AskDrei #1: Should I buy a JR Pass?

I started a new segment in my blog dedicated for frequently asked questions. I also invite and encourage you to use my Ask Drei button for any question you might have about me or the blog posts I have written and I will try to answer them.

For the first question, I was asked by friends and received questions from readers who will be traveling to Japan…

Should I buy a JR Pass?
Is it necessary to buy JR Pass if I will go to Japan?

Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), as defined by Japan Guide, is a very cost effective rail pass for long distance train travel in Japan. It can be used by foreign tourists only, and offers unlimited use of JR trains for one, two or three weeks at a cost that residents of Japan can only dream of. The pass comes in two types: ordinary and green car. The latter is valid on green cars (first class cars) that offer more spacious seats than ordinary cars.


When planning and researching for your trip to Japan, you will read tourists used JR Pass for their transportation, you think ‘it’s cool, sure I should also get a JR Pass’ until you see how much it costs. For a 1 week unlimited pass, you’ll have to pay 38,880 JPY (17,000+ PHP). WHAT!? THAT’S ALMOST MY POCKET MONEY, you say. And then you’ll think how expensive it is to visit Japan.

Before you make any conclusion, let me answer the two questions raised earlier.



  • The answer depends on your itinerary. If you will be staying in one prefecture (example: Tokyo), then my answer is No. Don’t buy a JR Pass. As defined above, the JR Pass is suited for long distance train travel.
  • But it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you will be going to multiple prefecture then it is worth it to buy a JR Pass.
    • Example, you are planning to visit Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto – Nara. It seems like it is a good idea to buy a JR Pass.
    • What I do is, I check out my go-to calculator to see if it is indeed worth it to buy a JR Pass.JR Pass
    • In the above example, I came to Japan via Narita Aiport and left Japan via Kansai Airport. But if for example, after Nara, I plan on going back to Tokyo then…JRpass
  • But of course, if you are after the convenience and you don’t like traveling for long hours, then by all means, buy a JR Pass. You can also enjoy unlimited JR train rides.



  • As mentioned above, it can be a good idea to buy a JR Pass, but it is not necessary all the time.
  • Aside from JR trains, there are subways that you can ride within the prefecture.
  • For our 7-day trip to Japan, we did not buy a JR Pass, and we only took a JR train once, when we went to Universal Studios Japan. And also when we took the bullet train to Nagoya (just to experience riding a bullet train).
Shin-Osaka: Bullet train to Nagoya

So there, I hope I was able to help you weigh the pros and cons of whether to buy a JR Pass or not. If you have any questions, feel to send me a message 🙂



Part 4 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Osaka Castle and Food trip at Dotonbori

I slept for 8 hours inside the bus. We spent our 3rd night inside a sleeper bus en route to Osaka. If you plan to go to Osaka from Tokyo, you can take the bullet train or the bus. If you are on a budget trip (like me), the best option is to take the sleeper bus. You get to save a night of accommodation and your day itinerary will not be compromised.  Continue reading “Part 4 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Osaka Castle and Food trip at Dotonbori”

5 Things Traveling Has Taught Me


I am never the planner. I don’t plan my day, moreover my life. I love spontaneity and surprises. But when we talk about traveling, I become the exact opposite.

My first out of the country trip was with my family. We would avail tour packages and have an itinerary determined by the travel agency. It was fun but it felt limiting. Few years after, I started to travel with a friend and decided to book everything on our own. It was more fun to have control over your trip: where to go, what to eat, where to shop. Also, we don’t have to visit jewelry stores if we don’t want to. :p

Recently, when I traveled with my family and friends to Japan, I took care of the itinerary and the budgeting. It was really challenging — having to plan for a big group is one thing, and it is another thing to research the must-see places, book our accommodation and activities. I became the planner I never thought I can be. I was keen into details, made sure I settled the correct amount, booked the correct dates and paid with the correct card. Traveling is fun, but I can say planning a trip is something I look forward to now. Maybe the next thing I should plan is — my life. Lol!

Check out my Japan Pre-Planning post.



You see it: in the malls, in the highway, in the TV ads — Nike has always encouraged us to do it. But nothing can better push us to “just do it” than traveling.

Traveling has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Every time I am in a new place and I seem to be in a crossroad — whether to do an activity or not, or whether to try an exotic food or not — I always think of this tagline: JUST DO IT! Because when will I be able to go back to that place again — probably not anytime soon. And I wouldn’t want to go back home thinking of “I should have done that” or “I should have eaten that.” Same as what happened to us in Shenzhen. My mother managed all our money and expenses then. When we were offered to visit the Windows of the World, my mother declined because she thought it was a bit costly and it wasn’t worth it. We left Shenzhen with ‘what if’s’ and it wasn’t a good feeling. I gotta learn it the hard way and made sure that on my next trips, I should just do it.

I can say, traveling to a new place made me braver and bolder.



You can be late to work or to a meeting with friends, but never, ever be late when traveling. Every second and minute of your time while traveling is important. You don’t want to miss anything spectacular, like the sunrise in Angkor Wat, when that’s the exact reason you flew to Cambodia.

That is exactly the story of my life. On our last day in Cambodia, we decided to do the Angkor Wat tour. Since we’re already in Cambodia, we don’t want to miss seeing it in its most picturesque form: sunrise. But guess what, we overslept! Instead, we started our tour at 8am and was greeted by sea of people. Nevertheless, we enjoyed visiting the temples. On the brighter side, without these misfortunes, we will not actually learn. So, I take it as a lesson. Next time I traveled, I make sure to set my alarm 5 times and SLEEP EARLY!

There was another instance, we were 5 minutes late for our Kalibo to Manila flight, we had to take a boat for 16 hours instead of a 45 minute plane ride. Talk about hassle 😦



Thanks to geography, we know our continents and their location. We know that we have vast bodies of water and different land forms, but these are all textbook information. We learn this in grade school. The true knowledge is obtain when you get out there and experience it yourself.

When I fly via plane, it always amazes me to look down and see pea-sized houses, the illuminating lights and vast oceans. It makes me realize how small I am and how big the world really is. And for a moment my problems seem so small compared to all the problems accumulated in the whole world. As I continue traveling, it perplexes me to think how I came to exist not knowing all these people and not seeing these places. That’s why when I come home after a trip, I really feel enriched and contented because I feel like I learned a lot and see a lot of things that I never knew exist.

Ever since, I always look forward to traveling more, to see more faces and places and bring it with me back home.



Oh, yes I can solve an Algebra equation and I can recite the Periodic Table of Elements —  thanks to my high school. But I have learned that there are far more things to learn when you step out of the classroom. Theories are taught in school but the real knowledge comes from our experiences. And I can say traveling is one of the best teachers I have encountered in this lifetime.

After college, I was thrown out into the real world: I got a job that pays me enough but I don’t really enjoy, I started to get bills, eventually I felt burnt out and questioned if this is everything there is after college. And then I got into traveling, I spent my weekends out of town and plot my vacation leaves to visit other countries. Suddenly, life seems to be happier. I get to meet different people from different walks of life. I talk to people with languages different from mine. I get to see other people’s livelihood: making delicacies, wood carving and clothing. Most importantly, I experienced things and not just read about them. I felt fully present. Have I not traveled, have I not stepped out from my comfort zone, have I not explored, I wouldn’t learned this much about people and places and especially I wouldn’t know more about myself — what I am capable of, what my limits are, what my hidden strengths are.

Traveling made me richer in experience. Traveling made me more knowledgeable than those who do not travel. Traveling totally changed my life. I cannot imagine not traveling at all.

Part 3 of 7 of our Japan trip: Tsukiji Fish Market, Senso-ji Temple and En Route to Osaka

LAST DAY IN TOKYO. Three days were not enough to visit Tokyo. There were still a lot of places on our list that we want to visit but we had to limit ourselves due to time and budget constraints (ako lang pala ang may budget constraints lol). For our last day in Tokyo, we went to Tsukiji Fish Market. It is known for its fresh array of seafood and its tuna auction. We skipped the Tuna Auction because (tbh) we won’t wake up early just to see it.  Continue reading “Part 3 of 7 of our Japan trip: Tsukiji Fish Market, Senso-ji Temple and En Route to Osaka”

Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto in 7 days: An Itinerary

I’ve been asked a couple of times for our Japan itinerary and how I got to fit 40,000Php all-in for this trip. I actually prefer to blog our activities per day, so I can share our day in detail and the breakdown of our expenses. But since you asked for it, I’ll share here our 7 day itinerary.

To those who would like to read our daily activities in Japan, you can check Day 1 Day 2 Day 3. and Day 4. I’m currently working on Day 5.

Continue reading “Tokyo – Osaka – Kyoto in 7 days: An Itinerary”

Part 2 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Gotemba Premium Outlet, Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Tower

YEY! SECOND DAY IN JAPAN! We started the day feeling fresh after a good night sleep. I bet everyone slept well considering how tired we were from all the walking we did on our first day. At least second day in Japan was more comfortable because we didn’t have to worry about our luggages anymore because they were tucked safe at home.  Continue reading “Part 2 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Gotemba Premium Outlet, Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Tower”

Part 1 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Manila to Tokyo. Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Shibuya

After all the planning and researching, it’s time to make it come to life.

Our flight to Tokyo was through Jetstar, which was stationed at Terminal 1. We left at 12:40AM and arrived at Narita International Airport at 6AM. (Their time is 1 hour ahead).  It was my first time to fly via Jetstar and I’d say we had a smooth sailing flight since I was asleep the entire time. Little did I know, there was a strong turbulence midway that caused our plane to sink a few feet. LITERAL BES! As in, bumagsak daw yung plane at ang mga puso nila. The FAs panicked and instructed everyone to use their seatbelt. And I. WAS. ASLEEP.  When I woke up, we were about to land na. 🙂

Continue reading “Part 1 of 7 of our Japan Diary: Manila to Tokyo. Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Shibuya”

Japan 2017: How to Apply for Japan Visa

One look at the requirements for Japan visa and you’ll start to think twice about going. But do not get too overwhelmed with the requirements, it’s actually pretty easy to apply for a Japan visa.

First, you need to find an accredited agency who processes Japan visa. In the Embassy of Japan website, they have indicated the following agencies:

For our visa, we went to Rajah Travel Corporation. I have a friend working there and she advised me to wait for the Travel Expo to pay for the visa processing fee because they will give a discounted amount. So we went to the Expo last February and pay for the visa processing fee of P450 instead of the original price of P1,500.

Continue reading “Japan 2017: How to Apply for Japan Visa”

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

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

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.

Continue reading “Father’s Day Letter”

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:


  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,