Earlier this year, I made my way around a few beautiful Philippine islands. As it was a place that none of my friends have yet ventured to, I found myself learning very quickly the do’s & dont’s of making my way around safely and efficiently!
First Stop – Cebu City > Moalboal
• Buy a 5Gb SIM card for 1000 peso (AUD25). Philippino wifi is very temprimental so this sim will save you on many occasions – especially with last minute bookings!
• Grab a white taxi. They are cheaper than the yellow ones. Always ask for the meter and have your destination up on maps as the drivers often don’t know where to go.
• Uber is also available
• Dress conservatively
• Take some cash with you (AUD & Peso). When changing AUD to peso in Australia you will need to do this in advance as it will need to be ordered in. Some ATM’s only allow withdrawals between 4000 – 10 000 peso. (AUD100 – AUD270)
• Small change is very handy and can be hard to come by so take any opportunity to grab some!
Moalboal – What To Do & Where To Stay
As I was doing my open water dive course I stayed at the Cebu Dive Centre run by the amazing Cameron!
Bookings: All bookings are done via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). No deposit required. Cameron is extremely flexible with dates so don’t abuse his generosity – let him know in advance if you have had a change of mind.
How To Get There: Cebu to Moalboal
The bus to Moalboal takes a minimum of 3-4 hours so depending on what time you arrive & if you are alone it’s probably best to have an overnight stopover in Cebu city, wake up early and make your way down south. Buses start from around 6:00am and leave every half an hour.
• Take a white taxi to the south bus terminal (ask for the meter)
• Cost of the bus to Moalboal is 130peso ($3.50 approximately)
• If you have baggage you will be charged and extra 10-20 peso. The people working on the bus will try to tell you that you can only have one bag but you can have more, they just want a tip.
• The ticket man will also try the same baggage scam – it’s easiest to just give them the money as it is such a small amount and much better than your bag going missing!
•The Pleasure Principle Resto-Bar: this restaurant has great vegetarian options and is always busy. A little bit more expensive than other places but still very cheap.
•If you keep walking past the Pleasure Principle towards the end of the road there are a few fun bars – can’t miss them.
Weekdays it is apparently best not to go alone as you will be targeted by locals who try to rip you off for entry/swimming fee’s. Upon arrival to Kawasan there is a kiosk where you purchase your ticket (roughly 100peso). Once you have purchased your ticket the only thing you should need to pay for is seating near the café’s at the base of the waterfall or food. Do not pay to swim.
•Tricycle to Moalboal “city centre” (approximately 100peso max)
•Ask your tricycle drive/local where the bus is to get to Kawasan falls (very easy to locate and is on the main street near the tricycle drop off).
•Bus to Kawasan falls takes roughly half an hour and costs 30 peso per person ($0.80). You might need to ask the ticket man to let you know when to get off the bus.
•Going on the weekends means it will be extremely busy. We decided to avoid the crowds and made our way to Kawasan at around 9am. The earlier the better for a peaceful swim and photos without 1000 other people.
Cebu City > El Nido (Palawan)
**There are two airports that fly into Palawan. For El Nido fly into the El Nido (ENI) airport not the Puerto Princesa Airport. Flying into ENI is slightly more expensive that the Puerto Princessa but it is worth every penny as it is the difference between a 20 minute tricycle into El Nido or a 6 hour bumpy bus ride
**Make sure you take enough cash to El Nido as there is only 1 or 2 ATM machine’s on the island an they are generally out of order or cash. Paying by card is not an option at many places – if any!
**Do not drink the water here and be careful with ice! The water is very dirty here. Stick to bottled water.
I would recommend booking your flights in an out of El Nido in advance as they only have one flight per day so they fill up fairly quickly. I needed to change my flight out of El Nido to an earlier date. Easiest option is to call via the hostel as the online flight management section is very temperamental.
BOOK IN ADVANCE.
Spontaneously backpacking around with no cement bookings is a great idea but… do not do this with El Nido. The island is becoming increasingly popular and there isn’t enough hostels/hotels to accommodate everyone. There is emergency accommodation and (expensive) private beach side rooms if you get stuck. A lot of people go to Coron and then El Nido or visa versa… I personally didn’t do this but from what I saw I wouldn’t recommend. Travelling to one another is via boat. When I was in El Nido (February), it was fairly windy so the boats were cancelled for at least one week. Although I’ve heard Coron is beautiful… I’ve also heard its tiny. So if you’re OK with island fever after 24 hours of being stuck then definitely book these islands together.
I stayed at Outpost Hostel. If you’re looking for a reasonably prices hostel with great staff, heaps of activities, amazing food, clean accommodation and a ridiculous view then look no further.
I didn’t actually venture far from the hostel as I was having such a good time there so I can’t recommend anything within El Nido town. Through the hostel I did a couple of boat tours. One was to Snake Island and the Blue Lagoon (must see). El Nido is such a beautiful Island – go go go!!!