This December I got the chance to visit The Philippines. For two weeks I traveled around two of her prettiest islands: Cebu and Palawan.
Traveling to Asia in December is a tradition I would like to maintain. Escaping the cold at home, escaping the gloomy, dark days and visiting a paradise-like destination for one last time before the year ends.
The Philippines is a relatively undiscovered paradise, showing a large part of ‘real’ Asia. The country deserves more tourism. Her beautiful, paradise looking, lush sceneries definitely deserve more attention.
While a lot of people don’t dare to go to The Philippines because it has the reputation of being an unsafe travel destination me and my friend took the plunge, and flew over to the island group.
I already wrote two articles about The Philippines (Everything You Need To Know About Backpacking Through The Philippines and Visiting Heavenly Puerto Princesa) but before I wanted to share any more, I just want to take a moment to stop and stare at my photos, and tell you guys about my trip through Palawan and Cebu!
So here you go: a little photo diary of my adventures in The Philippines!
ABOVE After a flight of 25-something hours (with a layover in Beijing) we arrived in our hostel in Manilla at 3AM. We fell fast asleep and I literally think this has been the most grateful I’ve ever been seeing a bed. The day after we immediately took a flight to Puerto Princesa, in Palawan, where we stayed in this hotel (Panya Resort). Such a dream!
BELOW We spent one full day in Puerto Princesa and decided to book two tours: during the day we went island hopping – at night we went to see fireflies. I don’t have any photos of the fireflies though, as they were so hard to photograph!
ABOVE Some photos of the island hopping in Puerto Princesa!
BELOW After taking the bus to El Nido from out Puerto Princesa, we headed straight off to the beach. That bus ride though, jesus, that was one heavy bus ride. I am not one to get travel sickness quickly but that was quite something. In El Nido we hopped into a tricycle and drove off to Marimegmeg – a beach close to the center of El Nido.
BELOW We chilled at the beach until it was time to head out to dinner. We heard some great things about the Sunset Bar, which was just around the corner, and decided to give it a try! The food at the Sunset Bar was amazing (they serve tapas dishes) – not even talking about the view yet!
ABOVE The day after we booked an island hopping tour. Something you MUST do when visiting El Nido: really, the best places in El Nido are discovered when snorkeling and swimming! Above you see the photos of the beach in El Nido, from where we took off with our little boat.
BELOW Some shots I took while island hopping.
BELOW Even though I took a couple of shots while island hopping, most of the footage was filmed with my GoPro. I made a video out of it. P.s. Only the intro is Dutch, you will enjoy the rest of the video!:-)
ABOVE After having a busy day of island hopping we decided to spend the day at yet another beach to relax, chill and swim for a bit. We went to Nacpan beach after hearing so much good stories about it – it didn’t disappoint!
BELOW Somewhere this day or the day before I ate something really bad and got a enormous food poisoning. So I spent the next night and day extremely sick, and just stayed in at our hostel in El Nido. Below you’ll see a photo of the view from our balcony. Not bad right? It sucks to get food poisoning in such a beautiful place, while you want to do so much exploring. But I guess it’s part of the Asia experience, right?
ABOVE On our last day in El Nido I felt a bit better, so after paddle boarding and kayaking we decided to go to the beach – to do something fun but also easy. When we headed back we stumbled upon this resort called Greenview Resort. It had the perfect beach restaurant. Such a quiet, beautiful place to enjoy dinner while watching the sunset!
BELOW We flew from El Nido to Cebu the morning after. Let me just say: El Nido has the funniest little airport. Unfortunately I didn’t take photos but the airport literally wasn’t more than a small wooden hut. It didn’t even have an actual entrance or actual walls! In Cebu City we stayed at the Bayfront Hotel for one night before heading over to Boljoon.
ABOVE Our room in the Bayfront Hotel
BELOW From out Cebu City we took the bus to Boljoon. We stayed at the Noordzee Hostel, one of the prettiest hostels I’ve ever slept! I mean, just look at the view!
ABOVE Sunsets in Boljoon
BELOW Visiting the Tumalog Falls. At times like this I wished I brought a wide angled lens. This waterfall was impossible to photograph.
BELOW In Boljoon we chilled a lot at our hostel and at the beach. We visited some waterfalls but also had a couple of setbacks. We wanted to do the whaleshark diving, however after waiting for hours they told us we couldn’t swim with them because Miss Universe was going to swim with them, so the tours were cancelled. I mean.. yeah. I did get to see Miss Universe though;-).
After this we wanted to go canyoneering at the Kawasan falls, but after driving around for over an hour we couldn’t find a working ATM (which seems normal at The Philippines – onto this point we hadn’t found a normal functioning ATM). So we basically spent our entire day searching and waiting for things that in the end didn’t happen. Oh well, not to worry, there was still another beautiful sunset in Boljoon waiting for us!
ABOVE The next day we traveled to Oslob again for the whaleshark diving experience. No Miss Universe today, so we were good to go. Little did I know it felt so wrong to do.
When walking up to the beach from out where all the boats left, we already spotted the whalesharks. They were only 10/20 meters away from the beach! I also saw about 20 boats, packed with tourists, almost parked on top of the whalesharks. Tourists were jumping in and out of the water trying to take a photograph with the giants, secretly touching them when the guides weren’t looking.
Before booking the tour I already heard that not everybody is a big fan of the whaleshark diving experience in Oslob. I never thought of it as a problem since the whalesharks are free to swim away whenever they can – unlike the Elephant riding in Thailand for example. But seeing the tour, the tour guides and the whalesharks in real life I realized that this wasn’t exactly the case.
In no way it felt ‘ethically responsible’ to swim with them on this tour and that is why I strongly discourage you to swim with the whalesharks in Oslob yourself. After the tour I found this article that told me exactly what I already thought after seeing the whalesharks. So please read this article before considering booking the tour.
ABOVE The Kawasan Falls! Gosh this fall looks so pretty! In the end we choose not to do the Canyoneering tour at the Kawasan Falls because it was a bit more expensive then we’ve hoped for. So we just walked to the Kawasan Falls ourselves.
The Kawasan Falls really are pretty. However, what I found really disappointing was everything that was happening behind the camera: almost right on top of the waterfall you’ll find a restaurant and a bunch of tables. To take place at one of these tables you have to rent it, just as you have to rent a locker, life vests and watershoes. Oh, and do you see the wooden raft close to the waterfall? Yeah, you have to pay around 600 peso (around €12,00) to sit on it!
ABOVE Another photo of the Kawasan Falls! After visiting the Kawasan Falls we headed over to the Bayfront Hotel in Cebu City once more before flying back to Manilla. In Cebu City we stopped at the SM City Mall – probably the biggest mall I’ve ever seen, and booked an hour long massage at our hotel. Really – heaven.
We flew back to Manilla the day after and had the best night with some guys in our hostel. The best way to say goodbye to such a beautiful country!