Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Siargao Travel Guide 2018 - Suggested Itinerary and Expenses


Spending four days in Siargao was one of the best and happy days of my 2018. It is a beautiful island with the coolest people on earth! No wonder people just can't stop talking about it.

While it is known to be the surfing capital of the Philippines, there are other interesting things you can do to fully enjoy the island. My favorite spot was in Pacifico especially in the 'forbidden' tower. This is where you can see the BEST view in Siargao. And the best activity for me was the Sohoton Cove tour. Anyway, here's a sample itinerary that you can use as a guide to fully enjoy your Siargao experience.


DAY 1 - MAGPUPUNGKO ROCK POOLS AND SUGBA LAGOON

We arrived in Siargao at 9am, ate breakfast, freshened up, wore our OOTDs and at 12NN we were already on our way to our first destination which was the Magpupungko Rock Pools. 

Note: a perfect timing is what you need when deciding to go to this place. The beauty of it will depend on the time of the day (should be low tide). The habal-habal drivers and locals usually know this and you can just ask what's the best time to be at Magpupungko for that particular day. During our time, we arrived at 1pm and it was really nice but the place was full of crowd. It was a weekend so I suggest you go there on a weekday for a more serene Magpupungko tour.

This the the lagoon. The water looks so beautiful under the scorching heat of the sun

Summer + Weekend = Big crowd. I shall return on a weekday. 

On our way to the lagoon of Magpupungko Beach Resort


You can also enjoy taking a photo with the waves here. Photo grabbed from my friend Carri, you can follow her in IG @lexdoloricon

After an hour, we decided to go to our next destination, the popular Sugba Lagoon which is about 30-45 minutes away from Magpupungko. We were a group of 3 persons only and the boat going to Sugba Lagoon was good for 6 persons so in order to save money, we decided to wait for other travellers. The 30-minute boat ride going to Sugba Lagoon was pretty refreshing. We passed by the massive mangroves and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Again it was a weekend so the place was crowded which wasn't thrilling for me. Anyway, it was a good place to have a brave soul and dive off a  tall ramp and/or peacefully paddle a board. I would suggest you go there early on a weekday to achieve that IG-worthy photo you've been dreaming of.

For a better IG photo of this, I think it's better if you come in the morning :)

If we fits, we sits 😁😁

5PM is Sugba Lagoon's closing time so we have to go home na.

DAY 2 - SOHOTON COVE ADVENTURE AND BUCAS GRANDE TOUR (Stingless Jellyfish Sanctuary) 

This was my favorite activity in Siargao (because I'm not into surfing 😁). Again because we were only a group of 3 persons, we waited for other tourists to share the boat which was good for 8 persons. Luckily, we've met 5 gentlemen who allowed us to join in. The first part was the Bucas Grande tour where we had to be in pairs for each small boat manually paddled by a boatman. It was a beautiful encounter with the sting-less jellyfishes and the smooth boat tour around the enchanting water of Bucas Grande. This tour shouldn't be missed when in Siargao!

There are several tour operators offering this trip but if you want a DIY, you can just go to the General Luna port early in the morning and haggle with several boatmen there (they are just everywhere). You might also get a chance to join a group if you're alone to save money.

On our way to Bucas Grande 😍😍😍

With my loveteam for the day. I can still remember his name. . Ronald. No wait, I think it's Donald. haha sorry

This is just outside the Sohoton Cove where you can do a cliff jump. I was too scared, I didn't try it. 😓
Inside the Sohoton Cove. It feels so magical inside but you need to surpass a challenge before getting there. Check out the video at the bottom to know more!

Meeting new friends in Sohoton 😊

We also did the Tri-Island tour which was just on our way back to General Luna. This includes a short stop in Guyam, Daku and Naked Island.

You have to find this legendary bent tree in Guyam. I think it's the main attraction.😁

Got a little bit naked in Naked Island 😉😉


Several cottages in Daku Island. It's more like a residential area.
Meeting new friends in Daku Island 👍

DAY 3 - SURF AND CHILL AT CLOUD 9

Afam surfers everywhere 👀

We spent the whole morning surfing. I mean my friends went surfing while I took care of our valuables. I tried surfing before and it was killing my neck so I just decided not to do it anymore. The best part here is chilling with new friends from Dumaguete City and some from other cities! Shout out to Marione, Hazel, Louise, King, Ken, LA and many more!

Surfing board rental with instructor would cost you Php500 for one hour.

Just chilling while they go surfing.  😉

DAY 4 - PACIFICO TOUR 


Welcome to Pacifico Public Beach!
For our last day, we decided to go to Pacifico which is also recommended by the locals. It's about 1 to 2 hours away from General Luna which is kinda far but totally worth it. Like what I said earlier, it will offer you the best view in Siargao. You just have to find the 'forbidden' tower. I'm calling it forbidden because the makeshift entrance has a barricade - more like 2 rows of barbed wire. It needs teamwork and flexibility (of your body) to enter. You'll understand better when you get there. Most of the drivers and locals know this place so just ask away! After taking pictures and satisfying your eyes with the beauty of the Pacific, you can go to the public beach nearby and just chill. They have cottages available (no one asked for a cottage fee from us) and you can also do surfing in a much less crowded area. 

The view from the tower 😍

My friend Carr enjoying the beautiful scenery 

Pacifico Public Beach
No crowd at all - perfect for introverts!

Thanks for the gift of friendship! These guys made my Siargao experience extra fun! 

Where to eat in Siargao:


Food establishments are just everywhere in General Luna. As long as you have enough money, you'll never be hungry. Most of the restaurants are expensive but you can also find cheaper food outlets. If you see that the restaurant is full and the ambiance is just plain, then that's the sign that it's cheaper. I like eating in Emelia's Restobar & Seafoods Paluto because the food is delicious and they offer really big servings with a cheaper price. If money is not a problem, you should check this link and try all those in the list -> Restaurants in Siargao Island.
Final dinner together with new found friends in Emelia's Restobar

Where to stay in Siargao:


If you're a backpacker who enjoy meeting new friends, I would recommend Paglaom Hostel. Most of our new found friends were staying there and they liked it. During our time in Siargao, this was fully booked so we looked for another option and found Moonlight Homestay. I like it here because the room (which can be shared by 10 people - friends and/or strangers) has an AC and we get to have free breakfast plus coffee for only Php380 each. It's better if you have mobile data so you can just use google map in finding these hostels. For any other hotels, you can check the Tripadvisor website.
Inside our room in Moonlight Homestay


EXPENSES (estimate)


Day 1 Expenses:  Php967
Magpupungko Entrance fee - P50/head
Sugba Lagoon Entrance Fee - P50/head
Pump boat - P1600/trip (good for 6 pax) = P267 each
Paddle Board Rental (optional) - P300/hr = P100 each (our group rented only 1 board for the 3 of us)
Tricycle with driver - P1500 (whole day good for 4 pax) = P500 each

*Life Vest Rental (optional) - P150

Day 2 Expenses: Php1638

Sohoton Cove Permit Fee - P50/head (P100 if foreign guest)
Entrance/ Environmental Fee -  P50/head (P150 if foreign guest)
Sohoton Cove Eco Tour - P830/trip (good for 8 pax) = P104 each
Bucas Grande Paddle Boating/Jellyfish Sanctuary - P100/head
Boat Rental (Sohoton + Tri-Island) - 4k/trip (good for 4-6pax) = P1334 each

Tricycle with driver - P1500 (whole day good for 4 pax) = P500 each

Day 3 Expenses: Php1000

Surf Rental with instructor - P500/hr

Tricycle with driver - P1500/trip (whole day good for 4 pax) = P500 each

Day 4 Expenses: Php500


Tricycle with driver - P1500/trip (whole day good for 4 pax) = P500 each


Accommodation 380 x 4days = Php1520

Total = P5,625 (excluding food and nightlife expenses)

Note: If you really want to fully enjoy Siargao, make sure you prepare extra money for the nightlife parties. Every night, one restaurant or bar will serve as a host and this is widely communicated within hostels for people to know where they should go to party with other tourists! It's actually a good way of doing business and making people gather together to have fun. You can also ask the motorcycle or habal-habal drivers since they usually know where the party is. Some nights could be a little bit boring but some are really fun. Rhum Bar was really a good host. Everyone was enjoying the beat of their good reggae music.

Also, if you know how to drive a motorbike, better rent one for only 350 to 500 per day to save money.

Fun night with these strangers in Rhum Bar 🙌 Because it was so fun, one of my friends got totally drunk haha

They were our boatmen during our Sohoton Cove and Tri-island Tour. If you feel like trusting these guys, you may contact Jeffrey 09488863869 . Of course they can be trusted. We didn't have any problem with them 😊

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So that's it! For those who are coming from Leyte or Samar, you can actually do a long drive or commute via Liloan or San Ricardo. Check out my travel guide here.

See more of our adventures in Siargao in these videos below!









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Friday, June 29, 2018

San Pablo Island, Hinunangan Southern Leyte - Travel Guide (from Tacloban)

blue sea, trees, islan, forest, ocean san pablo island hinunangan southern leyte

Did you notice that here in the Philippines we have so many beautiful places that people know nothing about? One good example is San Pablo Island located in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte which is approximately 2-3 hours away from Tacloban City.

Compared to the other islands in Leyte, San Pablo is cheaper and less crowded. It's simple, beautiful and worth your time however, I recommend you visit this place on weekdays as it tends to get crowded with locals during the weekends.

Things you should know when planning to go to San Pablo Island:

1. Cottage fee ranges from Php200 to Php650.
2. It's better to bring your own food or buy food in Hinunangan market. They don't have restaurants or karenderyas but they have a sari-sari store.
3. You can grill meat as long as you bring your own utensils.
4Activities include swimming, ramp diving, rope swinging (from a tree) and just relaxing.
5. I suggest you bring your own tent as they have limited cottages suitable for overnight stay in the public beach but if you explore the island a little more, you'll see resorts with concrete rooms.
6. You can also visit the fish sanctuary in the neighboring island known as San Pedro. (Warning: some of the fishes here looked scary. They were like villains in the ocean. We thought they were going to eat us.😅 But the smaller fishes were fine and cute. 😄)






I would like to call this island 'The Dead Sea of Southern Leyte' -- not because it is dead or something but because of its salinity. The famous Dead Sea in Jordan is known for its high salt content which makes it so easy to swim or float. That's the same feeling when we were swimming in San Pablo Island and that's actually my favorite part! Although I really know how to swim, I don't usually do it in an open water because of my fear of losing control, muscle strain or simply having a panic attack. But here, I was able to swim in the ocean without a floater (after a few hours of encouragement from my friends and forgetting about my trust issues). It's a pretty big accomplishment for me, yay!







HOW TO GO TO SAN PABLO ISLAND FROM TACLOBAN

1. From Tacloban New Bus Terminal, look for public vehicles en route to St. Bernard or Hinundayan Southern Leyte. Make sure that it will pass by Hinunangan because some would pass by Sogod instead of Hinunangan. 

2. Ask the driver to drop you off in Brgy. Canipaan. Just beside the New Life Church, there's a road going to the port (check the pictures below to see the exact location and you can also show this to the driver). 



3. Walk or ride a habal2 (if you see one) going to the port. I think it's a 5-minute walk away from the main road.

4. Approach the boatmen. The minimum fee to charter a boat is Php1000 depending on the capacity and the boat trip only takes 15-20 minutes. Check the photo below for the rates. If you are traveling alone, you can opt for the public boat which operates once a day only at around 12NN (if you choose this, you will have to stay in the island overnight as the boat will go back to Hinunangan the next day early morning.




Check out our video below and feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel! :)









Some photos that might help:









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Friday, May 11, 2018

Tacloban to Siargao the Cheapest Way - Land Trip Travel Guide




While looking at the Philippine map, I noticed that Surigao City is just across Southern Leyte and it made me realize that travelling to Siargao from Tacloban would be possible. Since then, I wanted to go there alone even before the Siargao movie but I was hesitant because I was worried about my safety. Until one day I got an invite from two of my cebu-based friends. The plane ticket was expensive at that time so I just decided to go there via land trip. Little did I know that this would be the best trip I'd ever have (despite all the challenges I've faced on my way going there).


Today, I want to share this travel guide to everyone especially to people from Leyte and Samar but if you're not used to long trips, then this route might not be for you. This is more suitable for backpackers than tourists (there's a big difference).



How to go to Siargao from Tacloban:

 1.) From New Bus Terminal, ride a van going to Sogod. They don't have a fixed schedule so I suggest you go there early in the morning and expect to wait for a few hours since the driver will wait for the van to get full before leaving. 

2.) In Sogod terminal, ride a jeepney going to Liloan. Another option is to ride a van or bus going to Benit. This is closer to Surigao City but the bus was really crowded so I just opted to go to Liloan. 

3.) Tell the driver or conductor to drop you off in Liloan Ferry Terminal. This is just along the road but you might not be able to notice it right away. If you pass by the Liloan bridge, then you're already near. 

Another option to reach Liloan is to get into a Bachelor bus en route to Davao. This will pass by Liloan and Surigao City but it's more costly (P370 to Liloan). If you do my 'hassle-full' route, you'll save 170pesos. The summary of the costs is shown in the table below.

4.) Pay for your boat ticket in Liloan Port terminal and wait for the departure. The boat will arrive in Lipata (Surigao) after 3 hours. *See boat trip schedule below.

5.) From Lipata Port, ride a habal-habal going to Eva M. Macapagal Passenger Terminal in Surigao City. This is already your gateway to Siargao Island. Travel time is 30 minutes. There are many habal-habal drivers waiting outside the terminal even at night time.

It was already 10:50pm when I finally arrived in Eva Macapagal Port and while riding the habal-habal, I was a little bit scared because the driver seemed drunk (or maybe he used redhorse as his perfume haha) and the road looked deserted and dark. I can't help but think about worst case scenarios but I just kept my cool and took my time appreciating the beauty of Surigao City. We passed by the road beside the sea under the shiny bright stars - and it was amazing! I was just praying and holding on to my monopod just incase.

6.) In Eva M. Macapagal terminal, you can buy your ticket going to Siargao. I arrived here at around 10:50pm and luckily, the ticket booth of Yohan Express was still open (or maybe they are 24hrs open). I got in and stayed in the terminal for the night until my boat departure time at 6am the next day.

7.) At 9am, I am finally in Siargao! I've met my friends and boom, it was the start of my fun-filled vacation.


Route
Amount
Travel time
Tacloban to Sogod (Van)
P150
3 hours
Sogod to Liloan (Jeepney)
P50
1 hour
Liloan to Lipata (Boat)
P360
2-3 hours
Lipata to Eva M. Macapagal Terminal (Habal-habal)
P100
30 mins
Eva M. Terminal to Siargao (Dapa)
P280
3 hours
Total
P940

For boat trip schedule, you can check out these sites:
Fastcat Boat Schedule Liloan to Lipata Surigao City
Surigao City to Siargao Boat Schedule

Basically, you have to arrive in Surigao City before 11AM because there are no boat schedule anymore in the afternoon from Surigao to Siargao.






Inside the Eva M. Macapagal Terminal. It looks nice. 

The best thing about the Eva M. Macapagal Terminal is the normal retail prices of their food and apparel items.





Check out my travel guide in this link --> Siargao Travel Guide 2018 - Suggested Itinerary and Expenses







How to go back to Tacloban from Siargao:

1.) Book your ticket in Dapa Port going back to Surigao City. My scheduled trip was at 11am because I didn't want to leave yet. You can also book an early schedule so you can arrive in Tacloban earlier.

2.) From Surigao City, ride a habal-habal going to Lipata Port.

3.) Just outside the port, you can buy boat tickets going to either Benit or Liloan. I chose Benit (San Ricardo) because it was already night time and there are lesser vehicles travelling to Tacloban from Liloan at night.

4.) Just outside the port of Benit, there was a bus waiting for passengers going to Tacloban. I'm not sure if this is always the case but I think I got lucky that night.

5.) At nearly 12am, I arrived home and had a good night sleep.



Route
Amount
Travel time
Siargao to Surigao City (boat)
P320
3 hours
Surigao City to Lipata Port (habal-habal)
P100
30 mins
Lipata Port to Benit (boat)
P140
1 hour
Benit to Tacloban (bus)
P370
5 hours
Total
P930

For boat trip schedule, you can check these sites:
Fastcar Boat Schedule Liloan to Lipata Surigao City
Lipata Surigao to Liloan Southern Leyte
Surigao City to Siargao Boat Schedule

For booking, you can call these numbers


Inside Dapa Port




Feel free to charge your gadgets here in Lipata Port

This is inside the boat from Lipata to Benit


Photo courtesy of Surigaoislands.com website / Fast Cat

Photo courtesy of Surigaoislands.com website

Overall, it was a really loooong travel but surprisingly, I wasn't exhausted at all. I enjoyed the long bus trip, uncomfortable jeepney ride and lengthy waiting time in every port/terminal. 

If you have any other suggestions or information that you can share, please free to comment down below. Thanks! :)


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Siargao Travel Guide 2018 - Suggested Itinerary and Expenses

Spending four days in Siargao was one of the best and happy days of my 2018. It is a beautiful island with the coolest people on ea...