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Philippines Exotic Travel Guide

Philippines Travel Guide: Boracay, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Manila...

Updated: 2011-03-21T08:25:29.238+08:00


New Boracay Hotel Rooms Beachfront at Ti Braz French Bistro



Ti Braz beachfront hotel rooms in Boracay now open

The famous Creperie and French Bistro Ti Braz has now opened up 2 hotel rooms above the restaurant. Ti Braz has been a travellers and locals favourite for a long time. This is thanks to the perfect location just north of the busy area of D'Mall (on the border of Station 1 and 2), and the excellent service.

The sand is very white at Ti Braz, the beachfront features the most comfortable beach loungers on the island. The restaurant serves fine dining French cuisine as well as moderatley priced dishes like crepes and filipino specialities.

Ti Braz also has an excellent cocktail list and extended happy hour which is perfect for sunset. The 2 rooms are decorated in the classy, elegant style of the restaurant. The rooms don't have a balcony overlooking the beach, but patrons can literally walk down the stairs and be on the white sand in seconds.

The simple but stylish rooms are tastefully decorated and each has a flat screen TV and DVD player. The Ti Braz hotel rooms are perfect for people that want to be as close to the beach as possible, in a nice location, just minutes from the busy areas of Boracay.

Ti Braz Hotel Rooms Pricelist:

  • Low Season: til Sept. 30, 20101 Queen: P1,8002 Queen: P3,300
  • High Season: Oct. 1, 2010 to May 15, 20111 Queen: P2,6002 Queen: P4,900
  • Peak Season: Christmas/New Year – Dec. 20, 2010 to Jan 4, 2011; Chinese New Year – Jan. 31, 2011 to Feb. 8, 2011; Holy Week – April 18 to 251 Queen: P3,2002 Queen: P6,000

Ti Braz Hotel Rooms Ameneties:

  • Hot & Cold shower
  • Air Conditioning
  • Ceiling Fan
  • Beach Lounge Beds
  • Beachfront access
  • LCD TV with Cable and DVD player
  • Wifi access in restaurant
  • Limited Room Service
  • Standby Generator

For more information visit---> Ti Braz Hotel


Scuba diving in Philippines, 5 of the best Pi diving destinations


Getting a Tattoo in Boracay

(image) Image via Wikipedia

There are lots of tattoo studios in Boracay, many offer henna tattoos. These are temporary tattoos, most commonly applied in tribal designs, prices start as low as 200 Pesos. Boracay hotels are used to replacing sheets that have been stained with henna tattoos, so be aware that you may get an extra charge on your bill if you ruin the bed sheets or towels. Hennas are painted on the skin with special paint, they last around 2 weeks. Real henna ink is brown but the ink used on the island is black.

Real tattoos can also be found on Boracay, there are at least 5 studios along white beach. Reputation is important as this is a permanent thing, so it is best to get a recommendation from someone that has used a particular artist before. Boracay tattoo artists charge very different prices, for example foreigners may get ripped off at a busy place such as Noels in the busy area of Station 2. The best advice is to go in with a local so you get the real price, or at least get a quote off a few studios so you get a feel for what is a fair price.

All studios will use clean equipment but it is still worth asking to make sure they will be using new needles. The most famous studio is Yanniks which is beachfront in station 3, but there are also good artists elsewhere. It is definitely worth visiting a few shops and they will happily make you a design before you have to commit. Take note of the aftercare advice as it is easy to get a tattoo infected on the beach climate. Swimming after a permanent tattoo should be avoided for a few weeks and the artists will advise you of the best cream to use which should be applied for a week or two.

Airlines of the Philippines reviewed


Cebu Pacific is the largest domestic airline in the Philippines with over 45% of the market share.

Our opinion: This is the airline we always check first, it flys to many destinations, has reasonable prices and the on board staff are excellent. Deffinitly our top choice, delays are regular especially with flights later in the day. We suspect this is because they give very little time in between flights, so any delays build up through the day, however given that this airline isn't premium priced we can't expect exact times- international flights will always get landing priority so a few extra circles of Manila before landing is ok with us. We have heard reports of bad customer service but haven't experienced them yet.

Fleet size: 28

Commenced operations: 1988


PAL - Philippines Airlines has flown almost 5 million passengers and is the 2nd biggest domestic carrier in the Philippines.

Our opinion: We have only flown with this airline twice. The whole company seems to be the most professional, from the ticketing office to the whole efficiency. Including ques at airports, we have often glanced over at their desks from our long ques for Cebu Pacific. They always seem empty, maybe it was just a slow flight or maybe they are really more efficient?

Fleet size: 46

Commenced operations: 1941


Air Philippines - Airphil Express is the 3rd major airline in the Philippines, it is a sister company of Philippine Airlines.

Our opinion: We didn't realize this was a separate company to Philippine Airlines as they have such similar names. It seems they are more focused to smaller domestic routes.

Fleet size: 10

Commenced operations: 1995


Zest Air was previously known as Asian Spirit, the change took place in October/November 2008.

Our opinion: This is a re-vamped version of the old Asian Spirit airline and so far we have been very un-impressed. However this is the only company we have had to contact their customer service, so this may sound biased but it is merely our experience. This is a flashy new airline with a new look, and a nice new Makati ticketing office. They are the only arline not allowed to fly to Caticlan (for Boracay) because of 2 crashes. We dug deeper online and found some information on a pilots forum that suggested their planes and pilots are not up to scratch.

Fleet size: 7+

Commenced operations: 2008 (1995 as Asian Spirit)


SEAIR is the smallest of the 5 airlines. This is the only airline offering scheduled flights to El Nido in Palawan.

Our opinion: This is a small well established and well run airline, and it can be quite an experience to fly in one of their small planes. The cockpit is in view, the captain opens a drape to explain the flight and off you go in an old proppelor plane. Its a new and exciting experience for people used to flying on modern jets, but might be scary for new travellers.

Fleet size: 11

Commenced operations: 1995


Boracay Nightlife. Where do Boracay girls and guys go to party?


Boracay nightlife can be a lot of fun if you love drinking. Many people start drinking in the late afternoon with most places offering cheap beer and cocktails for extended happy hours (4pm-8pm). Find a nice seat with good music and sip away whilst enjoying the sunset. Cafe Del Mar has nice relaxing music and good value frozen margaritas. Ti Braz next door has couches on the beach and a new cocktail list this summer. After sunset drinks you can either have a later dinner or a disco nap before the Boracay nightlife scene gets busy after 11pm.

- Hey Jude was a popular place for Boracay nightlife. Unfortunatly the bar has now closed after it was briefly relocated. Hopefully it will be back again soon.
- Juice Bar plays a poptastic selection of party music for a lively crowd.
- Summer Place is the most popular venue for dancing with mainstream dance music.
- Club Paraw in station one is a place to avoid with an anti gay door policy that will offend many.
- Gilis next door to Paraw is also one of the islands unsavoury bars with prostitutes that can be agressive (women aren't safe here even with male company).
- Zepplin Cafe and Bar saves station one from being a bad area for nightlife with a fun beachfront atmosphere and regular guest DJs.

Boracay girls and guys usually start partying late and can even continue until sunrise. Boracay also has monthy full moon parties at the south end of Bulabog beach at Jungle Bar. It is well worth the trip to get there for a fun even with firedancing, live precussion and the islands favourite house DJs. Boracay nightlife (not Borakay) also has occasional larger events usually on the beachfront.

For a Boracy scandal you might see occasional skinny dipping party goers very late at night. 24 hour food in Boracay is available at Smoke Resto in D'Mall and there are a few fast food places open late too.


Rainbow Rooms, A New Gay Boracay Hotel Service


For those people looking for gay friendly accomodation in Boracay, Rainbow Rooms will open in December 2010. The island is friendly to the LGBT community but Rainbow Rooms will be the first gay dedicated accomodation in Boracay.

Large reasonably priced rooms at the lovely quiet end of White Beach will serve as a haven for those wanting assurance of acceptance and discretion. A new private pool is being built and the rooms are just 30 seconds from the white sand.

Rainbow Rooms opens in December but reservations are welcome now, for more information visit the official site by clicking here---> Gay Hotel Boracay


Is the Philippines a good place to live? 4 reasons why it is...


The Philippines is a collection of thousands of Islands in Asia. The main religion is Christianity and there are roots from Spain and USA. This means that the culture is quite similar to the west and this brings us onto the first reason why living in the Philippines is so good.

1. The people in the Philippines speak excellent English. The Catholic religion is similar to Europe and America. The previous ties to Spain and more recently USA mean that it is very easy to get along with people. Other countries in Asia like India and Thailand have very different cultures and English is not widely spoken you you feel very out of place.

2. The country has a warm climate and countless places to take a short vacation if you are living in one of the large cities. There is plenty of rain in the rainy season between June and September but the general weather is hot and tropical. You are never more than a few hours away from a nice beach or more mountainous destinations like volcanoes or the rice terraces of somewhere like Banaue.
3. The price of living in the Philippines is very cheap compared to western countries. A small place could cost as little as $200 a month, but there are also high class condos available for expats. Food can cost next to nothing or if you live somewhere like Makati City in Manila there are many top class international restaurants with every cuisine imaginable available.

4. The low costs of living make it a great place to work in. The facilities offered to people working in international companies are excellent throughout the country. If you are self employed then of course the lower expenses will really help. The Philippines has an excellent education system so if you want to start a business it is a perfect place to do so to take advantage of the low salaries.

Next, click here for more information on living in the Philippines(image)

Palawan Underground River, Sabang near Puerto Princesa


Palawan Underground River, Sabang near Puerto Princesa:
The Palawan Underground River in Sabang is a great experience and a must see if your in the area. Many people take Palawan vacation packages that include a day trip to the Palawan Underground River. Near to Puerto Princesa is Honda Bay which is a nice collection os islands for another day trip by boat.

The Palawan Underground River is also known as the Subterranean National River Park. It is one of the longest underground rivers in the world and was recently named as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

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If you wish to head north to El Nido there are vans which take a long time, around 7 hours. It is a scenic trip but not very comfortable. A closer alternative is the sleepy beach town of Port Barton.(image)

May 2010 update: Boracay's Hey Jude Bar to close, weather very hot...


Hey Jude Bar has been the most popular bar for locals and holiday makers on Boracay for many years. Anyone who has ventured out at night on the island would have at least passed by as the bar is situated at the beachfront of D'Mall. The lease will run out on 31 May, the popular BBQ restaurant Gasthof next door is also closing it's doors at the same time.

It is thought that new international developers have purchased the property because of the prime location.This isn't new in Boracay where massive development has occurred over the past 10-20 years. Many popular local restaurants and hotels are bought out by big developers. It isn't surprising as the island is the Philippines most popular travel destination. With tourists avoiding Thailand, the situation may speed up as the Philippines becomes an alternative vacation spot in Asia.

The situation is somewhat of a Boracay scandal with the locals who have voiced their support for the likes of Hey Jude. Hopefully the businesses will find new venues, Hey Jude has been especially important for the island's nightlife, hosting regular big beach party events and being the only place to specialize in house music on the island.

The heat is high on the island at the moment and humid. However the hagabat season is just beginning. This marks the start of higher winds on White Beach, and more clouds and rain. There are still elements of green algae in the water but the Boracay green algae season is almost over. The weather is starting to change all over the country now, it has been particularly hot recently in cities like Manila, so the winds and rain will be welcome (at first).(image)

Palawan Vacation Packages


Palawan vacation packages are an excellent idea for those not in the Philippines for long. Palawan vacation packages vary from simple nipa style huts on the beach to high class island accomodation and charter flights.

Palawan is a great place to visit. There are 3 areas people head to:
  • Puerto Princessa in the south which is close to the Palawan underground river.
  • El Nido which is home to the amazing Bacuit Archipelago of beautiful islands.
  • Coron in the north which is famous for it's wreck scuba diving and Coron Island tour.
El Nido is a difficult place to get to so there are small charter flights arranged as part of some resorts Palawan vacation packages. Amanpulo Palawan Resort is the most exclusive holiday destination in the Philippines. El Nido Lagen and El Nido Miniloc are more popular quality resorts which offer packages. There are also packages available with some of the hotels and resorts in El Nido itself.

El Nido Palawan packages
Coron is home to the popular Club Paradise resort and the rustic Sangat Island Reserve. Puerto Princessa has the impressive Dos Palmas Arreceffi Island Resort in Honda Bay, and various other package resorts for all budgets.

The lowest prices start at around 6,000 Pesos for  3 nights. These palawan vacation packages do not include flights, they will just include basic accomodation and transport. Cebu Pacific Airlines promo fare offers are often good value. The cost of a Palawan package increases to high levels when all food and flights are also included.(image)

Philippines food, what are the best Filipino dishes and their ingredients


The Philippines is world renowned as an exotic holiday destination but the cuisine certainly doesn't hold the same reputation. Other Asian food is loved in the west but the chances of seeing a Filipino restaurant are very slim overseas. The food is reputed to be bland, heavy and salty. However if you take time to try some of the local dishes you will be pleasantly suprised. Here are a few of our favourites below: Adobo is probably the most famous dish in the Philippines. It is made with either pork or chicken cooked in garlic, soy sauce and vinegar. Potatoes and other vegetables are also often added. Some variations also substitute some of the vinegar with sugar. It can be quite dry or served in a thick sauce. It varies from chef to chef so don't give up if you dislike the first version you taste. Sinigang is a soup type dish (still served with rice) with fish or pork and lots of vegetables. The sauce is quite bitter tasting (tamarind) which is unusual for many westerners as is the fish sauce (patis) served on the side. This is a love - hate type dish, for me the latter, but the locals love it. There are other dishes served in soup like bowls including Nilaga, Tinola, Pochero, Bulalo. They all contain slightly different ingredients and are often very tasty. The sauce is usually quite watery and the flavour is not overpowering. There are some tomato sauce based dishes like Afritada, Calderetta, Menudo. These types of dishes are usually quite heavy and bland and worth avoiding, although they can be OK. Ginataang Laing is a vegetable dish of green leaves cooked in coconut milk. It originates from the Bicol region and is easily my favourite vegetarian Filipino food. From the same region comes Bicol Express which is a spicy dish of pork in cocunut milk. Eating fried or barbequed meat or fish plain with rice is very popular too. Chicken (Lechon Manok) is often seen cooking on rotisserie BBQs at the sides of roads and is very tasty. Pork Liempo is marinated pork (in soy and garlic) which is best fried to make the fat crispy. All sorts of fried fish are served with galunggong and tilapia very good, cheap choices. These simple dishes are served with a side sauce, the most common and tasty being a mixture of chilli, calamansi juice (small limes) with soy sauce. Pancit Canton is noodles serves with vegetables and meat, it varies depending on ingredients available but is usually a decent dish. Pancit Bihon is the same with thinner noodles. Chop Suey is simply vegetables like carrot and cabbage in a tasty (cornstarch thickened) sauce. Street cafes called turo turos are the easiest place to find Filipino dishes. I personally am not a big fan of these places as I find the dishes often not to my liking and the food is often on display for hours at a time. A better idea is to find a proper restaurant, the food will be of a different standard and made fresh to order e.g. in Boracay 'Smoke' is a great example of a reasonably priced yet quality Filipino place to eat. If you have your own kicthen you can visit a market to buy your own food, this is best done with a local to get the best prices. There are bakeries in the Philippines but the bread is always sweetened. This is a major problem for westerners that aren't used to sugar in their sandwiches. If you seek it out there are usually non sweetened breads available from delis or supermarkets. Food prices in supermarkets aren't as cheap as you might expect especially for anything imported (baked beans cost many times the price they sell for in europe for example). To get good value try buying from a market where the fish and meat is cheap and fresh, eating as the locals do can be very cheap and tasty too.[...]

What is the Algae in the water like in Boracay in April (Holy Week Easter)?


Many people people wanting to visit at this time of the year have this question, "is the algae on White Beach bad in March and April?"
The answer is yes, the algae appeared mid February and wasn't so bad at first, but it has gotten worse and worse. When you first step in the sea you have to wade through thick green algae which is unpleasant and smells slightly. After a few meters the water starts to clear but there is algae still. You need to go very far out to be relatively free of the green stuff.

For people wanting to relax on the beach (most of us), now isn't the best time of the year to visit. The water in Boracay is usually very clear, but the green algae really ruins the usual perfection of White Beach.

Holy Week (Easter) in Boracay has just passed. It was extremely busy and party central last Saturday night. There were two big club events on the beach in front of D Mall. The two events were both fenced in and felt more like club nights than beach parties. They were sponsored by Winston and Marlboro cigarettes, something which wouldn't go down too well in other countries. The two nights seemed to be in fierce competition, the music was very loud in both which made the listening experience poor as the music overlapped creating a noise at times (the parties were separated by cotton so this was not suprising). Both parties were fun though with some impressive production (stages, sound systems, decor, fireworks etc...). The crowds were thick everywhere in station 2, so staying at the north or south end of White Beach would be a good idea at this time of the year.

To sum up, if you like green water, big crowds and lots of nightlife, Easter is a good time to visit. But if you prefer a quieter beach holiday then waiting untill the water and crowds clear (probably in May) would be better. Boracay scandal, Borakay.(image)

Philippines Travel Guide Boracay February and March 2010 update


Boracay in February and March is a nice time to visit, the weather is great. We didn't have any rain and hardly any clouds in the sky too. March is the beginning of summer in the Philippines so the temperature does start to pick up, but there is always a breeze when you are near the sea.

(image) The slight downer was the green algae in the water on White Beach (the main beach in Boracay). Apparently there is no set date for the algae to make its annual appearance but it started late February in 2010. It can last 2 months or so, but is was only visible for the first few metres when the water starts, so people still swim. But we noticed it getting worse by mid March. maybe avoid this time of year if you are a beach bum.

We ate and drank at places already mentioned in this site, but I have to mention the Moroccan restaurant Kasbah next door to Discovery Shores in the North of Station 1. The frozen margeritas are excellent, the humous divine and the lamb tangine main course was tasty too. This place is well worth a visit and has nice decor.

This time we took a trip to Ariel's Point. A 1 hour boat trip led us to a fun spot for lots of laughs, drinking, eating and diving off the rocks. As usual Summer Place was the busiest place for dancing and drinking at night, but there was also some special event parties at Hey Jude and Jungle Bar (full moon party at their new location in the South of Bulabog Beach). Boracy was noticeably busier compared to August and is set to stay that way for a few months until the rainy season begins in June.(image)

Philippines Dreams amazing guide to living in Paradise


Get "Out of the Rat Race" and Live
Like a King for Under a Thousand Dollars a Month!
The Amazing Story Of An Australian Man Who Left The Rat Race And Discovered Tropical Paradise, Happiness, And The Women Of His Dreams!

Boracay is the Philippines number 1 beach destination and for good reason...


The beach really is as good as its hyped up to be, white sand and crystal clear water without any rocks or seaweed like you will find in most exotic locations. Its perfect for swimming and watersports. My favourite activity on White Beach is relaxing at a beachfront bar for happy hour usually between 4pm-7pm. Cafe Del Mar in the north of Station 2 has very good frozen Margeritas and excellent chill out music. Next door Ti Braz has better seats and a nice selection of cocktails too. There's plenty to do, countless restaurants, bars, sports etc.. or Boracay is the perfect place to do nothing and chillax enjoying being in paradise. On Bulabog beach you can try kiteboarding which is a thrilling sport, its worth walking over there just to watch the action. Its not cheap but if you are a thrill seeker then there will be very few other sports that come close to kiteboarding for fun. Accomodation is in abundance, there are hotels and resorts to suit all budgets in Boracay. I would recommend booking a night somewhere online then just having a walk around on your second day untill you find the perfect room. The beach is very long, the southern and northern ends are quieter, in the middle (station 2) is where it gets very busy. All in all Boracay is a great place to visit, the touts on the main strip are annoying but other than that its a very enjoyable place to be. There are boat trips, water sports and buggies for fun. Getting to Boracay recently became more difficult as most flights now land in Kalibo which is 2 hours away, there are vans to bring you to the port in Caticlan. Seair and Air Philippines still have flights to Caticlan but expect to pay more. From Caticlan it is a short 10 minute boat ride to the port in Boracay, there is no need to have someone escort you as the journey is well laid out. click here to view our Boracay videos page[...]

Boracay restaurants reviews. Tips on Boracays best and worst places to eat...


Boracay Restaurants reviewsAndoks: There are maybe 5 outlets all over the island so you will come accross one. The pork and chicken is cooked on a rotisserie which makes it juicier than other styles of cooking. There are other things on the menu like fried chicken but I think all of the other stuff is horrible. The Liempo (pork) and Lechon Manok (chicken) cooked on the rotating grill is very good, but I avoid all of the other dishes. 6/10Bar Rhumba, D'mall: The English breakfast was very filling but average, the steak and kidney pie was a joke, the adobo was so full of garlic my friend was sick. 2/10Bite Burgers, D'Mall: Also next to the ferris wheel, this place seems to get good reviews but my burger was very average at best. 4/10Buffets: There are a lot of restaurants in station 2 that offer buffets at night, they have lots of dishes and it is eat all you want. I personally hate these places most of the time as the food is generally very average and I usually leave thinking that I have just tasted lots of dishes I didn't like. It is a good idea to try these places if you are curious about Filipino cuisine, but don't expect perfection.Crafts, on main road/Dmall: Upstairs inside the department store they serve a wide variety of dishes including some decent Indian currys. They have a bar on the rooftop which is nice for a breezy sunset beer. 7/10Cindys, D'mall: This is a good place for a budget meal, it is next to the ferris wheel. They serve Filipino dishes and burgers, the food is fairly average but good for the price. 6/10Coco Loco, station 3: This is located at the South end of the beach. The chocolate mango shake is excellent, the prices seem a little high but the food is decent. 6/10Cowboy Cocina, station 3: This is a brand new restaurant for 2010, it is a small place at the quiet end of the beach, located at the front of Casa Camilla. The food is very good and the prices very reasonable, they serve steaks, burgers, ribs, local dishes and more. This is the best value restaurant we have been to in Boracay for simple well made western dishes. 9/10Di Mario Pizza, station 3: The pizza was OK here the first time we tried, but the next time the cheese was awful. The owner has a bad attitude too (he was nasty to a friend). Avoid! 0/10Discovery Shores, station 1: This is a very nice hotel and would be my choice if I was richer as they have Jacuzzis on the rooms' balconies overlooking the sea. We just had the breakfast buffet, which wasn't cheap at around 650 Pesos, but there was an good variety of food. The eggs benedict was perfect. 8/10Gasthof, D'Mall: This place is in front D'Mall on the beach. They serve baby back ribs and seafood cooked on a BBQ grill. The smell from the smoke is alluring and the food is tasty, the excellent ginataang laing (green leaves in cocunut milk) is the perfect side dish for your ribs or fish. 8/10Hey Jude, D'mall: This is primarily a bar but the food is good. They have a simple menu, the pizzas are very good, the club sandwich is OK. 7/10Island Inasal, D'Mall: This is next to the ferris wheel, the chicken is flavoured well and barbequed. It is served with plain or garlic rice and soy, calamansi (mini lime) and chilli sauce. It is quite cheap and sarap (delicious). 8/10Jammers, D'Mall: This is opposite Hey Jude, it serves fast food and is open 24 hours. The prices are quite cheap and the food is OK, but basic. It is ideal for a late night snack after clubbing. 5/10Mang Inasal, D'Mall: We only ate here once, it serves chicken similar to that at Island Inasal, but it was awful, very dry meat, and the marinade was not good. It is very popular so maybe I was unlucky on that day. 2/10Red Cocunut, Station 2: Located just nor[...]

Palawan Travel Guide. Coron, El Nido, Sabang, Puerto Princessa...


There are 3 main destinations in Palawan: Busuanga Island in the north which is famous for its wreak diving, El Nido further south in the North of Palawan Island, and Puerto Princessa and Sabang in the middle of Palawan. My Busuanga resort of choice is Sangat Island Reserve, it costs around 8,000 pesos per night for 2 people but its worth it if your budget stretches this far. Included is transfers to and from the airport and all food, served buffet style (excellent). There is no aircon, tv, fridge, and electricity is on only from 6pm-6am but for me that isn't a problem and allows you to concentrate on being on a remote island. The beach is great, as are the staff and the whole place feels like its very well run. Kayaking is free and its fun paddling to the hot springs through a mangrove forrest and stopping off at snorkelling spots on the way. They also have a diving shop and I highly recommend trying the wreak diving. On Busuanga Island there are cheaper hotels. We stayed at Kokosmuss Resort which gave us a decent aircon and tv room with nice bathroom for 1600 Pesos. Its not on a beach, but is good value From here we did the Coron Island day trip which is the best boat trip I've done in Palawan, exotic lakes, amazing beaches, lagoons- pure paradise! We also hired a motorbike for a day- this is often something I like to do on small islands but was a waste of time here- we travelled all day on a gravel road and just saw one very average waterfall. Check out Bistro Coron for excellent steaks, I ordered 2 as they were good value. In in Puerto Princessa (PP) I stayed at Casa Linda Inn, room was good value with aircon for 800 Pesos. The best thing about PP was the restaurant KaLui, a beautiful place with great sea food. For a livelier bar/restaurant Kinabuch is also a good option (both 2 minutes walk to Casa Linda). I did a boat day tour of Honda Bay which was nice, and also a day trip to the Sabang Underground River, which is deffinitly worth seeing. Getting to El Nido was a very uncomfortable van ride that took 6 hours from PP, as i was alone they squeezed me into the van and i was in a very uncomfortable position, so try and get on the van early to avoid this. I stayed at Rosanna's Beach Cottages (i think it was 700 Pesos for a fan room)-,I would recommend this place but there will probably be better options too. For food I recommend El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe, especially the pizza. I also did a boat trip with them but found the people and food better on my day trip with The Alternative resort who provided a super beach barbeque. The boat tours were both nice visiting beaches, snorkelling spots and the lagoons. For better accomodation you need to stay on one of the Island resorts but the price difference is big.[...]

Cebu Island, includes Cebu City and beaches at Malapascua and Moalboal


Malapascua is the destination of choice for most foreign visitors because its a small white sand island with famous scuba diving. Malapascua is a lovely island on the Northern tip of Cebu, if you don't scuba dive then you might find it boring if being a beach bum isn't your thing. Other people recommend the larger Bantayan Island not too far away as it has more going on, but I chose Malapascua this time, and didn't regret it. A taxi from Cebu airport cost 2,300 pesos and it took 2 1/2 hours, returning we took a bus which is supposed to be 4 hours but ended up taking 6 hours because we hit rush hour traffic (so leave the Malapascua early-mid morning to avoid this). There isn't much choice for accomodation, generally we didn't like rooms or they were booked or too expensive. The last place we looked at was Tepanne Resort on the West end of the beach, owned by Italians, we instantly knew it would be our home for the next week, for 1800 Pesos (rate usually higher) we got a great almost boutique styled room with nice balcony, set on small hill back from the beach. I loved everything, it was stylish yet simple and everything had been thought out in the design which was simple but functional, and with Italian cool. They have their own small beach which I named Logon Cove. They also have an excellent Italian restaurant called Angelinas. Other options for food include Ging Gings for very cheap options- just OK food and lots of flies (which seemed to be a problem in a few places), La Isla Bonita which had the 2nd worst adobo i've ever had (but gets good reviews in Lonely Planet), Cocobana's food was ok but service terribly slow, Hippocampus ok food but too many flies. Exotic Resort at the east end of the main beach had the best compound with a nice resto bar overlooking a nice beach area, accomodation was full or expensive here but its worth checking it out, or just hanging out here in the day. Activities are limited unless you are a scuba diver, we took a boat trip around the island which was pleasant but the only good stop was the massive coral garden for snorkelling on the east side of the island. We also hired a motorbike for 2 hours which was a fun way to explore the beaches and resorts on the northern tip. Moalboal is another Cebu spot famous for scuba diving, it takes a similar bus journey to get there on the East of Cebu, the main area is Panagsama beach, but the main issue is that it doesn't actually have a beach, there is a nice beach 8km north but thats too far to go everyday. I would only recommend Moalboal for serious divers. Its a pleasent place to stay though with decent accomodation and food options. Cebu City itself is a breath of fresh air after the super traffic polluted Manila, the airport is nice and the whole city is much more relaxed than Manila, well worth staying for a couple of days. We visited an impressive Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino church, the excellent Ayala Mall, and then the bars at night in the Mango area (uptown). Hotels are better value than Manila, the streets less busy, and the city feels easy to navigate. Bantayan Island, Cebu, is apparently also well worth a visit. It is an island off the North coast.[...]

Bohol is a great destination, for tiny tarsier monkeys, white sand beaches, and of course the Chocolate Hills.


There is plenty to do on Bohol, it is very touristy, its sort of in between the super busy Boracay and the much quieter Palawan so should please all travellers. There is a boat trip which starts at 5am, we caught a great view of the sunrise as we headed out to see the dolphins which was a very nice sight, after we continued to a small island for some decent snorkelling, then back to White beach on Panglao for a well earned afternoon doing nothing.
The next trip was the full day Island tour, which started at some statue with nice views of Panglao, then onto some church which was also a bit dull. Next was the monkey business, it was great to see the tiny Tarsiers and other monkeys but not sure how well they are treated, then a river boat trip through the jungle upto a waterfall which was cool. Then lunch on a floating restaurant, nice food, then we went to a small animal sanctuary to see a massive python which was also rather cool. Final stop was the Chocolate Hills which was a very nice bit of scenery.
I booked for Tierra Azul, the rooms were very basic, and for me wasn't upto standard but the staff were super friendly which is the best thing about these smaller establishments. I decided quickly to look for another place, and we found a great room next door at Bohol Divers Resort. We got a spacious beachfront room, with balcony, tv, fridge, bath tub for 3000 pesos, which would have been good value once but the room was rather run down now. Food was poor, but it was poor in most places to be honest. Because this isn't the best part of the beach they have made a nice sun-bathing area and they also have a pool too. I would recommend Bohol Divers Resort as it has everything needed.
Food was average everywhere except for Kamalig which is an Italian restaurant set 100 meters back from the beach, yummy steaks! All in all i enjoyed Bohol, it was a bit too touristy for me but still a nice place to chillax and plenty of stuff to do.

There are various Bohol vacation packages available online and from travel agents which can make things easier for those wanting to see the Bohol tourist spots.(image)

Manila travel guide, Makati, Malate etc...


Initial impressions of the Philippines capital are pollution, traffic and poverty, but this is one of the largest cities in Asia and if you know where to stay and go it can be a great place. Many backpackers and travellers head to the Malate and Ermita area to stay. Staying in a big city is always more expensive and I've always found on my travels that paying a little extra in a city is worth it. Makati is a better option and the budget hotel of choice is Saint Illian's Inn, for around 1,800 Pesos a night you get a small, very clean room with air con and cable tv. Its close to Makati Cinema Square (small mall good for buying cheap dvds) and some nice Japanese restaurants. A short taxi ride away (50 pesos or less) will land you in the amazing Greenbelt (and next door Glorietta) complex of Malls and restaurants. Greenbelt is a great place to relax with a coffee, eat any cuisine imaginable, or just catch a movie. I recommend Cafe Mediterranean in Greenbelt 1 (yummy hummus, kebabs etc...), Sala in Greenbelt 3 (high class European quisine for decent price), Heaven and Eggs in Glorietta 3 (great array of dishes from pancakes to steaks to unique filipino twists). I have never had a taxi driver refuse to use the meter in Makati, the streets are much cleaner, and crime/beggars/street people hassling you is almost unheard of. In Malate/Ermita the streets smell and there's always someone wanting money off you, but if you have to stay here you can find a very basic aircon room for 1000 Pesos at Stonehouse Inn, or more luxury rooms are available at Executive Plaza for around 1860 Pesos- this is a great deal but you must contact Action Travel (in Angeles City) first to make a booking to get this room rate. The one good thing about Malate is the nightlife, for live bands check out Bedrock, for a more arty bar whose live bands are cooler try Penguin bar, for comedy check out Library bar, for a cheap backpacker resto bar visit Erra's grill. Robinsons Mall is close to all the accomodation and has many shops, restos, cinema and bowling. Manila has lots of malls, the most impressive being the enormous Mall Of Asia in Pasay, if you need to kill a few hours in between flights this is a good option, they have millions of shops, restaurants, bowling, ice skating and cinemas. The walk along the bay at the back is pleasant too especially at night with lots of places to eat and drink and a fireworks show at 7pm on Thursdays and Saturdays. For shopping bargains in Manila check out Harrisons, Greenhills, Makati Cinema Square. Manila tips: At the airport use a yellow taxi, they cost around double of a regular taxi but these are rare at the airport. There are white airport taxis but these cost too much. Regular taxis can be found at the domestic terminals too but may want to haggle. When getting in a taxi on the street don't ask how much, just get in and keep an eye on the meter, he should start it at 30pesos, if not as a guide it costs 100pesos from Malate to Makati so wherever you go it shouldn't be in the hundreds. On the streets in touristy places like Malate you will be approached by people begging, selling women, selling drugs or selling food, the best way to avoid them is to ignore them, thats what the filipinos do and it works. If you want to stay longer than the 21 day visa allows you need to go to the visa office, lots of scammers around so just go to the office yourself, once inside you pay your fee and then wait for a day for it to be processed, if you want it done immediatley then you can bribe an official to do that for 1000 Pesos (upd[...]

Other places to visit in the Philippines


Donsol: Visiting this place is a one day/night thing to swim with whalesharks. Its an amazing experience and deffinitly worth the travel time and expense. The trips are in the morning so you will need to fly To Legaspi City, then take a taxi to bus terminal (less than 100pesos), then take a van to Donsol (approx. 1 hour). Resorts are seasonal here so a little more expensive than most places (we stayed in Woodland Farm next to boat departures for 1800pesos for an aircon room). We visited Donsol in December just before season starts but we still managed to swim with 3 whalesharks and see 2 others next to the boat- brilliant! The beach is dark brown sand, not good to relax on, but the resort has pleasant gardens to relax in after the action at sea.

Iligan: This is named the city of waterfalls, and they are very impresseive. To get there fly to Cagayan De Oro, then take a taxi from the airport for 1500pesos, it takes 1 1/2 hours. Elena Towers has OK rooms for 700 pesos but there is a nicer place called Cheradel Suites too (although it's prices have soared recently to over 3k per night. Its then best to hire a taxi for a day to show you the waterfalls, and finnish at a water park in Timogo to relax. This would be a good trip to do at the same time as another reportedly good place- Camiguin Island, since both are near Cagayan De Oro.

Subic: is fairly close to manila (approx. 3 hours by bus- I used Victory Liner buses in Pasay departing every hour). The beaches are OK, its not perfect white sand and crystal clear water like you'd find in the more exotic Philippines destinations but they are OK to relax on. Subic has Ocean Park where you can swim with dolphins. Subic is actually 3 areas- Olongapo is the town proper, Subic Freeport is the duty free shopping area which was formerly a US army base, and Subic Bay is further north. There are hotels in all 3 areas, but I would recommend Olongapo for budget travellers, the Bay for mid range travellers, and the Freeport area is more upscale.

Clark/Angeles City: This is girlie bar central, if girlie bars are your thing then its worth a visit but other than that there is no reason to go here-, lots of scams happen to tourists, and most will find the bar scene distasteful. However some flights are extra cheap from Clark so some travellers are bound to find themselves here for a night, so if you want to avoid the bars, find a hotel not on Fields Avenue, or simply get an early morning taxi straight to the airport from your last destination. I stayed at DM Residente and got a tv aircon room for 900pesos, it was close to Fields Av but also set 2 blocks back so was quiet. There are Malls, and nice bars to see if you avoid Feilds Ave.(image)

Boracay August 2009 travel guide update...


Boracay August 2009: Weather in August in Boracay is what most people want to know about- it was very windy, there are 20 foot high wind breakers along most of the beachfront, but there was actually less rain than in December. The wind means the water has waves but it is still great for a dip. Also the added wind means that kitesurfing is now done on the main beach, which is convenient for the kiteborders and also great to watch for those that don't do it. The wind breakers make relaxing for sunset not nice in many places now unless they have seating in front actually on the beach. My old favourite bar Cafe Del Mar was almost closed because of this so we held camp next door at Ti Braz (north of station 2) and Cafe Del Mar's excellent selection of balearic sunset and deep, soulful house can be heard which is perfect for the sunset chillaxing on Ti Braz's comfortable loungers. Ti Braz is a pleasant French restobar, light crepes for brunch, tasty pasta and salads and Filipino classics are seved here, the staff are nice and the prices are good value mid range. Red Cocunut (3 minutes south) was a nice place to eat also- the adobo was excellent as was the pizza. Smokes restaurant (2 locations in Dmall) was excellent as ever (and good value), we were very happy with our bulalao, sinigang and Bicol express dishes. Cindy's next to the ferris wheel in D Mall was good for cheap meals. Boracay is quieter in August but still lively enough for decent nightlife; Summer Breeze is the liveliest bar- cheap drinks, cheesy dance music, and they even have poker tables now. Next door is a more upscale bar with better DJs at La Soleil Resort but it wasn't busy when we tried it. Hey Jude is always popular has has great value happy hour cocktails, although the music can get a bit annoying for me later on (tance techno lovers will like this place). I've put a link to a good map I found below so you can see all the places mentioned which are all close to D-Mall. Daytime fun involves eating, relaxing on the beach of course when its not too windy, and the touts have lots of other stuff to do. We tried a boat trip around the island which was nice (1500 Pesos for 2 people for 2-3 hours), the snorkelling was poor, but we went to 2 other nice beaches and its a pleasant boat journey. We also hired a buggy for an hour (800pesos including a guide) and visitied a butterfly sanctuary and mini farm on Boracay's highest peak which had very nice views of the island. The advertised prices are much higher so don't be afraid to bargain with the touts especially in this leaner season. A tout also helped us find a room as soon as we arrived (1500pesos at La Fiesta) on the beachfront, no need to give a tip but it is nice to use the same guy for any activities. The negatives were that the touts along the beach were even more annoying at this quieter time of the year, but they are never rude or too invasive. Worst food was at Bar Rumba in Dmall, my girlfriend was actually sick in their cr because of the adobo- looked like they had put 10 cloves of garlic in her single serving. The english breakfast was ok though, but I felt a little short changed by their steak and kidney pie which just had a sweet biscuity layer on top of a bowl of mostly kidney in gravy. Also getting to Bora is now harder as we had to fly to Kalibo airport which meant catching a van to Caticlan (175 pesos each). There was a very nice restaurant at Kalibo airport called Miggys which was in a garden setting, worth remembering as usually restaurants at airports are[...]