Japan 2017: Pre-planning + P40,000 All-in expense for 7 days.

Our Japan trip, which happened last June 6 – 12, is by far the most special trip I’ve had. I knew everything by heart because I carefully planned and researched our itinerary and budget. They say travelling to Japan is expensive, but with thorough planning I would say it is not as expensive as other people think. If you are in my page because you also want to go to Japan without having to burn your wallet, you’ve come to the right page. We are a group of 6 who travelled to 3 cities: Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto (well, plus Nagoya because that’s where we flew out of Japan) for P40,000 and some change. Below I will share how I planned our trip.

Before I start, I just want to share that my budget was divided into two. Pre-trip expenses and During trip expenses. The Pre-trip expenses include airfare, accommodation and booked tickets. Basically, anything that has to be pre-booked was under Pre-trip expenses. During trip expenses cover food and transportation within Japan. In other terms, this is my ‘pocket money’.

Alright, so let’s begin. Below would be an overview of my expenses and I will create a separate post to further discuss each.

*For conversion purposes: 1JPY = 0.45PHP

I.

JAPAN VISA

JPN Visa

In order to obtain a Japan visa, you have to submit your requirements to an accredited agency. For the list of agencies, you can check it here.  In our case, we went to Rajah Travel Corporation. They have a branch in Makati and Manila. Visa processing costs P1500. And the turnaround time is 3-5 business days.

Tip: Pay for the visa processing fee during Travel Expo. Agencies offer a discounted price. We paid P450 for the visa processing.

Budget allotted: P450

II.

AIRFARE

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This is the most expensive portion of my pre-trip expense. If you are good at snagging seat sales then you can make your budget less than P40,000.

A little back story… We never planned on going to Japan. We were actually thinking of Korea or Bali. But during one seat sale of Jetstar last December 2016. I noticed a super cheap fare from Manila to Japan. Immediately, I booked a one-way ticket MNL to JPN. I didn’t have any plans then on how long we’d want to stay in Japan and where we want to go, so I kept my options open and did not purchase a return ticket. WRONG MOVE. For months, I have to check Jetstar website to see if there’s a cheap flight from Japan to Manila. We ended up buying Nagoya to Manila, because that’s the cheapest ticket we can find. (Note: we were able to buy the return ticket 1 month before our trip. Hassle!)

Tip: If you really want to go to Japan, decide early if you want to go on multiple cities or focus on one area only. This will give you a non-hassle booking experience.

Regarding baggages, I don’t normally give much importance to adding a baggage. Often I would pick the smallest baggage allowance. So when I booked the MNL to JPN flight, I only alloted 20kg for my mom, sister and I. And 15kg for my 3 friends. With teamwork and strategic planning, we were able to fit everything in the allotted baggage allowance. Thanks to the 7kg hand carry allowance! Yay!

Manila to Tokyo: P3,500
Nagoya to Manila: P6,373
Budget Allotted: P9,873

III.

ACCOMMODATION

Accom

There are plenty of accommodation to choose from in Japan. There are hotels, capsule hostels and AirBnB rooms. Choose depending on the people you are with. In my case, I was with my mom and so I opted for an entire room in AirBnb. But if I were alone or with a friend, maybe I’d try the capsule hostels.

Anyway, it was my first time to try AirBnB. I usually book through Agoda or Booking.com. I was happy with my experience with AirBnB. There were many options and you can get to chat with the host of the place. I will create a separate entry for the two AirBnBs that we rented.

Initially, we booked 1 night in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. But after we booked our roundtrip ticket, we adjusted it to 2 nights in Tokyo and 3 nights in Osaka. I wanted to book ryokan (ancient type of house in Japan) in Kyoto, but I realized it would be hassle to transfer from one place to another with our luggages.

Tip: Book a place near the subway and probably near the tourist sites. Example: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Asakusa. Book a place depending on your itinerary.

In Tokyo, I booked a room in Shibuya. It was walking distance from Shibuya Crossing and there were convenience stores, restaurants and shopping centers around.
Price: P1,976/head

In Osaka, our main agenda was to visit USJ and to explore Dotonbori. So we booked a room near Dotonbori.
Price: P2,927/head

I find our accommodation cheap for our entire stay in Japan.

Note: Check in time is usually 3PM.

Budget Allotted: P4,903

IV.

TOKYO TO OSAKA TRANSFER

Eagle bu

There are 3 ways to get to Osaka from Tokyo.

  1. Airplane
  2. Shinkansen (bullet train)
  3. Highway Bus

Since I wanted this trip to be as cheap as possible, I considered a sleeper bus. Why? You get to save 1 night of accommodation. The only catch is, travel time is 9-10 hours. But if you’ll think about it, you wouldn’t even notice the time because you are sleeping. I actually slept the entire bus ride.

I checked two websites for the buses. The more famous one is the Willer Express Company and the other one is Kosoku Bus, which is a group of Japanese highway bus managed by Keio Bus.

From several options, I narrowed down my choices based on my preferences: must be a sleeper bus with a comfort room and reclining seat. Finally, I found Eagle Bus. It has 3 seats in one row separated by aisles. We also have our own curtain for privacy. There was also an outlet for charger and an overhead bin for our handcarry bags. We departed from Shinjuku Expressway Bus terminal at 10:10PM and arrived at Osaka 7:30AM.

Budget allotted: P2,637 (6000 JPY)

V.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN

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If Universal Studios is one of the reasons you want to go to Japan make sure you book a ticket beforehand. This will save you a lot of time from queueing. Though, even if you have a ticket you still have to go there early because there is a line going inside the amusement park.

I booked our USJ admission ticket via Klook, my ever trusted travel app. Despite being advised of buying two tickets: Admission ticket and Express pass, I only bought the admission ticket.

Admission ticket – is the ticket for you to get in USJ
Express Pass – is a ticket you show to skip the lines to the rides

I am not an amusement park enthusiast. I don’t ride rollercoasters. I don’t see myself riding all the rides in USJ. Basically my main purpose in visiting USJ was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So, with that in mind, I did not buy an Express Pass.

Tip: If you like rides and you want to try as many rides as you can, you should buy an Express Pass, especially if your visit will fall on weekends or holidays.

During our stay in USJ, we went to WWOHP, rode Jaws and Jurassic Park – The Ride and my sister and friends tried the Flying Dinosaur.

Because I was a user of Klook since December 2016, I was able to earn quite a number of credits and promo codes, so when we booked our USJ tickets, we used those. Plus, I took advantage of Klook’s summer promo where I got P1,500 off.

Budget allotted: P3,175

VI.

WI-FI ROUTER

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In this digital era, I cannot imagine myself not having an internet. For my past travels, I would rely mostly on free wi-fi or as ask people for directions if I get lost. But I really want to be prepared for our Japan trip. There’s no room for us to get lost. So I booked us a wi-fi router so that as soon as we get to Japan we can easily navigate around and use the internet if ever we need to.

We booked our wi-fi router through Flytpack. It was delivered to us 2 days before our departure. Another option would be 3G/4G sim cards you can purchase through Klook or in Japan airports.

Our Flytpack router also acts as a powerbank, which was helpful because I don’t have a powerbank. Also, it was fast even if there were 5 of us connected to it. It has a limit of 1GB per day.

One router costs P1,960 but there is a deposit of P2,800, which will be refunded once we return the unit.

Budget allotted: P327 (deposit not included)

 

VII.

POCKET MONEY

After I booked all the neccessities, I have to plan how much I would have to carry with me. Total pocket money was P18,000 (40,000 JPY) converted at Nikko Money Exchange, Malate)

The travel tax was excluded from the P18,000 pocket money. We paid P1,620/person at the airport.

Next, I allotted a daily food allowance, which was 1,750JPY or P780. Was it enough? Yes, it was more than enough for me. I did not starve myself. I actually ate a lot in Japan. Most food in the convenience stores are around 150JPY to 500JPY. And the restaurants we have eaten, we’ve normally pay less than a thousand yen.

Allotted budget: 12,250 JPY (1,750 x 7 days)

Another one I considered was the transportation budget. We took advantage of the 1 day passes because it offers unlimited subway rides. Also, we wanted to experience the bullet train. It was quite expensive, but we made it part of our budget.

Break down:
Tokyo Shuttle + 3 day pass = 2,400 JPY
Bullet train (non-reserved seat) = 5,830 JPY
Kyoto 1 day pass = 1,200 JPY
Estimate for Osaka transportation = 2,000 JPY

Allotted budget: 11,430 JPY

I also considered possible entrance fees at other tourist sites that we will visit, especially in Kyoto. I read that there were some temples that has admission fee. To be safe, I allotted 2,000 JPY.

Of course I also had to set a budget for my souvenirs which was P5,500 or 2,475 JPY.

And the remaining from P18,000 was Contingency funds: 11,845 JPY or P5,330

Total pocket money: 40,000 JPY or P18,000

Note: The allocation of the pocket money didn’t go exactly as planned. Like, there were times I only spent 1500 JPY for food. And we didn’t pay 2,000 JPY for entrance fees. This was my anticipated budget allocation before our trip. The important thing is I did not exceed my limit of 40,000 JPY.

Expense Summary

Visa processing – P450
Airfare – P9873
Accommodation – P4,903
Bus from Tokyo to Osaka – P2,637
Universal Studios – P3,175
Flytpack – P327
Travel tax – P1,620
Pocket Money – P18,000

Total: P40,985

Note: You can spend less than 40,000 PhP if you can get a lower airfare and if you will not take the bullet train.

That’s it! Watch out for my next posts. I will share detailed information about the topics above. As well as our daily activities in Japan.

Love,

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Father’s Day Letter

Dear Pa,

I look up as I type this and saw you watching the usual daily news. If I look closely, I will see wrinkles on your face and your hands. Visible signs of hard work from years of working and providing for our family. There are so many things I’d like to tell you but cannot say in person because for sure I will struggle to get the words out before I even reach the middle of this note. Despite being someone who likes to speak up, I cannot bring myself to tell all these things to you. So today, as the world celebrates fathers’ day, I would like to share this letter I’ve written to tell you and the world how much I love and appreciate you.

Looking at you, I know for sure the kind of man I would like to be with someday. Some people when they look at their fathers they will see the exact person they don’t want to marry or they don’t want to be like. But I look at you with utmost respect and love because you were nothing but an epitome of a great father. Even my friends can attest to that. And I feel blessed to have a father like you. A man who never deprived us of the things that we need and want.

I will always remember you as the strong man who can carry me with one arm. The man who can still dribble like Stephen Curry at 60. I will remember you as the thoughtful man who gave out Dunkin Donuts to the kids in our neighborhood on Christmas Day, which back then I kinda felt envious because you didn’t buy any donuts for me. But later on I realized that we were more privileged than other people so we should learn how to give and share our blessings to others. I will remember you as the hard-working man who had to wake up early in the morning before the day breaks to go to work for years until it’s time for you to retire. The man who provided food and education to us and tried his best to buy us the things that we don’t really need but incessantly asked for. We didn’t know how hard life was, we didn’t know what you had to go through just to give us a comfortable life. I remember you told us that one time you only had 100 pesos left to get home. We never felt that times were hard, because you and mama made it easy for us. And thank you for that Papa and Mama. I will always remember you as a selfless, responsible and loving father. And I wish people can have a dad like you.

And now that we are older, Ate just graduate from Medical School and I can see how proud you are of her. I know I haven’t accomplished much. I am already in my mid-20s and yet I still don’t know what I really want to do in life. And yet you were there to support me and encourage me and never pressure me into anything. I know you would like to have grandkids running around the house, and even that I cannot give you yet. But someday, I hope to make you proud too. Someday, I hope I can make you happy and contented, not that you are not happy and contented now. I want to give you and mama a more comfortable life. And someday, I will give you that. But for now, there’s one thing that I can do and will always do for you, please know that no matter what happens, I will take care of you, both mama and you. I will take care of you when you can’t do things you can normally do. I will take care of you when all your hair turns white. I may not be the perfect daughter, maybe not as successful as other people’s daughter, not as sweet and obedient like others, but I will always love and take care of you everyday.

Today, as the world celebrates fathers’ day, I celebrate not only this day but every day because I have this life and this family. I couldn’t even ask for anything better.

I love you.

Love,

Joy.

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Neil’s Kitchen: Date Night

For someone who’s always on the lookout for artsy restaurants, I didn’t let Neil’s Restaurant escape my radar. I found out about Neil’s Kitchen through Instagram. When I saw their beautiful interior in photos, I knew I have to visit this restaurant. I have made several attempts to go to Neil’s Kitchen, but being a Northern girl (Far-view, represent!), I have to consider the time and means to go to South.

Finally, I found the perfect occasion to see Neil’s Kitchen for myself, and it was no other than: Valentines Day! We celebrated Valentines 3 days after the 14th because we didn’t want to join the flock of couples celebrating on the date itself.

Continue reading “Neil’s Kitchen: Date Night”

5 Suggested OOTD Spots in Taipei

Alright, I am one of the guilty users of #OOTD. Hahaha! I love seeing photos of my outfits and I enjoy posing for my OOTDs  (I even have my own trademark OOTD pose lol). So far, the place where I have the most number of OOTDs is in Taipei. And I would share below the best places to take your OOTDs when in Taipei. (Jeez, I just used the word OOTD five times.)

DISCLAIMER: You will see my face in almost all the photos. So unless you can take it, you can press the back button NOW. :p

Continue reading “5 Suggested OOTD Spots in Taipei”

Travel Guide: 3 days in Taipei

Travel date: July 29 – August 2 (midnight) 2016

Finally! I found the time to share my Taipei itinerary.

Few months back, Taiwan remained to be just another country for me. I didn’t know a lot of people who have visited Taiwan, compared to those who have gone to Japan or Korea. But what convinced us to book a trip to Taiwan? What did we do there? Where did we eat? What are my tips to those who will be visiting Taiwan soon? I will answer everything below. 🙂

Continue reading “Travel Guide: 3 days in Taipei”

Taipei: Itinerary and Expense

taipei itinerary 1taipei-itinerary-2

Few notes:

  • The budget shown above doesn’t include the total amount we loaded in our Easy Card (MRT Pass). We bought the Easy Card in 7-11 and it can be used to purchase food and other stuff. Getting an Easy Card costs 100 NTD, then you can reload it for another 100. In total, I think I have spent 500 NTD for the card and the load.
  • The hours specified above includes the travel time and queuing time (if applicable).
  • Approximately, I have spent more of less 12k for the entire trip (minus the airfare), with the airfare, probably around 15k.

Will post more about our Taipei trip.

Love, Andrea

My Klook Experience

My friends know how fond I am of creating itineraries and researching activities for my trips. Recently, we flew to Hong Kong, and I promised myself that I would do the things I did not do during my first visit. (Back story: My first trip to HK was in 2013, and we availed a packaged tour: HK Disneyland + Shenzhen + jewelry shop and other places I am not interested in).

This time, I wanted to go to The Peak and try the Ngong Ping cable car. Luckily, I found an app where I can book these activities at a discounted price: Klook. I learned about Klook while I was browsing posts in DIY Travel Pilipinas (posted by Mr. Richmond Difuntorum Cruz). I was curious, so I downloaded it and gave it a shot. I was hesitant at first, because I never heard of it before. But then, it turns out to be a really good app and I can’t stop recommending it to people, who just like me, like to customize their itinerary.

Here’s what I booked:

klook-bookings

  1. This is the activity that you booked.
  2. Number of tickets you bought
  3. Total amount of the activity.
  4. Discounted amount because I have a referral code. You can use mine to get a discount for your 1st purchase: ZLI88
  5. The new amount of the activity
  6. This is where you can see the voucher. It will also be sent via email

The usual round trip ticket to the Peak is 88HKD (545Php). But you have to fall in line for about 2 hours. The one I purchased through Klook was a Fast Track, meaning we got to skip the 2 hour queue and went straight to the tram. And that is only for 508.50Php. HOW.AWESOME.IS.THAT?

Overall, I really love my experience with Klook. That’s why I am sharing it to you. I can’t wait for my next travel, just so I can book with them again.

Download the app and see it for your self (this is not a sponsored post, haha!) They currently have vouchers for Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Bangkok, Phuket, Bali and even Boracay.

Don’t forget to use my referral code: ZLI88 for you to get a discounted price on your first purchase! 🙂

With love,

Andrea

#PassionProject

I have always wanted to become a food blogger. I thought about starting a food blog in 2013, but I realized describing food was not one of my strongest suits. So I kinda shrugged off the thought. But I and food were inseparable, so I decided to start an Instagram account that would showcase my love for photography and food.

I created eatsinthenorth as my platform for my food photos. As implied in its name,  eatsinthenorth are compilation of the foods I have tried from the north only. Currently, I am posting my own photos but I am looking forward to repost photos from people who used #eatsinthenorth in their food photos.

So friends, if you have visited restaurants in the North, please do tag us in your photos! I’d love to discover new restaurants thru your posts!

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Itinerary: Sagada

MAY 2015

Duration: 2 days , 2 nights

Day 0

11:00PM – Left Manila to Sagada

8:00AM – Side trip to Banaue Rice Terraces and breakfast at Point Valley Inn Restaurant

10:00AM – Arrival in Sagada; Tourist Registration

10:30: Settled in George Guest House

Afternoon: City Tour

•Echo Valley Hanging Coffins
•Sagada Underground River Entrance
•St. Mary’s Church
•Bokong falls
•Valley Rice Fields

7:00PM – dinner at the Yoghurt House

Day 2:

3:00AM – Wake Up

4:00AM – On the Way to Kiltepan

4:30AM – Waiting for the Kiltepan Sunrise

6:00AM – Toploading back to the house

7:00AM – Breakfast at Sagada Brew

9:00AM – 5 hours Spelunking (Caving from Lumiang cave to Sumaguing Cave)

3:00PM – Head back to house to rest

7:00PM – Dinner at  Lemon House

Day 3:

4:00AM – Check out at George Guest House

9:00AM – Breakfast at Good Taste, Baguio City

10:00AM – Left for Manila to celebrate Father’s day with the family.

3:00PM – Arrived in QC

Journal: One Saturday in QC

It was a long weekend due to the All Saints Day holiday. My office mates and I took advantage of it and went to Ateneo and UP Town Center to shoot our Big Night video presentation.

Just want to share some shots I took that day.

(Clockwise from top first column)

  • Found Biblio at the 2nd floor of UPTC extension. My heart jumped with joy when I saw shelves full of books! They have a log book where you can write your requested book and they will check if they can find it for you.
  • Long Live Bacon. I found this at Lazy Bastard’s store near the cinema of UPTC. Haven’t tried their food but I heard lots of good feedback.
  • Those cakes belong to The Chocolate Kiss located at UPTC extension. I love how this new wing of UPTC feels like an extension of UP and Maginhawa. I first tried Chocolate Kiss at Bahay ng Alumni inside UP Campus.
  •  The facade of Starr’s. They are famous for their milkshakes, haven’t tried it though. But I love how it looks from outside, it is so enticing that you want to come in and give their milkshake a try.
  • This photo was taken at one of the walkways in Ateneo.
  • We had lunch at Friuli Trattoria! It has been my go-to place for pizza and pasta since I first tried them at their Maginhawa branch. Friuli Trattoria will give you a mouthwatering experience without hurting your wallet.
  • After lunch came the dessert. I tried Carmen’s Best Hazelnut (P100, small). I was contemplating whether to buy a vegan ice cream or Carmen’s Best, the latter won, obv. Hazelnut was good, but my favorite still goes to He’s Not Worth It.
  • Oh, just me posing with some book quotations in the background. It was a test shot for the shoot.
  • Biblio‘s wall! I want something like this in my room!
  • Another thought to ponder on Lazy Bastard’s wall. Bacon is not Pork, it’s Bacon.

#StopTheStigma

I am supporting the initiative of Philippine Psychiatric Association to raise awareness, promote mental health and protect the rights of people with mental disorders by signing the petition to make the country’s first Mental Health Act happen.

If you’re one with us, you can sign the petition here.

Do you know how hard it is to have a psychological disorder here in the Philippines?

  1. HMOs or health cards do not cover consultation to psychiatrists and psychologists.
  2. One consultation with a psychiatrist is worth P 1,500 – P 2,000.
  3. Medicines are costly.
  4. People can’t talk about it openly because not everyone understands.

You know how I know? I’ll let you in on a little secret…

Continue reading “#StopTheStigma”

In Transit: Vietnam to Cambodia

When we booked our tickets for our Vietnam – Cambodia trip, we already decided that we were doing a cross-country trip. We booked a ticket from Manila to Ho Chih Minh then Siem Reap to Manila. We had no choice but to do our research on how to get from Ho Chih Minh to Siem Reap. You are probably reading this because you, too, are planning to do a cross-country trip from Vietnam to Cambodia.

It is very easy, actually.

Continue reading “In Transit: Vietnam to Cambodia”

TravelBook.ph: My Go-To Travel Buddy

One crucial factor of creating my travel itinerary is choosing the accommodation. Last December, my family decided to spend the holidays in Baguio. This is something big for me because we never go out during Christmas. My dad always prefers to spend the holidays at home. So when I learned about our first Christmas vacation out of town, being the lakwatsera that I am, I took care of planning the itinerary and booking the accommodation.

Good thing, I stumbled upon TravelBook.ph when I was looking a good yet affordable hotel in Baguio City. After looking at a lot of options, we finally decided to book Albergo Hotel. We made the payment at SM Payment Center, after which we received the hotel voucher. It was a smooth transaction.

My life has changed since then. Whether it is for a staycation in the city or an out of town, I always use TravelBook.ph for booking my accommodation.

Get to know my go-to travel buddy!

Continue reading “TravelBook.ph: My Go-To Travel Buddy”

Travel Diary: Vietnam

I received a lot of questions via email and comments regarding my VietCam trip last year. The Rappler article really helped to spread my article! I think it is now time to write about our trip in detail.

Date: July 24 – July 31 | Group of 3: Me, Krissy and Bea | Budget: P25,000/pax

Continue reading “Travel Diary: Vietnam”

Quarter Life is just a Hype.

I don’t know what is the big fuss about turning a quarter year old and why people are making it as if it is some kind of mark or checkpoint in life. While it is true that being 25 means that you are halfway in your 20s –you’re not getting any younger and you should be responsible for your actions– 25 is just a number. Life doesn’t tell you that “hey, you are already 25,  you should accomplish these things in order for you to be accepted to the next level”. This isn’t some sort of a Super Mario game. Life goes on after 25, whether I have met the expectations of the society or not.

I was once so obsessed about my own mental checklist. I have all these must-have’s and should-have’s by age 25, and guess what I haven’t ticked off even half of it, and I am perfectly fine. I realized we all have our own pace and timeline; what works for other people, might not work for me. So what if I get married at 40 or if I don’t get married at all. What if I never obtained my Masters degree just like what I hoped for myself by age 25. Does that mean I am not successful in life? Of course not.

I think the reason why we have a “quarter-life crisis” is because we put too much pressure in ourselves (aggravated by society’s expectation and social media) that we must accomplish something at a certain age or else, we will not be considered successful. Which is, if you ask me, such an awful way to measure success.

So take your time and don’t be pressured about timelines and age. You will get there in your own pace, in the right time. Here, let me just share the 25 things I have learned and the mantras that help me get by at 25.
Continue reading “Quarter Life is just a Hype.”