00 ($6 to $12). Even Mcdonalds costs P250.00 up ($6). In the Philippines, Mcdonalds only costs P50.00 to P150.00 (1$ to 3$) for each variant.

If you travel with kids, beware since the chicken served in Mcdonalds is spicy, so Filipino children (who doesn’t like spicy food) will not be able to eat there. Don’t even look for Spaghetti or even rice since you cannot find it there. You can find  a lot of burgers instead of the usual Filipino food. If you want to eat rice, you can try other places instead. You can eat in KFC since they serve rice. However, take note that when you order fried chicken, there is no rice included, instead, you should order the rice-toppings (it tastes like a mushroom soup mixed with rice).

Water is also a bit more expensive compared to prices in Manila, but the prices is tolerable (unlike Singapore, where water costs $2 USD for a 500 mL of bottled water). Moreover, in theme parks, the food and water they sell are really expensive. In Ocean park, for example, the water there costs around $1.50 USD or P75.00 for 800mL which you can buy outside (any convenience store in HK) for only P25.00 or 0.50 USD. So, if you are going to theme parks, bring some water with you.

COMMUTING IN HK: THINGS TO MAKE YOU SAVE A LOT OF MONEY:

If you are going to commute all the time in Hong Kong, I suggest that you buy the Octopus Card. To get one, you will need to pay a deposit P700.00 (as far as I remember) and load it. Don’t worry your deposit will be given back to you once you return your card. If you purchase one, you will get discounts for fares and it is very convenient. To add, there is a big difference in the fares when using a regular ticket and the octopus card (the latter has a lot more discounts than the former) And it is also convenient since you will only need to touch the card to the reader and VOILA! you are set to go! This is better than lining up and buying individual tickets in the subway station, or making sure that you pay the exact amount when you ride the bus!

One more tip… If you don’t have an octopus card and opt to pay the traditional  way then make sure that when you get into the bus, you have the exact amount of fare with you, since bus drivers will NEVER..EVER.. give change to you.

To buy an octopus card, you can get one by buying in their website prior to your trip or buying it to the counters in the airport. You can purchase it in the first counter you see when you go out the doors of the customs. You will notice that there is a money exchange counter and in front of which is where you can buy the octopus card. Take note that they only accept HKD! So exchange your money first before trying to buy one!

If you don’t have a pre-booked airport transfer vehicle, worry-no-more, since you will save a lot of money by commuting by yourself! I’m not saying to commute using the airport train (which is luxurious and very expensive) or hail a cab, but to use this two simple steps:

1. When you already passed by the immigration and baggage claim counter, you can go to the lobby of the airport, you can ask where the elevator leading to the exits. When we went there the elevator is beside a coffeeshop. The farthest elevator (when you are coming from the customs) is the one you should ride.

2. Wait for the S1 bus, this will take you to a mall which is linked to a subway station (Tung Chung station). Just walk and pass by the fountain or the park (you don’t need to go inside the mall). Then, use the subway going to your desired station (where your hotel is).

More tips is to use the subway (it will save you a lot of time and money). But if you are going to the Victoria Peak, I suggest to ride a taxi, since the bus ride is long (will take you 1 hour to get to the peak, while the tram ride (although a good experience, the line to ride such is really long). The taxi ride is expensive if you are going solo, but if you travel by 3s or 5s the price is reasonable.

Take note that taxis in HK can accommodate 5 passengers. Which means it is bigger than the one here in Manila.

HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON TICKETS

While researching for discounted tickets in Hong Kong, I found CTS Hong Kong which stands for China Travel Service. They offer discounted tickets on any attractions in Hong Kong and Macau. They offer package tickets which will make you save a lot of money. My favorite is the package ticket going to Victoria Peak.

They have tickets for Ocean Park, Disneyland (they also offer this package —> admission ticket + transfer or train ticket + food voucher) and Victoria Peak (Madamme Tussauds, Tram (one way), Sky Terrace.

You can see the prices here

You can opt to buy tickets using their website (you need to pay using your credit card or through bank deposit) and they will deliver your tickets in your designated address (whether in HK –hotels or residences— or abroad). or the easiest way is to go to their counters in the airport. Their counter is the nearest one to the elevator (which leads to the exit). Just ask the guards and they will tell you where it is. Don’t worry they speak english!

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY OTHER POSTS FOR HONG KONG, CHINA SAR
HAPPY WANDERING!

May 2011: Wrapping Up My Seoul Adventure (My own observation, tips, budget, places to visit)

Well, to wrap up all of my experiences in Seoul, I wanna say that Seoul is really a nice city to visit. I’m saying this in an unbiased way (even if I’m a korean series addict). I can see that it is way better than Hong Kong or Singapore in terms of things you can do, places to visit, and performances that you can watch. You have a lot to choose from if you visit Seoul….

Anyway, here are my observations:

1. South Koreans love coffee…

In Seoul, you can’t see a corner without a coffeeshop. Kyo (Korean friend and volunteer tour guide) told us that only few of the coffee shop there goes bankrupt.

Moreover, Seoul is not invaded by Starbucks or Coffeebean franchises instead locals make their own brands and own shop. So, you can see a lot of coffeeshops with an unknown name or brand. And you can see that each of the coffee shops have their own themes. So, next time I’ll visit Seoul, I will go coffeeshop–hopping!

2. South Koreans can walk alot— with high heels!

I noticed that they are not that tired walking around the city…. Moreover, they walk using some high powered heels! When I say powered it means totally high. I stated this in my previous post.

3. Seoul is a safe place

Unlike Manila, if you leave your things unattended for some time, you will never see those things again… I tried not attending to my things while in Seoul, and when I look back “Chada! My things are still there” Unbelievable but true! But, for your own safety, don’t be too lax since bad guys are all over the planet

Moreover, we are ladies who strolled in the city streets during the darkest hour of the night… but nothing happened to us. We even enjoyed ourselves without worrying that something might happen to us

4. Some South Koreans are helpful

Well, if without the language barrier, they will really love to help. My friends and I were in trouble looking for the bus to go to the airport, and we didn’t know where the bus stop is. We really looked worried. Maybe that guy also waiting for his bus noticed our dilemma, so he helped us and pointed us the bus stop. I really thank him for that!

5. In Seoul, water is cheap

Unlike Singapore, the water in Seoul is really cheap. So, you have no worries on buying bottled water there

6. Seoul is cheap if you come by 3s or 4s

Food in Seoul is expensive if you eat alone, but if you eat in groups, it would not make your wallet cry that much. The serving size in Seoul is big… It is good for 2 or 3 persons, so food cost is not that big if you have someone to go together

Taxis are also expensive if you come alone (I’m comparing here using Philippine standards)    (But Singapore taxis are more expensive) since the cost will not be shared by the others. If you are traveling in 3s or 4s, taxi is a good option in traveling Seoul but walking in the city is better since you can see the sights and get acquainted with the city without spending any money.

Almost all wonderful sights are free or with a small charge (Cheongyecheon Stream, Banpo Bridge) only 10,000 KRW to all of the palaces or 1,000 KRW for each of the palace.

Airport bus is a good option, you will pay only 10,000 KRW and you are in Seoul already.

TIPS: (Especially for budget travelers)

  1.  Get discount coupons in the internet (through South Korea official website, click here)
  2. When you arrive in the airport, don’t forget to grab the map of Seoul in the information counters. You can also find some discount coupons there
  3. if your phone is not 3G, you can rent a phone in the airport
  4. Always bring a copy of your hostel or the place you wanna visit in Korean
  5. Buy a TMoney card. It is like an octopus card in Hong Kong, it is a rechargeable card where you can use for your transportation (even in taxis) and buy some stuff. When you pay using TMoney, it gives you discounted fares and you can also get some cool coupons if you buy one. You can buy one of these in any Convenience store
  6. If you wanna buy souvenirs, do it in Nandaemun Market
  7. If you wanna buy clothes do it in Dongdaemun Market (much cheaper)
Places to Visit (Things to do)
  1. North Tower (Namsan Tower)
  2. Palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changdaekgung, Deoksukgung)
  3. Cheongyecheon Stream
  4. Nami Island -unfortunately, we are unable to visit
  5. either Lotte World or Everland –> these are theme parks, and kids will love them. Everland is bigger than Lotte World but the latter is nearer if you are staying in Seoul
  6. Watch JUMP or NANTA
  7. Eat Korean street food, they are good! Then say to the seller “mahjisso” ma-ji-so which means yummy

My Budget

In the Philippines, the package tours going to Seoul is $1,000 (USD) for only 4 days and 3 nights stay. But if you go there without having to apply for package tours, you can save a lot more money. I only spent in Seoul P20,000.00 (Philippine peso) with some souvenir shopping. So, overall, I spent 25,300 Pesos for the entire trip including the airfare.

My budget was $1500 USD but I only spent less than $600

RECORDED EXPENSES: (Next Time I travel I will record everything.. sorry 😦 )

Hostel –> 75000 KRW per night x 4 nights / 3 persons == 100,000 KRW or P 3950 or $91.86 USD

Air Ticket –> we chanced upon a sale: 134 177 KRW or P5300 or $123.25 USD

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY OTHER POSTS FOR SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

HAPPY WANDERING!