Bohol Island: 5 Reasons why this island is the perfect family vacation destination

Plane Landing in Tropical Paradise
Bohol Island, Philippines.

Picking a family vacation destination can be quite complicated. There are so many variables to consider. How many people are going? What kind of place does everyone like? Is the country safe, especially for kids? Can everyone do all the activities available? The questions are endless, but here’s a suggestion that will answer all your questions, the Bohol Island, Philippines.

This beautiful Filipino island checks out all the boxes for a perfect big family trip destination and here and here are five reasons why. 

1. Low-tide beaches

The beaches in Bohol are not only breathtaking for anyone to swim in, but they are especially perfect for kids! Since the tides change throughout the day very slowly, meaning for majority of the day the tides are below knee hight, make it super safe for kids and parents can enjoy their beach day without having to worry too much.

In the mornings, the tide is at its lowest allowing a long view of the sandy beach and low waves. My little sister particularly liked being at the beach in this specific time because of the little ponds that formed, filling with fish, hermit crabs and other cute little sea creatures. Another curiosity that I encountered on the beach were these strange brain-looking sand piles that are formed by crabs while they dig their homes in the sand.

2. Tropical Weather

As a tropical island, Bohol has a consistently warm weather at any season.

December to February is winter season which can have a couple of stormy rainy days but in general this is common favourite season by locals since it’s not-too-cold-and-not-too-warm temperatures.

Another tropical perk that will make you fall in love with this island is it’s transparent waters. You can see fish and other aquatic animals swimming from far away through the warm water and play “spot the starfish” from the beach shore!

Women Relaxing on a Tropical Hammock
Bohol Island, Philippines

3. High Safety Control

In the last couple of years, the security of the Philippines has increased extremely. Especially in public places such as malls, hotels and main streets. 

At the Bohol Beach Club Resort where I was staying, you could see guards all over the property, even at the beach! Which made my family and all the other guests feel safe when the kids were playing in the sea. It decreases the chances of an accident happening and gave an extra safety guarantee for the parents so they can relax and enjoy their vacation to the maximum!

3. So Many Activities

It’s fascinating how many activities you can do in such a small island. Due to its rich jungle biological environment, this Filipino island is packed with adrenaline- and aquatic sports, animal and insect sanctuaries, and nature parks to explore.

On land, the Loboc Ecosystem Adventure Park is a great place to spend they day with activities everyone in the family will enjoy. The most popular being the zip-line that runs across the Loboc River with incredible views of the jungle and water falls. If you are not a fan of zip-lining, you can see the same beautiful view from the cable car that passes through the same path at a much slower pace.

In the water, you can partake in all the usual aquatic sports; rafting, scuba diving, kayaking and so on. But the unique activities you shouldn’t miss in Bohol, are snorkelling amongst the coral reef and go dolphin watching on a bangka, a Filipino watercraft.

Snorkelling and dolphin watching was definitely the highlight activity of the trip for the youngsters of the family. Especially when we helped the boat driver catch urchins and we got to try fresh urchins! It was definitely a unique experience.

For the little ones, the highlight activity was visiting the Tarsier sanctuary. In order to protect the adorable little creatures, visitors can only observe the tarsiers from a safe distance and must have a guide take you though the preservatory forest and points out the tarsiers as she spots them. Tarsiers are quite easy to spot during the day since they are nocturnal and most of them would probably be sleeping on a tree when you see them. But occasionally they will open their big bright eyes making them even easier to spot.

In regards to getting around the island with a big group, the best way is to rent a van with a local driver. Hotels and travel agencies can provide with great packages for day trips that can also include entry tickets making it much easier and faster to get around with a big group.

Another more relaxing alternative is to spend a day at the Bohol Bee Farm and Resort. An incredibly beautiful property with a restaurant, cafe, ice cream parlour, private beach and an organic store. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

4. Cheap prices

You might be thinking that you might not be able to do half of these activities because it’s expensive, as it is in most destinations, especially during the holiday season. But I have good news for you! The Philippines is quite cheap! On average, a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost about ₱800.00  which equals to €14.66. A local 0.33 cl beer bottle will cost ₱200.00 equals to €3.67. Even hotel and resort restaurants prices are much cheaper than your average prices. Making it the perfect opportunity to splurge and go out for a special dinner with the family!

5. Christmas at the beach

Last but definitely not least and in my opinion the absolute main reason to why Bohol is the best destination for an end-of-the-year family trip is having Christmas at the beach!

It might be strange at first, heading over to the beach on Christmas night wearing a t-shirt and shorts to have a buffet dinner with strangers from around the world. But as soon as you reach the beach and see how beautiful and atmospheric it is, trust me, you will have the time of your life.

At Bohol Beach Club Resort, where I stayed, they organised a delicious Filipino buffet with delicious authentic dishes that guests can dine underneath a star studded tropical night sky.

To top off this magical night, the hotel also organises a show full of dance performances featuring fire.

To see more Bohol island photos click here.

First Timer’s Guide to Tokyo

Bangkok Guide: Things To Do

Oh Bangkok, the perfect destination for a treat-yourself trip. A country where you can get VIP treatment for the same amount of money you spend at home. With an incredibly rich culture, cuisine, religion, shopping and nightlife. There is so much to explore. As a tropical country, Bangkok is always hot making it the perfect destination all year round.

Language: Thai Location: Central East Asia Climate: Tropical – very hot and humid Currency: Baht

Temples (Wats)

Bangkok is home to 400 mind-blowing temples and shrines. As a Buddhist country, there are many local shrines around the city where people go visit daily. Shrines are much smaller and quicker to see compared to temples that usually require a half/full day since its very easy to get distracted by all the mesmerising details.

The Wat Pho Reclining Buddha and the Wat Phra Kaew Templeof the Emerald Buddha are a few of the easiest temples to get to since they are located right by the Chao Phraya river and the Grand Palace.

If you are on the Thonburi side of the city (opposite to the Grand Palace), make sure to see the Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn. This temple has a unique architecture with the main Prang tower located in the center surrounded by smaller towers. The towers are designed with Khmer style and you can climb to the top of the main tower to see an incredible view of the city.

The best way to get here is by taking it to the skies with the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, or the orange flag Chao Phraya Express boat to Tha Tien (N8) pier.

Tip: Make sure to cover your shoulders, ankles and knees (for both sexes) when visiting temples in Thailand as a sign of respect. Long shorts and skirts, capris, t-shirts and polos are preferred options and definitely avoid tank tops.


Markets

Thai outdoor markets are one of the most fun things to do in the city. You can find incredible house decor, clothes and souvenirs for your friends and family. Everything is incredibly cheap and if you like to negotiate, you’ll have even more fun.

Chatuchak Weekend Market: This early morning market is a great place to start your day at the city’s most famous market. Here you can find literally everything from clothes, accessories, handicrafts, ceramics, furniture, art, food, beverages, books, antiques, collectibles and much more.

market divided into two sides with various tents selling clothes and goods. And right in the middle of the market, there’s a canal with people selling local fruits and foods. There is also an unexpected exhibition of large snakes and a slow loris that you can take photos with if you are brave enough.

When you arrive at the site, you have to take a short boat trip to actually get to the market, which is super thrilling.

Note: These markets are pretty far out from the city with no train station anywhere near it, so the best way to get here is by booking a day trip from your hotel or from an agency. These trips usually include other activities like the banana farm or the tiger sanctuary.


Shopping

Continuing the awesomeness of shopping in Bangkok, make sure to stop by at least one of the many malls of the city. At MBK Center, a large local mall you can get clothes and authentic goods. Isetan is a Japanese department mall located in the equally huge Central World, which incredibly enough has another department mall called Zen. All these malls have VAT refunds, authentic Asian food courts, restaurants, cafes and above all incredible decor. Amongst these malls, my favourites are the Asiatique and Siam Paragon because they are super-malls with numerous things to do.

Asiatique: This night outdoor/indoor bazaar is divided into four districts. At the Chareonkrung District there over a 1,000 small boutiques split into four warehouses. If you are looking for unique fashion and gadgets, the Factory District is your spot.

The Waterfront District is a great place to have lunch and dinner at one of their 40 restaurants by the waterfront. Then head to the Two Square District’s where you can get delicious strong and affordable drinks at one of their many bars.

If you are a Muay Thai and theatre fan, don’t miss a show at the Live Theatre where you can watch a play about the history of the sport as well as a live match. The ticket costs 870 THB ($28) dollars for a 90-minute play, which runs from Tuesday to Sunday from 8.00PM.

There’s also the Thai puppet show and the famous ladyboy Calypso Cabaret show. If you don’t want to pay for performances or eat at a restaurant, there are lots of free street performances and food stands amongst the streets of the bazaar as well.

There’s always so much to do! Luckily the place closes at midnight.

The best way to get here is with the BTS train to the Saphan Taksin station.

This mall is so large that it will require several trips

for you to see everything.

The main part of the mall is dedicated to shopping with 250 stores of high-end fashion and department stores. It has Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium on the bottom floor with a fun boat ride to see the rays and sharks.

The basement is dedicated to food. Where you can find incredible restaurants and food courts from all over the world especially Asia and a great supermarket.

At the top floor, you can have the movie experience of a lifetime at the Cineplex Theatre. Where you can get VIP treatment for basically the same price you pay back home. If you purchase a two-person ticket for 1,500 baht ($48) you get to have a drink and a snack in the beautiful lounge, get a super comfortable deep-seated leather sofa with electric footrests where you can put your complimentary snacks and blankets.

Tip: Make sure to get there at least an hour before the movie to hang in the lounge AND get a 15-minute massage. Which is heaven after a day of shopping and exploring.

Above all, this mall also has three other malls, Discovery, Square and Center that are right next door. Each mall has its own unique style with corresponding stores that you can just hop to after being starstruck by Paragon.

How to get here: BTS train stop to their own stop, Siam Station.


Museums

National Museum: This museum is like no other, it is home to the largest collection of Thai artefacts in the entire country, including King Rama V’s exhibition of his luxurious gifts from his father. Chinese artefacts including Khon masks.

Tip: Make sure to check out this museum on a Thursday when they offer tours with English-speaking guides.

Jim Thompson House: Jim Thompson was an American Entrepreneur who went to Bangkok and fell in love with the country, the silk and the people. The museum is located at his former house, which is designed by Jim himself. As you walk around you get to learn about Thompson’s extraordinary bold life, the silk industry and his store. The house is decorated as a Thai complex with six traditional teaks, a beautiful surrounding garden and a cafe.

The Jim Thompson’s silk store is a great place to buy authentic souvenirs and Thai goods. You can find pillows, bags, clothes, travel essentials and everything you ever wanted with beautiful Thai silks with elephants and beautiful colours.


Boat Ride along Chao Phraya River

Bangkok has a large river with connecting canals. Where you can go on boat trips and cruises, a great day-activity since it can get reeeally hot. From the river, you can properly see the difference between the two sides of the city. On one side you can see the skyline of temples, markets and the Grand Palace while on the other side you can see where the locals live in wooden houses with children playing and freshening up in the water.

At night, there are dinner cruises where you can have a great dinner with performances while surrounded by a lit-up skyline.


Muay Thai

At the home of the legendary martial sport, you can join a class at the many dojos in the city or watch live thrilling matches at stadiums like:

Rajadamnern Stadium: This historical and exciting stadium host matches four days a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) at 6.30 PM for 1,000 to 2,000 THB.
Lumpinee Stadium: Just like Rajadamnern, Lumpinee is also a Muay Thai historical stadium but with a more modern structure. One of the reasons to why this stadium is more popular is because you can gamble and bet during the matches. The negotiations are done with hand signals just as they do it in the stock exchange rooms. Prices go from as cheap as 200 to 2,000 THB on Tuesdays to Fridays at 6.30 PM and on Saturdays at 4.00 PM and again at 8:15 PM.
Channel 7 Stadium: This free of charge stadium has an electric energy and it is always frequented by legendary veterans and rising superstars. Since it is free and only offer matches once a week on Sundays at 12:45 PM, I recommend going there at least 40 minutes before the match so you can get good seats.
MBK Stadium: Just when you though the huge MBK mall was just for shopping and eating, on Wednesdays at 6.00 PM you can watch matches in a ring outside of the mall.

Thai Massage

Last but definitely not least, Thai massages- the most relaxing activity you can do in the city.

The art of massage has been part of Thai culture with different types and techniques that have been specialised for generations. Which means there are numerous types of massages for you to try such as aromatic with oils, reflexology, and warm herbs facial, foot and back massages. Some bigger spas even have massages for pregnant women and muscle massages for athletes.

If you are a fan of Thai decor and massages, I highly recommend going to a spa during your trip. Thailand goes beyond when it comes to luxury and hospitality.

I know it might sound like an expensive activity, but since its Bangkok, you can also find cheap but great parlours around the city. Especially in and around malls for as cheap as 300 THB ($7) for an hour. Arunda Oriental and At Ease are great locations for a massage break.

Have you been to any of these places? Let us know what you thought of them. 🙂

Tokyo: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

Before you embark on a trip to Tokyo there are a couple of awesome things you need to be aware of and a lot of awesome things you need to plan so you don’t miss out on.

Useful Phrases

English has become much more common in Tokyo as preparation for the Olympics in 2020, but in small places it is better to know some useful phrases:

こんにちは – Kinnichiwa – Hello/ Good evening!

おはようございます- Ohayo – Good morning!

ください – Kudasai – Please

さようなら – Sayonara – Goodbye

ありがとうございました – Arigato Gozaimashita – Thank you

ごめんなさい – Gomenasai – I’m Sorry

トイレはどこですか? Toire wa dokodesu ka? – Where is the bathroom?

飲み放題 – Nomihodai – All you can drink (happy hour)

Foods & Drinks to try

  • Chu-hi drink – You can find these yummy alcoholic drinks at any convenient store and supermarkets. They have every single fruit favor imaginable with Zero edition which is stronger than the normal.

Ramen from Ramen Street
  • Ramen – If you are a fan of ramen, eating it at Tokyo station’s underground Ramen Street is ramen goals.

  • Shabu-shabu – Barbecue but with a Japanese twist, it is cooked inside a pot under the fire with water. Thin beef meat, Shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, thin-cut carrots, napa cabbage, tofu. Since it is cooked with hot water it is commonly eaten during the winter to warm up.

  • Sukiyaki – Also a barbecue with thin beef slices cooked in a pot but without water. This delicious dish includes glass noodles, green onions, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, tofu and shungiku leaves.

  • Okonomiyaki – Known as Japanese salty “pancakes” made out of thin sliced bacon, veggies, mayonnaise and other delicious ingredients. Going to an okonomiyaki restaurant is fun because you get to make it yourself on a hot stove table.

  • Yakiniku – Barbecue thin sliced meat on the grill.

  • Yakisoba – Fried egg noodles with pork slices, vegetables and yakisoba sauce.

  • Sashimi – Sashimi is actually more common and traditional

  • Unagi Sushi – Unagi is a river eel and the sushi contains a slice of grilled eel on top of rice with a sweet barbecue sauce. Japan waters as a lot of Unagi which makes them very fresh and wild-caught.

  • Yakitori – Barbecued chicken and scallions usually served on bamboo skewers.

  • Kebab bowl – The original Turkish dish has been adapted into a bowl, with rice on the bottom topped with kebab meat, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa sauce.

  • Tonkatsu– Also served in a bowl with rice but instead of beef, its friend pork with Japanese barbecue sauce.

  • Gyudon– The classic beef bowl, just like the others but with thin sliced beef, onions with a delicious sauce combination of soy sauce, sake, ichiban dashi and others.

  • Izakayas – After work tapas restaurants where businessman go to unwind with their coworkers. Every type of common Japanese dish is served here tapa-sized, including common drinks like green tea sour and honey yuzu. My favorite Izakaya chain restaurant is called Kin no Kura, where you can get all dishes and drinks for just ¥270 ($ 2,50) and all you can eat for ¥1,980 yen ($18,60). Plus you can do the ordering from a tablet menu in your own private room. There are also seafood only Izakaya’s where you can grill your own food.

Things you can only do in Japan

Tokyo DisneySea
  • Onsen – Onsen are the best places to relax after a long day of exploring. Take a delicious bath on hot spring pools, take a shower Japanese style and have a delicious cup of hot green tea. Most Onsens are gender separate, unless you are staying at an Onsen hotel, where you get your own pool per room. You can find these places everywhere in the city for as cheap as ¥700 yen ($6,50 ) to very high prices, but the quality is always very good and traditional.SXLLM

  • Disneyland & DisneySea– Personally, I like DisneySea more than Disneyland since it has more thrilling rides than the original park. When at the park, I recommend going checking out the souvenir stores, Japan has their own toy collections that are very kawaii.

  • Karaoke– Singing with your friends to your favorite songs while having drinks and appetizers on a skyscraper is the exact type of fun you can get in Tokyo. Some you can even rent costumes to wear for the night and all you can drink cocktails.

  • Arcade- These arcades are always so much fun, full of crazy Japanese style games like the drumming game, where you have to play the drums according to summer festival songs. The graphics of all the games are so vibrant and really easy to follow.

  • Purikura– At these arcade places you can also find Purikura machines which are silly and fun photo booths. On the pictures you can get crazy backgrounds, filters, cartoons and other silly things. They make you look exactly like an anime character.

  • Shinkansen – This bullet train is the most fun and fastest way to travel within the country. From Tokyo to Shin- Osaka with the train only takes 2.20 m while by car it takes 6.26 minutes. They can be pretty pricy, but they are always on time and perfect quality. The breathtaking views of the country side and rice field make it totally worth it.

Green Tea Pool at Yunesan

Seasonal things to try

Girls wearing Yukata at an takoyaki stand

Summer festivals (Matsuri)– During the summer, the whole country becomes a festival waiting to happen. The entire summer there are street festivals happening everywhere in specific days. Since Japan is very humid, there are festivals at night as well. Which I love because everything becomes more bright and magical. With all the lanterns, traditional food and drinks booths, dancing, singing and of course the beautiful yukatas (summer version of kimonos). These festivals usually take place at or close to temples which makes everything a billion times more special and beautiful. When you are in Japan during the summer make sure to check-out when these festivals are so you don’t miss it.

Full schedule of all the summer festivals in Tokyo

New year festival– New Year is the biggest and most important holiday in Japan, and on the first day of the year families gather together to visit Shinto shrines and make new resolutions for the upcoming year. People buy omamori which are charms that bring you luck on what you need that year such as love, money, strength, knowledge, health and so on. Then for lunch they celebrate by having a delicious special new year meal called, Osechi Ryori, served on big Bento boxes called jubako.

Useful tips

Transportation – During the day, rely on train, metro and busses – they are always on time, clean and there is information everywhere to help you find your way.

At night it’s better to take taxis since public transports stop working around midnight until 5AM

Get a JR metro card and fill it with money for the days you are there, it is much easier than buying a ticket every time, you can use it at the convenient stores inside the station and JR stations usually have Wi-Fi.

Take the Shinkansen bullet train to other cities, they are super comfortable and fast. Quite expensive as well, but the experience is very worth it.

Convenient stores (Family Mart, Lawson, 7Eleven…) – They are ALWAYS open and you can find them EVERYWHERE. They have literally anything you need here; food, drinks, ATM, printer, underwear, you name it.

Japan is really safe so you don’t need to worry about getting robbed. Although, girls might want to keep an eye out for men doing creepy things like trying to take a photo of underwear under the skirt, but apart from such petty crimes, they are harmless.

Always bring an ID with you, although restaurants and cafes don’t require it. University IDs are NOT accepted so make sure to bring an actual identification or driver’s license.

Best to use cash, American Express or Visa cards- Master Cards are not accepted in many places and it can be hard to find an ATM to withdraw. If you don’t have any other option, make an account at Western Union International Bank where someone can send you money from any currency.

Hotel check-in time is usually at 3PM so make to let your hotel know if you are going to be arriving early in the morning so you don’t have to walk around bamboozled to kill time.

Wi-Fi can be pretty hard to find in the city, except for several convenient stores, so make sure to purchase a wireless hotspot at the airport when you arrive so you can use it to find yourself around the big metropolitan

Electronic bathrooms can be a big surprise if you are not aware of them. Japanese toilet seats are VERY complex. Not in a bad way though, they have numerous functions and some of them even talk to you. They can play lounge music, serve as a duvet in different levels and are electrically warm. The main reason to why you should be aware of these toilets is because they are EVERYWHERE. Hotels, malls, restaurants and so on.

Other cities

Yokohama Port
  • Yokohama (MY HOME CITY & south) – A beautiful port city, 20 minutes south of Tokyo with the Toyoko line. At Minato Mirai 21 you can spend a day at the amusement parks by the bay, Cup Noodle Museum and a landmark view of the city and mount Fuji from the 69th floor. Yokohama also has a big Chinatown and the walk from Minato Mirai to Osanbashi Port is breath taking.

Nara in the spring

MXLLS

  • Kyoto (south) The most ancient city in Japan filled with beautiful temples, old streets and sakura trees.

  • Osaka (south) – A modern city similar to Tokyo but in the South.

  • Nara (south) – One of the oldest cities in japan full of temples and deer parks where you can feed them.

  • Hokkaido (all the way north) – All the way to the north, this is the best place to go skiing and other winter sports. It is also home to the Sapporo beer and the delicious Santouka ramen.

  • Hiroshima (south) – So much history and culture in just one city.

  • Okinawa (all the way south) – Beautiful beach coast with clear waters and occasional turtles in clear and blue waters.

If you want to have a spontaneous and crazy trip, Tokyo is definitely the right place. There i always something new and unexpected at every corner of this huge city that never sleeps.