Notre-Dame de Paris

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Notre-Dame de Paris also was known as Notre-Dame Cathedral. It’s deified to the Virgin Mary. It is one of the most well-known Paris landmarks which symbolized the city.

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The Notre-dame cathedral sits on a small island called the Ile de la Cite in the middle of river Seine, one of the most ancient sacred places in Paris whereby the French history started.

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It is also one of the largest and one of the most famous Cathedrals of the world.
The total surface area is 5,500 m² (interior surface 4,800 m²) big enough to accommodate 9000 thousand people.

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The construction was started in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was finally completed in 1345. As of this year 2017, Notre-Dame de Paris was celebrating it’s 854 years.

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Stepping inside the beautiful Gothic church of Notre Dame Cathedral doesn’t have fees to access but I suggest to go early if possible to be able to move around the church without bumping into someone every time you turn.

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Once you get in, you will see the church’s magnificent sculptures, a stained glass window and don’t miss the Rose Window which particularly reflected of Gothic architecture and may be seen in all the major Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France and Christian churches all over the world.

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The church has 10 bells with different sizes and names: Marie, Gabriel, Anne Geneviève, Denis, Marcel, Étienne, Benoît-Joseph, Maurice, Jean-Marie and the largest name to Emmanuel. Emmanuel bell is always rung first at least 5 seconds before the others.

The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps of spiral staircases to access the bell tower. It’s a separate visit and there will be a charge of 8.50 euros for the adult.

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The entrance to the stairs is located outside the church. I see people are queuing up early to access the bell tower from the outside of the church. Please take note, there is a limit number of people admitted daily so try to get in the queue early as possible.

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The Cathedral is open daily from 8:00am to 6:45pm with a 7:15pm closing time on Saturdays & Sundays.

The number of statues which overlook the city from the balcony of the South Tower is absolutely breathtaking. There will be Gargoyle (a statue with wings and horns), Wyvern (a two-footed dragon) and a kind of goat demon looking over the balcony and you wouldn’t miss the spectacular view of the entire city of Paris.

 

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You should probably hear about the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. There are cartoons and movies inspired by. However, It’s still the French Gothic Architecture that remains to be the most attractive to all the visitors across the globe, until today.

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Beware of pickpockets. There will be a lot of people in this place and you would not know who are the pickpockets one.

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Stay away from a group of child scammers too, they will be asking for ‘donations’ which some kind of petition and would not leave you alone.

Like in any other places with lots of people around, there are no guarantees so it’s best to be careful and keep an eye on your surroundings.

My final thoughts:
It’s very impressive, inside and outside. It’s absolutely worth a visit.
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The Duomo in Milan, Italy

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Duomo di Milano view at night

The Duomo di Milano or Milan Cathedral is the most famous landmark in Milan, Italy. It is made of pink-veined white marble. The largest church in Italy measuring 520 feet by 302 feet. It is also the 5th largest church in the world, big enough to accommodate 40 thousand people. No wonder the construction works were prolonged over nearly six centuries.

This is me and the central door behind me. It’s a “stories from the life of Mary” and it was carved with floral Gothic reliefs in 1906 by Ludovico Pogliaghi.

It’s very impressive, inside and outside. Needless to say, it is really astounding. The Duomo sits on the grand Piazza del Duomo and it’s just beside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is right in the middle of the city and easy to get to. The Duomo is on the grand square so you can really see the physical of the structure which may surprise you when you stand outside.

It’s free to enter if you just wander around inside. There will be a charge if you want to enter the Treasury or Crypt (located inside the church) or access the Duomo roof (lift and stairs access is located outside of the church).

There will be a queue outside the church to go inside, there are police guarding the doors who have to ensure you’ve dressed appropriately, no off shoulders, mini-skirts, and shorts so remember to take a scarf or have your shoulders covered otherwise you will not be allowed in. They will check your bags, food or drinks are strictly prohibited too. I also noticed the signboards to advise people to turn off cell phones or lower down the volume and not to take photographs with flash inside the church.

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Statue of “St. Bartholomew flayed” wrapped in his own skin, by Marco d’Agrate.

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Once you get in, you will see the church’s magnificent sculptures in the frames and windows, decorations on the facade, beautiful layers of architecturally detailed pinnacles and huge patrimony of statues approximately 1,100 on the inside and  2,300 outside, massive paintings and several tombs of archbishops.

To access the rooftop terrace of the Duomo, you can either use stairs to the top for 5 euros or take the lift for 8 euros, open daily from 9:00 AM  to 5:30 PM.

You can admire and take a wonderful panorama shot of the entire city of Milan from the rooftop terrace, you would be able to see more details sculptures and marble carvings. The number of statues at the roof and the craftsmanship is absolutely breathtaking.

Beautiful Milan is a big city and attracts attention for its rich history and devotion to fashion. We as a traveler we want to make sure our journey to the heart of northern Italy is as safe as possible. You have to be extra careful as you are more exposed to pickpockets and sellers especially in Piazza Duomo.

There are 2 types of the seller in this place that you need to be aware of. One is the corn seed seller and another one is the bracelet seller.

Pigeons are everywhere and they’ll be flocking around the Piazza Duomo and this is where the corn seed sellers come in, they are everywhere too! They tend to grab your hand and when you open your hand they will drop the corn seed and whistles. Next thing you’ll know your arms are covered by pigeons and the seller will offer to take pictures of you while the pigeons are busy eating corn seeds.
Your camera will be given back to you of course but they will charge you 20 euros for the experience, clever isn’t?!

Here come’s the bracelet seller. There will be men who will try to put a leather bracelet or some kind of string bracelet on your arm and when he’s tying the bracelet on you they will tell you it’s free. The moment you start leaving they will start chasing you and ask you to pay 20 euros. They are very sneaky!
They can be very pushy and demand you to buy, so beware of these sellers.
A polite no is normally enough for them to leave you alone.

I hope this would help to give you some ideas and not ruin your experience. You just need to be aware of the pitfalls of traveling but relax and enjoy.

Final thought: I’m glad that I experienced and visit this place and I would love to come and visit again.

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Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn has such a simple beauty that it hardly seems real. A bohemian canal, small wooden bridges, vivid flowers and pretty thatched-roof farmhouses and a fairytale-like garden. I felt like I was in a completely different time period! It was absolutely stunning!

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Giethoorn Village known as “the Venice of the North”, a magical Village in the Netherlands with no roads available but canals instead. The waterways or canals are the roads as it were.

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A waterfront village located in the Dutch province of Overijssel and its 110km from Amsterdam. If driving will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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This place has about 2,620 citizens who live in thatched-roof cottages. Many of these homes are hidden among the trees and wooden bridges. These homes are connected by small rivers, a bike path and 176 wooden arch bridges as it’s the only way to reach many houses, other than by boat.

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The only way to navigate most of the town is by boat. Even the postman still delivers mail to local residents by boat.

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To explore the villages of canals and thatched-roof houses, you must either walk, cycle or ride a boat.

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If you opt to explore around the village by boat, there are environmentally friendly whisper boats that can be hired. Whisper boats are open for rental which equipped with silent electric motors.

There are bikes to rent too if you want to explore the village on land.

The village is quite small. You could see everything in just a few hours but if you’d like to stay overnight, or even longer, there are several hotels and bed & breakfasts to choose from.

Cruising on the canals & lake is an unforgettable experience. Well worth a visit.

We were so thankful to have Cherry as our tour guide during this trip to Giethoorn. She’s very friendly and passionate about making the experience perfect for everyone, she speaks English fluently too.

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Me and my husband with Cherry holding the wine glass and Pier our tour driver.

Highly recommended Cherry Travel & Tours if you want to visit this fairytale place.

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15 Packing Tips For Travel

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Photo by STIL on Unsplash

I’m about to embark on my most epic holiday. So I’m quite excited to pack my things.

This time I’ll be travelling for almost 3 weeks, means I have more clothing’s to pack and I’ll be moving from 1 location to another location by train+air bus.

The trouble mostly occur when changing location, as each flight and trains that I’m taking have set a different baggage policies, so I need to ensure that my luggage would not exceed my baggage limit. Hence, it becomes a major operation for me.

Some people say, packing should be quick and easy. Unfortunately, a well-organized packing is not that simple but with the right planning can save you from stress and enjoy your trip even more.

I have list down a few packing tips to streamline your packing and prevent some troubles on your upcoming trip.

  1. Pack your things according to your baggage allowance. If possible, consider to purchase light luggage.
  2. Pack ahead, start your packing process days or even weeks ahead of your departure date to ensure that you won’t miss anything to bring.
  3. Roll Everything, this will give you more space rather than folding it. This will work for soft fabric and denim which less likely to wrinkle.
  4. Pack more tops than bottoms.
  5. Pack a pair of jeans that you can reuse.
  6. Choose the garments that can be mixed and matched. I always choose a neutral colors garments like brown, grey, black or white whenever I travel. These colors are easy to match with, so we don’t need to pack more.
  7. Bring layers rather and leave bulky sweaters. Choose the thin cardigans or jacket that you can restyle instead.
  8. Keep a few and very light nighties for sleeping as you still can re-use it for few days.
  9. When packing a pair of shoes, choose the flat one or which can go along with any of your clothes. You might need to consider a sneakers which also a statement pieces on and off the street.
  10. Leave your hair dryer at home and use the one at the hotel. We can actually call ahead (or check online) to confirm whether there’ll be a hairdryer in the room. If they don’t provide one, get yourself a foldable travel-size hair dryer.
  11. Get a small travel size bottles to decrease toiletry weight for your shampoo, conditioner, toner etc. You won’t need a full-size bottle for a trip.
    If possible, you can skip shampoo and conditioner and use the one provided by your accommodation.
  12. If you can manage, leave your laptop at home and use a tablet instead.
  13. Wear your heavier pieces when taking flight. This will give your luggage bag more space and lesser weight.
  14. Fill in your shoes, with your underwear, socks, toiletry items and electronics items to organize and compress.
  15. Weigh your bag before you fly to ensure you don’t get into trouble at the check in counter.

Hopefully, this was helpful and have given you a few ideas to save you from over packing and prevent some troubles on your upcoming trip.

If you’ve done this post please don’t hesitate to share it below, I would honestly love to read it.

Much love and thanks for reading!
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A Must Have In My Bag When I Travel

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Today’s post is “A Must Have In My Bag” which is basically the things that I carry around with me at all times when I’m walking around and exploring a new places or travel. I and my husband is going for a short trip soon and this is what inspired me to write this post and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I am not a frequent traveler by any means, but I’ve traveled enough to the point that I’ve completely listed down the essentials that I must have in my bag when I travel.
I actually don’t like to carry around too much in my bag mostly because I often switching bags and don’t want to deal with the entire transfer process each time because I always packed few bags (at least 3) whenever I travel. So let’s get into it.

Pouch 1: I actually have 2 pouches in my bag one is the pouch where I kept those small things such as band-aids, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, hairbrush and perfume as I don’t like too much clutter to overload my bag.

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Pouch 2: My makeup kit. I literally know that I’m not going to be reapplying makeup while I’m walking around except for lipstick as it only takes a few seconds to reapply when it comes off after I eat. However, we never know when we might need it, so I always carry a couple of beauty products with me.

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Wallet: This is actually a day to day essentials and I bet you can’t go anywhere without this right? I like small wallet as it can easily fit if I’m using a small bag.

Phone: I bet you also wouldn’t leave your house without this right?!

Power Bank: This is one of the important things that you must have whenever you travel, we never know when we really need it. So just in case your phone running out of battery you still have a backup.

Mint: Bad breath after a meal or a long sleep on a flight/bus is really a turn-off, so we should always have some mints or gum in a bag to smell fresh breath.

Pen: I always kept a pen inside my bag when I travel. Sometimes we need this when there are forms to fill up like the Embarkation Form required upon arrival.

Hair Brush: I’m sure you wouldn’t want your hair to be messed up after few hours sleep on a flight, bus or tube/train right? I love this compact Tangle Teezer brush because the bristles have a little cover on it so it won’t damage any other things inside my bag.

Band-Aids: Always pack this ahead. I remember during our trip to Macau last year. We walked and explored so many places by foot and I developed blisters and can no longer walk around as active as I could. Ended up we had to hunt for drug store just to buy band-aids. So if you are planning on an active vacation or just walking around and exploring, you need to have this always in your bag.

Hand Sanitizer: I’m just trying to be proactive as I can to avoid germs which lead to minor cold after being exposed in a confined space for hours. When soap and water are not available we can use this to kill bacteria and virus present on our skin. Bought this sanitizer from Bath & Body Works.

Perfume: Travel-sized perfume or body spray – you wouldn’t want to smell like the cabin after a long plane ride. So pack your travel size perfume.

Wet Wipes: These works wonder especially for ladies and when you are walking around all day and just want to cool off. Use this to wipe your arms and legs it will help to freshen you up in the middle of the day.

Hopefully, this was helpful and have given you a few ideas of what item you might need to pack and prevent some troubles on your upcoming trip.
If you’ve done this post please don’t hesitate to share it below, I would honestly love to read it.

Much love and thanks for reading!
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How to apply for a tourist Schengen Visa at the Netherlands embassy 

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Philippine passport holders are required Schengen visa to visit one or more of the states in the Schengen Region in Europe. The Schengen area consists of these countries. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Hungary.

There are several types of visa but I’ll be focusing on Tourist Schengen Visa. This visa is valid in all Schengen states for a stay up to 90 days within a six-month period for a visit, tourism or business.

Which Country you should submit your visa application?
You should submit your visa application to the country where you will stay longer. So if you’re planning to spend 5 days in Netherlands and 4 days in France, you should apply in the Netherlands. If you are staying an equal number of days in every country, you should choose the one you are going first.

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your travel plan.
Example: You can submit your application by May if you plan to travel in August.

I’m currently residing in Malaysia so my application has been submitted to The Netherlands Embassy and applied through official partner VFS Global located in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

To begin with the application, please refer on below steps:

Application Form
Complete your visa application form and attach your photo. You may download the form from this website.
You have to ensure that you provide all the required documents.

Appointment
Book your appointment at Visa Application Center.
Submit your application and enroll your bio-metric on the day of your appointment at the Visa Application Center

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING TO THE APPOINTMENT?

    • A printed and signed copy of your Schengen visa application form
    • Your current valid passport  (Note: The Netherlands Embassy will retain your passport until they have reached a decision on your visa application.)
    • Previous passports
    • Confirmation of legal residence, if you are not a national of the country in which you are applying ( Your holding Visa if you’re not in the Philippines) or your right to reside there is not included in your passport.
    • Original supporting documents, with photocopies.
    • A printed copy of the supporting document checklist.
    • Cash for your visa application fee.
    • Travel insurance that covers the entire duration of your intended stay with minimum coverage EUR 30,000.
    • 1 recent photograph (not more than 6 months old) according to on below specification.
      Photograph Strict Specification
      Taken against a light grey or cream background;
      Clear and of good quality;
      Printed on normal photographic paper;
      45 mm high x 35 mm wide in size
      Taken with nothing covering the face, without sunglasses or tinted spectacles, or a head covering unless worn for religious or medical reasons. The subject should have their mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eyebrows) and the applicant should be facing forwarding, looking straight ahead.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
These are the types of documents that you may need to provide which help to consider your application. You must show evidence that you have ties either in Philippines or Malaysia and you are coming back home such as below.

  • Family ties evidence (marriage certificate, proof of relation etc.)
  • Assets and this includes a land or house title, mortgage or investments that you have.
  • Proof of earnings such as certificate of employment (detailing your role, salary, length of employment and company contact details), leave of absence, payslips etc.
  • Documents that show you are capable of supporting yourself while in Schengen region without the need to find employment and these could be Bank statements (3 months), credit cards, etc.
  • You also need to submit details of accommodation plans and trip itinerary.
  • Previous travel documents/passports, which show previous travel.

If you’re not paying for your own way, or have friend(s) or relatives who are either in the Schengen region at the time of your visit is providing financial support to you, should present them with the following documents:

  • Valid Citizen/Residence ID or Passport
  • Bank Statement (3 months)
  • Address and contact details
  • Proof of relation
  • Invitation letter stating their support

If Self-employed Business registration documents confirming the business owner’s name and the date the business started trading.
All these should be submitted to the appointment.

HOW MUCH IS SCHENGEN VISA FOR PHILIPPINE PASSPORT HOLDERS?
Tourist Visa {short term up to 90 days} 69.00 USD.

HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE?
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your travel plan.
Example: You can submit your application by May if you plan to travel in August.

AFTER SUBMISSION
You can choose to have an SMS & Email updates to track your application at the time of submission at Visa Application Centre but this has additional charges. You can also track your application status on VFS website, using passport & Reference Number. During the collection of passport at Visa application centre, the officer may verify the identity of the person who’s collecting your passport on your behalf with the Receipt and ID card.

WAITING FOR RESULT
The Standard Service will process within 15 working days. In my case, I have submitted my documents to Visa Application Centre in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on 29 June 2017.
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I opted to have an SMS & Email updates. On the 10th July 2017, I received an email from VFS Global that my application is ready for collection. collectionAfter a decision has been made, your documents will be delivered to you by post, or you can collect your documents personally from the visa application centre.
I collected mine on the next day and I’m so happy that they have granted multiple entry visa.

Note: They would not notify you whether your application has been approved or refused before the collection.

If you have no idea on how to make a travel itinerary or those who are asking for the sample, please refer to the image below for your reference.

excel format itinerary

It’s in excel format, if any of you wants it, you may contact me on below contact form and I will email it to you. You just need to change the details and fill in the dates according to your travel schedules with specific information such as flight confirmation number or hotel booking no.

VFS Global Netherlands Visa Application Center – Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Address:
Suite 19-04,19th Floor
Wisma MCA, 163 Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Submission of Application: 09:00 to 15:00
Passport Collection: 15:00 to 17:00
Office Hour: Monday to Friday (Except Public Holidays)

VFS Global Netherlands Visa Application Center Manila
Address:
VFS Global Office Address:
Netherlands Visa Application Centre,
Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg.,
Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
1231 Philippines

Submission (Regular Appointment)    07:00- 13:00 (Monday – Friday)
Submission (VIP Premium Lounge)    07:00- 15:00 (Monday – Friday)
Submission (Primetime Appointment) 16:00 – 18:00 (Monday – Friday)
Passport Collection   14:00 – 16:00 (Monday – Friday)

Good luck to those who are applying soon!
If you have more questions or something to add to this post, please comment on the section below.


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Australian Tourist Visa: How To Apply Online

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Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash


Australian tourist visa is one of the easiest visas that we can get if you are holding a Philippine passport like me.
You can also opt to submit your visa application via VFS Global Malaysia or VFS Global Philippines However, online application is more hassle-free as you can submit your application without getting out from your house.


First, you need to determine what kind of visa you need. If you are applying for tourist visa then you need to choose Visitor Visa (Subclass 600). This mainly for people traveling to Australia for a holiday, recreation or to visit family and friends and for other purposes not related to business or medical treatment. You can actually use the Visa Finder to see what options are available for you. I’m currently residing in Malaysia so my application has been submitted to Australian Embassy located in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

1. Lodge your application online

To begin with your application you will need to access to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. If you do not have an ImmiAccount you will be prompted to create one.
This will be your primary contact point any update about your application will be sent to this email including the acknowledgment of receipt of your application and the actual visa grant.
So you need to ensure that you type in your email address correctly and check this email regularly.

Application Form

Once you have created an ImmiAccount, you can start filling up your application Form 1419, even if you have not completed compiling your documents yet. You need to provide all the information required to complete your visa application. This includes your relevant details such as personal information, plan travel dates, financial capabilities, etc.
It is advisable to fill in all the information and add in as much as possible before you submit your application. Applications with missing information might take longer to finalize.
You need to ensure that the information you have given or declared in your application form will match the supporting documents that you are submitting.
You can save each page of your application as you go along and come back to it if you want to check and make changes at a later stage when you have more time.

Once you are ready to submit your application and upload your supporting documents, just click on Submit.

Here is the list of the documents that you need to submit. Remember that this varies depending on your circumstances. You’re not required to submit all of these, but it is advisable that you submit as much of supporting documents as you can to prove how you are going to fund your travel to Australia and you have a strong reason to come back to your home country.

Personal Documents:
Original passport
2 original passport size photographs
Certified copy of Birth Certificate
Photocopy of the personal details page of both old and new passport

Financial Documents
Bank Certificate 
Bank book history or Bank statement (3 months) 
Copy of last 3 months payslip
Latest Income Tax Return (BIR Form 2316)
Copy of credit card statements (preferably last 3 months)

Other supporting documents
Certificate of Employment issued by your employer
Support for approved leave 
Car registration (if you have any)
Other supporting documents to show that you have an incentive and authority to return to your home country

Trip documents
Flight information (if you already had it booked)
Hotel/accommodation information (if booked)
Travel insurance (if any) If you have a sponsor in Australia (either Australian citizen or permanent resident), their invitation letter for you

Supporting documents of your sponsor such as Copy of his or her passport, Land tittle (if any), certificate of employment, contact address, phone no.
A travel itinerary during your visit (ideally showing when, where and what you will be visiting).
Previous passport along with the pages detailing your travel history.
Any bookings or travel inquiries you have made in relation to your trip.
Evidence showing your relationship with your sponsor (such as birth certificate, photos for example and giving a brief caption to it).

2. Upload the required documents
You will be asked for a scanned copy of all your documents to upload.

3. Pay
Once the documents have been uploaded online, I suggest to double check your application form and uploaded documents then only proceed to payment.
An online application can only pay using the credit card. The cost will vary depending on the visa that you are seeking and the exchange rate for the day, a surcharge will apply to the credit card too.

You are done! Once you have submitted your application, you should receive an Acknowledgment Receipt of your application in your email. You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. I got mine in 4 days.

Below is the Australian Electronic Visa looks like that you will receive thru email. You just need to print it out and bring a copy and show to the Immigration Officer during your airport clearance.

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If you have more questions or something to add to this post, please comment on the section below. Good luck to those who are applying soon!
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