Region IV-B in the Philippines, also known as MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), is known to have the best island and beach experience. The region is home to so many virgin and pristine beaches which are yet to be discovered by most of us. Traveling to the region is a little challenging though: yes, they have flights to all provinces, but going to the more beautiful outskirts requires you to ride a boat and brave the waves, as well as enduring several hours of land trip.
When I had my first government job, I was assigned to monitor the implementation of a development project in MIMAROPA region, hence I had the chance to travel around this beautiful but not-so-touristy destinations, including the Romblon Islands, Occidental and Oriental Mindoro. I was only able to go to Coron, Palawan on my own years ago, and lately, in Marinduque.
I’ve been reading that Marinduque is a very chill province at the heart of the country, with zero crime rate, notable traditions (like the Moriones Festival), and Greece-like beaches. To finally complete my MIMAROPA bucket list, I took a chance to visit Marinduque this Holy Week.
Now the problem arises: I only have a limited time. Shall I go chill at the beach and do island hopping, or witness the cultural activity special to Marinduque, the Moriones Festival?
I hope you won’t get disappointed in me, but I chose to go to the beach. I could use trying to go back for Moriones next time.
So what did I do in Marinduque? Here are some tips:
1.Visit the Palad Sand Bar
2. See the beauty of the Ungab Rock Formation
3. Snorkel at the Coral Garden to see the marine wonders of Marinduque
I dunno why, but I just stayed inside the boat when others went to snorkel. You have to pay Php50 if you want to try it.
4. Take a look at the Maniwaya Island Ruins
I went here only to find out that there are a lot of foreign tourists having a photo shoot at the ruins. I just can’t stand the heat and the time so I just watched them a little and walked back to my resort.
5. Swim, chill, and watch the sunset at Maniwaya Island
If you’re looking for a few days to chill, I think this is the place to be. (Just don’t go on a Holy Week, I think). Moreover, if you have more time, you could also use going to mainland Marinduque to go around the towns. After all, Marinduque is a small province composed of only 6 towns: Boac, Buenavista, Gasan. Mogpog, Santa Cruz, and Torrijos.
A quick guide on how to go to Maniwaya Island by commute:
Ride a bus from Manila to Lucena, Quezon.
From Lucena, ride a van/bus to General Luna, Quezon.
From General Luna Port, ride a boat going to Maniwaya Island (travel time is approximately 1 hour).
Maniwaya Island has several resorts that can accommodate you for your chill weekend.
Happy travels and have fun under the sun!
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(This is a personal and self-initiated hotel review (not sponsored) in order to help or guide you while looking for your perfect accommodation in Vientiane, Laos.)
Our accommodations can make or break our travels, regardless of the purpose. Hence, I want to reach out to the travel community by sharing my honest experiences regarding the accommodations I stayed in. With that, you will have a prior information on whether or not to choose the hotels I reviewed. In fact, I wrote a very comprehensive mini-review of ALL the hotels I stayed in OUTSIDE THE PHILIPPINES, which you can view here:
For this particular hotel review, I am happy to share my experience during my stay at Mini S Hotel in Vientiane, Laos.
What on earth is Sherlyn doing in Vientiane, Laos?
My avid readers (if I have some haha!) would know that I travel very frequently both for business and pleasure. This year was a record-breaker for me in terms of travel. I’ve flown to Bandar Seri Begawan, Bali, Singapore, Macau, Bangkok, and Vientiane, and I still have cities in the pipeline! I kinda got used to staying in different types of accommodations, and therefore I know how to judge an accommodation very well.
I went to Bangkok for a conference, and since Vientiane is only an hour away from Bangkok and I had some time to spare after the conference, I decided to buy a ticket and fly to Vientiane. Also, traveling to Laos will complete my ASEAN travel bucket list! I got torn between choosing to fly in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and I ended up choosing the former. I could always go back to see the rest of Laos, right?
So after booking my flight ticket, I hurriedly went to check the hotels in Vientiane. The factors I always account for in choosing accommodations are (1) hotel’s age, (2) price, and (3) Instagrammable-ness. 😀 I am happy to say that Mini S Hotel satisfied these conditions.
Mini S Hotel: Fast Facts
Mini S Hotel is just 7 minutes away from the Wattay International Airport!
Mini S Hotel has its own cafe named Blue Pin Cafe.
Mini S Hotel is a newly-built hotel, built only last 2018!
Agoda.com indicates that this hotel was just built last year, and I was too eager to check it out. Upon doing more research, I saw Mini S Hotel website and they just had a soft opening less than a year ago!
Mini S Hotel has a set of very friendly and accommodating staff.
I really appreciate how the staff has been very kind to me! They were not perfect in terms of service, but it was all a breeze. But hold on, let me explain that! 🙂
The hotel reception area is also the counter area of the Blue Pin Cafe, so I entered the cafe. I asked the attending receptionist that time if that was the hotel reception and he coldly answered “Yes.”. I was heartbroken. Kidding, I’m not sensitive! 🙂 I waited for my check-in to be processed and they gave me the key for the wrong room number and I opened a room currently occupied by someone, but thank God no one was inside. I did not get mad at all, instead we found that incident funny. Haha!
The other staff were patient enough to understand my accent and my English while trying to listen to my questions and concerns. I could see that they were trying to hide their frustrations and struggles of understanding my accent and I think that’s admirable. Also, when I asked one of them if they offer or know someone who offer a day tour and he happened to not know anyone, he went the extra mile trying to contact his friends who could show me around. I think that’s thoughtful! 🙂
One of the staff also helped me out to take photos of me around the lobby!
I don’t really wanna leave after checkout because they were so kind and warm to me huhu! Too bad I wasn’t able to take a photo with them.
My Room at Mini S Hotel
I stayed in a Deluxe Room at the Ground Floor which was a beautiful and clean room! I had a wonderful me time there because it was spacious and very tidy. I always make sure to book the room closest to the reception area (this is my personal preference) so I was given Room 3. I actually made a mistake of booking a room for 2 people but I believe it doesn’t make any difference at all. I love how big the bed was! Aside from I can move a lot, I can throw away my stuff all over haha! It has a lock from the inside, a television, a hanging coffee table (love it!), a telephone, a dresser, and a small fridge.
The comfort room was spacious and clean. Caveat though, it does not have a door and they don’t provide toiletries except for a hand soap.
Going Around Mini S Hotel
Mini S Hotel is very near the Souphanouvong Avenue which is a major road and from there you can access almost everything you want on a walking distance: grocery stores, shops, restaurants and bars, and even the strip of al fresco bars and restaurants along the Mekong River. If you are a person who likes to walk a lot, you can also access the city proper from there.
How to further enjoy your stay at Mini S Hotel: Amenities
I am happy to share that Mini S Hotel has a lot of amenities that can make your Vientiane trip a more enjoyable one:
Mini S Hotel has a small but beautiful outdoor pool just beside the Blue Pin Cafe. Even if you don’t want to swim, you can just chill by the Blue Pin Cafe or by the pool side to adore the beauty of the pool.
Most hotels have free wi-fi, and I must say that Mini S Hotel’s wi-fi is very reliable and fast. Of course, tips are not required but highly appreciated.
Free Shuttle Service to the City Center
Mini S Hotel has regular shuttle services going to the city center. You just have to inform the front desk at least an hour before your desired schedule so that they can have enough lead time to contact and prepare the driver.
I might be overreacting, but my Vientiane trip was really made better by my experience at Mini S Hotel. Beautifully-deigned hotels are really my thing, not only for Instagram and content purposes, and to me it’s also an indicator that that the hotel is making sure that its clients will be happy. I also feel like I received more than I paid for because I could get a hotel with the same quality elsewhere but three times the price of Mini S Hotel. I also appreciate its good location and very helpful staff. I definitely recommend this and will stay here again when I have the chance to go back to Vientiane.
Aside from cultural immersion, a travel to Brunei can also be a good gastronomic experience, given the presence of several good restaurants that serve good food and provide awesome dining experiences to both locals and travelers alike.
Brunei has a vast selection of restaurants, from local restaurants and eateries, food fairs, coffee shops, local and international fast food chains, name it! Below are some Brunei restaurants that I highly recommend and all travelers should try out.
Soto Babu Nini and Nasi Katok
For me, Kota Batu is the most peaceful area in Bandar Seri Begawan. This unique restaurant is built by the water and they serve the best soto and nasi katok ever! 🙂 They have an infinite board walk which is perfect for photoshoots. And oh, their restaurant is very colorful, too!
Bandarku Ceria is the weekly Sunday ‘family day’ fair in Bandar Seri Begawan where kids and families gather around the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien to play around, have picnic, and eat at the food stalls and shop for items around. Sometimes activities like fun runs are also held. For me, Bandarku Ceria is a happy activity, but I came to know that most Bruneians don’t really go there. I was able to try cheap food and drinks at my Bandarku Ceria experience.
Tamu Kianggeh was once a traditional market by the river, until the government decided to renovate it to become one of the cleanest and most organized market I’ve been too. Aside from dry and wet goods, they are also selling local food there, which is a good thing to try out.
Easy Way Tea and Cafe
To someone like me who craves for milk tea and drinks from time to time, places like EasyWay provide me good drinks and good ambiance. After all, Brunei weather could get really hot most of the time!
For a cheap but perfect local dinner, head to Gadong Local Market. They sell everything, from appetizers, main meal, dessert, and drinks! I love their nasi katok which they only sell for 1 BND. Of course, I would not miss drinking teh tarik and Milo here, and I also got kebab meals and local pancakes.
Simpang 37, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
MyTown Eating House
If you’re traveling to Brunei but been craving some food from outside the country, you could head to MyTown. They have a very sophisticated interior and they also serve different food from different cuisines. I was surprised when I saw some Filipino food in the menu! But of course, I went for some soto which is a local food in Brunei.
Jollibee is a Filipino fastfood chain which has presence in countries where there are Filipinos, including Brunei. I love their version of Nasi Lemak Chickenjoy and Jolly Cheesy Fries! I also know for a fact that Bruneians love Jollibee!
Ambuyat is a local Bruneian dish made of sago palm, which is cooked into a jelly-like food and dipped in a spicy sauce. It is also considered as the National Dish of Brunei and is also popular in the Malaysian territories in Borneo, like Sarawak, Sabah, and Labuan. I recommend Aminah Arif Restaurant to have a taste of Ambuyat.
My first order of business upon arriving in an new country? Try out their McDonald’s, if they have one! 🙂 Brunei has 3 McDonald’s branches, and the newest branch at Lambak is my favorite. Their Nasi Lemak McD is yummy! They also have many menu items that can’t be found elsewhere. I wish I could try them all!
This was highly-recommended to me by locals, and ther menu is composed of some local food, Malaysian food, and Chinese food. They have huge servings and they have friendly staff, most of them are Filipinos.
Have you tried the Hot Star Chicken in Taipei and other cities? Ayam Ku Chicken is Brunei’s version of it! But here, it’s served with rice and yummy achar, and this was one of my best meals ever in Brunei! I wish they will have a branch in Manila or something!
3, Soon Lee Megamart, Jalan Batu Bersurat, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei +673 245 0539
I AM A FAN OF AUDREY HEPBURN, AND THIS IS A HEAVENLY PLACE! The place is as classy as Audrey Hepburn, and I love their interior design so much! They also have friendly and accommodating Filipino staff. Plus, their servings are huge and yummy at the same time! It is a perfect place for dates because of its ambiance.
Since I regularly eat Yellow Cab Pizza in Manila, I was able to compare it with the Yellow Cab Pizza here in Brunei. I appreciated how better-tasting halal food is, which made me prefer it more than any other kind of food most of the time. They have rice meals which do not exist in Manila, and a Milo for a drink as well. Yum!
Alter Ego is my favorite restaurant in Brunei. I love restaurants like this with good interior, and they get orders from an app in their iPads. I must say that their menu was a little intimidating, but just order anything you feel like you’re gonna like, and you’re gonna like it for sure. 🙂
After a full dinner in any of the restaurants you dined in at the Setia Kenangan Complex, you can head to Yugo Dessert Cafe for a snow dessert! 🙂 They offer a vast selection of flavors, and chocolate will always be my favorite.
Patisserie Cakeshop has a very big menu! I ordered some makis and pesto and this is where I was able to taste my first bandung drink, a rose syrup with condensed milk, a must-try drink in this part of the world.
I was not able to snap photos during our stay here, but I love the ambiance of this place. They have a lot of games to choose from, which are perfect for couples, groups of friends, or family. Their drinks are yummy also, and I love how other diners/players can keep their noise down so that everyone can enjoy their experiences.
If you were able to try out any of these restaurants in Brunei, do share your experiences at the comments section or maybe at email address email@example.com. Happy eating and enjoy Brunei!
To those who were following me on Instagram (instagram.com/wheressherlyn), I think you guys want to come into a conclusion that Brunei Darussalam is one of my favorite countries to travel to (so far) since I’ve been visiting so many Instagrammable spots in Brunei. Some of you might be asking why (because let’s face it, everybody thinks Brunei is a boring place to visit). True enough, you can explore the whole country if you will plan a one-week trip there (compared to my home country, Philippines, which is composed of 81 provinces of 7641 islands), but there will always be reasons to go back. In my case, it’s the food and the so many Instagrammable spots in Brunei!
Brunei Darussalam travel experience is a little different from other tourist destinations to travel to in Southeast Asia because it’s literally so quiet in there, there are almost no public transportation, and it is an alcohol-free country (and therefore no typical city nightlife). To someone like me who is used to city life (Hello, Manila!), an occasional travel to Brunei Darussalam is always a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively, and it’s never gonna be boring.
I am not a Tourism Ambassador for Brunei or something, but I want to break the notion of most people that Brunei is a boring place to visit. In fact, it can be a very interesting place for all kinds of travelers: foodies, photographers, culture/heritage buffs, and even families. Tip though: I highly encourage you to rent a private car if you want to go around Brunei because public transportation is so limited. To give you a little glimpse about this beautiful country, let me share 23 Instagrammable spots in Brunei that you can visit:
Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas (Golden Jubilee Crown Park)
This beautiful park was a part and a result of the Bandar Seri Begawan Development Master Plan. This is how urban planning should be, guys!
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Pedestrian Bridge
This bridge is beautiful enough, and the presence of this crescent moon makes it more magnificent. Oh, this moon? Looks spectacular at night!
Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
One of the most beautiful mosques in the world. Its main dome? Made of pure gold!
Tamu Kianggeh (Kianggeh Open-air Market)
Locals say that the ‘marketness’ of this place was lost because it went a major rehabilitation as part of the government’s city plan for Bandar Seri Begawan. It is now roofed and more organized, compared to a scene with rainbow parasols and everyone busy shopping.
Teng Yun Temple
Teng Yun Temple is the first and oldest Chinese Temple in Brunei.
This is the shortest river in Brunei and it is a must for everyone to try the water taxi.
Perpuspaan Main Gate 1968
This is the monument that commemorates the coronation of the present Sultan of Brunei in 1968.
Mausoleum of Sultan Bolkiah
There is so much cultural heritage vibe in this place. I really love how Bruneians pay so much respect to their former Sultans. This is the quietest part of Brunei that I have been to. So solemn.
Mercu Dirgahayu 60
The Mercu Dirgahayu 60 is a birthday gift presented by the people of Brunei to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah on his 60th birthday.
Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex
The biggest shopping complex in Bandar Seri Begawan.
The Clock Tower
This clock marks the Zero Mile in Bandar Seri Begawan and is also a monument built to commemorate the visit of the first King of Malaysia in 1959 (and therefore symbolizes the friendship of Malaysia and Brunei).
Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien
A beautiful place where the traditional Bandarku Ceria happens every Sunday. I love the Family Vibe there.
Royal Regalia Museum
You will learn so much about the Sultan and the royalty upon visiting this museum. I am a fan of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej but after seeing this I got to appreciate the Sultan of Brunei as well. With the collection of gifts Brunei received from other countries, you can tell a lot about Brunei’s international relations. Ha!
Kota Batu Old Graveyard
This is the largest archaeological remains found in Brunei and was also believed to be a burial site.
Empire Hotel and Country Club
This 7-star hotel? So majestic! And the sunset view is priceless.
The largest mosque in Brunei and one of the two national mosques (Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is the other one). It is also known as the Blue Mosque.
Also known as the “Venice of the East”, Kampong Ayer literally means ‘water village’ and is the world’s largest settlement on stilts.
Tasek Lama Recreational Park
A nice spot for hiking and relaxing by the waterfalls.
Soto Babu Nini
This is the place where you can get a typical Bruneian comfort food with a nice view and very colorful architecture.
Rimba Garden Central
If you want to be one with nature, this is the place to be. It also has a nice outdoor garden which serves as a wedding venue.
Bukit Shahbandar Forest Recreational Park
Another popular hiking destination in Brunei. (And lookie! I got featured at the Brunei Tourism Board Instagram account!)
Tanjung Batu Beach
This is the most tranquil beach I ever went to. As in.
Instagrammable Spots in Brunei: More recommendations are welcome!
So, does Brunei still look boring to you at this point? Hit me up for questions about this beautiful country at email address firstname.lastname@example.org or at Instagram account instagram.com/wheressherlyn. Book your flights to Brunei now!
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(Please note that this is a sponsored article, so therefore ALL Instagram-worthy hostels in Manila listed here are included as a result of a collab.)
The Philippines has become one of the most popular backpacking destinations in Asia, primarily because of its natural wonders such as beaches, mountains, and waterfalls. Major cities in the Philippines like Manila and Makati are also getting international attention because of its fun nightlife. Most tourists and backpackers going to the Philippines enter through Manila, its capital city, and take flights going to other provinces. While in transit to other destinations in the Philippines, backpackers would choose to stay in hostels. Hence, the rise of Instagram-worthy hostels in Manila, Philippines.
Meanwhile, here are other accommodation in Metro Manila that I was able to write a review on (you may click them to view):
Hostels are popular budget accommodation for backpackers especially if one is only traveling on a transit in a city or if they don’t mind sharing spaces in dorm rooms with other travelers. I have been living in Manila, but whenever I miss traveling, I would sometimes stay in hostels to meet other travelers and just to put myself in a social space (I’m an introvert but I sometimes force myself to go out of my comfort zone). Given this, I have compiled this list of 6 Manila hostels I personally recommend staying in:
I had the chance to stay at RedDoorz @ Vicente Street Espana Manila and all I can say is the staff are so nice and well-trained. The place is so tidy and neat and very near establishment such as convenience stores and fast food restaurants. The nautical theme makes it cuter, however you won’t see the same from the outside. As they say, don’t judge the book by its cover. 🙂
Pink Manila Hostel is one of the very first hostels in Manila. It is located in a yellow building, but once you go up the elevator going to this place, there is going to be pink everywhere. And oh, this hostel has a swimming pool!
DEFINITELY MY FAVORITE HOSTEL! This is where I go to hangout with my friends even though we don’t check-in because its roofdeck bar is famous when talking about the Makati City nightlife! I love how I can just talk to my friends while listening to chill house music. When I had the chance to check-in here, their rooms are very clean and minimalist. Bathrooms are squeaky clean also. Their cafe serves good meals as well. The hostel’s location? Perfect!
Junction Hostels does not only offer short-term stays for backpackers but they also offer budget-friendly long-term rates for students and digital nomads. This hostel has a nice vibe and I felt very productive while working at the common area which is also, btw, very Instagram-worthy.
One thing I liked about this hostel is its location. It’s right by EDSA, Metro Manila’s major highway. There is also a grocery/pharmacy nearby. Aside from it’s colorful and creative interiors and common areas, the dorm rooms of this hostel have privacy curtains every bed.
Aside from its Victorian-designed common area, this hostel is located in a quiet residential area and surrounded by a bunch of nice restaurants! This hostel is also very clean and comfortable and I was able to have a peaceful stay here.
So there you have it! If I will have another chance to stay in any Manila hostels anytime soon, I will surely add to this list. You are also free to recommend some Instagram-worthy hostels in Manila that you have stayed so that I could also try staying there and write reviews for the benefit of everyone. So, whether or not you’re planning to stay in Manila for a long time, I think hostels like these are perfect accommodation options.
(Keep on reading to be informed about what Southeast Asia travel adapter suits your travel needs.)
Traveling to another country could be a pain if you forget to consider the electrical plugs that your country of destination uses, especially if it is different from the electrical plugs you use in your home country. Some hotels have universal electrical plugs, but what if you went somewhere with no such plugs? That is when you will need a travel adapter and I found learning about these things practical and useful since I’ve been traveling around Southeast Asia for a couple of years now. This is why I came up with this Southeast Asia travel adapter guide to also help other travelers out there.
When I went to Singapore this year, I forgot to bring my travel adapter, and the hotel I stayed did not have a universal electrical plug. I asked the receptionist if I could borrow one. However because of language barrier, he kept on insisting that there is an electrical plug available at my room and he’s not aware that my gadgets have a totally different type of electrical plug required despite showing him the actual cables. I ended up buying an adapter in a convenience store which cost me SGD8.
Another instance I had was when I went to Indonesia for a couple of days where I had to stay in different hotels as I move from one city/town to another. Some hotels I stayed only had the Type C electrical plug. As a result, I had to connect my phone to the USB outlet of the television and let it charge while I sleep.
These are some of the possible reasons why, my friends, you will definitely need this Southeast Asia travel adapter guide.
SOUTHEAST ASIA TRAVEL ADAPTER: A PRACTICAL GUIDE
I’m sure you don’t want to experience these inconveniences during your trips abroad. Since I am traveling around Southeast Asia the most frequent and most of my readers also do, I compiled this practical guide to Southeast Asia travel adapter guide:
TRAVEL ADAPTER BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
You need to have a Type G Travel Plug Adapter when traveling to Brunei Darussalam.
For more travel articles about Vietnam, click on the banner below:
The Southeast Asia travel adapter variety can be intimidating, but it does not hurt to prepare all travel adapters for the types of electrical plugs in the Southeast Asian countries you will visit. After all, you want your travel to be hassle-free. Happy travels!
SOUTHEAST ASIA TRAVEL ADAPTER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What plugs are used in Southeast Asia?
Southeast Asian countries use different plugs, so it is best to either learn what specific plugs each country uses, or bring your own universal travel adapter when packing for your trip.
What plugs are used in Vietnam and Cambodia?
Vietnam used Types A, B, and C plugs while Cambodia uses Types A, C, and G plugs.
What travel adapter is needed for Thailand?
Thailand uses Types A, B, and C plugs (similar to the Philippines and Vietnam). In addition, some parts of Thailand also uses a special Type O plug.
What plug adapter do I need for Cambodia?
For Cambodia, you will need either Type A, C, or G plugs, depending on what the specific place/establishment uses.
(Most of the information from this blog are collected with the help of information from ASEAN website: www.asean.org)
The Philippines has a significant number of Muslim population, however I know for a fact that my Filipino Muslim friends and colleagues are always finding it hard to find halal restaurants in Manila, Philippines. Moreover, I know several Muslim friends who are discouraged to visit Manila because halal restaurants are not so common here, and if so, they cost more than an average meal.
For the benefit of my Muslim friends and colleagues inside and outside the Philippines and the entire Muslim community as well, I have compiled this list of halal restaurants in Manila*. I promise to try these restaurants myself one by one in the future to have a first hand review.
*This list is solely based on online research and my own dining experience in some of the halal restaurants in Manila on this list. So if you want to add something to this list and perhaps suggest corrections, feel free to shoot me a message at email address email@example.com.
For other halal restaurants in the Philippines, check this out: Cebu | Baguio | Boracay
ABABU PERSIAN KITCHEN
75 Xavierville Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City (+632) 34360000
HALAL RESTAURANTS IN MANILA: ANY MORE SUGGESTIONS?
Guys, I wanna know if you want to add more halal restaurants in Manila on the list. Also, please shoot me a message at email address firstname.lastname@example.org for possible corrections. Thank you and happy travels to my home city! 🙂
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.
My love for Southeast Asia started in high school when I had the privilege to compete and win an ASEAN Quiz Show hosted by a private college in my hometown, and along with the trophy are brochures, maps, and information materials about ASEAN and Southeast Asia. I became passionate with learning more about Southeast Asia and fell in love with the region, real hard. Since then, I vowed to visit all ASEAN countries. Nine years after casting that dream in stone, I already visited all of ASEAN. Life is sweet!
Southeast Asian region refers to the eleven countries Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam. However, if you are referring to ‘ASEAN countries’, we have to eliminate Timor Leste because the organization is still working out on its membership. Southeast Asian region may have been united by geography, but the countries are totally different politically, economically, and socio-culturally. Having the privilege to travel around the entire region not only expanded the knowledge I had from high school about Southeast Asia, but it also made me appreciate the beauty of my own country and how unique it is compared to the beauty of each Southeast Asian countries.
Because of my love for Southeast Asia, I took Political Science for my Bachelor’s Degree so that I will have the chance to learn more about the region, most especially its government and politics, and how they compare to that of the Philippines. I went on to pursue my Master’s Degree in International Studies wherein I took cognate classes on Southeast Asian Studies to learn more about the region. Currently, I am teaching courses on Southeast Asian/ASEAN Studies in college and graduate school levels and put up a social media microblog where I post my photos and travel stories about Southeast Asia. Since then, people have been interested about my travel stories and learnings about the Southeast Asian region.
I have a long share of my stories from my travels around
Southeast Asia, but here are some of them: Brunei is a small and peaceful
country and has a lot of cosmopolitan people with high respect for their
religion at the same time. Cambodia may be considered by the United Nations as
one of the poorest countries in the world, but it is very rich in culture and
kind-hearted people. The Indonesian island of Bali is where I witnessed the
best sunset of my life, with people trying their best to preserve the island’s
beauty despite the continuous influx of tourists. Laos, the most underrated
country in Southeast Asia, has a lot of beautiful stories to tell from its
classy French bakeries and local food. Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur may look
like any other major concrete jungle in the region, but wait until you explore
Malaysia as far as Penang, Langkawi, or even Kuching. Another one in the Least
Developed Country list, Myanmar, made me cry with the beauty of the hot air
balloons flying over the stupas in the Old Bagan complex during sunrise, and because
serve a huge amount of rice in restaurants as well. Singapore is more than a
concrete jungle to me. It is a melting pot of so many cultures – Chinese,
Indian, and Malay, and everything is so utopian and feels like a small island
and a megacity at the same time. I’m not going to say that I love the traffic
jam in Bangkok, but I love pad thai and tom yum, and how Thais are very
faithful to their cultural practices. The coffee lover in me felt instantly at
home in Vietnam, let alone its healthy set of cuisines. Ladies and gentlemen,
this is what is waiting for you just a few hours away from the Philippines.
Had the Bachelor’s Degree in Arts in Southeast Asian Studies been offered by the university I attended for college during the time I studied there, I would definitely enroll in the program. It’s not too late, though. I still have a PhD to pursue, and it can be in Southeast Asian Studies. In the meantime, I will focus on teaching and doing research about the region and occasionally write microblogs about my actual experiences as I visit and revisit more places in Southeast Asia.
It is a dream of mine to let the world know how seeing and learning about this beautiful region may develop their cosmopolitanism and sense of global citizenship. Also, realizing that there is so much beauty in diversity will definitely change the way how they look at the world and what’s happening around. It would be nice to study International Relations or Southeast Asian Studies to learn more about the region, but nothing beats with actually trying out the food, conversing with people, visiting heritage sites, and observing the daily scenes in these places. This is the beauty of learning about Southeast Asia – it can be beyond the books and formal schooling. It is the actual experience which will not only widen your horizons, but will change you as a person and a citizen of your country and the world.
(This was my attempt to write an article which I submitted to Inquirer Young Blood. I know this will never get published there, so I’m posting it here instead.)
Whenever I travel on practically every place (inside or outside the Philippines and Southeast Asia), I always make sure to get to know the place by reading about its history. Aside from the fact that I teach history in the university as a profession, I think the best way to make sense of all my observations and experiences in places I’m going to is to get to know about the places’ past. I realized, there is no other way to do it than to create an itinerary on Taipei historic route walking tour.
As I was researching for my Taiwan trip itinerary, I came across Like It Formosa, an organization that conducts free (but tip-based) walking tours around Taipei. Apparently, they offer three free walking tours around Taipei: Historic Route, Golden Age Route, and Modern Route. Of course, I cannot miss all of these and I joined all of them.
What I liked about the tours offered by Like It Formosa is
that it’s led by young and very intelligent guides. For this specific route, we
were guided by a young film director whom I discovered was an Erasmus
Scholarship recipient! The way they share information about Taiwan is very
passionate and really coming from locals.
Apparently, Taipei has a very intriguing history and was
shaped by several other cultures, as evidenced by different architectural
wonders. Here is the itinerary of the Historic Route tour. Obviously, all of
these are walking distance away from one another.
No wonder this is the most iconic and popular temple in Taiwan. The architecture is so beautiful and a little different than the other Chinese temples I’ve been to. Our tour guide was able to teach us some stuff, including how to pray for a love life, because why not? Haha! It was built during the 1700s by settlers from Fujian, China as a gathering place for Chinese settlers. It was heavily destroyed during World War II but was restored to its current beauty.
Bopiliao Historical Block
This structure was opened to the public in 2009. It was an area preserved by the government which used to be a busy commercial district during the Japanese occupation of Taipei. It connects the Longshan Temple to the Shi-Da Night Market area which became an important historical and cultural landmark. I really admire the red brick walls!!! There was even a prenup photoshoot when we visited there (Oh edi kayo na. Charot. Haha.)
Ximen Red House
Also known as the Red House Theater, it is a historic
theater that was built in 1908 by Japanese architect Kondo Juro. Apparently it
used to be a market building before being converted into a theater. It has a café
at the ground floor (which I wish I was able to try). What I admire about this
architectural wonder is its octagonal shape (and of course, the red brick
wall). And oh, there is a beautiful boutique at the back of this building.
This beautiful building houses the President of Taiwan ROC and was designed by another Japanese architect Uheiji Nagano during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan during 1800s-1900s. The tour guide actually warned us about taking photos around the area because apparently it was prohibited. He also shared us a lot of firsthand information about Taiwanese Politics which I found interesting and intriguing.
228 Peace Memorial Park
This park was built to commemorate the victims of the February 28 incident of 1947 (hence the name 228) and this is also where the Taiwan National Museum was located. It was the first European-themed park in Taiwan (which I really found interesting because it’s complete with a lot of amenities, including the stone foot massage thing). The February 28 incident was a long story (and I am yet to read more about it), but it was an anti-government uprising which killed thousands of civilians. I think the Philippines has to learn from this. #NeverForget
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
This iconic structure was built in commemoration of Chiang
Kai-Shek, the former President of Taiwan ROC. This is a very beautiful place
and it’s very obvious that the people of Taiwan really valued the legacy of
Chiang-Kai Shek. It started to rain so hard when we went there, but admiring
the architecture of this place was so worth it. Taking the steps going to the
monument of Chiang Kai-Shek was a little tiring, and it looks like the huge
Abraham Lincoln statue in the US.
There is so much history to be learned from Taiwan, especially having undergone a lot of wars and colonizations, like the Philippines. I really admire how Taiwan preserved and valued their historical heritage which made them into what they are now. No wonder Taiwanese people are so resilient and nationalistic. In my next visit to Taiwan, I make sure to explore more first-hand historical trivia from the locals. The history buff in me is so happy once again! My brain was fed very properly.
For other blog posts on Taiwan, please click on the photo below:
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Whenever I travel, I have this standard personal rule that I will only try my best to spend USD200 at most for a 4-day international trip (USD100 for a 4-day local trip). Since I kinda proceeded to my 7-day trip to Bali unprepared, I was only able to exchange USD200 and forgot that I will be staying there for a week. Given that, I had to withdraw some money from an ATM there, and withdrawing money from ATMs in Bali is something I did for the first time outside the Philippines. To be honest, I have always been scared of using any plastic money I have outside the Philippines. One reason is because if some problems arise, I will not be able to resolve them immediately since I’m too far from home.
Of course, the first thing I will do is to search for tips on how to safely withdraw money from ATM machines in Bali, and I was lucky enough to have come across this useful article:
Are you looking for halal restaurants in Boracay Island? Scroll dowwn below! 🙂
Boracay Island? Definitely the most beautiful island in the world that travelers from all parts of the world desire to go to. However, I know for a fact that the Philippines, despite having a significant number of Muslim citizens, lacks a comprehensive information on halal restaurants (whether in Manila, Boracay, Cebu, among others). I have many Muslim friends inside and outside the Philippines, and for their benefit (and for every Muslim traveler’s benefit), I did a research and compiled this list of 11 halal restaurants in Boracay Island*. I wish I was able to eat on these restaurants and review them during my stay there. But I can always go back to do it, right?
*This list is solely based on online research. So if you want to add something to this list and perhaps suggest corrections, feel free to shoot me a message at my Instagram (instagram.com/wheressherlyn) or at email address email@example.com.
Baharat Kabsa Steakhouse
This is one of the most accessible halal restaurants in Boracay because it is located right a the heart of D’Mall.
There you have it! I hope you were able to decide where to eat from this list of halal restaurants in Boracay. Happy eating!
Halal Restaurants in Boracay: More recommendations are welcome!
Guys, I wanna know if you want to add something on the list. Also, please shoot me a message at my Instagram (instagram.com/wheressherlyn) or at email address firstname.lastname@example.org for possible corrections. Thank you and happy travels to the most beautiful island in the world! 🙂
So, we stumbled upon this very nice hotel in Bangkok during our stay there: The Journey Hotel Laksi. With its strategic location, affordable rates, good interiors, and nice staff, your stay will be so worth it! Here are 5 photos which will make you want to book a room in this lovely hotel:
But before that, please check this other post I have about Bangkok:
Since opening up its borders to the world, especially for tourists, Myanmar has always been one of the most recommended places to visit worldwide. In fact, it was number 9 in the Top 10 countries of the Best in Travel 2016 book by Lonely Planet. My 2016 travel to Myanmar has been the best thus far. I am hereby recommending these 15 Myanmar Travel Spots to include in your itineraries as you visit this golden spectacular country:
But before that, you might wanna check out this other Myanmar Guide article I wrote based on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode on Myanmar:
If you haven’t seen the said episode yet, you may check the trailer below:
SPOTS TO VISIT IN MYANMAR: MANDALAY
1. Mandalay Palace
The Mandalay Palace is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy and was said to be built around mid-1800s. However, the current structure existing is only a replica of the original. The top of the spiral watchtower will give you a spectacular view (such as shown in the photo above). I recommend you to devote 1-2hours to go around the complex because it is really huge. Entrance fee is MKY10,000.
2. Kuthodaw Pagoda
Maha Lawkamarazein or Kuthodaw Inscription Shrines (which literally means Royal Merit) contains the world’s largest book and was inscribed on the Register by UNESCO in 2013. This stupa is located at the foot of the Mandalay Hill and is patterned after Shwegizon Pagoda. It contains 729 marble slabs with Buddhust scriptures displayed in them.