Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asia. Show all posts

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hongkong: Budget Trip 2013

June 09, 2013 11

A DIY (do-it-yourself) tour!

Availing a tour package is always expensive and since we will be embarking on a budget travel, backpacking-sort-of-adventure, we decided to explore this former British colony on our own with no guide. It was very liberating. Having discovered some of HK’s most fascinating landmarks without a tour guide was such a memorable experience!

Months before our departure, I spent enormous time reading and researching information online how to embark into a leisure trip around Hongkong and Macau under a tight budget.

My goal was really to prepare a budget plan that would not exceed to Php 28,000 including airfare, hotel accommodation, food and pocket money. That’s my limit for this foreign trip because I don't want to be buried with debt or found my wallet empty when I return home. 

Important tip: When you are planning to embark on a budget travel, discipline is always the name of the game. Set your focus on how much you will just want to spend. Always set your budget limit when planning your foreign trip to work on a travel plan sensibly and not to get overboard with your expenses and don't cheat--meaning, don't attempt to restructure your budget plan at the last minute if you have no enough source where to obtain the added cost/additional amount, it will ruin your goal of a "budget travel".

Despite going there for the first time with no one to fetch us at the airport, I was not afraid at all, the idea of being lost never scared me, I was even more excited because of the experience and learning I would gain from this adventure.

OUR DIY (do-it-yourself) ITINERARY:

DAVAO TO CLARK
Departure: May 31, 2013, Friday, 4:35 pm

Arrival time: 6:10 pm

We were 11 in the group traveling for this trip but we had different flight schedule for Hongkong because we booked separately (9 of them have the same schedule). I had the same flight schedule with my friend, Bechay, so on the night of our arrival in Clark, we went to Angeles City to spend one night at Bluefields Hotel, but folks, I would never recommend this hotel for you, so untidy and undesirable.

CLARK TO HONGKONG
Departure: June 1, 2013, Saturday 6:25 pm
Arrival time: 8:10 pm

Amazed to discover that the air travel from Clark to Hongkong is similar to the distance of traveling from Davao to Clark or Manila!

The weather was fine when we took off so everything was calm and quiet up on air. The pilot of that flight was Captain Kintanar ( I memorized his name after hearing it over the radio cabin). We had a smooth landing!

The slight anxiety began upon our arrival at Hongkong International Airport, we were clueless what to do so we did lots of exploring around the area. We just followed the directions/signs posted.

We asked an officer how to get to the immigration, he directed us to the glass door with a waiting train, this will transport travelers across the street and to the next building where the immigration area is located.

After presenting our passport to the immigration, we proceeded to the exit door leading to the bus station, located on the level B exit 5. The city flier bus that will pass to Chungking mansion is A21, fare is HK$33.00. Take note: bus drivers in Hongkong never give change so prepare for an exact fare. Since we were not able to buy an Octopus card at the airport and we had no coins available, we paid HK$70.00 and we did not able to get the HK$4.00 change.

For an easy and practical travel around Hongkong, I will advise you to buy an Octopus card at the customer service upon arriving at the airport, it is a prepaid card that you can reload anytime, it costs HK$150.00 the consumable amount is HK$100.00 and there's a deposit of HK$50.00 which will be returned to you together with the remaining amount upon surrendering the card at any customer service outlets in MTR station before leaving Hongkong. Try to surrender it the night before you depart so that you can still use the money for shopping like what we did.

We booked for two nights at Delta Hotel, a transient inn located on the 16th floor of Chungking Mansion along Nathan road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. This building is just beside bus stop number 14 next to CKE department store with a huge TV screen outside. The number of every bus stop is reflected on the running screen inside the bus so don’t worry you will never lost, just enjoy the ride. The travel takes up to one hour at night.

Our room at Delta Hotel, rate is around Php627.00 per night or HK$118.00. Very clean and safe. 

FIRST DAY: JUNE 2, 2013, Sunday

Destinations: Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery
Address: Diamond Hill, Kowloon
Travel time via MTR: 35 minutes

We left Delta hotel at 9:30 in the morning, then proceeded to Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station just across Chungking Mansion.


Architecture Museum and Vegetarian restaurant at Nan Lian Garden

Relaxing scenery of nature at Nan Lian Garden


If you are into nature combining the fascination of a city life, you should never miss visiting Nan Lian Garden, it is a sprawling man-made landscape beautifully covered with Bonsai trees, winding paths, oriental trees, hillocks and running waters. There’s a brightly colored temple/pagoda in the middle of the garden leading to the pavilion but visitors are not allowed to enter the structure, so we just posed at the gate for photo souvenirs.


At last I found a shed to pose!

The weather was intensely hot so we did not fully enjoy the place despite its gorgeous and scenic beauty. I think the most ideal time to visit this garden is in the afternoon and early evening. Opening time is at 7:00 in the morning and closing time is 9:00 in the evening. Entrance is free.

We went up to visit the Lotus Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery, it was more hot there my God! There was no shed to rest except on the lobby of the clustered buildings. Again, the most ideal time to explore this area is definitely in the afternoon. The view in fact is ultra-magnificent because you will be able to see the panoramic view of the Kowloon skyline and the lovely surrounding.  

There’s an organic restaurant inside Nan Lian Garden, a souvenir’s shop and an architectural museum. But the museum has a strict policy, as we entered the place, the guard sternly warned us not to take pictures. Okay, so we’d no souvenirs here.

With Epil and Bechay at the brightly colored Temple inside Nan Lian Garden
It's me and Bechay posing before Chi Lin Nunnery near the Lotus Garden

We left Diamond Hill at 11:30 and took an MTR ride again for Admiralty station.
We took lunch at Queensway at the Admiralty Centre then we hopped in at the double decker bus 629 (just located within the ground area of Queensway) for Ocean Park. We chose to sit at the top area of the bus in the front row to enjoy our journey. I'd learned from this trip that drivers in Hongkong obediently observed the speed limit, no overtaking, no screeching of tires! Amazing!

My lunch.  Rice with Hungarian sausage, salted egg, roasted chicken and vegetable. HK$32.00

As soon as we reached Ocean Park we knew we're in another trouble enduring the blistering summer heat. I already booked our ticket online so we just proceeded to the ticket booth to validate the receipt. 

We first visited the OP Aquarium, but it was not really impressive, nothing was extraordinary with the marine species featured, after few minutes we left the area and proceeded to the cable car station.

Cable car was the first thrilling ride we experienced at Ocean Park, the ride took us from the ground of the park to the summit where exciting rides await. The ride was almost nerve- wrecking, I barely looked beneath the cable because it felt like my stomach was tied into knots, the rugged cliff behind the placid sea was a spectacular view to behold but I did not care to look down, I was more concerned with my nervous system haha! But it was worth the thrill, yeah really so exciting!


Cable car ride from the ground of Ocean Park to its summit


It was extremely hot and we're already exposed to the sun so being drenched in water was no longer a fascinating idea, we might get ill and getting sick in a foreign land was the last thing to happen, so we did not mind climbing at the thrill mountain to try those exciting rides, we chose the Ocean Park Tower instead. It was equally thrilling. We entered in a cable-like box and whirled up high then moving down in a circling motion, the height was like 10,000 feet more or less! We did not try The Abyss, the Flying swing, the boat seesaw something and the Dragon ride even though at first we felt like trying hehe, it was so scary so we just convinced ourselves to choose the old-fashioned Ferris Wheel!

The old-fashioned amusement park ride, Ferris Wheel!

Another thrilling ride we tried

Finding a shed to rest after we concluded 
The Abyss ride was not for us

We left Ocean Park at 5:30 pm took the 629 bus again going back to Admiralty station to meet my friend, Epil. At 6:30 we walked to the Peak Tram Terminus to visit The Peak, this is just across St. John Cathedral,a walking distance from Admiralty. It was terrible standing in the queue! My feet began to sore and my toes seemed twisted, so many tourists packed the area to go to The Peak. We waited for, like two hours before we could get in at the Peak Tram. The ride was more thrilling because the tram climbed the rugged road almost vertically, I was not scared anyway, it was more exciting, more adventurous watching the buildings reclined before my sight.

We reached the Peak at 8:30 in the evening and climbed the stairs again to visit the Sky Terrace which offered a perfect view of the romantic skyline of Hongkong overseeing Victoria Harbor and the romantic city lights. But it was very windy atop, we're not able to get a good shot of the city lights as people fidgeted on the lobby to get good angle on the view deck. After 30 minutes, we decided to go downstairs, stopping at Madame Tussaud's museum for souvenir pictures then proceeded to 7 eleven to buy for our dinner.

We left the Peak at 9:30 and reached Delta hotel at 10:30 in the evening. Don’t expect too much about this spot. If you love the view of the skyline and breathed fresh air maybe this thing is for you but if you hate being on top of the deck and too lazy to endure the tedious elevator ride for like 7 storeys of the building, then skip going on top of the building and just stroll around the ground area. Within the Peak, you can visit Madam Tussaud’s museum which contains several wax figures of famous people.


Joining the long queue for a Peak Tram ride

THIRD DAY: JUNE 4, 2013

Destinations: Strolling around Nathan Road, sightseeing at the nearest department stores, visiting Victoria Harbor, Avenue of Stars, Hongkong Museum of Art and Space Museum. We just walked to the nearest subway from our hotel.

Because we decided not to proceed to Disneyland and Ngong Ping anymore, we just strolled around Nathan Road, bought souvenir items and explored nearby areas until we reached Victoria Harbor, just a walking distance from Chungking Mansion.

At the Victoria Harbor
Avenue of Stars at Victoria Harbor just beside
 Intercontinental Hotel. 
Weeeeh! After waiting for almost 40 minutes at last I was able to pose before the statue of Hongkong martial arts legend, Bruce Lee! 
This is one of the most visited areas in Avenue of Stars.

FOURTH DAY: JUNE 5, 2013, Wednesday

Left Delta Hotel at 7:00 in the morning, we're supposed to wake up at 5:00 but we had a good sleep and my cellphone's clock alarm did not ring so we're kinda nervous, afraid we might not able to catch our flight back to the Philippines.

We disembarked at Terminal 2 to check in then hurried to the boarding area (we had to ride the train again) as we had only 20 minutes left before closing time. The plane took off at 9:35. It was a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning, the flight back to Clark was relax and peaceful. We touched down at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport at 11:00 in the morning.


We left Clark for Davao at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Other useful tips for this travel:

If you are traveling to Hongkong on a tight budget and just want to stay in a transient room, I would recommend Delta Hotel, I could really vouch that the room is very clean and conducive for sleeping.


Delta Hotel is located at Chungking Mansion (on the 16th floor) along Nathan road of Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, just a walking distance from MTR station, bus station, HK China Ferry Terminal (for Macau), KFC and McDonalds, and just a 20-minute walk from Victoria Harbor and Avenue of the Stars!

Chungking Mansion is just beside CKE department store, there's also a money changer at the ground floor and Western Union. Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the most ideal places to stay in Hongkong because aside from closer to MTR and bus stations, it is nearer to shopping malls and stall markets for pasalubong.

Here’s the list of the total expenses I incurred (I used the exchange rate of HK$5.30 for this computation). The amount below is in Philippine peso.

1. Round trip ticket: Davao-Clark 3,990.00
2. Round trip ticket: Clark-Hongkong 4,000.00
3. Bluefields Hotel – Clark (one night) 520.00
5. Delta Hotel – Kowloon (4 nights) 2,550.00
6. Ocean Park (Online booking) 1,390.00
7. Octopus Card 795.00 (HK$150.00)
8. Round trip Peak Tram plus Sky Terrace 398.00 (HK$75.00)
9. Meals (4 days) 680.00 (I brought 3 sachets of nesvita and oatmeal plus a pack of biscuit)
10. Cotai Jet round trip (Macau) 1,805.00 (HK$340.00)
11. City Guide for one day (Macau) 265.00 (HK$50.00)
12. Pocket Money 7,200.00 (exchange rate given to us by Shayman at Aldevinco was HK$5.55)
13. Terminal Fee (Davao going to Clark) 200.00
14. Terminal Fee (Clark going to HK) 450.00
15. Terminal Fee (Clark to Davao) 200.00
*Travel Tax should have been P1,650.00 (we failed to pay this at the Clark airport, it was an honest mistake)

TOTAL EXPENSES: Php 26,093.00

We were not able to go to Disneyland and Ngong Ping 360 because of time constraint but if you plan to go there, the amount to prepare will rise to more or less P30,000.00 because Disneyland is HK$450.00 and Ngong Ping's round trip is HK$134.00 plus you have to reload your Octopus Card because the transportation from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lantau Island, where the two attractions are located, is around HK$90.00 more or less.

Lantau Island is far from our hotel so we did not bother to go there instead we just strolled around Tsim Sha Tsui, visiting Victoria Harbor and Avenue of Stars. I have no regret anyway because if we had really pushed through with it, we would never enjoy Disney because that day the weather in Hongkong was severely hot (we already experienced it at the Ocean Park and we did not dream to make a repeat performance) but towards 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening the environment turned gloomy with heavy downpour so the excitement of fireworks display, considered as the highlight of Disney experience, and all those itchy bitchy moment of fun, might be compromised and we will just be wasting our precious hard-earned money!


Anyway, without Disneyland, my experience of visiting Hongkong was still memorable and so much fun, I learned so many things during the trip. Asking if I would still want to go back there for a quick holiday trip, my answer is always YES!!


Monday, May 6, 2013

A Day in Macau

May 06, 2013 1
Actual date of Travel: June 3, 2013

Just disregard the date of this post (May 2013) as I deleted the original post related to that date to insert this entry. I separated Macau post from my Hongkong travel blog to create a different section and to make the Hongkong topic a little bit short

You can read my HONGKONG BUDGET TRAVEL HERE


SECOND DAY: JUNE 3, 2013, Monday
Destination: Macau
Travel time via Ferry: approximately 1 hour

Our quick sojourn to the gambling mecca of Asia, Macau, last June 3, 2013.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony which was ceded back to China in 1999, is just an hour away from Hongkong via Cotai Jet or Turbo Jet. For a more convenient travel, choose the open time schedule because it will allow you to leave Macau anytime without paying additional charges on ferry fare because ferry ticket is a bit expensive during night time sailing.

We left Delta hotel at 9:30 in the morning and began our little adventure. We crossed the street and went to the subway but we could not figure out which way to follow, we did not hire a tour guide so we're on our own discovering stuff and relying on our instincts where to go. Finally, after going back to where we got in and took the opposite road we reached the Hongkong China Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. We exchanged our vouchers for ferry tickets and waited for the 11:00 0'clock sailing of Cotai Jet.

There are two ferry terminals in Hongkong going to Macau. One at Sheung Wan and the other at Tsim Sha Tsui, we chose the latter because it’s a bit nearer to our hotel and we're traveling via Cotai Jet. Turbo Jet usually docked at Macau Ferry Terminal, closer to the city proper, and Cotai Jet normally docked at Taipa Ferry Terminal closer to Cotai Strip where elegant Casinos are located.

We arrived at Taipa at 12:00 noon and after presenting our passport at the immigration, we proceeded to the departure section where lots of on-the-spot tour guides are waiting. There, you can find Filipino city guides offering their services at a cheaper rate of HK$50 each visitor. Since we want to enjoy our day in Macau with less pressure, we decided to get one Filipino city guide.

Important tip: Macau immigration has a long queue due to the surge of tourists visiting this elegant Chinese special administrative region, so better plan your visit here, if possible leave early in the morning from Hongkong to make the most of your time in Macau.

Outside the terminal, free shuttle buses operated by Casino resorts along Cotai Strip lined up to take travelers to anywhere in the city depending on the scheduled destination.

First destination: City of Dreams Casino resort

At the huge 3D screen in the lobby of City of Dreams

City of Dreams has a tight security, taking pictures on the area near the entrance of casino is strictly prohibited, so during our visit, we just posed for souvenir near the huge 3D screen with underwater scenes. After staying for 30 minutes we left the area.

Second destination: Grand Emperor Hotel

Grand Emperor hotel follows a British royalty theme with a guard in full 
royal livery similar to the Queen's guards at Buckingham Palace 
who don this red scarlet uniform and bearskin hat.

Very elegant interior! So thrilled with the opulent structure of the building. This hotel follows a Windsor theme where security guards wore red scarlet and bearskin hat, similar to the royal livery of the Queen's Guards posted at Buckingham Palace.

Lunch time and Macau and Tea should never be missed!

Third destination: Senado Square and St. Paul Cathedral

Senado Square
     In front of the Ruins of St. Paul Cathedral. One of the largest Catholic churches   in Asia during the 16th century but it was destroyed by fire leaving only the exterior of the church, now it is being preserved to attract tourists.

We visited two of Macau’s most famous tourist attractions, Senado Square, which is very European in architecture and the center of its government offices, and the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. 

Once the largest Catholic cathedrals in Asia, St. Paul, was destroyed during the 16th century fire leaving only its exterior, now being preserved as a tourist attraction. Its ground is conducive for relaxation after a long walking escapade.
Food tasting in the food stall market near the ruins of St. Paul Cathedral

Between Senado Square and St. Paul Cathedral, you can visit St. Dominic church, another Catholic structure which has an influence of a Portuguese architecture. Around this area, you can pass by at the food stall market where free food tasting is offered by different vendors.

Fourth destination: Galaxy Mall

At the crystal displays near the entrance area of Galaxy mall

So impressed with this casino resort and hotel, luxury at its finest! The moment you enter the place, you will be greeted with a gorgeous scent as if some expensive perfume is used as interior freshener. A dreamy place with all areas covered with crystals, opulent embellishments and composed of high-end boutiques and restaurants, no moment is really wasted visiting at this luxurious landmark. So don't miss it out when you are in Macau.
Looks like a royalty presentation

One of the highlights at the center of the lobby where the entrance to the gambling tables of the casino is located, is an entertainment show where presentation changes every hour. During our visit, we witnessed the parade of royalty presentation.

Fifth destination: The Venetian

At the Venetian Casino near the Grand Staircase
This casino follows an Italian theme. The ceiling is patterned similar to the classic painting of Michaelangelo at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
The Grand Staircase

Owned by Las Vegas and Sands Casino, the Venetian follows an Italian theme, very European in structure and there's also a small canal within the building, similar to the famous grand canal that surrounds Venice in Italy.

At the grand canal of the Venetian

Our tour ended at the Venetian Casino since it was already night time and we still have to catch a free shuttle ride back to the ferry terminal. We failed to witness a free bubble presentation show at Wynn's Resort. 

We left Macau at 8:00 in the evening and arrived in Hongkong at 9:00 PM. We spent our dinner at KFC near Chungking Mansion.

Macau is just so fascinating, maybe due to its famous casino resorts located in Cotai Strip. The city proper is not really wide, in fact, tourists can explore the city in just one day, but the surrounding is simply terrific and gorgeous. European influence through its architecture is still very much alive. Unlike Hongkong, some of the streets in Macau are still under construction and under development but you can find fabulous shopping items at its department stores, equally chic and stylish as those found in Hongkong's shops.

Now, all I have is the memory of this unforgettable first trip abroad. Hongkong and Macau are best destinations to take for first timers especially if there's no tour guide as the areas are just small and no annoying traffic. You will never lost as long as you have a clear sense of direction, just do some research online before you hop in for the travel.

I did not regret the fact that I was not able to visit Disneyland and Ngong Ping despite my intention to go there, circumstances intervened you know hehe! Maybe in the future when time allows. 

Traveling under a tight budget is not bad, all you have to do is safe guard your finances. Plan ahead of time, list down everything you need, set a specific budget for the expenses and pray to God for guidance.

Ask me if I would still love to go back to Hongkong and Macau? My answer is YES!! 


You can read my HONGKONG BUDGET TRAVEL HERE

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maldives: A Tropical Paradise

November 11, 2012 3
 Maldives!


Maldives is a tropical paradise in South Asia located southwest of Sri Lanka and India. Formed in a double chain of 26 atolls, the country has 1,190 terrific islands spread across its 90,000 square kilometers area of land. Its strategic location along the Indian Ocean provided this island nation with an unrivaled luxury of having the best beaches in the world. 

Surrounded with palm trees, sparkling clear water, ivory sand and turquoise lagoons, Maldives beckons idyllic relaxation and offers the best holiday getaway for beach lovers. Truly, a dreamed destination for people who adored the atmosphere of ocean and sun-kissed shorelines.

However, unlike in the previous years where an escape to this island seems like a  far reaching dream among budget travelers, lately, budget trippers can now embark into an ambitious Maldives getaway without ripping much of one's budget plan. The  government of Maldives adjusted its regulations, allowing locals to operate guesthouses and organize day tours to luxury beach resorts for budget travelers.

Sounds terrific right?

Though Philippines has some of the best beach destinations in the world, dreaming to be in a foreign beach is not a bad idea. In fact, it's a well-deserved retreat for a tired soul. A great escape from a sordid life in the metro.

Beach is a perfect sanctuary to loosen up. The view of the ocean relaxes tired senses and the crisp breeze rolling from the sea provides a soothing relief. There's nothing more satisfying in life than feel the tang of the afternoon air at the sea side while listening to the gentle splashing of the waves. And it's more dreamy if all these frills can be experienced once in a lifetime in a foreign beach. And get lost in paradise. 

Maldives exactly paints this dreamed beach holiday trip abroad. Closer to the Philippines, the travel doesn't require weeks of absence from home or work. But here's the cliche, it seems everyone is talking about the wonders of Maldives but only few individuals ever show interest discovering the real Maldives. They only talk about the country's romantic beaches but don't have any idea how to get there, how much the trip would cost and where exactly this country is located.


Sparkling aquamarine water in Maldives 

I haven't gone to Maldives but I dreamed that someday someone would take me there 😅 and enjoy the best of this country's private holiday frills. It doesn't have to be expensive, a day trip to a secluded beach side is enough. I never dreamed to get tanned in a foreign land, I just want to experience the sugary sand beneath my toes in a foreign shore.

So let's get to know more about this smallest nation in Asia

Maldives is a nation island composed of more than 26 atolls, and some of it are inhabited. Literally floating by the sea, this nation is endowed with romantic and exotic beaches sprawled across its 1,190 islands. Its powdery shorelines and lush tropical trees lure travelers to explore this spectacular island in the most fascinating way.

Based on online articles and testimonies of travelers who already experienced the best of Maldives, this destination offers the best holiday experience for beach lovers.  Its beach resorts are rated world-class with accommodations range from water-bungalows, floating cottages, private villas, garden suites and ocean villas. However, lately, locals offered affordable accommodations through guesthouses for budget travelers. And the best way to experience the real Maldives is to stay in a guesthouse.

For choices of guesthouses, CHECK THIS LINK

The country's famous islands 

As with most nations situated near the ocean, Maldives is composed of many islands with exclusive beach resorts. The following are the most popular:

1. Ihuru Island - an ecologically-conscious island, Ihuru is surrounded with a spectacular scenery of crystal clear water, ivory sand and lush palm trees. This island offers the best experience for honeymooners who love to frolic in a lovely beach with an assurance of privacy. 

2. Nalaguraidhoo Island - An exclusive tropical island south of Male, this is one of the most pricey areas in Maldives with rates per night ticking at $1,000. But visitors are assured with a perfect beach getaway with its terrific beachfront villas  offering nothing but comfort and exclusive high-end amenities.

3. Veligandu Island - Located in the North Ari Atoll, this island is closer to the airport, only 15 minutes. This explains why Veligandu is one of the most expensive resorts in Maldives. Rates per night picks at around $1,200 per night. But with its floating villas, beachfront cottages and pristine beaches with long stretches of coastline, no traveler will ever complain with the incredible getaway experience this island provides. 


This is the same island where  Stilts beach resort in Calatagan, Batangas, Philippines is often compared. The floating cottages and villas of Stilts are reminiscent to the Veligandu's beachfront rooms and bungalows by the sea accommodations.

How to get there?

For Asians, going to Maldives is quite easy. There are direct flights from Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, China, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka serving a route to Male, the capital of Maldives. The resorts are just 5 kilometers from the airport. For International travelers, there are regular flights coming from the Middle East, USA and Europe.


 Paradise Island Resort in Maldives
Paradise Island Resort is located on the eastern edge of North Atoll in Male sets in a massive reef enclosed lagoon

A typical Maldives travel usually picks up around Php40,000 per person for a four-night stay in a guesthouse, this is the cheapest rate a traveler could ever get in Maldives, so a sojourn to this magnificent tropical nation needs a whole year preparation.

What to expect when visiting Maldives?

Maldives is a Muslim country so it's very important to respect their local culture. Bikinis are not allowed in full view of the public except on private beaches. Alcohol is prohibited unless guests are billeted in a private resort where an exemption has been granted. This is perhaps why Maldives isn't popular to foreigners who like beach parties. Excessive alcohol drinking and loud parties are strongly prohibited there. However, this island is popular to celebrity couples and to the famous and rich craving for some degree of privacy.

Currency of Maldives is Maldevian Rufiyaa. One US dollar is equivalent to MVR 15.40. One MVR is equivalent to 3.40 Philippine peso.

Entering Maldives:

There's no pre-arrival visa required when entering Maldives for all nationalities. The country offers visitors a 30-day free visa upon arrival, however each person is required to have at least US$30.00 per day on his or her own possession to be allowed to enter the country.  Maldives immigration only requires a valid passport with six months validity and with machine readable zone. Other requirements include a valid return air ticket and proof of booking to a hotel or resort. 


You may visit the official website of the Maldives immigration website for further information. CLICK HERE


Monday, May 7, 2012

Phuket, Thailand

May 07, 2012 7
Thailand is one of the most exciting holiday destinations in the world preferred by most travellers because aside from its very affordable rates, the country boosts several alluring sceneries and terrific landmarks.
The secluded beach of Phi Phi in Phuket, Thailand

A travel to Thailand is incomplete without visiting the romantic island of Phuket!

It is located in the Southern most part of Thailand in the Andaman Sea and home to several romantic and stunning beaches. The island has varied choices of hotels and resorts ranging from luxury types to affordable ones. It is said to be the size of Singapore and the biggest island in Thailand with three districts and nine municipalities.

For many years, Phuket attracts tourists and honeymooners because of its picturesque environment and oh-so-romantic beaches. This is indeed a perfect hideaway for newlyweds.

Best attractions in Phuket:

1. Two Heroines Monument
2. Thalang National Museum
3. Hat Patong
4. Hat Karon
5. View Point
6. Laem Phromthep
7. Wat Chalong
8. Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Conservation Development

Transportation:

The Phuket International Airport caters chartered flights from mainland Thailand and other countries in Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. Songthaews or passenger pick-up vehicles are the most common mode of transportation in Phuket.

Weather:

Phuket has a tropical climate just like the Philippines. The island's dry season runs from November to April and its rainy season is from May to October so the best month to travel to Phuket is either March or April.

Phuket Island Discovery Package:

To enjoy your travel adventure in Phuket, Asiaweb travel tour site offers several packages to choose (based on your budget). With a four-day, three-night accommodation package, you can explore Phuket with excitement and fun. The cheapest package is at Sugar Palm Resort with only 7,700 Thai Baht for two persons including pick up from the airport and transfer to the hotel.

Inclusive of this package:

1. Pick up from the airport and transfer to the hotel
2. Accommodation for three nights
3. American breakfast
4. Meals stated in the itinerary
5. Phi Phi Island (national park) entrance fee
6. All tours and transfers (land and sea)
7. Softdrinks and snacks during the tour

For more details, visit this link of Phuket Island Discovery tour package


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Romantic Jeju Island

January 19, 2012 8
Balmy temperatures, volcanic landscapes, gorgeous beaches, first class hotels and rich cultural history have made the beautiful island of Jeju-do Korea's top holiday destination.
Idyllic scenery at Jeju Island (known as the island of the gods), located at the tip of Korean peninsula and closer to Japan

The island is endowed with romantic seaside, spectacular seafood and superb tourist facilities that include international hotels, golf courses, hiking trails and sports-fishing grounds. Tourists can enjoy variety of activities at Jeju-- frolic around the ivory-comb beaches at sunrise and sunset, marvel at the breathtaking waterfalls and mountains, stroll around the museum, national parks and historical sites.

Asian Wall Street journal dubbed it as the "Bali of North Asia" (Bali is a world-class tourist spot in Indonesia with exotic and extraordinary beaches), others called it "The Hawaii of the Orient", recently, Jeju Island earned another monicker being "the honeymoon island" in North Asia.

This egg-shaped island, which is romantically surrounded with the stunning sceneries of flowers, plants, craters, national parks, Buddhist temples, shopping malls and rich cultural heritage, offers tourists a fabulous experience of relaxation and adventure.
Nam Gyu Ri visited Jeju Island after the filming of 49 Days, a top Korean drama (renamed Pure Love in ABS-CBN).
Nam Gyu Ri at Jeju Island

Sun-kissed beaches, ivory coastline, mountains, waterfalls, lava caves and countryside, temples, national parks await you at Jeju-do. 

Here are some of the island's best attractions.

Mokseokwon

Mokseokwon - a garden with unusual displays of Jeju stones, sculptures and dried tree roots. It is located south of Jeju city on the road to Hallasan.

Hallasan

Mt.Hala or Hallasan - at 6,400 feet, Hallasan is the highest peak in South Korea and a walk-up to the summit is one of the highlights of a visit to the island. It is an extinct volcano that stands at the center of Jeju Island and very famous for its scenic beauty. It is known as one of the "Samshinsan" or "One of the three mountains where God lives". Not far from the foot of the summit is Hallasan National Park.

Jeongbang Falls  

Jeongbang Falls - known as the only waterfalls in Asia that falls directly into the ocean, Jeongbang falls is located on the high cliff by the sea. An observatory is placed on the top of the cliff where visitors can get a fine view of the cobalt sea.

Hyeopjae beach

Hyeopjae beach -  covered with sugary seaside and sparkling aquamarine water that glitters against the shimmering sunshine.It is surrounded by pine trees, private lodging houses and restaurants.

Jeju Glass Castle

Jeju Glass Castle - a glass art theme park featuring an exhibition hall, garden and models made out of glass. It has six themed model parks: glass labyrinth, glass stonewall, glass ball, glass diamond, glass mirror lake and glass bridge. Visitors are allowed to try making glass artwork at the main hall. Jeju Glass Castle is open whole year round and tourists can save a lot if they go there as a group, preferably 30 persons.
Yak-cheon-sa Temple

Yak-cheon-sa Temple - called Medicine stream temple, it is Jeju Island's most spectacular Buddhist temple. It has an unusual modern exterior of the three saints shrine. Its main hall features monumental modern sets of the Buddha of Cosmic light with dragons embellished pillars. Its main stairway is adorned with protective dragons.

Itemized tourist attractions:

Landmarks:
 -  Geumneung Seokbul-won (Stone Garden),
  -  Cheonjaeyeon Waterfall,
  -  Daepo Seashore,
  -  Dumunpo Seashore,
  -  Seongsan Ilchubong (Sunrise Peak),
  -  Yongdu-am (Dragon Head Rock)
  -  Gimnyeong-gul and Manjang-gul (Caves),
  -  Cheonjiyeon Waterfall,
  -  Hangpadu-ri Fortress,

  -  Jeongbang falls
  -  Sanbang-san Mountain,
  -  Sangumburi Crater,
  -  Songak-san Peak,
  -  Suwol-bong Peak,
  -  U-do,
  -  Sarabong Peak,
Buddhist Temples:
  -  Cheonwhang-sa
  -  Yakcheon-sa
National Parks and Amusement Parks:
  -  Halla-san National Park
  -  Bija-rim Forest
  -  Halla Arboretum
  -  Hallim Park
  -  Mok Seok Won
  -  Sinsan Park
Museums:
  -  Folklore and Natural History Museum
  -  Jeju Education Museum
  -  Jeju Independence Museum
  -  Jeju Teddy Bear Museum
Historical Places:
  -  Jeju Folk Village,
  -  Residence of Kim,
  -  Cheong-hi,
  -  Samseonghyeol,
  -  Seongeup Folk Village
Cherry Blossoms during Spring Season at Jeju Island 

The best time to visit Jeju Island

Korea's location on the eastern edge of the Eurasian landscape results in a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Chilly weather kicks off during the months of December to March with occasional snowfalls. Spring season comes on April to June, while July to August the climate turns to blistering hot summer. September to October will be the start of the Autumn season followed by winter. According to several travel guide books for South Korea, the best months to travel to Jeju Island is on the mid of April to June where Cherry blossoms spread its magical beauty in the surrounding or at Autumn season around September and October where it offers a wonderful display of foliage.

Getting to South Korea

Foreign nationals entering the Republic of Korea are generally required to have a valid passport and a Korean visa. However, many are permitted visa-free entry for a limited time under certain conditions. They include:

● Citizens of the countries under the Visa Exemption Agreement (see Tables 1, 2, & 3)
● Citizens of the countries and regions under the Principles of Reciprocity & National Interest (see Table 4).

[Table 1] Countries under Visa Exemption Agreement: Diplomatic Passport Holders
Country (Period)Country (Period)Country (Period)
Asia & Oceania
Turkmenistan (30 days)Uzbekistan (60 days)
Europe
Ukraine (90 days)
※ Visa period applies to diplomatic passport holders, unless otherwise specified.
[Table 2] Countries under Visa Exemption Agreement: Diplomatic/Government Official Passport Holders
Country (Period)Country (Period)Country (Period)
Africa & Middle East
Algeria (90 days)Benin (90 days)Egypt (90 days)
Iran (3 months)
Americas
Argentina (90 days)Belize (90 days)Bolivia (90 days)
Ecuador (Diplomatic: Unlimited, Official: 90 days)Paraguay (90 days)Uruguay (90 days)
Asia & Oceania
Azerbaijan (30 days)Bangladesh (90 days)Cambodia (60 days)
India (90 days)PJapan (3 months)Kazakhstan (90 days)
Kyrgyzstan (30 days)Laos (90 days)Mongolia (30 days)
Myanmar (90 days)Pakistan (3 months)Philippines (Unlimited)
Vietnam (90 days)
Europe
Belarus (90 days)Croatia (30 days)Cyprus (90 days)
Russia (90 days)
※ Visa period applies to both diplomatic and government official passport holders, unless otherwise specified.
* Generally, 3 months = 90 days & 6 months = 180 days
[Table 3] Countries under Visa Exemption Agreement: Diplomatic/Government Official/Ordinary Passport Holders
Country (Period)Country (Period)Country (Period)
Africa & Middle East
Israel (90 days)Lesotho (60 days)Liberia (90 days)
Morocco (90 days)Tunisia (30 days)
Americas
Antigua and Barbuda (90 days)Bahamas (90 days)Barbados (90 days)
Brazil (90 days)Chile (90 days)Colombia (90 days)
Commonwealth of Dominica (90 days)Costa Rica (90 days)Dominican Republic (90 days)
El Salvador (90 days)Grenada (90 days)Guatemala (90 days)
Haiti (90 days)Jamaica (90 days)Mexico (90 days)
Nicaragua (90 days)Panama (90 days)Peru (90 days)
Saint Kitts and Nevis (90 days)Saint Lucia (90 days)Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (90 days)
Suriname (90 days)Trinidad and Tobago (90 days)Venezuela (Diplomatic/Official: 30 days, Ordinary: 90 days)
Asia & Oceania
Malaysia (90 days)New Zealand (90 days)Singapore (90 days)
Thailand (90 days)
Europe
Austria (Diplomatic/Official: 180 days, Ordinary: 90 days)Belgium (90 days)Bulgaria (90 days)
Czech Republic (90 days)Denmark (90 days)Estonia (90 days)
Finland (90 days)France (90 days)Germany (90 days)
Greece (90 days)Hungary (90 days)Iceland (90 days)
Ireland (90 days)Italy (60/90 days)**Latvia (90 days)
Liechtenstein (90 days)Lithuania (90 days)Luxembourg (90 days)
Malta (90 days)Netherlands (90 days)Norway (90 days)
Poland (90 days)Portugal (60 days)Romania (90 days)
Slovakia (90 days)Spain (90 days)Sweden (90 days)
Switzerland (90 days)Turkey (90 days)United Kingdom (90 days)
※ Visa period applies to diplomatic, government official, and ordinary passport holders, unless otherwise specified.
** Italy: 60 days under Visa Exemption Agreement / 90 days under Reciprocity Principles (Effective June 15, 2003)
[Table 4] Countries & Regions Granted Visa-Free Entry under Principles of Reciprocity and National Interest
Country (Period)Country (Period)Country (Period)
Africa & Middle East
Bahrain (30 days)Egypt (30 days)Kuwait (30 days)
Lebanon (Diplomatic/Official: 30 days)Mauritius (30 days)Oman (30 days)
Qatar (30 days)Republic of South Africa (30 days)Saudi Arabia (30 days)
Seychelles (30 days)Swaziland (30 days)United Arab Emirates (30 days)
Yemen (30 days)
Americas
Argentina (30 days)Canada (6 months)Ecuador (30 days)
Guyana (30 days)Honduras (30 days)Paraguay (30 days)
United States (90 days)Uruguay (30 days)
Asia & Oceania
Australia (90 days)Brunei (30 days)Fiji (30 days)
Guam (30 days)Hong Kong (90 days)Indonesia (Diplomatic/Official: 14 days)
Japan (90 days)Kiribati (30 days)Macao (90 days)
Marshall Islands (30 days)Micronesia (30 days)Nauru (30 days)
New Caledonia (30 days)Palau (30 days)Samoa (30 days)
Solomon Islands (30 days)Taiwan (30 days)Tonga (30 days)
Tuvalu (30 days)
Europe
Albania (30 days)Andorra (30 days)Bosnia-Herzegovina (30 days)
Croatia (30 days)Cyprus (30 days)Italy (60/90 days)**
Monaco (30 days)Montenegro (30 days)San Marino (30 days)
Serbia (30 days)Slovenia (90 days)Vatican (30 days)
※ Visa period applies to diplomatic, government official, and ordinary passport holders, unless otherwise specified.
** Italy: 60 days under Visa Exemption Agreement / 90 days under Reciprocity Principles (Effective June 15, 2003)
Jeju Island

Jeju Island can be reached through ferry with its six marine routes connecting to major sea ports like Busan, Incheon, Mokpo and Tongyeong. By air, you can travel from Seoul to Busan via Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.

The cheapest way to travel to Jeju is through inland, you can catch up a bus travel from Seoul to Busan or Wando. Korean won comes in 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 denomination notes and 10, 50, 100, 500 won coins.The most viable currencies to carry in Korea are Japanese Yen and US dollars.

For more information and details how to travel to Jeju Island, click the following links:
Jeju Tour Information
Travel to Jeju

With South Korea's flourishing economy and exciting landmarks, tourists will have a grand time visiting this country known as the Land of the Morning Calm. Korea is very famous for organic, naturally-made skin products, healthy herbs and classy fashionable apparels, so the next time you plan a foreign trip for leisure, why not consider South Korea?

Sources: 

1. Insight Guide Travel Book (published by the Discovery Channel)
2. The official site of South Korean Tourism and Trade
              
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