Frankfurt (Germany)

Type : City Break
Best Date :
Year Round, special attention to Oktoberfest and Christmas markets
Expense :
Medium
Things to do
Sightseeing, Bars
Points of Interest:
Romer, Goethe House, Alte Oper, ect

Brief

Frankfurt is a fairly new city, as most of its old buildings have been destructed at the World Wars, a lot of newer building have been built after. It is now a Metropolis which businesses use for their offices and is also used as a global hub for commerce, and training. Frankfurt airport is now also one of the busiest airports in the world. It is also one of the financial centre of Europe. Modern and wealthy this city is also tourist attracted for its culture, history and modern attractions.

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Romer

The Place

Frankfurt for me was just a simple out of town break from London. I didn’t really plan the visit and just went with a go as it goes type of mentality. First impressions of Frankfurt is that it is a quiet professional metropolis largely populated by many corporate businesses.

The city was brilliant in the sense that it was quiet and calm, day and night the city was relatively professional. Shopping and Beer Gardens are a big element in Frankfurt and there is plenty of it.

Frankfurt is also known to be included in many famous European destinations for its Winter Christmas markets. I haven’t personally been there at this time but I’ve read good things about their markets, biggest being outside within Romer.

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Transport

Getting There

It seems that London Heathrow is the main London airport which offers non-stop transport to Frankfurt. Lufthansa (Germany’s Flag Carrier), British Airways and Air Berlin are the most notable airliners from London Heathrow non-stop. London City Airport is another airport which offers direct flights to Frankfurt, through British Airways and Lufthansa.

Looking at skyscanner it doesn’t seem like there is another direct flight to Frankfurt from other London Airports including Gatwick and Stanstead.

In Frankfurt

As I mentioned I didn’t plan this trip, I didn’t even know how I was going to travel to my hotel, thankfully Frankfurt has a very easy  public transport just like London, except the German language made it a little difficult. I bought a one day travel cards, as I believed that I would be travelling a lot yes it was a good choice as it was just hassle free.

 

 

Hong Kong (Hong Kong)

Type : City Break,Cultural
Best Date : October – December
Expense :  Medium – Expensive
Things to do Sightseeing, Shopping
Points of Interest: Victoria Peak, Temple Street, Disney Land, Tian Tan Buddha, Ocean Park, Avenue of the Stars, Ngong Ping 360 ect

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Central Hong Kong

Brief

Hong Kong is a small country which is independently governed, however owned by their motherland China. It is part of what they call the “one country, two systems” where mainland China allows Hong Kong to manage its own laws, a little bit like the United Kingdom with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A previous territory of the United Kingdom, used as an area for trade, much of its British teachings and culture still remains.

The Place

Hong Kong is a very interesting place culturally. It is a city that has both Chinese and British virtues. It is famous for its high buildings (light show’s), harbo20170401_172639urs, foods, markets and many more. Firstly in my opinion the more famous past time in Hong Kong whether a tourist or local is the famous night markets within Kowloon. Between two MTR stations ‘Yua Ma Tei’ and ‘Mong Kwok’  ‘Temple street Market’ starts at around 18:00 -19:00. However there is no formal time of when the stalls open as its up to the individual stalls into when they are ready. Complete with Food stalls often used by tourism, karaoke café, Tarot card readers, psychics, clothes stalls, toy stalls, souvenir, antiques, adult products and many more the market is desirable for all. The markets are very good as you get to haggle for prices, some enjoy this as it cant be done in other nations, however whether you get to haggle or not all products are considerably cheap anyway.

 

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Central Hong Kong

Apart from the many night markets , Hong Kong has plenty of other areas for shopping, one of the most notable is at Central Hong Kong, which has all the class and luxury shops. Central includes branded outlets like Ralph Lauren, Armani, Prada and many alike. The area is also home to the many of the landmark high rise buildings such as the Bank of china which is iconic around the world. Furthermore Central is also walking distance from the tourist attraction ‘The peak tram’ which climbs the scenic route to the ‘Victoria Peak’ which is itself one of the most best attraction in Hong Kong.

Across ‘Victoria Harbour’ is Tsim Sha Tsui where the ‘Avenue of the Star’ is situated. This bay side attraction mimics the Hollywood walk of fame and has plenty of visitors visiting. Tsim Sha Tsui also has the ‘Hong Kong space museum’ the ‘ Art Museum’ and many more.

Disneyland and Ocean Park is also very popular amongst the younger tourists. I haven’t  been to Ocean Park, however Disneyland always proves to be amazing. Like all Disneylands all over the world Hong Kong’s attraction has plenty to keep families busy for the whole day. Their famous daily parade and firework display is somewhat special to the Disneyland brand. However the theme park is highly aimed at the younger visitors, when I was there at 2013 all the rides where predominantly for the children and no bigger thrill rides for young adults. Anyhow this is a family theme park and there are few attractions for the adult as the 4d cinema, fireworks and a little more.

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Disney Land Parade

Overall Hong Kong is a fine place to visit, it is a small place but with big intentions in the tourism industry. There is more to visit in Hong Kong and ill be sure to be back for the other attractions I have yet to visit such as the Ngong Ping 360 and the Tian Tan Buddha. Furthermore Macau is also a popular visit from Hong Kong even if its just for a full day, a 1 hour Jetty ride is needed to go to Macau. (For more information on Macau Click here)

 

Transport

Getting There

There are various ways to get to Hong Kong with many different carriers from many different locations. Hong Kong’s main Airline is Cathay Pacific and it offers routes to and from many locations around the world. Cathay Pacific has flights to and from both Manila and London, the carrier offers 7 flights to and from Manila daily, 5 flights to and from London Heathrow and also a single flight from Gatwick daily. Getting to Hong Kong from Manila is also possible using carriers such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Airasia all varying in prices. Carriers  British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also goes to Hong Kong with British Airways flying twice a day. However Hong Kong is very accessible from any region around the world.

Flying to Hong Kong from Manila is approximately  1 hour.                                                    Flying to Hong Kong from London is approximately 13 hours.

In Hong Kong

I have been to Hong Kong twice now, I used a tour bus majority of the time on my first visit, however my second time was more independent to travel around.

Hong Kong is a modern city with the most up to date transports just like other large cities around the world. The city includes undergrounds, trains, busses and taxis, most often used was the MTR which serves stations very near to all the points of interests in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong Station

Hong Kong’s rail, subway service or “MTR” serves various routes within Hong Kong and even across mainline china, it also offers connections to and from the international airport (airport express). The MTR is just the same as using the London underground, connections, modes of payments and tickets. Just like London Underground’s Oyster card, Hong Kong has the Octopus Card, and you can use this to top up value to use on journeys from one place to another. MTR offers Tourist Octopus Card which can be bought at any station, and if there is value still left on the card, the remaining value can be refunded at the airport.

Other modes of transport are buses and also taxis, however I wasn’t able to use them on my trip. However I was advised that the octopus card was able to be used  on buses as well and even the tram to the Victoria peak.

As Hong Kong was also a territory of Britain in the past, driving is also on the left. So renting a car wouldn’t be very difficult to do.

 

Shenzhen (China)

Type : City Break
Best Date : Year Round
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Sightseeing, Shopping
Points of Interest: Window of the world, Happy Valley, Shun Hing Square, ect

Brief

Shenzhen a Chinese city which connects Hong Kong and mainland China, Shenzhen was a market town which connected to Kowloon, however at 1980 it was given a city status. It is a Chinese city which is constantly improving, with tourism also growing. There isn’t plenty of Landmarks for tourists to go to however, the culture is very rich so visiting wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The Place

Ok this trip was a long time ago, and it was a fairly quick one, I don’t have too much but I’d still like to write about it. We went to Shenzhen as a little detour from our Hong Kong trip. First impressions of Shenzhen was not very pleasing, it seemed like the immigration people didn’t really like us, they didn’t even say the words “welcome” or at least “have a nice trip” not even a “thank you”. However the tour guide that was waiting for us in Shenzhen was friendly and she was even smiling throughout the trip, her English was not very clear, but we understood her at least. Firstly 399128_10150735644753375_265910229_nwe had a complementary lunch at a restaurant (I don’t know the name as everything was in Chinese), the meals was pre ordered for the tour, it was nice traditional Chinese foods and they gave us a variety, the drinks were charged though. We had sweet and sour, duck, egg fried rice, some vegetables and offcourse pork belly all with quality taste. I did however see the waitress look a bit sad, as sad that she was about to cry, I also saw her supervisor was somewhat looking at her as if she was in trouble, it was hard not too notice which kind of ruined the experience. The restaurant experience was good however it was again very difficult to communicate. After Lunch they took us to the hotel to unwind (I don’t have a clue on the name).  The hotel was nice although very old fashioned and very dim in lighting. Communication though is very difficult as staff do not learn English, the only way we can communicate is by writing our query on a piece of paper where they will translate through a computer, they will also reply using the computer. I guess they are very patriotic, with the belief that they don’t need to learn English, understandable.

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After a short stay at the hotel  the tour took us straight to “Window of the Worlds” which has large replicas of world attraction like the Eiffel tower, pyramids and even the coliseum . It was cool but not too impressive. We didn’t stay too long at the “Windows of the World” few pictures then we left really.

We then got dro72991_10150735645223375_952376755_npped off to Dongmen which was a shopping area. It was interesting to see what china had to offer. It did have the common world brands like Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo, McDonalds ect. There were also markets, which had nice stuff, but also had counterfeits which surprised me as the real stuff were just right next to it. I did however find some behaviours very disturbing, locals would throw rubbish rudely at street cleaners or just right in front of them while it is visible they are trying to clean, what was worse was that the cleaner was actually a frail old woman, now as someone who grew up in the western world we all know this is not on! We then looked for some dinner, very difficult as everywhere was crowded. Finally we saw a simple restaurant where we ate traditional Chinese food, it was lovely. After dinner we then went back to the hotel to grab some sleep.

The next morning, we woke up and grabbed our complimentary breakfast, it was very simple noodles and rice, with coffee or tea, nothing too interesting but it was good enough to start off the day. After breakfast we with the others from the group stuck together for a walk around Shenzhen, it was nice with friendly people around. We saw night clubs, Chinese buildings and the Chinese way of life.

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After that it was time to go home our guide picked us up from the hotel with a coach which would take us all the way to Hong Kong. All in all Shenzhen was a nice way to witness Chinese way of life, it was rich in culture and the food was lovely, I probably wouldn’t be in a rush to go back, but it is a good insight of what other Chinese cities or province may be like.

Transport

Getting there

There are various methods of going to Shenzhen from Hong Kong, but I believe the train is most convenient. As I previously said we was part of a tour group, we was picked up from our hotel with an airconditioned bus which drove us to Fo Tan station, fr575464_10150735640408375_1476331712_nom Fo Tan we said good bye to our tour guide and took a train to Lo Wu station which is just on the edge of Hong Kong’s border with China. We then had to go through the Hong Kong Immigration and once cleared had to walk through to China and go through its immigration, there is plenty of walking and the station is very crowded with locals and tourists. Our tour group had a group visa but we . The coach took us straight to our hotels.

Going home was different and we went by coach all the way to Hong Kong airport, we off course had to stop at the border to walk through Chinese immigration, where are bus would pick us up again.

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In Shenzhen

In Shenzhen we were transported with ease using the coach. We were transported to the Window of the worlds and Dongmen shopping district. However when it was free time, we took taxi, it was hard to communicate with the driver even when we were showing him our hotel card which supposedly showed its address. After finally arriving at our hotel we paid our fare but the driver didn’t want to give some change, or was acting like he didn’t understand us, never mind.398892_10150735652878375_601403673_n

Boracay (Transport)

Transport

Getting There

Boracay in my opinion is the most connected of all the paradise islands, in the Philippines, there is 2 different airports, with a choice of domestic flights from different corners of the country (not just from Manila), there is also a boat port with routes from Batangas. International flights are now also introduced here making holiday makers from Korea, Japan enter Boracay straight without the need to go through Manila. However if flying through the capital there is two main ways to travel to Boracay from Manila by flight, you either fly to “Kalibo” or “Caticlan”, popular airlines like Philippine airlines, Cebu Pacific and Airasia zest (formally Zest air) fly these routes.

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Arriving at Godofredo P Ramos airport (Caticlan) is closer and more convenient to Boracay. It is a very small airport, which only caters smaller aircraft, mostly propeller. Getting off the aircraft is somewhat strange, you bored a bus straight from the aircraft, and the bus drives outside the airport and on its perimeter road through traffic (outside the airport itself), and onto the other side of the airport where it enters security gate back inside the airport and onto the little room they call a terminal, there passengers can collect their luggage and head out. Flights to Caticlan are very expensive, and could be double the price of that flying to Kalibo at around 5k-7k pesos (£70-£115). A short tricycle ride from the airport to  Caticlan Jetty port can be taken, walking is possible but with luggage and backpacks is unadvisable or if your hotel caters pickups they will also help you transfer.

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Kalibo airport in the other hand is much larger than that of Godofredo P Ramos airport (Caticlan), more frequent flights arrive and depart from here, hence the higher population that travel through here. Flights to or from here are also much cheaper than that of Caticlan costing at around 1.5k-7k pesos (£30-£115) again depending on time and season. It is however 1.5 hours away from the Caticlan Jetty port, meaning more time is required to depart your hotels when going home, it also means that more money is required to travel to or from Kalibo. I always advise for everyone to get arrangement with their hotels to transport to and from the airport, this could cost around 2k-3k pesos (£30-£50), but it is safer easier and you can feel the holiday environment. However to save money there are independent buses or vans, driver who will assist you in travelling to or from Kalibo, this is good i especially  if  there are a lot of you travelling. Some drivers allow you to haggle a price whereas some will have a firm asking fee, doing this could be very difficult and unreliable but it is cheaper.

Another way to travel from Manila is by boat, from Batangas boat port to Caticlan jetty port. 2GO boat company has Batangas to Caticlan route daily, it is approximately 9 hours and leaves Batangas at 9pm and arrives at Caticlan at 6am. The boat has different classes and rooms, and offers complimentary meals.898303_10151573844030818_219007834_o.jpg

Which ever airport or boat port you choose you will need to go to the Caticlan jetty port the station that takes you to Boracay island via a short 5min-10min boat trip. Ther235.jpge are 3 tickets needed to purchase, the boat ticket itself which is needed to enter the boats depending in which boat you choose it will be 50pesos -200pesos (50pence to £3.20), the terminal fee which is a ticket that is needed to use the terminal facilities (this is mandatory), used to help maintain the jetty port this costs 100 pesos or £1.60, and finally the environmental fee which is used to maintain Boracay’s environment paying local workforce, this costs 75 pesos or £1.20. These 3 tickets are checked upon boarding the boat to Boracay and can be purchase just outside the Jetty port. The more prestigious luxury hotels may have their own boat services, some with an additional fee others all inclusive with the hotel price. Click here for full 2Go travel page.

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Boracay Boat port Where you take tricycles or vans to your hotel

After stepping foot at Boracay island, the usual first thoughts is that it doesn’t look very nice. That’s because your at the back of the island, there is still a 10min-20min ride to the hotel areas depending on where your hotel is. Again some hotels do have their own van/ car and will pick you up, but if not there is two ways to travel to your hotel, one is to travel by a van,  fixed fees are applied. Another way is to travel by a tricycle, which is cheaper but may not be able to accept some journeys or customers if your hotel consist of steep hills which a tricycle cannot climb. If you are on a budget there is nothing wrong with taking a tricycle as it is the main use of transportation in the island.

However you travel once you arrive, you will know it was worth while going.

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In Boracay

Once in Boracay depending on where you are, the need to travel around can vary. If you are in the station 1,2 and 3 beaches you will rarely need to go elsewhere unless you go to another island, tours or activities like 4×4, ATV, Buggys or even other beaches and attractions in Boracay. If you have availed a tour, it will usually include the transport to that location (and it might be accompanied with your very own attendant). It will usually be a local styled tricycle. If you have chosen a hotel/ resort in the more quieter areas of Boracay like the back or far from the main beach station 1,2 and 3 then every hotel will likely have complimentary hourly transports to and from D’mall (a centre drop-off, pick-up point to main beach).

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Tricycles are ever present in Boracay and they are available 24hours so if nightlife is what you are looking for then do so without worrying how to get back to your hotel. . It is also possible to walk from one area to another, it will be a good way to get around by seeing around the place. Tourism is huge in Boracay and getting lost is rare as everyone will be able to help. Prices for tricycles are however a bit expensive and inconsistent, some fares may be more expensive than others, if you have haggling skills this will come in handy.

 

Quezon City

Type : City Break
Best Date : November – May
Expense :  Medium, Fair
Things to do : Shopping, Sightseeing
Points of Interest: Quezon Shrine, Araneta Colloseum, Quezon Circle, Trinoma, Eastwood, Edsa Shrine ect

Brief

Quezon City is the biggest city in the Metro Manila Region and the most populous in the Philippines. It is a city named after the second president Manuel L Quezon who founded and made it the capital city ahead of Manila. Quezon City is not known for being a big hit with tourism, but it does have its gems.

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As the city is named and famed for the late President Manuel L Quezon it is rightly so that the main attraction is his shrine where his body lies. The Quezon memorial shrine is the tallest monumental structure standing at 66 meters and in my opinion the most beautiful in the country. It is plain white in colour with three pillars in a triangular shape. Underneath the structure lies the late president’s body is a special enclosed mausoleum that visitors may not enter for obvious reasons of respect. The Exterior and the shrine itself is a nice place to visit, but it wouldn’t be complete without knowing about the history of the place. Around the Mausoleum underground there is a museum with interesting facts about the PresideManuel%20Quezon%20Tomb-L.jpgnt, the shrine itself, the city and even about Philippines as a nation. There is a small entrance fee but isn’t much. Surrounding the Shrine is a huge park “The Quezon Circle Park” it is complete with a small traditional theme park, playground for kids, a cycle path, fountains, ornaments and even market stalls. The park is free apart from the car park and amusements and museums.

Nightlife in Quezon City is found in the “Timog” district and “Quezon Avenue” just 10 minutes away from the Quezon circle area. Quezon Avenue known for being huge in Adult entertainment and comedy bars, whilst Timog is where the bars and clubs are. Popular massage parlour “Wensha’s” is also in Timog, for 1k pesos (£15) you could get not only a 1 hour massage, but an unlimited buffet, free use of the hot spring spa, steam room and many more, just relax there is no rush to get out of this place.

The other thing that Quezon City is famed for is off-course “Cubao” where the Araneta Colosseum is. This indoor theatre is known to Filipinos for its hosting of Basketball league games, Volleyball, concerts and sporting finals but is world renowned for being the host for??? Yes only the best boxing match ever known, the “Thrilla in Manila” the match proving engraved in the history books with Muhammed Ali and Joe Fraser. Although aged through time, Araneta Colosseum will always be monumental, and visitors may be able to enter with one of many shows it hosts to this date.

Overall Quezon City is a worthwhile place to visit, knowing where to go and what to do beforehand would be the best advice for travelling to Quezon City.

Travel

Transport in Quezon City is like any in Metro Manila, It is however harder to obtain a taxi as there is not as many taxi bays around the areas of interest.

Metro Manila (Transports)

Transport

Transports in Manila can vary from the different regions. Modes of transportations include taxi, buses, trains, boats, pedicabs and the culturally famous tricycle and jeepneys. Whatever the mode you choose in Manila there will always be a big disadvantage, whether crowds, traffic, temperature or even safety.

The easiest way to get around is definitely by owning a car, with one you can get from point to point to a desired destination. However like I said there will always be the downsides, for a tourist to rent a car is dangerous and unrecommendable, drivers in Philippines are irresponsible. Counter flowing, speeding, beating the red light  are some of the many craziness in Philippine roads. There will also be no reliable structure to the roads, apart from worn out road markings, drivers seems to know some kind of make a lane rule, whereas a 3 lane highway could become a 5 lane highway ( just find space and take it). I do not advise tourists or newbies to drive in Manila, leave it to the locals.

Taxi on the other hand is safer, as you relax enjoy the aircon whilst getting through the traffic, whilst letting someone else do the driving. However locating a taxi could be a job in itself, unlike London where a taxi driver would love a passenger, Manila are more likely to turn a passenger away (depending on where you want to go, and how busy it is). After finding  a taxi be careful by drivers who love to cheat and take as much money as possible, meters could be tapped or they may ask for extras because of traffic or distance. Majority of taxis are good and is the most advisable mode of transport in the Philippines, a ride from Heathrow to London by taxi could cost £50 whilst the same distance in Philippines would be in the region of £5-£10 equivalent.

Railways called the MRT/ LRT (don’t know what they stand for) are definatly the quickest way of transport in Metro Manila. The MRT Starts in North EDSA and ends in Taft Avenue a short commute away from the airport in Manila (basically following the EDSA highway). Tickets are cheap at about 12 -45 pesos or 20- 70 pence. MRT/LRT can get very crowded at peek times and thieves do roam around stations, however I do not feel this should discourage tourists to try it.

Tricycles are more of a local type of transport. They never travel more than a mile away from their base/ station. It is like a shopping district to village type of transport, like corner shop to home equivalent in London. Fares vary from distance although usually 15 pesos per person. Sometimes a tricycle can be shared making it cheaper as locals share the fare. I don’t see a lot of foreigners use this mode of transportation as like I said this is usually for Locals with huge amounts of shopping from groceries or markets.

Pedicabs like tricycles are a local mode of transportation. Difference being that instead of a motorbike stuck to a cabin, pedicabs is a pushbike stuck to a cabin. It has the same approach as the tricycle but more cheaper, these can be found at the poorer parts of the city. I believe Pedicabs are for the poor, I have never seen tourists use these, however what do I know.

And finally the Jeepneys, the leftover American military vehicles culturally used as buses. There is never the same looking jeepney as they all have their own independent image, as their owners cover their vehicles in bright colourful artworks. Unlike the ordinary buses around the world Jeepneys can be boarded wherever in the jeepneys journey, you can also get off at anytime by saying “para” which means stop. There is no need for bus stops, this may be the argument for being dangerous or creating traffic. Jeepneys are an interesting but uncomfortable way of travelling, it may be hot, smokey, wet (when raining), crowded and even dangerous at times. However rightly so this mode of transportation still seems to be popular for tourism.

There are many more modes of transportation, like FXs, Boats however these are only in limited areas and are not usually well known.

Cebu

Type : City, Beach, Adventure
Best Date : November – May
Expense :  Medium – Expensive
Things to do : Shopping, Nightlife, Canyoning, Whale shark Diving, Trekking, Cliff Diving, Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Water Sports, Island Hopping ect
Points of Interest: Taoist Temple, Lapu Lapu Shrine, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, Kawasan Falls, Ayala Mall, SM seaside, Malapascua Island ect

Brief

Cebu is a large Philippine province where Cebu city is its capital. It is most famous for being the islands for Magellan’s (a famous Spanish/ Portuguese explorer) death, over a battle with the natives. The Japanese where also based here during their occupation of Philippines in World War 2. Cebu is in the centre of the Philippines where tourists would go for cultural reason, diving, canyoning, caveneering and most popular diving with the whalesharks.

The Place

Cebu is one of my favourite islands in the Philippines, it just has everything in one large island. The region offers variety of vacations for holiday makers, whether its relaxation you are looking for, nightlife, diving, swimming, cultural or an adrenaline seeker Cebu has what yo want. The island can also be a place for large groups of friends, couples or even a lone traveller.

One reason that pedsc_3314ople go to Cebu is for its rich culture and history, there are plenty of old Spanish buildings and architecture, most notable is the “Fort San Pedro” built by Spanish and native Cebuano labourers. Lapu-Lapu shrine is also popular with tourism as a memorial for the native Cebuano leader who famously killed Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan’s cross which is a cross ordered to be erected by Magellan himself, this marked the start of Christianity in the Philippines hence is also a popular destination. Chinese culture is also rich here in Cebu where the Philippine Chinese Spiritual Temple, Taoist Temple Cebu and the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple show the huge influence the Chinese has in Cebu and in Philippines as a whole. However there is a date, where once a year masses of people from the Philippines and around the world travel to Cebu, this is off course the “Sinulog festival”. Celebrities and mass media attend this highly anticipated festival in Cebu which is celebrated because of the acceptance of Catholicism by locals. Performances and parades around the streets with a statue of Sto Nino are popular in the Sinulog festival. If you are traveling to Cebu try and be in time with the Sinulog festival.

Other than culture and history, Cebu offers the more modern aspects of life15, nightlife and shopping is ever present in Cebu city. Just like Metro Manila, Cebu city is loaded with malls and shopping centres. IT park, Ayala shopping centre and the newly built SM seaside are huge places of interest in Cebu, for locals and tourists to chill and wind down. The city is also popular for its nightlife and adult entertainment. Mango Avenue is where it all lies, best notable clubs are J. AVE SuperclubLiv Super Club and Sentral (Hip Hop Bar and Club). There are also plenty of Koreans and Japanese in the area so it wont be difficult to find a Karaoke bars in the city.

Activities is one of the things I look for in a holiday, and Cebu spoils me for it. First of all other than Cebu City and Mactan island, the rest of the province is preserved and untouched from its natural beauty, because of this the jungles, waterfalls and canyons are used for adrenaline looking tourists. First of all Canyoning, this is where you trek into the jungles, mountains and streams, down waterfalls and into the canyons. This mixes physical strength as you walk for hours and climb steep hills, also challenges mentally as you fight fears of jumping off cliffs, rappelling down waterfalls and encountering different wildlife, all whilst enjoying the picturesque views of the canyons (I can honestly say it feels like your in some kind of tomb raider movie), please refer to more in depth canyoning page. Another activity in Cebu that is enjoyable is the GOPR0607.JPGfamous Whale shark diving, you can either snorkel with the sharks, scuba dive or just watch from the boat. It costs just 500php (£8) for Filipinos and 1k php (£16) for foreigners for a 15minute snorkel with the sharks, it doesn’t sound very long however but trust me it is more than enough, we got back onto the boat after 5-10 minutes because we’ve had enough. In my opinion, its a must do in Cebu, there isn’t a lot of this in the world and it may be banned in the future as activists protesting that feeding them makes the whales weaker, lazier  in the natural world. The whale shark diving now starts early at 7am only through 12am.  More commonly  activities done in Cebu are the likes of scuba diving, jet skiing, island hoping but more interestingly you can go in a yellow submarine which is offered from various hotels, I have never tried this but will be sure to try this in the future.

It is also possible to have a nice relaxing quiet holiday in Cebu if you go outside the City, Malapascua island is a paradise island, usually a couples retreat, honeymooners however it is also used as a scuba diving destination.

If there is one island you would want to visit that has a variety of things to do then Cebu province is for you.

Transport

Getting There

To get to Cebu from Manila you could take a ferry at less than 24hours, there are three classes to a ferry, value, cabin, tourist and some ferries have a state and suite rooms. Some tourists do take ferries as a way to tour the seas and some take it for environmental reason. A state or suite room in a ferry can cost up to 5k pesos (£70) whilst the value class can cost 1.5k pesos (£20).

The more popular way to travel to Cebu is a 40min-60min flight to Mactan airport. There are a load of flights going to Mactan airport from Manila (Ninoy Aquino Airport), “Cebu pacific”, “Airasia”, and “Philippine airlines” are the popular carriers. Flights can cost up to 1.5k pesos and rise to 7k pesos one way, depending on the time you book and busyness of the season (refer to airlines page for in depth review)

In Cebu

Transport in Cebu city mimics that of Manila, however if you want to escape the city and go to the outer Cebu country side it could be a little more difficult. The most popular way for tourist to get around is by hotel transports, taxi or rented vehicles. There are also jeepneys however they do have a different appDSC_5457.JPGearance than that of the ones in Manila but still have their colourful artwork and design. The majority of hotels in Cebu does have complimentary hourly drop-off and pick-up transports to the main shopping centres and districts such as the Ayala centre, SM Cebu city and the IT park. Marco Polo is one that has this service and this is a convenient way for hotel guests to get around without needing to find a taxi, I personally find these very convenient however working your shopping or touring plans around the hourly pickups or drop offs can be annoying. Taxis like manila are convenient for point to point travel within the city, there are plenty of taxi bays and it is very easy to just get one off the streets. There is also a mode of transportation called “Habal habal” where one just gets on the back of someone’s motorcycle, this is illegal and very dangerous, there are no helmets and is not an approved way of transportation.

 

To travel outside Cebu city and into the countryside, mountains and beaches, is a bit more difficult. There are bus services to various points of interest such as Moalboal (where the canyons are situated) of Oslob (where the whales sharks are) however I have never honestly used these, so I wont be able to tell you about them. Obviously if you have entered a tour/ trip they would be more likely to arrange your transportation with/without extra fees, they may be a private car or van or an accompanied bus ride. However if nothing has been planned, I advise to rent a car and driver from one of the many companies that do so, these drivers can drive you to any destination of your choosing, they wait for you wherever you wonder, but it is good manners to just give them a bit of money to eat or invite them to eat with you. They are very friendly and act as a tour guide, they will also protect and look after you (your own personal chauffeur for the day).You can also pick the vehicle of your choosing  whether a 5 seater Toyota Yaris or a 12 seater  Grandia for bigger groups. To rent a car it will cost around 5k pesos (£70) with the driver but depending on the vehicle you choose.

I’d say travelling in Cebu is fairly easy, it is very tourist focused.

 

 

Boracay

Type : Beach Holiday
Best Date : March-May
Expense :  All Budgets
Things to do : Scuba Diving, Pub Crawl, Water Sports, Zip Lining, 4×4, ATV, Island Hopping, Snorkelling, Golf, Parasailing ect
Points of Interest: Station 1-3, Puka Beach, Bulabog Beach, Ariel’s Point, Marian Pilgrimage, Mount Luho ect

Brief

Boracay is one of Philippines most well known tourist destination. Awards received were:

Best Island in the world (2012) : Travel + Leisure Magazine  
Best island in the world (2014) : Condé Nast Traveller
Best island in the world (2016) : Condé Nast Traveller

Boracay is known for its white powder sand and its thriving night scene, off course its clear water and the activities within are also a big hit for tourism. Whether its relaxation, an activity or a party on the beach, Boracay fully Image result for boracay google mapdelivers. The island is a boomerang shaped island next to Caticlan a Aklan province. In Boracay there are various beaches, with the main one being at the front of the island where the sun sets, this beach strip is divided into 3 stations, station 1,2 and 3, this is the more populated beach where mass activities, restaurants and hotels are located. The more quieter beaches can be found north of the island or behind where the sun rises. Puka beach is popular but the majority is owned and privatised by resorts for their customers. Other beaches are like Diniwid, Punta, Illig iligan and Bulabog beach all has its own characteristics.

The Place

Every Country has its must go to place, whether the Eiffel tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, Wall of China, London’s Parliament square or Africa’s safaris in my opinion Boracay island makes it as Philippines must go to place, whether others may agree or disagree travelling to Philippines and missing out Boracay is a big mistake. Boracay is for everybody, whether a backpacker with a tight budget or a holiday maker with more funds, whether a party goer, adventurer, activist, foodie or a person who just wants to relax, Boracay will cater to any.

First of all lets start with the hotels/ resorts, here you will be spoilt for choices. There are various cDSC_2372ategories depending on what type of holiday you are having, price range and classification you are looking for. Most popular of the hotels/ resorts are those that are beach front. They are easier to manoeuvre around restaurant, shops, clubs and they are just right infront of the panoramic views, however these hotels/ resorts can be very crowded and noisy. Other than the beach front that of the beachfront are those behind, around the Yapak area, these hotels are the quieter more relaxing resorts, they have nice scenic views and are much more private than the beachfront resorts (relatively cheaper as well). Click for in depth Boracay Hotel reviews

Another main aspect of Boracay is the activities, there is loads to do and you will have plenty of choices. Whether you are a thrill seeker, want to do water sports, in a big group, want to tour, cook, party or chill, Boracay is likely to have it. Thrill seekers have loads to do and you wont need to look far to do it, the more typical be10013524_10152371136660818_5117361433154385059_nach activities such as Jet skiing, Banana boating, Parasailing, ATVs, 4×4 driving, orbs and various zip linings are ever present and there are various stalls and attendants at beach front to enquire about it. Sporting activities such as surfing, paragliding, wakeboarding, biking and fishing are also advertised highly in Boracay through the beach front stalls and hotels. If relaxation is what you are looking for then SPAs are usually situated at your own hotel if it has that facility, if not then there are massage areas in the beach strip. Party people will also be spoilt in Boracay as there is uncountable amount of bars and clubs to choose from, most popular being ‘Epic’ which is situated beach front at the centre of the strip. Finally for the tourists who love to walk and explore there are also great places to visit such as the Marian Pilgrimage, Mount Luho  and more alike.

Exploring99 other islands is also valued, places such as the Ariel’s Point, Crystal Cove island, Crocodile island many more. Advertised in many stalls and even in resorts are arrangements to go to these other islands.  However as ive stated before, if  you would just want to walk around and stay in Boracay island then there is a number of places you can go to. Firstly Station 1 to 3 beach strip is around a 30-45 minute walk from one side to the other side depending on how fast you walk. Walking this strip will allow you to pass other attractions such as the Marian Pilgrimage, D’mall and the various bars, restaurants and shops.  The Puka beach is another beach in Boracay, here it is more quieter and less busy perfect to relax. Mount Luho on the other hand has the highest view in Boracay more for the trekkers. There is just so many places to explore in Boracay so if a walkathon is what you want, you wont be disappointed.

Finally another reason why people visit the island is its many events, most famously the Laboracay festival, which is more for the party people, but can be en62638_10151573862965818_1054097044_njoyed by many, celebrities and people from all over the world join this festival usually on labour day weekend . More cultural festivals include the Yapak festival, Sand Lantern Festival and most famously Ati-atihan, all celebrating regional causes.  Sporting events also happen here with the Nestea International Beach Volleyball Tournament and the International Dragon Boat Festival also take place here with masses joining. Most importantly my favourite the Boracay Skyathon which is a 5k or 10k fun run which celebrities usually join as well. This was the most difficult 5k ive run as it was on sand, however I came a acknowledgeable 34th with a time also being 34 minutes just behind Filipino celebrity couple Troy Montero and Aubrey Miles. My results are on the Boracay Gallery 2013, click here.

Overall Boracay is a beautiful island, where all is possible. However one negative is with Boracay’s popularity increasing, it is getting more and more crowded, for a small island it may have already reached its capacity.

 

Boracay (Transport) continues in another page (Click here)

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Manila City

Type : City Break
Best Date : November – January
Expense :  Medium
Things to do : Sightseeing, Casino, Shopping
Points of Interest: Star City, SM mall of Asia, Ocean Park, Resorts Worlds, Rizal Park, Fort Santiago, Quiapo Church, Malacanang,

Brief

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines. It is one of the 17 cities within the Metro Manila region. It hosts the majority of Philippines cultural museum, malls, theme parks, convention centres and cathedrals.

The Place

For whatever reason if you want to experience Philippines city life, then Manila is best for it. Everything you would want to see, as a complete day is just around 15-30 minutes away from the airport. Whatever your plans are for Manila whether cultural, shopping, bars and clubs, theme parks, food and a more are all within one area, which is really good if you are just in a short transit. SM Mall of Asia alone may take all day to roam, it has all levels of shopping from low level, mid range and luxury budgets, restaurants and bars also vary from all sorts of budgets are also available. Bored!!! Cinemas, arcades, gyms and an ice-skating ring are found inside the mall for your leisure. However if money is low and a simple tour or walk is needed, then manila baywalk is just outside, this is a manmade bay which overlooks the west Philippine sea, beautiful to sit around and soak up the atmosphere and the sun. Other attractions neighbouring the Mall of Asia is the Ocean Park, Star City theme park, various museums and cathedrals an31954_397127005817_1152763_nd also the Rizal football pitch, again just minutes from the airport for transit passengers. However if you are planning to stay in Manila for a little longer, then this city hosts many festivals, shows, sports, concerts and large conventions so if you are in the correct place at the correct time you may want to stop by and watch a show. If casinos are your fascination, then there are 2 large and popular ones “Resorts World” and “Solaire” however be aware that you must be over 21 with ID, with no shorts and slippers and strictly no pictures as we found out the hard way (security will come, and make you delete any photos). Nonetheless Casinos are a good way to pass time, and “Resorts World” being right opposite the airport, is a good way to transit, or waste time if your too early for your flight or whatever reason.

Transport

Like the Metro Manila (Transport) page, Taxis are best advisable mode of transport. Manila is also very easy to get one, Taxi bays at the airport make it easier for arriving passengers, however I do advise to sort hotel transfers with your hotels as taxi drivers at the airport know how to take your money (they are the best at it). Taxi bays are also very presence in all the Malls and areas of interests, making it easier for a point to point transfer.

Buses are also present in Manila and they journey across to other regions of “Metro Manila,” however they do get very crowded in peak times and school holidays and weekends, so luggage’s and bags are not advisable. Buses also have no designated stops, they simply stop whenever you tell them to stop, this could confuse tourists. They are vey cheap though costing 15-50 pesos, 30p- 80p pence. If you as a tourist would like to use Buses to get around, it is best to do so with a local friend or someone familiar with the area, if you know any.

For tourism the Kalesa (horse carriage) is popular in Manila I’m not too sure in price but they are found in the monumental and bay area.

There is much more modes of transport in Manila,  however I advise tourists to be safe, and use hotel services, hotel pickups or tour transport as much as possible, yes it may be pricey but a place like Manila safety is priority. If there is no such services like that in your hotel then use taxis as much as possible, just be wary of cheat taxi drivers (always be clever) if something doesn’t seem right, ask the driver to stop and get out. However the majority of taxi drivers are safe friendly and even informative. I do believe if tourists want to use other modes of transportation, then do so with someone from around the area, someone who knows the street smarts. However if you are an experienced traveller in a place like Manila then traveling in public transport should be just like Bangkok and Jakarta.

Pangasinan

Type : Provincial, Beach Holiday
Best Date : November – January (warm weather), March-May (hot weather)
Expense :  Cheap
Things to do : Island Hopping, Cliff Jumping, Water sports
Points of Interest: 100 islands, Patar beach, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, Manaoag Church, Surip, Antong Falls.

Brief

Pangasinan is a province of the Philippines, it is around 3-4 hours from Metro Manila. It is the 3rd biggest province in the Philippines, and is mostly famous for its Bangus fish, mango production and the famous fish sauce called (Bagoong). As a tourist destination, Pangasinan is widely known for the 100 islands, various Bolinao beaches, the Manaoag church, Enchanted caves and various waterfalls. I will only write about my area of Pangasinan and our neighbouring regions as there is much too many cities in Pangasinan.

The Place

Bani

As I said, every Filipino has his/ her province to go home to, everyone seems to come from the country side to the city to find work or study. “Bani” Pangasinan is our families go to province, and its not a bad one for a break away from the city for some fresh air, food and even a vacation. Most notable in Bani is Surip Beach known for the Redeemers Cross and for the huge “Bani” tree which is said to have worked miracles. This area is usually used for local pilgrimage as you walk down/ up the mountain you will see a few religious stations. Newly discovered Nalsoc cave is considered to be the hidden wonders of Bani, however not open to the masses of locals and tourists, usually with permission professional caveneer or canyoneer may be able to enter with permits.

Alaminos

Bani’s neighbouring city Alaminos is arguably the most tourist attracted city in Pangasinan, notably for the Hundred Islands national park. I remember in my younger years when Hundred islands was just a haven for the locals unknown to the outer world, it was just local fisherman’s boats and the beaches we were allowed to go. However now perfectly timed, tourist population has rose and ever growing, the boats stayed traditional but more in quantity, more hotels were built but not yet to the scale of Boracay.  The islands themselves are now more interesting, with activities mimicking those of major beaches, cliff jumping, jet skiing, parasailing, glass bottom boats, snorkelling and even scuba diving are now available in Hundred islands. Camping is now also a popular choice, one of which I’ve tried with my cousins, tent rentals are 600php (£10) however if you own your own you just pay £3 for tent space.  Camping wa15965254_10154927228445818_8993633937231524174_n.jpgs a good experience, barbequing in the night with some beers and alcohol, only to sleep with the sound of the seas waves was unlike anything I could explain. Morning as a camper in Hundred islands though is not as pleasing in the morning as staff will wake you up at around 7am as you’ll need to pack your tents away as other visitors will arrive, understandable but tiring. Non the less the morning view was terrific.

Bolinao

Also neighbouring “Bani” Bolinao is known for its white sand beaches. Here you would find the more finer hotels and resorts in the region. The likes of Puerto Del Sol, Villa Solidad,  Casa Almarenzo, El Piscador and Punta Rivera are just some of the resorts that have been built there. These resorts are the go to places for vacation makers which is also next to Patar beach, the Enchanted Cave and the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse which prove to be popular for tourism. However Bolinao is best enjoyed on the day swimming, and in the resorts as when night comes, there is very little to do as we found out the hard way.

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Transport

It is advisable if visiting Pangasinan, you should have your own vehicle, as you will be moving around the place. There is no Taxis or Jeepneys, tricycles will only take you from village to village unless you pay a hefty fare. There are buses costing about 40php (60pence) from one city to the other, however times can vary. After taking a bus, tricycles can be taken to the desired resort or beach, but it is tough to do. I advise to get your own vehicle or join a tour.