Ultimate Guide to Cebu, Philippines

Locally referred as the Queen City of the South, Cebu Island in the Philippines boasts a healthy and thriving tourism. With a unique mixture of the new and the old, Cebu attracts millions of travelers every year to visit the country’s oldest city as well as experience what the second biggest regional economy has to offer. As such, Cebu charms local and foreign tourists alike with its several historical sights, colorful religious festivals, white sand beaches, pristine waters, world famous diving sites, variety of delicious food, shopping districts, and active nightlife.

For a short introduction, here are some basic facts about Cebu:

BASIC FACTS

Population: Around 2.7 million as of 2010

Drives: Right

Religion: Roman Catholic

Size: 5000 square kilometers

Language: Cebuano/Bisaya (local language), Filipino, English

Currency: Philippine Peso

Peak Season: Christmas, New Year, Lunar New Year, Easter

Low Season: May to October

HOW TO GET TO CEBU:

FLY

One-hour plane ride from Manila, Cebu can be reached with Cebu Pacific Air, AirAsia and Philippine Airlines. The international airport in Cebu can also receive guests flying from Hong Kong and Singapore.

BOAT

As one of the busiest ports in the country, Cebu is well-connected to the majority of shipping lines in the Philippines, making sailing to the island affordable to those who have a luxury of time to travel.

GETTING AROUND CEBU:

Jeepneys are the king of transportation for nearby destinations, but to explore other regions in Cebu, bus and boat rides are necessary. The north and south bus terminals, as well as ports, are easily accessible from Cebu City. Cabs are also available and Grab Taxis are increasing in numbers.

COST OF LIVING IN CEBU:

Cebu, like in almost all places in Philippines, is an affordable province to travel. Small hotels, new hostels and guesthouses are for budget  travelers and backpackers while there are Shangri-la, Mövenpick, Marco Polo, etc. for those with more money to spend. Food will never be an issue as a wide array of restaurants serving local and international cuisines can be easily found. Affordable eateries and bakeshops are also everywhere. When in doubt, a trip to local markets where fresh produce, dairy, and meat are on their cheapest can solve anything.

WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU

Sky is the limit for luxury travelers and there are international hotel chains, which can suit their accommodation needs. For budget travelers and backpackers, on the other hand, there are a lot of hostels, guesthouses, and affordable hotels and apartments. Moalboal, for instance, is a backpacker haven where hostels can go as cheap as €4.50 per night. You can also pitch a tent for free or rent a three-person tent for €5 along Panagsama beach.

WHERE TO GO IN CEBU

Where Monica Goes recommends these areas and islands in Cebu where the author has frequented. Later, separate travel guides and tips will be created to include itinerary, accommodation, and budget breakdown.

Cebu City

If you want to unique and traditional dining experience, taste delicious delicacies, and rich nightlife, Cebu city is for you. There are also a number of bars where live bands play and you can witness Cebuanos’ flare for music.

Mactan Island

Joined with Cebu city through a bridge, but not to be confused with the latter. This is where the local and international airport is. It is also a host of expensive and luxury hotels which are perfect for idyllic vacations.

Moalboal

2.5 hour bus drive south of Cebu city, this island is internationally known as the diving Mecca in Southeast Asia. Clear, emerald waters rich with marine life will definitely amaze travelers. Pescador Island, White Beach and Panagsama Beach are highly recommended especially for most budget travelers.

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Kawasan Falls, Badian. Image Source

Badian

Also two hours from town proper, Badian is always flocked with tourists who want to see the majestic beauty of Kawasan Falls and do adrenaline-pumping canyoneering.

Bantayan Island

The only area featured here which is located in the north, Bantayan island boasts a natural beauty that is incomparable to its neighbors. It has tranquil sea and white sand beach, which will make the four-hour trip to this paradise worth it. 

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Whaleshark encounter, Oslob. 

Oslob

On the southern tip of Cebu, this area has been known worldwide as home to the largest mammal on the planet – the whalesharks. In here, travelers can have interaction and swim with the gentle giants.

WHAT TO DO IN CEBU

  • Visit Magellan’s Cross and other historic churches

In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan conquered Cebu and planted a wooden cross to symbolize the conversion of Cebuanos from paganism to Christianity. The rich religious history of the Philippines arguably started in Cebu and thus made it a tourist destination especially for devoted locals who want to pray at the holy site.

  • Attend Sinulog Festival

Cebu is famous in the entire Philippines for its loud and colorful Sinulog festival. Once every third Sunday of January, local and foreign tourists flock the Queen City of the South to witness the celebration of Christianity dedicated to Santo Nino, the child Jesus.

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  • Island hopping

Cebu is a group of islands by itself and it would never be a bad idea to explore each of these islands.

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  • Snorkeling and diving

Cebu’s islands are rich with underwater life that it would be a shame not to go in and take a dip. A famous diving spot, Moalboal will simply take the breath of anyone with its coral reefs teeming with marine biodiversity. What’s best is that snorkeling and diving lessons for absolute beginners are very budget-traveler friendly! Interact with the whalesharks in Oslob as well or swim with thousands of sardines in Pescador island.

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Sardine run, Moalboal, Cebu
  • Canyoneering

Badian is popular for this thrilling and exhilarating activity. Try to be in a bigger group to save money and gain more friends.

Cebu is Where Monica Goes’ favorite island in the Philippines and she tries to visit it at least once a year. Even as a frequent traveler, she still discovers many places to explore. From idyllic beaches, wonderful marine biodiversity, rich heritage, and friendly locals, the coastal pleasure one can experience in Cebu will surely make any tourist to keep coming back. The author can attest to that.

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Have you been to Cebu? Which is your favorite destination? Share your experiences with me!

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Top Reasons Why You Must Study Abroad

Are you considering studying abroad but uncertain whether or not to take the plunge?

If you are looking for a new challenge or simply want to make your high school or university life so much better, why not study abroad? Studying overseas is a major decision to make and it can have a huge impact on one’s life, but the fruits of this endeavor are priceless – opportunity to know yourself better, learn about the world, and transform your future, among others. Don’t believe me yet? Continue reading and check out Where Monica Goes’ Top Reasons Why You Must Study Abroad.

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GAIN NEW PERSPECTIVES

Studying and living in a foreign country and different culture give you the opportunity to see the world with a new perspective. After observing how people behave and things are done, you get to have a different way to look at things. You broaden your horizons. You become more open-minded and culturally sensitive. Your prejudices will be cleared and opinions more educated. You learn to appreciate a different outlook on daily life, social and maybe even political issues.

DEVELOP LANGUAGE SKILLS

Classroom classes, textbooks, audiobooks, and online apps can aid you in learning languages, but there is something much more helpful if you are immersed in it in a local setting. Even though you know next to nothing about German, living in the foreign country for a week could make you understand some simple words and phrases already without you realizing it. With an overseas education, you get to learn and practice the language first-hand as you go dining in a restaurant, haggling in a flea market, or making new friends.

Since you are studying abroad and somehow forced to use (and hear) foreign language everyday, you are soaked into this new world that will ultimately bring you to hone your skills conveniently.

ENHANCE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY

It can start with your CV. By adding that line about your study abroad experience, you get ahead by some of your peers in the eyes of prospective employers. They would be more interested in you and perhaps let you get that dream job. Employers look for self-motivated, independent and flexible individuals who also have time management, organization, and people skills which all describe foreign students. Along with being able to go out of your comfort zone, ability to handle stressful environment, willingness to learn, and worldliness, an overseas education highlights your language skills, cultural sensitivity, and sense of adventure. You will appear and become a worldlier and more culturally aware person, something that not anyone can describe themselves in their resume.

GET IMMERSED IN A NEW CULTURE

When you study abroad, you have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience new culture from within. Different from being a traveler, studying overseas will ultimately give you a new perspective on the country’s culture from the inside. You observe customs and traditions that travel guides only mentioned in passing. You get to know which tourist attractions are really worth it, sample best and hidden restaurants, and the cheapest places to hangout on a Friday night, for instance. During your stay, you learn a new culture by simply living in it. In a globalized world, the best way to understand how people are is to immerse in a new culture.

GAIN LIFELONG FRIENDS

One of the most significant reasons and the second-best by-product of studying abroad is establishing international friendships. Everyone you come across in your journey can enrich your overseas experience – students in your language class, colleagues in seminars, host families, backpackers and hitchhikers you meet on the road. You get to meet complete strangers who speak in foreign tongues, believe in various religions, have different colors and races, eat with chopsticks or forks, who will become your lifelong friends and acquaintances and be treasured for a lifetime. These people who may or may not share your interests can inspire and transform you to a much better person.

LEARN MORE ABOUT YOURSELF.

Left to your own devices in a foreign land, you learn to be independent and self-reliant. You realize things that you can do by your own. Back home, you always have your family and friends to rely on, even when you are living by yourself. Staying overseas is another story. Each day is a new challenge. You get to be pushed to your boundaries, testing your limits. When you put yourself out of your comfort zone, you get to know more about yourself – strengths and weaknesses, abilities and skills. By studying abroad, you gain invaluable life skills, which will enable you to grow more. Even though the beginning may be scary and everyday is not always filled with happiness and rainbows, you will end up becoming a stronger, more confident, and more self-reliant person. This is, I believe, the best by-product of studying abroad.

TRAVEL THE WORLD

The most rewarding experience and Where Monica Goes’ top reason why you must study abroad is the chance to travel the world. Not only are you in an exotic and foreign location for at least a semester, you also get the opportunity to look around your locality and see the sights no traveler can do. When you are done learning the ins and outs of your university town, go out and explore nearby cities and countries. Even though you are just staying for a semester, you have all the weekends and holidays off to travel. Yes, go and discover the world!

Studying abroad is the ultimate opportunity for globetrotting youth. You may be traveling on a student budget, but the experience is worth it. Go backpacking for a weekend or school holiday. Book via Mein Fernbus, Euro Rail, or Ryanair. Eat tapas in Barcelona. Ride a vaporetto in Venezia. Sleep in a 16-person hostel room in Zurich. Enjoy free Mozart symphony orchestra in Vienna. Get drunk in an underground pub in Prague. Attend Oktoberfest. Cool down in Plitvice Lake. Get lost in the streets of Paris. The options are limitless. Take advantage of being an international student and benefit from discounts you can get.

Those are my top reasons why you must study abroad. May it be for a semester exchange or long-term study, I believe the opportunity to gain exciting and once-in-a-lifetime experience should not be missed. Why skip the chance to try this incredible event in your life?

Already convinced, but want to know more? Read Where Monica Goes’ 10 Tips on Preparing for your Student Exchange Program

Country Spotlight: The Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines gains the honor of being the first country to get the spotlight on Where Monica Goes. From its more than seven thousand idyllic islands, clear turquoise waters, world-class diving sites, diverse wildlife, rich culture, friendly and hospitable locals, to delicious food, the Pearl of the Orient Seas can offer so much that one cannot help but to fall in love with it. As a Filipina myself, I can proudly say that I love my country and will always encourage others to come and visit this jewel in Asia. After reading this post, please let me know if I have convinced you to travel to the Philippines!

With a total land area of 300 000 square kilometers, the archipelago lies in Southeast Asia with Taiwan directly in the north, Vietnam in the west, Brunei and Indonesia in the south, and the Pacific Ocean in the east. It is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has many active volcanoes, which contribute to seismic and volcanic activities as well as abundance of mineral deposits – gold (estimated to be second largest in the world after South Africa) copper, nickel and zinc. As for its wildlife, the Philippines is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna within its numerous rainforests and marine habitat.

The Philippine culture is a beautiful combination of Eastern and Western influences. Values, beliefs, languages and other aspects are similar to its Asian neighbors, but also exhibit traces of Spanish and American conquests. Being an archipelago with thousands of islands, the country is home to 186 individual languages. The official languages are Filipino and English. Travelers have easy communication with any local as more than 90% of the population can speak and understand the lingua franca of the world. For religion, it is predominantly Christian with 82.9% of the population Catholics while Islam is the second largest with 5%.

BASIC FACTS ABOUT PHILIPPINES

Capital: Manila
Population: 100+ million
Official languages: Filipino and English
Government: Presidential Republic
Currency: Philippine Peso
Climate: Tropical
Average temperature: 26 degrees Celsius
Time zone: UTC+8
Driving: Right
Electricity: 220V/60hz

GETTING AROUND THE PHILIPPINES

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Photo from Justin James Wright: http://www.jjwrightfineart.com/philippine-street-life-in-color/

Jeepney – king of the road; runs within Manila and provinces

Metro – LRT1, LRT2, and MRT3 run within the capital

Bus – ordinary and air-conditioned run within and outside Manila

Van – locally known as FX Taxi; more comfortable than bus but cheaper than taxi

Tricycle – local auto rickshaws that are common public transportation

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Photo from Justin James Wright: http://www.jjwrightfineart.com/philippine-street-life-in-color/

Plane – with more than 7100 islands scattered in the archipelago, flying is the fastest way to get from one point to another

Boat – locally known as Bangka; best mode of transportation when island hopping

Taxi – both ordinary and cab hailing companies such as Grab and Uber cars.

Kalesa – horse drawn carriage introduced during Spanish occupation; common around Manila and Vigan

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Image Source

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The Philippines have three seasons – hot dry (March to May), rainy (June to November) and cool dry (December to February). The coolest month is January while May is the hottest. To avoid strong typhoons from July to August, traveling can be between October to May.

High season is December to April (coolest and hottest months when locals usually take holiday trips) and low season is June to September (typhoon season).

WHERE TO VISIT

To give you a glimpse of the Philippines, here are some wonderful places that I have visited around my country. These will also be featured separately here in Where Monica Goes soon, each with detailed itinerary and travel tips and guides.

I. MANILA

The Capital. Culturally and historically rich. Bustling, skyscraper-smothered city where you can eat, drink, and shop almost 24/7.

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Manila skyline. Image Source

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II. PALAWAN

The paradise of the Philippines. Home of the most beautiful island in the world according to Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards.

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Coron, Palawan
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El Nido, Palawan
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Kayangan lake, Palawan

III. Cebu

Queen City of the South. One-hour plane ride from Manila. Home of the whale sharks, white sand beaches, turquoise waterfalls, spectacular diving sites, among others.

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Whaleshark encounter, Oslob, Cebu. 
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Sardine run, Moalboal, Cebu. Image Source
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Kawasan Falls, Badian, Cebu. Image Source

IV. Bohol

One-hour plane ride from Manila. A short ferry-ride from Cebu. Home of the majestic Chocolate Hills, world’s smallest, bug-eyed primate called Tarsier, pristine sandy beaches, world class diving sites.

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Chocolate Hills, Bohol. Image Source
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Tarsier. Image Source
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Diving in Panglao, Bohol. Photo courtesy of Agoda.com

V. Banaue

Hidden gem in the north. Home of the 2000-year-old rice terraces carved into the mountains.

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Banaue Rice Terraces. Image Source
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Image Source

VI. Bicol

The very active, perfect cone-shaped volcano. Beautiful, surfing-friendly beaches.

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Mayon Volcano. Image Source
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Caramoan islands. Image Source

VII. Boracay

Flagship tourist destination. World-famous white, powdery sand beach. Romantic sunset.

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Boracay island. Image Source 
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Boracay sunset. Image Source 

Aside from the seven mentioned above, there are still seven thousand islands left worth mentioning and exploring. The Philippines really has varied beautiful places and activities to offer that one should simply take and enjoy.

If you are planning for your next trip, will you consider the Philippines as your next destination? If you have already traveled here, which is your most favorite part of the country? What is your most memorable experience? Let Where Monica Goes know!

 

10 Tips on Preparing for your Student Exchange Program

Preparing to join a student exchange program can be pretty exciting, especially after you have received those admission and invitation letters from your host university. However, when the initial excitement finally went down, the images of tasks ahead can be overwhelming and exhausting. It requires a lot of researching and meticulous planning especially if it is your first long-term trip away from home. Also, it usually comes with long lists of required documents, appointments, and tests to be done and passed. I hope that with determination to grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, these administrative and bureaucratic requirements would not deter you from reaching your dream.

As a current exchange student myself, I would like to share stories and experiences while I am on this journey. This post would be a part of a regular series where past, current, and would-be exchange students can read and learn from each other various survival tips as we leave the familiar back home and plunge to the exciting unknown.

To aid you on having a smooth transition to your new life, I am providing some tips on how to prepare for your student exchange program adventure. The list seems basic, but you would be surprised to know how many students and even seasoned travellers forget one or some of these. It won’t hurt to have a guide, right? All in all, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to be in a foreign country merely because you overlooked a simple requirement.

10TIPS_4

So without further ado, let me present my Ten Tips on Preparing for your Student Exchange Program. Do note though that these tips are only for those who have already passed the admission requirements by their partner/host educational institutions.

1. Prepare, double-check, reproduce, and bring your documents. We still live in a paper-based society where not everything can easily be scanned through smartphones, so yes, paper documents are necessary. I highly recommend to duplicate or triplicate all your documents, so you would always have a copy with you, at home, and your new accommodation.

  • Check whether your passport is still valid and have several required remaining pages. More often than not, your passport should be valid more than six months before you travel. If yours would be expiring soon, better have it renewed while you are still in your country.
  • Get valid visas. Your host country (and the countries you might be traveling to while studying) might require visas, so do check this as well and prepare the necessary requirements.
  • Make several copies of your letter of admission and matriculation for safekeeping purposes. Also, there are instances when these need to be translated in your native language, so please bear this tip in mind.
  • Bring your language proficiency test results if you have any.
  • Take note of your embassy’s contact information for emergency purposes.

2. Visit your physician before leaving. Health is important, but it is always sad to know that many travellers take this for granted. In a foreign land, it is recommended to be prepared for all emergencies that may arise.

  • Get a certificate attesting to your good health and a copy of your medical record.
  • List down all of your known allergies and bring required prescription drugs, as you will never know if your host country has them. It would also be helpful if you have the translated versions of this.
  • Take the required shots and bring your immunization records when you travel.

3. Be insured. No one knows what may happen and it is wise to be always covered by insurance policy. There are already a lot of international travel and health insurance providers out there, but choosing what is best for your situation requires careful research.

  • Check if your insurance policy is recognized in your host country. You can just look up at the embassy page or send an email to your coordinator in the partner university to inquire this.
  • If required to get a new insurance coverage, research which offers the best and worth the money.

4. Book your tickets in advance. Whether through plane, train, or ship, it is always best to get your reservations ahead of time when prices are cheap and good seats are still available. The longer you wait, the more expensive the price can get.

  • To get the most out of your bookings, do not forget to use your frequent flyer information. Sometimes, typing these little details can get you free business class upgrade for instance.
  • If you are traveling by train, always use your discount cards. In Europe, DB (German), ÖBB (Austrian), and SBB (Swiss) have train cards that can give you up to 50% discount of the original fare.

5. Know how you can access your money abroad. There are banks that require you to have your account unlocked so you can use it outside of the country. Know this ahead of time and better contact your bank if you have no idea whether your cards are eligible to use overseas or not.

  • If you haven’t one yet, create an online banking account so you can easily monitor transactions you make while abroad.

6. Study or refresh foreign language skills. Chances are you would be spending your semester abroad in a country, which does not speak your native tongue, so I recommend studying the appropriate foreign language prior to your departure. Although most beneficial, you do not have to get to a formal class for this. Just hit on the Internet for most common and useful words and expressions so you will not feel at lost as soon as you arrived at the airport. Watching films and TV shows, listening to songs, and buying a pocket dictionary can help in overcoming those first few days while you are still adjusting.

7. Know the culture. Be aware of what are acceptable and not in your host country. Slurping while eating your noodle soup is normal and okay back home but does not automatically mean you won’t be frowned upon when you do this abroad. Read and research. You do not want to make a fauxpas on your first day.

8. Stay in touch. Don’t be a stranger to your family and friends as soon as you left your home country. Of course you want everyone to know every wonderful moment you are enjoying in your amazing student exchange program.

  • If required, have your phone unlocked then get a local SIM card from your host country. Research the best local network provider. You should look for those affordable bundles like 200 local calls and texts plus 750 MB for several Euros.
  • Create a Skype account and/or other messaging platforms that offer free voice and video calls. Family and friend chat groups are also good.
  • Set up social media accounts if you don’t have anything yet for easy updates from you to your friends and family.

9. Pack light. I wish I could highlight this more. I know many exchange students who bring their entire home with them (me included)! If your program has a suggested packing list, stick to it. If there is none, do your research or ask current students in the university. Please check the weather and temperature of your destination, as packing thin clothes for Europe in February is just plain silly. Leave things you can easily buy in your host country e.g., shampoo, body wash, etc. Take your chargers, travel adapters, and gadgets. Bring several photos and other mementos with you to help cope those homesickness moments.

10. Be mentally prepared. Saying goodbye to your family and friends, albeit temporary, can still be tough. However, this is part of the experience. When you are finally in your host country, expect the unexpected! You will be out of your comfort zone and the world will be your one giant classroom. You will meet people from around the world who have different customs and perspectives from yours and you should be open-minded and not judgmental about this. The same differences will later enrich your student exchange experience and understanding of various culture and people.

Alexander Graham Bell once said that preparation is the key to success and I strongly believe in that. To have a successful and enjoyable student exchange program, being prepared is necessary. I hope that these tips can help you achieve that. All the planning and preparation can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking at first, but believe me that all of these would be worth it. Just imagine yourself being here!

Are you an upcoming exchange student? Already have an experience spending a semester abroad? Share your thoughts and questions. 

Schengen Tourist Visa for Filipinos: Preparation and Application Process

Visa Application Series:
How to Apply for Schengen Tourist Visa in Austrian Embassy for Filipinos Part I

 

Have you ever dreamed of flying to Europe, breathing the European air while you casually eat Sachertorte in a traditional and world famous kaffeehaus (coffee house) in Albertinaplatz, Vienna with musical notes of Mozart playing sweetly in the background? Have you ever fancied yourself walking along the Tuileries then later climbing up the Arc du Triomphe to have the best view of Paris and Tour Eiffel at night? If yes, I am sure you have more vivid pictures in your head where you want to go once you landed in Europe. But first thing first. If you are a Filipino regular passport holder, you have to apply for a Schengen tourist visa to be able to enter the European Union.

Who wants to go to Europe? Raise your hands!

It was the last day of June in the current year when I first applied for a Schengen visa. Unlike my previous travels where agencies and organizations processed my application and the entire preparation for my trip, it took personal effort and appearance in applying for my Schengen visa. When people learned that I managed to get my visa approved in just two days, I began to receive inquiries on how I did it. Hence, this post. For reference to my fellow Filipino visa applicants, here is my post on how to apply for Schengen tourist visa in Austrian Embassy and how you may also get it in two days.

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WHAT IS A SCHENGEN TOURIST VISA?

In a nutshell, it is a 90-day tourist visa valid to 26 countries in the Schengen zone. Countries included are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This visa provides free and borderless travel within the Schengen region.

WHEN TO APPLY FOR SCHENGEN TOURIST VISA?

You can already apply for a Schengen visa as early as three months before your desired departure date. If you are already certain of going, I highly recommend that you start processing your application as early as you can. Most, if not all, Schengen embassies require an appointment for visa application and interview, and believe me when I say that the schedule really gets filled very fast. Better secure an appointment as early as you can so you will not feel rushed. Furthermore, once you get your approved visa, you can book cheaper flights because there is still ample time prior your departure.

WHERE TO APPLY FOR SCHENGEN TOURIST VISA?

You can apply to any of the 26 embassies of the countries in the Schengen region. If you are visiting several Schengen countries, you must apply only to the country you will spend most of your time in. In some cases, I have read others applied to the country they entered first.

Is there a higher chance of getting your visa approved if you apply to certain embassies? Some told me that some embassies are friendlier and more lenient than others. Well, I cannot really tell from my experience since I have only applied to one as of now. However, I believe that when a Filipino applicant fully prepared all the necessary and supporting documents for his/her Schengen visa application and have answered clearly and truthfully the interview questions, then the chance of receiving a passport with a visa stamp will be high.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHENGEN TOURIST VISA APPLICATION?

Even though some countries have unique additional requirements, most embassies require the following for a Schengen visa application:

PRIOR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION

  • A completely filled out application form. You can download it from any Schengen embassy website or you can also find it here.
  • Two recent passport-size, full-face photo with a white background must be attached to the form. Photo must be taken within three months of application.
  • Original passport valid for at least six months with at least two blank pages. Copies of previous visas can also be attached.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION

  • Proof of travel: copy of round-trip airline reservation with passenger registration number and itinerary
  • Proof of financial means: bank certificates, bank books, bank statements, credit card statements
  • Proof of occupation and will to return: copy of employment contract, ITR, DTI registration of business, copy of real estate property titles
  • Proof of family ties (if traveling with spouse/children: marriage contract and birth certificate from NSO)
  • Proof of accommodation: hotel accommodation, detailed day-to-day itinerary of the planned trip, invitation letter (if any)
  • Proof of sponsorship (if any): proof of relationship with the sponsor, letter of guarantee, invitation letter, copy of the bio page of the sponsor’s passport
  • All-risk travel medical insurance policy covering up to 30, 000 Euros, the sum depending on the number of days you are staying in the Schengen region + 15 days
  • For students (since I still belong to this category): proof of enrollment, certificate of leave of absence, copy of academic calendar, proof of economic means of parents or guardians, proof of occupation (if any)
  • Schengen visa fee of 60 EUR for short-term (90 days) visa

Too many requirements, right? Feel like giving up? Don’t! Just imagine yourself being here.

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Tour Eiffel, Paris, France

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Schloss Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria

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lunch with my student colleagues in Vienna, Austria

It seems fun taking my summer school in Europe, but getting there was no easy cake. I spent an entire week busy, stressed, and blaming myself for procrastinating too much. You will soon find out why.

HOW TO APPLY FOR SCHENGEN VISA AT THE AUSTRIAN EMBASSY

Since the purpose of my travel is to attend a short summer course in Vienna, it follows that I would be spending most of my trip in Austria. Therefore, I applied for my Schengen tourist visa to the Austrian embassy in Makati:

Austrian Embassy Manila
8th floor, One Orion Building
11th Avenue corner 38th street
Bonifacio Global City
Taguig

Telephone: (+63/2) 8179191
Fax: (+63/2) 8134238
e-mail: manila-ob(at)bmeia.gv.at

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TIPS IN APPLYING SCHENGEN VISA AT AUSTRIAN EMBASSY MANILA

  • Make a reservation in the embassy ahead of time. Slots can easily get filled up, so the earlier you apply, the better.
  • Bring all your required and necessary documents. Incomplete application would result to a slow process, frequent trips to the embassy, or worse, getting your visa denied.
  • Arrange your documents in order. When you arrived in the embassy floor, another guard will approach you and give a slip of paper with the correct sequence for your documents. Be sure to follow them accordingly.
  • When something is unclear, do not hesitate to ask questions.
  • Bring exact amount of money for visa fee. In many Schengen embassies in Manila, they require exact and full payment in peso equivalent to 60 euros. They do not give change. Imagine my surprise when the Austrian embassy do give change! They are totally cool.

THE TOURIST VISA APPLICATION PROCESS

Once you have finished arranging your documents in order, wait for your name to be called. You will be summoned to a window and an Austrian consul will receive your application. She will ask basic stuff regarding your trip and be sure your answers are consistent to what you have written in your application.

You will pay the 60 euros visa fee then she will ask you to place your fingers and get your prints digitally. Next, she will ask you to go back to your seat and wait for your name to be called for an interview.

The second part of the Schengen Tourist Visa Application Series will soon be posted on this blog. Please go back to gongjumonica.com and read the interview session and timeline of my entire application. Or better, subscribe via email and get blog updates straight to your inbox.

Do you also dream to travel to Europe? Where would you like to go?