Dream Destination: New Delhi, India




My travels have taken me all over Asia, having explored amazing places like Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, and of course, my home country of the Philippines.

But there is still so much of Asia left for me to explore, and one that for now remains a dream destination is the area of South Asia, in particular, India.

Its capital, New Delhi, seems like a magical place that can leave any traveler in awe of its history, culture and food.

Among the numerous destinations within New Delhi that are worth visiting, I’ve listed my top dream destinations here. If you’ve been to any of these places, I’d love to hear what you think of them in the comments!

Of course, researching about a travel destination should include a hunt for the best places to stay in that city. The Imperial Hotel Delhi is one I’ve found that’s in an excellent location in central New Delhi. Definitely worth checking out.

On to the list of my dream destinations in New Delhi! Let me know what you think of them in the comments section.


Humayun Tomb


This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the tomb of a former Mughal emperor, which was commissioned by his first wife. Designed by a Persian architect, it was built in the mid-1500s and is the resting place of several Mughal rulers.


While not as universally known as the Taj Mahal, the Humayun Tomb has the unique distinction of being the first ever garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent. Some would even claim that its construction inspired other architectural marvels in India, including the Taj Mahal itself. Its beauty and grandeur is definitely not to be missed by a traveler in New Delhi.  



Lodhi Garden


Originating for the mid-1500s, this historic garden complex also houses the tombs of several rulers.

Entrance to the Lodhi Garden is free, and the massive park is a favorite among locals. If you go on an early morning visit, you will find joggers, yoga practitioners, and other fitness aficionados all around the area. The park is also an ideal spot for having picnics. 


India Gate


Formerly known as the All India War Memorial, this impressive structure was built to commemorate the over eighty thousand Indian soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

Built in 1931, the monument is over 40 meters long and has several inscriptions, including the names of over 13,000 fallen soldiers. Interestingly, one of the names on the gate belongs to that of a female nurse killed during combat in 1917.


Where to Stay in New Delhi

As to be expected, there are numerous hotels to choose from at India’s capital. In particular, you shouldn’t have any trouble visiting any of the destinations I mentioned in this article if you’re staying at the Imperial Hotel Delhi given its central location.    

Have you been to New Delhi, and how was your experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Happy travels!  

The Best Honeymoon Places in the Philippines





There is an old saying among lovers, “Love is the food of life and travel is the dessert,” and this fits perfectly for the time right after getting married. On one hand, your wedding signals a new beginning, a new phase in life; on the other hand, it also paves the way for added responsibilities. Now, this is where a honeymoon becomes significant, it is a phase where you can enjoy your time with your wife or husband to the fullest before you fulfill those responsibilities.

If you’re planning yours in the beautiful country of the Philippines, then you can head over to Philippinestravelpackage.com as well as other online resources out there and check out their best tour packages for couples. On top of these, you can check out the destinations in this article since they can complement the tips and pointers that you can get from the said resources and therefore, achieve a honeymoon that is just one for the books.

Boracay Island

Boracay Island is the most famous beach place in the Philippines and it has become the “go-to” destination of honeymooners for its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, romantic environment, friendly locals, vibrant nightlife and sparkling sunlight, just to name a few. Because of these attributes, Boracay is heralded by many as the Ibiza of Asia. The suggested activities here are scuba diving, parasailing, and kite boarding.



Vigan, Ilocos Norte

If you like long road trips, romantic evenings, outdoor adventures, and the likes, then Vigan is the place to be. While there, you can enjoy its historic and culturally rich streets, particularly Calle Crisologo, a district that made a name for itself for its old white houses, calesas, cobblestones, and so on. Stay there till nighttime and watch the streetlights bath the whole place with elegance, grandiosity, and romance.

Pagudpod, Ilocos Norte

After your Vigan escapade, you can head a bit further north to Vigan. While there, you stay at one of the resorts and other accommodation facilities in Saud white beach and visit its neighboring attractions. Then, you can trek and experience (up-close and personal) the Kapurpuran Rock Formations, breathtaking rock formations that looks sea of sand. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes if you choose to go here. Afterwards, you can go to the Blue Lagoon and dip in its bright waters and then head straight to Bangui, a place that is known for its windmills and dramatic sunset.

Palawan

The province of Palawan, which is popularly known as the Philippines’ last frontier is known for its awe-inspiring natural beauty, particularly its municipalities of El Nido and Coron. The two are post-card perfect and are known for its limestone formation, clear water, lush-green forests, blue skies, white sand, and many others. Because of these, it is no wonder that international travel magazine and Internet-based reviewers recognize the whole province as one of the most breathtaking provinces in the world. Also, due to its sheer beauty, taking a bad photo is close to impossible.


El Nido, Palawan

El Nido, which is located on the northern region of Palawan, is an ideal spot to enjoy lagoons and coral reefs. The authentic hospitality of its local will not fail you as they will welcome you with open arms. While there, you can go kayaking, scuba-diving, snorkeling, have cave tours, and enjoy romantic dinners.





Coron

Coron is a dreamy destination that is secluded in the natural treasures of Palawan. It boasts of jagged escarpments, superb vegetation, and lush landmasses. The mere sight of Lake Barracuda as well as Lake Kayangan can leave you and your partner enchanted.

Batanes

Batanes gained notoriety for being the greenest place in the Philippines. Its lush-green hills and rugged cliffs perfectly complement its lighthouse, stone houses, and blue skies. While there, you and your partner can be swept away by the island’s sheer natural beauty and strong waves. You can walk its rolling hills and feel the wind or watch the waves pound the cliffs. Simply put, the natural beauty of Batanes is just one for the books.

Tagaytay

If you reside in Metro Manila, then Tagaytay City is one of the nearest places that you can visit on your honeymoon, you can get there in three hours or less. It draws honeymooners from Manila and elsewhere due to its exquisite sceneries and cool climate.

Located in Cavite, a high altitude province, you can head over in a heartbeat and take pleasure in your intimate moments. The city is tranquil and serene and surrounded by forests, grasslands, mountains, and so much more.

Subic bay
Located off the west coast of Luzon, Subic Bay is one of the most vibrant and exciting honeymoon spots in the country, particularly in its Northern Region. If you choose this place for your, make sure to include White Rock Waterpark, Magaul Bird Park, and Pamulaklakin Forest Trail, Zoobic Safari, Ocean Adventure and so on, in your itinerary.

Baler

Baler, Aurora has made a name for itself for being one of the best surfing destinations in the Philippines, however, bear in mind that on top of this, it boasts of a unique charm that is simply unlike any other. It is enriched with exquisite mountain sceneries, rocky mountains, and large as well as strong waves, among others. The scenery is simply relaxing and are perfect for honeymooners who want to sit back, relax, and enjoy their post-wedding activity.

Sagada

Sagada is great outdoor place that is perfect for newly-weds who want to enjoy their honeymoon and enjoy the beauty of nature. While there, you can enjoy some of the finest draws that it boasts of like Bokong Waterfalls, Mt. Kite Plan, Sumaguing Cave, and Echo Valley

Since your honeymoon is arguably your most important post-wedding event, it should be done in a place that will perfectly complement your preference, personality, and more. So choose from the list of destinations that were elaborated above. For sure, you will find something that will give you satisfaction, even if you’re a picky traveler. Do you have honeymoon destination that you want to share our readers? Then drop us a message on our comments section.

2016: My Personal Bubble in Review




Most year-end posts will probably start by saying 2016 has been a shitty year in general. And I totally get it – I don’t think I’ve ever felt this disillusioned about the world we live in.

But I’ll let other, more credible, knowledgeable and entertaining people talk about that (I recommend Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s season ender for starters). For this post, allow me to retreat to my own personal bubble.  And if I had to define my 2016 personal bubble in one word, it’d be this: purpose.  

At the risk of sounding like the product of a motivational lecture or self-help book (it wasn’t), this year, more than any of the years before it, I took great strides in trying to find my personal purpose. On top of that, I finally did something – something big – about it, by finally deciding to make my personal purpose my daily purpose.

I feel this post is going to sound incredibly cheesy and pretentious if I keep waxing poetic about the things that happened this year without sharing the straightforward version of it first. Basically, in 2016 I got promoted and moved to Vietnam, and after six months, I decided to quit my job, quit corporate, and move back to the Philippines.

It’s been a long time coming, and far from being a spur-of-the-moment thing. I feel like 2015 in particular had a lot to do with my decision to finally take such a big step. Last year was nothing short of stellar: great accomplishments at work, one epic trip to check off the bucket list, and the rekindling of an old, dormant passion.

I left 2015 feeling satisfied and accomplished with the path I had taken – but also ready to do something else, to finally listen to that tiny voice that had been so patient with me since I graduated university.

That voice that remained silent while I ventured into “adulting”, i.e. into a fast-track ride up the corporate ladder. The voice that didn’t object when I aimed for stability while simultaneously wanting to enjoy life’s simple and great pleasures (i.e. The Great Paradox of My 20s: working my ass off + travelling as much as I can to as many places I can + spending money + saving money for a car and a condo, etc. I don’t know how I managed to pull it off, either.) The voice that grew loud as I approached my mid-20s, becoming known as My Quarterlife Crisis, but gradually grew silent again as I moved companies for better jobs and better benefits, continued travelling, and moving from saving for a car and a condo to paying for insurance and investments.

That voice came back in 2016 with a different approach. Actually, it started rearing its head in 2015. Life was going well, and my path seemed clear. But it was also becoming clearer and clearer by the day that this path was not the one I really wanted to take.

A lot of this has to do with my job, but it really goes beyond that. That’s content for an entirely different post though. For this post I’ll jump right into recounting the year that was in less abstract ways.

I got promoted to marketing manager and moved to Vietnam in June. Living in another country is a great experience I’d recommend everyone experience at least once in their lives. I can’t say it taught me to be more independent and to rely on myself more – I’ve already learned plenty of that living alone in Manila since my days at university, while my family remained in the province. If anything, I learned the opposite – it was a humbling experience, learning to ask for help, and relying on the kindness of strangers and new acquaintances. Living in another country did teach me to become more responsible though.

But beyond all the learning, the more fun bit was all the exploring – discovering my new city, my new neighborhood, and playing tour guide to visiting friends and family! The sepanx that would kick in after guests left was a pain, but the fun few days they spent with me were worth it. You guys know who you are – thank you for taking the time out from your lives to come over to visit!   

Being expatriated meant travelling became a bigger part of my life than it already was – it wasn’t entirely for the better, however. I don’t think I’ve ever been severely exhausted from travelling the way I was for a couple of months this year. It was just physically and mentally draining, flying from Vietnam to Manila and back again several times with such short days in between. Add to that the business trips and weekend trips I had to take to Singapore. I have no regrets, but I won’t deny that it was physically taxing.

To paint a picture, two examples: first, a weekend I spent in Singapore with friends to watch a concert (iKON saranghaeyo! LOL). The time in Singapore and the concert was epic – food, drinks, dancing, quality Kpop. Recipe for a perfect weekend! But the journey to get to Singapore to spend 2 full days there was a complicated one – I had to fly from Vietnam to Manila about 2 days prior for a last-minute trip (visa issues), but my flight to Singapore was going to be from Vietnam. Which meant I had to fly from Manila to Vietnam and arrived Friday afternoon, only so I can repack my luggage and get ready from my flight from Vietnam to Singapore early morning Saturday. Then I had to fly back from Singapore to Vietnam early morning on Monday the week after.   

Second example: a whirlwind trip back to the Philippines, in which I flew in from Vietnam and arrived Friday morning, had to work at the Manila office for the whole day, then drove to Batangas that night for a beach trip with family.  The drive to the beach the next day was about 4 hours (thankfully I was just a passenger), and then we had to go back a day after that, on Sunday. By early Monday morning I was driving myself back to Manila so I could spend another day at work in the Manila office before my flight back to Vietnam that night.

The truth is I’m recounting these instances as a note to myself more than anything else – because while it was necessary at the time and I don’t regret it (I discovered then the lengths we go just to see family and friends, even for a little bit), I hope for a life when I never need to go through that kind of stress again.   

So yeah. While I loved living in Saigon, the constant travelling also took a toll on me. That’s not to say I lost my love for travel this year. I had some pretty good trips, and visited two countries for the first time: Australia for a dear friend’s wedding and Japan.

Port Fairy, where the wedding was held, was a lovely little town, the kind you’d see in Hallmark movies, and I’d love to come back someday to rent a cottage for a couple of days and do some writing. Melbourne meant just one thing to me: brunch. LOL.

Osaka was a-mazing. Kyoto was quaint. I’d love to go back again, and soon!

Despite all the changes, one thing remained the same this year: my love for Seoul. I went on a spring trip to my favorite city with friends before I moved to Vietnam, and also marked the end of my stint in Saigon and the start of a new chapter in my life with a trip to Seoul early this month. I don’t know how things will pan out next year with my life in general, but I’m hoping there’ll still be a trip or two to Seoul then.  

I think that needs more emphasis – there hasn’t been a year in my adult life that’s as unpredictable as the coming one. 2017 is bound to come in with a whole bunch of surprises, but it’s all part of what makes it so exciting. If I need to survive surprises, both good and bad, to live a life that lets me fulfill my purpose everyday, then so be it. So bring it on, 2017! And thanks to all the friends who continue to support me all the way.

I’m too lazy to make a collage of photos to mark this year (my little brother is waiting for me, because we have a Mortal Kombat X tournament tonight) so I’m posting a photo of me taken early on in 2016 instead. Know that this was not how I looked on a regular basis this year (in fact I looked the exact opposite, haha), but please allow me a rare decent selfie. Happy new year!  


A Beginner’s Guide to Osaka: How to Manage Culture (and Credit Card) Shock




My first trip to Japan had been a long time coming - I had the chance two years ago but had to cancel my trip on account of work, and I didn't get to plan another trip until this year.  I'm so happy I finally got to go, and I have to say that now I am officially hooked. I can't wait for another chance to visit! Even though we only spent a weekend in Osaka and Kyoto, it was enough to give me a taste of what Japan has to offer. 

A lot of people say coming to Japan for the first time is a massive culture shock - everything is just so dynamic and different that it can be extremely disorienting, especially in Tokyo. I'm glad the first city I got to visit in Japan was Osaka, because it's not as crazy. In fact, I was surprised to find that it was actually a pretty chill city. People seemed relaxed and had a general casual chic about them. And the food! Oh my gosh, the food!

I've also been told that things in Osaka are cheaper than in Tokyo - but even then, compared to countries in Southeast Asia or even Korea, stuff in Japan are quite pricey. 

But fear not - there is a way to manage the culture shock and the credit card shock on your first trip to Japan! Here are a few tips on how to experience Osaka like a local without breaking the bank.


1.  Stay in the Dotonbori area. 

It's a great home base for your first trip to Osaka because there's already lots to see and do in the area, and you can just walk around and explore without needing to navigate their subway system. Don't forget to also check out the neighboring areas of Amerikamura and Orange St. for a hipster, less tourist-y vibe. 

As the area is popular among tourists, be sure to book your accommodations in Dotonbori ahead of time to get the best deals




2. Eat great food at great prices. 

Try takoyaki from the numerous stalls you will find in Dotonbori, or check out a restaurant that sells okonomiyaki. Visit the Kuromon Market for incredibly fresh seafood at reasonable prices, as well as other Japanese treats like Kobe beef or traditional sweets.

Finally, you cannot go to Osaka without visiting Endo Sushi. A set of five life-changing sushi pieces will only cost you a thousand Yen, which is a steal! The restaurant is located in a local seafood market, which means they're serving you incredibly fresh fish. Trust me, the long walk from the train station is so worth it. I regret not getting a second plate, and it's one of the main reasons I want to come back to Osaka.

 A life-changing plate at Endo Sushi!

Skewered treats at Kuromon Market 


Kobe beef!


3. Shop wisely!

Believe it or not, there are actually some great stores to get a good bargain in Japan. Visit Don Quixote or Daiso for trinkets and souvenirs at good prices. For clothing, check out Gu, the more affordable sister brand of Uniqlo (their self-service cashier counters blew me away) or Sense of Place by Urban Research

Here's another tip: Royce Chocolate is way cheaper in Japan. The chocolate covered potato chips (which I absolutely love) were half the price at Kansai Airport compared to if you buy them in Vietnam or The Philippines. Lush products are also way more affordable, so be sure to stock on those bath bombs when you go!


4.  Visit Kyoto for a day or two.

It's only a train ride away from Osaka but has a completely different feel, devoid of Osaka's urban vibe. Instead it provides a unique glimpse of traditional, historical Japan. Drop by the usual temples flocked by tourists but also consider booking an overnight stay in Arashiyama, an artist community,  for a more serene, local feel.

 The Iconic Trail at Fushimi Inara

You can rent a yukata or kimono for a day when you go around Kyoto


5. Drink and eat at an izakaya.

Once you're back in Osaka, drop by an izakaya, the Japanese version of a pub or watering hole. Order some yakitori while drinking sake or a whisky highball. Or both. You're on vacation. Enjoy! 

I highly recommend going to Batten Yokato, a small izakaya we chanced upon between Amerikamura and Dotonbori (based on their website, they seem to have other branches too). The staff are friendly with foreigners, and they have an English menu with cute illustrations of the food. The prices are also pretty affordable, with yakitori sticks that cost as low as 90 Yen.  But even at good prices, the food is amazing. The yakitori is seasoned simply but bursting with flavor, and grilled to perfection. You definitely get more than your money's worth here!

Gateway to yakitori awesomeness, great drinks, and a friendly local vibe 

My kind of window shopping tbh 


You can also check out Tayutayu Nambasennichimaeten if you want to go izakaya hopping. 

Five Fun Things to Do in Ancol, Indonesia





If you’re traveling to Jakarta and are looking to spend a day or two to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, you should definitely add Ancol to your itinerary. Situated in northern Jakarta, it is known as the city’s main recreation and adventure center, which means you’re bound to find something to keep you entertained during your stay there.

Did you know?

Ancol’s existence dates back to as early as the 16th Century, but its development only began in the 1960s under then President Sukarno’s vision of converting the area – at the time a neglected collection of mosquito-infested swamps and fish ponds – into an industrial and recreation hub.

Need recommendations? Here’s a list of things to do in Ancol


1. Feel like a kid again in Dunia Fantasi

A great place for kids and kids at heart, Ancol Dreamland boasts of a theme park that has over 30 exciting rides and attractions. Dunia Fantasi, or Fantasy World, is divided into eight areas.

For the adventurous and the daredevils, there are quite a number of heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping rides to choose from at Dunia Fantasi, including the Halilintar roller coaster and the Power Surge. 

Meanwhile, younger children can enjoy taking a ride on the massive ferris wheel or the Poci-Poci, the theme park’s take on the spinning cups ride.


2. Live in luxury!

Reward yourself with a luxurious stay at the Aston Marina Ancol. It’s in a great location near all the activities Ancol has to offer.

But staying in would also be an option – if you need some time to rest and recharge, why not have a relaxing massage at the Zhu Spa or enjoy a few drinks at the 33 Sky Bridge?

What’s more, living in luxury need not be expensive – you just need to be on the lookout for Aston Marina Ancol best deals online so you can get the most affordable rates for what’s sure to be an excellent stay.

3. Go Shopping at the Mangga Dua Shopping District


No vacation is complete without a bit (or a lot!) of shopping, and your credit card is sure to get a workout in Ancol thanks to the Mangga Dua Shopping District. The area consists of numerous shopping centers.

Shop at Harca Mangga Dua or Orion Mall to get the best deals on gadgets, electronics and appliances. For fashion and household items, visit ITC. For wholesale items, visit Mangga Dua Square.

Most shopping centers open as early as 8 AM but are closed by between 5-6 PM, so it’s best to start your shopping day early.    


4. Get Inspired at Pasar Seni Ancol


A great way to get a feel of a country’s culture is through its art and artists, and at Pasar Seni, you will be able to do just that. Revel and get inspired by Indonesian craftsmanship as you walk through this street where local artists display their work. It’s a great place to visit if you’re hoping to bring home some local art, especially if you want to meet and interact with the artists themselves.  


5. Make a splash at Atlantis Water Adventure

If you need a refreshing experience to beat the heat, make your way over to the Atlantis Water Adventure Park. The complex has a wave pook, a waterfall pool, a flowing river, and several water slides. And after all that activity, you’ll have five restaurants and a food court to choose from for a satisfying meal. 
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