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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Visit The Philippines: A 2015 Backpacking Guide to Experiencing Paradise


Visit The Philippines: A 2015 Backpacking Guide to Experiencing Paradise


With 7,107 islands, the Philippines is every traveler's dream not only to foreigners but to locals as well. From chilling on beaches, chowing down savory dishes, climbing mountains to just relaxing, there are a number of activities you could do in the country.

First up, where to stay? Looking for places to stay at these days aren't as difficult as it was back then. There are a number of online booking websites offering places to stay at affordable prices. Agoda for example has the cheapest offerings when it comes to hotel booking with discounts up to 75%. However, note that prices can change quickly so act fast when you want to book something.


Moreover, Airbnb is another booking website which shows you different kinds of places to stay -- whether it's a mansion, an apartment or even a bahay kubo. Plus, you can actually get rooms for as low as P500. If you don't like splurging, Couchsurfing is perfect for you since you get to stay at a host's place for free and you get to live like a local.
Now that we've settled that, here are must-visit places for first-time backpackers.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Honda Bay
Image: Mendhak / CC BY-SA 2.0
Known for Being the cleanest and greenest city, it is a popular tourist spot because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
 
Getting there
There are a number of direct flights from Manila to Puerto Princesa and takes a maximum of 65 minutes; fare depends on the season. Check the AccuWeather app before booking a trip!
Getting around
Tricycles (P8-P10)
Stay
Villa Travelista Lodge (starts at P400), FGL Guesthouse (starts at P800)
Eat
After a tour of the world-renowned Subterranean River, feast at Puerto Princesa's well-known grill restaurant, Ka Lui's Restaurant or eat the freshest seafood at Badjao Seafront Restaurant. Budget for food is P500/day.
See
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Tubbataha Reef, Honda Bay, Firefly watching at Iwahig River
Try
Tamilok is a popular Palawan delicacy but is not for the faint-hearted as it is a dish of exotic worms. Also, the Puerto Princesa tour so you could have a glimpse of Plaza Cuartel, Crocodile Farm, Baker's Hill, Mitra's Ranch and the Iwahig Penal Colony.
Budget (w/o fare)
Minimum of P2,700 for 3 days
Also in Palawan
Coron and El Nido have both direct flights from Manila. Best way to reach Coron from Puerto Princesa is a 1-hour plane ride or if you don't want to splurge, there is an 8-hour boat ride to visit the Calauit Safari Park, be in awe at the Twin Lagoon, scuba dive and snorkel to see the Sunken Japanese Wrecks. While you're at it, stay at Coron Reef Pension House for a night or two (starts at P600 for 2pax).
 
You can also reach El Nido from Puerto Princesa via a 5-hour Daytripper van ride (starts at P850) so you can have a piece of peace at Nacpan Beach, see the beauty of nature at the Small Lagoon and if you're brave enough, you can Shark Dive with friends. A day trip would be enough but if you want to stay for the night, book at Rock View Lodge (starts at P560).

Boracay
Boracay
Image: Ryan Desiderio / CC BY 2.0
Known for
Its powder white beaches and clear waters. It is the Beach Capital of the Philippines and is one of the major destinations in the world. As a matter of fact, Boracay is often called "the world's most beautiful tropical island."
Getting there
There are direct flights from Manila to Caticlan Airport or Kalibo Airport. From Caticlan, it's a 15-minute bus ride to Caticlan Port followed by another 15-minute boat ride to Boracay Island. From Kalibo Airport, it is an hour or two-hour bus ride to Caticlan Port.
Getting around
Motortrike (P40-P50) or by foot
Stay
Cena's Guesthouse (starts at P500), Sundown Boracay (starts at P600), The Orchids (starts at P600)
Eat
Jonah's Fruit Shake (P100-P120), Choriburger (P50), Calamansi Muffin (P60)
See
Puka Beach because of its white sand, crystal clear waters and it's a quiet place to relax in since there are no establishments in the area yet.
Try
Cliff Diving at Ariel's Point, Parasailing (P2,300 for solo, P1,700/person for double), Waterskiing (P1,000), Banana Boat Ride (P300), Boracay Pub Crawl (P990), or take a paraw (P1,000) which is a native boat for a tour of the island.
Budget (w/o fare)
Minimum of P3,000 for 3 days

Central Visayas: Cebu-Bohol
Chocolate Hills, Bohol
Image: Mendhak / CC BY-SA 2.0Cebu
Known for
Being one of the highly urbanized cities in Central Visayas, also dubbed as the "Queen City of the South."
Getting there
Manila to Cebu by plane takes less than an hour and by ferry which takes 24 hours.
Stay
Cebu Guest House (starts at P200), Sugbutel (starts at P250)
Eat
Cebu Lechon, Tuslob Buwa -- pork brain, garlic, liver, spices with 10-12 puso (rice wrapped in palm leaves), Larsian BBQ Restaurant. Budget for food is P500/day.
See
Magellan's Cross and Basilica del Sto. Niño for those who love history. Head on over to Tops which is a popular deck that offers romantic views of the city.
Try
Attend the Sinulog Festival which is a celebration of Sto. Niño and happens every third Sunday of January -- the city hosts a colorful and wild street party attracting people from around the Philippines and the world.

Bohol
Known for
Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers
Getting there
Cebu to Bohol via ferry takes 1.20 hours.
Stay
Casa Nova Garden (starts at P300), Tr3ats Guesthouse (starts at P388)
Eat
Loboc River Lunch and Dinner Cruise (P350)
See
The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella, Baclayon Church, Day Tour at Panglao Island Nature Resort & Spa (P800 entrance fee, P500 consumable)
Try
Skyride (P250), Rootclimb (P400) or Zipline (P350) at Danao Adventure Park
Getting around
Jeepneys (P8-P15) and Taxis (P40 flagdown rate)
Budget (w/o fare)
Minimum of P2,200 for 3 days

Bicolandia: Camarines Sur-Camarines Norte-Albay-Sorsogon
Lahus Island, Caramoan
Image: Bong Bajo c/o naga.gov.ph
Known for
Its spicy food, volcanoes, pristine beaches, caves, coves, lakes and other natural wonders.
Getting there
Naga City is the heart of Bicol which is why it's the common ground when you want to explore the region. There are daily flights from Manila to the Naga airport which takes 45 minutes or via bus which takes 8-9 hours. From Naga, you can reach CWC in just 20-30 minutes; Albay in 1.5-2 hours via van (P140); Caramoan in 4 hours via van to San Jose Port and then boat ride to Caramoan Port; Subic Beach, Sorsogon in 4 hours.
Getting around
Tricycle, Taxicles and Jeepneys at P8, Taxi (P40 flagdown rate)
Stay
Orange Dormitel (starts at P570), CBD Plaza Hotel (starts at P800), Beach camping (free)
Eat
Pinangat, Bicol Express, Bicolano Pizza at CWC. Budget for food is P300/day.
See
The perfectly cone-shaped volcano that is Mt. Mayon; island hop in Caramoan; relax and indulge in Calaguas, Camarines Norte; pink sand and wonderful view at Subic Beach, Matnog.
Try
Kinalas which is Naga's own version of mami with chopped cow's brain and a special sauce. Swim with the whalesharks (butanding) in Donsol. Surf at Bagasbas Beach in Daet. Wakeboard at Cam Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili.
Budget (w/o fare)
Minimum of P2,610 for 3 days excluding beach trips

Sagada-Baguio
Sagada Rice Terraces
Image: Jojo Nicdao / CC BY 2.0
Known for
Its pleasant climate. Baguio is one of the most famous cities in the Philippines and has been celebrated as the Summer Capital since it is cooler than the normal hot weather in the country.
Getting there
Via Victory Liner or Genesis Bus in Cubao, it would take 5-6 hours to reach Baguio. Depending on the bus company, fare should start at P450. To reach Sagada, there are hourly bus trips from 6am until 1pm every day and would take 5-6 hours, rate starts at P420. You can also reach Baguio via a private car, make sure you don't get lost and use the Waze app.
Getting around
Jeepneys (P8)
Stay
Sagada Residential Lodge (starts at P200), George Guest House (starts at P250), Lou's 3-bedroom Transient House (starts at P250)
Eat
Strawberry Taho, Strawberry Sorbetes at La Trinidad Strawberry Farm, Raisin Bread at Baguio Country Club, breakfast at Yoghurt House in Sagada. Budget for food is P500/day.
See
Session Road, Camp John Hay, Burnham Park in Baguio and the Hanging Coffins, Kapay-Aw Rice Terraces in Sagada.
Try
If you like trekking, feel as though you're one with the clouds and take a side trip to Mt. Pulag and see the majestic sun rise and sun set. In addition, get a traditional tattoo from the last artist in Kalinga, Whang-od.
Budget (w/o fare)
Minimum of P2,100 for 3 days
Mt. Pulag
Image: Jojo Nicdao / CC BY 2.0

Ilocos Norte: Vigan-Laoag-Pagudpud
Calle Crisologo, Vigan
Image: Fitri Agung / CC BY 2.0
Known for
Being a Northern tourist destination and it being a coastal province, different colors of sand can be found -- black in Laoag, brown in Currimao and white in Pagudpud. No need to add filters before posting on Instagram!
Getting there
There are a number of bus lines that go directly from Cubao to Vigan that takes 7-9 hours and rates start at P600. Travel to Laoag by bus that takes 1.5-2 hours and another 1.5-2 hours to reach Pagudpud from Laoag.
Getting around
Tricycles and Kalesas (P10-P20)
Stay
HEM Apartelle (starts at P500), Starlight Lodging House (starts at P600), Kapuluan Vista Resort
Eat
Pinakbet Pizza, Vigan Empanada with Sukang Iloco, Longganisa, Bagnet. Budget for food is P500/day.
See
Calle Crisologo, Kapurpurawan Rock Formations, Bangui Wind Farm, Paoay Church, Plaza Salcedo Dancing Fountain Show
Budget (w/o fare)
Minimum of P3,000 for 3 days

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Prepaid Load Cards are also available in P100, P300 and P500 so you can live like a real local and connect with new friends you meet while on your trip. Stay connected to the world while touring the Philippines! For more details about the Globe Traveler Sim, click here.
Still can’t get enough of the Philippines? Head on over to Visit PH 2015 for information of activities and events you and your barkada would enjoy this year. What are you waiting for? Plan your trips ahead and make sure you share your picture-perfect experiences for the world to see.

1 comment:

Augustus Martinez said...

Great list of places where we can go and explore for our next weekend getaway. Thank you for sharing this with us. You gave us so many ideas for our next trip! :D

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