Everytime I will choose to take a long bus ride instead of flying to hop from one city to another is something I always, always, regret later. In a previous tri-country trip, I entered Phnom Penh, Cambodia from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I was expecting nothing from Phnom Penh since it was just my gateway to Siem Reap to see the Angkor Complex, but this quaint little town has exceeded my expectations. Sure, there are a lot of horror stories from tourists going to this capital, but I always get reminded that I have to be gentle on Cambodia because of the scars that the former communist regime has left the nation.
Anyway, here are some photos from my quick trip to Phnom Penh Cambodia which I edited using the Kodak Porta 100T filter of VSCO. Also, don’t forget to check out my VSCO portfolio. Enjoy!
SNAPSHOTS: ASIA Trailer
SNAPSHOTS: ASIA PHOTO ESSAY #19: ARRIVING AT PHNOM PENH CAMBODIA (PIN IT! )
A lot of Filipino travelers I know have expressed some frustrations on how less ‘powerful’ the Philippine passport is compared to other countries because we are only eligible to enter a few countries without the need for a visa. To someone who is aiming to visit all nation-states in the world, yes, it would be a struggle, but it won’t hurt if you start traveling to visa-free countries first, right? That’s also what I am currently working on.
But hey, it is not the end of the world, guys! In fact, setting up a good and clean travel record to visa-free countries is a brownie point should you apply for a visa in the First World, like Europe and the US. After all, there is so much to explore in these visa-free countries which deserve to be visited first by us, Filipino travelers.
With “start traveling to visa-free countries first”, I meant the Southeast Asian region. In fact, Southeast Asian region is one of the most popular regions visited by travelers from all parts of the world and from all walks of life. There is so much to see in this region: cultural and historical heritage sites, natural wonders, cities, beaches, mountains, name it! Did you know that your Philippine passport entitles you to travel around Southeast Asia, visa-free? 🙂
Why can Southeast Asian citizens travel around the region visa-free?
The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed an ASEAN Framework Agreement on Visa Exemption in order to achieve a lasting friendship and cooperation among ASEAN countries, hence as ASEAN Citizens, we Filipinos can travel around ASEAN region without a visa. How cool is that? You can have your own Southeast Asia visa free travel bucket list before exploring the rest of the world!
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INDONESIA (visa-free for 30 days)
Whether you’re exploring historical sights in big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, exploring the countryside and natural wonders in Probolinggo, or having the vacation of your life in Bali, you can do all of these without the need to apply for a visa. How’s that?
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LAOS (visa-free for 30 days)
Laos is the most underrated Southeast Asian country!!! Please please consider exploring this beautiful country! There’s so much history and culture in here, and oh, it’s the most heavily-bombed country in the world (well, Vietnam War-speaking, because I know Syria feels the same way, too). Unfortunately we don’t have direct flights from Philippines to Laos, but hey it doesn’t hurt to include this in your itinerary, let’s say, when you go visit Thailand.
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MALAYSIA (visa-free for 30 days)
Malaysia is a melting pot of different cultures, and as a result, there’s just a variety of good food here! You can explore Malaysia if you want to go shopping (everything here is, for some reason, cheaper than Manila), have some food trip, or have some cultural immersion, Kuala Lumpur can provide them for you. If you want to have some amusement park-ish type of fun with friends, Petaling Jaya is the place to be.
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MYANMAR (visa-free for 14 days)
Myanmar is also one of the least popular Southeast Asian destination to Filipinos because there are no direct flights to here from Manila. But, I could attest that you will not regret going this far because Myanmar is so authentically uninfluenced by any external culture (I’m talking about Westernization hehe). It’s indeed the “Golden Land”, literally, because of the golden stupas all over.
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SINGAPORE (visa-free for 30 days)
Deemed as one of the best countries in the world, this small island nation never failed to impress everyone who goes here. From the vast number of museums, to hawker centres, to the very efficient transport system, and the very progressive economy, I could say that Singapore is really very utopian for me.
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VIETNAM (visa-free for 21 days)
Vietnam, being the second largest producer of coffee in the world, is not only home to the best coffee out there, but also to the healthiest set of green leafy cuisine! A legit banh mi sold by the street sides is a must-try!
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There you have it! To Philippine passport holders, Southeast Asia is literally visa-free! It can ease everyone’s travel hassle and more energy and money can be dedicated to this beautiful region. I just hope Southeast Asia visa requirements for all Southeast Asians will be lifted indefinitely because it can indeed contribute to the region’s economy as well as the awareness of ASEAN citizens about the region and the countries surrounding them.
So, I’ll just wait for your travel stories, then? Safe travels and prepare your passports to be stamped now! 🙂
To be honest, I have been planning on writing hotel reviews of all the hotels and hostels I I have checked in during my overseas travels (meaning outside the Philippines, because I’m based in Manila). However, I never had the time to actually take photos to help my readers appreciate my reviews. Most of the time, right after checking in, I would jump in the bed and throw away my stuff all over. I am either very tired, had no sleep, or just not in the mood to do the effort of taking photos.
But don’t worry! Here I am, and I will try to make use of the limited photos that I took from the hotels I stayed in, together with a very quick review. I will also tell you if, based on my standards (which are not really so high, believe me), I will consider checking in again in these places. Also, feel free to click on the hotel names for more info and booking. Enjoy!
The hotel is a little far from the airport, but don’t worry too much about road distances in Brunei. You can get there in no time. The hotel is located in Jerudong area, a very quiet and peaceful part of Bandar Seri Begawan, and you will definitely enjoy your time there. The rooms are beautiful and elegant. When I stayed there during the Christmas holidays, I saw that they were preparing a backdrop for the New Year’s Eve, so I guess they were planning an event then. I wish I was able to witness it. There was just one morning when I woke up to the sound of the mass at the mosque, but it was really calming and I did not really mind.
This is a hotel within a mall. On the Ground Floor, you will find restaurants and shops, and there are a lot of restaurants to choose from! Above the hotel are more shops and the cinema. You don’t need to go out of the building and it has got everything you need. It’s also very close to the airport. I stayed in a room with a window but no view, and if you got assigned to a room close to the elevator, you will hear the noise of the people. I did appreciate their complimentary newspaper, though. Breakfast buffet was a little meh.
I love Kolab Sor! The design was very minimalistic and the lobby was super big and beautiful! They have desktops that can be used by guests at the Ground Floor. The rooms were so minimalist and cozy. The shower was very spacious, and I remember clearly that they have a good set of toiletries. It is also near establishments like restaurants.
To be fair, this hotel is near Pub Street, but I had a lot of issues. The hotel is old and I feel like dusts are everywhere. The oldness of the hotel is like more of ‘woods and red carpets’ type. Elevators and hallways are a little creepy, but the rooms were surprisingly okay. They have a big pool but the water is dirty and mossy. Breakfast was served outdoor by the pool, but it doesn’t even look good, I did not trust its cleanliness, and they lack so many utensils and necessities.
They have a mini-outdoor gym but the equipment are just dumped in one side and accumulating rust. Oh, there was a power interruption exclusively in that hotel only for two nights and it scared the heck out of us! I feel like the place used to be very elegant (like Manila Hotel-type) but it just lost its former glory. Our shower’s ceiling also has a huge hole and we had to cover it in a plastic just to make sure nothing bad will happen.
Don’t trust the photos of this hotel you see in Agoda.
This place is located right at the heart of Mong Kok area and very close to the Mong Kok MTR station. There are so many establishments and big malls around and it is a busy area. The rooms resemble a typical Hong Kong tiny apartment, but it was clean and the view outside was great. They provide hot and cold water in a dispenser outside the room. The price is good for a private room in a hostel.
This is located in Central Bali (therefore far from the airport). It is situated in an area where a lot of farms are located, and it was really quiet there. I was told by the cab driver that the area is a favorite retreat spot of Westerners, so no wonder the vibe is like that. I rented a very nice rustic room for a very affordable price, and a healthy breakfast was served. The staff went the extra mile to help me with my broken luggage lock and even assisted me with my luggage upon check-in and check-out because the homestay was a few walks from the main road.
If you have been dreaming of a #thisvillalife Bali vacation, this place is perfect for you! Situated at the heart of Seminyak area, Villa Koru is a luxury 3-bedroom villa with a big and beautiful pool that can accommodate solo, couple, and family travelers! The staff were very helpful and efficient, and the owner was one of the kindest host I have met so far in all of my travels abroad! He will make sure you are provided with everything you might need: from floaters, to day tours, to airport transfers, and many more!
To be fair, the hotel has a relaxing vibe at the outside. There were trees, and the corridors are white. However,the room I stayed in was a little small, the AC unit was broken, there were no toiletries provided, and the water pressure was meh. The rooms have sliding doors and will not completely close, therefore you’ll hear all the sounds from the outside. I did not like my stay there hence I took back my payment for the next succeeding days I checked-in and went to another hotel. But, they have a big potential to improve.
You can literally walk from this hotel to the airport! It was a big hotel with many rooms, and I liked its swimming pool. It has a nice vibe with great music. The rooms are very clean, great, and comfy as well. The staff are very friendly and will give you tips on where to go around the area. Oh, they have free transfers to and from the airport, since it’s literally a couple of meters away.
Laos in general surprised me! And this hotel is part of all the surprises I had. The room I had is very, very cheap! The same quality in another country could cost 3 or 4 times I paid for Mini S Hotel. The staff, even though finding it hard to understand my accent, were very patient enough, and they were kind enough to help me out in terms of places to see. The small outdoor pool is also beautiful and every corner is clean and Instagrammable. I had the perfect chill vacation because of Mini S Hotel. they provided a porridge breakfast which was good and the hotel is near convenience stores, restaurants, and that al fresco restaurants by the Mekong River. They also provide shuttle services to the city center.
The moment I was looking for an accommodation in Macau for my very quick trip, Macau Hotel S caught my attention when I saw that it participated in a street art activity and its vicinity has a lot of beautiful street art (street art enthusiast here!). Macau Hotel S was not the cheapest deal, but it was the best deal.
The room I booked was so big and nice and I love their toiletries! I also love the complimentary jasmine tea they provide, and from my room window I have a nice view of the Macau Tower. It is also a few walks away from the bus stop which you can wait for a bus which could drop you exactly at the airport. It is a walking distance from tourist spots such as Senado Square. Lastly, I can’t stress enough that the hotel restaurant has a very creative interior and good food! I will definitely stay here again.
ViPod residences is a walking distance from Pavilion Mall and the KLCC train station, and it also has a club/bar just across, which also explains the presence of street food vendors around the area. Entering the building feels like you’re entering an Embassy or something. The security is a little tight, and there are several doors leading to the lobby. The room we stayed is very tidy and spacious and the price was really affordable. There is a convenience store at the ground floor (where I bought some Maggi Kari) and wait until you go to the rooftop pool and gym! The view of Petronas Towers is perfect!
This hotel is right in front of the Mandalay Railway Station which is very, very convenient! I love the whole ambiance of the hotel, from the reception area to the rooms. They serve a good breakfast, and the place is near many establishments, including a mall and the Ocean Supermarket. Staff are very friendly as well.
This hotel is just like a typical provincial home. The price is very cheap but you will be provided with a quality stay. It is located at the Old Bagan area which is near the market and the temple complex. They have bike and e-bike rental services. The staff are very kind and friendly. When we left our keys inside the room, one of the staff was kind and patient enough to climb the window just to get access to our room. We also saw squirrels through our windows and they are amusing.
What I love about this hotel is its interior design. They have a lot of artworks hanging around the entire place. Moreover, this hotel is right at the center of Yangon and everything is really accessible from there, from market to cinema, to the zoo, and the Sule Temple in particular. Their breakfast area and the way going to the rooms were a little tight, though. But if you are catching a flight at Yangon International Airport, I think this place is a strategic and practical one to choose.
To be fair, this hotel is located at the main road (Serangoon Road) right at the heart of Little India, which is a good starting point if you want to go around the district. Their breakfast is also great (I have a bias towards Indian food because it’s delicious and healthy at the same time). The staff are accommodating and friendly as well. However, I think the entire building is a little old and therefore needs improvement. When we entered the room, we were greeted by cockroaches and the room was dimly lit. The shower also looks untidy. Good thing we only stayed there for a layover.
There are several Cube Hotels around Singapore, but I think location-wise, this one at Kampong Glam is the best. It is located right at the heart of the Kampong Glam tourist area, very near the Masjid Sultan. The hotel is quite new and it was my first time staying in a capsule. At first I thought it’s going to make me claustrophobic, but I had the most comfortable stay. The idea of capsules give you the privacy that you need. The bathroom and shower is clean and well-maintained, and their toiletries are good! They also have a washing machine and dryer where detergent and fabric conditioner are provided. Breakfast is also awesome!
I heard that this hotel was newly-renovated and I think they did a great job doing it. The Great Madras has a very friendly staff and the location is near establishments, including the Indian Heritage Centre. The have millennial-friendly Instagrammable interiors. They have nice bathrooms with good set of toiletries. The swimming pool area is a nice place to chill and the poolside is good for doing some yoga. I love their breakfast (also given my bias with Indian food).
In a nutshell, this hotel is very affordable and yet you will be provided a good quality of stay! It is located right at the heart of Taipei (walking distance from the Taipei Main Station), and very near establishments and tourist spots. The reception area is so nice, it’s literally a pink beetle with a lot of cute plushies. The rooms were clean and nice, and the room we stayed has a bathtub. The breakfast is so good and the brewed coffee is the best thing there!
This hotel has a very clean and minimalist look. It is located near the Don Mueang International Airport but a little far from the city center. Do not worry because the area where the hotel is located is very secure, quiet, and elegant. We were able to find several good coffee shops, convenience stores, and restaurants around, as well as yummy street food! The rooms are very spacious, and the toiletries there are the best ones I had so far!
Will stay here again? Can I instead stay here for good? 🙂
I love, love, love this hotel! The staff were really friendly, and they embody the Thai hospitality. I was assisted very well from check-in to check-out. They also gave me a room closest to the reception desk, which was favorable and convenient for me. I could walk from here to so many establishments, like restaurants, pharmacies, groceries, fastfood chains, coffee shops, etc. I can’t stress enough how colorful and Instagram-worthy the place was! The pool was beautiful! The breakfast area was very relaxing and the food selection was very heavenly! My room has a bathtub also! I wish I could live here!
Will stay here again? I want to, but I really don’t know.
I’ve been seeing nice photos of the hotel on Instagram and other online sources, and it’s a little popular among young travelers, given its location which is very near a lot of bars and restaurants. The room photos in the booking sites were also good. However, upon arriving at the place, the door men will not even provide you a little assistance with your luggage and will not even open the doors for you. The reception area was great, the staff were friendly, and upon the looks of it, the hotel is really a beautiful hipster place. However, I was given a room at the topmost floor and at the other end of the elevator which was a loooooong corridor walk and you will be greeted by creepy life-size mural of people as you walk.
They have no telephones at the room, so when my keycard did not work, I had to go back to the reception area myself. The room was a little dim and the vibe was a little heavy. I want to give the hotel another chance by seeing how good their breakfast is, only to find out that the breakfast is only available at 0730, which was a little late. Since I had to leave before 7AM for my flight, I was only provided bread and coffee (which was okay), but did not really get what I paid for.
I had a short but good stay in this hotel. The rooms are spacious and homey, and there are some furniture items made of bamboo. The hotel is just right across YOLO Bar (which is a good bar!) and near a lot of convenience stores and restaurants. The breakfast was awesome (you can make your own banh mi sandwich!), but the lady at the breakfast area was a little rude and yelled at me.