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It's more fun in the Philippines (or so I've heard)

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k_sheep

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To celebrate a friends' birthday and my finishing of exams, we grabbed some cheapo Cebu flights to Manila for a week. Now I've been to Manila and Clark previously so my main goal is to leave as quickly as possible - that night if possible!

Allowing for transfer times, the domestic flights we can get out that night go to:
- Bacolod
- Cebu
- Davao
- Iloilo
- Kalibo
- Laoag

We're 2 late 20s/early 30s females with a combined weight of <120kg so safety is relatively important. We're mainly into beaches (scuba, snorkelling, sailing etc) rather than history or shopping. And eating of course :p. Drinking / partying not important.

The easy route would probably just go to Kalibo, overnight there then hop across to Boracay ... however I fear that it will be a massive tourist trap similar to Phuket where you just get hassled and ripped off constantly.

Anyone have a better suggestion? Or hints about where to go on Boracay that are a bit more chilled out?

Thanks in advance - and yes, a TR will be forthcoming :)
 

AdMEL

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I am also interested to hear thoughts on this, as I also have cheap flights on Cebu Pacific for a week with a mate in mid October. My leave application is still pending unfortunately!
 

k_sheep

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Ours are end October, on a saturday, so if you're also looking to leave that night those are the options from Terminal 3 :)
 

Inver

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Cebu gives you the most flexibility. From there you can explore Bohol or many other islands.
Many great scuba diving locations around and also easy to go snorkelling.
Try Pangloa, I had the most amazing bbq'd marlin there at a place on the beach where the locals eat.
You can also visit the chocolate hills and meet a tarzier which are the normal touristy things to do.
We caught a ferry across to Dumageute and spent a few days there.

I'm quite fussy with the hotels I stay at so I just book the first night at a new location and then hire a bike/trike/taxi and explore the area. I have found quite a few amazing hotels this way.
Don't be afraid to ask the locals for recommendations.
 

Inver

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If you do decide to go to Boracay you will want to head to the south end of the island called station 3.
There is ample accomodation options for all budgets. I've stayed at resort with a basic room for $25 a night and had a great time. Again I am fussy about hotel rooms smelling mouldy so I walk along the beach and inspect all the new hotels to pick where we will be staying for the rest of our stay.

Usually we stay station 3 but we last visit we found an incredible new hotel right in the thick of it at station 2.

Yes there are touts trying to entice you to use their diving/snorkelling/para sailing/tubing/jetski service and it is a very touristy island but there is much to enjoy.

I would rent some decent fins/mask and go snorkelling south of station 3. Just a few metres off the beach, plenty to see and it keep me enthralled for hours each trip.

Even at peak times like Chinese New Year where the hotels are fully booked you will find the southern end of the island completely uncrowded.

Visit the clifftop restaurant at the Shangri La for dinner one night head there early to view the sunset.

Diving locations are not as good as other islands in the Philippines.
 

k_sheep

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Hmm Cebu could work ... seems like there's heaps of dive centres close to the airport on mactan island. As a bonus, there's 4 flights from T3 that night, so even if we misconnect we could probably jump on another flight.
 

Inver

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Hmm Cebu could work ... seems like there's heaps of dive centres close to the airport on mactan island. As a bonus, there's 4 flights from T3 that night, so even if we misconnect we could probably jump on another flight.
Cebu is a major hub easy to connect from there to many destinations. Maybe you should consider visiting Palawan? Fairly unspoilt when I went in 2009 there wasn't even a cinema on the whole island.

Mactan has some nice resorts but what I dislike all the beaches are partitioned and private and you need to pay to access an area albeit it is inexpensive. This is what I like about Boracay I can walk along the main beach sit down anywhere order an inexpensive drink all along the beach.

I haven't dived at Mactan so I can't comment on that.

My suggestion is to head further away from Cebu City.
 
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ric_melb

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Check out Smart Traveller, the Australian government site. You do nt want to go to Davao, or anywhere in Mindanao.
 

Inver

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Check out Smart Traveller, the Australian government site. You do nt want to go to Davao, or anywhere in Mindanao.
Actually I would consider Davao to be one of the safer cities in the whole of the Philippines.
I would never visit anywhere in western mindanao places like Zamaboanga. Eastern Mindanao is fine I visit there for at least a few weeks each year since this is where my wife is from.

More of a risk is travelling between cities and other locations you will see many checkpoints although mostly unmanned. I'm very wary of travelling anywhere outside of the cities.
Saying that I am surprised at the increasing number of foreigners I see each year in eastern mindanao.

Anyway yes there is no need to travel to Mindanao as a tourist because everything is catered for much better on any of the other 7000 islands of the Philippines.
 

AdMEL

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Ours are end October, on a saturday, so if you're also looking to leave that night those are the options from Terminal 3 :)
Thanks!

If you do decide to go to Boracay you will want to head to the south end of the island called station 3.
There is ample accomodation options for all budgets. I've stayed at resort with a basic room for $25 a night and had a great time. Again I am fussy about hotel rooms smelling mouldy so I walk along the beach and inspect all the new hotels to pick where we will be staying for the rest of our stay.

Usually we stay station 3 but we last visit we found an incredible new hotel right in the thick of it at station 2.

Yes there are touts trying to entice you to use their diving/snorkelling/para sailing/tubing/jetski service and it is a very touristy island but there is much to enjoy.

I would rent some decent fins/mask and go snorkelling south of station 3. Just a few metres off the beach, plenty to see and it keep me enthralled for hours each trip.

Even at peak times like Chinese New Year where the hotels are fully booked you will find the southern end of the island completely uncrowded.

Visit the clifftop restaurant at the Shangri La for dinner one night head there early to view the sunset.

Diving locations are not as good as other islands in the Philippines.
Cebu is a major hub easy to connect from there to many destinations. Maybe you should consider visiting Palawan? Fairly unspoilt when I went in 2009 there wasn't even a cinema on the whole island.

Mactan has some nice resorts but what I dislike all the beaches are partitioned and private and you need to pay to access an area albeit it is inexpensive. This is what I like about Boracay I can walk along the main beach sit down anywhere order an inexpensive drink all along the beach.

I haven't dived at Mactan so I can't comment on that.

My suggestion is to head further away from Cebu City.
Thanks for your input.

Would you mind naming some of the places you've stayed that you've mentioned?

I'm thinking of staying here:

Boracay Hotels & Resorts | Boracay Pito Huts Official Website

I've checked out the Shangri La restaurants - look great, but prices are expensive! About the same as Australia!
 

smit0847

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Very interested to hear your experiences. I'm flying to El Nido on Boxing Day then out of Busuanga just after New Years (if you know why I'm doing this you've probably done this yourself!).

Given it's one of the cheapest countries in the world, if Cebu Pacific flights to OZ become a success and MNL and the Filo tourism boards can get their act together I can see The Phillipines becoming the next Bali/Thailand.

Interested to hear about everyone's experiences with Cebu Pacific- I don't think I can handle ultra LCC long haul!
 

AdMEL

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Very interested to hear your experiences. I'm flying to El Nido on Boxing Day then out of Busuanga just after New Years (if you know why I'm doing this you've probably done this yourself!).

Given it's one of the cheapest countries in the world, if Cebu Pacific flights to OZ become a success and MNL and the Filo tourism boards can get their act together I can see The Phillipines becoming the next Bali/Thailand.

Interested to hear about everyone's experiences with Cebu Pacific- I don't think I can handle ultra LCC long haul!
I don't know why you're doing this - care to elaborate? El Nido and Busuanga look spectacular! Palawan is one of the areas I am interested in checking out. I am only in the Philippines for a week, so I'm thinking of splitting my time between Boracay and one other area/island, such as Palawan or Cebu. Very interested in the caves.

I have mixed feelings about Cebu Pacific - from what I've read, timeliness is not great, service is not great and safety of Philippine airlines isn't the best. I don't think I have a problem with how many they've squeezed into an A330 - as you may have read, I'm very tall (6'9"), but slim, so width not the problem, seat pitch is! Exit row a must!
 

Simo

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Check out Smart Traveller, the Australian government site. You do nt want to go to Davao, or anywhere in Mindanao.
stay right away from above places...

Cebu has some great resorts on the beach and never have to go any where.

Boracy is a just a short flight from Cebu.

I have been to Cebu and stayed at the Costabella and was very impressed with staff and facilities.
 

Simo

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I have travelled on Cebu Pacific many times.

My main issue with them is no lounges and also departure and arrival times is not great.

I got to the airport one day and there was a Cebu flight about to leave in 20 mins or so and I walked up to the counter and the lady said this is the flight to MNL and you have missed you flight and I had over an hour before my flight she said we cancelled it and that was now your flight. After a few peso's in the right hands it was all worked out.
 

smit0847

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I don't know why you're doing this - care to elaborate? El Nido and Busuanga look spectacular! Palawan is one of the areas I am interested in checking out.

, I'm very tall (6'9"), but slim, so width not the problem, seat pitch is! Exit row a must!
Tao : El Nido & Coron island boat expeditions

You're a 6"9 female?!?!? That must be some sort of world record?!?

Given how much Australians love cheap SE Asian beach holidays there is a HUGE tourism opportunity for the Philippines but they have to get their aviation standards up.
 

AdMEL

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Tao : El Nido & Coron island boat expeditions

You're a 6"9 female?!?!? That must be some sort of world record?!?

Given how much Australians love cheap SE Asian beach holidays there is a HUGE tourism opportunity for the Philippines but they have to get their aviation standards up.
Looks very interesting! Would you mind sharing the cost and length?

Not sure why you thought I was female, but actually male! My sisters are actually 6'3"!

Totally agree with your last comment. Until I heard about the cheap Cebu Pacific flights, I'd never even thought about going to the Philippines. It was a spur of the moment thing, but their tourism ad makes it look very enticing! Had I remembered Survivor Cagayan, I may have thought differently!

EDIT: I see length is 4/5 days, but can't find cost. How did you find out about this?

EDIT: Found cost - very reasonable! Unfortunately my flights miss their schedule by a day!
 
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Inver

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Totally agree with your last comment. Until I heard about the cheap Cebu Pacific flights, I'd never even thought about going to the Philippines. It was a spur of the moment thing, but their tourism ad makes it look very enticing! Had I remembered Survivor Cagayan, I may have thought differently!
The last 3 or 4 seasons of Survivor have been filmed in the Philippines.

Cebu Pacific is by far the airline I fly the most each year. Yes many flights are delayed but I'm very happy with them and their service overall. I find the seats are perfectly acceptable for short duration flights and I'm saying that being morbidly obese. Their fleet is fairly modern.

The major problem of the Philippines become more of a tourist destination is the lack of infrastructure and although not directly affected by it the corruption in all levels of government. Philippines is a great place to have an adventure.
 

Inver

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Thanks!

Thanks for your input.

Would you mind naming some of the places you've stayed that you've mentioned?

I'm thinking of staying here:

Boracay Hotels & Resorts | Boracay Pito Huts Official Website

I've checked out the Shangri La restaurants - look great, but prices are expensive! About the same as Australia!
Sands Hotel at station 3 stayed there many times. Lovely staff and facilities I especially like their executive suites.
Boracay Sands Hotel in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, Philippines

Boracay Uptown had just opened when we stayed there. I have to say it has a fabulous pool overlooking the beach definitely the highlight of the hotel.
Boracay Hotels and Resorts | Boracay Uptown Official Website

This is at station 2 where all the action is at night so it will be noisier.

Also stayed at the newer Boracay Regency which is off the beach.

I hate the smell of mould so where I will stay this December/January will depend on what new places have opened.

Yes the Shangri La is not cheap for dining but for the location and ambience I find the clifftop restaurant outstanding value.
I can't remember looking at the Pito huts so I can't comment.
 

Inver

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Very interested to hear your experiences. I'm flying to El Nido on Boxing Day then out of Busuanga just after New Years (if you know why I'm doing this you've probably done this yourself!).

Given it's one of the cheapest countries in the world, if Cebu Pacific flights to OZ become a success and MNL and the Filo tourism boards can get their act together I can see The Phillipines becoming the next Bali/Thailand.

Interested to hear about everyone's experiences with Cebu Pacific- I don't think I can handle ultra LCC long haul!
New Years Day is a good day to fly for guaranteed seat availability. Be prepared for delays at some major cities from all the fireworks pollution.
How are you getting to El Nido?

I could not subject myself to an LCC seat for more than 4 hours. It has to be J class but that is just me.
 
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