Explore beyond the usual
Filipina Explorer is a travel blog that believes in the power of stories to connect us to the world, shape ideas, and move us to action. Read these stories from the archives.
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About Filipina Explorer
Hi! I'm Gretchen, a travel writer based in the Philippines. I created Filipina Explorer in 2009 to document my journeys through places, parenthood, and word weaving. This blog is a collection of those stories and everything in between.
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Saying Goodbye to Filipina Explorer

A few weeks ago, I decided to retire Filipina Explorer. It would've been 13 years in February.


It was a name that I stuck with because in the beginning, there was much unselfing and relationship dependence I haven’t unlearned yet - an aimlessness that extended to my identity. So, when someone suggested the name, "because you are a Filipina and you like exploring", I simply said, "Yeah, maybe I should.” 


My writing largely hinged on movement. I struggled when I wasn’t “out there” not only because my job depended on it, but because my spirit needed the bustle of new experiences to be inspired and to create.


As my “why” for writing evolved and I transitioned from freelance travel writing to a fulltime job, as I cut the cords to the relationship from which the name sprang, the more the unease grew. Filipina Explorer doesn’t feel entirely mine. It’s a name that no longer resonates with who I am and what I want to keep doing: storytelling. Not just destinations, but the invisible narratives and humans that we often don’t notice while we’re busy looking at our maps.


With the pandemic forcing us into stillness, I realized that there is as much life in inertia as there is in lugging suitcases and chasing a bus. I began to see the world as more than a space to conquer and explore, but - to borrow a friend's musing - "a place to inhabit and take in”.

It is much bigger than the roads we seek. 


The world can exist outside grand adventures, away from the obtrusive noise of social media. Magic can take place in small, ordinary moments.


I am forever grateful for the woman, the home, that was once Filipina Explorer. For all the enchanting, eye-opening worlds I've seen and felt through her.


Many dreams came alive because of this past self. It paved the way for writing opportunities. It brought me to places that I never imagined I could reach: my first newspaper interview and byline, the pages of magazines, in havens worlds away from home, in the company of kindred spirits, around the campfire and, sometimes, inebriated conversations. 


It connected me to friendships in the travel and writing communities (and a few but kind and patient readers who kept up with my babbling over the years) - many of which I am honored and grateful to keep to this day. 


Above all, Filipina Explorer was an extension of home. In it, I kept memories of Lia and me safe. Two utterly clueless ladies on the road, a backpack each, in search of discovery, meaning, and wonder.


But there is a place and time for moving forward. Now feels right.


Our world won’t run out of stories. Through Our World in Words, I hope to breathe life into them.


In the coming weeks, I will be transferring all of Filipina Explorer’s content from 2009 onwards to our new home online. All of them will still be accessible. Those were poignant, magical, painful, enlightening, and magnificent 12 years, and I do not want to erase any of it despite the goodbyes those years carried. But soon, when you search for the old blog you will be redirected to our new address, where we will make fresh memories and unfurl more stories - on and away from the road.


I am excited to leaf through this new and more authentic page in our lives. I hope to hunker down with you in Our World in Words when we open its door.

5 Best Hotels to Stay in Cebu

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/cebu-resort-travel-holiday-3801987/


Cebu is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Philippines. And it’s not a coincidence! It has many attractions to offer for tourists, such as beautiful beaches, exciting diving spots, and historical places. If you are planning your next getaway to this place, make sure to check out our list of the 5 best hotels in Cebu, so you can rest in a luxurious environment after a long day of sightseeing.

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino

Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino is located in the heart of Cebu City. The hotel has more than 500 guest rooms and 9 international food and beverage outlets. Guests can delight time in the luxurious rooms and suites, at the outdoor pool, in the massage center, or the enormous entertainment and casino block.

The Casino Filipino gaming area provides a unique gaming experience for those who would like to play casino games, such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Stud Poker, and slot machines 0-24h. However, if you prefer to stay in your room, you can still play online poker in the Philippines at poker sites from this page.

Harolds Hotel

Harolds Hotel is situated in the vibrant downtown area of Cebu City, 30 minutes from the international airport of Mactan. Since the hotel is located close to some local attractions, such as the Ayala Center, SM City Cebu, and Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), it is an excellent choice for any type of traveler.

At Harolds Hotel, guests can choose from several modern, spacious rooms. Plus, it also has a fitness center and 3 international dining options.

Seda Ayala Center Cebu

Next on this list of best hotels to stay in Cebu is the amazing 301-room business hotel, Seda Ayala Center Cebu. You can find this hotel in a strategic in Cebu's city center. It’s only 150 meters away from Ayala Center, which offers plenty of entertainment, dining, and retail options for mall visitors. 

The modern, luxurious rooms and suites, the pool with pool bar, indoor and outdoor dining options,  gym, and e-lounge with iMac workstations make Seda Ayala Center Cebu extremely attractive for travelers who are planning to stay in Cebu.

Radisson Blu Cebu

If you are looking for a place near the city center and in available proximity to stunning white sand beaches and cultural attractions, consider booking your accommodation at Radisson Blu Cebu. The hotel offers 400 rooms and suites with contemporary design and panoramic views of the city and the harbor of Mactan.

Whether you would like to travel to the Queen City of the South for vacation or business, Radisson Blu Cebu can fulfill all your needs. You can relax and drink cocktails by the outdoor pool, enjoy the various services at the holistic spa, do workout at the fitness center, or attend and hold a meeting in one of the meeting rooms.

Bai Hotel Cebu

Bai Hotel Cebu is located between two cities: Mandaue and Cebu City. If you need an escape from the bustling metropolises, this hotel is a great choice. At Bai Hotel Cebu over 600 rooms and eight restaurants await, with beautiful views of the harbor and the city. The hotel also features an outstanding infinity lap pool and a fitness center.

If you want to pamper yourself with Japanese massage, you can also do so with the Bai Hotel Cebu’s in-room massage service.

All these hotels are excellent places to stay during your vacation or business trip in the Philippines. Should you decide to visit the Philippines, don’t hesitate to book your accommodation in one of the 5 best hotels in Cebu.

Top London Travel Tips for First-time Visitors

London is one of the most visited places in the world, yet there are still a few of the things that many people or first-time travelers don’t know about it. If you are planning your trip to London, start with finding the best hotels in London to stay in. This can save you money and provide you a premium experience during your stay.

Best time to visit London in terms of weather and currency

Mostly during vacation time, London becomes extremely crowded. There are terrible lines throughout the weeks of June and July, although there are long lines on the weekend before Christmas too. London's environment is unpredictable. 

It's chilly and windy from December to January, and pleasant and beautiful from June to October, though very busy. April, May, August, and October are the ideal months to visit the city since the temp hovers between 14 and 20 degrees Celsius. When it comes to seeing London, the months of October and July offer an enjoyable climate and less congestion in the streets.

As for currency, use an ATM (unless in a store or bank) if you want to avoid paying transaction fees on conversions. Euros may be accepted at certain hotels and bigger businesses in London, though not all of them. 

Sightseeing: Keep it Affordable by Visiting Free Museums

It's impossible to explore all of London's galleries in a single visit, but it's easy to register in many institutions. There are some free attractions in London, including the Tate, Sculpture Garden, Art Museum, and History Gift shop.

Charles Darwin's exhibition can be found in the Ornithology Museum's collection of over 1 billion artifacts. For those traveling with children, it's a fantastic place to visit because of its dinosaur collecting. A second strong contender is the Wilhelmina & Albert Museums, which was named after  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. There are more than 2,000 items at the museum, which spans 3,000 centuries.

Save on transportation

If you're staying in the city center, some individuals will tell you to make use of London's vast public transportation system. One of many helpful UK travel suggestions is to stay as close as to the city as you can manage. It's important to choose a location that is strategic, so that you can easily stroll to several of England's attractions.

It's no secret that Britain is not a cheap place to visit as a tourist. It might appear that the metropolis is burning holes in your pocket, from expensive hotel rates to hefty admission fees for the biggest urban attractions.

With the UK Pass, you can see several famous sights without having to pay exorbitant prices. If you want to see a lot of the town's landmarks in a short amount of time, one other pass can indeed be worth the money. The pass costs £75 for individuals and £55 for youngsters, with one, five, six, even 10-day tickets also accessible. Oyster Cards are a great method to save money on your London transit expenses. Oyster Cards allow you to travel for a third of the time of boarding passes.

Oyster Cards are also subject to a monthly cap (the maximum amount probably depends on where you're traveling and how few Metropolitan Travel Districts you've traveled through). Then, when you've reached the limit, the remainder of your travels is free for the remainder of the day. As a bonus, there is a weekly limit for those who intend on staying in England for another week or more.

Considering all of the above, you may go out on foot to discover the metro's attractions. When visiting London, using a tube is the greatest way to see the city since it's not just a fantastic way to get about, but it's the sole method of seeing all of London Charms; "the hidden pockets of the past that make the UK capital shine apart". 

A piece of pragmatic advice: wear comfy shoes. 

London transport: Take a bus service

This is a great way to explore the city. This is an Oyster Card-paying public transportation itinerary that could take you past many of London's landmarks. You'll get to share space with Londoners, and then do it at your own speed.

Save on food

 In London, you'll find plenty of high-end restaurants, but be prepared to pay a lot of money. Multiple menus cost at least £70 (USD 91). The cost of a bottle of milk starts at £6 ($8). Approximately £45 (USD 58.50) will get you a week with the supply of basic food (fruits, vegetables, pasta, poultry, and lunch items.

If you're looking for inexpensive food, Lidl and Aldi offer affordable groceries and food items. The Tasting Passport is also another fantastic method to save dollars. Hundreds of establishments participate in the Restaurant's Club program, which gives savings of up to 50% and multiple promotions. For those exceptional dinners you'll want to eat, it may pay out big time! You could only survive on smoked salmon for a certain amount of time, after all.

Clark International Airport Introduces OFW Lounge

With its OFW Lounge at the new four-level terminal, Clark International Airport presents a dedicated space for Overseas Foreign Worker (OFW) welcome and comfort.

"Through the OFW Lounge, we extend to our country's modern-day heroes this facility for their exclusive use. The workers, who may be coming home for their scheduled breaks to be reunited with their families or who may be headed for  long periods of stay in host countries, or who may be traveling for recreation, truly deserve special attention," states Miss Bi Yong Chungunco, CEO of the Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corp. (LIPAD) which operates and manages the airport.

The OFWs have formed a part of frequent airport users. And with an aviation and logistics-centric master plan laid out for Clark, the airport is expected to attract more travelers, including more OFWs and other travelers of diverse backgrounds.

Miss Chungunco cites the role the airport takes in spurring growth in Central and Northern Luzon. LIPAD, she says, believes in the growth potential of the area. "We have a growing catchment area in Central and Northern Luzon, due to the rapid rise of Clark as a preferred hub for business, economic and leisure activities."


The inspection attended was cited as a massive achievement for the country's infrastructure program. Of particular interest are the contactless amenities such as self check-in kiosks that can process transactions with QR codes scanned from smart phones.


In an earlier visit, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade called the airport's lounge "a masterpiece by LIPAD".



About the LIPAD Corporation


Luzon International Premier Airport Development Corporation (LIPAD) is a special purpose company established to manage the operations and maintenance of Clark International Airport. The members of LIPAD Corporation are Filinvest Development Corporation, JG Summit Holdings Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Services Inc., Changi Airports Philippines (I) Pte. Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Changi Airports International. The consortium members each have vast experience in airport operations, air transportation, and property development. LIPAD Corporation has committed to bringing in this expertise to transform Clark International Airport to a world-class airport.

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