Review: Ocean Suites Bohol

I normally don’t travel during Philippine holidays, primarily because my work requires me to follow the US holidays, but also because I know everybody will be traveling then, and the prices go up. However, My birthday falls between Thanksgiving and Bonifacio Day this year, so when I chanced upon a Cebu Pacific seat sale, I quickly booked a trip to Bohol with my friends Sunshine and Bea.

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Just a couple of days after that, I received an email from Deal Grocer, asking me to choose among their hotel deals for an overnight stay. I was still in Bulusan that time (September), and won’t be back in Manila until the end of October, so I thought, why not use the voucher for a stay on my birthday, during our Bohol trip?
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Dining options at Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts are those places you enjoy too much and don’t want to leave, and Shangri-La Bangkok is no exception. Luckily, there’s a number of restaurants in the hotel where you can have a great meal.

Buffet Breakfast at Next2

Next2 Cafe is on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, where guests can have their buffet breakfast. They are also open for lunch and dinner, and an ala carte menu is also available.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
Cereals, dried fruits, nuts, and cheeses
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Review: Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Bangkok is one of my favorite cities to visit, and after several visits, I have already established some habits: staying at the same area, eating at the same places. For my recent trip, I knew I had to try something new, so when Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok offered me a great rate for a two night’s stay, I jumped at the opportunity.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Location

The Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok is located at the banks of the Chao Phraya River. On my first visit to Bangkok, I was enthralled by the busy activity in the river — while it’s not the prettiest river to look at, I love how the locals use the river as part of their daily commute. It’s a river that’s teeming with life.

Though I often stayed in places away from the river, I love going there and riding the river express to Khao San Road or to visit the temples. I suppose as someone who lives in the city where the river is underutilized, this is somewhat a novelty that I indulge in when I travel.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

It was my first time to stay in Bangrak, and right after checking in, I was eager to explore the area, specially after reading that there’s a great restaurant that serves duck nearby. The area behind the hotel has plenty of shops that caters to the needs of the locals, rather than the tourists, and restaurant and food stalls frequented by office workers. It wasn’t a posh neighborhood, and the main road is really very busy, so you get a real feel of the local vibe.

Transportation to and from the hotel

For first timers to Bangkok, the hotel’s location by the river is ideal: it is right next to the Saphan Taksin BTS station, and within comfortable walking distance to the Sathorn Pier, which is the central pier of the Chao Phraya River Express boats.

The proximity to the BTS station means that you can conveniently go to the city center via the SkyTrain, while the pier means that The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Po, Wat Arun, and Chinatown are just one boat ride away.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

One note about the BTS though: there is no elevator going down to the ground level (at least, not near the Shangri-La exit), so if you took the train from the airport, you’ll have to lug your bags down the stairs. Also, it’s the Krungthep wing that is nearest to the BTS, so if you are staying at the Shangri-La Wing and are just about to check-in, they can arrange to have their tuk-tuk bring you to the Shangri-La Wing lobby. It was a really nice way to experience riding the tuk-tuk in Bangkok without having to worry about getting charged an exorbitant amount for a short ride.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

If you’d rather take the taxi though, the concierge can arrange for a taxi to come pick you up at the lobby. I was told that the hotel has its fleet of taxis, which means you won’t have to wait long for a ride. When a car comes, whether it’s a taxi or an Uber, the bellboys would talk to the driver to make sure that they know where your destination is. It’s a simple gesture that I really appreciate.

Deluxe Balcony Room

My room was a Deluxe Balcony Room on the 20th floor. Like all my previous rooms at the Shangri-La, it was spacious, has everything I needed for the short stay, and have a very luxurious bed.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

The bathroom, as always, was equally spacious, with a separate shower and tub. The shower stall has both the hand-held shower nozzle, which I prefer, and the overhead rain shower head, which others like, so it’s a victory for both camps.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

In this room, however, my favorite is the balcony. I had a beautiful, unobstructed view of the river and the surrounding Bangkok skyline. I can see the sun as it rose from the horizon, and had a glimpse of the splash of colors in the sky as it sets. I spent hours just sitting out at the balcony, munching on fruits and fudge as I watch the busy river traffic below. There was even a constant breeze, so it was pretty pleasant sitting outside.

Horizon Club and the Krungthep Wing

The Horizon Club rooms of the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok is from the 21st floor up in the Shangri-La Wing. Guests staying in these rooms have access to the Horizon Club Lounge, and have the option to have their breakfast there. They can also enjoy whole day access to the lounge, and evening cocktails and canapes.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
The Horizon Club Lounge

All the rooms and suites in the Krungthep Wing have a river view balcony, and guests have access to the exclusive Riverside Lounge, and enjoy complimentary breakfast, afternoon high tea, early evening cocktails, and refreshing beverages all throughout the day, whether at the lounge or by the poolside.

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
Krungthep Wing Room

Shangri-La Hotels recently launched their Love Journey Deals where you can enjoy up to 40% off the published rates for certain months of the year. I checked the rates, and you can get a room in the Krungthep Wing for THB4,000+ per night, which is a pretty great deal! This is a limited online offer: you can get this rate only until November 11, 2015!

Coming up: Dining at Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

How to apply for an Australian Tourist Visa Online: A guide for Filipinos

Back in September, my sister in Australia told me over Viber that she’s considering asking our mother to spend New Year’s with them again in Melbourne, and asked me if I am willing to accompany our mother to Australia. Of course, I am!

I’ve heard from friends and read in the comments section of my previous visa application guides that Philippine passport holders can now apply for an Australian tourist visa online. Since I do not like the stress that Manila traffic brings, and I do like doing business online, this was very appealing to me.

Create an ImmiAccount

The first step in applying for an Australian tourist visa online is to create an ImmiAccount. To create an account, you will need a valid email address. Make sure that you type in your email address correctly, and that you use an email address you regularly check. The embassy will be communicating with you using this address, so make sure that you check this email address often.
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Phuket travel tips

I have traveled to Thailand several times since I first started backpacking in 2006, but haven’t made it to Phuket until last June. Here’s what I learned in our five-day stay there.

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Direct flights vs. Transiting in Bangkok

Cebu Pacific flies direct to Phuket from Manila, but operates only twice or thrice a week. It’s okay if you are looking to only spend the weekend in the island, but it didn’t work for my schedule. What I did was to book Manila-Bangkok, and Phuket-Manila during one of their seat sales (bought tickets in November, flew June). The Phuket-Manila flight is around midnight, which is great, because it gives you one full day to spend at the beach.

There are a number of domestic airlines that can bring me from Bangkok to Phuket, but I went with Bangkok Airways because their flight arrival is the closest to the arrival of my brother’s flight from Singapore.
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