Events Feature Travel

AirAsia launches daily Cebu-Shanghai flights; Cebu told to be ready for influx of Chinese tourists

Cebu is the “perfect destination” for Chinese tourists because they are into diving and love the water and islands, said AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan.

AirAsia launched today its daily Cebu-Shanghai flights at the new Terminal 2 of Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).

“Cebu has so much to offer. You have a rich culture and amazing, beautiful islands,” said Tan during the inaugural ceremonies. “The Chinese love to eat. Food is very important to them, and shopping.”

“Cebu,” Tan told those gathered at the event, “your city will never be the same again with China coming in.”

AirAsia Cebu-Shanghai
DAILY FLIGHTS TO SHANGHAI. AirAsia launches its daily flights to Shanghai with an inaugural at the newly-opened Terminal 2 of Mactan Cebu International Airport. Present during the event are (center stage, from left) AirAsia Philippines Chairperson Maan Hontiveros, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Antonio Chiu, Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, AirAsia China and North Asia President Kathleen Tan, Chinese Embassy Deputy Consul Wu Xiaomin, and AirAsia Philippines CEO Dexter Comendador.


Long-term growth

AirAsia Philippines CEO Capt. Dexter Comendador said the new terminal provides the airline “great capacity for long-term growth and expansion in Cebu as AirAsia’s hub.”

He said AirAsia now has 3 planes based in Cebu, which is the most outside Manila, ground equipment to support it, and about 200 employees.

“It’s a huge investment for us but we’re very happy that we did the right thing in connecting with China. It’s the largest market.” Comendador said.


AirAsia Shanghai-Cebu
MUCH TO OFFER. Cebu has much to offer to tourists based in China, said AirAsia China, North Asia President Kathleen Tan.


Market doing very well

He said they initially only wanted to divert passengers from Boracay, with the closure of the island in April, but “we found out that the market is working very well.”

“It’s a good problem for me,” Comendador said, “because when Boracay opens, I will need to find other planes to fly that route because I cannot, I will not, pull out the routes that we have established as alternate to Boracay.”

Tan described the development as “very exciting” because the airline has been able to connect “Cebu to a very important market. China is now ranked as one of the biggest outbound travel market in the world.”

Encouraging response

She described the initial response as very encouraging, with the inaugural flight from Shanghai to Cebu set to arrive past midnight at 99% of load capacity with 179 passengers.

Tan said forward sales also show good booking rates. She said they are aiming to have at least 80% load factor for the routes.

She said the Chinese “now have a big appetite for travel.” It is a “lifestyle commodity” especially for travelers from Shanghai.

She also said that she learned from Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Antonio Chiu that after they opened their routes to China, there have been Chinese business people who expressed interest in investing in Cebu.

AirAsia Cebu-Shanghai
CEBU IS READY. Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said Cebu is ready for the influx of tourists from China with the new flights by AirAsia.


Young, independent travelers

Tan said many of their customers are those born in the 1980s and 1990s and they see more independent and young Chinese travelers. To engage them, she encouraged those in the industry to go digital, mobile, and social.

Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale welcomed the new routes as opportunities for Cebu to get more exposure to the Chinese market.

Magpale said that with the opening of Terminal 2, Cebu can accommodate more international flights.

AirAsia Shanghai-Cebu
EXPANSION. AirAsia Philippines CEO Capt. Dexter Comendador said the new Terminal 2 of MCIA provides the airline “great capacity for long-term growth and expansion in Cebu as AirAsia’s hub.”


Cebu is ready

“Cebu is really, really ready for more Chinese tourists,” she said during the event.

“With these added flights, we know that we will hit our 10 million mark for Cebu. We’ve asked the hotels, the resorts and they are really ready. The Provincial Government as well as the City Government are right behind the business community to make Cebu ready,” she added.

Chinese Embassy Deputy Consul Wu Xiaomin said that last year, the number of tourists from China to the Philippines increased 75%, the fastest growing among foreign markets.

“Tourism brings economic benefits both to the host country and the tourists’ home country,” he said. “I believe that improved relations between the Philippines and China is a key factor in the improved tourism market.”


AirAsia Cebu-Shanghai flights
The cake to mark the new flights.


Facebook Livestream of event



AirAsia opens 3 Cebu-China routes; starts Clark flights from Cebu

To meet the demand of a fast growing Chinese travel market, Philippines AirAsia will start new routes to Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Shanghai in China from Cebu in May and July.

The Cebu-Shenzhen daily flights will start on May 9, 2018 with promo fares from as low as P888 for bookings until April 22, 2018 and for travel from May 9, 2018 to October 27, 2018.

“Cebuano travelers will be delighted to experience Shenzhen’s modern metropolis and marvel at how the southern city that links Hong Kong to mainland China built the world’s largest electric bus fleet, massive malls, contemporary buildings, and amusement parks,” said Philippines AirAsia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dexter Comendador.

AirAsia’s first China route from Cebu will further strengthen the company’s network outside Metro Manila and open up new and exciting places to visit this summer, he added.

AirAsia new routes
NEW AIRASIA ROUTES. (From left) Allenie Caccam, AirAsia Senior Marketing Manager for International Routes; AirAsia CEO Dexter Comendador; Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Antonio Chiu; and Domestic Marketing Manager Cathy Cabahug.

“AirAsia feels strongly about developing tourism and trade outside of Metro Manila,” Comendador also said. In Cebu, he was grateful for the support of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

New domestic, international routes

One more route, Cebu-Hangzhou, will be opened in May and a third, Cebu-Shanghai, will start in July. Comendador said they’re still getting the necessary permits and will announce the inaugural dates for these flights soon.

Allenie Caccam, AirAsia Senior Marketing Manager for International Routes, said the new Cebu-China routes would invite more Chinese tourists and businessmen to visit Cebu and experience how wonderful it is as a destination. At the same time, more tourists in the Visayas and Mindanao would get connected to AirAsia’s international routes.

AirAsia new routes
NEW CEBU-CHINA ROUTES. Philippines AirAsia will start new routes to Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and Shanghai in China from Cebu in May and July.

Philippines AirAsia will also start Cebu-Clark flights on May 11, 2018. Seats for this route are being offered from as low as P17 only for bookings up to April 22, 2018 and travel between May 11, 2018 to October 26, 2018.

“AirAsia is here to support the government’s flagship projects to boost tourism and trade. We aim to better connect Clark to secondary cities within the Philippines like Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Tacloban followed by inter-Asean connectivity where the AirAsia Group has massive network covering over 120 destinations in the whole of ASEAN, in greater Asia, Australia, United States, and beyond,” Comendador added.

Business Travel

AirAsia wins 2 awards at 2017 World Travel Awards

AirAsia has been named the World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the 5th year in a row at the 2017 World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

AirAsia topped the category, having received the highest votes from travel professionals and industry players from around the world, beating Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Ryanair, easyJet, Jetstar Airways, Norwegian Air, West Air, flydubai, Air Arabia, flynas, kulula, Mango and fastjet.

Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by passengers also won the inaugural World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award, ahead of the same 13 budget airlines.

The win builds on AirAsia’s success earlier this year when it secured WTA’s first-ever Asia’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award and in 2015, when it became the first ever low-cost carrier to win Asia’s Leading Cabin Crew, ahead of full-service carriers like Singapore Airlines, Korean Air and Cathay Pacific.

Digitalization journey

AirAsia Group Chief Commercial Officer Siegtraund Teh and AirAsia senior cabin crew Rosita Sulaiman accepted the awards at a gala ceremony held at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay in Vietnam.

Also present were AirAsia Berhad Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Berhad independent non-executive director Dato’ Fam Lee Ee and AirAsia’s Vietnam joint venture partner Tran Trong Kien.

AirAsia World Travel Awards
AIRASIA AWARDS. AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (center, left) and AirAsia Berhad Executive Chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun with the company’s awards.

“I am very proud to stand here today to receive our fifth WTA World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline award in as many years. I’ve always said we are the world’s true low-cost champion, and I’m thrilled to see I’m not the only one and the industry agrees with me. And we will only get better as we continue on our digitalization journey to better understand what our guests want and to make flying a richer, more enjoyable experience, as we continue to strive to provide world-class service at the lowest fares,” Fernandes said.

Best experience

“An airline is only as good as its people, and we have some of the best. Two years ago, we were named Asia’s Leading Cabin Crew by WTA, beating a field of full-service carriers. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength, winning the World’s Leading Inflight Service award in 2016, Asia’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew earlier this year and now, the first ever World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award by WTA. This shows our unwavering commitment to excellence and, as the world’s best low-cost carrier, we promise to continue delivering to our guests on board the best experience money can’t buy,” said AirAsia Group Cabin Crew Head Suhaila Hassan said.

The World Travel Awards is one of the most prestigious, comprehensive and sought-after awards program in the global and tourism industry.

Established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across key sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality industries, the World Travel Awards brand is now recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence. (Press Release)

Business Travel

AirAsia launches MyCorporate, a suite of products for the business traveler

AirAsia has unveiled a bundle of products aimed at servicing the needs of the business traveler. The 3 bundles take into account the requirement of the traveler and the company budget: Fare Only, Corporate Lite and Corporate Full Flex.

The Fare Only bundle only includes the air fare, with add-ons available for a fee.

The Corporate Lite bundle includes air fare, a complimentary meal, standard seat assignment and dedicated check-in counter. Guests can also change their flight once up to 24 hours before departure with no flight change fee.

Corporate bundles

The Corporate Full Flex bundle includes air fare, a complimentary meal, Hot Seat assignment, 20kg baggage allowance, dedicated check-in counter, XPress immigration, Xpress Baggage, Premium Red Lounge access (only for those departing from KLIA2 in Kuala Lumpur), priority boarding, travel insurance (only applicable to flights departing from Malaysia and Thailand) and full flexibility with unlimited flight changes up to two hours before departure with no flight change fee.

AirAsia My Corporate

Corporate Full Flex guests will also be able to enjoy GoShow, an exclusive product allowing them to stand by on an earlier flight on the same day, to the same destination, with no added fees or fare charges.

Companies signed up to MyCorporate will have access to a convenient, easy-to-use online booking system and comprehensive reporting to keep track of corporate traveling expenses.

Needs of traveler, company

AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said, “With our extensive network and frequency across the group, we have seen a rise in the number of those traveling for business on AirAsia. With the launch of MyCorporate, we believe we have a program that serves the needs of both the traveler and the company to further capture our share of this important segment.”

AirAsia Group Corporate Sales Head Barry Klipp said, “This is the next evolution for AirAsia corporate products. With MyCorporate, we are better able to offer the right product to our corporate client’s needs and budgets. Whether they require just a seat with no add-ons, a Lite product with basic benefits or if they wish to take advantage of our fully loaded product designed to make business travel more convenient and flexible, including our latest offering GoShow.” (Press Release)

Feature Lifestyle Travel

AirAsia starts new flights, connects Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Boracay, Clark

Philippines AirAsia launched new flights from Cebu to the Philippine summer destinations of Palawan and Boracay, celebrating the new routes with a seat sale that’s available for booking until April 30, 2017.

Beginning yesterday, April 22, AirAsia also resumed and added flights from Cebu to Davao. From Cebu, the airlines now flies twice daily to Davao and daily to Palawan and Boracay via Caticlan.

The first trip from Cebu to Davao left at 4:45 in the morning yesterday, Saturday, followed by the 12:10 p.m. to Caticlan and the 6:45 p.m. to Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

AirAsia new flights Cebu
NEW FLIGHTS. Captain Gomer Monreal (3rd from left), Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, and Ravishankar Saravu, Chief Commercial Adviser of GMR Megawide Cebu, and AirAsia crew members lead the launch of new AirAsia flights from the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

Cebu expansion

Captain Gomer Monreal, Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, said the company’s expansion will focus on Cebu in the next few years since the Manila airport is already congested.

He added that AirAsia already has a hub in Cebu and it was just a matter of opening new routes and increasing flights.

The first AirAsia flight from Davao for Cebu took off at 10:40 a.m., also on April 22, with Monreal as operating pilot. He was assisted by Captain Bernardino Perez and flight officer Leonardo Orendain.

AirAsia expansion Cebu
CEBU EXPANSION. Captain Gomer Monreal, Philippines AirAsia director of flight operations, said the company’s expansion will focus on Cebu in the next few years since the Manila airport is already congested.

AirAsia seat sale

To celebrate the launch of its six new domestic flights, AirAsia offers promo fares from as low as P788, one way all-in, that’s up for grabs until April 30, 2017 at Travel time is between September 5, 2017 to February 8, 2018.

Philippines Airasia also opened daily flights from Davao to Boracay, thrice weekly flights to Palawan, and four weekly flights to Clark. The airline company also maintains daily flights between Manila and Davao.

AirAsia new flights Cebu
INAUGURAL FLIGHTS. The cake that was sliced to mark the new flights from Cebu.

The Davao-Clark route officially opened today, April 23, 2017.

AirAsia started operating thrice weekly Clark-Kalibo flights since March.

Facebook Live video of the event


Promo fares for as low as P17 in AirAsia’s Red Hot Seat Sale

AirAsia is giving away seats from as low as P17 in its first major promotional seat sale of the year.

“We like to start the year with a bang and what better way to welcome summer than with new additional flights to Philippines’ best island destinations of Boracay and Palawan, and other equally stunning destinations across the country and abroad now up for grabs at promo fares,” said Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador.

AirAsia has announced its return to Clark with flights to Davao and Kalibo and expanded its Cebu hub to include flights to Davao, Boracay, and Palawan. From Davao, AirAsia will also fly to Boracay, Palawan, Clark, and Cebu starting April 22.

AirAsia destinations

The AirAsia Group which is the leading and largest low-cost carrier by passengers carried in Asia is also offering up to 3 million promotional seats to more than 120 destinations in Asia, Australia and New Zealand and the Middle East.

AirAsia’s seat sale from as low as P17.00 all-in promo fares are available for booking until March 19 for travel period from March 27 to June 1 for Clark-Kalibo; April 22 to June 5 for Cebu to Boracay and Davao; September 1 to June 1 for Manila to Cebu and Kalibo. This is one-way base fare excluding taxes and fees.

Promotional seats for international destinations are also available for booking via with travel period from September 1 to June 5, 2018.


AirAsia was named World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the eighth year in a row and AirAsia X, the long haul affiliate of the group, won the World’s Best Low-Cost Premium Cabin and Premium Seat for the fourth straight year at 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards.

AirAsia was also awarded World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fourth consecutive year at the 2016 World Travel Awards, where it also beat a field of full-service carriers to become the first ever low-cost carrier to win World’s Leading Inflight Service.

For latest updates on promotions and activities, please follow AirAsia on Twitter ( and Facebook ( (Press Release)


AirAsia expands Cebu network, offers promo fares to Boracay, Palawan, Davao

To help boost the country’s destinations in the Visayas and Mindanao, AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way, all-in promo fares from as low as P398.

The seat sale will be good for travel from April 22 to August 31, 2017 and also cover the reinstated Cebu-Davao-Cebu route as well as Davao-Clark flights.

Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer, said the promotional seats are now available for booking at and will run for one whole week starting Monday.

AirAsia new routes launch Cebu
NEW ROUTES, SUMMER PROMO. Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer, leads the launching of new routes from Cebu. With him are Department of Tourism Central Visayas Director Catalino Chan III (left) and GMCAC Head of Airline Marketing Aines Librodo.

Starting April 22, AirAsia will have daily flights from Cebu to Boracay and Palawan and twice daily flights to Davao. From Davao, AirAsia will also fly thrice weekly to Boracay and Palawan and four times weekly to Clark.

AirAsia campaign

AirAsia also presented its latest destination campaign titled #ChasingWonders during the launching ceremonies held Monday, March 6, at Circa 1900 Casa Dos in Cebu City. It is intended to encourage travelers to visit and discover the many attractions of the Philippines.

Comendador said the Cebu and Davao routes, increased flight frequency to Kuala Lumpur from Cebu, as well as the Cebu-Taipei and Cebu-Singapore flights launched last year are in line with the vision of AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes to develop destinations outside of Manila and bring in tourists to the Philippines.

AirAsia promo fare
ALL-IN PROMO FARE. AirAsia will start Cebu and Davao flights to Palawan and Boracay through Caticlan on April 22, 2017 with one-way, all-in promo fares from as low as P398.

Since 2001 when Philippines AirAsia was established, it has been the company’s dream to make air travel more affordable and accessible for Filipinos.

“With our newest routes, AirAsia would like to provide much-needed connections and tap into underserved markets, grow it, as there is definitely great tourism and business potentials in Visayas and Mindanao. We are thrilled to paint Cebu skied red,” he added.


AirAsia’s e-boarding pass now available in all domestic flights

Enjoy the comfort of checking-in and boarding flights using your smartphones with AirAsia’s e-boarding pass now available in all domestic flights in the Philippines.

AirAsia’s “E-Boarding Pass” is a paperless boarding pass that allows guests without check-in-baggage to proceed straight to the boarding gate without having to queue at the check-in counter or desk at the airport.

Guests with check-in-baggage, however, are required to proceed to bag drop counter first before going to the boarding gate.

Investing in technology

Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador said, “We are constantly investing in technology to make flying easier, more enjoyable, and comfortable for our guests. With the expected surge of travelers this summer, e-boarding pass will significantly reduce time spent queueing at airport counters.”

To enjoy this convenience, guests have to download the AirAsia Mobile App in their smartphones and use this application to check-in and receive their e-boarding pass in their mobile phones. Upon boarding, guests will use their mobile phones to show their e-boarding pass instead of the traditional paper tickets.

Scan e-boarding pass

At the boarding gate, AirAsia’s guest service personnel will verify guests’ identity and scan their e-boarding pass. Guests may then proceed to the aircraft. Guests are required to present their e-boarding pass to the cabin crew before boarding the aircraft.

E-Boarding pass is available on all AirAsia domestic flights departing from airports in Manila’s NAIA Terminal 4, Cebu, Kalibo, Davao, Tacloban, Puerto Princesa and Tagbilaran in the Philippines. It is limited to one guest in one booking only and is currently unavailable for international flights and Fly-Thru bookings or those with multiple flights.

AirAsia offers several flights to and from Manila, Cebu, Davao, Tagbilaran/Bohol, Boracay (via Caticlan and Kalibo), and Tacloban. Flights from Cebu to Palawan, Boracay/Caticlan, Davao and Davao to Clark, Cebu, Boracay/Caticlan, and Palawan will commence on April 22.

Find out more about AirAsia’s new products and exciting promotional fares at Facebook ( and Twitter( (Press Release)


Philippines AirAsia opens flights to Boracay, Palawan from Cebu and Davao

AirAsia is flying to 7 brand new destinations across the Philippines this summer, opening Cebu and Davao flights to Boracay through Caticlan and Palawan starting on April 22, 2017.

Starting on the same date, Philippines AirAsia will also reinstate its Cebu-Davao-Cebu flights and start flying from Davao to Clark.

“It’s an exciting time to spend summer vacations in the Philippines with AirAsia’s awesome connectivity travelers now have easy access to the country’s amazing beaches, gorgeous natural wonders, and majestic eco-tourism attractions via Cebu, Clark, and Davao,” said Captain Dexter Comendador, Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer.

AirAsia Cebu, Davao, Boracay, Palawan

Cebu, Boracay, Palawan, Davao

AirAsia will fly from Cebu to Boracay and Palawan daily while flights to Davao are scheduled twice daily. From Davao, AirAsia is also offering daily flights to Boracay, thrice weekly flights to Palawan, and four flights weekly to Clark.

“We feel strongly about supporting the growth and development of cities outside Metro Manila by providing more options and added convenience for travelers to fly to their desired destinations without going to the main airport in Manila,” Comendador added.

Keep up-to-date with AirAsia’s latest promotion and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (, Instagram (@AirAsiaPh), and on Viber public chat (@AirAsiaPh).

On the go Travel

How to get to Alishan in Taiwan

There is a wide range of options for getting to the Alishan National Scenic Area in Taiwan.

The first step will be to get to Chiayi City in the southwest from wherever you are in Taiwan. This provincial city is the base of public transport services that ply the Alishan route.

Do take note that while it is easy enough to get to Chiayi City, the journey onwards to Alishan has scheduling limitations.

Taiwan gateways

International travelers make their way to Taiwan through two gateways: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in the north and Kaohsiung International Airport in the south.

The airport in Kaohsiung is nearer Chiayi and is the better pick for those who have this option. We entered Taiwan through the airport in Taoyuan because there are no direct flights from Mactan, Cebu to Kaohsiung.

Philippine AirAsia Cebu-Taipei
OFF TO TAIWAN. Philippines AirAsia flies the Cebu-Taipei direct route thrice weekly.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flights

We took advantage of the thrice weekly Cebu-Taipei flights that Philippines AirAsia launched in the later part of 2016. The good thing about AirAsia’s flight schedule was that it left Cebu at 6:10 am and arrived 30 minutes ahead of the arrival time of 9:10 a.m. Our early arrival gave us time to pick the slower regular train and still make it to the last bus schedule for Alishan from Chiayi.

It took us over six hours to make our way to Alishan from the Taoyuan airport using the regular train. The bus from the airport to the Taoyuan train station took 30 minutes. Train from Taoyuan to Chiayi was about 3 hours and the bus to Alishan took another 3 hours.

Alishan’s spectacular sunrise and sunset and well-preserved nature park more than made up for long journey.

Alishan Taiwan train
TRAVEL IN COMFORT. You ride a cruise-style train with seat-assigned tickets. If there are no more seats, you will be informed by the ticket counter so you can pick another schedule. Traveling on one isn’t a pain because the seats are comfortable and plush, have wide legroom, and can be reclined in case you want to sleep. In the photo is a bento snack, which others recommend you try. It was good, not really exceptional.

Regular train

Using a combination of bus and regular (express, mountain line) train, Chiayi is just about an hour and a half from Kaohsiung airport and three hours and a half away from Taoyuan airport. Train (express, mountain line) fare to Chiayi is NTD245 from the Kaohsiung and NTD532 from Taoyuan stations.

This is cruise-style train with seat-assigned tickets. Traveling on one isn’t a pain because the seats are comfortable and plush, have wide legroom, and can be reclined in case you want to sleep. If there are no seats available on the train schedule you want, they will inform you at the ticket counter so you can pick another time.

If you are very sure of your travel timetable, you can book tickets at the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) website. One advantage of taking the regular train is that the station for Alishan buses is just right outside.

If you’re starting from the Taoyuan airport, there is a shuttle bus that leaves for the Taoyuan train station from the airport at regular intervals. Bus fare is around NTD30.

Alishan Taiwan Chiayi City
The train stops at the Chiayi City station.

High speed rail

An alternative to the regular train is the high speed rail, which cuts travel time to Chiayi by two-thirds. The fare, or course, is more expensive: around NTD400 from Zouying station in Kaohsiung and around NTD900 from Taoyuan station in Taoyuan City.

Booking your tickets early can get you as much as 35 percent off on the fare. Early bird discounts are given on tickets booked from 5 to 28 days before the use date.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) is quicker but you still have to hop on a bus or take a cab from the Chiayi railway station to the Chiayi TRA station. The distance is about a 30-minute bus ride.

Buses that ply the Alishan route start their journey from a small station just outside the Chiayi stop of the TRA train.

TERMINAL. The terminal at Chiayi for buses heading to Alishan. Those older folks will try to have you take their vans, just decline them.

Getting to Alishan

Visitors have three options in getting to Alishan from Chiayi: combination of forest train and bus, bus only, and cab.

Forest train to Fenqihu

Of all three, the forest train is a highly recommended mode of transport. The Alishan train is comfortable and offers scenic views of Chiayi County but it makes only one trip daily on weekdays and twice on weekends and holidays to Alishan. The train leaves Chiayi at 9 a.m. and arrives in Fenqihu at 11:20 a.m. The tickets get sold out early so book in advance.

TOLL GATE. This is where you pay the entrance fee for Alishan National Scenic Area.

Fenqihu to Alishan

From Fenqihu, you will need to take a bus to the Alishan National Scenic Area. Since the train arrives at 11:10 am on weekdays and 12:20 pm on weekends and holidays, people who take the forest train to Alishan get a few hours to explore Fenqihu before the 2:40 pm bus to the mountain resort arrives.

If you want to leave earlier than 2:40 p.m., get on the bus Shizhao, which is 20 minutes from Fenqihu, and change to the one for Alishan.

Direct bus to Alishan

If you can’t make it to the early train to Fenqihu, there are direct buses from Chiayi to Alishan. The first and last trips from Chiayi happen at 6:10 am and 2:10 pm. Fare is NTD230 for adults and NTD115 for children.

At the bus station outside of the Chiayi train stop, a few elderly women will try to talk you into taking a van for Alishan. Outside of the forest train, the bus is the next best transport to the mountain resort. If, however, you fail to make it to the last trip at 2:10 pm, they definitely would come in handy.

Chiayi to Alishan
Chiayi train station.

Cab to Alishan

A cab from Chiayi to Alishan is another option for travellers. It costs around NTD2,000-2,500 for a maximum of four persons travelling together.

Entrance fee

Shortly before reaching the Alishan National Scenic Area, the bus stops at a toll gate where passengers are asked to disembark and pay the NTD150 entrance fee to the park.

Alsihan in Taiwan
YOU’VE ARRIVED. Chiayi to Alishan buses park and drop off passengers in front of this 7-11 outlet in the township center. This is also where you buy bus tickets on your way back to Chiayi.
Feature Travel

Taiwan’s Alishan: Scenic views, glorious sunrise, beautiful nature

Little slivers of light begin escaping from behind tall peaks until the whole mountain range gets bathed in the golden early morning rays of the famed Alishan sunrise in Chiayi County of Taiwan.

Soft waves of white that go on as far as the eyes can see decorate the hollows between mountaintops and form the sea of clouds that is another popular attraction in the Alishan National Scenic Area.

A vantage spot over 2,600 meters above sea level, way higher than the clouds in fact, is the best place to enjoy these two natural attractions.

Alishan Sunrise
GLORIOUS SUNRISE. Alishan offers a fantastic view of the sunrise.

It’s called the Chushan viewing point and getting there requires an intricate combination of transport services, including rail–regular or high speed, bus or taxi, and forest train.

You can take either the high-speed rail or regular train to Chiayi County and pick between bus and forest train to the mountain resort but do take note of the times since Alishan transport services have scheduling limitations. (READ: How to get to Alishan)

More photos of the Alishan sunrise



Alishan sunrise

Catching the glorious Alishan sunrise involves waking up in the wee hours to line up for the train to Chushan and do a bit of walking to the best viewing spots.

Many people will jostle for a space at the main viewing deck right at the Chushan stop but there are two other areas where you can watch the sunrise. The first will involve walking back for about five minutes from the train station while the other involves a forward and mostly uphill trek of around 15 minutes but the view is better and makes up for the slightly challenging climb.

If your main objective is to experience the sunrise and sea of clouds, you must make arrangements to stay overnight.


Hotel accommodations

Better yet, stay two nights or more. The Alishan National Scenic Area covers over 40,000 hectares of woodland, uphill and downhill trails, ponds and waterfalls, temples, as well as local restaurants and tea houses. One full day isn’t enough to enjoy the many attractions that this park and nature preserve has to offer.

Alishan Center
ALISHAN CENTER. This is the center of the township, the start of your nature trek and the station for the trains that lead to the sunrise viewing decks. The 711 you see in the photo is the bus stop and ticketing office.

The best hotels will be those close to the Alishan township center, located within Zhongzheng Village and the last stop of the bus from Chiayi.

It is from here, specifically Alishan station, that the Chushan line starts its twice daily morning trips for visitors clamoring to watch the sunrise. The forest recreation area, which serves as entrance to the park’s walking trails, as well as visitor and other facilities can also be found here.

Alishan food
DELICIOUS MEAL. We loved this deep-fried mushroom and oyster, stir-fried beef and green peppers and pork ball soup served in Shan Bin Restaurant at the village center.

Park attractions

I found the Alishan sunset, though not as well promoted, to be even more spectacular than the sunrise. It didn’t come up in my research into Alishan attractions and we learned about it quite by accident.

While following the trail to the sacred tree and Cihyun temple, we came upon a sign that said the sunset was best viewed from that vantage spot.

It was still early afternoon so we decided to continue exploring the park’s well-marked trails and just return to the area when it was time. It was overcast and I wasn’t hopeful about the sunset.

When the time came, however, the sun shone through and turned the heavens into warm shades of gold, orange, and red before disappearing beneath clouds and mountain peaks.

Alishan trail
NATURE TRAIL. Walking the trail at the Alishan park is an easy although at times challenging trek amidst beautiful vistas, fresh air and a peaceful space. During months when the cherry trees bloom, however, the area is packed with tourists.

Walking trails

The Alishan walking trails are well-marked and connected so you will always find your way back. They lead to interesting sights and structures — through bridges to temples, waterfalls, strange trees, and even to twin ponds with a sad story to tell.

The trails sometimes wind through a thicket of tall cypress trees but they always lead to the main road inside the Alishan forest recreation area so there is little chance of getting lost.

What you shouldn’t miss inside the recreation area are the Cihyun Temple, sacred tree (giant of a cypress), Big Sister Pond, Little Sister Pond, King Cherry, Zhouzhen Temple. The signs will point you to many more: three-generation tree, another that’s shaped like an elephant head, even cherry blossom trees.

The Alishan Sianglin Sacred Tree.

Mountain fare

All that walking will definitely make you hungry but Alishan has you covered. Almost all dining facilities within the township center serve the hotpot, a popular choice of visitors especially during the colder months from December to February.

We chanced upon a local restaurant just across the forest recreation area entrance that served delectable fare. One of the staff was very helpful and suggested some bestseller dishes: miso soup, deep fried mushrooms and oysters, stir-fried beef with bell peppers, diced chicken with peanuts and chili. Her choices were always spot on. The vegetables are grown in nearby farms so they’re always fresh.

Within the township’s business district, there were two 7-Eleven branches. They serve snacks and hot meals, too. Your food cravings are always satisfied, whatever time it is in Alishan.

Alishan is also known for its high mountain tea so don’t miss a cup or two at the local tea houses while you’re there. Better yet, bring some home with you. The next best thing to being in Alishan is reminiscing, and what better way to do it than in between sips of high mountain tea.

Alishan sunset
ALISHAN SUNSET. The sunset is as stunning as the sunrise and is best viewed on a deck near the Cihyun Temple.


Do you want to fly to Taiwan? Philippines AirAsia flies the Cebu-Taipei route every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

More photos of Alishan


Captain Comendador officially appointed Philippines AirAsia’s president and CEO

Philippines AirAsia has officially appointed Captain Dexter Comendador as president and chief executive officer effective January 10, 2017, the company said in a press statement.

Comendador has over 33 years of experience in the aviation industry. He served as combat pilot, flight commander and pilot instructor in the Philippine Air Force for eight years before beginning his professional career as a commercial pilot in 1992.


A trailblazer and highly-decorated pilot, Captain Comendador is a cum laude graduate of the prestigious Philippine Military Academy and is a recipient of 26 service medals, including two Gold Crosses for bravery and successful combat operations.

In 1994, while serving as flight systems engineering crew of a commercial airline, Captain Comendador successfully managed an inflight bomb explosion that earned him a commendation from then-President Fidel Ramos and international media attention, inspiring stories of bravery, courage and professionalism.

Captain Comendador opted for early retirement in 2010 while serving as chief pilot for safety and compliance at a local budget airline. Airlines and airplanes, however, are truly his first love and, after a short break, he took a job overseas with a foreign airline before eventually winding up at AirAsia in December 2011.

Philippines AirAsia Dexter Comendador and Tony Fernandes
Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador (left) and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes at the AirAsia office in Pasay City.

Homegrown talent

He was then asked to join the newly-launched AirAsia operations in the Philippines as Chief Pilot for Operations and was promoted two years later to Director of Flight Operations and Chief Operating Officer. He accepted the challenge to lead the Philippine team of AirAsia as interim Chief Executive Officer in July 2016.

Philippines AirAsia Chairperson Maan Hontiveros said, “The appointment of Captain Dex as our CEO will earn him another title apart from his numerous medals and accolades. He is now the first flying pilot-CEO of an airline company in the Philippines.”

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “Captain Dex brings with him a wealth of aviation experience and business knowledge. He is a Filipino hero pilot, a homegrown talent with the extraordinary ability to connect and inspire people and ideas capable of driving change and innovation in the Philippines.” (Press Release)

Feature On the go Travel

Taipei trip highlights culture, food, nature

She beckoned to us from the shadows cast by the sculpted posts filled with symbolism the meaning of which now escapes me, there in that structure that represented religion in Taiwan.

“Come, come. I want to introduce you to some gods.” Or at least that is what I heard local guide Jane Fan told our group from Cebu that joined the AirAsia Taiwan trip amid the babel of languages that merged with worship sounds within the Longshan Temple in Taipei.

This religious structure in Taipei City’s Wanhua District is a rarity in that it is used by Tao and Buddhism followers, a fact that Jane shared with our small crew of mostly first-timers in Taiwan.

Amie Tea House Taiwan
AMIE TEA HOUSE. The restaurant it up as dark clouds and fog rolled into the old gold mining town.

Caught between the desire to linger in some areas and follow Jane’s pace, I did manage to catch some snippets of information about Longshan Temple in particular and worship in general in Taiwan.

Longshan Temple worship

In temples, you have to enter through the dragon path and exit through the tiger path. If you want to know why, I unfortunately missed that part. When you go up the temple steps, you have to do so with body bowed as a form of respect.

I lost count of how many deities are worshipped in Longshan but I learned there are halls or altars to the sea goddess Matsu, the gods of literature and war, matchmaking god, god of childbirth (with its hall filled with flower offerings), and the main temple goddess of mercy and compassion Guanyin.

Presidential Office Building
The Presidential Office Building. There are only a few days a year when they open the Presidential Office Building to the public.

From our guide, I also found out that when Buddhism made its way from India to China during the Han Dynasty in the third century, Guanyin was male but the Han Chinese made her female because they believed this was more in keeping with the attributes of mercy and compassion.

The Taiwanese are descendants of the Han Chinese who followed Chiang Kai-shek when he retreated to Taiwan following the defeat of his Nationalist’s party by the Communist Party of China in 1949.

Jiufen Taiwan
JIUFEN. Formerly a gold mining district located in a mountainous area of the Ruifang District in New Taipei City, Jiufen was once a prosperous and booming town that earned for it the nickname “Little Hongkong.” That was during the discovery of gold in the area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 1800’s.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flight

Our trip was brief but we managed to go to as many places as humanly possible, thanks to our guide and to the early AirAsia Cebu-Taipei flight schedule.

We left Cebu at 6:10 a.m. of November 25, 2016 on the Philippines AirAsia inaugural flight and arrived at the Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan 25 minutes ahead of schedule. That trip marked the start of AirAsia’s thrice weekly flights to Taipei from Cebu.

Arriving before 9 a.m. in Taiwan gave us almost a whole first day devoted to exploring the place that the Portuguese once named Formosa or “beautiful island.”

Golden Waterfall, Taiwan
The Golden Waterfall, where the mixture of rainfall and heavy metal elements in the riverbed lend it a yellowish sheen. It was more dull copper during our visit and may be golden some other times.

Taipei attractions

Before Longshan Temple, we checked out the Presidential Office Building from a vantage point across the street and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall built in honor of Taiwan’s first president.

Since there are only a few days a year when they open the Presidential Office Building to the public, we have to be content with admiring from afar this sprawling Baroque structure that, for all its western influence, seems fittingly at home in Chinese Taipei.

Travel is never complete without shopping or food so off we went to the Ximending Commercial District that reminded me somewhat of Cebu City’s Colon Street sans all the dirt and pickpockets.

What can I tell you about Ximending? It is long stretches of parallel and intersecting streets lined on both sides with small and big stalls, two-level stores, and malls selling everything from fruits and food to electronics and fashion retail of local and top brands. Some streets or at least the one I’ve walked on are cobbled and filled to the brim with shoppers, tourists, ambulant vendors, and the occasional stray vehicle.

Longshan Temple, Taiwan
LONGSHAN TEMPLE. Our group from Cebu at the entrance to Longshan Temple, a rarity since it is used by both Tao and Buddhism followers, our guide told us.

Taiwan eats

It was on a Ximending street where I had my first official encounter of the popular local delicacy stinky tofu. A pungent odor a mile away preceded this introduction and it was probably a good thing that we didn’t carry through with our dare to eat some and document our daring on Facebook Live no less.

First day lunch was at the highly acclaimed and original branch of the xiao long bao restaurant chain Din Tai Fung in Taipei. It only took us 40 minutes to get a table and we used the time wisely to get some milk tea from 50 Lan, reportedly one of the best sources of the drinks in the city.

Jane tried to provide as much variation in dining as she can in two days and brought us for dinner to a cavernous restaurant with its bizarre architecture and artwork. Artist Hsieh Li-shiang is the person behind the Five Cent Driftwood House concept.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Taiwan
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was built in honor of Taiwan’s first president.

Jiufen attractions

The second day of our trip was spent food tasting in Jiufen. Formerly a gold mining district located in a mountainous area of the Ruifang District in New Taipei City, Jiufen was once a prosperous and booming town that earned for it the nickname “Little Hongkong.” That was during the discovery of gold in the area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in the late 1800’s.

Today, the town is a maze of alleyways filled to the brim with shops and tourists. Local merchants sell food, souvenirs, clothes, bags, and whatnots.

Din Tai Fung Taiwan
DIN TAI FUNG. It took us 40 minutes to get a table at the original branch of this xiao long bao restaurant chain.

Food stalls usually have sample of their products in containers for tasting. Our guide had to caution us not to eat too much from the free samples as we were headed to lunch.

Despite Jane’s admonition, I was tempted to try out several items. My favorite food in Jiufen was the peanut and ice cream roll, which was a combination of two scoops of ice cream on a bed of grated peanut brittle that was garnished with coriander before being wrapped inside a spring roll. Heavenly!

xiao long bao
Xiao long bao in Din Tai Fung.

Skyline Tea House

Second day side trips include ones made to the Nanya Rock Formation, Bitou Cape, and Golden Waterfall where the mixture of rainfall and heavy metal elements in the riverbed lend it a yellowish sheen. It was more dull copper during our visit and may be golden some other times.

For lunch, we skipped the more popular Amie Tea House and took ours at the Skyline Tea House. We had a ready table so we didn’t have to wait.

From our perch, we had this unobstructed view of Amie and witnessed the restaurant light up as dark clouds and fog rolled into the old gold mining town. The pictures turned out perfectly, too.

50 Lan Taiwan
50 LAN. We were told that this shop serves one of the best milk teas in Taiwan.

Taipei 101

Our last big stop was Taipei 101 or the Taipei World Financial Center because one simply doesn’t miss out on this iconic skyscraper in the heart of the city.

I listened to my ears pop as we rode the pressurized elevator from the 5th floor to the Indoor Observatory at the 87th floor in a matter of 40 plus seconds. They dim the elevator so you can look up as constellations form out and shooting stars streak across the make-believe sky on the elevator ceiling.

There is so much to love in Taiwan and one visit is simply not enough. And that is why I’m returning this January on a Philippines AirAsia flight to Taipei. This time around, I intend to take my time.

Chiang Kai-shek replica
FIRST PRESIDENT. A wax replica of Chiang Kai-shek, Taiwan’s first president.
Feature Travel

Taiwan cultural office lists top 5 reasons to visit in launch of Cebu-Taipei AirAsia route

With all that it can offer tourists, from food to culture to scenic spots, Taiwan is an ideal travel destination for Filipinos.

Ma. Elaine V. Ramirez, executive assistant of the Press Division Director at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines, said during the recent launch of the AirAsia Cebu-Taipei route that it brings the two countries even closer together and adds one more good reason to go to Taiwan. Philippines AirAsia will start operating thrice weekly flights to Taipei from Cebu on November 25, 2016

“We would like to foster stronger ties with our southern neighboring countries, of which the Philippines is the closest,” she added.

The northern tip of the Philippines and the southernmost part of Taiwan are only 250 kilometers apart, she pointed out, adding that the Ivatans of Batanes and an indigenous group in Kaohsiung, Taiwan even share the same language.

According to her, aside from top ratings in safety, security, and civil liberties, the well-being of Taiwan citizens is comparatively high when measured against the indicators used by the OECD Better Life Index.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei
AIRASIA CEBU-TAIPEI ROUTE. Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador (3rd from right) leads the launch of the Cebu-Taipei route that will start operating thrice weekly on November 25. With him are Taiwan Economic Cultural Office director for press division Jerry Cheng-An Chuang (4th from left), Department of Tourism head for route development Erwin Balane, and Captain Gisela Bendong-Boniel (4th from right), who is also the mayor of Bien Unido town in Bohol.

Taiwan attractions

If this still does not convince you, here are additional reasons to book that flight to Taipei:

Diverse local food culture

Taiwan’s favorable climate and geographic location result in a bounty of fresh produce and seafood all year round. The people of Taiwan know their food, and have formed a dining culture that is uniquely Taiwanese through the merging of eastern and western elements in their dishes.

To truly experience Taiwanese life, visit the night market and try these local delicacies: stinky tofu, pig blood cake, oyster omelets, stewed pork rice, spicy duck blood, squid thick soup, and pepper buns. Other scrumptious fare include the Taiwanese stewed beef noodle soup and the world famous xialongbao (steamed soup dumpling).

Taiwan is also known as a tea paradise so don’t forget to indulge in such popular flavors as Wenshan Pouchong, Tung-ting Oolong, Tieguanyin, Hakka ground tea, and pearl milk tea.

CNN, Ramirez said, named Taiwan as world’s best food destination in 2015.

Shopping paradise

Taiwan is a haven for shopaholics, with its latest international fashion and luxury brands, boutique goods, premium quality local artisanal products, large-scale commercial districts, and internationally renowned night markets.

A growing creative and cultural industry in Taiwan has given rise to unique products crafted by dynamic local artists. Enjoy a wide range of local crafts at Taipei’s Dihua Street, Ximen’s Red House, Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park as well as Kaohsiung’s Pier-2 Art Center.

Great bargains may be grabbed at Taipei’s Ximending, Wufenpu or the commercial district behind Taipei Main Station, Taichung’s Yizhong Street and Fengjia Night Market, and Kaohsiung’s Sanduo Commercial District and Dream Mall.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei
FLY TO TAIPEI. AirAsia will fly 3 times a week to Taipei from Cebu starting on November 25.

Abundance of scenic spots

Taiwan’s high mountains and complex geological formations make for a diverse scenery that is sure to excite any nature lover. Its well-known peak Yushan or Mt. Jade rises 3,952 meters and is considered to be the the tallest mountain in Northeast Asia.

The Taiwanese are also blessed with spectacular landforms that range from sandy beaches, lagoons, and sandbars in the southwest coast; rocky shores, deep slopes, and narrow plains in the east coast; rocky headlands in the north coast; and coral reefs in the south coast. Its rich wildlife resources makes it a natural paradise for butterfly and bird watchers.

Don’t forget to check out any or all of Taiwan’s eight national parks, each with their own distinct characteristic: among them the griotte formations and gorges at Takoro National Park, volcanic landforms in Taipei’s Yanming-Shan National Park, endemic fish species at Shei-pa National Park, ridges and peaks in Yushan National Park.

Taiwan’s natural scenery makes the bicycle the best way to explore Taiwan, said TECO director for press division Jerry Chang-An Chuang,

Modern transportation system

Nevertheless, added Ramirez, Taiwan has a modern and efficient public transportation system, allowing travelers to easily move across its many beautiful destinations.

Its two biggest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung, have mass rapid transport systems. The high speed rail is complemented by local trains, buses, and taxis.

Rich culture and history

Taiwan boasts of a diverse mix of culture from a long list of inhabitants that has contributed to its unique local flavor.

Its 5,000 years of Chinese civilization can be relived through the National Palace Museum in Taipei, which hosts a staggering 650,000 artifacts from this chapter in its history.

Major cities are filled with ancient forts, temples, and preserved old streets and structures. Heritage structures worth a visit include the formerly prosperous commercial districts of Taipei’s Dihua Street and Wanhua District as well as Taichung’s Lukang and Tainan’s Anping. The Longshan Temple goes back 270 years while Lukang features well preserved old streets and buildings.

There are folk festivals and activities all throughout the year in Taiwan. Major events include the releasing of sky lanterns over Pingxi in New Taipei City and fireworks display in the Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival in Tainan.

AirAsia Cebu-Taipei
MORE ROUTES OUT OF CEBU. Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador (center) says AirAsia will open more routes out of Cebu in the coming months. With him during the press conference are Taiwan Economic Cultural Office director for press division Jerry Cheng-An Chuang (left) and Department of Tourism head for route development Erwin Balane.

Major AirAsia hub

Aside from the Taipei flights that are scheduled to start in November, AirAsia plans to open more international routes out of Cebu in line with its plan to turn the island into a major hub of operations, said Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador.

The airline company’s vision to bring the millions of tourists going around Asia to the Philippines, he added.

AirAsia also recently announced the opening of flights to Singapore out of Cebu.

“AirAsia feels strongly about the development of cities outside of Metro Manila. It is pushing for tourism growth and promoting the Philippines across the ASEAN region,” he added.

To celebrate the new routes, AirAsia offered promo fares starting at P888 at for flights to Taipei and Singapore out of Cebu.

Lifestyle Travel

AirAsia opens direct Cebu-Singapore flights, offers P888 introductory fare

AirAsia announced it will operate direct flights from Cebu to Singapore starting November 25. To celebrate the launch of the route, AirAsia is offering promotional fares on from as low as P888 for travel between November 25, 2016 and March 24, 2017. Promotional fares are up for grabs from today until October 23 only.

Philippines AirAsia CEO Captain Dexter Comendador said, “The addition of the Cebu-Singapore route enables us to strengthen our Cebu hub and further connect Cebuanos to our Asean neighbors.”

Flight Schedule for Cebu – Singapore

Z2 7236
Cebu to Singapore / departs Cebu at 4:55 PM and arrives in Singapore at 8:30 PM / Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

Z2 7237
Singapore to Cebu / departs Singapore at 9:10 PM and arrives in Cebu at 12:55 AM / Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday


Singapore Tourism Board area director for Philippines Lael Loh said, “The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) congratulates AirAsia on its newest destination milestone in the Philippines. We are excited by the opening of the new Cebu-Singapore route, which will provide more opportunities for Filipino travelers to discover, experience, and enjoy the multitude of offerings in the Lion City.”

AirAsia’s newest Cebu-Singapore announcement came two days after its executives led by its CEO Dexter Comendador with Department of Tourism head for route development Erwin Balane and Taiwan Economic Cultural Office director for press division Jerry Cheng-An Chuang arrived in Cebu last Wednesday to formally open the Cebu-Taipei route.

Comendador added, “Cebu is emerging as the fastest growing air hub outside Metro Manila and we are here to connect Cebu to Singapore, Taipei, Korea, Malaysia and onto to AirAsia Group’s massive network of over 120 destinations across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa while providing only the best quality service and products.”

Besides Singapore and Taipei, AirAsia announced earlier that it will also increase flights between Cebu and Kuala Lumpur from three to four times weekly effective 29 October. AirAsia also services direct flights from Cebu to Incheon (Seoul) in South Korea.

Keep up-to-date with AirAsia’s latest promotion and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (, Instagram (@AirAsiaPh), and on Viber public chat (@AirAsiaPh). (Press Release)

Lifestyle Travel

AirAsia starts Manila, Cebu flights to Taipei, offers promo fares from P888

AirAsia announced today, Sunday, that it will open direct flights to Taipei from Manila and Cebu starting next month.

To celebrate the opening of the new routes, the airline offers on promo fares for as low as P888 out of Cebu and P1,488 out of Manila to Taipei for tickets bought until October 16, 2016.

The three times weekly Cebu-Taipei service will start on November 25 while the daily Manila-Taipei service will begin on November 21 this year. Travel period for the Taipei seat sale is from November 25, 2016 for Cebu and November 21, 2016 for Manila up to March 25, 2017.

“In anticipation of the influx of tourists and travellers to Taipei following the recent easing of visa rules for Filipinos, we are thrilled to announce that AirAsia is launching direct flights to Taipei from our hubs in Manila and Cebu this November with promo fares now available online and through our partner travel agents nationwide,” Philippines AirAsia chief executive officer Dexter Comendador said in a statement.

Taiwan Night Market
NIGHT MARKETS. Taipei has many night markets that have food kiosks, movie theaters, video arcades, shops, and karaoke stores. (Creative Commons photo by Tomas Fano)

Taiwan travel visa

Taiwan has made it easier for Filipinos, along with citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and India, to get a visa.

The Taiwan Economic Cultural Office (TECO) released a statement saying passport holders from the Philippines and several other countries are now eligible to apply online for a Taiwan travel authorization certificate free of charge.

The new policy applies as well to passport holders from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and those who are permanent residents of Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Schengen Agreement signatories, United Kingdom, and United States or hold a visa or a resident card from one of these countries that is either valid or expired within 10 years from the date of expected arrival in Taiwan.

More Kuala Lumpur flights

Earlier, AirAsia announced that it will add one daily flight between Manila and Kuala Lumpur starting October 30 on top of its current twice daily flights and increase flight frequency between Cebu and Kuala Lumpur from three to four times weekly effective October 29.

“Cebu is an important hub for AirAsia and we are here to offer a reliable, award-winning, world-class service at low fares that every Cebuano deserves,”
Comendador added.

AirAsia will depart daily from Manila every 11:05 p.m and arrive in Taipei at 1:10 a.m. Return flight schedule is daily at 1:35-3:45 a.m.

The Cebu to Taipei flights is every Wednesday, from 6:35 to 9:25 a.m., and from 6:10 to 9:05 a.m. every Friday and Sunday. Return flights is 10:20 a.m.-1:10 p.m. every Wednesday, 10:10 a.m.-1:00 p.m. every Friday, and 10:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m. every Sunday.

Taipei attractions

New and returning visitors to Taipei can expect to experience warm local hospitality and enjoy some or all of its iconic attractions.

Here are the top destinations in or near Taipei:

Taipei 101. This is the icon of Taipei and the city’s most prominent centre. This ultra-modern structure has 101 floors of shopping heaven, conference venues, offices, restaurants, as well as outdoor and indoor observatories. The top of the tower offers a stunning and unobstructed view of Taipei.

Night markets. There is a plethora of night markets in Taipei but the most famous is the Shilin Night Market. Food lovers can scour the 539 food kiosks in the food court offering a wide selection of cuisine. Other attractions include movie theatres, video arcades, shops, and karaoke stores.

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Built as a memorial to the former president of the Republic of China, the hall and square is now the hub for cultural events. Within the vicinity are the National Concert Hall and National Theatre, which had housed performances by Yo-yo Ma, Vienna Boys Choir, and even the late Luciano Pavarotti.

Taroko Gorge. Just a two-hour train ride from Taipei is the Taroko National Park, where the gorge is located. Taroko Gorge is known for its magnificent natural beauty and abundant supply of marble. Visitors can explore nature and many natural sights, including the Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Grotto, and Buluowan Village.

Wufenpu. Shopaholics will wander happily around Taipei’s main wholesale garment market, which sells the latest fashion trends at bargain basement prices. The shops are open daily from morning to midnight, and haggling is a skill that will take you far when you are roaming the streets of Wufenpu.


AirAsia offers promo fare, partner discounts in Cebu-Korea travel

Korea has become a popular destination among Cebuanos, and Philippines AirAsia wants them to make the most of their summer trip with promo fares and big discounts from the airline’s partner establishments.

Named world’s best low cost carrier by Skytrax for seven years, AirAsia offers one way flights from Cebu to Incheon, Korea for only P5,720 all-in. Booking for this AirAsia seat sale is up to July 10 while the travel period is until October 29, 2016.

Clarie Anne Aguilar, Philippines AirAsia marketing officer, said they’ve partnered with several establishments in Cebu and Korea for up to 50 percent discount on products and services.


AirAsia Cebu-Korea
PARTNERS. Philippines AirAsia marketing officer Clarie Anne Aguilar says they partnered with several establishments in Cebu and Korea for up to 50 percent discount on products and services.

AirAsia has partnered with Cafe Namoo, Cafe Tiala, Coffee Bean Scent, Cafe Talk, KPub BBQ, and Crown Regency and Vivaldi Ocean Park and Saraswati Pub in Korea, she added.

‘Summer in Korea’ trip

According to Aguilar, July is one of the best times to visit since it is when Korea celebrates the annual Boryeong Mud Festival in Daechon Beach from July 15-24. Some interesting features of the festival include mud wrestling, mud sliding, and a mud king contest.

Korea is a large market for the Philippines and AirAsia is continually enhancing its operations in the country, said the airline’s head of commercial Gerard Peñaflor.


AirAsia Cebu-Korea
MORE ACTIVITIES. AirAsia head of commercial Gerard Peñaflor says they will be doing more activities in Cebu to create a preference for Korea as a top destination.

The company, he added, will be doing more activities in Cebu to create a preference for Korea as a top destination.

Peñaflor said AirAsia is also set to open more destinations out of Cebu, adding that the company has posted high growth since the beginning of the year largely due to its improved operations and consumers’ awareness of the company’s low airfares.

Brand Partnership Lifestyle Places

AirAsia offers low fares in seat sale

Travel to amazing destinations with AirAsia’s Red Hot Seat Sale that gives travellers access to over a hundred local and international destinations across 22 countries.

AirAsia, together with its long-haul, low-cost affiliate carrier AirAsia X are offering three million promo seats for travel to popular local destinations like Kalibo, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Tacloban and Manila and international destinations like Korea, Malaysia, China, Macau, and Hong Kong.


The airline’s seat sale starts at P1.00 base fare, excluding applicable taxes and fees. Booking period is from March 7 to 13, 2016 on as well as AirAsia’s mobile site Travel period is from October 1, 2016 to May 22, 2017.

“This time around, we are pleased to offer three million promotional seats. Guests may grab this perfect opportunity to make advance travel plans and enjoy extra value for their money. We have introduced many new and undiscovered routes throughout the region and grabbing a promo seat is the best way to discover new destinations,” said AirAsia Group chief commercial officer Siegtraund Teh.

AirAsia X destinations

“Guests from around the region can take advantage of our Fly-Thru service to connect to many exciting AirAsia X destinations such as Auckland, Sapporo, Tokyo, Gold Coast, Sydney and more. In conjunction with this special promotion, AirAsia X’s Premium Flatbed to all AirAsia X destinations are also on sale,” he added.

AirAsia BIG members and AirAsia BIG Prepaid MasterCard cardholders can earn 1 AirAsia BIG points for every P28 spent while booking the promo seats on Bargain hunters can also save up to 50% and more when they book their hotel with promo seats on

Philippines AirAsia Commercial head Gerard Peñaflor said, ”With AirAsia’s massive network in the whole of ASEAN and extending as far as India, Japan and China, we offer guests the convenience of connecting seamlessly and at the same time ensuring that they enjoy only the best quality service from us. Filipinos traveling from Manila, Cebu and Kalibo to Korea, China, Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong would be thrilled to know that Red Hot One-Peso seat sale also include these amazing destinations.”

Red Hot P1 Seat Sale

For added convenience, AirAsia strongly encourages guests to pre-book their baggage allowance at the time of flight booking to enjoy the lowest rate.

Alternatively, guests can use the “Manage My Booking” function to pre-book or add more baggage allowance at up to four hours before the scheduled time of departure.

Keep updated with AirAsia’s latest promotions and activities via Twitter (@AirAsiaPH), Facebook (AirAsiaPhilippines) and Instagram (@AirAsiaPH).

The Red Hot P1 Seat Sale is for base fare only and does not include airport taxes, fees and other optional services.


Travel Weekly Asia readers name AirAsia Best Low Cost Carrier

AirAsia won the Best Low Cost Carrier award at the inaugural 2015 Travel Weekly Asia Reader’s Choice Awards recently. The much-coveted award is based on votes by the leading travel trade magazine’s strong base of readers comprising seasoned travelers and industry players.

Readers of Travel Weekly Asia magazine voted from August 14 to September 25, 2015 on to choose their favorite travel and hospitality establishments out of 31 award categories ranging from airlines, cruise lines to travel agencies and hotel chains.

AirAsia Singapore CEO Logan Velaitham received the award on behalf of the AirAsia Group at the award ceremony held in Singapore.

“On behalf of AirAsia Group, we are both delighted and proud to be recognized as the Best Low Cost Carrier among the readers of Travel Weekly Asia. Each award received is a testament to the hard work and determination of 17,000 AirAsia Allstars around the globe and it drives us to develop even better products and services for our guests. We would like to thank everyone for voting for us,” said Logan.

AWARD FOR AIRASIA. Logan Velaitham (center), CEO of AirAsia Singapore, accepts the award from Arnie Weissmann (left), editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, and senior VP and editorial director of Travel Group, Northstar Travel Media and Mr Ian Jarrett (right), editor-at-large of Travel Weekly Asia.
AWARD FOR AIRASIA. Logan Velaitham (center), CEO of AirAsia Singapore, accepts the award from Arnie Weissmann (left), editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, and senior VP and editorial director of Travel Group, Northstar Travel Media and Mr Ian Jarrett (right), editor-at-large of Travel Weekly Asia.


This is the first Travel Weekly Reader’s Choice Awards to be held in Asia as the spin-off of its American version, which has been running for over a decade now in the United States. The Travel Weekly Asia Reader’s Choice Award will be presented annually to industry leaders as recognition for their service and product excellence, voted by the magazine’s pool of discerning readers.

Irene Chua, Group Publisher for Northstar Travel Media (Asia) said, “The awards are a confirmation of the travel industry’s most outstanding companies and lauds their achievements. Congratulations to all our winners, who truly deserve this recognition in the industry. Travel Weekly Asia heralds the travel professionals who have truly made a difference.”

This year alone, AirAsia has been recognized as the best in the industry multiple times when it received the World’s Best Low Cost Airline recognition by Skytrax for seven consecutive years, Best Low-Cost Airline at the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards 2015 for four years in a row, and very recently the airline group also clinched the Excellence Award under the Airlines category at Expatriate Lifestyle’s Best of Malaysia Awards. In this same week, AirAsia also received SimpliFlying Awards’ Top 3 Best Overall Airline in Asia Pacific while a special individual award was given to Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia for Leadership in Social Media, recognizing AirAsia’s creative and effective integration of social media into overall marketing and business strategy.

Food News

AirAsia serves wide variety of inflight food

Next time you fly, choose AirAsia and get access to a wide variety of Asian, international, and vegetarian fares. You can take your pick from cookies and sandwiches to a selection of AirAsia hot meals that are certified as halal.

“We are the only domestic airline company that serves halal food. This is our way of showing we respect culture,” said AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Joy Cañeba. “For a good flight, we need good food,” she also said.

AirAsia’s selection of hot meals include Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice, Beef Caldereta, and Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak.

AirAsia Nasi Lemak
NASI LEMAK. Among the hot meals offered inflight by AirAsia is Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak, a traditional Malaysian dish of fragrant coconut rice with chili sambal, tender chicken rending, fried anchovies, crunchy groundnuts and hard-boiled egg. (Photo by Max Limpag)

AirAsia hot meals

The chicken rice is a Chinese Malaysian favorite of rice cooked in chicken broth and served with roast chicken. It comes with Uncle Chin’s special chili, ginger, and garlic sauce.

Another hot meal available on board local and international AirAsia flights is the beef caldereta. This is a Philippine dish made up of beef cooked in tomato sauce and paste mixed with a blend of garlic, bell pepper, onion, and peppercorn.

AirAsia hot meals
HOT MEALS. AirAsia offers a variety of hot meals inflight from Uncle Chin’s Chicken Rice, Beef Caldereta, and Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak. (Photo by Max Limpag)

A Malaysian favorite, the Nassi Lemak, is fragrant coconut rice served with tender chicken rendang and special chili plus the traditional condiments of fried anchovies, crunchy groundnuts, and hard-boiled egg.

For short flights lasting less than 75 minutes, you need to book your choice of hot meal in advance. Ordering early or at least 24 hours before your flight gets you a 20 percent discount on the meal, which is priced at P200. Pre-booked meals come with bottled mineral water.

AirAsia inflight sandwiches
SANDWICHES. AirAsia also serves chicken caesar sandwiches. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Other offerings

Two other hot meals – Korean beef steak and honey-glazed soy chicken – are available only for Korea and China flights, at P230 each.

AirAsia also serves chicken caesar and kani sandwiches, desserts, chips, cup noodles, coffee, soda, and even wine. The chicken caesar sandwich is grilled chicken breast fillet that captures the American taste.

AirAsia sandwich combo
PACKING A PUNCH. This sandwich combo was created for Team Pacquiao and is served as part of the airline’s promotion for his upcoming fight: Kani sandwich with crab meat, chips and a Coke sakto. (Photo by Max Limpag)

AirAsia food and drink offerings other than the hot meals may be ordered while already on board, according to Cañeba.

AirAsia Philippines, in coordination with Azia Suites in Cebu City, invited bloggers to a food-tasting event of its inflight offerings earlier this week.

AirAsia hot meals
GOOD FOOD, GREAT FLIGHT. AirAsia Philippines chief executive officer Joy Cañeba talks about the airlines offerings during an event for bloggers in Cebu. (Photo by Max Limpag)