Fly Korean Air and visit the world's best airport while you're at it!

June 30, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

Outside Asia, little is known about Incheon International Airport (ICN), which is located just a few miles outside Seoul, South Korea. About a third bigger in size than LAX, ICN serves as the main hub for both Korean Air and its archrival Asiana Airlines.

Photo: Peter Pae / Los Angeles Times

This huge airport, which already surpassed Changi Airport in Singapore and Hong Kong International Airport as long-time favorites, has all the facilities one could need to pass the time during a long layover. Measuring a sprawling 496,000 square meters, ICN's ultra-modern and spacious structure holds play areas for children, shower rooms, computers with free Internet access, sleeping chairs, television and movie viewing rooms, ubiquitous Duty-Free Shops and even a full-service hotel.

Korean Air's main hub has over 70 retail stores, over 70 restaurants

Would rather spend a layover at ICN than any other airport en route to Manila? Book a Korean Air flight through Mango Tours and experience the endless entertainment, food and shopping opportunities that the number one airport in the world has to offer.

Call us at our 24/7 US toll-free number 1-866-2-MANILA or visit www.mangotours.com to book a flight today!

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On Minimalist Travel: Packing Light is the Way to Go

June 24, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

"In one sense, you have a choice to make: Is it more important to see or to be seen? If it's the former, a carry-on filled with just the essentials will allow you to cover a lot of ground unencumbered; if it's the latter, indulge yourself with multiple wardrobe options for every occasion and just go ahead and pay those extra luggage fees."

Packing light is more than just another technique in traveling. It's part of a whole minimalist philosophy where the saying "less means more" makes a whole lot of sense. In this article from the San Francisco Chronicle, travel writer John Flinn gives out tips on how to pack light--starting from making the decision to pack light, segregating the things you really need from the stuff "that would be nice to have", to helping you choose the best clothing items to bring along on a trip.

More than just being a philosophy and a technique in traveling, however, packing light is also one of the most practical ways to travel, since it allows you to save on extra luggage fees. Plus it allows you a certain degree of mobility (important especially if you're participating in a tour and plan to move around a lot).


To read John Flinn's article, "Minimalist traveling a matter of mind-set and tactics", click here.

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Mango Tours travel segment on Balitang America: Traveling and Money

June 19, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

In this travel segment of ours, we go into detail at how travelers and balikbayans can make the most out of their pocket money in the Philippines. You'd be surprised at how much you only need to have a great and unforgettable time visiting the country! Watch the video below to find out how to manage your money wisely, credit card convertion rates, ATMs and the truth about money changers in Manila:



Planning a trip to the Philippines? Book a ticket from Mango Tours, where your need for affordable airfare, exciting vacation packages around the Philippines and excellent customer service is most valued.

Book a ticket online at www.mangotours.com or call our 24/7 US toll free number 1-866-2-MANILA today!

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Mango Tours Spotlight: Palawan (Part 2)

June 16, 2009 Mango Tours 1 Comments

Day 2: Boats, Bats and Beaches

When one typically goes on vacation, getting up early isn’t exactly on the itinerary. For most, there isn’t even an itinerary. As gorgeous a backdrop as Palawan may be, this trip wasn’t so much a vacation as it was field research for you, our Mango faithful. With our first day (click here to read Part 1) in Palawan spent with crocodiles, island hopping and eating delicious seafood in a giant nipa house, our second day was eager to start at 6:30 AM. The sun cracked through the shutters of our Microtel suite and a rooster crowed boastfully at us. Granted, given the rural setting of the Philippines a rooster crows pretty much at any time of day, but this rooster’s timing was
impeccable.

After a nice longsilog breakfast, our tour guide Hanny was in the Microtel lobby shortly after 7:00. Had he been tardy, our sleepy eyes wouldn’t have looked at him sternly. Within minutes we were back on the main roadway, headed towards one of the gems in this island’s crown: The Underground River.


Travel time from Puerto Princesa to the Underground River is a seemingly daunting 2 hours, more if the road conditions are bad due to weather or hampered construction, but the road there winds through the very definition of the word ‘lush’. The greenery sprawling across some of the valleys is breathtaking and I found myself hard pressed to partake in the power naps my cohorts were using to regain some lost sleep. In between nodding off, however, I found myself understanding the stunning simplicity of this island, and even more, the Philippines. In America, you travel to designated places to witness natural beauty, for most of the Philippines, the beauty is everywhere. I romanticized thoughts of tree-lined mountains in the distance, and the likelihood that very few people, if any, may have set foot on them.

Much of Palawan’s history is intertwined with the country’s involvement in World War II, as it seemed that every factoid that Hanny had about points of interest had something to do with the war. The irony of a war bringing light to such a beautiful place is undeniable. I think it adds an air of context and a good sense of history. After all, one can rarely get by on looks alone.

After traversing the endless greenery we arrived, abruptly, at the launch port to “The Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park”. More boats, I thought. Good thing I love water!

The boat trip to the Underground River was breathtaking. To the left of the boat was open sea, a distinct horizon that was straighter than any line I could draw. To our right, large limestone behemoths emerging from the sun-sparkled water, the bases of them being slapped by waves over hundreds of years.


Just as the boat reached the shore, Hanny pointed out a mountain in the distance, enticing us with one more factoid: “You are going inside there.”

I felt like Indiana Jones, the Goonies, and Jack Sparrow combined.


There is a 30-yard walk from the entrance to the park to the landing where the cave tours embark, but you smell the cave before you see it. Actually, it’s the “brackish” water that you smell: a lagoon where the tidewater comes up into the river and meets with the fresh water pouring out of the mountain. The lagoon is crystal clear and very calm, and as much as you
would want to, you aren’t allowed to swim in it. This is because of the caves inhabitants: bats.

Puttering along in our small paddleboat, with the daylight fading behind us, there is a feeling in the air. A feeling that there are things flying in the dark space all around you. And you are right. Not only is this river unique, but it is also home to multiple species of bats only found in this region, some only in this cave! The experience is both a testament to the power of nature and the vastness of our world. Much like its namesake, the portion of the tour called “The Cathedral” humbles you in the same way the designers of Notre Dame had intended worshippers to feel in the house of God. In many ways, they are very much the same.


In the midst of the darkness and the bats (did I mention the bats?), our park ranger pointed out many rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites that have been forming for the last tens of thousands of years. All of the nicknames the rangers have given the formations are a bit cheesy, but spot on (one definitely needs to see the formation lovingly called ‘Jesus’ to understand). While we were only allowed to go about two or three miles down the river, in the darkness it seemed like almost five miles. Reaching the light at the end of our tour, the fresh island air hit my lungs like the smell of fresh baked cookies: big inhales and reluctant exhales. The way my eyes had to adjust to the bright sun, I felt like I had just come from a movie theater. A movie theater with bats in it and really good surround sound.


When we got back to the launch port, a short stroll down the beach found us at our lunch spot, and a chance to swim on the beach. Over more delicious food in a lush surrounding, I got a chance to have a chat with Johnny Francisco, the owner of Mango Tours and a man that spent a great deal of time poring over the details of this two day trip. Who, when he wasn’t trying to catch up on sleep, was interviewing everyone, from Hanny to our tour guide, to the construction workers at the Microtel about the various facets of their lives here, and figuring out what worked best for his potential travelers. Amidst the thanks and questions, I asked him what its like to work on what many would consider a vacation. Sipping from his coconut, and staring at his family splashing around in the water, he took a moment and said, “Well, it’s work as usual, no matter where I am. It’s only a vacation when I get to do what I love with the ones I love.”

Three hours later, I found myself on a plane bound for Manila, staring at the seatback in front of me. Never had I felt claustrophobic, especially after being in a cave. I chalked up traveling via the water and on the ground (even under it) equaling a rough transition to flying. But secretly, I think it was the idea of adventure that made me restless. The adventure that Palawan is willing to share with anyone that wants to explore it inside and out, trying to offer not only another option in this beautiful country, but a distinct one as well.

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Mango Tours travel segment on Balitang America: Travel deals

June 13, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments


Mango Tours offers one of the best travel deals when it comes to Philippine travel. As more and more travel companies compete for low prices, Mango Tours offers its customers various travel discounts that they can avail of, despite the current economic recession.

Travel deals include:
  • Low airfare (for only $672, all taxes included!) from Asiana airlines from SFO to MNL
  • Exciting travel packages around the Philippines
  • Road trip packages (view our Experience Jeepney tours and van rentals) that tour visitors around North & South Luzon.
  • Great hotel deals in Manila

To top it all off, Mango Tours is offering a Free Ticket Bailout (see details here), which gives every ticket buyer a chance to win a free roundtrip ticket from SFO/LAX to MNL.


Book a ticket now by calling our 24/7 US toll-free number 1-866-2-MANILA or by booking online at www.mangotours.com!

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Bicol Backpacking Adventure: Day 1

June 03, 2009 Mango Tours 0 Comments

by Japee Francisco

In keeping up with being a true travel bug, I decided to explore different parts of the Philippines to see what else she has to offer. I've been hearing a lot of buzz about the Bicol area, namely the Butanding or whale shark encounter in Donsol as well as the CWC Wakeboard Park in Cam Sur.

Seemingly fitting, my Bicol trip was going to consist of a few different destination stops so I boarded a plane for my first landing which was going to be in Legapsi, which was a very short 45-minute plane ride from Manila (the other major airport in Bicol is Naga, about a 2-hour drive north from Legazpi). As i stepped off the plane onto the runway ladder on the tarmac (smaller airports like this don't have a conventional jet way), I was greeted by a surreal and picturesque surprise that is still ingrained in my mind today:


Mt. Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines serves as the backdrop for not only Legazpi airport, but most of this Southern Bicol region. The natural swirl atop this volcano shows the natural ferocity of what Mt. Mayon is capable of. That day, however, I was fortunate to just see a beautiful sight. Daily horseback riding and hiking tours to the lava and ash fields are available for any tourist who is daring enough.

After a warm pickup by Mr. Richard Paraguya of Royal Guest Tours, we were on our way to Donsol, which was an hour ride from the airport; an eventful one to say the least. Much of the ride involved winding highways and turns but the outcome was well worth it once we arrived at the Butanding Welcome Center in Donsol. While on the way Richard our tour guide was very knowledgeable with facts about this tourism economy, namely the whale sharks (Butanding in Tagalog) and why Donsol is such a unique place to experience this. There are only 2 other locations in the world that can give you a better Butanding interaction aside from Donsol and these are Belize and Australia. However with these two other locations, the whale shark watching season only lasts 2 weeks where as in Donsol it lasts 3 months. After a quick briefing we jumped aboard the bangka to go and search for these gentle giants.

The giant whale sharks stay below in the deep waters but in the morning they skim the surface of the ocean to feed on plankton. The way the interaction works is there are 2 trackers on the bangka, one standing on top and another in front looking out for the huge shadows that the Butandings cast on the surface while feeding. All this is lead by the "BIO" or Butanding Interaction Officer who will let everyone on board know when to get ready and jump in the water on his command to swim with these magnificent creatures. As we approached our first whale shark, I would be lying if I said my heart was not beating at an elevated pace with excitement.


Pictured here is Jimmy Boy, our Butanding Interaction Officer along with one of the trackers as they search for the whale sharks in the reflection of the water. Unfortunately we could not bring the camera into the water but please be on the lookout for our underwater video that will be soon uploaded on this blog.

After 3 hours of our marine safari, we were fortunate to have encountered the Butandings on 9 separate occasions; a great day for whale shark watching indeed! Upon docking back to shore my sense of smell grew keen as I found out we had a seafood buffet waiting for us, which is a set lunch in the Donsol package offered by Richard and Royal Quest Tours.


On our drive back to Legazpi I found myself telling Richard of my backpacking escapades I had last November while in Costa Rica. Of all the stories I tell him he is very interested in the zip-lining that is so famous in Costa Rica. Not because he's never done it before but he is anxious to show me that we are not far away from adventures like this.


He then brings me to Lignon Hill, a famous jogging spot very near Legazpi which also houses the zip-lining adventure activity center. This comes as a surprise to me as I didn't know there was zip-lining in the Philippines let alone in Legazpi. I was excited as a little boy in a candy store but nervous as I saw the zip-lining cable stretch from mountain to mountain on the steep incline.

What was so great about the zip-lining at Mt. Lignon was it was as fun as it was safe. The cables are done professionally with a guide that fits you in the harness and shows you the proper way of zooming down the cable. It was an experience I'll never forget.

As if this wasn't enough, they also offered rappelling at Mt. Lignon. You can choose from a 45 and 70 degree angle at which to rappel, both of which go down the grassy mountain slope of Mt. Lignon. Since we were there at dusk, we opted to do the 45 degree rappel which was still very exciting and rigorous. The natural glow of the indigenous fire flies helped light my path down the mountain.



So after breathtaking views of the most active volcano in the Philippines, swimming with the huge whale sharks, mountain zip-lining and rappelling, day one was finished. Doing all these activities would take a few days at least in other countries but given the close proximity of all these locations in Legazpi, it is easily done in one day.

Next stop: Cam Sur Watersports Complex (or more popularly known as CWC) in Camarines Sur

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