Monday, September 24, 2007

boracay on a budget

boracay seems to be on most people's list of places to see. most people have this impression that it costs so much to go and stay there, but actually, you can enjoy boracay for less than P10,000.

i remember when airfares to boracay would cost around P7,000 per person. today, flying can cost somewhere between P3,000 to P5,000, depending on the airline. cebu pacific's go fares come to about P3,000 to P4,000, depending on your departure date and time. seair and asian spirit are more expensive, but they land in caticlan already, saving you about P200 on bus or van ride.

we were pretty lucky that the philippine travel mart was on when we decided to go. we were able to score P2,705 roundtrip fares via seair, which lands on caticlan. because of the season and the condition of the waves, we had to go to tabo port instead of the other port that i've grown familiar with. we took a tricycle ride for P70.

upon arriving at the airport, we were charged P50 each for environmental fees and P2 for the terminal fee. the boat ride itself costs P19.50 per person. when you get to tambisaan port, which is the boracay end of the ride, you'll be charged P20 for a non-chartered tricycle ride to boracay civilization (a chartered, or "special" trike ride goes for about P100). i don't recommend walking from the port to your resort. i highly doubt you will like it.

for accommodations, low season offers the best rates (but not the best weather). still, boracay still has a certain allure even when the sun is behind the clouds. we were able to get a beachfront room at chez de paris, at station 2 (beside le soleil de boracay) for P1,120 a night. we were surprised to find two double beds in our room, so if there are four of you, P1,120 a night comes to about P280 per person, per night. can you say affordable? :) during peak season, accommodation costs will double. so that's about P560 per night. still not bad.

and finally, the food. there are many, many, many choices in boracay when it comes to food. in fact, because of the rain, all we did during our visit was to stuff our faces till we were about to burst. there's something for everybody--grilled, greek, portuguese, seafood, japanese, chinese, pinoy. since our beach activities were limited, we devoured food every chance we got, and spent about P1,000 a day. take a look at what we ate:

you can order a la carte, stuff yourselves with a buffet, or enjoy tiny snacks through the barbecue kiosks that line the path. if you're thinking of splurging on food, it's safe to allot P500 per meal, so that's P1,500 a day. but if you're a big group, you can order large dishes and share. nightlife expenses (read: beer and other alcoholic drinks) doesn't need to cost so much. just choose your establishment well. you can buy a bottle of beer for about P30 to P50.

here's a rundown of our expenses for this trip (per person, unless otherwise stated):

rates will change by the season, of course, but still, a visit to boracay need not be the daunting trip everyone expects it to be. with a little research, and some stubborn haggling skills, your visit to this island need not be an experience in bankruptcy. :)

check out my boracay pictures here and susie's photos here.

travel details:
airlines plying the manila to caticlan route:
air philippines
asian spirit
south east asian airlines (seair)

airlines plying the manila to kalibo route:
cebu pacific
philippine airlines

chez de paris resort
station 2, beside le soleil de boracay
mobile number: 09212516300

Saturday, September 22, 2007

back from boracay

i saw a different boracay this weekend. our luck with getting cheap tickets and taking advantage of low season accommodations came with a price: it was stormy in boracay.

because of the strong winds, large screens made of wood and plastic were up along the shore, protecting the resorts, restaurants, and other establishments. waves were strong, skies were dark. this made donning a bikini quite inappropriate and somehow stupid.

yet i had a great time!

while boracay is known for its sand and the water, i still had fun even though i didn't get any beach time. i only got to dip my lower extremities before calling it quits due to the cold. there's so much more to this island than dips in the sea and baking on the beach.

the island has progressed so greatly. i was one of those who was against all the concrete buildings and modern shops. yet even with the line of clothing stores in d'mall, and all the modern, concrete resorts, boracay still hasn't lost its charm. it still offers a lot, probably even so much more, than your run-of-the-mill beach.

the strong winds didn't kill the action on the beach. while swimmers should be more cautious, kiteboarders were having the time of their lives, all taking advantage of the wind. i couldn't help but feel a pang of envy as one of the kiteboarders coasted above the water, the kite carrying him over the breaking waves.

the usual boracay beach activities were still being offered by more than a dozen men, all carrying their rate cards. on the other side of the island, you can still go parasailing, snorkeling, and island hopping. but susie and i decided not to go, because the weather was pretty unpredictable. besides, we were content with walking the long stretch, and exploring an establishment every now and then.

but i think, what makes boracay really exceptional is the food. there are just so many choices, especially now that d'mall has built more "wings." i had just been away for a year, and already, the choices have grown tenfold! i actually hated myself for just booking three days. so little time to devour all the food i wanted!

and as for my promised article on boracay expenses, i am glad to report that a trip to the island did not cost me much. i didn't reach five digits for this trip. :) so stay tuned for that one.

lookit how much fun we had by checking out my photos!
susie's photos are in this album.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

cebu pacific is at it AGAIN!

more good news as cebu pacific slashes fares for all international destinations.

P999 one way for guangzhou, xiamen, and taipei.

P1,499 one way for hong kong, macau, kuala lumpur, and bangkok.

P1,999 one way for jakarta, singapore, and shanghai.

taxes and other fees are excluded from that rate, of course.

no date indicated on both their e-mail notice and their website, so i'm assuming this promo goes on until the end of the year. :) that means there's still time if you're thinking of flitting off someplace different.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

two more days!

in two days' time, i will be off to boracay to escape work. :) it's been a while since i've gone on a trip, and the cheap fares at the last travel mart convinced us that we should try and go to boracay already. might get me back in the "gotta go!" groove.

this is going to be my first time to see the island during low season, so it's going to be a different experience from my usual holy week trips there. i am looking forward to having the beach to myself. and to playing in the rain by the sea. and to eating till i burst. and to downing fruit shake after fruit shake.

i also can't wait to find out how much i'll be spending. i'm hoping to write something about going to boracay in less than Px,000, to encourage those who are daunted by the "image" of boracay being an expensive vacation island.

so stay tuned! here's hoping we don't get stranded on the island! :D

Friday, September 14, 2007

yummy goodies at baker's dozen!

so we missed a week. it's never too late to head on down to power plant mall in makati to get your fill of yummy baked goodies!

for all weekends of september, the concourse level of the power plant mall will be the venue of baker's dozen: a cake and pastry fair. various mouth-watering selections from different bakeshops will be calling out to you. it would be a shame to let all that goodness go to waste, no?

so pick a weekend and fill your tummy with these yummy treats. see you there! :)

event details:
baker's dozen: a cake and pastry fair september 14-16, 21-23, and 28-30 concourse level, power plant mall rockwell center, makati

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

air philippines offers piso fares!

not to be outdone, air philippines fights back with their own piso fare on all domestic destinations!

if you're having a hard time getting piso fares from the cebu pacific site, why not try out air philippines's own promo?

sale is from september 12 to 21, 2007, valid for travel from october 1 to december 15, 2007.

air philippines flies to bacolod, cagayan de oro, caticlan (for boracay), cebu, davao, dumaguete, gen. santos, iloilo, manila, naga, ozamiz, puerto princesa, tuguegarao, and zamboanga.

isn't it nice to have options? :)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

piso fares for all destinations!

i didn't see a cebu pacific booth in the travel mart yesterday, but that's maybe because they're already offering P1 airfares for all domestic destinations!

this is in celebration of cebu pacific becoming the country's number 1 domestic airline. sale is from september 7 to 11, for travel between november 1 to december 20.

so go to the site now and book your tickets!

the travel mart experience

since the event was held a short walk away from the office, i decided to drop by the first day of the travel fair. no sense driving back up to ortigas on a weekend, right?

i have mixed feelings about it. first, it's good because i got what i wanted: i was able to get roundtrip tickets to boracay for next week's trip for just P2,705 via seair. it was pretty hard rescheduling things just to get good fares, but thankfully, we didn't have to sacrifice much.

we were also able to get some brochures on places we can visit next year. but that's as far as the goodies go.

this travel fair is perfect for people who have an impending trip, but have not made any permanent arrangements yet. just like susie and myself, we were able to get good fares for our trip next week. but if you're just browsing around, trying to find an interesting place to visit, it might not be such a good idea to go.

first of all, the place was too small. the "paths" between booths were too small to accommodate the volume of people. the asian spirit booth was a hit, though. apparently, they were raffling something off, or their fares were REALLY cheap.

second, opening day is not the best time to be there. because the DOT people and other political figures will be there to have their photo taken with the different people manning the booths. growing volume of people + political figures trailed by dozens of photographers = less breathing space.

third, there was a program of some sort in the middle of the hall, with drums and fiesta music in full blast. that made it increasingly difficult to inquire for fares and other information. it was like trying to get to know someone in a bar. you really had to shout to be heard, and strain to hear the response of the other person.

fourth, security wasn't so good. susie and i bought tickets for P50 each, and was able to enter the fair without being asked for them. we still have the tickets.

fifth, not everyone was very accommodating. i have a particularly incredible story about a woman in the misamis occidental booth. apparently, there's a booth design contest of some sort. i was stepping inside their booth, hoping to acquire some brochures about misamis, when the woman stopped me:

woman: hindi pa pwedeng pumasok, mag-ju-judging pa, baka matalo kami.
me: pwede na lang po bang makahingi ng brochure?
woman: hindi pa kami nagpapamigay, baka maubos, mag-ju-judging pa eh.
me (annoyed already): nge. eh pano yun, eh di hindi na ko makakakuha ng brochure nyo kung paalis na rin ako?
woman: OKAY LANG.

i muttered a dejected, "WOW, ANG GALING AH!" before walking away in disbelief. that just flushed the entire point of a travel fair down the drain. i took a photo of her, just so other visitors to the travel fair would know whom to avoid. such a shame that she can't sit still for a photo:

mag-ingat sa travel fair. :p

event details:
philippine travel mart
sept. 7 to 9, 2007
megatrade halls, sm megamall
admission: P50 with paper bag (to put your brochures in)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

fly to legaspi for P1!

may piso ka ba dyan? bili ka na ng plane ticket to legaspi!

cebu pacific seems to be riding the travel mart wave, and is offering P1 airfares for manila to legaspi flights!

sale is from september 4 to 10, for travel on sept. 21 to dec. 15, 2007.

with taxes, that amounts to P1,699 for round-trip tickets. you save P200 off the regular fare of P98 one-way. :) you might laugh at the "measly" amount, but that can buy you a meal when you're in legaspi!

cebu pacific flies manila-legaspi at 1255pm and 105pm daily. legaspi-manila flights leave at 220pm and 230pm daily.

don't forget to visit the travel mart!

i've already posted this event three months ago, and i'm just reminding you guys to go visit the philippine travel mart, starting friday this week until sunday, at the sm megatrade hall. :)

there are P18 airfares and lots of travel deals for us dromomaniacs, so missing it would be... well, stupid. :p

again, event details are:

what: philippine travel mart
when: sept. 7 to 9, 2007
where: sm megamall, megatrade halls

i'll see you guys there!