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Monday, September 2, 2019

    Merlion Park at Night
Singapore is a famous destination not only to solo backpackers but also to people who love to experience a visa free first world county in Asia. I did some research before going to Singapore. Most people who went to the country noted that it's very safe. Citizens are disciplined and law abiding. They are also fluent in English so there's no language barrier. On top of that, tourists are in awe of Singapore's infrastructures and entertainment from the airport, parks, zoo and so on.

It was my first visit in Singapore and I decided to go on solo. I prepared an itinerary where I get to visit the domes in Gardens by the Bay, OCBC Skyway, Observatory Deck, Universal Studio Singapore and others. But I realised, these attractions are not for someone going solo (atleast for me). So I decided to come up with another itinerary, Singapore Version 2.0, where I'll visit entrance free attractions of Singapore. This will save me time especially if I wanted to bail out in a place or if I feel I need to skip a place. No entrance fee to regret or to consider. Also, this is a good idea for solo, couples or family who are in a budget or would like to put their budget to food rather than attractions. Amazingly, Singapore has so much to offer that are FREE! 

Aside from the flight tickets, travel and airport tax, accommodations, EZ Link top-up, pasalubong and meals, I did not have any other expenses in Singapore.
Marina Bay  Sands View at Night
Flight Tickets
I booked my Clark - Singapore and vice versa ticket with Cebupacific during their July 2019 promo fare. I got the deal for only P3,680. I chose Clark Airport instead of NAIA Airport as I live near Clark.

Alternatively, there are lots of airlines that has a Manila/Clark to Singapore route like Philippine Airlines, Airasia and Jetstar. Catch the promo fares for cheaper flight tickets.

If you're coming from Clark, you need to pay the following:
  • Travel tax - PHP 1,620
  • Terminal fee - PHP 600
Mandatory Universal Photo
How to reach Clark Airport from Manila
a. There are numerous P2P (Point-to-point) busses going to Clark. Fare starts at P400. Click here for routes and fares.

b. Ride a bus bound to Dau Terminal. From Dau Terminal, ride a "SM Clark-Maingate" jeepney (P9) and tell the driver to drop you off at Maingate Terminal. From the Terminal, find and ride the Airport Jeepney (P20).

Visa Requirements
Singapore offers visa free entry for Filipinos. Just ensure that your passport has more than 6 months validity prior to entry in Singapore and you are good to go.

Accommodation
I always dreamt of staying at capsule hostels. And by going solo, I think it was the best time to try it. I booked at Met-A-Space-Pod in Boat Quay for 3 days and 2 nights. I got the deal it for only P2,634. This already includes breakfast.

There are more cheaper hostels around Little India area. It will be smart if you book an accommodation near MRT Stations. 
My own space in the capsule hostel

Met-A-Space-Pod
I got many inquiries when I posted my pictures in this capsule hotel. So I thought of discussing it more. I did my research before booking my stay with this hostel. I was satisfied by the reviews and managed my expectations. 

My stay was nothing but very good. The hostel is a 5-minute walk from Raffles Place MRT Station (UOB Plaza 1 exit). The place is easy to find as it is just before Bonchon. It is situated in Boat Quay which means lots of restaurants and food chains nearby. Food won't be a problem. However, at wee hours of night, there may be sounds or noises but it is manageable.

The receptionist were part-timers but they were accommodating and friendly. They oriented me on the "how to" of the hostels. They also provided everything that was included in my booking: towel, wifi and breakfast.

The hostel has lockers for each guest but it can only accommodate one small luggage. If you have bigger luggage, there's a bag rack for everyone.

The capsule itself is only good for one person though they offer  couple capsule that are good for two persons. The capsule and the place was clean and free from smell. The capsule includes lights, sockets, USB ports and television.

Distance from Philippines
Travel to Singapore is around 3.5 hours from Clark, Philippines. There is no timezone difference.
Hanging Bridge at Palawan Beach
EZ Link Card
You can reach every place in Singapore using MRT. It is good if you'll have either the Tourist Pass or an EZ Link. I used EZ link as advised by my friends who were frequent visitors in Singapore. I only consumed 10 SGD for my three day trip.

Unlike the Tourist Pass, you can top this up and it can be used for Monorail in Sentosa.

A friend lent me her EZ Link Card. It has a $10 balance when she gave it to me. Happy me! So if you have friends who have been to Singapore, better borrow their EZ Link Card to save up.

4G Singapore Sim
This is the best decision if you're going solo. I purchased it through Klook for a discounted price of P177. This simcard has 100GB of data that is good for 7 days. And yes, data is you're "go to thing" whenever you visit a foreign country.

I collected the simcard in Cheers Store at Terminal 4. I showed my Klook voucher, they registered it under my name and I'm good to go.

How to get out/to Terminal 4
From Terminal 4, find the free Airport Shuttle that will take you to Terminal 2. From Terminal 2, follow the signs "to MRT/City". Do the other way in coming back to Terminal 4.


Singapore 3D2N Itinerary

Day 1 - Jewel and Around Marina Bay Sands

Jewel @ Changi
You can access this through Terminal 2. A little walking and following the "Jewel" signs will take you to the newest gem of Changi Airport. 

Around Marina Bay Sands Tour
From the hostel, I walked going to Merlion Park - Helix Bridge - Art Museum - Marina Bay Sands - Fullerton Hotel and back to the hostel. This is an hour walk but because I took my time to be amazed by the infrastructures and took several photos, this is almost a three hour tour. 
Day 1 - Walking Map

Places Visited:
  • Boat Quay
  • Merlion Park
  • Helix Bridge
  • Art Museum
  • Marina Bay Sands

Day 2 - Sentosa, Chinatown, Gardens by the Bay and Clark Quay
Monorail Stations and Destinations

Sentosa
Sentosa is an island resort in Singapore's southern coast. It houses the Universal Studio, Resort Worlds, beaches and many more attractions.

The easiest way to go in the island is to take the MRT going to Harbourfront Station. The MRT is connected to VivoCity shopping mall. From there, you will have several options

a. Walking through Sentosa Boardwalk.

  • This is a pedestrian walkway that connects the eastern part of the VivoCity shopping mall and Resorts World Manila. The best part of it is there is no admission fee.
b. Monorail or Sentosa Express.
  • This is situation inside VivoCity Shopping Mall. The single-day Sentosa Pass costs $4. This allows island entry and unlimited rides on the Sentosa Express. First train trip starts at 7:00am
        Monorail Stations
        SE1 VivoCity - Entry point; Harbourfront MRT Station
        SE2 Resorts World - Universal Studio; Resort World Attractions
        SE3 Imbiah - Merlion Plaza
        SE4 Beach - Beaches and Palawan Green

c. Cable car
  • Singapore Cable Car Sky Pass (Round Trip) cost $35. This includes Mount Faber Line and Sentosa Line
        Mount Faber Line - Mount Faber; Harbourfront; Sentosa
        Sentosa Line - Merlion; Imbiah Lookout; Seloso Point

Tips: Travel within Sentosa and back to the Mainland is free of charge whether via bus or monorail.
Merlion at Sentosa
Places Visited:
  • Universal Studio - Globe
  • Sentosa - Merlion
  • Palawan Beach
Chinatown
Chinatown means food and shopping!  I explored Chinatown's Food Stalls, Hawker Centre and Shopping Center. Don't forget to drop by the Value Dollar Store near the MRT to score great deals of chocolates!

Places Visited:
  • Chinatown
  • Chinatown Hawker Centre
  • Value Dollar Store
Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay
Your visit to Singapore won't be complete without visiting the Gardens. I walked through the gardens and scored several photos with the SuperGrove Trees, Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer.

Places Visited:
  • Gardens by the Bay
Clark Quay
This is almost the same as Boat Quay. A serene view of the river with many people walking along the pedestrian. Don't forget to visit the Old Police Station just outside the MRT Station.

Places Visited:
  • Clark Quay
  • Old Police Station
Day 3 - Merlion Park (Morning View), Arab Street, Little India and Orchard

Though the night and lights are fab with Merlion Park, I have to see it during day time so I had a come back at Day 3. It's quiet and there's less people at that time. I headed straight to Arab Street and explored the colorful street arts and was amazed by the picturesque Sultan Mosque. I had the streets to myself. It started to rain afterwards and I found a shed at Zam Zam Restaurant. I took my brunch while waiting for the rain to stop. The rain stopped after some time and I walked to Little India and Sri Veen Temple. Thanks to Google Maps and to people who assisted me to find the places. Then I headed to Library at Orchard. It is sitting in the 3rd floor of the Orchard Mall, easy peasy.
Sultan Mosque
Places Visited:
  • Merlion Park 
  • Arab Street 
  • Sultan Mosque
  • Little India 
  • Sri Veen Temple
  • Library at Orchard 
  • Terminal 4
Tips:
  • Wear your most comfortable shoes - I read this from all the blogs I researched on and I heard this from people who went to Singapore and all I can say is, "this is so true!". Singapore is all walk! I wore my most comfortable shoes, I still had sore feet every end of the day. 
  • Be fit - If you're not the type of person who loves to walk alot, you need to train up prior to your visit. As for me who really loves to walk, I still had leg pains and wanted to give up. I even went home early in may second day to give my legs, feet and body some rest.
  • Wear comfortable clothes - Singapore has the same temperature with the Philippines. And since you'll be walking in a warm day, you'll also be sweating tons! 
  • If unsure, ask - Citizens can speak English and are very accommodating. 
  • Use EZ Link rather than tourist card - With all the places I visited plus the MRT from and to Changi Airport, it only cost 15 SGD. You can also use this in buses and Sentosa Express.
  • Sim card for data - Though almost every place in Singapore has wifi, it is still better to have your own data at hand. You can have 100GB data for only PHP368. I purchased mine via klook and collected it in my desired location.
  • Value Dollar Store - If you're not the keychain/ref magnet type of person, you can get your pasalubong of chocalates here.
  • If your a SB collector - Buy a SB tumbler and get a free venti drink
  • Too much top-up on your card? - You can use it in Mcdonalds/711
  • Got coins - As coins dont get exchanged and would be most likely stucked with you forever, use them in the "Cheers" convenience store in the airport. They have goods starting from 1SGD dollars.
  • Water - This is bit expensive. I suggest to bring your own tumbler. In my case, I bought my SG tumbler upon arrival and refilled it with water for my travels
  • If you're travelling solo, bring your portable tripod - This will save your day for beautiful instagrammable photos. And yes, you can hand carry it.
  • Download your fave movie/kpop - The flight is long and if you're someone who cant sleep through the flight, bring something to watch or read.
Morning view of Marina Sands Bay

Summary of Expenses
Round trip flight ticket (CRK-SIN-CRK) - P3,680
Accommodation (Met-A-Space-Pod) - P2,634
SG Sim Card (Klook) - P177
Clark Airport Travel Tax - P1,620
Clark Aiport Terminal Fee - P600
EZ Link Top-up (5 SGD)  - P188
Total Expenses - P8,899

I did not include meals and pasalubong cause you know it, they are relative. 
For meals, I only spent less than SGD50 for three days.

Friday, July 12, 2019

My friends decided to do a quick summer escapade and we found the right place where we can enjoy the summer sun, and the great facilities and ambiance of the resort. Masamirey Cove Resort is the hidden gem of Sual, Pangasinan. It is nestled in one of Pangasinan's pristine beaches, the Masamirey Beach.

I would suggest to have your own private vehicle when you visit the place as it is quite far, approximately 5 kilometers, from the main road. Aside from tricycles, there are no other public utility vehicle available fro the main road to the cove.


A reservation is needed prior to your visit in the resort. You can contact them through their website or through Facebook Messenger. Either way, they are very responsive. For Day Tour, we were not asked to pay a downpayment. The receptionist just confirmed the visit date and number of pax.

Day Tour (8:00 AM - 10:00 PM)

Entrance fee
Adult - PHP 485 per head (11 years old and above)
Kid - PHP 380 per head (4 years old - 10 years old)
3 years old and below are free of charge

This fee includes access to swimming pool, beach volleyball court, frisbee and shower area.

You can rent a Beach Cabana or Open Cottages for PHP1,000. The cabanas are good for a maximum of 5 adults.

Rooms for Overnight Stay

If you decided to do an overnight stay at the resort, they have the following types of room:

Master Room - PHP 5,760 per night
Good for 2 pax but can accommodate 4 pax with PHP 1,000 extra person charge.
This also includes free breakfast

Family Room - PHP 7,800 per night
Double room for 4 pax but can accommodate maximum of 5 pax with PHP1,000 extra person charge.
This also includes free breakfast

House Rules

Proper swimwear is required
No pets allowed
Bring of food is subject to food fee of PHP 300 per head
Bringing of beverage is subject to corkage fee
Transaction for hotel and resort is through cash basis onlyy
Bar and the restaurant accepts credit card and debit card payment




Chips and water do not have corkage fee.
They have their own bar and resto so no need to worry about foods and drinks.

Other Activities to do in Sual, Pangasinan

A. Hundred Island Tour (9:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
Yup, you read it right, you can also explore Hundred Islands from Sual.

PHP2,500 for 2-5 persons
PHP 3,000 for 6-10 persons
PHP 3,500 for 11-15 persons

The fee is for boat rental only and is exclusive of entrance, insurance and environmental fee.

B. Sual Boat Tour (One hour tour but you can stay longer in the islands)
The tour is exploring other islands located in Sual.

PHP2,500 for 2-5 persons
PHP 3,000 for 6-10 persons
PHP 3,500 for 11-15 persons

The fee is for boat rental only and is exclusive of entrance, insurance and environmental fee.

Monday, March 4, 2019



Cebu is the province in the Philippines that I kept coming back to. I think that there is so much to see and experience in the province and I'll never get tired of it. It was my fourth visit in Cebu and I have decided to explore its northern islands, Bantayan, and its highlands.

I stayed for 4 days and 3 nights in the province of Cebu. Three days were for tourist spots in Bantayan Island and Mountains of Cebu while the last day was for enjoying and walking around the city, buying pasalubong and tasting all the good foods that Cebu offers.


4 Days and 3 Nights Itinerary in Cebu (with costing)

Below is a detailed itinerary for our travel to Bantayan Island, Highland Mountain Tour and Cebu City Tour. I have included the estimated time and the actual costs we spent. The amount shown is on a per person basis. Yes, 4 days and 3 nights costed P6,600 per person. I travelled with my partner so some cost such as tricyle, taxi and boat fare were divided into two. The particulars column shows the total cost. I have excluded all food, tip and pasalubong expenses because these are all relative to the the traveler. :)


I will have other blog posts to discuss Bantayan Island and Cebu's Highland Tour. But for now, I hope that the itinerary below helps.

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or fill up the contact form in the Home Page.

DETAILED ITINERARY

PRE DEPARTURE
12:30 am - 02:30 am - Travel from Dau Terminal to Cubao
02:30 am - 03:00 am - Travel from Cubao Terminal to NAIA
03:00 am - 05:00 am - Check-in; waiting; boarding
05:00 am - 06:00 am - Travel from NAIA to Mactan Airport

DAY 1
06:00 am - 06:25 am - Travel from Mactan Airport to Cebu North Terminal
06:25 am - 06:30 am - Bought breakfast
06:30 am - 10:30 am - Travel from Cebu North Terminal to Haganaya Port
10:30 am - 11:15 am - Bought lunch and ticket
11:15 am - 11:30 am - Boarding time
11:30 am - 01:00 pm - Travel from Haganaya Port to Santa Fe, Bantayan - P185
01:00 pm - 01:15 pm - Travel to Accommodation. Check in.
01:15 pm - 02:00 pm - Rest. Prepared for tour
02:00 pm - 06:00 pm - Tricycle Tour - P250
Places visited were Mangrove, Paradise Beach, Ogtang Cave (we just passed by), Ruins, Cliff Diving Spot and Kota Beach.
06:00 pm - 06:30 pm - Went to market to buy food
06:30 pm - onwards  - Dinner, socials, lights off

DAY 2
07:00 am - 08:00 am - Breakfast, prepared for tour
08:00 am - 08:15 am - Travelled to port
08:15 am - 08:45 am - Travel to Virgin Island
08:45 am - 09:00 am - Check-in, registration
09:00 am - 03:00 pm - Explored the island, lunch, picture taking, swimming
03:00 pm - 03:30 pm - Head back to Santa Fe
03:30 pm - 04:00 pm - Went to market to buy foods/ Head back to Accom
04:00 pm - onwards   - Dinner, socials, lights off

DAY 3
05:00 am - 06:00 am - Breakfast/ Prepared for Departure/ Check-out
06:00 am - 06:10 am - Travel from Accommodation to Santa Fe Port
06:10 am - 07:30 am - Travel from Santa Fe, Bantayan to Haganaya Port
07:30 am - 11:30 am - Travel from Haganaya Port to Cebu City
11:30 am - 11:40 am - Travel from Cebu City to Accommodation
11:40 am - 12:00 nn - Checked-in at Horizon 101
12:00 nn - 01:00 pm - Lunch at Mango Avenue
01:00 pm - 01:30 pm - Travel from Mango Avenue to JY Square Mall
01:30 pm - 06:00 pm - Cebu's Mountains Tour
Places visited were Nerisville, Don Meon Garden, Sirao Garden, Temple of Leah. We skipped Tops and Buwakan ni Alejandra
06:00 pm - 06:20 pm - Travel from JY Square Mall to Ayala
06:20 pm - 07:00 pm - Dinner
07:00 pm - 07:20 pm - Travel from Ayala Ave to Mango Ave
07:20 pm - onwards - Socials/ Lights off

DAY 4
07:00 am - 07:30 am - Breakfast
07:30 am - 09:00 am - Explored Cebu City. Visited Sto Nino Cathedral and Magellan's Cross
09:00 am - 09:10 am - Travel from Magellan's Cross to Taboan Market
09:10 am - 10:00 am - Bought Pasalubong
10:00 am - 10:30 am - Travel from Taboan Market to Mango Avenue
10:30 am - 01:00 pm - Rest/ Lunch/ Check-out
01:00 pm - 01:20 pm - Travel from Mango Avenue to SM City Cebu
01:20 pm - 01:40 pm - Waiting for next MyBus
01:40 pm - 02:10 pm - Travel from Sm City Cebu to Mactan Airport
02:10 pm - 05:00 pm - Check-in/ Waiting Boarding
05:00 pm - 06:30 pm - Travel from Mactan Aiport to Clark Airport

TOTAL EXPENSES

PRE DEPARTURE
Flight Tickets - P1,155 - Cebupacific (Manila to Cebu; Cebu to Clark)
Santa Fe Accommodation - P1,336 - Booked via AirBNB - P1,336 per night good for 2 pax. We stayed for 2 nights
Travel from Dau Terminal to Cubao - P152 - Travel time: 2 hours
The only available bus at that time. It is preferred to take a Dau-Pasay bound bus
Travel from Cubao Terminal to NAIA - P140 - Total taxi fare was P280. Travel time: 30 mins

DAY 1
Travel from Mactan Airport to Cebu North Terminal - P90 - Total taxi fare was P180. Travel time: 30 mins
Breakfast
Travel from Cebu North Terminal to Haganaya Port - P140 - Travel time: 4 hours
We missed the 6:00am Ceres Aircon bus so we opted for a non aircon bus that leaves at 6:30am
Travel from Haganaya Port to Santa Fe, Bantayan - P185 - Island Shipping Ferry. Travel time: 1.5 hours
Haganaya Port Terminal Fee - P10
Santa Fe, Bantayan Environment Fee - P30
Checked-in at Accommondation - Neriza's place booked via AirBNB
Tricycle Tours - P250 - Total transpo expense was P500.
Places visited were Mangrove, Paradise Beach, Ogtang Cave (we just passed by), Ruins, Cliff Diving Spot and Kota Beach. Tour Time: 4 hours
Mangrove Entrance Fee - P50
Paradise Beach Entrance Fee - P50

DAY 2
Travel to Virgin Island - P450 - Total transpo expense was P900.
Hired private boat to take us to the island. The boat can fit up to 8 pax. Tour Time: Whole day
Virgin Island Entrance Fee - P250 - P500 entrance fee was good for 2 pax
Rental of Tables and Chairs - P150 - Total rent was P300. Tables and Chairs can fit up to 8 pax

DAY 3

Travel from Santa Fe, Bantayan to Haganaya Port - P185 - Travel time: 1.5 hours
Santa Fe Terminal Fee - P5
Travel from Haganaya Port to Cebu City - P175 - Ceres Aircon bus. Travel time: 3.5 hours
Travel from Cebu City to Accommodation - P33 - Total taxi fare was P65 - Travel time: 15 mins
Checked-in at Horizon 101 - P750 - Booked via booking. P1500 per night good for 2 pax. can fit up to 3 pax.
Travel from Mango Avenue to JY Square Mall - P7 - Via Jeepney. Travel time: 40 mins
Cebu's Mountains Tour - P600 - Motorcycle. Total transpo expense was P1200 good for 2 pax.
Places visited were Nerisville, Don Meon Garden, Sirao Garden, Temple of Leah. We skipped Tops and Buwakan ni Alejandra. Tour Time: 5 hours
Nerisville Entrance Fee - P50
Don Meon Garden Entrance Fee - P50
Sirao Garden Entrance Fee - P100
Temple of Leah Entrance Fee - P50
Travel from JY Square Mall to Ayala Ave - P7
Travel from Ayala Ave to Mango Ave - P7

DAY 4
Explored Cebu City - free - We did this by walking. Places visited were Sto Nino Cathedral and Magellan's cross
Travel from Magellan's Cross to Taboan Market - P7 - Jeepney. Travel time: 15 mins
Bought Pasalubong
Travel from Taboan Market to Mango Avenue P7 - Jeepney. Travel time: 30 mins
Travel from Mango Avenue to SM City Cebu - P55 - Total taxi fare was P110. Travel time: 20 mins
Travel from Sm City Cebu to Mactan Airport - P40 - MyBus. Travel time: 30 mins

TOTAL EXPENSES - P6,567

Friday, March 1, 2019

I cannot deny it, Cebu is my favorite province, aside from my hometown. I have been mesmerised by the places I visited and the warmness of its people. Little did I know, I could fall in love with it even more. It was my fourth visit in Cebu when I decided to explore Bantayan Island. And it was the best decision I made in that trip.
Bantayan Island is a simple and peaceful island that raised my standards in terms of beaches. I have been to number of beaches in the Philippines and this became an instant favorite. I am recalling the days we've spent in the island and memories of crystal clear water and fine white sands are coming back to life. Oh, how I missed the place.

Bantayan Island is situated in west of the northern end of Cebu. It is approximately 5 hours away from Mactan-Cebu International Airport.
Bantayan Island is divided into three municipalities, Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe. During my visit, I explored Santa Fe and Virgin Island (left side of Hilantagaan Island).

Let me share to you details, tips and our experiences when we visited the Island.

HOW TO GET TO BANTAYAN ISLAND
The most easy and convenient way to reach Bantayan Island is through Cebu City.

1. Fly to Cebu
Several airlines are offering cheap flights from Clark or Manila  to Mactan-Cebu International Airport. You can check Philippine Airline, Airasia, Royal and ofcourse my favorite, Cebupacific. We scored a Cebupacific flight Manila-Cebu and Cebu to Clark for only P1,155 RT.
2. Get to Cebu North Terminal
From Mactan-Cebu International Airport you have two options to reach Cebu North Terminal
a. (White) Regular Taxi
Follow the signages outside the arrival area and it will lead you to the taxi bay. You can either choose Yellow or White Taxi. I usually hire a White taxi because they are cheaper. The travel time is around 30-45 minutes depending on the city traffic. Fare was P180.

b. SM MyBus
Also located outside the arrival area, find bus with "MyBus" logo. A new bus arrives every 30 minutes and the fix fare is P40. This option is cheaper especially if you are a solo travel. However, there are few bus stops and MyBus won't pass by Cebu North Terminal. To get to the terminal, disembark at Parkmall and take a jeepney or cab to Cebu North Terminal. Taxi fare is around P70.

Since I am with my partner, and we are running after time, I chose Option A. 

3. Bus Ride to Haganaya Port
Ceres Liner has daily schedule from Cebu to Bantayan Island and vice versa. It is better to take into consideration the schedules in planning your itinerary because of the time intervals of the buses. The travel is around 4 hours and fare for air-conditioned bus is P185. For more details about Bus Schedule and Fare, click here.
In our case, we arrived in Cebu North Terminal at 6:00 AM. The bus was still there though it was already full. We thought of waiting for two hours more to get to the next bus. But my itchy feet tried to explore the terminal and saw non air-conditioned bus to Haganaya Port and it left at 6:30 AM. Not a bad choice. Fare is P140. I observed that the non air-conditioned bus we took had several bus stops as compared to air-conditioned bus (we rode air conditioned bus going back).

4. Ferry Ride to Santa Fe Port
There are two shipping line going to the island, Island Shipping and Super Shuttle. These ferries are RORO (roll-on, roll off) meaning you can bring your own vehicle to the island. They normally alternates every hour. The first trip is at 3:00 AM and last trip is at 5:30 PM. Travel time is around 1.5 hours and fare is at P185. For more details about ferry schedule and fare, click here.
There is also a Terminal Fee for P10.
5. Tricycle to Accommodation
Upon arrival at the Santa Fe Port, we paid P30 for the environmental fee. Kuya Lorenzo, our driver and tourist guide rolled into one, picked us up and accompanied us to our accommodation.
ACCOMMODATION
There are several resorts and guesthouses in the island. You can book through Airbnb, Agoda, or Traveloka. I have booked our accommodation, Comfy Little House, through Airbnb for P1,336 per night for 2-3 persons. It's a little house with bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Though we tried some of their local foods, we cooked most of our own meals during our stay. It is 5-10 minutes away from the market, restaurants and the beach.

During iti planning, I really wanted to have a beachfront resort. I was eyeing on Kota Beach (Camp Sawi fans would know why) but it was fully booked. I tried searching, until I stumbled upon the Comfy Little House with many positive reviews. I was hesitant because it was not beach front but I booked it anyway. I realised, that if you stay in Bantayan for couple of days, it is not necessary to have beach front accommodation since most of the time, you'll be out on the sun exploring the places or swimming in the beaches.

PLACES TO VISIT IN BANTAYAN ISLAND
We visited Oboob Mangrove Garden, Paradise Beach, Santa Fe Cliff Diving Site, Ruins, Ogtong Cave and Kota Beach via tricycle for only P500 for 2-3 pax. This tour is good for 4-6 hours depending on the guest. For Virgin Island, we chartered a private boat for P900 RT. We spent the whole day of our Day 2 here.

a. Oboob Mangrove Garden
This is a one hour tour inside the mangrove area. There are lot of instagram worthy area so it might take a little longer than that. Entrance fee is P50. This is famous for the "Camp Sawi" signage.
b. Paradise Beach
This is a well maintained private resort. Entrance fee is P50. A very serene place with white sand and clear waters. Aside from the little huts that cover you from the sun, it has no other amenities. But the beach is enough. Believe me.
c. Santa Fe Cliff Diving Site
A place for adrenaline junkies. This place is open to the public.
d. German Ruins
Just beside the Cliff Diving Site. This is also open to the public.
e. Ogtong Cave
We did not manage to visit this place. We just dropped by the entrance.
As per google, it offers a clear, swimming-pool like area in their underground cave.

f. Kota Beach
Yes, it is Camp Sawi. The beach is open to the public.
g. Virign Island
We allotted whole day for this island and it was worth it. From our accommodation, Kuya Lorenzo accompanied us to the boat bay where we road a private boat going to the resort. We paid P900 for round trip rent of the boat. The ride is about 30-40 minutes. We had calmer tides in the morning as compared in the afternoon. Virgin Island is a private resort so don't be surprised if they charge higher rates and food prices. Rest assured that the place is well managed and the whole island offers different activities for their guests such as cliff diving, snorkelling, volleyball, etc. The resort offers day tour and overnight packages.
Rates:
Entrance Fees - P500 for 2 persons, P100 per person in excess of two
Cottages range: P500 - P3,000 (depending on the size)
Tables and chairs - P300
We brought snacks and drinks during our visit but they have restaurant in the island. I also liked that the swimming area has calm to "no waves" and there are fishes swimming with you. The clear waters will make you want to swim no matter what time of the day it is.
DETAILED ITINERARY

DAY 1
06:00 am - 06:25 am - Travel from Mactan Airport to Cebu North Terminal
06:25 am - 06:30 am - Bought breakfast
06:30 am - 10:30 am - Travel from Cebu North Terminal to Haganaya Port
10:30 am - 11:15 am - Bought lunch and ticket
11:15 am - 11:30 am - Boarding time
11:30 am - 01:00 pm - Travel from Haganaya Port to Santa Fe, Bantayan 
01:00 pm - 01:15 pm - Travel to Accommodation. Check in.
01:15 pm - 02:00 pm - Rest. Prepared for tour
02:00 pm - 06:00 pm - Tricycle Tour 
Places visited were Mangrove, Paradise Beach, Ogtang Cave (we just passed by), Ruins, Cliff Diving Spot and Kota Beach.
06:00 pm - 06:30 pm - Went to market to buy food
06:30 pm - onwards  - Dinner, socials, lights off

DAY 2
07:00 am - 08:00 am - Breakfast, prepared for tour
08:00 am - 08:15 am - Travelled to port
08:15 am - 08:45 am - Travel to Virgin Island
08:45 am - 09:00 am - Check-in, registration
09:00 am - 03:00 pm - Explored the island, lunch, picture taking, swimming
03:00 pm - 03:30 pm - Head back to Santa Fe
03:30 pm - 04:00 pm - Went to market to buy foods/ Head back to Accom
04:00 pm - onwards   - Dinner, socials, lights off

CONTACT DETAILS
Kuya Lorenzo
Tricycle Driver, Tourist Guide, Private Boat Contact
0932-047-4079

Our visit to Bantayan Island is part of our 4 Days 3 Nights visit in Cebu. For complete itinerary and detailed expenses, please click here.

For Oslob and Canyoneering information, click here.

Friday, October 5, 2018


My friends and I wanted a quick vacation for our group and our family. A cozy place near Angeles, Pampanga yet is sound proof from the busy city. And I knew a place that ticks off those criteria, A-House.

A-House is a private rest house in Bamban, Tarlac which is 20-30 minutes away from Clark - Mabalacat Exit. It has a uniquely designed house, a vast garden and a swimming pool. I hope the pictures would give justice to the beauty of the place. Overall, we, adults and kids, enjoyed our stay!


A Shape House.


























Inquiry:
You can search these Facebook accounts, Ianadona Packham or For Heaven's Cake by A, and send a message to inquire. Click the FB accounts for quick access.

Details:
- Rent is PHP 9,000 per night for 15 pax
- They charge PHP 150 per head for extra pax
- Check in time is 2:00 PM and check-out time is 12:00 NN
- Persons above 4 feet are considered adults
- Videoke rental is available for P900
- A PHP 5,000 security deposit is required upon check-in and is refundable, if no damage was done

Reservation:
- A full payment, through bank deposit, is required to reserve your booking.

How to get to A-House:
- Via Public Transportation
a. From Dau Terminal, walk to MacArthur High Way and ride a jeepney going to Capas, Tarlac.
b. Alight at Rolling Hills Hardware (right side). Landmark: After the Bamban Bridge and Petron.
c. Ride a tricycle going to A-House (approx 7 kms)

- Via Private Transportation
a. Use Waze App to go to Rolling Hills Hardware, Bamban Tarlac.
b. The caretaker can meet you at the Hardware and lead you to A-House

Pool view from the terrace


Amenities at A-House:
- Swimming pool
- Gazebo
- Kitchenette where you can cook your food
- Refrigerator
- Microwave
- Griller
- Air-conditioned room for sleeping area
- Sleeping mats for 20 pax

FAQS:
1. Can you bring food and drinks at A-House?
- Yes! No corkage fee!

2. Can you cook in A-House?
- Yes, there's a stove and griller available. You need to bring utensils and cooking stuff, pots, pans etc. as these are not provided.

3. Are there beds in A-House?
- There's one single bed in the first floor and one double bed in the second floor. They have lots of sleeping mats available.

4. What else can you do in A-House?
- I did enjoy star gazing. I can't explain how good it was. But you can refer to the photos
below.

5. Do they accept pictorial and pre-nup shoot at A-House?
- Yes! Just inquire with the owner for details.
P.S. The private rest house was gorgeously created where every corner is instagramable.

Gallery

The swimming pool.
A-House gets more dramatic at night.
The lights give it more beauty
Yes, stars everywhere with views of greens from trees
Reminds me of Meteor Garden, right?


Note: Rates and Terms and Condition stated above may change without prior notice. Please inquire with the owner for any updates.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section below or send me an email in the query box at the home page :)



Sunday, July 29, 2018

Batanes is Philippines' northernmost and smallest province. It is composed of 10 islands with only three islands inhabited, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. The archipelago province is a protected area, landscapes and seascapes, in its entirety - the only province in the Philippines declared as such because of its rare flora and fauna, its terrain, diverse marine life, limestones cliffs and panoramic sceneries.

Batanes was always on my priority list in my PH81 campaign. But because of the flight tickets, it was pushed backwards in the list. Thanks to Philippine Airline, the Batanes dream became a reality.

Let me share our story from preparation to the actual travel itself. Happy reading!



Day 0 - Planning
***
I booked a Philippine Airlines (PAL) promo ticket from Clark to Batanes and vice-versa for only PHP 3,500 roundtrip. The ticket included 10 kgs of baggage allowance and snacks.

The normal one way airfare to Basco ranges from PHP 6,000 to 10,000 so I thought I got a good deal.

Other airlines that fly to Batanes are Skyjet and Cebu Pacific.
***
A month before our travel, I started doing my research and searched for accommodation and tours.
I have booked a 4 days and 3 night stay with  Ate Linda at Time Travel Lodge and booked tours with the famous Kuya Lito.
***
TimeTravel Lodge - Batanes
Rooms are with private bathroom (hot and cold shower), cable television, and free brewed coffee.
Includes daily breakfast and airport transfers. All rooms are installed with air conditioner and you can choose between a fan room or an aircon room.

Rates are as follows:

Solo travellers
Fan room - PHP 800
Aircon room - PHP 1,500

Two (2) pax
Fan room - PHP 1500
Aircon room - PHP 1900

Four (4) Pax
Fan room - PHP 2,400
Aircon room - PHP 2,900

You can contact Ate Linda at 0939-623-8978 for updated rates and room availability.

Other accommodations are Marfel's Inn which is known to backpackers and Ivatan Inn where Kuya Lito is affiliated.
***
For Tours, I went on with the well-recommended Kuya Lito. He is famous on every Facebook and blog posts specially with his Lighthouse Milkyway Shots.

Tours:
Batan - North Batan (P1000 per tricycle) and South Batan (P1500 per tricycle)
Sabtang - P1500 per tricycle

These tours include service fee for the tricycle, tour guide fee and the photography skills of our guide/s.
The recommended pax for each tricycle is only two as the road in the island is uphill and downhill.


You can contact Kuya Lito at +63-918-216 -7440.

Our Day 1 and Day 2 tour guide who is also under Kuya Lito was Alvin.
Here is his number +63-946-327-3053
Our Day 3 tour guide was Kuya Roderick but I was not able to get his number.

Bumped into Kuya Lito (outer right).
And yes the man in the middle is Kuya Roderick, our kind and talented Day 3 tour guide.
***
I prepared our itinerary beforehand. We were determined to have a more relaxed travel where we can enjoy every bit of Batanes. Because of time constraint, we decided to go on North and South Batan Tours and skipped Sabtang Tour.
***

Fast Facts:

There is already a mobile and data signal in Batan. At the time of our visit, I had LTE signal for smart. Local says that Globe has weak signal.

December to February is the best time to visit Batanes. Lesser rains and storms and cooler weather.
March to May (Summer) is the best time to avoid rains, storms and being stranded. The downside is the landscapes are brown because the plants and grasses are dry during those times.
June to November (Rain Season) is the best time for the grass to grow which means colourful landscapes.

We visited in July and thank God for the beautiful weather, no rains, clear skies, bright sun and green landscapes.

Day 1 - Pre-departure and Spring of Youth

Our flight is Clark - Basco and Basco - Clark. This is favourable for us as we live near Clark.



If you are from Manila, you can hop into Point-to-point (P2P) Buses. It will take you directly to Clark International Airport (CIA). Hassle free. Info in this link. But if you want a cheaper option you can ride a bus going to Dau Terminal. Then ride a jeepney to Clark Maingate. Tell the driver to drop you off at Maingate. Fare is PHP 9. Then from Maingate Terminal, find Route 1 Jeepney (Green) and tell the driver that you are heading to CIA. Fare is PHP 11. The drop-off is at CIA Gate. You need to walk for 5-10 minutes to reach the Departure Area. There are also special trips in Maingate Terminal. Fare is PHP 250.

CIA FYIs:
If you are being your vehicle to CIA, there is Park and Fly amenity for PHP 90 per day.
You also need to pay airport fee unless it was already included in your ticket. Airport fee for domestic flights is PHP 150 and PHP 600 for international flights.

Before our flight, I sent a message to Ate Linda of Time Travel Lodge for our accommodation and Kuya Lito of Ivatan Inn for our tours to remind them since it was a month ago when I booked their services.
***

When went out of Basco Airport gates, we saw Ate Linda holding a piece of paper with my name. She took our bags and hired a tricycle for us to get to the lodge only to find out that it was literally 5 minutes away from the airport. She showed us the room and we were impressed. We had a Fan-Room with private bathroom for PHP 1500 per night. It was cool and windy in Basco so we did not mind. But they have also aircon  (PHP 1,900 per night) installed just in case we changed our minds. And yes, we did. Haha

We took a brief rest and I called Kuya Lito for our tour. We had a minor problem. We have not taken our lunch. But there's no one in the Lodge as Ate Linda got some errands to do. So we decided that we will just finish the tour and eat lunch/dinner after. But at the back of my mind, I knew our itinerary today which is the Spring of Youth required trekking. Nevertheless, we are pushing through with our tour today. Then Alvin from Ivatan Inn came to pick us up at the Lodge. Alvin is connected with Kuya Lito. I think that time, Kuya Lito was also running an errand so he asked Alvin to take us to Spring of Youth. But we can't really go on an empty stomach so we told Alvin about our "no lunch" situation. Haha! He willingly took us to Beehan Restaurant for our lunch. And there you go, problem solved.

After lunch, we headed straight to Spring of Youth in Mahatao. Travel time is around 20-30 minutes. The road to Mahatao is really breathtaking with the view of ocean, Mount Iraya and Basco. Upon reaching the jump-off point, we registered and paid and entrance fee of PHP 50 per pax. 

We then started the 20-30 uphill trek until we reached the Spring of Youth. Since it is a spring, the water in the pool was cold. Ivatans created a pool facing the ocean and Mount Iraya. The pool is open from 7:00AM to 5:00 PM and it is closed during Monday and Friday for maintenance. During maintenance, they empty the pool and clean it up. The best time to visit the spring is at early morning. Both locals and tourist go to the place during afternoons.


We finished at around 4:30 PM and headed back to our Lodge. We asked Ate Linda about the nearest restaurant/eatery near our accommodation and she lead us to Pension which is  just 5 minute walk from the Lodge. After dinner, we also bought snacks in Shop and Save which is along the way back to the Lodge.

Day 2 - North Batan Tour
Before starting any tour in Batanes, tourist need to pay a PHP 350 environmental fee. In return, they will give you a "Breathtaking Batanes" booklet with a serial number. Inside the booklet is a Batanes Eco Tourism Ticket for Basco, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Sabtang and Itbyat. This is like your passport to Batanes and you have to bring it and get it stamped for your tours. There is a fine for tourist and tour guides who will not comply with this.


The places visited in the tour were:

1. Basco Arc - It has the "Welcome to Basco" sign and a view of the capital, lighthouse, and the vast ocean.


2.  Mt Carmel Chapel - Famous for weddings and movies. Currently, it is under construction. Since this is on the top of the hill, it gave a breathtaking view of Basco.


3.  Pagasa Weather Station - This too is under construction during our visit because it was destroyed during a typhoon. But again, we took advantage of the view from this area.


4.  Japanese Tunnel - The tunnel was created during World War II and served as shelter for Japanese soldiers and prisoner for captives during the time. FYI. It was really dark inside. We were not able to get down to the stairs as it was flooded with water.


5. Valugan Boulder Beach - This beach got stones that were from the eruption of Mount Iraya in 400 A.D.


6. Vayang Rolling Hills - Yeah, you can literally roll from the hills. Haha  The view is an endless waves of rolling hills with a combination of landscapes and seascapes.


7. Naidi Lighthouse - The lighthouse closest to the capital. This is also were we took our milky way shots.


The tour runs from 3 to 4 hours depending on your pace and photo sesh. Haha!
The tour fee was PHP 1,000 per tricycle for a maximum of 2 pax. The fee included service fee and tour guide fee. Alvin took most of our pictures. Yeah, hassle free and perfect frames from our tour guide. After the tour, we stopped at Beehan for lunch. Then, Alvin dropped us off our accommodation.

We took a rest and watched movies during the afternoon. Afterwards, we headed to Pension for dinner. I then called Alvin if we can take us to the Lighthouse for milky way shot. There are also some tourist in the Lighthouse at that time. And Kuya Lito was there too. Aside from the night photography, I really enjoyed star gazing and the cool breeze of air with the sounds of the ocean waves. When we are done, Alvin brought us back to our Lodge. Roundtrip fare was PHP 100 for 2 pax.


FYIs
During our visit, the sun set was at 7:00 PM and the best time to do milky way shots is from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM. After 9:00 PM the moon started to show its light.

*** 

We were not able to visit Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge as they are preparing for an event on that day.

Day 3 - South Batan Tour

This is the most jumped pack tour we had in Basco. We were able to visit 17 places. For our South Batan Tour, Kuya Roderick, one of Kuya Lito's guides, did the tour. He was so good with his photography skills that he held the camera most of the time and we loved it.

MAHATAO 
1. Chawa Viewdeck - A viewing deck for the west part of Batan.


2. Mahatao Shelter Port - This port is where the boats are "parked" especially during stormy days. There's an islet that serves as barrier from the waves.


3. San Carlos Borromeo Church - a cultural icons. This church was built in 1873 but the people where able to preserve its architecture. You can also see the Spanish Lamp Post that was used as light house during Spanish period.

4. Blank Page Library - This is inside San Carlos Borromeo Church. They have a thousand of blank pages book. Each book has a series number and people can write in the blank pages. Have you heard any Blank Page Library Love Story? Well, I did read some and that inspired me to go here. To enter the library, you need to pay PHP 50 entrance fee.


5. Tayid Lighthouse - Another lighthouse in Batan but this is not used anymore.


6. Marlboro Country - The true name of the place is Racuh a Payaman. An endless rolling hills with strong winds facing South Batan and the ocean.


UYUGAN 
7. San Lorenzo Chapel - The place where the first Catholic Mass was heard in Batan.


8. Alapad Rock Formation - Where the famous "Blow UR Horn" is situated. And the rock formation along the road is interesting.


9. Nanay Ching - We had our lunch here. They offer set meal for PHP 300 which included, two types of rice, soup, three viands and dessert.

10. Sung-sung Village - These are remnants of an old settlement which were ravaged by tsunami in 1950s. Residents were relocated to Mindanao and the place became inhabited for some time. Today, it is a thriving coastal community again.


IVANA 
11. San Antonio Parish - One of the oldest church in Batan

12. Honesty Store - as everyone is curious about it. Yes, this shop is unmanned and the owner relies on the Honesty of the customers. We bought souvenir from this shop. The process is that you have to the thing/s you bought and its price in the logbook. And there's a huge money bank where you can drop off your payment. It is best if you have the exact payment.


13. San Jose el Obreto Church - The only church in Batan with a separate bell tower.

14. House of Dakay  - Most photographed Ivatan House. It was owned by Luisa Estrella  who bequeathed it to her favourite nephew, Jose "Dakay" Estrella. The house survived a destructive earthquake in 1918 and is maintained and retained up to this time. Just a little farther to House of Dakay is a souvenir shop.


15. Spanish Bridge - Constructed during Spanish era. It is the road which lead to the doorsteps of the Church.


16. White Beach - A fine white sand beach  where locals stay to have picnic and family get together.


17. Blue Lagoon - Also called Spanish lagoon as the priest during the Spanish era used to bath here. The lagoon is just near the high way but it is almost hidden in everyone's sight.


The tour runs from 6 to 8 hours. Again, this depends on your pace and picture taking sesh.
After the tour, Kuya Roderick, dropped us off the Lodge. We rested for a while and prep for dinner. We had dinner at Pension and we thought of going to Lighthouse again for another milky way shot. But the sky was cloudy so we postponed it and got some rest.


Day 4 - Basco Streets
This day was dedicated for roaming around Basco streets and buying souvenirs. We went to Tawsend Souvenir shop and Bisumi Souvenir shop. I think, the cheapest of all souvenir shop is at Bisumi. After strolling the streets, we had out lunch and prepared for our flight.





_______________________________________________


I spent PHP 12,089 (exact. all-in expenses) for our airfare, airport fee, accommodation, entrance fee, environmental fee, tours, tip, food and souvenirs. Yes, PHP 12,100 for 4 days and 3 nights in Batanes. Not bad right? :)

Below is the summary of our itinerary and expenses.
Kindly note that from the summary, I have excluded the food, tip fee, and souvenirs as these are relative to each traveller.

Day 0
Airfare - PHP 3,500

Day 1
Angeles Main Gate to Clark Airport (via shuttle) - PHP 11
CIA Airport Fee - PHP 150
Check-in at Time Travel Lodge - PHP 4,900 for 2 pax - PHP 2,450 per pax
Lunch - Beehan Lunch
Travel to Spring of Youth (via tricycle) PHP 500 for 2 pax - PHP 250 per pax
Spring of Youth Entrance Fee - PHP 50
Dinner - Pension
Snacks - Shop and Save
Total Expenses  Day 1 - PHP 2,911

Day 2
Breakfast - Lodge
Batanes Environmental Fee - PHP 350
North Batan Tour  (via tricycle) PHP 1,000 for 2 pax. PHP 500 per pax
Lunch - Beehan
Dinner - Pension
Lighthouse - Milkyway shot (via tricycle) PHP 100 for 2 pax. PHP 50 per pax
Total Expenses Day 2 - PHP 900

Day 3
Breakfast - Lodge
South Batan Tour (via trickle) PHP 1,500 for 2 pax. PHP 750 per pax
San Borromeo Church - Blank Page Library Entrance - PHP 50
Lunch - Nanay Ching (set meals)
Bought Souvenirs
Miscellaneous (C.R) - PHP 10
Dinner - Pension
Total Expenses  Day 3 - PHP 810

Day 4
Breakfast - Lodge
Roaming Basco Streets
Bought Souvenirs
Lunch
Total Expenses  Day 4- PHP 0

4 Days Expenses - PHP 8,131

Food, tip and souvenirs - PHP 3,958

TOTAL EXPENSES - PHP 12,089

The trip to Batanes was like a dream, a beautiful dream.  I cannot believe that I was able to go there and explore the place.

I saw it from postcards, Google, Facebook posts and different blogs but having to experience the place and kindness of the people is a different thing, an amazingly, on to the next level experience.

I so love you Batanes.

For questions, feel free to post a comment or post in the question box in the homepage. See yah!






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