Kota Kinabalu to Brunei (BSB) by Bus: 8 Passport Stamps in a Single Journey

Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia and Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei are two of the major cities in the island of Borneo. Travel between these two is easy and convenient, since there are a lot of options available. There are flights between Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan served by different airlines; there are ferries you can take from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan and onwards from Labuan to Brunei; and there is also an option for a long land journey, if you have enough time and you’re not in a rush. During my tour in Borneo, I only had a short time of vacation but I took the last option, because of one reason: PASSPORT STAMPS! In case you’re not aware of it, choosing this route will let you earn EIGHT (8) passport stamps, and this is a good way to fill up your passport if you’re fond of collecting them.

Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saiffudien

Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saiffudien, Bandar Seri Begawan

The only bus that caters this route is Continue reading

Borneo 2016, Part 2: Brunei Darussalam

I had a great experience in the islands of Kota Kinabalu. I enjoyed the city as well, with its laid-back atmosphere and natural ambiance despite some big establishments. It was my time then to leave the place and head to my next destination, which just lies near Sabah; I was bound for the oil-rich country of Brunei.

Situated at the northwestern coast of Borneo, this tiny nation is divided into two sections by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Its capital is Bandar Seri Begawan, which spans an area of 100 square kilometres. Travel between Kota Kinabalu and Brunei is easy, with a lot of options either by land, water, or air. Just like Singapore, the city can be explored in a short period of time and the sights here mainly includes mosques, parks, and shopping areas. On my one (and a half) day trip in Bandar, I saw most of its notable landmarks.

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View of Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudien Mosque from Yayasan Complex

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Borneo 2016, Part 1: Kota Kinabalu

I love short escapes from the mundane life. It just relaxes my mind and free myself from stress for a while. It was another eid holiday season this September, so it was meant for me to go out again for a long weekend. On the earlier part of the year, I booked a cheap flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu, knowing that tentatively, the work-free day would fall on a Monday, September 12, as listed by some of the sources I checked online. Good news, the holiday was announced to be on that date.

Gaya Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park

Kota Kinabalu, the city where I would land, is the capital of East Malaysia’s Sabah in the island of Borneo, the third largest non-continental island in the world after Greenland and New Guinea. This island offers a lot of natural sights and is famous for its diverse wildlife, white sand beaches, excellent diving spots, and huge national parks. Borneo is shared by three countries: Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak), Brunei, and Indonesia (Kalimantan). Kota Kinabalu is the main gateway to East Malaysia that’s why it is the second busiest airport in the country. The main sight I was planning to visit there is the well-known Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, a group of five islands some kilometers away from the city.

I planned to have a four-day vacation there. This would be my itinerary, supposedly: Continue reading

Traveling Visa-Free in ASEAN Member Countries

Having a Philippine Passport, one of the things that makes us difficult to travel aside from purchasing costly airfares is the mandatory application for tourist visas to most of the countries. Based on Passport Index, currently our national passport is only ranked 63 by the number of visa-free countries where we can enter (which is 62), that is a long way down from Germany and Sweden with 158.

Thankfully, our neighbours will always welcome us. Last 2006, there was a signed agreement between the ten ASEAN member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) that grants the passport holders of these nations to move freely around the region and enter each country without applying for a visa for a stay of up to 30 days, depending on the regulations of each one of them. It means worry-free travel to those who wish to explore the culture around us!

Here is the list of the ASEAN Countries with their corresponding number of visa-free days: Continue reading

Applying for Japan Tourist Visa for Philippine Passport Holders

Situated in the Far East and referred to as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is a world-famous archipelago which offers a lot of activities from its bustling cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Sapporo. Perhaps when a Westerner thinks of an interesting Asian country, Japan would be one of his first thoughts. Almost everyone wants to visit this place, as it draws curiosity and excitement from foreign tourists. Some of the people I know also crave for an exposure to unique culture of Japan, especially the anime addicts. Going there could be a struggle because of visa requirements, but as long as you have all the requirements and you follow all their instructions, it will be easy to obtain one.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto (Source: japanphototrip.com)

As of 2007, application for the Japanese visa must Continue reading

Backpacking East Asia 2016

The year 2016 is running so fast, and it’s already approaching its last quarter. During this span of time I have been to various places: I spent my New Year’s Day in Ho Chi Minh City as part of my 16-day Indochina trip, spent the Catholic Holy Week holiday in Kuala Lumpur, and experienced the epic Eid al-Fitr-slash-mudik season in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. I have two more travel plans for this year. I’m not quite sure about my upcoming trip to Borneo (Kota Kinabalu and Brunei Darussalam), but I am certain of the other subsequent journey because I already have the approved visas.

HCMC City Hall

Ho Chi Minh City Hall, Vietnam

KLCC Malaysia

KLCC, Malaysia

On the last part of October until the first week of November, Continue reading

Applying for Chinese Tourist Visa for Philippine Passport Holders

img_2600-1Being one of the famous Asian countries in the world, and one of the largest, who doesn’t want to go to China? By just speaking of The Great Wall, Silk Road, Terracotta Warriors, Shanghai Cityscape, Tibet’s Potala Palace, Peking Duck, and Xiaolongbao, you will be enticed to go to this interesting region. China has a lot to offer, ranging from ancient architectures to modern skylines, sumptuous meals to cheap eats, and humongous malls to small shops. But how do you prepare yourself before leaving?

Some time recently I realized that I myself wanted to go to China too, so I tried to research information about visiting there, and here is what I found. As Ordinary Philippine Passport holders, by the requirement of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, we have to possess a visa before entering their territory, except for some reasons: Continue reading