Dear followers of bohemienstella, I’m glad to be able to be featured in this blogpost to introduce my home country the Philippines to you. In 2016 I’m planning to show bohemienstella around in the philippines so here’s a sneak preview what to expect.
For those of you who may have some pinoy friends may know that the Philippines are a group of 7107 Islands divided in three Island groups: Luzon, The Visayas and Mindanao. For some travellers the philippines seem very unique country in south east asia due to ist colonial past and the widespread knowledge of english. English and Tagalog are the offical tongues even though there are more than 60 different dialects throughout. But don’t panic in the more urban and touristic hotspots you will encounter many Filipinos with fluent English skills. But just to inform you: The Filipino English will differ from all other kinds of english you’ve encountered and the pronounciation will be quite different too! Most likely you will hear Taglish, a mix between both english and tagalog.
Trip #1 North Luzon: 3 days at the Rice Terraces of Banaue
From all bucket lists Banaue is the place to see in the philippines for the ultimate nature experience. It’s like a travel back in time. As soon as you’ve arrived the beauty of the landscape will be overwhelming! From there you can take guided tours to the Batad Rice Terraces, 2000 years old agricultural UNESCO World Heritage, swim in a Waterfall or do the Sagada Hike to see real mummies.
How to get there:
Situated in the very north of Luzon, the main Island the only direct bus connection from Manila to Banawe is operated by OHAYAMI Buses. I recommend to go to the bus station a few hours ahead and by your ticket in advance. Certainly you will meet many other backpackers at the bus station from all around the globe. I recommend to take always a cab to the bus station, it’s kinda shady, always be aware or like filipinos use to say: “Ingat ka!” – “Take Care!”.
Be aware it’s a 9 hour bus trip in a strongly air-conditioned bus: Hitherto wear long pants, closed shoes, a thick sweater and definitely an extra blanket! The trip itself is a pain in the ass but definitely a never forgetting experience. Don’t forget to bring with cash. There are no ATM for foreign Cards nearby and credit cards won’t be accepted there. We didn’t know and we had stay on tight Budget. Accomodations vary from 9-30 Dollars a night.Due to the high humidity there, everything is moist and it rains often even if just for some minutes. Rain coat and good trekking shoes are highly recommended.
Where to stay:
Popular Backbacker place: Halfway Lodge
List of other Hotels in Banaue
Trip #2: Island hopping and visit to Boracay
Boracay is a small spear-shaped Island famous for nice resorts, its white beaches and many great spots to party – That’s why it’s a perfect extended weekend getaway.I recommend to stay there 3-5 days.
Years ago Boracay wasn’t on any tourist map until some folks from Lonely Planet acknowledged it as the next big thing and since then the small 8km Island has changed severely. It became a magnet for tourists from all over the world! Now to the downsides: Yes the environment has massively changed and the natural sand beaches have declined. But tourism as a factor for economic growth creates jobs and boosts the image of the Philippines and so on. The people on Boracay have reacted and many sustainable projects to protect the Environment have been launched. The beaches stay clean and the eco systems are surveillanced. There’s just one straight road operated by trycicles, the filipino motorbike carrying up to 6 passengers – so no cars or taxis available here! There are four beaches, each one nearby and my favourite one is of course white beach.
White Beach is very touristy indeed but if you love activities, beach parties and entertainment like fire dancers this is the right spot for you. White beach is divided into three parts: Station 1-3. The pricier resorts are usually on station one but actually within 20-30min you walked through all stations so it doesn’t really matter where your hotel is located.
In comparison to other holiday destinations activities here are pretty affordable. This is the place to try out all the water sports you’ve ever wanted to try. There are many vendors trying to sell packages. Stay tough and first listen and compare the prices. Usually every vendor has different prices, you might compare first before you sign the deal. At the end everybody offers the same tour Operator. I went for parasailing. I felt the adrenalin rush in my veins since we were catapulted up to 300 Meters, the amazing view over he island and to see the different shades of blue in the ocean overtook my fear of heights.
Another must is Island-Hopping. Usually this is a half day trip, where you take together with a group a fisher boat to visit neighbour islands which are mostly not inhabited. On crocodile island we wenti nto caves and all the walls were reflecting sparks of glittering rocks and on another picknick island w playes volleyball and had our private barbecue with fresh fish and shrimps. The seafood doesn’t get any fresher!
If you are a morning person there are yoga sessions at the beach, usually at 7am in the morning so that the heat of the sun won’t be unbearable. We had several session for 500 Pesos including a rich breakfast. I’m not sure if that place still has this offer but there are sure similar offers since yoga has become quite popular.
Where to stay:
I was travelling back then with my best friend Louis. It was his first time in asia so I chose a very native backpacker-style place to stay: Moreno’s Cottages. We had a bedroom room with aircondition and paid 25 Dollars/night for the room. Since there are only 8 rooms we had a very familiar experience there. They offered us laundry service and we also had some massage to relax after all our activities. It’s the place were you get very individual treatment and the staff is really eager to help you make the best out of your stay. If you’re easygoing like this is the place the place to stay.
How to get there:
Boracay has no own airport so you have to fly to the neighbour islands! Caticlan and Kalibo are the closest Airports to Boracay Island. Caticlan is just nearby Boracay. On our way back I took the cheaper fare from Kalibo back to Manila which is still 2 hours by shuttle to the port and from there it’s a short boat trip to Boracay island. Since you will have to carry on your luggage with you for a while, backpacks or small suitcases are recommended. I advise to look for a travel Agent at one of the several malls to book the flight. It’s a very easy and spontaneous way to book your flight and mostly you get great last minute deals!