Activities to do in Iloilo, Philippines

A heart-shaped province located in Western Visayas, Iloilo is aptly called the “Heart of the Philippines.” It may only have a total land area of 5000 square km with a population of approximately 2 Million, but this province offers countless activities for the young and old!

Food Tour

When you’re in Iloilo, it’s kinda difficult to stay faithful to your strict diet. Why? For starters, mouth-watering dishes are Iloilo’s year round attractions. Find a true blue local to show you places where you can eat authentic Ilonggo cuisines: La Paz Batchoy, native “lechon manok” (roast chicken), talaba and sinamak (oysters and native vinegar), KBL (pigeon peas, pork, and green jackfruit), chicken binakol, Pancit Molo, and fresh seafood dishes (The Philippines is an archipelago, so you see fresh seafood almost everywhere).

Heritage Sites Tour

There are several historical sites scattered all over Iloilo. Don’t forget to visit Calle Real, Plaza Libertad, the Iloilo Provincial Capitol grounds, Cathedral, Lizares Mansion, Casa Mariquit, Molo Church, and Bahay Camiña nga Bato, Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, Miagao Church, San Joaquin Church, Dumangas Church, Santa Barbara Church and Convent, Ermita Chapel, and Nazaria Lagos Monument. You will surely be in awe of the history, architecture, and culture of the people. This activity is not only fun but also very educational!

Take a dip in Iloilo’s pristine waters

No travel article about the Philippines has no section about how beautiful its beaches are. Don’t forget your swimming outfit, eco-friendly sunblock, and cameras (these beaches are soooo picturesque)! Head over to Islas de Gigantes, Concepcion, Ajuy, Sicogon, San Joaquin, Miagao, Guimbal, Tigbauan, and Oton.

Climb, Trek, and Hike

Aside from crystal clear waters, Iloilo is also blessed with lush mountains. Get a trusted local tour guide to show you the roads less traveled: Bucari, Igbaras, Janiuay, Calinog, and Lambunao. Hike hidden trails and be surprised to see amazing waterfalls, overlooking views, and super clean surroundings! Your lungs, eyes, and heart will surely thank you!

Enjoy the city life

In most parts of the Philippines, it is still possible to enjoy the so-called “city life” without losing that laid-back ambience. Iloilo City has a number of lifestyle centers where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a book, spa day (alone or with your loved ones), dine at classy restaurants, and shop at malls. Don’t forget to check out Plazuela de Iloilo, Ayala Atria Iloilo, Smallville Complex, SM City Iloilo, Robinsons Place Iloilo, and Iloilo Business Park.

Or go on a city tour

Iloilo may be a province, but Iloilo City is actually a tourist hub. Aside from its numerous restaurants and shopping districts, it also has amazing museums, hotels, and lifestyle districts.  and nightlife in the province await.

Join a festival

Because the Philippines is hugely Catholic, it’s not difficult to find yourself in the middle of a religious festival while in a province. Iloilo hosts the Dinagyang Festival, a religious and cultural festival held on the fourth Sunday of January. Enjoy the tribal music, religious rituals, street dancing, colorful costumes, amazing food, and most of all, the warmth of the locals.

Not a sleepy old town, Iloilo has plenty to offer for the adventurous and young at heart. Reach out to us to help you to plan your next trip to Philippines @askus@ladyredot.com.


 Hello, I am Mish! I used to work as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since I graduated, I decided to give up my corporate job to focuses on my 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. I am a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, I’m tiny but I am an Olympic-level glutton. Let me bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach me at LinkedIn.

 

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Prepping yourself for Songkran Festival in Thailand

Songkran is the mark for the Thai New Year’s festival. The Thai New Year’s Day falls on 13 April every year, but the holiday period includes 14-15 April as well. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word as “astrological passage”, meaning transformation and change. Splashing water is the symbol of purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. The festival itself is far from the actual meaning and spiritual ritual but has gone beyond as a commercial and tourist agenda. Be ready to get wet in Thai style! Here are some tips you need to prepare if you want to go to the festival.

1. Plan Well
The first thing that you need to do is plan your itinerary, whether you aim to attend the longest celebration of Songkran festival or you are seeking for the wildest water fight. If you choose the first one, Chiang Mai in Northern of Thailand might be the place to go since the events are longer and it has already started since one week before. If you prefer the wild one, go to Silom, which recognised as Bangkok financial and party district. Immerse yourself with the glamorous Thailand nightlife with world class DJ during Songkran and an unlimited amount of liquors.

2. Protect your Goods
Keep in mind that Songkran Festival involves water a lot as a part of the celebration. Make sure you have your own personal gadgets protected with waterproof casing because everybody is going to be wet. It is not advisable to use a sling bag, instead use fanny packs that are easy to attach around your waist and don’t bring unnecessary things if you feel that you don’t need it.

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3. Be Cautious
Pickpockets tend to do their actions during Songkran Festival since it is always filled with lots of tourists and people. If you are a tourist, consider for leaving your passport in the hotel room and bring a small amount of money, to avoid any threats from the criminals. Moreover, don’t use taxi or bus, it is better to use train due to the hectic traffic during Songkran festival.

4. Book Earlier
As a Thailand’s national event, booking a hotel during D-day must be a real nightmare since most of the hotels were fully booked during Songkran Festival. Therefore, book your hotel in advance is important if you want to party in the popular district in Thailand like the capital city of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and others.

During the festival, you better prepare a rubber sandal because the street can be very slippery and dangerous. Don’t even think to barefooted during Songkran because sometimes you may find broken pieces of beer bottles.

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5. Have Fun
Lastly, prepare your gear including water gun and waterproof casing on the day of the event. The water fight starts in 2nd and 3rd day, at that time you can bargain until the prices can go really cheap. After the festival, you can go shopping in the biggest shopping capital in Asia, with local and international brands.

The last thing that must be remembered is to pay your respect. Visit a temple to show your respect, after all this is a religious festival. Have a great time playing around during Songkran’s Festival!


dsc_4705-jpgHello, I’m Jenica from Indonesia.  As a law student in progress, studying law can sometimes become really boring.  That’s why I always like to wander around and exploring new, unusual places to relieve some tension.  I also like to capture my experience through lenses and especially from writing, because it helps me to create memories that will last forever, yet it can also enjoy by a lot of people.  Meanwhile, if I don’t have time to travel, you can find me easily at the markets while trying delicious street foods from various local food stalls.  Nasi goreng, rendang, and martabak are my all time favourite that will never be replaced with anything. For me, diet always starts tomorrow so  let’s enjoy the life to the fullest!  If you want to know more about me, drop me an email now.

How Vietnamese celebrate Tet

Watermelon, Chung cake, Tet cake, lucky money.. Yes, you guess it right, I’m referring to the biggest celebration in Vietnam, Tet Nguyen Dan. Tet, as of how the Vietnamese usually call it, is the New Year, very similar to Chinese New Year in several ways the event has its own unique charms.

Tet’s atmosphere starts prior than the main dates itself. 1 month prior to Tet, people are already rushing with the preparation: making traditional dried candied fruits, cleaning and decorating the house, making the special cakes for Tet, shopping for new clothes, just like how the Western would prepare for Christmas.

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The closer to the Tet’s Eve, it gets busier everywhere. Big cities starts to empty as everyone heads to their hometown to gather with family, every businesses rush to finish prior to the events. There is a saying: “As empty as the New Year’s Eve”, which indicated the fact that nobody outside doing any business, as this is the time to head for home, for the family. Nowadays, you will still find that most of the stores, markets closed several days before Tet or latest on the last day of the year.

New Year’s Eve for many families is the gathering time, where people will have a small meal to worship the ancestors and thankful for the protection and all the good things happened last year. In the past, when fire crackers were still allowed, then you would hear a lot of crackling and amusement. Nowadays, people anticipant eagerly for the fireworks to begin.

So, what is it like during Tet?

People dress nicely to visit the temple and the graveyard of your late loved ones. Followed by visitation of the relatives, where the children and the elders will get the lucky money, as a wish for health and luck all year around. At each house, people invite you for a drink, can be either tea or alcohol and some sweets, wishing each other for a smooth new year.

The Tet has 3 official days, traditionally, the first day is to visit the Father’s family, second day for the Mother’s family, third day for the teachers, neighbors, and friends. However, nowadays, family size tends to be smaller, people would just combine everything in a single day for the convenience.

The most common entertainment during Tet is “gambling”, kids have their own set of games, which they can use a part of the lucky money to play. Adults also gather around to gamble, on a small scale and fun way to relax rather than serious gambling.

Some of the items are always present during Tet are:

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The Chung and Tet cake
Both are the traditional glutinous rice cake for Tet, that have the square and round shape respectively, symbolised the ground on our feet and the sky above our head. The cake is a combination of the meat, green bean, sticky rice, wrapped in the banana leaf and cooked over 48 hours and served with a typical fish sauce. The cooking part is the most interesting part as everyone get to gather around the charcoal stove, take turns to be in charge and exchange the stories. Simple connection in the old style.

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Watermelon
The fruit, with the red coloured juicy flesh covered with a smooth hard green skin, is believed to represent luck combined with hard work for a fruitful year.

Once a upon a time, the king gotten angry because the prince stated the fact that with hands and brain, everything and anything is possible. The king wanted to challenge his son, he forced him and his family to live on an island, without any food or water.

One day, the birds brought some strange seeds to the island, he planted it and watermelons began to grow successfully. Since then, he has been trading the fruit for food, clothes, and water. The business went so well that he has built his own kingdom from the island, and proven his word to his father.

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Five-fruit tray
A tray of different type of dried candied fruits to invite your guests while having the chatting. the tray normally contains the 5 different types of fruits depend on where you from in Vietnam, for eg, the south five-fruit tray will contain: custard apple, cluster fig coconut, papaya, and mango which each fruit pronounced in Vietnamese are “Cầu sung dừa đủ xài”. The whole sentence means: wishing a well-being year with enough prosperity.

The core value of the New Year has always remains in the hearts of the Vietnamese: time for the reunion, for connection and good wishes. If you wish to join in with the Vietnamese and bask in good wishes and joy, come and have a chat with us anytime at askus@ladyredot.com.


 

juneJune explores different roles to find out what is her passion. She used to be a travel consultant, a Kindergarden English teacher, an Expedia’s Lodging Partner Support agent, and the latest is being a freelancer. Eventually, she figures that her passion is to express the hospitality spirit from her heart and inspire others from her works. Being a writer for LadyRedot, where she get inspired and inspire others, and running her own bed and breakfast in her homeland. She views life as a colorful and adventurous journey, join her as she shares her passion with you! You can reach out to her @ LinkedIn.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Taiwan

Chinese New Year, one of the most important celebrations to Chinese all around the world. Whether you are in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore even in the States, you will probably be participating in some of the festive celebrations in your community.

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Background

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the first day of the Lunar Calendar but has no specific date on the Gregorian calendar. It falls anytime between late January and early February. In 2017, it falls on the 28th of January.

Aside from being the most important holiday in Taiwan, it also is the longest, being celebrated for 15 days. The official holiday, however, only lasts for a day or two dependable on different years.

Traditions

Prayers to the Ancestors
The festival is time for the Chinese people to honour their deities, so they go to temples and pray. They also offer sacrifices to their ancestors.

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Cleaning
Days before the New Year, the locals make sure to meticulously clean their homes to welcome good luck and get rid of evil spirits. The home cleaning should not be done on New Year’s Day, however, as doing so may deflect good luck and fortune.

Red
The colour red, which symbolises joy and fortune in the Chinese tradition, is widely used during the Chinese New Year. Locals decorate their houses with red posters with Chinese sayings written on them, put up red lanterns and wear red clothing.

Flowers and Oranges
In Taiwan, plum blossom and water narcissus are also used as decorations. Plum blossom symbolises courage and hope while water narcissus symbolises good luck. Oranges symbolise luck and fortune.

Loud Firecrackers
Setting off of loud firecrackers is also done, which is believed to ward off bad luck or ill fortune. The louder the firecracker, the more auspicious it gets.

Visits to Family and Friends
The Chinese New Year happens during the winter season and is the perfect time for the locals to enjoy their break and visit their family and friends. They enjoy good food with the company of each other and even go to tourist spots during this time.

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Red envelopes
Young children receive cash in red envelopes, called Ang Bao given to them by married adults. The adults, however, do not receive anything in return, as it’s not customary to give gifts to them unless the gift comes from their employer. It will be a denomination of even numbers like $2, $6, $8 and $10. The number 4 is deem unlucky by the Chinese.

Celebrations

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Bombarding Master Han Dan
This special ceremony is held in Taitung. A man is chosen to be “Master Han Dan”, the god of wealth. He wears a pair of red pants and holds a bamboo fan to shield his face. Four followers carry him on a sedan chair. The people will then throw firecrackers at him for abundance.

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Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival
Held on the same day as the Lantern Festival, the people visit Yanshui Wu Temple for worship. Fireworks will be set off on the ground level, rather towards the sky, like thousands of mini rockets launching towards you. It is considered lucky to be hit by one of the rockets. No doubt, it is absolutely dangerous and one must be well prepared to be suited up in a safety suit and helmet.

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Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
Held in Pingxi of New Taipei City, the lantern festival concludes the 15-day New Year celebration. The Kongming Lanterns were originally used to pass military secret messages, but are now used for festivals and celebrations. The lanterns are handcrafted using oiled rice paper and bamboo frame. The small candle inside it is then lit, and the heat it creates lifts the lantern up the sky. Most people write their wishes on the lanterns to send them to the gods above, hoping their wishes will be granted. It is truly a sight to behold.

 

If you like to experience the true local festivals, drop us an enquiry at askus@ladyredot.com for a chat on how we can help to create unforgettable memories for you.


mish

Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.

 

 

The Colourful Sinulog Festival In Cebu

Colourful costumes and headdresses, amazing dancers, drumbeats, grand fireworks display, giant puppets… No, I’m not talking about The Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. I am talking about the Sinulog festival in Cebu. Although a lot similar to the famous festival in Brazil, Sinulog is actually a very unique event on its own. If you don’t know this festival yet, now is the best time to.

A brief background
Sinulog is actually from the Cebuano term “sulog” which refers to the movement of the water. The term describes the forward-backward movement of the dancers. The event is both religious and cultural and was originally organised to honour the Holy Child Jesus through a dance ritual.

The majority of the Filipinos are devout Catholics, however, you do not have to be one to partake in the celebration. In fact, millions of people—not just believers— flock to the island of Cebu to witness and join the citywide party.

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The Grandest Party of the Year
Every third Sunday of January (15 January 2017), the city of Cebu bursts with millions of people from all over the world.

The first major event, however, happens on Saturday, as millions of devotees join a solemn procession from and to the 451-year old Basilica Menore del Santo Niño.

On Sunday, the city wakes up to early mass and alluring drumbeats. More than 30 contingents from different provinces in the Philippines don their colourful costumes and dance to the Sinulog beat on the streets. Colourful floats and giant puppets also join the 6.1-kilometer street dance right at the heart of the city.

To watch the grand parade, tourists can hit the bricks and follow the street dance route. However, if they want to witness the rituals, they can purchase tickets to the grandstand. Most spectators prefer to be on the streets, as it’s more festive and they can even join the street dancers.

Aside from the street dance, local products and delicacies will also be on display. You can dine in booths along the streets and even party with people right on the streets! To cap the street dancing, people can watch the spectacular fireworks.

The celebration continues after that, as at night, partygoers in celebratory spirits overflow and continue the fun on the streets. Although the event is a religious and cultural one, booze and street parties have been allowed (plans to prohibit drinking and smoking are being discussed by the local government, though).

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Preparing for the event
If you plan to be part of the event, book your airline tickets and hotel rooms months ahead. The rates for both will not only dramatically increase as the dates get closer to the event, but it is very possible for hotels and airlines to run out of rooms and seats quickly.

The Philippines is a tropical country. Although the month of January belongs to its “rainy season”, it’s actually still warm and sunny most of the time. Pack light clothing, comfortable shoes, sunblock and hats and leave your designer clothing and jewellery at home. It’s a very simple and laid-back place, so you do not need to deck up in your finest.

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Do not forget to bring your camera and safety bag. You’ll be roaming around the city the whole day and you do not want to miss the colourful sights. Stuff your bag with your own water bottles, extra shirts and sanitizers as it can get really crowded it’s impossible for you to go back to your hotel.

Lastly, do not forget to have fun. Let lose and shout Pit Senyor!

Come and join Mish and our writers in the whirlwind of adventures as we bring you closer to the local’s heartlands. We cater to help likeminded adventurers to plan their local experience for a lifetime memories.


mish
Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.