Manila: This place would have never made it to my list had I not lived here. The most underrated city in South East Asia. The Makati part of the city is like any First World city. Intramurous is your gateway to the Spanish era. The glitzy Gloriatas, Greenbelts, Mall of Asia would confuse you if you were in USA or in Philippines. Unlike its South East Asian counterparts, everybody speaks English. Filipinos are the most humble and courteous people in the world. Music and basketball runs in the veins of Filipinos. The old part of Manila is chaotic like any other developing country city but the beauty of the place lies once you hit the highway. The close proximity to beaches and having over 7000 islands make it a must visit place. The only negatives about the city is its traffic and no direct flight from India. Do check out my articles on Philippines, Bohol, Fortune Island, Puerto Galera for more information.Hope this top solo travel friendly destinations post inspires you to take that leap of faith and move on with your Solo Travel. Happy solo travels!This post was originally published on TRAVEL SEE WRITE.
Though the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) has a lot to offer visitors, most people make the trip from Puerto Princesa only to see the underground river, which is heavily celebrated as one of the new seven wonders of the natural world. Also part of UNESCO history, the river is now a huge source of pride to the Philippines. The subterranean river system is 8.2km long and has several large chambers, up to 120m wide and 60m high. It flows underground almost the entire length, and empties into the ocean, so the lower part of the river is brackish (a mix of fresh and salt water) and subject to tidal influence, which makes it a natural phenomenon. When the sun is shining, the brackish water is known to turn an eye-popping bright blue-green (more green than blue). The river isn’t the only attraction of the PPSRNP though, as the beach by the mouth of the cave features an impressive karst landscape, and the old-growth forest that fills the park is full of exotic flora and fauna. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw a handful of large monitor lizards crawling around, forked tongues darting about! Since the river was given the honor of being one of the new seven wonders of nature, there was a huge jump in the amount of daily visitors, so much that a cap has been put into law for preservation reasons, which allows only 900 tourists a day into the subterranean river… but that seems to be largely flexible depending on the clout and amount of pesos you hold.
It was May 2011 when I, Rose and Hazel decided to explore Cebu, Bohol and Camiguin. It was summer then so it was a perfect season to visit the said three places. Welcome to Cebu City! Hazel lived in Cebu at that time so she waited for us (Rose and me) to arrive in Cebu. Rose and I boarded Cokaliong from Surigao to Cebu and we arrived in Cebu at 6:00 AM. Hazel fetched us and rest for a while in her house. After an hour, our mission started, which is to explore some interesting spots in Cebu. First stopped, Church.
If you are finding paradise on Earth, Tagaytay is the answer to your quest. The city overlooks Taal Lake and provides an iconic view of the Taal volcano. This geographical wonder has a volcano within a lake within a volcano. Though Taal is world’s smallest active volcano, the iconic view along the lake is breathtaking. It is a perfect place for rejuvenating. Palace In The Sky acts as a vantage area for viewing the Taal Volcano. Don’t miss the five-hectare Flower Farm which has many varieties of flowers, such as chrysanthemums, gerberas, carnations, roses, etc.
Vigan, a small town 203.1 km away from Sagada, is a wonder. This is the most charming city of Philippines due to the rustic old architecture influenced by Spanish colonization. The Spanish captured and settled in Vigan in 1572, and it soon became a centre of Spanish political and religious power in the north of Luzon. The Mestizo District offers a peek into the Philippines' colonial past. The ancestral houses were mostly built by blending local, Asian and Spanish architectural styles. The old houses and cobblestone streets are not something you get to see each day. The horse carriages add to the feeling of being transferred to an old era in time. You can learn to mold pots or visit St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral, an earthquake baroque styled cathedral. As the name suggests, the design is intended to minimize earthquake damage. You can also see Plaza Salcedo, some city buildings and beautiful fountain in this area.
I passed by Rizal Park and San Sebastian Cathedral. The rain regained its might on my way to the Capitol and what should have been a garden ceremony became an indoor event. Imagine fitting about 3000 delegates inside the Capitol . In the end, others were downstairs on tents, some in alleys, in stairs and anywhere we could possibly fit. Lucky for me, I found a place in one of the verandas. Then while hailing a cab as I retire for the night, the sight of BC00 marker concluded my short Bacolod trip.
if you want to go to Samal but no plan to see beach (if you have a trauma seeing beach) and don’t want to see many people. This is your option.
Early in the morning of December 4, we rode the jeepney from Tinglayan to Bontoc (Php 20.00). We had breakfast at the hotel and I paid Php 105.00 for my food and coffee. There, we also got the chance to charge our phones and camera batteries and, while at it, encountered the creepy man of Bontoc.
This was by far one of the scariest thing that we’ve ever done (besides doing the bungy in New Zealand)! It was scary maybe because there were very limited measures taken to ensure one’s safety. As it was a real cave with lots of bats living inside it, the ground was mostly moist and slippery. Plus we were only wearing flip flops! But besides all that, it was really very exciting! It felt like an underwater theme park! There were times when we had to swing like Tarzan from rock to rock using a rope, wade through chest-deep waters (with no idea what funny creatures that could be living in the water) and cliff jumped. All these were done without any harnesses! One slip and that’s it…..
The gate of Capas Municipal Hall, Mc Donalds Capas Junction or depending upon the final decision, is the meet up point from where our day's journey will begin. From here after an initial briefing and check, we will head to the dispatching point, where our permits will be checked and final clearances taken. From the dispatching point we will board 4x4 jeeps to go through the Crow Valley, to arrive at the Lipit Station, from where our actual trek will start. This drive through the ash filled, rocky terrain full of rivers is very scenic. This volcanic valley is unlike any other scenery, devoid of much greenery, but it is truly a different kind of beautiful.
On our way to Nueva Valencia, I saw a Macopo Falls marker. The adventurous me jolted with glee and without qualms, I inquired with Kuya Roque, our driver guide. Instead of Mocopo, he offered Sad Sad Falls, which according to him is far taller than Macopo except that we need to trek for about 10 minutes. Excited and all, we entered a narrow road leading to the jump-off. In less than 10 minutes, Sad Sad’s might completed my Guimaras stance.
Far from Coron, but worth the travel.
Upon arrival in Tinglayan, we had lunch at our hosts’ place, paid our guide a total of Php 2,000 each (Php 500.00 per day x 3 days, Php 500.00 tip) and spent the rest of the day re-packing our stuff and enjoyed exchanging “pick-up lines” with the kids and re-charged for the next leg of our trip.
I especially liked the views from Radar Tukon just outside of Basco and Ruins of Songsong, ruins of a barangay, abandoned in the 50s after a tsunami struck with disastrous effect. Songsong is a bit farther from Basco on a beautiful beach that would be otherwise dreamlike, but has a ghostly feel thanks to the roofless, empty homes.
A visit to Batanes is incomplete without seeing Sabtang. Of the three islands, this is the smallest inhabited. On our third day in Batanes, we were picked up at 6 am and was sent to San Vicente Port / Radiwan Port in Ivatan, we took the motorize boat: Falowa to Sabtang Island. There are only 2 boat trips in morning so make sure to reach there on time (before 7:30am). After 30 minutes Falowa Ride, we arrived at Sabtang Port: Sabtang is at the southernmost island municipality of the Batanes group of islands which is composed primarily of Sabtang Island, as well as two nearby smaller and uninhabited islands: Ivuhos and Dequey. The municipality is known for its lighthouse and the old stone houses of the Ivatan villages in Chavayan and Savidug. Malakdang Lighthouse is prominently seen from the port -
Oslob Old Church also known as Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Conception was one of the Oldest Churches in Cebu City. It was gutted by fire years ago leaving only the Spanish Architecture. When I visited the place it was already reconstructed through the efforts of the concerned locals. Locals believe that this century old church was intended as a station for pirates. Beside the church is their Ruins. These two Spanish Infrastructure that still exist in Oslob are very interesting to visit. There are a lot of benches, the Carabao grass carpeted in the park, splashing sound of the waves in near seashore, and breathtaking view of vast sea horizon. How to get there: Just take a Bus in Cebu City South Bus Terminal anytime because there's a lot of trip going/passing Oslob. Just inform the Driver to drop you off at Oslob Market. Enjoy the view! Enjoy your travel!
Every once in while you find a place a little off the tourist radar. Bantayan Island is one such place. I have traveled around a lot in the Philippines and have been to some pretty neat places but when I decided to visit Bantayan Island I could not have known that I would chance upon a place of such serenity. There isn’t much here. Not a lot of tourists, no malls, no people asking you to buy condos or discos blaring dance music. There are only a couple of towns worth any size on the island, one being Bantayan town and the other Sante Fe. Bantayan city has the only ATM where foreign transactions are allowed and they only take a Visa card. They have a nice market, a fabulous old church with lots of history, a few local restaurants and a couple of cock fighting arenas. I experienced my first cock fight in Bantayan and will post more on that later. What you won’t find are McDonalds, Jollibee, Dunkin Donuts or any other fast food joint. However the people are some of the friendliest I have ever encountered. The Philippines in general is very hospitable but the people on Bantayan Island seem to be more friendly than most. And this a place where you can experience true island life. Compared to Filipino standards I am a bug dude and stand tall at 6'1" and sometimes stand out and get a lot of looks when I am here. I get stares when I walk down the streets in Manila or anywhere else. On Bantayan island there are a lot of tricycle drivers, the non-motorized kind. So imagine their concern when I squeeze my big ass into a trike and tell them to peddle me to town. They sweat their ass off and I get lots of looks and giggles along the way. I also get people waving and saying hello and greeting me everywhere I go. At least 4 times while walking around I have been asked to sit and have a drink. I walked past an older woman picking up coconuts in her yard the other day and when I waved she dropped everything, smiled and waved back. Little kids say hello and so far wit
This is one of the most photographed spot in Batanes, famous for its stone / rock arch formation in a private cove. It is our last stop in Sabtang before we head back to the port to take a boat back to Batan island. Afternoon waves are very rough and causes sea sickness to the passengers.
Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct, Kabigan Falls
At night you can go to bars or restaurants on the beach with your friends and experience the chill ambience. Weekends are the time most bars are busy with customers and sometimes they hold parties. I suggest staying at San Juan, La Union for minimum 2 days specially if you go there alone. Why? First, It’s easy to interact with locals and get new friends. They are very friendly and won’t hesitate to invite you for a party at the beach or bars. Second, try other activities such as hike along the Arosip Eco Trail in Bacnotan. There are waterfalls, Balay Anito Falls in the town of Santol, and Lon-Oy Springs in Barangay Lon-Oy and Bayabas in San Gabriel. For now in the low season, what you can do are paddle boarding, snorkeling, enjoy sunbathing under the blazing sun, and party at bars on the weekends.
We enjoyed the beautiful creations of the community.