Sunday, October 30, 2016

Winter Activities at Children's Grand Park, Korea

Growing up in a country where there is no snow, we maximized every opportunity we can get to play in snow to bring out the kid inside us! In our winter trip to Korea last December 2015, we visited the Children's Grand Park to try sledding with the Korean kids!haha
How to get there?
Ride the subway and alight at Children's Grand Park at line 7.
Take Exit #2 and follow the route below.
Walk around 5-10 mins until you see the sign below on your left which states (Children's Playground).

Day Trip to Jisan Ski Resort in Korea

There are three things that are important if you plan to go skiing in Korea:
  1. When? Ski season usually runs through from December until February. We went there late December to be sure. However, there was no actual snow falling down our faces (which we would have loved!) when we went as snow starts around mid-January in Korea.
  2. Where? There are a lot of options for skiing or snowboarding in Korea. The best options (and most hardcore!) are in Gangwon-do which is around 2-3 hours outside of Seoul. These places will also host the upcoming 2018 winter Olympics. We decided to go to Jisan Forest Ski Resort (check their official website here) which is one of the closest in Seoul (around 1 hour) and also beginner friendly. We felt that we made the right decision as Jisan Forest was still extremely huge and had state of the art facilities. The only downside was that there were so many people (especially beginners like us) that congested the ski areas.
  3. How long? A lot of people go to ski resorts as a vacation trip on its own so they spend several days in these resorts. We just wanted to experience it for fun so we decided a one-day trip will be sufficient for us. Spending more days in the resort will cost you more money since ski resorts if you avail of the full package can be very expensive.
Take the Subway (Green Line) and alight at Gangbyeon Station.
Upon reaching the terminal, go to exit 4 (Dongseoul Bus Terminal).
Upon reaching the exit, you will see a huge complex right in front of you. Walk across and enter the bus terminal building.
Look for the Ticketing Center (you can ask around on where to buy tickets) as seen below.
Buy one way ticket going to Icheon (note this is different from Incheon!). Fare will cost 4,700 KWN or around 200 PHP.

Christmas in Korea - 11 Days and 10 Nights Itinerary

My boyfriend and I went to Korea for the 4th time last December to experience White Christmas! This was my 4th time visiting Korea and I've blogged about itineraries for both first time travelers here and multi-city travel in Korea (Seoul-Busan-Jeonju) here. So if it's your first time visiting Korea, check out my previous blog posts as it will be much more helpful for you.

We've spent a total of 11 days in Korea during the December holiday break which includes visit to Ski Resort, Nami island, and outlet stores which we've not visited in the past, and of course a lot of SHOPPING and FOOD TRIP! This trip was different from all our previous trips since we wanted a more relaxed itinerary than what we usually have and we were not in budget traveler mode to enjoy the holidays. :)

Itinerary Summary:

Expenses: White Christmas in Korea

I've previously blogged about expenses in Korea during my first travel here and our multi-city (Seoul - Busan - Jeonju) travel here. You can check these out to get more tips and prepare for your travel budget. Here's the breakdown of my travel expense during our Christmas holiday in Korea last December 2015. 

Here's our ALL IN expenses (including airfare and taxes):
Here's our daily expenses without airfare/taxes/shopping:

What made it expensive?
  • We did not get any promo fare on our airfare since we decided to book for peak season during the December holidays. We got a good rate though from Jeju Air which was only 260 USD despite booking last minute compared to other airlines.
  • We went there to do Christmas shopping so we spent a lot on shopping!
  • We were not able to book the cheaper accommodation options since we started booking only late November and most of the cheap options were booked already.
Where did we spend less?
  • We spent less on entrance fees compared to our previous trips since we already visited amusement parks (Lotte world or Everland), palaces, or museums/shows which we've all done in the past.
  • We saved big time on Ski resort: booked day trip only, got 30% off on promotion from our credit card, and did not avail any rental of clothes except for basic equipment needed.
  • We bought groceries in Lotte Mart to cook for breakfast everyday and some dinners because of our airbnb place which had a kitchen.
  • We rarely ride taxi in all our trips and same goes here even if it was extremely cold.haha Only taxi ride was in Nami where there were limited options. 
Suggestion: Book flights and hotels early if you want to go to Korea on December to get better deals! The rest of the expenses will be the same in Korea even if you go in another month since it's not really considered "peak season" once you go there compared to other countries. Check for deals as well (e.g. Citibank promos, etc.) on entrance fees, events, shows, etc. which can offer significant discounts!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

South East Asia Backpacking Trip 2016 SDE

Sharing our South East Asia Backpacking Trip 2016 video!!! 

Watch it here, ENJOY! >> click here <<

Note: Details about the trip to follow! :) 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Petite France: The Little Prince Village in Korea

Petite France, is a French cultural Village 25-minute ride from Nami Island. It is a unique theme park outside the city of Seoul where guests can enjoy being kids again and enjoy cultural experiences and performances from France...but in Korea ;) 

The Little Prince theme park has 16 French-style buildings where visitors can lodge (with window ceilings so you can literally see the stars at night!) and experience French food, and culture. The place is dedicated to Saint-Exupery, author of the French Novel, Le Petit Prince during 1943. Several K-Dramas were filmed in Petite France such as the "Secret Garden", "Beethoven Virus", "Personal Taste", and Running Man. 

My sister and my boyfriend have decided to visit 2 famous sites in Gapyeong--Nami Island and Petite France because of the picturesque sceneries and because we left the city a bit late already (oopssie!). 
How to get to Petite France from Nami Island?
1. Our starting point was in Nami Island. See my blog post on how to get to Nami here. From Nami, we rode the taxi going to Petit France because the line to the shuttle bus is quite long and it's already getting late (bus arrives once every hour)... Our taxi cost us KWN 11,600 which is about PHP 470 for 25-30 mins ride.

2. When we arrived Petite France, we immediately went to the entrance gate to pay the fee of KWN 8,000 or PHP 320 per person. 

Admission Fee:

Adult - KRW 8,000
Youth - KRW 6,000
Children - KRW 5,000

Opening Hours: 09:00 AM - 6:00 PM
There are daily shows or performances happening in the theme park. We unfortunately wasn't able to catch but the shows such as puppet show, street musician, and the Marionettes performances look interesting and fun!
This is the main facade. When you're standing in front of these magnificent architecture, you will feel as if you were transported to the Little Prince's world :)

Winter Wonderland in Nami Island

Nami Island (남이섬) is one of the most visited tourist spot in Korea because of the popular K-Drama, the Winter Sonata. Admittedly, I haven't watched the drama but I was curious and excited to visit Nami on my 4th visit in Korea because of the beautiful scenery and romantic vibe of the place :) 

A lot of people plans their trip to Nami based on the season because the place transforms into an entirely "different look"! During winter you'll have (snowy trees), spring (cherry blossoms), summer (green leaves), or fall (maple leaves). When we visited last December, it was already winter season but unfortunately we were not able to see snow! booo! but nonetheless it was still amazing :)

Going to Nami Island requires 1 full day because it's quite far from the city. It is located in Gapyeong County in Gyeonggi Province, 90 minutes away from central Seoul.

How to get to Nami Island?
1. There are several ways to reach Nami Island from Seoul. One is via bus and the other is train which is more economical and faster! 

If you plan to travel via bus, there's a bus station at Jamsil (in front of Lotte Mart near exit no. 4-Jamsil Station line 2) or in Insadong (near West Gate of Tagpol Park). The shuttle bus is about KWN 15,000 for round trip or KWN 7,500 one way. It departs in Jamsil/Insadong at around 9:30 am and goes back from Nami at around 4:00 pm daily.

We traveled to Nami via train because we're budget travelers and train is way faster than bus! The train will take a total of 60 minutes to get to the station where Nami is located at and you'll take a taxi or bus from there going to the island. Note though that you'll need to transfer multiple times riding the train but everything is close to each other and you can all pay by using T-Money card.

In order to go there by train, go to Wangsimi Station (Line 2) and transfer to a different line called Kyungchun Line going to Mangu Station.
After arriving at stations going to Kyungchun line (e.g. Wangsimi or Sambong) alight and follow the "Transfer" Sign going to Gapyeong Station.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Noryangjin Fish Market: A place to eat LIVE octopus and fresh seafood in Korea

Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul is a wholesale fish market which is open 24 hours every day. It was established in 1927 and it covers over 66,000 square meters in an open-air warehouse. Early in the morning around 2am, you can experience fish auctions and throughout the day, you can buy and eat your fresh seafood "Dampa style" just like how we Filipinos do it in Manila. Prices in Noryangjin are 30-40% cheaper versus supermarkets in Korea. 

I've visited Korea four times already but it was my first time to visit Noryangjin to eat LIVE OCTOPUS!!! Yep! you read that right! Eating live octopus has been in my bucket list for so long and that's why we really made sure to cross that item once and for all during our December 2015 trip!

How to get there?
Getting to Noryangjing Fish Market is easy! Ride the train and go to Line 1 where you will alight at Noryangjin Station. There is only one exit (Exit 1), so go to that direction and follow these easy steps:
 Go up the stairs and go straight to Exit 1. 
 In front of you, you will see this foot bridge. Go towards that direction and turn right. At the end of the foot bridge, there's a staircase. Turn left and go down. You know you're in the right direction because you will literally smell the fishy smell from afar!
 ....aaaand you're now in Noryangjing Fish Market!

At first, the stalls can be quite overwhelming because the place is really huge! We've decided to do a price survey first by stall to check the different offerings and their price range but later on we realized that the prices are basically the same so we just headed to the nearest stall near the restaurants.
The most common seafood sold in Noryangjin are clams, king crab, abalone, shrimp, sting ray, sea cucumber, octopus, halibut, giant lobsters, eel, sea bass, snappers, sea urchins, salmon, and tuna. Looking at these fresh and alive seafood which is already a feast for tourists like us!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Must See in Macau: The House of Dancing Water Show in City Of Dreams

There's nothing much to do in Macau than to gamble and go Casino hopping. I've visited this country twice and my itinerary has been the same both times! We went around the city via the casino buses which are all FREE and watched different hotel lobby lights and water shows for FREE again haha that's why I highly recommend this place for budget travelers visiting HK because you will only spend few dollars to visit Macau for a day-trip.

On my second trip though, we splurged a bit because we were intrigued by their famous The House of Dancing Water show in City of Dreams, Cotai Macau. One ticket costs about Php 3,500--quite pricey but it's super worth it!
The House of Dancing Water is the world's largest and most spectacular water-based show and it is exclusive to Macau. The theater is a 270-degree theater-in-the-round, with a central stage at about 65 feet. There are more than 239 fountains and 11 hydraulic ten-ton elevators that can hold water for approximately 3.7 million gallons of water which is equivalent to 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools!!! 

The production is really world class--from waterproof costumes with Swarovski, to waterproof cosmetics, renowned contortionist, world aquatics champions, motorcycle stuntmen and a lot more in one show :)
I am not really fond of arts and shows but this one really entertained me! :) I was in awe with almost everything!!! My photos does not do justice at all. You must see it for yourself when you visit Macau.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Delicious Kitchen in Hong Kong

Delicious Kitchen, my all-time favorite restaurant in Hong Kong! I can eat this dish everyday with matching Black and White Milk Tea :) I first tasted the famous Braised Beef Tendon Nanjing Style and Double Pork Rib Rice sometime in 2003 and every time we visit Hong Kong, Delicious Kitchen is always on our itinerary.
How to get there?

Hong Kong Airbnb for only 433 Pesos!

I've been to Hong Kong several times already but usually I'm with my Family. This is the first time I went to Hong Kong with my boyfriend and the first time we've tried Airbnb in that country. Since Hong Kong is one of the tourist destination for Filipinos, I noticed that the hotel rates can be really pricey especially during peak season. Yes, there are also cheap hostel or guesthouse type of accommodations in Hong Kong that would range between P800-P1,000 but this rate is usually per person and per night. Despite the cheap price, we opted for an ultra-low budget for accommodation and that's the reason why we tried Airbnb because most listings in Airbnb is priced per room and per night already vs the per person of most hostels and guesthouse. 

I came across Calvin Yau's Hostel in Jordan MTR station which is located conveniently near Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay, and Central. 

Our room is just P2,600 total for 3 nights and 4 days. When broken down per day, that's just P866.66 per night for two (2) people already! Since I share one room with my boyfriend, we divided the room cost into 2 and so we only paid P433.33 per person and per night!

Calvin's place is just 3 minutes away from Jordan MTR station. Jordan Station is located in the Tsuen Wan Line or the red line. It is very near Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Causeway Bay, and Central. Most of the tourist spots can be seen in these areas that's why upon evaluation, we booked Calvin's place right away!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hong Kong and Macau - 4 Days and 3 Nights Itinerary

Hong Kong is definitely the number 1 tourist destination for Filipinos given its proximity, convenience to travel (no visa needed and cheap airfare), and all its tourist spots such as shopping areas and Disney Land. It's a complete get away for couples, families, or the 'barkadas'. 

Hong Kong though is a very small country similar to Taiwan, so you don't need to stay for a long time and 3 or 4 days will be sufficient depending on your itinerary. It will depend on whether you want to visit all the tourist spots such as Ocean Park or Disney Land (which will require 1 full day) or if you want to go to Macau which will again require at least a day.

An ideal trip would look like 1 week visiting all these places and spending overnight in Macau. But this will really be costly. So my recommendation is a 3-4 day itinerary in Hong Kong which will be sufficient.

Here's our itinerary (4 Days and 3 Night):

For Hong Kong:
- You can skip Mongkok Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market. You won't miss out on anything unless you want to buy a lot of gifts or 'pasalubongs' that are cheap.
- You can also skip City Gate Outlet given the outlet is extremely small and sells old stuff. Lan Kwai Fong is also an expat place where you can find a lot of bars and pubs. You can skip this if you don't plan to drink at night.
- Causeway Bay is definitely a must visit place for its shopping and food (e.g. Delicious Kitchen or Ichiran) and would definitely recommend Tsim Sha Tsui to visit Avenue of the Stars at night.

For Macau:
- 1 Day is sufficient! All the hotels are next to each other and you can ride the free shuttle bus to hop in and out. All these provide unique experiences so good to visit each one. But you'll most likely spend at most 30 mins in each hotel unless you want to start gambling in any of the casinos. Research on free shows that each hotel offers so you can visit them based on these schedule.
- I highly recommend to watch House of Dancing Waters in City of Dreams!

Revised itinerary that I'll recommend for first time travelers: 
The revised itinerary contains well known tourist spots such as Victoria Peak, Ngong pin, and Ocean Park or Disney Land. All these are frequently visited and may be good to experience if you've not gone to these before or if you've not experienced similar sights before (e.g. Riding Cable Cars or going to Disney Land in another country). 

Hong Kong and Macau can be visited within 3-4 days. This is already a relaxed itinerary where we had enough time at each location. However, make sure you tailor fit to what you and your companions want to do as each itinerary will look very different! If you love to shop, then go to the night markets and shopping areas vs. the more touristy places. If you're bringing your kids or you're kid at heart, then go to the amusement parks.


Hong Kong/Macau Expenses: 4 Days for 15k

I initially thought Hong Kong is not an expensive place to visit given it's  the most visited country by Filipinos. But I realized that cost of living is much higher compared to the Philippines and it's more expensive to travel to compared to countries like China or Taiwan. It's actually comparable already to Korea based on how much we've spent in several trips to Korea. I believe this is in contrast to what many people think that Hong Kong is not that expensive and Korea is an expensive place to travel to. The difference is that Hong Kong rely heavily on tourist destinations that entail cost (e.g. entrance fees, etc.) compared to other cities like Seoul where there is less of these costs.

Here's a breakdown of our expenses for Hong Kong and Macau Trip (4 Days/3 Nights):

If you remove Airfare and Taxes, here's our Day to Day Expenses:

We spent around Php 15,000 each, for 4 days in Hong Kong and Macau. We spent significant amount in watching 'House of Dancing Waters' in Macau (which was worth it! - see my review here) and in Ferry cost from Hong Kong to Macau and vice versa. You obviously will spend less if you don't visit Macau. However, you actually will spend much more if you decide to visit Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park, Victoria Peak, or Cable Car (we skipped all these given that we already knew what to expect given our past experiences and felt it was not worth it). You'll easily spend around Php 30,000 if you visit all these usual tourist places.

Tips for lower cost:
1. Research first! - Check blogs first before deciding to go to these touristy places given that it's very expensive. E.g. we decided to skip Disney Land given we already went to Tokyo Disney Land and saw in blogs that both are very similar.
2. Save on hotels. If you don't mind small spaces and being in shared housing, use airbnb to stay in a good location but pay less. Our room was around Php 1,700 per night which we divided into two.
3. Just do Day Trip for Macau instead of spending overnight in an expensive hotel there. You'll save a lot on accommodation especially if you're not a heavy gambler.

To Summarize: If you're visiting Hong Kong for the first time and you want to visit all the famous tourist spots, expect to shell out a lot of money! Hong Kong is also known for its shopping, hence, expect also to spend money for shopping which is what most tourists do in Hong Kong. But if it's not your first time there (and have visited all these tourist spots already), then you can spend money similar to how much we've spent which is still quite expensive for a 4 day trip relative to the other places we've visited.

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