July 20, 2018


Filipinos traveling abroad are required to pay travel tax. To avoid long lines at the travel tax counter inside the airport, you can choose to do the ff:

1. Pay online and incur an additional 78.35 pesos fee per person as web admin fee and credit card surcharge

Check out my post:


2. Pay at one of the government's travel tax counters. 

I chose to visit the SM North EDSA travel tax counter because they don't charge a processing fee in addition to the tax, unlike when you pay online. 


1. The original passport of the traveler

I didn't ask if a photocopy is accepted. I just brought the original passport just to be safe. In case you can't bring the original passport of the traveler for various reasons, you can ask them at this phone number: (632)533-5026 whether they will accept a photocopy. 

2. A printout of your ticket.

They need the printout because the receipt must indicate the flight number and ticket number/booking reference number.

3. Cash

They say they accept credit cards. But when I paid at the counter, the credit card machine is offline. So I think it's better to bring cash. 

Travel tax rates


Mon to Fri: 10:00 AM to 6pm


At the basement of SM North EDSA Annex, beside the bowling center. 

The entrance of the travel tax counter is at the right. 

The TIEZA travel tax counter is within the SM government service express center. 

The travel tax counter is at the right near the door or entrance of the center. 

The Government Express Service Center offers other services like LTO driver's license renewal, SSS payment  etc. 

HANOI: 10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

July 14, 2018

HANOI: 10 Reasons Why I Love this Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

If you don't have time to stay overnight in Halong Bay, this is a day tour I highly recommend. The cheapest day tour I could find is only half the price of this tour but they have a lot of problems like cramped vans, overbooked boats, a long and bumpy van ride, hanging out too long in souvenir shops instead of a longer stay at Halong Bay. Since it's only a day, comfort and maximized time is essential. Comfort is essential because if you don't feel well after the 3 hour van ride, you end up not enjoying the short stay at Halong Bay. It's also important to maximize time by avoiding long wait times in boats and in souvenir shops because as I said, it takes away time spent at Halong Bay if you spend it on these unimportant  activities that can be avoided.

Here are 10 reasons why I love the Halong Bay Luxury Day Tour

1. Late hotel pick-up time

We were picked up 9:00 AM so we need not wake up too early (We're on vacation, right? 😊). We were also able to enjoy a long and hearty breakfast.

Despite the late pick up time, we arrived ahead of a lot of tourists. I will explain later.

2. The luxury van is spacious and is limited to a comfortable number of passengers.

The luxury van is very spacious and comfortable, it has spacious leather seats that can be reclined, has free WiFi, charging port and complimentary bottled water. The 3 hour ride was fast and comfortable. We were able to rest well so we were able to enjoy cruising Halong Bay.

3. Our guide, Choung, is very well-informed, attentive and entertaining.

Our guide, Chuong took care of us very well. He was very attentive to our needs. He is well informed and shared with us a wealth of information about Vietnamese life and culture from a personal perspective which gave us an insider's view of Hanoi life.

4. The route of this tour uses the highway so travel time is faster.

They picked us up 9 am but we were able to arrive ahead of the other tours. We rode the boat immediately and visit the caves without the crowd of tourists because we arrived ahead of them because our van used the faster route.

Other cheaper tour groups avoid paying the toll for the highway, so they use the longer, less paved route.

5. We stopped briefly to use the toilet and weren't brought to any souvenir shops.

We liked that we stopped just a few minutes to use the toilet so we were able to save time and maximize our stay at Halong Bay. 

This is the toilet stop

6. They limit the number of passengers riding the van and the boat. So we weren't crowded.

Inside the van

Inside the boat 

7. Waiting time to board the boat is only brief. 

8. Food is delicious. Drinks are included in the rate. 

9. The bamboo boat or kayak ride (you have a choice between the two) used to explore the inner islands of Halong Bay is included in the rate.

10. The tour's pace is perfect and not tiring but we loved that it included the right combination of highlights on the must see and experience at Halong Bay. 


A cruise along Halong bay

Bamboo boat ride or Kayak to the inner islands of Halong Bay

Dau Go Cave Tour 

In conclusion:

Despite it being more expensive than other day tours, I consider it value for money and will highly recommend it to others. The additional expense is worth it because it gave us a very enjoyable, comfortable and comprehensive day tour of Halong Bay and a quick peek on Vietnamese life and culture through the personal perspective of our guide, Chuong.


TOKYO: Inside Ghibli Museum

July 10, 2018

TOKYO: Inside Ghibli Museum

Photos and videos are not allowed inside the Ghibli Museum. So this is the most I can share with you just to give you an idea what to expect when visiting the Ghibli Museum.

This is the brochure that was given to us to guide us on how to navigate the museum. We entered basement 1 and navigated our way up.

My tips:

1. How to get tickets online
Ghibli Museum tickets are very hard to get. When ticket sales open, all slots for the month are usually sold out within the hour. 
So check out my post on MY TIPS ON HOW TO GET GHIBLI MUSEUM TICKETS ONLINE. I was able to get all 6 tickets that I applied for and on the time slot I wanted.

2. How much time to give explore the museum.
We spent 3 hours leisurely exploring the whole museum. So I think the 2:00 pm time slot should be the latest time slot you should get. There is no time limit to your visit. You can stay until the 6:00 pm closing time.
3. How to get there
It's actually very easy to get to Ghibli Museum. You just alight from Mitaka Station, then ride the Ghibli bus. You can get the ticket from a vending machine in front of the bus stop. The bus arrives every 20 minutes. There's a sign in the bus that announces the stop in both English and Japanese so you won't get lost.
4. Where to eat
We arrived at the museum lunchtime but we couldn't enter since our slot is at 2:00 pm. We found a Lawson store across the museum and bought our lunch there. The museum is within Inokashira park so we found benches to sit on where we can have lunch while waiting for our time to enter the museum.
5. Suggested itinerary
I chose the 2:00 pm slot so we can make a quick stop in the morning at the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum to view the places and structures that inspired Miyazaki's Spirited Away, especially the bath house. We visited only the central and eastern portion and skipped the western portion.
Suggested itinerary: 
9:00 am-12:00 pm Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm Ghibli Museum