Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7 Reasons why Nguyen Khang Hotel is a godsend to backpackers

I love staying in hotels and classy inns that have affordable rates to them. Who doesn't, right? So, speaking of --- Rubel and I found a gem for our 5-night stay in Ho Chi Minh City, and the hotel was called Nguyen Khang Hotel. After reading so many good online reviews of the lodging, I was immediately smitten by the idea of booking with them right away. But what made me decide to finally book them? Here's 7 good reasons.

1) LOCATION - Nguyen Khang is situated at a small alley in Phạm Ngũ Lão, a street that was made famous for being a backpackers haven. The location was quite perfect since we were near some of Saigon's famous spots: 10 minutes away from Ben Thanh Market and Saigon Square, a street away from Bùi Viện (famous for its night life and cheap beers), and a few walks away from several mini-marts and food establishments.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I got burnt at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!

You're probably thinking that I got burnt from the flames fuming out of a hot air balloon. You thought wrong! My skin got burnt not because of the balloon blaze. But because of my exposure to the sun. I brought an umbrella. But the sun was just everywhere! The Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ), where the festival was held was an open space. So the only shelter that one could stay in were the Airplane Hangar and the food tents nearby. Both places were a bit distant from all the action. So Rubel and I just braved the lot with just an umbrella over our heads. But even that didn't protect us. It was actually raining a few days earlier. So I was really surprised when the sun showed up last Saturday (February 23), all mighty and proud.

Friday, February 8, 2013

5 Top Activities to Do with Kids When on Vacation in Florida

During the cold winter months, Florida is a top tourist attraction, in part because of the temperate weather and in part because of the things to do in Florida. Simply put, there are many things to do, especially if you are traveling with kids.

The two top spots to visit in Florida when traveling with kids are easily Miami and Orlando.

Miami, Florida

You may think of Miami as a hot spot for young people, and it is, but there are many things to do in Miami with children.

Seaquarium - Thanks to the nice weather, go to the Seaquarium and enjoy an outdoor marine show with dolphins and killer whales. Watch feeding and presentations as well.

Zoo Miami - The Miami Zoo is considered one of the best in the country, so it is certainly worth visiting. Kids will love the chance to feed a giraffe (but make sure you come between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to do so). The zoo covers a large expanse of land, so you can either walk or rent a bicycle carriage for two or four.

Miami Children's Museum - Open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the Miami Children's Museum will give your child a chance to explore and let off some steam. Some fun exhibits include the Everglades Park as well as Ocean Odyssey.

Orlando, Florida

Of course, Orlando is home to many, many theme parks, most of which will appeal to kids. For a special treat, consider these:

Universal Orlando - If your child is a Harry Potter fan, you can't go wrong visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the experience based on the wildly popular books.

Discovery Cove - Let your children get up close with marine life at Discovery Cove. Kids can swim with dolphins (if accompanied by a parent) and can even buy tickets to be trainer for a day where they get an up close look at what it is like to be a dolphin trainer. Snorkeling is also a fun family experience.

Florida is a wonderful place for both kids and kids at heart to visit. Don't rule out Miami as just a party city for young people. There are plenty of fun activities for kids there, and you can't be the weather. Of course, Orlando, with its many parks, needs no promotion.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to convert Vietnam Dong (VND) to Philippine Peso (PHP)

When I was preparing for my trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Rubel and I discussed the simple conversion of Vietnam Dong (VND) to Philippine Peso (PHP). A friend of his actually taught him how to do the math.

Let's say that you're eyeing a Class A "The North Face" Rucksack for 800,000 VND. It may look very expensive with all the zero's to it. But it's actually quite affordable. You'll just need to take the last three zero's, and then multiply the remaining three digits to 2. This will then be your estimate. So 800 x 2 is PHP1,600! That's your estimated value in pesos. Simple, right?

Photo credit here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 3 of Backpacking Saigon: DIY Night City Tour

Since Rubel and I weren't able to see the rest of the sites from the previous City tour, we opted to do a DIY trip the following day. So after a good recharge, we started our evening walk towards the Bitexco Financial Tower (the 124th tallest building in the world according to Wikipedia). We didn't get to see it up close. But we managed to take a few photos of it while traversing the street of Hàm Nghi. 

After a quick photo op, we continued on with our evening stroll. We were supposed to take a cab from Pham Ngu Lao all the way to Tôn Đức Thắng. But we decided to just walk all the way. And with our efforts, we were able to reach the Saigon river after 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

8 Rockin' Romantic Getaways in the Philippines

There are plenty of beautiful and picturesque places where you can bring your loved one/s to. And these aren't just perfect for Valentine's Day! So if you're thinking about taking your relationship up a notch, consider these Philippine towns as a way of saying "I love you dear. You deserve to be treated to a romantic getaway!" Here's to sharing 8 romantic destinations that I've already been to with my 'honey'.


Baguio's weather never fails. More so, the lush beauty that surrounds it. It may be a 6-7 hour trip from Manila. But the smell of the pine trees, the whiff of the cold breeze and the aroma of a hot cup of chocolate never fails to ignite the souls of two people in-love. Baguio is a destination that you wouldn't want to miss seeing and experiencing!

TIP: Bring your beau to Mines View. Sit by the rocks and enjoy the overlooking view while drinking your hot, Strawberry Taho. It's the perfect combination, just like you!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 2 of Backpacking Saigon: 8 City tour sites in under 8 hours!

Rubel and I initially planned a DIY City Tour, so we asked our hotel receptionist, Ms Thu for a city map. As soon as she handed a copy, my beau and I immediately looked for the major sites nearby. Since most of the areas were a bit far from each other, we eventually decided to book a guided travel. Nguyen Khang Hotel was also offering different kinds of excursions. But we only availed of their USD 9/pax DAILY CITY TOUR, which was operated by Youth Tourist Joint-Stock Co.

We were going to be picked up at the hotel at around 8:30 AM, so we still had time to eat our complimentary breakfast while waiting for the guide. 

Our guide was a nice, Vietnamese local named Taó. He immediately escorted us to an airconditioned shuttle right after greeting us that morning. A couple of Australians, Europeans, Malaysians and a Filipino were already on-board the van. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Backpacking in Saigon: Day 1 in Ho Chi Minh City

When a challenging yet fulfilling year is about to end, I would make it a point to cap-off things by treating myself to a post-birthday trip abroad. I've successfully done this for the last two years. So last November 2012, I flew myself to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 

Statue of General Tran Nguyen Han

Visiting Vietnam, let alone Saigon was a part of my bucket list. Rubel and I have already planned on going to several tourist sites. But we just ended up trimming our list after consulting friends who've already been there. HOW COME? Well, most of them just warned us that most of the places that we wanted to see weren't that much interesting. So, what did we do in Ho Chi Minh? Well, Rubel and I just wandered around in our own steady pace. Here's how our first day went.



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