I retired from my job in the United Arab Emirates 1st of August 2014. Before returning to the Philippines for good, I thought it would be nice to have a quick getaway. It was going to be my nine-month old granddaughter’s first airplane ride and trip outside of the UAE where she was born. We had just gotten her passport stamped with a residence permit so we were so excited planning for this trip. My daughter and her best friend took a few days off from work for this Girls-Only getaway. A trip to Georgia fitted well with the time frame that we had, so off we flew – three women with a little girl in tow.
How do I Get There?
If you are a Philippine passport holder, residing in the Philippines, you need to secure an electronic visit visa to Georgia via VisaHQ before you fly. However, if you have a valid multiple tourist visa issued by any of these countries – USA, Canada, Schengen, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Israel, UK, Japan, or a valid GCC residence visa, you will be granted an entry permit by the Immigration Officer on duty upon your arrival at Tbilisi International Airport.
When we flew there in August 2014, we took advantage of the promo air fare offered by Fly Dubai. If you are flying from Manila, here are the top three airlines that you can choose from. I suggest you contact them personally to validate this information as it might have changed at the time of your intended holiday.
- Philippine Airlines (PR) with 21 flights every month
- Qatar Airways (QR) with 13 flights every month
- Air China (CA) with 8 flights every month
Where Should I Stay?
Because we traveled with an infant we opted to stay in a 1BR deluxe apartelle with a kitchenette that we can use to sterilize feeding bottles and boil drinking water for the baby’s milk formula. The Citadines City Centre Tbilisi which is located at the Freedom Square was perfect for us. Its location is at the heart of the city and within easy access by foot to the underground railway, and different dining, shopping, museum, and entertainment establishments. If you are traveling alone or with an adult companion and prefer to stay in a hotel, Courtyard by Marriott Tbilisi is the best choice. It is located in the same area, and right in front of the apartelle where we stayed.
How Much Does It Cost?
The actual cost of this trip is entirely up to your preference. Meaning to say, it depends on how much you are willing to spend. For budgeting purposes, I hope the following estimate helps. The rates are calculated based on Oanda Currency Converter foreign exchange rates at the time of writing.
Return Air Fare Manila-Tblisi-Manila: P45’000 – P61’000 (depending on airline and travel date)
Tourist Visa Fees & Photo: P4’100
Travel Insurance: You have two options.
1 Basic 24 days coverage in the total amount of EUR30’000 = Premium P2’600;
2 Prestige Plus 24 days coverage in the total amount of EUR60’000 = Premium P3’100
Apartelle (Studio): P3’700-P4’500 per night (sleeps 2 guests)
Courtyard By Marriott (Deluxe Double or Twin): P10’700-P13’000 per night
Meals (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner): P1’000 – P2’000 per day
Full Service Car Rent with Driver: P2’500 per day (for out of town unguided tour)
Cab Service around the city: P100 – P250, average cost, depending on route
Metro fare rail service: P10.50 minimum
Taxify (similar to Uber and GrabCar): fair price, peak and off-peak hours
When Is the Best Time to Go?
There are no peak or off travel seasons in Georgia, or its capital Tbilisi. You can visit it anytime during the year according to your convenience, preferred climate, and weather. This beautiful country has four different seasons. Most of my friends have traveled there at different times of the year.
Spring (March – May)
This is the time when the weather is not too hot nor too cold, with frequent rainfall during the latter part of the season. When traveling during this time, be sure to pack a complete rain gear.
Summer (June – August)
With an average temperature from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, it is pleasantly warm at this time of the year. Thus, the resorts are generally crowded with tourists hanging out. However, the coastal areas are usually humid.
Autumn (September – November)
Frequent rainfalls are expected in Autumn. Therefore, you need to pack quick-dry type of clothing and waterproof footwear. You will be greeted by multi-colored trees when you arrive. During your stay, be prepared to stroll around the city’s frost-covered grounds when it’s not raining.
Winter (December – February)
With temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius, wintertime in Georgia can be very cold. At night time, the temperature dips at below zero. Snowfall is a common sight, and you will notice the presence of winter sports enthusiasts. Needless to say, it is leather-weather at this time of the year.
What Should I Wear?
Based on the season and your tolerance to the range of temperature at the time of your travel, you can decide on what clothing to wear. There is none that will perfectly suit each season, because the climate can change anytime. I guess, layering can be useful. It will allow you to add on as you deem appropriate. One example is a pashmina scarf, or shawl in neutral color. If visiting religious sites is in your itinerary, be sure to wear a modest outfit as a sign of respect to their faith and culture.
I’m old. Do I Have To Walk A Lot?
The pathways around Tbilisi are wide and stroll-friendly. It is best to explore the city by foot. One thing I love about traveling is the opportunity to indulge in a physical exercise by way of walking, an activity that I would be lazy to do in my country. This way, I come home more fit than I was before my trip. You don’t have to walk a lot if you don’t want to. There are enough transport facilities that you can choose from. But why travel in the first place if you’re just stuck inside the car all throughout your journey?
If you are like me who take pleasure in joining walking tours, do remember to wear a comfortable non-slip and with soft cushion insoles pair of walking shoes. I recommend the classic Italian-made Tod’s. I bought mine 12 years ago, and they’re still okay despite many years of use. Another footwear brand worth mentioning is Timberland Earthkeepers. I have two pairs of them, the Classic Lace-up 6-inch Waterproof Boots. If you have an issue carrying loads of heavy stuff, I suggest you pair these footwear with a small sized cross-body bag just enough to keep a copy of your ID and a small purse.
Is It Safe for Women and Senior Travelers?
As I have mentioned earlier, we were all women, and I was in my late 50’s. We also traveled with a nine-month old baby girl. One of the safest city in Europe, never have I felt any sign of danger while we were there. Based on my experience, the people were generally conservative, hospitable, and friendly.