5 Unique Activities to Experience Thailand

5 Unique Activities to Experience Thailand

Thailand,officially known as the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly called Siam is a country in the center of the Southeast Asia Indochinese peninsula.  Located completely within the tropicas it encompasses diverse ecosystems including hilly rain forests, rice paddies in the central plains, and rugged coastal areas along the narrow southern peninsula.

Thailand is a diverse country and has lots to offer.  It is a country steeped in history and culture that seamlessly mixes with the hustle and bustle of its big modern cities.  Golden temples and venerated Buddha statues co-exist with modern buildings, shopping malls, and train stations.  It is not unusual to smell the pungent aroma of incense and the cloying scent of flowers on the crowded streets of Bangkok where Shrines and Spirit Houses dot even the busiest streets.  Many of the shrines have offerings of incense and flowers left on the counters hence the smells wafting down the street.

Yes Thailand is filled with temples, you’ll surely get your fill of them, but Thailand is also filled with natural wonders, amazing wild life, ancient and historic sites, sun kissed beaches, crystal clear waters, delicious cuisine, and shopping, lots of shopping.  So whether you’re a sun worshipper, diver, animal lover, history buff, foodie, or shopahoic you’ll find something you’ll love in Thailand.

So here are 5 unique activities to help you truly experience the wonders of Thailand!

thailandMarkets

Thailand is known for its markets; from floating markets around Bangkok, to night markets, weekend markets, and open air markets throughout the country, you’ll find everything you need or don’t need.

Even if you’re not a big shopper it’s almost impossible to visit one of these markets without finding something to buy.

 

Some of my favorite markets are Damoen Saduak Floating Market outside of Bangkok, the night market at Patpong Night Market in the heart of Bangkok, and the Chatuchuk Weekend Market in the Bangkok suburb of Chatuchuk.

A word of advice to those venturing into the Patpong Night Market.  The market is located in Bangkok’s red light district.  The market stalls are surrounded by bars and restaurants that offer nightly “sex shows”.  You’ll find touts hanging outside these establishments holding menus and barking out nightly specials.  I’ve never been to one but I’ve heard that these establishments are basically scams where you’ll find questionable ladies dancing or stripping on a stage and the “manager” or host will hold you hostage unless you pay her crazy fees for the water downed drinks they placed on your table.  So unless you want to get ripped off it’s probably a good idea to keep out of such places.  My cousin tells me that if you must see one of these shows you should book an escorted tour with your concierge, like I said I’ve never been to one and sincerely doubt I’d ever want to.

Bang Pa-In Palace and Ayutthaya Historical  Park

Located outside of Bangkok Bang Pa-In is in the Ayutthaya province.  It’s basically a royal complex where the Summer Palace is nestled among the beautiful orchards and gardens.  Originally built in 1632 this palace was the summer palace used by Thai royalty until 1767.  It was rebuilt in 1872 and is now tourist attraction and is sometimes used for very special events.

 

Ayutthaya Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is comprised of ruins of temples and palaces of the of the capital city of the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Most of the items excavated from the sites can be seen at the nearby Chao Sam Phraya Museum.

There’s also an Elephant Camp in the area where when you can ride on an elephant’s back and walk around the ancient site.

 

You can visit Ayutthaya by bus, taxi, or car; but one of the best ways to go is a lazy ride down the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok.

It’s a great way to see the country side.  Most river cruises come with a nice luncheon buffet.

 

 

Elephant Rides

There are many elephant camps around the country where for a small fee you can ride the back of an elephant.

The elephants seemed well cared for and the guides are very friendly.  Definitely a great experience.

 

Erawan National Park

Located in western Thailand in the Kanchanaburi Province is this delightful National Park.

It’s main attraction are the hiking trails and the waterfalls.  At the entrance you’ll encounter some mischievious little monkeys.

If you’ve still got energy left you might want to take a side trip to the Kwai River and the bridge that spans it.

 

Phuket

Sun lovers can head to Phuket’s beaches.  Phuket’s has some of Thailand’s most beautiful beaches.

There are many luxury hotels in the area where you will be pampered from head to toe.  If you prefer to sightsee there are many places to visit; you can even go island hopping!  Shoppers will find great deals at one of the area’s markets.  And if it’s nightlife you’re wanting Phuket is definitely a party place!

 

Ready to plan to your Thailand vacation?  Call Savvy Nana Travel to help you plan your adventure!

 

5 Unique Ways to Experience the Philippines

5 Unique Ways to Experience the Philippines

The Philippines in an archipelago of 7,600+ (and counting) islands that sprawls across Southeast Asia.  It is defined by it’s crystal clear oceans, emerald green rice paddies, simmering volcanoes, diverse cultures, loud jeepneys, modern cities, depressing slums, throngs of people, and never ending traffic.  This is why there are many unique ways to experience the Philippines.

experience the philippinesDepending on what you’re looking for there are many ways to experience the Philippines.  If it’s history and culture you’re after the Philippines is rich in both.  Remember the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 500 years; a US territory from 1898 to 1946; and occupied by Imperial Japan during WWII; all of which left their marks on Philippine history and culture.

experience the philippines

If you’re looking for nature and adventure the Philippines has plenty of that too!  Ecotourism has gained popularity in the Philippines and tourists are welcome to explore and observe pristine oceans, mountains, and unique flora and fauna.

 

 

If you’re a sun worshipper and just want to kick back on the beach or at a luxury resort the Philippines has plenty of that as well.  The country is chock full of lovely beaches and luxury hotels staffed with folks who will cater to just about every whim or desire.

There are many ways to experience the Philippines.   From its diverse cuisine, historical sites, natural wonders, sun kissed beaches, and bustling city life, the Philippines has it all.  Most folks hang out in the large cities particularly Manila the capital and its surrounding towns and villages.  But if you want to really experience the Philippines and all that this pearl of the Pacific has to offer here are 5 unique activities that will let you do just that!

Intramuros, Fort Santiago, Calesa Ride, and Manila Hotel

This is a must for all history buffs.  Intramuros, literally meaning between the walls, is the historic center of the capital city of Manila.  It is also the oldest city in the country dating back to 1571 when the city’s foundations were laid by the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi.  The city remained under Spanish rule until 1898 when America gained control of the country after defeating the Spanish Armada at the end of the Spanish American War.

The city and the nearly three mile long stone wall that surrounds it have stood its ground through wars and natural disasters.  The city is bordered by the Pasig River on one side and Rizal Park on the opposite side. During colonial times Intramuros was center of religious, political, and educational life in the country; by all respects Intramuros was Manila.  It was almost completely razed when the occupying Japanese forces staged their last stand there against Allied and Geurilla Forces.

Today it is  a mish mash of reconstructed historic buildings, museums, restaurants and modern buildings.  Within its walls you’ll find San Augustin Church completed in 1607 is the country’s oldest church and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  You’ll also find the Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion aka Manila Cathedral.  Destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945 during WWII the Cathedral was reconstructed in 1958.  It serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Manila.

You’ll also find Fort Santiago within its walls.  This served as the military headquarters of the Spanish colonial government.  Although heavily damaged during the Battle of Manila some of the forts key features have been restored including the gate with the wooden relief featuring Santiago Matamoros (slayer of Moors) the patron saint of Spain.  The fort’s barracks is home to the Rizal Shrine a small museum dedicated to the life and works of José Rizal, the national hero who was imprisoned there before his execution in nearby Rizal park on December 30, 1896.

There are other museums and wall gates in Intramuros and to get around you might want to hire a calesa instead of walking the confusing roads.

These horse drawn carriages were first used on Manila streets in the 18th. century. They’re a nice way to get around the historic city.  You can find them waiting outside Fort Santiago, each calesa comes with a guide (who hangs off the side of the carriage) and driver.  It’s a good idea to discuss price, route, and ride length before hopping in.  Oh and stay within the city walls no matter how much the guide tries to persuade you to take a tour around Rizal Park and over the bridge to Quiapo the bustling open market.  Trust me, we agreed and found ourselves dodging jeepneys, cars, and buses in heavy traffic.

After you’ve had your fill of Intramuros stop by the iconic Manila Hotel.  It’s located about half a mile away in Ermita.  This historic 5 star luxury hotel opened its doors in 1912.  General Douglas McArthur and his family made their home in the Manila Hotel during his tenure as military advisor to the Commonwealth between 1935-1941.  Today his penthouse apartment has been refurbished as the lavish McArthur suite.  Stop by for a drink at the Lobby Bar or an afternoon snack at the Cafe Ilang Ilang; the mango crepes are to die for!

By the way if all you want to do is laze out on a lounger by the pool the Manila Hotel is a fine  place to do so!

Banaue Rice Terraces

Collectively known as the Banaue Rice Terraces these rice paddies were hand carved into the mountains of central Luzon the main island of the Philippine archipelago.

The terraces are spread between several villages in the Cordillera region.  They are a system of irrigated fields made of mud and stone hand carved in the mountains over 2000 years ago by the indigenous people called the Ifugao.  Contrary to popular belief not all the rice terraces are UNESCO Heritage sites.  In fact just 5 of these rice terraces hold the honor and most of them aren’t easily accessible.

Regardless which cluster of terraces you decide to visit you will be in for a truly awesome experience.  Getting there can be an adventure in itself, it’s at least an 8 hour drive from Manila, more if you hit lots of traffic, run into mudslides, or just flat out get lost.  But believe me it’s worth the trouble!

Once there you can hike into the rice fields and explore, visit some area museums, and my favorite part talk to the delightful native inhabitants in the Tam-An village or any other village within the terraces.  They are so friendly and for a fee, they will show you their ancestors bones and tell you about their age old burial customs; guide you thru the fields; dress you in traditional gear; and let you crawl around their huts (actually they don’t charge for that activity).

 

The fees are 100 PHP per activity that’s just a bit over $2.  It’s so worth it if only for the pictures!

If hiking up and down the slippery paths isn’t your cup of tea you can still enjoy the magnificent views at the viewpoint and chat with the elders.  They’re happy to tell you stories and answer any questions you might have.

 

For more about our trip to Banaue click here!

 

Palawan

The island province of Palawan consists of 1780 islands that stretch between the South China and Sulu Seas.  Its provincial capital is Puerto Princessa and his home to the best beaches and reef diving in the Philippines.  Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located there.

Puerto Princessa is arguably the cleanest city in the country where the citizens are invested in keeping their province not only clean but ecofriendly.

The local government and the citizens are deeply invested in preserving their region’s natural beauty and resources; they consistently act as good stewards of the land making sure that tourists don’t litter nor pillage the reefs and take home souvenirs of coral, shells, or fish.  A delight in a country where it seems anything can be had for a price, even if it leads to extinction.

There are many things to do in Palawan, but diving is a big part of the lure.  Since I’m not a diver my favorite activities are sightseeing and eating.  For this I head to the Subterranean Cave in Sabang and hire a local banca (boat) to take me island hopping.

The island hopping takes care of some of the eating too!

On Pandan Island which would be called an organized beach in Europe one finds shady huts and picnic tables and people who will sell you their daily catch of crab and rock lobsters!   They will cook it and deliver it to your table at lunch time along with steamed rice, dipping sauces, and bottles of San Miguel beer.  What more can you want?

For more on our trip to Palawan click here!

Taal Volcano Horseback Ride

Taal Volcano located about 2 1/2 hours by car from Manila is the worlds smallest active volcano yet is one of the deadliest.  It has had 33 major eruptions since 1572.

It also has the extraordinary distinction of being the world’s only volcano within a lake that’s with in a volcano that’s with in a lake that is within a volcano.  That’s a mouth full!

Most folks just drive out to the view points and have a look at the volcano.  It’s pretty amazing!

But for the adventurous or insane, I’m not entirely sure which group I belong to, a hike or horseback ride into the active volcano is a must. ( In my opinion it’s sort of like the road to Hana trip on Maui, you do it once and never again.)

Seriously going into the volcano itself is amazing.  You get to see the little island in the lake filled with sulphurous water.  I would stop at admiring the view and not look for ways to swim in that water, the way down looks quite daunting and the water not that inviting.  You’ll pass smoking fumaroles along the way a definite reminder that you’re wandering around an active volcano.

The tour doesn’t take that long but coupled with the boat ride to the volcano plan on about a 4 hour trip from when you board the boat to go there until you get back to the mainland dock.

I have to say this trip is not for the faint of heart, but for those who dare, with a bit of caution, like check the threat level before you head out, the trip is definitely unforgettable.

For more on our trip to Taal Volcano click here!

 

Pagsanjan Falls

Also known as Cavinti Falls or by it’s native name Magdapio Falls Pagsanjan Falls is one of the most famous water falls in the country.

Located at the boundary of Cavinti and Pagsanjan towns in the province of Laguna the falls and the surrounding area was proclaimed a national park in 1939.  It was here that director Francis Ford Coppola filmed the last scene of his Vietnam War epic movie Apocalypse Now.

There are actually 2 falls within this gorge.  Bankeros or boatmen paddle, push, pull, and sometimes carry tourists in boats thru the 14 rapids that lead up to the falls on the Magdapio River.  Once you reach the main falls you can board a raft for a behind the scenes look at the waterfall and explore the Devil’s Cave located behind the falls.  The raft ride is of course charged a separate fee.

Shooting the rapids is fun!

Ready for your Philippine adventure?  Let Savvy Nana help you plan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beijing – 5 Attractions You Can’t Miss

Beijing – 5 Attractions You Can’t Miss

BeijingAre you looking for an exotic destination for next year’s vacation?  Do you feel like stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something different?  Have you considered a trip to Beijing?

That’s right, I said Beijing, China!  Beijing is an amazing city.  It’s China’s massive capital that has history going back three millennia.  It’s known for its modern and ancient architecture, as well as its culture and history, cuisine, and of course shopping!

I know a trip to Beijing may require stepping outside the box.  It’s not Italy, Greece, or even Thailand.  It is in China after all, and many of us have some interesting notions about THAT country.  Well let me tell you, whatever you thought or imagined about China, Beijing in particular, probably does the country and the city an injustice.  I know we were a bit hesitant on our first trip over, but after that trip we came home with a whole different outlook.

China in general is a beautiful country and its citizens wonderful people.  The people are warm, courteous, and friendly, although they’re not very good at standing in a que and tend to get a bit pushy; it’s probably the result of living with billions of other citizens all struggling to get on with their daily routine in a city that always seems to be bustling with crowds.

So if you’re ready for something a bit more exotic consider a vacation in Beijing.  Here are 5 Must See Attractions in and around the city that you should not miss on your first trip.  I say first trip because I can almost be sure you’ll want to return time and again!

BeijingThe Great Wall

Ok, let’s get this out of the way.  YOU CAN NOT GO TO CHINA WITHOUT SEEING THE GREAT WALL!

Seriously, it’s arguably the first thing most folks picture when you say you’re going to China.

The Great Wall whose construction began 2000 years ago and lasted 1000 years extends 4000 miles.  Clearly you can’t see it all from Beijing.  There are several sections of the wall around Beijing, some restored, others rugged, meaning they’ve pretty much fallen apart.  The most famous sections to visit are Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Juyong Pass Fortress, Badaling, and Jiankou.

These sections are located about 40 to 90 miles away from Beijing’s city center.  You can get to them on public transportation, private car, or on a tour.  It makes for a good day trip![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

beijingForbidden City

Forbbiden City, also known as the Palace Museum, is in the city center of Beijing.  It once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911) .  Construction began during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty and lasted 14 years.

It covers 74 hectares making it the largest palace complex in the world.  It is surrounded by a 52-meter-wide moat and a 10-meter-high wall, and has 8700 rooms.  Because it was the seat of power for 5 centuries the Palace Museum is home to many rare treasures and curiosities.

Having said that I doubt you’ll want to visit every room, but do spend some time checking out the major palaces along the central axis.

 

beijingTian’anmen Square

Located in the center of the city, just north of the Forbidden City, is this huge square measures 440,000 square meters and can hold up to a million people for public celebrations and gatherings.

The square holds the Monument of the National Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.

If you’re an early bird you can join the crowds of people at the square for the raising of China’s national flag.  The flag is raised in 3 minute ceremony conducted by uniformed troops and includes the singing of the national anthem and the flag slowly being raised to coincide with the exact time of the sunrise.

 

beijingWangfujing Street

Wangfujing Street is within walking distance from Tian’anmen Square.  It is the most famous shopping street in Beijing.

Most of the street is pedestrianised so at least you don’t have to weave between Beijing traffic, but you do have to weave in between the hoards of people that flock to this street daily.  The street is visited by 600,000 tourists and locals everyday; double that on holidays!

Here you’ll find just about everything from local handicrafts and souvenirs to trendy designer boutiques.  Many of the souvenir shops are located on the street level, but do go into one of the malls along the street.  It’s an experience in itself!

Try to visit this street at night when the neon lights are lit up and the Night Market is in full swing.  The festive Wanfujing Night Market is a local favorite with brightly lit stalls selling some very interesting snacks.  Try one if you dare!

beijingThe Beijing Zoo

It’s controversial, I know, but I love zoos!  And Beijing Zoo is a must see if you want to see pandas in Beijing.

The zoo is home to some 45o species of animals from around the world with an animal population of about 5000.  It has 16 different exhibition areas and halls.  The most popular of course is the Panda Hall where you can see these gentle giants in their own environment.

To be honest I only went to the Beijing Zoo to see the Pandas, so I really can’t say much about the rest of the exhibits.  This zoo probably is not on par with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, but the Panda exhibit was nice.

 

 

Ready to plan a vacation in China?  Call Savvy Nana Travel!  We specialize in custom itineraries for couples, families, and groups.

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Alona Beach and Things to do!!!

Alona Beach and Things to do!!!

13668984_1122329651174121_3908699005489678758_nAlona Beach is located on Panglao Island in Bohol, Philippines. The island has an area of 80.5 square kilometres (31.1 sq mi). Located within Bohol Province it is divided into two municipalities: Dauis and Panglao.   Panglao is located southwest of the island of Bohol and east of Cebu.

Panglao is a popular tourist destination in the Philippines.  It includes several small islands, such as Gak-ang, Pontod, and Balicasag.  Alona Beach is a stunning 1.5 km stretch of white sand beach. Beach combing, diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming and relaxing are very popular activities here! Be sure to stop by at one of many beach-side restaurants for fine dining and cold drinks and enjoy the beautiful beach especially at night.

Alona Beach is approximately 30-40 min (22.6 km) via Panglao Island Circumferential Road from Tagbilaran City seaport. There are lots of transportation options including the  bus, taxis, habal-habal (motorcycle services) and tricycles from the seaport and airport.  I suggest tourists should take the taxi.  Taxis are faster, hassle free and air-conditioned.

There are 2 roads that  go to the Island of Panglao.  Borja Bridge, locally called “Junction”, and  Costway Bridge road.

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There are many beautiful hotels, bars, pubs and restaurant within and near Alona Beach.  Some famous area hotels are: Henann Resort, Alona Vida Beach Resort, Lost Horizon Beach Dive Resort, ChARTs Resort and Art Café, Sun Apartelle, Bohol Divers Resort, Panglao Regents Park, Hayahay Resort, Villa Almedilla, Birds Watcher Paradise Hotel.  You can choose resorts and hotels to fit your budget and tastes.

There are tours such as island hopping, dolphin watching, snorkeling and diving offered by various tour companies.  Your hotel personnel can help you find and arrange a tour that will suit your interests.

Things you must do when you get to Alona Beach:  Shopping, bar hooping, diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, relaxing and most of all my favorite, Eating. Yay!!!

They are convenience stores  if you wish to buy something you forgot or want. And many  fashion stores and souvenir shops.  Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures, we were told NO PICTURE ALLOWED. It’s ridiculous! The worst thing is they put a tarpaulin over the merchandise that says NO PICTURE ALLOWED, why? I don’t know! So we did not take a single picture of the stores.

Here are some I took on our visit.
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Secured loan is also another option for those people, who have a poor minicreditos. Since this is a secured loan, it is more suitable for those who have a home. The process is quite similar, as the lenders just lend cash loans against the equity in a home. The home can be either mortgaged or fully owned, but the cash loans is provided on the basis of such a home. The interest rates on such loans are usually low and the repayment periods are too long. There are loans that may be repaid in a long time period even extending up to 30 years dinero urgente. The representatives of the lending company assess the house, on the basis of which the cash loans is provided, in order to decide on the valuation of the asset. There are many lenders, who lend as much as 125% of the valuation of the house, others may settle at 85% of the equity value.

Journey to Can-Umantad Falls, Bohol Philippines!!!

Journey to Can-Umantad Falls, Bohol Philippines!!!

Can-Umantad Falls

Can-Umantad Falls

Can-Umantad Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can-Umantad Falls and Rice Terraces are located in the Candijay municipality  of  Bohol province in the Philippines.  It’s approximately a 2 hours drive (97.2 km) via Bohol Circumferential Road from Tagbilaran City.   It’s a beautiful place to experience fun and adventure.

Travel just 30 minutes from what they call “Lungsod Daan” and you’ll see this amazing and unique waterfall.  It’s a stunning 60 feet in height and is said to be the tallest waterfall in Bohol.  It’s clean, clear, cold water will surely entice you to go swimming.

Can-umantad is fast becoming an alternative tourist destination for folks visiting the island province of Bohol.  To accommodate tourists they built a resort, “Eleuterio’s Can-Umantad Falls and Terraces Resort Incorporated”.  The falls and the springs below are owned and managed by Eleuterio’s.  They open the falls to the public daily from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.  You can reach the falls and spring from their private entrance.

Entrance fee is 20 PHP per person and parking is 10 PHP for motorbikes and 20 PHP for cars.  The resort also has a restaurant if you don’t want to bring your own lunch. They also rent rooms if you wish to stay overnight or longer.

This site is suitable for picnics and other fun activities like human hamster ball rolling, river trekking and swimming.  You can enjoy a free back massage with the splash of heavy flowing water! The experience is incredible and priceless. Aside from the waterfall Candijay has still a lot more to offer but for now, I will share to you our awesome unforgettable experience.

Today as of 2016 the falls are developed. The roads are 40% cemented and the rest under construction. Can-Umantad Falls and Terraces are listed in almost all Travel and Tours Company websites as one of the famous tourist attractions  in Bohol, Philippines. 

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Our journey was a long long way from Tagbilaran.  We started at Tagbilaran Plaza Rizal Park in front of Cathedral Church.  I rented a motorcycle from my friend for the trip.  I paid P500 for the one day rental.

If you don’t want to drive there on your own you can catch a van or a bus from Dao Terminal Station near Island City Mall about 3 km. away from Plaza Rizal Park.  The cost is  at least P130 per person for the van and P100 per person for the bus.  Both will get you as far as Lungsod Daan.  From there you need to rent a Habal-habla (motorcycle that carries 10 people plus their luggage!) to take you to the falls.  The round trip from Lungsod Daan to the falls is about P160 per person.

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Taking public transportation will not really save you a lot of money, specially if there are several of you going.  Renting a motorcycle or car for the day may prove more cost effective.  An added perk is that if you’re driving yourself you can take your time to enjoy the views (they are beautiful) and even stop to snap some photos.

 

 

Tips: Start early in the day so you can enjoy the views and go home while sun is still shinning, Traveling during the day is safer than traveling at night on those roads. Bring water and food, or you can buy along the way.

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So, we started  around 6:00 AM, we need to pass by 9 Municipalities to get to Candijay; Baclayon, Alburquerque, Loay, Lila, Valencia, Garcia Hernandez, Jagna, Duero, Guindulman and then Candijay.

Actually there are 3 road to get there. We choose to travel via Bohol Circumferential Road because there are  lots of houses and people along the way so if you have an emergency, like a flat tire, you can easily find help. Here is the map for the 3 roads.

These are many great views on the way to  Candijay.

 

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At the Bool District of Tagbilaran City you will see the Blood Compact Shrine, one of the tourists destination and very famous here in Bohol.

Blood Compact or Pacto de Sangre in Spanish was an ancient ritual in the Philippines intended to seal a friendship or treaty, or to validate an agreement. The contracting parties would cut their wrists and pour their blood into a cup filled with liquid, such as wine, and drink the mixture.

In the year 1565 a Sandugo was made between Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol.  It is said that this is the site where this ritual was done.

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Beside the blood compact a new hotel was built, the Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel you can book directly to the hotel or make a reservation online.

 

http://www.oceansuites.ph/#!reservations/c1adp

 

 

 

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We Stopped for a while on Loay Bridge to take photos.

Fortunately for us we saw someone fishing.  Look at these, its so awesome!

“Manong” a respectful term for an old man, told us that this is the perfect place for fishing.  Lots of people living nearby  go fishing and even travelers stopped here try to catch some fish.

Here are more sights we saw along the way!

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We stopped at Garcia Hernandez by the tunnels built by the Philippine Mining Service Corporation to mine dolomite which is exported and used domestically.  This is about the half way point to the falls.

 

 

 

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This sign points the way. Straight ahead will take you to Candijay.  If you turn right you’ll end up in Anda where the Anda de Buracay a famous Beach Resort is located.  There are a lot of stunning  hotels and beautiful beaches in Anda.  We’d  hoped to make a side trip there, but we don’t have much time so we skipped it.  Maybe next time!

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Finally, we arrived in Candijay.   The Main Market is located in Poblacion Candijay.  Their Municipality office is located is also there.  There’s also a cute market where you can buy fish, meat, water, food and anything you need. They have a small plaza, a school and a huge Catholic Church.

I have my relative who lives in Poblacion Candijay just beside the Church which is located behind the school. We stopped by her house for a bit of a rest and to pick up my 2 nephews so they could guide us through the falls.

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Ok, so we are here at what they call “Lungsod Daan” an Old Barangay Market. As you can see, a left vertical road, that’s the only way to Can-Umantad Falls, approximately 8-10 kilometers, around 30 minutes.

Just follow the road, no left or right turn, just follow the road straight or if confused just ask somebody on the road, Don’t worry they are good people, unless you talk bad.

 

Along the way we took beautiful photos from viewpoints overlooking the rice terraces that surround the falls area. Check this out!!!

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When you reach this big sign just

follow the arrow pointing right.  It will take you to the resort entrance/parking lot.

Finally we are at the Resort Entrance!!!

Entrance Fee: P20.00 Each

Vehicles : P10.00

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This is the Entrance down to the Falls

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You got to go down the cemented path to reach the falls.

Friendly Staffs are willing to take you on a tour or you can just explore it yourself.

See a blue house? Thats their hotel villa, for P1,000.00 with beautiful and peaceful ambiance? You would love to stay here.

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At the river they have two floating “Kubo” Native Huts for anyone who wants to swim, eat – of course your own food and swim, you can use this stuff for Free.

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After the “Kubo” Native Huts just follow the cemented road then at the end you will see stairs.

You must go down stairs.  we counted 440 steps, not so bad right? Don’t worry there are ropes and some sort of steel fence to keep you on the track if ever you roll down or miss a step? Don’t worry no one has reported any incidents like that, just be careful or you will be the first!!!

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Finally!  These are the last steps before you see the awesome falls.13735340_1162277083816460_913167413_n

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You can stay and relax here in this “Kubo” Native Hut for a while before you go to swim. They have an attendant to guide and to watch visitors.

Well its not my first time to visit Can-Umandad Falls, actually this is my second time but unfortunately that time the weather don’t cooperate and the falls were “angry”.  It wasn’t safe to go down.   These photos were taken during that time.
12705491_10207146445453646_5880085866228108047_n12705415_10207146445853656_7594401319325899580_nThese are the pictures I took this trip when the weather was better and the falls calmer.  Big difference!

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We’ve spent 2 hours at the falls.  We swam, splashed, and had a free water massage.  We ate our lunch before we began the climb back up from where we came.  But it’s not the end of an awesome adventure, the way up is eye catching!  The path overlooks rice terraces, and you see beautiful skies and wonderful mountain views. I was amazed, IT’S SO COOL!!!

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A cute “Kubo” Native Hut is the perfect spot where you can rest and recover your breath from climbing the stairs and the Rice Terraces.

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As you can see in the photos taken on my previous trip when the weather was bad. The place was covered with fog which was actually mists rising up from the tumultuous falls.

This place is perfect for parties, birthday’s and specially wedding. If you are interested we can Plan your wedding or what ever celebration you want, we are also an event specialists. Feel free to comment or contact us.

So at around 3:00 pm we left Candijay and arrived home around 5:30 pm.  It was a long but fun day!

So if you’re looking for an alternative tourist attraction on your visit to Bohol consider a trip to Can-Umantad Falls and Rice Terraces.  It’s a bit out of the way, but well worth it!  Remember there’s more to see in the Bohol province than the famous Chocolate Hills!

Palawan – An Island Paradise

Palawan – An Island Paradise

PalawanPalawan is an island province of the Philippines. It is an archipelago consisting of 1780 islands.  Its provincial capital is Puerto Princesa.  In terms of land area it is the largest province of the Philippines.  Palawan lies between the South China Sea and Sulu Sea.  It is home to some of the best beaches in the Philippines.  Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located there.

We were very impressed with our visit to Palawan!  I have to say that it is arguably the best tourist attraction in the Philippines.  When asked what I thought of Palawan the first word that comes to mind is “CLEAN”.  It may not be the most impressive word, but if you’re familiar with other tourist sites in the Philippines you will have an appreciation for what I mean.  Compared to the toxic filth that surrounds Manila, and for the most part most of Central Luzon, the nation’s main island, Palawan is extremely clean.

Another thing that impressed me is the locals’ respect for the land and environment.  It’s  said that this chain of islands is the Philippines’ last ecological frontier.  The local population takes pride in their role as guardians of their home’s natural wonders.  From tour guides and drivers to the folks on the street they take their guardianship very seriously.  This point was driven home on the litter free streets of Puerto Princesa.  My uncle had carelessly tossed his cigarette butt on the sidewalk, a couple walking by very respectfully asked him to pick up the butt and throw it in the nearest trash bin.  We were told should a policeman see us littering we would be fined.  I was so impressed by their dedication to keeping their city clean that I wanted to hug them!

My husband tested our guide during our island hopping tour when he saw huge clam shells along the coast.  He was told he could look, touch, and photograph, but he could not take one home.  He asked her how much she’d take to allow him to take one (he wasn’t serious) and she told him that no amount of money was worth the depletion of their island’s natural beauty.  Very impressive in a place where just about anything is for sale for the right price!

There are many beautiful places to visit in Palawan.  Most tourist opt to stay at the El Nido Resorts located on the northern end of Palawan.  It’s a haven for avid divers and anyone wanting to get away from it all, but it’s not that easy to get to.  Getting to El Nido can be challenging and expensive.

You can take a direct flight from either Manila or Cebu on PAL, Cebu Pacific Air, and a few other commercial airlines, or you can take a charter plane,  but it’s the most expensive way to go.  A less expensive way may be to fly into Coron, one of Palawan’s municipalities, and take a boat to El Nido, but this trip takes about 8 hours.  The most economical way to get there would be flying into Puerto Princesa, PAL offers a reasonably priced ticket from Manila, then taking a bus or car the rest of the way, the ride is about 4 hours.

We we opted to take a flight to Puerto Princesa and stay there instead of continuing on to El Nido.  It was the most practical way since my mother refused to ride the smaller planes bound for El Nido, and my elderly father would not have been able to stand a 4 hour drive.

PalawanWe arrived at the Puerto Princesa International Airport, such a grand name for a tiny airport, in the late afternoon.  The flight from Manila was about an hour long.

The hotel’s van was there to meet us and drive us to our hotel 15 minutes away.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanThere are many hotels in Puerto Princesa.  They range from one star to 4-5 star accommodations.

We chose Niko’s Cabanas, a small hotel with just 9 rooms.  We booked 3 Junior Suites, each about $65 per night for double occupancy, and included a cooked to order breakfast.

The suites are air conditioned and have private baths with hot and cold showers.  The rooms are clean and comfortable.  There’s cable TV in all the rooms and free wi-fi in the restaurant.

The hotel is situated in what looks like a residential part of town, but it’s easily accessible by tricycle or car.  In fact the hotel shuttle will happily take you to town and back again for free, just ask!

The hotel boasts a pool, a restaurant, and gazebo.  The property is nicely landscaped with tropical trees and plants.  I know it’s not ocean front, far from it,  but it worked out well for us  given that my mother  insisted she needed to be close to town.  Not to mention there were so many of us and booking multiple rooms at an ocean front hotel was not exactly budget friendly when we had to pay air fair, hotel, and more for most of the folks in our party.

PalawanWe enjoyed our stay at Niko’s Cabanas.  My mom and dad loved the restaurant!  I think mostly because the staff were very friendly and pretty much cooked what my mother wanted even though it wasn’t on the menu![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

palawanThe gazebo located in the center of the property was the perfect place to hang out after a long day.  The staff made sure we were supplied with ice cold San Miguel beers, sodas, and snacks.

While we were there we were the only hotel guests.  Lucky for us because we got exceptional service!


But we didn’t go to Palawan to hang out at the hotel.  We wanted to explore and experience the sights and activities the island offers.  And that we did starting the very next morning![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanOur first destination was the famed Underground River.  I had hired a van with driver and a tour guide for the duration of our stay.  They picked us up at Niko’s early in the morning for the 2 hour drive to Sabang.  Sabang is a small town that serves as the gateway to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.

On the road to Sabang we passed a viewpoint where according to our guide we were able to view the South China Sea on one side and the Sulu Sea on another.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanThen we continued on to the Sabang boat harbor to catch the banca (motorized canoe) that would take us to the Underground River.

Since we had hired a tour guide she obtained the boat tickets as well as the entrance tickets to the Underground River, they were included in the price, as well as a barbecue lunch at a Sabang resort upon our return. The cost was about $250 for 7 people.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Because there were 7 people in our party we had the banca to ourselves. Once loaded on we were off to the entrance beach to the Underground River!

PalawanThe boat ride along the island’s coast wasn’t very long.  We sailed by some interesting rock formations along the coastline. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanWhen the banca reaches the entrance beach he tries to get as close to dry land as possible.  You hop off on the beach so no matter what your feet will get wet![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanFrom the beach it’s a short walk to the park entrance.  You can’t miss it!  It’s right past the big sign![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanThe path takes you thru the rain forest where you’ll see long tailed Macaques and large monitor lizards.

The Macaques, the only primates in the area, are easy to spot.  They’re everywhere!  Watch out though they do bite and will snatch bags if there’s food in it.

The lizards are harder to spot.  They’re very well camouflaged.

At the end of the path you’ll find the que for the boat ride into the cave.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

PalawanBefore hopping on to another banca you must don a life vest and hard hat.  Again because we were a large group we had our own banca.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanOnce we were all seated the boatman paddled us thru brackish water to the cave entrance.

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.  It’s basically the 8.2 Km section of  the Cabayugan River that passes thru the St. Pauls Underground River Cave which is more than 24 km. long. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanThe cave is very dark inside.  The boatmen shine spotlights on certain rock formations during the 45 minute ride.

Inside the cave you navigate past stalactites and stalagmites.  And as expected you’ll see lots of bat guano as well as the bats themselves.  There are nine species of bats that call the cave home. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

After the short boat ride in the cave we returned to our awaiting banca on the beach and headed back to Sabang for lunch.

PalawanThe boat harbor is a short walk from the resorts that line the coast.  My dad had a hard time walking so we hired a carabao pulled wagon to transport him, my mom, and sister to the resort.  The rest of us walked on the beautiful white sand beach to get there. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanLunch was served on the beach under a thatched umbrella.  There was certainly plenty of food and drink.   After a pleasant lunch it was time  for the 2 hour drive back to our hotel.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

We were back at the hotel by mid afternoon.  Plenty of time for a shower and drinks in our little gazebo before we headed into town for dinner.

PalawanMom, dad, and sister opted to dine at the hotel’s restaurant.  The rest of us piled into a couple of tricycles and headed out to one of Puerto Princesa’s restaurants.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

The next day we went island hopping around Honda Bay.  Our trusty guide picked us up in the morning and took us to the local docks where we boarded our private banca.  My husband wanted to go fishing (it’s allowed as long as you’re some distance from the islands) so he purchased a pole and bait from the vendors on the docks.

PalawanOur first stop was Pandan Island, so named for the abundance of Pandan trees that grow there.  It’s a private island so there is an entrance fee which is collected on the docks before you set off.  In our case all fees and lunch were included in the tour.

It’s a beautiful little island surrounded by white sand beaches and crystal clear water filled with colorful fish.   For extra fees you can rent umbrellas, cabins, volleyballs, paddle boards, and other beach toys.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanMy favorite part of this island was the fresh seafood for sale.  As I hopped off the banca I was met by a couple of local girls holding a lobster trap.  They claimed to have caught the rock lobsters and crabs just that morning.  I bought all they had for roughly about $15.  That netted me about a dozen crabs and half a dozen lobsters.  They cooked it for me and threw in 6 bottles of beer.  What a deal!

My seafood platter was delivered to our beach front cabana just in time for lunch.  It was delicious!

Aside from my yummy lunch we explored the island.  The shores of one side of the island was home to huge clams.  It was amazing![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

PalawanThe rest of our time there was spent splashing in the water while my husband and uncle went fishing.  They had a great time!

The boatmen baited the hooks and took off the fish they caught.  All they did was hold the pole in the water and drink beer.  Fishing will never be the same!

They were all happy; they caught about a dozen fish which they sent home with the boatmen.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Our next stop was Cowrie Island.  It’s less developed than the larger Pandan Island, but is perfect for snorkeling.   There are a few vendors on the island selling cold drinks and souvenirs.  It’s much less crowded than the more popular Pandan Island.

PalawanOur last stop was Starfish Island, so called because it’s surrounded by starfish.  Amazing!

There are no cabanas or vendors on this island.  In fact when we went we were the only people there!  If you’re looking for some serious alone time this island is perfect!

After 3 islands it was time to head back.  We were back at the pier by mid afternoon and at our hotel a few minutes after.

That night was our last in Palawan so we packed in to several tricycles for the short ride to town where we dined at Balinsasayaw Restaurants.

According to my dad it was a famous local restaurant and he really wanted to go there. I found it unremarkable with very poor service.
After dinner we went back to the hotel and hung out at our little cabana.  It was a great way to spend our last evening on this island paradise.

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Palawan