Planning a Trip to the Philippines – Top 6 Things You Have to Know

travelling to the philippines

A Perfect Day at Boracay, Philippines

Planning a trip isn’t that easy, especially if it’s your first time visiting a foreign country – like the Philippines. If you’re thinking about travelling to the Philippines, then you must already know how different it is from other countries, even OTHER Asian countries. Because of its history, the Philippines has become a melting pot of different cultures but has held up its own identity at the same time.

Whether you’re flying in for business of tropical vacation, here are the top 6 things foreigners have to know when planning a trip to the Philippines.

#1 – Visa and Entry Requirements

  • Everyone entering the Philippines must hold a valid passport and it should remain valid for 6 months upon arrival in the Philippines.
  • Visitors from nations with diplomatic ties are granted a 21-day visa upon arrival. Here’s a list of countries and their foreign relationship with the Philippines.  
  • All visitors mush have onward or return tickets upon arrival in the Philippines.
  • Visitors who wish to extend their stay from 21 to 59 days should contact the Bureau of Immigration, Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, in Manila (Mon–Fri 8am–5pm). If you wish to call them, please refer to this page for a complete list of phone numbers. 
  • People from countries on this list are allowed to enter the Philippines without visas provided that they don’t exceed 30 days
  • For more information, visit the website for the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration here.

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Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa – Affordable Island Destination

tropical vacation

One of my greatest dreams is to travel to Greece. With it’s warm weather, blue green ocean and beautiful structures, I’m sure it’s a sight to behold. Problem is, travelling to Greece can be very expensive. I’m from the Philippines, so imagine how far I have to travel and how much I have to spend just to see the country.

Luckily, it turned out that I didn’t have to travel far to have a “Greece experience”. The Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa, located in Marinduque, Philippines, can provide me with my dream vacation – and it can provide yours too!

About the Resort

Also simply referred to as “Bellaroca”, this resort is located in an isolated island in Marinduque, Philippines. No, it’s not a resort on an island – Bellaroca is more of an island turned into a resort. Yes, the whole island where Bellarocca is located is exclusive for guests, so you can imagine the relaxing environment it will provide you.

affordable tropical vacation

How to Get There

You can easily book a room or a suite by going to Bellarocca’s reservation page.

You can either travel privately to Bellarocca from Manila or book a flight through any of the commercial airlines in the country. For flights through Cebu Pacific, please go here for reservations and flight schedules. From the Marinduque Airport, guests will be met by a service staff and travel will be through a private van. From Lipata, guests will be transferred via speedboats or yachts – depending on the number of guests.

For guests who wish to travel privately – private helicopters, luxury yachts or chartered flights, you can do so by coordinating with Bellarocca’s Manila Reservation Office.

Hotel Rooms and Suites

The rooms and suites at Bellarocca were designed to be both elegant and comfortable, with beautiful architectural design to relax you visually and physically. Each room is equipped with hardwood floors and a balcony so guests can enjoy the night air should they wish to.

The bathroom is very spacious and comes with a tub for a relaxing bath after a long day of water activities. Rooms also come with a LED TV and DVD player for entertainment – not that you’d need those after having so much fun outside!

cheap tropical vacation

All rooms and suites are equipped with the following:

  • Beddings and pillow selections
  • Individually-controlled air-conditioning
  • Skype – enabled Belkin telephone
  • Personal bar and refrigerator
  • Coffee and tea service
  • Private balcony / verandah with view of the sea and Mount Malindig
  • Modern bath and shower facilities including Jacuzzi and/or bath tub
  • Complete range of bathroom amenities
  • LCD TV with complete DVD Player and home theatre stereo systems, satellite TV, and Hi-Fi compact sound systems
  • Private balcony or garden
  • Golf cart service
  • Complimentary Internet connectivity (cable) in the room and in general public areas (WiFi)
  • Electronic safe deposit box

For rates, please refer to Bellarocca’s website here. 

Accommodation, Facilities and Amenities

Being an isolated island, the management at Bellarocca made sure that they’ve got everything guests need. By staying at this luxurious hotel, guests get to enjoy:

  • Hotel Lobby
  • Piano lounge
  • Cigar Room
  • Food and Beverage Outlets for all-day dining – Hotel Pavilion, Seaside Pavilion, Marina Cafe and Bar
  • Wi-Fi satellite internet connectivity
  • Library
  • Meeting Room (complete business and meeting service available)
  • Outdoor venues for weddings, banquets and special events
  • Boutique
  • Entertainment Room
  • Fully-equipped Gym and Fitness Center
  • Bellarocca Spa
  • Meditation Sanctuary
  • Tea House
  • Medical Clinic (resident doctor on call)
  • Hotel Lap Swimming Pool
  • Seaside Swimming Pool
  • Natural Hot Spring Pool
  • Aqua Sports Center
  • Picnic Grove
  • Pristine white sand beachfront
  • 9-hole Par 36 Golf Course and driving range

Activities and Recreation

Whether you’re laid-back or a thrill seeker, Bellarocca’s got something for you. The resort offers massages – whether indoor or outdoor – for people who wants to relax on their tropical vacation. Couples who are on their honeymoon, or just want to have a great, romantic time together may have private lunches or private dinners especially arranged by the resort. Couples can also go out on a private yacht trip or just enjoy an outdoor movie screening right by the beach.

For people who wants a taste of adventure, they can always avail of any of the outdoor activities offered by Bellarocca:

•    Kayaking
•    Jet ski
•    Banana boat
•    Windsurfing
•    Hobie cat sailing
•    Trekking/hiking
•    Fitness Walks/Jogging trails

Come and Enjoy Bellarocca!

So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy a cheap, tropical vacation on a luxury hotel by staying at Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa.

To read other people’s reviews of Bellarocca Resort, head to Tripadvisor here.

 

Bellarocca Resort

Why Survivor was Shot at Caramoan Islands and Why You’d Want to Go There

tropical vacation

When Survivor first came on air, I thought it was one of the most interesting TV shows I’ve seen. The challenges were all exciting, but what I really wondered about is how they got to shoot at such an isolated place. With all the urbanizing that’s been happening in the world, I thought they’d have to go to another planet just to find a place.

As it turned out, the location of many Survivor seasons didn’t happen far from where I am. Two seasons from Survivor USA and a couple seasons from Survivor Serbia, Survivor Israel and Survivor Sweden were all shot at Caramoan Islands, Philippines.

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The Truth About Diving at Apo Island, Philippines

tropical vacation

It’s the start of year 2014 and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Have you planned your 2014 yet? If you haven’t had a vacation for a long time, then you might want to plan it as early as now. I’ve had this blog for a couple of months now, and I know that a lot of people out there are interested in diving in the Philippines. Aside from the beautiful shores of Philippine beaches, the world underwater is a real gem as well.

I also know that many of you don’t want to spend a tropical vacation with a million other people. While there’s no doubt that many of the tourist attractions in the Philippines are one of the bests in the world, visiting these places can be a real pain when you have to stand in a queue for hours.

For these reasons, I’ll be writing about a less-traveled place in the Philippines called the Apo Island. Only 12 hectares in land area, it’s located South of Negros Oriental – the capital of Dumaguete City. Many people say the areas surrounding Apo Island is the best in the world, but how true is this?

Getting There

From Manila, get a flight to Dumaguete City. Flight schedules and fares vary. Book a flight through Cebu Pacific by going here.  Travel time is around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

From Dumaguete, take a bus to Zamboanguita (travel time: 45 minutes). Here’s an excerpt I borrowed from PinoyWanderingBoy.com:

Taking a bus from the Ceres Lines Bus terminal or hiring a private vehicle to Malatapay can both get you to Apo Island. If you choose a diving/snorkeling tour, you don’t have to worry about the transpo as this is usually included in the package.

You can also take the public bus from Dumaguete to Bayawan. Tell the driver to get you off the bus at Malatapay Market. When you get to the market in Malatapay, you need to take a walk to the shore where a little coast guard outpost  is located. Here, you will find boats men who are ready to take you to Apo Island.
Hiring a private van to take you to Malatapay (where the boats are) costs arounfd Php3,000 or US $75 for the whole van. The boat costs around Php 1500 or US $37.50 – good for 6 people.

Diving at Apo Island – The Truth

tropical vacation philippines

There are a couple of things you can do at Apo Island, and the top three are swimming at the beach, snorkeling and diving. If you’d rather party the night away, head to Boracay instead as Apo Island is a quiet, isolated island where people live very simple lives.

Now the question is, is diving at Apo Island as good as locals say it is? 

For starters, Apo Island is one of the world’s best known community-organized marine sanctuaries. The marine habitat around the island is also protected by the National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA) and is under the jurisdiction of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

This just means both the local and national government work hand-in-hand to protect the areas surrounding the island so both you and me can enjoy seeing marine life in their natural habitat. Some of the species commonly found in the waters of Apo Island include big-eyed jacks, hump-head wrasses, manta rays, hammerheads and even tuna. If you’re lucky, you’d also spot a turtle or two playing in the water!

Another great thing about Apo Island is that it’s not as popular as other diving spots yet. This means you get to enjoy the island in its barest form – no commercial buildings, no pollution and no expensive vacation packages. You’d also find that the locals are really friendly and they welcome foreigners as if they’re just next door neighbors.

If you’ve always wondered how living in a tropical island is like, then you definitely have to come and visit Apo Island – this is the truth.

Accommodation

There are 2 resorts in the island, and 1 homestay.

Apo Island Beach Resort

For a relaxing tropical vacation in the Philippines, stay at Apo Island Beach Resort. This is considered as the more posh resort in the island, but even this is not as expensive as you’d think. They have nine cottages ranging from Php 2,700 (US $67.50) to Php 3,400 (US $85) per night.
Apo Island Beach Resort has a restaurant and bar. And, if you book a room with them, they can arrange to have you picked from Dumaguete Airport for a hassle-free trip to the island.
This resort’s dive shop includes:
  • Full time diving instructor with over 15 years of experience
  • 2 certified NAUI Divemasters
  • Brand New Scubapro Rental equipment
  • New dedicated dive boat (Apo Adventurer)
  • Beautiful new shop with an indoor and an outdoor classroom

For more information, visit their website here.

cheap tropical vacation

Golden Cowrie Room Overlooking the Ocean

Liberty’s Lodge and Dive

Liberty’s is the other beach resort in the island. This resort has very basic amenities, but they’re affordable and they’ve got their own diving shop too. If you’re travelling with a group, you might want to stay in the Sunset Suite which has a big bedroom, a separate living room downstairs, a bathroom and a spacious balcony.

If you book with Liberty’s Lodge and Dive, they can also arrange a transfer to take you from Dumaguete City to Apo Island. Car and boat transfer costs Php 1,300 or US $32.50 per head.

For more information, visit their website here. 

affordable tropical vacation

Mario’s Scuba Diving and Homestay

For backpackers who prefer cheap (but good) accommodation, you can stay at Mario’s. The accommodation is very, very basic – bunk beds with mosquito nets and a fan in each room (although they also offer big rooms aside from the homestay facilities). However, what this place lacks in luxury, it made up for it’s warm welcome. If you read the reviews for Mario’s at tripadvisor, you’d know how much people love this place especially the host (Mario) and the staff. This place also cooks food for the guests and if you have any special requests (vegan food, etc.) they’d be happy to help you out.

Room rates differ but dorm rooms start at Php 300 or US $7.50 per night. They also offer diving lessons, equipment rental and PADI certification. For more information, visit Mario’s here. 

cheap accommodation apo island philippines

Important Things to Know About the Island

  • No need to bring food and water as you can buy them from locals.
  • Electricity is regulated – it’s only available from 6PM to 11PM so make sure to book a room with good ventilation.
  • Waves can be a bit unpredictable so make sure to wrap all gadgets during boat transfer.
  • You can bring snorkeling gadgets if you want to save but you can also rent them cheap at the island.

Enjoy Apo Island!

Apo Island

Camiguin – Perfect Small Island for a Tropical Vacation

tropical vacation philippines

I already talked about Camiguin in one of my previous posts, but honestly felt that I didn’t do it much justice. Camiguin, a very small island in Mindanao, has made headlines because of its Sunken Cemetery – an underwater cemetery formed when Mt. Vulcan erupted, destroying and sinking a part of Camiguin including the cemetery. However, the underwater cemetery’s not all this island has to offer. Keep on reading to know why you should definitely visit Camiguin Island for a tropical vacation.

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Why Puerto Galera is the Perfect Affordable Island Destination

tropical vacation

I’d have to admit that there are many beautiful islands than Puerto Galera. At the top of my head, there’s Boracay and El Nido, which are one of the top tropical vacation spots in the world. However, going to these islands can be quite a hassle. From Manila, one would have to take a flight, ride a bus/ van and then a boat before reaching these islands.

If you need a quick island getaway, why don’t you head to Puerto Galera instead? This island is only a few hours from Manila, and it’s real easy to go to. It’s called the “Poor Man’s Boracay” for a couple of reasons – the water and sand resemble those of the famous island but everything in Puerto Galera is much, much cheaper.

Enjoy Puerto Galera!

Puerto Galera

Going to Puerto Galera

From Manila, ride a bus going to Batangas Pier. Fare depends on the bus line, but it wouldn’t be more than Php 200 or around US $5 per person. Travel time is around 2 hours. From the pier, take a boat ride going to Puerto Galera which costs Php 250 (one way) or around US $6.25 per head. The boat ride will take another hour.

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Gumasa Beach, Saranggani – Cheap Paradise in the Philippines

tropical vacation

As I get to know the Philippines more, I simply get amazed at what this country has to offer. There’s simply nothing you can’t do here. If you love history, there are countless museums waiting for you to visit. If it’s the mountains you love, there are both easy and difficult to climb mountains – all waiting to get conquered by you.

You know we’ve got a lot of beautiful beaches in this country, and you’ve got options for that too. There’s Boracay for people who wants to see nature and a bit of partying on the side, and there are also quiet beaches for people who want serenity and a bit of soul-searching.

A good example of the latter is Gumasa Beach in Saranggani, Philippines.

P.S I’ll be coming back to Boracay soon. What do you think about this bikini?

Saranggani, Philippines

Saranggani is located in the southern tip of Mindanao (one of the three major islands of the country). The province is not as well-developed as Manila or Cebu – there are no big malls or busy commercial areas here. Recently, Saranggani has become popular when world-renowned boxing champion Manny Pacquiao won as it’s representative in the congress.

Another reason for Saranggani’s fame is the beaches found in the province. I’m sure you’ve heard about various beaches being labeled as THE alternative to Boracay. Gumasa Beach is a bit different because it’s not just an alternative – it’s actually being called “The Boracay of the South”.

Enjoy Gumasa!

Gumasa Beach

Gumasa Beach

Gumasa Beach is a crescent-shaped stretch found in Gumasa, Saranggani. Many people describes it as how Boracay was 20 years ago. The sand is just so fine on this beach – not very different from the famous sand of Boracay. The water is crystal-clear – you can actually see little fishes nibbling on your feet while taking a dip.

I guess the big difference between Boracay and Gumasa Beach is the infrastructure. There are many establishments in Boracay – too many, perhaps, that it’s like being in the metro if you turn your back on the beach and just face the line of buildings. Don’t get me wrong, taking a tropical vacation in Boracay is very convenient. You can have a meal anytime of the day – you can even have pizza, something that’s not common among the beaches in the Philippines.

However, convenience sometimes defeat the purpose of setting off to an island. An island is where you can enjoy serenity, enjoy a simple life. Boracay is like a city surrounded by a beautiful beach. While it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, going to Boracay isn’t like going to an island at all.

In Gumasa Beach, there are no restaurants on the shore. There are no bars if you want a bottle of beer, but there’s also no crowds, no noise and no kids running around like crazy. Gumasa Beach is nature at it’s finest – peaceful and serene, exactly what you want for a tropical vacation in the Philippines. And because it’s a hidden paradise, taking a vacation to Gumasa is as cheap as it can be.

cheap tropical vacation

Heading to Gumasa Beach

Now that we’ve talked about why you have to go there, let’s talk about the how.

Let me tell you that Gumasa Beach is quite far, but it’s not too far that you’ll be cursing all the way down there.

Start off point is General Santos City – the closest city with an airport that caters to domestic flights. No matter where you are in the Philippines, you should be able to fly into General Santos without a problem.

From General Santos, take a cab and head to KCC Mall (all the drivers know where it is). There’s a terminal at the rear, where vans heading to Glan, Saranggani are waiting. Take one of the vans and tell the driver to drop you off nearest Gumasa Beach. When you step out of the van, ride a habal-habal (to learn more about the habal-habal, go here) to get to the beach resort of your choice.

Fare for the van is Php80 or around US $2 per person. Habal-habal fare is around Php30 or less than a dollar per head.

Where to Stay

There are a couple of beach resorts around Gumasa Beach. No matter what your budget or preference is, you should find something you’re comfortable with.

Splurge

Coco Beach Resort

This beach resort is one of the more popular resorts in the province. Being underdeveloped, you can’t expect accommodation in Gumasa to be as grand as those in Boracay (Boracay Shangri-La, anyone?) but it’s not that bad either.

Coco Beach Resort offers several rooms. For couples, you might want to check the Dark Green Room (yeah… they have a complicated room system. Haha!) which is good for two people. For Php2, 200 or US $55 per night, you can stay in a comfortable room with AC and toilet and bath.

For groups, you can always stay in the resort’s Big Green Room. Capacity is up to 10 persons. Room is equipped with AC, fridge and toilet and bath.

For more information, please visit their website here. 

tropical vacation philippines

Save

White Haven Resort

If you want to save, you can always go for the backpacker’s room at White Haven Resort. It’s really cheap at Php750 or US $18.75 per head per night. This is good for 2 persons, with free breakfast. The room is equipped with an electric fan instead of AC, but the breeze from the sea makes the room really cool so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Gumasa beach philippines

 Things to Bring for a Flawless Tropical Vacation

Corregidor Island, Philippines – Travel Back in Time for a Different Tropical Vacation

tropical vacation

I can name a few things that the Philippines is famous for. For instance, the pristine, white sand beaches in this country are so popular all over the world that foreigners travel thousands of miles to spend a tropical vacation here.

There’s also Filipino food, which is so good that Filipinos working overseas always ask friends and family to bring them some when they visit. In fact, Filipinos have earned this notorious image of always having Filipino food in their baggage whenever they pass through airports.

Corregidor Island

If you want to learn more about the rich history of the Philippines, travel back in time and have a tropical vacation at the same time, then Corregidor Island in the Philippines is the perfect destination for you.

Corregidor Island, also known as “The Rock” is located right at the entrance of Manila Bay. Because of it’s location, it has become an important spot in defending Manila from the Japanese Occupation in 1941.

Corregidor has become the headquarters of the Allied forces and it has also become the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government.

Although both Filipino soldiers and their allies defended Corregidor as much as they could, the island fell and the forces surrendered to Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu of the Japanese Imperial Army. Because it was two years and ten months later that Gen. MacArthur recaptured the Philippines, you can only imagine how the captured soldiers suffered while on the island.

Enjoy Corregidor Island

 

Things to Do

The guns of Corregidor has been silenced a long time ago, but their presence on the island serves as a reminder of what traversed through history. Visit Corregidor Island and have a one-of-a-kind experience at…

Malinta Tunnel

The Malinta Tunnel was actually a bomb shelter created by making prisoners dig through solid rock for ten years. The tunnel was completed in 1932 and was constructed to protect women, children and the injured from bombs (there’s actually a hospital inside).

Although the people inside the tunnel were protected from shrapnels and the dangers from outside, they were not protected from the dire living situations resulting from poor ventilation and the crowd. Being underground, the tunnel was dark and damp with thousands of people cramped inside. There were also flies and bed bugs everywhere, and there’s nowhere you can go to for privacy. The tunnel was actually not designed as a quarter, but people had nowhere to go to during the war.

tropical vacation philippines

photo credits: Ferdinand Decena

Today, tourists can experience what the poor men and women of Corregidor have experienced by taking a tour of Malinta Tunnel. Although now a little bit modern – with lights and voice-over highlighting depictions of the war – the tunnel today is very close to what it was years ago.

If you take the night tour, you will have the chance to experience the tunnel in total darkness (tour guides will ask you to turn off your torch lights) – scary but a great way to travel back in time and imagine how people survived living there. You’ll also get to take a tour of the 1,000-bed Fort Mills Hospital which is the hospital inside the tunnel.

At one point of the tour, tourists will be guided to an area where hundreds of Japanese soldiers used to be confined due to injury. Upon learning that the island is being recaptured, they all committed mass suicide which is their way of saving honor than getting captured by the American forces. It sure is a creepy experience, but one that you should never pass.

Entrance fee to the tunnel is Php 200 or around US $5 per person.

affordable tropical vacation

Battery Way

Seeing the Battery Way is a poignant reminder of what went down in Corregidor. An artillery battery is a group of guns and cannons positioned in a defensive way to drive enemies away, and it’s not hard imagining Filipino soldiers taking charge of the huge guns at Battery Way and firing at their enemies while you’re there.

Seeing Battery Way is free, and make sure to get lots of good pictures with the giant guns!

cheap tropical vacation philippines

Mile-Long Barracks

Skeletal and old, the Mile-Long Barracks is one of the most photographed structure in the island and it’s not hard to see why.

During the war, many American soldiers and their families lived at the barracks. It was a thriving American community and residents were able to enjoy baseball, American movies, sodas and candies while living there.

At 1,520-feet long, this old structure serves as a beautiful reminder of what Corregidor used to be. The facade of the building, though withering, showcases the architectural design used by the Americans during the late 1920s and 1930s.

cheap tropical vacation

Today, many couples choose to have their prenuptial pictures taken at the Mile-Long Barracks, but this beautiful ruin deserves to be more than a background in a picture. Going there, it’s much easier to imagine how Americans blended in with a culture very different from their own, while trying very hard to protect the Philippines from Japanese invaders. Visiting the Mile-Long Barracks is a great way to pay respect to the brave soldiers who fought for the freedom of the Philippines – whether Filipino or American.

Old Spanish Lighthouse

The original Spanish Lighthouse got ruined by bombs during the fight for liberation from the Japanese, but that establishment has played such an important role in Corregidor that it was rebuilt in the 1950s.

Now, the Old Spanish Lighthouse is located in the highest point on the island. The view from above is just breathtaking – the whole island can be seen from there, as well as Manila Bay. Mt. Mariveles can also be seen from the North, and if the sky is clear, you can even see the skyline of Metro Manila all the way from it.

affordable tropical vacation

How to Get There

Corregidor Island is just a few hours from Manila, making it a great destination for a little side trip if you’re in Manila for business.

Personally, I’d recommend going on a tour since it’s more convenient. Tour companies such as Sun Cruises offers packages. It’s also flexible since you get to choose on whether you’d have the day tour or the day tour plus the night tour.

Rates start at Php2,000 or US $50 per person. This includes roundtrip ferryboat transfers, entrance fees for the attractions, payment for the tour guide and lunch.

For the complete rates, please go here. 

For bookings, please contact Sun Cruises at 831-8140 or 834-6857

I actually tried checking if there’s a way to go to Corregidor without availing of a tour but it seems like the local government only allows people under a guided tour.

Where to Stay

Corregidor Inn

The Corregidor Inn is basically the only place you can stay in while at Corregidor. Although tourism in the island has been booming, there’s not a lot of areas to develop and put more accommodations.

The rooms at Corregidor Inn are all very basic, but one you can’t really expect to see a 5-star hotel in an island who has worked very hard to preserve what was left from the war. In fact, the oldness of the hotel is what makes it very charming. It seems to have been preserved along with the ruins, making it fit perfectly with the rest of island.

If you have questions and/ or reactions, please don’t hesitate to drop one on the comments section. I’ll do my best to help you out!

philippines tropical island

 

What to Bring:

 Enjoy Corregidor!

corregidor

Panglao Island, Philippines – An Island You Shouldn’t Miss

tropical vacation

Panglao Island is one of those lucky places where its name alone has been associated with “tropical vacation”. No matter where you’re from, when you mention “Panglao Island”, people would automatically know that’s where you got your tan from.

I have lived in the Philippines for the past 26 years, and you think you’d get used to the beauty of this country, but you never really do. Even though I’m used to being able to go to the beach whenever I want, I’m still taken aback by the beauty of the water and the sand whenever I go to such places as Panglao, Boracay and Palawan.

Panglao Island – How to Get There

Panglao Island is located in Panglao, Bohol in the Philippines. Bohol is located in the Visayas region, far away from Manila – the country’s capital. Although Bohol is a tourist destination by itself, a trip to this province is not complete unless you drop by Panglao Island too.

To get to Panglao Island, the first thing that you have to do is head to Tagbilaran City, which is the capital of Bohol. You can either fly in from Manila or Cebu City. I prefer Cebu because it’s closer to Bohol, but most international flights land at Manila so chances are that’s where you’ll be flying from.

Cebu Pacific has flights from Manila and Cebu to Tagbilaran daily. For flight schedules and tickets, please go here. 

If you’ve booked a hotel ahead of time, you can have them pick you up at the Tagbilaran Airport. Otherwise, you’d have to commute by yourself. You can choose from different modes of transportation from Tagbilaran to Panglao – taxi, tricycle, bus, jeep or van.

Travelling to Panglao Island by Bus

If you decide to take the bus, you have to ride a tricycle from Tagbilaran airport to the terminal where Panglao-bound buses are waiting. Make sure that the signage on the bus says TAWALA DANAO since these are the only buses that will pass by Alona Beach in Panglao.

Travelling by bus is cheap – only Php25 or less than US$1 per person. The disadvantages are the buses are not installed with AC so it’s hot and you have to wait for the bus to get full.

Travelling to Panglao Island by Jeep

The jeepney is the most popular form of transportation all over the country, and you’ve never been truly to the Philippines unless you’ve tried travelling by jeep.

Should you decide to head to Panglao Island through a jeep, take a tricycle from the Tagbilaran airport and tell the driver to bring you to Dao Terminal. Take the Tawala-bound jeep and pay fare of Php20 or less than US $1 per person. Travel time is around one hour.

Just like with buses, jeepneys are not equipped with ACs and you have to wait for it to get full before you can go. The only advantage buses have over jeeps is that buses have more legroom than the cramped space jeepney offers.

To know more about the modes of transportation in the Philippines, read this article. 

tropical vacation philippines

Travelling to Panglao Island by Taxi

Taking a taxi is the most convenient way of travelling from Tagbilaran City to Panglao. However, it’s also the most expensive. There’s actually no fixed rate so feel free to haggle with the driver. Most drivers charge around Php450 or US $11.25 one-way, which is expensive by Philippine standards. Just make sure that you agree on a price before hopping in to prevent being ripped off.

Travelling to Panglao Island by Tricycle

A cheaper alternative to taxis is tricycles. Tricycles are also common in the Philippines, and are actually motorcycles installed with a sidecar so it can carry more passengers.

The good thing about tricycles is that you don’t have to wait for it to get full, since it can only ride two persons. One of the things that I appreciate with the tricycles in Tagbilaran is that they have a space for luggages at the back, so passengers don’t have to carry them on their laps.

There’s also no fixed rates for tricycles but expect to pay around Php250 or US $7, good for two people.

affordable tropical vacation

Travelling to Panglao Island by Van

Vans are also available to take tourists from Tagbilaran to Panglao. The great thing about vans is that they’re air-conditioned and they don’t pick up passengers along the way like jeepneys do. The downside is that drivers drive pretty fast since they’re paid per trip. Expect to pay around Php50 or US $1.50 per person for a one-way trip.

When You Arrive at Panglao – Where to Stay

Splurge

Amorita Resort

Amorita Resort is a Traveler’s Choice Winner by Trip Advisor for 2013. No wonder, since it got really good reviews by guests. One of the things people seem to appreciate most is the friendliness of the staff. More than one guest commented on how the staff address them by their first names and how they are more than willing to help guests with whatever they need.

Some people recommend staying on the resort’s villa, which is not cheap but pointed out that it’s worth it. During lean season (June to September), the Ocean View Villa costs Php 12,400 or US $310 per night.

accommodation panglao

The Ocean View Villa includes:

  • Single or Twin sharing
  • Welcome drink
  • Additional fee of Php1,000 or US $25 applies for extra bed/ extra person

For a complete list of room rates, visit Amorita Resort’s website here. 

Amorita Resort also offers the Bohol Tourrific Package. Rate will depend on the room you prefer, but the package includes:

  • Three days and two nights accommodation
  • Buffet breakfast at Saffron Restaurant
  • Countryside Tour
  • One-time in-room massage per adult for 60 minutes
  • Roundtrip transfers
  • Complimentary bottled water
  • Welcome drinks

For the complete rate and terms and conditions, please go here. 

For hotel reservations in Panglao Island, please visit Amorita Resort here.

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Hope Homes Resort

Hope Homes Resort is indeed one of the cheapest hotels in Panglao, but it’s clean and the staff are friendly which is why people love it.

This resort have twelve rooms, half of which are equipped with AC. One of the things that guests love about this place is that the rate includes the use of the motorcycle.

affordable accommodation panglao

Riding a motorbike around Panglao is an experience you will never forget, which is why being able to use a motorcycle for free is one of this resort’s main attraction. Although standard rooms only have an electric fan and cold shower, the Deluxe rooms have the following:

  • Aircon
  • Fridge
  • Cable TV
  • Hot Shower

Rate

  • Standard Room – Php 750 or US $18.75
  • Deluxe Room – Php 1,300 or US $32.50

For reservations, please visit this link. 

Having Fun at Panglao – Things to Do

Hit the Beach

You’d be crazy not to hit the beach in Panglao. The beach is what Panglao is known for, so it’s a must-try even if it’s the only thing you do there.

The Virgin Island is one of the top attractions of Bohol. It’s a very small island, and it even gets smaller during high tide as the water eats up some part of it. It’s known as the “Virgin Island” because nobody lives there, and there are no structures on the area either.

Quite a number of boats bring people to the Virgin Island. Your hotel should be able to help you arrange a tour.

The only thing you have to be careful about in the island is that there are a few vendors who would force you to buy their wares. You have to tell them “no” directly if you want them to stop pestering you.

Another place that you absolutely have to visit is Alona Beach. Alona Beach is comparable to the stretch of beach Boracay has, except that it’s not as crowded. Over the years, quite a number of establishments have started businesses in Alona Beach so you don’t have to worry about getting hungry, thirsty or tired. In fact, one of the best ways to enjoy Alona is by sipping a glass of cold fruit juice while lazing away on one of the beach beds.

Panglao virgin island

Panglao’s Virgin Island

Hinagdanan Cave

If you’re up for an adventure, head to the Hinagdanan Cave – a few miles away from Alona beach and accessible by motorcycle or tricycle.

This cave was discovered by the owner of the land while he was clearing some branches away. He found a big hole on the ground and threw a stone inside. When he heard a splash, he got interested and built a ladder so he can go down. “Hinagdanan” actually means “ladder” in Filipino.

Aside from giant stalactites and stalagmites, what’s really interesting about the Hinagdanan cave is the underground lake. With a greenish surface produced by the green limestones at the pool, it has become a popular swimming spot for tourists.

There is a small entrance fee to the cave, Php20 or less than US $1 per person.

Things to Bring:

Oh, One Last Thing

Bohol was recently hit by a strong earthquake about two weeks ago. Many of the ancient churches were literally powdered to the floor, and many people were left homeless. Fortunately, Panglao is left unscathed and tourism remains strong there as ever. Because many workers in Panglao are have families in mainland Bohol, I urge you to pay Panglao a visit for your tropical vacation and at least help these people by providing them with livelihood.

If you have questions and/ or reactions, please don’t hesitate to drop one on the comments section. I’ll do my best to help you out!

Enjoy Panglao Island!

panglao island

Great Diving and More at Biri Island, Philippines

 tropical vacation

Apart from spending a lazy day at the beach, there’s another reason tourists flock to the Philippines – to go diving. The Philippines has a lot of great diving spots, many of which are proclaimed as the best in the world. Malapascua Island in Cebu City, for instance, is a great hit. Every year, thousands of divers brave the water of Malapascua to see Thresher Sharks – and they’re rarely disappointed.

The only problem with Malapascua is that it has become so popular that getting accommodation, especially during the peak season, can be a problem. If you’re the kind of person who’d rather experience the road less travelled than go mainstream, you might want to consider heading to Biri Island in Samar, Philippines for a tropical vacation.

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Diving in Malapascua Island, Cebu – Thresher Sharks, Anyone?

diving at malapascua, cebu

Typhoon Haiyan Update (Edit: January 6, 2014)

Malapascua Island was greatly devastated when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in late 2013. We’re happy to say that the island is quickly recovering and many of the ruined establishments have been fixed. The government and the residents of Malapascua is encouraging tourists to visit the island to help the community get back on its feet and regain normal life.

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Just like Boracay, “Malapascua” has come to be associated with “vacation”, “tourists” and “beach” by a lot of people. Although it has become popular recently – around the beginning of the 90’s – this magical island has become a popular tropical vacation destination for both diving and beach enthusiasts.

The Island Called “Malapascua”

Malapascua Island is a part of Cebu City, Philippines, but it’s a different island from the rest of the city. It’s actually a tiny island, about 2.5 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide. It first became popular for it’s white sand and crystal blue water, although it has rose to fame as one of the best diving spots in the Philippines.

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Top Reasons Why Carabao Island, Philippines Rivals Boracay Island

Carabao Island

Right at Carabao Island

Hands down, Boracay Island in the Philippines is one of the best tropical destinations in the world. It has been awarded several times by international award-giving bodies, and millions of foreigners have fell in love with the island – writing about Boracay on their blogs and telling their friends about it.

I already wrote about my Boracay experience (here), and I have to say it was one of the best vacations I ever had. Travelling all the way from Kalibo was such a bummer, but all those melted away when I saw the white sand and crystal-blue waters of the island.

I love reading about travelling to the Philippines on blogs and forums, and over the past few months, I’ve found countless of people online wanting to know if there’s a good alternative to Boracay.

You see, while Boracay Island was able to maintain its natural beauty, the local government has turned it into one big beach party. Bars are everywhere, and because guests want convenience, there are countless of restaurants on the island too – a McDonald’s even opened there recently.

During the day, expect tourists to be on the shore enjoying the water and the sun. We came on November, and lucky for us, the island wasn’t as packed as it is during summer. I wouldn’t even dare going there on April and May, which is summer season in the Philippines.

So, What’s a Great Alternative to Boracay Island?

If you’re the type of person who’d rather stay on a quiet island and laze the day away by reading a good book, watching the sunset and enjoying the water (without having to rub elbows with a complete stranger), I recommend heading to Carabao Island instead.

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Ride the Waves without Spending A Fortune at La Union, Philippines

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Most tourists land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila upon arrival in the Philippines. Being an archipelago, some find it such a hassle to have to fly to another island to enjoy the best beaches in the Philippines, especially if you’re in a business trip and there’s no time to head to another island. If you absolutely have to stay close to Manila, I recommend heading to La Union instead.

La Union

La Union is located in the Ilocos Region. It’s in the same island with Manila, hence one can travel through land instead of having to fly. La Union is around 5 hours away by car, and 6-8 hours away by bus. It’s known as the “surfing capital of the North” and has gained popularity over surfers around the world for the past few years.

Aside from surfing, La Union is popular for a variety of things. My aunt married an Ilocano from La Union, and I came to associate the province with Dinengdeng – a local vegetable soup made delicious by sweet yam. It’s really good, whether eaten alone or with rice. If it’s an adventure you’re looking for, you’ll never run out of things to do in La Union, Philippines.

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Head to Basco, Batanes for the Best Scenery in the Philippines

photo credits: images.gmanews.tv

photo credits: images.gmanews.tv

 

I swear there’s no place in the world that compares to Basco, Batanes in the Philippines. Most provinces in the country boasts of beautiful beaches, underwater caves and historical sites. There’s nothing wrong with these, but if you’re looking for something different, I recommend you head to Basco, Batanes instead.

Basco, Batanes

Basco is a small municipality located in the Province of Batanes, Philippines. Let me tell you ahead of time that Basco is nothing fancy. If you’re looking for 5-star hotels and expensive restaurants then I’m afraid you wouldn’t find any of those in Basco. You would, however, find something better.

One of the things that Basco has to be proud of is its picturesque views. Many spots in Basco look like they were cut out from a picture of Ireland, or maybe New Zealand. What it makes it different from these places is that Basco is very affordable. If you’re from a country with a high currency exchange rate with Philippine Peso (like Europe, United States of America, Canada, etc), then you’d find that a tropical vacation to Basco is less than your apartment’s rent.

A tropical vacation to Basco, Batanes is the best option for people who would like to do a bit of of soul searching. The panoramic views and silence sets the stage to think, and just reflect on life.

Foreigners also visit Basco for the town’s simple lifestyle. In this small municipality, there are no high-rise buildings, malls or business districts. If you want to cook, you have to go to a wet market for the ingredients. If you want to relax, you can always read a good book while overlooking the ocean, or talk to the friendly people if you want to learn about the culture.

The simple things one gets to enjoy in Basco is exactly what attracts tourists to it.

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Asik-Asik Falls – The Newest Tourist Spot in the Philippines

tropical vacation philippines

The Philippines is one of the most blessed countries in the world. Not only do we have the best beaches with its crystal-blue water and white sand, we are also home to the finest cuisine and most beautiful people.

As if all these are not enough, we are still discovering new wonders of nature such as the Asik-Asik Falls in North Cotabato, Philippines.

Asik-Asik Falls

The word “asik-asik” means “sprinkle of water”, and no name is more fitting for this newly discovered waterfalls. Unlike most falls, this one doesn’t fall from a body of water. No, there’s no river above the Asik-Asik, and this is what makes it truly amazing.

The Asik-Asik Waterfalls falls directly from rocks, giving the illusion of curtains made of water. Nobody really knows where the water comes from, with some locals saying that it’s a gift from the gods.

The moment you see the beauty of the Asik-Asik Falls, there’s no way you won’t utter a silent prayer to the powerful being who made it. Partnered with the green leaves that has sprouted right beside it, Asik-Asik Falls looks like it came right out of a painting.

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The Best Tropical Vacation at Plantation Bay, Cebu

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One of the things I adore about Cebu is that you get to live in the city, but the country is not too far away either. Cebu is also well-developed compared to the other cities in the Philippines, as evident by the many first-class hotels and resorts in the city.

While there are many beach resorts in Cebu, you might want to do it differently and stay in a first-class man-made lagoon resort instead.

Truth is, the man-made lagoons are not the only attractions Plantation Bay has. They’re a well-rounded resort and I’ll tell you why staying there for a tropical vacation is worth it.

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Olango Island and the Best Bird Sanctuary in the Philippines

olango bird sanctuary

Nobody would argue that Cebu is a beautiful city. With it’s diverse, colorful culture, wonderful spots and beautiful ladies, tourists often flock the city to explore and relax.

What’s beautiful about Cebu is that it’s near other beautiful islands, so tourists can enjoy the convenience of staying in the city and enjoy the islands during the day. One such island is called Olango.

The Olango Island is part of the Olango Island Group located 5 kilometers East of Mactan, Cebu. People in the island survive through fishing and making shell handicrafts which they later sell. The Olango Island is not a luxurious islands. In fact, it’s being laid back is what tourists like most about it.

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From CEBU to Peru…

tropical vacation philippines

That title above is a line from a song called “Orinoco Flow” by Enya. I won’t pretend knowing why Cebu is one of the places mentioned in the song, but maybe it’s because Cebu is one of the most popular cities in the Philippines. With its colorful festival, captivating tourist spots and beautiful people, it’s no wonder Enya wanted to immortalize the city in a song.

My family and I  lived in Cebu when I was young. The city held many of my childhood memories, and going back to the city has been a dream.

Let me tell you why visiting Cebu for your tropical vacation is worth it.

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Sagada, Philippines – Hanging Coffins and Great Tourism

sagada

The Philippines is a prime destination for people seeking for the perfect tropical vacation. The beaches around the country, whether you’re in El Nido or Boracay, are just heavenly. I even have a Korean friend who mentioned that he had never seen a paradise quite like Boracay before.

A lot of people don’t know that the Philippines has another face as well – the mountains. Equally beautiful, the mountain side of the country is a surprise for many people. It is very different from the usual Philippine tropical destination, yet I’m sure you’d enjoy it all the same.

For people seeking a different kind of thrill, the municipality of Sagada in the Mountain Province is highly suggested. Sagada is located in a valley near the Central Cordillera. The climate in the area is colder compared to the rest of the country, even during summer (March to May). For a different type of tropical vacation in the Philippines, Sagada is a great option for you and your family.

Why You Should Visit Sagada

The People are One of the Friendliest In the Country

The Filipino people are known for being hospitable and friendly. Ask someone who has been to the country, and they will acknowledge how warm the people are. There’s something with the people of Sagada that makes them seem to be extra friendly though. My theory is that it’s because they are located far from the big cities, allowing them to keep the old tradition of true Filipino hospitality.

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Sorsogon, Philippines – Prime Destination to Go Nature Tripping

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If seeing nature in it’s finest beauty is your idea of the perfect vacation, then travelling to the Philippines and heading to Sorsogon is the perfect getaway for you. Although the Philippines has already been known around the world for having the perfect beaches and amazing creatures (the tarsiers, for instance), the local government of Sorsogon has taken it a step further and focused on offering nature trips for both local and foreign tourists. And what nature trips they offer!

Here are some of the top things you can do at Sorsogon, Philippines.

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Travelling to the Philippines? Why Catanduanes is Worth It

bato church

Some people prefer travelling to popular tourist destinations like Paris, Italy or Rome. Some people prefer taking the road less travelled, away from the crowd and the noise. If you’re one of the latter, you might want to add Catanduanes to your list. Catanduanes is a beautiful province in the Philippines with amazing beaches and historical sites to boast of. Nobody would ever argue that it’s a very beautiful place, but what makes it even more interesting is that it’s under the radar, so you don’t have to fight with other tourists for that perfect spot on the beach.

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Why You Should Try These Dishes When Travelling to the Philippines

Philippine_Food-Philippine-Department-of-Tourism

Are you planning a vacation to the Philippines? Good choice. The Philippines is one of the least traveled countries in Southeast Asia, and honestly, I don’t understand why. Is it because it’s not as developed as other Southeast Asian countries? Frankly, I see that as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Because the Philippines has only been touched by minimal urbanization, many of our spots are natural and therefore, more beautiful than any other “tourist” spots in Asia.

The Filipino culture is also a melting pot of different other cultures. Due to a rich history, the Filipino people borrowed a little bit of something from the Spanish, Japanese, American and Chinese cultures. Each city or province has a specialty, and this is often borrowed from the foreigners who stayed in a specific place.

Cebu, for instance, is popular for their Sinulog Festival. This festival celebrates Sto. Niño, who is a saint introduced by the Spanish. On the other hand, Mindanao, located in the southern part of the country, is popular for its Muslim inhabitants. The culture from Mindanao and Cebu are very different, yet they’re both Filipino in every way.

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Manila – The “Awful” City that You Should Still Visit

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I was surfing the internet today when I came upon an article by David Whitley on The Age Australia.

David Whitley is a freelance travel writer who now resides in the UK. He often flies back to Australia though and has a regular column in the National Geographic Traveller. He also writes for newspapers such as The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Independent and Telegraph.

The article is about “Ten Awful Cities that You Should Still Visit”. Those who made it to the list include Bogota, Belgrade and Pittsburgh. One that caught my attention though is when I saw that Manila, Philippines also made it.

To quote David’s article:

“There are many cities around the world with a justifiably awful image – hello Johor Bahru and Guatemala City! – but others seem to get repeated reputation trashing that’s not entirely warranted. These supposed grotholes may be bywords for crime, industrial bleakness or urban decay, but they do have something about them that makes them worth casting aside the prejudices for. These 10 cities aren’t quite as grim as you might imagine…”

And so, I proceeded to read what Mr. Whitley has to say about Manila and I have to say that every word of it is true.

For instance, he mentioned that “Even Filipinos will happily admit that their capital is a chaotic, disjointed mess.”

If you read my last post, you know that I visited Manila for the first time. Living in Davao (a province here in the Philippines) my whole life, I was just not prepared for what I saw. The streets of Manila are so busy even at 3 in the morning; and buses, cars and cabs are ready to ram you up unless you (literally) run to the other side of the street.

The traffic’s also really heavy in the city. Given that there are too many vehicles and the streets are not that wide, this is to be expected even if they have this “number coding scheme” where vehicle plates ending in a certain number are banned from roaming the streets on certain days. It’s really crazy, especially because rich people can just buy another car and they have something to use anyway.

However, David Whitley also mentioned that:

“…But it has a passionate boisterousness missing from other South-East Asian cities – the garish jeepneys and wall-to-wall karaoke bars are the best examples of this.”

“Passionate boisterousness” are the perfect words to describe the atmosphere in the Manila. I want to mention though that this is probably because of how the Filipino people live their lives. We are naturally happy people. We love to smile and tend to laugh our problems off. We just always find something good out of bad things, and we celebrate life even when he have problems.

As mentioned by Mr. Whitley, karaoke bars are everywhere. They’re not only a testimony to how much Filipinos sing, but also to how much we love to celebrate life.

David Whitley also took the time to mention three attractions in Manila. These are:

Intramuros

Intramuros is the oldest district in Manila. It was the seat of the Spanish government during the Spanish colonization more than a hundred years ago. Even though Intramuros suffered some serious damage during Word War II, some of the sites were preserved well.

Some of the sites that I’d suggest visiting are:

Fort Santiago – Fort Santiago became popular because it was here that Jose RIzal – the country’s national hero – was last imprisoned before his execution in 1896. The Rizal Shrine, which is a museum dedicated to Rizal’s life and work is also located within Fort Santiago. Fort Santiago is open from 1:00 – 5:00 pm on Mondays and from 8:00 am to 12 noon and then 1:00 – 5:00 pm from Tuesdays to Sundays. Entrance fee is around US $1.50 per person. For a guided tour of the place, you can request one from the Intramuros Administration. Their address is

5/F Palacio Del Gobernador Building, General Luna and Aduan Streets, Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

You can also call them at +63(2)5273108.

fort santiago

fort santiago

San Agustin Church – If visiting old churches is your thing, I suggest dropping by San Agustin Church. It’s a real gem, with magnificent ceilings and a truly amazing altar. Although it also suffered damages during The Second World War, it survived and is considered the oldest stone church standing in the country. It’s also listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

san agustin church manila

Casa Manila – For someone who loves travelling back in time by visiting old homes and museums, I highly recommend visiting Casa Manila. Casa Manila is a recreation of a typical upper-class house in old Intramuros. The house is filled with antique pieces of furniture and painting arranged to depict how home was like to the wealthy Filipino/ Spanish families back then.

casa manila

casa manila

The Ayala Museum

The Ayala Family is quite popular in the country. I’ve always thought of them as business owners as they own many of the malls and hotels in the Philippines. I only recently learned that they also have the Ayala Foundation, Inc. which is a non-profit organization who develops, implements and sustains various projects focusing on education, youth leadership, sustainable livelihood and Arts and Culture.

Visiting the Ayala Museum is a great crash course on the History of the Philippines. The museum’s collection includes sixty handcrafted dioramas that showcases the rich tapestry of the country’s history. They also have a boat gallery which showcases miniature versions of some of the watercrafts that contributed to the development of the country. For the art lovers, The Ayala Museum proudly features a collection by three of the top painters in the country – Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and Fernando Zobel.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. For inquiries, address and other information, please visit their site here. 

ayala museum

ayala museum diorama

One of Ayala Museum’s Dioramas

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

The American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila is located in Fort Bonifacio, Makati City. 152 acres in size and with a total of 17, 206 graves, it’s the largest war cemetery in the World. The personnel interred or represented in the cemetery passed away during the World War II in the Battle of the Philippines or were killed in New Guinea.

The cemetery is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. A staff member is always on duty to answer questions and to guide visitors to the grave they might be looking for.

For questions/ suggestions, drop one at the comment section. I’ll do my best to help you out!

Manila American Cemetery

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How Visiting Vigan, Philippines Will Let You Experience History

vigan

Modern-day Vigan
photo credits: yappie-espiritu.blogspot.com

 

Vigan is the capital of the province of Ilocos Sur (For a complete guide on visiting Ilocos Norte, please go here). It’s different from the other cities in the Philippines as it’s one of the few Hispanic towns left in the country. Its trademark are the cobblestone streets and unique architecture used in the city’s establishments.

Visiting Vigan is a lot like visiting Spain, except that it’s not as expensive and the culture’s a bit different. Although the Philippines has a lot of Spanish influences, thanks to the Spanish colonization a hundred years ago, we have our own mix of culture that’s also influenced greatly by the Chinese. I guess it’s safe to say that visiting the Philippines is like visiting all three countries – Spain, China and the Philippines – all at the same time.

What Sets Vigan Apart?

You might be wondering – what’s so special about Vigan? The city was established in the 16th century, and it’s one of the best-preserved planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. The Spanish influence on Vigan is so rich, in fact, that a Hollywood movie – The Fourth of July, starring Tom Cruise – was shot here. It’s just sad that the city was depicted as Mexico and the Philippines was never mentioned in the movie.

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Banaue Rice Terraces – A Philippine Gem

banaue rice terraces

As with many other Asian people, Filipinos eat rice on a daily basis. We eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some of us even have rice for afternoon snacks and yes – McDonalds in the Philippines serve rice too!

So, it shouldn’t be a wonder that one of the top tourist attractions in the Philippines has something to do with rice – well, rice fields, that is.

The Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces are acres of rice fields carved into the mountainsides in the province of Ifugao. These were made by the Ifugaos, a tribe whose main industry was planting and harvesting rice.

Although the Ifugaos mainly used their hands and small tools for carving these rice fields, they are still intact even though they were created 2,000 years ago. The captivating beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces is one of the main reasons why it earned a spot in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Nobody would argue that the Banaue Rice Terraces is indeed one of the most beautiful places on Earth. In fact, some people say it’s even better than the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors. Some people also refer to these rice terraces as the “stairway to the sky”, and it’s not hard to figure out why – as one can easily see how these terraces were formed to lead upwards, into the heavens.

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Top Reasons Why You Should See Tagaytay City for Yourself

For many Filipinos, Tagaytay is a familiar city. This picturesque place is a couple hours away from Manila, and visiting it has been an escape from the heat of the city for many people.

Because of high altitude, the temperature in Tagaytay is way cooler than in Manila. It has also been developed over the years as a premier tourist destination, giving tourists multiple options on where to dine, what to see and where to shop.

How to Get There

For tourists, there are two ways to get to Tagaytay. You can either rent a private van/ car or take a bus.

For people in Manila, you can take a bus from the Cubao bus terminal. These are the bus lines that travel to Tagaytay:

  • San Agustin

  • Erjohn & Almark

  • Golden Dragon

The buses will actually travel to Nusugbu but will pass through Tagaytay. Just make sure to ride on buses that says “via Tagaytay” on the signboard.

Buses leave every 30 minutes and travel time is around 3 hours.

Please take note that there are no bus terminals in Tagaytay. The bus will just stop on the side of the street so make sure to tell the driver ahead of time that you’d be getting off at Tagaytay.

Tip: Sit beside the driver and tell him that you want to get off at Tagaytay (specifically, Olivarez Square – this is the center of the town) the  and that you’re not familiar with the place. Make sure to point out that you don’t know where Tagaytay is, otherwise, he might forget.

For more information about how to get to Tagaytay, please go here. 

Why You Should Visit Tagaytay – Places to See and Things to Do

Mabini Shrine

For the history buff, you’ll surely appreciate a visit to the Mabini Shrine. Apolinario Mabini, known as the “sublime paralytic”, is a Filipino national hero. Despite of his condition, he urged the Filipinos to unite and fight against the Spaniards who was trying to invade the country during the Spanish Colonization. Because of men like Apolinario Mabini, the country was liberated and has enjoyed freedom until today.

The Mabini Shrine houses Mabini’s writings and many other memorabilia. His tomb lies in the center of the property and tourists can also go inside “Mabini’s house” (which is actually a replica of the original house). Admission is free but donations are welcome. The shrine is open daily from 8am to 5pm but is closed during holidays.

mabini shrine

Palace in the Sky

The Palace in the Sky was supposed to be the mansion of Filipino dictator and former president Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda Marcos. Because Marcos was thrown out of the presidency during the People Power Revolution in 1986, the mansion was never finished. It was later turned into a park but what’s amazing about it is that the mansion still looks grandesque despite all the people visiting it daily – a testament to how luxurious the Marcos’ taste really are.

Aside from the mansion, there’s little attraction within the park. Truth be told, the park is not that beautiful. What people come for, though, is what’s outside the park. The view is just breathtaking! On a clear day, you can clearly see the Manila Bay and the Laguna de Bay. The park is also a great platform for viewing the Taal Volcano – famous because it’s the only volcano in the world that’s surrounded by a lake.

If you’re interested in an organized tour to Mt. Taal, please check this website.

taal volcano

Sonya’s Garden

I’ve read about Sonya’s Garden from way back, and visiting it is an ultimate dream.

Owned by Sonya Garcia, Sonya’s Garden started as a private garden owned by the family. When Sonya inherited the garden from her grandmother, she decided to open it to the public – and what a gift this is.

Sonya’s Garden is no doubt, a piece of heaven. Visitors can enjoy a walk throughout the property, whisper a prayer in one of the corners of the garden or simply enjoy the serenity while reading a book.

Not only that, guests can also enjoy a lunch of fresh fruits and edible flowers, topped with Sonya’s secret homemade salad dressing. They also serve pasta and the garden’s famous Dalandan juice. So, guests will not only enjoy a clean and beautiful environment, they get to feast on organic foods too.

Finally, people can also enjoy a relaxing massage right at the garden. Guests are offered a choice of having the massage at a private massage room or right in one of the massage huts in the garden. Indeed, Sonya’s Garden is a must visit for everybody.

For more information about Sonya’s Garden (reservation, rates, how to get there, etc), you can visit their website here.

sonya's garden

Where to Stay

On a Budget

Viewpoint Inn and Restaurant

Viewpoint Inn and Restaurant is a budget-friendly hotel overlooking Taal Volcano. The rooms are clean and the staff are friendly enough to attend to the guests’ needs.

Room rate are as follows (good for 2 people, with free breakfast):

  • Bungalow Classic Home (single room) – US $36/ night
  • Sky Launch Pad (single room) – US $30/ night
  • Reflectorized VIP Suite – US $43/ night

Splurge

Discovery Country Suites

If it’s luxury you’re looking for, then Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay is the best option for you. Although it’s popular among couples, families will surely enjoy staying here as well.

Each room is equipped with it’s own bathroom, flatscreen televisions, safes and mini bars. Beds also have goose down pillows and 300-thread count sheets, allowing guests to sleep comfortably.

This hotel has several rooms, but the one that I absolutely love is the Ceylon. With interiors inspired by Sri Lanka, staying in the room is enough to bring you across another continent, and back to the Philippines when you look outside your window and see that the Taal Volcano is right there. One of the features of this room that I absolutely love is that it has it’s own private access to the garden – perfect for people seeking serenity.

For reservations, you can visit their website here.

discovery suites tagaytay

Recommended

Sonya’s Garden

Sonya’s Garden offers bed & breakfast, and it’s a great choice if you’re only staying a night in Tagaytay. What’s great about staying at Sonya’s is that guests are not merely given a shelter – their tired body and worn out spirits get rejuvenated as well.

For instance, each room has a pad of paper, pen and rose-scented ink (personally made by Sonya). This is because Sonya hopes to revive the art of letter-writing. Surely, this is a nice break from our iPads and all those gadgets we thought we can’t live without. For someone who used to write poetry, staying at Sonya’s Garden has brought out the poet in me again.

Home cooked meals are included with the accommodation. Because guests are treated as family, eating at the garden is a lot like eating at your grandmother’s kitchen. There’s this sense of belonging and tranquility that’s quite difficult to find outside the garden.

sonya's bed and breakfast

For rates and reservation, please visit Sonya’s Garden’s website here.

For questions/ suggestions, drop one at the comment section. I’ll do my best to help you out!

A Short Video for You to Enjoy

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Why Taking a Coron Island Tour Is an Absolute Must

Palawan is one of the most popular vacation spots in the Philippines. It’s not only popular among foreigners, but even among local tourists. This is because Palawan is blessed with the country’s most beautiful beaches, friendliest people and it’s one of the most peaceful places in the Philippines as well.

Palawan is made up of several islands. Among all these, Coron is one of the absolute must-visit. Coron has risen as a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches and corals. This is one of the reasons why a number of companies has started offering organized island hopping in the place.

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The Advantages of an Organized Island Tour

You Don’t Have to Worry About Getting Lost

As someone who has been to a completely foreign place before, one of my biggest fears is getting lost. This is a real threat and if it comes true, could surely dampen your vacation. By availing an organized island tour, you don’t have to worry about checking a map every now and then. The tour guide will bring you the the best spots so you don’t have to find it yourself.

It’s Economical

If you come to think of it, paying for an island tour is more affordable. Although the rate may be higher compared to going on your own, you also have to consider getting lost, getting ripped off, etc. Going on an island tour organized by a local company ensures convenience than having to haggle for services by yourself.

Coron Island Tour

Most companies in Coron offer tours to these really amazing islands:

Twin Lagoon

The Twin Lagoon is one of the most amazing tourist spots in the Philippines. It’s very well-protected, allowing the government to preserve its natural beauty for people to enjoy. The Twin Lagoon is a pair of lagoons with too-good-to-be-true blue waters surrounded by limestone formations. Tourists are free to take a dive and experience the alternating hot and cold water on their skin, which is brought about by fresh water meeting with salt water.

In order to reach the second lagoon, people seeking for a thrill can go through the fissure underneath the rocks. People swear it’s much more enjoyable than climbing up the ladder above. If it’s high-tide though, tourists have no choice but to go up the ladder leading into the second lagoon.

twin lagoon  palawan

photo credits: www.kirkanatomy.com

twin lagoons philippines

photo credits: www.kirkanatomy.com

The Barracuda Lake

The first thing that people gets curious about is why this lake was named “Barracuda”. First, its because skeletons of large barracudas were found in the water. So, are there any barracudas in the lake? Yes, but they reside in the secluded areas of the lake where people rarely go.

In order to reach the lake, one has to hike the trail leading to it. It’s hard work, but people say it’s definitely worth it.

If you want to take a plunge in the water – you have to do it literally. The lake is surrounded by limestone formations and you have to jump from one of these to get into the water.

From the surface, you can clearly see the fishes underwater – catfish, crayfish and rabbit fishes. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dugong or a sea cow. A dugong is an endangered mild-mannered mammal protected by law.

barracuda lake philippines

Kayangan Lake

Dubbed as the “cleanest lake in Asia”, I have a dozen reasons on my list why tourists have to visit Kayangan Lake. Unlike the Barracuda Lake and the Twin Lagoon, there are no “obstacle courses” to feed the adventure spirit in you here, but you should visit it anyway. Why? Because it’s one of the most picturesque places in the world. People were really right when they described this lake as a “slice of paradise”.

Here, you will also meet the “Tagbanuas”. They are a group of people who has been residing in the area for centuries and have become the guardians of the lake. They only recently opened the lake to the public, but they have not ceased in making sure that the lake’s beauty is preserved for the future generation to enjoy.

kayangan lake

Availing of a Coron Island Tour Package

As mentioned, there are a number of companies offering Coron Island Tour Packages. One that I recommend is the tour organized by the Calamianes Expeditions Ecotours. They have the best licensed local tour guides and their packages includes fee for the guides, lunch, boat, entrance fees to the islands and fees for the tour guides assistant.

For more information, please visit their website here. 

Things to Bring

For questions/ suggestions, drop one at the comment section. I’ll do my best to help you out!

Serenity at Sohoton National Park – Surigao del Norte, Philippines

I have always believed that the Philippines is one of the most blessed countries in the world. We may not be the richest in terms of economy, but we definitely have more beautiful spots than any other place in Earth.

There seem to be an endless supply of beautiful, white-sand beach in the Philippines, but that’s not all we have. We also have beautiful, mysterious caves and amazing wildlife. When God made the world, he seemed to have been a bit biased and put all these in one place – Socorro, Surigao del Norte.

Socorro is a small town located in Surigao del Norte. Compared to big cities in the country, Surigao del Norte is a bit underdeveloped. There are no big malls here like those in Manila. But there’s no heavy traffic and noisy crowds here as well – things that you’d never miss even if you grew up in the city.

Sohoton National Park

Sohoton was declared as a national park by the Philippines government a few years back. It’s 70 hectares in size, and is made up by the Sohoton Cave, the Sohoton Lagoon and seven beautiful islets. A couple of unexplored caves is located in the area as well.
The entrance to the national park is the Sohoton Cave.

The Sohoton Cave

For anyone to enter the Sohoton National Park, he or she has to pass through the Sohoton Cave. The fact that this cave is only accessible during low tide adds charm to the place.
Sohoton Cave is 60-meters long and is submerged in water most of the time. According to the locals, only boatmen who have explored the area for years can safely pass through it.

sohoton cave

photo credits: journeyingjames.com

Sohoton Lagoon

The Sohoton Lagoon is where tourists are free to swim to their heart’s content. For people who love swimming as much as I do, this is the highlight of the trip. Here, the water is so clear that you’d think the corals are merely inches below the surface. Not only that, but the water reflects the sky too. It’s like being in an entirely different world – a place where heaven is on Earth.

sohoton lagoon

sohoton lagoon

A Lush Forest

One more thing that makes the Sohoton National Park so charming is the lush forestry surrounding it. The green leaves and the different species of birds jumping from one tree to another will make you feel that you are indeed, inside a paradise. If you want to have a relaxing trip, away from a thousand other tourists, then you should definitely visit the Sohoton National Park.

sohoton surigao

How to Get There

One can go to Sohoton National Park from Siargao of from mainland Surigao del Norte.

From Siargao

After having a go at the waves, you can visit the Sohoton National Park next. From this surfing mecca, you can go to Sohoton by catching a ferry from Dapa port to Socorro. Fare is around US $1.50 per person. Once you arrive in Socorro, catch another boat going to Bucas Grande.

From Mainland Surigao del Norte

If you’re too excited and wants to head to Sohoton right away, you can do so straight from the airport. Catch a van going to the town of Claver (fare is around US $1.50 per person) and get off at the Hayanggabon port. Once there, take a boat going to Bucas Grande.

Arriving at Socorro/ Planning Your Trip

Tourists can reach the town of Socorro by going through the island of Bucas Grande. Once you arrive in Socorro, you can hire a small boat to take you around Sohoton National Park. Rates differ but it’s around US $50, good for around 8 people, round trip.

Before your boat can go inside the park, you have to go through the park’s entrance. Here are the fees you’re going to pay:

• Entrance fee: PHP 25/pax
• Environmental fee: PHP 25/pax
• Life vest and helmet: PHP 40/pax
• Docking fee: PHP 100-200, depending on the size of your boat
• Table charge (optional, if you’re eating at the visitor’s center): PHP 50
• Pumpboat: PHP 500, up to 8 pax
• Tour guide: PHP 330/boat

Where to Stay

The nearest accommodation to the park is Club Tara Resort. Club Tara is a first rate resort complete with posh rooms, jacuzzi, a poolside bar, restaurant and a swimming pool. Rooms good for one couple is at US $125 per night. For reservations, visit their website here. 

For questions/ suggestions, drop one at the comment section. I’ll do my best to help you out!

club tara

Lapus-Lapus Beach – Romblon, Philippines

white_beach_5

If you try searching for information about Lapus-Lapus Beach in Romblon, Philippines, chances are you will not see a lot of articles about it. Unlike Boracay Island which is popular all over the world, Lapus-Lapus beach is a hidden paradise. Not a lot of people knows about it, and that’s just one of the reasons why you should visit it.

What Lapus-Lapus Beach Has in Store For you

There are no arguments about it – Philippines has more beautiful beaches than any other country in the world. This country is blessed with beautiful islands, clear water and the perfect weather to go with it. No matter where you are in the Philippines, a beach with beautiful blue water is surely just a few minutes away from it.
Now, what makes Lapus-Lapus Beach different? As I said, Lapus-Lapus Beach is a hidden paradise, and I mean that literally.

lapus-lapus island romblon

Before reaching the island, one has to pass by jungle covered mountains and remote fishing villages by riding a bangka – a small boat that can carry about five or six people.
Actually, half of the thrill is with the journey. It’s not that easy reaching Lapus-Lapus, but seeing the beauty of the island on your arrival surely makes the journey worth it.
The beach itself is also hidden among coves lining the limestone cliffs of Calatrava – the town where the beach can be found. This does not only hide the beauty of the beach from the outside but it also gives tourists a sense of privacy.

lapus-lapus island romblon

The Best Things About Lapus-Lapus Beach The best thing about this beach is that you don’t really need the coves to give you privacy. Unless it’s a holiday, chances are you’d have the whole beach all to yourself. Imagine being in an island alone – you can do anything you want! Go topless, swim naked or maybe just shout to your heart’s content – you can do it all!

How to Go There

Lapus-Lapus Beach is located in the town of Calatrava in the Province of Romblon. Unfortunately, no airline flies from Manila to Romblon as of this posting. The easiest way to reach the province of Romblon from Manila is to sail from Manila North Harbor. Simply referred to as “North Harbor”, this port is found along the shores of Tondo, Manila. MBRS Lines, which is found in Pier 8 of the North Harbor, sails to Romblon daily. For more information, you can visit Manila North Harbor’s website here. 

manila north harbor

Upon arrival at Romblon, you can take a jeep going to the town of Calatrava. Once you get to Calatrava, you can leave your things at a local hotel or guest house and only take necessities in visiting Lapus-Lapus Beach. The island has not been developed yet so there are no structures available for tourists to stay in.
From your hotel, you should go to the town’s jeep terminal – this is the same place where the small boats can be rented. Boat rental is at US $20 round trip, though this may vary. Also, boats may move on to other passengers after taking you to the island so make sure to arrange a pickup time. Pay the boat half for taking you to the island and then pay the other half after you’re fetched in the afternoon.
For information assistance, you can visit the Municipal Tourism Council in Calatrava.

Where to Stay in Romblon

Stone Creek House

Most people only look for two things when considering a place to stay in – clean and comfortable. With how secluded Romblon is, however, you’d also want a host who knows where the best spots are. That’s the best thing about Stone Creek House. This place is actually like a townhouse with rooms, a living room and a kitchen. You can either rent one room or rent the whole house for a reasonable price.

stone creek house

photo credits: stone creek house

The owner/ manager, Carlos, is a very gracious host. Guests have the same comments about him – that he’s nice and staying at the Stone Creek House is a lot like staying with a family. He’d be more than glad to point you to the best bars, restaurants and tourist spots in the island. When you’re in a totally unfamiliar island, having someone to ask for directions is a great help. For more information, you can visit their Facebook page here. 

stone creek house

photo credits: stone creek house

Why You Ought to Visit Romblon

I’ll be honest. Romblon is not the easiest islands in the Philippines to visit. But that just adds charm to the province. If you’re the type who’d rather unwind than party with hundreds of strangers, then Romblon is definitely the place for you. This province has some of the best beaches and sceneries in the country. This quiet island has a lot to offer, and noisy crowds is not one of them.
If it sun, beach and serenity you’re looking for – come and visit Lapus-Lapus Beach today!

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Manila, Philippines – The City that Never Sleeps

I had to fly to Manila over the weekend and decided to make a post about it. The trip was actually for family business but I decided that I might as well take advantage of the situation and go around the city. When I say “Manila”, I actually mean Pasay City because that’s where I stayed. We – the people from the provinces – usually refers to Luzon, in general, as “Manila”.

Pasay City is where the Ninoy Aquino International is, so it’s a short cab ride to where I was going to stay. There were five of us so we should have taken the Avanza cab (which is bigger) but the driver is asking around US $12 for it. That’s expensive considering that our destination’s not that far. We decided to take the metered “Yellow” taxi and agreed to pay extra for the fifth person.

We stayed at Metro Deluxe Residences which is really cheap. They have bed spaces which are great for backpackers. We only have one bag each so we decided to stay there. Since there were five of us in the group, the owner agreed to give us a discount. We only paid US $9 per night per head, that’s lower than the regular rate of US $12 per night.

The place was clean and each room has its own bathroom and lavatory. They also have a microwave oven and a fridge at their kitchenette which guests can use free of charge. The only comment I have about the place is that it’s not along the highway so you have to walk into a street to reach it. Nothing bad ever happened while I was there but I sure wished the place is more accessible.

SM Mall of Asia

On our first day, we decided to go around SM Mall of Asia, which is supposedly one of the biggest malls in Asia. There were a lot of shops to buy from so it’s a great place if you want to go shopping. One of the things that I noticed is that there were also a lot of restaurants and food kiosks – a testimony to how much Filipinos love to eat. This mall offers all sorts of cuisine – American, Italian, Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Filipino. If you’re hungry and aren’t sure where to eat, The Mall of Asia will definitely give you a lot of choices.

Food Fair at the Bay Walk

We were there over the weekend and we learned that they hold a food fair at the Bay Walk, which is right behind MOA. We decided to hit it and boy, it was a food lover’s haven! The different stalls offer barbecues, different kinds of Sisig, Bagnet, Lechon, desserts and chips. The food were so cheap that we decided to visit it again on our second day. One of the stall owners said they hold the fair every Friday, Saturday and Sunday so be sure to visit it.

Bagnet Sisig

Bagnet Sisig

Crispy Bagnet

Crispy Bagnet

Squid Sisig

Squid Sisig

Bangus (Milkfish) Sisig

Bangus (Milkfish) Sisig

Star City

We also decided to visit Star City, which is a popular amusement park in Pasay. We were supposed to visit Enchanted Kingdom but it was too far so we settled on Star City instead. For an adult, I was not impressed but I’d say kids would surely enjoy the rides. Ride-all-you-can fee is only US $12, although some attractions such as Snow World and the Max Rider 4D have separate entrance fees. I would suggest checking the weather before going as the park closes all outdoor rides if it rains.

Pork Lechon

Pork Lechon

Interview with a Tourist

While at the airport, I saw a tourist sipping coffee and decided to ask him for a short interview. After a short introduction, here’s how our conversation went.

Me: Is this your first time in the Philippines?

David: Yes

Me: So, where are you from?

David: I’m from California, USA.

Me: Are you here for a vacation?

David: Yes

Me: What made you decide to pick The Philippines?

David: Actually, my brother has visited the country and told me all about it. He says it’s really very cheap and that the beaches are really nice. He also told me about how friendly and nice the people are.

Me: Yeah, Filipinos are known for being very hospitable. So, which cities are you planning to visit?

David: Cebu and Palawan. I’m also flying to Thailand after.

Me: Wow! I’m sure you’d love the beaches there. How about Davao? Are you planning to visit it?

David: Yeah, I heard about it from a friend and how safe it is as long as you don’t go out the city. Maybe I’ll add it to my list.

Me: Yeah, you should definitely visit it! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview.

David: Sure, no problem!

David was also so kind to have his picture taken. Thanks David!

manila, philippines

manila, philippines

Conclusion

Manila is indeed a great place for shopping and serving as a start off point to the different provinces in the country. I would never live in it, but only because I’m more comfortable in how simple the way of life is in Davao. Manila is also a good place to do business as it’s highly urbanized and people are more open in spending money for shopping and dining.

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Why Kadayawan is the Most Celebrated Festival in the Philippines

The Kadayawan Festival is celebrated in Davao City, Philippines every year. Filipinos love bright colors so generally, festivals are celebrated with an array of different colors. What I appreciate about the Kadayawan festival is that it’s celebrated by different ethnic tribes. This gives one the chance to see different cultures in one festivity.

The History of Kadayawan

Long ago, it is said that the people living on the foot of Mt. Apo (the Philippines’ highest peak) give thanks to their god for a bountiful harvest every year. Remember that Christianity was not practiced in the Philippines until a few decades ago, and so these people give thanks to their god “Manama”, who is a god of nature.

Different fruits, flowers and grains are displayed on mats as offering to Manama. The people prayed, sing and dance during the thanksgiving as well.

Although times have changed, the people of Davao still perform the celebration every year. While the way of celebrating have changed, it has just become grander and a lot more fun than before. When only the people living in the foot of Mt. Apo used to perform thanksgiving for a great harvest, now the entire city celebrates thanksgiving for a peaceful and more prosperous year.

kadayawan davao

Festival Highlights

As someone who has been living in Davao City for 25 years, I encourage you to come and visit my city during the Kadayawan Festival. Even though I grew up here, I still look forward to the celebration every year. The festivities just never ceased to amaze me.

One of the things that I look forward to every Kadayawan is the “Indak-indak sa Kadalanan”. This simply translates to “dancing in the streets”. On this event, children and adults from different sectors dance in the streets and showcase different tribes in Mindanao (our island). Their costumes are just amazing! I also love how this event shows the younger children what our culture really is, which is a great way to pass it to the next generation.

The streets during indak-indak are full-packed. The entire downtown area is also closed to expect a lot of walking. It’s also hot so don’t forget to always bring a bottle of water, sunglasses and a cap.

Tip: People will watch the dancing from the side of the streets so get to downtown early to get a good spot.

Because the indak-indak is the kind of event you want to tell your grandchildren about, I suggest bringing a camera and taking lots of pictures. Filipinos are very friendly and the dancers will be more than willing to have a picture taken.

Another highlight is the “piging” on the streets. A “piging” is a big tent with booths selling food and beer. These open at night, around 6 in the evening. Local bands often provide entertainment. Having a round of beer or two at a piging is a great way to learn how the people of Davao interact with each other. Just note that there is an alcohol ban in the city, which was recently moved to 1 in the morning. This means that no store can sell any alcoholic beverages in the city after 1 a.m without violating the law. The local government is quite strict about this so don’t expect anybody selling you beer after this hour.

The local government also organizes different activities per year. Last year for instance, we had a tattoo expo and a road bike challenge. For the latest information, please visit this site. 

indak-indak sa kadalanan davao

The Icons of Kadayawan

During the Kadayawan Festival, you’d hear the word “Madayaw” a lot. The name of the festival is in fact derived from “Madayaw”, which means “good” or “valuable”. Below are some of the things you’d also see a lot during Kadayawan.

The Philippine Eagle

The Philippine Eagle, also called the Monkey-Eating Eagle, is the country’s national eagle and is endemic to the forests of Mindanao. It’s the world’s largest eagle in terms of length, which is why the city has been using it as an icon for many years.

Davao City is also where the Philippines Eagle Center is located, which aims at rehabilitating and helping eagles breed. Although the Philippine Eagle is a very strong bird, they have become endangered due to hunting, and the center hopes to turn this situation around.

For more information about the center, please go here. 

Philippine eagle

Ylang-Ylang

Another popular icon during the Kadayawan is the Ylang-Ylang flower. The Ylang-Ylang, although found all over Asia, is primarily found in Davao City within the Philippines. It has become popular because of it’s sweet cent, which is also used in many perfumes.

ylang-ylang

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte

For some reasons only a Dabawenyo (person from Davao) will know, I’d like to tell you about our mayor – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Simply called “Digong” by the locals, he’s been the mayor of Davao for more than twenty years. While some politicians in the country are against what they call “political dynasty”, I wouldn’t have any other mayor than Mayor Duterte.

Digong is not only popular within Davao, but in the whole Philippines as well (and that doesn’t usually happen). This is because he is known for having an iron fist, especially when it comes to implementing laws in the city. He is the first mayor to ban smoking in public areas, and while many people were against it, they can’t do anything when the mayor reasoned that this is for the common good. He’s also known for not being afraid of anybody, even to the point of swearing in local (sometimes national) television when he knows he’s right.

A few years back, there was this controversy about the DDS or the Davao Death Squad (as they were named by the public). These “vigilantes” killed criminals in Davao, and the Commission on Human Rights suspected that this group were acting under Mayor Duterte’s orders. He actually challenged the commission to prove this, but the controversy died a natural death and the CHR wasn’t able to do anything about it although the killings did stop.

Because of the way Digong is handling the city, we have the lowest crime rate in the whole Philippines. People are free to walk the streets even at 3 in the morning, without a worry in the world. So, even if you’re a tourist, you’ll be safe in Davao City.

The Kadayawan Festival is celebrated every August. I’ll see you around!

What to Wear During Kadayawan:

Here’s a Short Video I Created About the Kadayawan Festival in Davao

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Why Pangasinan is the Nearest Paradise from Manila, Philippines

Many people are surprised upon learning that the Philippines is an archipelago and that it’s quite an advantage for us.

An archipelago is a group of islands surrounded by water. This works to our advantage because the beautiful beaches found all over the country help boost tourism. Being an archipelago also offers a thriving marine life which allows Filipinos affordable seafood. Seafood makes up a big part of our diet and it’s one of the reasons tourists flock to the country.

There are many beautiful provinces in the Philippines as well, and one that you definitely have to visit is Pangasinan. Pangasinan is located in Luzon, the same island where Metro Manila – the country’s capital – is. Because it’s only a few hours away from Manila, it’s one of the places foreign and local tourists visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Travelling to Pangasinan

Being so close to Metro Manila, it’s not that hard finding your way to Pangasinan. Three major bus lines cater to passengers going to Pangasinan everyday. These are Victory Liner, the Five Star Bus Company and Viron Transit.

Victory Liner has depots in Pasay Caloocan and two stations at Cubao. They have routes to both Bolinao and Alaminos.

Five Star Bus Company, on the other hand, has stations in both Cubao and Pasay City and has routes to Dagupan City, San Carlos and Alaminos.

Viron Transit, meanwhile, has daily trips going to Dagupan, Tayug and San Carlos.

Travel time from Metro Manila is around 5 hours.

Things To Do

See and Enjoy the Hundred Islands

You’d think the “Hundred Islands National Park” is just a fancy name for a couple of islets scattered over the sea, but turned out there’s actually around 124 islets scattered around the Lingayen Gulf and tourists are free to visit them and go swimming or fishing!

Also simply known as “Hundred Islands”, I guess God was expressing his sense of humor when he decided to put both these islets and the Chocolate Hills of Bohol at the same country. These land formations look almost the same except that one is on dry land and the other is on water.

hundred island philippines

Out of these 124 islets, only 3 were developed for tourists – Governor’s, Quezon and Children’s. All these three have huts for guests to stay as well as different activities for guests to enjoy. You can also spend a day of privacy on the other (uninhabited) islands but I guess it’s a expensive considering you have to rent a whole boat for a day, etc.

To go to the Hundred Islands, you have to take a boat from the Alaminos Proper. A boat costs around U.S $26, which is good for 10 people. There’s also an “entrance” fee to the national park, which is less than a dollar per person.

hundred island philippines

One of the activities tourists can enjoy is water kayaking. Start off point is at Quezon Island, with most people rowing off to Imelda Island. Once there, you can either paddle your boat through a water cavern or jump down a lagoon leading into the same cavern. Rental of the kayaks is only around U.S $7, and this already includes the instructor in case this is your first time trying out a kayak.

kayaking hundred island

Enjoy Patar Beach

Because this is the Philippines where beaches are abundant, why don’t you visit Patar Beach at Bolinao? Bolinao is a town an hour away from Alominos, and home to this beautiful beach frequented by tourists. When I say “frequented by tourists”, I say this with Pangasinan’s standard in mind so it’s not like it’s too crowded for you to enjoy some privacy. Patar Beach is a sight to behold. The water’s cool even though it’s exposed to the sun all day long and the sand is so refined that it’s like walking on powder talc.

There are a couple of resorts around Patar but that I recommend is Treasures of Bolinao. This resort has clean rooms and the staff are friendly enough to cater to your needs. I suggest staying in the Maharlika room, which has an excellent view of the beach. This room has two beds, a television, a couch and a small fridge. It costs around U.S $205 per night and is good for two to three people.

patar beach

For more information, you can visit Treasures of Bolinao’s website here.

Try Puto Calasiao

There’s probably no Filipino in the world who doesn’t know what a “puto” is. I think it translates to a bad word in Spanish but in the Philippines, a puto is a semi-glutinous rice cake usually served as breakfast or snack. It’s a part of every Filipino child’s childhood and is one of the first things Filipinos look for when coming home from another country.

puto calasiao pangasinan

In Pangasinan, the town of Calasiao is famous for its puto and kutsinta – another type of rice cake. The best putos are found at the Calasiao Puto Market, where different stalls line up, all selling puto, kutsinta and other types of rice cakes. One stall that people flock to is Bella’s Puto Stall. You’d notice that the people from this stall never call out to customers (compared to other stalls who are so busy calling the attention of people) but people buy from them anyway. Bella’s offer different flavors of puto and trying them all is simply a must.

kutsinta

Take a Dip at the Enchanted Cave

If you’re still not convinced that you should visit Pangasinan, this one will surely change your mind – the Enchanted Cave. Located in the town of Bolinao, it’s one of the reasons why I believe that there’s a God, because no man can ever create something this beautiful. You see, the people of Pangasinan believe that the province used to be underwater, and the water basin found inside the Enchanted Cave is a proof.

The water basin has the clearest water you’ll ever see, and the fact that it’s inside a cave gives you the impression of being in a magical indoor pool. It’s a really beautiful sight, especially so when you’re dipping in the cool water.

What I like most is the fact that the locals managed to keep the cave clean, although I think it has been commercialized too much and that’s not something I like seeing. I understand why the government has to ask for entrance fees though, but I sure wished they didn’t have to turn it into a resort of some sort.

The Enchanted Cave is open from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, and there’s a small entrance fee of less than a dollar per person. They also have open cottages and tables which guests can rent for a very small fee.

For an idea of how the cave looks like, you can go here. 

enchanted cave

Zambales, Philippines – Beach and Mountains a Step Away from Manila

It’s undeniable that the Philippines has a lot of beautiful places to offer. There’s too much to do and see in this country, in fact, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed on which province, island, beach, cave or restaurant you should see especially if you have limited time in the country.

The trick is to decide based on your interests. If you love the beach and partying, there’s Boracay for that. If you love swimming in clear, blue water under the sun, but are not too keen on sharing the coastline with a crowd, you can go and visit Bantayan Island in Cebu for that.

If you love the beach and history with a bit of archaeology on the side, then Zambales, Philippines is definitely for you. I told you Philippines has something for everybody!

Where is Zambales Located?

Zambales is a province located in Luzon, which is the biggest major island in the Philippines. This province is known for its sweet mangoes, which is abundant from January to April each year. Zambales is one of the nearest provinces to Metro Manila, which is why it’s flocked by a lot of local tourists during summer.

How to Get to Zambales

From Metro Manila, one can take the bus going to Iba, Zambales’ capital. Victory Liner, the bus line servicing Zambales from Manila, has terminals located in Cubao, Caloocan, Pasay and Sampaloc. You can take a bus from any of these locations. The ride takes around 5 hours, depending on the traffic, so make sure that you have ample supply of water and a bit of food. Bus fare is around U.S $10 per person. The earliest trip departs at 5 in the morning, although it’s best to check the schedule ahead of time.

Going Around the Province

Just like many provinces in the Philippines, there are a couple of ways to go around Zambales. The most common form of transportation is the jeepney, which is taken daily by majority of the population in the Philippines. It’s a convenient way to go from one town to another, though I would not suggest bringing a lot of things with you since there’s no extra space to put them while travelling. A small bag that you can put on your lap is okay, though. Fare is a few cents every 4 kilometers.

jeepney phils

Another popular way of transportation in the country is the tricycle. The tricycle is a motorcycle attached with a sidecar for the passengers. These are usually used for small roads instead of the highway. I have to warn you that this is much, much smaller than the jeep and most Caucasians find it quite hard to fit inside.

tricycle phils

Oh, The Places You Should See!

Zambales has a lot to offer – right from islands with white sand and blue water to lighthouses and mesmerizing coves!

Hiking at Mt. Tapulao, Mt. Cinci Picos and Mt. Balingkilat

If it’s hiking you want, you can hike to your heart’s content at Zambales. The place is covered with mountains and I’m sure you’d have a lot of fun observing the scenic view while taking in fresh air.

Among these three, Mt. Balingkilat is the most challenging of all which is why most mountaineers prefer climbing it first – a logical move, so that the rest will just be a breeze to conquer.

Before setting out, one has to register at the Subic Town Police Station for registration upon arriving at Olongapo, which is a city in Zambales. After the registration, you can proceed to the far end of Sitio Cawag Settlement where you can find guides to help you go around the mountains. Please note that weather in the Philippines is humid most of the time so make sure that you have a bottle of water before hiking. Also make sure to wear light clothes and a hat.

best tropical vacation spots

Visit the Tiny Island of Potipot in Candelaria, Zambales

I’m not too familiar with the dialect spoken by locals of Zambales but I’m quite sure “potipot” means small. Potipot Island is indeed a tiny island located in Cadelaria, Zambales. It’s about 7.2 hectares in total, allowing guests to tour the whole island in about twenty minutes.

People go to Patipot to enjoy the beautiful scenery, crystal-clear water and the serenity of the island. While corals are more beautiful in the other islands, the marine life in Patipot is just as amazing.

To go to Patipot Island, one has to go to Dawal Beach in Candelaria and ride a boat from there (Boat rental is around U.S $13 one-way). The boat ride takes around 5 minutes, which shows how close the island is to the mainland.

Although the island is underdeveloped, the caretakers make sure that  it’s clean at all times. They also managed to have bathrooms and grill stations built on the island for guests to use. There are also a couple of rooms around the island if guests want to stay the night although most people prefer tents. There is an entrance fee to the island, around U.S $2 per head for a day tour and U.S $8 for an overnight stay (this excludes room rental).

Although the island has a fresh water source, I recommend bringing your own bottled water. Also, there’s no electricity in the island so don’t bother bringing laptops (there’s also no wi-fi connection). Expect the trip to the island to bring you closer to nature, so don’t expect anything fancy.

potipot island zambales

Spend the Night at Anawangin Cove

Anawangin Cove is a popular tourist destination in Zambales. What sets it apart from other beaches in the Philippines is that it’s lined with pine trees, a big contrast compared to the common coconut trees found in beaches all over the country.

The best time to be in the cove is during sunset, when the sun sheds golden yellow light over the water, giving it a very relaxing ambience. The scene is more fitted for places like Colorado, except that there’s a beach a few steps away.

To go Anawangin, one has to take a 20 minute tricycle ride from San Antonio, Zambales to Pundaquit. From there, you will take a boat ride for 45 minutes going to Anawangin.

There are a few activities one can do at Anawangin such as:

  • Camping and Bonfire – Spending the night in a tent a few feet away from the water is a great way to feel closer to nature while at Anawangin. There are no rooms for rent in the area, primarily because there’s no electricity available. Sounds like a downside, but tourists actually find the silence nice compared to the hustle and bustle of city life.

  • Trekking – A few minutes away from the beach are mountains that are great for trekking. Locals just advise of being careful of the wild animals said to inhabit the area.

  • Go Island Hopping – About 30 minutes away from Anawangin is Capones Island. Although primarily frequented by surfers thirsty for some big waves, there’s a lighthouse in the island for you to visit. Going there is a great way to get a glimpse of the island’s history and imagine how it used to guide boats in the dark seas.

anawangin cove zambales

Learn How to Survive in the Jungle with an Aeta

The Aeta (pronounced eye-ta) is a group of indigenous people scattered all over Luzon, though most of them can be found in Zambales. They are thought to be one of the first inhabitants of the country and are known for their distinct qualities such as being short, being dark skinned, having curly hair, having flat noses and having afro-like hair. They also reside in the mountains, which is why getting survival lessons from them should be exciting.

In the Jungle Environmental Survival Training Camp (JEST), they offer jungle survival lessons with Aetas as guides. If you go for one of the more extensive lessons, your group will go to the jungle without any food and water but with an Aeta by your side to act as guide. He will teach you important survival skills that will last a lifetime. Sounds exciting? Well, it really is!

aeta zambales

Why Visiting Zambales, Philippines is Worth It

Reason # 1

One of the reasons why you should visit Zambales is because it’s not far from Manila. Sure, it would be nice to visit Boracay or Palawan, but Zambales is a nice alternative if time is of the essence. Considering that it’s only 5 hours away from Manila and has some great places to offer, why not visit it?

Reason # 2

It has some really, really great places to offer. Zambales is one of the few provinces where it has everything – beach, mountains and activities. Also, where else in the Philippines can you see a beach lined with pine trees? That’s like a fusion of Baguio and Boracay!

Reason # 3

The mangoes are to die for. One of the things that makes me proud of being a Filipina is that sweet tropical fruits are abundant in the Philippines. Although yellow, sweet mangoes can be found almost anywhere in the Philippines, they can’t be sweeter than the mangoes produced in Zambales.

Reason # 4

It’s cheap. Taking a vacation in the Philippines is very affordable, but with a province like Zambales, you can save even more!

Enjoy These Pictures of Zambales!

The Complete Guide to Going Around Davao City, Philippines (Written by a True Davaoeña)

I couldn’t be more proud to be from Davao City, Philippines. My city is called the “Land of Promise” and no name could be more perfect. I’ve been to several cities in the country, and none could compare to Davao. If you’ve ever been to Manila – the capital of the Philippines, it’s a far-cry from Davao. In my city:

  • We drink water straight from the faucet because it’s clean. In fact, it has been tested for cleanliness, safety and taste and even bagged an award for being one of the most potable water in the world!

  • We have one of the lowest crime rate in the country, thanks to our mayor who’s very hands-on in managing the city. In fact, I walk around town even at 2 or 3am and I’m not scared at all. Surveys even show that nobody here is afraid of being attacked due to color of skin or religion. If you want to see the numbers, go here.

  • We have a very clean city. The air is cleaner compared to Manila, and no garbage is left on the streets.

  • We are ready for emergencies. Davao City is the only city in the Philippines to have a 911 service, same to that of the United States and Canada.

Getting to and Going Around Davao

Davao City has an international airport, though I think more airlines fly to Manila. If it’s affordable tropical vacation you want though, Davao is definitely the place to be. From the airport, you can conveniently take a cab to any point in the city. Please note that the cabs have a fare meter to show how much you have to pay. Drivers shouldn’t asked you to pay a fixed rate (they should always follow the fare shown by the meter). If they do, or if they behave badly, all taxis within the city are required to display the driver’s (large) I.D inside so you can get their name and the company they’re working for. You can also take a taxi from any point within Davao.

Just like all other cities in the Philippines, we have jeepneys all over the city. Because jeeps have fixed routes, it’s quite confusing for tourists on which jeep they should take when going to a specific place. In cases like these, don’t be afraid to ask around. The people of Davao are very friendly and are more than willing to help out.

Where to Stay

There are a couple of hotels and guest houses within Davao City. We receive a large number of tourists every year – one reason why there are plenty of places to stay within the city.

Marco Polo

The Marco Polo Hotel is one of the most upscale hotels in Davao. It’s located in the heart of the city, and it’s near hospitals, malls, restaurants and convenience stores.

Aside from restaurants, this hotel has a gym, a pool, a bar and one of the most relaxing spas you can find. Being a local though, I find The Marco Polo a bit overrated. I had the chance of staying at one of its rooms and there’s really nothing special about it. I also find it quite expensive compared to the other hotels here, although I should say they have a very helpful staff. Room starts at around U.S $84 per night. For more information, visit their site here.

marco polo

photo credits: davaocitybybattad.blogspot.com

The Apo View

If it’s location you’re after, I highly suggest The Apo View Hotel. It’s actually one of the oldest hotels in Davao, but they regularly renovate so it’s still like a new hotel. Their building used to be the highest building in Davao City, and it was so-named because they used to have the best view of Mt. Apo – the highest mountain in the Philippines.

They have adequate rooms, and they’re not as expensive as the Marco Polo. They also have a pool, a restaurant and a gym.

I suggest this hotel location-wise because they’re a walk away from a mall, restaurants, a hospital and bars. For more information, you can find their website here. 

Apo View Hotel

photo credits: www.byaherosnapshots.com

Microtel Inn

The Microtel Inn is located in one of the fastest-growing areas in Davao which is Damosa. This inn is surrounded by a couple of restaurants and is a walking distance from SM (one of the biggest malls in the city). Amenities include a laundry service, safety deposit box at the front desk, cable TV and currency exchange. They also have a friendly staff who can arrange tours and events for you. The rooms are also equipped with internet connection for a small additional fee.

Rooms start at around U.S $95 per night, good for 2 adults and 2 kids age 0-11 years old. For more information, go to their site here. 

Where to Go

Beach

If the beach is what you’re after, I highly recommend the beaches at Samal Island. Officially the Island Garden City of Samal, the island is about ten minutes boat-ride away from Davao.

Pearl Farm

Pearl Farm is one of the most luxurious beach resorts in Samal. It’s huts, fashioned after the houses used by the Badjao Tribe, which stands on stilts, has become an icon all over the country. What people adore most about the resort is its white sand and blue waters, although many find the infinity pool, good food and friendly staff a very good surprise.

Amenities in the resort include the aqua sports center, spa, game room, bar and outdoor massage.

They also offer several rooms, which starts at U.S $177 per night. This rate, considering that Pearl Farm is an outstanding resort, shows how an affordable tropical vacation Davao City is. For more information, please visit their site here.

pearl farm

photo credits: www.davaoportal.com

Leticia by the Sea

Leticia by the Sea is located further away, on a different island called Talicud. The boat ride to the island takes about a 45 minutes, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Leticia by the Sea, as far as I know, is the only first-class resort in Talicud Island. While there’s no doubt that Samal Island has some beautiful beaches, they tend to get overcrowded especially during holidays. For a quiet getaway, I highly suggest going to Leticia by the Sea instead. You can either get the whole resort exclusively for you (for about U.S $770, inclusive of boat transfer, use of kayaks, etc.) or rent a room and share the resort with the other guests. Most of the time though, there are no other guests in the resort so it still feels exclusive.

For more info, go here. 

leticia-by-the-sea-resort

photo credits: davaoadventure.com

Shopping

For souvenirs and gifts to give your love ones back home, most tourists head to Aldevinco. The Aldevinco Shopping Center has been around for a long time. Establishments mainly sell “Davao” t-shirts, malong (a kind of garment that can be used as a wrap-around or blanket), ethnic dresses and bags. Many establishments also do currency exchange, with rates higher than the bank. To go Aldevinco, just take a cab. If you’re staying at Marco Polo Hotel, it’s right across the street. Tip: Don’t be afraid to haggle, especially when you’re buying a lot of stuff.

aldevinco

photo credits: outoftownblog.com

Dine

You definitely have to try eating at different restaurants/ diners around the city! I’m a foodie myself, and below is a list of places I highly suggest.

Gerry’s Grill

Nothing beats my grandma’s cooking but Gerry’s Grill is a good second. If I’m craving for Filipino dishes and she’s not around, I go to Gerry’s Grill. They have branches in major malls like Abreeza, SM and Gaisano Mall, so it won’t be difficult to find them.

Dishes that I suggest include Sisig (minced pork in a sizzling plate and topped with egg), Lechon Kawali (crispy pork belly) and Pork Binagoongan (pork sauteed in shrimp paste). Prices are average and serving for each dish is good for two to three people.

gerrys grill

photo credits: enterdavao.blogspot.com

Karlyn’s

The major problem that I have with most establishments is that they tend to overprice their food. I don’t mean the price per se, but most of the times, they charge more for what their food is worth. I often go to Karlyn’s because their food is really good and fairly-priced. This place is an open-air restaurant, so I suggest going at night. Most people like their steak, but it may not be the steak you’re used to. Karlyn’s serves Filipino steak, which is also good but tastes slightly different. I highly recommend their Lenggua though, which is cow’s tongue in white sauce. I understand this is insane for many cultures, but beef lenggua is a special delicacy in the Philippines. It’s very tender and the skin is scraped before cooking so it’s clean. BTW, unlike most restaurants, Karlyn’s doesn’t have a menu. What you do is go to the counter and then pick the dish you like.

karlyns

photo credits: www.davaobase.com

Cecil’s

Filipinos love to eat. In fact, we eat up to five times a day, with snacks in between meals. For Filipino snacks, I suggest Cecil’s. They have different types of pastries, but what made them really famous in Davao is their Lug-lug (dry noodles with shrimp-based sauce) and Batchoy (noodle soup with pork slices and crispy pork skin). You should also try their pan de ciosa, which goes best with both Lug-lug and Batchoy.

cecils

photo credits: www.foodandculture.info

Prawn House

If seafood is what you’re after, then you definitely have to try Prawn House. It has recently open in the city, but I still don’t understand why not a lot of people eat there. Tiger prawns are extremely cheap, about U.S $8 per serving – good for 2 people (or 1, if you think seafoods are gift from the heavens – like me) and they’re super good too! I guess it has something to do with how the place looks. It’s posh and since most seafood restaurants in the city are quite expensive, most people don’t bother going there. To be honest, me and my sister were a bit apprehensive the first time we tried the place because it looks expensive but when we saw the menu, we ordered a plate of prawns each. They also serve other dishes like chop suey (vegetable with sticky sauce) and pork riblets and they’re good as well. On weekends, they have an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for only U.S $13 per person.

prawn house davao

Eat Durian!

Are you kidding me? Don’t ever leave Davao without trying out Durian – it’s what we’re best known for. Durian is a fruit with thorny skin and you (well, the vendor) have to cut it open with a big knife to get into the fruit. Most tourists are appalled by the Durian’s smell. I have to admit that it’s quite strong, but they wouldn’t say that Durian “tastes like heaven, smells like hell” for nothing. It’s a really good fruit. If I were to describe it, I’d say that it taste like milk from heaven. Even if you don’t like how it smells, just pinch your nose and try one bite. I’m telling you, don’t leave Davao without trying the king of fruits.

durian

Have a Bottle of Beer

First and foremost, the city government’s main concern is peace and order. Because we chose to have a low crime rate, the city has to make small sacrifices. Among these is the controlled nightlife. Bars in the city are mandated by law to stop serving alcoholic drinks by 2am, so most establishments only serve drinks up to 1:30am. Although, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a bottle of beer or two in the Land of Promise.

The Business Class

What I appreciate most about The Business Class is their ice-cold beer. It’s actually a posh bar, and most patrons are business owners, although young professionals get mixed in the crowd too. They serve mixed drinks as well. They also serve great finger foods to go with drinks, and I appreciate how friendly their staff is.

The only problem I have is that it can get too crowded during Fridays and Saturdays, so we go early to secure a good spot. By the way, there’s this girl about 14 or 15 years old who goes around offering peanuts, and I’d really appreciate if you’d buy from her. She used to sell her peanuts in the streets, but the owners are so kind to allow her to sell inside the bar even though vendors aren’t supposed to.

Legaspi Suites

I understand that some people prefer having their beer in a quiet place. If chilling out is what you’re looking for, I highly suggest the Legaspi Suites. This is actually a hotel with a couple of bars downstairs, and I like it because the ambience is good and it’s not crowded even during weekends. There’s also a pizza parlor right in the area – perfect with an ice-cold beer.

legaspi suites

Things to Remember

  • The city has a strict smoking ban law. Nobody is allowed to smoke in the streets or inside any establishments.

  • Again, liquor ban is at 2am.

  • Being in a tropical country, it’s quite hot so always bring a bottle of water whenever you go out during the day.

  • Try Durian before leaving!

Bohol, Philippines – Chocolate, Beach and a Yoda-like Primate

The Philippines is dubbed as the “Pearl of the Orient”, and it’s not hard to see why. Located in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is an archipelago blessed with beautiful beaches, great weather and friendly people.

If you’re planning to take a break from work soon, you might want to consider visiting the Philippines – particularly the Province of Bohol.

Located in the Central Visayas Region, Bohol is a big island surrounded by 75 small ones. It’s near Cebu City, which is why most tourists also visit Bohol when they’re in Cebu. It’s also considered as one of the best tropical destinations in the world.

How to Get There

There are two options in going to Bohol. If you’re from out of the country, you can either fly to Manila or fly to Cebu.

Personally, I prefer flying directly to Cebu because it’s nearer Bohol. However, only a limited number of international flights land there.

So, if you’re in Manila, you can easily take a flight to Tagbilaran City (which is the capital city of Bohol) – which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes away. You can also travel by water, but it will take about 25 hours – not ideal if you have limited time.

If you’re in Cebu, you can just ride a ferry boat and it will take you directly to Tagbilaran City. Another option is to ride a boat to Tubigon (also a part of Bohol) and then take a bus from Tubigon to Tagbilaran. It’s more economical and faster this way.

The ferry fare from Cebu to Tagbilaran is U.S $20 for the tourist class and U.S $27 for the business class. For ferry schedules, you can go here. 

Bohol – What to Do and Where to Go

No one will ever argue that Bohol is one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. Not only is it blessed with beautiful landscapes, it’s also blessed with weird, but interesting creatures. Below is a list of must-see and must- do in Bohol.

Visit the Chocolate Hills

When I was young, I heard a lot of stories about the Chocolate Hills. Thinking that it was literally hills made of chocolate, I dreamt of visiting the place. Of course, I later found out that they’re not really made of chocolate, but it captivated me all the same.

The Chocolate Hills is a geological formation – made up of at least 1,226 hills spread over a 50-kilometer area. The hills are covered by grass, which turns brown during summer. Hence the name “Chocolate Hills”.

There are two ways to view the Chocolate Hills. You can either go to the Chocolate Hills Complex or the Sagbayan Peak – which is a resort complete with accommodation.

The Chocolate Hills Complex, being government-owned, is cheaper. Aside from the viewing deck, they also have a hotel and a restaurant. However, I don’t recommend staying at the hotel nor eating at the restaurant. The hotel is so-so, like it needs a bit of painting. They have rooms with great views though (overlooking the pool and the hills), and I guess it’s okay to stay there – just don’t expect too much. Rooms start at around U.S $30 while entrance is at U.S $1.50.

A better option is staying at the Sagbayan Peak. Sagbayan Peak is a resort with playgrounds, hotel, a restaurant, and a view deck compete with telescopes for better viewing of the hills. The food here is great, and their staff is friendly too. What people really appreciate about this place is that there are not a lot of tourists, creating a relaxing atmosphere. Entrance fee is less than a dollar for both adults and children. They also have a butterfly sanctuary and tarsier cages – all for less than a dollar per head.

chocolate hills

photo credit: www.nextravelguide.com

See the Tarsiers

If you’re a fan of Star Wars (actually, even if you’re not), then you’d definitely love seeing the tarsiers. These Yoda-like nocturnal creatures are one of the things Bohol is most proud of. The Philippines Tarsier is endemic to the Philippines, and is already extinct which is why the local government is doing its best to conserve the species.

A fully grown tarsier stands at about 6 inches, making it one of the smallest primates in the world. One of the most interesting things about tarsiers is that their eyes are fixed to their skulls, so they can’t turn in their sockets. In order to look around, they have a special adaptation in the neck which allows them to turn it 360 degrees. Their eyes are also too big for their body. In fact, they have the largest eye-to-body proportion in the animal kingdom.

The best place to see the Tarsiers is at the Philippines Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary. Unlike other places where they keep the Tarsiers inside cages, this place allows the Tarsiers to come and go as they please. They are not kept in cages, which is good. Once you arrive at the sanctuary, a guide will help you go around and search for the Tarsiers. Because they are so small, it will be difficult looking for them on your own. The guides usually search for them first thing in the morning so they know where to bring the guests when they arrive. The tour takes about thirty minutes, and the guides are patient while you take all the pictures you want. There is an entrance fee of about U.S $1 per head but it’s okay since the proceeds go into maintenance of the sanctuary in order to help conserve the Tarsiers.

tarsier

photo credit: www.boholtourism.com

Have Lunch at the Loboc River

If you want to try something different, have lunch at the Loboc River cruise. The floating restaurant/ boat will take you through the river where buffet lunch is served. There’s also entertainment on board, but what people find most impressive is the dance and song number performed by the local children.

Buffet lunch is U.S $9 per person, and there’s a “maintenance” fee of U.S $2. I have to admit that the food is just average – nothing special but the sights are really something you should see. If you’re in Bohol. don’t miss the Loboc River cruise. For more information, you can go here.

loboc river cruise

photo credit: www.mybohol.com

Spend Time in Panglao

Panglao is an island near Bohol, known for it’s amazing white-sand beaches and blue-green waters. It’s also famous for the whales and dolphins swimming in its water which has attracted a lot of tourists lately. There’s nothing else you’d ask for while in Panglao. The blue skies, fine white sand and crystal clear waters make it one of the best tropical destinations in the world.

There are a couple of resorts around the island, but one that we recommend is the Panglao Island Nature Resort & Spa. It’s an amazing resort with a great restaurant and the best service possible. For more information, you can visit their website here. 

To head to Panglao from Bohol, you can take a ferry ride from Tagbilaran City. There are three different ferry lines with different schedules, and fare is at around U.S $13 per person.

panglao island

photo credits: lugarko.blogspot.com

Bohol – A Must Visit

If you’re planning to take a vacation soon, I highly recommend visiting Bohol. It got everything for the perfect tropical vacation – the beach, good weather, friendly locals and great sights. It’s also a great place to experience a new culture and meet an interesting specie. If you’d only take one vacation in your life, come and visit Bohol – you won’t regret it.

Bantayan Island – a Hidden Paradise in Cebu, Philippines

There is no doubt that Cebu is one of the busiest cities in the Philippines. It has a lot to offer – one of the reasons why a lot of tourists visit this city. The nightlife in Cebu is very active plus there are a lot of sights to see such as the Magellan Cross and the famous Taoist Temple.

I love Cebu City – the only problem I have with it is that it tends to be too crowded and noisy. If you want to go on a tropical vacation, but aren’t too keen on spending it with noise and too much crowd, I suggest heading to Bantayan Island instead.

Bantayan Island is located on the north western end of Cebu, Philippines. I agree that the city has some beautiful beaches on its shores, but I also have to mention that none of them can be compared to the beaches in Bantayan Island. Bantayan is no doubt one of the best islands for vacation on Philippines.

Just a bit of history – Bantayan Island got its name from the watch towers built around the island by the Spaniards. These were set up so they get alerted when the Moro comes, who are people from Mindanao and want to take over the island. “Bantayan” literally means to “watch over”.

Heading to Bantayan Island

I have to admit that it’s not easy travelling to Bantayan Island. If you’re from out of Cebu, you’d have to fly to Mactan Island first. Otherwise, you can just take a cab from Cebu’s main island to Mactan. Once in Mactan, you should head to the North Bus Terminal and then take a bus to the Hagnaya Port. The bus ride is around 3 hours, so make sure to bring necessary supplies with you such as food and a bottle of water.

From the port, you should take a ferry to Bantayan Island. The ferries dock at the Sta. Fe municipality where most of the island’s resorts are located.

An easier option is to take a chartered flight from the Mactan Cebu International Airport. Rates vary but a 1-seater chartered flight usually costs around U.S $270 while a 2-seater flight costs around U.S $424. You can also avail of a 5-seater flight for around U.S $513. For more information, you can check this page.

cebu

Spending a Tropical Vacation at Bantayan Island, Cebu

There are a lot of things one can do at Bantayan Island. Sure, the island doesn’t have bars for partying like Boracay, but that doesn’t necessarily translates to being “boring”.

Enjoy the Silence

The silence is one of the reasons why Bantayan Island is preferred by people who are not into (or have grown tired of) partying. Unlike Boracay where bars, vendors and people are everywhere, Bantayan is perfect for soul searching and enjoying the serene atmosphere. Lay down on the powdery-white sand or dive into the cool water. No matter how tired your soul is, Bantayan is the perfect place to get healed. For a silent sanctuary, Bantayan is one of the best islands for vacation on Philippines.

cebu city

Eat!

What good is a vacation without sampling the local cuisine? If you’re not too familiar with Asian food, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Filipino foods, specifically, are known for its strong taste. We like to use herbs and spices for our food, giving it a distinct flavor. For Filipinos, a type of “national” food is dried fish. There’s really no catch to it – it’s just fish dried under the sun and then fried right before eating. There are many kinds of dried fish all throughout the country, but a special (and really good) kind is the “danggit”. It’s not smelly unlike the other kinds and it’s crispy – perfect for eating with garlic rice and sunny side-up eggs.

Another must-try is the seafood in Bantayan Island. Being a fishing village, it’s one of those places where seafood is really cheap. Imagine a bag of scallops for around U.S 38 cents! They also offer prawns, crab and different types of seashells in the local market. If you’re really lucky though, you might chance upon locals selling seafoods fresh from the water (usually caught by their husbands or children). You can then have these cooked in the resort you’re staying for a scrumptious meal. Bantayan will not only heal your soul, it will satisfy your gastronomic needs too.

cebu philippines

Visit the Virgin Island

The Virgin Island is so-named because it really is a virgin island – no buildings, no resorts; just pristine blue water and amazingly white, fine sand.

From Bantayan Island, one can rent a boat to go to the Virgin Island. Rates differ but it’s around U.S $39, good for 8 persons. The Virgin Island is about 30 minutes away, and there’s an “entrance” fee of U.S $13, good for 5 people. Each extra person costs around U.S $1.

What’s really amazing about the island is the scenery and the blue-green, cool water. It’s a great place to relax and just spend the day away.

cebu

Where to Stay

Maia’s Beach Resort

Owned by Maia and Klaus – a Filipina and her German husband, people are usually surprised by how pleasant it is to stay at Maia’s Beach Resort. It’s easy to understand the surprise. If you visit their website , it’s not properly set-up. The resort is also quite far, about 9 kilometers away from the port and is located in the isolated part of the island. In fact, most guests only stayed at Maia’s as a second choice, but boy, were they glad that they did. Not only are the staff accommodating, but the owners entertain the guests themselves. They personally see that everything is in order – a rarity in many resorts today. While the resort is quite far, the listings on their menu are always available. The food also taste great but cheap, which is a big plus considering that the owners can take advantage of their guests (in terms of food price) if they want to.

I have to mention that there are no bars or other restaurants near Maia’s. So, it’s best for families with kids and not so much for people who wants to party at night.

For more information, visit their website here. 

Maia's beach resort

Anika Island Resort

Anika Island Resort is a 5-minute ride away from the port, making it a convenient location. A lot of people are happy about being fetched from the port, where the staff will help you with luggage and take you to the resort. Most people suggest getting the rooms with the beachfront view, pointing out that it’s really worth the money. The resort also serves good food, with plenty of options on their menu.

If you’re looking for a decent resort with clean rooms, then the Anika Island Resort is a good option. It might not be a five-star hotel, but it’s definitely a good place to stay.

Anika Island Resort offers three types of room. The Garden View room, which is good for two persons, costs only U.S $43 per night. The Sunrise View room, which is good for three persons, only costs U.S $65. They also have the Sea View rooms, also good for three persons (but is nearest the beach), for only U.S $77 per night. Because of the low cost of taking a vacation to Bantayan, it’s on our list as one of the best islands for vacation on Philippines.

For more information, visit their site here. 

Anika Island Resort

Why Talicud Island at Davao City is Worth a Trip

If you ever find yourself in Davao City, Philippines, come and visit Talicud Island. Officially a part of IGACOS (Island Garden City of Samal), Talicud Island is a humble, beautiful island a boat ride away from Davao City.

Last weekend, me and a couple of my friends decided to spend the day at Isla Reta Beach Resort, which is in Talicud Island. I’ve been to Talicud 12 years ago – back when it was untouched by resort developers. It was very beautiful, but the lack of amenities was quite a problem back then. Now, it’s officially one of the best islands for vacation on Philippines.

Boarding a Boat to Talicud Island

From Davao City, we boarded a boat in Sta. Ana Wharf. The earliest trip is at 8 a.m, but we didn’t make it so we had to take the 10 a.m. trip instead.

Here’s the thing with the boats. It’s the same transportation residents of the island use, so don’t expect anything luxurious. It’s hot, and the passengers have to wait for the boat to get filled with people. The residents of the island, being far from the city,  buy most of their supplies from Davao so the boat is also filled with cargoes and you literally have to step over them in order to board.

We arrived at around 9:30 and were already boarded by 9:45. Since we didn’t know that the boat has to wait for other people to show up before leaving, we ended up leaving for Talicud Island at around 11:45 a.m. Boat fare, by the way, is around U.S $2 per head. It will take you right to Isla Reta, just make sure to ask which one’s bound for the resort when you arrive at the wharf.

Talicud boat ride

The boat heading to Talicud Island

Isla Reta Resort

Isla Resta is a nice resort – again, nothing luxurious but it did get certified by Trip Advisor UK. Because we went there on a Saturday, plus the fact that the summer season is nearing its end, there were a lot of people. I wouldn’t say that it was packed, but I was expecting a really silent and relaxing atmosphere, courtesy of when I visited the island 12 years back. Let me mention though, that what the resort lacked in terms of luxury, it made up for its beauty. Armed with its powder-white beach and blue-green waters, it will surely captivate one’s heart.

Me and my friends went swimming right away, and it was the perfect way to cap our summer. The boys got busy with grilling pork for our lunch, and we just ordered rice from the restaurant.

Day tour at the resort costs around U.S $2 per head, while overnight stay costs around U.S $2.50 per person. For people who want to stay the night, they can either rent a tent, around US $4 or they can rent a room for $18 a night. Considering that the boat ride alone takes around an hour, I highly suggest staying the night to make the trip worth it. The resort has a restaurant, so you don’t have to worry about where to eat.

I must say that Talicud Island is indeed very blessed. It’s not only surrounded by beaches, but really beautiful ones, at that. The water was very cool, the sand was powdery-white plus your view is the panoramic mountains of Samal Island right across. It was perfect, and I wouldn’t trade that trip for any other places.

isla reta

Leticia by the Sea

If you’re up for a luxurious resort though, I would suggest Leticia by the Sea. Also in Talicud Island, it’s definitely one of the resort I would visit if I can afford it. It’s quite expensive (without converting Philippine Peso to Dollars) but I’d say that it’s definitely worth it. We actually passed by Leticia by the Sea on our way to Isla Reta, and I drooled at how beautiful the resort is.

Leticia by the Sea has a couple of villas where guests can stay, plus of course, swimming at the beach whenever you please. The use of kayaks and pedal boats are included with the entrance fees, so you can go ahead and explore the sea in a different way.

For the adventurous. Leticia by the Sea offers island hopping for a reasonable price. They offer different island hopping packages, and it’s up to you which one you think’s the best. For room and island hopping rate, go here.

leticia by the sea

I’d Definitely Go Back

I wouldn’t argue if somebody would say that the island is far away – because it really is. The trip is quite inconvenient, but the beauty of the place really makes it worth it. If you want a quiet escapade while in Davao City, you should definitely visit Talicud Island.

Why You Shouldn’t Just Pass by Iloilo, Philippines

Iloilo (pronounced Eelo-Eelo) is a city located in the island of Panay, Philippines. If there’s one thing that makes Panay stand out, it’s the white-sand beaches all over it. When people think about the best beach in the Philippines, they’d automatically think about Boracay, which is not far from Iloilo. Sometimes, people who can’t catch a flight to Caticlan or Kalibo (the nearest airports to Boracay), fly to Iloilo and take a bus from there. The sad thing is that people don’t even bother going around Iloilo when it has so much to offer tourists. So, if you’re planning to visit Boracay soon, you might want to explore Iloilo as well.

Flying to Iloilo

Being one of the gateways to Boracay Island, most major airlines fly to Iloilo on a daily basis. To check for schedule and cost, you can go to the following websites:

Things to Do at Iloilo

Visit Old Buildings and Churches

Iloilo is known for its old churches and buildings, a reminder of the city’s rich history and culture. Majority of Filipinos are Catholics, which explains the numerous churches found in most cities. Visiting old churches doesn’t necessarily mean that you are practicing (or that you have to) practice Christianity, but it’s a great way to travel back in time and marvel at the wonderful architecture used in these churches.

These are the must-see churches in Iloilo:

Miagao Church – The Miagao Church has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in 1797, this old church truly boasts exquisite beauty brought about by its Baroque style architecture. On the facade, you can see the sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child. What’s marvelous about this church is that it also borrowed a bit of architecture from different influences such as Spanish, Chinese and Muslim. When brought together, these styles have summed up a native look that’s perfect for this church.

To go there, one can ride a jeep from the Mohom terminal or from the Iloilo Terminal Market in downtown Iloilo.

miagao church iloilo

photo credits: www.exploreiloilo.com

 

Tigbauan Church

Most churches in the Philippines were modeled after the Baroque style of architecture, and this makes the Tigbauan Church stand out. This church, which was constructed in 1575, uses Latin American Churriguesque architecture – an elaborate style of sculptural architectural ornament commonly seen in churches in Spain.

tigabauan church iloilo

photo credits: www.exploreiloilo.com

 

Molo Church

Whoever said that Catholicism shuns women from being praised by its followers clearly hasn’t visited the Molo Church yet.  This church, which is one of the oldest in the country is graced by sixteen images of women saints inside. These images are so prominent within the church that is has been labeled as the “feminist” church.

It was also said that Dr. Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero paid the church a visit on his way home to Manila after his exile in Dapitan. And as if that’s not enough for history buffs, the church has also survived the World War II. In fact, it was used as an evacuation center for civilians during this time. If one would take a close look at the bell that signals the start of masses in the church, it still bears the scars of bullet shots that has grazed it during the second world war.

molo church iloilo

photo credits: www.flickr.com

Visit Isla de Gigantes (Island of Giants)

Isla de Gigantes is Iloilo’s hidden gem. Surrounded by pristine white-sand beaches, to say that it’s a paradise is an understatement. Isla de Gigantes was named so because early settlers believed that the island used to be the home of giants.

Going to the island is quite a challenge. From Iloilo City, one has to take a bus (about 3 or 4 hours drive) to Carles, North Iloilo. From there, you’d need to ride a boat for another 3 or 4 hours. As if that’s not enough, the island doesn’t have piers, so you have to literally jump to a bamboo raft which will then take you to the shore.

Is it worth all the hassle though? You bet. Aside from swimming in the shore, you can also hire a boat to take you to the smaller islands surrounding Isla de Gigantes. To make the most out of your escapade, stay a night or two in the island. There are a couple of resorts with cheap rooms and cheap but very good food. If you want “Boracay” but prefers a quiet and relaxing place to stay then I highly suggest visiting Isla de Gigantes instead.

isla de gigantes iloilo

photo credits: beachresortphilippines.net

isla de gigantes iloilo

the bamboo raft taking people to the island
photo credits: liquiddruid.wordpress.com

Try a Cup of Hot Chocolate at Camiña Balay nga Bato

Camiña Balay nga Bato, owned by the Avanceña family, is a modest old house located at Osmeña St. Arevalo, Iloilo City. This house has a great history behind it, being the general headquarters of Filipino revolutionaries against the Spanish government during the war. Today, the Camiña Balay nga Bato houses the family’s antiques – right from old pieces of furniture, antique sculptures of Saints and old fixtures. Today, one can shop around the house for antiques or souvenirs. What’s really great about this place though is that they offer Iloilo’s traditional hot chocolate and kinihad – a kind of toasted bread that goes great with the chocolate. Please take note that you should be at least a group of five for the chocolate experience and a reservation should be made ahead of time.

camina balay nga bato

photo credits: www.iloiloilove.com

camina bakay nga bato iloilo

photo credits: www.iloiloilove.com

camina bahay nga bato iloilo

hot chocolate experience
photo credits: www.iloiloilove.com

Eat!

Iloilo has one of the best foods in the Philippines. Filipinos love to eat and each city has its own specialty so imagine how good Ilonggo (meaning people/things from Iloilo) food is for almost everybody in the Philippines to like it. La Paz batchoy, for instance, is a hearty pork noodle soup topped with crispy pork cracklings and chopped spring onions.  La Paz is a district in Iloilo where the recipe originated.

The two most famous places that serve batchoy are Ted’s and Deco’s. They have branches all over the city so it shouldn’t be too hard trying a bowl of this delicious noodles (more people prefer Ted’s than Deco’s, though).

Super-Special-Batchoy

La Paz Batchoy
photo credits: www.rapsa.ph

Another must try in Iloilo is Roberto’s queen siopao. Siopao originally came from China and was introduced to the Philippines by Chinese immigrants. Today, siopao is a common snack among Filipinos. It’s a steamed bun filled with meat (chicken or pork) and is best eaten fresh from the steamer. There are quite a few variants of siopao all over the Philippines, with most restaurants having their own recipe. Roberto’s queen siopao is unique because not only is it filled with adobo (a famous Filipino dish), it’s also filled with bacon strips, slices of boiled eggs and Chinese sausage.

roberto's queen siopao iloilo

photo credits: flavoursofiloilo.blogspot.com

Make Friends with the Locals

Ilonggos (the people from Iloilo) are known for being “malambing” or sweet and caring. Ilonggos also have their own dialect which has a calm intonation and tone. Because they talk in such a sweet way, it’s common to hear some people say that it’s better to marry an Ilonggo because they never raise their voice. Even when they’re angry, they still talk the same way (even when they’re really pissed off!). So, don’t be afraid to make some new friends. As a Filipino, one of the things that I’m really proud of is that Filipinos are very humble and hospitable – one of the reasons why people from different nations love coming to our country. If you look different though, like, clearly not from the Philippines, expect a lot of attention. People will stare at you. I heard some foreigners find this rude but it’s really only because Filipinos find foreigners really beautiful, especially when they’re blond with blue eyes, etc. So, when people stare at you, just smile.

The Best Time to Visit

Iloilo celebrates it s Dinagyang Festival yearly, and this is the best time to visit if you’re after partying and meeting new people. The Dinagyang Festival is both a religious and cultural celebration,although I should admit that people tend to celebrate the cultural aspect more and forget about the religious side of the festival. Celebrated every fourth Sunday of January, one of the highlights of Dinagyang is the parade attended by people dressed in colorful cultural garbs. People also party on the streets at night, and continues doing so until the break of dawn. The only possible problem during Dinagyang is that hotels are packed so make sure to book a room before flying in.

dinagyang festival

photo credits: www.exploreiloilo.com

Where to Stay in Iloilo

The City of Iloilo has done a good job tourism-wise, so hotels can be found all over the city.

Days Hotel

What’s really great about Days Hotel is that it’s conveniently located within steps from a convenience store, food court, etc. Everything you need is just a few steps away so you don’t have to worry even if you’re not too familiar with the city. The rooms are clean and spacious and they also have a breakfast buffet where food is served fresh daily. They offer several rooms types, with their classic deluxe rooms as the “best seller”. It’s good for two adults and costs around US $100 per night.

For reviews of this hotel, you can go here.

days hotel iloilo

photo credits: www.exploreiloilo.com

Grand Dame Hotel

Some people choose their hotel according to its location. So, if you want to stay within Iloilo’s business district then the Grand Dame Hotel is an excellent choice. What’s great about this hotel’s location is that everything is nearby, and it’s next to a Ted’s branch so you can try Iloilo’s world-famous La Paz Batchoy as your first meal in the city. Some people complain that the wi-fi is not fast enough although they praise the hotel’s staff for being very friendly and helpful. The rooms are not that spacious though and there are no amenities like pools and gyms. If you’re focus is going around the city and not staying inside a hotel room whole day then the Grand Dame Hotel is not a bad choice.

Their Deluxe Twin Bed room costs around US $77 per night, excluding breakfast.

Iloilo_City_Hotel_Grand_Dame

photo credits: allaboutiloilophilippines.blogspot.com

Tropical Vacation Ideas

Carabao Island

Right at Carabao Island

If you’re looking at a nice vacation soon and you don’t know what places you would like to visit, then you will certainly need to learn more about some of the best tropical vacation ideas you can consider. Below, this article will take a closer look at some of the best tropical places you can visit so you have a great time you will never forget. Let’s see them!

Hawaii

Amongst the best tropical vacation ideas, Hawaii is certainly high on the list. What you have heard and seen about Hawaii is actually true and when you visit it, all of your conceptions and views about it will be confirmed. There are many different beaches and islands you will be able to revel in when you visit the Aloho State of Hawaii. For instance, one of the main locations people consider is the Oahu Island, which is house to the very popular Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. If you’re into golf and you want to go to a luxury resort, then you will love Maui. It has 16 golf courses and a ten thousand foot volcano. You may also want to visit Lanai and Molokai as well and they can easily be reached from Honolulu by plane or by ferry from Maui.

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