5 Food Facts About Vietnam

5 Food Facts About Vietnam

 

Back in February of 2016, I had the chance to visit Vietnam for the first time. That trip is one of those memories I’ll always cherish not only because I got to experience its culture that is rich and intact, or saw many picturesque sights, but largely because of my enjoyment for their food. From time to time, I would crave for that fresh, light and healthy taste of Vietnamese food that is quite distinct from its neighboring Asian countries. Here’s a simple guide on what to enjoy beyond your typical Gỏi cuốn with peanut sauce.

1. Coffee culture

 

Vietnamese coffee is known for the rich aroma and roasted taste that is simply enjoyed either on it’s own, with sweetened condensed milk or interesting things like eggs and even mangoes. Their coffee can be served hot or cold, sometimes even with a coffee drip but one thing’s for sure: it’s freshly brewed. Similar to some of its neighboring asian countries, their coffee culture involves lounging in little plastic chairs out on the streets in the afternoon and just chatting away with your friends as a pastime.

 

 

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It is so easy to find coffee to bring home as there’s lots of shops selling beans by the bulk, they even offer cheap coffee drips for your personal use. They categorize their coffee by the number, depending on the darkness of roast and bitterness of coffee. If you cannot commit to coffee beans, their G7 instant coffee mixes are just as good. Trust me.

 

2. Cuisine

 

Vietnamese cuisine has so much to offer than what you typically see in commercial restaurants. If asked to describe what it is like, I would say it’s the kind of cuisine with a flavor profile that’s not too overwhelming but sure is enough to make you love it.  

 

 

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One thing you’ll notice and definitely enjoy is the freshness of the ingredients, whether that would be the vegetables or seafood. The preparation is not that complex, but they make sure that each flavor of the  components are pronounced. It is always never too salty or too oily.  Vietnamese love their spices as well – don’t be fooled by that bowl of sliced chilis on the side; it really packs a punch but makes the whole food experience even more amazing.

 

3. Seafood

 

 

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One thing I will never forget from my trip to Vietnam is that seafood spread we had when we visited Ha Long Bay. We were seated on the side of the road in those plastic chairs enjoying the winter air and the server just put down a plateful of oysters fresh off the grill. It tastes heavenly and was really juicy that you can just taste the sea. We partnered our steamed rice to plates of grilled fish,  crabs and shrimps, clam soup and it was amazing. It’s really fresh, big and flavorful seafood that’s served hot with just a side of lemon and chili. Aside from the taste, you’ll also enjoy it because it’s relatively cheap, especially if you come in groups and try out different dishes together.

 

4. Street food

 

 

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Like anywhere in Asia, street food is always the interesting part. It is the cheap, fast, readily available fried little things that you can enjoy while doing just about anything. What makes street food in Vietnam interesting is that it is diverse – from fried spring rolls with glass noodles and hints of vegetables and meat, bowls of rice noodles with beef flanks and herbs, french baguette with meat and other savory fillings, to cut up fresh fruits sprinkled with chili, lime and salt. It is a beautiful marriage of fried and fresh things together that you almost don’t feel like you’re eating traditional book-definition of street food. Good food that’s guilt-free? Count me in.

 

5. “Souvenir” Treats

 

 

Of course, every trip wouldn’t be complete without anything to bring home as giveaway to your family and/or friends, or simply for your own pleasure. From my experience, Vietnam isn’t really that big on specially-packaged or ‘export quality’ souvenir treats aside from packed banana or vegetable chips, or chocolate-covered dried mangoes. They are more on the typical touristy things like shirts, hats, fridge magnets, key chains and whatnot. What you should look out for however are the local goodies like dried/preserved fruits and nuts, coffee beans, local tea blends, spices and/or instant Vietnamese rice noodles. It’s available almost anywhere, in any shop. If I actually had a choice, I would bring home bags and bags of their sweetened plain yogurt.

 

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5 Tips For Your First Malasimbo Experience

5 Tips For Your First Malasimbo Experience

 

Puerto Galera has been one of those small islands that you would instantly think of when the city life becomes a little more exhausting and toxic than the usual. It’s known for the nightlife, the beaches and the plentiful tourists that makes the island a definite worthwhile destination. Little did you know, the island is also known for another attraction: a festival of music, arts, dance and lights – The Malasimbo Festival. I had always been intrigued by the musings of people on social media about how magical and refreshing the whole weekend experience was, so last year I decided to pack my bags and get my burned-out butt in there. Here are 5 tips I can share with you from that first experience.

 

1. Don’t forget the essentials.

I’ve been stoked for my first Malasimbo experience even a year before, that I started preparing my wardrobe and other essentials early on, but still on the day itself I forgot the most important thing: MATS. The festival will be on the mountains, in an open ground there will be no chairs provided than what the nature gives you: the grass on the ground. Make a list of your weather-appropriate, OOTD-ready, on-the-go essentials early, so you could prepare EVERYTHING before your trip.

 

 

Preview.PH

2. Try out the food.

 

The festival is not only about the music and the arts, but also about sumptuous little bowls of mouthgasm that you SHOULD try. A little bit on the pricey side, but it’s a shame if you won’t try it at least once. My personal favorite: Dabo-Dobo (chicken adobo with mushrooms and toasted garlic chips), and Kesong Puti sandwich (a pan de sal with carabao cheese, olive oil and herbs filling)

 

 

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3. Do a little research about the line-up.

 

Malasimbo showcases a lot of local and foreign acts that’s not mainstream to the ears nor to the eyes, and watching them perform live is an experience on its own. It’s so refreshing and transcending, I’m not even kidding. So do yourself a favor, and try to listen to a few of their hits before attending so you know who to watch for.

 

 

Arts, Travel and Music Magazine

 

4. Arrive early at the grounds.

 

Ma ​ lasimbo is also the perfect spot for your artsy-fartsy needs as both local and foreign contemporary artists bless you with their talent all day long, but that’s not your only reason to go early. Be able to witness the lives of the tribes and join in on other festivities such as workshops, exhibits and eco-cultural preservation activities.

 

 

Official Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival Page

 

5. Subscribe to the newsletter.​

 

If frequent checking out of their website or Facebook page is not your thing, then maybe subscribing to a newsletter is. Their newsletter not only gets you updated with who, when and what’s going to be on the next festival, but they also give out deals and discounts on affiliated transportations and hotels, camping site and other exciting offers.

 

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7 Must Visit Restaurants Around Taft

7 Must Visit Restaurants Around Taft

 

1. 8065 Bagnet

 

 

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As the name says, Bagnet is their specialty, so if you’re craving for some deep fried pork belly, this is the place to go. Make sure to come early since the place usually gets packed around lunch time, but don’t you worry, they have a second floor and an outdoor seating when it gets really packed. Did you know that the first branch is located at 8065 Estrella Street, San Antonio, Makati City? Hence the number 8065.

 

 

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        Must order: Bagnet Sisig (Budget Meal – P125 , Good for Two – P200)

        Address: Leon Guinto Corner Estrada Street,Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-10PM

 

2. The Barn Cafe

 

 

Patricia Echavez

 

The barn, more famously known as a drinking place especially during Thursday nights because of DLSU’s four-day class schedule, also has a cafe located at the second floor. Their entrees may be a wee bit pricey for those who are on a tight budget, but nonetheless, worth every peso. Trust me, your tummy will thank you for it. P.S. Try their milkshakes!

 

 

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Must order: Roast Chicken (P190), Beefy Mushroom (P175)

Address: 2226 Fidel A. Reyes Street, Malate, Manila

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10AM-12MN

 

3. Chomp Chomp

       

 

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Craving for some heat? Chomp Chomp’s Singaporean laksa will surely satisfy your tastebuds. Fun fact – they have another branch in Banawe called Bugis Singaporean street food, but they basically have the same menu.

 

 

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Must order: Singapore Laksa (P180), Hainanese Chicken (P205)

Address: 2/F Bellagio Residence, Leon Guinto cor. Estrada St., Malate, Manila

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM

             


4. Samgyupsalamat

 

 

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Your Korean barbeque fix just around corner (literally). This restaurant is located at a tiny street in Leon Guinto and may be easy to miss for new dwellers, so keep your eyes open for the Samgyupsalamat signboard. Tipid Tips: Bring your friends, since there’s a minimum of 2 orders before you’ll be able to grill some meat. Plus, you’ll be able to share the experience and get to pig out with your besties, win-win situation right?

 

       Must order: Daepae Samgyupsal (P240), Beef Samgyupsal (P320), Bibimbap (P200)

        Address: 911 Kapitan Tikong Corner Leon Guinto Street, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-11PM, Sun 12NN-11PM

 

 

Candyd Sia

 

Insider Tip: They have an unlimited Samgyupsal promo every weekend and holidays. The free side dishes are also refillable so you can eat until your hearts content.

5. Rap Steak and Cakes

 

 

Patricia Echavez

 

Feel like eating steak, but you’re on a tight budget? Then visit the most raved about steak place in Taft. You can opt to switch your sides to mashed potatoes or pasta instead of rice for an additional P30. Plus, They give you a whole pitcher of gravy, which is the definition of “sauce palang, ulam na”.

        Must order: T-bone steak (P245), Glazed beef short ribs (P220)

        Address: 879 Dagonoy Street, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-10PM

 

6. Topside Diner

 

 

Sail with this nautical-themed restaurant and get ready to get your hands dirty with their juicy buffalo wings. This tiny diner is usually packed with hungry students so make sure to come early. Waiting is the game, but it’s totally worth it when you get to try their cheese topped-buffalo wings (Garlic Parma).

 

        Must order: Garlic Parma Combo w/ Drinks (P99)

        Address: 2589 Leon Guinto St., Vito Cruz, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM-9PM, Sat 9AM-7PM

 

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Insider tip: You can order from the lemonade stand outside and ask them to bring it right at your table.

 

7. Exile 

 

 

Candyd Sia

 

It’s time for dessert! This quaint little restaurant serves the best brownies in town! Top it off with their homemade ice cream and prepare to see heaven. It’s a little tight in this place, but they also have an outside seating if you’re up for grabbing late night drinks with your barkada.

 

        Must order: Y Tu Mama Brownies ala mode (P85 + P50 single scoop)

        Address: Unit 2, 2428 Leon Guinto Street, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-11PM

 

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Siquijor Island Tour

Siquijor Island Tour

 

Siquijor is an island province located in Central Visayas. Compared to other provinces in this region, only few people visit this humble island. Siquijor is also considered to be the third smallest province in the country. It’s small enough that you can tour the best of spots in the island in just one day. Regardless of its size, Siquijor still has lots of amazing island adventures to offer.

 

 

 

Getting there

 

If you’re coming from Manila, the best entry point to Siquijor is by flying to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines have daily flights going to Dumaguete City, flight duration is about an hour. From Dumaguete airport you can rent a tricycle to take you to Dumaguete port. There are several ferries that can take you to Siquijor. Travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour, and fare starts at Php 160. Other entry points going to Siquijor are Cebu, Bohol, Dapitan, and Iligan.

 

Touring around the Island

 

 

 

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The best way to get around Siquijor is by renting a tricycle, especially if you’re traveling with a small group. The usual rate for chartering a tricycle for a day tour is Php 1000 – Php 1500 for 3 to 4 people. The tricycle driver can also be your local tour guide since they are very knowledgable about the island. For bigger groups, there are also multicabs you can charter for your island tour.

 

Best Spots to Visit

 

1. Capilay Spring Park

 

 

 chillout-travel-philippines.com

 

 

Capilay Spring Park is a public recreational park located in the heart of San Juan. The main attraction of the park is the emerald green spring water pool where people can take a dip and swim. This is an ideal place to chill and eat merienda while enjoying the province life.

 

2. San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent in Lazi

 

 

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The 18th century church and convent is one of the historical landmarks you should visit when in Siquijor. The convent is considered the largest religious convent in Asia and has been declared as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine National Historical Commission.

 

3. Old Balete Tree and Fish Spa

 

 

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Under the mystic balete tree in Lazi, you can find a shallow pool of water where you can enjoy a fish spa. Just dip your feet in the water and watch the fishes lightly nibble on your dead skin. In this spot, you can also shop for the best pasalubong treats and items such as bracelets, keychains, and Siquijor’s famous gayuma (love potion).

 

4. Cambugahay Falls

 

 

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The turquoise waters of Cambugahay Falls will surely capture your heart. This waterfalls is famous for it’s Tarzan experience where people can take a swing and land on the cool water of the falls. It’s surely a fun experience you would want to try over and over again!

 

5. Salagdoong Beach

 

 

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This beautiful beach is one of the main attractions in the island. You will admire the alluring sight of the sea with different shades of blue. Aside from swimming in the crystal clear waters, Salagdoong is also a popular destination for cliff jumping. This will surely be an exciting spot when traveling with your cool barkada!

 

Have you been to Siquijor? Tell us about your favorite destination!

 

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Fruits and Places

Fruits and Places

Sun, sea, beach, and fresh fruits!

 

Aside from visiting the breathtaking spots in the Philippines, you should also try the different fruits grown in the country. While you can always buy most of them in supermarkets, there’s joy in tasting these fruits from where they were grown and harvested. Taste the Best Local Produce in the Philippines! Here are five of the fruits found in the Philippines and where you can find them in the country.

 

 

1. Lanzones of Camiguin

 

If it’s not getting ants, it’s not sweet enough!

 

 

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Lanzones is a seasonal fruit with yellow to light brown peel, oval-shaped, and grows in clusters. Its translucent flesh tastes similar to grapefruit but sweeter, and with less juice. This fruit is rich in fiber, riboflavin, and antioxidants.

 

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The lanzones grows among the southern islands of the Philippines, but Camiguin wins the crown on the province that produces the sweetest fruits. Every year during the high season of lanzones around October, they celebrate the bountiful harvest in the Lanzones Festival. Aside from October, lanzones also grow abundantly on the month of March to April. Prices in the local market can go as low as Php 20 per kilo.

 

2. Durian of Davao 

 

 Painful smell, delightful taste!

 

 

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Durian is considered as the king of tropical fruits. The fruit is known for its large and spiked scale, and its scandalous sulfuric smell which resembles the smell of rotten onions. Despite the stench, the durian is still loved by many for its sweet and creamy flesh. Most durian fruits in the Philippines are grown in the Mindanao, concentrating in Davao region. The fruit is even turned into different delicacies that sells well as pasalubong treats for tourists. Some of these delicacies include durian candy, durian chips, durian jam, and even durian ice cream! High season for durian in Davao is during the months of August to October when prices drop as low as Php 20 per kilo or Php 80 per sack.

 

3. Mangoes of Guimaras

 

The sweetest ones in the world!

 

 

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Mango is the regarded as the national fruit of the Philippines, and it’s practically a sin not to eat mangoes when traveling to the country. These are the golden yellow soft-peel fruits that have a sweet, tangy, and succulent taste.

 

 

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Guimaras, known as the Mango Capital of the Philippines, has over 50,000 mango trees in the province. Mangoes grown in Guimaras are internationally called Manila Super-Mango and is considered as one of the best mango varieties in the world. Guimaras also celebrates Manggahan Festival, an event promoting the mango industry in the province. They also use mango as a prime ingredient for the local delicacies such as dried mangoes, mango jam, mango cakes, and a lot more.

 

4. Strawberries of Benguet

 

The summer blush of the mountains!

 

 

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Strawberries, being known to cultivate only on low temperature areas, seemed unlikely to cultivate in the Philippines. This is why the country is truly blessed to have the Cordilleras, the mountainous region in the Northern Luzon where the climate is cool enough to grow sweet strawberries.

 

 

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In La Trinidad, capital of Benguet province, one of the popular attractions is the strawberry farm where guests can hand pick fresh strawberries for themselves. It’s truly a unique experience in the country. The best time to visit La Trinidad for strawberry farm is during the first quarter of the year when the strawberries are big, red, and extra sweet. The holds the annual Strawberry Farm in Benguet during the latter weeks of March.

 

5. Pineapples of Camarines Norte

 

The sweet queen of the tropics!

 

 

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Pineapples must be the iconic fruit when picturing a tropical vacation. The exceptionally juicy flesh and vibrant taste of pineapples are the perfect complement to the sweet view of beach waves.

 

 

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While the big plantations of pineapples are found in Mindanao, there’s a small province in Luzon that produces a sweeter variety of pineapples — the Pina Formosa. The Pina Formosa grows abundantly in the province of Camarines Norte. It is relatively smaller than the common pineapples sold in the market, but is generally sweeter too. The province also celebrates the Pinyasan Festival, formerly known as the Pineapple festival, where hundreds of pineapples are given away and cooked into different delicacies.

 

Aside from these fruits, the Philippines also has an abundant supply of bananas, mangosteen, atis, avocados, and a lot more. What’s your favorite fruit? Tell us about it!

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Bohol Countryside Tour

Bohol Countryside Tour

Bohol is an island province located in the Central Visayas. Its only city, Tagbilaran, is popularly known as the City of Friendship for the warmth and hospitality of the locals. The province is full of tourist attractions making it a famous destination for people traveling in the Philippines for the first time. A day tour of Bohol countryside is a trip you shouldn’t miss when visiting Bohol!

 

 

 

1. Baclayon Church

 

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Baclayon Church is one of the many establishments that suffered from the 2013 Bohol earthquake. Since then, the locals worked hand in hand to rebuild the damages of the said religious institution. Today, you can visit the partly ruined church and a historical museum located on the second floor.

 

2. Python Sanctuary

 

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Another popular tourist attraction in the municipality of Baclayon is the Python Sanctuary. An animal shelter that was home to the biggest captive python in the country, Prony. Prony was named after its captor, Sofronio Salibay. She measured 27 feet and weighed more than 300 kg (according to an estimate by DENR). Prony died last August 2013 but her preserved body is still available for viewing in the sanctuary. Bohol’s other endemic wildcats like the Malay civet cat, Philippine mongoose and a flying lemur can also be found in the sanctuary.

 

3. Loboc Floating Restaurants

 

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Dining in the Loboc Floating Restaurants is truly a unique experience in Bohol. Savor a hearty lunch buffet while enjoying a soft cruise along the majestic river of Loboc. They serve the most delicious Filipino dishes and delicacies such as adobo, pancit, maja blanca, suman, among others. During the cruise, the guests will also be serenaded by a singer performing acoustic songs. A group of folk dancers will also make a performance as a form of welcome to the tourists.

 

4. Tarsier Conservation

 

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Of course, you totally shouldn’t miss visiting our little nocturnal fellows — the tarsiers! These cute animals are considered as one of the smallest primates. The distinct features of the tarsiers are their small bodies, long tails, and wide eyes. Being nocturnal by nature, guests should be aware that silence is strictly advised during their visit in the conservation center.

 

5. Chocolate Hills

 

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You will also see the world famous attraction in Bohol — Chocolate Hills! These unusual landforms are a treat to look at. There are over 1000 hills occupying more than 50 square kilometer land. The hills turn from lush green to chocolate brown during the dry season, hence, its name. You can climb a view deck where you can catch the best view of the hills.

 

6. Bilar Manmade Forest

 

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On your way to Carmen where you can find the Chocolate Hills, you will pass by this picturesque road piercing through the towering mahogany forest. The forest is a 2 kilometer stretch of mahogany trees planted by Boholanos over a decade ago. More than just the magnificent view, Bilar Manmade Forest stands as a living proof of the strong value of friendship and community among the locals of Bohol.

 

7. Butterfly Garden

 

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Just because a average butterfly’s life span is only 2 weeks doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate their beautiful existence. A butterfly garden by Simply Butterflies Conservation Center houses different breeds of butterflies flying around colorful flowers in their beautiful gardens. They also have educational exhibits about the life cycle of these beautiful creatures.

 

8. Hanging Bridge

 

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The Tigbao Hanging Bridge will surely delight thrill-seeking travelers. Suspended over 80 feet over the Loboc River, this tandem bridge was built to aid pedestrian travel between two barangays. The bridges are actually made by sturdy metal but it’s covered with a layer of bamboo strips which makes the bridge look scary. At the end of the bridge, you can find a series of shops where you can purchase pasalubong goods such as tarsier novelties and peanut treats.

 

9. Blood Compact Shrine

 

 rjmtravelandtours.net

 

The Blood Compact Shrine, also known as The Sandugo, is a monument found in Tagbilaran that stands as a symbolic landmark of the first international treaty of peace and friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. The monument has a spectacular backdrop of the blue Bohol Sea.

 

Have you been to Bohol? Tell us about your countryside tour!

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