Our 5-Star but Affordable Stay at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Hotel

It’s a common notion that 5-star luxury hotels also come with a 5-star price, that’s why Beep and I only get to stay in such hotels once in a while because of discount deals or when we find hotels with top class amenities with surprisingly affordable rates. During the long holiday break, we found ourselves stuck in Metro Manila while most city dwellers escaped to the beach and islands. Luckily that time, Traveloka had an app-exclusive promo of 60% off on Metro Manila hotels so we booked 2 hotels for the holidays, one of our chosen hotels was Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Hotel (check the room rates here). Even without the discounts, the rooms in the 5-star Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Hotel can be booked for as low as PHP4,000-PHP5000+ a night. A steal price for a 5-star hotel!

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Costa Pacifica Baler: Where Chill Surfing Vibe Meets Upscale Comfort

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As a country surrounded by bodies of water, local and foreign travelers are treated with plenty of beach destinations in the Philippines. City dwellers like us only need to drive for a couple of hours to get to beaches during weekends. But for the adventurous souls looking for more than just lazy days on the beach, surfing destinations like La Union and Baler are also easily reachable via bus or a private car from Manila. After spending most of our days off at the beach last year, we craved for riding the waves to kickoff our February, exactly a year after we surfed in Sorsogon.
Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Brisa Marina Beachfront Resort: A Picturesque Getaway Near Manila

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“What’s the best beach destination near Manila?” If we could get a hundred bucks for every time someone asks us that question, we’d probably have enough money to go jet setting every weekend now.

 

Most people think of Batangas as the best beach destination near Manila, it being just 3-4 hours away from Metro Manila. But if you want to to explore beaches aside from good ol’ Batangas, head to the North where we discovered a picturesque and very Instagrammable resort in Morong, Bataan called Brisa Marina Beachfront Resort (check the room rates here).
Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Hoyohoy Villas: Your Private Tropical Retreat in Bantayan Island

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What’s your idea of paradise? For us it’s being surrounded with palm trees while inside a nipa hut-like house with the sound of the waves lulling us to sleep on a lazy afternoon. Luckily, we have a lot of those here in the tropical country of the Philippines with our 7,641 islands. Bantayan Island in Cebu, an underrated destination that we fell in love with after staying there for a week (READ: Why Bantayan Island Should Be in Your Philippines Travel Bucket List) , is one of those places and we found the perfect tropical retreat in Bantayan Island’s Hoyohoy Villas (check the rates and book a room in Hoyohoy Villas here) that we discovered thanks to Traveloka App and became our home for 2 nights.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Azumi Boutique Hotel: Your Stylish Home Away from Home South of Manila

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For years now, there’s been a never ending comedic offline and online battle between citizens of Manila’s North and South. From stereotypical personalities to which is the better part of Manila to live in. This argument never ends. Here’s one example.

 

As someone who has lived South of Manila my entire life, of course I’d battle you out just to prove my point that the South is better. Compared to the North, we have a more chill vibe and it’s always nice to come home to the South with it’s homey ambiance after a tiring day at work. Since there are no infrastructures like the MRT/LRT and major thoroughfares like EDSA, it’s less chaotic, less polluted, and greener thanks to subdivisions and parks that don’t cut down lush trees to build business districts or malls. Not to mention, we’re pretty close to the airports! These are just some of the reasons why more and more people are considering settling down in our side of the Metro.

 

If you don’t have a home yet in the South or are just in Manila for vacation, you can get a taste of this comfy living by staying in Azumi Boutique Hotel (check room rates and book with better deals here) in the heart of Alabang. Beep and I booked a 2-day staycation in Azumi during a long weekend just this November using the Traveloka App where we got up to 20% off the publish rates. Read our review of Traveloka App for booking hotels here

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Why Bantayan Island Should Be in Your Philippines Travel Bucket List

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Kota Beach
With over 7,000 islands (7,641 to be exact), the Philippines has a lot of hidden paradise waiting to be explored. We thought we’ve already seen the best of Philippines when we traveled to El Nido and Coron, Palawan which are always listed in the top beach destinations in the world (if not number 1); but our trip to Bantayan Island, a small island north of Cebu, proved us wrong yet again. This is what we love the most about our home country and our promise to explore  more of the #PhilippinesFirst, there are a ton of little El Nido’s in every corner of the archipelago that mainstream media don’t write about or are not included in coveted destination lists but are equally stunning as the ones they do. 

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

We Traveled Back to The 18th Century at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

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Aside from the world-renowned tropical islands in the Philippines, one of the reasons why our home country is a must go-to destination is our rich culture shaped by our history. It’s evident not just in our traditions and cuisine, but also in our architecture. When you travel to a number of rural destinations in the country, you can still see old houses with Spanish influence since we were under their rule for over 300 years from 1521 to 1898, but there are only a few of them that stand today.

Luckily for our generation, a treasure trove of these houses are now well preserved in a one-of-a-kind open-air museum and heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan – Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (check the rates of hotel rooms at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Traveloka). Just 3-4 hours of travel from Manila, the capital city, you can already step back in time and get a taste of what it felt like to walk in the cobblestone streets of old Philippines at Las Casas. Now we can proudly say that we’ve traveled not just to the most beautiful spots in the country, but to 18th century Philippines too.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Diamond Hotel Philippines: A 5-Star Experience in Manila

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Travel guides will tell you that watching the famed Manila Bay sunset along Roxas Boulevard is a must-do when you’re in Manila, Philippines. I’ll be honest, I’ve lived here all my life but I’ve never really went out of my way to go to that famous strip and actually wait and watch the sunset until it gets dark. I know, I know, for someone promoting exploring the #PhilippinesFirst not just to tourists but to my fellow Filipinos, I should be ashamed of myself. That’s why a few weekends ago, Beep and I planned a staycation in one of the hotels along Roxas Boulevard for the best view of the sunset and get a much-needed short trip too.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

I Got Inked by Kalinga’s 100-Year-Old Tattoo Artist Apo Whang-Od

traditional-tattoo-apo-whang-od-buscalan-kalinga Of all the places I’ve traveled to in the Philippines, the secluded small village of Buscalan in the mountains of Kalinga holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I got the best travel souvenir yet – tattoos from the legendary mambabatok (traditional tattoo artist) of the Butbut tribe herself, Apo Whang-Od. She is now 100 years old, and in her hand lies centuries of tradition.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Camping in a Secluded Cove in Bataan

You’d think that for a couple who loves to travel, we’d have a planned trip for the Holy Week. We didn’t. We intended to stay at home for the long weekend. But come Thursday night, I found myself packing my bag for a trip with no destination in mind because of Beep.
I was strongly against going on a trip without reservations, especially on a Holy Week! But Beep successfully talked me into it, promising that each of us in our group of 4 will only spend a small amount for a 3-day trip to who knows where.
When our group reached a stopover at NLEX, we were choosing between Baler or Bataan (and maybe Zambales). We decided to head to Bagac, Bataan after doing a quick Google search for beaches where we can camp without riding a boat. Compared to Baler or Zambales, Bataan isn’t as popular of a beach destination so we bet all our chips that there wouldn’t be as much tourists in Bataan as the other two. 

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Why the Eco-Friendly Cocoon Boutique Hotel Is Worth the Splurge

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We don’t really get to stay much in luxury hotels or resorts during our travels. We just don’t see the point of splurging on an expensive room that we just sleep in for a couple of hours because we spend most of our time outdoors exploring the beauty of Mother Nature. For us, Mother Nature IS the best luxury resort. As long as we have a roof over our heads, even if it’s just a tent that we pitched ourselves, then we’re fine.

 

However, when we do have extra cash to burn, we treat ourselves once in a while too, usually on special events where we don’t have any budget trip planned. We look for accommodations in the city where we can have a weekend of peace and quiet to take a breather from our busy corporate lives. One of our favorite city staycation destinations is the Cocoon Boutique Hotel in Quezon City.

 

Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.

Sorsogon: Why It’s Every Traveler’s Dream Destination

“Are you from Bicol?”, was what I remember someone asking me back in high school when I told him that my favorite food is laing, a Bicolano dish cooked with dried taro (gabi) leaves, coconut milk (gata), and chili peppers for a kick. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I hate eating vegetables, but this vegetable dish won over other more popular and meat-based Filipino and international dishes.

 

I am not from Bicol. I was born in Iloilo and grew up in Manila and only tasted laing when someone in our house cooked it – not even authentic Bicol laing. The truth is, I haven’t even been to Bicol yet, not until last week when I spent 6 days in the region with Beep and our friends.

 

More than the destinations, I was excited to finally eat laing in the place where it came from. “My Mom’s laing is better than this“, my friend Steff, who grew up in Bicol, assured me as we ate the dish in one of the most famous carienderias in Legazpi on our first few hours in the region – and what we were eating was already one of the best laing I’ve had.

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Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo. When she’s not hopping on a bus or a plane, climbing mountains, or soaking up the sun in one of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines, she lays in bed all day watching crime documentaries and TV shows and rewatching Game of Thrones. Winter is here.
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