Overview: Philippines is a tropical country that I find most interesting and closest to Southeast Asia. The people speak English well, are friendly and cheerful, the weather is sunny, but the evening is still cool, delicious food at reasonable prices. The public transport system is diverse and extremely unique by Jeepney – Van – Tricycle circulating on the street, freely “modifying” all colors and sizes.
Different from my initial thought about the dictatorial government and the dangers of the media, many Vietnamese people come here to open restaurants such as rice, pho, especially porridge that is very welcome by Filipinos. For 7 days here, my family and I experience all kinds of emotions, from the thrills of riding Zipline ropes across the sea to relaxing when kayaking, swimming, and diving watching coral, eating noon at the waterfall restaurant… If I have a chance, I will definitely come back in a day.
The Philippines is one of the countries exempt from Visa for people, the temporary stay period does not exceed 30 days provided the passport is valid for at least 6 months.
Time zone & Temperature
The Philippines is 1 hour longer than Vietnam. The temperature is hot all year round, divided into rainy and dry seasons like the South. The dry season is from December to May, so the rainy season from June to November should be avoided because tours to the island are often canceled during this time. Which, April and May are the dryest and hottest seasons of the year, sometimes up to 41 degrees Celsius. This is the best time to swim and snorkel because the sea is warm and storm-free. I went to February, it was dry, beautiful sun, swimming in the sea like it, but the water was still a bit cold for diving.
Globe and Smart are the two most famous and popular carriers in the Philippines. On Klook, I found a 4G sim card of Smart for sale for more than 10$, but many comments complained about the quality of the network. According to my research and consultation with those who have used it, the Globe network uses the quality and is much more stable. You can buy the Traveler SIM package of 350peso / 4GB or 700 pesos / 8GB at the counters outside the airport lobby of Globe (a lot) or buy a Prepaid sim – prepay and recharge from scratch cards to SIM from 100 pesos – 500 pesos in the grocery stores in the city. However, the second way I have tried and found the fastest deduction is that when accessing the Internet, buying the package will be more beneficial for the tourists who mainly search google map to find the way. 4GB is quite enough if surfing Face, calling home through Zalo in 1 week.
From Ninoy Airport to downtown Manila
Go by Bus + LRT / MRT Combination: This is the cheapest way and quickly costs a few dozen Pesos if you bring a few things (only 7kg backpack) and Hostel is near LRT / MRT station. LRT (short for Light Rail Transit) means a light rail transport system, similar to the type of elevated railway system under construction in Hanoi. The average speed is not as fast as the MRT.
If you choose this option, there is Bus – Airport Loop ”Airport Terminal to Pasay Rotonda” right outside the boarding gate, which they drop off at the Genesis Bus Terminal at EDSA Taft. From here, climb the stairs to LRT, right next to Mc Donald. Bus cost only costs 20 Pesos + LRT train ticket about 22 Pesos/leg (2019). Calculated about 42 pesos / person ~ 1$ (Too cheap). Unfortunately, my family comes with a small child with 20kg hand luggage, so it is not possible to go with this plan because it is quite cumbersome and entangled.
Going by Grab Car: If you want to take a taxi and fear that traditional taxis will cut or charge expensive … the best way is to go to the Grab Car counter at all 4 terminals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The price of a Grab Car is usually more reasonable than a Taxi per Km. The international airport here is not that far from the city, so the price ranges from 200 pesos – 400 pesos (depending on the distance and distance). The only downside is that if you go to rush hour or have a traffic jam, it takes a lot of time.
From Manila to El Nido
The most popular way is by plane from Manila – Puerto Princesa city (More than 1 hour). Get out of the airport, rent a 16-seat van to go to El Nido (About 6-7 hours) for 450 pesos (2019), remember to bargain! Flying directly from Manila – El Nido also has a ticket but is more expensive than this way.
In the city
Moving to Manila is very enjoyable. In 1 week here I experience all the things from Jeepney – UV Express – Tricycle motorbike – Tricycle bicycle … Seeing that Filipinos are extremely creative and oriented towards the most effective and convenient things. The price of each type is also very cheap and reasonable.
Day 1: Manila – Villa Escudero waterfall restaurant
After a tiring sleep of an overnight flight from Newyork at 1:20 a.m. to Manila, the Philippines at 5:40 a.m., my family returned to the hotel to rest for a while. About 9 am, take a Taxi to the Jac Liner bus station, at Buendia Terminal Donada st. Cor Buendia, Pasay City, chooses Lucena, go to Villa Escudero where a famous waterfall restaurant is located. The road is quite nice, the cool car is more than 2 hours to come. Remember to tell the driver when they arrive they call down. Don’t go too late because at 2 pm the restaurant is closed, all cleaning is done. This is an interesting and worthwhile experience, being immersed in the natural landscape of the countryside, and understanding more about the national culture of the Philippines.
Around 5:00 pm take the bus back to Manila. Go to Jolibee.
Day 2: Manila – Explore the ancient citadel of Intramuros
Intramuros means inside the city wall. This is an area with many famous historical sites such as Fort Santiago, a memorial for war victims in 1945 at Plazuela de Santa Isabel, ASEAN garden where there is a statue of the leader of Southeast Asia, the church and San Augustin Museum – is the oldest church in the Philippines and is one of the four main Baroque churches that UNESCO included in the list of world cultural heritage in 1994…. The day we left, at the right time, the phone broke down and couldn’t access the Internet to find the way. So I bought a tour by Tricycle like my cyclo, but designed the part of the passenger sitting on the side of the bicycle, they drove them to nearby points. The price for all the points is 350 pesos / 1 hour, and if we go for a few points, it will take 200 pesos / 20 minutes (Price February 2019)
Come here, mainly learn about the history and ancient architecture of Manila when being under Spanish domination, wandering the neighborhood feeling about the daily life of indigenous people in the area. Hey, pretty poor and simple.
Evening: SM Mall of Asia (hereinafter referred to as MOA)
This is the largest commercial center in the Philippines when it was established in 2006. Up to now, it is only ranked 4th in the Philippines – 11th in the world and welcomes 200,000 shoppers and visitors every day, but is very popular with tourists. Here, you can freely enjoy all kinds of food, shopping for clothes and shoes from popular to high-end in 4 large buildings of nearly 407,000m2. This is a very wide complex, including restaurants, eateries, bakeries, supermarkets…. My family has only been able to walk a part of a building, took advantage of dinner, and got tired. We left because it was dark, afraid of running out of buses. For those who love shopping, it would take a whole day to go all over this area.
Near SM Mall of Asia 2.5 km away is the Seaside Dampa Seafood Market, if you want to enjoy fresh seafood in Manila Bay, you can come here to try. I heard that this market specializes in talking challenges, paying down 3-4 times to buy. Countless squid, crab, oyster, … grilled, delicious chili sauce.
Day 3: Manila – Cuisine and local life
Salcedo Saturday Market, Makati Area
The Makati area is the financial and economic center of Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines, home to many foreign companies, large shopping centers, clean and modern roads. Foreign residents come here to work and travel here mainly in Makati because it is quite close to the airport, better security than other areas of the city.
Salcedo Fair is held every Saturday, open since 2005 to serve the community of enthusiasts of fresh food in Makati. This place sells all kinds of dishes from other countries, coming here I try to eat fried noodles, Buko Pandan is very famous in the Philippines and Spanish and Chinese dishes … Thereby, you have a closer look at the way. the urban living of the modern inhabitants of this country.
After playing and enjoying the boring food at the fair market, at around 1 pm, my family stopped by Chinatown to feel a bit of the Lunar New Year atmosphere in Manila.
Chinatown / Binondo This is a district in Manila, the oldest Chinatown in the world, established by the Spanish in 1594 as a settlement near Intramuros (across the Pasig River) for the Chinese, it was designated so that the colonial rulers could keep a close eye on their migrants. It was considered the trading center of China even before Spanish colonial times, where all types of business run by Chinese Filipinos, thrived.
Afternoon: Move Puerto Princesa – El Nido
16h – 17h: Fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa.
Day 4: El Nido – Tour C
Normally, in addition to the cost of buying tour packages. Everyone has to pay an extra Ecotourism Development Fee: 200 Pesos/person, regulated by the Philippine government.
The Tour party will pick up guests from 8 am to 9 am at the hotel. If there is a guide to pick up, if there is a little bit far, there will be a tricycle. This move is included in the tour, so you don’t have to fret.
Tour boat will take you to each island point and stop for you to swim, snorkel, and watch the coral – snorkeling, exploring unique natural scenery … Around 17:00 – 17:30 pm is the end of the journey.
Day 5: El Nido – Tour A
The day before tour A was allowed to enter the Big Lagoon, but now because of too many people, only the tour registered early could join. My group lost this place and still had to pay an extra fee to Small Lagoon: 200 pesos/person (???) + Kayak boat rental 200 pesos/boat. In my opinion, I prefer Tour A, lunch at 7 Commando Island is very beautiful, not too many spots, so it is less tired. Review details about these 2 tours I will write in another blog.
Day 6: Puerto Princesa – Underground River tour
The underground river in Puerto Princesa is recognized as one of the 7 new wonders of the world. Most of those who have ever set foot in the coastal city of Puerto Princesa come here to say, mainly buying tours.
Dinner at the night market.
Take out the Stellar Grounds near the Hostel. This place is beautifully decorated, with free live outdoor music, a children’s playground, restaurant, and drink bar …
Day 7: Puerto Princessa – Manila
925 – 1050: Fly back from Puerto Princesa to Manila.
From Manila, my family flew to Brunei to play for another half a day. The end of the 7 days in the Philippines was nice.