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Sunday, August 16, 2015

#YOLOILO: 4D3N Gigantes Island and Guimaras + Iloilo City

booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n, Ilonggo, SEAFDEC, turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops, capital, cheap, affordable, accommodation, hideaway resort, raymen beach
Beautiful sunset in Gigantes Island

The Iloilo province has tons of breathtaking natural wonders that are worth seeing; not to mention its many cultural and historical landmarks that make the province a cut from the rest.

And just off Iloilo's coast is the island province of Guimaras, once part of Iloilo but now an independent province. Also a Philippine gem, waiting to be discovered.

Detailed itinerary at the end of this post.

Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n
Estancia Port, our gateway to Gigantes Islands

Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, Cabugao, Tangke, Gamay, VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n
Shoreline of Islas de Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo

Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, Cabugao, Tangke, Gamay, VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n
Enjoying the bumpy boat ride to Gigantes Islands

GIGANTES ISLANDS

A lot of beautiful beaches and serene islands can be found scattered across the province of Iloilo.

One of the most popular islands is Islas de Gigantes (Gigantes Islands) in Carles which is home to the picturesque Cabugao Gamay Island and Sandbar.

turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops, capital, cheap, affordable, accommodation, hideaway resort,
Playing with the GoPro while in a sandbar in Gigantes

turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops, capital, cheap, affordable, accommodation, hideaway resort,

Super cheap and fresh seafood also await you in Gigantes. I found out that Gigantes is tagged as the scallops capital of the Philippines. The island is known for its odd-shaped Wasay-wasay shell and a whole lot more edible ocean breed.

TIP: Seafood prices here are much more affordable than in the city proper, so while you are here, just pig-out and feast on as if there's no tomorrow! :D

Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, VisitPH2015, Cabugao, Tangke, Gamay, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n, Ilonggo, SEAFDEC, turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops
See those rocks we're stepping on? They're not rocks actually, but scallop shells

While you're in the island, the best way to go around and explore the community is through a habal habal (motorbike). For a cheap amount (P20 - 30), you can have a personal motorbike driver who can take you anywhere you want in the island.


Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n, Ilonggo, SEAFDEC, turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops
Riding the habal-habal like a pro! :D

Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n, Ilonggo, SEAFDEC, turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops
Entrance to the lighthouse

Gigantes Island, Carles, Western Visayas, VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n, Ilonggo, SEAFDEC, turtle sanctuary, reasearch institute, scallops
A scenic view of the beach and the coastline

GUIMARAS ISLAND

From Iloilo City, all it takes is a 15-20 minute boat ride to get you to Guimaras Island - known for producing the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines. Guimaras has a lot of worth-seeing spots and activities such as crowdless & serene white sand beaches, trekking sites, and marine life santuaries.

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary
Raymen Beach Resort

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary
We visited a monastery in Guimaras where a souvenir shop maintained by the monks is located.

Guimaras Island is home to a marine research and breeding site. The Igang Marine Station (IMS) of SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department studies and breeds various commercially significant aquatic species such as tiger prawns and milkfish.

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary
Fish feeding time!

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, seafdec, marine, santuary, research, iloilo, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary
Geez look at those ginormous milkfishes!

Of course, a stay in Guimaras Island will not be complete without a visit to the famous Pitstop Restaurant serving mango-infused dishes and delicacies. I personally tried their mango pizza and mango spaghetti. They also have mango Bulalo, mango ketchup, and more!

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, mango pizza, mango ketchup, mango spaghetti, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary
Mango Pizza

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, mango pizza, mango ketchup, mango spaghetti, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary
Mango Spaghetti

Guimaras, gigantes, seafdec, mango, sweet, raymen beach, island hopping, mango pizza, mango ketchup, mango spaghetti, 4d3n, 4 days 3 nights, itinerary, pitstop restaurant
Entrance of Pitstop Restaurant

ILOILO CITY

Iloilo City is one of Philippines' tourist-favorite destinations because of its sumptuous signature cuisine, festive traditions & nightlife, shopping districts and historical sites. It is known to many because of its yearly Dinagyang Festival, a religious and cultural festival held every 4th weekend of January where people in unique and colorful costumes perform street dances.

Food is absolutely one of Iloilo City’s famous facet. Be sure not to miss out on fresh seafood and Iloilo’s signature dishes, especially La Paz Batchoy.

VisitPH2015, travel itinerary, booking confirmation, Iloilo, Province, 4 days 3 nights, 4d3n, Ilonggo, la paz batchoy, netongs, original batchoy, food
The ever famous Netong's La Paz Batchoy, where it all started.


Follow me on Instagram @enjayneer for real-time travel updates! :)

Detailed Itinerary:

CONTACTS:
Gigantes Tour/Boat/Hideaway Resort - Kuya Tawi: 0939-258-3756
Guimaras Boat (Ortiz Port to Jordan Wharf and vice versa) - Kuya Hercules: 0948-601-4240
Raymen Beach Resort, Guimaras - 0918-520-7271 or 0927-560-5107
Highway 21 Hotel, Iloilo City - 0917-722-4321

DAY 1 (GIGANTES)
0400 Iloilo airport arrival

  • COMMUTE OPTION 1: Shuttle outside airport to Jaro Plaza, look for Andoks at the opposite side of the cathedral, then ride Leganes jeep going to Tagbak)
  • COMMUTE OPTION 2: Taxi to Tagbak terminal (approx. P400 –P500)
0500 ETA Tagbak terminal
0800 ETA Estancia Port
0900 Start Island tour going to Isla de Gigantes (approx 2.5 hours boat ride to island) + lunch + hotel check-in (Hideaway Resort)

Gigantes all in expenses (island hopping, lunch, breakfast, boat transfers) – P1,900/head (10pax)
Day 1 expenses: P1900/pax (all-in tour, accom, lunch) + MT*

*MT = Meal and transportation


DAY 2 (GIGANTES to ILOILO CITY)
0700 Breakfast at Hideaway Resort
0800 Island hopping continuation
1100 Lunch
1200 ETD Hideaway Resort
1400 ETA Estancia port
1700 ETA Iloilo. Check-in at Highway 21 or Sarabia Charter Pension house.
1800 Dinner at Asian Spoon (Atria Park) or Tatoy's Manokan (Villa Beach)
2000 Back to hotel

Day 2 expenses: P280/pax (accomm) + MT
Highway 21 rates:

http://www.ann2.net/hotels/highway21/
Sarabia Charter Pension rates:

http://www.stayiniloilo.com/pension.php?stay=42&accommodation=Sarabia-Charter-Pension-House

DAY 3 (GUIMARAS)
0700 Breakfast
0800 Ortiz Port (Hotel to Ortiz: Ride jeep Villa Sta Cruz/Baybay route – P7 fare)
0830 ETA Guimaras Island + Check-in at Raymen Hotel
0900 onwards: Island hopping, wind mills etc.
Overnight at Raymen

Day 3 expenses: P340 (accomm) + P95 + P20 (950 island hopping + 200 tip) = P455/pax + MT
Raymen room rates:

http://www.raymenresort.com/lowseason_rates.php
Room for 8pax without breakfast = P2,800 (300 additional per extra pax / 200 extra bed)

DAY 4 (GUIMARAS TO ILOILO CITY)
0800 Breakfast
0900 Back in Iloilo City
1000 ETA Ortiz Port
1000 onwards - FREE to roam around Iloilo with the following suggested destinations:

  • Ride tricycle going to Iloilo City Hall
  • Visit Plaza Libertad and Calle Real (walking distance)
  • Ride Jaro CPU jeepney going to Lapaz Market. Coffee at Madge and Batchoy at Netong's. From Calle Real going to Lapaz Market you will pass by Capitol and Iloilo Museum.
  • From Lapaz Market ride Jaro CPU jeep going to Jaro Plaza. Visit Jaro Cathedral and Biscocho House for the pasalubong.
  • From Jaro Plaza ride Leganes Jeep going to Sm City so you can leave your bags at the dept. store baggage counter.
  • Lunch at Jo's Inato (chicken inasal) or Ponsyon (seafood) at Plazuela de Iloilo. It's right beside SM City.
  • Dessert at Maridel's also at Plazuela de Iloilo. Or Desserts In The Sky (approx. 500m away).
  • From Plazuela you can walk going to Atria Park then Smallville until you reach River Esplanade. If you don't want to walk, you can ride Leganes or Mandurriao jeep to River Esplanade (just tell the driver). Travel time is less than 5 mins. via jeep from Plazuela going to Esplanade.
  • You can walk from Esplanade going to Molo Church. The park is 2.5km long.
  • Last stop is Molo Church. Also try Joanns Fishball near Andoks.
  • From Molo Church you can ride a taxi going to SM City. It's around 80 to 100 pesos. 
  • Get bags at SM. Proceed to terminal at SM as there are van services there going to the airport. Fare is 75 pesos.
1500 ETD SM Iloilo
1600 ETA Iloilo airport
1855 ETD for Manila
2000 ETA NAIA



Saturday, August 1, 2015

My 13 Favorite ILOCOS Destinations: Kapurpurawan, Vigan, Windmills, Paoay, MORE!

Windmills of Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Ilocos is approximately 400km away from Manila, or to give you a more imaginable data, it's about 8-9 hours travel by land. Ilocos is divided into Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur provinces. Well, enough of the wiki facts! Let me tell you about my personal experience! :D

Ilocos is marked by an incredibly rich cultural heritage. It is where the old meets the new. Aside from the cultural experience, Ilocos is also home to some of the most breath-taking sceneries in the North - perfect for nature-lovers and adrenaline junkies. And delicious food, by the way!!

Let me go through these items one by one.

1. Ilocos Norte Welcome Arch

One of the tourist-popular sites you will first encounter the moment you enter Ilocos is the Ilocos Norte Welcome Arch. You can ask your driver to park at the side of the street for a quick photo op with the famous Ilocos landmark.


2. Bantay Bell Tower

Bantay Church is a well-known pilgrimage among Catholics because it houses the miraculous image of Apo Caridad (Our Lady of Charity), the oldest Marian icon in the region. Going up the church' bell tower was fulfilling and relaxing.


One of the bells up the tower. These bells are huge!!



Beautiful view of Vigan as the dawn breaks


3. Paoay Church

One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, The Church of St. Augustine, more popularly known as Paoay Church is one of the star destinations in Ilocos.


Let me tell you one interesting fact about the church: Did you know that the bell tower of Paoay Church is made from corals? Look closely at the pictures for you to find out!



4. The MalacaƱang of the North

The MalacaƱang of the North used to be the official residence of President Ferdinand Marcos during his term, and now serves as a public museum. Nice place to drop by if you are into colonial mansions as this one is well-preserved and regularly maintained.



5. Marcos Museum and Mausoleum

The mausoleum houses the remains of the late Ferdinand Marcos. The Marcoses memorabilia can be found inside the museum.


6. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as Burgos Lighthouse, is a cultural heritage structure in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, that was established during the Spanish Colonial period. A winding road from the highway to the hilltop will take you to the lighthouse. It has a nice view of the ocean and cliffs off the coast.


 
7. Paoay Sand Dunes

This is one of my favorite activities! For only 500 pesos per head for a group of 5, you get to experience an extreme 4x4 ride in the sand dunes. You also can also try sand boarding if you feel like sliding down the sandy terrain.

WARNING: Be sure to hold tight because the 4x4 ride can scare the hell out of you especially on sloping areas of the dunes! It's like a crazy roller coaster ride! FUN!


8. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Nature's beauty at its finest. The white rocks of Kapurpurawan in Burgos, Ilocos Norte were sculpted through time by the forces of the wind, rain water, and ocean waves. "Puraw" in Ilocano means "white".

The rocks are whitest during April to May. Definitely worth the long walk under the scorching heat of the sun.

See my Instagram video of the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation.




9. Kabigan Falls

Kabigan Falls is found deep in the forest of Ilocos Norte. It takes about 30 minutes of trek to get you to this 120-feet high waterfall. It's breathtaking!


10. Giant Windmills of Bangui

There are over a hundred of these giant windmills in Ilocos. Each stands 70+ meters high and each blade measures 41 meters long. The windmills are a source of sustainable energy that provides 40% of Ilocos Norte's electricity.

Jumpshot!! :D


11. Pagudpud Beach

After a tiring road trip around Ilocos, a relaxing dip through the crystal blue waters and fine sand of Pagudpud beach would be a superb idea! Here you can do zip-lining, banana boat ride, surfing, or a chill sunbathing by the beach.


12. Calle Crisologo

Vigan, one of the New7Wonder cities of the world is a city rich in centuries-old history. A walk though Vigan's Calle Crisologo is absolutely recommended if you wish to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the Philippine-Spanish colonial time.

TIP: you might want to wake up early and visit Calle Crisologo just after sunrise because it gets too crowded during lunch time 'til evening.



13. Ilocano Food

Empanada, Pinakbet Pizza, Poqui-poqui, and Dinakdakan are some of the must-try food in Ilocos. My personal favorite is Dinakdakan!

For Pinakbet Pizza, I suggest you try it at Herencia Cafe in front of Paoay Church simply because of the stunning view of the UNESCO church while you eat. Adds more drama. :)

For authentic Ilocano food, I highly recommend:
Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant | must-try: dinakdakan, poqui poqui, and tamarind Juice
- La Preciosa Fine Dining | must-try: bagnet, and carrot cake - super delicious!!


Follow me on Instagram @enjayneer for real-time travel updates! :)

Detailed Itinerary:

DAY 0
2000 Assembly Time (KFC SHOPWISE ARANETA CENTER, CUBAO)
2100 ETD Manila to Laoag

DAY 1
0530 ETA Laoag
0600 Laoag City Tour

 - Bantay Bell Tower
 - Paoay Sand Dunes
 - Malacanang of the North 
 - Paoay Church 
 - Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
1200 Lunch
1300 Continuation of tour
1600 Hotel check-in

DAY 2
0700 Breakfast
0800 Northern-Pagudpud Tour

 - Burgos Lighthouse
 - Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
 - Bangui Windmills
1200 Lunch
1300 Continuation of tour
 - Kabigan Falls (30 minutes hike)
 - Patapat Viaduct
 - Pagudpud Beach
1700 Back to hotel

DAY3
0700 Breakfast
0800 Vigan City Tour: Calle Crisologo, Baluarte ni Singsong, shopping
1200 Lunch
1300 ETD Manila
2200 ETA Manila



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Talk soon!
- Jaypee