10 Tips for the Newbie Traveler – Tokyo, Japan

With the proliferation of budget airlines and greater accessibility to seat sales and other airfare promos, destinations that used to be a far-off dream are now easier and easier to get to. Ranking high among those destinations is Japan, land of cherry blossoms, Mt. Fuji, and some of the best food in the world. There are now twelve flights per day that connect Manila to Tokyo, and according to the Philippine Primer, the first ever Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) opened its first office in Manila in October 2018.

Japan is closer than ever before, and if you’re planning your first trip to Tokyo then you should take a look at some of these helpful travel tips below.

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30 Things to Do in Taiwan

Filipinos love to travel, and luckily being in this part of the world means that there’s no shortage of incredible destinations to go to. One of the hottest destinations right now for the Philippine tourist is Taiwan, just a two and a half hour flight to the north. According to Taiwan Today, the visa-free program for passport holders from the Philippines has been extended until July 31, 2019, which means that Filipinos can hop on a flight for a weekend to check out the amazing sights— as long as you head back home within 14 days.

If you’re intrigued by what our nearest neighbor has to offer, check out our mega list of things to do in Taiwan that we’ve compiled below!

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Most Haunted Places in the Philippines

If there’s one thing that Filipinos are absolutely fascinated by, it’s ghosts and spirituality. Three hundred years of Spanish occupation, Catholic and indigenous beliefs about death and the spirit, and a bloody history of Japanese occupation in World War II all come together to form a distinct awareness and fascination with the paranormal in the Philippine psyche. Add the fondness for talking and sharing stories about people or places into the mix, and you have a healthy list of possible paranormal hotspots in the Philippines.

With a long weekend coming up ahead and everyone’s heads fixed on ghosts and spirits thanks to All Saints and All Souls Day, we’ve put together the names of a few of the most haunted spots in the country. See if you can squeeze in a visit or spot some paranormal visitors within the next few days! Read more

The 10 Worst Typhoons to Ever Hit the Philippines

In a previous article on Daydreaming in Paradise, we talked about one of the most ubiquitous parts of living in the Philippines—typhoons. To recap, these are storms with sustained wind speeds faster than 119 km/h, which are caused by warm air rising and cool air falling over the Pacific. The Philippines is battered by typhoons at an average of 20 times a year, sometimes more, and according to the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), at least five of those are destructive.

Despite the frequency of typhoons passing through the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), the effects they have on infrastructure, agriculture, and loss of life can often be impossible to get used to. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst typhoons to ever hit the country.


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Why Does the Philippines Suffer from Typhoons?

As soon as the month of June begins to draw to a close and students start to head back to school, there begins a refrain that’s familiar to almost every Filipino. You turn on your television to the nearest news station and watch an anchor in a suit point at some animations on a green screen. “Tropical depression entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility,” they say, “likely to strengthen into a typhoon in the coming days.”

Anyone living in the Philippines for any span of time will have experienced a typhoon at least once. These huge storms can shut down schools, offices, and even government services depending on intensity. But what exactly is a typhoon?
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10 Famous Mountains in the Philippines

Although the Philippines is known for its beautiful beaches, another steadily rising activity for the average Philippine traveler is found a little further inland: the mountains. Over the past couple of decades, mountaineering has slowly begun to grow in popularity, and thanks to social media is now more visible than ever before. Climbing tours are now more accessible to both groups and single climbers, and even major news sites such as Rappler have posted beginners’ guides to hiking.

If you’re looking to check off a few more things on your bucket list, consider some of the famous Philippine climbs on our list below!

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10 Changes We Should Expect When Boracay Reopens on October 26, 2018

Any traveler looking for some sun, sand, and sea in the Philippines has heard of Boracay’s soft white sands and blue waters. The island is one of the main tourist hotspots in the country, with the Telegraph reporting a whopping 6.6 million visitors in 2017 alone. However, a viral video that circulated early in the year brought up concerns over the rapidly deteriorating ecology and overloaded infrastructure of Boracay, and led the President to announce its closure for 6 months beginning April 26, 2018.

With the famous island finally reopening on October 26, let’s take a look at what tourists can expect to find.

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10 Best Surfing Sites in the Philippines

With a coastline of over 36,000 km and surrounded by water, the Philippines is a giant playground for any traveler looking to spend some time in the sea. Although the country is usually famed for white sand beaches and tranquil waters, there’s a rising generation of young adventurers looking for a bit more of an adrenaline rush. Surfing in particular is fast becoming one of the top tourist activities in the country, with the Department of Tourism implementing programs to develop the sport into a major activity, and popular surfing spots like Surigao del Norte reporting a steady increase in arrivals.

If you’re looking to add a little more spice into your beach trips, take a look below at some of the best surfing spots in the country.

Siargao, Surigao del Norte

If you ask anybody about surfing in the Philippines, they’ll more likely than not point you to the island of Siargao in Surigao del Norte. This teardrop-shaped island is home to one of the most famous waves in the country: Cloud 9, which is a hollow righthand reef wave named for the Philippine chocolate snack. Also called the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, Siargao is home to the Siargao Cup, a domestic and international surfing competition that brings in surfers from all over the world.

Baler, Aurora

Baler is famed for being the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, with local lore stating that crew members of the 1979 film Apocalypse Now left their surfboards to the locals and prompted the start of the sport. Located some 7 hours from Manila, Baler is a flexible surf spot with waves that can cater to beginners, intermediate surfers, or advanced surfers. The best waves usually hit in December to January, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip.

San Juan, La Union

Another popular surf spot is the town of San Juan in La Union, a few hours’ drive from Manila. It’s a great destination for a weekend getaway or for beginner surfers, with lots of hostels and restaurants in the area where you can meet like-minded people and unwind after putting your boards up for the day. While the swells are good all year-round, peak waves usually come in December to January. Try to plan your visit so you don’t run into the crowds!

Zambales

The province of Zambales in Central Luzon lies along the western coastline, making it a haven for beachgoers and water lovers. It’s very accessible from Manila, and perfect for a beach daytrip. The waves tend to be gentler here, and a wide variety of other water activities are available for travelers who want to try a little bit of everything. Some good surf spots are the towns of San Felipe, San Antonio, and San Narciso.

Baras, Catanduanes

 

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Catanduanes on the eastern side of the archipelago usually faces the full brunt of the typhoon season, but that also means some incredible waves. Puraran Beach is home to the Majestic, fast hollow righthand barrels that can go up to six feet in height. If you’re just starting out, Tilod Beach is a little tamer due to the many rock formations in the area. Catanduanes also hosts the Governor’s Surfing Cup, which is a local and international surfing competition every November where you can watch how the pros do it.

Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

The Northern coast of the Philippines is a good 14 to 18 hours’ drive from the capital, but its remoteness makes it one of the country’s hidden jewels for surfing. The most famous spot is Blue Lagoon or Maira-Ira Point, which is a beautiful blue beach with white sand and gentle swells perfect for beginner surfers. The waves get larger during the monsoon season in July to September, which makes for exciting surfing if you want a little more of a challenge.

Daet, Camarines Norte

Due to its proximity to Manila, Daet is a popular weekend destination for surfers from the city. There are several beaches for different levels of proficiency, but the most famous is probably Bagasbas Beach, where the waves are easier to get to from shore. Bagasbas makes for good surfing for both beginners and intermediate surfers alike, but you can also check out the breaks at San Jose, or at The River Mouth, where you’ll need to hire a bangka to take you further out.

Mati, Davao Oriental

Dahican Beach in Mati, Davao Oriental is one of the lesser known surf and skimboard spots, so much so that staying overnight usually involves camping out on the sands! The beach is 7 kilometers of pure white sand, and while waves can sometimes be a little difficult, the variation makes it good surfing for beginners and intermediate surfers alike. It’s also home to the Amihan Boys, local surfers and skimboarders, who are the people to go to if you want to know more about surfing in the area.

Guiuan, Eastern Samar

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Calicoan Beach in Guiuan, Eastern Samar is another little-known surf spot. The local industry is steadily rebuilding itself after the devastation from Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, and the secluded area means that you won’t have to battle other surfers for the waves. If you’re starting out or want an easy ride, plan your trip during the summer months when the waves are a little gentler. Pros will enjoy the larger waves during the stormier months of August to October.

Gubat, Sorsogon

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Gubat, a small town in the province of Sorsogon, is our final entry on our list. Although it’s quickly gaining popularity as a surf spot, the beach is still relatively quiet, which makes it a good choice for travelers who just want the water to themselves. Lola Sayong Surf Camp is where you want to go if you want to rent a board or take lessons. The surfing season starts in October and ends in March, so plan your trips accordingly!

For more reading on the best places to go in the Philippines, check out our travel section on Daydreaming in Paradise.

Top 10 Restaurants in Boracay (Part II)

After the first part of our Top Restaurants in Boracay 2017 feature this is inevitably the lead on, documenting 5 more eateries that have the potential to capture your imagination while also putting a sizeable dent in your wallet. So without further ado, here are some additions to your list of places to eat on the wonderful island of Boracay.

 

Los Indios Bravos

As far as gastropubs go in Boracay, few are a match for Los Indios Bravos. It’s nestled away near the kite surfing part of the island around 10 minutes walk from White Beach.

 

The word ‘Indio’ was a common derogatory term used by Filipino intellectuals to describe the islands’ natives. The island’s heritage is represented in the many oldy worldly pictures that hang in this popular gastropub.

 

Los Indios Bravos is located near a lot of the cheaper hotels and hostels on the island, while also attracting a larger portion of the nearby kite surfing population. The gastropub has made a name for itself by selling locally sourced craft beers among them is NIPA Brew which may not be to everyone’s taste as arguably it only has one drinkable beer in the form of the hoppy Sunstoked among its list of handcrafted beers.

 

If you aren’t a craft beer fan then don’t worry as the restaurant’s skillset go way beyond providing beer-touting IPA enthusiasts a full glass. LIB is by far one of the most revered restos in Boracay. Its menu is vast, offering customers anything from amazing Curries (see below) to Pies and even Fish and Chips. It even raises the bar with its Cobb Salad, and not to mention its array of sumptuous Steaks available.

Check out some of the pictures on their website, and you’ll see why LIB is attracting so many customers all year round. You can also follow their Facebook page here for regular updates.

 

Directions: Road 1A on Bolabog, approximately 10 minutes away from D Mall
Phone Number: (036) 288 2803

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Spider House Resort

Spider House is a favorite among the locals because it offers a chilled vibe with DJs playing at the weekends and during nighttime. Built into the side of a rock in Boracay’s Station One, Spider House looks like a huge wooden tree house. It provides a magnificent place to watch the sunset where revelers can dive into the sea below in between sipping cocktails and eating authentic Filipino food.

 

Don’t be put off by the resort’s archaic website as this is a great place to recover from a hangover or drink until the sun comes down. You only have to look at the glowing feedback on TripAdvisor to see how much love Spider House gets from everyone who visits.

Like Spider House’s Facebook page here to find out about any events and which DJs are playing at this famous nightspot.

 

Directions: Diniwid Beach, Station One

Phone Number: (036) 288 2350

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Rima

The Shangri-La in Boracay is a marvelous resort. But it comes with a price. The rooms here will cost you upwards of $400 a night, but the views are certainly worth it. The Shangri’La’s attention to detail is second-to-none and that’s what makes it such a memorable resort to stay at, regardless of its extremely expensive rooms, boutique shops, food and anything else you wish to put on your credit card.

 

On site, the Shangri-La has many restaurants, but arguably the best of the lot is Rima. The Chef in charge of everything that comes out of its kitchen is Omar Ugoletti – an Italian chef with a flair for Southern European cuisine. Rima has a wonderful 5-course degustation menu, which is worth the trip alone, created by Ugoletti himself.

 

Ugoletti’s gastronomic roots shine through at Rima, with the chef featuring many Italian dishes as well as a slew of vegetarian options on the menu. You can view the menu in its entirety here on the Shangri-la Boracay website.

 

Directions: Shangri-la Beach Resort, Station One

Phone Number: (63 36) 288 4988

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Dos Mestizos

If you’ve spent any time in Manila at all, you’ll know what sort of influence the Spanish have had on Filipino culture. Ever since the colonial era, the Spanish have left their mark on Filipinos, which is evident in everything from their food to the architecture – especially in areas such as Intramuros in mainland Manila.

 

Do Mestizos is your archetypal Spanish-Filipino restaurant. It’s a Boracay original and has a loyal following. The restaurant gets its name from its two founding mestizos: Jose Carlos Remedios and Jose Ramon Nieto. Their families are from the Castilian region, thus you’ll find staple dishes from that part of the world.

 

Like all Spanish restaurants, Dos Mestizos is famous for its paella (try the paella negra) and tapas. Due to its immense popularity Dos Mestizos has expanded the business in the form of a gourmet sandwich using freshly baked bread, cheeses and delish meats – this is the perfect place to stop off while walking around the island in the day.

 

You can follow the restaurant’s Facebook page here. Dos Mesitzos’ menu can be viewed on their official website.

 

Directions: On Tourist Center Road, 5 minute walk from White Beach

Phone Number: (036) 288 5786

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Cha Cha’s Beach Cafe

For beach lovers who are looking for a restaurant near the shore, Cha Cha’s in Station 2 is the place to go. Cha Cha’s is actually the in-house restaurant of the Coast Hotel, and is part of the Raintree Hospitality Group. Chefs Kalel Chan, Romy Aumentado, and Gilbert Ramos helm the menu, and you’ll find a delightful mix of Western and Filipino food.

 

The ambiance at Cha Cha’s is incredible, and it’s a nice little oasis in the hustle and bustle of Station 2. Go in the mornings for their breakfast buffet, where you can try their famous ube champorrado while enjoying the fresh breeze. Or, if you’d like to dine outside, you could try them in the evenings when they turn on the lamps, and relax with a nice cold drink. (Happy Hour is from 3pm to 8pm every day.)

 

 

Cha Cha’s is perfect for any sort of group: big families, groups of friends, couples, or even single diners will find a place here. Try their Seafood Platter to share, and if you’re looking for a light, healthy meal then their Poke Bowl is an excellent choice.

 

Cha Cha’s has official page on the Coast’s website is here. You can also have a look at their menu on their Facebook page here.

 

Directions: On the beachfront in Station 2, look for the Coast Boracay.

Phone Number: (036) 288 2634

Top 10 Restaurants in Boracay (Part I)

Boracay is the Philippines foremost travel destination. For many it’s considered the party island of the Philippines, with a significant amount of bars, clubs and restaurants littering its coastline.

 

The island welcomes a wealth of tourists each year, with its busiest months being March to May which is during the country’s summer months when temperatures reach a heady 30°C. The chances are you’ll see a vast number of Koreans, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Americans and Brits while in Boracay due it becoming a popular island getaway for tourists in the last 5 years or so. In fact, Boracay has welcomed more than 500,000 tourists to the island in 2016 so far, and has eclipsed 2015’s figures of 480,000. Needless to say, Boracay relies heavily on its tourism, and has catered the island to deal with the surge in visitors annually.

 

The Boracay of today, however, is a far cry from the idyllic island it was a decade ago. It has become the victim of commercialization with a slew of fast food chains, coffee shops and vendors on the island. But its white sandy beaches remain some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire Philippines.

 

Away from the wonderful beaches that the island has to offer, it also has a fledgling foodie scene, where restaurants are competing for column inches, and to make a name for themselves among the hundreds of eateries that exist on the island. So, to cater for every traveler, instead of purely focusing on budget restaurants or at the other end of the stick, high-end restaurants, here’s an overview of the 10 best restaurants in Boracay. Each one will offer something different to the next to give you some variety while on your travels in the paradise island of Boracay.

Jonah’s Fruit Shake & Snack Bar

Jonah’s has built up a cult following among travelers venturing to Boracay. It’s commonly known for producing the best milkshakes on the island. But is this true? In short, yes!

 

You have to walk a fair way to get to Jonah’s if you’re situated in Station 2 or 3 but it’s well worth the trek. Often, you’ll find it’s very busy because so many people are aware of its glowing reputation. Standout milkshakes include Milk, Avocado, Mango and other fruit variations available at Jonah’s. People flock to Jonah’s from across the island; so be prepared to wait during busy hours.

 

You can keep up to date with Jonah’s on their Facebook page.

 

Directions: Located in Station 1 near Willy’s Rock.

Phone Number: 09424742185

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Cyma Greek Taverna

Cyma restaurants can be found all across Metro Manila but nestled in a quiet part of D Mall in the middle of the Boracay White Beach Strip is a rather quaint Cyma – probably smaller than any other in the Philippines. While it’s not particularly the biggest unit you’re likely to come across, the food here is simply wonderful. With all the staple Cyma dishes featured on the menu, classics such as Chicken Souvlaki, Pork Chops, Mousaka which is Greece’s national dish and its various salads are what has made the restaurant chain so successful in the country.

 

It’s not as cheap as some of the other options on this list but it’s certainly a great way to enjoy traditional Greek cuisine if you want an alternative to Filipino food while on the island. You can view Cyma Boracay’s menu its in entirety here.

 

Directions: Cyma is situated in D Mall in Station 2. Check out their Facebook page here.

Phone Number: (036) 288-4283

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Epic

 

A hip bar, stroke restaurant, Epic also turns into a club at night. The menu is designed by executive chef Carlo Miguel and is one of the best spots on the island to relax during the afternoon while enjoying their famous Epic Burger. It has a long list of dishes that are worth sampling as well as an extensive cocktail menu that’s been curated by New York mixologist Dave Dennis, introducing the ‘Fresh Mix’ to Epic’s customers.

 

It’s not the cheapest bar or restaurant on this list but it does serve amazing food. Among the best dishes include the aforementioned Epic Burger, Grilled Tuna Fillet and Epic Paella. Epic has DJs playing every night, and the party goes on until the early hours of the morning. Check out the full menu here on Epic’s website or you can like their Facebook page here.

 

Directions: 5608 Malay, Station 2.

Phone Number: 0912 6801527

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The Pig Out Bistro

One of Boracay’s uncovered gems, The Pig Out Bistro is relatively new to the island’s culinary scene, yet if you read the reviews on Trip Advisor, you’ll get an idea of why it should be the first restaurant you try out.
It’s off the beaten track – basically, it isn’t located on White Beach. It’s owned by one of the hotels in Boracay and is adjoined to it along Tambisaan, Jetty Port Road. Inside it has television screens where guests can either watch sport or some of the cable food channels. The staff are attentive and know the menu inside out. But that’s not why the Pig Out Bistro has been garnering such glowing reviews. The menu is unbelievable and includes seafood, platters but the best dishes are the Fillet Steak and Bone Marrow Burger. It’s quickly building up a reputation as the best food joint in Boracay, and it’s hard to argue against such a bold statement.

You can follow any updates from Pig Out Bistro Boracay on their Facebook page.

 

Directions: Located on the Main Road beside Astoria Boracay.

Phone Number: (063) 288 9089

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Aria Cucina

Many tourists love Aria because it has a collection of wonderful pizzas, pasta and is extremely popular for breakfast as it’s one of the only restaurants of any note open early in the morning. It has the staple Filipino and American breakfasts you’ll come accustomed to seeing on menus in Asia, as well as things such as Eggs Benedict.

 

In terms of price, Aria isn’t cheap but you know what you’re getting here. It’s also situated right in the heart of White Beach, so if you enjoy people spotting, Aria is a cool place to hangout, drink and eat while watching tourists walk by.

 

Always keep up to date with Aria’s monthly specials by liking their Facebook page.

 

Directions: 100 meters from D Mall.

Phone Number: (036) 288 5573