Armenia is becoming famous in Dubai not only as the exit point for visa change for those on tourist visa but as one of the leading choice for vacation as well, no surprise as various of affordable offers are available in the market, aside from that it is really hassle free as we don’t required a prearranged visa, just book your ticket and fly 🙂
I would like to share with you guys our experience during our last vacation.
We are group of 4 who traveled Me, my husband and our two good friends. It was September 2016 during Eid Holiday, that time there is no more slot available in www.holiday-factory.com, so what we did is, we booked our ticket directly with www.flydubai.com it cost us AED905.00 each for round trip including all taxes and travel insurance.
Since pinay/pinoy expat used to do a sharing accommodation we booked an apartment through www.booking.com. It is 1 bedroom apartment with total of 3 beds, my husband and I stayed in the room with the king sized bed while our friends stayed in the living area having a separate space for the two single beds. The total cost we paid for 5 nights is AED900.00 so its like AED225.00 per person, AED 45.00 per day oopps too much on computation. Its really affordable, its like we also had the tour package through holiday factory and with more days to explore.
Our vacation is planned to have pure fun and to have a different ambiance since we are working hard for the past two years, that’s why we talked and decided to have a budget-friendly vacation. We agreed that there are days and specific meal that we will be having at the apartment. So we brought our rice(Bigas), yes Bigas po, four of us are rice lover truly pinoy. We also brought few canned goods and of course 3 in 1 coffee for the breakfast and we really saved a lot, at the same time we enjoyed our bonding while preparing the foods, laughter and never ending stories. But most of our lunch & few dinners are outside enjoying and exploring Armenian dishes, super delicious, fresh and affordable prices.
And for the tour we rented a private car, which is recommended by the apartment owner. We did few comparisons and its seem our availed packages are fine and competitive, its more convenient since it is private, unlike joining tourist in group bus tour which you need to each one of them before proceeding in next destination. While having a private car, feels like WOW
Our Itinerary are us follows;
-Landed Armenia at 03:30 PM, it takes 1 hour for immigration processing. We are entitled for a visa upon arrival at the cost of AED 30.00 per person.
We requested for an airport pick up from the apartment owner itself with a minimal cost of AED20.00 in total.
– We reached the place within 15-20 minutes. We had rest for an hour, then we walked around the city. Our apartment is 10-15 minutes walking distance from Republic Square, so we excitedly roamed in that area were we met few pinoy travelers.
-Then of course, picture taking in all the good views we passed by.
(Opera House, Yerevan Cascade, different park, historical statues and more)
-My research is right, Yerevan is fun to explore by walk you will enjoy a lot, we are really exhausted on our first day. But this feelings changed to fulfillment when we had our first Armenian way dinner.
-Dinner at Old Yerevan Restaurant, prices are reasonable, food is great and ambiance is superb, you will really feel you are in old city. We came starving, curious on what to eat but left the place with full satisfaction. Armenia has rich culture, it shows on the way they had prepared each meal and even from the live performer who sang passionately.
-From the restaurant we walked to our apartment, we passed by these group of artists, some are doing sketching, traditional painting, and spray painting. Armenian are arts lovers too.My friend and I shyly availed the sketching of our haggard face 🙂 it cost AED30.00 per person, very ideal for souvenir
Then we went home around 11:30 PM
-Woke up at 07:00 am, as we need to prepare our breakfast and should be ready before 09:00 am, thankfully we manage it. Our driver/guide arrived exactly at 9, impressive!
-First stop is at Tsaghkadzor, famous because of their open rope way. Super fun and thrilling, all the views are breathtaking (Cost around AED35.00 each for round trip)
-Then we had our lunch at Sevan Lake area, it is a normal restaurant but the view is so refreshing, over looking the lake, we chose to have our meal in their terrace. To enjoy the fresh airr. We had bread, fried fish, boiled fish (parang sinigang version) all are good except for a bit slow on service, maybe because of many tourist are there that time. But its OK we don’t want to ruin our day for that simple understandable thing.
-Final major stop at Dilijan National Park, known for its forest landscape, you will be amazed on many tall trees, another breath taking view. And this is my first time after many years to drink spring water, its good and in fairness I never had a stomach problem
-Its almost 4:30 pm when we left the park, our driver/guide is so generous he insisted to pay for our snack. There are also vendors of fresh fruits, vegetables along the road from mountain.
He bought us a grilled corn what a fun experience, their corn is fine but not like ours which is a bit sweet.
-We reached Yerevan around 6:45pm, we did few groceries for our dinner, bonding at house while having our 3in1 coffee then had a good night sleep.
-Of course breakfast at home 🙂 we had sausage, noodles, rice and of course to start the day with our favorite coffee, this day we only had 2 plans for our tour due to some reasons.
-First stop at Khorvirap, our guide picked us up around 09:00am, since we dont have much plan what we did is a lot of stop over in every beautiful view we saw.
We saw different farms, like apricot, apple and grape farms of course we didn’t missed the chance to have a picture taking there.
Then finally we reached Khorvirap, this is the closest point to see the biblical site Mt. Ararat from Armenia, you will see many tourist who are so glad and you can see the smile in their face seeing this view, while four of us are overwhelmed, who will imagine that we will see this place, this is very far from Philippines.
-We stayed there for almost 2-3 hours then we went back to Yerevan and had lunch in Tavern Yerevan, recommended by our guide, our guide is pro active without giving him any instruction he booked for us a private room 🙂 We enjoyed our lunch with a bottle of house wine, we just realized that Armenia love to have wine during meal, so we tried it.
Almost 4:00 pm we finished our lunch, we went home and totally rest.
-Yeah your’e right, of course breakfast at home, there are still some sausage, egg, noodles and rice to cooked, this time our call time is a bit early wow as if we are an showbiz artist, 08:00am we left Yerevan
-First stop Garni, love the architectural design, feels like in Greece, good thing we arrived very early in the morning we enjoyed the place peacefully, by 10:00am bunch of tourist came and there is no chance to take a good photo of Garni alone.
-Around 10:30am we are preparing to leave for the 2nd stop, but we are approached by local Armenian interpreter who is is very much curious on our nationality, so we had a few minutes of conversation, and discussing about our plan for the whole day. He is discouraging us not to pursue for the 3rd stop as it is too late, we might reach the place but we will not see any view as it should be done in morning. but we didn’t listen and just push with our plan 🙂
-A lot of stop over again, this is totally different view from Dubai, these are all natural creation from God, wow Armenia is truly blessed in natural beauty.
our 2nd stop is in Areni, famous for their wine products. We had our lunch, wine tasting and of course we bought few bottles for our souvenirs.
Stop over at Noravank, but we didn’t get inside as we need to rush to our 3rd stop.
–Wings of Tatev, known for holding the world’s largest non-stop double track cable / 5.7km, and our real adventure begins, our guide is lost, he said there is changes in the route etc etc, he keeps on driving, asking another driver for direction, tried to check in GPS but it seems we are lost and we can see that he is really apologetic for what happened, every time he sees beautiful view he will asked us if we want to stop and have picture 🙂 but this time we said no, we don’t like, we need to reach the supposed to be our last stop for the day. And finally we reached the place and guess what, it is already 7:00pm and its already closed 🙁 We calmed our self and making the experience as funny one then we remembered the guy who is discouraging us, we appreciate his input, yeah he has a point. But going back to Yerevan is not option for us, no way, we need to see Tatev.
Since our plan for the fifth day is just to go to market and buy souvenir, we decided to stay for an overnight in Syunik Province closed to Wings of Tatev.
Thankfully we found an available lodge for rent, we took 3 rooms and paid a total amount of AED250.00 with breakfast for all. Regretfully we don’t have an extra clothes witgh us, good the weather is freaking cold, but it is fine the experience is really memorable. We met the lodge owner, they are old couple super kind and sweet. We had the chance to know their culture deeply, same with pinoys they are accommodating and very hospitable. But sometimes people misinterpret them maybe because of the language barrier, they are not English speaker so the tendency they will just not approached someone.
The weather at night is really cold, you can imagine that you are in very far province in Philippines where everything looks simple.
So for the breakfast naiba tuloy, fresh honey, bread, boiled egg, fresh coffee & milk naman prepared by our lovely host, then by 09:00am umalis na kami for our final stop Wings of Tatev
-Ayun na nga si Wings of Tatev na, sulit naman ang aming overnight kung hindi namin naexperience si Tatev, our Armenia tour will not be complete, the photos I took will explain how beautiful it is.
-We left the place around 12:30PM, then drove back to Yerevan, this time stop over kung stop over ang ginawa namin. Ang dami namin nakitang magagandang view na hindi magagawa if you join a group bus tour, stop over sa mga park and we saw these fresh colorful flowers.
Nagkaroon din kami ng chance to interact pa sa mga local Armenian who is residing in the mountain, binigyan kami ng mga fruits na tinda nila. We are insisting to pay pero ayaw talaga nila kunin, sabi nila Its OK, money is not an issue for us here in Armenia, we have everything we need, so just take it and enjoy it. Good to know Filipino people like you.… 🙂 so touching.
Then finally we reached Yerevan by 09:00PM, we had our dinner at Tavern Yerevan but in different branch and with live entertainment. Since that would be our last night, we enjoyed a lot and order everything we want to try to complete our total experience.
By 11:30pm we had finished our dinner, the guys are really exhausted and just wanted to rest. But me and my friend still have an energy to go out to buy few souvenirs, I bought few Armenian food products in grocery stores and all my friends appreciate it, we walked around the city and went back by 02:30am.
Then prepared all our things for our flight in the afternoon same day, I slept around 04:00am then woke up by 08:00am, grabe wala talaga akong kapaguran.
-Last breakfast namin, so niluto na ang mga natira by 10:00am we checked out and headed to their plea market to buy few souvenirs.
-Ang gaganda ng mga item and reasonable naman ang price, syempre we bought key chains, ref magnet, shirts and few mug as presents for our dearest friends.
After our rush shopping, we went back to Republic Square to have a picture with morning view, as our first visit was at night so nakita namin ang difference.
-Then final stop before going to airport is the Armenia Genocide, nagsisi kami bakit ito ang last stop, nakakaiyak yung mga nakita namin sa museum, how Armenian struggle during Ottomans government ang dami palang namatay noon sa holocaust, kaya tahimik kaming umalis at pumunta sa airport to catch our 4:00pm flight.
And ayun natapos na ang aming pag lalagalag.
We learned a lot during this trip, not only about Armenian’s culture nor how beautiful their country is, but specially we learned that life is not only about work and responsibilities, once in a while we need to travel even not out of the country as long as you can relax and meditate, it will give you positive feelings to be more grateful on what you have that.
Additionally, different language might be barrier but should not be a hindrance to show goodness & love to other nation.
Thanks Armenia for all the wonderful memories, looking forward in visiting your country again, this time during Winter Season.
-Photos are the best souvenir you can have so ensure to bring international power adapter for charging your mobile/camera etc. its a bit hard to find one in their store.
-Convert your Dirhams to Dollar prior, as most of the money exchange don’t accept international currency aside from Dollar.
-Expect strangers will approach you specially in Republic Square area and offering their car for hire, it would be up to your decision guys but to be on the safe side, better to deal with legit tour operator. (based on our experience)
-For the tour itinerary, research ahead of time which spot are you exactly interested and check if this will be feasible in the number of days of your vacation, then better to book it from local tour operator directly in Armenia, it is more cheaper.
-Don’t invest to much budget on the accommodation side as most of the day you will be definitely out, as long as it is well equipped of basic things, comfortable pillow and bed, private toilet I think it should be fine.
-Download google translate as most of Armenian are not English speaker, it really helps us a lot, despite of the language barrier we manage to communicate by using this software.
Enjoy your vacation guys!!