My first stop for the day was the Bangkok National Museum which is just a short walking distance from the Grand Palace. The entrance was free when I visited as commemoration of the King’s death. They have also provided a map of the whole compound which is very helpful. I also got to see some students busy with painting.
Overall, I loved everything about the museum. It showcases Buddhism which is a big part of Thai culture. I know very little about the history, culture and art of Buddhism so visiting the museum was a learning experience for me. I would suggest to spend at least 2-3 hours to fully enjoy what Bangkok National Museum has to offer.
I had lunch at a small stall in the far end of the compound and I loved the noodles! Food was fairly priced as well. (Don’t be scared, the stall looks shady, but I promise the food is great!)
The next place I visited was the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center, which is just near my hostel and also MBK Center. It is a contemporary arts center which is open every Tuesday-Sunday at 9:30AM to 9PM.
Immediately upon entering, I was amazed on how big it was and how beautiful the structure is. The lower floors showcase a beautiful array of cafes and souvenir shops. The main galleries are on the upper floors. There is no entrance fee however you would need to give a security deposit(which you will get back after) for the padlock, which you will use for the lockers as you cannot bring your bags inside the exhibits.
Oh, and I also got a free souvenir, by answering a quick survey about BACC afterwards!
Prior to my Bangkok travel, I researched for a lot of restaurants to try, and unfortunately, I was only able to try…. none! You’ll know why! As for the hostels, I booked both my Bangkok and Chiang Mai hostels at Hostelworld. I will write about both places in a separate blog post.
Day 0 – Adios, Pinas!
Paid the travel tax, checked in, exchanged some Pesos into Bahts, went through immigration and before I knew it, I was already on my way to Bangkok, Thailand! Flight took around 3.5 hours and could be really boring so good thing I prepared some movies to watch.
Before landing, the flight attendants will be handing out Arrival/Departure cards which you will present to the immigration counter. Make sure you have completely filled-out your name, passport number, nationality, purpose of visit, yearly income, etc. There is also a space for your address in Thailand, which is the address of your first hotel (If you will be transferring to other locations). Immigration officers will be checking your card if you filled it out properly and tell you if you need to add or change anything.
I arrived at around 11:30PM. Not having a Thai sim yet, I used the airport’s free wifi to book an Uber to my hostel. I only exchanged around TH฿1000 in NAIA T3, just enough for an Uber ride and a midnight snack. Good thing that there was a McDonalds near my hostel which is located near the National Stadium BTS Station as everything else was closed and I was too tired to go around walking at night.
Day 1 – Sawadee-krup, Bangkok!
First order of business, exchange Pesos to Baht! I had my money changed at a Super Rich which is also near the National Stadium BTS. Make sure you check out what works best during your time of visit. I read in other blogs that you will get the best value if you trade your Pesos to Dollars first, and then exchange Dollars to Baht. But I just directly exchanged mine from Pesos to Baht as it was less hassle and faster to do. I also got my TrueMove simcard at a 7-Eleven for TH฿300. The girl suggested it because I can get free wifi as well in malls or establishments with TrueMove Wifi. So from there, I booked an Uber to my breakfast place called On Lok Yun.
On Lok Yun is an old coffee shop that has been around for 80 years and is very popular with the locals. It serves traditional breakfast. I ordered 1 Egg, Ham, Bacon and Chinese Sausage for TH฿50, Kaya for TH฿28 and Cha Yen for TH฿25.
Overall, the food was okay. The Cha Yen was really good! Although it might be too sweet for some, I liked it a lot. I also liked the Kaya. The bread was soft and the custard were really delicious! Decided to walk to the Grand Palace from On Lok Yun which was a 20-minute walk.
Upon arriving at the Grand Palace, I was really overwhelmed by the massive number of locals and tourists. Just a few reminders when you visit the Grand Palace:
The Grand Palace opens daily at 8:30AM and closes at 3:30PM.
The day pass costs TH฿500.
Shorts, sleeveless, revealing or plunging neck lines, and flip flops are not allowed.
I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the whole complex as the number of people was just overwhelming. I would suggest for you to come earlier for you to really be able to go around.
Nevertheless, I was still amazed on how intricate the designs were. Everything was just perfection.
I spent around 2 or 3 hours inside, then I proceeded to Wat Pho (Temple of The Reclining Buddha).
Entrance is TH฿100 with a free bottled water. Suprisingly, Wat Pho was not as crowded as I expected it to be.
I was really amazed on how detailed and meticulous the designs were and I just put my camera down and appreciated in silence the beautiful architecture.
At the entrance of the Temple of The Reclining Buddha, you can get a bowl full of 108 coins for TH฿20, with the intent to make a wish when you drop a coin in each pot.
Before I knew it, the sun started to set. From Wat Pho, I walked to ESS Eat Sight Story where I decided to eat early dinner with the beautiful view of Wat Arun. It’s just walking distance from Wat Pho, at the end of Tha Tian Alley.
It was definitely a great way to end my first day at Bangkok, sipping some Cha Yen and eating some Pad Thai.
Woke up early to buy tickets from Siquijor to Dumaguete. Upon arriving at our hotel, we just got our things and headed off to Cebu via a ferry. From Santander, you can ride a bus to Cebu City which takes around 6 hours.
We got on a bus and decided to visit the beautiful Simala Church in Sibonga, Cebu. Shorts, sleeveless shirts/blouse are not allowed so make sure you wear proper attire.
Feeling hungry, we decided to go to Carcar to have lechon at the public market.
And after, we were on our way to Cebu City. Upon arriving, we looked for a cheap motel/hotel as our flight was at 4am.
To kill time, we had dinner and a few drinks at Larsian.
And before we knew it, our seven day backpacking trip has come to an end. Damn!
Upon arriving at the terminal in Dumaguete, you need to do the following to get to Apo Island:
Get on a bus bound for Bayawan and ask the conductor to drop you off at Malapatay.
Walk to the station where you can rent a boat. (A small boat for 4pax costs around P2,000)
Upon arrival you can rent tables and ask the locals to cook for you. But before food, we decided to swim with the turtles!
As you can see, I asked our guide to kick me down because I couldn’t go deeper. It was really hot and there isn’t much to do in Apo Island except to swim with the turtles and to go to the lighthouse which is a tiring 20-30 minute trek. We decided to leave at around 3PM as boats are not allowed to leave Apo Island after 4PM.
From Malapatay, we rode a jeepney to Dumaguete where we spontaneously had to walk around and look for a cheap lodging house as we were going to leave early the next morning for Siquijor.
Day 6 – Exploring Mystical Siquijor! (And getting stranded)
We got up at around 6AM to catch the first trip to Siquijor. (Fare is around P135) Beforehand, we already contacted our tour guide, Kuya Loloy (+639097561901).
Unfortunately, I already lost most of my photos from Siquijor except for a few from my GoPro. Basically, the whole daytour consists of the following:
Capilay Spring Park, San Juan, Siquijor
Enchanted Balete Tree
Below are some photos from Cambugahay Falls:
And this is the part where it gets kind of exciting. Upon arriving at the port back to Dumaguete, we were informed that no boats are allowed to leave as the waves are too strong. So we had to find a place to spend the night and we just made the most out of it by drinking the night away.
The part that I was most excited about was the Bacolod leg. As I have always wanted to visit the ruins.
How to get there: Ride a jeepney bound for Bata and tell the driver to drop you off at Pepsi Bottling Plant. There are tricycles waiting there that are ready to take you straight to the Ruins.
Upon arrival, you need to pay P100. You need to walk a little to reach the ruins, then which you can sit down inside while waiting for the tour guide to start. Roger was funny as hell! I actually enjoyed how he explained how the ruins started. It’s dubbed as the Taj Mahal of the Philippines as it was also made out of love for a woman.
Since we came early, there weren’t a lot of people.
Feeling hungry at around 11am, we decided to go to 21 Restaurant, which is located along Lacson, to have lunch.
Then, dessert at Calea!
After having dessert, we then got on jeepney to the terminal then took a Silay bound Bus. Ask the conductor to drop you off at El Ideal bakery. From there, you can walk to Balay Negrense.
Then we had to go back to Bacolod and took the Ceres bus to Dumaguete.
Upon arriving at Iloilo City, we rode a cab to One Lourdes Dormitel. Since it was a little late, we decided to just order food from Alberto’s Pizza. (I believe they are open until 2am!)
The next day, we decided to visit Museo Iloilo.
The museum is a little small, though the staff were very knowledgeable about everything. Iloilo has a rich historical past, it was once called the “Queen City of the South”, according to one of the staff. They also suggested that we visit Guimaras, however we didn’t have time as we were planning to go to Bacolod after.
Museo de Iloilo is open everyday (Monday to Saturday at 9am-5pm and Sunday at 10am-6pm). Admission fee is P15 for students and P50 for adults.
From the museum, you can take a “La Paz”, “Jaro CPU”, or “Jaro Liko” jeepney going to Lapaz Market.
We had lunch at one of the well-known batchoy places, Netong’s Original Special La Paz Batchoy Restaurant.
Food is really affordable and I really like that it’s inside the public market, makes it feel more authentic! For P120, the serving is really big! I also got some puto. I was really full after!
After filling our tummies with delicious batchoy, we visited the Jaro Cathedral.
From the Cathedral, we were supposed to ride a cab to Dumangas port which is a little far, however the cab driver told us about new Iloilo Ferry Terminal in Barangay Obrero in Lapuz, Iloilo City. So we asked him to take us there, so we can take the ferry to Bacolod. It takes around an hour and costs around P230.
Upon arrival, we took a cab to Ong Bun Pension House. (Worst mistake ever! Read reviews here.) Please find another place to stay at.
During dinnertime, we decided to eat at Aida’s Manukan!
Beer + Chicken Inasal FTW! The place was hot, it was noisy, but the food was awesome!
After dinner, we bought some freshly made piyaya at Bong Bong’s and just stayed at the plaza. We walked around the city, as we didn’t want to stay at the pension house. LOL. It was a crazy day, but we still enjoyed the night, dancing the running man at the Bacolod Plaza! HAHA!
I have always wanted to try backpacking however just thinking about it makes me tired already. But, last year, I finally found the courage to try it. I tagged along with a friend and his officemates and finally made my “Backpacking dream” happen!
Day 1 – Hello, Gigantes Islands!
We arrived at Roxas Airport at around 6am. We then took a tricycle to the Ceres Bus Station, and rode a bus bound for Estancia.
We booked a package for 5 at Gigantes Hideaway for P2355 inclusive of the following:
Private boat for 2 days
Roundtrip transfer at Estancia Port
Island entrance fees
1 night accommodation
Local island/Cave guide
4 meals (Family service seafood buffet meals/Unli-rice)
Motorbike fare for 2 days
Island hopping, swimming, snorkeling
Natural cliff jumping
Visit century old lighthouse
Watch sunrise and sunset
It takes around 1.5 to 2 hours from Estancia Port to Gigantes Hideaway so it was a good chance to catch-up on some sleep.
Upon arriving at Gigantes, first order of business – Lamon! Lunch was amazing. Crabs, scallops and a delicious shell fish they call “Wasay wasay”.
After a little rest and some much needed charging of gadgets, we rode on the motorbikes to the starting point of our trek at Bakwitan Cave.
Bakwitan, which came from the word “Evacuate-an” or a place to evacuate, was one of the refuge areas during the war for many of the locals. Up to today, this place is where they go to during strong typhoons.
The first part was fairly easy. A little rocky, but after 15 minutes, we arrived at the entrance to the cave. It was a little dark and we did not bring flashlights, so we had to use our phones.
I have tried spelunking before in Sagada and I must say this was a little harder than I expected. It regret not bringing water, thinking that it was just a “walk in the park” kind of trek.
Upon getting out of the cave, we saw a big Balete tree. I let out a big sigh because finally, we were almost done. Almost. The way down was harder. The rocks were sharp so we had to really be extra careful.
We were greeted by a sign that said “Congratulations, you did it!” which made me feel really good upon realizing how difficult the trek was. Then we hopped on the motorbikes and went to the nearby beach to watch the sunset.
All the travelling, trekking and lack of sleep made me feel exhausted so I just laid on the sand like a starfish, feeling the water on my feet and some sand on my hair. But it was a great way to end the first day of a week-long trip with a beautiful sunset on the beach. (Even if the sun hid behind the clouds.)
Day 2 – Gigantes Lighthouse + Island Hopping + Travel to Iloilo City
On our second day, we decided to visit the Gigantes Lighthouse at around 7am. It is one of the 27 major Spanish lighthouses built by Spaniards. The old lighthouse was destroyed during a typhoon a few years back. The new medium-sized, solar powered lighthouse was donated by Japan.
The view was amazing!
We went back to the resort to have breakfast, then we started the island hopping!
First stop, Tangke Saltwater Lagoon!
A dip in the clear waters of the Tangke was a great way to start the day. Tangke Saltwater Lagoon is walled by beautiful limestone cliffs. Too bad we weren’t able to cliff jump as the waters were a little shallow that day.
Next stop, (probably) the most photographed island in Gigantes Sur, Cabugao Gamay!
Cabugao Gamay Island is simply gorgeous. It’s small, but the clear waters and white sand made me realize and understand why it is the most popular destination in Isla de Gigantes.
The last two destinations that we visited were Bantigue Sandbar and Antonia beach. Unfortunately I was not able to take more photos as my camera ran out of battery.
We went back to the island, had lunch and then prepared to go back to Estancia Port. It was a little hard saying goodbye to the beautiful islands of Gigantes, but I shall return!
From Estancia Bus Terminal, it takes around 4-5 hours to Iloilo City.