Planning my trip in advance

Planning my trip in advance is something I do only roughly. Because in my experience, when you travel alone, there are too many variables. You meet people who know about good places or maybe find a travel companion for a few days. Or you suddenly feel you want to stay at a place for some time. This is the great thing about having ten weeks vacation, because there is enough time for everything.

I booked for my upcoming trip an airbnb apartment for five days in Dumaguete ahead, because this gives me enough time to adjust to the heat, overcome my jetlag and also get used to life there, which is so different from Germany.

And of course I did my research to find out what I would like to do and see, it’s just not written in stone. This includes a visit to Siquijor, it’s my dream for many years and this time it is going to happen.

An idea I have not fully thought through is to rent a car and explore Negros Oriental, the island where Dumaguete is located. This I would do with my friends because I don’t know anything about the road condition and if it would really be safe alone. And of course, I like having fun with people too. Travelling solo doesn’t mean we have to do everything alone…

Another milestone is to visit the family in Las Pinas, which belongs to Metro Manila.

That’s my whole planning, everything else is open. Planning my trip to the Philippines.

Up

Banaue rice terraces in Luzon

Banaue rice terraces in Luzon are part of the world cultural heritage and so beautiful. Even before the first time I came to the Philippines, I fell in love and wanted to go ther. In December 2016 I was the second time in the Philippines, visiting my family for four weeks. I decided, this time I should do it and on my own to learn how to get around alone.

How to get to Banaue

The best way to get there is by bus from Manila. Every night at 9 pm a bus goes directly to Banaue. Detailed information you can get here. The bus takes around 9 hours. I recommend to take a jacket, my bus was very cold, it was 18 degrees Celsius, outside in Manila it was around 35 degrees. It is the only reasonable way to get there. This trip with a motor bike or a car can take much longer and can be dangerous because of the road conditions. Maybe it is dangerous with the bus as well, best not to think about it too much…
 
When, after a long, cold and tiring bus ride, you finally reach your destination, be prepared for the next shock. If you travel like I did in January, it can be cool and rainy there. The best time to travel there is from June to November.
 
The bus stops on the road, which is above the center of Banaue. It is possible to walk down stairs, but I would not recommend to search for it. At six am it is dark and the stairs are hard to see when you don’t know exactly where they are, and can be slippery. There are plenty of trycicles waiting to bring you to town.

Accomodation

Because Banaue is a small tourist spot, this is easy. There is a hotel a little outside the city, where I stayed two nights because I wasn’t feeling well. It is nice, big rooms, hot shower. But it is very touristic, I saw many families and travel groups. In the evening they had a “cultural event” with performances from native people, the Ifugao. I don’t think it is very authentic, in any case I didn’t care much for it.
 
Besides the Banaue Hotel are plenty of Inns in the village, which cost around 10 Euro per night. After I felt better, I moved down to the village. My room was simple, but clean and had a cool shower. But I liked it better than the Hotel, because from there you can access everything by foot.

What to do in Banaue

The landscape is stunning and definitely visit the Banaue rice terraces. In the town you will find many tour offers, from the Inn or tourist offices. In my case I was lucky, I liked one trycicle driver I took a ride with and made a deal with him. I paid him 20 Euros for a whole day to take me around with the trycicle. He was a great person and definitely more educating than the silly folkore in the Hotel.

I learned a lot about the people and the history in two days. And I learned how to chew betel, but one time is enough…
 
I have a good intuition with people because I am experienced in travelling. It does not mean I never misjudged, but usually I am lucky, so I take my chances. If you are not so experienced or insecure, I recommend to search a tourist office or speak with your host who will organize you a guide. Maybe it costs some more, but feeling comfortable with your environment should be your first priority.  In any case, it is a very safe place.
 
I really enjoyed the Hot Spring in Hapao. If you don’t have a tour guide already, you can take a trycicle to Hapao and there you can hire a guide. I would not recommend to do the trail alone, it’s not worth getting lost to save a few euros. The trail goes through the Banaue rice terraces, very beautiful and not too hard.
 
There is also a museum in Banaue, which I found great and you find good information about the culture and history of the Ifugao people. And of course, my favorite thing to do, walk around, watch people, talk to people and enjoy the beauty of the country.
 

Puerto Galera and Whitebeach in Mindoro

Visiting Puerto Galera and Whitebeach in Mindoro was my first trip alone. This was in May 2015 and it was very exciting to travel with the bus to Batangas and find my boat. My family gave me instructions and brought me to the bus depot. But still, it was my first time in South East Asia, everything was so different. And because in May it was close to 40 degrees celsius I was melting away.

I don’t really recommend the place for a solo female because there is nothing much to do, it’s more a place for old white men looking for girls… It is poor except for some restaurants and bars. But there are plenty tour offers for sightseeing, diving etc. and some beaches close by. I only visited Whitebeach, which is safe for single women travelling solo in the Philippines and it has plenty of bars and restaurants where I was always treated friendly. In the evening it gets loud, almost every bar has a stage for Ladyboys to sing and you can imagine…

How to get to Puerto Galera and Whitebeach

It’s not far from Manila, you only need to take a bus or drive to Batangas and catch a ferry to Puerto Galera or directly to Whitebeach. This was my first trip on my own the first time I visited the Philippines and it’s easy. Usually someone will approach you and offer assistance when they see you are a stranger on your own. That helps, but don’t forget to pay something. 50 Pesos (ca. 1 Euro) is good money for a poor person and nothing for us, there is no reason to be cheap.

Visiting Puerto Galera and Whitebeach in Mindoro is fine, if you are staying in Manila and want to get away for a few days. But remember, easy to reach is not like taking a train or hopping in the car in Europe or America.

More info on Puerto Valera: https://www.thepoortraveler.net/2019/05/puerto-galera-oriental-mindoro/

How to get to Batangas: http://www.phbus.com/jam-bus/

Up

Packing for the Philippines

Packing for the Philippines is what I am doing now… I can easily use two big suitcases for a two week vacation, so ten weeks is a major challenge. I want to take a small suitcase, a small and a big backpack, because travelling is not always convinient there and I have to be able to carry everything everywhere. Packing for the Philippines

My wardrobe for this season will consist of

  • three pair of loose linen trousers
  • Two bathing suits
  • four wide blouses
  • four dresses – beach dress, one “for good”, two more. All can be folded very small
  • Underwear for two weeks
  • three pair of sandals
  • good sneakers to walk
  • one pair of jeans
  • Travelling outfit – jeans jacket, pullover, sweatpants
  • A little make up and basic things like shampoo etc.

Maybe it is even too much for ten weeks travelling and I will edit the list when I am packing.

Everything I am going to wear will be loose and comfortable. I can only speak for myself, but it is very humid and hot and I feel better if my body can breeze. Anyway, if you are slim, you won’t have a problem to buy clothes. I am not so slim and for me buying clothes in the Philippines is only depressing, so I leave it.

Soap, cream and bodylotion often contains whitening ingredience in the Philippines. You have to read the description to find out. If you don’t want that, it is better to take these things with you.

There are plenty opportunities to wash or let wash. And you will change your clothes every day because of sweating, so just rinse it in the evening and it stays clean for a while.

Other things I am packing for the Philippines

  • Painting and drawing material
  • Camera, Tablet

That’s my list. Everything else I will buy when I need it. Packing for the Philippines is not difficult, the weather is always the same, but you have to focus on the neccessary.

Up