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Last updated : Nov 2009
Philippines - Unhidden Paradise At Bargain Prices
Rating :

Aug 13 '01 (Updated Oct 24 '01)

Pros: Variety of Attractions, Cheap, Amazing beaches and Extremely friendly people
Cons: Takes time to travel from place to place. Must bargain for everything.

I spent 5 weeks in the Philippines (April-May). Everyone asked why there? Isn't it dangerous? That's the beauty, the word is not out that this is just as good or better than Thailand. And no it's not dangerous - the fighting of Muslims are confined to a few islands in the south where tourist never go anyways. Remember the Phillipines are composed of thousands of islands.

My initial itinerary got change as i discovered place I didn't want to leave (Boracay, Bohol) and realized sometimes how difficult it would be to travel to certain places (eg Banue, Mayon Volcano).

My routing went as follows:

Manila, Angeles(Mt Pinatubo), Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Panay, Boracay, Manila, Puerto Galera.

Highlights

Boracay: Amazing white powder blinding sand with turquoise water. Beautiful sunsets everyday. Very tourist friendly there and accommodation ($4-100/night) and food ($2-10 meals) is cheap for a tourist place. There are still lots of local tourist and foreign tourist there so it's a good mix - thereby keeping prices down. Happy hours are good time to sit back on a cheap ($.50) San Miguel beer and watch the sunset after a day on the beach. Night time sees clubs and restaurants. Sometimes you choose them based on what movie they are playing. Good night light if you're looking for it. Good way to eat is to buy your own fish/seafood at the market - dirt cheap prices and then get your hotel or some local restaurant to cook it for you (for a nominal fee $1-2/dish). Don't forget to explore the other parts of the island which are secluded.

Bohol/Alona Beach: Paradise beach on Alona if you want seclusion, white sand and turquoise water. Spent 7 days there and even got my scuba license there for $150 US. Can't describe it - peaceful at nice. No nightlife except to eat dinner late and talk with other travellers/locals. Tagbalaran is the main city on the island. Great during festival time in May where you will definitely be walking on the streets and be invited by locals to feast on tons of food in their homes. They are sooooo friendly. Good BBQs on the street at night in the city. Also not far from Tag you can visit the home of the smallest monkey in the world and the amazing chocolate hills (looks like perfect Hershey Kisses grass mountains that go on forever. Also don't miss the Jungle river raft ride. Hire your own raft and feel lke your in Apolcolypse Now. Swim in the river by the falls.

Puerto Galera: Laid back place. Not exciting beach or not too many attractions but some amazing snorkeling and right off the beach in Big Laguana/Small Laguana beach. Mainly divers or men with their Filipina girlfriend. Very close to Manila - take a bus from Ermita.

Angeles: Shocker initially as all American or German Males with a jailbait Filippina. Some very young. I didn't know that before coming. Decided to go into a bar when i first arrived, but got really shock when i saw neon lights and go go girls lined up. Oh well it was airconditioned and it was Happy hour. Margaritaville is the best bar for drinks and FOOD. The highlight of Angeles was it was the starting point for exploration of Mt Pinatubo. Go hike (easy to do on your own) the larva fields - its like the moon and really cool but start very early and bring lots of water. You can also take a quick tour of the towns that were devistated and burried under (still only see rooftops but can climb down into the buildings.)

Manila: was a surprise in many ways. The downtown is sooooo nicely laid out if you want civilization. Go to a dept store and dig for bargain factory overruns (tshirts/shorts etc) for 50cents or $1. It's fun. Intermuros is the older part of Manila. Very nice. Ermita is the tourist getto and a hell hole. Hotel rooms are gross and expensive in this area. The good ones go fast.

Cebu: - big disappointment. town is old polluted and disorganized. The resort area of Macatan is only large resort with no charachter in the middle of no where. The beach and waters are not nice. Hop on a boat and go to Bohol instead! If you're not staying at a large resort you can use their facilities for the day for $10US and you get back coupons which you can use on drinks or food. Not a bad deal. Some places have amazing pools.

Summary. Great place cheap and off the beaten track from the rest of SE Asia.

CHECK out my website - travelogue of the world as it has more info of my travels to the Philipinnes and around the world (Nepal, India, Africa, Japan, Canada, Turkey, Carribean, Europe etc...) Lots of helpful hints on how not to get ripped off or how to bargain.

http://members.fortunecity.com/namabeer/index.html

Recommended: Yes
Best Suited For: Couples
Best Time to Travel Here: Mar - May