DAY 2 of 5 Days 4 Nights in Taiwan : Taiwan Lantern Festival 2017 in Yunlin, Beigang Chao Tian Temple, Old Street and Tourist Bridge

Good day my dear readers! 😉 How are you? 😀 I miss you!!!! 🙂

Anyway, we’re now on the second day of our Taiwan trip. One of the reasons why we decided to visit Taiwan was to witness their annual Lantern Festival also known as Yuan Xiao Festival which falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month (February or March). Since 1990 until 2000, it is being celebrated in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei City (this place was featured in my previous blog: DAY 1) but from 2001 until the present, it is being hosted by different cities all over Taiwan. When we went there last February 11, 2017, it was hosted by Yunlin County.  Next year, it will be held on February 19 in Pingtung County.

From Taipei Main Station, we took Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) going to Yunlin. One-way ticket costs NTD900 (P1,600). Travel time was almost two hours.

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Welcome to Yunlin! 🙂

Fortunately, the Lantern Festival was located just few steps away from the Yunlin station. 🙂

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Lezz do this, sizzies! 😉

First thing we saw was a food park! HAHAHA They really know us too well! LOL

We tried just few snacks because we honestly didn’t like the smell in the park. I guess it was because of the famous stinky tofu. We were told by Miss Jiayu (a Taiwanese tour guide whom I just met online) that the main event starts around 6 o’clock in the evening so she advised us to go to Beigang first. There were a lot of tourist buses going to and from Beigang so we didn’t hesitate to explore that place too! 🙂 And we didn’t pay even a single cent for the ride! Yeyyyy! 😀

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We thought we would get there in 10 minutes, gosh, more than 30 minutes pala! HAHAHA Sleeping time again! -_-

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We were welcomed by firecrackers and a short parade in Beigang and we were really amazed how the locals immediately cleaned the area after the event.

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This is Chao Tian Temple which is more than three hundred years old and it was dedicated to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu.

After exploring this temple, it’s now time to explore Beigang Old Street especially their food! 😉

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That lady at the center is Miss Jiayu, she’s the one I mentioned earlier whom I met online before we went to Taiwan and the lady on her left is her bestfriend. They’re both very nice!!! They are volunteer tour guides in Yunlin and they accompanied us while we explore Beigang.

This is my favorite food in Taiwan!!! I regret not buying more packs of this in Yunlin 😦 We tried looking for this in Taipei but we failed. This is called Lao, a Taiwanese traditional pastry made of taro and rice flour. It is coated with hot mixture of sugar and sesame, puffed rice or nuts.

 

This is the famous STINKY TOFU and yes, it’s very STINKY!!!! You can actually smell it even if you’re miles away. *exaggeration* LOL We didn’t want to try this but Miss Jiayu really convinced us since they said, it’s so delicious despite its very offensive smell. BUT BUT BUT it’s not delish. 😦 I don’t know. I can’t understand the taste. HAHAHA At least we tried though. LOL

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This is Beigang Tourist Bridge that connects Yunlin and Chiayi counties which are separated by the Beigang river.

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Xie xie Beigang!

Now it’s time to go back to Yunlin station for the much-awaited Lantern festival! 🙂

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2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival is said to be the largest festival in Taiwan for many years. There were more than 3,000 lanterns in a combined area of 50 hectares.

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(Photo by Taiwan News)

At first we were excited to take a picture of every lantern but upon realizing that there were so many lanterns around us and that the area was very very huge, we decided to take a video instead. HAHAHA You can watch our travel video here or watch the opening ceremony of this festival by clicking this link. 

Since this is a big annual festival, expect a verrrry big crowd too! 😀 Check our photo below, the struggle was indeed REAL! HAHAHA

I apologize if I didn’t take a lot of photos of the event. 😦 There were too many lanterns, huge crowd and everyone was in a hurry. We weren’t able to visit the whole place because we didn’t have much time and we have to catch the last trip of HSR to Taipei. But all the lanterns were great! There were fictional characters, Disney characters, anime, different animals and insects, international tourist spots and many more! The kids would surely love it! 🙂 You may check more photos of the lanterns on this page. 

Before ending this post, I wanna confess something. HAHAHA This wasn’t actually the kind of lantern festival that we expected. 😦 What we really wanted to witness was the SKY LANTERN FESTIVAL (see photo below). And unfortunately, it happened in Pingxi on the same night that we were in Yunlin. 😦 I thought they would be both celebrated in Yunlin. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed our stay here. And it was a blessing in disguise that we were part of this grandest and historical event in Taiwan because of our false assumption. HAHAHA

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That’s all for DAY 2. 🙂 Thanks for reading! :*

 

Xoxo,

Kulit.

 

 

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DAY 1 of 5 Days 4 Nights in Taiwan : Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, 228 Peace Memorial Park, Taipei 101 and Ximending Night Market

Hello my dear readers! 🙂

I hope you’ve already read my comprehensive Taiwan Travel Guide. Chos! 😉

DAY 0

Our flight number to Taipei was 5J310 via Cebu Pacific (NAIA Terminal 3). Our departure time was 10:00 in the evening with 2 hrs and 25 minutes travel time. But upon checking their website earlier, they adjusted the departure time to 11:40 in the evening. We bought our round trip tickets for P21, 600 and that was for four passengers. So, ’twas P5,400 per person. I was with my sizzies! 🙂 #4ne1inTaiwan HAHAHA

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Since our arrival time in Taiwan was around 00:30 am, we asked our AirBnb host to book a rent-a-car service for us. We paid NTD1,300 (P2,200) for the van rental which was good for 8 persons. Sorry I can’t give you his contact number. I already uninstalled my WeChat. 😦 Btw, Line and WeChat are the most commonly used messaging apps in Taiwan. Taipei is an hour away from Taoyuan Aiport so I highly suggest the car rental service if you’re arriving late at night for your safety and convenience.

You may avail the following airport transfers online:

Taoyuan Airport Carpool Transfers

Sedan Taoyuan Airport Transfers (4 persons)

Luxury Taoyuan Airport Transfers (4 to 8 persons)

The following are the actual pictures of our AirBnb during our stay.

 

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The picture above is the landmark of our AirBnb. The building is quite old but the room is nice and it has a good location too. Click here for more details.

DAY 1

We started this day with a savory breakfast at Dr. Guo Stinky Pot. Price ranges from NTD120 (P200) to NTD160 (P270) per serving. I ordered seafood pot. Yum! 🙂

 

 

The nearest station to our accommodation is Zhongshan Elementary School. And the first tourist spot for our Day 1 was Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

Zhongshan Elementary School Station -> Minquan W. Rd. Station -> Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Station (Exit 5)

Total fare: NTD20 (P33)

I mentioned in my travel guide that most of their train stations are named after different tourist spots. And that’s one thing I like about Taiwan, it’s very tourist-friendly. 🙂 You may check the Taipei Metro Map here.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a national monument and tourist attraction that was built in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China. It opens daily from 9am to 6pm and the entrance fee is FREE. 😉

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Our next stop was Peace park.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Station -> NTU Hospital Station (Exit 1)

Fare: NTD15 (P25)

But we didn’t take the subway, we just walked. 🙂 Entrance fee is FREE. It is open 24/7.

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228 Peace Memorial Park was dedicated to the victims of 2.28 incident or also known as the February 28 massacre which killed thousands of civilians. The picture below is called the Tribute wall or the Memorial wall.

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Fourth stop was the third tallest building in the world, Taipei 101. 

NTU Hospital Station – > Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Station -> Taipei 101 / World Trade Center Station (Exit 4)

Total Fare: NTD25 (P42)

We purchased our Taipei 101 observatory tickets online. The regular price is NTD600 (P1,010) but we bought it for only NTD511 (P861) each. Click here to avail this discounted ticket. Taipei 101 observatory is open from 9am to 10pm daily (last admission is 9:15pm).

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Taipei 101 observatory gives you an amazing 360-degree view of Taipei. But going to the 89th floor requires an exhilarating ride on the world’s second fastest elevator. I usually visit skyscrapers at night because I love city lights. We weren’t able to take good photos because you need to see the incredible view with your own eyes. 😀

Last stop for Day 1 was the Ximending night market. There are so many night markets in Taiwan and one of the famous ones is Ximending.

Taipei 101 / World Trade Center Station -> Ximen (Exit 6)

Fare: 20NTD (P34)

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We had our dinner at KFC! 😀 Meal for 4 people costs NTD660 (P1,110). I don’t like their fries. But I love their egg tarts! So delish! 🙂 I hope they will also sell them here in the Philippines. 😦

 

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I highly recommend torched beef!!! 🙂 So yummy yummy yummy wow! 😀 I’m planning to put up this kind of street food biz here in our country but I think Kwek-kwek will be my major competitor. HAHA

That’s all for Day 1! 🙂 If  you’re not that busy, kindly watch our Taiwan travel video entitled “4ne1 in Taiwan” by clicking the image below. Xie xie! 😀

Xoxo,

Kulit.

Taiwan Travel Guide

It has been almost a year since I went to Taiwan. My apologies for this extremely late post. 😦 My old lappy got damaged so I bought a new one just few weeks ago. However, I’ve been quite busy with public service these past few days. Wow. Public service! 😀 Well, enough with all my excuses. HAHAHA

If you ask a Filipino where would s/he like to go, Taiwan would surely be a very unusual answer. Within Asia, most Filipinos prefer Hongkong, Japan or Korea. Taiwan is actually the 8th country in Asia I’ve been to because I honestly thought it doesn’t have much to offer. It’s a very small country and before I went there, the only thing I know or I can associate with Taiwan is… (drum roll please) Meteor Garden! (singing) Oh baby baby baby, my baby baby. Wo jue bu neng shi qu ni. Ni shou xin, ni sheng ying. Hai zhan lin wo de xin zen neng wang ji. Xiang ni jiu xiang shi hu xi. Bet you just sang it! HAHAHA 😀

AIRLINE. The following are the airlines that offer direct flights from Manila to Taiwan and vv:
air asiaPalCeb Pac

Eva airchina airlines logo

While from Cebu to Taiwan and vv:

air asiaCeb PacEva air

Lastly, from Puerto Prinsesa to Taiwan and vv:

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Among these airlines, the cheapest one is Air Asia but I wasn’t able to catch the promo fare for Taiwan because I was on another trip that time and mobile data sucks so I lost the battle. LOL But Cebu Pacific announced their seat sale weeks later and as luck would have it, I grabbed four seats for P21,000 something so that’s roughly P5,250 each for a round-trip ticket. Not bad, right?

Our departure flight was 5J310 which embarks at 10:00 pm while our return flight was 5J311 which departs from Taiwan at 01:25 am. Approximate travel time from Manila to Taiwan is 2 hours and 15 minutes.

VISA APPLICATION.

Starting from November 1, 2017, Philippine passport holders who intend to visit Taiwan for the purpose of tourism, business, visiting relatives, attending functions or events can enjoy visa-free entry to Taiwan for a duration of stay up to 14 days. This visa-free initiative shall undergo a 9-month trial period until July 31, 2018 as part of Taiwan’s goodwill and efforts of the “New Southbound Policy” to build closer people-to-people exchange of visits and an economic community between Taiwan and the Philippines. (Source)

Upon the implementation of the foregoing, Visa-Exempt Certificate (Travel Authorization Certificate – holders of visa issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the United States ) and E-Visa (Online visa) are no longer applicable for Filipinos.

To enjoy the visa-free entry, a Filipino visitor must have a passport with remaining validity of at least six months (diplomatic and official passport holders are not eligible for visa-free treatment); a return ticket or a ticket with visa if needed for the next destination; no criminal record in Taiwan; and a proof of accommodation. If I may add, you should not also have a criminal record here in the Philippines because you might be in the Watch List Order (WLO) or Hold Departure Order (HDO) list of the Philippine Immigration. Duhh, obviously. 😀

Those who intend to stay for more than 14 days to study, work or do other activities are required to obtain the appropriate visas before entering Taiwan. For more details, visit the official website of Taiwan Cultural and Economic Office in the Philippines.

TRANSPORTATION. Taipei, for me, has the most tourist-friendly transportation. Majority of their train stations are named after nearby tourist spots. For example, if you wanna go to Taipei Zoo, just alight at Taipei Zoo station. Or if you wanna visit Longshan Temple, simply take the train to Longshan Temple station. Highly impossible for you to get lost, right? LOL
Metro Taipei Map

I suggest you download Taiwan or Taipei train apps or use Google Maps. 😉

TIME.  UTC/GMT +8 hours. Taiwan has the same time zone with Philippines.

SEASONS. Winter: December to February; Spring: March to May; Summer: June to September and Autumn: October to November. April is the best month to visit Taiwan because it’s not so humid and not as hot as it gets during summer. Furthermore, it is when Taiwanese celebrate one of their major festivals: the birthday of goddess Mazu who is the Chinese patron goddess of the sea. Nonetheless, if you want to witness Lantern Festival which is celebrated annually to mark the grand finale of the Chinese New Year celebrations, February should be your choice (exact date varies every year, kindly tap Google). On this month, you’ll also be able to experience the  internationally famed Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.

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(Photo credit)

ACCOMMODATION. I always prefer AirBnb over hotels because of its convenient location, cheaper rate, household amenities and interaction with the host or owner. Also, it lets me live like a local. 🙂

Our host for Taipei was Henry. He was very helpful and friendly. The price of the room per night is around P2,500 and it can already accommodate 4 adults. The building is kinda old but the room is cozy and squeaky-clean. It’s conveniently located near Zhongshan Elementary School Station (Exit 4). But the best thing here is the free pocket wifi! We brought it with us during our entire trip in Taiwan. I gave Henry five stars for that! HAHA Check his space here.

AirBnb taiwan

 

LANGUAGE. The struggle was undeniably real. HUHU Most of them can’t understand English. So as tourists, of course we have to adjust. 😀 Google translate to the rescue! Travel tip: there are many tsinoys in the Philippines and I’m pretty certain you have even just one tsinoy friend, so you might as well tag him along. Just make sure s/he speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese though. LOL

NEW TAIWAN DOLLAR. 1 New Taiwan Dollar equals 1.71 Philippine Peso. I bought my NTDs at NAIA Terminal 2 Currency Exchange (arrival area). Not sure though if it’s cheaper than others.

ELECTRICAL PLUGS OR SOCKETS. They are using types A and B. Type A is a two flat identical sized parallel prongs and this is what they mainly use while type B is a two flat parallel prongs and a grounding pin.  In the Philippines, we also use Type A so you no longer need to bring an adapter. 🙂

WI-FI. During our entire trip, we weren’t able to connect to any Wi-Fi networks in public places such as malls or restaurants. But they have Taipei Free Public Wi-Fi Access where you have to apply or sign up for a free account before you may enjoy the free service. For more details, kindly visit their page. In our case, like I mentioned earlier, we have pocket Wi-Fi from our AirBnb so updating our followers was no biggie at all. LOL You may rent a 4G pocket wifi at the airport and for enhanced connectivity, purchase a 4G sim card. 

EASY CARD. EasyCard is a ‘touch-and-go’ IC ticketing system for Taipei Metro, bus services, designated car parks, convenience stores, zoos, museums, Ubikes, Maokong Gondola and government agencies. For a complete list of its accredited shops or services, visit their official website. An EasyCard can be used for years and any unused cash can be refunded. Its main goal is to allow locals and tourists to travel throughout Taiwan with only one card.  This card costs NTD100 (P100) and you can deposit an amount up to NTD10,000 (P17,100). EasyCard can be purchased at any convenience stores or any information counters in all Taipei Metro stations.

Easy Card

TAIPEI PASS. Taipei Pass is a “touch-and-go ” IC ticket for transport in Taipei. Holders of a valid Taipei Pass can use it for unlimited rides on Taipei Metro and on Taipei City and New Taipei City buses. One-day pass costs NTD180 (P308). This is available at any information counter in all Taipei Metro stations. For more details, visit their official page. 

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taipei pass price

YOUBIKE (UBIKE). UBike uses an unmanned automated management system to provide a bike rental service. It allows commuters to rent from one station and return at another. You may use your EasyCard to rent a Ubike. The rates are the following: NTD10 (P17) per 30 mins. within the first 4 hours, NTD20 (P34) per 30 mins between 4 to 8 hours and NTD40 (P68) per 30min exceeding 8 hours.

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NIGHT MARKETS. Experience best nightlife in Taiwan in their food markets. There are more than 100 night markets in Taiwan where you can try their local specialty and street food, shop until you drop and buy great souvenir items. My favorite street food is TORCHED BEEF! Some of the famous night markets are Shilin, Raohe and Ximending.

 

That’s all for now, dearest! 😉 I will share my daily itineraries on my next posts. Xie xie! :*

Watch the teaser for our travel video by clicking the image/link below! 🙂

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Here’s our full travel video entitled “4ne1 in Taiwan”. 😀

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Xoxo,

Kulit.

DAY 7 of 7 Days 6 Nights in Japan: Shibuya District, Don Quijote “Donki” and Narita International Airport

Minasan, konnichiwa! 🙂

I can’t believe it! It’s DAY 7 already! HAHAHA I just realized that it took me almost a year to finish blogging about my Japan trip. I’m not that busy! LOL

I mentioned in my previous post (DAY 6) that I’ll include Shibuya and Don Quijote on this post since DAY 6 is very lengthy already. LOL

DAY 6.2

Our last stop on our 6th day was actually in Shibuya District. And the photo below is the very famous Shibuya crossing which is tagged as the world’s busiest intersection or pedestrian crossing (not that obvious in this photo though haha)

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Hachiko is definitely one of my favorite movies. It’s a heartbreaking drama based on the true story of an abandoned dog named Hachiko which was eventually adopted by a college professor. Hachi would escort his master to the Shibuya station every morning and return every afternoon to greet him after work. Until one day, his master did not return from work. He suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died. However, this loyal dog still waited for his master at the train station for almost ten years and that only stopped when Hachi died. 😥 So as a tribute to this legendary dog, a statue was erected near the Shibuya station (Hachiko Exit).

Being a fan of this dog, a photo with his statue is definitely a must! 😀

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Don Quijote “Donki” is a very famous shop in Tokyo with over 160 stores. The one we visited is in Shibuya, just in front of H&M store. Donki sells almost everything! It’s a great place for souvenir items, chocolates and snacks like Kitkat and Oreo matcha, cosmetics, bags, shoes, gadgets, liquors and so much more. And I’m very sure you’ll like this, they are TAX FREE!!! 🙂 Just present your passport and pay at their cashier designated for foreigners. Prices indicated below are the prices per item. 🙂

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Oreo matcha soft cookies 148 yen (P65)

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Kitkat green tea 298 yen  (P130)

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Oreo matcha bar 298 yen (P130)

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Cheapest one costs 97 yen (P43) and the most expensive one costs 199 yen (P90)

I honestly don’t know what these dried snacks are hahaha But I guess they’re all squid. LOL Slices, coated, shredded and strips! HAHAHA

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Seasoned seaweed 98 yen (P44)

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1 kg of chocolate pair (This is YUMMY! ) 1,300 yen (P580)

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Doritos Mix 129 yen (P58)

Disney pens 99 yen (P45)

Japanese lady pen 648 yen (P290)

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Pores Cream 980 yen (P440)

Side ami supporter 600 yen (P270)

Masks 100 yen (P45)

I saw a lot of beautiful items in Shibuya and I really wanted to buy  ’em all!!! BUT. There was no enough money left in my pocket. 😥 HAHAHA

On our way to our AirBnB, we saw a mini resto and decided to try their ramen.

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DAY 7

Kotake to  Ikibukuro 170 yen (P75)

Ikubukuro to Nippori 170 yen (P75)

Nippori to Narita International Airport 1,030 yen (P460)

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Obviously, my favorite. 😀 Takuyaki!!! 550 yen (P245)

Bought these from a souvenir shop at the airport.

Ref magnet trio 486 yen (P220) 

Shot glass for a friend 540 yen (P240)

And the famous Tokyo Banana! 🙂 Click the left photo for the prices.

That’s all for our last day in Japan. 😦 Thank you for reading! 🙂 I’ll upload our Tokyo travel video in my Youtube account very soon! :*

Sayonara and domo arigato, Japan! 🙂

 

Xoxo,

Kulit.

Japan Travel Guide

Japan has been every Filipino’s dream travel destination in Asia. And I think I don’t need to explain why. LOL. Honestly, I’m just feeling a bit lazy now so let’s just get straight to the point, shall we? HAHAHA

AIRLINE. There are a lot of airlines that offer direct flights from Philippines to Japan. And since thousands of Japanese visit our country every year, the flights are not limited to their capital city which is Tokyo. Some airlines offer flights to Osaka, Nagoya or Fukuoka and some of these flights are departing from Cebu or Davao. There are two airports in Tokyo: Haneda and Narita. Haneda International Airport is located closer to central Tokyo than Narita International Airport. To check the flight schedules for every airline, just click the icons below. 🙂

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delta

jal

ana

ceb

jetstar

 

 

Among these airlines, the cheapest one is Jetstar. I learned about their promo when I attended Travel Tour Expo 2016 last February at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. I’ve been attending this kind of event since 2013 and I find it really helpful for a budget traveler like me, trust me! HAHAHA To know more about this annual event, you may check my previous post here.  It was my first time to try Jetstar and their online booking system is the easiest one for me. You can easily check for an alternative date with the same or cheaper price.

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Yes, that price in the photo above is in pesos. One way ticket to Japan can be as cheap as P1,998 ONLY!!! However, Jetstar is very strict with their hand luggage (carry-on baggage). They strictly follow the 7kg rule (14kg in business class) and that includes your handbag and other personal items such as your gadgets.

VISA APPLICATION. Unlike applying for South Korea, applying for Japan is through their accredited agencies only; one cannot apply directly to Japan Embassy except for diplomatic or official visa. The following are the accredited travel agencies:

Based on my brain-squeezing research (chos! haha), UHI is the best one. And I was riggghhhttt! 🙂 I consulted first my requirements through their email address and they responded on the same day. I submitted my requirements in their office on the 19th of July and got a text and email that my passport was already ready for pick-up on the 22nd. That fast, amazing! 😀 UHI has two offices: Makati and Cebu. Their office in Makati is located at Mezzanine Floor, Dusit Thani Hotel. It is just beside SM Makati and the nearest train station is MRT Ayala. While their office in Cebu is located at 2nd Level JY Square Discovery Mall, 1 Salinas Drive, Lahug. By the way, you can send your application and documents via courier if you’re not from Metro Manila or Cebu. Just check their website for more details. 🙂

There are different requirements for each type of applicant, you may check the complete list here. But I will only focus on the requirements for a tourist without any family or relative or guarantor in Japan.

  • Philippine passport (more than six months valid with at least two blank pages)
  • Visa application form (download the form here)
  • Photo (4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background)
  • Birth Certificate (issued within one year)
  • Marriage Contract (if the applicant is married, also issued within one year)
  • Daily Schedule in Japan (see sample below)
  • Bank Certificate
  • Income Tax Return (Form 2316) original and photocopy
  • Visa application payment of P950 to P1,500 depending on the travel agency.

japan schedule photo

OSAKA, KYOTO AND TOKYO. Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. Some tourists prefer this city than Tokyo because of the famous The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Japan. For a complete list of tourist spots and travel guide to Osaka, you may check this page. On the other hand, if you want to see countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures, include Kyoto in your itinerary. This city is just an hour away from Osaka but one day is not enough to visit Kyoto; an overnight stay is recommended. 🙂 For Kyoto travel guide, visit this page.  Lastly, if you want unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, anime and dining, Tokyo is undoubtedly the best city for that. There are a lot of amazing things in Tokyo and it’s really a beautiful and  peaceful city. And also, this is where Disneyland and Disney Sea are located. Tokyo is six hours away from Osaka if you will take the regular train and only two hours if you wanna try the very expensive bullet train or Shinkansen . That’s the reason why some tourists only visit Osaka and some only visit Tokyo. But in our case, we visited both because it’s more pricey to have another Japan tour. HAHAHA And we really really wanted to try their bullet train! 🙂

JR PASS. Japan Rail Pass is the most economical means of travelling throughout Japan by rail. It is valid for reserved and non-reserved ordinary car travel on all Japan Railways (JR) Group Shinkansen “bullet trains” (except for the “Nozomi” and “Mizuho” services), limited express trains, express trains, and local trains (Green Car passes are valid for Green Car travel) and the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit system). But then, you cannot buy this pass within Japan. You must purchase first a voucher from an accredited agency here in the Philippines and exchange it with an actual pass when you arrive in Japan. Or you may also purchase it online DISCOUNTED 7-DAY JR PASS. But I’ve read in the Facebook page of The Japan Times that it will be available within Japan very soon. The 7-day validity pass costs P13,200 (As of June 2018, it costs P14,000). We weren’t able to buy our JR passes before we left Manila and ’twas a good thing because our total transportation expense within Japan was only around P10,000 which already includes Shinkansen (P6,150). So that’s around P3,000 cheaper! 😀 But it’s more convenient to use JR pass since you no longer need to buy tickets in every station and do the Math every now and then. HAHAHA

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TRANSPORTATION. “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation” by Gustavo Petro.  Japan, so far, has the best transportation system I’ve been to. You can see a lot of businessmen and rich people who take the public transport particularly the train. There are more than a thousand of train stations in Japan and every city railway map looks very complicated. Posted below are the railway maps of Osaka and Tokyo.

Told yah! You’d surely get totally confused on your first try of finding the station you’re looking for. HAHAHA But like I said before, worry no more, train mobile apps will be your savior! 😉  Hyperdia is one of the famous train app in Japan. I also recommend Osaka and Tokyo apps by Mapway.

But during our trip, Google Maps was more useful. 🙂

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Bicycles are widely used in Japan; you can see a lot of cyclists and bicycle parking racks everywhere. We forgot to look for their amazing underground parking system like the one in this video. 😦 Anyway, a friendly reminder: always be alert while walking in the street because some of them don’t blow their horn. I was almost hit for more than ten times already. HAHAHA

TIME. UTC/GMT +9 hours. Japan is 1 hour ahead of Philippines.

SEASONS. Spring: March to May; Summer: June to August; Autumn: September to November; Winter: December to February. But the most famous season is the Cherry Blossom season! 😀 This starts from early March to late April. Below is the Cherry Blossom Map for 2016.

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ACCOMMODATIONWe booked our rooms both in Osaka and Tokyo via AirBnb. You can download their app or use their website to rent unique accommodations from local hosts. AirBnb provides great choices and with it, you can really feel at home anywhere in the world. If you will go to Osaka, I suggest you look for a room in Namba district. This is regarded as the center of Osaka. And if you will just stay within Tokyo, the best place would be Shibuya.  However, the room we booked for in Tokyo was in Itabashi-Ku which is a bit far from the center. But I still recommend it since the local host named Niki was very friendly and helpful. Her unit is clean and comfy. Both of these rooms have free Wi-Fi and toiletries. But our stay in Niki’s place was way better than in Osaka. 😀 I’ll share the whole story on my next post. HAHAHA

Our local host for Namba, Osaka was Noriko, you can check her AirBnb profile here. 

While in Itabashi-Ku, Tokyo, our local host was Niki. She’s a Vietnamese who currently works in Japan. Check her AirBnb profile here. 

LANGUAGE. Most of them can speak and understand English. But still, you need to prepare your translation apps. 🙂 In our group, I was the one assigned for this. I mean, for communicating with those Japanese who can’t understand English. HAHAHA (One was assigned for route planning or transportation and the other one was for photography. That’s actually a travel tip! Assign roles to your travel buddies! :D) I actually had fun using their language and it was so fulfilling whenever they understand everything I was saying. haha I started learning their language when I was still 15 years old but up to now, I only know the basic. LOL

JAPANESE YEN. One (1) Japanese Yen equals .45 Philippine Peso. Your Philippine pesos would be of greater value if you convert it beforehand in the Philippines than in Japan. Japan is an expensive country. You should definitely double your budget. HAHAHA We lost weight during our tour because of their expensive drinks, meals and fares. Actually, almost everything is expensive! hahaha Well, if you’re rich, forget about what I said. LOL

ELECTRICAL PLUGS OR SOCKETS. They are using types A and B. Type A is a two flat identical sized parallel prongs while type B is a two flat parallel prongs and a grounding pin.  In the Philippines, we also use Type A so you no longer need to bring an adapter. 🙂

WI-FI. We expected for many free Wi-Fi access points in Japan but only find few ones. We just found some in convenience stores and cafes and you need to “Log-in with your Facebook account” when prompted with log-in options. It’s a good thing though so we can fully enjoy the city and just surf the net before hitting the hay. 🙂 But if you want, you may rent a pocket wifi at any airport in Japan by clicking this link.

TOURIST GUIDES or MAPS. These can be found in every train station. In the airport, there are only few ones being displayed in the Tourist or Information Desk.

VENDING MACHINES. There are thousands of vending machines in Japan. Like every 10 or 15 meters, there is a vending machine and I’m not even kidding! Really amazing. HAHAHA I believe it’s because Japanese love walking and biking and their summer is hotter than ours so they need to stay well hydrated. By the way, they love flavored and sparkling water. It was only on my fourth attempt that I was able to buy a natural drinking water. LOL  And this one below is my favorite flavored water!!! This one is so hard to find. Only 1 out of 20 vending machines offers this drink and I wasn’t able to find this in convenience stores.  This sounds like an exaggeration but to taste is to agree! HAHAHA

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SELF-SERVICE. “Self-service” culture of Japan is truly remarkable especially in restaurants, parking areas, gas stations, laundry stations and some grocery stores.

Whew! This post is already the longest one I think. HAHAHA Spent almost three hours for this, time to sleep! 😀

That’s all for now sweeties!🙂  I will just update this if ever I forgot something to be included here.😀 If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact me! 😉 I will share my 7 Days 6 Nights Itinerary in Japan on my next posts!🙂Domo Arigato!😉

Xoxo,

Kulit.

30 useful Filipino and Bisaya phrases when traveling

I have noticed that some foreign tourists spend a longer time in the Philippines than in other Asian countries. When I asked them for the reason, they said that aside from having beautiful beaches here, another thing they love about the Philippines is its people. They said that Filipinos are hospitable and sweet, and that most of us can speak and understand English. So if you’re lost somewhere here, you can ask even the street vendor for directions. However, it feels better to travel around the country while using some Filipino or Tagalog phrases. Philippines has more than 120 dialects and Filipino is our national language. Nonetheless, Bisaya, which is one of the 8 major dialects of the country, is the one being widely used in Visayas and Mindanao. So the following are the common Filipino and Bisaya words and phrases:

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These are just some common phrases you can use while exploring our beautiful country. If you want to learn more about our language or other local dialect, feel free to comment below or email me at iamkulit23@gmail.com.  I will be more than happy to help you.

Xoxo,

Kulit.