Boracay is overrated?

We, Filipinos, when asked about what’s the best place to visit in the Philippines, we often answer- Boracay. Most of us wanted to go to this place. Most foreigners list Boracay as their top destination in the Philippines.

Boracay is an island located in the province of Aklan. Recently, Boracay was dubbed as one of world’s ‘best’ islands including Cebu and Palawan. But also, it was often regarded as ‘crowded’, ‘mainstream’ and ‘overrated’.

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Multitude enjoying Boracay’s sunset.

We went to Boracay for summer vacation, yes it was ‘crowded’- people all over the world visit this place because it is admirable, it is a perfect place for holiday and truly, it has the finest sand, the surreal sunset and the beach itself is superb! Yes, it is also ‘mainstream’ and ‘overrated’, because this place is just too marvelous for words.

How to go there?
There are 3 ways to get to Boracay:

1. The fastest way is a flight from Manila to Caticlan which will take you 50 minutes to 1 hour. But the airfare is quite expensive. From Caticlan airport, you need to take a ferry or boat ride for 15 minutes only going to Boracay.

2.  Second is a flight from Manila to Kalibo, it is cheaper compared to the 1st option but you need to take a van or bus ride for 1.5-2 hours to get to Caticlan Port and ride a boat for 15 minutes to get to Boracay.

3. If you want something new and cheap, try Roro ferry (Batangas-Caticlan), it will cost you around 1000 php including meals but will take you about 18 hours or more of travel.

We took the second option as our choice.

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Upon arriving at Boracay Jetty Port, hire a tricycle and ask them to go to your hotel. They will charge you 60-100 php for this.

What to expect there?

Islands of delight

Upon arrival, you will immediately appreciate the powdery white sand beach and the turquoise water. What will really amaze you the most is that Boracay offers convenience and comfort, you can just find everything you need there.

The beach consists of 3 stations: Station 1, 2 and 3.

  • Station One is where you can find high end hotels. This is also where Willy’s Rock is located.20160728_113420
  • Station Two is the center point. The best area for swimming is station 2, since boats are not allowed in this area.
  • Station Three is the most laid back, more relaxing and less crowded. This is where we stayed.

Food Trips

There are many restaurants to choose from, so say goodbye to your diet and try all the delicious foods and best restaurants Boracay has to offer.

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Visit the Budget Mart at D’Mall and go to D’ Talipapa too.

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Adventure Unlimited

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Boracay is adventure unlimited there are numerous  fun activities that you can try while you visit this place. These are the activities you might want to try (we tried many of them!), caution: they are all exhilarating and not for those who have a weak heart.

Helmet Diving – Php 600.00 per head

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Banana Boat – Php 300.00 per head

Kayaking- Php 150.00 per head/ hour

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Windsurfing- Price starts at P7000

Parasailing- Php 1500.00 per head

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Cliff Diving- conquer your fear of heights in this activity

Snorkeling- is a must do activity



ATV Ride

Zorb and Zipline- Php 400 per person

Fly Fish

G-Max Reverse Bungee- this is a very extreme activity. It will literally make you cry by just watching it from the ground.

Mermaid Swimming- You can have sessions of lesson and rent your tails at the Philippines Mermaid Swimming Academy for P1500.

Pub Crawling- meet new people and have fun memories with them for only 800 pesos!

Some activities will require you to go Bulabog Beach. It is a beach few steps away from the White Beach.

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Night Outs/ Clubbing and Party

If you think your nightlife experiences are the best, try the night life scene here at Boracay. Some clubs are themed so you can choose where to party. The alcoholic drinks and spirits are cheap too.

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Just the night before we depart Boracay.

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Selfie with the travel buddies, Yvonne, Stephanie and Rozen 🙂

If you want to chill and relax or have a drink with your companions there are numerous place to go while having a fun conversation and feel the cold breeze of wind at night.

Island Hopping

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One of the highlights of going to this place is this activity.

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A selfie before leaving Station 3.

Island Hopping which includes snorkeling is php 3,000.00 medium boat / group of 10-12 persons.

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Crystal Cove is one of the islands to visit. You need to pay 200 pesos for the entrance fee.

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There are plenty of caves to visit in here too. The water is refreshing and clean.

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We also visited the Puka Beach, it is the second largest beach in Boracay. This island is a “must go” it is one of the best beaches I’ve seen.

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Travel tip: Upon arrival, explore the beach, some of the distant stalls that sell drinks and foods offer cheaper prices. You can buy it for around 50-60 php only unlike for others which has price range of 200-250 for a glass of smoothie. When you buy some of their drinks they can offer you their chairs or cottages for free.

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Taking it Easy

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Stand-Up Paddling at Station 1

Of course, Boracay is one of the best place to relax. And also, don’t miss the sunrise and sunset, it is one of the wonderful things you can see in Boracay and what’s great about it is it’s free.

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Serenity. This is the morning view just in front of our hotel.

 

Others Fun Tips

Try Henna Tattoo

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Stroll at night time. Boracay is vibrant at night.

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Fire Dancing

Don’t miss the sand arts! 

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When is the best time to go there?

The peak season is from December to February it is better to visit these months since there will be no rain and you can enjoy the beach and feel the hot and sunny weather.


 

Travel Details

  • Accommodation

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La Isla Bonita Resort, Restaurant and Spa

Address:

White Beach Front, Boat Station 3,

Barangay Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island

Malay, Aklan, Philippines

Mobile:

+63 0918 962 6098

+63 0999 812 9950

  • Activities

Contact Person: 

Kuya Peter – 09284007209

 


They said that Boracay is overrated.

But I will absolutely assure you that Boracay being “crowded, overrated and mainstream” will not bother you once you get to see this stunning place.

 

 

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How to Plan Singapore-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand trip with Php 27,000

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the total costs, breakdown of prices and foreign exchange may vary. Detailed descriptions and photos are not much posted in this entry, please refer to the individual blog entries for each country.

Are you tired of the never ending plans that you and your friends talked about that is still not happening? Are you having a hard time deciding where to spend your summer vacation? Are you sick of the people who told you to be with you on your planned trip but are not going? Are you sad because once again you will fail a subject or two in your course? Are you lost and want to find yourself?  Are you planning to have holiday with your family? Are you alone but wanted to be adventurous? Or are you celebrating life’s success? Let’s go now! Pack your bags and let’s have an adventure!

A lot of us think that going out of the country is expensive, but that’s not always the case.

I have written 4 entries about the different countries that we have been to on this trip. In this blog, I would like to show how we (me and my siblings) planned and prepared for our 2016 holiday.

Here’s how to travel 4 countries for 10 days on a budget.

We have booked a flight from Manila (MNL) to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (HCM) with 15-hour stop to Singapore. We availed the flight ticket for 7,804 pesos, one way trip from Manila to Vietnam. Our flight was booked just a month before the flight which was a wrong move since the fare is much expensive. So here’s a tip: BOOK YOUR FLIGHT EARLY (as early as a year or months before your flight) by this you can have a more affordable airfare tickets. You can also constantly check airline websites for their promos, you just need to be enduring and persevering.

SINGAPORE:

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May 24, 2016: Arrival at Singapore

We had the chance to visit Singapore for a short period of time, but since we arrived past 2 AM, we went to my sister’s apartment to stay for the night. My eldest sister works in Singapore so we decided to take a flight which stopped at Singapore so that the three of us can go to Vietnam at the same time.

May 25, 2016: Singapore City half day tour

Early and excited, we spent half day roaming around Singapore City. We went first to the Merlion Park and Esplanade Park. Crossing the Helix Bridge, we went straight to the Marina Bay Sands and the Super Tree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Since this is my second time visiting Singapore, it was still the place so easy to enjoy yet so hard to forget.

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After going to these places, we returned back to Changi Airport for our 3 PM flight going to Vietnam.

*For a more details visit: The Lion City- Singapore

VIETNAM:

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May 25, 2016: Exploring Ho Chi Minh

Upon our arrival at Ho Chi Minh, we first hired an airport taxi going to the hotel that we booked before our trip. We booked at Yen’s Hotel 2 located in #65 Bui Vien St. District 1,HCM City, Viet Nam. The hotel was just 30 minutes away from the airport but it was the rush hour so we almost had an hour ride due to heavy traffic. Yen’s Hotel 2 was also just a few blocks away from the travel agencies, bars, massage stores and restaurants.

We spent the rest of the night walking around our area. We had our dinner just few steps away from our hotel. We ate street foods. Street food is a major part of Vietnamese culture. Ending our Day 1 at Vietnam, we visited Ben Thanh Market where you can find many fun clothing and food stands.

We also booked a promo tour package for our May 26 half day tour and May 27 whole day tour. We availed it from SAPPHIRE TRAVEL AND TOURS located in #266 Bui Vien St, District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam.

May 26, 2016: Cu Chi Tunnels and City Tour

We spent our half day at Cu Chi Tunnels.  The tunnels were utilized by the Vietnamese soldiers (Viet Cong soldiers) for them to hide during wars.

In the afternoon, we went back to the hotel to freshen up, after that we explored the city by visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office and bought souvenirs at Saigon Square.

May 27, 2016: Mekong Delta Whole Day Tour

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Our Mekong Delta tour includes the following:

  • Vinh Trang Temple
  • Coconut Candy Factory
  • Mekong Delta River
  • Lunch

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*For a more details visit: Pearl of the Far East- Ho Chi Mihn, Vietnam

CAMBODIA:

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Our Cambodia Tour package was also availed from SAPPHIRE TRAVEL AND TOURS.

The Cambodia Package includes the following:

  • bus ride from Vietnam to Phnom Penh
  • 2D1N accommodation at Pacific Phnom Penh Hotel
  • free breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner
  • private Tuktuk ride and tour guide for Phnom Penh Tour
  • bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
  • 3D2N accommodation at Residence 101 Hotel
  • free breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner
  • private Tuktuk ride and tour guide for the temples

May 28, 2016: Phnom Pehn City Tour

After an 8-hour ride from Vietnam to Phnom Penh we immediately visited the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, Independence Monument and the Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

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Phnom Penh is the bustling capital of Cambodia.

May 29, 2016: Historical Tour about Pol Pot’s Regime

We went to the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This tour gave us the glimpse of Cambodia’s bitter history. By visiting these places, we have seen how tragic and sad their past was. It was really heartbreaking.
After these visits, we went to Siem Reap. We traveled via bus to get there.

May 30, 2016: The tour around the breathtaking Temples

We visited the following temples during our Siem Reap tour:

  • Angkor Wat Temple
  • Angkor Thom
  • Bayon Temple
  • The Baphuon
  • Ta Phrom

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Visiting these temples was the best part of my holiday. The entrance fee to a one-day visit of the temples is $20 (900 php).

*For a more details visit: The Kingdom of Wonder- Cambodia

THAILAND:

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June 1, 2016: Arrival and stroll around our hotel area

From Siem Reap City, we again rode a bus to Siem Reap- Thailand Border, after that we hired a Tuktuk going to the train station at Aranyaprathet, Thailand. We experienced open train ride for 8 hours going to Bangkok, Thailand.

We stayed at The Mix Bangkok boutique hotel for 2 nights. We booked our accommodation on this hotel before our trip.

June 2, 2016: River Kwai Bridge Tour

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We again availed a tour package for our Day tour. This includes the following:

  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
  • Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
  • Lunch
  • J.E.A.T.H. War Museum
  • Bridge over the River Kwai

June 3, 2016: Shopping Malls and Departure

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Before heading back home in the Philippines, of course, we visited malls and shopping centers we went to the Siam Paragon which was the 3rd largest shopping mall in Thailand and is one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia. We also visited Siam Discovery Center, Hello Kitty House Café and Siam Square.
We also entered at Bangkok Art and Culture Center. In here, admission is free and the center is open from 10:00 AM till 9:00 PM every day except Mondays.

After all these, we had an eat-all-you-can dinner for only 139 Baht (201.91 PHP) before going to the airport for our flight back home.

*For a more details visit:  The Land of Smiles- Thailand

Here’s a summarized list of the expenses:

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Again, the prices may vary depending on the season. The allowance for food and others are quite low since all the Package Tours availed include breakfast, lunch and dinner. There will be a huge difference if airplane tickets were observed, so again, book your flight early.

TIPS:

  1. We prefer that you should book a cheap hotel since it’s just a place for you to stay. You will not be in the hotel the whole time so just choose the cheap ones.
  2. Read and research. Read blogs and articles of the places you will visit. This will help you great.
  3. Travel with your friends.
  4. Eat in affordable restaurants.
  5. Haggle hard at souvenir shops.
  6. Philippine time is 1 hour ahead of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. While Singapore share the same time with the Philippines.
  7. Don’t let the local vendors scheme you so always ask for prices beforehand.
  8. There are many travel and tour agencies which can help you to organize your trip.
  9. Always show gratitude. Learn how to say “Thank You” and “Hello” in their language.
  10. Be wary. Be bold. Enjoy

If you have questions, ask me! Feel free to leave comment in the comment box. Please check my other blog entries too! 🙂

The Land of Smiles- Thailand

“I’ll come back, Thailand!” I told myself a hundred times.

Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world. This is because it is cheap yet fun and great. It offers exquisite foods, diverse cultures and astonishing destinations.

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Bangkok, Thailand at night.

It was a balmy 1st week of June in the year 2016 when we arrived at the bustling capital city of Thailand, Bangkok City. After hours of ride, we reached the border of Cambodia and Thailand via bus. We hired a ‘tuktuk’ from the border to get to Aranyaprathet, the train station and the border town in Eastern Thailand.

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We rode an open train to get to Bangkok, Thailand. There are two trains a day from Aranyaprathet going to Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station.

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We departed 1:05 PM and scheduled to arrive at 8:05 PM. It was very exciting, all of us (my sisters) experienced an open train ride for the first time in our lives. Due to too much excitement, we didn’t sleep or even blinked an eye for the whole 8-hour train ride, we were all eager and happy.

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The view from the open-train ride.

The train has different compartments, there was this one area (the end of the train) where you can only see monks separated from other passengers.

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Although all the trains are 3rd-class, which means no aircon (windows open for a substantial breeze), there are comfort rooms per compartment for the passenger’s convenience. The seats in the train are a mixture of padded and wooden benches.

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In every train stations, numerous locals will get in. And along the trip, there are many vendors that sell foods and drinks. My favorite was the spicy pork-rice meal, it was too spicy that I loved it so much.

We arrived past 8 in Bangkok, Thailand. Outside Hualamphong Train Station, there are plenty of taxi drivers asking you where to go. Eventually, we rode a taxi going to our hotel. 

We had a hard time looking for our hotel, there are various streets which they call “soi“. Soi is the term used in Thailand for a side-street branching off a major street .We searched for our hotel without knowing that we went back and forth at the hotel’s exact location.
Upon our arrival at the hotel, we all fixed our things and freshened up. After that, we went out for dinner. It was very late, but Bangkok is still alive. You can see different shopes offering various services. Some of the shopes offer Thai massage, some are bars, restaurants and travel and tour agencies. 

With so many choices we had, we ended up eating on a “street-food” style store. It was a store installed during night only. We tried the best-selling foods they have and it was all great.

After eating, we looked for a travel and tour agency that is still open, we were able to book a trip for tomorrow’s activity.

Day One:

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

This is the famous floating market known all over the world. This popular floating market is about 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok in Ratchaburi province.

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The floating market is a very lively place and it is a busy place too, there are countless transactions between traders, vendors and visitors. It is colorful and tourist driven place.

We tried some of the goods that they sell. They were all delicious and appetizing. I would highly recommend the coconut ice cream and the sticky rice with mango.

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We looked around the floating market for an hour. The concept of a floating market was something new for us and we enjoyed it so much.

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Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

We had a short stop at the war cemetery in Kanchanaburi that has almost 7,000 soldiers who died during the construction of the death railway. The cemetery was designed by Colin St Clair Oakes.

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The graves are immaculately kept. It is extremely maintained.

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The visit at this place was very sincere and moving. Admission to the cemetery is free.

 

JEATH War Museum

This is one of two war museums in Thailand about the Death Railway. It was built from 1942 to 1943. The museum was founded by the chief abbot of Wat Chaichumpol Venerable Phra Theppanyasuthee.

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JEATH is an acronym for the countries: Japan, England, Australia/USA, Thailand and Holland which were all involved in the construction of the railway.

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There are many artifacts, correspondence and artwork from former prisoners of the war that show how hard and harsh the life they had. There are also various personal effects and war relics, including an Allied bomb dropped to destroy the bridge that didn’t explode.

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The JEATH War Museum is located on the river near the rail bridge. Admission is 40 Baht (58.10 PHP).

 

Bridge over the River Kwai

Featured in books and films, the last stop we had on our day tour was the River Kwai Bridge in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  This bridge is part of the infamous Death Railway.

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Our visit at the bridge is very interesting. Standing on the bridge while enjoying the view to the river is very nice and relaxing.

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The view from the River Kwai Bridge.

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There are train travels offered in this attraction or you can take a walk to cross the bridge on foot, too.

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We waited for more than 30 minutes, so that the crowd of tourists disappear, it was worth the wait!

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This bridge and the Death Railway is now considered as an important symbol of peace, portraying that war is the great illusion that benefits no one.

At night time, we visited night markets and bought some “pasalubongs”. The pasalubongs we had bought was surprisingly cheap. 

Night markets in Bangkok  are the most enjoyable way to spend the vibrant Bangkok at night.

Day Two:

Of course, we shouldn’t miss shopping when we go for a tour. And on our second day in Bangkok, we have visited shopping malls.

Siam Paragon is 3rd largest shopping mall in Thailand and is one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia.

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Siam Paragon is on Rama I Road in Pathum Wan district, and is adjacent to other shopping areas. It is next door to Siam Center and Siam Discovery Center and opposite Siam Square.

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Bangkok Art and Culture Center

The Bangkok Art and Culture Center is a  midtown facility for the contemporary arts. Bangkok Art and Culture Center offers variety of art and culture, creativity, imagination and inspiration for all the guests visiting the place.

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The design of the interior has huge white curving facade and spiral walkways. It was very astounding. The center also includes bookshops, cafes, craft shops, commercial art galleries and an art library.

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There are 9 floors inside the building, each floor is designated to a particular gallery. Every year, the theme of the center changes. Isn’t that cool?

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Photos are allowed on the lower floors but are prohibited in the galleries on the higher floors. Admission is free and the center is open from 10:00 AM till 9:00 PM every day except Mondays.

Hello Kitty House Cafe

On our way to the place where we will eat dinner, we have came across the Hello Kitty House Cafe. I have seen many travel shows that featured this place, so we grabbed the chance to go and visit it.

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The place is so cute. As you enter, you will stand in awe and feel you are in the Sanrio World. This place is very suitable for Hello Kitty fans or family with young children. There are 3 floors- the floor of the cafe, the spa and for Hello Kitty merchandise.

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I wished my mom would come with us since Hello Kitty is her favorite cartoon character.

Unfortunately, we didn’t visit the Grand Palace anymore since we went to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s Royal Palace. But the Grand Palace should be included in your itinerary while visiting Thailand.

Our last stop before our flight back home was, of course, FOOD! We met some of my eldest sister’s friends which are currently working in Thailand. We had an eat-all-you-can dinner for only 139 Baht (201.91 PHP)

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My Thailand experience was quite short but was very memorable. I’ll really come back, THAILAND.

 

The Kingdom of Wonder – Cambodia

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The Kingdom of Cambodia is one of the poorest country in the world. One of the reason is that they are still recovering from the war which lasted for decades under Pol Pot’s regime and also, they still have dishonest government officials.

Today, Cambodia is politically firm, but some of the citizens remain poor and unable to provide their everyday needs. Despite all of these, Cambodia’s tourism and history is very rich and splendid. You can find beauty in every thing, they have phenomenal architectures and happy and contended people.

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Summer of 2016, we visited two famous places in Cambodia, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Although Cambodia went through a lot of circumstances (corrupt officials, poverty and some are still recovering from the horrifying genocide that was carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime which was led by Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979) that hindered the country from progressing, it is one of my all-time favorite destination. The people here are very friendly moreover,the places and tourist spots are incredibly great.

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PHNOM PENH

After 8 hours of bus ride from Vietnam, we (together with my sisters) arrived at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia.

We were welcomed by our tour guide (since we availed a Cambodia Tour at Vietnam) with a welcome sign together with my sister’s name which was supposed to be Ma. Monica Chelsea Ballesteros. It was funny but I really find it adorable.

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After our arrival, our tour guide brought us to have lunch. They prepared a very appetizing meal for us.

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We went next to our hotel to rest a bit. Not wasting any of our time, at the very same day of our arrival we visited some places around the city.

1. Royal Palace

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The Royal Palace has been occupied by the Kings of Cambodia since the 1860s.

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Wearing proper attire upon entering the Royal Palace (no revealing clothes) is highly implemented. Removing shoes when going inside the building is a must.

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2. Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom or the Mountian Pagoda is a Buddhist temple, it is the tallest religious structure in Phnom Penh. It was built in 1372, and stands 27 metres (88.5 ft) above the ground.

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Wat Phnom is the central point of Phnom Penh.

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A photo of us with a monk.

3. Independence Monument

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This monument was designed by Cambodian architect, Vann Molyvann. This was built to commemorate Cambodia’s independence after almost a century of French colonization.

4. Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk

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Norodom Suramarit was King of Cambodia from 1955 until his death in 1960.

After visiting these places, we toured around the city then went back to our hotel.

The next morning, we were ready for our next destination. The two destinations we went was all about the history of Pol Pot’s Regime. By visiting these places, I learned the rich history of Cambodia, how tragic and sad their past was. It was really heartbreaking.

5.  The Killing Fields

The Killing fields or Choeung Ek is the site of a former orchard and mass grave of victims of the Khmer Rouge. They were all killed between 1975 and 1979.

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Memorial Stupa

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Removing your shoes upon entering the Memorial Stupa is a must to show respect.

As you enter the place, you will see a Buddhist Stupa which contains more than 5,000 human skulls. All the skulls were arranged by sex and age, how they were killed and tortured.

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You will experience the audio tour where you can hear stories about each of the places you go in the Killing Fields.

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6. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

This was the prison used by the Khmer Rouge Regime led by Pol Pot. Inside the buildings, there are different rooms where you can see the cells, beds, shackles. Tuol Sleng means “Hill of the Poisonous Trees” or “Strychnine Hill”.

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The site is a former high school building.

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You can also see stories and real photos of the victims. There are also foreigners who were starved to death, tortured and killed during this reign of terror.

After visiting the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, I realized how much terror the Cambodian people experienced. Visiting such places should be treated with respect. It was really hard to imagine that this just happened in the 70’s.

SIEM REAP

In the afternoon, we went to Siem Reap. We traveled via bus to get there. We were again welcomed by our Tuktuk driver with this sign.

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The lost and found “Jenninz Felice”

We arrived at our hotel to rest for the activities and itinerary waiting for us for tomorrow, but before resting, we went for a night swimming to relax and have fun.

It is said that  Siem Reap is the gateway for the temples of Angkor. It is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia. There are many beautiful temples to go and we have visited some of them.

  1. Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor Wat is the best place to visit in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat means “Capital Temple”, “Temple City” or “City of Temples”, it is the largest religious monument in the world.

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This place was built between roughly A.D. 1113 and 1150, and encompassing an area of about 500 acres (200 hectares).

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Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century.

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The main entrance going to the temple. Again, proper attire is a must (no revealing clothes).

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Over view from the top.

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The temple reflected perfectly in its surrounding pool.

2. Angkor Thom & Bayon Temple

Bayon was the state temple made by Jayavarman VII, a powerful ruler in the late 13th century.

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Bayon Temple is a Buddhist temple.

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3. The Baphuon

Is a temple near the Bayon Temple. It was built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.

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The main entrance going to the temple.

4. Ta Phrom

Built from 1186 and originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII.

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This is the place where Angelina Jolie’s film TOMB RAIDER was filmed. It is sometimes called the Tree-Eaten Temple.

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After the long day of visiting the temples, we went to buy ‘pasalubongs’. It was a long day but really worth it.

We went home and rest because tomorrow, we will go and visit Thailand! Stay tuned and know how we experienced Thailand!

The Lion City- Singapore

My first ever trip overseas was to Singapore together with my family. It was in the year 2010, when I was in 2nd year high school. We stayed there for 9 days which was a very worth remembering experience for me.

Fortunately, the ticket we (with my sister) booked for Vietnam last summer of 2016 has its stop at Singapore for 15 hours which we can visit places again and had the chance to fetch our eldest sister since she works in Singapore as a nurse.

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Singapore is South East Asia’s most thriving and vibrant city. It is the world’s only island city-state and 2nd of the smallest country in Asia by land area (716.1km²) next to Maldives. Singapore is known as a progressive and rich country not only by wealth, infrastructures and economy but also in tourism, history and diversity. This country is also referred to as “The Lion City” or “The Garden City”.

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Since Singapore is a small country you can visit the superb landmarks and impressive attractions for just few days, moreover, Singapore’s transport systems are very systematic, so getting around the country is convenient. It is a city full of impressive things to see and do.Here’s a list of some tourist attractions you can find there. (The photos are from 2010 and 2016 visit.)

Merlion Park is Singapore’s major landmark and tourist attraction located at One Fullerton. It is a half-fish, half-lion and served as their national icon.

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Marina Bay Sands- Marina Bay was still under construction when I went to Singapore for the first time. It is the most expensive standalone casino property at 8 billion Singapore dollars, including the land cost. The majestic hotel towers slope and the sky park that connects the three 55-story towers gave the structure a very unique look.

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Chinese Botanical Garden is a 13.5-hectare garden that will bring you a taste of ancient China, you can see here majestic bonsai, statues of famous Chinese Philosophers, series of stone bridges and pagodas.

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Chinatown- The best place to buy ‘pasalubongs’. The things to buy in here are affordable compared to the malls and other places, moreover, there are wide variety of stuffs to choose from. It is located in the Outram district.

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Singapore Zoo- The Zoo is a must visit attraction in Singapore. It is spacious and it has many different animal species. You need to wear a comfortable shoes since you’ll end up walking quite a bit.

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Singapore Flyer – Towering 165 metres above ground, the giant Ferris wheel of Singapore is located at Raffles Avenue next to Marina Square. Singapore Flyer is the world’s largest Giant Observation Wheel. Upon riding the Singapore Flyer, you can see the panoramic view of the whole city. The best time to visit is by night because of the lights of the infrastructures that contradicts the dark sky.

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Super Tree Grove at Gardens by the Bay- Super Tree Grove was not yet built when I first visited Singapore and when I went to visit the area last summer it really amazed me. The Super Tree Grove has impressive artificial garden constructions that is literally breathtaking.

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Sentosa Island is one of the most visited place in Singapore. There are many attractions in Sentosa this includes a 2 km long sheltered beach, Fort Siloso, two golf courses, the Sentosa Merlion, 14 hotels, and the Resorts World Sentosa, featuring the theme park Universal Studios Singapore. You  shouldn’t miss the Skyline Luge & Skyride and the Songs of the Sea!

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Orchard Road- Visit the Asia’s most famous shopping street, it is a 2.2 km shopping belt. You can see here high-end shopping malls and numerous department stores.

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Jurong Bird Park – Jurong Bird Park is the largest bird park in the world it is a 20.2 hectare open-concept park. You can see more than 8,000 birds of 600 species and 29 of those are endangered species.

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Singapore Night Safari- Unfortunately, it rained when we went to the night safari so the animals were all in their respective homes. It is the world’s first nocturnal zoo.

Science Centre Singapore is in Jurong East, Singapore, there are over 850 exhibits found here. Some of the exhibits here are interactive, it is very educational and promotes knowledge for the public.

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Esplanade Park is one of the oldest heritage parks in Singapore. Whether at day time or night time, Esplanade offers a great and dazzling view. This is also a best place to take a picture of the Marina Bay Skyline.

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Universal Studios Singapore- Stand in awe on this incredible theme park. This is the place suited for everyone, there are extremely fun and thrilling rides that you can enjoy. We didn’t waste our time and just try all the rides we can, go to each themed areas and took lot of pictures. It is a must visit place when you go to Singapore.

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We also had a short visit at Johor Bahru, Malaysia. We didn’t miss this chance because it was just a bus ride from Singapore.

Singapore is the best country I’ve been to so far. They’re so progressive and developed- the people are disciplined, the transport system is systematic, the tourist spots are well maintained and it is a very clean country. You can also observe how people really follow the simplest rules and regulations they have, no doubt they are one of the most visited country in the world because of the comfort they offer to their visitors.

Visit and don’t miss going to this place, put on your bucket list – Singapore. The place that is easy to enjoy yet so hard to forget.

Pearl of the Far East- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Motorbikes, yes motorbikes! Millions of motorbikes,scooters, bicycles and vehicles will just pass by every now and then. That was the first thing I saw in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, it was like a swarm of bees! The streets were busy and vibrant. Foods are really different. The destinations are amazing. It is like a new world for me.

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Bui Vien Street

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The busy streets of Vietnam. This photo was taken by me while riding the taxi from airport to our hotel

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Various delicious choices

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly named and still also referred to as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. It was named after the revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh.

Together with my sisters, Charisse Hazel Ann and Ma. Monica Chelsea, we stayed in Vietnam for 4 days. We never missed any chance to discover this country, we had lots of activities and exciting itineraries. Here’s a list of ‘what to do’ and ‘where to go’ for you to enjoy Vietnam.

WHERE TO GO:

1. Ben Thanh Market

After eating our dinner on our first night at Saigon, with only a map and with the help of the locals we found Ben Thanh market. This is a must-see place, there are many fun clothing and food stands. The price in here are quite expensive so negotiate hard.

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Sweet and colorful Bành tèt (sticky rice) sold beside the Ben Thanh Market

2. Cu Chi Tunnels

We had half-day tour at Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels were utilized by the Vietnamese soldiers (Viet Cong soldiers) for them to hide during wars and it served as a passage and a supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters.

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A secret refuge of the soldiers

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Traps made by the Viet Cong soldiers

3. Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral also known as the Saigon Church, is a Catholic church in a largely Buddhist country.

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4. Saigon Central Post Office

On the other side of the church is the splendid Post Office. This structure was designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, but is always mistakenly credited to Gustave Eiffel, a French engineer who designed and oversaw construction of the Eiffel Tower.

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Inside the Central Post Office

5. Saigon Square

Saigon square is the best place to buy “pasalubong”. The vendors offer low prices and still negotiable.

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6. Vinh Trang Temple

Before going to Mekong Delta we had a short stop at Vinh Trang Temple, it is a Buddhist temple near Mỹ Tho in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. In here, there are 3 large Buddhas, a giant happy Buddha, a giant standing Buddha, and a giant reclining Buddha.

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The happy Buddha

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The reclining Buddha

7. Mekong Delta

You need to ride a boat to reach Mekong Delta which is the Southern most part of Vietnam. We had some stops at different places to witness the Vietnamese culture. We went to some factories where they make their products like coconut candies, bành tràng (rice wrapper), woodcarves, snake wines and more. 

After having lunch, we went to Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta river is a 60,000 kilometer long web of interconnected waterways, which span across three Vietnamese provinces. We had the chance to ride ‘sampans’ to have a short tour in the river. Unfortunately it was raining hard, we were all wet and didn’t have very good photos.

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The boat that brought us to Mekong River

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Coconut candy Factory, Snake wine, Honey Juice and some of the Vietnamese cultures

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We were provided plastic for us not to get wet

WHAT TO DO:

1. Eat Vietnam’s best street foods. Street food is a major part of Vietnamese culture.

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2. Don’t miss the Saigon beer!

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3. Buy a non la or Vietnam’s infamous hats

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4. Shop until you drop

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5. Drink snake wine

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Visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is so much fun. You can learn a lot from their culture and practices. Their history is very rich. Next time when you visit this place, you will know why it is the ‘Pearl of the Far East.’

TIPS and NOTES:

1. The best time to visit Vietnam is Summer.

2. You will become a millionaire there. (Hihihi)

3. Be cautious especially when crossing the road.

4. Philippine time is 1 hour ahead of Vietnam.

5. Don’t let the local vendors scheme you so always ask for prices beforehand.

6. Practice how to haggle hard.

7. There are many motorbikes. They just park anywhere, with no locks like nobody will take it because they have their own. It is really different in the Philippines.

8. There is a Jollibee outlet in Vietnam.

9. There are tons of money changers and ATM’s.

10. There are many travel and tour agencies which can help you to organize your trip.

11. Some taxi drivers lie to you. Take the honest ones like Vinasun.

12.Always show gratitude. ‘Càm ón’ is the Vietnamese word for thank you. We were thought to say it as “Kah-mung.”

13. Be wary.

14. Be bold.

15. Enjoy

 

TRIP DETAILS:

Hotel:

Yen’s Hotel 2

#65 Bui Vien St, District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam

email: yenshotel2@yahoo.com.vn

Travel and tours:

SAPPHIRE TRAVEL AND TOURS

#266 Bui Vien St, District 1, HCM City, Viet Nam

Heaven on Earth

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It’s summer!! Are you looking for a good place for your summer escapade? Coron, Palawan is the best place for you.

Coron is a first class municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines.  Coron Island Palawan is surrounded by islands with majestic limestone cliffs, mountain ranges and coastal areas mostly covered with mangrove forests. There are various primeval caves, underground river systems, picturesque coasts and breathtaking white sand coves.

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It was June of 2015 when we decided to have our summer vacation at Coron, Palawan. There are many activities to do there, you can do island hopping, snorkeling, wreck and scuba diving, explore the Coron reefs, kayaking and many more.

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We stayed in Coron for 5 fun days, here’s a list of the places we visited:

CYC Beach or Coron Youth Camp Beach is a white sand beach, it is the only beach in Coron without an entrance fee.

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Twin Lagoon is a lagoon with shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water. You can climb a wooden stairs or swim underground to pass the entrance and be able to go to the other side of the lagoon. The water here is cold and sometimes when you swim farther it becomes hot.

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Kayangan Lake is dubbed as the cleanest lake in the Philippines. You need to climb for 10 minutes to be able to reach the place. It offers crystal-clear water.

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Coron Town we also had the chance to see the town proper of Coron, we bought some t-shirts and “pasalubong” in here.

Apo Mountainous Island  just at the back of Majika’s Island Beach Resort (the place we stayed). Apo Island is covered mainly with some plants and trees. We reached the peak just right in time and witnessed Palawan’s sunset.

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Lusong WWII Shipwreck is a Japanese sunken boat that sunk in September 1944. Currently, this ship is now covered with corals and became the home of different fishes.

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Coral Garden is very amazing. It is a very long swim but worth it. The jellyfishes are surrounding us and we were all worried about it, there are several nice corals and different species of fish.

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Pass Island is a white sand beach resort. It is called the “Pass Island” because people just pass by at this island. It possesses a very fine white sand. There are several corals and sea creatures found in here, and it is just a few meters away from the shore.

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T. Sangat Gunboat Wreckage is our final destination. It provides a shallow beach accessible dive opportunity compared to Lusong gunboat.
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Palawan is one of the best destinations in the Philippines.
It is wondrous.
It is grander.
It is splendid.
It is the Heaven on Earth.
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Some Wonderful Shots:
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Feeding Frenzy

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Underwater Rock Formations

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Cheers for a BUOYant life!

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Majika’s Island Beach Resort

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Fish Attack

Travel Details:

Majika’s Island Beach Resort:

If you are looking for the best place for you to stay, to relax, to escape, to enjoy and savour each moment of your Palawan Escapade,  Majika’s Island Beach Resort is the best place for you. We availed the “Just Fly in and we’ll do the rest” Package which was 5D / 4N Nature Adventure. There are other package options and you can alter it if you like.

Majika’s Island Beach Resort offers one of the best places to stay in Coron, they have friendly and caring staff, good cooks and a very funny owner, Ate Majika. They offer good and palatable foods, they cook various meals from breakfast to dinner. We also rode kayaks just after we arrive it was my first time and I learned fast how to paddle, we also tried to snorkel the corals on the reef just in front of the resort. The whole resort was powered by solar power and a generator. There will be no phone reception at the resort so it will be an opportunity for you to have a holiday away from busy world of work, school, city life and Internet.

Majika’s Island Beach Resort: http://majikaislandresort.wix.com/majikaislandresort or send them an e-mail to: majikaislandresort@yahoo.com

How to go there? 

We took a plane from Metro Manila, the travel time will take around 55 minutes. We landed at Busuanga Airport, and we reached Coron after  a 45-minute scenic ride by van and a 15-minute transfer through a mangrove forest by boat.