Monday, September 12, 2016

Things to Do in General Santos

We visited General Santos City in Mindanao months ago, and found how peaceful that small town is. It is surprising to see how urbanized the city is, and it's a real treat to see the golden beauty of Sarangani Bay atop a serene garden resort.

We documented a list of things to do in General Santos. You may view it at the feature we wrote for looloo Insights at

We'll share more in our blog, soon!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Published in looloo Insights!

The Travel Archives is published in looloo Insights! We recalled our travels from Bicol, Vigan, and Baguio, and shared how easy it is to visit these far-flung provinces! In fact, you can do it during the weekend - no vacation leaves required.

Daraga Church in Bicol

Chill out in Baguio City

Get a feel of the past in Vigan

Break your weekend routine and bid your laptops or televisions goodbye, and have an adventure of a lifetime. Check out to learn more.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tips: US Visa Application in Manila

Applying for a US Visa in Manila is a step-by-step process that requires your patience and mad skills in following instructions. The US Travel Docs website at is going to be your source of information on how to apply for a US Visa in Manila. Everything you need is here.

Determine if you are applying for an Immigrant Visa or a Non-Immigrant Visa, then, follow the instructions from there.

I can't stress this enough - read and be patient. The instructions are simple and straightforward. Fill out the forms, complete all documents for your final interview with the consul, arrive at the US Embassy on time, and you're good to go.

Here are a few tips to help you get through the most-awaited part in your US Visa application, the part that raises most questions from first-time applicants - the interview with the consul.

1. Be in the US Embassy 30 minutes or 1 hour before your scheduled appointment. It's better to be earlier than usual, than to risk missing your appointment. Being early will keep you composed and relax during the application process.

2. Aside from your passport and required documents stated, also bring the following:
  • Umbrella. There are no waiting sheds outside the US Embassy for waiting applicants, so it's best to have your trusty umbrella with you in case it rains.
  • Black ballpen. No sign pens or gel pens. No blue or red ballpens.
3. Do not bring the following as they are not allowed inside the US Embassy:
  • Food and drinks
    • Snacks and drinks can be bought inside the embassy. There are also snack vendors outside if you want to freshen up before entering the embassy.
  • Electronics such as cellphones, tablets, mp3 players, USBs or flash drives, cords, laptops, chargers, cameras, etc.
    • The US Embassy does not have a locker room, a safety room, or a counter where you can leave your electronics. If you have a companion, leave it with them. If you're going alone, do not bring your electronics at all.
    • There are vendors outside the US Embassy who offer to safekeep your electronics for you while you are inside the premises. You just have to pay P100. I personally think that this is not safe, so better leave them at home.
  • Anything with an on and off button
  • Sharp objects
  • Pepper spray
A helpful tip: if you are in doubt, don't bring it.

4. During the interview:
  • Answer straight and be confident. "Isang tanong, isang sagot," as what our elders say.
  • Avoid irrelevant answers or information, specially if the consul isn't asking about it in the first place.
  • Be honest. Seriously, be honest.
  • Smile. Greet the consul with a smile. It helps. :)
  • Some consuls may be intimidating, but don't let them get into you. Just keep your calm, be confident, and answer honestly and confidently.
5. Aside from the guidelines on having the proper photo for your US visa (you'll see this in their website during your application):
  • Your visa photo should show the entirety of your face and features. If you have bangs, make sure to keep them out of your face. It should not cover your eyebrows, etc.
  • In case things go wrong with your picture, they have a Kodak booth inside the embassy which can take US visa photos for only P80.

The consul will tell you if your visa is approved or denied right after your interview. It will take 5 to 7 business days for them to process your visa. Your passport, with the US Visa, will be delivered to the address stated in your application form. You will then see if you are approved for multiple entry, single entry, etc.

The US Embassy is located at 1201 Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila.

Good luck, and most importantly, be honest, read and follow instructions, and be confident!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Travel Guide: Thailand in 6 Days (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1...

Day 4, Tuesday: Kanchanaburi Day Trip

We set off to another nearby province of Thailand, about 3 hours away from Bangkok, to visit the tigers and elephants. Click here to view our detailed guide.

Eat-All-You-Can lunch by the River Kwai and the Death Railway

This is where you can take a photo with the tigers for a certain fee. Are the tigers sedated?

The walkway that separates humans from the tigers below

Day 5, Wednesday: Thailand Muay Thai, Street Food, MBK or Platinum Mall, and Red Light District

1. Thailand Muay Thai at Fighting Spirit Gym

Liven up your stay in Thailand by immersing yourself in a 1-hour Muay Thai class at Fighting Spirit. This is the first time I've tried Muay Thai, and it's with a legit Thai instructor. With this activity, you'll get to experience the country's number 1 sport, and you'll get the chance to make friends and have a personal interaction with a Thai local.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Travel Guide: Thailand in 6 Days (Part 1)

Travel Thailand on your own. Skip the tour guide, and have an adventure of a lifetime.

This travel guide replicates our 6-day experience in Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi in the wonderful country of Thailand. You may freely use this, or edit it to your liking.

Oh, and what's best is that we spent less than $340 (USD) each for the whole trip (airfare excluded). Sounds good? ;)

See our post below for your 6-day travel guide to Thailand.


We stayed at a homestay inn in Soi Si Bamphen, Sathon District, Bangkok City. It is near the MRT Lumphini Station. From MRT Lumphini Station, take a motorbike to Lido. The driver will then bring you to the street where the inn is located. We found out about the place through Airbnb.

The neighborhood is quiet, and very fit for tourists, travelers and backpackers. Restaurants, quiet bars, cafes and massage parlors abound in the neighborhood. A 7 Eleven is also nearby.

Cafes and restaurants are just around the corner

Massage parlors, too. Try Baan House Massage for your day-end retreats.

Here is the profile of the owner of the homestay inn:
You may click on the Listings to view the rooms offered:


Day 1, Saturday: Chatuchak Weekend Market, Siam Complex, and a little rest

We arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok City at 10AM (Bangkok time). We had our Philippine Peso (PHP) exchanged to Thailand Baht (THB) at SuperRich Money Exchange, then bought a Thai Traveler sim card at an AIS booth.

We had 1 PHP = 0.745 THB at SuperRich, compared to 1 PHP = 0.54 THB in other money exchange stalls you'll see early on in Suvarnabhumi Airport (usually banks). SuperRich gives the best value for your PHP. It is located at the lower level of the aiport, near the train line. Ask around, or visit for a comprehensive review (and tips on exchanging PHP for travel abroad).

You'll also easily see an AIS booth in the airport for your Thai Traveler sim card. AIS is equivalent to Smart or Globe in the Philippines. We had a sim card for 7 days at 299 THB. It is inclusive of calls and texts worth 100 THB, and 1.5 GB mobile data. Click here to know the benefits of having an AIS Thai Traveler sim with you.

1. Airport Rail Link to Inn/Hotel

The easiest and smartest way to get out of Suvarnabhumi Airport is via the Airport Rail Link. Head on to the lower level of the airport to board the train that will lead to your inn/hotel in Bangkok City. There is no need to go outside the airport grounds - it is directly connected to the airport.

The Airport Rail Link (via Makkasan Station) is connected to the MRT Line (MRT Phetchaburi Station) and BTS Skytrain (BTS Phaya Thai Station). Most hotels and inns are connected via the MRT and BTS Skytrain. Click here to see how all lines are connected. It's really convenient and cheap to travel Thailand via their train lines.

Operating hours of the Airport Rail Link is 6am - 12mn.

In our case, we got off at Makkasan Station and headed to MRT Phetchaburi Station to bring us to MRT Lumphini Station. From MRT Lumphini Station, we walked to our inn at Soi Si Bamphen. We can also take a motorbike at 20 THB each, but we did not know how to, yet, at that time.

2. Lunch at Anchalee Bar and Restaurant

Upon checking in, we had an authentic Thai lunch at Anchalee Bar and Restaurant. It's located just outside of our homestay, and tourists mostly eat and drink here.

3. Chatuchak Weekend Market!

We then headed on to experience the Chatuchak Weekend Market! It was a lively scene filled with vibrant Thai clothing, accessories, local crafts, and a lot more! Price-wise, it's like shopping at Divisoria. Some were also more expensive than we expected. Well, of course, it is a place clad with a hundred locals, and a thousand more tourists.

- Ride the MRT to Chatuchak Park Station
- Travel time: about 15 minutes if I am not mistaken. It's via the MRT so it won't take up much of your time.
- Open on Saturdays and Sundays, 6am to 6pm

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Travel Guide: Ayutthaya Day Trip

A sneak peek of Wat Phra Mahathat from the outside

In our 2nd day in Bangkok, which was a Sunday, we headed to explore Thailand's old capital, Ayutthaya. It is about 1 hour away from Bangkok by minivan. This is a must-see when in Bangkok for it is clad with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a lot of breathtaking sceneries. The city-province has a relaxing, quiet vibe compared to Bangkok, and this is one you would want to definitely experience when in Thailand.

See the guide below for your exciting day trip in Ayutthaya!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thailand Travel Tips

Here are a few travel tips to make every cent and second count in your trip to Thailand. You may want to read this in detail before heading on. Thailand is a beautiful country with a very rich cultural heritage, modern infrastructure, delectable food in every corner, and you wouldn't want to miss every pulse the country has to offer.

Know before you go

Drinking Water

Do not drink tap water. Restaurants do not offer free "house water" as well. You'll have to drink from a bottled mineral water at all times.

To save on cash, buy water from 7 Eleven. Bring it with you everywhere. A 600 ml bottle of water from 7 Eleven costs 8 THB, while those in restaurants or street markets cost 10 THB.

The photo above shows a bottled water that costs 30 THB at the Floating Restaurant in Kanchanaburi.

The Language Barrier

Most Thais do not speak nor understand English, so a simple translation book, and a lot of patience and willpower, will be good for you. Here are important information you should be able to communicate efficiently when traveling Thailand: