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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Maui travel tips for first timers

Now that you have decided to go to Maui congratulate yourself for taking a great decision and planning a Hawaii vacation. Maui is known for its white sandy beaches, sporting activities, and festive and colorful luaus. Make your booking well ahead of time for this beautiful Hawaiian Island. Pick from one of those wonderful homes for rent in Maui to stay at and make your stay more worthwhile. If you are wondering where to go or how to start your travel plans for Maui, read on to learn more.

When to go?
As the holidaymaker, you need to decide when you plan to holiday in Maui and what time of year, month work best for you or your family. You need to look at your work schedule. I know this is the very dreadful and tiring part but once this part is settled, the rest will just follow through.  So pick a date that fits your need for time, budget and weather.  If you want to avoid the rush and take advantage of cheaper tickets, keep your plans open for March-May and September-November in Maui when it is the off-season. Winters are attractive to those who don’t mind the cold but summers are incredible here.  Perhaps, the youth can stand the cold but I definitely recommend summers for those who prefer a warm relaxing vacation.

What to bring?
If you pack light, vacationing in Maui will be just perfect. There is no need to carry heavy sweaters and pants as the climate on the island is warm. As there is loads of sightseeing to do, bring light cotton shirts, shorts, and comfortable clothing.  Keep your face shielded from the sun with a hat and a pair of sunglasses.  If you enjoy taking photos then bring your more colorful dresses and hip shades.  As there are beaches and waterfalls to be explored, do not forget to pack a couple of swimsuits. Cycling or biking tours will need comfy clothing.  Get ready get tanned and have some fun!

Where to stay?
Maui boasts of a varied range of unique towns with micro-climates.  Some of the best areas to stay on the island include South Maui, where you can be sure to have a sunny weather.  West Maui is popular because of loads of restaurants on the water and a great shopping experience. East Maui lures holidaymakers because of lush rainforests and empty beaches. Upcountry Maui is a preferred because of the great views. You can pick from lodges, resorts, and homes for rent in Maui and enjoy the most comfortable stay that is well within your budget.

Getting around the island
 Maui is easy to get around. However, if this is your first time, it is recommended that you get a guided tour. Those who are well familiar with the island, it makes sense to get a rented car. There are All Terrain Vehicles and even motorcycles available for hire. The first-timers can take advantage of the public transportation which is very affordable.

What to explore?
 Many tourists are seen relaxing and enjoying the beach in the form of their rented home or their hotel. Others are out all the time, exploring the areas and the islands. If you are looking forward to a relaxing holiday, you can enjoy restaurants, massage, shows, golfing and even beach portraits. If you are an explorer, you can enjoy hiking, snorkeling, whale watching, sailing, and lots more. Then there are scuba diving, zip lines, helicopter tours, hiking, sports fishing, kayaking and parasailing for the hardcore adventurers itching for excitement and adrenalin rush.

Must see for the first timers
If visiting Maui for the first time, there are some spots in the magical Valley Isle that are a must do and highly recommend. For example, the Road to Hana and Haleakalā are the most popular attractions, and the journey itself is a destination. Stop along the way and savor the sights of black and red sand beaches, scenic lookouts, waterfalls and curvy roads. Do not miss the highlights of the historic Lahaina sites and experience music concerts and other important events. Another must do is making the trip to Haleakalā, a towering mountain and National Park that is famous for spectacular sunrises. Sop in the town of Makawaoa to enjoy a juicy grass-fed steak and rub in the cowboy culture.

Where to shop?
If you are wondering where to shop in Maui, well the island will not disappoint you as it has some fantastic splendors to offer.  You are sure to enjoy the best souvenir shopping and will simply love the gifts you are taking back foryour friends and family! The most popular spots with the tourists are Paia town, Maui swap meet, Makawao, Nahiku marketplace and many more. You will discover special treasures from Lahaina to Hana. The Whalers Village shopping center, overlooking the emerald waters has a range of shopping gems.The shopping malls of Central Maui and Shops of Wailea offer upscale shopping experience.

Where to dine?
Maui is loaded with fabulous restaurants and some great food trucks. The island is truly blessed with a culinary scene unlike any in the world. You can easily enjoy medleys of sushi and fish or find Filipino flavors by the beach. Enjoy a wide range of affordable island favorites prepared by the island-based chefs. Maui’s best bakeries are sure to satisfy your sweet cravings. Go to some of the best restaurants in Maui for a savory dining experience. The food is prepared with fresh local ingredients and what’s been caught that day form the waters. There are so many excitting places to eat in Maui.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hop Inn Hotel Makati Avenue: Top 10 Reasons Why We Love Our Stay

Hop Inn Hotel originated from Thailand and now has two branches here in the Philippines: Makati Avenue and Ermita Manila.

hop inn makati avenue
Ever since we heard about Hop Inn Hotel, we've always been wanting to try it.  Honestly, it has exceeded our expectations that we've loved our stay.

Top 10 Reasons Why We Love Our Stay at Hop Inn Makati Ave
10. Adequate Parking Spaces
  • Hop Inn Makati Avenue dedicates it front space for car park.  If you have a car and want to stay for a night to spare yourself from the city traffic, this is a great choice.
hop inn makati avenue
9. Easy to Find
  • Hop Inn Makati Avenue is easy to find.  It is not surrounded by any tall buildings.  And, it is found in the corner of Makati Avenue and J.P. Rizal.
hop inn makati avenue8. Free Fast and Reliable WiFi
  • Hop Inn Makati Avenue has free fast and reliable WiFi which covers every part of the hotel.
hop inn makati avenue
7. Strategic Location
  • Hop Inn Makati Avenue is found at the heart of Makati's Night Life.  Diners and pubs are accessible by walking.  There are many passerby all day and all night long so you can feel safe and secured going out and about.
hop inn makati avenue
6. Courteous Staff
  • The staffs are very courteous and accommodating to requests.  Although no phones are located at the rooms, you can find them at the hall near the elevators.  And sure enough, someone will go up and knock to address your needs.
hop inn makati avenue
5. Adequate Elevators
  • There are adequate elevators so we did not experience any waiting time. 
hop inn makati avenue
4. Bright, Clean and Spacious
  • Whether it's the hallway, rooms and even the bathrooms, everything is bright, clean and spacious. 
hop inn makati avenue
3. Safe
  • All the rooms have a glow in the dark fire escape plan by the door.  (Yes! The glow in the dark idea is so cool.)  Each floor is equipped with fire extinguishers and fire exit.  The walls of the rooms are sturdy and cemented.  Each room is also equipped with safes.  And, the entire area is a non-smoking area.  There is a smoke-detector in every room to assure that.
hop inn makati avenue
2. Comfortable Rooms
  • The beds, pillows and comforters are very soft.  There's a luggage port under the bed.  The air-conditioning is cool and very silent.  There is a desk area with a view of the urban structures.  There is a clothes rack with hangers to hang and dry your clothes.  There are many electrical sockets for charging your gadgets.  Their cable TV has a lot of channel options.  The rooms are divided by cemented walls and not just wooden planks.  There bathroom is equipped with a shower with heater.  There is even a hairdryer.
hop inn makati avenue
1. Very Affordable
  • Considering the location, comfort, service and lots of inclusions like 2 bottle waters, fresh towels and soap/shampoo (but no toothbrush and toothpaste), the price is very affordable!  This is considered a budget hotel.  And, yes we dare say a very good one!
hop inn makati avenue

So there you have it, our top 10 reasons why we love our stay at Hop Inn Makati Avenue.  We are definitely considering staying here again.
Hop Inn Hotel Makati Avenue
Hotel Address 7806 Makati Ave, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
Contact (632) 816-7866 Reservation Required No (Encouraged)
Payment Options   Cash Public Transport Jeep, Taxi
Room Types Room Amenities Price
Standard - Twin
• Good For 2 Persons
• 2 Single Bed
• 1 hair dryer
• Hot/cold water / bathtub / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Safety deposit box
• Free Wifi
1,400 php
Standard - Double Room
• Good For 2 Persons
• 1 Queen-size bed
• 1 Single Bed
• 1 hair dryer
• Hot/cold water / bathtub / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Safety deposit box
• Free Wifi
1,400 php
Standard - Sea View
• Good For 2 Persons
• 1 Queen-size bed
• 1 Single Bed
• 1 hair dryer
• Hot/cold water / bathtub / shower
• 24 hrs. cable TV / In-house movie channels
• Air-conditioned
• Safety deposit box
• Free Wifi
1,800 php
General Amenities

Parking Yes
Travel Tripsters Hotel Review Rating Hop Inn Hotel Makati Avenue Map
Room Comfort

Monday, October 2, 2017

Bataan: Top 10 Food Pasalubong or Food Products

Bataan is a province very near Metro Manila.  Unlike Metro Manila, it has a coastal area making it rich in Marine Food Products.  It also has a lot of other gourmet food products that's great as food pasalubong. 

bataan food pasalubong
So what are the top food pasalubong to buy when you're in Bataan?

Top 10 Food Pasalubong or Food Products from Bataan
Let us share our top 10 food pasalubong or food products from Bataan.

1. Montey's Buko Pie
monteys buko piemonteys buko pie

From the town of Morong Bataan is Montey's Buko Pie.  A whole pie costs only 150 php.   We found this cheaper than the more commercialize Buko Pie's from the south - Tagaytay and Laguna.

monteys buko pie
What we love about Montey's Buko Pie is that:
  • it is not too sweet therefore, bringing out the natural young coconut flavor
  • the custard has a soft creamy and gelatinous texture 
  • the crisp of the crust is addictive to munch on
  • there is a generous amount of young coconut flesh
2. Busilak's Cashew Prunes
busilaks cashew prunes
Busilak makes use of the all cashew by-products by making the cashew apple into Cashew Prunes.  The Cashew Prunes have a nice chewy texture and not overly sweetened.  This is a great alternative to candies.  If we recall correctly, it is priced at 100 php per pack.

busilak cashew prune bignay wine
They also have wines which we didn't get to try...

3. Dennis Ube De Leche Halaya
dennis ube de leche halaya
What makes Dennis Ube De Leche Halaya different from other Ube Halaya in the market is its silky smooth creaminess.  Because they don't use preservatives, this spoils very quickly.  Each spoonful is a massage to the tongue with an explosion of purple yam flavor making it difficult to stop yourself from consuming this.

dennis bagoong
Dennis sells other gourmet bottle food products.  The Bagoong or shrimp paste is quite good too.

4. Beakris Tamarind Balls
beakris tamarind balls
Not too sweet, not too sour with a mild chewiness that doesn't need extra effort to bite into, Beakris Tamarind Balls is another popular sweet treat in the area.  A box costs around 90 php.  Beakris from Orani Bataan also has other famous products such as their chocolate coated polvoron.

5. Cashew Nuts
cashew nuts
We have tried several brands of Cashew Nuts and all of them have nearly the same quality and pricing.

vangies cashew nuts
Thus, choosing the brand is only based on your own preference.  Good brands we tried are:
 A pack costs around 200 php.
Bagakeño also has Cashew Cookies which we found to be a bit sweet.  And, it has a bit of a spongy texture like that of Batangas' Broas.

 6. Ina Gloria Dayap Cookies
ina gloria dayap cookies
Although Ina Gloria also has Cashew Cookies, it is Ina Gloria's Dayap Cookies with a mellow citrusy flavor that impressed our taste buds.  The texture of the cookies is crunchy with a powdery residue similar to Bataan's Arrow Root Cookies or Araro.  A small pack costs around 35 php.

7. Amanda's Smoked Bangus and Smoked Gigi
amandas smoked bangus
We bought Smoked Bangus and Smoked Gigi or Tinapa from Amanda's as well as two vendors in Balanga's Public Market for comparison.  The price difference is not much but Amanda's of Balanga Bataan is high price point is worth every peso with its superior quality.  Although we want to support the small-scale marine industry, we can't help but be disappointed with the food quality.  The first one we bought from Balanga Public Market was too salty.  And, the other one was already spoilt within 3 days despite being refrigerated like the other two.

8. Balanga Public Market Ube Suman
No need to dip your suman into chocolate or spread it with Ube Jam, as this Ube Suman is already a combination of suman and ube halaya.  For only 10 php, you get two pieces.  Manang makes them fresh daily and boasts that she has send all her kids and grandchildren through her famous suman and other kakanin.

9. Sam Roque's Mussel Chips 
An alternative to the usual chicharon or fried pork rind is Sam's Roque's Mussel Chips. You can taste the rich sea flavors in every crispy bite.

10.  Araro Cookies or Arrow Root Cookies
Bataan's Araro Cookies or Arrow Root Cookies is more on the crunchy and less powdery side as compared to the Uraro of Pampanga.  Each brand has its own distinguishable feature.  We also can't decide which is the best.  It's a tie between:
  • Joyce Araro Cookies
  • Herrera's  Special Araro Cookies with Cashew Nuts
  • Manuel's Uraro (since 1955) - Update May 2021: Just discovered this one! So good!
Other Food Products We Tried
We also bought the Tabang Tuyo at 200 php per kilo from the Balanga Market.  But, it turned out to be very salty which was quite contrary to their promise of unsaltiness.


An old man in the market also loves and swear by the Nilupak in the Balanga Market.  Somehow this mashed cassava delicacy with margarine on top failed to make a lasting impression upon us.

Did we miss anything good?  Let us know!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bus Stop Dive Resort: 10 Reasons Why It Is the Best Choice For Diving in Batangas

Whether it's for the budget or homey hospitality, I am always in search for new places to stay that isn't too hyped.  A few weeks ago, I discovered Bus Stop Dive Resort in Anilao/Bauan Batangas.

bus stop dive resort
As implied by the name, it is among the many dive resosts in Batangas.  So why here?  Let me give you 10 reasons why it is one of the best if not the best choice in Batangas.

10 Reasons Why Its the Best Choice for Diving in Batangas

10. Short Drive and Short Boat Ride
bus stop dive resort
Driving to the Bus Stop Dive Resort Boat Station is only around an hour and a half drive from Metro Manila.  There is adequate parking slots to leave your car there well-guarded during your entire stay.

There boat ride is only 10 to 15 minutes long.  The waves are usually calm so you can still ride a boat even after sunset.

9. Affordable and Clean Accommodation
bus stop dive resort
The accommodation is clean and very affordable.  An overnight stay stats at 500 php per head.

bus stop dive resort
There are many types of rooms to choose from.  You have a terrace with sea view.  And, the bathroom is equipped with shower.

8. Freshly Cooked Homey Food
bus stop dive resort
As you can see they have a clean kitchen that's open for everyone to walk into and inspect anytime.

sotanghon na mackarel
The food is freshly cooked with fresh local ingredients bought from the town market.

Sotanghon na Mackarel, Adobong Manok, Lumpiang Ubod and Rice
Most of us are too busy to enjoy home-cooked meals.  And, some of the foreign guests are unfamiliar with our favorite home-cooked dishes.

filipino food
Thus, for breakfast, lunch or dinner... Bus Stop serves dishes that will surely warm up your hearts and stomach with homey cooked dishes.

filipino food
I really enjoyed these simple dishes.  It is indeed one of the plus factors of my relaxing stay at Bus Stop.

7. Calming View and Music of the Sea
bus stop dive resort
There is nothing more refreshing and relaxing than looking at the clear blue sea and listening to the sounds of the waves.

I find it relieving to pace my breath with the sound of the waves.

6. Beautiful Seascapes
bus stop dive resort
The sea isn't just a plain open sea.

bus stop dive resort
There are many rocks and floras that create a beautiful seascape perfect for photography.

bus stop dive resort
Just look at how emotional my shots are.

bus stop dive resort
You can get different outputs depending on the time and mood of the day.

5. Great Nap Place
When was the last time you have a nap outside the four corners of your room?  I bet that is nothing compared to this right?

bus stop dive resort
Feel the fresh sea breeze brush across you cheeks and the rest of your skin as you take your nap.

4. Get to Watch a Scenic Sunset
bus stop dive resort
One of the best reasons to stay for the night is to be able to sit by the shore, maybe grab some beer and just appreciate the orange hues spreading across the greyish skies.

sunset bauan batangas
This is one of my favorite shots.

3. Instagram Worthy Photos
bauan dive resort
You can find a lot of Instagram worthy photos in this place.  The possibilities is limitless depending on your creativity.

2. Pet-Friendly
dog in batangas beach
If you're looking for pet-friendly locations, this is one of them.

1. Direct Diving Spot
bus stop dive resort
They have a direct diving spot just ashore.  Just in front of the place is already a marine sanctuary formerly known as Bus Stop.  Unlike in Anilao where you will spend on renting a boat out on top of their high and commercialized accommodation rates, here you can just rent some gears and hire a dive master and you're all set to go.  Even if you're not a diver, you can just do snorkeling ad on a fair da ysee lots of fishes in the calm and crystal clear water.

Check out my first dive and trek experience at Bus Stop Dive Resort on my next post.

Bus Stop Dive Resort
Hotel Address Bauan San Pablo Batangas Philippines
Contact (632) 435-3545 Reservation Required No (Encouraged)
Payment Options   Cash Public Transport Bus + Tricycle
Room Types Room Amenities Price
• Twin or Single Bed
500 php/head
General Amenities Cottage huts Parking No
Travel Tripsters Hotel Review Rating Bus Stop Dive Resort
Room Comfort

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