Travel Tips

 

1. On booking a flight

Most of the people around me often ask how do I manage to purchase a low-cost flight. My secret is simple:

A. Sign up in an airline’s website. One of the perks of this is that you’ll be given advance notification via e-mail with regard to their seat sale and, in some airline, they even give a 24-hour priority booking prior to the actual seat sale release date.

B. If you’re not always checking your e-mail for “seat sale alert”, at least always check the website’s promo page. Most of the time, seat sale is released at 12 midnight or 12 noon, which runs for 3 or more days.

C. Book only one-way ticket per seat sale. For example, last April 16, 2017 Cebu Pacific released a seat sale going to Taiwan, which costs Php899 per way. I opted to travel on the month of November. My departure date from Manila to Taiwan is November 6. Luckily, the fare for this date is Php899. Unfortunately, the return flight fare costs Php2500+ on my return date of choice. Php2500+ fare from Taiwan to Manila is relatively cheap compared to its regular price but I wanted cheaper flights. So, I decided not to book any return flight and wait for another seat sale. Come May 1, Cebu Pacific released another seat sale. I searched for Nov 13 flight from Taiwan to Manila and guess what, the fare is only TWD888! When you convert it to peso it would cost you approximately Php1500. My roundtrip ticket to Taiwan costs only Php2399 and it’s a double yay!

2. On booking accommodation

There’s one question for this: Are you looking for a place to stay in luxury or a place just to put your luggage in, sleep in and eat at? If your choice is luxury, then go ahead and book at a hotel. If your choice is the other one, Airbnb is the answer or any other hostels.

I’ve booked at Airbnb twice. The first one is for a stay in Boracay and the other one is for a stay in Bangkok.

Pros

a. The space is all yours at a low-cost fee. Just imagine a presidential suite-sized hotel room or a 1-bedroom condo unit all for yourself.

b. You may cook and do laundry. Yes! You read it right! I did cook when in Boracay and Bangkok and even do laundry, too.

c. You’ll get that feeling of home away from home because you’re really staying at a house of a native from that place. In addition, you’ll get some travel tips from the house owner.

Cons

a. Some of the cheap places to stay at in Airbnb is far from where do you intended to go to. This depends on how much you research the place before booking. Therefore I suggest to check the place if it is near the beach or near the city center before booking.

b. If you book it, don’t you ever change your mind because you’ll not be able to get a full refund. There’s a certain fee that will be charged upon cancellation of booking.

c. If you booked for tours in a foreign country and it do include hotel pickup and drop off, you might add some fee for this depending on your location.

 

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Last Day In Taiwan

We spent our last day in Taiwan doing laundry (it’s free to do your laundry at Shin Sei Bashi Hotel) and right after we decided to visit the Rainbow Military Village.

Rainbow Military Village

How to go:

From Taichung Railway Station, alight at Xinwuri Station.Then walk outside of Xinwuri Station to the bus stop. Wait for Ubus 56 going to Gancheng and alight at Rainbow Military Village.

Tip: In Taichung, the first 10 km of your ride is free. For this trip, we didn’t spend that much cash going to Rainbow Military Village.The Rainbow Military Village became popular after Huang Yung-fu, a veteran in his mid-80s, transformed the village into a vibrant tourist destination.Murals of people, animals and some cartoon characters can be seen. Mostly, couples and people who are into instagram visit this place.

Gaomei Wetlands

How to go:

From Taichung Railway Station, alight at Qingshui Station.We just ride a taxi from Qingshui Station to Gaomei Wetlands to save time (fare: NTD120) and to witness the sunset.

There’s a lot of windmills in Gaomei Wetlands and it is super windy so better wear pants. I made a mistake by wearing a dress and it is not suitable in the area.Gaomei Wetlands is a grassy and muddy tidal flat where you can catch the sea breeze.It’s a great place to unwind and walk and appreciate the beauty of Gaomei Wetlands.

Sun Moon Lake

I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.

It’s our fifth day in Taiwan and I’m loving it!!! This is the time when you wanted to stay and never ever wanted to go back home.

Sun Moon Lake is also one of those tourist spots that I’m looking forward to. I’m deeply in love with water and with nature and it’s a combination of the two.

For this trip, we purchased a Sun Moon Lake tour package at Shin Sei Bashi Hotel for NTD900. In our Taroko Gorge trip, a group of Singaporeans helped us by translating what our guide is saying. This time a couple from Malaysia helped us also by translating what our guide is saying. We’re so blessed that we got to know these people. They are also so nice that they even took pictures of us in the areas where we wanted to go to.

Our first stop is at King’s Garden in Puli. This place is so instagrammable. Every angle of it is meant for taking cute photos.

They also have this love church where you could wish in order to find your one great love or any other love wishes.

As you see in the photos there are a lot of heart figures everywhere. This place is oozing with love and cuteness and I super loved it!

Our guide next took us to Paper Dome where we had our lunch. The entrance fee is NTD120 and it is consumable.

After lunch, we headed to Sun Moon Lake. It reminds me of Taal Lake here in the Philippines but Sun Moon Lake is bigger and you could actually cruise on the lake.

I had fun in the boat ride and it’s good to see fellow Pinoys in the boat ride. I like it when the wind welcomes me. I don’t mind my hair getting messed up and I don’t mind the little splash of water. I actually like it.

The trip is calming and relaxing and I filled myself with the pictureque view of the lake. I also remember those scenes in Il Mare and The Lake House and I got dreamy.

The market in Sun Moon Lake is the best place on where to buy souvenirs. The price is a lot cheaper than that in Taipei and there’s a lot of great deals.

Right after, we went to Wenwu Temple. If you’re looking for a better vantage point on where to see Sun Moon Lake, this is the place to be. This temple is also sacred and there are a lot of charms along the stairs which is believed that if you put it there and it does not fall on the ground, your wish will highly be granted.

Before we go home, we got a detour. We went into this night safari where you could pet animals (I forgot the name of the place. Though there’s an entrance fee of NTD200). This place brings out the child in me. Here are the cute animals that we encountered.

Zhong She Guanguang Flower Market

Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you. (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)

How to go:

From Taichung Railway Station, we purchased a ticket going to Tai’an Station for NTD68. Then we walked from the train station to the flower market. We followed google maps for the direction.

This is the most memorable trip for me. First, I got to ride Taiwan HSR. It’s a super fast train and super comfortable too.

Second, the journey to the flower farm is not that easy. Yes, you’ll just alight at Tai’an Station and yes you’ll just walk to the flower market but did I tell you that it’s a long walk? It’s over 1 km walk. You’ll pass a rice field and a poultry farm and then you’ll doubt if you are walking in the right direction. And yes you are walking in the right direction. The flower market is just too far from the train station and there’s no taxi at the train station waiting. Honestly, the long walk is worth it.

Across the flower market, there’s an eatery where you could buy meal for less than NTD100. We thanked this eatery as we are so hungry on the way to the flower market.

The entrance fee at the flower market is NTD150. There are also souvenirs at the flower market and a fashionable straw hat is only NTD50. I bought a fashionable straw hat in Shilin Night Market for NTD200 and I regret buying one. I could have saved NTD150. Sad life.

However, the long walk is super worth it. The smell at the entrance of the flower market is that of fresh flowers and every angle of the place is instagrammable. Here are my top pics.

For those who are instagram-savvy you’ll love this place.

On the way back to the train station, we hired a taxi and we paid for NTD120. Then, when we are about to purchase a ticket going to Taichung, there’s no one at the ticketing booth.

We walked and walked to find other means of transportation but there’s none. There’s no bus stop nearby. No taxi passing by either. We thought of walking back at the flower market but it’s too far.

It’s almost 4 pm when I decided to just hop on the train and we’ll just pay at the station. I messaged my Taiwanese friend who is in Keelung and explained our situation. He told us that we could just hop on the train and we’ll just tell the officer at the train station that we didn’t buy a ticket as there is no one in the ticket booth. He even composed a message for us to show. We greatly thanked him for being so helpful in our journey.

We felt so drained that day even if we had a good time at the flower market. It’s just 5 in the afternoon. We decided to stop by Miyahara and eat some ice cream to ease all of our worries and tiredness and every negative feelings that we felt. It’s the best decision ever.

When you stepped inside Miyahara, it felt like you are inside Hogwarts. It felt so magical in Miyahara and there’s so many desserts around. Different kinds of chocolates everywhere and different flavors of ice cream too. It’s definitely a stress reliever haven.

We bought a three-scoop ice cream for NTD245 and it is so worth it. You could free taste every single flavor before buying plus it comes with three toppings.

Whatever happened on this day, it is still an amazing adventure and thought me of so many things that would surely be on my checklist in my next travel.

Taroko Gorge Half-Day Trip

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

Our third day in Taiwan is going to be spent in Hualien. I booked a half-day trip to Taroko Gorge via Klook for Php1088.

The pickup location is at Hualien Train Station at 10.45 AM. Since we are coming from Taipei, it’s great to know that we discovered this travel hack on how to get to Hualien without costing too much.

We left Sleep Taipei at around 6.30 AM then we headed to Taipei City Hall Station. From there, we purchased a combo ticket to Hualien via Luodong, which costs NTD209.

The bus that will get us to Luodong departs every 15 minutes. Right after we purchased our ticket we board on platform 13 and we’re good to go.

After more than an hour, we arrived at Luodong Station and then we headed to Luodong Train Station, which is just across the bus station.

We learned that the next train that will get us to Hualien is at 10 AM, which will make us late for our tour. We checked the schedule and found out that an express train will depart at 9.30 AM. Right there and then we decided to upgrade to express train, which we paid for an additional NTD34.

We arrived at the pickup location just in time. A group of Singaporeans is already on the bus waiting. I did remember that I asked for English audio but the tour guide/driver didn’t give us any. Just imagine us during the whole trip clueless on what he is saying.

Before going to Taroko, we passed Pine Garden where you can buy souvenirs made out of wood. On the way to this souvenir shop, I smelled the freshest pine trees ever. They smelled so fresh I wanted to preserve that smell in a bottle and bring it back home.

After 30 mins, we headed to a place where we ate our lunch. It looks like a house, a huge house with lots of dining table. The lady home cooked our meal and it’s really really delicious.

Plus you’ll get to see this awesome view while you are eating.

Right after, we headed to Taroko Gorge.

Our first stop is at Swallows’ Grotto Trail, which is overlooking the river.

The next stop is my favorite. Buluowan Plateau. It is a place where you could almost touch the clouds without hiking. I am in so much awe when we get there and it’s very much fine with me to get stranded in the area as I get to see the clouds face to face. It is the kind of place I wanted to wake up everyday.

The Eternal Spring Shrine is too far from where we are that it looks like a tiny waterfall.

Qingshui Cliff Scenic Area is one of things that I am looking forward to in this trip. Unfortunately, it is raining. We did stop by the area but it is too foggy to see the three distinct color tones that make up the Pacific Ocean.

Our last stop is at Qixingtan Scenic Area. The Qixingtan Beach is a crescent-shaped bay made entirely of pebble stones. There are no sands in this beach. It is purely pebble stones. It is quite raining when we get there but the Pacific Ocean still gives a stunning view.

The high waves and strong current is greatly felt by us especially when a huge wave approached us that made us ran cause we felt like it’s a tidal wave.

This trip made me appreciate nature more. I salute Taiwan for taking good care of their natural wonders.

Best Spot For Capturing Taipei 101 (Taipei Day 2)

“I will be rising from the ground

Like a skyscraper…” 🎶🎶🎶

We arrived at 5.30 pm in Taipei after our Bitou Cape and Jiufen adventure. It’s quite a journey and still we have the energy to explore more of Taipei.

Our last four stops for the day are National Taiwan University where some of the Meteor Garden (Hanayori Dango) setting was taken, the Red House, Presidential Office and Taipei 101.

At 5 pm, there’s still light outside Taipei but at 5.30 pm it almost feel like 10 pm already. The transition of lightness to darkness in Taiwan is kinda fast. So if you’re planning to go to Taiwan in “ber” months, make sure that your itinerary is only until 5 pm.

National Taiwan University

How to go:

From Taipei Main Station MRT, ride on the Red Line going to Xiangshan then alight at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Station.

Then transfer to the Green Line going to Xindian Station and alight at Gongguan Station.

From Gongguan Station you’ll see signs on how to go to National Taiwan University. Just follow the signs and you’ll get there.

It’s already dark outside when we arrived at the University so we didn’t have the chance to explore more. We stayed just close to the entrance gate as we are afraid that we might get lost because the University is huge.

Memories of my highschool days flashed. I remember that I am always in a hurry going home from school just to watch Meteor Garden, the first Asianobela aired in the Philippines.

I am a huge fan of Shan Cai who is tough and is the defender of the weak.

I also remember that in my school in highschool, almost all of the girls braided their hair like that of Shan Cai and would also dress like her on wash day.

The Red House

How to go:

From Taipei Main Station, ride on the Blue Line going to Dingpu and alight at Ximen Station then follow the signs going to the Red House.

There are a lot of food stalls near the Red House so you won’t be hungry.

Today the Red House is the site of the annual gay New Year’s Eve countdown and the Taipei Pride and the Mr. Gay World Taipei pageant.

Presidential Office

How to go:

From Taipei Main Station, ride on the Blue Line going to Dingpu and alight at Ximen Station Exit 3 and walk towards Far East Department Store to reach the Presidential Building.

This Baroque-style building is well guarded and is located at the city center of Taipei.

Taipei 101

How to go:

From Taipei Main Station, ride on the Red Line going to Xiangshan and alight at Taipei 101 Station. Then follow the signs going to Taipei 101 observatory.

We purchased a ticket from Klook for Php866 per pax to be able to visit Taipei 101 Observatory.

After ticket verification, you’ll need to wait in a long line as they allow visitors to go to the observatory by batch. Even if we booked on a weekday that is not Friday, there’s still a huge number of tourists visiting the Observatory during night time.

The first thing that you will do is have your photo taken and you have a choice of printing and claiming it for a reasonable price.

Then you’ll ride the elevator that can transport you to the 89th floor in just a matter of 45 seconds. You’ll also be amazed of the constellation-like panel that is installed in the elevator’s ceiling.

At the 89th floor, you’ll see the night view of Taipei. During the time we went here, it is raining so the glass window is kinda blurry and we didn’t see much.

Then we transferred to the 89th floor to be able to visit the colossal damper, which helps the building withstand earthquakes.

But the real question is, where is the best spot to capture the whole of Taipei 101 and you?

Here’s what we did.

From Taipei 101, we crossed the street and then we tried to take selfies with the Building but it’s kinda hard. And then one of the bystanders saw a foreigner with big and expensive camera trying to capture the whole of Taipei 101.

I overheard him saying that he should go downstairs and from there he will be able to capture the beauty of Taipei 101. When we heard that, we followed the instruction and voila! We got a good picture of Taipei 101 and me.

Spirited Away in Jiufen (Taiwan Day 2)

Jiufen is a short ride from Bitou Cape. This is a place where you can find a lot of cheap stuff to find for souvenirs and it is located in a very narrow street.

There are spirited away merch, too that you will find here plus a lot of restaurants and other food stalls where you can experience eating delicious Taiwan delicacies.

I bought high mountain tea for NTD200 per box. This is requested by my father.

We also bought nougat for 3 for NTD500.

We also bought Pineapple Cakes for NTD200 per box. Pineapple cake is famous in Taiwan.

And this one is like hopia in the Philippines but a bit larger and more delicious. You may buy one at NTD150 per box.

So if you wanted to bring “pasalubong” just visit Jiufen.

Stranded in Taiwan Day 2 (Bitou Cape)

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

The second day of our trip is composed mainly of long walks in a long trail.

The night before I checked where we should go since most of the Yehliu Tour is already booked. I stumbled upon Bitou Cape and found that it is near the Jiufen Area and other tourist spots.

I searched on how to go there and I found out that you just have to go to Taipei Main Station. I am fascinated by how large Taipei Main Station is and its architecture is like one of those things you see on TV.

You still need to go to the Kuo Kuang Bus Terminal to get your ticket going to Bitou Cape, which costs NTD121.

The waiting area for the bus (Bus 1811) is located outside of the Kuo Kuang Bus Terminal and the ride is a bit long due to traffic experienced in the express way.

After 23 stops or approximately 2 hours of traveling, you’ll hear the intercom saying that it is now approaching to Bitou Cape. You need to press the red button on the bus for it to stop.

The bus stop is at the foot of Bitou Cape and you’ll not get lost as there are signs around the area pointing you on where to start the trail.

Please keep in mind to make all the toilet thing before the trail as the toilet found along the trail is not that clean and it is not maintained. Also, please make sure to bring lots of water and snack with you.

As we walked on the trail, luckily, it started to rain. But that didn’t stop us from walking on the trail.

You’ll be welcomed by the lavish green scenery surrounding the area. It is always refreshing and relaxing when you’re surrounded by nature. And what I like more is the sound of the ocean waves hitting the shore.

Bitou Cape has one of the easiest trails. It is cemented and there are signs everywhere. However, there’s no lamp post along the trail so walking on it in the afternoon until dark is a bit dangerous.

Along the trail there are a number of tourists. I am surprised to know that there’s a huge number of elderly going for a walk on the trail. There are even Filipinos that we encountered on the trail and there are other Asians too.

We have different purpose on doing such but one thing is for sure. Walking on a trail is one of the greatest stress relievers. If you’re worried of a lot of things, you can always vent it out on nature.

Nature is the great shock absorber of all things negative and a great friend who will just listen and make you at ease after a while.

After a few moments, the rain shower stopped for a while and I indulge myself to the view of the place. If could just put this place in pandora’s box and carry it anywhere, I would do it as this place gives me peace of mind and comfort.

When the rain totally stopped, we continue our journey and we are in great awe when we reached the top.