TRAVEL: Kota Kinabalu DIY Itinerary and Expenses

Almost a month ago, I went to a weekend backpacking trip to Kota Kinabalu (KK), Malaysia with my HS best friend, Angelique. It was a no- brainer when Cebu Pacific had a seat sale back in April, we scored our roundtrip airfares less than Php3000! See, need not to spend too much to go international, tiyaga lang🙂. Our budget for this 3-day trip is Php10,000 excluding airfare, accommodation and Philippine travel tax.

Sharing our itinerary and expenses for ya’ll.

Day 0

1:30AM Arrival at KK International Airport

The Bunk Gaya Street Check-in

Day 1

Atkinson Tower

Padang Merdeka

Centerpoint Shopping Center

Mt. Kinabalu Park- UNESCO World Heritage (half day)

Oceanus Shopping Mall

Dinner at Nando’s Peri- Peri Chicken

Night Market

Filipino Market/ Handicraft Market

Day 2

Gaya Sunday Street Market (6AM-12NN)

Lunch at Gaya Street

Jesselton Point to the KK Islands

Sapi Island

Suriah Sabah Mall

Day 3

Mari Mari Cultural Village (half day tour + lunch)

Imago Shopping Center

Dinner at Old Town Gaya Street

Day 4

Bye, KK!

Depart KK International Airport to Manila

 

Travel TIPS:

-Sabah, or KK is a small walking city, just like SG, you can easily get to destinations in just a few steps

-KK is one of the cleanest city/ country I’ve visited; not much people on the streets and very quiet

-Lotsa Kababayans, well, atleast half Filipinos and half Malaysian; They can also understand and speak Tagalog🙂

-No other mode of transportation in the city except cab, which do not use their meter, instead, they will change you a fixed rate RM10 or RM15 depending on the distance.

-Uber is mostly used by the locals because of its cheaper fare by almost 50%! (from our hostel to Imago Mall we paid RM6; going back to the hostel, the cab charged us RM15! Darn it!)

-They have commuter vans (or mini bus for the locals) for long distance/ provincial travel

-Airport bus service from KKIA to KK City Center from 7:30AM to 8:30PM

-More than half of the population are Muslims, thus, few eateries/ restaurants offer pork on their menus. Mostly, you can find pork at Chinese eateries.

-Best to visit the islands in the morning, low tide begins at around 2-3PM, rough sea at around 4PM.

-Book a travel package going to Mt. Kinabalu UNESCO Heritage Park and Poring Hotspring. It’s not advisable to DIY this because it is 2hrs no traffic, full- speed zigzag van ride from the city. Last van from Ranau to KK City is 4PM. Should you still decide to take the van, suggest you purchase your tickets from the driver once they drop you off on your first destination and don’t forget to get their contact numbers, you will be needing it!

SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

  PHP USD (USD1=PHP46.79) RM (RM1=PHP11.68)
Round trip Airfare (via Cebu Pacific Air)* 2,758.51 58.96 236.17
Philippine Travel Tax 1,620.00 34.62 138.70
Accomodation (The Bunk Hostel Gaya Street) with Breakfast 3,155.17 67.43 270.13
Airport Transfer (c/o The Bunk) 1,051.20 22.47 90.00
RT Commuter Van Fare to Mt. Kinabalu Park 467.20 9.99 40.00
Island Hopping 607.36 12.98 52.00
Entrance and Environmental Fees 700.80 14.98 60.00
Mari Mari Cultural Village Tour 1,985.60 42.44 170.00
Pocket Money (Food, Transpo, Pasalubong, Misc) 5,187.84 110.87 444.16
TOTAL 17,533.68 374.73 1,501.17

Have a safe trip to KK, Guys🙂

TRAVEL : Japan DIY Itinerary and Expenses

On my previous post, I have shared the steps I consider and follow in creating our trip itinerary. It took us months to finally give it a rest. Too many places to see, do and eat! And eliminating items on the list is really heartbreaking. Well, we should definitely be back!

Here’s the complete daily itinerary for Osaka-Tokyo trip.

Day 0

Arrival at Kansai International Airport (KIX)

Train to Airbnb (JR Taisho Station)

Day 1

Osaka Castle Park

Shitennoji Temple

Sumiyoshi Taisha

Sorihashi Bridge “Taiko Bridge”

Universal Studios Japan

Dotonburi

 

Day 2

Kinkakuji Pavilion (Golden Pavilion)

Nikishi Market

Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine)

Yasaka Pagoda

Gion (Geisha Street)

Higashiyama District

Fushimi Inari-taisha (Tori Gates)

Shinsaibashi

 

Day 3

Kuromon Ichiba

Kodaiji Temple

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Kobe

Dotonburi

 

Day 4

Bullet train to Tokyo

Meiji Shrine

Yoyogi Koen Park

Harajuku

Shibuya

 

Day 5

Sensoji Temple

Akihabara

Ueno Park

Animate at Ikebukuro

Shinjuku

 

Day 6

Ginza

Yurakucho

Tokyo Disneyland

 

Day 7

Narita Express to Airport

 

Summary of Expenses:

PHP USD (1USD = 45 PHP) JPY ( 1JPY = 0.43 PHP)
Round trip Airfare (via Cebu Pacific Air)* 5,230.88 116.24 12,240.26
Japanese Visa Processing Fee 900.00 20.00 2,106.00
International Travel Tax 1,620.00 36.00 3,790.80
Osaka Airbnb (4N) 3,893.00 86.51 9,109.62
APA Hotel Kanda Jimbocho Eki Higash (3N) 5,207.00 115.71 12,184.38
Kansai Thru Pass (3days) 2,222.00 49.38 5,199.48
Shinkansen (Osaka-Tokyo) 5,710.55 126.90 13,362.69
KIX Airport to Osaka 473.00 10.51 1,100.00
Narita Express 1,298.60 28.86 3,020.00
SUICA Pass 1,505.00 33.44 3,500.00
Tokyo Disneyland (after 6 Passport) 1,806.00 40.13 4,200.00
Universal Studios Japan 2,946.36 65.47 6,852.00
Pocket Money (Food/ Shopping) 31,992.00 710.93 74,400.00
TOTAL 64,804.39 1,440.08 151,065.23

*Seat Sale

There you go!

It’s not as cheap as i used to do it, but it’s all worth it.

Lemme know what you think, drop a comment below.

TRAVEL: How to DIY Japan Itinerary

Japan has been in my forever “FcukitList” and never crossed my mind that I would visit it, THIS SOON. Yes, I’ve been on some countries in Asia, but Japan has always been that oh-so-expensive first world trip. I love their food, their culture, the people, the respect and humility they have, Disneyland, Sakura, railways and the weather. Phew, that was long! In short, I love everything JAPAN-ese.

It all began when Cebu Pacific Air had their 25 cents (USD 0.01) seat sale last June 2015 for all domestic and international flights. Top of my list are Korea and Japan, luckily, I was able to book a multi-city flights to Japan (MNL-Kansai-Narita-MNL), yeehaa! There were no available sale flights on my chosen dates for Korea, maybe it’s really meant to be. J

It was always March and September we book trips, 6 months interval for savings and enough time to finalize our DIY itinerary. March- our anniversary and Cyd’s (Fiancée ♥) birthday, and September, my birthday.

Our trip itinerary wasn’t finalized not until a week before our trip. This was because, 1) we were too busy at work, 2) there are so many places to see, things to do, and food trip in Japan, 3) VISA application, 4) SAVINGS. We really did save for this trip and it is indeed one of the most expensive country we’ve visited- next was SG.

Visa application was quick and smooth. We didn’t encountered problems with Reli Travel and Tours. They even released our visa within 2 days. Check my Japan Visa application for Filipinos post here.🙂

These are the links and blogs that helped us most in finalizing our itinerary:

http://www.japan-guide.com/

http://www.surutto.com/tickets/kansai_thru_english.html

http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html

http://www.jrpass.com/blogs/7-day-sample-itinerary-tokyo—kyoto—nara

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/routes/g_route/tokyo.html

http://www.thepoortraveler.net/category/international/japan/

http://twenty-somethingtravel.com/2014/09/first-time-itinerary-japan/

http://goingawesomeplaces.com/japan-itinerary-12-days/

Looking for a place to stay is not that easy as it may sound. We need to consider the distance and location of the accommodation as well as the price. In Kansai (Osaka), we booked a traditional Japanese Airbnb to feel the Japanese vibe, and in Tokyo, we stayed at APA Hotel Kanda Jimbocho Eki- Higashi via Agoda. Both accommodations are near subways, so it is indeed a great choice.

TIP: Check reviews on tripadvisor and current photos for guidance; Book in advance to get the best deal. In Agoda, you have an option to book and “pay later” that you can cancel anytime should you decided to stay on a different hotel.

The weather, oh booyy,, it was really cold! Since its March, it is the transition from winter to spring, cold breeze and a handful of rainfalls. Good thing that our Osaka host has provided us a heater, otherwise, it’s gonna be a looooong chilly night. Average weather during our stay is between 1 to 7 degrees. Hindi kami sanay since in the Philippines it is very hot and humid.

TIP: http://www.accuweather.com/ is the one were using, very accurate. Check once in a while to get the most updated report.

Transportation, everything is accessible via railway, subway and private JR lines. In Kansai Area, we purchased the Kansai Thru 3-day Pass for JPY5200, roughly Php2176. A good deal if you’re planning to explore Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe and more using the local Subway and some buses. Train tickets are expensive since most of the areas are accessible via fast trains, average fare JPY100-200.

In Tokyo, we chose the SUICA card, a reloadable tap card, like the current beep card were using. SUICA card costs JPY2000, JPY500 deposit (which you can’t use and will be reimbursed after you surrender the card) and JPY1500 ready to use credits. Most of the lines are accepts SUICA including JR lines and Subways.

TIP: Get the updated train map on the stations for guidance and ask the operating hours.

In my opinion, unlike Hong Kong, Japanese trains are faster, more accurate, more lines and cleaner. Hindi siksikan and lesser train intervals, 2 minutes average.

There you go, my steps in creating our own DIY itinerary. On my next posts, I’ll be sharing my detailed DIY Trip itinerary and Expenses, so stay tuned!🙂

 

 

FOOD: Lucky Chick, UP Town Center

Straight from the airport, we found ourselves strollin’ at UP Town Center for a comfort meal after a tiring day.

We were about to enter Case Verde but this new restaurant caught our eyes (just beside it). Checked the menu and surprisingly, it was affordable. So hey, why not give it a try, it’s fried chicken afterall🙂

thumb_IMG_2140_1024

Lucky Chick (Interior)

At 7PM, this restaurant is empty, no customers yet, except us. Minutes after, several customers started to arrive. Baka maaga pa kami for dinner.

We ordered the Luckier Meal, which has 2pcs chicken, gravy, plain rice, 1 side, and iced tea and the Porkchop with Peach Glaze.

thumb_IMG_2139_1024

Lunckier Meal Set: Original Chicken, Hot Chick, Mac & Cheese

Orders arrived after 10-15 minutes. Surprised by the huge serving of breaded chicken! The Luckier Meal can feed 2 people alone with that size! Original chicken is super crunchy and almost tastes like Chickenjoy (almost lang, not super kalasa). Hot Chick I think is the original chicken seasoned with hot and spicy powder. I liked the Hot Chick better, it is not too spicy na nakakasamid but just enough to ump my appetite.

The porkchop, however, tastes weird. At first bite you may taste the pork like bocha or double dead pork. Tolerable and few spoonfuls after, we thought it was because of the peach glaze. For us, it was not a good combination (sorry, just being honest here).

Anyway, here’s How to create your own set meal:

Step 1: Chicken

Original, Hot Chick, Lemon Garlic

Step 2: Meat

Dark meat- Legs and Thigh

White meat- Breast

Step 3: Sauce

Original Gravy, Honey, Apple Cider

Step 4: Sides

Green Salad, French Fries, Mashed Potato, Coleslaw, (Homemade) Donut, Corn and Carrots, Corn on Cob, Corn Muffins, Biscuits, Plain Rice, Garlic Rice

Aside from the set meals (Get Lucky, Luckier and Family Style), you can also order from their wide selection of appetizers, salad, sandwiches, pica and more.

Note: They are still on soft opening so some items on the menu are not yet available. They are under the same group of Nolita at BHS.

Verdict:

Service- 4 stars (they can still improve serving time; staff are friendly, accomodating and very attentive)

Food- 5 stars (huge chicken servings; good variety on menu; presentation)

Ambience- 5 stars (simple and clean; LOVED their playlist)

Price- 4 stars (set meals are affordable given the serving size; roughly Php800 for 2pax🙂

 

Have you tried this too? Lemme know what you think, drop a comment below.🙂

TRAVEL: How to get a Japan Visa (Tourist)

Note: This post is specifically for Philippine Passport holders🙂

You might think that it’s a pain in the arse to secure one, but I’m telling you, it’s NOT. Unlike other embassies, we cannot file our own application walk-in, you may choose from their accredited travel agencies instead. Here are some of them:

For any Visa application

For application WITHOUT Japanese guarantor

 

Requirements for Tourist Visa (with no guarator):

  1. Philippine Passport- must be valid 6 months before your travel date
  2. Visa Application Form (download here)- must be printed on an A4 size paper; it may be hand-written or computerized
  3. Recent Photo- 4.5×4.5, white background pasted on the application form
  4. NSO/ PSA Original Birth Certificate- issued within 1 year (I got mine at the SM Business Center, processing time is 5-7 working days)
  5. Marriage Contract (if applicable)- issued within 1 year
  6. Daily Schedule in Japan (sample format) – need not to be super detailed but make sure to follow the format;must be printed on an A4 size paper
  7. Original Bank Certificate- no required amount but should cover the duration of your stay
  8. Original Income Tax Return (BIR 2307)- must be recent
  9. Guarantee Letter (if applicable)

TIPS:

  • Make sure that you have all the required documents before you go to your agency, it will make your appointment a breeze.
  • Have the documents printed in A4, otherwise, you will re-write the application form or have it resized.

 

In my case, I processed my Visa through Reli Tours at their Dusit Thani Makati branch. It is open Monday to Saturday, from 8:30AM to 4:30PM. There is no visa fee for Japan, and you’ll only pay the processing fee to your agency. Processing time is roughly 7-10 days depending on the embassy (mine costs Php950 and was released 2 days after I applied, wow ang bilis!). BTW, they do not disclose the reasons of rejection.

Enjoy Japan, Guys!🙂

TRAVEL: Beijing Itinerary and Expenses

Traveling shouldn’t be so expensive, with the preparation and research, mas makakatipid ka. Before, I was too skeptical when it comes to expenses, feeling ko kasi mahal and matinding ipunan ang mangyayari. I was wrong, started subscribing to airlines for their promo fares, mage-effort ka talaga in waiting and may stay up late or early in the morning to book the cheapest flight but it was all worth it. Usually, our airfares ranges from Php 3500-4500 round trip international and Php 1500-3000 domestic flights. See, kailangan lang matiyaga🙂

As promised, here’s our travel itinerary from our previous trip:

DAY 1:

Arrival at Hotel, Check-in

National Center for Performing Arts

Tian’amen Square

Forbidden City

Old Hutong Tour

Lunch

Temple of Heaven

Tea Shop

Acrobatic Show

Roast Duck Dinner

Return to Hotel, rest

 

DAY 2:

Jade Factory

The Great wall of China (Juyongguan)

Buffet lunch

Summer Palace

Olympic Stadium (Media Tower, Bird’s Nest, Water Cube)

Jewelry Shop

Dinner

 

Day 3:

Free time/ Shopping time

Wangfujing Shopping Street

Wangfujing Snack Street

Donghuamen Night Market

 

Day 4:

Free time/ Nearby malls

Depart from Beijing to Manila

 

Summary of Expenses:

Roundtrip airfare (via Cebu Pacific Air) Php 3,750*
Chinese VISA Php 1,400
International Travel Tax Php 1,620
NAIA3 Terminal fee Php 550
Land arrangement Tour package Php 12,500
Pocket Money (Food/Shopping) Php 10,000
TOTAL Php 29,820

*Piso Fare Promo

 

Hope you find this post helpful. Please feel free to drop comments🙂

 

Cheers,

Karla

TRAVEL: The Greatwall of China, Summer Palace, Olympic Stadium

Visiting China was a dream come true, crossing one off my bucket list. The Great Wall of China was really amazing, it’s not everyday na bibigyan ka ng opportunity to see this man-made wonder.

On the second day of our tour, we visited the Jade factory owned by the government. Nah, were not interested, and didn’t bought any. Next stop was the Great Wall of China. Here’s some snapshots:

 

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

And of course, the best spot to take couple photo🙂

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

I really liked their weather, it’s sunny and cold at the same time. A cute pair of sunnies, jacket or a sweater will do the trick.

As told by Amy (our tour guide0), there are 8 watch towers in the area, others are still under restoration. Only 3 out of 8 towers lang ang naaykat namen. The stairs are too steep that you really need to hold the railings for support. Many tourists, especially the older ones are taking a rest each after several steps making it a bit harder to climb, medyo nakakawala ng momentum ang traffic.

 

This was the last tower we climbed.

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China

 

We also visited the Summer Palace. This was built for the emperor’s royal family to stay during summer. The place is huge, they even have a man-made lake inside it!

IMG_2310

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

 

And lastly, we visited the Olympic Stadium where the Olympic 2008 was held. Got to see the famous Bird’s nest and got a chance to go inside. As per Amy, the stadium was rarely used for events, it’s too expensive for locals. Sayang lang yung gastos nila in building the historical landmark, nasisira na.

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Olympic Media Center, Beijing, China

Olympic Media Center, Beijing, China

Bird's Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird’s Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird's Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird’s Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird's Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird’s Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird's Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Bird’s Nest, Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Water Cube, Beijing, China

Water Cube, Beijing, China

 

Before heading out for our dinner, we dropped by a Jewelry shop inside the stadium. Be warned, we were scammed. (Please see my next post for the details of our katangahan). This was not even part of our itinerary. We insisted not to go to any of the shops since we’re not interested in buying anything. But they said we cannot pass this one so we went on.

Our supposedly 3 days of day tours was compressed into 2 days, the travel agency gave us 40RMB for food refund. It was a better idea, we get to choose where to eat and explore the city on our own. We spent our day lazy in bed and shopping.

 

Hope this posts help you plot your itinerary when you visit Beijing.

 

Please feel free to drop comments/ queries🙂

 

Cheers!

TRAVEL: Beijing, China

I’ve been a fan of Cebu Pacific’s promo fares, and this year’s vacation we spent in Beijing, China. We stayed there for 5 days 4 nights. It was also our first time to hire a travel agency, usually kasi DIY kami. We decided to avail a tour because first, we really want to explore the city given the limited time. Second, based on our research on the “places to visit,” medyo malalayo ang mga tour destinations, kunwari na lang ang Great Wall of China, it’s roughly 2 hours away from the city. Third, mahirap ang public transpo sa kanila, confusing and the cab fares are too expensive (14RMB= Php90 flag down). And lastly, we were challenged on how to communicate with them, aminin na talaga naten, nahirapan kame, konti lang sa kanila ang marunong mag English.

We booked the trip a year ago via Cebu Pacific Air. Promo fare kaya grab na kagad ng opportunity without even thinking na matagal pa yun. A month prior to our trip, we applied for our Chinese Visa, luckily, approved kami, ansaya lang.

Once all was settled, we coordinated with the travel agency. At first nagkaproblema kami but later on naayos naman. We got a really cheap package din, the whole tour only cost Php 12,500/ head. This includes round trip airport transfers, 5D4N accommodation, meals and tours. Sulit na sulit talaga.

Upon arrival at the airport, we were greeted happily by Amy, our local tour guide. Since it was already passed midnight, we went straight to our hotel to rest. Medyo nagkaron lang ng problem kasi they can’t find our booking reservation, the next day pa nila naconfirm with our agency.

First day were packed, heavy sa dami ng destinations. We were lucky because it was an exclusive private tour. Kami lang dalawa ni boyfriend, with Amy and Tian, the driver. Hindi masyado nagmamadali and solong solo namen ang car, feeling honeymoon lang🙂

We visted the following tourist spots:

National Theater for Performing Arts, Beijing, China

National Theater for Performing Arts, Beijing, China

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Old Hutong, Beijing, China

Old Hutong, Beijing, China

Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

Acrobat Show at the Beijing Chaoyang Theater, China

Acrobat Show at the Beijing Chaoyang Theater, China

Roast Duck

Roast Duck Dinner

Since we’re still pumped up and the tour finishes a bit early, we decided to go out. There are several malls near our hotel, isang tumbling lang. First night was the coldest of our stay, 3 degrees if I remembered it right. Need to wear jackets and gloves para hindi manginig sa ginaw.

Will post a separate entry for our second day. Stay tuned🙂

My attempt to become a Blog-err

OMG, this is it!

 

Zee happy face :)

Zee happy face🙂

I’ve decided to make a blog to share my travel journal, food trip and life happenings. I’m no pro in writing, hindi ako malalim and creative when it comes to it. I want it to be simple, parang kwentuhan lang, para easy lang🙂 I was inspired by my good friend Elaine to start blogging and helped me created my wordpress account (Check out her BBlog here).

Okay, let’s start of by these lame random facts about me, hehe!

  1. Travelling is my first love, and eating, my second . I work hard to go to places I wanna visit, eat what I want and buy whatever I want
  2. I’ve been working since 2009 as a Human Resources practitioner and is currently in a dilemma of changing my career
  3. I’m the eldest of 4 siblings (I have 3 brothers)
  4. My Shoe size is 7
  5. Okay, let’s skip the height.
  6. I have 8 piercings and 6 tattoos
  7. Favorite color: Orange, Brown
  8. I’m a nail polish addict, I have tons of them and if I’m not wearing one, I feel like naked (yup, exagge ako!)
  9. I love coffee even it makes my heart palpitate. I tried avoiding it but ended getting a decaf
  10. I always have candies in bag, mostly tictac and Wonka’s Nerds
  11. I have a pet Shi Tzu named Zooey (yup, got that right, she was named after my girl crush Zooey Deschanel)
  12. My greatest dream was to become a lawyer
  13. I prefer tequila/ vodka over beer
  14. I do not smoke cigarettes but I like to keep it organic
  15. I do yoga
  16. Dark chocolate lover, the darker, the bettah!
  17. I wanna be a surfer, not to build a snowman (nyeh, korny!)
  18. Just like any other girls, I enjoy shopping and going to malls
  19. I prefer jeans, shirt, and sneakers over girly stuffs
  20. I used not to eat veggies during my teenage years
  21. I don’t like roller coasters and the likes
  22. I’m not afraid of heights, it makes me more excited
  23. Though I love traveling, either by bus, private cars, boats, or planes, I always get dizzy.
  24. I easily get intimidated.
  25. Impulse buyer.
  26. I don’t cook, sorry future husband.

And that’s it! Thank you for reading and hope you guys find this blog helpful and inspiring.

Good luck and Cheers to more blog entries! Yeeehaaah!