48 Hours in Hanoi, Vietnam

One must travel smoothly, slowly and steady – that’s the total opposite of our Hanoi experience.

It was rough, fast and exciting! ūüôā Rough because there was only 1 flight available daily from Manila to Hanoi via Cebu Pacific – and it’s midnight! There was literally no sleep weekend for me and JR. Mainly me, because I’m very thrilled about this trip. I planned this several months ahead. I have this big vision of Hanoi in my head – it’s chaotic, colorful and tasty, It is¬†indeed! Hanoi, particularly Old Quarter where we stayed is small enough for one day of sightseeing but it requires a lot of walking. But not to worry because the weather is perfect and it allowed us to roam around without sweat (March 23-25, 2017).

The City

It’s a mix of urban life and scenic greenery. Old Quarter is decked with quaint houses and establishments against the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake as its backdrop.¬†There are vendors everywhere wearing their native hats, rushing motorbikes that won’t stop for you, and coffee shops in every corner. If you walk towards the lake, you will escape the small roads that will lead ¬†you to Hoan Kiem District – it’s surrounded by parks. Alas! You’ve reached the heart of Hanoi!

Old Quarter

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Around¬†6 in the morning there are seniors doing aerobics/yoga with their red old-fashioned fans. During afternoon, it’s packed with tourists from different corners of the world. And in the evening it’s usually crowded in front of the Thang Long Theater for the Water Puppet Show.

Hoan Kiem District

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The Food

There’s an entirely different world of food beyond Pho. We opted to go for the top rated restaurants to make the most our trip. I had several on my list but we don’t have enough time to visit each one of them, Madame Hien and Essence Hotel Cafe made the cut. It’s the most accessible within the vicinity of our plotted itinerary. I can still taste the fried pork spring rolls from Essence – it’s crispy on the outside and so much flavor in the inside. They also have superb customer service. The fresh rolls from Madame Hien is a must try too! Don’t hesitate to try other cuisines aside from Pho, you won’t regret it!

Essence Hotel Restaurant

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Madame Hien Restaurant 

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Streetfood 

Never skip the vendors selling Banh Mi¬†on the sidewalks, NEVER! The best grilled sandwich I’ve tasted for Php60.00!!!

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The Coffee

It seems like they have a coffee social scene – it’s everywhere! Hanoi is known for their unique take on coffee and it’s definitely something that you wouldn’t want to miss! In our short stay, we only tried 2, both have egg coffee as its specialty.

Giang Cafe

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Cafe Pho Co

It’s the definition of hole-in-the-wall. You have to walk a narrow alley to get to a house-like cafe. But what’s on the top floor will surprise you. Be sure to visit during sunset or at night.

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Temple and Pagoda

It’s possible to visit all temples and pagodas in one day if you start early. You can rent a motorbike for $10 for one whole day. We tried to squeeze as many as we could in 2 days and decided to pick a few – my favorite amongst them is the Temple of Literature – a very picturesque attraction in Hanoi.

Temple of Literature – Temple of Confucius

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Tortoise Pagoda in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake

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Ngoc Son Temple

TrŠļ•n QuŠĽĎc Pagoda

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The Locals

If you are as jolly as Jr and I, who always wears a smile on your face, don’t change a thing. But don’t expect all locals to reciprocate. On an average of ten people that we greeted, only 3 or 4 responded with a nod or a smile. It’s not them being rude but it’s what they have gotten used to.

If you are traveling to SouthEast Asia, please give yourselves a favor and visit Hanoi.

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A Taste of Davao

If you’re looking for the best experience for you and your family, Davao is the best fit!

I couldn’t squeeze everything in 4 days, there’s so much to see with so little time.

We tried to have a taste of both lands and waters in 4 days. Here’s a peek of our trip ūüôā

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 Secdea Resort, Samal Island

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Davao Crocodile Park

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Bohol: 4 Day Adventure

Right after we celebrated our 3rd year anniversary in Leyte, JR surprised me with a ticket to Tagbilaran for my birthday. I’m so excited to take this trip because I’ve always wanted to see the Chocolate Hills. I heard¬†several myths about it¬†when I was in grade school and I remember believing them too ūüôā It’s good that¬†I had 5 months to plot the whole itinerary and I’m so happy everything turned out as planned.

Let me walk you through our 4 day adventure.

Day 1

We stayed at Villa Formosa through Airbnb, it was the cherry on top of our trip. It’s a few minutes away from Dumaluan beach, away from the crowded Alona Beach. We did the right thing to stay on this side of the island because Dumaluan is divine! Since we arrived in the afternoon on our 1st day, we decided to just stay in Villa Formosa – the place is amazing! It’s serene – exactly what we’re looking for. If you opt to just relax, this is the best place!¬†We had the pool and jacuzzi to ourselves during our whole stay, it’s well-kept and clean. They have a very accommodating staff that catered to our every need. They’re friendly which made our stay very comfortable.

Book Villa Formosa through Airbnb or you can visit their website directly.

We grabbed our early dinner at  DBR Grill in Dumaluan Beach Resort which is a few minutes away from our place. They charge P25 entrance fee though. We ordered calamari and prawns Рthe food is okay and the view is great!

 

Dumaluan Beach

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Did I mention that this beach has creamy fine white sand and crystal waters?!

Day 2

And so our land shenanigan begins! For me, it’s definitely the¬†highlight of our trip! We crossed out another adventure on our list. We rented out a motorbike for P500 for 24hours, the receptionist from Villa Formosa booked it for us. We drove from Panglao to Chocolate Hills in Carmen to Loboc River and back to Panglao. It took us roughly 2 hours to get to our 1st destination because we had to stop twice due to the sudden rain.

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Chocolate Hill, Carmen

360 degrees view of the Chocolate Hills – from Hilltop view. There are at least 1000 of these scattered hills in Carmen, Bohol.

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We had to stop for photos at the Bilar man-made forest.

Loboc River Cruise and Buffet

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img_4313For P400 you get to eat a Filipino buffet on a boat cruising Loboc River. It’s a must try! The river is so nice and calm, there are also local performers serenading guests during the cruise.

Day 3

We opted to just stay at the resort to relax and take a¬†dip at Dumaluan Beach. ¬†It’s not crowded and it seems like we had the whole beach to ourselves.

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We had our early dinner at Alona beach which is only a tricycle away from Villa Formosa.

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Day 4

At 6AM, we embarked on Alona Beach to Balicasag and Virgin Islands.¬†It’s not what I expected¬†but it’s always good to plunge¬†into an island for the 1st time. ¬†We availed a tour package that includes island hopping and lunch set meals. When we got to Balicasag we transferred to a smaller boat for snorkeling.

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Virgin Island

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Bohol Bee Farm

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We got back at the resort in the afternoon and decided to have an early dinner at Bee Farm. It’s only 4km away from our resort. Everything they sell is organic, my favorite would be the Salted Caramel Icecream on Cassava cone. The interior is so lovely, every corner is Instagram worthy! The food is delish too! I ordered Seafood pasta and it’s so good ūüôā

We went back to our resort at 6PM and packed our luggage. It’s always heartbreaking leaving a nice place but every after an adventure a new journey awaits! ūüôā

That wraps our 4 day Bohol escapade. Don’t skip this on your list. It’s truly beautiful and full of culture. There’s so much to see and experience.

Day Trip in Burot

I needed a reset button and I was badly in dire need of quick beach trip last week. This trip has been long overdue and finally all our schedules matched and we were able to push through.

We decided to head to Burot because, why not? It’s only a few hours away from a Manila and we only have 2 days to spare. We took the Tagaytay to Calatagan route on a Saturday morning. Everything went well as planned, except for the beach.

I didn’t expect it’ll be so crowded. The caretakers should’ve set a number of visitors allowed per day. It seems like the island is slowly losing it beauty because of the irresponsible individuals who threw their trash at the wrong places. There were plastics on the beach, food wrappers floating and even dog poop on the shore. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to take this trip with my friends. I didn’t take snaps of the crowded beach but instead I still tried to take photos of its attractions.SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCGNUL0291[1]

Road trip: Southern Adventure

 

We were equipped to hail the road for 4 hours to Real, Quezon. Everything was going smoothly until it rained on the 2nd hour. We were all excited first-timers in Real Surf. I was telling myself that I need to gather guts and should try to surf even once in my life. I even packed a lot of bikinis because I know the place is Instagram worthy. It was raining heavily when we got there and you can easily see the big waves from a far… The place is very nice though. It looked really comfy and breezy. It has a very ‘chill-with-friends’ vibe, perfect for an afternoon beer by the beach. ¬†I wanted to stay for the night and wait until the rain stops ¬†but it’s impossible to settle because it’s wet in every corner. It’s a small resort with ¬†an¬†open space with little huts with not much covered ¬†places. My friends and I decided to head to Batangas instead,¬†rather not having the assurance of seeing the sun.¬†The care-taker of the place was really kind enough to give us a refund and did not hesitate to return our money in full. They’re very accommodating, we will definitely go back on a better weather! ūüôā

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After another 3 hours drive with a lot of eating in between. we’ve finally reached our destination! Batangas has always been the go to place of my barkada if we want a quick beach weekend trip and get away from the city for a bit. But even if it’s our ¬†nth time, there’s always a new experience and a new story to tell. It was all fun and games and a lot of good food too. Thank God my cousin cooks well! I also found my soul sister who takes good photos as well, he’s a guy ¬†though! ūüėÄ

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The gloomy skies made it a cozy stay – having both bed and beach weather at the same time, what more could you ask for? ūüôā

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Until next beach trip! ūüôā

Coron: Piece of Heaven

How is it possible to have so many beautiful landscape and waters in one place? Coron, I fell in love with you so easily and even from a far!

I’ve been wanting to go to Coron since it was featured on several blog sites during the early 2000s. After I graduated from college I included it on my bucket list and I’ve been dreaming about it since. 2 years ago JR and I booked tickets to Coron for our 1st anniversary celebration but it didn’t push through because he left for work to Sydney. Tickets were put to waste and I never planned another Coron trip after that. Until last July, my girl friends and I decided to take an all girls trip away from the city – I’m glad we did! It was an amazing experience!!! – I always say it on my blog posts but I always get lucky with my trips and end up with the most amazing experience every single time!

We took the first flight to Busuanga – it was only an hour and a few minutes away from Manila via Cebu Pacific. Even from above, Coron looked so wonderful.

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1st Day – Kayangan Lake / Lake Baracuda / Twin Lagoon / Beach 91

Coron Island Trip – Amazing crystal clear waters

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Day 2 – Calauit Safari / Black Island / Coral Garden

Safari Trip – I fell in love madly with Calauit Safari. It was my first time to see an actual giraffe and I got to feed them too!! My inner child burst out this day and my day ended with a big grin on my face =)

Day 3 – Banana Beach / Bulog Dos / Malcapuya Beach

Beach Trip – We went to 3 different Islands and all of them were jaw dropping. I burnt my back from too much sun bathing but I cared less. It was the end of our trip and I don’t want to leave yet. This time, I’m bummed about not being a mermaid, even being a crab will do as long I’m on the beach of Coron!

Day 4 – Maquinit Spring

We squeezed in some time for a quick dip to Maquinit Spring in Coron Town before flying back to Manila ¬†ūüôā

 

Philippines will continually amaze me. It feels like my wandering alter ego will never get tired of exploring my homeland. #itsmorefuninthephilippines

Hong Kong: Traveling Like Locals

You easily fall in love with the cities you visit. That’s why your heart is always full – full of new things, new friends, authentic taste and your eyes always glimmer with all the new beautiful sight. That’s what I feel towards Hong Kong – I have an enormous love for this city. And it’s impossible not to…¬†

I booked this trip 4 months prior to our flight. I surprised JR so we could celebrate my birthday to a foreign country and finally cross-out one thing on our couple must do list. I never thought I would love Hong Kong this much in just a few days of our exploration.¬†It’s the best birthday gift I’ve given myself.

Here are the highlights of our trip. Enjoy scrolling down!

Garden Road, Central Station

¬†I made it a point not to miss this trip. I was really exhilarated to get to The Peak. This was the most ‘touristy’ thing on our list and not knowing that just by getting there is already an experience itself. We got¬†off Central Station and walked uphill to Garden Road to take The Tram. This part of Central is not as crowded. It¬†is where most of the historical¬†buildings of the area abound alongside with many other modern¬†architectures.

How to get there?

Take the MTR to Central Station and walk uphill to Garden Road. The lower terminus is located at the bottom of St. John’s building.

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Because taking each other’s photo is so cliche.¬†

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The Peak

Nothing encapsulates Hong Kong best than this view from The Peak. It overlooks the entire Hong Kong Island and Kowloon – It’s breathtaking.

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Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden

Chi Lin Nunnery is a large Buddhist Temple complex that includes exquisite wooden temple halls, tranquil lotus ponds and an entire serene Nan Lian Garden. Its beautifully designed and inspired from the Tang Dynasty’s architecture. It is situated in Diamond Hill of Kowloon with a stunning series of mountain range and high-rise buildings as its backdrop – truly majestic.

How to get there?

Take the MTR to Diamond Hill Station. Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden is just across.

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The Ceramic Ware Museum 

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The City 

For you to be able to really get into the heart of the city, ¬†it requires A LOT of walking and sweating. My advise is enjoy every drop of sweat – it’s worth it.

Explore the city by taking the mini bus.

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Victoria Harbor13 Hong Kong Museum of Art14

 In the busy streets of Mong Kok

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Symphony of Lights across Tsim Sha Tsui11The Junk ‘Duk Ling’ (Our Junk experience will be up on my next blog, stay tuned!)

The Victoria Park 

Mid -Autumn thematic Lantern Display 2015: Blossom Beneath the Moon.

 We were lucky enough to witness and have a glimpse of a local holiday РThe Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival. It is widely celebrated across China that symbolizes fertility and harvest. We feast our eyes with these lantern displays and cap off the night with a sumptuous Moon Cake and Chinese Tea from our host (it goes well together).

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The Food

Our trip wouldn’t be complete without trying out every food we could! Just thinking about how good the dumplings and beef briskets were makes me want to book a flight to back to the city immediately!

Dessert platter from The Full House Desserts.

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Dumplings from The Dining Room, Hysan Place
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Authentic Chinese cuisine from local restaurants in Fuk Lo Tsun Road, Kowloon City. (Majority of restaurants doesn’t have an English name but there are several must-try along that street.)

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Tofu Dessert served cold at Kung Wo in 67 Fuk Lo Tsun Road

IMG_5111Mak’s Noodles: Spicy Pork Noodles and Beef Brisket, authentic and hand pulled.IMG_4818IMG_4819

I am definitely coming back for more, there are a few trips I missed that I included on my itinerary but it’s always good to look forward to something new on our next Hong Kong adventure.

I am raptously in love with you, Hong Kong. See you soon! Xi√®xi√®¬†ŤįĘŤįĘ