Travel on a Shoestring: The Philippines and Beyond

We love travel and adventure. We also like to keep our expenses down (who doesn’t anyway) so we often travel on a shoestring. But while budget travel, especially in the Philippines, has been and will always be popular, adventure travel involving exploration of remote, exotic and even possibly dangerous destinations is rapidly becoming popular as well. The Philippines and the rest of Asia are not wanting in terms of adventure travel destinations – as we have discovered in our trips to these places.

Not all of the tourist attractions featured here are recommendable for budget travel. However, there are some places worth the visit even if one has to shell out a little more cash. We got to visit the non-Philippine destinations here if only for the nature of our previous work but we thought we’d share our adventures in these places as well. So join us as we feature different tourist attractions in the Philippines and beyond, travel culinary adventures, some travel tips and various reflections on our encounters with nature and different cultures.

Subic Beach: Sorsogon’s Pink Sand Wonder

the larger of the Subic Beaches, Matnog, Sorsogon

Matnog, the southernmost municipality of Luzon Island, was once described as a place where "you get a boat to go somewhere else." While it's true that this town is the jump-off point for ferries headed to Northern Samar and the rest of the Eastern Visayas, people are finding out that there is so much more to Matnog than just the gateway port it has always been. Case in point: the pink sand islands of Tikling and Calintaan and the Juag Lagoon marine sanctuary.

Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary: Sorsogon Beyond the Whale Sharks

Juag Lagoon marine sanctuary, Matnog, Sorsogon

Mention Sorsogon to most tourists – foreign or local – and the first thing that comes to their minds is interacting with the whale sharks in Donsol. Hard to blame them. The whale shark interaction is after all a worldwide phenomenon featured as the Best Animal Encounter in Asia by Time Magazine in 2004. But we were in Sorsogon on this sunny April primarily to see Bulusan Lake and the pinkish-white sand of Subic Beach and Tikling Island. Juag Lagoon was more of an afterthought – added only because boatmen have already included it in their itinerary and we would pass by the lagoon on the way to Subic Beach in Calintaan Island anyway. How wrong we were!

Quezon: A Hidden Gem Discovered

Lipata Island viewed from a beach on the mainland of Padre Burgos, Quezon
Several years ago Quezon was one of the last provinces near Metro Manila that we would look forward to visit. At that time little was being mentioned about tourist destinations in the province and the few trips we took to Quezon left us feeling rather unimpressed. But like a diamond in the rough, Quezon is now just beginning to show its real colors to intrepid travelers.

Food Tripping in Pampanga

sisig or pork cheek and snout dish at Binulo Restaurant, Clark Field, Angeles City, Pampanga

The pork or chicken adobo I have known growing up was of the "white" variety, stewed in vinegar with garlic and small bits of pork fat all fried to a crisp. It was therefore some sort of a culture shock for me when I encountered the variety of adobo that was made with soy sauce. All the while I thought the "white" adobo was native to my region of Southern Tagalog. It was only years later that I learned that the "white adobo" was a Kapampangan version – although the Visayans have a similar take on what many foreigners consider as the quintessential Filipino dish.

Sandugan Beach, Sunsets and Mangroves (Siquijor Series Part 4)

sunset at Sandugan Beach, Larena, Siquijor
It’s an ideal place for a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. A long, white sandy beach with calm waters offering plenty of space for a leisurely stroll. A thick expanse of trees providing a cool shade throughout the day, leaves rustling gently in the late afternoon wind. The occasional passing tourist or local leaving you with a friendly greeting. And the sunsets...

Paliton Beach and the Beaches of San Juan and Siquijor (Siquijor Series Part 3)

Paliton Beach in San Juan, Siquijor
Just off the national highway going to San Juan town we skirted towards a narrow road and headed for the coast. After a few minutes Dondon parked his trike and told us that the way to the beach was a path that seemed to go through someone’s private property. No one was charging us anything (it reminded us of a sign we saw in Siquijor that read “private property but you may pass through”) so we went ahead and descended unto a pretty white sand beach with crystal-clear waters.

Cambugahay Falls, Churches & Convents: Touring Lazi (Siquijor Series Part 2)

Cambugahay Falls in Lazi, Siquijor
It was a lazy, almost cloudless afternoon and we had just finished lunch near the port of Lazi town. It was the last leg of our first day tour, a trip through the eastern towns of Siquijor. Our rented trike was grinding its way up the hills, away from the town poblacion, to our next destination. It wasn’t long before we stopped at a parking lot guarded by a shed and proceeded down a steep flight of stone steps and then we were there – looking at the lowest level of a multi-tiered cascade emptying into a turquoise-colored catch basin.

Malcapuya Island: Paradise in the Summer Heat

coconut palms on white sand beach, Malcapuya Island, Coron, Palawan
Our boat slowly glided into the beige sand beach, past clear waters through which corals of different sizes, shapes and hues could clearly be seen. We were baking in the early afternoon heat as we disembarked and slowly made our way past the beach into a clearing and then over a small hill. Within a few minutes we were soon greeted by a long line of coconut palms just behind a long stretch of powdery white sand beach – the best we have seen so far in the whole of Coron, Palawan.

Bulog Dos and Banana Islands: Remote Getaways on a Summer Day

boat docked at Bulog Dos Island, Coron, Palawan
It was a bright,sunny and and warm April morning and we were looking forward with excitement towards our first island destination of the day. However, within minutes of leaving the pier at Coron town, our outrigger boat found itself fighting an unusually rough sea. Wet from salt spray, we were not particularly worried as only a strong typhoon can tip our boat over.
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