Boracay on the cheap

During Happy Hour, beer in Boracay averages P70 for two, which makes it P35—or less than a dollar—a bottle. We don’t know about you, but that’s cheap, especially if you factor in the ambiance—beautiful sunset, fine sand on your toes, cushy chairs under coconut trees. Meanwhile, a tricycle ride is P10, a filling meal P50, a liter of water P5, a bed for the night P400—that is, if you’re not picky. And, not to forget, four kilometers of white sand—one of the best in the world—costs absolutely nothing.

Diniwid Beach, Boracay, Philippines - by www.Two2Travel.com
Continue reading “Boracay on the cheap”

Guide to biking around southern Batan Island, Batanes

Just because it took us 12 hours to bike around southern Batan Island does not mean the whole thing is such a pain in the arse (well, it really was, literally) and that you shouldn’t do it. You can, and for the record, you don’t need ninja biking skills to pull this one off. The roads of Batan Island are generally good, there will always be locals around to help you in case you run into trouble, and the route is easy to navigate even without a guide.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes - Two2Travel.com
Continue reading “Guide to biking around southern Batan Island, Batanes”

Tips for your trips: Oslob, Cebu

The town of Oslob straddles the open sea and the mountains of Cebu. The way to this seaside town is photogenic, especially in the early morning.

Whalesharks of Oslob, Cebu | Photos by Two2Travel.com
Apart from the whalesharks of Tan-awan, the Tumalog Falls and the Heritage Park are also usual stops. These three can be done in a single day, putting the whaleshark watching first, which takes just 30 minutes unless you give it another go and pay again, before the inland tour, which may take up another two or three hours of your time.

Continue reading “Tips for your trips: Oslob, Cebu”

Balicasag’s different shades of blue

We love the blankets of blue, the patches of white, and the trickles of green in our beaches.

But even with similar white sand and clear waters everywhere we go, no two beaches will ever be the same. It’s always a different story, always a different shade of blue.

Balicasag Island, Bohol | Two2Travel

Continue reading “Balicasag’s different shades of blue”

Accidental tourists at Bohol’s Virgin Island

We didn’t plan on going to Virgin Island, some 20 minutes from Panglao, because that would mean renting a boat at P2,500 for the two of us and going on the usual island hopping tour (Pamilacan for dolphin watching, Balicasag for snorkeling, & a final stop at Virgin).

TWO2TRAVEL | Bohol | Virgin Island

Continue reading “Accidental tourists at Bohol’s Virgin Island”

CEBU!

How can we even begin to describe Cebu?

Of all the provinces we’ve been to in the Philippines, Cebu is that one place that always has something new to offer, no matter how many times we visit.

We love its food, its beaches, its underwater life, and the ease at which we can shuttle from one area to the next!

(Please click on the photos to navigate to their respective posts.)

FESTIVALS

Sinulog Festival

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Sto. Nino Procession

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

FOOD

Lechon Cebu

Our favorite so far: Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly’s spicy lechon belly

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Puso

Wrapped in coconut leaves, dangling from stalls – that’s how Cebu does its rice.

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel
Also see: Table for Two: Cebu

CRAFTS

Mactan’s handmade guitars

Before there even was the ingenious Loudbasstard, the classic Cebu pasalubong—apart from the food—would be these handmade guitars

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

ADVENTURE

River trekking within the city

ri

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Swimming with thresher sharks in Malapascua

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Swimming with whalesharks in Oslob

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Exploring Bantayan Island on a motorbike

Cebu, Philippines | Two2Travel

Places to stay in Cebu
Note: For a more comprehensive list of hotels, please check out Agoda. For some really cool alternatives (such as condos), head over and sign up at Airbnb.

This is just a summary of the places we, either together or on separate trips, have tried in Cebu. Some of the stays were paid for by us, some were made possible through travel assignments (referring to the expensive ones, which we apparently cannot afford).

MACTAN ISLAND
Abaca Resort and Restaurant – luxurious rooms and delicious food. There are only nine rooms in the whole property, so this is perfect for those who love peace and quiet. It comes with a price though, but it’s going to be well-spent for sure.
Crimson Resort and Spa – it’s a sprawling resort designed for families and big groups. Food is good too, and buffet spread is quite diverse.
Islands Stay Mactan – nice and clean, has big and comfy beds, and is right outside the airport. It’s good for any type of group since there are four kinds of rooms, from single to quadruple occupancy. Rates are quite affordable too.
Plantation Bay – stay here if you don’t want to go anywhere else. It has manmade pools (if you like that kind of thing), a dive shop, and bikes you can use throughout the property. Food is good, especially the lechon which they cook in the open, right by the poolside.

CEBU CITY
Hotel Elizabeth – good central location (just a couple of blocks from Ayala)
Quest – right across Ayala. Perfect for those in Cebu for business.
The Center Suites – good location; especially near Maxwell Hotel where we have our regular spicy lechon belly fix (because Mandaue is too damn far)
East Capitol Pensionne – very good value. Rooms are rather small but they’re very well thought out and are equipped with cabinets and corners in which to place your stuff so you maximize whatever space you have.

Life’s a Beach 3: Easy cruising in Bantayan

Summer ain’t over just because Holy Week is. Besides, our next destination–Bantayan Island in northern Cebu–is best experienced without the crowds.

two2travel cebu bantayan

Continue reading “Life’s a Beach 3: Easy cruising in Bantayan”

Confessions of a Seat Sale King and Queen (and how you can be one too!)

Psst, do you want to travel?

Why are you not doing it then?

You have no money? You have a busy job? Travel looks… far off?

Our answer is no, no, and no. You will have the money. You will find a way with your job, and travelling is POSSIBLE.

You can hop on a plane months from now and spend three days or even longer someplace you’ve never been to; something you’ll enjoy every minute of; and something you’ll want to go back to long before you’ve left.

DSC_4397
You could be one of them (or with them) and have a good time too 

caticlan
The flight that never was. Our first victory too against the elusive piso seat sale. 

Does that excite you?

Of course it does, duh. So let us take this one step at a time, but first, this is something you have to understand:

We do have our struggles. With money. With time. With work. We experience every single thing you think stands between you and your dream trip. But we’re not letting it get in the way of OUR dreams. See, our dream is to travel far and wide, see all the Philippines’ beaches and churches and festivals, taste all the delicious Pinoy dishes we do not know even exist. We all know you want that too. So keep reading, because you’re on the right track. 

Note: All views expressed here are ours.

The biggest, and most probably the MOST COMMON ‘hindrance’ to travel is MONEY. Well we say it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be.

And this is what this first post is about. How do we do it, and how do countless others bitten by the travel bug do it?

We book our plane tickets MONTHS in advance.

Booking a flight is a whole world in itself. There are concerns of where to book, when to book, how to pay, etcetera. We’ll try to cover it one by one:

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH OUR LOCAL CARRIERS

SEAT SALES!!!
To increase your chances of getting first dibs into those seat sales, follow these airlines on Twitter (believe us, Twitter works!) or like their respective Fan Pages on Facebook. Important: TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

(updated July 2014)
PAL Express & Philippine Airlines
Tiger Airways & Cebu Pacific Air
AirAsia Zest
SkyJet Airlines (select destinations only)

TO BE A SEAT SALE KING AND QUEEN, KNOW THY RULES AND KNOW HOW TO BREAK THEM

1. Think like the airlines do (i.e., know thy enemy!). They conduct seat sales during holidays or just about anytime that would look perfect in the name and numbers game:

Piso seat sale for January 1
P11-seat sale for November 11, 2011 (11-11-11)
P12 seat sale for 2012

This means they will most probably come up with their own versions of a 12-12-12 seat sale on December 12, 2012 (probably P12 per person per way).

2. Cebu Pacific (which bought—and now controls—Philippine operations of Tiger Airways, as of 2014) is known for its piso sales, Zest AirAirAsia Zest for its Zestday Wednesday Sales, AirphilPAL Express for its P8 or P88-sales, and PAL for its P77 or P777 sales.

3. Airlines usually announce seat sales between 12 PM and 1 PM (lunch break! so better eat yours inside!) and midnight.

4. You may find more sale seats during weekdays than on weekends.

5. AirAsia PhilippinesAirAsia Zest is known to have pioneered the all-in fare system, advertising rates such as P275 which includes fuel surcharge and other fees.

SO THERE’S A SEAT SALE. HOW DO YOU BOOK AND PAY FOR YOUR TICKETS?

Book through the websites instead of travel agencies, whose fee almost doubles your fare price (that’s from experience).

AIRPHIL EXPRESSPAL EXPRESS: credit card
UPDATE (September 2012): AirphilPAL Express now accepts payments via 7-Eleven, Petron, and M. Lhuillier. Please click on this for more details.
CEBU PACIFIC: Bank deposit (within 24 hours of your booking, otherwise it will be cancelled; not possible on weekends unless you find an open bank then; credit card; debit card (thru ATM payment).
PAL: credit card; bank deposit (within 24 hours of booking)
ZESTAIR: credit card

WHY CREDIT CARDS CAN BE MORE FLEXIBLE:

1) you can book any day as soon as you find a seat that fits your budget and schedule (bingo!) including Saturdays and Sundays.
2) lets you pay even without cash on hand
3) you have more fare choices rather than relying on just the one airline that accepts bank deposits (and believe us, each of these four airlines could give you roughly the same fares. Not to endorse or anything, but ZestAirAirAsia Zest & Airphil Express have the cheapest year-round fares. You can book less than a month from your trip and still score P799-base fare).

HOW MUCH DO WE USUALLY SPEND FOR A FLIGHT?

Great competition = more affordable fares (and by affordable, we mean plane rides are not just for the moneyed people anymore; we even got two one-way tickets to Boracay before for P192 including taxes, but our trip did not push through)

For domestic flights, we usually spend P1000 to P2000 each for a round trip ticket, including taxes (these are usually the P799 base fares, which add up to P1,500 per person with taxes).

We book as early as 10 months in advance to get cheaper flights. For instance, if you want to book a Boracay flight this weekend for a planned April trip, you’re a bit late already since Caticlan flights are pricey (around P4,000 per way) especially because it’s summer. There are alternative routes, of course, but we will discuss that in another post.

ROUND TRIP OR ONE-WAY?

Booking roundtrip tickets saves you on web booking fees, but flying one-way can actually let you save too. Simple: book wherever it is cheaper per way.

This is a common experience: your departing fare is cheap–around P299–but the returning trip is P3,500. This is usually the case during seat sales that’s why they’re dubbed fake (most days they really won’t allow you to fly cheap, but you can always outsmart them by booking one way then looking for another more hospitable airline to fly with).

DITCH THOSE SEAT SELECTORS! (This is serious)

Nikka HATES online seat selectors. She believes they are the most brutally capitalistic, in-your-face tactics to take advantage of people.

Hey, get this, you do NOT need those seat selectors. You do not need to PREPAY your seats (or pay for your seats again, because you already did that, remember?) just so you could spend the next hour or so next to your boyfriend or mother or child. Because whatever happens, as long as you booked at the same time, they will assign you beside each other.

“It’s just P100 per way, which means I only pay P200 for both trips so no biggie.”

WRONG. Multiply P100 with 180, the maximum capacity of an Airbus 320 (assuming everyone paid for their seats) then you’re giving extra P18,000 per flight to an airline that doesn’t even serve you free water.

So please, SKIP those seat selectors, or as I have observed lately, UNTICK those automatically selected seats for you.

INSURANCE?
Insurance is anywhere between P180 and P250 depending on the airline. But we never availed of them. We’ve managed to touch down unscathed everytime anyway.

BAGGAGE
Airphil Express and PAL (who are sister companies) have automatic 15-kilo allowances for their Airbus 320 flights. These are included in the fare price already.
As of 2014, PAL Express and PAL economy flights (and all other local carriers, for that matter) do not come with free baggage allowance anymore. Prepaid baggage can be availed at the time of booking (upwards P180 for 15 kilos).

ZestAir lets you choose between with or without baggage fares (those without are P100 cheaper).

Cebu Pacific is a different case. They’ve scrapped the automatic baggage allowance altogether and lets you prepay your baggage (cheapest is P150 P180 for 15 kilos max).

If you really have to, stick to the P150 (15-kilo) allowance for every two people in your group (or just stuff everything in a backpack and don’t check it in. Hehe). We always travel with a tripod, which is automatically checked in, as well as a 10-kilo suitcase. We never exceeded 15 kilos. Remember, pay only for what you will use.