The lowdown on a Bohol day tour 

We only had a day/night in Bohol and we had lots we wanted to see so a tour seemed like the best option for us.
Most tour shops close at 6pm so if you get to Tagbilaran late, you are limited with choice. Head to the Sealine travel shop in the shopping mall, East of rival park and they are open later. The travel shop is on the first floor, next to the big sports shop.

(You can also book your boat tickets to Cebu city next door like we did for the following day; kill two birds with one stone – winning!)

In the travel shop you can book on organised tours ranging from 1000-1500php per person.  This includes additional places like the Butterfly park, man made forests and zip lining. They also provide lunch for you.

The price of your tour is dependant on the number of passengers (the more of you there is the cheaper it gets).
In the end, we opted for hiring a private car for the day as it worked out cheaper, and we had the freedom to choose the places we wanted to go. Our driver also dropped us back to get our bags at the end of the day and straight to the pier to get the ferry back to Cebu, all for just 1500 PHP!
On our tour we visited the Tarsier Sanctuary and the Loboc river.

We also headed to the Loboc floating restaurant as recommended by our driver. We were actually unaware that this was a package lunch and river cruise. Unfortunately we ate just before we headed off so we weren’t hungry enough to take advantage of this.


It did however, look like the cruise wouldve been a lovely experience and it only costs 250 PHP per person for lunch. Please let me know how what it’s like if you go and experience this!

In the afternoon we headed to the Chocolate Hills which is furthest out. (All posts on these to come!)

LwL X

Cebu: Where we stayed (Cebu Budget) Tropical Hostel

Tropical Hostel is located South of Cebu  and is a short distance from lots of top attractions and just minutes from one of the biggest shopping malls in Cebu.  
This was the second time we stayed in Cebu. The first time we we stayed there we opted for a hotel in ‘Cebu City’. Just to let you know, there isn’t actually anything really in the city, so staying in the south will be your best option. 

The receptionist at the front desk of Tropical is so lovely and helpful. Dominic provided us with a map of the city and an A4 sheet with the city’s top attractions on and directions of how to get there. 

In your room you also get a guide for day trips, boats and transport times which is really useful.

The rooms are clean and simple, the bed is comfy and the wifi works!
A double room is only £15 per night and they also have dorm rooms available. Don’t forget that they add on 12% tax everywhere in the Philippines! 

Quick tip if you book here: many taxi drivers have no idea where ‘tropical hostel’ is.  We learnt this while searching for it for at least an hour; just be sure to call it Cebu Budget and not tropical!

LwL X 

Snorkelling in Malapascua

We met a lovely tour guide called Yugi on the boat over from Maya to Malapascua. He gave us lots of useful information about the island and suggested an afternoon of exploring under water.

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Myself, Liam and our two new German friends Max and Rebecca hired a private boat for the afternoon. We paid just 750 PHP per couple for a whole afternoon of snorkelling from 3-6pm. That works out under £6 each and our masks and snorkel hire was included!
We explored 3 different snorkelling spots and took a boat tour around the whole island.

SUNP0567First spot, South East of Bounty Beach.

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The water here was perfectly clear. You could actually see the sand at the bottom while sitting on the boat. As we swam around the area we see lots of lovely colourful fish and some great coral formations.

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The second spot was around Daquitdaquit Island. 

A small island of sharp rock that towered out of the water.

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Due to the waves crashing against it, the water wasn’t as clear as Bounty Beach. We did however see a Dori fish (the blue one in finding nemo that I don’t know the name of) and a couple of sea urchins that we swiftly avoided.
The third spot was my favourite: The WWII Japanese Shipwreck
This was so cool to see! Buried only about 5 metres beneath us was the remains of a Japanese WWII ship. Because of the low tide you can see this by just snorkelling.

Unfortunately the water was murky as it had rained the day before so it was a bit hard to see (especially in my pictures). That didn’t stop us though! Liam and I held our breath and swam down a few times to get a closer look. Lots of big fish emerged from under the ship, they’d obviously found a home under there.

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SUNP0518SUNP0505.JPGAfter our final underwater adventure, we climbed back on the boat and set sail around the whole island. Some of the views were beautiful. We see a Lighthouse and what appears to be the ruins of a church

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We stopped at the West of the island to watch the sunset over the hills. The water was so clear that as we rode through shallower waters we could see starfish on the corals.
It was such a lovely afternoon and a great way to see the really beauty of Malapascua.

SUNP0571I would recommend this trip to anyone, especially for less than £6 each.
If you need help with any tours or have questions, feel free to call Yugi on 00 69359969716. He helped us with tours, diving and accommodation! Just tell him Lauren and Liam from London gave you his number.

LwL X

The backpacker route: Donsol to Cebu

 

Philippines. From Donsol (West Philippines) you can get to Cebu via a boat and ferry.

The first boat you need to get is to ‘Masbate’. This leaves from Pilar port daily at varied hours (Pilar is a 30 minute jeepney drive fromDonsol) .

The jeepney is an experience in itself. We were lucky enough to ride on the roof!

The journey from Pilar to Masbate takes 2-3 hours depending on whether you choose a fast or slow boat.
On a Sunday we arrived in Pilar Port, but we didn’t really have a particular boat option. There only seemed to be one ticket office for a 3 hour boat to Masbate that left at 1pm. So we jumped into the cramped Catamarang and off we went.
From Masbate you will need to get a ferry to Cebu. We were told in Donsol that these depart at 6pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrive at 8am the following day. When we arrived in Masbate, this was not the case.
After our 3 hour boat journey from Pilar, we was told by the tourist police that the transasia boat actually no longer runs to Cebu city? How true this is we’ll never know but basically most information advertised in Donsol is wrong!
There is however, a boat that goes from Cataingan (South of Masbate) to Bogo (North Cebu) everyday, at 12pm and at 7pm.
The nice tourist lady gave us a lift to a hotel called Novo, where we stayed for the night in Masbate.


The next day we grabbed a tricycle to the Masbate city bus terminal at 8am, and caught the 2 hour bus journey to Cataingan at 9am. They leave every hour and the bus cost 120 PHP per person. We also paid for an extra seat for our backpacks as there is no space to put luggage anywhere.
We was told that the ferry from Cataingan takes 8 hours. However we arrived at the Port just after 5.30pm. Something to take into consideration if you want to take the 7pm boat. The cost 455 PHP per person. Luckily for us this ended up being beneficial as Bogo is to the North and is a lot closer to Malapascua Island where we were heading. If you are looking to go to Cebu city, you would have to get a bus from Bogo following your ferry journey.

According to the Masbate government website the Transasia actually still runs. It’s all very confusing and I’m not sure how true everything is on any sites or what you are told after this cafuffle. Continue reading “The backpacker route: Donsol to Cebu”

Manila vs Cebu

 

This is my view and my opinion based on my own experiences. By no means do I intend to offend anyone, needless to say as a tourist you may have a completely different experience to mine.

Manila

I am sorry to say that my time in Manila was less than magical. Although the city is a main hub for the whole country and its home to an international business district; the place itself for me was undesirable.

I got an unsafe vibe from this city from the moment I set foot there, resulting in me not really wanting to leave my hotel.


It’s so hard to explain and I can’t put my finger on it.

Maybe it was the way people stared and laughed at us as we walked down the street? Now I’m no stranger to locals staring us at us questionably, I had travelled Asia for over 3 months after all. This time it just felt very different. It was more judgemental than inquisitive.

Continue reading “Manila vs Cebu”

The lowdown on Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island, Philippines.
Every time I hear someone say the name, the song ‘I like to move it move it’ comes in to my head. Don’t you think it has a striking resemblance to Madagascar? 

Unfortunately this small island, North of Cebu, doesn’t have any talking lions but there are a lot of other things it has to offer.

Water activities (And they’re super cheap!)

Other than the obvious of swimming in the sea, the serene clear waters of Malapascua makes the island a divers paradise. 

Diving 

You can swim with white tip and thresher sharks (if your trips not cancelled that is..). 

There are diving shops all around the island as the area is famous for two main dives. 

In the early morning you can catch sight of the Thresher Sharks feeding. Alternatively, if your not so much of an early bird, you can take a day trip to Gato Island to swim with White Tip sharks and through an underwater cave. 

We opted for a place called Sea Slug Divers to go diving at Gato Island. It’s the cheapest we found at 1200php (under £20) per fun dive. That includes the equipment too.

Unfortunately they cancelled our trip last minute on the morning of our dive. Something about a broken boat and no dive shops heading to Gato that day? I’m still not certain of what the woman was actually trying to explain. Anyway, this was our last day on Malapascua so unfortunately there was no shark diving for us!

Snorkelling

Because of the beaches low tides there are lots of great snorkelling areas around the island.

We explored 3 different areas of Malapascua including the WWII shipwreck. 

 
Watch out for a post on our day of activities here. 

Food

Stay inland as much as you can and food tends to be cheaper. 

There are lots of ‘eateries’ a couple of roads back from the beach. 

Just behind Cocobana resort on the beach there’s a place called Ging Gings restaurant. They do poached eggs, yay! It’s super cheap here and the food is good so do try this place out.

If you head down to the beachfront, you can expect an expensive meal. Over a backpackers budget. In Ging Gings we got our breakfast and lunch for same price as one breakfast on the beach! 

If you really want to eat by the beach though, head to Oscars restaurant where you can eat while looking out at the sea for a reasonable price. Their chicken tomato and pesto in brown bread was amazing. 

My lunch and drink was less than £3 too, cheap on this island! 

Going out

Like most places in the Philippines, Malapascua has barely any nightlife. The south eastern side of the Bounty Beach has a couple more ‘bars’ if you would call them that. Generally it’s just very chilled restaurants with quiet music. Perfect for a group card game of Shithead! 

Other than all that you can lay on the beautiful white sands while sipping pins coladas without a worry in the world. It’s the perfect place for that. 

 Have you been to Malapascua Island?

Feel free to add your recommendations below 

LwL x 

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Oslob, Philippines.

By our third attempt to see sharks in the Philippines, I was more than doubtful. What with our failure of a trip in Donsol and our cancellation of our diving in Malapascua, I was starting to wonder if our chance to see these big giant fish under water just wasn’t meant to be!

We set off from our hotel in Lagunde (near Oslob) at 8.20am after rushing through our breakfast. The food at our hotel took a long time to come which made us a bit late for our pre planned tricycle. To be fair though the pancakes were worth the wait

We decided to stay at Lagunde Beach Resort the night before, instead of arriving straight from Cebu by bus as we had a couple of days to play with. 

After stopping on the way to run a few errands, we arrived at the Whale Shark watching spot around 9.15am.
Sign in, watch the orientation, pay 1000 PHP each etc. We knew the drill by now! 

We stood anxiously on the beach waiting for a boat to call ’41’..
While we wait, one of the tour guides told us that it’s best to visit Oslob on a weekday as it’s much less busy. Unfortunately it just worked out that we was there on a Saturday. 

I see her point. There were ques among ques of people, which meant more people and more boats in the water; creating underwater human traffic. 

‘Number 41’ a man called.

With masks and snorkels fitted, we set off in a small row boat and stopped not far from shore. 
I jumped in frantically and looking around, aware that we only had 30 minutes in the water. 

Immediately I was faced with a giant bluey grey spotted body and an open mouth the size of a 15 inch TV. 

    
I couldn’t believe it. I thought that I’d be scared but I wasn’t. This giant whale shark was approx. 6 metres long!

Underwater in their natural habitats these creatures look big, harmless and cuddly. Well almost. You definitely wouldn’t want to be slapped with the force of their tail, it would probably knock you out.

  And the fact that they had no teeth stopped me from choking on my snorkel in fear. 

We swam by them freely, struggling to keep up with them of course, taking a selfie or two.

  
Liam and I watched in awe as one of them hoovered up the water sucking in everything in the vicinity. 

  At one point Liam almost got sucked in himself! 

  By the time our 30 minutes was up we had seen 2 maybe 3 whales sharks. (It gets confusing as they leave and come back as sometimes your not sure if it’s the same or a different one ha.)

  
This experience was the highlight of the trip to the Philippines for me and it was everything that I thought it would be. I’m ecstatic that I finally got to experience this especially as I had almost lost all hope by then. 

  
I can now say I have officially swam next to the biggest fish in the ocean!
LwL x  

Bussin’ it: Manila – Legazpi – Donsol

Manila to Legazpi is approximately a 10 hour journey. Possibly the worst and bumpiest ride I’ve ever been on. It gets you from A to B but don’t expect any sort of sleep. 

For the last 4 hours of the journey there is a stop to let people off every 30 minutes or so. All the lights are switched on so if you do fall asleep, you will be woke up. This is where an eye mask comes in super handy.

We used a company called ‘Philtranco’. Their buses leave everyday from their terminal at 5.30pm and 7.45pm. Just get a taxi (well in advance as traffic is terrible) to the bus terminal, and but your ticket on arrival. It’s actually a very easy process but unfortunately very hard to learn about on the Internet.

Legazpi on to Donsol is easy. At the bus terminal, just walk through to the other side and there are UV express services that go to different cities, including Donsol for a mere 75 pesos each. The journey takes 1.5-2 hours depending on how fast your driver is. You are dropped into the town and will have to get a tricycle over to the West to where the Tourist Information Centre/Whale Shark sightseeing tour is. 

Philippines pedicabs are ridiculously cheap in lots of places. We have never paid more than £1 for any journey. 

LwL X 

Disappoinment in Donsol

Donsol, Philippines.

Donsol left us disappointed i’m afraid. There were no whale sharks to be seen on the day we embarked on our 3 hour sight seeing journey. Or for the few days before that for that matter. 

They had been spotted previously at Manta Bowl so you’re more likely to see them if you dive. Manta bowl has White Tip Sharks AND whale sharks?? Mayne they were having a shark party. 

The trouble with wild animals are, well, they’re wild, so there is never any guarantee that you’ll see them. It’s such a shame as the only reason we headed to Donsol was for the Whale Sharks. It’s became a tourist hotspot in the last few years because of this but is yet to develop in terms of entertainment. There is literally nothing else to do there other than the sightseeing tour.  

  

There are just 3 resorts to stay by the beach, we stayed in Danclunan (or something like that). Next to the Sightseeing office. Our restaurant stopped serving at 8.30pm and it seems that the whole place is lights out by 9pm. There is no night life, apart from a disco they hold on a Saturday. 

If your looking to chill in a hammock and do absolutely nothing then Donsol is the perfect place for you. 

  
And the beach has a lovely sunset!

  

We had a pleasurable 2 nights there, very relaxed, but I don’t think we could’ve stayed much longer. We recharged our batteries and made use of our portable DVD player. Was the hideous overnight bus drive worth it? I’m yet to decide. I just wish we stopped for a day in Legazpi city to tour the Volcano via ATV! (something I’ve just found out you can do from our new German friends who have experienced this). I have serious FOMO. Make sure you stop by Legazpi for a day if you’re heading to Donsol to check it out. 

  
I’m very behind with my posts, having too much fun! Ha. The good news is today we swam with Whale Sharks in Cebu so expect a post in this soon 

LwL X 

Backpacking the Philippines

I’m not sure if it’s because the Philippines is not considered a popular backpacking spot, or if it’s just because not many people who blog have been here, but info on the Philippines, especially for backpackers is really hard to come by on the Internet! 
If your going somewhere in Thailand or Vietnam, you’re guaranteed hundreds of posts on where to stay, what to do, how to get there etc but the Philippines? You get vague posts, if you can find them through scrolling, tours advertised that are ridiculously expensive and online transport information that is completely incorrect! It’s so hard to try and plan a route on a time schedule too. 
I have to say, I’m enjoying this country but trying to get organised beforehand is bloody hard work.
This is why I’m going to make it my mission to post as much info on this country as I can. In the hope that anyone looking to backpack here is not put off by the fact that you will have to fly places (like we thought) or need a gazillion days to get somewhere.

Travelling around here isn’t that bad if you know what you’re doing! 

So keep an eye out for all things Philippines at LwithL 

LwL X