Tag: travel

HOW TO EXPERIENCE MANILA FOR A DAY (Series 2)

HOW TO EXPERIENCE MANILA FOR A DAY (Series 2)

This experience guide is a mixture of the old and new. As we try to re-introduce Manila to you in a different angle.

Exploring  Batangas One Road Trip at a Time

Exploring Batangas One Road Trip at a Time

This is your next Batangas weekend wanderer guide! Let’s explore the towns of Lobo, Bauan, and Taal.

Hanoi, Vietnam: 4 Days, 1 Backpack and 100 USD Pocket Money

Hanoi, Vietnam: 4 Days, 1 Backpack and 100 USD Pocket Money

It was October of 2016; I was apathetic in life, uninspired and reluctant to continue my trip to Hanoi. I booked my ticket 6 months ahead of time mainly out on a whim and a relatively cheap budget promo run by one of the local budget airlines. I was feeling lazy to pack and go thru the whole airport hassle. My friends were pretty excited and I wouldn’t want to be the odd woman out, so I said okay let’s go to Vietnam

How to Get There

One of the best ways to book your flight to  Hanoi is thru Kiwi.com, they find you the lowest rates across hundreds of airlines with a guarantee from canceled flights, rescheduling, and delays.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love traveling, but the traversal completion of one’s journey to point A to point B is that one must endure the process. You have your airport security, the long queue to security scanner, having your boarding pass check then revalidate, long cue yet again, immigration officers who are required to act stern and judgmental about every core of a human being that you are. Wait for more than 3 hours then let’s board the plane. There then again long queue, boarding pass check again, walk, stride or run. Cramp, jammed and sit swiftly then force you to endure your coach quality seats. Wait… Just about 10 more minutes when you’re all settled finally then the worst will ascend in front of you without before you know it.

 

 

I really didn’t know what to expect. I arrived pretty late at around 1 am. All I want to do is get on a cab and head straight to our Airbnb. The Noi Bai International Airport is approximate, 45-1 hour outside the city. It is pretty easy to take a cab, but the only challenge is the language. They don’t speak much English in Hanoi, but they can comprehend any gestures or simple English. With a general sense of confusion, I looked outside the airport and was surprised on how Hanoi seems so big. The way they build their roads and bridges going into the city as if it welcomes visitors and makes its first mark on you that they are progressing as a nation.

We finally arrived at our rented apartment along West Lake. The 2 am breeze is calming and welcoming. We were greeted nicely by our host, showed us to our room and we immediately got some shut eyes.  The next morning, with this energy that I have I wanted to see Hanoi in the daylight.

There are plenty of options in Hanoi that can fit any traveler’s budget. Click here to check out rates and availability per location

 

 

 

 

 

As I was walking randomly for hours. I sat down, tired, on a small stool and we asked the man making the food to bring us whatever he was making. The bowl of beef Pho arrived, steaming intensely and full of flavor. Hints of mint, coriander, sauces, and limes hit my senses. I took a small sip. My eyes opened intensely, gave my bowl a second look. The stock is amazingly good. It tastes clean and filling. Finally, I affirmed to myself that coming to Hanoi is a good decision. I felt at home in a foreign country. Hanoi welcomed me and I knew my stay will be splendid. In front of me is a promising city, with one of the best food culture in the world.

 

 

 

Hanoi is on the opposite north part of Vietnam. It is the capital city. Saigon is located in the southern part. Saigon is the most popular destination for most tourists. How do they differ from one another? Everything from the way food is prepared to how piercingly people speak to the weather is almost bipolar. They couldn’t be more different. Hanoi is the more established, adult, contented and cultured father figure, while Saigon is the young needy millennial, busy finding his place in the city and growing rapidly in many different tangents.

You can see layers reveals periods of Chinese and French occupation- you can see a glimpse of history and the resilience of Hanoians.

Dine on the wild and wonderful at every corner, sample market wares, uncover an evolving art scene, then sleep soundly in a little luxury for very little cost. Meet the people, delve into the past and witness the awakening of a Hanoi on the move.

Hanoi Neighborhoods can be simplified into 6 parts:

  1. Hoan Kiem is the area immediately around the lake, which acts as the center of activity
  2. The Old Quarter you will find all the tourist, hotels, souvenir shops and happenings. High influx of people
  3. The French Quarter, colonial 1900s style. A quaint place that will transport you back in time as you step foot into that place.
  4. West Lake, A more polished neighborhood where the affluent and most expat community reside.
  5. Ba Dinh, massive landmarks, and government buildings are concentrated here.
  6. Hai Ba Trung is the most local than any other location

 

 

If you want to be located where all the backpackers are and you miss a slight chaos that’ll remind you of Saigon then, by all means, you stay around the French Quarter area. Personally, I prefer the in-between space. If you are coming to the city for only for a couple of days I would recommend staying right in between of the Old Quarter and West Lake. After a long day of going around, it’ll be nice to have some peace and quiet. There are plenty of options of hosted Air BnB’s to choose from that are quite reasonable.

Getting Around Hanoi

Vietnam is known to be a motorcycle country pretty much the most dominant form of transportation for locals. These bikes bully bigger cars and don’t seem to mind breaking every bit of traffic law in the city. They drive recklessly yet calculated and don’t honk most of the time even if you’re walking on the right path for pedestrians. Do not get offended though it is just the way it is with their driving culture. They aren’t mad, only a little impatient.

  • There are plenty of cabs around the city, be mindful though of other cab drivers as they tend to rip you off if you’re a tourist with their meter machine running 3-4x faster. I recommend getting the ABC Taxi Co. as their flag downs and fare machine is honest and bills you the right amount.
  • Should you choose to take the railway train or buses as it is cheaper. However, do not expect efficiency with drop-offs and scheduling.
  • You may opt to rent a motorcycle that’ll cost you for as low as $5/day.

 

 

Scooters as far as the eye can see with three passengers each all dangerously dancing around each other like a well-rehearsed play.

 

 

What to see

I would recommend exploring the streets thru walking and the everyday life of the locals. Key sights for mandatory tourist attractions that are worth visiting are:

  • The Imperial Citadel
    Quán Thánh, Ba Đình, Hanoi
  • The Temple Of Literature
    Văn Miếu, Đống Đa
  • The Opera House
    1 Trang Tien St, Hanoi
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
    Hùng Vương, Điện Biên, Ba Đình, Hà Nội
  • The Perfume Pagoda
    Hương Sơn, Mỹ Đức, Hanoi

Most of these sites don’t charge any fees.

 

There are plenty of travel stalls offering day trips to:

  • Duong Lam Ancient Village
  • Halong Bay (if you have been to El Nido. El Nido is way better)
  • Duong Lam Ancient Village

The Food

You will read a lot of different blogs on what to do and where to go in Hanoi. What I did was to make my own mandatory food curriculum of what I had to try based on research and plain walking around the city. Hanoi has a very prominent food and coffee culture, and during my stay, I missed most of the tourist spots just so I can really immerse myself in it. 

 

Cost Set Back Average:

  • Phở-  50,000 Dong =106hp or 2.12USD
  • Coffee and Egg Coffee- 50,000 Dong=95 USD or 2USD
  • Bun Cha = 50,000 Dong =106hp or 2.12USD
  • Bahn Mi– 25,000 Dong= 53php or 1USD

 

 

People belonging from different social class becomes equal in front of a myriad of food stalls peppered along every road and avenue. You have not truly experienced Vietnamese cuisine if you haven’t had it here. People drive in their motorbikes. Men dressed in their silk shirts and women covered from head to toe with cotton garments to protect themselves from the sun and dirt no less. They park their motorcycles in an efficient manner in front of stores. Chose where you will eat, pick from an extremely concise menu. The stalls differentiate themselves with white and block letters that signify what kind of food they are serving.

 

 

 

There are so many reasons for travelers to come to Hanoi, but the food and the vibe the city offers are the ones that keep me coming back.

Street Food Etiquette and Tips:

  • Be ready to find the first available vacant seat, regardless of whether all the tables are beside each other. 
  • Sum up your sign language and pointing skills and be straight to the point regarding which food you want. Vendors can pick up easily what you are trying to say to them.
  • All condiments are for sharing, don’t be surprised when someone randomly grabs your chili or sauces.
  • Don’t be too picky, you will be using the chopsticks in the middle of the tables. And yes you will see these same chopsticks washed on the side of the road. 

 

Vietnamese Phở vocabulary:

Phở: (Pho, pronounced “fuh” with u as in “but”) is an iconic Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of a clear meaty broth filled with rice noodles, cuts of meat, and topped with fresh green herbs.

Phở bo: beef soup noodles.
Phở ga: chicken soup noodles.
Phở lon: pork soup noodles.
Phở bo tai: sliced rare beef soup noodles.
Phở bo vien: noodle soup with meatballs.
Phở bắc: literally “Northern” pho, a noodle soup from Hanoi and surrounds that tend to use wider rice noodles than Southern pho as well as green onions.

  
1.Pho Tai Nam (Sliced Beef Pho)
Your first proper meal should only be Pho. Pho in Hanoi, unlike Saigon, is a religion. Perfectly makes sense, the North gets colder and predominantly dishes served in Hanoi are served with rice noodles. From afar, you can already see the long line of people scrambling to get their breakfast. Low stools, cramped tables and very long line of patrons both locals and travelers. You can see a seasoned man manning as chief of the soup location and in front of him are raw chunks of fresh beef.
On the first morning, I immediately caught a cab to get my Pho fix at the Phở Gia truyền, for a bowl of Pho Tai Nam.  They first put noodles in the bowl then add the undercooked beef on top then add piping hot broth to cook the thin slices of beef, before adding all that glorious herbs on top. The broth had so much flavor that you do not need to amend its perfection.  The rice noodles that they use are fresh, light and bouncy.
 
2. Pho Ga (Chicken Pho)
Second order of business Pho Ga (Chicken) from Pho Ga Dac Viet. It’s in the corner of Bat Dan Street in the Old Quarter. I’ve passed this several times before trying it.  Think about the typical chicken noodle soup? remember how it tastes like? the texture? its broth? Now, think about disregarding that thought because you’ve been eating a mediocre version of this chicken noodle soup from Hanoi.
Rice noodles served with long-simmered in low fire chicken broth and chopped free-range chicken. The clear broth does not look compelling from afar, but when it hits your nostrils. The coriander, mint, fish sauce, chili, and lime all come together perfectly. The chicken breast is not rubbery. It is juicy and so tender. Every bite is a punch to your senses waking you up. Perfectly paired with their fried donuts.  THIS IS THE BEST CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP that you will ever have in your life.

 

Every time I am coming down with a cold and am having a serious hankering for a bowl of Pho Ga— I think about that particular day where I sat on a small stool in Hanoi and that hot bowl of Pho Ga being served right in front of me.

 

3. Bo bun hue 
 In one of the cold nights during my stay in West Lake, we decided to look for a nearer place to have dinner. A few blocks away are random machine shops, tailor shops, and a few obscure eateries. Then we noticed a woman smiling at us with his son having that inviting glance. They serve noodle soups and they are open. We went it without expectations. We were greeted nicely by her son, who speaks zero English and we randomly pointed out to the cheapest price on their menu.  His mom prepared our bowls with all smile. Proud of what she created.  In front of us something unique as compared to what we were having during our Pho escapades.
 
 
In front of us is a bowl that had different beautiful pieces of meat in a symphony of warm broth. It was perfect for the cold night. Thick slices of juicy tenderloin, meatballs and their version of meatloaf. They serve it with sides of fresh lettuce, bean sprouts, sauteed onions, banana sprouts and lime.  You may pair it with this side of Ban Xeo for added crispy texture to your meal.

 
4. Bun Cha 
Originated in Hanoi bún chả is a dish of grilled marinated barbecue pork and noodles. The pork is fatty which gives it extra flavor (chả) which is very smokey because it is being cooked on a charcoal grill. over a plate of white rice noodle (bún) and herbs with a side dish of dipping sauce made up of fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar, which attribute to its sweet and sour taste and served with rice noodles. And usually, they have crab spring rolls on the side.

 
This was the first Bun Cha I tried. The moment I placed the rice noodle on the broth and had a bite of the meat. I think I died and went to heaven. The delicate balance of flavors exploding in your mouth. The char from the grilling of the meat is empowering the flavor of the broth and takes it to another level. This is even more enhanced when you add a bit of garlic and chili. This WAS really good. This was only 50,000 dong. And I loved it so much, I went back on my last day. 

 
 
The good thing about this restaurant is they had actual chairs and you didn’t need to squat near the ground to have your Bun Cha. They have several combo meals that served the spring rolls and the Bun Cha. The Bun Cha here was good, as well as, the rolls but the meat was lacking the char flavor from the grill. The combo will set you back around 100,000 dong.
 
 
VERDICT: BunCha Nem Ran
Eat where the locals eat, what I noticed in the second Bun Cha restaurant, there were a lot of foreigners since it is nearer all the hostels in the Old Quarter. As opposed to BunCha Nem Ran, mostly locals dined there, and it was cheaper.
 
5. Bahn Cuon 
 
I saw this dish in several blogs online and I got really curious about it. It’s sort of like a savory crepe but they use rice flour instead. Inside there is either pork or chicken then topped with pork floss and herbs. This is then dipped in nước chấm (Vietnamese fish sauce), with Belostomatidae (giant water beetle) extract. The extract actually smells like roses and it adds sweetness to the dipping sauce.

6. Vietnamese-style Barbeque
 
Bo Nuong Xuan Xuan , The moment you walk into their street you can already smell the rich aroma of the barbecue. Very tasty meat and the salt and pepper sauce with lime and chili was so amazing. the servers are so kind and helpful. Order one beef and one pork. The serving is for one but the whole meal is good enough for 2-3 people. The sauce that burst out of the meat when you cook it is perfect to your side of local bread. The server will recommend getting an extra order of their margarine so to better enhance the flavor. Do yourself a favor and listen to him, One of the best dishes I had in the city.
 
 
7. Bahn mi 
 
Bánh mì: (Banh Mi) is a Vietnamese sandwich, made with a short Vietnamese baguette, coriander, shredded pickled carrot, daikon/green papaya and meat of your choice.
Bahn Mi is not actually on of the specialties of Hanoi, but since I just wanted to compare what they had there and Manila. This was something I wanted to try. A Bahn Mi is a sandwich using a baguette(French influence) with pate, meat, picked vegetables, and fresh herbs. 
Honestly, it was okay. I didn’t really think it was better than the ones we have available here, but perhaps it’s because Hanoi is a Pho town. Ho Chi Minh would be the one with the better Banh Mi.
 
8. Spring rolls 
 
 
9. Egg Coffee 
 
 Let’s get into the Hanoi Coffee Culture. First thing is, coffee is sold everywhere. They’re sold in carts, small stalls, or cafes. In Vietnam, they specialize in Weasel Coffee, similar to our Civet Coffee in Manila. This is more expensive and has different grade levels where the better it is the more expensive the coffee beans are, it varies from Weasel Gold, Weasel Perfect and Weasel 1 thru 6. When purchasing the coffee, you can even have a taste test to be sure what you buy is good stuff. In Hanoi, coffee is king. They serve it well and serve it strong. 
 
 
They also use a different brewing technique using the “phin“, it’s basically a drip filter, brewing only one cup at a time. You will notice they serve their coffee in small glasses with a little condensed milk, acting as both the sweetener and creamer.

 There are plenty of places where to get your egg coffee fix, we tried a number of shops and had summed up to these two Cafes.

Cafe Dinh and Cafe Giang 

Egg Coffee 1: Cafe Dinh
This shop is hard to find at all. There is no sign.The entrance is in between two small shops in front of the Hoan Kiem Lake, you go up several flights of stairs. The building had shown signs of beaten up age. It is narrow, dark and messy. After 3 flights of steep stairs, a small door will greet you. 2 baristas sternly looking. It’s very dimly lit. We asked for egg their egg coffee. We waited patiently. Feeling obscure because it is different yet familiar. Cigarette butts all over the floor,  of locals fiddling on their phones. 
 
Our cups had finally arrived. A creamy soft, meringue-like egg white foam is perched on dense Vietnamese coffee.
 
You see that foam thing on top, that is a rich creamy, sweet foam with a little hint of cinnamon. When I first tried it, it was rich and thick and heavenly satisfying. The thick foam complements the strong coffee underneath. 
 
Egg Coffee 2: Cafe Giang
This cafe claims that invented the Egg Coffe. Cafe Giang is packed on both levels and in the center of the property, at the bridge between the lower and upper levels, sits Nguyen Van Dao, keeping track of the plentiful orders in a large notebook and giving orders to those serving. Behind him, there’s a modest, open-plan kitchen where a modern, mixing machine is whirring constantly, whisking up eggs and other parts of the recipe.
The Egg Coffee in Cafe Giang is served in a small cup over another small cup with hot water, to keep it warm. Their egg coffee had a thicker consistency but it had the same creamy sweet foam on top of the aromatic coffee underneath. It was also really good. 
 
 
In Hanoi, drinking coffee has become a culture. For many Hanoians, the most important factor of a café is not its luxuriousness but the quality of the product.

Overall, the Hanoi food experience is far beyond what I was expecting. In total, we are giving Vietnam’s kitchen a whopping 4 Extra Rice Rating!

 

0-02-06-073fa5734a0520ec2b2ecca16352e0f3e0f9a7085fb6d1d3b232de98439d6438_full.jpg

What Hanoi Represents

Hanoi is always in a state of transition. A very youthful city with a long lineage of history. People can feel the change and the wealth that is available. In the urban areas everybody gets to have a motorcycle and an iPhone, but underneath it is still a lot of poverty and people struggle. But when you are in Hanoi you do not tend to see it.
What I love about this country that you can really have a cool bar or an underground music scene and right next to it is a lady on the street selling snails or Pho. You do not see that anywhere else. Every part of the social class eating on the same curbside street stall.
The city was under duress 50 years ago and a lot of people that we met on the street had seen the country rise from the tough and torn civil unrest to what is now a unified progressing city. A communist nation coping in an international scene. Trying hard to adapt to an increasingly young population yet stuck with one foot in old values. Freedom of speech is still scrutinized and censored. The younger generations are wanting more financial market openness and state-owned enterprise reforms. The country has strong potential in the region.
I am in love with Hanoi because it gives you the quintessential experience of Southeast Asian experience everyone needs to go through the first time. It has all the beautiful textured disarray you see in movies, a remarkable food culture that will introduce you to new and unusual combinations of flavors. With the just right amount of English where you still need to struggle to get around and to actually feel that you are traveling. Everything here is cheap. I only spent 100 USD (excluding plane ticket and accommodation cost) for my whole 4 days trip and was able to eat my way thru Hanoi and buy souvenirs to be brought back home.
Being in this place is such an experience. It is filled with one of the best food cultures in the world, an intriguing history, a deeply thoughtful people and a blend of modern and traditional cohesive values. As we always say, go forth and experience thru wandering and become a storyteller when you return home.









Klook.com


 

Do you want to collaborate? or recommend other places? Comment on the line below or send us an e-mail over at experience@fatgirlsdayout.com

Make sure to check out our other How to wander Series and follow us on our Instagram and Facebook page for real-time updates.

FGDY PNG FINAL

Please follow and like us:
error
Bataan Travels: Bataan/Manila in 50minutes!

Bataan Travels: Bataan/Manila in 50minutes!

The Fast Ferry by 1Bataan takes you from Manila/Bataan in just 50 minutes! Chase the sunset, go to the beach and visit a heritage site while you’re at it!

Calaguas Island: Dazed and Sunsets (Travel Guide 2017)

Calaguas Island: Dazed and Sunsets (Travel Guide 2017)

Long Daze Stare on its Blue Waters and Sepia Sunsets

62 Countries Visa Free List for Filipinos (2018 ed)

62 Countries Visa Free List for Filipinos (2018 ed)

Visit these 62 listed countries below Visa Free!

This entry will be as straightforward as it is. We’ve summarized regions where us, Filipinos can enter their country visa-free!

 

 

  • Brunei – No VISA; allowed for 14 days
  • Cambodia – No VISA; allowed for 15 days
  • Indonesia – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Laos – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Malaysia – No VISA; allowed for 14 days
  • Myanmar – No VISA; allowed for 14 days
  • Singapore – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Thailand – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Vietnam – No VISA; allowed for 21 days

 

 

  • Azerbaijan – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Taiwan
  • Georgia – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 90 days
  • Hong Kong – No VISA; allowed for 14 days
  • India – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Iran – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 15 days
  • Israel – No VISA; allowed for 90 days
  • JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – No VISA required, 30 days
  • Macau – Visa not required – 30 days
  • Maldives – You will be issued a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Mongolia – No VISA; allowed for 21 days
  • Nepal – You will be issued a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 90 days
  • Sri Lanka – You will be issued a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Timor Leste – No VISA; allowed for 30 days

 

 

  • Costa Rica – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • The Dominican Republic – No VISA; allowed for 21 days
  • Haiti – No VISA; allowed for 90 days
  • Nicaragua – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 90 days
  • Saint Lucia – No VISA; allowed for 42 days
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • The Turks and Caicos Islands – No VISA; allowed for 30 days

 

 

  • Bolivia – No VISA; allowed for 90 days
  • Brazil – No VISA; allowed for 90 days
  • Columbia – No VISA; allowed for 90 days
  • Equador – No VISA; allowed for 90 days
  • Peru – No VISA; allowed for 183 days
  • Suriname – No VISA; allowed for 90 days

 

 

  • Kosovo – No VISA; allowed for 30 days

 

 

  • The Cook Islands – No VISA; allowed for 31 days
  • Fiji Islands – No VISA; allowed for 120 days
  • Marshall Islands – You will get a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Micronesia – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Niue – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Palau – You will be issued a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Samoa – No VISA; allowed for 60 days
  • Tuvalu – You will be issued a VISA upon arrival; this will be valid for 30 days
  • Vanuatu – No VISA; allowed for 30 days

 

  • Burundi – No VISA; allowed for 30 days
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Togo- Visa upon arrival
  • Cape Verde – You will be issued a VISA upon arrival
  • Morrocco – No VISA

 

58 countries without acquiring a tourist visa.  Go forth and wander.

 

Travel Hacks!

  • BEST DEALS IN FLIGHTS: Want a quicker way to scan the cheapest airfares available per airline-destination? local carriers included. Log on to Kiwi.com and get the latest flight on demand with the best price
  • BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS: Get room availabilities and best rates with real user reviews via Tripadvisor.com
  • MOBILE NETWORK and CONNECTIVITY: We tried out Flexiroam just attach the Flexiroam X ultra-thin microchip to your SIM and enjoy data roaming in over 100 countries. Hassle free of not renting out any wifi devices in the airports and making cash deposits. You don’t have to change your SIM or subscribe to any local telco when you are traveling. Easy, convenient and cheaper way to get data.

 


Kiwi.com - Book Cheap Flights!

 

Disclaimer: Changes may occur over periods of time based on per country prohibitions so do check from time to time. We’ll try to refresh our summarize list every 3 mos.

 








 

Please follow and like us:
error
Palawan Series: Puerto Prinsesa, El Nido or Coron?

Palawan Series: Puerto Prinsesa, El Nido or Coron?

Ranking Palawan from beautiful, more beautiful and most beautiful.

Siargao Island: Never Wanting to Return to the City

Siargao Island: Never Wanting to Return to the City

I want more of Siargao, I want to settle there and get a dog.

Bantayan Island: Resiliently Beautiful

Bantayan Island: Resiliently Beautiful

Travelling. Long haul or a few days worth of just wandering. Why do I do it anyway?

I count my allowable number of days of vacation leaves; I ponder, then decide what to do. Search online, scour thru my ‘to-see’ list then my mind finally agrees with my soul and decides that I do deserve to go on a vacation.

A general sense of confusion, early morning flights, Metro Manila traffic going to the airport, the possibility of going thru obscure places and miscomprehensions of languages. I pack my bags and always confuse what to bring, subject myself to being searched and patted down at airport security. I pass thru security and I’ve boarded the plane. Once seated, sweaty, clueless as to what to do in the next hour or two. Eager on what will happen throughout the day.

Our ancestors are nomadic people who are always on the move, going through different conditions.  In their quest for greener pastures, vast lands and better source of food. Present day, most of us sit in front of our computers and glued in our cubicle. Mind numbingly on autopilot not knowing that 7-9 hours of the day had passed. Hopefully, you are doing a job you enjoy, to pay the bills, government contributions, taxes at the end of the month. Incessantly living the same routine for 5 days/week

I travel to break the norm, to refresh my soul and to regenerate my integrity to myself that I deserve to regain back my wits. Arriving in any destination, exhausted yet instantly rewarded with a sense of fulfillment. It is our human nature to defy the rule of monotony and to always be inquisitive with what is out there for us.

After my food binge in Cebu City and before I even attempt to cover the immensity of Cebu, I wanted to see Bantayan Island. I have been reading good reviews and recommendations from people that I know that the island is picturesque with powdery white sand and turquoise water.

The L-shaped Bantayan Island is composed of three towns namely, Sta. Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos. While Bantayan and Madridejos are known to be the centers of fishing and commerce in the island, Sta. Fe is the resort town.

 

33779_155378174494008_736702_n

 

How to get to Bantayan Island ( via Cebu)

There is no easy way of getting to Bantayan Island, but the journey to this place will be rewarded by the magnetism of a tropical island.

 

0-02-06-497fee64155020c7d373397d987f4989af08b42dd122ac081ecfa8538db97ff6_full

 

The Island has its own airfield but no commercial airline has flown to it since 2011. Mactan-Cebu International Airport will be your start-off point. Cebu City will be your gateway. From the Mactan Airport, go the Cebu North Terminal and catch buses going to the Hagnaya Port in the town of San Remigio.

 

CEBU CITY> HAGNAYA PORT> STA.FE BANTAYAN ISLAND

 

I recommend riding the Ceres Buses. It is cheap and can get you efficiently to the island. They brought new buses so relatively the ride going to the port will be comfortable and faster as compared to the last time I went to Bantayan.

  • 165-200php or 3.50USD– Air-con bus to Hagnaya Port
  • 140php or 8USD  – Non air-con bus to Hagnaya Port

Same fares for the return trip to Cebu City. These buses leave about every 30 minutes. Just jump on board. No need to buy a ticket ahead of time. The first trip starts as early as 4:00 AM and their last trip are at 5:00 PM daily.

 

Ceres Direct Bus – Cebu City North Bus Terminal to Bantayan Town

 

Ceres runs several buses a day that drives onto the ferry (RORO – Roll On Roll Off) and comes all the way here to Bantayan Island. Literally loading the bus to the ship.  The end stop is in Bantayan Municipality, but you can get off at the Santa Fe Port and take a tricycle to your resort.

The bus passes by downtown Santa Fe as well so you can get off anywhere along the way if you’re staying in the town center area.

Just let the conductor know when you want to stop and they’ll accommodate you.

Schedule:

 

cesres

 

The benefit to the direct bus is that you don’t have to lug your bags onto the ferry by hand or negotiate with porters if you have a lot of luggage.

Roro Tickets cost around 170PHP or 3.50 USD plus port of fee of 10php.

Contact Number for Valacar Transport (Ceres Buses): 032 345 8650

 

Where to Stay in Bantayan

The island is abundant in resorts and other accommodation options. Prices are reasonable. Below are my recommended places based on location, price, and feedbacks:

Mid-Range (Click titles for availability)

For budget travelers, Kota Beach Resort and Mayet’s Resort have budget fan room for as low as 600php or 12USD per night, both are strategically located along Sta. Fe Beach. Check out other Tripadvisor COMPLETE Bantayan Island listing.


 

0-02-06-236aed21dab945dfd4512cd2ca70bb716ffe017a5febc7389e611f991c9cb674_full

 

We stayed in Anika Resort. I highly recommend this place as their rooms are clean, mattresses are comfortable and prices for their rooms are quite sensible. Per room can accommodate up to 3-4 people, but you have to check their 2017 current policy for occupancy.

 

The Experience

Arriving at Bantayan, going thru the vast port you smell the cleanliness of the ocean, the sun basking over you but you won’t mind the heat because it’s gorgeous rays compliments the azure water. From the port, you can immediately see the wide stretch of fine white sand that glistens as you get closer. The exhaustion from the travel went away as the island’s beauty immediately welcomed me with its open arms and my heart jolted with excitement. I had fallen in love instantaneously.

 

0-02-06-eb643e76806b24678e4826473094a8c33300af013e459496df9a7b1f417e84db_full
Powder like sand of Bantayan Island

Where to Eat

The island is abundant in fresh, very cheap seafood. Think about being able to buy a kilo of crabs for just 160php (3USD), bags of grilled scallops less than 100php (2USD)

 

0-02-06-e04528beba3e73844d3c701fc4587b048b21c49501e96c4bd0b59f91832164b4_full

 

0-02-06-7e7f3f8bd27ea61f2d888d5d982a0be1b8864a41aed6bc8efba545434e806d34_full
Grilled Scallops sold by vendors for just 100php (3 full bags)

 

I like the laid-back lifestyle on the island. Well, all islands are pretty laid back, but what sets Bantayan apart is that commerce is pretty strong. If you go around its municipality you can see various shops, micro public markets and restaurants. Considered as Cebu’s fishing ground from where boatloads of fish – guinamos (salted fish) and buwad (dried fish). I highly recommend that you go and check out the Bantayan Island Public Market to witness the abundance of seafood and if you are also buying dangit you can get them at a cheaper price and with many variants.

 

0-02-06-ba658d27e502a180e6d4e27cf8609a46e158a514c532f45af28dd7a659ecf5cf_full

 

There are times where we eat at Anika’s restaurant. They serve good food, but a little.expensive as the prices on their menu are intended of course for tourist, Nevertheless, their food is good and still gives value to what we pay for.

 

0-02-06-cd91eece8959eeec21da58a5f4d612a22cdddc60b4de08e4476bff7fafb72024_full
Anika’s restaurant
0-02-06-00ccf34d511bd2310d54c02387593c63fe34057f566f86fe279134333959325d_full
Anika’s restaurant

 

Locals randomly walk pass by the resort and offer ‘Paluto’ (buy your ingredients then they’ll cook and serve any viands for you) with a minimal service fee. My friends and I discovered the public market because of Ate Marlyn one of the locals who offered to cook our meal the following day and serve it in her home which is a pretty good deal because her place is right at the beachfront and she only charged us 200php for cooking 4-5 dishes. There was so much food that we were able to share our lunch with her whole family.

 

0-02-06-2533e2fc08020dac8788454f5c528f77225f25129692303f5af7a117cd95fb87_full
They also sell these deadly Blowfish in the market

 

After having the perfect lunch you are permitted to be in daze and be lazy all afternoon

 

0-02-06-63b17c0c48ff8c1e8419773b1c5ee568b4cb22b4105ae0df96b07e6ad71aeeee_full

 

Bantayan has a pretty strong restaurant scene as well. Here are a few recommendations for you;

  • Bantayan Burrito Company
  • Caffe Del Mare
  • Shake Me
  • Ale Pasta
  • HR Native Restaurant
  • Bavarian Beer Garden

 

0-02-06-14b37868eca0ae78b0e9de154c914cb4d146a66a86b6b223799040a0dd876738_full
Bavaraian Beer Garden

 

I highly recommend HR Restaurant as they have massive servings that are relatively cheap without compromising the integrity of ingredients. Bavarian Beer Garden, go here for their generous serving of sausages and imported german beers.

 

What to do

0-02-06-ffb3cdbdab68968c9857e5196847767fabbc21c6ebc9a32c2280113a326d43c2_full

Explore Bantayan Town on a Bike

Go around the town by riding a bicycle. There are many surplus bikes from Japan that are for rent. They are randomly being offered at the sidestreet or you may just ask your resort front desk and they’ll arrange it for you.

 

0-02-06-838144280d59905f38b351c9cee40bcd1fbdc45e48b5fd4e2063481c4f2eb234_full
150php-200 PHP (3-4 USD) 24 hours bike  rental

 

You shouldn’t worry about safety since the town is pretty laid-back and you will rarely see big cars/vehicles along the road but still be cautious. Mostly the route is on a flat road, with some uphill and downhill part.

After taking the 11-km bike ride, you can now explore Bantayan Downtown, home of Cebu’s oldest Parish Church – Saints Peter and Paul Church. You can have a walk at the town plaza, seeing some well-preserved houses designed during the Spanish colonization. The Bantayan Public Market is also a walking distance from the area.

 

church
from TrekEarth

 

After going around the surrounding town and market. Bike to Ogtong Cave Resort. The resort landscape is pretty basic and the only thing that makes it special is the underground cavern. It can get pretty crowded with tourist though, as for me personally, it is okay to miss this location.  There are a number of caves in Bantayan. The one in Brgy. Atop-Atop was a favorite hangout place of the guerillas during the World War II.

 

Island Hop and Snorkel 

Rent a boat for 1,200php (20USD) to go to Virgin Island. Along Sta. Fe just walks around and approach any boatman and they’d offer you to take you island hopping. Virgin island has white powdery sand and the best thing about that place is along the shore there are plenty of fish. ou don’t even need to go out and snorkel. Just stay still and the fishes will come to you. If you’re afraid to go out to the deep, this is the place for you.

 

Pause and Enjoy.

0-02-06-7e5b0fb944a6b639d56426fcf1ca733acb4a268c93e8462c4bbcd3a625c72e4a_full

 

Going back to why we travel. It is basically pausing for a few days and being in a conscious state that you are at a place like Bantayan to reward yourself with serenity.

The island is kind. It’s turquoise blue water, the curtain of silk sky perfectly casting shadows as it sways you to your perfect naps during the afternoons. The water is always calm with gentle waves rolling onto the shore making soothing sounds. You can smell the salt, and the gentle wind kisses your skin as you affirm to yourself that you are actually having a perfect day. Peaceful and you are centered.

 

0-02-06-f45a285a43f9d6775a58203b360abd6f8509607b68cf4d30fd9a3d9e87592408_full

 

A couple of things struck me in Bantayan Island and its people. Its beauty and spirit are resilient. It was one of the heavily damaged islands during Yolanda. Hundreds were left dead, farms were destroyed and everything cut off. But it fought it’s way back to life. It fought back so hard that when you visit them this day you will see how well it was re-built. How its people manage to move forward. I witnessed how children in Bantayan are the happiest. They live a very simple life, yet abundant. We travel to search for inspiration from the people that we interact with along the way. To be put in situations that don’t make sense, to push our minds to think beyond our daily routine, to learn, and ultimately become awake from our daze. Traveling grounds us and gives us awe with the world that we live in. I will keep coming back to Bantayan Island as it reminds me that life does not need to be complicated. That traveling to a place like Bantayan instantly resets my clouded mind and re-humanize me as a person.

 


Do you want to collaborate? or recommend other places? Comment on the line below or send us an e-mail over at experience@fatgirlsdayout.com

Make sure to check out our other How to wander Series and follow us on our Instagram and Facebook page for real-time updates.

FGDY PNG FINAL

 

Please follow and like us:
error
Hong Kong: Welcome to Pleasure Island

Hong Kong: Welcome to Pleasure Island

Surrounded by people with infinite energy, appetite, and taste for the finer things in life.


error

Share this story

  • Share on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Follow by Email
  • Pinterest
  • Telegram
  • LinkedIn