Most Filipino travelers have Japan high on their bucketlists. But most of us have this perception that traveling there is too expensive. Generally, the cost of living is higher than popular Southeast Asian countries on the backpacking trail like Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam.
But Japan is such a worthwhile destination in terms of natural landscapes, rich traditional culture, and world class technology. It’s amazing how efficient and clean everything is. Like traveling to any destination, there are always ways you can cut down on costs. Last year, I got to visit Nagoya and I just recently came back from visiting sights around Osaka, Kyoto and Nara in the Kansai Region. Here are a few tips I can share that will hopefully help Filipino travelers plan their dream trip to The Land of the Rising Sun.
TIP: 100 USD is roughly 10,000 yen. If you want to convert yen to pesos, the general rule of thumb is to divide the amount in half. For instance, anything that costs 1000 Yen is roughly 500 pesos. Continue reading →
As a huge fan of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and the blockbuster film series based on the books, visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a dream come true. This themed area within Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was a major highlight of my recent trip around Osaka and the Kansai region upon the invitation of Cebu Pacific & USJ. Flying along with Harry, Hermione and Ron in the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle, walking along the shops in Hogsmeade and drinking Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks was just amazing!
For movie and pop culture buffs, Universal Studios Theme Park is one of the top attractions where you can enjoy rides inspired by Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows, cartoons and video games produced by Universal Studios. This world-class theme park transports you right inside your all-time-favorite flicks like Jurassic Park, Waterworld and JAWS.
For riders, travel is usually more about the journey than the destination. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you go. Just hitting the open road, soaking in the beautiful scenery as you drive off into the sunset is an epic adventure in itself.
Whenever I travel to a different province, I try to rent a motorcycle. Usually, it’s just whatever run-down model I can get my hands on. I’ve ridden solo in many beautiful island destinations like Batanes, Bohol, Siargao, Siquijor and Cebu. On my own faithful Yamaha Mio Fino, the farthest I’ve driven is from Manila to Bicol.
But it’s not everyday that you get to ride on the expressway up to Baguio on a Harley Davidson. Oh yeah, baby! Achievement unlocked! Seriously, just sitting on this bike gives you instant 1000+ Astig Points.
Just like exploring a new dungeon in a video game, there’s something so fulfilling about spelunking or exploring caves in real life.
You have to navigate through small tunnels and chambers, find the best route so that you don’t hurt yourself, come face to face with creatures like bats and snakes and overcome all the obstacles in the dark to find the cave exit. It’s not as glamorous as Lara Croft makes it look, but it’s one of the most fun and exhilarating adventures you can do. Particularly if you’re in Samar, the Caving Capital of the Philippines.
At first glance, Maeklong Market in Samut Songhram, a couple of hours outside Bangkok in Thailand looks like any other rural wet market. Baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables are displayed alongside colorful sweets and local delicacies. In one section, stall vendors hawk smoked and dried fish, trays of raw seafood, meat and even a few exotic offerings like skinned and skewered frogs. In the back stalls, you can buy dry goods and basic household items. But what makes the market interesting is its location. Situated right along an active railway track, a train just happens to run right through the tightly packed market. This happens several times a day, when the train nears the Maeklong station between Samut Sakhon and Wongwian yai.
Exploring Central Cave in Samar made me feel like an action star. There’s just something so innately bad-ass about descending 18 meters or 60 feet down a hole in the ground into a cavern below with ropes anchored on tree trunks. One moment you’re on solid ground, the next you’re just hanging there lowering yourself inch by inch to the rocky surface below. You look up and a ray of light shines from the ground above.
Home to a network of amazing caves hidden beneath the region’s lush jungles, including the biggest cave system in the country, Samar is a rugged island where adventure seekers can experience something out of the ordinary. Though most of Samar Island remains off-the-radar for local tourists, many international spelunkers have been drawn here since it’s been dubbed the “Caving Capital of the Philippines.”
Biking is one of the the best ways to get around in small towns. You get to explore at your own pace, soak in the scenery, and burn a few calories while sightseeing. During our week-long tour with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, I was itching to have any excuse to get on a bike. I always tend to overeat when I travel and by the third day of buffet breakfasts and lunch feasts featuring amazing Thai dishes, I felt like I needed some sort of workout.
Thailand is the travel hub of Southeast Asia. Known for its rich culture, tourist-friendly facilities, accessibility and affordability, Thailand is a great destination for first time travelers and seasoned travelers alike.
Its capital Bangkok is one of the major regional flight hubs for Southeast Asia. Filipinos can easily enter Thailand because no Visa is required for ASEAN passport holders and flights are pretty affordable coming from Manila.
Aside from the famed beaches and temples, shopping is a major tourist draw and the food is arguably the best in Asia. For international travelers, this country is often the start of the backpacking trail as you can travel overland to other countries like Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.