Backpacking Europe – 3 days in Rome Italy Sorry for the long wait. Its been a while since my last post. Been busy with work, travel planning, vacations and last Christmas holidays. To continue my Europe Backpacking trip report, i would like to share the […]
Many of us Filipinos dream to visit Europe at least once but are intimidated by getting a visa, travel cost and complexity of turning this dream into reality. Fortunately, as an OFW in Bahrain, I believed that getting a Schengen visa is a bit easier compared in the Philippines. Having a job contract and consistent source of income assures the embassy that you are going to return and will not overstay in their country.
After planning my itinerary and saving some money for months, I decided to set an appointment to apply for my first Schengen visa in French embassy last August 2016. I submitted all the required documents listed in their website and I was told to return after 5 days to get my passport. Some of us are thinking that there will be an interview during our visa application, however, I was just asked for some basic information about my travel like when is my intended travel and where I will stay. And there it is, after 5 days I got my passport with Schengen Visa sticker.
I arrived in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport around 8am in the morning and my Immigration process went out smoothly. Trains, buses and taxis are available transfers from CDG airport to Paris. I took RER Line B, you can take ticket from any Île de France” ticket-vending machine or thru the ticketing counter for only €10.30. Travel time is around 40mins from airport to Gare du Nord where you can transfer to another train or bus going to your accommodation.
I booked my accommodation in Generator Paris Hostel thru Agoda.com. The hotel is just 3minute walk from a Metro station which is always a factor when i book my hotel so getting around the city will be easy. I booked in a 4bed dorm room with private toilet and bath.
Check in time in most hotels are between 12-2pm, so if you arrived early, you can always asked your hotel to leave your luggage when you go out for a walk while waiting for the check in time.
Getting around Paris is easy with the Paris Metro – Single Ride ticket, a carnet (a package of 10 single journey ticket) and Metro Pass (unlimited rides) are available options. Try to plan your destinations so you can see how many tickets would you be needing. If you will be staying for a week in Paris, i personally recommend buying the Paris Metro Navigo Pass for only €22.80 + €5.00. But please note that if you arrived in Paris on weekends like Friday, Saturday or Sunday, Navigo pass is not advisable as this pass has fixed timing. The pass is valid starting every Monday to Sunday regardless on which day you purchase it. In this case, you can just get the carnet or a package of 10 single journey ticket for €14.90.
Day 1 (The Louvre)
Since I still cannot go into my room, I decided to roam around near the hotel. I found my self near Sacré-Cœur, but I opt not to go up and instead have some window shopping. There are some thrift shops around the area like Sympa which is known for bargain hunters. After spending some time and buying some stuff, i went back to hotel to check in.
After I set my luggage in the hotel and rest for a while, my next stop is to visit The Louvre. If you arrived on Wednesday or Friday, you can visit The Louvre at night. The museum is open until 9pm. This is also a great time to skip the crowd and long lines in the entrance that usually build up in the morning.
Tip: Fridays are also FREE access to all nationalities below 26years old.
The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. It contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments. It has Egyptian antiquities, Eastern antiquities The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman displays, Islamic arts, sculpture, decorative arts and paintings such as the famous Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
I spent almost 4hours inside the museum and see some of its famous exhibits with the help of the interactive audio guide for €5.00.
As the most iconic and famous landmark of France, Eiffel Tower is on everybody’s list when visiting Paris.
From my hotel, I took the Metro Train and get off in Trocadero. Once you get out of the station, Eiffel Tower will greet you with the sun rays peeking from behind. Just seeing this icon from afar made me fell at awe. Looking at it standing tall in the center of the park stuns most of the first time tourist of Paris. See how grandeur it is.
For me, it is not enough just to see it from a distance, so I booked of the Eiffel Tower before my trip to get to the top. This is also the time to see Paris from above.
You have to reserve the time you wanted to go up the tower. On peak season, they will be very strict with the timing to accommodate the tourist. On the other hand, during low season or shoulder season (October to March), they may allow tourist to go up anytime other than their reserved timing. I booked my Eiffel Tower at 1:30pm but I was able to enter the tower at around 11am and they didn’t even check the time of my reservation.
If you have the Paris Museum Pass, you can get into the two museum in Trocadero – Cite de l’architecture et du Patrimoine and Homme Museum. When i visited last year, Musee National de La Marine was still open beside Homme Museum but now it is closed for renovation until 2021)
Cite de l’architecture et du Patrimoine
exhibits a lot of architectural history in its mouldings gallery, its wall paintings and its stained glass windows as well as the history of modern and contemporary architecture. The museum also has life-size reproductions of parts of monuments that bring to life this story of France from the 12th century to present day.
Musée de l’Armée and the Tomb of Napoleon
Another museum worth to visit is the Musée de l’Armée and the Tomb of Napoleon. The museum has a vast collection of military weapons and uniforms tracing back to French Revolution up to World War II.
Notre Dame Cathedral
From the army museum, you can take a metro to visit Notre Dame Cathedral. Around the church are several Paris attractions that is easily walkable between each other.
Notre Dame Cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. Another interesting fact about the church is that it was built for almost a period of 200years to complete. If you want you can also climb up to its tower for another view of Paris. Access to the tower is also included in the Paris Pass.
Saint Chapelle is a sumptuous, intimate chapel with remarkable stained glass windows.
You can also have a visit in Conciergerie that has superb halls when viewed from Île de la Cité. It is the former royal palace, the prisons of the Revolutionary Tribunal and housing Marie Antoinette’s former cell.
If you already feel loaded with French history information, you can always take a break in any of the café around the area. Sit down in their public parks, grab some croissants and coffee. Or get back to your hotel for a short break until sunset to visit the Eiffel Tower again, but this time decorated with lights. And of course, Paris is not complete if you didn’t see how the city is called the City of Lights.
Day 3 (Château de Versailles)
Château de Versailles or Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous monuments outside of France. The Palace of Versailles was the principal residence of the French kings from the time of Louis XIV to XVII. It is also considered as World Heritage Site. The buildings are good examples of 17th centuries architectural style. It can be seen in the Royal Apartments, the famous Hall of Mirrors, the Chapel, the Royal Opera.
The main building that houses the exhibits is surrounded with statues, fountains, water parterres. Down the park is the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, the Temple de l’Amour and the Hamlet of Queen Marie-Antoinette.
This palace is outside the city of Paris and takes about an hour to reach. Gates open by 9am, but better arrive early to avoid the long queue. Basically, you have to allot your one whole day for visiting the palace including the Grand and Petit Trianon.
Day 4 (Last Day)
Jardin de Luxembourg
Last day in Paris before my flight to Rome, I visited the Pantheon and Jardin de Luxembourg. I only plan to visit the Pantheon, but got a little bit lost and found Jardin de Luxembourg. The weather was nice that morning that makes me sit down in one of the chair. Sit back while having coffee and croissant for breakfast.
It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but now serve as a mausoleum of distinguish French citizens. The Pantheon has a crypt undergound which is the resting place of those historically famous French nationals. Among of those buried in the Pantheon are Victor Hugo, Mari Curie, Alexander Dumas, Voltaire and Rousseau. The building of the Pantheon is quite fantastic and its architecture is visually amazing . It has the Gothic decorations with a mixture of classical style of the building. The Pantheon is another must-see when visiting Paris.
As much as I wanted to stay here in Paris and explore more of its beauty, I have to move on and continue my backpacking in Europe.
Au revoir Paris, jusqu’à la prochaine fois…
Next stop: Rome Italy.
Below is my rough basic expenses for my 4 days Paris itinerary. For my food expenses, i have 5Euro buffet in my accommodation, then i tried to budget my 20Euro for my lunch and dinner. Fast food or some cheap restaurants have 10-15Euro combo meal.
I got my airfare for 170 Bahrain Dinar ( 22k pesos). From Manila, roundtrip airfare is around 30-35k via Oman Air or Eva Air. Try to check skyscanner and view it per month to see the cheapest fare.
After I climbed and did Backpacking the Great Wall of China in Beijing, now I wanted to share these travel guides based on my experience especially for first time visitors. Quick Intro Beijing, formerly know as Peking, is the capital of Peoples Republic of China. […]
Day 1: Arrival, Ni Hao!
It was overcast, gloomy and cold when I arrived in Beijing International Airport after the 7-hour flight from Abu Dhabi. Though sleepless, I’m slowly regaining energy as my excitement rise up to cross out my first Seven Wonder Buckelist.
After clearing the immigration, you have four options to reach downtown, Airport Express Train, Public Bus, Taxi or a Private Car for Hire. I took Airport Express Train for 25RMB or around Php190.00 for one way trip to Dongzhimen Station. From Dongzhimen subway station, you can transfer to other subway line (Line 2 and 13) or take a taxi going to your hotel. I reached my accomodation by 11:30am and luckily they allowed me to check in early. I was able to take a short nap then freshen up before I start my Beijing adventure.
Temple of Heaven
Firts stop, Temple of Heaven, which is only few blocks away from my hotel. The Temple of Heaven is considered the most holy of Beijing’s imperial temples. It has been described as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design”. It is where emperors came to worship Heaven and to solemnly pray for a good harvest. Listed by UNESCO as one of World Cultural Heritage with land area bigger than the Forbidden City
Entrance fee is around the park is 15RMB but if you like to enter the temples inside the park 35RMB COMBO ticket is also available.
Wangfujing Walking Street
About 2hours later after roaming around area of Temple of Heaven, I decided to have a visit in Wangfujing.
From the park, I took Subway in Tiantandonmeng Station near the east gate of the park and get off at Dongdan Station. Wangfujing Pedestrian Street is about 10min walk from Dongdan Station. It is a famous walking street in Beijing that stalls several fashion boutiques and restaurants. Aside from the usual restaurants, here you can also find the street of exotic food- scorpion, crickets and starfish to name a few. Some scorpions are still alive and moving while on the skewer. So if you are brave enough, unlike me, try out these exotic Chinese food.
Day 2: Backpacking Highlight
The Great Wall of China
The highlight of my Beijing trip is to climb The Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is over 6,000 kilometers long and divided into at least 10 sections that can ve visited near Beijing.
Upon searching which section is best to visit, I came to these three, Mutianyu as the best-restored, considered as the most beautiful is Jinshanling, and by far the most crowded but nearest to Beijing is Badaling. I opted to visit Mutianyu where i also got the chance to see autumn foliage.
You can reach Mutianyu by public bus transport. Round trip fare is 30RMB on two bus rides from Dongzhimen subway station. Entrance fee in Mutianyu is 45RMB for adults, 25RMB for children and senior citizens. There is an optional cableway ride for 100RMB round trip. I recommend to avail this not only to save time but also energy especially going down when you almost used up all your energy climbing the wall. After all you would only want to sit and relax after 3hour walk.
Package tours are also available. I joined a group tour for 290RMB offered by Beijing Landscape. The tour already includes pick up and drop off to your hotel, entrance fee in Mutianyu, and lunch in the restaurant at the foot of the Great Wall.
It’s the climb…
This section of Great Wall has 23 towers. If you take cable car, you will be drop off at Tower 14. We were told that beyond Tower 23 is already off limits to visitor, this part of the wall is untouched and has not been restored but if we wanted to see it we can still explore it by ourselves.
It was a steep climb from Tower 20 to 23 and my legs were already feeling cramp, the feeling when you already wanted to stop and return. But with my eagerness, I reached Tower 23 one step at a time. There I met one of my group tour mates and asked me if I can go with his son who still like to go up beyond Tower 23. I was like, woooaahhh wait my legs are still cramping, yet I said YES.
Indeed it was worth the effort, I thought I was already in the peak of the mountain. The wall was surrounded with lush autumn leaves – red, yellow, orange on both sides of the wall. Sea of clouds were also there to cap the lower part of the mountain.
It took me almost 2 hours to see the beauty of Mutianyu Great Wall – that is only way up. Going down was faster since no more photo stops and rest stops are less. There was a prepared lunch for our group in a restaurant down the hill. After walking for almost 4 hours a cup of tea in a cold weather is perfect while you rest your cramped legs.
Going back to central Beijing, some of us requested to drop off in a subway station connecting to the Olympic Park. It’s just enough time to have some photo ops in the Birds Nest and Water Cube. Coming to Olypic Stadium at night will give you a treat of light display. The Birds Nest and Water Cube is well decorated with lights that makes it better for night photos.
Day 3: Last day
Beijing Forbidden City
This is my last day in Beijing, i check out early and leave my luggage in the reception. My flight is scheduled by midnight so i still have enough time to visit the Forbidden City.
Visiting the Forbidden City brought me back to my Asian history class during high school and i tried to recall some of famous dynasty in China. – Ming and Qing dynasty.
It is one of the most well preserve ancient palaces in China and considered as the largest ancient palace in the world. Forbidden City has been the home for 500 years of dynastic rule in China. Admission fee is 60CNY (9USD) from April to October and 40CNY (6USD) from Novembe to March. Forbidden City is a complex of ancient palaces and temples that houses several antique displays. Two to three hours may be alloted to explore the central area of Forbidden City.
After exploring Forbidden City, when you exit at the Northern Gate or known as the Gate of the Divine Might, accross the road is the Jingshan Park. The park located in Jingshan Hill and going up the hill is overlooking the Forbidden City. Entrance fee here is 2RMB.
It was past one in the afternoon when I felt hungry. I walked back south of the Forbidden City to see Tiananmen Square and to grab some lunch.
Qianmen Walking Street
Another known walking street in Beijing is the Qianmen Street. It was about 15min walk to from Tiananmen Square. The street has this big classic Chinese-design gate that is also a perfect for a selfie. Along the street are several fashion botique and resturants like the one in Wangfujing.
I also visited Madame Tussauds in Qianmen Street. It was my first time to visit a wax museum. I can say that i enjoy my visit – isn’t it obvious with these pictures.
Before I went back to the hotel, I just had some pasalubong shopping to conclude my Beijing backpacking.
Summary of Expenses
|Airfare (one way)||Php 2800.00|
|Hotel Accommodation, 2nights||Php 1600.00|
|Great Wall Join Tour||Php 2200.00|
|Forbidden City Entrance Fee||Php 450.00|
|Audio Guide||Php 290.00|
|Temple of Heaven Entrance Fee||Php 110.00|
|Madam Tussauds||Php 1250.00|
|Food expenses||Php 1500.00|
|Getting Around by Beijing Metro||Php 150.00|
|Airport Express (two rides)||Php 180.00|
|Taxi to Hotel||Php 1000.00|
Will be posting a separate topic for Beijing 3d/2n sample itinerary, travel tips and travel requirements.
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Singapore, also known as the Lion City is one of the popular tourist destination for Filipino. The city has a lot of tourist place to visit, interesting sightseeing and attractions. When we travel, we always consider the budget needed for our trip and Singapore always has […]
Singapore – my most visited country, with a record of 4 visits. This was my first out of the country experience way back 2010. We attended a supplier sponsored training for a laboratory equipment that we purchased. I was with my 3 other colleague that […]
After finishing my IndoChina Backpacking, I listed my quick guide for the three countries I visited.
Check out below⬇️⬇️⬇️
2. 🏬🕌Major cities to visit are Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket
3. 🚊Chiang Mai and Phuket are accessible by land travels, overnight buses are available. Also, domestic flights are available (search flight in Skyscanner)
4. 🕍Don’t miss to visit these places in Bangkok – Royal Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Traimit
5. 🛌🛌Accommodation varies from hostels to 5 star hotel. Price range from php500-1500 per night for 3 star hotel. You can grab best deal at Agoda.com
6. 🚆 You can go around Bangkok using MRT or Taxis. Most of the time, tuktuk are overpriced for tourist.
7. 💵Do not worry where to exchange your cash, money changer can easily be found like in Phuket. Airport rates are usually low, better change in the city proper.
8. 🚍 For Chiang Mai, places to see are outside the city and sometime public transport is not easy to book- this time I prefer convenience of booking group tours online (travel hub) or thru hostels.
9. 🏖🏝Island hopping tour operators are plenty in the street of Patong in Phuket – sometime if you’re lucky, you can haggle for their rates. Price range 1500-2500php
2. 🚍Overnight bus are available, most are reclined seat and some are totally flat for more comfortable sleep.
3. 💵US Dollar is widely acceptable
4. 🍻 Visit Pub Street – beers are super cheap.
5. 🚶🏼If you are solo traveler, Angkor wat tour with guides and transport will cost around php2000-2500, so if you can find other solo traveler you can split the cost.
6.🚲You can go around Siem Reap using tuk tuk, 1usd is the usual charge for tourist.
7. 🛌Accommodations are cheap – a good double/twin room will only cost php600-800. Solo traveler can take cheaper dorm type hostel
8.🕴🏼I recommended to have a guide, (or at least your driver have basic information about the complex) to better explore the complex.
9. ⛓ There are plenty shop of silver accessories, just be aware of what is fake and genuine.
10. 🌞2days is enough to visit Angkor Wat.
11. ⭕️ You can make a stop over in Phnom Penh if you are traveling to/from Saigon
1. 🚖Center of Saigon (District 1) is easily accessible by bus or taxi from the airport. Take bus 152 going to ben thanh market, will cost around 1usd. Taxi to D1 should not be more than 10usd
2.🚶🏼💒You can do a walking tour in District 1 to visit their famous landmarks – Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, City Hall. Google Map will be your bestfriend.
3. 💣Visit War Remnant Museum for only Php35
4. 👕👚👜For shopping North Face bags and other branded overruns, go to Saigon Square
5. 🍜🍲🍡Take a stroll in Ben Thanh night market to try Vietnamese cuisine and street food.
6. 🚎 You can do halfday or full day trip to Cu Chi Tunnel. Join Group tours are available in several tour operators along Pham Ngu Lao. 15-20usd per person for group tours.
By the way, you can start either from Thailand or Vietnam from Manila.
Good luck on preparation of your itinerary. Hope I was able to help. 😇
What is you basic travel accessory must have? As budget traveler, we usually stay in hostels and book budget airlines. But being on a budget should not ruin our vacation – not having enough sleep because of your snoring dormmates, excess luggage forced to be […]