Alas! The holiday’s over and I can only be thankful that it happened so I won’t have to sulk on the fact that I am now back in Doha. It was an incredible holiday for The Greek Mister and myself, one of the best perhaps and it’s all thanks to my family and friends for being with us during most of those days.
Our recent travel to the Philippines made me realize that our country is doing all the best they can to make the Philippines a good travel destination and that’s something to be proud of. We arrived at the new NAIA Terminal 3 which was so much better compared to the worst airport in the world known to be as NAIA Terminal 1. The roads and infrastructures around the Metro Manila area are being developed even further and I was mostly appreciative of the now very wide South Expressway. Traffic has been a little bit lessened (except for Sucat and Paranaque area) and that for me, is definitely a sign of progress.
The loveliness, hospitality and the warm smiles of the Filipino people also made a huge impact on me during this trip. Having lived for 7 years in the Middle East where everyone’s stressed, seeing the happy faces of the Filipinos made me realize how blessed we truly are. The service in most of the places we’ve visited was beyond remarkable and it was the first time, for a very long time, for me to see people giving out an incredible customer service like they truly mean it. From the security guards who would stop the traffic for our car to pass to the waitresses at some of the small family-owned restaurants we dined in, service was given to us with warm and heartfelt smiles. This trip made me more proud that I am a Filipino.
The first few days of our trip was centered on a wedding of a friend we attended in Tagaytay, a destination which normally is just a weekend getaway and not for a 5-day stay which is what we did. I personally wouldn’t recommend a 5-day stay in Tagaytay unless you’re planning to base yourself there to explore some other nearby places and also, to enjoy the colder weather of this mountainous area of the Southern Tagalog.
12-Day Itinerary To The Philippines
Day 1: Doha – Dubai – Manila – Tagaytay
We took an Emirates Flight from Doha because I still have my loyalty towards my previous employer, hah! Seriously speaking though, it’s a lot cheaper than some other airlines from Doha due mainly of the stopover that this trip will have in Dubai. It was a 4-hour stopover which we happily spent at Mc Gettigan’s inside Dubai airport. :p
We arrived Manila at 4pm the next day and my brother picked us up from the new NAIA Terminal 3 and drove straight to Tagaytay to meet my family. We arrived Tagaytay at almost 7pm and proceeded to Bawai, a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant which offered the best grilled pork belly I have ever had for a very long time (be reminded that I live in a place where pork is banned).
After our very hearty dinner, we proceeded to our hotel which we’ll be staying at for 4 nights – the very cozy and beautiful Joaquin’s Bed and Breakfast which offers a magnificent view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.
Emirates Economy Flight: AED5980.00 (AED2990.00 per person)
Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen Dinner: Paid for by my aunt. Yipppeee! 🙂
Joaquin’s Bed and Breakfast 5D/4N stay: PHP21200.00
Related Blog Posts:
Joaquin’s Bed and Breakfast
Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen
Day 2: Tagaytay
It was a Saturday and I have scheduled to meet my friends at Bag of Beans Tagaytay for this day. I have heard a lot of this famed coffee house but I’ve never really been there until that day. It was cozy and the outdoor seating was fantastic. As we had just had our breakfast from our hotel, I wasn’t really in the mood to eat anything – not even a drink. My friends raved about the quality of food though so I guess the food’s as good as the restaurant itself.
At around 5pm, we went to Dencio’s where we were to treat my friends for dinner to celebrate our 7-month late wedding reception with my friends. We stayed there until closing time which was quite too early (10:30pm) ordering all sorts of beer bucket deals paired with some appetizers. Needless to say, we went home drunk and merry.
Bag of Beans: PHP450 (The Greek Mister had a BOB Fried Chicken with iced espresso)
Dencio’s: PHP7,700 for a party of 18 people. Not bad hey?
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Missing Friends From Home
Day 3: Tagaytay Wedding
We attended my friend’s wedding at Caleruega church in Nasugbu, Batangas followed by a lavish reception at Splendido. The drinks at the reception were very watered down so we all craved for more. We spent the rest of the night drinking at our friends’ booked hotel called MC Mountain Home Apartelle and finished our drinking session, drunk and merry again, at around 3am.
Did you know that the alcohol in the Philippines is just as expensive as in Dubai? Well at least the Jack Daniels that we bought from a 7-11 store.
Jack Daniels: PHP1500.00
Day 4: Tagaytay
Still a bit hungover, we met our friends at our hotel after they checked out from theirs. We proceeded to have our lunch at Mahogany Market. Famous for it’s carinderia style eatery which I was pretty sure that Greek Mister will love. He always wanted to dine where the locals would and not to fancy schmancy restaurants whenever we travel – gladly, I love doing the same. It was a feast! We ordered just about everything we saw on the stalls and of course I feasted on pork, mostly. Hah!
After the extremely heavy lunch, we went straight to Starbucks to have our coffee fix and crossed our fingers that the calories in the food we ate will be burnt by coffee immediately. Sadly, it didn’t happen as I could still feel my intestines trying to digest everything we ate when we met my family for dinner that day at Mesa restaurant.
Mesa restaurant is a modern Filipino restaurant offering traditional cuisines with a twist. Their lechon wrapped in pandan leaves was incredible! 🙂
Mahogany Market lunch: PHP700 (PHP350 per person)
Starbucks coffee: PHP300 for 2 drinks
Mesa restaurant dinner: paid for by my aunt! Yipppeeee again!
Day 5: Tagaytay – Bohol – Cebu
On our 5th day, we went on our way to Binan to meet my brother who will drive us to the airport. Normally, it would take an hour tops to reach Binan from Tagaytay but because we got lost (thanks to me) and the Greek Mister was abiding the traffic rules (which is not really the norm in the Philippines) it took us about 2 hours and a half to reach Binan. Lol.
My brother then drove us to the airport for our flight to Bohol now to make this little trip more enjoyable, Philippine Airlines decided to fly back to Manila as we couldn’t land at Tagbilaran Airport due to an aircraft facing technical difficulties. That’s quite an interesting adventure which you should all read here.
So without any other choice, we flew to Cebu instead and booked Mandarin Plaza Hotel in Cebu at the very last minute. It was a blessing in disguise though as The Greek Mister fell in love with Cebu the moment our cab driver started our journey from the airport to our hotel. Cebu is a much nicer, much cleaner with less traffic and congestion compared to Manila. I have forgotten how beautiful Cebu is until that day. The people are also much nicer too plus, the cab drivers will immediately turn their meter on and will not try to loot their customers. I love Cebu and I think we’ll go there next time we visit the Philippines.
We had our dinner at Mooon Cafe at The Walk at Cebu IT Park. Here we had the much-awaited crispy pata. Yum! Thankfully, I didn’t have indigestion from all of the pork I’ve been eating since I arrived. :p
Full tank of diesel for our borrowed van from my cousin: PHP1300
Philippine Airlines Flight (MNLTAGMNL): PHP8162.00 for 2 passengers
Taxi fare from CEB airport to Mandarin Plaza Hotel: PHP242.00
Mandarin Plaza Hotel 1N stay: PHP2143.00
Dinner at Mooon Cafe: PHP1075.00
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Day 6: Cebu – Tagbilaran
We left the hotel at around 10am to catch the ferry going to Tagbilaran which leaves at 11:40am. The hotel was only about 20 minutes away from the pier so there was time for us to buy our ferry tickets. The ferry was actually nice and the ride was only for about 2 hours. Once we’ve arrived at Tagbilaran port, a representative from Amorita resort was waiting for us to drive us up to the resort.
Amorita resort was incredible, just what I have expected it to be. After changing into our swimsuits, we proceeded to Alona Beach and spent a few hours on the waters of Panglao. We went to Magileo Grande afterwards for a light lunch and some beer. Here, I had a taste of Bohol’s famous tanigue kilawin and San Mig Light’s Apple Beer. I wasn’t a big fan of the kilawin but that apple beer was amazing!
After our lunch, we walked back to our hotel to take a shower and for no apparent reason, both the Greek Mister and I spent about 3 hours sleeping. We were both exhausted for what transpired the previous day that we were unable to fight the sleepiness in us. We woke up at 9:45pm and realized that we need dinner. Still with our eyes half closed, we proceeded to walk towards Alona Beach and hunt for food.
It was then that we realized that Bohol isn’t as fun as Boracay. At 10pm, most of the shops were already closed in Bohol when the party’s just starting that time in Boracay. We settled at the only restaurant which seem to be still lively at that time – Coco Vida and stayed there until they closed which was around 1:30am.
Cebu Port Terminal Fee: PHP25.00 per person
Cebu to Tagbilaran ferry: PHP1000 for 2
Luggage fee: PHP150 for 3 pcs of luggage
Transfer from Tag port to Amorita Resort: PHP650 for 2
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Note: Starting this day, I totally forgot how to be a good travel blogger and failed to take note of all the prices we’ve paid for our meals. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give the exact prices anymore of what we’ve eaten as I was enjoying my stay immensely. 🙂
Day 7: Panglao Island
We decided to be very lazy for this day and spent a whole day by Amorita Resort’s main pool occasionally ordering drinks and food for lunch. We napped for about an hour or two on one of their pool beds and at around 6pm, we decided that it was time for us to join the rest of Bohol for dinner at one of Alona Beach’s beachside restaurants.
It was packed with tourists and at some point, fire dancers started performing by the beach much to all the tourists’ delight. We had a seafood dinner at one of the beachside restaurants which I forgot the name, I told you I was being an incredibly bad blogger at the time but can you really blame me? I’m having such a great time that I forgot to write down everything and for the first time for so many years now, I didn’t really care if I had an internet access or not. That I think is a very good sign. 🙂
To cap the night off, we had drinks at Coco Vida again. :p
Related Blog Post:
What and Where I Ate in Alona Beach
Day 8: Another lazy day in Bohol.
We spent most of our day at Amorita Resort’s second pool overlooking Alona Beach. We had lunch and snacks at one of the beachside restaurants and when we came back to the resort, I decided to have a Dailisan massage at the resort while The Greek Mister took a nap by the pool. We had a seafood feast for dinner that night at Baywatch Kusina – lobsters, prawns, squid and red snapper. All of it grilled. YUM! That night, The Greek Mister found out about Tanduay, a Filipino rum and got hooked on it.
Once again, we had a few drinks at Coco Vida before heading to bed.
Dailisan Massage: PHP950.00
Seafood dinner: PHP1950.00 including alcoholic drinks
Day 9: Bohol Tour
We reserved this day to finally do something touristy and not just be lazy by the pool or by the beach. We rented a car with a driver from Amorita Resort and made our own itinerary. The Greek Mister hates going in touristic places where throngs of tourists taking selfies will be found but when in Bohol, one must really visit the Chocolate Hills which was exactly that kind of place. It’s worth it though.
We were picked up by our car driver at around 12nn and we proceeded immediately to Chocolate Hills. After some selfies taken, we proceeded to visit The Philippine Tarsier Conservatory, home of the world’s smallest primate – the tarsier. We then went for a drive towards Hinagdanan Cave, which for me was probably the best thing we’ve ever done in Bohol. Our last stop was Dumaluan Beach which was very near to Alona Beach.
We returned back to the resort and immediately proceeded to have our seafood feast at Baywatch Kusina yet again. We had a little bit more seafood the second time around and a little bit more drinks as well. It was our last night and I can’t believe that our holiday was almost over.
And yet again, drinks were taken from Coco Vida before heading to bed. :p
7-hour car rental from Amorita Resort: PHP2500.00 with driver
Entrance fee to Chocolate Hills: PHP50 per person
Entrance fee to The Philippine Tarsier Conservatory: PHP50 per person
Entrance fee to Hinagdanan Cage: PHP15 per person + PHP100 per person if you wish to swim in it which you really must! 🙂
Entrance fee to Dumaluan Beach: PHP25 per person
Dinner at Baywatch Kusina: PHP2065.00
Day 10: Tagbilaran – Manila – Batangas
We were met by our driver at 9:15am from Amorita Resort’s reception area. It was hard to bid goodbye to Bohol as it has been an incredible holiday for both me and The Greek Mister. But as they say, good things never last so with a heavy heart we took the plane (thankfully, it’s not diverted this time) out of Tagbilaran to Manila where we were met by my brother. We immediately proceeded on our drive to Matabungkay in Batangas, another resort town where the rest of the family are waiting for us.
We arrived at Coral Beach Resort at around 3:30pm, the rest of the family were waiting for us on a floating raft in the middle of the sea where they practically spent the whole day. We had lunch, dinner and drinks on the water raft and at around 11pm, we transferred to the resort’s in-house restaurant to continue on our drinking spree.
It was a tiring but extremely enjoyable day plainly because of the company we were with. Always a great time to spend time with your family, yes?
The Batangas leg of our tour was sponsored by my aunt so we didn’t pay anything. Yipppeee!!!
Tagbilaran Airport Terminal Fee: PHP100 per person
Amorita Resort to Tagbilaran Airport transfer: PHP650 for 2
Related Blog Post:
Where I Stayed in Matabungkay: Coral Beach Club Hotel
Day 11-12: Batangas – Tagaytay – Alabang – Manila – Dubai – Doha
Yep, that’s what we did on our 11th and 12th day of our trip, a whole day of traveling. Lol. We left Coral Beach Resort at around 12:30. 2 hours and a few hiccups from our van later, we arrived in Tagaytay to have lunch at Bulalo Point. After lunch, we went to Alabang Town Center to have some coffee to spend more time with the family as we waited for a good time to go to the airport for our flight.
Travel Tax for Filipinos: PHP1620.00
NAIA Terminal Fee: PHP550.00 per person
Our holiday was over, I can’t believe it was so quick! I have enjoyed it immensely and I’m already looking forward for our next vacation to the Philippines.