Tag Archives: Philippines

Top Travel Tips: Traveling Solo

One of the coolest things to do in life is traveling — especially if you are traveling with someone; obviously, you get to share those moments while making happy memories. But whaaat if you are traveling solo, how do you make it an adventure?

Well, here goes.

Don’t plan the trip. Like, once you have decided where to go, don’t spend weeks or even days thinking about the sights you would visit. Overthinking makes things sound like predestined, therefore, you already reduce the excitement in itself.

Group travel or traveling with someone  is especially recommended if you would be trekking

While joining tours would bring you to the place’s top tourist destinations, you don’t control time that if you would like to stay longer or just leave earlier, you can not just do that — and in some cases, you could even be spending more. So do the X and Os.

Focus on what to bring. Bring cards not just cash, some places (like remote beaches) do not have forex, so having a card or two would come in handy. Bring a utility kit that includes a whistle, flash light and a Swiss knife. These would be helpful for whatever emergency there is. Bring a small part of your kitchen — very small pot, matches, lunch box, spoon and a small plastic glass. These are especially useful if you want to go camping, or if you are still in the mountains and unable to return to your hostel for whatever reason.

Utility essentials

Being adventure-ready would also require a solar power bank, sunscreen (not just because of the beach but because you should be doing a lot of walking), first aid kit and flip flops not just rubber shoes. Insect or mosquito repellent? Many times all you need is to ‘smoke’ your area.

Utilize your surroundings. Example, if you have not booked in advance, leave your belongings at the airport or even at a mall’s baggage counter while quickly looking for hostels; obviously, this would make your search for accommodation more efficient.

You could pay extra for airport storage, so check the immediate pros and cons

In countries like the Philippines, connection is generally slow, thus, if you do not have any special booster, use the terminal’s WiFi (most people here have their minds set on their travels, that means less users) rather than local pocket WiFis which relies on location.

Bring a small tent. If there are no homestays or vacant backpacker lodges especially near the beach or resort you are eyeing, then having a tent would save your day, err, night. Don’t forget to bring a small, thin blanket or a big towel. Of course, you could always stay in more expensive hostels but aren’t you after adventure?

Camping out is good for the pocket, too

So try to get out of your comfort zone and blend in with nature.

Visit during the ideal climate. This is to maximize your visit, not to mention to keep you safe from accidents; for one, roads and mountains are slippery when wet.

Rain has its pluses, but also its minuses

Also, if the place you would be visiting is just within 5 kilometers, try taking a hike. You not only add more spice to your adventure or save on fare, but even stay in shape while traveling.

Be alert wherever you go. Avoid dark places at night, hey, the night is already dark in itself, don’t add to it by going to unlighted areas unless you’re in a secure place — ey, you’re alone, remember?? And especially if you are girl, avoid ‘hidden’ bars or places with no one around particularly at night — no matter where you are in the world, things happen you should know.

Renting a motorbike is very useful when ‘places’ are just miles away

While the safest choice in localities would be in places where families go to, it would not always be as enjoyable for adults, hence, do not hesitate to explore especially if you could hire a motorbike. Hope you have your international driver’s license with you.

Register with local authorities. Apart from immigration, if the places you would visit has things like local registration especially for foreigners then do register. This would prove invaluable, just in case, since again you are traveling alone.

Just let the locality know you are around as crimes involving tourists are rising in some places

Always be respectful. From laws to culture and traditions, be mindful. Don’t look (or have a look) either superior nor tentative as you could either cause resentment or invite scammers.

Always smile and learn to speak the dialect to connect better with locals

Be friendly yet if you can’t speak for whatever reason, at least smile or nod. This would keep you ‘safer’ and happier in your solo travels that you would treasure for life.

Happy and safe travels!

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Top Travel Tips: Connecting Roads and Islands

There are travel tips and there are travel tips. While some makes sense to us, other tips naturally come from one’s personal experiences — whether he’s from media, or travels for business or pleasure — as not every situation is always the same, so…

Here are our top tips especially for land and sea travelers.

One. Get tickets ahead of schedule. This would not only lead to savings for early bookings but would give you more control of your traveling itinerary at least until you reach your final destination.

Always be prepared for eventualities

Two. If for some reason that some trips do not go as planned, do not stay in the place if you arrive late afternoon or so (unless you’re dead tired, part of your plan or it’s free) since it’s like you can’t maximize sightseeing time and all because you arrived with almost nothing to do but sleep. Sure, you could roam around at night, but wouldn’t it be nicer if you could see the places in broad daylight right after arrival?

Three. Thus, whenever you travel, try to always leave at night or early morning especially if you have not pre-booked.

Be easy-going and locals will be more comfortable with you

Four. And stay in every stop for at least 2-3 days to get to see, understand and appreciate the locality.

Five. Otherwise, if you happen to run short on budget or find the place not really that interesting then you could always cut your stay short. And that’s the advantage of arriving on every stop at mid-day, you got the chance to stroll after lunch and for whatever reason, you could always leave by late afternoon or nighttime.

Lost? You can always look at the map or ask for directions

Six. If you have not researched about the place you are going to, the first sights you would be seeing depends on where you are coming from or what mode of transportation you took. Else, initial activities would hinge on the proximity of the place you are billeted.

Seven. Know where important offices or establishments of the place you are at, or at least how to contact them. Immigration. Tourist Assistance. Police. Forex. Banks. Market. Hospitals. Hotels. Restos. Laundry shops. E-Loading stations and internet providers if ever.

Do not try to bring your whole closet but just necessities

Eight. Be reminded to travel light (yet make sure to have an extra shirt, underwear, cash, power bank and first aid kit just in case) and always secure your personal belongings.

Respect

Nine. Always respect local laws, culture and traditions. Do not vandalize nor harm property, and properly dispose your dirt.

Ten. Be friendly and try to learn the local dialect. Never get into arguments, deception or fights instead be helpful.

Efforts of trying to blend-in would always be appreciated

Eleven. Do not haggle too much. Even if you are a budget traveler, if you do travel for pleasure then it’s still a luxury compared to locals who are struggling to earn a living and put food on their tables.

Twelve. As the saying goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do”; thus, try to adapt to the place. Get involved if possible.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

They say traveling gives one a different perspective in life…

Happy and safe travels!

Iloilo City Tour in Pictures

For those who have not been to Iloilo City, I tell you it’s one piece of big land. I mean, roads are just wide and more so, points of interests are like far apart. Try walking — and it would seem like forever before you could reach your destination. Seriously.

Most of their taxis are SUV types, maybe to compliment their roads

Just look at how wide their roads are! Okay, perhaps I am just not used to such wide roads in the country. So let’s go and explore!

While the Riverside Boardwalk and Esplanade is a must-visit when you are in Iloilo City, there are several other places that are just as fascinating — like the Molo Church. Or should I say, the Molo region as here you would find the Molo Mansion and the Molo Park aside from the Molo Church (also known as St. Anne Parish Church) and its convent. Wow, 4-in-1, sounds something like coffee! Haha.

Molo Church or the St. Anne Parish Church
Molo Park
Molo Mansion

And these pieces of art does not stop at the Molo region! Hey, if you are on the way to SM City, you would certainly appreciate Plazuela de Iloilo — and the Nelly’s Garden which is just further across SM.

Otherwise, you could also visit the Museo Iloilo which is just about 400 meters away from the Provincial Capitol of Iloilo.

Plazuela de Iloilo
Museo Iloilo is along Bonifacio Drive with the Provincial Capitol just behind it
Nelly’s Garden

By the way, you would need to book a tour if you plan to visit Nelly’s Garden. So in case you just showed up, do not be surprised if there’s no one at the gate. Hence, just better continue your exploration.

At the end of all this though, there was some place I actually wished to have checked out — more than the Ateneo de Iloilo which is just in between SM City and the Esplanade, I should have gone to..

The Iloilo International Airport could be reached in 31 minutes by car from Iloilo City proper

Yes, the airport. Guess I missed this one because it is already outside the city, like 20 kilometers from the city proper — Cabatuan, Iloilo.

And you know, I traveled by land and sea on this adventure so..

Iloilo Fastcraft & Roro Terminal

Anyway, did you know that this airport is actually ranked 12th Best in Asia by “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports”?! Really. It has even outranked the airports of Cebu, Davao and Clark in Pampanga.

Well, next time for sure.. I’ll be there.

Batangas City News Today In Pictures

Batangas City News Today: What we have here are choice pictures of one of the fastest urbanizing cities of the Philippines..

And a YouTube video below that explores our subject, Batangas City.

Port of Batangas

Did you know that the Batangas International Port is one of the busiest passenger and container terminals in the Philippines?

Batangas Provincial Capitol
A work of art on the grounds of the Provincial Capitol

While the architecture in Batangas capitol looks like other provincial capitols as well, the landscaping is good and spacious..

Downtown Batangas City

which could have also been used by the downtown only if. Hmm.

Ancestral House in the corner of Tirona and Atienza Streets

More than the famed kapeng barako and balisong, the city got some cool heritage or ancestral houses like this one..

Calumpang Bridge

And some landmark that I heard a lot as a kid, the Calumpang River; well, it’s the bridge in the picture but under it is the river. Haha.

Lyceum of the Philippines University -Batangas

One of Batangas’ top schools is the LPU — and it is just located in between Calumpang River and SM City Batangas.

Santissima Trinidad Church

Incidentally, Santissima Trinidad is just beside SM City Batangas.

Basilica del Immaculada Conception

What’s a Philippine province without a beautiful cathedral?!

Finally, here’s a secret that’s no secret..

Bus going to Iloilo?

Did you know that you could actually travel in a bus from Manila to Iloilo — straight?!? Yeah, you only pay around P1,500 for the whole trip that would carry your bus on a ship on the way to Iloilo City. Thing is, you do not really get to enjoy the places you pass by.

Life is an adventure. Stop and smell the flowers!

Last Leg: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 5)

So, we are now in the final segment of our Luzon to Visayas adventure trip — and what a ride it has been! Yes, just one more sea travel and two land trips then finally, we’re back to Cebu City; but not after a few memorable days in Bacolod City, of course.

Anyway, while traveling by plane is cool — as you get to your destination faster and thus have more free time when you arrive — traveling by land and sea are simply much better. After all, if it’s adventure you really seek, then long land and (at times rough?) sea travels would get really your juices flowing right off the bat — yep, whether locally or internationally!

Okay, okay, adventure is out there in your intended destination — whatever part of the world it may be — but really, aren’t they just mostly beaches or slices of nature? See?? Then why not make the Philippines part of that experience? Yeah, especially if you’re a local, otherwise, a foreigner who is already in the country or planning a vacation somewhere on earth. See for one, the Philippines’ got thousands of islands to hop around and consequently beautiful sceneries and beaches to relax and enjoy! So.

Last Leg: Bacolod to San Carlos to Toledo.. then eventually Cebu City

Bacolod City to San Carlos City. Bus. 2h 20m. P153. Now while San Carlos is still part of Negros Occidental, understand that it is almost 80 kilometers away from Bacolod, so you got to get to South Ceres Bus Terminal first which is in Luzuriaga Street for that bus ride.

In this trip, you would be passing by the towns of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto before reaching San Carlos. There are actually some nice sceneries and tourist spots (like the Negros Chocolate Hills, mountain resorts and some man-made forest of sorts) along the way that if you are traveling by car and got some spare time, you could actually stop first and make some memories. I was in a bus, so the most I could do was take pictures on the go. Not bad.

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Rich sugarcane fields of Murcia, Negros Occidental

San Carlos City to Toledo City. Fastcat. 1h 10m. P150 + P20 terminal fee. It was about 4:10PM when the bus arrived at the San Carlos bus terminal. And I found out that there were still two trips scheduled for Toledo City, 5PM (Fastcat) and 6PM (Lite Ferries) — and so, I started asking around about the place like accommodation, malls, places of interest and stuff. You know, maybe I could spend even a night or two first before boarding the ship to Cebu. Haha.

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Gaisano San Carlos City

Then again, I’ve just been away too long and it’s already a new year so okay, better next time since I am also planning to climb Mount Canlaon (2,435 meters in Negros Occidental) anyway. Yeah, hopefully sometime this year I’d be at its peak. Hopefully.

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Port of Toledo City, Cebu

Toledo City to Cebu City. Van. 2h. P100. Here I took the 5PM trip to Toledo and arrived after an hour. Yeah, it’s nighttime once again. And they say there are only two Ceres buses that ply Toledo that by the time I arrived, only vans remain for trips to Cebu City. And so, after taking some pictures, I then joined some of the ship’s passengers in the tricycle (P10 per head) to the van’s terminal.

20 minutes later, our van left Toledo for Cebu City.

Bacolod City: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 4)

After more than a couple of days in Iloilo, I could not really say anything negative except for how I wish I could stay there a little longer? Haha. Indeed, I liked the place. Urbanized yet still maintains that cozy atmosphere.

Still, if I would extend my stay, I’d just end up getting behind my schedules so it was simply time for me to pack up and head for Bacolod City, yes, another of those key cities in the country.

Iloilo Fastcraft & Roro Terminal

Iloilo City to Bacolod City. Fastcraft. 2h 20m. P200 + P30 terminal fee. With maximizing time in mind, I took the 10:30AM trip to the City of Bacolod and after a little over two hours, our ferry safely arrived at the port of Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Hmm. Looking at the map, it’s actually like just a stone’s throw away from Iloilo City, however, since we were coming from the river of Iloilo plus we need to navigate around Guimaras Island province, such explains why these fast ferries take over two hours of travel. Right.

Iloilo City to Bacolod City route

Anyway, unlike my earlier trips, I’m fresher here having had a few days of rest and leisure in Iloilo — that in fact, right after I arrived in Bacolod, I just dropped off my luggages in my hotel room and left for “The Ruins” right away. Yeah, The Ruins! And that landmark is even like outside of Bacolod City already!

Of course, I needed to eat lunch first. And so after having Bacolod’s specialty in Chicken Inasal, I was ready and off to The Ruins!

Leaving The Ruins though is more of a challenge since it’s isolated and there are not many tricycles that ply the road out there, so do not be surprised if you are asked for a P50 fare going back to Bata terminal — yeah, even with somebody else on board. I was.

Anyway, we’ll be having a special blog about The Ruins — in pictures!

TRIVIA. Did you know that it was in this tourist spot that I had the most “selfies”? And would you believe that I literally had a thousand photographs in all of this 2-week travel escapade?? Unbelievable, that if I do not be selective and just post each one of these pictures daily, that’s good for like a 3-year spread in social media! Wow!

Coming up, the last leg of our holiday travel spree!

Iloilo City: Luzon to Visayas in two weeks (December 2017, Part 3)

After finally deciding on not pushing through with a Boracay adventure, unlike my other stops, I then immediately took the bus to Iloilo City — yeah, before I change my mind and head to Boracay instead. Ow. After all, it’s really tempting..

Especially when you think of spending the night first in Caticlan! Remember, Boracay is just 15 minutes away. And since I only slept for an hour in the ship to Caticlan, I thought I might get dizzy (you know how the bus could smell when its freshener and aircon are mixed with different odors) if I would just go straight to Iloilo.

225 kilometer route from Caticlan to Iloilo City (estimated time by car travel)

Caticlan to Iloilo City. Bus. 6h. P387. One might say just sleep in the bus since it’s a looong trip to Iloilo, then again, I couldn’t get to really close my eyes that long — since everything around me was new! Oh yeah, I did sleep in my trip from Manila to Batangas but I already know Manila and Batangas was nowhere in sight yet. So.

Halfway to Iloilo City, a nice breakfast stopover

Nonetheless, the trip had a stopover for breakfast which was good considering not just the long trip but for those passengers who wish to refurbish their energy levels. And yes, the bus had free WiFi on board but what’s the use when my phone was almost empty at 10 percent — so better preserve its power for some shots along the way. Still, what’s nice about this bus (which was actually a Ceres Liner) was that it had a toilet on board, certainly convenient so as not to interrupt long trips. It’s located at the middle part of the bus and aligned with the luggage compartment. So just imagine the elevation of the passenger seats and the height of the bus itself!

After six hours of land travel from Caticlan to Iloilo, I immediately sought to check-in to my hotel to unload my luggages then leave for lunch — yes, before returning and taking a brief rest as my phone’s also dead; and so, I could not really take photos of anything yet.

While there were many places I checked out in Iloilo City, guess one of the highlights of my stay was the Iloilo Riverside Boardwalk in Mandurriao. Unfortunately, I visited this wonderful tourist spot right after my lunch at SM City Iloilo the following day. So, why “unfortunately”? Because I was not on the mark for the Iloilo Esplanade River Ride. Notice the schedules in the video?

Anyway, we would be having pictures of my Iloilo trip and the rest of my adventures in the coming blogs once the whole trip back to Cebu has been completed, so stay tuned.

Next up, Part Four of our continuing travels!