Petite France + Nami Island + Gangchon Railbike Ride Tour (Part 1)

Our last full day in South Korea was spent outside the city. Thankful that I booked this trip with FunKo! It went well from start to finish!

For KRW 70,000.00 per person (or roughly about Php 3,500.00), this tour is so worth it!

Waited for our ride at Myeongdong Station Exit 5, there in a bulletin board was my name and the group we would be in.

Lucky us because our group only consisted of 15 pax (us 12 / other group 3)! Due to us being a small group, we were assigned a cozy coaster instead of a big and uncomfortable bus!

The ride to our first stop Petite France from Myeongdong was only an hour. I love Little Prince so I am giddy on this tour.

Petite France is a French cultural village set in the Korean countryside. It is also home to Goseong Youth Training Center. There are a lot of things to experience here.

The Little Prince welcomes visitors of Petite France

Puppets and Dolls on display

The Proposal Room

Petite France during winter
Viewdeck to see North Korea from afar

Inside a French Woman’s house

Miniature Eiffel Tower

Aside from the very picturesque small town that is Petite France, we get to enjoy magnificent puppet shows.

Really a sight to behold, these pictures are just a few of so many. A must visit in Gapyeong!

Our tour ended with some ice cream!

Next stop is the famous Nami Island. Took the coaster for a 30 minute ride to reach the ferry station. More on it here!

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Namsanmai – Our Korea Airbnb Story

There are a lot of places for rent when you check Airbnb. It’s almost a matter of luck if you will get a good host and if the place you are booking will be just what the host says.

As for our Korea Trip this year, we had the best of both worlds as our host is very accommodating and helpful. He always answers my query. His place is just what he posted and everything worked out fine the whole time we were there.

Our group consisted of 12 people and the house fits us perfectly.

The house is located in Namsan and super close to Namsan Cable Car Station, more or less a 5 minute walk uphill.

On the other hand, to go to Myeongdong Shopping Area, you walk downhill for a few minutes and you will reach 2 of the exits of Myeongdong Station. When you go underground, there is an underground shopping area and when you cross it and go up the exit, you are already at Myeongdong Street. This is where the happening is at! More on Myeongdong in my next blog.

Back to the house, this is what I saw that caught my attention. This is the house’s floor plan.

So you see, there are 3 rooms. Room number 1 has 3 single beds that can sleep 3 people. Room number 2 has a double deck with pull out bed. So another 3 people could sleep. Room number 3 has 2 double queen beds which could sleep 4 people.

The house also has 3 toilet and baths. And heated water which definitely helped as the weather is so cold in the morning.

To give you a glimpse of the house, take a look.

The gate looked like it was taken straight from a Korean film.

Houses and condos in Korea have digital locks. You won’t be needing a key, the owner of the house (in this case our host) just gave us the password and that is what we used for the whole duration of the trip.

The kitchen / laundry area / dining area.

The living room has a comfortable couch. A big flat screen TV and WIFI!

Room number 1

Room number 2

Room number 3

The host also gave us supply of water and some chips. So nice right?

He also booked us our airport transfers to and fro the airport.

I loved our stay in his house and that I am recommending it to all my friends.

Oh, one important thing! The house is a tough walk uphill especially when you have shopped for a lot of things! So ready your legs! I do have a bright idea though, you could take the bus and alight at the bus station in Namsan Cable Car, which is on top. Then just walk downhill to your house.

Some more pictures of the house. ⬇⬇⬇

Pictures from Namsanmai’s Facebook Account

Also, the host was so nice to let us check in directly from the airport. We arrived in his house around 7am. Check in was supposedly 2pm.

The house has all the things you will need – from the toiletries to the towels to the glasses, cups and cooking pans – it is all there!

We were all really happy with our stay! 🙌👌👍👏

Go and check out Namsanmai at Airbnb!

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Tagaytay Mahogany Beef Market

An impromptu drive to Tagaytay for the purpose of buying Batangas beef turned out to be a food and shopping trip today!

Left Manila around 5am and passed through all the closed SMs and Robinsons Malls along Aguinaldo Highway, hence the fast and no traffic drive going up to Tagaytay. I took a nap and when I woke up, we were already at the Mahogany Market. Such a cold morning too!

Weather update was after our breakfast and it still was 22 degrees!

The Mahogany Market in Tagaytay is famous for its Batangas Beef. They also have a slaughterhouse so you can be sure that the beef is fresh!

Before we purchased our beef, we made our way to the 2nd floor of the building to have our breakfast! There’s a long stretch of bulalohans and seems like they offer the same menu.

We chose Len’s.

Crispy Hipon – half order – Php100.00

Crispy Tawilis – half order – Php100.00

Bulalo – Php 350.00

Double the love for the Calamansi and Sili for the sauce!

Unlimited Senorita Banana – free

Unlimited Kapeng Barako (Batangas Coffee) – free

The Bulalo soup is so tasty! But the serving of the meat is too small compared to other Tagaytay Restaurants that also serve Bulalo. The Crispy Hipon is crunchy! But my favorite is the Crispy Tawilis. The size is just right. CRUNCHY and TASTY!

I loved it so much I bought a pack for Php 70.00.

Oh remember to bring a cooler with you so that you don’t have to buy anymore. We came prepared with 2 coolers! Haha!

After our stint in the Beef Section, we went straight to the Dry Goods part of the market where they sell Fruits and Vegetables!

Beware and be aware that some of their prices are pegged at Tourist Prices! Some are just about the same in Manila. And because of this, we didn’t buy any!

You could buy plants here too!

It really was a great morning having spent it with my loves. Another experience to add to the memories!

Wait, there’s more! We went malling at the Ayala Serin but since it’s about 9am only, some of the shops are still closed. We decided to proceed to Nuvali on our way down to Manila.

We walked around the shops. Checked the outlets and scored some deals! Then it was time to have lunch already!

It was only 11 am but Silantro (yes, the always full and have to wait a long time Tex Mex resto) was buzzing already!

Good thing we were seated immediately. We ordered so much!

Beef Nachos – it’s good and it’s one of their bestsellers!

Seafood Paella – I love that it’s not as salsa-ish as before.

Ribs (better at Gringo) It’s tender but the taste is so-so.

The Salpicado is too spicy for me.

So, after this very heavy lunch, we walked around again and shopped for shoes before we drove back to Manila.

At 3pm, we are safely back home.

Time to sleep!

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Ryoko’s Place ← our home away from home

When travelling to an expensive location like Japan, chances are, hotels could be very expensive too!  That is why, I am so thankful for Airbnb.  Not only do we get to save a lot from booking a hotel, we experience how it is to have a home away from home.

Ryoko is a superhost and a colleague has already booked her apartment several times.  So, being scammed isn’t going to be an issue.  

Our group consisted of 12 people all with 1 medium sized luggage and 1 handcarry luggage.  Do the math and that’s about 24 luggages in all. But Ryoko’s place is massive, so space is not a problem.

Ryoko’s place is in a quiet neighborhood.  It is actually in a high end part of Tokyo where the houses are big and pricey.

Ryoko’s is pricey also with rates going at Php 23,000.00 a night.  That doesn’t include Cleaning Fee.  However, the house can fit 14 people comfortably.  If you are more than 14, you could still fit.

Upon entering the house, there’s a mini sofa where you could sit and remove your shoes.  

Then the sala with a huge sofa set.  The black ones are actually sofa beds which can accommodate 2 to 4 people, or even 6.

There’s also a hammock for some chill time.

Photo from Ryoko’s Airbnb page

A big TV if you want to enjoy lounging at home.

Just in front is the Dining Area which could sit at least 10 people.

And then the Kitchen with complete amenities.  It has a fridge, a dishdryer, a microwave, and a coffee maker.  You could also use the plates, cups, glasses, and spoon and forks.  You can also find the washing machine there.

Then there were the bedrooms.
The only bedroom downstairs has a water bed!  It can fit 2 people.  It has its own walk in closet where you could hang your clothes or stash your luggages.  It also has its own toilet & bath.

There’s also a toilet on the 1st floor.

Up the 2nd floor, you can find 3 more bedrooms.  

The first one can fit at least 2 people.

The next bedroom has 2 single beds.

The third bedroom has a double bed also, could fit minimum 2 people.

One of these bedrooms has its own toilet and bath.

I have researched so much about Japan’s Airbnb and due to limited space of the houses in Tokyo, very seldom that you could find a house as big as this with all the beds and amenities to cater to your needs.

Definitely worth the price we paid for the duration of our stay.  Also, the house has WIFI and Ryoko lends a pocket wifi to bring along.

Her house is walkable from Shibuya, around 10 minutes give or take.  Just on the 1st street, there’s a Denny’s.  On the way, so many convenience stores, so you will never go hungry.

Ryoko is a very gracious host.  She is very accommodating.  Too bad I wasn’t able to meet her face to face.  According to my colleague, she is very beautiful too.

If you want to book her house in your future trip to Japan, just search Ryoko in Airbnb.  

Or leave a message and I will give you her contact number.

Happy Trip!

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Pay Travel Tax Online

Avoid the Holy Week Rush!  Pay your Philippine Travel Tax Online.

Go to www.tieza.gov.ph

Click Travel Tax, on the dropdown menu, select Pay Travel Tax Online.

You will be directed to this page.  Register and be a member. 

Once you are registered.  Paying your Travel Tax is so easy.  A registered member can pay for a maximum of 4 companions at a time.  

Click the Yellow Button that says Click here to fill up Travel Tax Payment Form.

The member’s name will be on default for every application.  You can choose to add member to input the name of your companion.  Fill up the form, you will be needing your Booking Reference Number.  Make sure you choose the right type of travel tax to pay.  For regular passengers on Economy, Travel Tax is Php 1,620.00.

Check all details then Click Confirm Payment.

There will be a fee of Php28.35 for each Travel Tax you pay online.  They call it Service Fee.  It is very minimal in exchange for the hassle of lining up and paying in Cash in the airport.

Once you confirm your payment, you will already see your Digitized Travel Tax Receipt.

There will be 4 copies.  2 copies in a page.  Print it in Landscape Form and cut.

There you go.  Travel Tax out of your way when you go to the airport.  

Saves us all the hassle.  Happy Vacation!

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Baguio 2017: Newtown Hotel

An impromptu trip to Baguio left us with no other choice but to find the most comfortable and cleanest hotel we could get at the last minute.

That is why I am so thankful for travel websites like Hotels.com, Traveloka and the others.  You can just go online, find a place and book easily.  Booking with these travel apps / websites comes with its own perks as well.

Like in Hotels.com, most of their hotels are included in the earn and redeem promo.  The more you book rooms with them, the easier you could get a free room.  This free room is redeemable anywhere in the world.

So anyway, we finally booked Newtown Plaza Hotel with the recommendation of a friend.  It’s a newly built hotel and it’s affordable, clean and modern.

We arrived midnight so checking in was a breeze.  

Didn’t get much pictures of the room because it’s midnight and we were all tired from the trip.

The room is big and spacious.  There are 2 double beds.  The TV is huge! Ample space for our things.  We asked for an extra bed the 2nd night.  
For Php1,200.00, this is what you get, a bed that could fit 2 more persons.

As for the bathroom…

The bathroom is spacious as well.  And the shower is the best ever!  I could stay longer than the normal under the hot shower.
The balcony and the view is just breathtaking!  So nice to wake up to a view like this!

Real value for money!  If I am going back to Baguio, I am definitely gonna stay in Newtown Hotel again!
They even have a swimming pool and a playground.

By the way, if you love wandering in a garden, and just be lost in time, the Botanical Garden is just a 5 minute walk from the hotel.  There’s also a coffee shop and some souvenir shops within the vicinity of the garden.  

If you are bringing a car with you, better partner it with Waze.  Helps a lot in navigating through the mountains and hills of Baguio!

Happy Trippin’!

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Japan Visa 2017 (Multiple Entry)

This year, our branch is travelling to the Land of the Rising Sun on Holy Week.  No need to talk about our plane tickets as we got it really expensive.  Since we have the tickets already, we can move on to getting a Japan Visa.  For quite some time now, Japan is lenient in granting visas as they are encouraging tourists to visit their country.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare for it.

So how do we get a Japan Visa?  Applicants can’t go directly to the Japanese Embassy to apply.  One needs an accredited travel agency.  The first time I applied for a visa, I got it from Friendship Tours located at Dusit Hotel Nikko in Makati. 

This was my 2013 Japan Visa.  I was only given a single entry.  The visa was only valid for 90 days.  A single entry visa allows you to stay for a maximum of 15 days.

Now, I am getting it through Mulan Travel Agency located in Binondo Manila.  Contact them at 2454658.

These are their requirements:

1)  Application Form – get it from the travel agency

Fill it up properly.  If in case there is a mistake, just cross it out with 2 lines, don’t use correction tape.  They want to know what the mistake is.  

Another reminder for the place where you will be staying, don’t put an Air Bnb address, just use some random hotel.  Unless you are really staying in a hotel.

2) 2×2 Passport ID Picture – with white background

3) NSO Birth Certificate – if first time applicant and doesn’t have any other visa issued to you.

4) NSO Marriage Certificate – same with No. 3 and if you are married.

For NSO certificate needs, please see my post here.

5)   Bank Certificate – of course, the embassy needs to know if you are financially capable to fund your trip.

6)  COEI or Certificate of Employment with Income (if employed) – proof that you have a stable job here in the Philippines and that you are coming back.  Also to prove how much you are getting paid.

7)  ITR or Income Tax Return – they would want to know if you are a good citizen paying your taxes. Haha. 

8) Business Papers or Documents (if not employed and owns a business) – same with COEI, this is to prove that you have the means to earn and spend for a trip.

So there, easy right?  Just as long as you are honest and you presented complete requirements, I think you will not have a hard time.

I am wishing for a multiple entry visa this time so wish me luck!

Good luck to you too!

Update:

We finally sent out application but our application got delayed because I wasn’t able to send my old passport with my old Japan visa in it.  They need it if you will not be submitting NSO Certificates anymore and if you have been to Japan already.  I didn’t know it was needed because I thought they already have their database to check.

2nd update: After a week since I sent my old Japan Visa, my application has been processed and I now have a Multiple Entry Japan Visa valid for 5 years!  It allows you to stay a maximum of 30 days for every visit!

It is a surprise, really!  According to the travel agency, you can’t apply for a multiple visa.  It is up to the Japan Embassy if there are gonna give you or not.  More often than not, they give you a multiple entry if you have already been issued a visa before.

What can I say?  Yey!

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Travel: Traveloka App

Discovered a new travel app just recently and it has already proven itself!  It is so easy to use.

We used this app to book our impromptu long weekend getaway and we literally made #HabolsaHalloween!  

In addition to the low prices they are offering, we got another 30% off on 1 of the rooms because of their #HabolsaHalloween promo.

We compared their prices with other travel apps and theirs is really lower.

Got a room in Matabungkay Beach Resort at only Php 3,212.70, discounted from Php 3,505.30.  Published rate is at Php 4,800.00.  

Booked 2 of these deluxe rooms and then applied the promo code Habol30.  I ended up paying just Php 5,461.59 instead of Php 6,425.40.  The 30% was applied to 1 room making me save another Php 963.81.

Thanks to Traveloka, we got 2 rooms at this rate at the last minute.  Who would have thought right?

What are you waiting for?  They have a new promo and it will run until November 6, 2016.  Book now!

You can download the app and use your Facebook ID to log in, this way, you don’t have to create a new account anymore.  Like them on Facebook, TravelokaPH

Check out their official website at www.traveloka.com

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