Sunday, September 22, 2013

DZONE BACKPACKER'S INN: A Cheapskate's Haven in Tagaytay

Back when I didn't yet have the license and the moolah to travel on my own, I used to believe that traveling to Tagaytay would really require quite a good sum of pocket money. Transportation, food, accommodation, and entrance fees to the tourist spots...what else? You need moolah to pay for these--not unless you are going to Tagaytay with your fam or your generous-of-a-friend decides to give you some spur-of-the-moment treat in this somehow chilly place. 

Now that I'm already earning my own money, I realized that traveling to Tagaytay on my own doesn't really need a month or two of penny-pinching. You just need to have the budgeting and researching prowess to do so. Look for activities you can do in Tagaytay that will not require you to shell out big moolah for entrance fee alone. Moreover, it's best to look for places to stay that's comfy enough but is not priced too high. A backpackers inn is recommended especially if you have limited budget but needs a nice and comfy place to stay for a night or two. You don't have to go to Bangkok or Europe to experience or be tagged a backpacker because you can already do it just by hailing a bus going to Tagaytay and enduring an hour or 2 bus ride. 

A backpackers inn is still quite new to the ears of most Filipinos especially those who are used to staying in a posh hotel when they travel. A backpackers inn is most commonly known as hostel. It is a budget-oriented shared room, more like a dormitory, which accepts individual travelers or groups for short-term stays. A backpackers inn has common areas and communal facilities.Those who are a little particular with sharing bathroom or toilet with other people may find this set-up kind of off but those who are up for the game and are not so picky will have no problem with it. When I went to Bangkok two months ago, I saw there a lot of backpackers inn catering to tourists from all over the world. Backpackers lodges are a good choice especially if you are more interested in the place you're going and the experience you'll be having in that particular place. Thus, if adventure and experience is much important to you rather than convenience, a backpackers inn would do well for you.

In Tagaytay, there's a backpackers inn offering the comfort of an average hostel for a price that's easy on the budget---DZONE BACKPACKERS INN. It is actually located in Silang Cavite but it's only a few minutes away from Tagaytay city centre.

I stayed there for one night with my family since we would like to celebrate my mom's birthday in Tagaytay. It is a 4-storey building with a total of 16 rooms distributed in three floors. You can choose from their following rooms:
Econo Fan Room for 4 persons - Php1,600/night with breakfast

Standard Fan Room for 2 persons - Php 1,200/night with breakfast

Econo Air-con Room for 4 persons - Php2,400/night with breakfast

Deluxe Room with Aircon for 2 persons - Php 1,800/night with breakfast
Superior room for 2 persons - Php2,000 /night with breakfast
Do take note that only the superior room has a comfort room inside. As for the other rooms, there is an allotted comfort room for each at the end of the hallway. Guests will be given a key for their room's CR. 

DZONE Backpackers Inn is perfect for those who love to have a break from the busy and noisy city life and just spend a quiet night or two of Tagaytay exploration. Cheapskates like me will definitely find this a happy place! 

Moreover, those who are attending a wedding in Tagaytay need not worry themselves on where to stay before and after the event, especially that Manila is still almost 2 hours away from Tagaytay. You can just tag your other friends attending the wedding and spend the night at DZONE for less than the usual cost at a 3-star hotel in Tagaytay. 

And the wifi! It's ultra fast I tell you! 

So the next time you feel the need to break free from the hullabaloos of the city, you already know there's a place that could cater to your "trip trip lang" and "biglaang Tagaytay" moments :D

Address: Km. 53.5 90 Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Buho, Silang Cavite
Contact Number: (046) 5441035/ 09228189144

Friday, June 21, 2013

Laid-back Weekend at Dzone Backpackers Inn, Silang Cavite

I am not a beach person. I like it when I see it and I'm looking at it while sitting on the sand and contemplating on various things, however, it's not on top of my list when I think of a place to go to when I need to unwind. The sight of trees, greenfields, and mountains relaxes me more and helps me unclutter some thoughts off my head. 

Thus, when I want to loosen up and break free from the hubhub of work and city life, I would always look for places which has plenty of greens anywhere I set my eyes on. Baguio and Sagada are actually two of my favorite retreat places in the world, but to go there everytime I want to simmer down is just way too expensive and travel toxic. 

Good thing I live in a country which is undoubtedly blessed with abundance of natural resources, especially trees, that I need not travel too far to feast my eyes on fields of green and hang loose. 

Less than 2 hours drive from Manila, there is a silent sanctuary nestled in the quiet town of Silang, Cavite---DZONE Backpackers Inn Tagaytay. It actually has two branches, the other one, which is more backpackers friendly, is located along E. Aguinaldo Highway in Tagaytay. The one located in Mataas na Burol, Silang Cavite is actually much conducive for serene relaxation and silent retreat. 

I had the chance to experience the serenity that Dzone Backpackers Inn in Mataas Na Burol has to offer through the invitation of its owner, Arvin Dizon, who is actually a friend of my cousin. 

How can you say no to such a charming place as this, right? 

Dzone in Mataas Na Burol used to be just a resthouse of Arvin's family. As per Arvin, usually they go here on a weekend to relax and have a feel of the country life. The family, however, decided to open it to the public last year since they could see potential in the place as a perfect retreat house for couples, big families, friends or even small to medium organizations in need of a place for teambuilding. Since then, they've been entertaining guests who were all charmed by the laid-back feel of the place. 

At present, Dzone in Mataas Na Burol has 4 nipa huts for rent which is good for 2 persons. The huts don't have air-conditioned units installed in there and no TV as well, perhaps to make guests really veer away from the usual comforts of the city life. But don't worry because there are electric fans provided in every room :D
The price pero hut is P1000 /night for 2 pax and that's already inclusive of breakfast. Happy deal, right? 

Guests are also allowed to bring in tents especially for big groups since the place could only accommodate up to 12-15 persons for now. If you want to bring in tents, there is only a fee of P100 per tent. 

If in case you can't really live without the aircon or TV, DZONE also has a small villa for rent which could house up to 4 pax per night. 

 And this is my favorite spot in the villa :-) Makes me wanna grab a book and read have some  fresh buko juice :-)

Rate is P3000/night for the entire villa and also includes breakfast for 4 persons. Guests are also allowed to bring in their baon. They also have a mini kitchen provided just a few steps away from the villa just in case you want to cook. 

They also have a main hall where guest could hold special functions/events. A little dress up on this hall could already make it look grand for special occasions.

And yes, they have this old-school squat toilet which gives off more country living feel. 

Arvin also toured us in the lettuce farm located inside the place as well. 

Now I know why the lettuce they used to garnish our breakfast in the morning tasted very fresh :D

Dzone Backpackers Inn, Mataas Na Burol could really be a perfect silent sanctuary especially for individuals who yearn for quiet, modest country life every once in a while but could only go to a not so far outskirts of the city. Did I mention that it's in this place that I first saw fireflies? That experience really made me feel like I'm in the music video of Owl City's Fireflies! 

Tagaytay is also just a 10-15 minutes ride away from the place so you can also enjoy the cool weather of Tagaytay at night if you wish to. 

How to get to Dzone Backpackers Inn, Mataas Na Burol from Metro Manila:
Ride any bus in Lawton/Pasay/Cubao going with the signage going to Tagaytay/Olivarez/Mendez/Alfonso/Nasugbu. Ask the conductor to drop you off at Kilometer 48/Balite Bus stop. From there, ride a tricycle going to Mataas Na Burol. Dzone Backpackers Inn is at the fourth gate to the right from the Mataas Na Burol ark. 

Fare: (Bus from Lawton to Balite bus stop) P76
Tricycle: P10-P15 per pax

For reservations or more info, you can text or call +639228189144 ; (046)5441035 or send email to 

Monday, June 10, 2013

That Shabby Chic Feel at Rustic Mornings

I don’t know if it comes with age but I really find myself getting more and more attracted to anything shabby chic. Be it a piece of furniture, wallpaper, designs, theme, or even with restaurants.  Turning wikipedia on, shabby chic refers to an interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique.
Am I slowly getting antique-ish? :D
My latest shabby chic find is located in San Roque, Marikina City. The place is called Rustic Mornings and they serve brunch food from 8am-4pm. By 6pm, the place suddenly turns into a romantic, rustic style restaurant popularly known as Isabelo Garden.
The excitement to experience Rustic Mornings starts once you enter the gate and have an initial view of the mystic-like garden.
The place is very homey and welcoming and will not give you even a hint of intimidation. You can opt to dine either inside, which could give you a feel like you are inside an old country house, or at the garden where you can enjoy intimate talks with family and friends since there are tables for small groups to big groups artistically positioned a little far apart from each other and divided by different kinds of plants, trees, vines, pearl curtains, and some with recycled bottles strung together to make a curtain to give that more intimate and snuggy feel.
Having a penchant for old and recycled stuff, I love how the place is not only a hungry-tummies’ haven or a romantic spot, but it could also pass for an artist’s sanctuary. The eclectic arrangement of the things inside the place put forth a different kind of spunk to the place’s shabby chic nature.
The reason why I’m raving so much about the facade and the interior design of the place is because that’s exactly what I’m dreaming my own house to be when I’ll have my own family someday :D I love that the place looks so humble and simple (at least for me). I love the country feel it invokes with some old Hispanic touches.
And the food! The stuff we ordered were all good! I could say they were all worth journeying to Rustic Mornings!
Frankfurter, cheese omelet and garic rice (P220)

Gourmet hotdog sadnwich with chili con carne and sunny side up egg (P240)
Gourmet hotdog sadnwich with chili con carne and sunny side up egg (P240)
Creamy tomato curry kofta balls (P300) - good for sharing
Creamy tomato curry kofta balls (P300) – good for sharing
Frozen brazo de mercedes
Frozen brazo de mercedes
Plus, a Mother’s Day treat freebie for my Mama since it was Mother’s Day when we dined there! FRee baby pancakes!
It was indeed a lovely experience dining at Rustic Mornings. The staff were all nice and accommodating. If you need something from them, you just have to tap the bell located on the table to call their attention.
Rustic Mornings is one of those restaurants which you would really love to go to over and pver again–either with family and friends or just by yourself to enjoy some quiet time alone. It could also be a very perfect “wedding proposal” place especially for those ladies who love shabby chic and rustic designs (*wink*).
I really hope this place would maintain that “hidden garden” feel because it really adds magic to it. Finding it is like finding your own sanctuary which you want to keep a secret so it could preserve its mystic charm.
But since I want other people to experience Rustic Mornings as well, here’s how you can go there on a commute:
If you’re from Manila, you can ride LRT2 and get off at Katipunan Station. From there, ride a jeep going to Calumpang and ask the driver to drop you off at the Marikina Shoe Museum. You can easily see the Rustic Mornings banner there with an arrow pointing t0 where the resto’s located.