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Metro Manila named among 'destinations on the rise'

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 2:35 AM Comments comments (1213)

Pinoys don't have to look too far for places to explore, as an international travel website named Metro Manila as one of the destinations in Asia that are getting more and more fun.


Trip Advisor ranked the Philippines' capital region fourth in the list of the top 10 Asian "destinations on the rise."


It followed Jakarta, Indonesia; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Calcutta, India.


Rounding out the list of 10 are Bangalore, India; Luang Prabang, Laos; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and the Japanese cities of Kobe and Osaka.


"Located on Manila Bay in the South China Sea, and bisected by the Pasig River, the capital of the Philippines is historic and modern, rich and poor," the website said.


It highlighted the walled city of Intramuros as one of Metro Manila's popular sights.


"The capital during Spanish colonization, Intramuros has retained old dungeons and gunpowder rooms but added art galleries and theaters," the website said.


"The city is filled with museums, shops, parks and churches, plus enough nightlife to last until dawn," it added.


This recent accolade for Manila comes as the Department of Tourism on Wednesday launched a new international television campaign promoting entertainment and lifestyle offerings in Metro Manila.


The video dubbed "Sleepless Nights," shows travel, shopping, food options; Manila's clubs and bars at night; as well as other fun events to watch out for.

Trip Advisor meanwhile noted that Manila acts as the gateway to other destinations in the country.


Among the nearby must-see sites it recommended is Corregidor.


"It is called 'The Rock' because it served as the major bastion of Philippine's Allies during World War II," the website said.


In March, Trip Advisor also ranked Boracay Island at the top beach destination in Asia and the sixth in the world.


Globally, Boracay was rated higher than a number of well-known beach destinations in Hawaii, Miami and Mexico.



Best in Travel 2013 - Top 10 regions

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 5:35 AM Comments comments (0)

1. Corsica, FranceMelting pot of Med to host Tour

Best for: Activities, events, food

Mixing the cultures of Italy and France yet fiercely Corsican, the French Mediterranean island of Corsica has a furious beauty. It is this epic beauty combined with its challenging topography that make it a spectacular choice to host the historic centenary of the initial stages of the Tour de France. Race organisers wanted the hundredth Tour to start in an enchanting location, and decided Corsica was the place; this will be the first time the race has braved its challenges.

2. The Negev, Israel & the Palestinian TerritoriesDesert in throes of transformation

Best for: Adventure, activities, off the beaten track

Acacia Raddiana tree in the Negev desert.  For decades the Negev was regarded as nothing but a desolate desert. But today, this region is a giant greenhouse of development. Think eco-villages, spa resorts and even wineries. In the next few years a new international airport at Timna is scheduled to open, followed by a high-speed railway to Eilat and more hotels. Time is running out to experience the desert as nature intended.

3. Mustang, NepalLast chance to see 'forbidden kingdom'

Best for: Activities, off the beaten track, culture

The completion of a road connecting Mustang to China in the north and the rest of Nepal to the south will make all the difference to this remote region. Lo Manthang, or Mustang as it’s usually called, has been dubbed ‘little Tibet’ or ‘the last forbidden kingdom’; though politically part of Nepal, in language, culture, climate and geography, it’s Tibet. Until 1992 nobody from outside was allowed in; for a while after that it was opened up to a few hundred a year, and these days it anyone can enter, though the pricey trekking permit keeps the numbers down. Expect that to change.

4. The Yukon, CanadaPutting the 'wild' in wilderness

Best for: Activities, adventure, off the beaten track

This vast and thinly populated wilderness has a grandeur and beauty that can only be properly appreciated in person. But while few places in the world today are so unchanged over the course of time, change has started coming fast to the Yukon. In 2013 it is still one of the least densely populated regions on the planet (there’s almost 14.2 sq km/5.5 sq miles for each hardy local) but its tremendous mineral wealth is drawing new residents in a reprise of the fabled Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Climate change means that parts of the far north are actually dissolving into the Arctic Ocean and the glacier-clad parks are undergoing profound change.

5. Chachapoyas & Kuelap, PeruHidden gem of the Andes

Best for: Adventure, culture, off the beaten track

Nestled in the northern Peruvian Andes, the placid mountain city of Chachapoyas is small, quiet and a pain in the neck to reach. But this charming agricultural centre sits amid some of the country’s most incredible cultural and natural treasures, including an entire river valley’s worth of pre-Inca ruins, the funerary site of Karajía, and one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. The glorious isolation isn’t going to last for long. For the past half-dozen years, the Peruvian government has been quietly paving roads and improving other infrastructure to make the area more visitor-friendly.

6. The Gulf Coast, USACoast on comeback trail

Best for: Activities, family, value for money


An area that has become synonymous with the words ‘oil spill’ doesn’t sound like it’d be a vacation must-do. But a lot has happened since a deep-water drilling operation off the coast of Louisiana went fatally awry in 2010. The Gulf Coast – never a place to take disaster lying down – has rebounded. Rolling sand dunes once again sparkle and seasonal travellers are once again enjoying the Gulf’s tepid waters, not to mention its tender locally caught fish. The 'Redneck Riviera' is edging back to its best.

7. Carinthia, AustriaSerene bargain nestled in Alps

Best for: Activities, family, value for money

With belts tightening across Europe, the Alps are fast becoming the exclusive preserve of the champagne set… but lesser mortals will find plenty to love about Carinthia. With ski resorts nestled on every mountain top, Carinthia is best known outside Austria for uncrowded slopes and après-ski where you don’t have to take out a second mortgage just to buy a beer. Backing onto Italy and Slovenia, the region dilutes the Austrian efficiency with Mediterranean laissez-faire. So where are the crowds? Check out Carinthia now, while peace and quiet reigns; it won’t stay like this forever.

8. Palawan, the PhilippinesThe ultimate archipelago for adventurers

Best for: Off the beaten track, adventure, culture

Lake Kayangan, Coron Island, Palawan. Palawan incorporates thousands of sparkling, rugged islands and is fringed by 2000km of pristine coastline. So far Palawan’s natural marvels have only been sampled by plucky backpackers. Not for much longer. The trail these pioneers have blazed is set to explode, with regional airlines waking up to Palawan’s potential and clambering to schedule direct flights to the capital. Throw in the mushrooming growth of style-conscious boutique hotels normally found in places like Ko Samui or Bali, and you can feel that Palawan is ready to hit the big-time in 2013.

9. Inland Sea, JapanJapan without the bells, whistles and bullet trains

Best for: Culture, activities, off the beaten track

Dawn over the Kurushima Bridge across the Seto Inland Sea. Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt Fuji… the islands of the Seto Inland Sea? You’d be forgiven if the name of this vast stretch of water in Japan’s west doesn’t ring any bells. With the exception of Miyajima, with its oft-photographed vermillion ‘floating’ torii (shrine gate), most of the Inland Sea islands aren’t on the usual international-tourist hit list. Fair enough. They’re out of the way, and there’s just so much to do in Tokyo. But those who make the effort are rewarded. Many of the islands in this roughly 400km-long waterway offer the chance to experience a Japan without all the bells, whistles and bullet trains.

10. Campania, ItalyOld classic prepares for epic year

Best for: Culture, family, food

Campania is home to Italy’s most sumptuous stretch of coastline (the Amalfi Coast), one of its most mind-blowing and ebullient cities (Naples), the menacing beauty of Mt Vesuvius, and the frozen-in-lava ancient Roman city of Pompeii. This year it is receiving an enormous injection of cash as part of its role in hosting the UN’s fourth Universal Forum of Cultures from April to July. Events will include art exhibitions from all five continents, music, cinema, dance, street artists and theatre, circus acts, food markets and workshops.


Read more:


10 best places to explore the underworld

Posted on October 29, 2012 at 5:35 AM Comments comments (0)

By Christine Sarkis | Yahoo! Travel – Fri, Oct 26, 2012 3:25 PM EDT

Fun goes underground with these 10 subterranean adventures. We've scoured the Earth for tunnels, caves, buried neighborhoods, and other treasures hidden beneath mountains, prisons, and even thriving cities. So go ahead and skip the sunscreen—you're going underground.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo, New Zealand


You: in the dark, on a boat, admiring a twinkling sky. Sounds nice, right? But there's a memorable twist: You're deep underground and those aren't stars, they're living lights—the famous glowworms of Waitomo Caves in New Zealand. The worms, and the experience, are unique to New Zealand. In addition to the boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto, tours of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves include a stop at the Cathedral, a soaring cavern renowned for its acoustics.


Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Philippines

Float down this underground river on a raft of superlatives. The Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines is not only reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the world, but it also flows through one of the world's most impressive cave systems. This UNESCO World Heritage site was just voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature for its "mountain-to-sea" ecosystem that features old-growth forests, caverns full of remarkable rock formations, and the tidally influenced river that empties into the South China Sea. In order to preserve the cave, all visitors must secure a permit before entry. There's a limit to the number of people who can visit daily, so be sure to book a spot on a tour in advance.


Seattle Underground



It's perfectly fitting that in this tech-centric city, there was once a Seattle 1.0. In the city's first version of itself, mud—so deep it consumed dogs and children—was the primary feature. But when the Great Fire of 1889 wiped out 25 blocks, the city had to start again. Seattle used its reboot wisely, building retaining walls and raising the streets above their previously muddy foundations. Much of the original city sits undisturbed under the neighborhood around Pioneer Square, and you can explore it on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. The quirky trip covers blocks of subterranean passageways that were once sidewalks and storefronts on a tour peppered with anecdotes and local trivia.


La Ville Souterraine

Montreal, Canada


Shop, sleep, learn, eat, even bank—all underground. Montreal's Underground City (known also as La Ville Souterraine or RESO) is among the world's largest underground complexes. Twenty miles of tunnels beneath downtown Montreal are lined with shopping malls, hotels, museums, university buildings, metro and train stations, and even a hockey arena. Unlike most of our underground picks, this one requires no special ticket or tour to access. Though you might need a map if you ever want to get out.


Colosseum Hypogeum



You haven't seen Rome's Colosseum until you've explored the recently opened hypogeum—the underground tunnels and spaces where gladiators prepared for fights and exotic wild animals were held before being raised into the arena above. You can visit as part of a Colosseum tour or as a stop on a larger city tour offered by one of Rome's private sightseeing companies. To explore other subterranean sights around Rome, check out Underground Rome: The Hidden City tour.


Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort

Ainsworth Hot Springs, Canada


Soak in a subterranean experience at Ainsworth Hot Springs in British Columbia, about 150 miles north of Spokane, Washington. Hot mineral waters rain down into a meandering cave where, surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites, lucky bathers lounge in waist-deep pools. Take the waters as a resort guest or get a day pass that also grants you access to warm outdoor pools with amazing views and, for the brave, a stream-fed cold plunge.


Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka, Poland


Salt brings out the flavor in food, so it's no surprise that a salt mine would spice things up underground, too. The Wieliczka Salt Mine, just outside Krakow, has a 900-year history of activity that has yielded 125 miles of passages and more than 2,000 caverns. The subterranean UNESCO World Heritage site holds plenty for visitors, including a massive mining museum, a concert chamber, chapels carved from salt, and a sanatorium for allergy and asthma sufferers.


Caves of the Thousand Buddhas

Dunhuang, China


The gems of the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas may not sparkle, but they'll still take your breath away. An unassuming stretch of desert along the Silk Road in western China is home to hundreds of caves dug by monks and decorated with sculptures and paintings over the course of a thousand years. Also known as the Mogao Caves, the site is off the beaten path for most travelers to China. But it scores high on the wow scale, with nearly 500,000 square feet of intricate wall murals and more than 2,000 painted sculptures.


Fremantle Prison's Tunnels

Fremantle, Australia


You'll have to suit up for this subterranean prison adventure. Fremantle Prison's Tunnels Tour starts when you don a hard hat, overalls, tall rubber boots, and a headlamp, then climb down a 65-foot ladder. Still interested? You'll then crouch your way through passageways—some less than five feet high—while exploring the tunnels that have served as a water storage area for the prison since the late 19th century. Top it off by hopping a small boat and paddling your way through submerged tunnels. Tours run daily and last two and a half hours; book in advance.


Canal Saint-Martin



From jazz clubs to catacombs to a sewer museum, some of Paris' most unusual attractions are underground. Among so many colorful options, the boats that glide silently along the passage underneath the Bastille on their way to the locks of the Canal Saint-Martin often escape notice. But this is an experience worth the trip underground: Hop a boat through the under- and above-ground portions of the canal to discover a part of Paris most people don't. As an added bonus, you'll find art in an unexpected place—the Sounds of Light installation under the vault of the Bastille. Paris Canal and Canauxrama run cruises that include the underground section of the Canal Saint-Martin.


Boracay named top beach destination

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (17)


By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

Inquirer Visayas

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Business operators on Boracay island have embraced its new distinction as the world’s best island destination for 2012.

But they raised the need for additional infrastructure and environmental protection to retain its world-class features.

“It is, of course, a very welcome development but it would be difficult to maintain our position,” said Dionesio Salme, president of the Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI), an organization of business owners and operators on the island.

Salme said the recognition given by the prestigious Travel+Leisure Magazine reaffirmed Boracay’s fame as having one of the best beaches in the world.

The island, known for its powdery-white sand and clear waters, topped the magazine’s 2012 World’s Best Awards with a rating of 93.10, beating the popular Indonesian destination Bali Island, which ranked second with 90.41. Boracay ranked fourth in the same category in 2011.

The magazine’s annual World’s Best Awards rates hotels, islands, destination spas, golf resorts and rental-car agencies. The ranking is based on an online survey among its readers.

Also cited in the awards was the Discovery Shores Boracay resort, which ranked fifth in the top 100 hotels in the world (from 55th last year) and second top resort in Asia (from 8th last year). The posh resort also bagged the best hotel spa in Asia award.

Rounding up the winners in the best island category were: Galápagos, Ecuador; Maui, Hawaii; Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia; Santorini, Greece; Kauai, Hawaii; Big Island, Hawaii; Sicily, Italy; and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Annual tourist arrivals in Boracay have grown consistently for the past several years, from 649,559 in 2009 and 779,666 in 2010 to 908,875 in 2011. Tourism revenues also increased from P11.9 billion in 2009 and P14.3 billion in 2010 to P16.7 billion in 2011.

Salme said a lot should still be done in addressing the infrastructure needs of the island, which would likely draw more than a million tourists in 2012.

He cited the need to complete the drainage system to address the flooding in areas of the island, especially during the rainy season.

There is also a need to develop the Tabon jetty port in Caticlan, which serves as an alternative jump-off point to Boracay during the southwest monsoon.

The island’s road network also needs to be improved and that includes the completion of the circumferential road which residents hope will address the worsening traffic problems on the 1,032-hectare island.

But he said the biggest challenge has been and would continue to be the island’s environmental problems, which have been blamed on decades of unregulated construction and development projects.

Tourism regional director Helen Catalbas said the island’s award “makes it more urgent to address the concerns on the island’s sustainability.”

She said various sectors including the government should work hard to ensure that the island could cope with its continuing popularity.

“Other destinations will overtake us if we do not preserve the island’s environment and ensure that development is regulated,” Catalbas said.

She said the government has intensified its monitoring against bringing out sand from the island.

Several tourists have been intercepted at the Caticlan airport and jetty port with water bottles and plastic bags filled with sand from the island that they intended to bring home as souvenirs.



Five must-see sites in Puerto Princesa

Posted on July 4, 2012 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

By Anna Valmero

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN — Puerto Princesa typically serves as a stopover for tourists headed to the white sand beaches of Palawan or to visit the world-famous Underground River.

If you are spending an extra day at the city proper, you can make the most of out of it by visiting the following places that highlight Palawan’s ethnic diversity and history.

Palawan Heritage Center. The newest museum in the capitol compound offers a unique look at the cultural heritage of Palawan. Opened in 2011, the museum features interactive displays and houses centuries-old artifacts, including replicas of the Tabon man skull, said to be one of the earliest inhabitants in the archipelago, and the Manunggul jar, which depicts the ancient belief in the afterlife.

You can also see hundreds of pictures taken during the Second World War and of landing sites of ships surrounding Palawan, artifacts including hunting implements and jewelry, Tau't Bato and Batak natives. You can also listen to Cuyonon folk songs and read about their stories on the origin of life and fire, among others.

Plaza Cuartel. The quiet and manicured lawn many locals know today as Lover's Park was witness to how 150 prisoners of war (POWs) were burned to death by the Japanese in 1944 at the height of the Second World War.

The names of the POWs were inscribed in a marker donated by war veteran Don T. Schloat, one of 11 survivors of the massacre in Plaza Cuartel. Before he died in 2008, Schloat told park goers that there is a tunnel below the park that heads straight to the sea. The POWs were drenched in gasoline before they were burned while running to reach the end of the tunnel to survive. At night, the wails of the soldiers can still be heard according to the plaza’s caretaker.

Immaculate Conception Parish. Just opposite the Plaza Cuartel is a century-old cathedral frequented by locals. Its Gothic design and its blue color makes it a standout. The original church, made of nipa hut, was built in the same site during the late 1800s.

As you enter the church, look up and see the native decorations of the ceilings, one of the cathedral’s unique features. Puerto Princesa has one thing in common with the town of Sta. Cruz in Laguna – their patron saint is the Immaculate Concepcion of Mary.

Crocodile Farm. The Palawan Crocodile Farm and Conservation Center is open for visitors to learn about crocodile farming and how to conserve these reptiles. Since the news about the discovery of Lolong in Agusan Marsh, tourist vans have been entering the farm non-stop.

Attractions include the huge skeleton of a crocodile and its leatherette skin, baby crocodiles (grouped under “salties” and freshwater types), and the resting cages of the adult crocodiles. Turn off your camera’s flash when taking photos because this causes undue stress to the animals. Tours are held every 30 minutes. Entrance fee is P50, which helps fund the maintenance of the farm

Baker's Hill. If you are looking to buy pasalubong before heading home, drop by Baker's Hill. It is actually a compound that includes a handful of pizza houses, restaurants and bakeries. There are also statues of famous Disney characters and even Marilyn Monroe wearing a red dress.

Don't forget to bring home boxes of their hopia and chocolate crinkles

How to get there:

Major airlines in the country have daily flights to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. From the airport, you can ride a tricycle (P8 one-way) to get to the capitol or hire one to tour you around the city.


Filquest Media Concepts, Inc. is a multimedia publisher and provider of web, print, mobile and video content. We do this for our own media properties, but we also extend that service as an outsourced provider for news organizations, web, print, mobile and broadcasting companies.



PH resort named in Vogue-UK as "best for holidays"

Posted on July 4, 2012 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

By Thea Alberto-Masakayan | Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom – Sun, Jul 1, 2012

An island resort in a remote area in Palawan has been identified in Vogue Magazine-United Kingdom as a top vacation site.


Ariara, located in Linapacan, Palawan, was described in the article as "exotic" and "adventurous."


"It will house you and your guests along a stunning beach so that you truly feel that you’ve found your corner of the world," the magazine said in its slideshow.


"Supreme in quality from the water sports to the food and wine, it’s worth every penny of its breath-taking prices," the magazine said, adding that the resort is "best for the most decadent of group holidays."


According to Ariara's website, reservations during the peak season may cost some P180,000 per night for a group of only eight guests.


"Ariara is only available for exclusive rental to one group/party of guests at a time," the resort added.


Vogue UK said the price, however, "for a really special occasion might just be justified." Other resorts that made it to Vogue's list include several posh hotels in Brazil, New York, Maldives, among others.


Volunteer tourism gets limelight in the Philippines

Posted on July 3, 2012 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (1)

Volunteer tourism gets limelight in the Philippines

by Rosa Ocampo,

Manila, June 27, 2012  

TOUR operators in the Philippines are lining up packages with charity elements such as repairing rice terraces and building houses for needy communities to promote volunteer tourism.


The packages, which can be woven into other itineraries such as tours of Manila, Palawan, Bohol and Cebu, will first be launched at the Philippine Travel Mart from September 2-4, with the domestic market being the target audience. They will then be introduced to the international market at the PATA Travel Mart later that month.


Cesar Cruz, president of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) said a consortium of 14 tour operators, with the association playing the role of secretariat, would operate the programme that involves repairing the Banaue Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Details of the programme are being finalised and guaranteed departures will be offered.


The Department of Tourism and PHILTOA are also discussing a programme that will allow volunteers to join Gawad Kalinga, a non-profit organisation, in building houses for the poor.


As well, tour operators will market the Cagayan de Oro Fun Help Package, offered by the Cagayan de Oro Tours and Travel Association, which reaches out to victims of a typhoon that had killed over 800 people in southern Philippines last November. Participants can contribute cash donations, go on city tours and sign up for optional activities such as whitewater rafting.




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