PLACES TO VISIT IN PHNOM PENN AND SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

DSC02405-01

Cambodia is home to majestic and stunning temples of the world. Travelers and backpackers doing Indochina trip do not just pass by this country but they surely include it in their itinerary. Who would want to miss one of the best temples of the world made popular by Angelina Jolie’s movie, Tomb Raider. Although the country had been in dark years due to the abuse and inhumane actions done by their previous leader, Khmers are thriving to move forward from the past building a brighter future. Now, people flock here not just to do volunteer work but also to see the places this country can offer.

PHNOM PENH

DSC00604-01

The capital city of Cambodia, a small city with 1.6 million people. A lot of expatriates live here doing volunteer work filling the gap and helping the country progress. When we were here it was a week-long holiday that’s why it looks and feels like a ghost town. Most business establishments are closed and food prices are a bit inflated with a $3 (PHP 150) sandwich in a convenient store. Tuktuk (motor taxi) is their main public transportation. Although there are city buses around, I heard they are not commonly used. During the rainy months of June to December expect that some roads are flooded and can’t be accessed on foot. On our first night we were also greeted with floods, so we can’t walk searching for a place to eat but that’s fine we were able to walk on the following places as they are next to each other.

PLACES TO VISIT

INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT

DSC02352-01

One of the famous landmark in Phnom Penh built in 1958 with a mix of modern and ancient Cambodian architecture. It is gigantic and sits in the middle of the main road and now serves as a place for official activities in the country

NORODOM SIHANOUK STATUE

DSC02378-01

Few steps from the Independence Monument you can find King Father Norodom Sihanuok Statue. King Norodom Sihanuok is the king of Cambodia from 1941-1955 and 1993 to 2004. He is a legendary hero for Cambodians because of his campaign against French occupation.

ROYAL PALACE

DSC00568-01

Not far from the Norodom Sihanouk Statue you will find the complex of buildings that serve as the official residence of the King. Strict dress code is implemented here as a sign of respect for the sacredness of the place.

Entrance Fee: $6

WAT OUNALOM

DSC02422-01

One of Phnom Penh’s five original monasteries, it serves as headquarter of Cambodia’s head Buddhist brotherhood. When we were roaming around the area a monk called us and open one of the temple which serve as a prayer room. He told us to say our wish to Buddha then he whisk water on us while chanting “Goodluck! Goodluck!”.

WAT PHNOM

DSC02433-01

The central point of the city and its namesake. The temple located on a hill in the heart of the city is believed to be protected by Buddha’s holiness and is remarkable for its historical importance.

Entrance Fee: $ 1

SIEM REAP

DSC02765-01

Siem Reap province is located in northwest Cambodia. It is the major tourist hub in Cambodia, as it is the city of the world famous temple, Angkor Wat! There’s nothing much to do in this place aside from the night life in Pub Street and Angkor Wat tour, however I find this city more interesting and way cheaper than Phnom Penh. One dollar goodies are everywhere such as snacks, pancake, and exotic food. One of the most interesting thing I did, is ate baby spider in Pub Street. It was tasty but I have to warn you because after 30 minutes my allergy starts to build up and my whole face became reddish and itchy. Aside from those here are some other places to visit in Siem Reap.

PLACES TO VISIT

PUB STREET

DSC02455-01

It’s the heart of Siem Reap. Just like other walking streets in Southeast Asia, it has lively nightlife composed of bars, clubs, restaurants, street food and entertainment. Draft beers are everywhere for $0.50 (PHP 25). It is close to souvenir markets and food stalls, so everything you are looking for is here.

KING’S ROAD MADE IN CAMBODIA MARKET

DSC02499-01

It is absolutely worth your time. This is in stark contrast to every other market in town, where the majority of the wares sold are generic made in China, Vietnam or Thailand. Everything sold here are definitely made in Cambodia. From food, art, clothing, homewares, cosmetics, toys, jewelry and more, this is one best way to market and support the authentic product of the country.

WAT PREAH PROM RATH

DSC02512-01

The modern temple grounds give few hints as to its 500 year history. Though the lotus-themed architecture seems to emulate temples from over the border, the front gate integrates bayon-style heads and a scene in relief of the Buddha seated under a tree. We accidentally discovered this place on our way to the Royal Garden. We were hesitant to enter but a friendly monk approached us and took the time to talk with us. We had a short chat about his life as a monk until we waved goodbye.

ROYAL GARDEN

DSC02566-01

A 15-minute stroll north from the Old Market, along the shady west bank of the Siem Reap River, you will find a restful area from the dusty streets of downtown. A good place to hang out if you ran out of place to visit in Siem Reap. On the Southern part of the garden lies the royal residence building which is not open to public. Local sellers start to approach tourists to sell their products which are way cheaper than local markets.

ANGKOR WAT TOUR

The grandest temple I ever saw in my life. I do have a feeling that this is not just a temple but a residence or an empire to previous Khmer King. I am amazed on how the building is constructed and built. It made me time traveled from the past and curious about how Khmers live thousand years ago.

We took a day-pass tour in which we explored 3 main temples Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. We hired a tuktuk driver for a day through our hotel in Siem Reap. Although tour agencies offer a day tour in Angkor Wat with hotel pick up and English Speaking guide for $20-35 per pax. I find it more convenient and cheaper to do the former. We started at 8 am from our hotel then first drove to Srah Srang.

SRAH SRANG

DSC02582-01

It is a chapel as they say to Kama, God of Love. It has a lake and surrounded with trees and a perfect spot to witness the sunrise.

Our driver asked us to enter the temple across the chapel and meet him from the opposite side. Then he drove us to our next destination.

TA PROHM

DSC02670-01

This temple is one of the most marketed by tour agencies. They call it Tomb Raider temple since this is where Tomb Raider movie was filmed. Undoubtedly the most atmospheric ruin, a very mesmerizing place with grown trees around the temple walls. Visitor can’t help to wonder how old these gigantic trees are.

ANGKOR THOM

DSC02802-01

Another impressive place worth the time to explore. While we were entering the huge gate I was wondering, is this a city, an empire or a royal residence? Later I have known that this was the last capital of Khmer Empire. A city where priest, officials of the palace and military lives. There are numerous royal residences enclosed in its huge gates however most of them are under construction when we were there and are closed for safety purposes. Still, I am amazed on how the buildings are beautifully designed, constructed and how they are situated in the heart of the forest.

ANGKOR WAT

DSC02860-01

Angkor Wat is the largest monument of the Angkor group and the best preserved. It is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief’s and sculpture make it one of the finest monuments in the world.

Before we enter our last destination for this tour, our driver told us that most of his clients told him that it is the best temple they saw in their entire life. We kinda raise our expectation upon crossing the lake in front of the temple entering  the west gate because of what he said. It is too huge that my knees gave up from all the walking and climbing up the stairs to reach the top. As to what our driver said before, I think it all boils down to preference. While my travel partner is so much impressed with Angkor Wat, I am totally hooked with Angkor Thom.

Entrance fee: $37 (1 day pass)

Tuktuk fee: $13

 

 

TRAVELING 5 COUNTRIES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA IN 30 DAYS UNDER PHP 50,000

DSC03309-01

Southeast Asia is one of the most popular backpacking travel destination. Aside from it is cheap, it is also accessible by land. One popular route backpackers usually take is the Indochina route which includes Vietnam, Cambodia,Laos and Thailand. These countries are next to each other so it can be easily traveled by land. The fact that direct flights from Philippines to Vietnam and Thailand are cheap, it is a very attractive and affordable route for Filipinos who wants to try backpacking for 15-30 days. In our case we followed Indochina route but we also added 1 country, Indonesia.

OUR ROUTE

DSC02053-01

We first started our journey flying direct from Manila, Philippines to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam via Cebu Pacific.

HO CHI MINH A.K.A SAIGON, VIETNAM

DSC02077-01
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

This city in the south of Vietnam is home to Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, a famous landmark in the city built by French during their occupation in Vietnam. For 5 days in this city, we spent around Php 7,500  for food, transportation and tours for 2 people. A decent fried rice meal, noodle soup or sandwich a.k.a banh my cost VND 20,000- 50,000 (Php 50- 100). City buses are also available around the city for only VND 5,000- 6,000 or Php 10- 12 while motorbike ride (Xie Ohm) may cost VND 30,000- 50,000 (PHP 60-100). Private double room cost VND 300,000 (Php 600) per night but you can also book a dorm room which cost cheaper. One full day city or Mekong River tour with free lunch will cost USD 9- 30 depending on the agency. I suggest that you pay your travel agency in USD since it is accepted and to be safe. There might be instances that the agent will give you a wrong conversion and you will end up paying more than the actual price. Believe me, I experienced that before.

After spending 5 days in Ho Chi Minh city we took a 6-hour bus crossing Moc Bai Border to Phnom Penh, Cambodia through a travel agency near our hotel.

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA

DSC02405-01

The worst mistake we did in this city is booking our guesthouse far from the city center. Accommodations in Phnom Penh are cheap but be sure to book it in the center or near the sites.  Since city buses here are not really used, we are left with no choice but to hire a tuktuk (motor taxi) which cost USD 5 (PHP 250) each ride but be sure to haggle first as it may go down to USD 3-4. During our stay here, it was a week-long holiday which make it like a ghost town. Most business establishments are closed and the price of food is way too inflated. I remember 2 pieces of grilled fish in a local market cost USD 8 (PHP 400). The convenient stores are also out of stock with food supplies which made our food options very limited. Eating in a local restaurant or street food stall will cost at least USD 3-6 (PHP 150-300) per meal. I don’t know if it is because the long holiday that made this prices too high because for 3 days we spent USD 70.4 (PHP 3,520) for food and transportation alone.

*Note: Khmer Real (KHR) is the currency of Cambodia but USD is widely accepted everywhere.

From Phnom Penh we took another 6- hour bus to Siem Reap.

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

DSC02860-01
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The home of UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat! Gladly this city has lower cost of living than Phnom Penh despite being more touristic and interesting. The average meal cost USD 1.5-3 (PHP 75-150)and street food choices for only USD 1. If you stay near the city center in Pub Street you don’t need to hire a tuk tuk because the markets and restaurants are on foot away. Half day or whole day tours are available through agencies or tuk tuk drivers from USD 13- 35 each depending on the tour.

From Siem Reap we took a bus to cross the border to Laos and boat to reach the island of Don Det.

SI PHAN DON (4000 ISLAND), LAOS

DSC02981-01
Don Det, 4000 Island, Laos

I must say this island will get you disconnected to the outside world. There’s nothing much to see in this island. Although activities such as kayaking, tubing and Irrawaddy dolphin watching are available, most travelers stop in this place to enjoy the slow phase of time and lie on the hammock outside their bungalow. Laos is more expensive country than the rest of Southeast Asia, because most of their basic commodities like diesel are imported. Expect that the South of Laos is more costly compared to the rest. The food options are also limited with sandwich, fried rice, fried noodles, soup and Indian food which ranges from LAK 10,000- 50,000 (PHP 60- 300) each meal. However since it is lean season when we were here, so our accommodation which is a bungalow by the river with a perfect sunrise view only cost LAK 50,000 (PHP 300) a night. There are tuk tuks in the island but travelers either usually rent a bicycle for LAK 10,000 (PHP 60) or motorcycle for LAK 80,000 (PHP 490) for a day or walk their way to the sites.

From 4,000 Island we took a boat and a 3-hour bus to Pakse.

PAKSE, LAOS

DSC03214-01
Tad Fane Waterfall

This city has also nothing to offer but it is nearby Paksong or Bolaven Plateau which houses the 120 meter high twin waterfall, Tad Fane. Compared to other parts of Laos, Pakse is the cheapest. A decent meal can cost LAK 10,000- 35,000 (PHP 60- 215) with various food option and street food. Tuk tuks cost LAK 10,000- 20,000 (PHP 60- 120) each ride depending on your haggling skill. I would say I experience the warmest and kindest people here. I never felt being ripped off, people smile at you, and would never take advantage of you. One best part of this travel is when a family of 6 offered us a free ride from Paksong going back to our accommodation in Pakse. Despite the language barrier and being a stranger, they still welcomed us in their van. We communicated through gestures and smiles until we said goodbye to them through handshake which is a unique experience.

From Pakse we took an overnight bus to Bangkok.

BANGKOK, THAILAND

DSC03328-01
Wat Pho, Bangkok Thailand

Originally, we plan to stay in Bangkok for just 6 days but our allotted budget for Cambodia and Laos ran out. Since we got short of budget in Siem Reap, we decided to take our budget in Laos and mix it with Siem Reap. But as we read from travel forums that South of Laos is more expensive than the rest, we decided to cut Laos trip shorter and spend longer time in Bangkok to make our budget last. We ended up staying in Bangkok for 8 days. Bangkok is almost the same like the Philippines when it comes to cost of living. There are city buses that you can use for free or air-conditioned buses which cost from TBH 9-15 (PHP 14-25). Food are inexpensive from TBH 30- 100 (PHP 50- 150) with various options to choose from. For 8 days stay our TBH 6400 (PHP 10,000) made it for transportation, food, and entrance fee on the sites.

Our next stop, we took 4 and half hour direct flight to Bali, Indonesia thru Airasia.

BALI, INDONESIA

DSC04471-01
Uluwatu Temple, Bali, Indonesia

I have to be honest, we totally love the place. Bali is such a paradise with a picturesque view and amazing sunset. However, the lack of public transportation like public buses and vans is a major drawback. Plus the fact that in some tourist spots like temples and waterfalls, Uber, Grabtaxi, and Go-Jek are banned. The cheapest way to go around Bali is to rent a motorbike but for travelers who don’t know how to ride a bike and drive a motorbike be prepare to spend more on taxis and private cars. The average taxi ride is IDR 100,000-300,000 (PHP 380-1,150) depending on the distance and depending on your haggling skills. We also experienced our Grab driver asking us to pay 3 times more of what is charged on the meter app. My tip to you, get a grab driver that has 5 stars rate on their profile only. For food, Indonesian food is close to Indian food, so better inform them ahead that you don’t want your food spicy before they make it because it will be hell of a spicy if you don’t.

DSC04412-01
Sunset at Kuta Beach, Bali Indonesia

 

EXPENSES: for 1 person

 Transportation:

Manila, PH to Ho Chi Minh, VN via Cebu Pacific:PHP 2,599 (no check in baggage)

Ho Chi Minh, VN to Phnom Penh, KH via bus:      PHP 500

Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, KH via bus:                  PHP 400

Siem Reap, KH to 4,000 Island, LAO via bus and boat: PHP 1,000

4,000 Island to Pakse, LAO via bus and boat:        PHP 305

Pakse, LAO to Bangkok, TH via bus:                          PHP 1,350

Bangkok, TH- Bali, IDN via Airasia flight:                  PHP 3,780 (no check in baggage)

Bali, IDN to Manila, PH via Airsia flight (lay over to Kuala Lumpur): PHP 6,198

 

Total: PHP 16,132

 

Accommodation: Private Double Room

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam:  PHP 3, 288 (5 nights)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: PHP 1,290 (3 nights)

Siem Reap, Cambodia: PHP 1,196 (3 nights)

4,000 Island, Laos: PHP 900 (3 nights)

Pakse, Laos: PHP 700 ( 2 nights)

Bangkok Thailand: 1st hostel: PHP 900 (2 nights)

2nd hostel: PHP 2,448 (5 nights)

Bali, Indonesia: Ubud: PHP 1,852 (4 nights)

Kuta: PHP 1, 053 (2 nights)

 

Total: 13, 627                     divide by 2=  PHP 6, 813.50 each

 

Pocket Money:

PHP 25,000                      

 

TOTAL COST: PHP 47, 945.50

Cebu Travel Adventure: Things To Do in Cebu

Cebu is one of the most popular tourists’ destination in the Philippines. Whenever I am asked where I am from and I answered Philippines, most foreigners would say “Ah, Yeah, Philippines, Cebu!” Why not?? With all the fun activities, beautiful places and hospitable people, no wonder Cebu is talk of the town.

I am lucky enough to be invited to travel and explore this place and I must say it is a must visit. From their historical sites, to beaches, waterfalls and mountains, Cebu has a lot to offer.

THINGS TO DO:

Canyoneering in Kawasan

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0562.

Of course, when you search about activities in Cebu, this is the number one recommended activities to be done. This activity may last 4 to 5 hours depending on your speed or the tour group you are joining. This includes trekking, hiking, cliff jumping and swimming. I recommend for adrenaline junkies and also for people who don’t know how to swim but still want to experience something new. Life vest, proper shoes and helmets are provided for your safety.

How to get there:

From Cebu City Southern Bus Terminal take a bus to Badian or Oslob via  Bato, tell the bus conductor to drop you to Kawasan. The travel is estimated 3 to 4 hours depending on the bus.

Cost:

Bus Fare: Ordinary Bus Php 130                 Airconditioned Bus: Php 140- 150

Canyoneering: Php 1, 500

Guide: Joseph 0935 601 2354

*note: There are instances that the canyoneering activity will be cancelled due to heavy rain and may result for the water to be not clear enough and unsafe for the activity. Don’t argue with that! In my case I only did half canyoneering which lasted for 2 hours because of this reason. I connected with a local travel guide whom I highly recommend.

Bamboo Rafting

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0585.

Looking for a back massage? Ride a bamboo raft that will take you to the foot of the waterfalls. Lay your back down and feel the strong water current falling towards your back. It is soothing and relaxing.

Cost: Php 300/ person

HIKE OSMENIA PEAK

DSC01699-01

Located in Dalaguete, Cebu this mountain has a perfect view of hills, clouds, islands and sea. To get there, ride a bus heading to Dalaguete from Southern Bus Terminal in Cebu City. Travel time is approximately 3 hours. From the bus drop off, motorbike drivers will offer you to the foot of Osmenia Peak where the hike starts estimated journey would be 30 minutes. Reaching the foot you have to register and pay for the entrance fee. You can hire a guide but you can also do-it-your-own since the trek is visible and easy.

Cost: Bus to Dalaguete: Ordinary Bus: Php 100                    Airconditioned Bus: Php 120

Motorbike to the foot of Osmenia Peak: Php 100/ person

Entrance Fee: Php 30

 

*Package Tour is available and it includes round trip transfer from Dalaguete to the start of hike and guide for Php 750/ pax. For inquiries contact Joseph 0935 601 2354.

 

HIKE SIRAO PEAK

DSC01897-01

 

Unlike Osmenia Peak, Sirao Peak is more under rated and less popular hike but I can say that it’s almost the same like Osmenia Peak. It has a view of the mountains, sea, islands and city. Considering our accommodation located in Cebu City it is more accessible and easier to go than Osmenia. Since it is less popular, there were zero people when we went there. So, we were able to enjoy the silence and linger in the place for quite long.

To get there: Take a motorbike from JY Square Mall, tell the driver to take you to the backdoor trek starting point or Ayala Heights. Just follow the trek that leads to the peak. Estimated time of hike can be 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on your speed.

Cost: Motorbike to Ayala Heights: Php 100- 150/ person

Entrance Fee: Free

 

GO ON HISTORICAL TOUR:

MAGELLAN’S CROSS

DSC01564-01

Pay a visit and light a candle to this attraction that was planted by the Spaniards after they successfully Christianized the Philippines. This cross is housed in a chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño on Magallanes Street just in front of the city center of Cebu City and can be accessed on foot.

Entrance Fee: Free

 

FORT SAN PERDRO

DSC01586-01

Just a walking distance from Magellan’s Cross you will find yourself to another historical attraction. Fuerte de San Pedro is a military defence structure in Cebu, built by the Spanish under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi, first governor of the Captaincy General of the Philippines. This place houses museums about the war between Lapu- Lapu and Magellan. Lectures are given upon entering the museums by friendly staff to enhance your knowledge about history.

 

Entrance Fee: Php 30

TAKE AN OOTD PICTURE IN TEMPLE OF LEAH

DSC01799-01

Built by a well- known Cebuano businessman Teodorico Soriano Adarna for his late wife, Temple of Leah doesn’t only offer European inspired architectural construction but also a nice view from its wide balcony. With its location on top of the mountain, surely you can enjoy the sunset along with the mountain and city view.

How to get there: From JY Square Mall, take a motorbike to Temple of Leah.

Cost: Motorbike: Php 75/ person

Entrance Fee: Php 50

 

PRAY AND SAY YOUR WISHES TO TAOIST TEMPLE

DSC01753-01

The Philippines is a Christian country so catholic churches are everywhere. It is just surprising to see a temple in the heart of a catholic region. This temple is located on a hill in an exclusive subdivision of Beverly Hills. The main altar or prayer room is sacred so taking photos of it is strictly prohibited. Enjoy sightseeing in the temple and its city view from the hill. You can pray to Taoist god and say your wishes. I tried it personally and it was a nice experience. If you wish to do the same, guidelines are posted in front of the prayer room. The answers to your wishes will be interpreted by a staff who is also a Taoist.

How to get there:

From JY Square Mall take a motorbike to Beverly Hills Subdivision. Since it’s an exclusive subdivision motorbikes are not allowed to enter. You have to walk going up to the temple for 15 minutes. You can ask the guard for direction. The road is cemented so no issues on walking.

Cost:

Motorbike to Beverly Hills: Php 30/ person

Entrance Fee: Free or by Donation

 

WHALE WATCHING IN BRGY. TAN-AWAN, OSLOB

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0668.

Another must do activity in Cebu. Brgy. Tan-awan was a fishing village before but it made noise when the whale sharks (butanding) start lingering in their place during the day. It made this quiet village into a top tourist destination. The whales usually stay in the place in the morning from 6 am to 12 noon. I advise that you go early as early as 7 am to see the whale sharks fresh and to avoid long line since it is tourist infested.

How to get there:

From Cebu City Southern Bus Terminal, take a bus to Oslob, tell the bus conductor to drop you to Brgy. Tan-awan. Travel time is approximately 3 hours. When you reach the whale watching site, you have to register. Then you will have a short orientation for the Dos and DON’Ts during the 30-minute whale watching activity. Next you pay for the activity and finally verification which includes distribution of life vest and snorkeling goggles.

Cost:

Bus Fare to Oslob: Php 149 (Ceres Aircondition bus)

Whale Watching on the boat:                     Filipino: Php 300               Foreigner: Php 500

Snorkeling/ Swimming with the Whales: Filipino: Php 500              Foreigner: Php 1,000

TAKE A SIDE TRIP TO SUMILON ISLAND

DSC01907-01

When I searched about other things to do in Oslob aside from whale watching, Tumalog Falls came to my newsfeed. However, upon talking with the locals, they inform me that the water condition of the waterfalls in not ideal this time because of the heavy rain that occur the other day. They advise me to go to Sumilon Island instead in which I can do another round of snorkeling in Marine Sanctuary and beach bum in the white sand beach of Sumilon Island sandbar. It is totally worth it.

How to get there:

A local hooked me up with a boat operator that can let me go and leave the island on a flexi time. In case I want to leave the island, I just have to search their orange boat and tell them to take me back. I also bargained with the boat cost which ended up with a reasonable price.

Cost:

Round Trip Boat Fare: Php 600   * For inquiries, contact Jun Jun at 0942 529 5509

  • Note: the boat will stop at Marine Sanctuary for 30 minutes for snorkeling so be sure to rent a snorkeling gear, life vest is provided

Snorkeling Gear: Php 100

Sumilon Island Entrance Fee: Php 50

 

EXPLORE BANTAYAN ISLAND

DSC02040-01

The main reason I came to Cebu is because of this island. During my backpacking in Boracay, my Lithuanian roommate talked about so many good things about this island and I can say it is my second favorite island in the Philippines next to Calayan Island. Though, a day trip is a little challenging to do especially that this island has so many things to offer. If you want to stay and enjoy the virginity of this place for quite long, I suggest you stay here for 2- 3 days.

How to get there:

We rode the 3 am Ceres airconditioned bus going directly to Bantayan. From Cebu City Northern Bus Terminal to Hagnaya Port, the estimated land travel time is 3 hours. From Hagnaya port we are asked to get off from the bus and purchase a ferry ticket. The sea travel is approximately one hour. When we reach Bantayan Island Santa Fe port we hoped back to our bus.

Cost:

Bus Fare: Php 200 via Ceres Airconditioned Bus directly to Bantayan Island

Ferry:   Php 170

 

PARADISE BEACH, BANTAYAN ISLAND

DSC02022-01

My friend and I took the challenge of taking a day trip on this island disregarding all the discouragements we had from locals about our plan. We don’t want to be touristic and stay in the place for short time just to take pictures. We really wanted to absorb and enjoy the place for hours so we chose 2 places we really wanted to visit. One of them is Paradise Beach. This place has an excellent review on tripadvisor except the muddy and rocky road you have to take in going to this place. I am so much in love with this beach because it is comparable to Sibang Cove of Calayan Island. It is very peaceful, calm and not crowded. When we stayed here for 4 hours we only saw less than 10 tourists on the beach.

DSC01982-01

How to get there:

From Santa Fe Port ride a motorbike to Paradise beach, it is 4.5 km away from the port so the estimated travel time is 20 minutes. The road is not cemented so expect it to be muddy, rocky and bumpy. From the main road, walk for 15 minutes following the path that will lead you to the entrance of the beach. Register and pay for the entrance fee.

Cost:

Motorbike to Paradise Beach from Santa Fe Port: Php 50/ person

Entrance Fee: Php 50

 

DAY VISIT TO OGTONG CAVE RESORT

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0801.

Since we are just doing a day trip to Bantayan, we choose the second place to be near Paradise beach and can be accessed on foot. Ogtong Cave Resort houses the famous clear blue water lagoon, Ogtong Cave. The resort also has stunning fine white sand beach and pool however the room rates are quite expensive. But, if you are going on a day trip you can access the cave, pool and beach including shower room for Php 100 per person. So, yeah!! It’s a good deal.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0804.

How to get there:

From Santa Fe Port, ride a motorbike or tricycle and tell the driver to take you to Ogtong Cave Resort.

In our case, we came from Paradise beach so upon reaching the main road, we asked the locals about the direction to Ogtong Cave Resort. We turned right from the main road and followed the path. It is not difficult to find because it is along the road and it took us around 20-30 minute walk to the reach the place. #CertifiedBackpackers 😛

Cost:

Entrance Fee: Php 100

*Note: Bantayan Island is a huge island and I can say you need more than a day to explore every bit of it. While on a motorbike ride to Paradise beach, our driver who works in the tourism office of Bantayn politely offered us different day trip packages which includes 7 different places and activities like snorkeling in Virgin Island for Php 1, 600 for the two of us. Although the package is a catch we still decline it because we wanted to stick to our original plan.

If you are interested regarding this package you may contact Jun at 0935 986 8132.

Here’s the travel video to summarize all the buttloads of fun I had..

SAGADA TO BANAUE TO BATAD : JOURNEY TO PHP 20 BILL

DSC01371

Here comes Holy Week my favorite holiday because I can take a time off from work and I still get paid.

Last year we touched down the place in PHP 50 bill which is the Taal Volcano. This time, we decided to do a 3-day backpacking journey to PHP 20 bill, Batad Rice Terraces.

We started our journey leaving Baguio City at 4 in the morning to Sagada via GL Trans. One adult ticket costs Php 250. We reached Sagada at 10 am so the travel was approximately 6 hours with 2 stops in Atok, Benguet and Bontoc for breakfast and toilet beak.

The bus driver dropped us in our accommodation, Big Dipper Inn which is 20 minutes from “Sentro” (Provincial Center) on foot. A night stay cost Php 400 but we stayed for 2 nights and it costs Php 700 each person. Right after we settled we are started our journey.

DSC01470
Our accommodation in Sagada. Contract: Ms. Gwen Gaongen at 0916 755 3414

 

SENTRO

This place is like the provincial business center in which you can find the Tourism Office, Souvenir Shops, Restaurants, Cafes, Inns and Jeepney Stations.

DSC01405
Lemon Pie, must try in Sagada. You can find this almost every cafe in Sagada.

DSC01472

DSC01485
Tourism Information Office. You can find all the guides and information you need here.
DSC01491
Yogurt Bowls (Honey & Banana Coconut), another mus try in Sagada.

DSC01493

*Note before you start doing your activities, you must register first at the Tourism Office and pay Php 35 registration fee. A receipt will be given and this receipt will be checked when you are entering different sites.

CAVE CONNECTION (LUMIANG TO SUMAGUING CAVE)

DSC01362-01

LUMIANG CAVE

DSC01290
Lumiang Burial Coffins

One of the most challenging and best experience in Sagada. This 3 to 4 hours caving journey from Lumiang to Sumaguing Cave is a must try for people with nerves who are after adventures. Make sure to wear comfortable shorts or pants (not jeans) as you will be walking while sitting, crawling, hugging, climbing and sliding on the rocks. A guide is required in doing this activity because one wrong move and uhmm you will be dead. A guide fee costs Php 800 per group but limited to two people. More than 2, addition of Php 400 each person.

DSC01291DSC01292DSC01294DSC01299-01DSC01320

DSC01325

SUMAGUING CAVE

DSC01327-01

For less adventurous people but still want to try caving, Sumaguing Cave is recommended. A guide fee of Php 500 for 4 people and Php 600 for 5 visitors. For bigger groups of 6 or more people 2 to 3 guides are required and that costs Php 1000- 1500. You may also have optional 2- way shuttle service from your inns to the caves which cost Php 350.

DSC01326

DSC01337-01
The Turtle!
DSC01346-01
Chocolate Cake

DSC01349-01DSC01345

 

ECHO VALLEY AND HANGING COFFINS

DSC01373

Access Fee: Php 10

Guide Fee: Php 200 per group

ECHO VALLEY

DSC01375-01

The way going to Hanging Coffins. It is called Echo Valley because when you shout it echoes.

HANGING COFFINS

PicsArt_05-13-11.11.36

An old burial practice of the Igorots during the Pre- Hispanic era. Relatives and family of the deceased mummifies the body, put it in a coffin, travel the beaten path and orderly place it on the caves.

 

KILTEPAN PEAK

DSC01428-01

My most favorite place! It’s my first time to witness the sunrise as it goes up to the sky from behind the mountains. It was lovely with the sea of clouds in front of it. Be sure to be there before 5:30 am to get a good place for the view as it is infested with too much tourists.

 

BOMOD-OK FALLS

DSC01482-01

Bomod-ok means “big” in Mt. Province’s native dialect. This 200 meter high and 20 meter deep, clear white waterfalls (even it rains) is hiding behind rice paddies and small villages.

DSC01479

To get there you need to ride a jeepney to Banga-an from the Sentro which cost Php 30. Then you will be trekking for approximately 1 ½ hours down the rice paddies and villages with a guide (cost Php 500). Registration Fee: Php 10

DSC01483
This tent serve as the information center in going to Bomod-ok Falls . You pay your registration fee and you get your guide here too.

 

Note: Most of Accommodations, cafes and restaurants in Sagada don’t have internet connection.

Smart doesn’t have a cell site in Sagada so expect a weak signal on your phone while Globe has a good one.

There’s one ATM machine in Tourism Office in the Sentro.

 

JOURNEY FROM SAGADA TO BATAD

DSC01522

On our third day, we took a shot to go to Batad on our own without any accommodation. We don’t have any idea how to get there since our inn has no internet connection and we can’t see any café that has wifi so we just depend by asking the locals.

We left Sagada early at around 6:30 am to Bontoc via jeepney (cost Php 40). Upon reaching Bontoc at 7: 30 am a guy approached us and took us to a jeepney going to Banaue. We were told to wait for more passengers. When the jeepney reaches up to 10 passengers then it leaves. Unfortunately, there were only 8 of us so the guy tried to bargain that if we pay the fair of the remaining 2 absent passengers, the jeepney will leave. Jeepney ride to Banaue from Bontoc costs Php 150 so if we pay for the 2 absent passengers fair it will be around Php 190. Sadly, some of the passengers prefer to wait for 2 more passengers. Gladly, the driver arrives at 9 am and starts the engine with only 8 passengers.

The driver was heaven-sent. He is not only a good driver because he didn’t charge us with additional fees but he also stopped us at different scenic views along the road including the Maligcong Rice Terraces in Bontoc.

DSC01495
Our first stop! The driver was kind enough to stop the jeepney for a while for us to see this view. 🙂 

 

MALIGCONG RICE TERRACES

DSC01497-01DSC01498-01

Another picturesque view! Kudos to our driver for stopping the jeepney to witness this scenery.

DSC01499

 

BANAUE VIEW DECK

DSC01506

We reached Banaue at around 11 am but the jeep going to Batad will leave at 1pm so we have time to grab a bite. The jeepney was already overloaded with passengers and thank God the driver decided to go at 12 noon without following the 1 pm schedule. During the ride we ask the local on how to go Batad Rice Terraces. One local offered us accommodation if we stay overnight but we politely refuse since we plan to go back to Baguio that same day. Then she offered to guide us but when we ask how much, she just answered “It depends!” Hoestly, her response made me raise my eyebrow but we still asked for a quotation. “Php 500- 800” she responded . This got us a little disappointed as we think this is overpriced. We just refuse her again and told her we’ll just settle on the view deck.

DSC01514
A little stop in the middle of the trek to see this view.

We trek the narrow ways following the trail until we reach the view deck.

BATAD VIEW DECK

 DSC01516

Never contented with the view and desiring to be up close to the rice paddies we continued to trek down the narrow ways with our heavy backpacks without any idea where we’re heading. Good thing we met some locals along the way who direct us until we reached the paddies. Our Php 500 is saved.. haha 😛

DSC01526

DSC01530
THAT IS IT! PANCIT! OUR PHP 20 BILL TRAVEL GOAL TOUCHED DOWN!!

THE RED CITY: Malacca, Malaysia

DSC01208

Historic city, this is the identity of Malacca (Melaka in Bahasa). During the 1300s this tiny little city was a fishing village ruled by a sultanate. Since it is a coastal city, traders from China, Indonesia and other Asian countries come and go to Malacca to barter their products. Until 1511 when Portuguese colonized Malacca for their ambition to control the trade networks of Asia.

DSC01273
Bahasa traders before the Portuguese occupation.

 

Malacca is a small city that is accessible on foot especially if you stay in the city center as you will find all the attractions just next to each other. Coming from Singapore, you can reach this city around 5 hours by bus including the long line in the immigration departing Singapore and entering Malaysia.

Malacca is cheap. Yes! It is, that’s why some Singaporeans travel to Malacca not just for holiday but also for cheap buys, services and Malaysian food.

We departed Singapore at 8:00 am via Luxury Coach Service bus located in Orchard Road and reach Malacca at 2 pm. Since it is holiday a long line in the Singapore immigration made this supposed to be 4 hours trip to 6 hours, plus the fact that the immigration officer is on training that made the departure process slower.

After we settled in our hotel room, we start exploring this city. We started on a street nearby our hotel to grab a bite. We pass through Pahlawan Shopping Center to reach the museums as advised by a local we chatted in a restaurant. This is a good strategy to beat the heat because the weather was burning hot.

DSC01187
MYR 5 (Php 40) curry lunch. 

DSC01195

 

St. Paul’s Hill

DSC01199_1

There will be quite a hike reaching this place. On top you will find a panoramic view of the city seeing European influenced architectural building. The chapel was built by a Portuguese fidalgo or nobleman, Duarte Coelho, as an act of gratitude following his escape from a storm in the South China Sea but only ruins was left with old Portuguese tombstone.

 

DSC01201
View on top of the hill.
DSC01202
Portuguese tombstone.
DSC01203
Ruins left from the chapel.

Dutch Square

IMG_20170427_114747_325

I read from another blogger that there’s nothing special here. I agree since we just have to stare at the red building, look at the well and fall in line to take a picture of “I LOVE MELAKA” sign. Oh, if you are up for the noisy trishaw, dozens of them are parked in this place.

DSC01225

DSC01229
The noisy trishaw.

Church of Saint Francis Xavier

DSC01232DSC01247

We continue to walk and we pass by this church. I’m not Catholic but, uhm just in case you are there and it’s Sunday you might wanna pay a visit and attend their mass.

DSC01244

We continued to walk and we found ourselves following the route of Malacca River. A good friend of mine told me about the Malacca River Cruise. It is a 45-minute river cruise experience in which you will indulge in the beauty of colorful mural paintings from the restaurants by the river during day time and will be amused by the bright lights experience at night. A descent price of MYR 16 (PHP 128) is worth the hype along with the classical music played during the ride.

DSC01212DSC01246-01DSC01237

DAY 2

DSC01234

A Famosa

DSC01266-01

One of the oldest surviving European architecture in Southeast Asia built in 1511. It is a Portuguese fortress built by Alfonso D’ Alboquerque who attacked and defeated the Malacca Sultanate.

DSC01268DSC01269DSC01270

Malacca Sultanate Palace

DSC01272-01

Istana Kesultanan Melaka in Bahasa is a palace-turned-museum that introduces Malaccan life before Portuguese invasion of the city. Here, you will learn the life of a sultan and his sultana and their trading system in the past. Entrance Fee: MYR 5 (PHP 40).

DSC01276

DSC01277
The Sultan’s room.
DSC01279
The Sultan and his Sultana.

DSC01280

Taming Sari

DSC01282-01

If you are up for more experience in Malacca I suggest trying out the Taming Sari Tower. This 7-minute ride up to the tower will give you a chance to see the whole city on different views. This costs MYR 23 (PHP 184).

Hua Tho Foot Reflexolfy Centre

After a lot of walking our feet deserves some pampering. We just accidentally found this while looking for a nail salon to have our manicure and pedicure but we ended up having an hour foot massage for MYR 40 (PHP 320) highly recommended and NO TIPS needed.

 

 

 

PLACES TO VISIT IN HANOI

DSC00743

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam is tagged to be the city of myth because of its rich history from the time when King Le Loi fought against Ming dynasty up to the French occupation. Although occupied for long years their ancient architectures are still well preserved and intact maybe because of their strong patriotism and conservatism. Going around the city is tough as you will be greeted by over 7 million motorbikes everywhere but their temples and museums are worth the visit as you will learn their history and culture and the interesting story behind these architecture.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Also known as “Lake of the Restored Sword” dating back in 1428 when King Le Loi was boating in the lake at night when the big Golden Turtle God appeared to reclaim the sword that the Dragon King gave him to revolt against the Ming dynasty. King Le Loi gave back the sword to the turtle and later named the lake Hoan Kiem to commemorate the event.

Entrance Free: Free

 

Thang Long Citadel

DSC00519

One of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site since 2010. Thang Long Citadel is one of the most visited site in Hanoi due to its interesting architecture that was excavated in 21st century after it was disrepair and torn down during the French occupation.

DSC00526DSC00528DSC00533DSC00535DSC00524DSC00525

  • Hanoi Flag Tower

DSC00517

Entrance fee: 30, 000 VND (PHP 60)

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

DSC00721

This place is built to commemorate President Ho Chi Minh, the most respected leader and the key figure of Democratic Republic of Vietnam. You can see his face in all Vietnamese currencies. The building was inspired by Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow but incorporates distinct Vietnamese architectural elements, such as the sloping roof. It is open to public for free but if you enter Ho Chi Minh’s an entrance fee of VND 40, 000 is collected.

Entrance Fee: Free

Ho Chi Minh’s House and Office: VND 40, 000 (PHP 80)

Hanoi Old Quarter

DSC00549

For shopping, dining and night life searching for draft beers (Bia Hoi) heading to this area is a must although expect a massive number of motorbikes with no break even in their tiny little street will keep on coming and going.

DSC00542DSC00543DSC00545_SC01065_SC01067DSC01076

 

Van Mieu (Temple of Literature)

DSC00637

The first national university of Vietnam dedicated to Confucius, sage and scholars. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors are places where offering ceremonies, study sessions and the strict exams took place.

Entrance Fee: VND 30 000 (PHP 60)

Tran Quoc Pagoda

DSC01106-01

One of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, Tran Quoc Pagoda is on the eastern shore of Ho Tay, just off Ð Thanh Nien, which divides this lake from Truc Bach Lake. A stela here, dating from 1639, tells the history of this site. The pagoda was rebuilt in the 15th century and again in 1842. (lonelyplanet.com) Note: Avoid wearing shorts in visiting this place as it has an altar in which u can’t enter when you are not dressed properly and I wasn’t able to find sarongs or covering for rent.

Entrance Fee: Free

DSC01094DSC01095DSC01098DSC01100DSC01101

Saint Joseph Cathedral

DSC01112

A Roman Catholic church built 120 years ago during the French occupation. The architecture with domes of the cathedral follows the Gothic style and design of Paris Cathedral. Though the appearance of the cathedral, from the doors, the colorful window glass, to the religious paintings for decoration follows Western style, the main interior part is decorated in Vietnamese way with two typical colors yellow and red. Outside, in front of the cathedral is the statue of Mother Maria. (source: http://www.vietnam online.com)

DSC01119DSC01120-01DSC01132DSC01138

Lotte Tower

DSC00489

Second highest building in Hanoi located in the center of the city. Lotte Observation deck offers views that are more spectacular at night in glass windows and vernaculars available at the 66th floor of the building.

Entrance Fee: Day pass: 200, 000 VND (PHP 400)

Night pass starts at 6:30 PM: 100 000 VND (PHP 200)

Backpacking in Laos

dsc00981

The landlocked country between Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China has been my favorite country so far. It is accessible by plane, train, boat and bus travel crossing different borders from different countries except Myanmar.

Taking the 20 hour sleeper’s bus from Hanoi I started my journey in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. There’s not much things to do here but this is my favorite capital city because it is clean, no scattered trash along the streets and highways and doesn’t have traffic even during the rush hour. People are disciplined to follow the traffic rules, motorists give priority to people crossing the road with a smile and most especially they serve the tastiest beer (beerlao gold) and pancakes.

VIENTIANE, LAOS

WAT SI SAKET

dsc00792dsc00793dsc00798

PATUXAI MONUMENT

dsc00826_1

THAT LUANG

dsc00838dsc00844dsc00846

LAO NATIONAL MUSEUM

 

dsc00789
Love this pancake to the bone.. ❤ ❤ ❤

Next stop, 3 hours away from Vientiane by bus or van is Vang Vieng Province. I can compare this place to Boracay, Philippines because it caters to different kind of activities and parties hosted by different bars and hostels. A week stay in this place is worth it but be prepared to shell out extra cash. Note that Laos is not as cheap as Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam when it comes to cost of living since most of their products are imported from other countries.

VANG VIENG PROVINCE

VANG VIENG MAIN ROAD

dsc00878dsc00883_1

dsc00884
This unique way of construction caught my attention.
dsc00886
Restaurant by the river.
dsc00889_1
Made some Indian friends while traveling.

dsc00891 

HIKING, KAYAKING AND TUBING IN NAM SONG RIVER AND DIPPING IN BLUE LAGOON

dsc00892dsc00894dsc00898dsc00900dsc00901dsc00903dsc00906

img_20170128_175337_178
Kayaking at Nam Song River!

dsc00908dsc00909dsc00911

NIGHT LIFE AT SAKURA BAR

Last stop, 5 hours away from Vang Vieng via bus or van is Luang Prabang , the former capital of Laos. Finally, the moment of truth the place I’ve been waiting and dying for to go and the real reason I came to Laos is to see the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang. The tall series of light blue water falling to each limestone serving as a catch basin is just magical  that I can stare at it the whole day and can’t help to take a dip in it.

LUANG PRABANG

MEKONG RIVER

KUANG SI WATERFALLS

dsc00946

dsc00971dsc00973dsc00980

dsc00985
This beast tho!
dsc00989
On top of the waterfalls!

WAT XIENG THONG

img_20170131_155618

CHASING THE SUNSET AT MT. POUSI

dsc01023dsc01027dsc01032dsc01038dsc01040dsc01042dsc01045

dsc01047
Reality strikes! too touristic though!

 

dsc01050

NIGHT MARKET 

dsc01056
1 USD vegetarian buffet.

dsc01057dsc00999dsc01000

 

Experiencing the Beach and Night Life of Boracay

DSC00154

So, I need some space to be alone away from my family and my close friends to think, to reflect and to evaluate myself about what I have been doing with my life in the past and to be away with some pressure I am experiencing. It’s been a year since the last time that I traveled alone. Every time I planned on going alone some of my friends would buzz me during the last minute asking if they could come with me which is totally fine. But this time is different, I kinda miss the feeling of being alone in a new place, getting lost, then meeting new people, communicating with them and learning their culture.

I filed a 2-week leave from work to my employer stating that I’ll be having a self-development retreat. The next thing I caught myself booking a round trip plane ticket to Boracay for 4 days. Yeah, I know, when you hear about Boracay many of you will hear some bad rep about this place. Even one of my American friend who is planning a vacation here in PH said that many people advise him not to go there because it’s too commercialized. But, I am living a travel motto “Never judge a place unless you’ve been there!”, so yeah, I went there to check out the place and see if the statements I’m hearing are true. Plus the fact that I’ve never been to the Visayas Region and never flew locally so I’m counting this as a new experience.

My Self-Development Activities in Boracay

DSC00210

When I told my employer I’ll be away for self-development retreat I totally mean it. I got lots of flaws and imperfections especially on my life skills and social skills that is why I’m grabbing this opportunity to be away not only to relax but also to learn something new. There are tons of activities in Boracay that you can enjoy but I only chose three that is suitable for my purpose but sadly due to my sprained ankle I wasn’t able to fulfill one.

  1. Mermaid Swimming

DSC00199

The first thing I tried is the Mermaid Swimming in Boracay. Sounds funny right? Every time I tell people I’ll be learning mermaid swimming they usually laugh with a silly reaction on their faces. But, hey, it is so much fun. Trying on the colorful tails and swimming on the beach like mermaids is like a dream come true for people who are fan of fantasies and disneys. And oh, their instructors are certified mermaid swimming instructors with license in first aid so you are in good hands especially for non- swimmers like me.

Recently I’ve been enjoying water activities although I don’t know how to swim so having this experience is once in a lifetime.

This unique experience includes: Mermaid introduction, Mermaid tail fitting and rental, Education on looking after and how to swim with the tail, Safety briefing, Directed photoshoot- learning mermaid poses (but you need to provide your own camera, if you are alone the instructor will be your photographer), Mermaid lesson- four basic swim strokes and breathing techniques, Freestyle Session- practicing your own skill and the catch Certificate of Achievement sent by mail.

They also provide private Mermaid swimming lesson with the venue of your choice but for advance booking only.

If Mermaid swimming is not your interest but you want to impress your instagram followers with your mermaid tails, you can try their photo ops with the mermaid tails. You will be assisted and led through a series of Mermaid poses by the instructor. You just have to bring your own camera or your own photographer but  like I said if you are alone the instructor is willing to be your photographer.

The daily lesson schedule is 10 am and 3 pm for Php 2,000 per pax.

For private lesson, anytime with your choice of venue and costs Php 3,200 for 1 pax, Php 2,200 for 2 pax and Php 2,000 for 3 pax and a minimal transportation fee may apply.

For photo ops Php 1,000 per  for 30 minutes and Php 1,200 for private.

They are located at Fisheye Divers (Station 1 beside Starbucks) or you can send them a personal message at 0917 324 3947.

  1. Pubcrawl Boracay.

DSC00178

Honestly, my social skill really sucks! Adding the fact that I have a resting bitch face that scares a lot of people in approaching me. It makes them think and judge me to be very unfriendly.

One of my childhood bestie who recently visited Boracay suggested me to try Pubcrawl. It is an event for people who would like to meet new people and possibly become friends with them. With their theme, “TURN STRANGERS INTO FRIENDS”. This is perfect for me since I’m traveling alone and I need to check on improving my social skills.

To be part of this event you need to register for a slot either online or on their booth which is in Tribaz Bar (Station 1). Registration fee costs Php 990 for regular price and Php 690 for girls and Php 790 for guys for early bird. This includes a customized t-shirt which you can cut any style that you want, 10 shots (5 from them and 5 from different bars and clubs you are hoping or crawling).

This is just a pure socialization event not a speed dating game as others from the event think. It starts when you interact and communicate with people in the event before hoping to the first bar. There are also games played on the beach to get you guys closer in between bar hoping so it is not pure drinking and getting wasted.

  1. Muay Thai Lesson

My third activity supposed to be is to learn Muay Thai at Legacy Gym Boracay but I hurt my ankle while doing my cardio in the gym. Anyway, if you are heading to Boracay and thinking of learning martial arts the schedule is attached below.

IMG_20160707_120018_924

Group Sessions are Php 500 per pax, no need for reservation just come during the scheduled session.

For private sessions boxing is Php 800 and Muay Thai is Php 1,000.

How to get to Boracay Island.

DSC00153

This is my step by step journey to Boracay from Baguio.

I ride the Joy bus from Baguio to NAIA 3. From there I have to transfer to NAIA Terminal 4 because it is where domestic flights are flying. So I entered Gate 6 and used the elevator going down to the Arrival area in which you can use the NAIA loop buses. There are 2 kinds of bus, one is circling around Pasay and Baclaran route and the other one is circling around Terminal 1-4 route. Don’t be confused about the bus you will take, just ask the person in charge. Upon arriving at Terminal 4, you check in and wait for your flight. I just observe that local flights are always delayed in my case my flight was delayed for 2 hours (grrrrr).

When I reached Kalibo airport I rode a van for 2 hours going to Caticlan port then pay the necessary fees (environmental, entrance, terminal, etc.). Next I get in a boat going to Boracay Island and finally took a tricycle going to my hostel.

Note: Outside Kalibo airport, there are people offering packages on transfers from airport to your hotel one way or two ways at a very reasonable price including your terminal fee, environmental fee etc. So it is not a struggle. In my case, when I was standing in line to book my transfer in Southwest (the most popular company), I was approached by a woman asking if I want to join them because a guy is offering them a cheaper transfer package than Southwest. They just need at least one more person to join them. I ask if they will take me straight to my hostel just like the Southwest and the guy said Yes! So I used this service.

If you want a cheaper bargain on your transfer, contact Kuya Jun Gelbolingo at 0918 462 7337 and 0908 539 9055. It costs Php 500 all in, from airport to your hotel. You can also contact him if you are leaving Boracay to pick you up in your hotel and take you to the airport. In my case, I got a lot of time from my hostel check out to my flight so I did DIY going to the airport.

My Itinerary:

DSC00167

*I had 2 hours delayed flight so my arrival in Boracay was late plus the fact that I left Baguio at 4:00 am so I was too tired to do anything upon my arrival so I made adjustments on my itinerary.

Day 1:

7:00 am: Breakfast

8:00 am: Beach walk, sightseeing, from Station 2 to Station 1, then, we settled at Boracay Rock or Grotto, Swimming, beach bumming and chika with my roommate.

10:00 am: window shopping at D’ Mall

12:00 nn: Lunch at a small eatery while watching Duterte’s inauguration on T.V (hehe)

2:00 pm: Worked out at King Fisher’s Farm Gym (Ops! Accidentally hurt my ankle so I have to cancel my 4 pm Muay Thai Lesson L)

5:00 pm: Back to my hostel, met my 3 other roommates, we suddenly start drinking in our room until 10 pm.

10:30 pm: start bar hoping ( Coco Bar, Aplaya, and Bamboo Bar)

2:30 am: Back to our hostel and had ramyeon , then talk until 4:00 am.

Day 2

1:00 pm: Wake up, had lunch then prepare for my Mermaid Swimming Lesson (my ankle really hurts)

3:00 pm: Mermaid Swimming Class

5:00 pm: back to my hostel, eat dinner and prepare for Pubcrawl

7:30 pm- 1:30 am: Boracay Pubcrawl event. (It was LIT)

Day 3

9:30 am: Pasalubong Shopping at D’Mall

11:30 am: back to my hostel to say goodbye to my roommates, check out and depart the island

 

My Expenses or Budget.

Round trip plane ticket: Php 2,502.56 (I booked it 4 weeks before my flight, Manila- Kalibo via Airasia)

Hostel: Php 1,350 ( I also booked it 4 weeks before the flight, it’s an 8 bed mix-dormitory)

Baguio-NAIA 3 Bus: Php 730 (Joy Bus)

NAIA 3- NAIA 4 Airport bus: Php 20

Kalibo Airport- Hostel transfer: Php 500 (including the environmental, entrance, terminal fee)

Food: Php 563 (these are the food I bought in grocery store, mostly snacks)

Porter fee: Php 20 (when the guy carried my bag outside the boat, tsk tsk, I should have known)

Food: Php 281 (water refill, breakfast at McDonalds and Lunch at small eatery)

Motorcycle from my hostel- King Fisher Farm and Vice Versa: Php 40

King Fisher Gym Walk in fee: Php 60

Mermaid Swimming Lesson: Php 2,000

Pubcrawl: Php 690 (Early bird slot)

Bar Drinks: Php 685 (when I went bar hoping with my roommates, we first started in our room then we visited 3 different bars)

Laundry Fee: Php 100

Food: Php 150 (these are the food while I was traveling back home, I ate at the airport and bus terminal)

Pasalubong: Php 600 (sarong, t-shirt, key chain and piaya)

Tricycle from hostel to port: Php 100 (I’m the only passenger, but if you have companion you can split the cost)

Boat going to Caticlan port: Php 25

Van going to Kalibo airport: Php 175

Airport Terminal Fee: Php 200 (Only in Kalibo airport, there’s none in NAIA)

Grab car fee from NAIA 4 to Victory Liner Pasay: Php 190

Bus to Baguio: Php 450 (Victory Liner)

Total: Php 11,431.56 (4 days, 3 nights in Boracay) J not bad…

 

All in all I think Boracay is not that bad the beach has its clear blue water, fine white sand at its best and hospitable, hardworking people doing their best to preserve the beach and attract more tourist to visit the place.

Learning to surf in San Juan Beach La Union

DSC00105

So it is weekend and my sister is craving for some new air to breath, my nephew is hungry for some swimming and I am also looking for a new adventure. Therefore, we packed our bags and head to San Juan Beach La Union. One of my bucket list this year is to learn how to surf and the nearest place to do this from Baguio is San Juan beach.

We took the 7:30 a.m bus from Baguio to San Fernando. We arrived at San Fernando City town proper at 9:30 am from there, we took the Santo Rosario jeepney passing by San Juan beach. The fare costs Php 14.00 each. Upon arriving we decided to take the surf lesson at the first resort that we saw,  San Juan Surf School. For some reason, my nephew backed out from his surf lesson at the last minute. (Oh, crap!)but I still push through with the lesson.

DSC00118

DSC00108DSC00111DSC00114

First, the instructor discusses the parts of the surf board, which I honestly forgot. (Haha!) Next the safety precautions  while surfing. Then, the proper positions in standing on the surf board and how will you fall off from it as you approach the shore. I don’t know how to swim but that is fine because you can surf near the shore where it is not deep.

DSC00115DSC00116

DSC00133

The lesson costs Php 400 for one hour inclusive of instructor and surf board. For surf board rents it cost Php 200 per hour but the prices are negotiable. In my case I paid Php 350 for one hour surf lesson with instructor. They also offer other lessons such as paddle boarding and skim boarding which is Php 400 per hour with instructor. For Kayaking, sorry I forgot to ask but as I said the prices are negotiable.

DSC00106

After surfing we decided to stay a little bit for swimming and beach bumming, there’s a coral pool near the beach where we stayed.

IMG_20160521_210231_210DSC00122DSC00123DSC00124DSC00125DSC00127DSC00129

Then we took a shower and headed to the town to grab some halo-halo.

DSC00134

Reading some blogs, I read that the most popular halo-halo restaurant in San Fernando is Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay. I love the ambiance of the place. They don’t only serve halo-halo but also meals. Their halo-halo choices  are delicious and the price is right. It just took a bit long when we eat our orders maybe because there are too many people in that place at that time but overall I really recommend you to check the place out.

DSC00135DSC00136DSC00137DSC00138DSC00139DSC00140DSC00142DSC00144

 

ManilaXTagaytay: Holy Week 2016

IMG_20160324_160144

I have been to other countries’ capital city and I met some foreigners who ask me to describe my country’s capital. I can’t say anything since I am not the kind of person who speaks of something that I haven’t experienced. So, when the opportunity comes I packed my things and explored the city with my friend.

The Holy Week holiday is always a blessing for me. It doesn’t only give me a time off from work with pay. It also gives me the opportunity to travel. I am also aware that during this holiday a lot of people from Manila will go up to Baguio, go home to their provinces, or visit provinces so staying home is not a good idea for me. I got the idea that during this time there will be not much people in the capital.

We left Baguio at 6 am Thursday via Joy Bus (deluxe bus cost Php 700). I made my reservation 2 weeks before the trip because I know during Holy Week, it is peak so, there will be difficulty in getting a bus. We arrived in Pasay terminal at exactly 12 noon. It is freakin’ hot. Next it is time for us to look for a hostel which is located in Makati. According to some source I should take a bus going to Buendia then take a jeepney to Bel Air Village and walk my way to Don Pedro where Z Hostel is located. Well, it took us 2 hours to look for the hostel. People in Manila are not that friendly to strangers who simply ask for directions which I understand they’re just being cautious. So, we asked Police officers, Delivery Riders and Security Guards.

IMG_20160325_210641

Finally, we found it. Z Hostel, Don Pedro St. Makati, City. I love this place, it is affordable place to stay, the view is good, the rooms are clean, staff are friendly and it has a view deck bar on top( I didn’t check it out). I just hope they have a laundry service although one staff recommend a nearby laundry shop but I’m lazy to look for it. I booked my reservation online 10 weeks before the trip via booking.com so I had discount. For two nights stay I payed Php 999.46. For walk in, it costs Php 750 per night. I stayed in mixed dormitory so it is cheaper but my friend stayed in all female dorm room which costs few more bucks but that’s fine. Tip: Book your reservation online it is cheaper and offers 20-30% discount. 🙂

After a quick shower we are ready to see the places in Manila. Our first stop The Walled City: Intramuros.

Intramuros City

IMG_20160324_162319IMG_20160324_162339IMG_20160324_162545IMG_20160324_162859IMG_20160324_163150IMG_20160324_163332IMG_20160324_163856IMG_20160324_164302IMG_20160324_170451IMG_20160324_170606

Just a few steps from the entrance of Intamuros you can find Luneta Park where the Statue of National Hero Jose P. Rizal can be found. In our case the guard recommend us to take the pedicab going to Luneta Park because he said it was far (We didn’t have any idea what is “far” to the guard). Pedicabs in Intramuros offers tour around the Walled City I am not just sure how much it costs because we didn’t try. Oh! Our pedicab from Intramuros to Luneta costs Php 100 each person. Honestly, the ride wasn’t worth it. It was very traffic at that time and we thought that walking our way is faster than taking the pedicab. We didn’t figure it out  until we reached Luneta. (It is super near). Well, they are just making a living.

Luneta Park 

IMG_20160324_172325IMG_20160324_172454IMG_20160324_172518IMG_20160324_172611IMG_20160324_172631IMG_20160324_172657IMG_20160324_173030IMG_20160324_173541IMG_20160324_173354IMG_20160324_173727

Taking a jeepney from Luneta we went to Divisoria for cheap buys of course.

IMG_20160324_181054IMG_20160324_181100IMG_20160324_181113

Funny experience: A lot of people are so concern about my bag saying I should embrace it or hold it in front. hahaha. Baka daw macesarean yong bag ko. Thanks for the concern though.

The next day we went to Tagaytay to check out how cold it is. Reading some blogs I choose to go to Picnic Grove because it offers good view of the Taal Volcano. I agree to that. The bus fare going to Tagaytay from Manila costs Php 80-85 dependig on the pick up point.

Picnic Grove, Tagaytay City

IMG_20160325_103603

IMG_20160325_105845

Tagaytay Picnic Grove has lots of things and activities to offer. Aside from the eco-trail and a good view of the Taal Volcano you can also ride the cable car, experience their zip line, do horse back riding and fish spa.