Holiday 2017 in the Philippines I decided to go north to the preserved Spanish colonial villages. Using the luxury Partas bus from Cubao I excursed north from Manila to visit the countries north
(please click on the cities to find out more)
My base for a night, the small city was capital of north Ilocos, it had important historical significance which is shown in many of their museums and buildings
Laoag’s neighbouring city, this is the more active area of the holiday with its 4×4 sand dunes and sand boarding.
Vigan one of Philippines highly preserved Spanish colonial cities. Capital of Ilocos south region, Vigan is one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in the country.
AirAsia Zest is formerly known as Zest air and Asian Spirit. The name AirAsia Zest is a rebranded name for the airline Zest air after Airasia strategically joined in alliance with one another. The airline is another of Philippine’s budget/ lowcost airlines which flies domestically and internationally as Airasia. Stats from 2016 states the airlines has a fleet of around 20 airbus aircraft flying throughout the country.
Just like Cebu Pacific Air, I have also used this airline a few times domestically around the Philippine islands. I still remember when Airasia Zest was still the former Zest air, nothing much has changed but the uniforms and A/C colours which do well to give a luxury feel, even for a low cost airline.
At the airport
Airasia Zest bases at Manila NAIA airport terminal 4, a very small domestic terminal. It is a one floor building that only really consists of 3 rooms Check-in, Security and the Gates. There are not much shops and restaurants in this terminal.
Aircraft and Flight
AirAsia Zest is a budget/ low cost airline which in my opinion shows a little more luxury than its competitors. Firstly the staff uniform shows that the airline means business, rather than just a plain t-shirt (which other low cost airlines have) AirAsia Zest have a formal white shirt (black for men) complete with a red blazer and a decent skirt (black trousers for men), the same as its partner company and name sake ‘AirAsia’. Furthermore the seats are complete with the standard magazine pouch and foldable table with the legroom similar to its competitors. Food and drinks are available for purchase, they vary from cold snacks and also hot meals all a bit more expensive than your retail price. The cabin was always clean and I have never experienced anything to be out of the ordinary.
Overall I am very happy with Airasia Zest as a company to travel as it just enhances your low cost airline experience. The airline varies in price, it just depends when you book and how busy the flight is. Flying domestically I like to fly the cheapest possible as it is only approx. 1- 1.5 hours flight around the different areas of the Philippines, not much to care about the flight experience. However if AirAsia Zest and its competitors were equal in price, I would edge to fly AirAsia Zest due to their little improvements into their cabins and staff standards.
References http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/09/21/13/airasia-zestair-launch-rebranded-airline http://www.airfleets.net/flottecie/AirAsia%20Zest.htm Photos Logo from AirAsia.com main image at https://www.flickr.com/photos/byeangel/18017744354/
Philippines is a very popular destination for different kinds of tourists, whether you are a backpacker, solo traveller, couple, family, young or old there is something the Philippines can offer. Moreover the country has its more luxurious properties and places to visit whilst there are others which don’t need plenty of funds to enjoy.
Philippines has approximately 1,700 islands and islets, full of beautiful scenery and wildlife. There are also places built up like any modern metropolis around the world.
Below is a few ideas of where to go, depending on what type of a holiday or travel you are looking for. Click on the links (if available for galleries or blogs). This page will be updated regularly.
Where should I go?
Religious: Manaoag, Antipolo, Novaliches, Quiapo , Cebu, Sagada, Iloilo City
Adventurist/ Adrenaline Seeker: Cebu, Zamboanga, Laoag, Tagaytay, Baler, Cagayan De Oro, Pagudpud
Couples retreat/ Honeymooners: Busuanga (Palawan), El Nido (Palawan), Coron (Palawan), Davao, Siargao, Panglao Island
Backpacker: Banaue, Cebu, Bohol, Palawan
Luxurious: Davao, Palawan, Fort Bonifacio, Busuanga,
Divers: Davao, Palawan, Cebu, Panglao Island
Trekkers/ Hiker: Banaue, Camiguin, Cebu,
Food: Tagaytay (for Bulalo), Cebu (for Lechon), Pampanga (For Sisig, Longanisa, Tocino), Dagupan (Milkfish),
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
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 delivers. 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.
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 categories 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 beach 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.
Exploring 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 enjoyed 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)
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,
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.
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 and 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.
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.
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.
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.
As I mentioned, 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.
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 was 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.
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.
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.
Type : City Break
Best Date : November – January
Expense : Medium
Things to do : Shopping, Bars, Sightseeing
Points of Interest: Dependent of Region
I start off with introducing Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, the region I could say is home away from home. Don’t get confused by “Metro Manila” and “Manila“, Metro Manila is a region consisting of 17 cities one of them being Manila itself.
Metro Manila is a large region which consists of 17 cities, the capital being Manila, largest and most populated Quezon City then others being Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Las Pinas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Pasay, Pateros and finally Taguig.
As you read my blog, you’ll notice ill be writing a lot about Quezon City where I lived, grew up and where my family home is. However just recently I have managed to buy myself a one bedroom high rise apartment (locally known as a condo unit) in Mandaluyong for my yearly holidays. However Quezon City will always be home, other region in Metro Manila I’d mention are Makati, Taguig which are the richer areas and lastly Manila itself being the capital and the most tourist attracted. All areas are similar but different in their own stature, differences are visible through buildings, roads and local laws, the people can also be different in behaviour. Whatever the differences all regions are all connected, the EDSA highway, bus and rail transports connect Metro Manila as one big city.
Id like to say I’m no longer a tourist in Metro Manila, although locals would say otherwise. In Philippines, it doesn’t matter if you are Filipino, if you do not know the street-smarts, then you are as good as a newbie to the country. Philippines like other 3rd world countries would be very difficult for any Foreigner to travel in, that’s why knowing someone when you travel to Philippines is important for safety.
When any tourist travels to the Philippines you would more or less likely arrive in Manila although Cebu is getting more and more popular with major airlines to arrive in. The Airport formally known as the “Ninoy Aquino International Airport” (NAIA) is just minutes away from where tourists would want to go. Hotels, Casinos, Ocean Park, Star City, Mall of Asia, Rizal Park, Cultural Museums and Churches can be found within 30 minutes from the airport (not considering the famous Filipino traffic).
Taguig and Makati are the more richer areas, where tourists will feel more confident and safe to roam around. Bonifacio Global City and SM Aura in Taguig is a shopping district that foreigners will feel at home. It has the more modern structure and architecture in the Philippines and is safer due to security being on another level as armed guards are more present here than anywhere else.
Upper class clubbing is also here in Taguig, Valkyrie club, Revel, The Pool Club Palace, Prive, Haze and Raven are some of the well known clubs there. If clubbing here is what you want, prepare yourself to spend in the region of Php 10,000 to Php30,000, £160 to £320.
Makati on the other hand has more of the high rise business districts, here you can find offices of international businesses and local corporations. Makati is the financial centre of the Philippines. You can find the upper class shops in Greenbelt malls, shops such as Prada, Armani, Chanel, Montblanc and many alike reside in this class mall, Glorietta Mall which is a little bit cheaper is right beside, so there is something for the filthy rich and also for the middle class.
All around Metro Manila there is different things to see from region to region. Manila, Taguig and Makati are where I believe tourists stay and roam. However I have always told everyone I recommended going to Philippines to stay in Metro Manila only for 3-7 days, there is more to see in Philippines if you go out of town and onto the different islands and beaches.
Metro Manila (Transport) continues in another page (Click here)