DIY Palawan: A First-Timer’s Guide to Coron

We’ve mentioned it a lot of times in our posts before, Palawan is love. We’ve wrote about El Nido in the past, now it’s time to focus on another famous Palawan destination, Coron. Coron is situated in the island of Busuanga and is part of the Calamian group of islands in Northern Palawan. Like El Nido, it’s famous for its striking white sand beaches and turquoise waters. In addition, Coron also features beautiful lakes and world-class diving spots. Widely known for its Japanese World War II shipwrecks, it’s a popular place for diving enthusiasts. Although, we haven’t explored all there is to do in Coron, we’ll share with you our experience and hope it can help you plan your own little getaway to this paradise.

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Karst formations in Coron

GETTING THERE

Getting to Coron is easy-peasy compared to El Nido. A 55-minute flight from Manila to Busuanga and a 45-minute van ride to town and you’re there. All local airlines have flights to Busuanga from Manila. Check out Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and SkyJet. You can watch out for their seat sales to get the best deal. We got a return flight for Php2,000 for this trip. Once you land on the airport, there are numerous van services that can take you to your hotel or you can set up a pick-up with the hotel you’re staying at. The van ride to Coron Town will set you back Php150 per person for a one-way trip.

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DIY Taiwan: A First-Timer’s Guide to Taipei

Taiwan. Honestly, we didn’t have much expectations going on our trip to Taipei. We knew that they have good street food and it’s a good place to go shopping. Apart from that, Taiwan is our neighbor up north and is a small island nation. Now, after having spent five days in Taipei, we can’t wait to go back!

Not expecting much, we were pleasantly surprised that Taipei is such a cool and bustling city with a plethora of things to do, day and night. This destination is the answer to both your weekend escapade and your month-long soul searching.

GETTING THERE

A number of airlines fly non-stop from Manila to Taipei such as KLM, China Airlines and more but we were lucky to score cheap flights with Cebu Pacific Air. Check out Skyscanner for the cheapest airfares.

VISAS

A visa is required for Filipino passport holders; however, you may also qualify for a visa-free entry (only Travel Authorization Certificate needed) if you have a valid visa or residence permit from the following countries: U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, U.K. and EU Schengen. Here’s our step-by-step guide on How To Get a Visa for your Taiwan Travel.

GETTING AROUND

The Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is outside Taipei and is around a 45-minute bus ride that will take you to different drop-off points in the city. There are several stops to choose from and we chose to be dropped off at the Taipei Main Station where the Taipei Metro is connected. Alternatively, there are taxis and cars for rent available but will of course cost you more.

The Taipei Metro is one of the best transit systems we’ve tried. Everything is well connected and there are English signs as well so it’s tourist-friendly. Make sure to purchase an EasyCard at the airport for your convenience. You can use this card for most of the transportation systems in Taipei such as buses and the trains, you can even use it at convenience stores and some attractions. Read more about the EasyCard here.

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Taipei Main Station

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Do-It-Yourself Honda Bay Tour, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Most tourists go straight to El Nido from the Puerto Princesa Airport but there’s so much to see in this city that you shouldn’t miss. I had my recent reunion with high school friends here and the city is a perfect quick getaway with your barkada.

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GETTING THERE and GETTING AROUND

There are many local airlines flying to Puerto Princesa International Airport from Manila, Cebu and Davao daily. We flew with Cebu Pacific Air for only P750 roundtrip which we got during a seat sale. There are different ways to get around Puerto Princesa, these include tricycles, multicabs, jeepney and vans. For short distances, we usually just took the tricycle which is P10 each person. For longer distances, you can negotiate a rate with the driver.

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El Nido, Palawan: Sweeter the Second Time Around

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Big Lagoon, El Nido

Ahhhhh El Nido…I can’t help but to hum “Moby’s Porcelain” song in my head every time I think about this magnificent place. The place is teeming with breathtaking lagoons, limestone formations and white sand beaches. Palawan was recently voted as the best island in the world according to Conde Nast Traveler Magazine so more and more people are eager to visit the place, especially El Nido. To my surprise, there were even more foreigners compared to locals during my visit this summer.

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A Long Weekend in Cagbalete Island

After countless debates on where to spend the weekend, my friends and I decided to go to Cagbalete. Thanks to the papal visit, we had another long weekend to linger away. Unfortunately, the weather did not agree with us so we got stuck in the island longer than expected. Cagbalete Island is situated in Mauban, Quezon. This place has been slowly gaining popularity as more and more people visit this beautiful island.

Getting there:

  • We took the JAC liner bus in Buendia terminal bound for Lucena (P210). Buses leave every 30 minutes. We left around 2AM and took us 4 hours to get to Lucena Grand Terminal. From there, you take a mini non-aircon bus to Mauban for 2 hours (P50). It was an interesting ride seeing how the locals go about their morning (except that I didn’t have any sleep so it was one hell of a ride for me). Oh, and expect various live stocks and sacks as your seatmate.
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L-R: Try the Batangas batchoy at Lucena Grand Terminal. ; Mini van to Mauban.

  • Another option is taking the van to Mauban from SM Lucena (P60). Much more comfortable and takes less time as it has fewer stops on the way.
  • From the drop off point, you can either walk or take a tricycle (P8/person) to Mauban port. There is a P50 environmental fee and public boats leave at 10AM.

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Rediscover Puerto Galera: Talipanan Beach

I have lost count how many times I have visited Puerto Galera. With its convenience and proximity from Manila, Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro has been a famous beach getaway for urbanites for some time now. Most famous for its White Beach, it can get pretty busy especially during weekends and holidays. I remember coming here during Holy Week a few years back and it was so packed with people, you can barely find a spot to lay on the sand! Now this is not my idea of a relaxing holiday; good thing Puerto Galera has a lot more to offer than just the famous White Beach. A few years back, we stayed at White Beach for a weekend and a friend recommended we have lunch at Luca Italian Restaurant at Talipanan Beach. It was about a 40-minute walk from White Beach to Talipanan Beach but it was totally worth it! Not only did we get to eat delicious Italian food at Luca, we also discovered this beautiful and tranquil beach away from the craziness of White Beach. So we vowed to stay there on our next trip to Puerto Galera.

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Fast forward to 2015. I’ve been busy with work since December and been itching to go to the beach. Luckily, I got a few days off work so Kat and I decided to hit the beach. Originally, we were planning to go to another beach in Occidental Mindoro; however, some unfortunate circumstances rattled our plans (more on that later!) and we were left with no choice but to head to Puerto Galera instead. Of course, Talipanan Beach was first choice and good thing they had an available room that day!

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Lake Pandin: A Quick Escape To Nature

Tired of the rush? The hordes of people everywhere you go? The traffic and the pollution?

Don’t get me wrong, Manila is my city (born and raised here!) and I love how you can keep yourself entertained and find something to do at any hour of the day. But I was away for a long time last year and mostly stayed in islands and small cities. This was when I realized that being in a big city is not for me. I enjoyed being close to nature. It revitalized me, lowered my stress levels and overall, made me happier. So being back in the concrete jungle for almost a month was taking its toll on me. I missed the quiet, the peace, the fresh air and just being around beautiful nature. I had to get out and recharge. And then I remember seeing this blog post a few years ago about this nice lake not too far away from Manila where you can chill on a raft and have lunch, swim and relax. With the help of my mighty friend Google, I was able to find this gem of a place: Lake Pandin, San Pablo, Laguna!

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DIY MYANMAR (Burma): A First-Timer’s Guide To The Golden Land

From all the countries in our itinerary on  our South East Asia backpacking trip, Myanmar is the country that we were looking forward to visit the most. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, opened its doors to tourism a few years ago. Since then, it’s been on top of the list for travelers visiting South East Asia. Myanmar, with its years of isolation and mystery, people are brimming with curiosity as to how the country is doing in the present. We did some research online and via other travelers before coming to Myanmar.  We got bits of information; however, we still did not know exactly what to expect from this country. Myanmar was our last stop in our South East Asia itinerary and we indeed saved the best for last. So here is our guide to visiting “The Golden Land” or  “The Land of Pagodas” – Myanmar. This is the first part of our travel guide series for Myanmar.

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Old City of Bagan | Photo by: Mica Veloso

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Mandalay: Our Introduction to Myanmar

Mandalay is the old capital of Myanmar and is located in the central part of the country. It is the second largest city in Myanmar. Also, this was our first stop in our Myanmar trip.

Where To Stay
Places To Eat
Places to See

WHERE TO STAY

We stayed in Royal Guest House on 25th street for 30USD a night for three people.  No need to rent a tuktuk if you are taking the AirAsia airport shuttle. The drop-off point is just a few minutes from the hostel. This was the best hostel we had throughout our stay in Myanmar. Our room was equipped with an A/C, fridge and private bath with hot and cold shower. Breakfast is included but don’t expect to be wowed as the standard free breakfast in Myanmar consists of an egg, sweet toast, juice/coffee and fruit. Believe me, you would rather have that than the one we had in Kalaw (blog post soon). Wifi is free in the lobby but as usual don’t expect anything high speed because the internet connection everywhere in Myanmar is super slow.

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Royal Guest House

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2014 Year Ender

2014. It’s quite difficult to put it all into words, but here it goes. This year has been so many things to me. It’s hard to define it with just one word but if I had to choose one – it’s gratitude. I have been showered with so many blessings this year that when I look back at it now, I realize how incredibly lucky I am. 2014 has taken me to countless places, gave me the chance to meet incredible people, see amazing things, have unforgettable adventures and most importantly, it gave me invaluable lessons. Lessons that I learned through experience and these I will carry throughout my lifetime.

2014 was a year of travel. I was away from home for almost nine months out of the year, the most time I’ve been away, ever. From our beautiful islands to South East Asia to Europe, I feel so fortunate to have been able to see all that I have seen, experience different cultures and open my mind to different points of view. Meeting people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds, beliefs and experiences has opened up new worlds for me that would not have been possible if I stayed in my safe zone. It’s changed me in a multitude of ways, be it my priorities, how I see things, my goals and in ways of dealing with people. Countless adventures, mishaps and new friendships have been formed. All leaving an imprint and changing me in one way or another.

2014 was also a year of self discovery. I can genuinely say that this is the time I have gotten to know myself the most. It is still an ongoing process; however; the progress I’ve made this year is leaps and bounds compared to the past ones. I did not always make the best choices, but I have learned to forgive myself. I learned that this is crucial in healing one’s self and this paves the way to improving ourselves and making better choices in the future. It has changed my priorities in life and made me appreciate more, the people who matter the most. I have learned to say no to things, people and situations that no longer serve me and help me in becoming the best person I can be. This has been pivotal to my journey. Being more present and aware really does change how you see yourself, others and the world around you.

Tonight, as we bid this year adieu, I would like to raise a toast and express my deepest gratitude to all the moments – good and bad, awe-inspiring places, unforgettable adventures and incredible people that have made my 2014 truly remarkable. Thank you so much and let’s all look forward to an even better 2015!

xoxo,

Tanya

Sharing some moments from the best year yet:

Bianca's bridal shower

Bianca’s bridal shower

Bianca and Ryan's wedding

Bianca and Ryan’s wedding

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Bianca and Ryan’s wedding

Pangulasian Island, Palawan

Pangulasian Island, Palawan

Pangulasian Island crew

Pangulasian Island crew

Labor Day Boracay with D2 and John

Labor Day Boracay with D2 and John

Baler with Kat and Kelly

Baler with Kat and Kelly

In Da Lat, Vietnam with the crew

In Da Lat, Vietnam with the crew

Our group in Sapa, Vietnam

Our group in Sapa, Vietnam

Beachin' in Hoi An, Vietnam with Kat

Beachin’ in Hoi An, Vietnam with Kat

Tubing in Laos

Tubing in Laos

Chilling out in Muang Ngoi, Laos

Chilling out in Muang Ngoi, Laos

Getting lost in Laos searching for some waterfall

Getting lost in Laos searching for some waterfall

Red sand dunes in Vietnam

Red sand dunes in Vietnam

Favorite waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos

Favorite waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos

Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar

Myanmar crew

Myanmar crew

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Bagan, Myanmar

Pai, Thailand

Pai, Thailand

Pai, Thailand

Pai, Thailand

Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger, Norway

Sirdal, Norway

Sirdal, Norway

Sirdal, Norway

Sirdal, Norway

Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

San Pablo, Laguna

San Pablo, Laguna