Taiwan: Sample 3D2N Itinerary and Budget

Taiwan seems to be high on the list of most Filipino travelers right now, and for good reason.

It’s only a couple of hours away, and with low cost carriers flying the Manila – Taipei route daily and visa-free entry* (please check first if you’re eligible), it’s the perfect weekend getaway.

And did I mention it’s pretty affordable too? We spent a little over Php10,000.00 (USD200.00) each (exclusive of shopping/souvenirs), and this wasn’t even a budget trip. I traveled with senior citizens so comfort and convenience were priority.

#Taoyuan #Taipei #Taiwan #ROC

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Our AirAsia flight arrived past 1:00am at Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1, and good thing I pre-arranged airport pickup with the hotel because there was a long queue at the taxi stand when we left. Continue reading “Taiwan: Sample 3D2N Itinerary and Budget”

Backpacking Central Europe: Itinerary

Planning a trip to Europe can be quite overwhelming. So much so that I drafted 5 itineraries (maybe more) before I finally picked which one to submit to the embassy.

You see, even with its extensive rail networks, there’s just so much to see in each city/country that you can’t possibly visit them all in one Euro trip.

So for my first Euro trip (yes, I plan to go back!), I just focused in Central Europe. Why? Frankly because that’s only what my budget allowed haha

I was actually surprised people were interested with my itinerary because, according to them, it’s not the ‘usual Europe route’.

What I’m going to share here is my actual ‘itinerary’, and not the one I submitted to the embassy. I found that over the years, I have become less meticulous about making itineraries and following it to a T, so you may feel that it’s ‘too relaxed’.

Sure, I could have visited more cities/countries in 21 days, but I’m way past the stage of jamming as many sights/attractions in a day. I’m on vacation, after all, and not on a mission.

Anyway, here it is. Feel free to modify according to your preference.

Continue reading “Backpacking Central Europe: Itinerary”

Europe on a Budget: 4 Countries in 21 days for Less Than Php85k

Aside from how I got a Schengen visa, another question I often get is how much I spent in Europe. While I wouldn’t exactly say Europe is affordable, going to Europe on a budget is definitely not impossible. You just have to know where and when to go.

So, how much do you need?

Here’s an infographic that’ll give you an idea how much you need per day depending on where you want to go. It ranks European cities from 1-56 (cheapest to most expensive) for your convenience.

Infographic by simplyholidaydeals.co.uk reposted in Matador Network and Daily Mail UK
*This is not a sponsored post*
As you can see, Western European cities are twice to thrice more expensive than the Eastern European ones.

Personally, I chose to just concentrate in Central Europe and Italy. I allocated at least €90 per day during the planning stage, but actually spent only about €75 per day on average.

It’s also important to note that I went in October-November, autumn, which is the shoulder season so accommodation prices were lower than if I went in summer.

As for my actual expenses, I religiously logged them using the app, TrabeePocket. No expense was spared – not even the €0.20 I paid for printing.

If you’re not traveling solo then you might want to consider the app, Splittr. It’s perfect for tracking those “Ikaw na muna magbayad.”/abono moments. :p

Again, this is not a sponsored post. I just find the app really useful.

Continue reading “Europe on a Budget: 4 Countries in 21 days for Less Than Php85k”

Islas de Gigantes, Iloilo: The Plan

Did you know that in the northeastern part of Iloilo (Carles) is a hidden gem — a group of beautiful islands called Islas de Gigantes? Well, I didn’t know about it either until a fellow blogger, Chito, invited me Q1 of 2012 for the first ever trip he was organizing. As much as I wanted to join, I was already scheduled to go to Palawan in February and the March schedule was too close (budget-wise). They pushed through with the trip. And as soon as Chito posted pictures of it, I knew I had to go there as soon as possible.
 
Cabugao Gamay Island
 
Fast forward to May 2012, I found out two of my colleagues are from Iloilo. Surprisingly, they aren’t familiar with these islands, but were very enthusiastic when I pitched the idea. We scheduled it for October since two of us share this birth month. Coincidentally, one of my fellow GirlTalkers and her hubby were also heading there and were looking to join a group to split the cost of boat rent and island hopping.
 
So what happens when you go on a trip with a couple you’re going to meet for the first time, and with colleagues from different teams with different shifts? Well, you ‘coordinate’ via Facebook, agree on the dates, file your vacation leaves, and book different flights. -_-
It is important to note that the only boat trip from Estancia Port to Islas de Gigantes leaves at 2:00 pm. Knowing this and the flights we booked, we informed Joel Decano^ we’ll need a chartered boat so we can start the island hopping early morning the following day. The couple, and me and my cousin spent a night at Paon Beach Club while my colleagues went to their respective homes when they arrived.
If you can book the earliest flight from Manila to Iloilo and want to head to Estancia Port directly, follow Chito’s instructions here.
 
Here’s how our first day looked like:
  • The couple arrived in Iloilo at 7:00 am via Seair. They did a city tour that morning.
  • My cousin and I flew via PAL and arrived at 1:00 pm.
  • My colleagues took a Zest Air flight and arrived at 6:00 pm.
DAY 1
  • Arrived at Iloilo International Airport
  • Rode a van (parked at the airport grounds) going to SM Iloilo – Php50.00, about 30 minutes
  • Met with the couple at SM Iloilo. Crossed the footbridge, rode a jeep going to Leganes, and got off Tagbak Terminal – Php10.00, about 10-15 minutes
  • Rode a van going to Estancia – Php150.00, around 2-2.5 hours
  • Took tricycle to Paon Beach Club – Php15.00
  • Overnight at Paon Beach Club – Php300.00/head
  • Dinner – Php114.00
Total expense for Day 1: Php639.00
 
DAY 2
  • Checked out from Paon Beach Club, took tricycle to Estancia Port – Php10.00
  • Breakfast – Php62.00
  • Island hopping*: Pulupandan Island or Gakit-Gakit Island, Tangke Saltwater Lagoon, Cabugao Gamay Island
  • Checked in at Gigantes Hideaway Inn**, lunch***
  • Resumed island hopping: Antonia Beach, Bantigue Sandbar
  • Went back to Baranggay Asluman and rode a habal-habal – Php10.00
  • Caving****
*This is a chartered boat that includes service to and from Estancia Port and island hopping that’s why the price is higher — Php4,500.00/7 pax: Php643.00/head
**Overnight accommodation — Php200.00/head
***Full board meals — about Php400.00/head
****Additional Php400.00/7 pax — Php57.00/head 
 
Total expense for Day 2: Php1,382.00
GRAND TOTAL: Php2,021.00
 
 
^Joel Decano — Tourism officer and owner of Gigantes Hideaway Inn
09184685006
Facebook page: Isla Gigantes

Eat, Pray, Shop: Malaysia

There was another seat sale earlier this year…and you know what happened next, right? 😉 I was able to book round trip tickets to Malaysia for August for only Php3,400 (about USD81). 

On another note, I landed a new job last May so I was still uncertain if a week’s worth vacation leave would be possible. Well, I guess I had lady luck on my side when I filed for the VL last July and it immediately got approved. 😀

So, with just a little over a month to plan for this trip, I feel like this is my most haphazardly done itinerary ever. Anyway, the plan was really simple as it just revolved around three activities as the title says: to eat, pray, and shop! 

The itinerary below is the actual route we took and different from the first draft I did. 

Philippine travel tax
Php1,620.00
Terminal fee Php550.00
PHP
RM
DAY 0 – August 20, 2012 (Monday) Kuala Lumpur
Arrival in KL LCCT
Aerobus to KL Sentral Php112.00 RM8.00
Taxi to Berjaya Times Square (Classic Inn) Php136.50 RM9.75
Check-in at Classic Inn (2 nights) Php1,827.84 RM130.56
DAY 1 – August 20, 2012 (Monday) Kuala Lumpur
Hotel breakfast
Imbi Monorail [MR5] to KL Sentral [MR1] Php22.40 RM1.60
KTM to and from KL Sentral and Batu Caves  Php42.00 RM3.00
KL Sentral [KJ15] to KLCC [KJ10] Php22.40 RM1.60
Lunch at KLCC Php147.00 RM10.50
Petronas Twin Towers, Beryl’s Choco Kingdom
Taxi to Berjaya Times Square (Classic Inn) Php119.00 RM8.50
Dinner Php140.70 RM10.05
DAY 2 – August 21, 2012 (Tuesday) KL to Penang
Hotel breakfast
Taxi from Berjaya to Puduraya Bus Terminal Php98.00 RM7.00
Bus to Butterworth Php485.10 RM34.65
Ferry to Georgetown Php16.80 RM1.20
Taxi to Hutton Lodge Php84.00 RM6.00
Check in at Hutton Lodge Php700.00 RM50.00
Late lunch/early dinner Php98.00 RM7.00
Bus to and from Toy Museum* Php63.00 RM4.50
DAY 3 – August 22, 2012 (Wednesday) Penang to Melaka
Brunch Php133.00 RM9.50
Penang Peranakan Mansion Php140.00 RM10.00
Bus to Penang Hill/Kek Lok Si Temple Php42.00 RM3.00
Inclined lift to Statue of Kuan Yin at Kek Lok Si Php56.00 RM4.00
Bus to Penang Road Php28.00 RM2.00
Dinner Php93.80 RM6.70
Bus to Melaka (with taxi pickup from Hutton Lodge) Php658.00 RM47.00
DAY 4 – August 23, 2012 (Thursday) Melaka
Breakfast Php112.00 RM8.00
Taxi from Melaka Sentral Bus Station to guesthouse Php168.00 RM12.00
Check-in at Oriental Riverside Residence Guesthouse Php488.04 RM34.86
Lunch at Jonker Street Php147.00 RM10.50
Christ Church, Stadthuys, St. Paul Ruins
Trishaw to Maritime Museum / Melaka River Cruise Php140.00 RM10.00
Melaka River Cruise Php210.00 RM15.00
Dinner Php194.60 RM13.90
DAY 5 – August 24, 2012 (Friday) Melaka to Singapore
Taxi to Melaka Sentral Bus Station Php105.00 RM7.50
PHP
SGD
DAY 5 – August 24, 2012 (Friday) Singapore
Bus from Melaka to Bugis (Singapore) Php330.00 SGD 10.00
Taxi from Bugis to Sengkang Php198.00 SGD 6.00
MRT: Sengkang to Orchard Php69.30 SGD 2.10
Lunch*
MRT: Bugis to Sengkang Php69.30 SGD 2.10
DAY 6 – August 25, 2012 (Saturday) Singapore
MRT: Bedok to Orchard Php62.70 SGD 1.90
Lunch Php280.50 SGD 8.50
MRT: Orchard to Sengkang Php69.30 SGD 2.10
Taxi to Changi Budget Terminal Php231.00 SGD 7.00
Changi Budget Terminal to LCCT via Tiger Airways with 15kg baggage Php2,475.00 SGD 75.00
DAY 6 – August 25, 2012 (Saturday) Singapore to Malaysia
Inflight snacks Php99.00 SGD 3.00
Dinner at LCCT Php126.00 RM9.00
DAY 7 – August 26, 2012 (Sunday) Arrival in Manila
TOTAL
Php13,010.28


*Cost of accommodation and taxi ride is per head based on two persons splitting the expenses.

Some notes on how we were able to keep the cost down (well, obviously I didn’t include the cost for shopping but that’s another story):

  • We didn’t visit any amusement/theme parks for two reasons:
    • My friend and I are not big fans of amusement rides, and
    • We skipped Universal Studios Singapore because we’re both coming back (on separate occasions) with our respective families.
  • In relation to the first bullet point, most of the attractions we went to has minimal entrance fee, if not free of charge.
  • Food and public transportation in Malaysia is very cheap. Could have brought the cost down further if not for the taxi rides to and from bus terminals, and the plane fare (with baggage allowance. Ouch!) from Singapore back to KL (just because we ended up adding kilos of stuff per destination!)
  • When in Penang, take advantage of the free CAT (Central Area Transit) bus – which we should have taken from the port to our accommodation instead of the taxi.
  • We stayed at my friend’s cousin’s flat in Singapore so accommodation is free. We also met up with my uncle on our first day that’s why our late lunch was also free.
 
***

 

By the way, I got rashes on my arms and legs two days before my flight! Turns out I had Roseola or ‘baby measles’ (more commonly known in Filipino as tigdas-hangin).  I was really worried that I might not be able to fly out of the country, and the tickets and reservations would all go to waste but here I am blogging about it – the power of the law of attraction. 😉

K

How To Fund Your Wanderlust (If You’re Just Living Paycheck to Paycheck)

Pag mahilig mag-travel, mayaman agad? Hindi ba pwedeng MASIPAG LANG? :p

 
One of the most common misconceptions about people who often travel is that they have bottomless pockets to fund their passion. While this may be true for some, most of us still rely on our nine-to-fives to feed the wanderlust. But sometimes, you just don’t really need to spend a lot for that dream trip.
Wanna be a millionaire? Go to Vietnam!
 
Saving up for that trip takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and knowing how to maximize your available resources. Here’s some ways on how to fund your wanderlust:
WORK/ONLINE JOBS
 
Surprise! Surprise! Contrary to popular belief, most travelers still keep a full time job.
 
Lucky are those who make a living through traveling but for a breadwinner like me, ‘traditional’ work is still my primary source of travel funds. I also boost my earnings by doing part time work. Sometimes I work 12 hours a day (or more) and/or during weekends just to earn extra money. There were times I even had 2-3 part time jobs just because I needed to save up for an upcoming trip. 
 
 
What type of online jobs are available? 
 
There are lots of online/freelance jobs you can do from writing, data entry, web design/development, graphic design, SEO – virtually everything except manual labor. 
 
As for me, I’ve been doing general/business transcription for about four years now. I love that I can work on the projects around my schedule and doesn’t require a special skill set or sophisticated software aside from a downloadable audio playback tool. 
 
Where can I find online jobs?
 
I know there are lots of sites out there that promises you can earn $1,000+ a week, but if it sounds too good to be true and/or asks you to pay or purchase anything before you can get a project, it’s a sham. A trusted site is oDesk (now Upwork). I started finding online jobs through this site and eventually worked directly with clients. 
 
How much can I earn?
 
Varies; depending on the type of job you take and how much time you’re putting in (if you’re working on a per hour rate). But just to give you an idea, I earn between Php5,000 – Php15,000 a month from transcription work. This kept me afloat during the seven months I was unemployed. :p
 
CUT BACK ON SPENDING
 
No-brainer, right? 
 
If you have a habit of buying a tall frappe three times a week, that’s more or less Php1,500.00 a month if you do the math! By cutting back on this alone, not only will you save a thousand bucks, you’ll also be saying goodbye to those extra calories. 😀
Also avoid going to the mall during SALE! You might think you’re saving a lot because items are 50% – 70% off (blame it on marketing) but the tendency is to hoard, and now you have these things that you don’t really need which end up gathering dust. But then again, you can still turn that around and do a garage sale (another way to fund your wanderlust). 😉
 
 
USE YOUR BENEFITS
 
By benefits, I mean your SSS, PAG-IBIG (Multi-Purpose Loan), 13th month pay, and unused vacation and/or sick leaves that are convertible to cash. I don’t know if you’ve heard something like if you don’t use your contributions, they lend it to somebody else so might as well use it, right? :p This should be your last resort if you still don’t have enough funds after doing the first two above.
 
Admittedly, I made a PAG-IBIG loan as additional fund for our Hong Kong trip last year
 
 
Am I eligible for the loan?
 
The easiest way to find out your eligibility is to inquire with your company’s HR department or you can refer to these sites: SSS and PAG-IBIG.
 
The catch?
 
Both loans are payable within a 24-month period. 
***
 
There, I hope I gave you some ideas on how to fund your wanderlust. Would love to hear your tips as well. Now, let me go ahead and finish that project. Will need the money for another adventure. 😉
 
K
 
This is my contribution to this month’s blog carnival:
 
Blog compilations will be hosted by
James Betia of Journeying James
 
Complete compilation of previous Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival here.

Exploring Indochina: Expenses

You’ve already read it from countless travel blogs yet you still think that you need to have lots of moolah to travel, so I’m giving you another proof to debunk that notion.
 
Below is a breakdown of our Indochina expenses per country and per item so you can have an idea of how much you need per day to get by.

 

Yes, you don’t need to break the bank to travel to three countries for more than a week.

 

ACCOMMODATION

1 – 3 nights accommodation based on twin sharing

2 – 3 nights accommodation based on twin sharing – Amount indicated is just an estimate since we got a package (accommodation + tour) from the guesthouse.
 
33 nights accommodation based on twin sharing – Amount is significantly higher than our Vietnam and Cambodia accommodations because we stayed in a hotel.
You can obviously bring down the cost further if you don’t mind staying in backpacker hostels or if you’re traveling with a group.

 

FOOD & DRINKS

VietnamFood is very cheap in Vietnam. A bowl of Pho costs about VND40,000 ($2/Php80)

Cambodia – Food and water can be quite expensive since prices are in US Dollars. A meal can cost between $3 – $6. By the way, the buffet with Apsara dance ($8) is included in the cost above.
 
Thailand – We ate a LOT in Bangkok but we still did not spend much. Yes, we survived on street foods (if you’re not picky)! 😀 Typical meal can cost between THB30 – THB50 ($1-$2).

TRANSPORTATION

4 Cost includes airport pickup and bus from Vietnam to Cambodia

5 – Cost includes tuk-tuk/remork for Angkor tour and bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok

 

TOUR & ENTRANCE FEES

Vietnam – Includes Mekong Delta tour, Cu Chi Tunnel tour and admission
Cambodia – Includes one day Angkor pass and tour guide fee
 
Thailand – Includes entrance to Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace, and Wat Pho

 

SOUVENIR

Cost obviously varies for this one. 

Vietnam – We bought souvenirs from Benh Thanh Market which is a tourist trap. We found out the Saigon shirt we got for VND250,000 can be bought for only VND125,000 from a souvenir shop in Pham Ngu Lao.

Cambodia – We went to Angkor Night Market but went home empty-handed. Again, we were turned off because items are priced in US Dollars.
 
Thailand – We bought most of the souvenirs in Khao San Road. Unfortunately, our last day in Bangkok fell on a Friday so we weren’t able to shop much in Chatuchak.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Includes laundry, tip/gratuity, IDD call (because my roaming wasn’t working) 

***

If you do the math, we only spent roughly about Php5,000.00 per country! It may not be the cheapest, but it’s not that expensive either. 🙂