If you haven’t heard, the Philippines has finally launched the Online Travel Tax Payment System (OTTPS) on 16 April 2018, which means you don’t have to line up in the airport and pay the ₱1,620 travel tax in cash anymore. You can pay online by debit card, credit card, Touchpay kiosks, and over-the-counter payment channels.
So, if you’re travelling abroad and have that extra amount of money on hand, you can just exchange your pesos to the currency of your destination and save it to buy souvenirs. Here are souvenirs abroad you can fit in that budget.
1. Tokyo Banana (Japan)
One of my favourite things to eat from Japan is their Tokyo Banana. Tokyo Banana is a unique Japanese snack made out of wheat, egg, milk, soybean, gelatin, and of course, banana! From the outside, the sponge cake takes the colour and shape of a small banana, but the best part about it is the rich banana cream inside. What’s great about this pastry snack is that it isn’t too sweet and doesn’t feel heavy so you’re gonna want to get one after another. Trust me, your gastronomic adventure in Japan wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t take these babies home to share with your friends. They also come in different flavours like maple, caramel, and honey. You can buy this in convenience stores, shopping malls, and train stations.
Original flavour- ¥2,057 for 16 pieces (₱994.59)
Maple flavour – ¥1,595 for 12 pieces (₱771.43)
Caramel flavour – ¥1,595 for 12 pieces (₱771.43)
Honey flavour- ¥1,595 for 12 pieces (₱771.43)
2. Face masks (Taiwan)
Perhaps Taiwan is most known for its street food and night markets, but Taiwan is also one of the best places in the world to buy great quality face masks. If you’re based in Taipei, you can purchase face masks in any convenience store, the most notable being Watsons. Taipei’s Watsons stores are way bigger than what we’re used to in the Philippines, and you’ll find a wide selection of face masks to choose from. The usually recommended brands are My Scheming, Annie’s Way, Lovemore, L’Herboflore, etc. This souvenir is a perfect gift for girl barkadas or your mom and sister.
Price: As low as NT$50 per face mask (₱88)
3. Cute socks (Korea)
Since we already covered face masks in the previous item, let’s give a different kind of credit to Korean souvenirs — socks. Korea sells the cutest socks you’ll ever see! With various designs such as colour patterns, anime characters, video game characters, animals, and signature brands, the socks you can buy in the shopping centres are perfect pasalubongs for younger children and children-at-heart.
Price: As low as ₩1,000 per pair (₱42.5)
4. Kaya or Coconut Jam (Singapore)
Food lovers who have flown to Singapore should know that Kaya toast is one of Singapore’s national breakfasts. When locals eat Kaya toast, they spread butter and kaya on the toasted bread. Their signature Kaya Jam is made of out of eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. This sweet filling makes my mouth water just thinking about the combination of flavours spread all over a tasty crunchy bread. Sometimes, the toast is also dipped in or matched with half-boiled eggs. Breakfast doesn’t get any better than this in Singapore. Take a piece of it home by buying your own Kaya Jam and replicating Singapore’s sweet Kaya toast dish for your family and friends back in the Philippines! You can buy Kaya Jam in any grocery store or supermarket in Singapore.
Price: From S$5 to S$10 per jar (₱198 to ₱396)
5. Jade accessories (Hong Kong)
The Chinese believe that jades are a symbol of beauty and purity and that if you wear or use them, health, fortune and prosperity will come your way. This is also why it’s such a big business in Hong Kong. They come in different colours and created in different forms such as jewellery, figurines, and lucky charms. If you’re in Hong Kong and have friends who love trinkets or jewellery, find a suitable jade as a souvenir for them. Who knows, it might make all the difference in their lives! You can buy jades in the Jade Market, Po Jung Jade Factory, and Cat Street.
Price: From HK$10 to HK$100 (₱66.67 to ₱665.79)
6. Batik pants (Indonesia)
Indonesia’s traditional batik pants are a must-have when you visit the country. They come in different motifs depending on the region where you’re purchasing them and they never look boring because each one looks unique and striking in its own way. Batik pants can be very fashionable, you can wear them for casual outings with friends and pair a plain coloured top that complements the batik’s creative design. But nowadays, tourist buy batik pants because they love wearing them as pyjamas. And who wouldn’t? They’re completely flexible and cosy! Drop by the malls and street markets to buy the best batik designs for your loved ones back home.
Price: From Rp80,000 to Rp213,000 (₱300 to ₱800)
7. Broadway keychains, magnets & mugs (USA)
Heading to New York anytime soon? Well, you can’t visit NYC without watching a Broadway play or buying even a small souvenir from Broadway. Yes, Broadway merchandise can come at a hefty price, but keychains, magnets, and mugs can still fit into your ₱1,620 budget. When items have your favourite play such as Anastasia, Phantom of the Opera, Hamilton, Wicked, and Lion King, all over them, you have to buy a tangible remembrance for yourself, or for a friend back home who is just as Broadway-obsessed as you are.
Price: From 10$ to 25$ (₱524 to ₱1,308)
8. Argan oil (Morocco)
Morocco is known to be the best source of Argan Oil. In fact, Morocco is the only place where true argan products are made because they grow Argan trees in the southern regions of the country. Argan oil is extracted from roasted seeds, is golden yellow and smells nutty. Women often use it as a body oil to heal scars and fight stretch marks and dry skin. You can also buy argan soap, shampoo, lotion, and you can even use it for culinary purposes. For beauty enthusiasts, argan oil is a holy grail. Make sure you buy the authentic ones in Morocco when you have the chance. They can be bought from boutiques throughout the country, especially in Marrakech and Essaouira.
Price: 200 MAD for 150ml bottle (₱1,135)
9. Tim Tam (Australia)
No, these Tim Tams aren’t the same as the ones we have in the Southeast Asian market. Australia’s Tim Tams are made by Arnott’s, which is a biscuit company that’s been around for more than 150 years. They source all their milk from Australia and New Zealand dairy farms, which gives you an idea just how fresh and top quality their chocolate biscuits are. Arnott’s Tim Tam also comes in a range of flavours such as the Gelato Messina series, Chewy Caramel, Dark, White, and Double Coat. You can buy their Tim Tam in supermarkets or convenience stores. If you want to taste Australia in a chocolate or biscuit, this is your go-to souvenir!
Price: As low as A$2 or A$3 per pack (₱80 or ₱120)
10. Postcards (Europe)
This could apply to any other country, but of all the countries and continents I’ve been to, Europe has the most beautiful and creative postcards I’ve ever seen, and they won’t even cost you much. It’s the easiest thing to buy on this list too, just drop by any souvenir stand or kiosk. Now that messages are sent online, postcards, handwritten notes and letters have an even bigger impact and significant meaning. Buying the postcard, writing down a brief note, and sending it in the local post office is already an extra effort that your loved ones back home will surely appreciate. And who in the Philippines nowadays gets postcards from Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam or wherever it is in Europe you’re going to? Not much. It’s a unique souvenir to personalize and send home — one that can hold sentimental value for years to come.
Price: From €0.90 to €17 on average depending on the size (₱58 to ₱1,088.74)
You’ll be surprised just what cool and useful items you can buy with the value of our travel tax. ₱1,620 can cover a lot, and these are only a few notable souvenirs around the world for your consideration. Go ahead and find out what else you can buy as pasalubong to your loved ones with the given budget!