Friday, December 26, 2014

Tsukiji Market: Seafood Heaven

Since Japan is all about sushi and raw food, we blocked one whole day to visit the place where restaurants all over Japan source their seafood and that is in Tsukiji Market. Going to Tsukiji Market is very easy click on this link for a step by step guide

We went to Tsukiji Market for one reason...to eat the best and freshest seafood!!! We obviously were very serious about it that we waited in line for 5 loooong hours just to eat at the famous Sushi Dai Rstaurant. The restaurant is one of the oldest in the area and tourists are willing to wait to taste the sushi recommended by the chef. While waiting in line, my friends and I tried to entertain ourselves by exploring Tsukiji Market and here are some of things you will see:

1. Authentic Japanese Restaurants- I've witnessed several people attempting to wait at the Sushi Dai Restaurant line for a few hours and then gave up because they were too hungry or they are not willing to spend that much time lining up. But there are numerous Japanese Restaurants around the area that you can explore as an alternative. Look at the menu and check the restaurant's specialty. Some specialize in rice bowls, others sushi or sometimes noodles. 
2. Market Food Stall- If formal restaurants are not your thing, you may try the food found in market stalls. They are equally yummy and they're much cheaper compare to restaurants in Tsukiji Market.
We tried the tuna sashimi rice bowl and it comes with hot green tea for free. My partner and I shared one bowl because we wanted to try as many snacks as we can haha :)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sushi Dai: THE SUSHI TO DIE FOR

WE WAITED FOR 5 LOOOONNNNGGG HOURS FOR THIS!!! So let me tell you about the half day experience that we had in tasting Sushi at this famed restaurant.

Sushi Dai (寿司大) is a famous and humble restaurant in Tsukiji Market, Tokyo (I think it's been operating for almost 20 years now). There is a lot of sushi restaurants located in the Tsukiji Market and most of it looks the same. However, you will know that you are in Sushi Dai if you see an incredible long line outside of the restaurant. I did not try the other restaurants as it was highly recommended for us to try Sushi Dai. What I can conclude is that this is SUSHI HEAVEN for me because the food are extremely fresh and the taste of Sushi will never taste the same anymore after this experience. 
We woke up early just to go to Tsukiji Market. We arrived around 8:00 am together with my 2 other high school friends. People recommend to go there early morning at around 4-5am but the waiting time is the same regardless if you go 4am or 8am so we chose to go 8am. But expect to wait for around 5 hours (people say it used to be 3 hours a couple of years ago) and eat for total of 1 hour. So in our case, we were able to eat by 1:00 pm.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to Travel from Osaka to Tokyo via Night Bus

There are two main options you can take to travel from Osaka or kyoto to Tokyo. The most popular and preferred one is riding the Shinkansen (bullet train). A lot of people say that riding the Shinkansen is an experience in itself and it's a must do for them. However, we decided NOT to ride the Shinkansen but ride the overnight bus from Osaka to Tokyo instead, and here's why:

Cost:
- Shinkansen (1 way) costs 13,620 Yen or 5,100 Php. 
- Overnight Bus (1 way) costs varies from 3,000 Yen to 11,000 Yen. We selected one of the cheapest but still comfortable bus which costs 4,200 Yen or 1,600 Php.
- It's a whopping 3,500 Php difference EACH!

Time:
- Shinkansen obviously is faster as the whole journey takes 3-4 hours.
- Overnight Bus takes around 8-9 hours.
- The difference however is that, there is no night trip for Shinkansen and you need to travel during the day. For Bus, you can take the overnight ride which in our case was from 10pm to 7am. So you can sleep during the entire bus ride and immediately go around by day time.

Total Savings:
- We saved total of 7,000 Php for transportation for the two of us
- We saved half a day of itinerary which we used to go to Disneyland in Tokyo
- We saved additional 1 day of hotel cost (since we did not have to book 1 day of hotel).


Recommendation:
- Ride the bus if you want to save time and money. It's very comfortable as they have reclining seats and it's very spacious. Only downside is that you won't be able to see any sights going from Osaka to Tokyo as you'll probably be sleeping the entire time.
- Ride Shinkansen, if you plan to travel around 4 cities that are far from each other (not counting Nara, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe which are near from each other) since that's when Shinkansen unlimited ride will be worth it. If you do the math, even if you go to 2-3 cities, it's still significantly cheaper to ride the bus vs. unlimited JR Pass which costs around 13,000 Php and needs to be bought outside of Japan. 

How to Book?
- You need to choose among several bus companies. We chose Willer Express Bus  (http://willerexpress.com/en/) because of reviews and recommendation from our friends. I also highly recommend this!
- You can buy ticket at the venue or online. We booked through online to avoid risk of running out of ticket and also there are discounts at times if you book through online.
- Print the confirmation ticket and go the station around 30 mins prior to your scheduled departure time and just show the ticket. All of the staff speak very good English.

How to get there?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mothers know best!

Cliche as it may sound but mothers know best! They are the light and heart of the family for a reason because mothers are superheroes in real life. They can be comforting, nurturing, and loving. They wear different hats or roles too! They can be your best friend (or enemy sometimes hahaha just kidding), nurse, doctor, teacher, or a cook! Mothers juggle a lot of responsibilities every single day and that's why they are considered as the backbone of the family and it is all for unconditional love and for the good everyone in the family. 
Moms instinctively knows what's best for her child or children. They are very meticulous in finding out the best school, food, clothes, and products in the market. They would really do research example find the most nutritious milk in the supermarket, inspect the quality of the products for the house, and even are willing to pay extra fee just to buy a trusted brand. In short, they will never compromise health, comfort, and safety of her family. My mom is always like that and she worries a lot even the smallest thing! But thankfully, there is one easier way to help Filipino moms be at ease in finding the best and excellent brands with the help of the Taiwan Excellence, a symbol of quality that guarantees the superior value of Taiwanese lifestyle brands that are being sold in the Philippines. 

Taiwan Excellence campaign was organized by the Bureau of Foreign Trade of Taiwan (BOFT) and implemented by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). It was recently launched here in the Philippines (endorsed by no other than Iya Villania-Arellano) and to find out what the campaign is all about click here

Taiwan Excellence help mothers make sound and quick decisions when shopping for products because they are assured that the Taiwanese brands accredited in this non-profit organization have high quality and are worth it. The organization recognizes the needs of the mothers in order to fulfill their roles inside and outside the home. For instance, juggle work and family, wife to husband, nurse the sick children, and the list goes on. With Taiwan Excellence, the world's most demanding consumers, the mothers, are guaranteed of quality so they can just focus on the things that are more important at home or what truly matters instead of making the moms worry all the time. The brands accredited by Taiwan Excellence are fit for all supermoms in the Philippines! :)

For more information about the campaign and the brands visit ww.taiwanexcellence.ph and like Taiwan Excellence Philippines on Facebook. 
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Asakusa Hostel Toukaisou, Tokyo

During our trip to Japan, we went to 4 different area and our last stop was Tokyo.We stayed in a hostel called Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou. It is located in Asakusa area known as the heart of old downtown (Shitamachi) Tokyo. It is an area reminiscent of traditional Japan which is quite rare now in modern-day Tokyo. 

Asakusa Ryokan Toukaisou's rates are very affordable and it's in a convenient location. These two factors are most important for us whenever we travel on a budget since it allows us to  save money and visit many places in the shortest time possible.

We booked via hostels.com for only 2,900 yen per night per person (I think booking directly to their website is much cheaper versus booking via booking sites). The hostel offers a lot of room options from single private, twin bunk beds, double room and even dormitory rooms. We chose the cheapest option which is for 2 people dormitory room/ Twin Private. We didn't have a private bathroom in our room but it didn't really bother us because the bathroom, common lounge area, and everything else are really squeaky clean and cozy! Also, we rarely see guests using it (since we leave the hostel very early and come home late) so we didn't encounter any problems when it comes to privacy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

8 Places to Visit in Osaka

Osaka is the second largest metropolitan city in Japan and one of the largest in the world. It is also the third most populated city in Japan. Our trip to Japan started in Osaka and we spend only 1 day touring entire Osaka. Here are the numerous tourist spots that we've visited in Osaka (in no particular order):
1. Umeda Joypolis Sega- It's an indoor amusement park operated by the major video game developer SEGA. It has 2-3 floors with numerous arcade games (like Timezone in the Philippines) and on top of the building there is a huge Ferris wheel which you can ride to see the whole city of Osaka. Entrance for Joypolis is free of charge and it operates daily from 11 am to 11 pm. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

China 2014 SDE Video

Sharing our China 2014 same-day edit video!!! 

We spent 5 days in China. Our trip started in Beijing then moved to Shanghai. All shots taken from GoPro Hero 3+ and edited via GoPro Studio. 
Watch our Same-day edit AVP here ENJOY! >> click here <<
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Japan Multi-City Itinerary: Jam-packed but worth it!

Japan is certainly one of the most diverse places that we've visited. This is where you can experience culture, nature, theme parks, shopping, and urban city life all at the same time.

Our visit to Japan included trips to 4 cities (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara which was impromptu, and Tokyo) and had to complete everything within 5 days. 

Here's how we did it:
1. Osaka - our itinerary in Osaka were "fillers" which means that it was not a priority and we went to these places only when we had time left after Kyoto and Nara. There is not much to do in Osaka and the tourist spots are situated near each other so you can visit all of these in half a day. But if you plan to visit Universal Studios (which we did not do), then you'll probably need 1 and 1/2 day in Osaka.

2. Kyoto - a lot of people recommended to stay in Kyoto for 2-3 days. We originally intended to stay in Kyoto for 2 days but we challenged ourselves to try it in 1 day during the first day and see if we can free up time to visit other places. We spent whole day in Kyoto and we were literally able to go around the entire city through the 1 day unlimited bus ride. All the tourist spots in Kyoto closes at around 5pm so you need to start your day very early (in our case we went there 6am). There is also a lot of walking (even uphill!) in the temples so if you want to complete everything in 1 day, you need to skip the trek going up to the  top of the mountains for each temple. We only stayed for around 30 mins in each venue as we went around the place, took pictures, and left. However, if you really want to spend time to relax in each temple, you need at least 2 days to go around the entire city.

3. Nara - Nara was not part of our itinerary but given that we were able to finish Kyoto in 1 day, we were able to free up enough time to visit Nara and it was one of the best decisions that we made! Nara has a huge park and it will take you half a day to go around the entire park and feed all the deer there. You don't need to spend 1 whole day there as there is nothing  else you can do aside from playing with the deer and taking a lot of pictures.

4. Tokyo - if you like shopping, cosplays, or the night life, then you'll need to allot more time in Tokyo than the rest of the cities. Two days will be enough if you want to go around all the famous places in Tokyo as these places are situated a bit far from each other and there are more things to do in Tokyo compared to the other cities we went to. However, if you want to add Disneyland to your Tokyo trip, then add 1 more day. If it's Disneyland plus DisneySea which are next to each other, then you'll need 2 additional days. 

5. Mt. Fuji - we did not go to Mt. Fuji as people advised us that it takes a few hours for you to go to the mountain and it's also risky given that you may end up not seeing anything at all due to the surrounding fog. Although people say it's worth the travel going there, we did not wanted to risk a full day to end up not seeing anything as we had to visit 4 cities in 5 days.

How to Create your Itinerary:

Creating your itinerary in Japan will depend on the experiences that you want the most...

1. If you enjoy cultural and nature stuff more, then spend more time visiting Kyoto (2-3 days).

2. If you want to shop and immerse yourself in the busy and fast paced life in Japan, then stay longer in Tokyo. 

3. If you want to tick-off all the theme parks, then spend less on other places and more on these theme parks.

4. If you want to try all of what I've mentioned, then you probably need at least 10-12 days in Japan and more if you decide to get a JR Pass and visit many other cities.

5.If you just want a glimpse of everything, then follow our itinerary. You'll accomplish a lot in Japan if you follow our itinerary and you'll have the time of your life. However, the only way to do this is by researching prior to your trip, having a strict schedule, and walking/traveling non-stop. 
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Taiwan Excellence Made to Joy Christmas Contest

There are only 33 days before Christmas and I am so excited because December is my favorite month of the year since it's my birthday month and of course it's Jesus' birthday as well. Also, Christmas is the perfect time for sharing, loving, aaaaaand gift giving! Yey! :)

In the Philippines, we are known to have the longest Christmas celebration because we start as early as September. When the "ber" month starts, Filipinos usually begin listing their "wish list" and "gift list" for loved onesI personally start buying gifts around 1st to 2nd week of December because I am always on the look out for good value, good quality, bazaars, promos and even contests such as the Taiwan Excellence Made to Joy Christmas Contest!
Early this month, the Taiwan government launched the Taiwan Excellence campaign in the Philippines. It's a campaign promoting the different Taiwanese brands and products and its aim is to provide Filipinos more product choices with guaranteed "seal of quality"

As part of the campaign, Taiwan Excellence recognizes that Christmas is truly a special time for Filipinos hence, they are giving us a chance to surprise 1 special person by  fulfilling his/her "Grown up Christmas list" for FREE!

Here's how to join:

2. Read on the full mechanics and instructions before entering the contest. You must be: (a) a legal resident of the Philippines; and (b) have reached the age of 18 years old at the time of entry. 
3. Register and complete all necessary information.
4. Select one (1) Taiwan Excellence gift for your loved one. Choose between laptops, gadgets, home appliances, sports equipment etc.
5. Fill in the details of the gift recipient or the loved one you want to surprise.
6. Upload a photo of yourself and write down WHY you want to give him/her the gift
7. Then click send and share the good news to your friends!

The contest runs from September 28 to November 23, 2014. 

There will be 10 lucky winners to be drawn and one from the ten will be chosen to have the gift delivered by no other than IYA VILLANINA-ARELLANO, the Taiwan Excellence Celebrity Endorser (woohoo!!! girl crush haha). 

So what are you waiting for? JOIN NOW! 
Guaranteed no purchase needed to join the contest! Promise! ;)


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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ichiran Ramen: Focus on your food

Have you tasted the best ramen in Japan? I did! and I can say that this ramen is THE BEST RAMEN IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!!!! Well....for me haha. I can eat this everyday!!! hahaha it's called Ichiran Ramen.

Ichiran Ramen is a classic Tonkostsu Ramen from 1960s. They say that the original red sauce of ramen was born in Ichiran. Well, I don't know what that meant but to me it's heaven in a bowl...PROMISE! :)

I'm really a fan of ramen. In the Philippines, there was a time that we ate in different ramen places almost every weekends. In Manila, the best ramen for me was Ippudo which also originated in Japan. We waited for 1.5 hours in line during its opening in Megamall, Oritgas and what I tasted was already divine!!! BUT, Ichiran Ramen is even yummier!

In Japan, I noticed that people are fond of falling in line. They are always curious and willing to wait for hours just to eat in famous restaurants!!! One time, we waited for 5 loooong hours just to eat at Sushi Dai in Tsukiji Market (will blog about it soon!) but in Ichiran Ramen's case, we were lucky there was no line at all in Umeda branch (usually it has long queue and waiting time will range from 30 mins -1 hour or more).
Ichiran Ramen has this philosophy that you need to concentrate on the taste of your Tonkotsu Ramen. There should be no distractions, no talking, no observing other people...just focus on your food and taste the difference! It is the main reason why the restaurant's table set up is not your typical layout. Guests are seated in individual chairs with individual windows and condiments. Think, LIBRARY! :) and the best part is that it's open 24/7!!! If Ichiran Ramen opens in the Philippines... you now know where to head to after party ;)

Ichiran Ramen can be found in 14 areas in Japan. Check out the different branches here. We tried it first in Osaka specifically the Umeda branch. 

NOTE: A branch opened in Hong Kong last year in Causway Bay. For Filipinos, Hong Kong is very accessible and you can try it there instead.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Met New Deer Friends in Nara, Japan

Christmas came early for me when I met "Rudolf" the red nose reindeer in Nara, Japan hahaha just kidding. My boyfriend Wooj and I met thousands of Sika Deers in Nara Park and I can say that it was one of my favorite places in Japan!!! :) Waaa I want to go back and feed the hungry deers!

Nara Park is home to one of Japan's famous temple, Todaiji Temple, where it houses the world's largest wooden building and largest bronze Buddha statue. We didn't get in all the temples in the area BUT it is one of the things we regret because temples in Nara are nice--as I see it in photographs. Well...maybe next time!

We spent half of our day playing with the Sika deers freely roaming around the entire Nara Park. I've never seen so many deers in my life as in close encounter haha. I suggest if you have time, allot a day in Nara because there's so much to see--deers, nature, culture, and temples. It's easy to go to Nara as well and here's how...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Taiwan Excellence, Excellent Taiwan!

This week, I suddenly missed the smell of peppered chops and the taste of milk tea because I was reminiscing my awesome food trip in Shilin Market last year. So I've decided to walk all the way to Landmark during office hours (oopss!) just to satisfy my craving. While walking near the entrance of Landmark Makati footbridge, I saw  ad about Taiwan Excellence campaign in the Philippines. In my mind I was like "Wow talk about Taiwan! it's a sign!" so I went on to purchase my milk tea and on the side got curious about what Taiwan Excellence is all about. Being a nerdy marketing student, I searched about it on the internet and this is what I have found out.

Taiwan Excellence campaign is about awarding and promoting top quality Taiwanese brands to Filipino consumers. It started out 22 years ago to raise Taiwan's international competitiveness by supporting its local brands. This campaign recognizes the excellent and superior Taiwan brands based on different factors such as R&D, design, quality, and marketing efforts to various categories like IT, fashion, sports, transportation etc. The brands undergo a rigorous evaluation and among the selected products, the judges will award only top 10 Gold awards and the remaining finalist will be given the Silver award. 

All Taiwan brands are eligible to join this campaign because it is considered as a prestigious award giving body as it provides "seal of quality" to the brands. The seal of quality becomes relevant to consumers especially for Filipinos because we are all after the assurance of high quality in products we buy everyday. In Filipino we call this "panatag ang loob" or peace of mind because you know you made a good buy. Personally, if I see seals or certification of quality, I automatically associate it as a good brand.

The Taiwan Excellence campaign this year is bringing more than 56 top quality brands in the country. Does Acer, Asus, or BenQ brands ring a bell? :) It sure does to me because I have positive experiences about these brands already and I assure you that these are really excellent and competitive products! 

I remember saving my allowance when I was in college because I wanted to buy my very own first laptop as a graduation gift to myself. I bought an Acer laptop in 2007 and would you believe that I am still using it up to now? after 7 loooong years my Acer laptop is still alive! haha talk about high quality and long-lasting technology! So since then, I am sold about Taiwan brands and its quality is unquestionable.

To know more about Taiwan Excellence Campaign check out the following sites:

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Kyoto Day Trip Temple Hopping

Kyoto is an ideal place to embrace the culture of Japan as it is known for temples, Geisha, and nature. We spent a day in Kyoto for temple hoping and generally, it was refreshing to see the different places of the Gods and emperors. 

We were able to maximize our trip to Kyoto because of the very efficient bus system intended for tourists. Click this link to know more about it and how to avail the Unlimited City Bus in Kyoto (for a day).

We visited 4 temples, 1 huge uhh...garden (?) of bamboos, and 1 market place. Here are the details in order of how we visited all of these. Note that you may change the order of places depending on your priority or "must visit" places but we recommend for you to follow our route to save time if you start from Kyoto Station.

1. Fushimi Inari-Taisha Temple- The temple that is dedicated to God of rice and sake or prosperity and success. There are stone foxes all throughout the shrine because it is believed that foxes serve as messengers to the Gods. This is the home of the famous red tori (shrine gates) and it is one of my favorite temple in Japan. We highly recommend for you to go to Inari Temple :)
 
 Prayers for the Fox

Unlimited City Bus in Kyoto for Temple Hopping

When you want to get the most of your Kyoto day tour or temple hoping, it is best to avail the Unlimited (1 day) City Bus for only Php 200 or 500 yen. We went temple hopping (around 5) with this bus pass with a lot of walking! Click here to know the places we visited. If you decide not to get an unlimited bus pass, each bus ride will cost you Php 100 or 230 Yen for adults and 120 yen for kids (flat rate), and you'll be riding buses more than 10 times if you want to go around the city.
How and where to buy the City Bus in Kyoto?

First go to Kyoto Station and exit at No. 6. You will be able to see signs of the City Bus ticket in the ticketing booth or you can approach anyone in case you couldn't find it.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Japan Expenses: 7 Days, 4 Cities, in less than 22K

People say Japan is one of the most expensive places to travel to. I've talked to several people and asked how much they've spent in Japan and responses I got were between 50,000 to as high as 100,000. So we took on the challenge to experience Japan on a low budget while still enjoying the same quality of experience during our travel.

Here's what we've spent for EACH person (for 7 days, 6 nights, 4 cities):

We spent total of 40,000 which is similar to what others' spent, but this is already all in including airfare, travel taxes, visa, shopping, and accommodation!

If you remove all these, here's what we've really spent on daily expenses:

My 400 Peso Room Experience in Japan

It was our first time to try Airbnb even though we were hesitant to try it at first because we're (sometimes) paranoid travelers. Well, you can't blame us because crimes, modus operandi and other unpleasant news are all over the internet, radio, TV, and newspaper. Also, we grew up not trusting strangers at all times so choosing Airbnb is quite a bold move for me and my boyfriend when we visited Japan (Osaka and Kyoto). 

What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is a trusted community for people to list (rent their place) and book unique accommodations around the world. I like the way they describe their service and it stated in their website: "Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions"


Osaka Room: Value for Money, Convenience, and Unforgettable Experience
 
The room (or rather bed space) we rented was our cheapest accommodation ever! The total per day is only Php 833 (inclusive of Airbnb service fee already) then we even shared the cost so I only paid Php 416.50 per day!!! Imagine below 500 pesos for accommodation in Japan? What a deal right? :) 

The room is small and not fancy or cozy but it sure is functional and is located in a convenient location.

Here are the top 3 reasons why we've decided to book the room:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Adventures of WooTi and Friends in Japan

Konnichiwa!!!

Our Japan video is finally done YIPIEEE!!!

Check the link below to watch The Adventures of #WooTi and Friends in Japan :) 

We visited 4 different areas in the land of the rising sun. Our starting point...Osaka! Then we travelled to Kyoto, Nara and ended our trip in Tokyo where we met my high school barkada (who coincidentally was in Tokyo). We did all of these in 7 days but technically, it was only about 5 whole days :)

I can't wait to share in detail our Japan adventures. Will post it one by one very soon!
Watch our Same-day edit AVP here ENJOY! >> click here <<
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gardens By the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay is Singapore's largest garden spanning a total of 101 hectares of prime land right beside the spectacular Marina Bay. It is also known as the "City in a Garden" because it is really humongous and grand! :) 

There are 10 different areas or attractions on which you can visit as of today. These are:

1. Cloud Forest Conservatory
2. Flower Dome Conservatory
3. OCBC Skyway
4. Supertree Grove
5. Bay East Garden 
6. World of Plants
7. Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes 
8. Far East Organization Children's Garden
9. Sun Pavilion
10 Heritage Gardens
Note: #s 1 to 5 are the main attractions.
How to get there? 
I) Walking:

From the Helix Bridge towards the Art Science Museum:
Follow the footpath which leads under the ECP, that will bring you directly into Bay South Garden along the waterfront.

From Marina Bay Sands:

Walk across the overhead bridge (Lions Bridge) located at Marina Bay Sands Hotel (open daily from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM), or take the underground linkway via Bayfront station (Exit B).

II. MRT: (This is the route we took)

Friday, September 26, 2014

How to Apply a Japanese Tourist Visa for Filipinos with No Guarantor

My Japan trip is just around the corner and I am so excited to visit the land of the rising sun very soon! But before I get too excited, I will share with you the process on getting a Japan tourist visa. It's actually easy breezy compared to my previous experiences in getting a Korean and Taiwanese visa... alone! as in "sariling kayod" without help from any travel agency because I want to avoid paying processing fees haha. 

Japan tourist visa is the easiest (in my opinion) because I am forced to transact with an accredited travel agency (parang labag sa loob noh? haha). Since July 30, 2007, Japan Embassy in the Philippines announced that application can only be made via an accredited travel agency and there are only 6 accredited companies--check it out here.

Processing fees varies from Php 1,000 to 2,500 depending on what type of visa you are applying for. I chose Friendship Tours Travel Agency because it's very accessible to my office and they have the lowest visa processing fee of Php 1,200.


REQUIREMENTS FOR TOURIST VISA WITHOUT GUARANTOR:

STEP 1: Prepare your requirements

1. Passport
-Must have at least 6 months remaining validity and must have at least 2 blank pages.

2. Fully filled visa application form 
- May be typewritten or handwritten. 
- Forms are also available in the accredited agencies' offices.

3. ID Photo 
- 1 pc and pasted on the application form
- 4.5cm x 4.5 cm in white background, no border, no hair accessories, no jewelries, no smiling too haha

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Japan... blogging soon!


Will be blogging about Japan very very soon! :)
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13 Long Weekends in 2015!!!


NOTE: Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha dates are still tentative and will be announced next year once the Islamic calendar has been finalized. If Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha do not fall on the estimated dates, the long weekends will be reduced to 11 – still a great number to enjoy your escapades for the whole year.

Reposting the blog post I saw online! Credits to Trip Zilla Magazine for plotting the long weekends for next year :) For corporate slaves like me (hahaha!) this is what you call strategic leaves! You should always maximize your long weekends so you don't need to sacrifice your limited number of leaves...agree? that's WORK LIFE BALANCE right there! ;)

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Suggested South Korea Multi-city Itinerary

We've spent 9 days in our most recent Korea trip but 3 days were spent with my boyfriend's family including a wedding that we've attended in Suwon. 

Sharing with you our 6 day itinerary which includes our regular Seoul sight seeing trip, but also including a multi-city trip to Busan, Jeonju, and the border of North Korea! :)


In Summary, we spent 3 days total in Seoul (including DMZ Tour), 1 and a 1/2 day in Busan, and 1/2 day in Jeonju.

3 Days in Seoul:
  • Our Seoul trip consists of sight seeing which we haven't went to before (Yeouido and Itaewon), our usual routine visits to Namsan Tower (due to love lock), Myeongdong & Dongdaemun (Shopping), and Lotte Mart (Food trip!).
  • We had a very relaxed Itinerary in Seoul contrary to our previous visits given that we've already visited all the tourist destinations in Seoul (See previous blog posts about Korea).
  • We also visited a couple of our friends from college during our Seoul Trip.

1 and 1/2 Days in Busan:

1/2 Day in Jeonju:
  • We only did 1 thing in Jeonju and it is to taste their famous 50 side dish restaurant. Given that we were extremely time pressured as we needed to return to Seoul in only 2 hours, we were not able to find the famous restaurants and settled for their famous Jeonju bibimbap which did not disappoint as well!
  • Most people recommend to stay 1-2 days in Jeonju to try all their famous restaurants but we did not want to spend money to book a hotel as we've already booked our hotel in Seoul for the entire 9 days.

Recommendation:
  • If it's your first time going to Korea, do not follow this itinerary as this itinerary is intended for people who already visited Korea for several times and is looking for new adventures and new experiences in Korea. This itinerary does not include must visit places in Seoul as we've already skipped these as we've visited them already in our previous trip. 
  • Here are better suggestions for those who will visit Korea for the first time click here! 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Locks of Love at Namsan Tower

FACT: It has been a tradition for me that every time I visit Korea, my boyfriend and I would always visit Namsan Tower and leave a "love lock" with our wishes/messages for each other. Call it cheesy but that's just our own way of "renewing" our love in our happy place called Seoul.

Since 2011 up to this year, I've been to Korea thrice which is why I know the place very well and I'm sharing with you several options on how to get there and the activities you can do with your loved ones and family. 

Note: I've combined all 3 years worth of Namsan Tower photos in this post. So  in case you've noticed, I'm wearing 3 different attires here :)
Namsan Tower, is a communication and observation tower located on top of Mt. Namsan in central Seoul. It is the highest point of the city and many tourists visit this place because it is dubbed as the romantic island in the city.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Commute from Seoul to Busan via Bus

There are several ways for you to go to Busan from Seoul:
  • By Air from Gimpo Airpot = most expensive option so we did not explore further.
  • By Train = you can ride the KTX or Korea’s bullet train from Seoul Station to Busan. This is the second most expensive option as it costs you around 4,000 Php one way! But travel time will be around 2 and half hours and a lot of people recommend to experience riding this.
  • By Land = this is the least expensive option and you have several bus options ranging from General bus (23,000 Won or 920 Php), Excellent bus (34,200 Won or 1,370 Php), or M/V Excellent bus (37,600 Won or 1,500 Php). There are also several bus companies that you can select from and you don’t have to worry about the time as it leaves every 10-20 mins. A bus ride will take you around 4 hours to arrive Busan (check this website for more details).

Our choice: As a budget traveller, we always find ways to spend the least amount of money which is why we took the General Bus which by the way was excellent for us given that traffic is not bad in Korea and the buses were very spacious and convenient which is comparable to the premium buses we have in the Philippines.

Instructions going to Busan by Bus:

1) Ride the Subway and travel to Express Bus Terminal Station. You will see directions going there which is the 1st floor of the terminal.

2) Upon arrival to the terminal, you will need to find a ticketing station and purchase bus tickets to Busan. Research first through the website on which type of bus you will be riding and what time it will leave as the cost of bus differs per company and per type so if you want the cheapest make sure to research before going there.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Korea 2014 Expenses Breakdown

Cost of Living in Korea is high but traveling to Korea is NOT expensive as most people think. The total cost of our latest trip to Korea is Php 55,015 which is very expensive because of several reasons:

1. Booked airfare last minute and during peak season as it was holy week (18,639 Php round trip from Cebu Pac).

2. We spent total of 10 days and 9 nights which includes visit to 4 major cities (Seoul, Busan, Jeonju, Suwon).

However, the amount that we spent was only around Php 35,000 as the hotel cost were covered by my boyfriend's dad and we received allowance from his relatives. :)

If removing airfare and shopping cost, we actually spent only about Php 27,000 for 10 whole days! For you to spend less but not sacrifice the quality of travel to Korea, here are some tips that helped us which you can apply:

1. Again, stay in cheap accommodation! We took a very small guesthouse near Myeongdong MRT station. This guesthouse is NOT recommended if you have kids but okay if you're traveling along or with a friend.

2. Ride subway most of the time. The only time we rode a taxi was in Jeonju as it was cheaper there and also at night going to Dongdaemun as subway has already been closed at midnight.

3. If you want to visit the other cities on a budget, ride the cheapest bus rather than riding premium buses or the bullet train. It will add 1-2 hours more to your travel time but the cost will be cut into more than half! Bullet train costs around Php 4,000 one way to Busan but we spent only Php 1,000 for our one way bus ride.

4. Have a plan on when and where you will eat! :) We decided to eat breakfast everyday in a convenient store to grab a milk or a quick sandwich. At times we substitute a meal at a restaurant to street food to taste more variety of food with less the cost. 

You can visit my previous expenses breakdown from my 2012 Korea Trip to get to know more about the cost of traveling to Korea. It's only about Php 20,000- 25,000 for 6 days! Click here to learn more.
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A Day Trip to Jeonju Hanok Village Where Old Meets New

Just when you thought that Seoul, Busan, and Jeju Island are the only popular cities you can visit in Korea, wait till you read what I'm about to share. You might want to try squeezing in some time to visit Jeonju (전주), a place where old meets new in perfect harmony...naks!

Jeonju is a small city in the mid-western part of Korea. Before, it was considered as the spiritual capital during the Joseon Dynasty but now, based on what I know about the city, they are known for 3 aspects:

1. Hanok Village- A traditional Korean house
2. Jeonju Bibimbap (a mixed rice with chili paste) and
3. Hanjeongsik (한정식)- a traditional complete Korean meal aka side dish overload as in exagge haha :)
Going to Jeonju is easy but it requires long travel via bus so I suggest you book one whole day when you visit this place.
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