The Philippines » The Palawan Guide

After traveling to Cebu, Bantayan Island and Bohol we flew to Palawan. I was anxious to see it because I had been daydreaming about Palawan for ages.

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Getting there
I flew from Cebu City to Puerto Princessa, the capital of Palawan. This is a town with a cute name but be warned; it’s not a place to chill in my opinion. The center is full of cars and tricycles and you need to get out of the center to find a place to chill. I stayed in a wonderful boutique hotel called Balay Tuko Garden. They have a swimming pool and a nice garden for about 40 euro’s per night during high season. 
Most people travel straight up to El Nido but I wanted to see some places in between. You have a few options: Sebang (the underground river), Port Barton and TayTay.

At the time, it was raining and I was told that most tours around the area got canceled as well as the underground river tour I wanted to do.
If you do want to go, you should book this in advance at Puerto Princessa instead of booking it at the spot. No idea why, but that’s the way it works.
It’s 1500 peso’s and it includes transportation, lunch and entrance fees.  The Underground River is one of the longest navigable underground rivers in the world, with a total length of 8.2 Kilometers and you’ll go in a boat with about 5-6 people which will take you into a cave. Yes, it’s a tourist attraction but if you pass it on your way to El Nido, you might as well right?

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Busy Puerto Princessa


Port Barton
I decided to take a van up to Port Barton. 3 hours from Puerto Princessa. After a very bumpy ride with our friendly driver, we arrived in the cute Port Barton. (yes, this town is cute!) At arrival, you are guided to the tourist office where you pay a small environmental fee of 50 peso’s (1 euro) and you are given a few options on where to stay. A young man (called David) offered us a room and although we were a bit skeptical, he took us to a nice place where we met more travelers (lot’s of hippies!) and we only paid 600 peso’s a night. The place is called Pisces and although the rooms are simple, it’s clean and the owners are extremely helpful and friendly.

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Eating coconuts at White Beach, Port Barton

Port Barton is a place for the traveler that wants to chill, save money and enjoys the simple things in life.
You can go snorkeling, visit the Pamuayan waterfall (1,5 walk and make sure you ask the way) or check out the amazing white beach. (1 hour walk, no restaurant, bring water) We booked a snorkeling tour for 700 peso’s with David and his crew and I can highly recommend this! You depart at 9am and return around 5pm. You eat a freshly prepared lunch on a beautiful beach and visit some snorkeling spots. Check here for more info.

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Chasing waterfalls

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Fresh fish and veggies at the snorkel tour, Port Barton

Tip » Bring enough cash to El Nido! Do this in Puerto Princessa or even Cebu if you’re there beforehand. There are no ATM’s in Port Barton and El Nido only has one. If it’s empty, you have a problem. If you do get into money troubles, check the western union which is now situated inside the First Consolidated Bank.

Where to eat
Port Barton isn’t that large but has quite a nice variety of nice places to eat.

» Ausan Beachhouse Restaurant  along the beach Eat in a treehouse!
»  
Evergreen  in the village great breakfast and dinner. (my evening meal took a loooong time, but it was delicious)

»  Barton Bistro  I haven’t tried it but I’ve heard great stories!
»  Greenview  beach view and live music on several days in this popular hotel
Warning: Jambalaya Cajun Cafe, (recognizable of a big smiley face on the front) the Lonely Planet describes this as one of the best places to drink coffee but I had a glass of warm milk that they called a latte. It’s also extremely expensive and they are too overconfident.

Where to sleep
» Ausan beachhouse cottages – sleep in a treehouse for about 1200 peso’s
» Pisces – this is where I slept. Good vibes and only 600 peso’s a night. Mind you, it’s very basic, but perfect for the backpacker that wants to save some money. The locals are very nice here.

ausan beachfront cottages
Eat in a treehouse at Ausan Beachhouse cottages. Source

Nearby Port Barton
It’s a long drive from Port Barton to El Nido, so if you have time break up the long trip with a stop at the gorgeous white sand Lumambong Beach halfway between the two. 

» Lumambong Beach – This undiscovered gem is closer down by San Vicente, has a sparkling white sand beach and is completely undeveloped so you’ll have the whole beach to yourself. We’re excited to check out the Binga Beach Resort opening there soon with big glamping cabins right by the beach. It’s currently under construction and they are planning to open in April/May 2019.

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El Nido
After 3 days it was time to move on and travel to El Nido. Another 4 hours in a van. Make sure to book it at least one day in advance and ask to sit in the front if you get car sick. You can describe El Nido as a vibrant little town with a lot of underdevelopment. Like most of the Philippines, the houses and shops are self build and nothing seems to be finished. But thats the charm of El Nido. It’s a fishers town overrun by tourist that come for one thing only; El Nido’s many islands. Once at sea, your mouth will fall open when you see the beautiful rock formations and lagoons.

Which tour to pick?
The most popular thing to do in El Nido is to take a boat tour. You can choose from tours A, B, C and some have tour D (whatever that may be) A & C being the most popular ones and it includes lunch and (most of the time) snorkeling gear. 
There are so many tour operators to choose from that it will make you dizzy. To make your life easier I’ve made a shortlist of the ones I can recommend:
» Kraken Tour not the cheapest but highly recommended. Music, appetizers, lunch, drinks, WiFi, toilet, kayaks, paddle board, snorkel materials are included. Check here for more info
» The Artcafe tours. with Kayak 1900 peso’s. (recommended if you take tour A) no snorkling gear included. Accepts credit card.
» Northern Hope Tours. Professional and recommended by various sites. Book here
All tours are best booked in El Nido. (via the website you may need to pay an extra fee)

El Nido is Palawan’s main attraction

Big Lagoon El Nido, Palawan
Tour A takes you to the picture perfect Big Lagoon

Another popular activity is diving. There are also plenty dive shops to choose from but I chose Adventurous Scuba. Smaller than some of the flashy expensive diveshops but more personal and professional. 3400 peso’s for 3 dives after a bit of deal making. We had a lovely scuba instructor called Bernie who was really nice to talk with. I can definitely recommend him! They are situated in the same street as the Art Cafe, right at the end on the left side.

Massages are also widely available in El Nido. Expect nothing more than a few curtains to divide the guest but hey, this is Asia and you’ll only pay 400 peso’s for one hour. (8 euro’s) like all other places, you can try your luck and try to get a discount. ( I got mine for 300 peso’s!) They are based in El Nido town. Just follow the “massaaaaaaage” voices and you’re good.

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Beautiful diving spots

Where to shop
El Nido is not a place to get the best fashion items but there are some nice shops if you walk around. The best shop in town (and maybe even in Palawan)is without doubt Little Corner of Paradise. They sell tops, shirts, bikini’s, summer dresses, jewelry and everything has a beach vibe to it. Run by a French girl, it’s right across from a cute muffin/coffee store that shares the same owner. (Try the banana muffin!) Another good place for shopping is BAZAAR. Just 2 minutes out of the center, you will find this nice place where you will find 3 stores (bags, flip-flops, clothes) food and drinks. You can also have a massage upstairs which I tried and it’s definitely worth the 100 peso’s extra from what you pay in town.
On Sunday’s they throw a small electro party with DJ’s and cocktails. Bazaar feels like a little European community in the middle of El Nido.

A little corner of paradise, El Nido, Palawan
Beachvibes at Little Corner of Paradise, El Nido

FOOD / DRINK
Someone has to say it so I guess it will be me; the food in El Nido isn’t great. It’s OK if you eat meat but as a vegetarian you’ve got a bit of a problem.
There are a few places that serve good food and these were exactly the places I would eat day after day.
» Art Cafe – great curries, fish and breakfast
» BAZAAR asian kitchen – just opened! Amazing Japanese dishes
» Deli Nido Café – the best Frappuchino in town hands down
» Bagel V & V – the girls who work there are a bit moody but the homemade bagels are nice enough to go there

El Nido Coffee, Palawan
Small but great coffee

SLEEP
There are many accommodations to choose from but don’t expect anything top of the range. Even if you pay a bit more, you will get a basic room. You can always opt for the expensive El Nido Resorts but you just don’t want to to that (unless you want to eat nothing else but plain rice for the rest of your holiday)

» Sei Nazioni Cottages – Cute cottages in the middle of town with en-suite options and air-con. book here.
» The Resort Bayview Hotel – Nice view. Book here
» Anywhere along Marimegmeg Beach – I’ve seen some nice cottages there you should check out.

cottages in El Nido, Palawan
Sei Nazioni Cottages, El Nido town

NIGHTLIFE
Thank god it’s not like Koh PhiPhi in Thailand were the beach turns into a place full of drunk horny teenagers. Well, El Nido does it a bit different. After dinner people go to the beachbars and the Pukka Bar is everyones favorite. They play cool reggae music with a pretty sick live band that gets the crowd dancing until about 3am. Other beachbars are more chilled and close a bit earlier (around midnight)
Bazaar throws a party on Sundays and it nice for drinks, ping pong and the occasional darts.
La Place is a lively beachbar situated alongside Corong Corong beach and they host a few parties a week. With a small pool in the middle and the DJ booth high up, they come closest to a real club in El Nido. Expect deep/techhouse music.

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The Kala Bar is part of the Bazaar

Around El Nido
Rent a scooter for a day or 2 and explore! (500 peso’s) A few places you can visit:
» Duli beach – If you get there before 1pm, you might be the only person on the beach. There is one resort called Duli Beach resort (named after the Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here) and it’s run by a Dutch couple. Rooms are around 1000 peso’s a night and you’ll wake up on an amazing long stretched beach.
Tip »You might be asked for a fee before entering the bumpy road up to the beach. Just say you have paid already as they totally make this fee up.

» Nacpan Beach – You will hear tricycle drivers shouting: “Nacpan Beach?” around town as this is the most touristic beach around El Nido, Palawan. It’s part of Twin beach and you can eat tasty mussels here. Same applies for the fee they will ask you to pay.
» Marimegmeg Beach – Just a 10 to 15 min trycile ride from El Nido town you will find this beach with one of the best views you’ll ever see. There are a few beach restaurants and resorts where you can eat. Expect slow service though.

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Swing at the Duli Beach Resort (the beach is empty!)

Nacpan Beach, Palawan
Nice food at Nacpan Beach, Palawan

El Nido, Palawan
Walk on Marimegmeg Beach and watch the sunset

Palawan’s beauty is truly breathtaking but be prepared to go back in time a little bit. Less tourist (positive), less tasty food than you’re might used to in Asia, beautiful nature, but not a lot of beautiful architecture. Beaches enough though! Drop me a line in the comments if you need any other tips!

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Love,

Elke

All you need to know about the TAO Expedition in The Philippines.

Are you a Adventurous Traveller? Do you need a break from modern society? If so, this 5-day Boat tour in the Philippines is the escape for you! Sail into paradise and explore the most remote islands between Coron and El Nido in the North of Palawan! This is everything you need to know before booking the Tao Expedition.

You live like the local people during this expedition! Wi-Fi? Not on the TAO sailing boats! Sometimes there is a possibility to use power, but that’s it! This is a good way to take time for yourself and get away from all those Social Media Notifications popping-up all the time!
While you are on the boat with 15 to 20 other explorers, you are completely free in the things you want to do! Try to catch some tuna while fishing from the back of the boat, help the chef preparing a meal, get behind the wheel like a real sailor or share your travel stories with the crew while you enjoy your jungle-Juice! It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you have the time of your life!

Philippines

The days on the tour are packed with adventure! The great thing about this trip is that you are never sure where you end up! Because of the climate in the Philippines the weather isn’t always your best friend! That’s why they change routes all the time and you are never sure what you see/do and where you will be sleeping. However there are some highlights you are definitely NOT going to miss while exploring the islands and waters between Coron and El Nido!

Tao tour Philippines

Jump in the turquoise blue waters and Snorkel in the most amazing spots of this tropical archipelago! Enjoy the Beautiful sunsets and after a long day on the boat, chill on the beach and watch the milky way sparkle in the sky! The Tao expedition brings you back to basics, it disconnects you from the modern world and re-connects you with nature! The crew exists of local people who know everything about the area you are sailing in, they have respect for nature and everything you can find there! This is what they try to learn to the people who came and joined them on the tour!

Beach Philippines

The best time for the TAO Expedition
The best time to take this tour in the Philippines is between October and May, this is the dry season. There is also the possibility to ​book an expedition​ during the rainy season from June till September, but expect some rainy days! It is not possible book during the month September.

Prices
The 5-day Tao Expedition will cost you $545,- (Php26.900,-) in low season and $655,- (Php32.400,-) in peak season! Of course this is a lot of money, but if you look to it in a different way it is not that bad.
This price includes:
● 5 days of travel
● 4 nights of TAO style camping
● the wild open nature and island living
● Freshly prepared meals, snacks and drinks (drinking water, tea, coffee, sunset
cocktails)
● mask and snorkels (no fins)

TIP: Bring extra cash upon checking in for Alcoholic drinks and Merchandise. Recommended amount: $60,- (Php3.000,-) – $100,- (Php5.000,-) per person

Filipino fresh fish
Fresh food at the TAO Expedition

Everyday you have an activity, from snorkeling to fishing! You have the transport covered from A to B, Coron to El Nido or the other way around! All meals are included and you get the most amazing beaches to sleep on every night! If you see it this way, $109,- (Php5.380,-) / $131,- (Php6.480,-) for a day is a good price for a unforgettable trip in the Philippines!

Other Experiences
TAO offers way more then just this tour. The following tours are available at the moment:
● Boat Expeditions (5 day, 3 day, sailing or private)
● Island Stay
● Combo Experience
● Mountain Treks & Retreat
Have a look ​here​ for more information about the different tours.

Sleeping on the beach, Philippines
Not a 5-star hotel, but a priceless view (photo by @wanderlust.nl)

How to get there?
You can book this tour from either Coron to El Nido or the other way around. To get to Coron you can take a Domestic Flight with a 40 minute transfer to the town. When you are in Manilla there is also the possibility to take a Ferry to Coron which leaves once a week and will take you 12 to 14 hours. For price details and time schedules visit the 2GO​ website. When you start your Boat tour from El Nido there are two options. Fly direct to El Nido, or fly to Puerto Princesa and take a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido.

Good To Know
This is not everyone’s idea of a holiday! It might be bad weather, it might be rough waves, limited privacy, barking dogs, crowing roosters, mosquito bites, jellyfish stings, sunburns. But that is all part of the experience: the unexpected, the unknown, stepping outside of your comfort zone. Still interested? Book early to avoid disappointment. (and early is months in advance, especially during the high season)

Keep on exploring!

John

*John is one of our guest bloggers from Nijverdal. He’s a guy from the Country with a desire to travel, a passion for sports and a love for food. “Never try, Never know!” Follow him on Instagram!

For more Tips & Recommendations for the Philippines check out the ​previous posts:

 

El Nido to Coron Tour » The more Affordable option

One of the things I really wanted to do whilst on my trip in the Philippines, was to take an island hopping tour for 3 days.
Meaning; from El Nido to Coron in Palawan.

This is a tour that not all tour operators offer. The most famous one around is the TAO tour. (they are highly recommended by the Lonely Planet)
They have become extremely popular over the last year because of all the media attention they have been given. They have the biggest and most badass boat in Palawan and they are extremely well organised. BUT. (Yes, there is a but) they are very very expensive. For a 3 days, 2 nights tour, you will need to pay 25.000 peso’s per person. This is almost 500 euro’s! Besides this shocking fact, they are fully booked if you don’t book in advance. (yes, there are people who pay this) I did however check in with them to see what my options were but they were fully booked.

I thought this tour wasn’t going to happen.. Until I walked through El Nido town and saw a sign outside of a tour operator saying: ” El Nido to Coron 3 days, 2 nights, leaving 25th of December” I walked in and learned that this tour was offered at only 11500 peso’s. Jackpot!
Yes, that’s still about 250 euro’s but half the price then TAO’s tour. Tip » Be aware that they will ask you to pay in cash. This is normal in El Nido but if they offer credit card payments or paypal, you should take that option as you need your cash in Palawan due to the lack of ATM’s.

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The crew!

The ultimate tour, but then cheaper

What to bring:
» Sun protection +30 or more
» Bikini/Swimwear
» Towel (one that dries quickly
» Mosquito repellent
» Sunglasses
» Hat (for sun protection)
» Something warm (it can cool down at night)
» Toiletries but minimal (toothbrush, face cream etc)
» Slippers or watershoes
» Sea sickness tablets
» Paracetamol (just in case)
» waterproof camera or case

Elnido to Coron tour
Day 1 from El Nido to Coron

Day 1
We departed at around 10 in the morning. We were told to be there at 9am but the man from the tourist office told the rest of the group 10am and forgot to tell us. Make sure you confirm the right time and double check this. Getting out of El Nido town is always a beautiful sight with islands and beaches surrounding you. After 2 hours we stopped for some snorkeling and it was one of the most beautiful coral reefs I have ever seen! Unlike some places in Thailand, the coral is very much alive and full of colors. After 30 minutes of snorkeling, we continued our way to a beach where we could relax and enjoy our first lunch. On the first day you will be at sea a lot so prepare yourself for a sore bum and perhaps some sea sickness.
At around 4-5pm, we arrived at our first camping ground. A simple island with nothing special but big enough to walk around the beach for about 20 minutes. Dinner is always freshly prepared and really tasty! Vegetable curry, Shrimps, Chicken or Pork and fresh Watermelon.
The men of the boat (crew of 4), set up all the tents and prepare your food so you can relax. We made a big campfire and enjoyed the full moon. After all, it was Christmas!

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Our tents at our first camping site

El nido to Coron island hopping tour

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Waking up like this..

Day 2
The sun rises about 6am and that’s a pretty special moment so if you’re awake, you should get up and watch it. After breakfast we headed to the Linapacan islands, which have some of the cleanest and clearest waters on earth. It’s a great place where to snorkel and relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in Palawan. You will also get to meet the Tagbuana, the local people of Linapacan, and discover their culture. Here you can buy bread, sweets and soft drinks if you want. You will also visit 2 more snorkeling spots and spent the night at an island where there is a small village and a change to wash yourself. (don’t expect much!) This is also the only island that has a toilet. After a full day of swimming and exploring, I was tired before 10pm so decided to call it a day.

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Bluest sea ever?

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Local children of Linapacan

Day 3
This is the last day and probably the most relaxing day of all. I was used to the sea by now and enjoyed flying fish and water splashing against my salty skin. We were heading up north and stopped for lunch at the most beautiful beach ever. Apart from the occasional resort guest, you and the baot crew have this island for yourselfs. Be sure to wear sun protection or a hat as there is no shade. The water is shallow and clear and we stopped here for 2 hours before arriving in Coron at around 6pm. From here you can choose to continue your way here or go back to El Nido. 

Don’t head back at night!
I decided to go back as I wanted to celebrate New Years in El Nido but Coron has a lot to offer so plan your trip wisely! 
We went back at night as it was full moon and bright enough to see but it took us 10 hours to get back because of the stormy weather. Nope, that’s something I wouldn’t do over again. Thank god, nothing happened! 

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Jump!

Total Cost:
On the website it says 18.000 peso’s and on the leaflet in the tourist office (in El Nido) it says 11500 but if they are not fully booked, you should be able to get it at 11000 or less. Remember, it’s all a game. I paid 10500 in the end.
Tour operator: El Nido Paradise The best period to do the El Nido to Coron Tour is between Dec – March when the typhoon season is gone.

Included:
» Breakfast, lunch, dinner
» Water, beer, rum
» Tents, sheet, small pillow (No mattress!)
» Snorkeling gear (No flippers)
» English speaking guide
» Eco Fee

Tip » Be aware that there are no showers or toilets on the first island and that on the second island you have a barrel of rainwater that you need to wash yourself with. If you can’t handle that, this trip is not for you. It’s the perfect way to travel from El Nido to Coron although I do think the TAO tour offers the best experience. Is it worth 500 euro’s? I’m not sure but at least you have a few options. Another tour I heard of is the Native Exploration Tour. They only offer a 5 day tour though for 20.000 peso’s.

For more tips and recommendations in Palawan check my previous post!

Love,

Elke

The Philippines » Cebu & Bohol

Flying to the Philippines is a long haul, and for me it included a stopover in Seoul, South Korea.
You will arrive at the capital of the Philippines, Manila. The first tip I will give you is to get a white metered taxi. (And tell them to turn the meter on!)
The line might be a bit longer but you’ll pay at least half the price than the yellow ones.
My second tip is to get the hell out of Manila as soon as you can! Yes, cities like Bangkok Kuala Lumpur or Singapore have their charming features but Manila was just a overcrowded noisy city to me.
That said, I haven’t been to every corner of town to discover what’s good but many travelers waste 2 days here before they depart to the islands and most people wished the had done this a bit sooner. In my case I arrived late at night so I had no choice but to stay one night and I decided to stay in a hotel not far from the airport. 

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Philippines inside Habits & Tips:
Before you continue reading this blog, there are some things you need to know. Just like any other country, The Filipino’s have their usual habits.

When you travel around the Philippines, you’ll notice a few things that will only happen here. Been there? You may just recognize these! 

»They Repeat your meal order. I love this. Every time I ordered a meal in a restaurant, the waiter would kindly repeat the order to make sure she got it right. Wishful thinking!
» They wrap the ends of the cutlery and beer bottles in a tissue before serving.
I don’t really know why but I guess it looks neat.
» They hardly ever have knives.
After a few meals I discovered that I was always served with a fork and a spoon. Apparently (and this is a funny one) when they Spanish colonized The Philippines, they didn’t want to give the people knives because they were scared the Philippians’s may use these against them.
» Basketball is huge
They don’t know our football heroes but they sure know how to play ball. Wear a basketball shirt and you fit right in.
» Almost everybody speaks English.
Except some of the older generation, everybody can understand you. How easy!
» They don’t sell tampons in the Philippines
Impossible to find! Ok, for the female traveler, this is an important tip. If you don’t have tampons, you can’t swim if you have your period. That sucks. Bring along a box (or 2)

» Terminal and environmental fees
At some ports, airports and checkpoints, they ask for a fee. Sometimes as little as 20 peso’s but at Puerto Princessa you need to pay 400 peso’s per person for domestic flights. Why? See it as taxes. Manila airport is now including the terminal fee with your purchased flight.
» Don’t trust the ATM’s
Don’t rely on the banks and ATM’s. They don’t always work or accept your card. Sometimes they are just simply out of cash and you can withdraw a maximum of 10.000 peso’s. (200 euro’s)
» Bring some water shoes
You know those pointy black sea things they call Sea Urchins? Well, I stepped on one and it hurt like hell. (still removing the stings after 2 weeks) It happened in a perfect white beachy environment. So be careful in the water.

Cebu & Batayan Island
I flew over to Cebu the next day.
Cebu is an Island shaped as a banana and it’s part of the Visayans. From Manila it’s only a 1,5 hour flight.
Tip » book your domestic flights early in advance to avoid high cost! I booked mine about 2 months in advance and it only cost me about 38 euro’s.
I flew with Air Asia and Cebu Pacific Air during my trip and I had a much better experience with Cebu Pacific.

Ph_locator_map_cebu

Where to stay?

If you use Cebu as a first layover (and you want to recover from your long flight) I highly 
recommend the Radisson Blue hotel. It’s near the airport and port so perfect if you want to continue your travels the next day. They have a large outside swimming pool, gym, spa, restaurant and the beds are freaking huge!

I enjoyed an aromatherapy massage and it totally recharged my batteries. Just what I needed. Rooms are available from 110 euro’s so that’s not too bad if you share. (Keeping in mind that this is ranked a number 1 hotel on tripadvisor)
You can book here.

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The best bed in Cebu for sure!

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The house Spa of the Radisson Blue recharged my batteries

Cebu is a large island with so much to choose from but I decided to visit the chill Bantayan: a small island north-west of Cebu. To get there you must take a bus to Cebu’s northern port called Hagnaya. This busride can be about 4 hours long so make sure you catch the last boat there.(17.30) Otherwise you’re stuck there.
The boat takes about 75 min and cost 200 peso’s plus a 10 peso terminal fee.
(You will notice that at most ports, the Philipino’s will charge a small fee to enter the terminal. This is normal.)
Bantayan island is perfect for people that want to chill on the beaches, eat and…well, that’s pretty much it! You can hire a scooter for a day (500 peso’s) and discover the island and it’s villages plus beaches along the way.

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The busride from Cebu City to Port Hagnaya is long but the best for looking outside the window

Tip » bring cash! There are 2 ATM’s on the island but it doesn’t accept Maestro or MasterCard so I was lucky to have brought some euro’s with me so I could exchange these for Peso’s in a local pawnshop. You are best to withdraw cash in Manila or Cebu.
I often felt that my boyfriend and I were the only “travelers” on the island. This way we really connected with the locals.
When I was there, a typhoon raged over the north part of the Philippines and Bantayan suffered from heavy rain. At the time we were discovering the island, one of these heavy showers hit us and we were offered shelter by a Philippine family. (Chickens included)
Lucky for us, we only had one day of rain but if this happens while you’re there the boat back to Cebu might not depart so keep an eye on that.

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The small house where I took shelter from the heavy rain

Where to stay?
I slept at the Coral Blue Oriental Beach Villas & Suites run by a German man and his Filipino wife.
Without doubt one of the best views on the island. I slept in a deluxe suite which had a large bathroom and a balcony overlooking the sea. Not a bad way to wake up! The completely wooden build huts are cute but spacious. They offer scooter hire, port pickup & drop-off and a pool table.
You can book here.

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Breakfast at Coral Blue

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My deluxe suite overlooked the clear blue sea

Where to eat?
Apart from the Coral Blue restaurant, I also enjoyed lunch at Cou Cou’s (sizzeling squid!) and had dinner at Caffe Del Mal (great pizza’s and homemade pasta’s). Both restaurants are in the same street all walking distance from the Coral Blue Resort.

“The Philippines resembles a place called heaven”

Bohol
After 2 days, I made my way back to Cebu and I was lucky to catch the last fast ferry to Bohol.
Bohol is yet another island but this time on the east-side of Cebu. It’s pretty easy to reach by ferry (the fast service takes 2 hours) and will cost 600 peso’s each.

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Where to stay?
I was invited to stay at the Bohol Beach Club and all I can say is WOW. What a privilege to stay here. The resort was build in 1984 but got a make-over 2 years ago. The most impressive part is without doubt the beach. It’s called white beach (I wonder why) and it’s part of the Panglao island that’s part of Bohol.
The sea is blue, shallow and clear. The hammocks are ready for you to lay in after the tasty breakfast at their resort restaurant. (They also have the best dinner menu I’ve come across in Cebu btw!) And they have a pool with a 12 hour lifeguard. Let’s not forget to mention their massage ladies who can give you a massage at sunset for about 12 euro’s for one hour. Heaven on earth. Okok, all of this sounds pretty great but it’s not the best place for the backpacker that’s on a tight budget.
Rooms go from 150 euro’s per night (breakfast buffet included)
Still want to experience heaven? (and you deserve it!) then book here.

Bohol Beach Club, Philippines

hammock chillzone, Philippines
Picture perfect. I couldn’t believe how perfect this beach looked at the Bohol Beach Club

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Breakfast Bohol Beach Club, Philippines
Everything feels right at the Bohol Beach Club, even breakfast!

But I didn’t just chill at the resort, no I’m way too restless to lay on the beach all day so I wanted to explore a little.
I only had 2,5 days which of 1 I chilled on the beach so I decided to have lunch at the Bohol Organic Beefarm (highly recommended if you are staying on Panglao island)
The Bohol Beefarm is a great place to walk around, have lunch and eat their homemade ice-cream. They harvest their own herbs and the menu looks a lot healthier than most places you will find in the Philippines. Check their website for more info.

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Pure herbs at the Organic Beefarm in Bohol

Lunch at Bohol BeeFarm, Philippines
Organic chicken, brown rice, flower salad and their secret sauce is what makes people come back

On the last day we rented a scooter and drove inland. I was sitting on the back and all I was thinking was; Fuck. It’s sooooo beautiful here. (sorry for the F word but seriously, it was F-ing beautiful!) The island is very green with leaves growing all the way to the top of the branches.
We wanted to see the Chocolate Hills and even though it’s Bohol’s main tourist attraction, I still wanted to see it. It takes about 2 hours to get there by scooter. We stopped at a place called Bohol Nut Huts. A place to stay, eat, relax and a change to see the loboc river up close.
The food here is basic but cheap and you’re going to need a cold drink after a hour long drive (and a sore bum!)

View from Nut Huts Bohol
I shot this picture of the Loboc river from the Nut Huts Restaurant

After our short break it was time to continue up towards the Chocolate Hills. Now, don’t get your hopes up, you’re not going to find a valley full of chocolate like in some kind of dream. These hills are covered in green grass that turns brown (like chocolate) during the dry season, hence the name.
Legend says that the hills are the dried up tears of a giant… but I leave the preferred story up to you.
Once we started to drive into the “hills” area, I must admit that I was impressed by the amount of hills (there are at least 1,260 hills) and their beautiful colors.

Bohol Chocolate Hills By Wander-Lust
Like a postcard picture (shot with my Olympus OMD 😉

When you drive up, you’re asked for a small fee (terminal fee) which is probably bullshit but it’s only 2 euro’s so why say no if you can help a community right?
Just after we left, a big cloud followed us and poured all his rain over the area which lasted about 2 hours. Stopping for shelter at different spots, we didn’t have the time to see the worlds smallest monkey; The Tarsier. It’s a shame that I missed it because these small creatures are suppose to be super cute. It’s on the way from the Chocolate Hills so if you have enough time, try to visit the Tarsier Sanctuary.

Next week I will post about my trip to Palawan and a special island hopping tour!

Love,

Elke

*all pictures are shot with the Olympus OMD

More Asia? Check here!
Thailand 4
Thailand, Koh Lipe

Packing Guide » Backpacking the Philippines

Finally! I am going to cross another country off my bucketlist. I’m going to the Philippines!
It’s been on my list for a while so I’m really exited about packing my bags for this trip. It’s hot and moist in the Philippines and I’ll be backpacking so I’m writing this packing guide accordingly.

The trip
Amsterdam » Seoul (stop) » Manila » Cebu » Palawan » Manila » Seoul (stop) » Amsterdam

The Backpack
A lot of miles, a lot of traveling. I’m going to travel for 3,5 weeks so I will bring a backpack. After 7 reliable years, it was time to ditch my old one and get a fresh pack.
I got the The Alpamayo ND from Lowe Alpine. This backpack is perfect for this trip and I’m going to tell you why;
This Alpamayo ND is especially designed for women so it fits perfectly. It supports your back, you can access you bag easily from the side and top and it has useful features including stretch bottle pockets, removable hydration pack and unique tip grippers.
Buy it here!

The ultimate backpack for the Philippines

Carry on luggage
» Small Backpack from Eastpak. Funky and handy for day trips
» Hipbundel from Eastpak. This is super handy for cash, passport or other important documents. Love the print on this one!
» My new sunnies from Komodo / Look fresh, look sharp
» Sony Action Cam / Never miss any action!
» Ipod with my new headphones from skullcandy / The sound is amazing on these!
» Travel journal / Great for those long hours in the plane, bus or boat.

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Travel Gadgets
I love travel gadgets! Every year I find new amazing stuff that I want to test or simple want to get.

On this this trip I will bring 4 travel gadgets that I can’t leave without.

My Olympus OMD-E10 camera is my newest baby and I won’t go to a beautiful place without it. Pictures and video’s are amazing and it has a build in stabilization which makes live a lot easier! More info about this camera here.
My Sony Actioncam for those underwater action moments!

Can’t leave the hotelroom without a emergency phone charger that you can easily take to the beach or a restaurant.
I use the
Powerbank Pro 9000 charger from Avanca. It’s extremely powerful with a capacity of 9000mAh. Depending on the device you connect to this powerbank, your battery will be charged one or several times. Get yours here.

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The worst thing that can happen to you, is to lose your luggage on arrival. This clever interactive tag from Moustag makes sure your bags are easily found.

If your bag is found you will receive a notification on  the Moustag app. Besides this you can also keep track of where you’ve been and share this with your friends. Pretty cool right?

Moustag wander-lust

 

Skin products
Ok, I am not a girl who uses a lot of make up and foundation. Mainly just because I can’t be bothered but I am getting older so I should look after my skin.
I won’t leave for the Philippines without my Dermalogica products! I swear by their products because of a few reasons;
» They don’t test on animals (happy me)
» They only use natural ingredients
» They truly care about your skin! (they only sell 50+ sunscreen because this is really what our skin needs)
They sell a really handy travel kit which includes the multi active toner which I will bring in my carry on bag so I can moisturize during the flight (check my previous blogpost about in-flight skin tips)
My advice is to get your skin analysed and find the products that suit your skin. Visit their website for more info.

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                                                    All my favorite travel products!

So what will you bring?

Love,

Elke

More packing guides? Check here!

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