Farm-to-Table Culinary Adventures in the Philippines

by Anj Santos

You’ve probably noticed the growth of farm-to-table restaurants in the food scene lately. If you’re wondering what it means, it is quite literal – these restaurants get their produce directly from the farm where it was grown. Not from the market, the grocery, or from any third-party supplier. Sometimes, the restaurants grow their own produce too, to ensure the best quality!

While the concept has been around since the 80’s (as a dissent to the then-rising fast food industry), interest in farm-to-table dining has grown in the recent years as people become more health and eco-conscious. Fans go to these restaurants for the assurance that there are no canned or processed ingredients in their foods. The meats, vegetables, and fruits are also healthier since they were harvested at the peak of their ripeness, and go straight from the farm to the restaurant, giving less time for nutrients to dissipate.

But, if you want to get close to the source, here are some 8 of the Philippines’ top farm-to-table tours to try, as well. You’ll see for yourself how the produce was grown, harvested and produced and get to enjoy the end-products right at the farm!

Try these tours for a trip that’s both sensory and educational:

1. Organic Vegetables and Meat
Costales Nature Farms, Laguna

Ever wondered where some of your most beloved restaurants get their luscious Continue reading Farm-to-Table Culinary Adventures in the Philippines

Why Filipinos should Visit New Zealand Right Now

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting New Zealand, the time may be ripe for you to tick it off your bucket list. Sure, it still requires a Visa for Filipinos – but you shouldn’t let that stop you!  A closer look at current travel trends makes it easier for you to travel way down under this year.

Below, we give you 5 major reasons to start planning that trip to New Zealand:

  1. AirAsia just resumed its flights to New Zealand.

The Malaysian low-cost airline resumed its flights to Auckland in March. Flights are available from Manila, Kalibo, and Cebu, and will pass through Kuala Lumpur and transit in Gold Coast, Australia. Given this route, the trip may be twice as long, but almost a third of the price.

Their low-fare options can go as low as P30,000 roundtrip, compared to Philippine Airlines’ one-stop Budget Economy 12-hour flight at around $1,000 or roughly P45,000. If you don’t mind layovers, that means huge savings for you!

Pro tip: Per Skyscanner’s search tool, the cheapest time to go to New Zealand is in August.

  1. AirNewZealand will have direct flights to Manila starting December.

If you can wait a few months, and would rather fly direct, AirNewZealand just announced that they would be offering direct flights from Manila to Auckland in December! As the first non-stop service between the two countries, the flight will save about 2 to 2.5 hours each way – giving you more time to spend with loved ones or exploring NZ.

  1. New Zealand has Working Holiday Schemes for Filipinos.

Many people don’t know this yet, but since 2014, aged 18-30 years old. Working Holiday Visas allow travelers to undertake employment legally while Continue reading Why Filipinos should Visit New Zealand Right Now

8 Culinary Tours to Eat Your Way through the Philippines

For many, cuisine is the highlight of travel. While some choose to go sightseeing, shopping, or adventure-seeking, there are those who have a great passion for local food. With 7,107 islands and 145 cities in the Philippines, not to mention the selection of great food all over the country, it can be difficult to choose. Thankfully, there are curated heritage and culinary tours that can help you taste your way through the Philippines!

Taste homegrown cuisine in the most historic settings with these 8 tasty Philippine culinary tours:

  1. PAMPANGA
    Eat Your Way Through Pampanga

Visit the towns that define Pampanga’s cultural heritage with Bryan Ocampo’s guided tour. Discover the culinary and historical secrets of Guagua, Mexico, Angeles and San Fernando through the museum, church and factory visits, baking lessons from renowned Kapampangan chef Lillian Lising de Borromeo, and of course, hosted meals handpicked by the tour master.

One of the best Philippine culinary tours can be found in Pampanga
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Woman demonstrates a kapampangan dessert recipe as part of the Philippine culinary tours
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You’ll have agahan (breakfast) in Guagua, tanghalian (lunch) in Mexico and early Continue reading 8 Culinary Tours to Eat Your Way through the Philippines

Hip Hostels: 6 of the Best Budget Lodgings in Manila

It looks like Manila is becoming more tourist-friendly by the day. If a few years ago, your only choices for accommodation are hotels and motels, there are now a bunch of hostels in Manila, and cool ones at that.

Hostels have had a reputation for being the backpacker’s choice of lodging – cheap, basic and oftentimes sketchy. But recently, many concepts have cropped up that help other kinds of travellers to warm up to hostels. Some hostels now include hotel-grade amenities, tastefully-designed spaces, and even host activities for guests to enjoy.

Here are the hip hostels for your next visit or staycation in Manila:

Z Hostel
Don Pedro Street, Makati

Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5 stars (181 reviews)

Z Hostel calls itself a luxury hostel and it’s clear from the moment you step in. The bright, airy space and tastefully designed industrial interiors instantly make you feel like you’re in a boutique hotel. Though Z Hostel caters mainly to backpackers with their dorm-style accommodations, they do have a few private rooms at their top floor. The dorms come complete with a vanity, lockers and an electric socket for each bed.

hip hostels in Manila: Z Hostel 1
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hip hostels in Manila: Z Hostel 2
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There is a café at the lobby with self-serve complimentary breakfast. The theatre room also makes up for the lack of cable TV – its complete with a flat screen TV, a turntable and even a DJ console. At the top floor is their famous roofdeck bar with Continue reading Hip Hostels: 6 of the Best Budget Lodgings in Manila

Rent These Entire Private Islands in Palawan, Butler Included!

We’re sure you’ll agree: the best vacay is one that’s uninterrupted. When you’re spending what’s left of your downtime at the beach or a hotel, the last thing you want is to contend with throngs of tourists and families for lodging, or your own space on the shore. That certainly won’t be a problem if you can have the entire island to yourself — like these private islands in Palawan we’re about to show you.

Yup, that’s right! Among the world-renowned islands of Palawan are 6 exclusive, private islands that you can rent entirely. No other tourists but you and your family. Some of them come fully-staffed, with chefs, butlers, and masseuses to cater to your every whim, while some offer a taste of real island life, with some basic comforts.

Whether you want to make like Richard Branson and own a luxurious private island for a night or be a castaway with no need for rescue, there’s a hideaway in Palawan to suit your taste:

LUXURY

  1. NoaNoa Private Islands 
    Northeast Palawan

This private island is so incognito it’s not on Google Maps. The tiny speck on the map, 200 feet above sea level, can be found through its exact coordinates – look close enough, and you’ll see its own pier and helipad Continue reading Rent These Entire Private Islands in Palawan, Butler Included!

List of 16 Non-Schengen Countries Filipinos can Enter with a Valid Schengen Visa

COUNTRY CONTACT PERSON EMAIL PHONE WEBSITE REFERENCE
ALBANIA Mr. Kujtim Xhani embassy.beijing@mfa.gov.al +8610 65321120 http://www.ambasadat.gov.al/china/en
ANDORRA office@
ambaixada-andorra.at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Andorra
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA Mr. Sato Hiroshi 03-3779-1341 http://www.mofa.go.jp/about/emb_cons/protocol/a-h.html
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA embbhkl@
gmail.com
+60 3-2144 0353 https://www.facebook.com/Embassy-of-Bosnia-and-Herzegovina-127051257450702/timeline
BULGARIA consular@
mfa.bg
+ 359 2 948 3016 http://www.mfa.bg/en/pages/44/index.html
CROATIA Mr. Edgardo P. Reyes 895-27-09
CYPRUS Mrs. Kristen Nicole Toundjis-Brindisi cyprusconsulate@
elgrecomanila.com
(632) 9251467 http://www.mfa.gov.cy/
DOMINICA adastra@
pacific.net.ph
(632) 8106546
EL SALVADOR Mr. Maekawa Hiroyuki 045-224-8022 http://www.indemguatemala.org/traveling-to-guatemala/
GRENADA 86 011-8610
GUATEMALA embguate@
vega.ocn.ne.
jp
03-3400-1830 http://www.mofa.go.jp/
HONDURAS (632) 634-5708 http://www.indemguatemala.org/traveling-to-guatemala/
MONACO fortuneledesma@
yahoo.com
(632) 2 844-3663
MONTENEGRO kenji.otsubo@verizon.net (+81) 3-5510-5511
NICARAGUA consuladodenicaragua@
gmail.com
http://www.indemguatemala.org/traveling-to-guatemala/
ROMANIA manila@mae.ro (632) 892 7682 http://manila.mae.ro/en

Extend Your Euro Trip to these 18 Countries (No Additional Visa Required)

The Schengen visa remains elusive to many Filipinos – thick pages of documents and bank statements, a personal interview, and quite a hefty fee are just part of the stringent visa requirements. On top of the cost of going to Europe, this dissuades many from going for their dream Eurotrip.

That’s why, when one finally gets the visa, part of the goal is to see as many cities as possible! Luckily, with the efficient European rail systems and hundreds of tours to choose from, jumping from several cities and even countries is possible on a holiday. The powerful visa can also be your entry to nearby, non-Schengen countries.

You can do a lot of exciting things during your vacation in these Schengen countries. For instance, check out this info on a beautiful evening tour of Paris through the personal experience of Abhishek & Neha, the authors of RevolvingCompass.

If you’re gearing up for your European or Round-the-World trip, you’d be glad to know that aside from the 26 Schengen nations, there are 16 more non-Schengen countries that your Philippine passport can carry you to, without the stress of fulfilling thick visa requirements!

Check them out below, and see where you can squeeze them into your itinerary.

Just a few general reminders for your Schengen visa travel:

– These apply to Philippine passport holders with valid Schengen visas.
– Contact the embassy of each country or visit their official website and clarify entry-requirements. While you may use your Schengen visa to enter these countries, they may require you to apply for an e-visa or a Travel Certificate before your arrival or for a visa upon arrival.
– Moreover, some countries do not have embassies based in Manila, so what you can do is obtain your Schengen visa from another Asian country (e.g. Japan, China or India).
– Lastly, ask the embassy about entry taxes (if any) and any travel advisories related to diseases or crime/violence.

Note: Schengen Embassies only require a flight reservation and not a purchased ticket for visa application. For those who would need a flight reservation for their Schengen application, read our post about Easy Steps for Hassle-free Flight Reservation for Visa Application. We offer this service so that travelers do not need to pay the full price of the ticket while they do not have their visa yet.

Let’s get started! Here is the FULL LIST and contact details of the embassies of these 16 non-Schengen countries.

SOUTHERN EUROPE

1. ANDORRA – an independent principality between France and Spain.

Why visit: This mountainous mini country in between France and Spain doesn’t have its own airport, so if you’re driving or taking a train or bus Continue reading Extend Your Euro Trip to these 18 Countries (No Additional Visa Required)

Travel Solo, but Never Alone, with These Tour Operators

You’re gearing up for an adventure-filled tour of South America, or maybe seeing all the iconic spots of Europe, and all your plans are set. You’ve got the guts, the means, and the time, but there’s just one more thing missing – a companion. Sound familiar?

Solo travel is now on the rise, and many travelers choose to go it alone for many reasons: to pursue a special interest (like photography or hiking), to see the world without the prejudices of a partner or companion, to meet new people, or simply, because they can’t find someone who has the same travel interests.

Still, there are many concerns for solo travelers: safety, language barriers and cultural belonging, among them.

If you’d like to pursue your travel dreams but worry about the perils of travelling alone, tour operators that welcome solo travelers are the perfect medium! Think of the benefits:

✓ They take care of all the logistics like booking hotels, finding the best spots to eat, and getting you from place to place – a challenge if you’re going someplace where no one speaks English!

✓ They have local guides that know as much about the destinations you Continue reading Travel Solo, but Never Alone, with These Tour Operators

Eat, Pray, Travel: Yoga and Adventure Retreats in the Philippines

The stresses of living in the city can take its toll on our health and mentality. Are daily traffic, record temperatures and constant pressure at work getting to you? You probably could use a break. Count on these wellness groups to whisk you away for a weekend (or two) around the Philippines with their yoga and adventure retreats:

1. FLOW SURF YOGA SAMBA
Caliraya, Siquijor, Subic, Bataan

Flow Retreats organizes holiday wellness retreats in beach resorts and hotels around the Philippines and Asia. As their name suggests, they offer much more than yoga – a typical weekend includes surf lessons at the best surf spots in the country, samba workshops, occasional diving lessons, and curated tours to local spots around the chosen venue.

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Their commitment to wellness also means that they serve healthy food, such as smoothies and raw food recipes. Just recently, they branched out to Manila with Flow in the City, a one-day wellness pop-up, and workshop event, and Flow Mystery Tours, a half-day tour where one discovers under-the-radar spots, healthy eats, and new ways to move the body. Continue reading Eat, Pray, Travel: Yoga and Adventure Retreats in the Philippines

Choose Local! 10 Philippine Versions of Famous Foreign Attractions

It seems like everyone’s been bitten by the travel bug lately.

If the spread of “travel inspo” online is any indication, many of us now spend our downtime seeing new places and trying out new activities and adventures. That would be fantastic, if not for the constraints of budget, visas, safety and language barriers, right?

Well, there are local, and sometimes even better versions of foreign attractions that can be enjoyed right here in the Philippines! Enjoy them without the need for visas, a foreign language dictionary, and at a fraction of the cost*:

1. Swim with Whale Sharks

Cancun, Mexico – P7,070.72    vs    Donsol, Sorsogon – P3,750.00

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Whale sharks are the gentle giants of the ocean. As they only feed on plankton, Continue reading Choose Local! 10 Philippine Versions of Famous Foreign Attractions