Schengen Visa for a First Timer Tourista in Europe - Approved!

Let me start with a little background info. This Europe plan was supposedly part of our annual winter trip, in Iceland to be exact. But due to unexpected denied vacation leaves, di ako nakasama. Ang sad no? Missed winter trip and missed Iceland plus sayang na effort for the visa requirement gathering. Depression level 3. 

And since I still have lots of vacation leaves which are soon to expire before Q2 of the year, I planned my own Europe trip - a summer version.

a different kind of summer

OK, game! The plan is to visit European countries so I needed a Schengen visa. This visa is valid for 26 countries. Check google for the boring info.

  First things first. Have your vacation leaves approved. This is so crucial. Sayang all efforts for visa requirement gathering if your leaves will get denied. Another lesson learned the hard way.

  Right after I secure my VL approvals, I immediately booked our tickets. Oh yes, no turning back. I know this is risky, but I cannot resist Singapore Airline's promo that time. Hehe Fine, low-EQ. We got our non-refundable round trip flights to Paris for P40,000. Should have been P35,000 pa nga but maybe there's a surcharge of P5,000 for weekend flights. No problemo! For an SQ flight, solid na tong price na to! Plus I never really had the slightest worry that we'll get denied anyway. Charot lang!

  Seriously, if I have to do it again, I will still book my flights prior to my visa application. Why? The flights get more expensive as the travel date gets near. Well, it's worth the risk since we saved around P20,000 or even more. Of course we could have settled for a less expensive airline to save money. Erm, not really our favorite option since it's gonna be more or less a 16-hour flight. Choose wisely. 

  So why Paris, France? Why not? 1. Cheap point of entry to Europe 2. Immediate visa appointment 3. Fast processing. 4. Good flight and train connections to everywhere.

However, I didn't say easy approval. It's just fast processing, meaning the release of passport won't take weeks or months like in Italian embassy. When you have doubts of getting your visa denied, try Iceland! Approval rate is 99%! Here's 2017 top 5 countries with highest and lowest approval rate

  Joke lang. You can't just choose any embassy. We scheduled our appointment at VFS - French Embassy because France is our point of entry and exit, plus we will be staying there the longest. Be mindful of this since it's really important to know which country will you be needing to apply for the schengen visa. Ours was even questioned because in our itinerary, it stated that we will be staying for equal days in France and Switzerland. Count wisely and justify, else you will have to reschedule with another embassy. Well, the Swiss Embassy is still OK afterall. 

Moving on, here's the list of the Schengen visa requirement I actually submitted. 

Application form thru VFS. Pagtyagaan to fill up. There's no shortcut. And prior to filling this applcation, have your mock hotel booking ready. This is needed in the application form.

All passports, old and new.

Photocopy of each passport's bio page, and pages with stamps and visas. But actually, I noticed that the VFS staff only collected the pages with visa. So ayun, sorry Maldives and Singapore stamps, wala kayong visa. Not relevant siguro for Schengen. Hehe

Round trip tickets. No problem here since we already booked our flights, even without a visa yet. Low EQ I know. Anyway, if you need to reserve flights but not pay for the actual flight yet, I recommend having a flight reservation thru Travelmaker Travel and Tour PH. Reserve flights for 3-6 days without actually paying for the flight. Reservation fee costs P500 for 5 flights. Good deal.

Travel Insurance. We got ours from Malayan Insurance for P1,650 (good for 24 days).

Day to day itinerary. I didn't use our real plan because it's not finalized yet. We used a very believable itinerary instead. Email me and I can share this with you.

Hotel reservations. is gold for mock hotel bookings since cancellation is free. Again, these bookings are not the actual ones we used.

Bank Certificate from BPI. The most asked question is how much show money do I need for a schengen visa. Well, simply compute the number of days of your Europe trip x daily expenses + airfare + some extra so you won't get broke after the trip. In our case, 17 days x P5,000 daily expense + P40,000 airfare + P50,000 spare money. Do the math. At hula ko lang yan yan sympre. I think the money in your bank does not really make or break the decision of having a visa.

Bank Statement from BPI. Bundle with bank certificate if you request from BPI. P100 for both.

COE with monthly salary, tenure, and approved leaves. Told you, having your leaves approved is important. This stated my date of return to work once this vacation is over.

Latest ITR. I pay taxes, unfortunately.

Aside from the requirement, I also submitted these extras:

Notarized Contract to Sell documents and Receipts from DMCI. 

Life Insurance and Mutual Funds from Sunlife

Portfolio in COL Financial

Submission and Release
We picked a morning schedule and it was a breeze. After the collection of requirement, a few questions, and the biometrics part - we're done! If the requirements are complete, it will be easy. For this trip, we requested a single entry visa for 17 days. By the way, no need to pay the SMS or Email fee for notification since VFS website has a real time tracking tool. It's free.

Visa Fee EUR 60 (PHP 3,730) + VFS logistics fee PHP 1,370. Total = PHP 5,100

VFS Online Tracking

Under Processing

Ready for Release

Ready for Europe
Just after 2 days, we tracked our visa and these were ready for pick up!
To our surprise, we're granted a multiple entry schengen visa for 25 days, wow! This means we can get out of the Schengen area and make a re-entry.

multiple entry schengen visa for a first timer


And just like that, Morocco became officially part of our trip. Strong contenders were UK and Russia. Morocco has been on my bucket list like Japan and India so I have no doubts dropping the French and Italian alps in exchange of the Sahara Desert. Fares to Morocco from Manila are so expensive unlike if flying from Europe.

So ayun, it's gonna be Europe + Africa now, amazing! 

Up next: detailed expenses for the Europe and Morocco trip

5 Amazing Southeast Asia Resorts

Title: 5 Amazing Southeast Asia Resorts

Southeast Asia has truly become one of the most remarkable regions in the world for resort vacations. To some extent, this has been true for a long time. The gorgeous beaches and remote getaways in this part of the world have always made for excellent retreats, and have long been considered hot spots for honeymoons, destination weddings, and other intimate getaways. More recently however we’ve also seen the rise of high-end urban hotels, casino resorts, and generally more commercial establishments, which have added some variety to the region’s accommodations.

Frankly by this point it’s difficult to keep all of the highly rated options straight, let alone to narrow them down to a few choices. But we’re going to try to do that here, as well as provide a sense of the variety of resort offerings in the region.

Marina Bay Sands 

If there’s one urban resort you’ve definitely seen or heard of from this part of the world, it’s probably the Marina Bay Sands in Singpaore. This is the one that consists of three separate towers, supporting a sort of roof (complete with one of the world’s most incredible infinity pools) across all three. Known as a destination for those who appreciate luxury, it’s a larger than life venue, complete with excellent restaurants, an on-site casino, numerous surrounding attractions, and the aforementioned pool. Surrounding the pool is a whole area known as the Sands “SkyPark,” which includes incredible views and a bar.

El Nido Pangulasian Island

Here weren’t getting away from massive urban complexes and more into island getaways. The El Nido Pangalusian Island is located on the Philippines’ Pangalusian Island, and is known as one of the best retreats in the entire region. The island is fairly small, relatively speaking, and with its front facing a white sand beach and the sea beyond, and its back right up against the tropical forest, El Nido can feel as if it is its own, isolated paradise. The amenities are comfortable and the service has a strong reputation, though this is also an eco-resort, which means that in some ways it can feel a little bit simpler than some other island getaways of this caliber.

The Sands Macau

The Sands Macau is part of what’s effectively become Asia’s Las Vegas Strip. While Singapore has a claim to this sort of atmosphere as well, Macau has made an effort to set up resorts that are strongly reminiscent of Vegas, and the Sands Macau is probably the best of them. It’s a huge complex complete with everything you’d expect in a world class casino resort, including nearly 300 rooms, a huge gaming area, spaces for weddings and parties, and state-of-the-art facilities and exquisite cuisine. If you’re interested in a vacation on which your every whim is catered to, and you’re also interested in exploring a fascinating cultural destination (which Macau most certainly is), look no further.

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Travel & Leisure, about as respected a travel publication as there is in the world, did a write-up of the best resort hotels in Southeast Asia that essentially amounted to being an advertisement for the Four Seasons. That’s not to say anything on the list was incorrect or out of place – the Four Seasons has incredible resorts all over the world – but there wasn’t a ton of variety to the list. The InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort was one of the few exceptions. Located in Vietnam on the slope of a lush green hill facing the sea, it’s a stunning place to stay, and has enough on-site comforts and activities to keep visitors from wanting to go anywhere else during their stay.

Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort

It’s difficult to pick just one place in Bali to make the list, but Bali certainly deserves inclusion. This portion of Indonesia is renowned as an otherworldly retreat, popular for honeymooners, people celebrating weddings and anniversaries, etc. The resort is a little bit different in that it has a clifftop infinity pool and it’s only a short distance from some world famous surf spots, so it’s definitely a place for activity. However, it’s the very picture of luxury. Each individual suite has an ocean view, and even looking at the rooms online will make you feel like royalty.

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