Hikes | Travels | Food

Mt. Pulag's Akiki-Ambangeg Trai

A day hike to Luzon island's highest peak

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Trail to Kwebang Lampas

Kwebang Lampas is slowly gaining attention from those who enjoy exploring undeveloped, off the tourist path destinations. The place is part of a cove away from the nearby barrios and is accessible in two ways – by boat from some point in Quezon or a 30-minute trek from a private land owned by the Lukangs, the latter option is my prime choice because it involves hiking where you will encounter tons of nice sceneries.

The other amazing thing about this place is the beach and although I'm more of a landscape fanatic, I found it incredible particularly because :
1. There aren’t a lot of people. In fact, on a lucky day, you will not see anyone there aside from the caretakers
2. The water is so clear and filled with small fishes.
3. It is hardly a resort, another reason for me to love it. You just pay a measly 35 pesos entrance fee per head and that’s it. They don’t have fresh water for bath or fixed toilets. They do not allow overnights within their vicinity even if you bring your own tents. We were told that the land is in the middle of a claim dispute and will not be conducive for an overnight stay. It’s also not very easy to get there if you are not familiar with the area. Had it not been for our adventurous friends who went there last year, the trek would have taken hours instead of just 30minutes (so thank you Gay, Erwin and Jules for your tips!) .

Just a warning that this is not a destination for the fastidious. It is a getaway for people who respect nature and people. Please bring your own garbage bags and avoid noise.

Information As of January 2009
4:30AM – Assembly – Wendy’s EDSA Boni
4:40AM – ETD – Wendy’s; wait for buses going to Lucena; (Added Info: Jac Liner also has a terminal along EDSA, Cubao)
We finally got one at around 4:50AM!
4:50AM – Departure EDSA Boni to Lucena via Jac Liner; Fare is 210 pesos/head;
7:50AM – Arrival at crossing (it’s a diversion road in Quezon with a highway signage pointing to Bicol); From where the bus driver let us off, we crossed the road and waited for jeeps marked “Pagbilao”. There were a lot of jeeps passing by this area and we only waited for about 5 minutes until we were able to ride one bound for the jeepney terminal for Ibabang Polo ; Fare is at 7.50-8.50 per head(I forgot the exact amount).

Jeepney ride to terminal will last about 10-15minutes. The jeepneys bound for Ibabang Polo has a schedule so better be at the terminal by 4:00PM. I also noticed that most of their jeepneys have no provision for top loading so you better get in there ahead of everyone else.

9:19am – departure for Iba.Polo from the terminal. We were sitting inside the jeep with 3 sacks of rice, a cart filled with toys, some plastic bags containing fish and meat plus other people’s luggages. I didn’t mind because the sceneries we passed by were amazing! It’s like my eyes were swimming in a sea of green most of the time.
10:20AM – arrival at Ibabang Polo; Tell the jeepney driver to drop you off at the nearest point to Kwebang Lampas and from this point you have two options:
a. Hire a tricycle towards the Lukang property. It’s a 14-minute trike ride on dirt road and you will be paying 20 pesos/person.  From that point, you will have to trek for another 30 minutes.
b. Walk all the way  to kwebang lampas and spend about one hour of trekking.

Our group took option A which was also wiser because it was getting a little hot.
Since the Lukang property has barbed wires around it with a signage that said "Private Property, No Tresspassing", we had to pass through a small road at the right side of their property. Don’t worry, the trail is now quite established. Just take note of this : There’s a cement wall to your right and at the end of that wall, you will need to turn right where there are several bushes.

After walking for about 15 minutes, you will finally see the ocean and you will have to turn left towards a rocky trail. This is where the view gets more interesting. You will see the clean ocean, even be tempted to swim in it and take some pictures by the rock formations.

After taking in the refreshing view, walk some more, turn left and you will see another established trail, then walk straight again into the woods. Do not make any right turns because those trails lead to nowhere. (I should know because we got a little lost in there..hehehe) When you see a swamp, you are already about two-three minutes away from the gate of the Lukang property with a rusted metal gate which I guess is locked most of the time and you will have to knock really hard so better use steel for knocking or something. 

The entrance fee is at 35 pesos/head and they will allow you to use their nice, little huts for a small fee. Since I am really bad with names, I could not recall the name of the male caretaker but he’s really nice and we chatted with him for a few minutes. He told us where they get fresh water which is in a well marked by two mango trees outside of the rusted gate. Apparently, it’s near the trail where we walked but we couldn’t find it so we just went back to town a little salty and wet after a few hours of swimming around the cove. We headed back to town after lunch.

There's also a jeepney schedule for the trips back to Pagbilao, the last trip is around 5-5:30pm from Iba.Polo terminal but better be there earlier.

Since overnight trips aren't allowed within the vicinity of the cove, you can check-in at Greenview Motel at the Pagbilao town proper if you don't feel like going home yet. They have clean, fan rooms, comfortable beds with private toilet and bath. The price was 350 pesos per room for 12 hours but if you make it 24 hours, it’s only going to cost you 450 and that’s already for the entire room. You can also share one room with for two more other people, but you will have to add 150 pesos for each extra person.

You can also order food from them until 7:00pm but if you want to go out and explore the place, SM Lucena is about 15-20 minutes away via Jeep or if you wanna experience local cuisine, you can dine at an eatery, a 3-minute walk from Greenview. It also has a videoke machine for entertainment. If you don’t like the food there, there’s also an eatery one jeepney ride away (fare at 7.50pesos each) at crossing. The jeeps pass by infront of Greenview so it’s hardly a hassle getting anywhere these places.

Taking the bus back to Manila isn’t difficult at all. There’s a bus terminal bound for Alabang, Taft and Cubao at the crossing and there are also Jac Liner buses in front of SM Lucena bound for LRT Buendia and Cubao. Just ask for the first and last trips. In our case, we rode the 5pm bus back to Cubao. The interval between each bus is about 30minutes.

By the way, here’s the summary of expenses (excluding food, but you know what, if you wanna save, you can just bring your own food)

EXPENSES/HEAD : (As of January 2009)
210 pesos – Bus from EDSA Boni to Crossing
8.50 pesos – Jeep from crossing to Iba.Polo (short for Ibabang Polo) jeepney terminal in Pagbilao (not sure of this fee, more ba or less Charwill?)
37 pesos – Pagbilao to Iba.Polo
35 pesos – entrance fee to beach
35 pesos – Iba. Polo jeepney terminal to Greenview motel
7.5 pesos – jeep from Greenview to Crossing to eat dinner
7.5 pesos - tricycle from Crossing back to Greenview
225 pesos – 24 hr stay in Greenview (450pesos/room – 24hrs (fan room. Private t&B); 350 pesos-12hrs (fan room); 900 pesos/room (with aircon, private t&b)
11 pesos – Greenview to SM Lucena
214.50 pesos – Bus from SM Lucena to Cubao

To check out other places in Pagbilao, you can also visit this very helpful site.
(Glee, thank you for organizing the entire trip and for our friends in the ECOF community for sharing valuable information. Thank you..mwah!!! )

Thursday, January 29, 2009

PART 4 - Bouncing and Bonding in Cebu

At that time, the boat ride from CDO to Cebu was the longest I've ever traveled via sea.I'm not that into boats because I feel so confined with the limited space you have to walk around. But I wanted adventure and I want it cheap so I decided to book economy class.

I bought my ticket in CDO from Limketkai Mall. The girl at the counter was very nice and she gave me  an amazing bunk! Unlike other beds where you have neighbors on both sides, she gave me one that was situated in a corner. It was also near the emergency exit.

I lay on my bunk and finally fell asleep. Sometime during the evening, the wind blew so hard, I hid under the  thermal blanket. If I remember correctly, the shipping company provides it  for free but you have to leave a valid ID with them. 

When I woke up again, I felt very sticky and badly craving for a bath. The shower rooms  have limited spaces so I had to leave my bag at the bunk and took the valuables with me.I felt slightly dizzy inside the cubicle.

The boat docked in Cebu before 7AM. The roads were practically empty.

My visit to Cebu had two purposes - I visited my friend who lives there and second - I was dangerously low on cash and still had several days to travel around so I decided to stay with my friend where I can sleep for free!  After Cebu, I still had to fly back to Manila and catch a bus to Pagudpud with two other friends. Haha! Crazy schedule, but it was fun!  

I wasn't able to go around Cebu that much. I got tired rushing from one unfamiliar place to another so I just went to Ayala Mall which was new at that time, haha! I remember it had nice restaurants and a refreshing garden. It was the most restful leg of my 8-day trip around the Philippines. I bonded with my friend the majority of my stay there and  also met up with another friend who treated me at The Breakfast Club and took me to the airport on my way back to Manila where the last leg of my backpacking trip begun.

This post is part of my 8-day birthday backpacking trip from Mindanao to Luzon. Click on part 5 to read about my Ilocos Adventure!

PART 3 – Hiking in Bukidnon (November 18, 2008)

Since sharing space is a huge problem for me, I didn’t get much sleep at the hostel in CDO because I felt paranoid for my safety. I woke up at about 5:00am, grateful to be alive. I checked my stuff, everything seemed to be in their right place. I looked at myself – no rope burns, no slashes. I looked at my roomies – they looked normal. No one looked like they turned into Sadako the previous night. I breathe a sigh of relief and as quietly as I can, made my escape at the hostel. Well, I did drop by the commissary for my free breakfast. I may be a little insane but my stomach knows its priorities.
After asking around from the people in the hostel, I hopped on another jeep (7.50 pesos/head) towards Agora Bus terminal. There are jeeps passing by – a few blocks from Mass Specc which can take you directly over the terminal, just ask around.
I arrived less than 20minutes later and immediately spotted aircon buses to Bukidnon. I was told the trip would take 2 hours. The ticket costs 155 pesos – one way to Malaybalay City – Bukidnon’s capital. I had no real plans – just the prospect on stepping in a place called Malaybalay brings me a sense of excitement.
While riding the bus, I decided to drop by the Benedictine Monastery which was recommended by a friend. Only, I didn't know where it exactly was. I  asked the conductor to drop me off where the monastery was and he informed me that I had to pay an extra 35 pesos because it was farther.
After several minutes, he lets me out into a highway and told me I just had to cross the street and walk towards the monastery.
I looked at the path where I’m supposed to walk. It was a path covered with soil and tall grasses on both sides. I shuddered. Having watched tons of massacre movies growing up, tall grasses always remind me of hiding places for crazy people with bolos. I had to get assurance that it was safe to walk amidst this path. I then went around the vicinity asking people if it was alright to walk alone. I trust locals. They are the best source of travel information. The Pinoy’s innate helpful and hospitable personality makes it easier for people to go around even without any plan.

I was able to ask someone and they said it was safe. I had to take a deep breath. The corn fields were freaking me out!

After 10 minutes of sweating – both from the heat and my nervousness of walking alone amidst the cornfields, I finally reached this signboard...
After a warm greeting from the guard at the gate and asking for some directions to the chapel, I wasted no time exploring the place. A few more minutes of walking and sweating (I was carrying my huge backpack filled with clothes for 8 days), I arrived at the chapel and spent a few minutes of silence. I was tired, sleepy, hungry but I prayed anyway to thank the Lord for helping me get to Bukidnon and to ask for more protection and guidance as I continued my journey and to protect my love ones who were left back home. After several seconds of praying while the wind was moving around me, I felt the Lord’s invigorating touch soothing my tired body. I felt relieved of the heat and felt that I was enveloped in God's loving embrace. It was a magical moment.

Then it was time for me to move out and explore some more.
Walking a minute out of the chapel led me to the monastery’s souvenir shop. Here you can buy the famous coffee beans called Monk’s blend. It’s sold at 80 pesos/pack if I remember correctly. You can also buy the St. Benedict’s medal and key chains, some rosaries, peanut brittle, unique shell necklaces (sold at 10pesos each), and lots of other stuffs.
After I exited the monastery and walked back out into the cornfields, I hopped on another jeep (7 pesos/head) and got down at Lindungawan Cafe . It's along Sayre Highway, Barangay Casisang, Malaybalay City. They sell handicrafts made by the locals and is a source of income for them. It's a great way to spend your money. They also offer local delicacies and some not so common food finds like cheese flavored banana chips, pineapple candies and taro chips. If you've got good timing, you may chance upon Mr. Erlow Talatala in the cafe and have a brief chat with him. He is the founder of ALAB (Association of Local Artists of Bukidnon). He can give you information on festivals in Bukidnon.

I left after buying a couple of treats to bring home. I rode a bus back to CDO and braced myself for another adventure - my first long boat ride to Cebu. 

This post is part of my 8-day birthday backpacking trip from Mindanao to Luzon. Click on Part 4 to read about by Cebu trip! :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Of Romance and Bags

On our most recent trip to Sagada, a friend found romance in the mountains while I found this wonderful sling bag while walking around the streets of Bontoc. :(

When I first noticed the romance brewing, I felt so happy for my friend but then a few hours after we returned from our four day trip,  the stress of having to work 12 hours for two straight days and the promotional airfare I received in my email which was targeting lovers planning for their weekend getaways, I had a minor meltdown.

My friend found romance while I got a sling bag!

I don't need cheering up..don't even give me the line, "there's someone for you out there".

After crying my eyes out, I made a resolution to myself even if I have always known this - that I will be happy come what may and that Valentine's day is still my favorite day next to Christmas.

Advance Happy Valentine's day everyone! I just love all those promos during this time - almost everything is good for two, especially the food!

Sharing What Every Traveler Must Bear in Their Hearts

I went online today with two goals in mind. One - I needed to post somethig about the Leave no trace policy and my take on that since I've been posting a lot of itineraries on my blog and it occured to me that I also needed to share something about cultural and environmental awareness. Two - get an MP3 for my friend.

I am not an expert on either cultural and environmental awareness but I wanted to let everyone know that traveling is not just about having fun or getting lost.It's about experiencing the place through its people, getting to know them, being aware that we also have to extend ourselves to them. It's not just about taking pictures or eating great food. By being in a place, we become a part of that locality - that we can't act like celebrity on tour.

Traveling is also about caring for the nature we admire, making sure we do not disturb the place and that we preserve its beauty by not leaving our trash behind and not picking up stuff that belong there like flowers, stones - no matter how nice they look.

The Leave no trace policy which every true mountaineer adheres to is something that all travelers must also adapt.

Take nothing but pictures

Kill Nothing But Time

Leave Nothing but footprints

Monday, January 26, 2009

Airfares on Sale : Zest Air

Hi fellow travelers!

Just dropping by to inform you that Zest Air has an ongoing promo (Jan 24-February 3, 2009) for domestic flights.

Log on to www.asianspirit.com for more details.

Thanks kegler747 for this information. J

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Random Weekend Thoughts

So what transpired this weekend?

  • I was a speaker for Cultural Awareness in our BMC (Basic Mountaineering Course) dry run for our office outdoor org and I just have to say - public speaking is something I will probably never get comfortable with. To think I volunteered myself for it..It's not the prestige of being listened to that I look forward to but the opportunity to share and empower others. I think I'm going to take a rest from torturing myself and refrain from talking in front of a crowd for a while. Hehe.
  • I watched UP battle it out with FEU for the UAAP women's football. I wasn't sure who I was supporting actually. I just missed playing football and watching them made me and my friends reminisce our "glory" days in the field. I saw some talented futboleras - #4 of UP ; Flameno (also from UP). I also admire the endurance of FEU. They play with the same level of intensity in both halves. Grabe galing talaga! The score ended with UP losing 3-2. The last goal from UP was quite surprising because it came in the second half , a few minutes before the game ended. I wasn't able to see it though because we thought they wouldn't be able to score so we went to the restroom. I think they scored a goal, roughly 5 minutes before the final whistle was blown.
  • Had food trip in UP Diliman after the game. I miss eating street foods! We dined in Kaz located in the Arcade and ate FIC ice cream at the Shopping centre, then I also ate corn in a stick, fishball, siomai, etc, etc. Hehehehe!
  • I have been praying and thinking about how I will be able to watch my Manchester United in Asia this coming July. I am contemplating on three things: a. Cancel my kinabalu trip (for which my friend Mao will kill me) b. Not to cancel my Kinabalu trip and just get a second job to fund my scorching desire c. Decide whether to watch in Indonesia or Malaysia

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Batad, Banaue Pictures

Hi All,

I have uploaded the pictures from our trek to Batad last Jan 2009 in my Multiply site. Check them out at :


I will upload our Sagada pics soon. :)

Man U's Coming Over to Asia this 2009!

Waaaaaaaah! I read something last night which completely shook my 2009 plans...
United will play four matches in Asia this summer:

China - Date, city to be confirmed
Korea - 20 July, Seoul
Indonesia - 24 July, Jakarta
Malaysia - 26 July, Kuala Lumpur

Tour dates provisional, subject to local & English FA confirmation.
I gotta go..I gotta go.... I really, really, really want to see my Ronny or at least his teammates...As of now, I have no funds for this. But if I cancel my Kinabalu trip this March, I can really go, but someone's going to kill me...Option 2 to avoid demise: Get an extra job!
Hay, sometimes I wish I was a little boring. Wanting something so badly can be stressful. Oh well, most of the time, it does make life exciting. Wish me luck! I will have to turn my world upside down to make this trip possible.

September 17, 2010
Just an update on this post. :)

By God's grace, I was able to watch Man U's exhibition game in KL without having to cancel my KK trip. I didn't get to see Ronaldo  because a few days before the exhibition game, he  announced his transfer to Real Madrid. It would have been great to see him in person but  Rooney, Owen and the rest of the Man U played so I can't complain. Never mind that I traveled alone in KL and that it was my first time in that city as well. I will never forget this escapade.  :)
My next goal is to see a live WC game. Brazil 2014 anyone?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Banaue-Batad-Sagada Itinerary

I’ve compiled some travel information on Banaue-Batad-Sagada since I get asked about this a lot. Here’s the IT which was prepared by one of my friends Erwin. I just edited and updated some expenses based from our most recent trip to Sagada.

Feel free to mix and match your route. I understand that not a lot of people have the same preferences or have tons of time to travel.

January 14, 2009 – Wednesday

10 :00 PM - Departure from Autobus Transport Systems Inc. (Sampaloc, Manila)
Address: 1455 S.H. Loyola Corner Cayco Street, Sampaloc Manila
Telephone Number: (2)493-4111 (tried and working), (2)740-7959, Mobile Number : +63 916-490-9328
Fare: 425 pesos (one way); aircon bus; Bus Signboard : Banaue

You may reserve tickets two days in advance; buy your tickets early because they only have one trip per day.
If you miss this bus, you may opt to ride the Florida buses – walking distance from Autobus terminal – about 8 minutes or less on foot. I’m not sure about their trip schedules but they have better looking buses.

January 15, 2009 – Thursday
9:00 AM - ETA – Banaue town proper
9:15 AM - /Registration at the Tourism Office/ Buy additional supplies and stuff/Breakfast; You can also buy a map of Banaue here. It costs around 20 pesos a piece.

From the tourism office, you can walk your way towards some stalls where you can buy gloves, beanies, souvenirs. Just a tip, the wood carvings sold in Batad are way cheaper. About 40 pesos – 5-7 inch statue.

Note: We were lucky because the bus went straight to the Banaue town proper and we just walked towards the tourism office. We were told that the bus rarely heads straight to the town proper. Normally, the bus stop at its terminal where you’re going to have to take another jeep (about 10 minutes away) towards the banaue town proper.

From Banaue town proper, you have two options on how to get to Batad saddle:
A. Rent a jeep - around P1,500 per jeep that goes straight to the saddle (1 hour bumpy ride) where we have to trek for 45 mins to reach Mang Ramon's/ Simon's Inn . Better if you look for other travelers who are willing to share the jeepney ride with you so you can split the cost

B. Take a trike for 150-250 per head na. They’ll let us off at the junction where we have to walk for 1 1/2 to 2 hours going to the saddle. Plus another 45minute trek down the town of Batad. Not recommended for people with heavy loads. The trail can get so muddy! But if you enjoy getting sweaty and dirty then this is the best option for you. Hehehe!

11:00 AM – Check in at Ramon’s Homestay (Owner: Ramon Binalit – 0929-612-4423 – latest number as of Jan 2009.) Rate : 250 per head; common toilet and bath; beddings are comfortable; What’s special about this is that the huts are authentic native huts. I forgot the local term for it.

He has three huts. One can accommodate two people while the other hut can accommodate 4 or 6 max, plus the other one can accommodate 6 or more.

Trivia: This is where the indie film, Batad sa Paang Palay was shot. You can see a poster of it hanging on his wall.

There is no cellphone signal in Batad. The last spot where I was able to send a text was in the saddle area – 45 minutes trek from Batad community. Mang Ramon told us that there is a cellphone signal (Touch mobile) somewhere along the slopes of Batad but you’d have to be really desperate to trek and search for it.

To save money, you can just bring your own food and have them cook it for you. They also sell organic rice which are far better tasting from the ones I’ve tried here in Manila. You can order food from them but their stock are limited. Don’t worry about the food though, there are tons of places to buy food – you just have to find them along the slopes.

2:25 PM – Start trek to Tappiyah Falls , from Mang Ramon, it's a 45minutes -1 Hour trek along the terraces. You’ll be walking up and down the terraces so wear something comfortable. You may also want to bring drinking water.

6:00 PM - Arrival at Simon's Organic Pizza. We can check out their make your own paper/notebooks.
Pizza is at 80 pesos – good for two – it’s a bit small (smaller than a 10inch pizza) so if you’re hungry, you can just order one for yourself.  The dough is soft and delicious. If you’re an Italian pizza fan, don’t expect too much.

8:00 PM - free time - tapoy time!
*Tapoy = rice wine. It’s wine for people who don’t even like wines. You can request it from Mang Ramon who can send someone to buy it for you. It’s at 170 pesos per bottle (I’m not sure what the weight is. I’m guessing there was about one Liter of wine in one bottle)

January 16, 2009 –Friday
8:00 AM – Start Trek from Batad to Saddle to catch the public jeep going to Banaue;The only trip is at 9:00AM. Do not expect to pay the same fee as the locals as they usually charge travelers 3x more. It’s not so bad because you can send someone ahead and ask them to wait for you rather than hiring another private jeep which can cost more. This is also another way of contributing to their livelihood. Fare is at 150 pesos/head and ride will last upto 45minutes to the town proper.

- Jeeps in Banaue Market going to Bontoc leaves at 8:30 AM fare: (150 per pax)
- Buses from Banaue main road going to Bontoc have schedules: 10-12 PM (BonBon Bus) and 12-1 PM (Emmanuel Bus)
- buses from Manila (Cable Tours) pass-by Banaue but I think we have to pay more extra since they’re limousine transpo. Bus sched is 5:30- 7 AM.

Once you reach Bontoc, take the jeeps bound for Sagada:

Schedule of Trips  here (45 minutes travel time)
Fare: 45php (fare as of January 2010)

*Once in Sagada town proper, you can go to the tourist information center. Here you can check out the rates – caving, rock climbing, etc. You can also buy a map of Sagada here. It’s cheaper if buy from the souveneir shops. Make sure you buy the latest one. It costs 20 pesos.

2:00 PM: Check in sa Olahbinan Inn (200 per head/night) ; We can cook here!
*Olahbinan Inn is near the caves, restaurants, Yoghurt house, souveneir shops.
How to Find It: Exiting from the tourist information Center, turn to your left and walk straight for less than a minute. Olahbinan comes after the Igorot Inn and Restaurant. Or if you’re really bad with directions, just ask someone and they would be willing to help you out.

Here are the other optional places to check in the afternoon:

Hanging Coffins
Echo Valley
Sagada Weaving
Masferre Restauant
Yoghurt House
Dozens of Souvenir Shops
Dozens of Carinderia (*serving American breakfasts hehe)
Persimoon Café –drink and chat with the local guides

January 17, 2009 –Saturday

9 :00 AM: The Lumiang - Sumaging 5 hour cave connection tour. Register at the Tourist Office, pay and get guides and gears.
*Fee is at 400 pesos per head which includes guides

2:00-3:00 PM onwards: Check some other places we've missed.
January 18, 2009 –Sunday

8:00 AM: Breakfast
9:00 AM: Check out more places we’ve missed.
11:00 AM: Pack-up
12:00 PM: Take jeeps or Lizardo Bus going back to Bontoc. Last jeepney trip to Bontoc is at 1:00PM.
3:00 PM: Take Cable Tours Bus from Bontoc going back to Manila

Jan 19, 2009 - 3-4 AM - ETA Manila


IDEAL POCKET MONEY: 5000 pesos for four days – this amount includes all transportation, food and accommodation, caving, assuming you are traveling with a group of four people; assuming that you will spend 150 pesos per meal and eat 3x in a day for four days. Souveneir shopping money not included. This money is good to take you from Manila-Banaue-Batad –Sagada and back to Manila.

How to get to Banaue from Manila:
Autobus Transport Systems Incorporated
Address: 1455 S.H. Loyola Corner Cayco Street, Sampaloc Manila
Telephone Number: (2)493-4111 (tried and working), (2)740-7959, Mobile Number : +63 916-490-9328

How to get to Manila to Bontoc:
Cable Tours
Location: E. Rodriguez Sr. Q.C in Front of the Trinity University of AsiaBontoc - Manila reservation: 09185215790
Manila - Bontoc reservation: 09298194688

Where to Stay in Batad:
Mang Ramon's Homestay
Ramon Binalit - 0929-612-4423
Email Address: ramon_binalit@yahoo.com
*HE told us he checks his email about 2-3 times a week

You can also go to the Our Awesome Planet website for more information on where to stay in Batad:

By the way, I just need to tell you that I love the food in Sagada. Their meals sizes are huge and is averaging at 100 pesos/meal (drinks not included).

Here are my favorite food joints in Sagada.

Where to Eat in Sagada:
1. Yoghurt House –Meal averages 100pesos above; Try their yogurt – sold at about 60 pesos each;
2. Strawberry Café – home of my favorite carrot cake with white icing. It’s 3x as thick as the one sold in Starbucks and just as good! It’s only 25 pesos! It's in the area near Ganduyan Inn and Sagada Guesthouse.
3. Masferre - nice ambiance and great food
4. Lemon Pie House - also for the ambiance and the food ; it's a great place to read a book, surf the net (free wifi here!), chat with friends or do nothing
5. Shamrock Cafe - specifically for the vegetable fried rice with tuna

Some more tips:
• There isn’t a lot going on in Batad but if you enjoy nature and chatting with locals about their culture, then this is the place for you. The rice terraces are amazing here! I highly encourage that you chat with Mang Ramon of Ramon’s homestay because he can share a lot of information about the culture of the Batad people. He’s actually one of the consultants for the indie film – Batad.

• The Sumaguing and Lumiang caves in Sagada are amazing but if you are not a cave person like me, then you’re going to love trekking and checking out the mountains, underground river and more! They also have their own rice terraces which are also beautiful!

• Food in Sagada is great! I think I already mentioned that. I am willing to travel another day just for the food. I noticed that their specialties include pastries and yogurt.

• It’s more convenient to bring your own drinking water. We were told that the bottled water in these areas is about 60 pesos/liter. If you want to save more on costs, you can bring your own canned goods as most homestays will allow you to cook using their facilities.

Put everything in a backpack! As much as possible, travel light but do not forget to bring clothes to make you warm. There isn’t a lot of mosquitos in this area but bring a repellant as extra precaution. Bring gloves for caving in Sagada. You wouldn’t want to touch bat poop. You may also want to bring your own water and snacks in case of emergencies.

You’re going to be doing a lot of walking so bring comfortable footwear. When caving in Sagada, expect to get dirty and wet. Better check the weather forecast before your trip so that you don’t get shock on how cold the weather is especially if you’ve been living in humid Manila for quite some time.

Extra Information:
If you just want to check out Sagada and skip Batad, what you can do is ride an aircon bus from Manila to Bontoc (Via Cable tours – that’s 650 pesos/head; location: E. Rodriguez Sr. Q.C in Front of the Trinity University of Asia). They depart at 8:30PM and ride usually lasts 10-12 hours. You can buy tickets in advance. From Bontoc, ask around where the jeepney terminal is and ride 45 minutes to Sagada (45 pesos/head). What would be more exciting is to ride on top of the jeep from Bontoc. The road is half bumpy, dusty and half-paved. It’s not so bad. It gives you an opportunity to take great shots of the Bay-yo rice terraces along Mountain Province.

Another alternative is to travel from Manila to Baguio, then ride an ordinary bus headed straight to Sagada. More information here.

Wheeew..That's basically everything I can share with everyone. Feel free to share any travel info which I might have missed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Banaue-Batad-Sagada in Four Days

I just got back Monday morning from a four day trekking trip up Northern Philippines with my friends from my backpacking group - ECOF. The're mostly close friends of mine with common interest for exploring the entire Philippine archipelago.

I fell in love with the town of Sagada which offers a balance between tourism development and nature preservation. I loved trekking along the rice terraces in Batad - gruelling as it was because everything seemed to be a few stairs away.

I will share some travel information, just need to gather my thoughts for a while because I've been experiencing some meltdown - two days in a row! Weird, because I only have two predominant emotions - either I'm happy or angry. Lately, I've been feeling sad, trap where I am. I'm too young and too single to feel this way. No need to cheer me up or say anything encouraging. I just need to figure something out or maybe I need to relocate.

We met some really nice people - Ifugaos, locals from Sagada, a talkative and friendly Belgian and an even more talkative Irish and another more talkative Scottish. Hehehe! I also noticed that the locals over there speak a of English, plus the weather's really cold so it was like not being in the Philippines for four days. I also have a lot of pictures to share but I'll upload it some other time. For the mean time, I would like to show you some pics from my friend Jules' camera.

Town of Banaue
More of Banaue Rice Terraces
Trek to Tappiyah Falls - Batad
Tappiyah Falls, Batad
Mt. Polis, Mountain Province
The entire group as we made our way to the Sagada caves

Sumaguing Cave

PART 2 – Hopping in CDO (November 17, 2008)

My adventure in CDO consisted mainly of bouncing from one place to another. Its strategic location makes it an ideal jump-off for people like me to travel to Iligan, Camiguin, Bukidnon and other provinces. 

After the two hour bus ride from Baligoan port and chatting with a newfound friend – a bus conductress (?) named Amy, I boarded a jeep to Limketkai Mall to buy ferry tickets bound for Cebu the following evening. There was a Western Union branch right before the entrance of Limketkai Mall, that sold airline and ferry tickets (saw Cebu Ferries and Superferry). I had an early dinner. This time, I chose something familiar to the palette because I was feeling a bit lonely - Chowking! 

I stayed for the night at a highly recommended hostel called Mass Specc, which for some reason reminds me of hostels in horror movies where you get tortured. Don't get me wrong, it's not the place, it's just me! It's really clean, the sheets smell good and the rates are amazing! I just watched too many horror movies. 
As I used CDO as a jump-off to other destinations, I wasn't able to see much. I just got the feel of the place, similar to most parts of the Philippines,  people here are very  warm and friendly. In fact, CDO is dubbed as the City of Golden Friendship (it's not just any regular friendship, it's GOLDEN FRIENDSHIP!). I can sense a return trip someday. 

That night, I tucked into bed early but I didn't fall asleep easily because  I couldn't get over the fact that I was sharing a room with two other strangers - both women. I am too private and too paranoid to share space. Maybe I can give this another shot someday but I must be with another friend. 

Sorry I couldn't tell you much about CDO. 

This post is part of my 8-day birthday backpacking trip from Mindanao to Luzon. Click on Part 3 to read about my trip to Bukidnon. 
Mass Specc Hostel
Rates as of November 2008 – 250 pesos/person; Dorm type, airconditioned room (all their rooms has airconditioning; good for four people with private toilet and bath; With free breakfast (free breakfast was actually good). You can also book a private room which costs 700 a night, if I remember accurately but since I wanted to save money, I opted for a dorm type. Unfortunately, there were already two other strangers I had to share with. Damn, I was told the dorms were usually empty.
Address : Tiano-Yacapin Streets, Cagayan De Oro City (near Divisoria)
Phone: (8822) 72-8145 (actually, you don’t need to book in advance as there are tons of other hostels in the area. You just need to ask around.

How to Get There from Limketkai Mall : There are jeeps passing in front of Limketkai and you just hop on one the jeep which goes to Divisoria. The jeep won’t pass directly infront of Mass Specc so you’ll have to ask the driver to drop you off to the nearest street where you can walk or ride a motorela which can take you to Mass Specc.

Please check this site for more hostels in CDO.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Puerto Princessa Experience

Trip was last : Sept 2007
Just got back home from my four-day trip to Palawan and me and three other friends enjoyed it so much! We stayed at the Lucky Garden Inn and Suites, a budget inn in Puerto Princessa, Palawan’s capital. The city is clean and peaceful. The garbage bins scattered around Palawan are nice too, haha!  These  are huge, green expensive looking garbage bins with wheels. You can see it all over town and in the rural areas. What I also love about Palawan is their tourism program. They are so organized. It was so easy to book tours and the prices are standard. Nobody's preying on tourists because there seem to be information centers wherever we go like in the Underground river and Honda Bay. Generally, people are so courteous and those from the businesses give first-class customer service.
Garbage bins along Rizal avenue
Unforgettable experiences : Eating wood worm in Kinabuch’s, tripping on a boat in front of the whole tour group in Sabang waters, swimming for dear life away from a pink territorial fish in Snake Island, kissing a crocodile which got agitated afterwards and had to be calmed by its trainer, eating the best pineapple rice in Balinsasayaw Grill, eating the pastries at Itoy’s Coffee Haus, eating at Badjao Seafront Restaurant, eating barefoot in Ka Lui, swimming on top of the corals at the Pambato Reef, swimming in ultra-soft, powdery white sand in Sabang, boating at the Puerto Prinessa Subterranean River National park, buying stuff from inmates at the Iwahig Penal Farm.
I’m posting other trip details. Hope these will help you. Contratry to what most people think, staying in Palawan isn't all that expensive - you just have to plan for it.
ACCOMODATION : Lucky Garden Inn and Suites
Address : Rizal Avenue Extension, Puerto Princessa, Palawan
Description : 3-5 minutes away from the airport via van or tricycle but don’t worry, you won’t hear the planes at all; has 25 rooms, super friendly and warm staff; can book you tours; cheap food; no pool; offers airport pick-up; no curfew; great garden where you can hear the refreshing sound of chirping birds

Rates (as of 2007):
790 per night per room (Standard Room, airconditioned)
890 per night per room (Triple room, airconditioned)
1190 per night per room (Premium, can accommodate four people; contains two double beds, ref, aircon, hot and cold shower, cable tv)
Contact Information : +063(48 4332719/433-6576)
Email : reservations thru: luckygardeninn@yahoo.com
Website here

What I Love About this Place : Highly Affordable and excellent customer service! We stayed in the premium room and it was so clean and spacious enough. There was no closet though but there’s a small space to hang your clothes. Even if it’s just a budget inn, service is first class and quick most of the time. The aircon works well. In fact, it gets really cold. The bathroom is quite nice and I didn’t get the “icky feeling” at all. I’ve always been a little bit sensitive to bathrooms and when it’s ugly and dirty, I’m having a hard time taking a dump but this one, I went everyday so I knew the bathroom was quite acceptable.

Saturday – September 15, 2007 – Honda Bay Island Hopping

Tours for island hopping can be arranged through your hotel but my suggestion is, if you’re already in a group, don’t join the tour anymore because your time is constrained. Of course when you’re on vacation, taking time is what you want the most right?! So here’s what we did – we rented an air conditioned van through our inn to get to the wharf (which was about two hours from the airport) and booked a boat from there. Our plane arrived at 9:15 am in P. Princessa and as soon as we arrived at the inn which was about 5 minutes away from the airport, we immediately booked for a van to leave at 10:30 am.

Van rental is at 1,000 pesos. Depending on the arrangement, some vans are for rent at 1000 for only 3 hours. In our case, we only needed the van to shuttle us to the St. Lourdes wharf and back to the inn so we exceeded three hours. There were four of us in the trip so we split the 1000 among ourselves. From our inn, the drive to the wharf took about 30 minutes. On our way to the pier, we stopped by the Vietnamese Village where only 5 Vietnamese families live. We were told that most of them have already left the country. There’s a Vietnamese resto but we didn’t go anymore because we were running late but I read somewhere that they serve good food. There’s really not much to see in there but a souvenir shop.

When we reached Sta. Lourdes wharf, we did not have to endure any tourist hungry boatmen. Everyone is spared of this because Sta. Lourdes wharf has its own information center and this is where you will book a boat. 

For a whole day of Island hopping, you only have to pay, 1,100 per boat which included the boatman and a guide. Each boat can fit about 6 people. You can also rent snorkeling gear for 100 pesos per person also good for the entire day but it would be much better if you bring your own because you have to insert this mouthpiece inside your mouth. They also sell bread for 20 pesos (to be used for feeding the fishes or humans) and bottled water (they sell Absolute and this other brand). 

Since none of us had time to eat, we immediately headed to Snake Island, the only island which can serve food according to the locals. Boat ride from the wharf to Snake island took about 30 minutes. Water was really deep, clean and green! It was amazing. Along the way to Snake Island, we saw tons of corals, some birds and other islands like Cowrie island, starfish island, etc. Hehehe! There were a lot, I can’t remember the rest.

When our boat docked Snake Island, I immediately wanted to dip in the water but priorities needed to be set. We ordered food. They serve grilled squid and other sea foods but when we came in, only the squid was available. The island does not have a restaurant but there’s a small store where you can buy food and some little cabanas where you can hide from the sun and eat. I think there was a rest room near the swamp made of dried leaves. We ordered 1 kilo of squid (3 pieces medium-sized squid), one can of tuna, one can of small corned beef, 6 cups of rice, 5 plastic cups and a 1.5 liter of Royal. Guess what?! It only costs 426 pesos for everything. We ate with our hands after taking a swim and food was heavenly but it did take quite a while to get ready – about 45 minutes! The squid was so fresh, it tasted so good. 

The best thing about Snake Island is the swimming, snorkeling and feeding the fish. We were able to feed a whole lot of various classes of fishes! Our guide even took us to deeper water to see a school of fish. It was quite scary at first because when you look into the water, you won’t be able to see the sea bottom but the school of fish was amazing you’d forget how deep the water is. There were like thousands of fishes and we were amidst it all. Ahhhh..it was heaven.  

We were warned to stay away from the pink fishes because it’s territorial and its bite sting a bit. Being lady luck, I actually encountered one while swimming away from my friends and as soon as I spot it in the water, I swam for my dear life and successfully avoided unpleasant bites. 

Aside from Snake Island, we only passed by the other islands because they all look alike. By the way, some islands have entrance fees ranging from 30-50 pesos. Snake Island has no entrance fee. We also went to Pambato Reef which was somewhere in the ocean. You have to register first before you go in the water. Entrance is at 50 pesos. 

The floating registration area is pretty cool. From the hut, you need to go down three steps to get in the water which is so deep you won’t see the bottom at all. It took a while before two of my friends actually went in the water. It was really scary. We saw a small colored fish along the steps. We swam around the area to tour the corals. Our guide is really good. He is well-trained, knows corals and only 16 years old. We saw a lot of corals, soft corals, mushroom corals, etc. We all swam with life vests which made it more tiring since it makes swimming harder. I didn’t dare take it off for fear of getting dragged somewhere by the current or by some invisible creature.

After our Island hopping adventure, we went to the stalls near the information center where we bought souveneirs. They sell cheap, unique affordable souveneirs so be sure to shop here. The shirts here are quite rare so buy it right away because it’s terribly hard to find the same design again. I should know, I really regret not buying shirts here thinking I can buy it elsewhere in Palawan. Shirts range from 100-130 pesos only. Sarong capris are sold at 120 above. There are mother or pearl bracelets sold at 3 for 100 pesos. Several key chain designs like star fish, crocs, at 12 pcs for 100 pesos.

Sunday – September 16, 2007 – Puerto Princess Subterranean River National Park

We booked this trip through our inn and we paid 1,300 pesos per head. It includes van ride from hotel to Sabang wharf and back to hotel, lunch buffet at Taraw beach resort, entrance fees, tour guide, two boat rides – from Sabang wharf to the entrance of the park and another boat ride into the underground river. Our tour started at 7:30 am. We ate breakfast at the inn. I ate daing na bangus with fried rice and two sunny-side up eggs and calamansi Juice (135 pesos, tax inclusive). We stopped over another inn (Badjao Inn and Resto) to pick up the other guests who will be joining the tour since there were only two of us, our other friends had to fly back to Manila Sunday morning. It took quite a while before they came out but they seem to be friendly enough so we didn’t mind. From Puerto Princessa to Sabang wharf, ride took 2 ½ hours with stopover at a local store to buy water, food and insect repellant. Road condition was ½ paved roads and ½ rough roads. Our travel agency was Topstar Travel &Tours and they are very professional and friendly. We were well taken care off. Our tour guide was Len. (Contact information below.)
Upon reaching the Sabang wharf, we went for a rest room break and quickly boarded another boat to take us to the Underground river park. The view on the way to the park was enough reason to take the tour. It was really amazing! Water’s so clean and green! 

After what seemed like 15-20 minutes, we reached the entrance of the Puerto Princess Subterranean River National Park. It also showcases some other animals like monkeys and lizards roaming freely around the park. Monkeys grab plastic bags so we were warned not to bring any material which contains plastic. Since my clothes were inside a resealable plastic bag, I was instructed to bury it among my other stuff so they won’t grab it.

We had to walk some 3-5 minutes over wooden planks towards the river entrance which was amidst a plush, thick forest. I was quite grateful for buying a mosquito repellant because there were mosquitos everywhere. We had to wait about 20 minutes before getting in a boat. 

Even if it’s not a peak season, there were a lot of people waiting for their turn to tour the underground river. Our guide informed us that we were 40 people in the group. I hate waiting so it was a downside for me but we were able to take pictures by the dock so it wasn’t so bad. Due to the rainy season, water was very murky and brown unlike the pictures I saw from other people’s blogs, quite disappointing because I was hoping to see beyond the water. We had to wear life vests and helmets before getting in the boat. 

Thank God when it was finally our turn. Our boatman’s really funny and he knows the cave well. He was able to point out every amazing rock formation like the Cathedral, face of Jesus, vegetable looking stuff, even this mushroom with a penis. It was quite dark and cold inside. There were tons of bats too but they were nice, actually, they’re asleep. I’m not a cave person, so after 5 minutes, I began to feel bored and sleepy. I did enjoy the rock formations and drinking water that dripped from a stalactite, hihihi, just couldn't resist! 

After the boat ride, we headed to Taraw beach, walking distance from the Sabang wharf to eat lunch and swim afterwards. I was really hungry and very much eager to swim and that’s when I had my little embarrassing incident. 

I was about to step down the boat and into the shore when I tripped over some rope and headed face down into the water with my bag. Thank God Len, our guide, grabbed my other hand before my whole body slammed into the water. My shorts and bag were wet afterwards, also my extra shirt for changing. My phone was still alive since I placed it inside a resealable bag. 

I didn't let my lil accident bring me down. The water looked so inviting so I hurriedly ate buffet lunch which consisted of liempo, grilled fish, chicken adobo, adobong Kangkong, soup, rice and a serving a buco juice served with the shell. It was very, very, very good! Everything was unlimited but I couldn’t eat a lot because I keep thinking of the water. I really can’t wait to swim so I finished eating in 10 minutes. I immediately went into the water, and instantly, I felt like I’m in heaven! The sand is powdery soft! The water is so clear even if it was salty. I loved it! We got to swim for an hour much to my disappointment. I could swim the whole day and didn’t really feel like leaving but it was a tour so we had to go with everybody else. We left the resort around 2:30 pm. We were able to buy souveneirs here. The sarong Capri pants is cheaper here by 5 pesos than in Sta. Lourdes wharf.

Monday – September 17, 2007 MONDAY – City Tour
Since our 2 other friends had to go back to Manila, me and Olay decided to rent a tricycle arranged through our inn rather than a van. We only had to pay 500 pesos for the trike – that’s good enough for the whole day. It rained so hard before we left so the weather was cold but comfortable. We were able to take a lot of great shots, something that is harder to do when you rent a van because they move quicker. We were able to go to Iwahig Penal Farm, Crocodile Farm, Plaza Cuartel and Immaculate Concepcion Church. We did the tour in about 5 hours. Our trike driver’s really nice and he knows all the places as well as historical data linked to the place. He’s actually trained by their tourism authority. All their guides are well-oriented.

1. Dinner Saturday night was at Ka Lui along Rizal Avenue extension. You don’t need to know the exact address because this is dubbed as the most famous resto in P. Princessa and every tricycle or van know where this is. It is closed on Sundays for a noble cause. The trike driver we talked to said it’s closed on Sundays because it’s a family day and the staff has the privilege to be with their families. How sweet! Reservations are highly encouraged so please do call. We were lucky enough that we arrived early on a Saturday night (around 6ish pm) because as soon as we finished eating, the place was packed already. You need to take off your shoes before you enter the dining area. They specialize on sea foods and everything is affordable and heavenly. It will make you swoon! Fruit Shakes start at 35 pesos, most dishes which are good for 2 people start at 70 pesos above. We ordered the Ka Lui special – a set menu which contains adobong Kang kong, grilled squid, shrimps..hmmm I don’t remember the rest, we also ordered tuna belly and seafood sisig (the best!) . The sisig does not look like our sisig here, it’s not grinded but better! There were chunks of squid and some other unrecognizable sea foods. I had banana shake, my friend tried mango –pomelo shake which is good also, my two other friends went for the buco shake which is also amazing. Our bill – no more than 600 pesos – tax inclusive!

2. Kinabuch Bar and Grill – we went here mainly for the “fear factor food trip” which is all about the famous Tamilok. It’s a mollusk served fresh with vinegar. Don’t worry, it doesn’t move anymore but it looks really slimy. I’m not sure of the color because I thought it was white but my friend says it’s green. One serving only costs 100 pesos and it’s good enough for a group of 10 to take 1 fork of Tamilok each. I tried it first without any vinegar which was a huge mistake because it tasted so raw. My side dish was chocolate ice cream so that’s where I mixed it. It was okay. It suits better with vinegar though. It’s a bit difficult to swallow. There’s no music inside the bar so we got a bit bored. They have billiards there though and huge spaces plus several other bars. It’s really ideal for big groups. Price range – very affordable. Beers starts at 35 pesos, everything’s cheaper than your usual bar in Manila. Appetizers at 100 pesos below.

 A serving of a local delicacy called tamilok
3. Itoy’s Coffee Haus – Puerto Princessa’s answer to your coffee cravings and my favorite coffee house next to Starbucks. It’s dubbed as the Starbucks of Palawan but not as expensive. Even the environment and the music inside the coffee shop feels like Starbucks. We had breakfast here Monday morning before we headed for the city tour. We ate a lot! We tried their bestseller – choco moist cake plus several other pastries – carrot cake, marble cake, croissant, butterscotch. My friend ordered TOCILOG, coffee dalandan frap – also good. I tried the café Americana topped with whipped cream. The verdict: I loved the butterscotch and marble cake and the coffee. I actually came back the next morning for these and regret very much for not buying a whole box because now, I’m craving for them. I also had one piece of marble cake which I hand carried to the airport but it never made it to Manila because I ate it while waiting. What can I say, they’re very irresistible!
Their cakes are all big and moist and delicious and worth your money. The pastries start at 30 pesos. What I love most about it is that it’s not too sweet. Coffee is good enough. I wish they’ll have a branch here in Manila. I miss Itoy’s. I haven’t even eaten their Seafood pesto, the Danggit SILOG, etc. I also had a blooper eating their butterscotch. My friend and I had it for take out and while walking along Rizal Ave., I decided to eat it and it was my first time to try it. It was so delicious I had memory lapse. She kept on talking to me but I couldn’t absorb anything she was saying. That’s how good it was!

4. Balinsasayaw Grill – where I discovered the 8th wonder of the world – Pineapple rice. I don’t know why this rice is not that popular but it’s definitely one of those orgasmic things as my friend calls it. It must be a new dish or something. You must try it with their house specialty – their grilled chicken. It was the first time I ate more than one cup of rice in weeks. It’s that good! My friend and I ordered 3 cups of pineapple rice, Grilled chicken, garlic shrimp and Balinsasayaw dessert (ice cream served with coconut shell and cashew nuts) Must Try!, banana shake and avocado shake. Price range : meals costs as cheap as 59 pesos.

5. Badjao Seafront Restaurant – just a word of caution. This is NOT the same as Badjao Inn and Restaurant in Rizal Ave. Extension in P. Princessa. This is the one along Abueg Road. We almost made a mistake of going to the second one had not our trike driver clarified it with us. This is a resto constructed on top of a beach – quite romantic actually. The walk to the dining area is through a steady wooden bridge overlooking a mangrove. It’s really amazing. Food is okay and priced like Dencio’s. What would be worth going here is the scenery and the service. I love their set-up and the utensils. It’s really better if you go here before sunset so you can have a spectacular view of the ocean.

We tried the Badjao Seafood delight which consisted of crabs, shrimps, grilled fish, stuffed squid, fish lumpia and sea weeds. We also orderd calamansi juice and tea. They’re both served with honey which went perfectly with our drinks. The location of the restaurant is quite isolated so be sure to arrange a ride to pick you up or wait on you. Our total bill for everything was 555 including the SC.

Customer Service is really good same as pretty much everywhere in Palawan.

6. Jollibee Rizal Avenue – but of course! Honestly, their pineapple juice here tastes much better than the ones in Manila. I swear! It’s sweeter and tastier!
  1. Sta. Lourdes Wharf – they sell unique shirts (100 pesos above) that we couldn’t find anywhere else.
  2. Iwahig Penal Farm – please splurge your money here. I believe the proceeds go to the funds of the prisoners. They sell cheap and unique souveneirs here. I got a statue made of Mabolo which normally sells 150 pesos everywhere else at half the price. They also sell cool key chains made out of plastic cups at 12 pcs for 100 pesos. The designs come in starfish, croc, seahorse, etc. I also got a dreamcatcher necklace embedded with pearls at 50 pesos.
  3. Souveneir Shops along Rizal Ave. Extension
  4. P. Princessa public market - just roam around the market and be on the look out for sarong capris sold at 100 pesos each and jewelry stores which sells pearls.
  5. Sabang wharf – they sell shirts, unique bags, key chains, etc. *I learned that if a colored shirt costs 130 above, that’s expensive already
Airfare : Courtesy of Cebu Pacific’s Fly One Peso Domestic Seat Sale booked seven months before our trip. We only paid 2,737.28 pesos each for a roundtrip ticket bound for Puerto Princessa (Palawan’s capital). Book early so you can pay less. Philippine Airlines also offers flight packages to Palawan.

Plus Pocket Money : 8,000 pesos (Actually, I only spent 7,500 pesos and that’s after everything we did and ate – island hopping, tour, shopping, pasalubong for 30 people, airport terminal fees, etc). Some of the costs like hostel and tours were split among ourselves – there were four of us in this trip.
Travel Agency You can Contact (for booking city tours, underground river tour, island hopping) Address: Rizal Avenue, Puerto Princessa City
Contact Numbers: +63 (048) 433-8247 or through their mobile numbers - 0927-635-1666 or 0928-5034425
Proprietor: Ted Esguerra Zulueta
*loved their staff. They’re so friendly and professional.

Other Resources: 
1. Visit Puerto Princessa - This site also contains a suggested trip itinerary for two and a half days.
2. Accommodation : 
Duchess Pension House - info. available at Marcus Castle's Blog
3. Honda Bay Island Hopping - Pinoy Travelr Blog
4. Firefly Watching at Iwahig River - Pinoy Travelr Blog

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