Author Topic: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo  (Read 3319 times)

Miss Growing Green

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Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« on: October 24, 2013, 12:59:53 PM »
We are planning our honeymoon to Philippines and Malaysian Borneo (the northern half of Borneo) for 5 weeks at the end of January.

Anyone ever been there?  Have any must-see places we should mark down?  Any general tips for traveling like a badass?

The sorts of things we are interested in are: backpacking to remote places, snorkeling/scuba, volunteering (short term), hiking, caving, beach bathing, kayaking, general exploring.  Not so much into night life and resort-y type things.

Numbers Man

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2013, 02:18:00 PM »
I have been to the Philippines. There are many different places to visit. I enjoyed the island of Palawan which is located bordering the China Sea. Visit the Underground River. It goes underneath a mountain. I also enjoyed the beaches and the swimming. You'll also get to witness the cock fights (Roosters fighting to the death). The locals love their betting. You would need to take a flight from Manila to get there since it is on an Island, I used Cebu Airlines.

I also loved Makati and the greenbelt area in Manila. Lot's of restaurants and karaoke. Too much traffic but a happening area. You'll also be close enough to go to the Manila harbor and take a boat ride to Corrgidor Island to see WW II related stuff, that's where General Mac Arthur's famous quote of "I shall return"  originated from. There is a hotel on the island and no electricity from 10pm till morning if I recall. I also visited Villa Escudero where I had lunch on a picnic table in the river facing a waterfall. There is also a very cool museum there has well that has many antiquities.

I also visited Tagatay which has an interesting zoo along with gorgeous vistas of mountains and lakes. They also have the Taal Volcano there. You will probably need to hire a driver to get there.

Enjoy your trip.




Miss Growing Green

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2013, 02:47:49 PM »
Numbers Man,

Thanks for the tips!  We had already planned to go to some lagoons on Palawan, but hadn't heard about the underground river there- that sounds amazing!
We'll definitely pass on the cock fights though- a bit too depressing :(
Thanks again for the advice- I'll look up the places you mentioned and see if they mesh with the itinerary.

Watchmaker

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2013, 02:53:30 PM »
Decibelle (my statistically significant other) is Filipino.  I've never been, but I'll try to get her to answer.

michaelrecycles

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2013, 03:29:51 PM »
I am also going to the Philippines this winter! My trip is mostly centered around visiting family in Manila, but I am taking a side trip to Boracay.

Thanks for the extra info, Numbers Man.

Johnny Aloha

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2013, 04:02:11 PM »
I've spent a lot of time in many different areas of the Philippines and a little time in Borneo (the small country of Brunei for a short work trip).

I have the same interests as you, and the Philippines is an amazingly beautiful country.  The people are so kind and generous.  On more than one occasion I've eaten in someone's humble home and had a great meal and made many new friends.  And I offered to pay for the food, some will accept and some won't.

I haven't been to Palawan because it can be pricey to get there ... plane, then taxi, then maybe a boat ride depending on where you stay.  I've mostly traveled around Luzon and some areas further south.

In Manila, I prefer the Malate area (near the harbor) to Makati.  Makati is very nice but no different than NYC, SF, Singapore, or other major cities in that it's very clean, very upscale, and very expensive.  The Malate area is much more authentic and historic.  Much cheaper hotels, restraunts, and bars also.  I have eaten "street" food many times - very cheap and very good!  I've only been sick once - from a nice sandwhich shop in the mall!  I've never felt unsafe either.  I second the recommendation for Corrigador Island, that was great.     

The buses are pretty cheap.  I took a bus 4 hours north for a dive trip and it cost $3.  The buses go everywhere too, since that's how 95% of locals get to Manila and back.

Each region has a lot of cool stuff: swim with whale sharks in Legazpi/Bicol (SE of Manila), diving in Batangas (S of Manila), and hiking/forests N of Manila.  Browsing Tripadvisor is time well spent.

If you are interested in volunteering, there's no shortage of opportunities.  The Philippines is poor and prone to natural disasters like typhoons and mudslides.  There are probably some formal ways to find opportunities through the embassy or online, but you could also just walk into a school once you are outside Manila.  They won't turn you away!

In Borneo, I didn't have much time to explore Brunei.  But some friends have been to Kota Kinabalu and loved it!

Have fun!

Adventine

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2013, 07:40:17 PM »
Hello! As the others have said, Palawan offers incredible snorkeling and hiking. The natural landscape has been kept mostly untouched, unlike Boracay which is overcommercialized.

Bohol is another great place you'd probably like - beautiful natural landscapes, historic old churches... and lots of opportunity to volunteer as it was hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake this month. A lot of people still need assistance and some monuments need major restoration.

If you're willing to go to more remote but stunning beaches, try Caramoan in Camarines Sur (where Survivor USA shot a couple of recent seasons) and Siquijor.

As for Borneo... Maybe there's a local on these forums who can tell you more about that :D

ichangedmyname

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2013, 08:34:26 PM »
Hello! I hope you enjoy your trip there. Why did you choose the Philippines? Just curious.

Some tips:
Dress for warm humid weather, even in January.
Make sure to try the local food but maybe go to a restaurant instead of side walk vendors.
Drink lots of liquid.
The Greenbelt Makati area is nice and go to Mall of Asia just so you can say you were in the largest mall in the world (I dunno if that has changed recently lol, very antimustachian)
Karaoke is always fun just don't sing My Way by Frank Sinatra. Like seriously. Trust me. Don't.
Don't get pressured into trying "balut" if you don't want to. But do try "kare-kare", adobo, tinolang manok and pork sinigang. Also the lechon which is a whole roasted pig.

I really hope you have a great time.

P.S.
"Salamat" = thank you
"Ingat" = take care
"para" = stop (the jeepney or whatever public transpo)
Magkano = how much
Saan = where

:D
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rockstache

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2013, 09:03:46 AM »
Ok, you piqued my curiosity with the Frank Sinatra song. What's the problem there?

ichangedmyname

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2013, 09:08:37 AM »
LOL
There's been a few incidents like fighting when that song is sung at karaoke. I don't know what it is about that song but some of those incidents have led to gruesome endings.
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Adventine

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2013, 10:49:13 AM »
Bloody fistfights and even murders over how you sing that song... Or so that Manila urban legend goes.

ichangedmyname

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2013, 08:57:28 PM »
It's true though. I remember reading at least a couple news stories about it.
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chardog

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2013, 10:12:18 PM »
Watching David Attenborough nature documentaries such as Planet Earth has made me want to visit Borneo.


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michaelrecycles

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2013, 05:55:30 PM »
Anyone have tips for cell phone service in the Philippines? My US service will not work there.

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2013, 07:19:46 PM »
When visiting a friend in Manila got ruined by monsoons last year, I hopped a flight to Boracay.

One of the best places I've visited. Check out some pictures -- http://joshuaspodek.com/boracay-2

Clear water, neon bright fish, amazing food. We stayed at a mid-price place we negotiated to about US$20 per night, which got us air conditioning and a nice room. At the cheap end of the island you can probably get a place for a few dollars a night. You have to bargain to get better prices. At the other end you can probably pay hundreds of dollars a night and get world class treatment. We decided to go snorkelling and a few other things, but mostly relaxed. Balmy breezes and sunshine all day long despite Manila being half underwater.

Make sure to get some soursops there -- http://joshuaspodek.com/soursops-favorite-fruit -- which they call guayabanos, or something like that. Tastes as good as the best mangoes I've had.

Exprezchef

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2013, 07:36:43 PM »
My wife and I spent three weeks there in September. Stayed with my wife's relatives most of the time so lodging was pretty inexpensive. We did a whirlwind tour of the islands including time in the Manila area (Fort Bonifacio and Green Hills). We took a day trip to Tagaytay to see the Taal volcano, a day trip to Intramuros for a bit of Philippine history on a Segway tour and a day trip up to Haganoy to see the harvesting of the milkfish at a fish farm. We flew to Boracay and spent 5 days there for beach fun and snorkeling (Be advised--it is expensive there). We drove up to the farming community of San Jose to visit family and stayed for a few days. From there we took a day trip up to the mountains into the beautiful city of Baguio. The highlight of the trip was a three day excursion up to Banaue to see the famous rice terraces. We stayed in an eco lodge that is built right on the edge of the mountainous cliffs (http://www.nativevillage-inn.com) and hiked through the 2000 year old rice terraces up to a natural hot spring. Amazing place!!! The end of our trip included a three day adventure to Puerto Princessa, Palawan with the goal of seeing the underground river. Sadly, the weather prevented the boats from leaving and the tour was cancelled for safety reasons. We ended up renting a motorcycle for the day and headed off into the jungle on our own private adventure. To answer your cell phone question, we borrowed an old iPhone from one of my wife's cousins and loaded it up with a new sim card we bought from one of the many cell phone providers (I think we used Globe). I don't remember what exactly what it costs but it was pretty cheap. One thing we learned from the trip...wait to exchange your money once you arrive there. I exchanged some US dollars for Philippine Pesos at a Travelex office in my area and the exchange rate was horrible compared to the rate once we were there. 

My wife and I are considering retirement in the Philippines and this was a trip to explore the different areas we are looking at. I was sold on Baguio because it offered what I was looking for. My wife wants to stay in the area south of Manila as she has a lot of family in that area. Too much traffic and too congested for me.

Enjoy the trip 



ichangedmyname

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2013, 08:47:19 PM »
Anyone have tips for cell phone service in the Philippines? My US service will not work there.
What phone provider do you have now? in the US?
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michaelrecycles

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2013, 10:57:55 PM »
Anyone have tips for cell phone service in the Philippines? My US service will not work there.
What phone provider do you have now? in the US?

Ting. They actually do have service there, but a short list of phones that will work. Mine is not one of them.

ichangedmyname

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2013, 08:04:38 AM »
I am not familiar with Ting. Is the phone itself GSM? Does it take a sim card? If it does you can just buy a sim card in the Philippines and go prepaid. There are unlimited call and text plan and data plans too. If you're planning to call from Philippines to US, use skype or viber or Voxer instead.
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michaelrecycles

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2013, 02:53:02 PM »
To answer your cell phone question, we borrowed an old iPhone from one of my wife's cousins and loaded it up with a new sim card we bought from one of the many cell phone providers (I think we used Globe). I don't remember what exactly what it costs but it was pretty cheap.
I am not familiar with Ting. Is the phone itself GSM? Does it take a sim card? If it does you can just buy a sim card in the Philippines and go prepaid. There are unlimited call and text plan and data plans too. If you're planning to call from Philippines to US, use skype or viber or Voxer instead.

Thanks to both for the phone feedback. My own phone is non-GSM, but I was able to get my hands on a friend's old iPhone, unlocked it, and hopefully will be good to go once I arrive and pick up a SIM card! If not, I'll just figure something else out.

Thanks for all the other info too!

ichangedmyname

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Re: Traveling to Philippines and Borneo
« Reply #20 on: December 22, 2013, 03:25:18 PM »
Have a safe trip!

 

My wife and I are considering retirement in the Philippines and this was a trip to explore the different areas we are looking at. I was sold on Baguio because it offered what I was looking for. My wife wants to stay in the area south of Manila as she has a lot of family in that area. Too much traffic and too congested for me.

Enjoy the trip 

I'm thinking of that as well. Not as humid and nice weather. Can be kinda pricey for fish and other meats but the vegetables are always fresh. I lived there a for a year with my relatives and I was always cold all the time but after living in Colorado, I think I can handle it LOL
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