Immuki Island Travel Guide: Hidden Paradise of the North

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Immuki Island

La Union is not just about those big waves and party scenes. If you want to see something different on your next visit to this province, don’t forget to add Immuki Island to your list. Immuki Island is one of the newest attractions developed by the government and locals to attract more visitors. It is now dubbed as “The hidden paradise of the north” and I couldn’t agree more! It is located in the Brgy. Paraoir, Balaoan, La Union just about a 30-minute ride from San Juan, La Union.

Knowing Immuki Island

Immuki Island was once known as “Kaparingitan” to the locals. The name “Immuki” came from a sea creature that can only thrive on the “Paringit” (dead corals) called sea slugs or babao or bao which is a Pangasinense word translated in Ilocano as “Uki” or female genital. The word Immuki has been associated with the island because the shape of its main lagoon also resembles that of the female genital.

Basically, Immuki Island is a dead coral island with three main lagoons surrounded by mangroves. The main lagoon being called Immuki as explained earlier, the other two lagoons were named out of the wide imagination of the locals. The other lagoons were called “Bimmuto” (male genital) and “Immubet” (anus) because their shape resemble that of the penis and anus.

How to go to Immuki Island?

As per locals, there are Darigayos bound jeepneys that passes by Brgy. Paraoir from San Fernando and San Juan. Based on experience, we had a hard time waiting for the said jeepney during our last stay in San Juan so if you don’t have a private ride going to Immuki Island, you can go there by these options:

  • Ride a tricycle that will take you directly to Brgy. Paraoir where Immuki Island is located which will costs around Php 600-800 depends on how you negotiate with your driver.
  • Ride a Bacnotan bound jeepney and drop off at Bacnotan Public Market (fare: Php 20 from San Juan). From there, look for a tricycle that will take you to Brgy. Paraoir that should cost you Php 200 per ride (good for 4 pax).

What to expect?

Registration area in Brgy. Paraoir

Upon reaching the barangay hall of Paraoir, you have to register your visit first and pay the following fees:

  • Students/Senior citizens/PWD rate – Php 30
  • Regular rate – Php 50
*Fees may change without prior notice

Once you are done with the registration, you may now proceed to the island. You may rent a bamboo raft that will take you directly to the island for Php 250 (good for 6 pax) or you may simply walk going to the island as the water level is just below the knee. We opted to just walk so we could take photos along the way and explore more on the other sides of the island.

Upon reaching the main island, you’ll understand why it is being called a hidden paradise. You have to walk through maze of mangroves that will lead you to its stunning lagoons. You will enjoy its crystal-clear waters and every corner is definitely a picture worthy spot. During our visit, the whole island is not that crowded knowing that it was weekend, since there are 3 lagoons you can choose and will surely love.

Other things to know before going:

  • Visiting hours in the island is from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Camping, bringing of foods and drinks, fishing and bringing of pets is not allowed in the island
  • Comfort Rooms are available after the registration area
  • There are also foods and souvenirs for sale available after the registration area

Mt. Pinatubo: A Travel Guide To The Beautiful Disaster

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A Beautiful Disaster – that’s how they describe Mt. Pinatubo. From its disastrous eruption on June 15, 1991 which considered to be the world’s second largest eruption of the 20th century, until how it stands beautifully in the Municipality of Botolan in the Province of Zambales today. It even became more famous after being featured in the blockbuster movie of our country’s most famous loveteam Kathniel, Crazy Beautiful You.

This active stratovolcano has been a dormant volcano for the past 400 years before its 1991 eruption that affects not only our country, but also our nearby Asian countries forming the now most visited site on the area, the stunning turquoise to emerald colored Mt. Pinatubo crater lake. The place is so dreamy that you would never know how many lives it took and how many families it left homeless.

How To Get There?

You can either jumped off on Capas, Tarlac or on Botolan, Zambales in order to get to the actual crater lake. In our case, we opted to choose the Capas trail.

DIY

You may ride a bus from Cubao or Pasay going to Capas, Tarlac (these are buses bound to Baguio, Urdaneta or Dagupan). From Capas (Mcdonalds Capas Junction), ride a tricycle that will take you directly to Capas Tourist Information in Brgy. Sta. Juliana, Capas. You may register your visit there and they’ll help you out arranging a 4×4 ride for your group.

Book a Tour

For your convenience, you may also want to book a joiner/exclusive tour with a travel and tour agencies. We booked our tour from LFC Travel and Tours for Php 2,800 per pax. Please take note that prices may change without prior notice and may vary depending on your pick-up location (they offer pick-ups across Metro Manila and Pampanga). This package already includes your van transportation, 4×4 ride (ratio 1:4), entrance fee, conservation fee, tour guide/coordinator fee and a bag tag. Definitely worth the convenience you can get.

Start of our Journey

We were picked-up from our pick-up location at around 1:00 AM and reached Brgy. Sta. Juliana in Capas at around 4:00 AM. We had some breakfast first and logged our registration at around 5:00 AM. After a short briefing from the coordinator and settling everything from the registration, we started our 4×4 adventure at around 5:45 AM.

The 1.5 hour 4×4 ride is already an exciting experience everyone should look forward on this trip. It is such an experience passing through jarring dirt roads full of volcanic debris, beautiful landscapes and rivers while seeing the sun slowly rising along the way. The ride may be bumpy but my heart is so full with the scenes right in front of me and excited with the stunner waiting for me on the top. You’ll pass through what they call “Toblerone Hills” and may have the chance to take photos with it.

Toblerone Hills at the back

After a 1.5-hour ride, you’ll be reaching the jump point where trekking starts. Please note that the distance of the trek may vary depending on the season/weather. For some cases, you may only trek for about 5 km but there are cases that you have to trek for about 7 km when 4×4 rides can’t pass through rough river trails.

Trekking to the Crater Lake

The majestic Mt. Pinatubo crater lake

We started our trek at around 7:30 in the morning. The trek consists of a lot of river crossing, walking through volcanic debris and rocky terrains. Mt. Pinatubo is a minor climb with 2/9 difficulty making it a perfect mountain for any beginner. The trail is mostly flat and easy, the easiest trek I’ve ever had (so far). The only challenge you may take is the last ascent going to the actual crater but they already established stairs going up there so nothing to really worry about.

There are few stores along the way owned by the Aeta settlers in the area where you can buy your refreshments. Also, don’t forget to greet and talk with the Aeta kids you’ll meet along the way. There are a lot of them on the trail, who shares big smiles on their faces while greeting every tourist passing by with enthusiasm. You can really feel their excitement to meet people, so if you have extra goodies why not share it to the kids. For sure, they’ll be the happiest!

We reached the crater lake marker after 1 hour and 20 minutes, and we were stunned by the beauty the crater lake holds. The scene was so picturesque that a photo I seen online can’t justify how stunning it is compared on seeing it with my bare eyes, real time. The charming panorama is so relaxing to look at, completely different on how it enraged and released volcanic plums few decades back. The lake itself is fascinating on its blue to emerald color with the caldera’s walls full of lushes as its contrast.

You can get down with their established stairs to get near on the actual crater lake. It is another 5 to 10-minute trek depending on your pace. I suggest to don’t miss the chance of getting near the actual lake for the experience. You already made you way to this stunner, why not make the most of it right? You may touch the water on the lake but swimming is strictly prohibited.

They renewed the view deck area into a park where tourists can take a rest and eat while appreciating the majestic scenery. There are few food stalls available that sell snacks but be mindful that prices are way higher than usual. It’s understandable in the other hand, as locals invest so much effort and money just to bring these goods up there. We decided to reward ourselves with a cup of pancit canton and cold soda. A 100-peso pancit canton and a 100-peso coke tastes more delicious after a worthy climb with a worthy view!

It took us another 1 hour and 20 minutes to go down to the jump point where our 4×4 parked. Overall, it’s is an experience worth every penny, sweat and tread.

Things to know before going:

  • Bring masks or anything that can cover your nose since the trail is so dusty especially on the 4×4 ride.
  • Make sure to apply sunblock or bring a hat to protect you from the scorching heat of the sun. The trail might be too hot when you go down.
  • The time allocated by Capas Tourism Office and Philippine Air Force for tourists is between 5AM to 10AM. So, make sure to be early on the tourism office to avoid the cut off time.
  • Cut off time may change without prior notice so better to visit and contact Capas Tourism Office Facebook page for more updated details.

Seollem Cafe: A Korean-Inspired Cafe to Visit in Baguio City

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Hello K-drama addicts! We found this hidden café in the City of Pines perfect on flattering your K-drama hearts. Cafés are definitely now a thing in the Philippines as we can see a lot of cafes being established in every corner. And for every one who loves visiting these cafes, not only their coffees or the food they serve matters but of course, the aesthetics of this coffee shops must be put into consideration.

Seollem Café is a Korean-themed café located at 74 Del Nacia Apts, Camp 7, Baguio City (Landmark: Kmart Camp 7). You can reach it by riding a Camp 7 bound jeepneys from the Baguio City proper or by taking a taxi. In our case, we ride a taxi from our hotel since taxis in Baguio are pretty cheap and convenient. Upon dropping by at Kmart from the jeepney or taxi, you’ll see the Seollem Café signage and you have to walk by the alley beside the Kmart to get into your location.

The cafe is open daily from 9:00 am until 9:00 pm (updated store hours according to their official FB page as of October 2023).

What to Expect?

Seollem Café is probably one of the prettiest cafés I’ve ever been to. It is not the biggest or the most visited but the vibe and warmth it gives you is so keen that you would like to stay longer and come back for more. It is a 2-storey café with interiors said to be inspired from the Korean dramas Itaewon Class and Crash Landing On You. Aside from its actual building, they also have an alfresco dining suitable for those who wants to still enjoy the Baguio’s fresh air while indulging their Korean staple foods and drinks.

Chocolate drink and strawberry korean milk drink
Decided to sit by the window

You can order from their counter located in its ground floor but you are free to choose where to be seated. Their menu includes their signature blends, korean milks, coffee-based and non coffee-based for the drinks while their korean food favorites includes tteok-bokki, korean pasta, korean fried chicken and korean toasts (and a lot more!).

Interior of the first floor
Interior of the second floor

We decided to be seated on their second floor to have a better view from the window seats. I love how both floors were differently designed based on the owner’s inspirations but equally aesthetically beautiful. Every corner shouts a fancy Korean culture and ambiance. Famous K-drama OSTs are also being played in the background, my K-drama heart couldn’t ask and scream for more.

After staying for about 2 hours, we decided to head back to the Baguio City proper. Luckily, taxis on this area are practically available so you don’t have to worry about how to get back to your accommodations. If you also want to buy some Korean snacks, don’t forget to drop by in Kmart located just along the highway.

Discover Bataan: Sinagtala Farm Resort and Adventure Park Travel Guide

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The Province of Bataan is a land that attracts tourists with their rich heritage, beautiful landscapes and splendid beaches. It’s a one stop province where you could enjoy each of these attractions without spending too much time traveling as you can reach it by land from Manila for about 2-3 hours or through ferry from Manila for about an hour. The first time I’ve been to Bataan was few years back when I attended the graduation of my brother in Mariveles, Bataan but unfortunately, I was not able to go around and check attractions. So for my second visit, I decided to finally discover what Bataan has to offer and visited Sinagtala Farm and Adventure Park for a weekend of fun, relaxation and adventure.

Knowing Sinagtala

Sinagtala Farm Resort and Adventure Park is a mountain resort found within the Bataan National Park and probably, the most scenic resort you could find in the province. Aside from the scenic views of nature, the resort also has a lot of good vantage points where you could get a nice view of Mt. Arayat and Pampanga down below. Located at Tala Rd., Orani, Bataan and can be reached after a 2-hour drive from Manila, it is a good place for family gatherings, team buildings or simply taking a break from the chaotic jungled city.

How to get there?

From Manila, ride a bus bound to Mariveles (fare is Php 259) and drop off at Orani Town (tell the driver that you’ll be dropping off at Orani across Petron Gas Station). From there, ride a tricycle that will take you directly to Sinagtala Farm Resort (Fare is Php 250/tricycle).

Entrance Fees and Accommodations in Sinagtala

Day tour rates in Sinagtala varies depending on the day you are visiting. It’s Php 400/pax from Monday to Thursday and Php 550/pax for Fridays to Sunday and holidays. Picnic huts, tables and decks are also available for rent. Here’s the updates rates of the following as of October 2023: (Photos are from official Facebook page of Sinagtala Adventure Park)

Accommodations in Sinagtala for overnight stays are privately owned and operated. You have to contact respective properties for availability of their rooms and accommodations. If you book an overnight stay, there’s no need for you to pay for an entrance fee anymore. Here is the list of the accommodations you may choose from depending on your preference or what will work for you and your group:

The Beacon House and Cabanas

Email: beaconsinagtala@gmail.com

Mobile: 0935.774.6007  

Facebook: Beacon House and Cabanas at Sinagtala Farm

 

Bituin Sa Tala

Email: bituinsatala@gmail.com

Facebook: Bituin Sa Tala

 

The Duyan House and Villas

Email: duyanhouse@gmail.com  

Mobile: 0917.739.6241  0998.863.4963  0995.411.3615 

Facebook: The Duyan House at Sinagtala Farm & Adventure Park

 

The Labuyo Villas

Email Bookings: labuyo.villas@gmail.com 

Facebook: Labuyo Villas at Sinagtala Farm Resort & Adventure Park

 

Murakami Sinagtala

Email: murakamisinagtala@yahoo.com 

Mobile: 0915.201.6689 / 0949.801.7471

Facebook: Murakami Sinagtala – Murakami Smart House

 

Tanawin BNB

Mobile: 0927.133.7984 or 0950.484.4968 

Email: tanawinbnb@gmail.com 

Facebook: Tanawin BNB

 

Tampay sa Sinagtala

Email: reservations@tampaysinagtala.com    

Mobile: 0925.707.1715 0917.549.6686  

Facebook: Tampay sa Sinagtala

 

Campo Tala

Facebook: Campo Tala

Murakami Sinagtala
Tanawin BNB
Duyan House at Sinagtala (Photo from their official FB page)

Infinity Pools

My favorites on this resort are their majestic infinity pools! You can definitely see yourself enjoying all day dipping in their huge pools with a breathtaking view of nature and Mt. Arayat as your backdrop. Currently, they have two infinity pools and one lagoon pool. Take a look above on the snaps we took and see yourself how it is therapeutic to just even dip on these pools.

Adventure Park

It is not just a resort but also an adventure park, so you will definitely have a lot of extreme activities you can try during your visit. If you are looking for adrenaline rush and always up to challenges, these activities below are for you to grab.

  • Sky Bridge – Php 100
  • Sky Bike – Php 200
  • Sky Swing – Php 200
  • Sky Zipline – Php 350
  • Kart Track – Php 30 for 10 minutes

Here is the list of the combo package for the activities:

Café and Restaurants

You don’t have to worry about food sources here in the resort as there are couple of restaurants/café that you could visit. There’s even a sari-sari store inside for even cheaper options and where you can also buy toiletries if you forget to bring some. For our two-night stay, we’ve been to Sinagtala Café for couple of times to just order and savor their taro ice cream that eventually became our personal favorite.

I decided to visit Sinagtala in Bataan to relax and breathe away from all the stress and I can definitely say that it helped me a lot to recover. Just being close to the nature and the serenity that this place can offer, it will really help someone to cope up and embrace the goodness life has to offer. It is a therapeutic trip that you could also experience once you decided to go. I also suggest to book for at least 2 night stay so you could savor the moment and enjoy all the activities served right in front of you.

Bangkok Travel Guide: Things To Do In Bangkok For First Time Travelers

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Amazing Thailand – I couldn’t agree more with Thailand’s tourism slogan as I personally see how beautiful their country is for the first time. Its capital city, Bangkok, is one of the most visited city not just in Southeast Asia but also in the world as it offers so many things any tourist couldn’t resist to enjoy. From their thousands of temple that shows how rich their culture and heritage is, to their vibrant streets that holds parties everyone would surely enjoy, up to their gastronomies that are rich in flavor any tourist would definitely crave for. There are so many things to do and experience here that one couldn’t help but to keep coming back for more. Here are some of the must things to do in Bangkok and discover yourself why Thailand is amazing in the eyes of so many people.

1. Temple Hopping

Facade of the huge Golden Reclining Buddha

Over 40,000 temples can be found in Thailand, and your Thailand trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting any of them. Having Buddhism as the dominant religion in the country, these temples or what they call “wat” are part of every day lives of the most Thais and plays an important role in the Thailand’s rich heritage. Don’t miss the chance visiting the Temple of Emerald Buddha that can be found inside the Grand Palace Complex, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and Wat Arun. These temples are located somehow near to each other so visiting these temples can cover half of your day. For more details about these temples, you can read more about it here.

2. See the Bangkok Skyline by Visiting Mahanakhon Skywalk

Glass tray experience

Mahanakhon Skywalk is known to be the highest observatory deck in Thailand standing 314 meters above ground level that offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the vibrant Bangkok skyline. It is located on the top of the King Power Mahanakhon Tower located in Bangkok’s Central Business District – Silom. You’ll definitely see yourself allured on this tower from outside as its architectural design will rise among other buildings surrounding it. The highlight of this attraction is their glass tray experience on 78th floor! A perfect experience for everyone who seeks thrill and adventure. For more details about Mahanakhon Skywalk, you can read more about here.

3. Try Michelin-starred restaurants/food stalls

Thipsamai's famous Pad Thai

Bangkok offers a lot of food selection and it is a must try once you visit the city. It is not a secret on how good their foods are, that a lot of restaurants and even food stalls that can be seen on the street are awarded with the Michelin Bib Gourmand – an award given to friendly establishments that offers good food at moderate prices. Many of these can be found on the streets of Bangkok serving quality food choices everyone would surely love. Some of these famous restaurants are Jay Fai, Go-ang Pratunam Chicken and Thipsamai.

4. Go Shopping

Bangkok is also a haven for all shopaholics! It might get overwhelming as the city has so many shopping centers and choices you could visit. You can shop ‘til you drop from their biggest malls up to their local markets depending on your budget. They offer a large selection of fashion choices from clothes, accessories and even souvenirs that you could bring home for your love ones. They sell every kind of cute, hip and up to date designs that every people would love to wear. I’ll recommend visiting Platinum Mall, Pratunam Market and Chatukchak Weekend Market if you want cheaper yet fashionable items. Also, you might opt to visit Iconsiam, Siam Paragon, Central World and Siam Square if you wish to visit high-end malls and shops.

5. Visit Ancient City

Ancient City (Muang Boran) is considered to be the world’s largest outdoor museum that occupies 200 acres in the shape of Thailand. It is about an hour away from the center of Bangkok but definitely a must-see attraction you should add on your Bangkok bucket list. The park is so huge that you have to ride a bike or a golf cart to go around it. It is such an amazing experience to go around this outdoor museum that highlights replicas of Thailand’s famous temples. They are not just miniature temples but real sized temples! Entrance fee is 700 Baht per pax (foreigner adult) and 350 Baht (foreigner children age 6-14 years old). On the other hand, golf rental costs 350 Baht good for 2-4 pax and 500 Baht for 6 pax.

6. Party at Khaosan Road

A more than 400-meter-long street found in the center of Bangkok famous for their parties and exotic street foods. It is also a backpacker haven for many of the foreign tourists as you can see a lot of cheap accommodations here. It is a must place for those who wants to experience Bangkok’s vibrant nightlife and get along with other tourists coming from all over the world. Just sit along its bars and clubs, for sure you’ll find yourself dancing and partying the night out. Take note that if you wish to stay here on your next Bangkok trip, you might consider that accommodations found here though relatively cheap, it could give you a lot of noise during the night because of all the happy parties on the street.

7. Have a food crawl at Chinatown – Yaowarat

Bangkok’s Chinatown main street can be found in the Yaowarat Road and considered to be one of the largest Chinatown in the world. It is one of my personal favorite part of this trip because aside from all the food we had, the street scenes are insane, colorful and beautifully chaotic especially during the night! Many would say, it is the best Chinatown to visit in the world. There’s a lot of famous food stalls here that you shouldn’t missed, from stalls with Michelin Bib Gourmand up to those who don’t have but definitely offers one of the best cuisines you could try.

8. Visit a rooftop bar

Bangkok is famous for their rooftop bars where you can spend your afternoon and night and be enthralled with Bangkok’s famous colorful sunset and skyline. One of its famous rooftop bars is Tichuca Rooftop Bar located at the top of T-One building in Sukhumvit area. It is a jungle themed bar famed for its tree powered by lights that became a famous photo ops spot for any of its visitor. There’s also a lot of other rooftop bars that can be spot on Bangkok’s party scenes, just search in the internet and see which bar will work for you.

9. Watch sunset along the Chao Phraya River

I would say, the sunset in Bangkok is one of the loveliests I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of restaurants and cafes along the famous Chao Phraya River that you can visit to witness this scene but if you’re in a budget, you can also go to Iconsiam terrace for free. We settled on their terrace found on the 7th floor just beside their biggest Starbucks, the Starbucks Reserve Chao Phraya Riverfront. You’ll see the boats coming different ways down below and be allured by the tall buildings right in front of you while the sun slowly sets for the day.

10. Ride a boat in the Floating Market

Aside from its temples, Bangkok is also known for their floating markets. There are few floating markets you can visit near Bangkok and one of the largest and popular floating market to visit for foreigners is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. It is located in the Ratchaburi Province which is about an hour and a half ride south of Bangkok City. Damnoen Saduak Canal is a 32 km long canal that was constructed to connect Maeklong and Ta Chin Rivers for more than hundred years ago. It is a very touristy place, lively and full of boats just how it is being presented in a tourist’s books. Goods are overpriced but still a good experience to at least try once your lifetime. It is not usual on many of our days, we’ll see vendors selling foods, fruits, goods and souvenirs on a boat or by the side of the canal. Some of the other floating markets you can visit are Amphawa Floating Market and Taling Chan Floating Market.

11. Visit the Maeklong Railway Market

Maeklong Railway Market is considered to be the most dangerous market in the world as the market lies at the heart of the Maeklong Railway tracks. It is such a different market experience based near the Maeklong Railway station. It is dubbed as the most dangerous market as the vendors needs to move back their tables and shop fronts every time a train approaches and bring it back on the tracks once the train has passed to continue selling. When you visit this place, make sure to get there on time and get a good spot to see the train as it approaches. I noticed that a lot of fresh seafoods are being sold here and souvenirs are cheaper compare to what we saw in the floating market and Chatukchak weekend market. We also got a chance to go inside the train and take many photos from it while the train waits for its next scheduled departure.

12. End your trip with a dinner cruise along Chao Phraya River

We booked for the Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise on our last night to conclude our trip and it is the best decision we had for this trip. Basically, you’ll be roving around along Chao Phraya River on a boat while eating a sumptuous meal in a buffet style. While eating, you’ll also be serenaded by their in-house performer and make you dance out all night. You can choose to take the lower deck or the upper deck of the boat but for the best experience, I suggest you to take the upper deck so better reserve it as soon as you can. While moving along the river, you’ll see Bangkok’s alluring scenes, from the grand hotels, the Ferris wheel of Asiatique mall, up to the Wat Arun beautifully lit at night. We opted to book our tickets on Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise office directly located in Iconsiam so we could choose our desired seats. The food choices are not that many, but the happy experience you’ll get after the night of socials is definitely worth every penny.

Overall, Bangkok is a must visit city where you can experience culture, socials and the modern city. What are you waiting for? Book those tickets now and be amazed by what Bangkok has to offer!

Bangkok Travel Guide: DIY Half-Day Temple Tour (Fees + Sample Itinerary)

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Over 40,000 temples can be found in Thailand, and your Thailand trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting any of them. Having Buddhism as the dominant religion in the country, these temples or what they call “wat” are part of every day lives of the most Thais and plays an important role in the Thailand’s rich heritage. Its unique structures are one of the reasons why many tourists pay a visit on these temples so on our recent Thailand trip, we didn’t miss the chance to see few of their known temples in Bangkok. Here are the temples you can visit in Bangkok if you wish to have a day or even a half day spent for a temple hopping:

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of The Emerald Buddha)

Probably the most famous and major Thai Buddhist temple located in a complex known to be “The Grand Palace”. Grand Palace is a vast complex of buildings and structures established in the year of 1782 and has been the official residence of the King of Thailand. Aside from being the King’s residence, Grand Palace also houses royal halls and government offices.

The temple of the Emerald Buddha was established by King Rama I in 1782. The Emerald Buddha was housed on the building called Phra Ubosot or The Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. It is an ordination hall with distinct Thai architecture decorated with golden garudas, gold leaves and colored glasses. The main sacred image is an image of Buddha in a lotus position made of jade and 66 cm in tall. When entering the Ubosot, you have to get off your shoes and taking pictures are not allowed.

Details of the walls of the Phra Ubosot

Grand Palace is open daily from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM and entrance fee costs 500 Baht that you may book online or walk-in. There are instances that the Palace is close due to events so better check their official website for closure schedules.

Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Phranakorn (Rattanakosin)

Wat Pho

46m long Golden Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of Reclining Buddha, is one of the oldest wat in Thailand located just about a 10-minute walk south of Grand Palace. It is known for the 15m high and 46m long golden reclining Buddha that represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana. There are also 108 bronze bowls behind the reclining Buddha structure that represents the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha where visitors can drop coins for good fortune.

Wat Pho is open daily from 8:00 AM until 6:30 PM and entrance fee costs 200 Baht.

Location: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Wat Arun

Wat Arun as seen from the Chao Phraya River

Perhaps, my personal favorite among the temples we visited. Wat Arun, also known as The Temple of Dawn, is one of the famous landmark in Bangkok that stands in the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Its name derived from the Hindi God, Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun.

It is said built in a Khmer architectural style having a central prang covered with colorful porcelain pieces as its main hallmark. The prangs (spire) are decorated with shells and porcelains which had been used as ballasts by boats coming from China.

A cafe inside the Wat Arun complex

I was personally in awe when I saw this temple during the daylight. The temple’s beauty also illuminates during the night when its lights are turned on (got to see it from our Chao Phraya River cruise dinner). What a stunner to sight from the iconic Chao Phraya River! There are also a lot of stores outside Wat Arun that offers traditional Thai costumes for rent that ranges from 100 to 200 Baht. Wearing a traditional Thai costume could elevate your travel photos and experience.

Wat Arun is open from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM and entrance fee costs 100 Baht that already includes a bottle of water.

Location: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600, Thailand

How to go to these temples?

Tuktuk that flocks around the Grand Palace area

There are no near train stations on these temples so we booked a grab from our hotel going to The Grand Palace (You may opt to ride tuktuk or metered taxi). From Grand Palace, you can either walk for about 10 minutes going to Wat Pho but if you don’t want to walk, you may opt to ride a tuktuk for your convenience. In our case, we chartered a tuktuk from Grand Palace going to Wat Pho for 100 Baht good for 3-4 pax. From Wat Pho, we had an 8-minute walk going to the ferry terminal that will take you to Wat Arun on the other side of the Chao Phraya River. Ferry ride costs as 5 Baht each.

Sample half day itinerary of this temple visit:

8:30 AM – 10:15 AM          Grand Palace

10:15 AM – 10: 25 AM       Walk to Wat Pho from Grand Palace

10: 25 AM – 11: 00 AM      Wat Pho

11: 00 AM – 11: 15 AM      Walk/Ferry to Wat Arun

11:15 AM – 12: 00 PM       Wat Arun

Mahanakhon Skywalk: A Visit on Bangkok’s Highest Observation Deck

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After a four-year hiatus due to pandemic, I was able to set foot again outside the Philippines. I visited the lively city of Bangkok early this June and it is such a five-day full of fun, first time experiences and a whole lot of core memories to be cherished for a lifetime. Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand known for their rich heritage, historical temples, full of life streets, good food and many more. Bangkok would not be one of the most visited city in the world for no reason and I can’t wait to share all my experiences I had on this trip. I’ll kick off this Bangkok series by sharing a Mahanakhon Skywalk guide – one of the most popular landmark now in modern Bangkok.

Knowing Mahanakhon Skywalk

Mahanakhon Skywalk is known to be the highest observatory deck in Thailand standing 314 meters above ground level that offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the vibrant Bangkok skyline. It is located on the top of the King Power Mahanakhon Tower located in Bangkok’s Central Business District – Silom. You’ll definitely see yourself allured on this tower from outside as its architectural design will rise among other buildings surrounding it. The tower is shaped as a square prism consists of glass blocks then has missing block pieces that swirls around the building. The structure appears to be pixelated from afar that I would like to compare it to a rubics cube or a jenga with missing blocks. It has both indoor and outdoor area for panoramic viewing of the city and a perfect place for thrill seekers as they highlight their glass floor experience on the 78th floor!

Ticket Purchase

We booked our tickets for the Mahanakhon Skywalk through Klook but you can also purchase online tickets on their official website here or simply do a walk-in (but they limit the number of guests they receive each day so tickets are subject for availability). Mahanakhon Skywalk is open Monday to Sunday and admission for daytime ticket is from 10:00 AM until 3:30 PM while admission of sunset ticket is from 4:00 PM until 6:30 PM. We got our day pass tickets for 1,492 PHP (Mahanakhon Skywalk Indoor + Rooftop Ticket + Soft Drink) through Klook.

Here’s the current price of their ticket packages as of June 2023:

Note: Prices may change without prior notice. For most updated prices, visit their official website here

Indoor Observation Deck, Glass Tray and The Peak

The facade of the King Power Mahanakhon Tower

Right after checking-in in our hotel, we made our way to Chong Nonsi Station (Silom Line) and walked for about 200 meters to reach our destination. We presented our booking confirmation and they gave us our printed tickets. One has to board their video themed elevator considered to be one of the fastest elevator also in Thailand. Don’t missed the chance to take a photo or video of the video animation that will be played on the walls of the elevator that will take you on the 74th floor for just about 50 seconds.

The 74th floor houses their indoor observation deck. You can take as many photos as you can on its glass window with the beautiful skyscrapers at your back. To reach the rooftop (considered to be the 78th floor), you may take the elevator or the stairs. We take the stairs going up then elevator going down to experience both. We went there on about 3:30 in the afternoon and it’s really hot but the scorching heat didn’t take away the beauty of the Bangkok from above.

Glass tray experience
Glass tray experience

And for the most exhilarating part of this experience is to step our foot in the famous glass tray. We had to wear foot socks first then have our photos taken from the designated photo spot. You can’t bring your phone on the glass itself so you must have to ask someone to take a photo of you from the area where cameras and phones are allowed. For someone who has a fear of heights, I don’t know how much courage I gathered to be able to step on the glass. You’ll really see the ground from there and it definitely gave me those shivers and weak knees but who am I to miss the chance of getting photos from this spectacular view? I’m sure you’ll also don’t miss the chance if you’re already there.

Climb the staircase just across the glass tray and you’ll reach “The Peak” which gives you the 360-degree view of the whole Bangkok where the 314 meter mark is located. The place leaves us on awe in the afternoon and for sure, it will give another kind of awe when someone visited it during sunset. It is such a perfect place to watch sunset and the Bangkok city lights. But also, take consider that a lot more tourists come here during sunset compare to morning and afternoon.

The 314 meter mark on The Peak
Binoculars located in the 74th floor

You may also want to take a look on the highest rooftop bar in Bangkok now called ‘Sky Beach’ if you want to chill and drink few bottles of beers and liquor while being allured by the Bangkok skyscrapers. The bar is open from 10:00 AM until 12:00 AM.

Sky Beach bar

Aside from the temple runs and party nights in the streets of Bangkok, this is a refreshing activity that should be added on your Bangkok itinerary. Don’t miss the fun and book your tickets to Mahanakhon Skywalk!

Baguio City Guide: Where to Eat in Baguio City?

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I don’t know how many times I told this but I always love going back to Baguio. Baguio is a place that no matter how many times you’ve been to, you’ll always find yourself getting back even without knowing the reasons. Baguio gives me so much unexplainable feeling that every time I visit, I found myself being comforted and drowned with so much solace. I would say “Baguio ang aking pahinga”. Aside from its cold weather and tourist attractions, another reason to go back here is their food! A trip wouldn’t be complete without trying Baguio’s best food places. So here are the places you have to definitely tick off the list once you visit the beautiful city of Baguio:

  • Canto Bogchi Joint

First in the list is the Canto Bogchi Joint. This cozy restaurant is located in Kisad Road just across Burnham Park and needless to say, a given blockbuster due to its appetizing meals. On our third trip to Baguio, we didn’t even get a chance to eat as the waiting time was too long. On our fourth trip in the city, we promised to ourselves to eat here no matter what. Upon dropping off our things in the hotel, we jumped right away to Canto and finally made a seat! The restaurant was undergoing a renovation at that time that maybe people thought they are closed. Good thing, we still went up to check and found out that they are serving on their smaller shelter across their main building. Don’t miss trying their famous Lomo Ribs (a grilled barbeque pork ribs) and Chicken Pastel (a stew of chicken and vegetables in creamy sauce, topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheese). We also tried their pumpkin soup, a perfect meal to sip for Baguio’s cold weather.

Lomo Ribs
Chicken Pastel

Address: 25 Kisad Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet

  • Grumpy Joe

This might sound biased but Grumpy Joe is my personal favorite in this list because of my love for their Aloha 5 Cheese Pizza! This well-known restaurant gives American and Italian food choices in a generous serving for a reasonable price. Waiting time may also be long especially during weekends and holidays. For our case, we usually wait for around 30 minutes to 1 hour just to be seated. Aside from their best comfort foods, I also love the interior of their place. The place is spacious and has homey interiors that could level up your overall dining experience. My favorites here are Baked Ziti, Breaded Parm Chicken Breast with Mozarella Cheese Stuffing and of course, their Aloha 5 Cheese Pizza.

Baked Ziti, Mojos and Aloha 5 Cheese pizza
Grumpy Joe's interior
Breaded Parm Chicken Breast

Address: 15 Gibraltar Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet / Upper Session Rd, Baguio, Benguet

  • Good Taste Cafe and Restaurant

Photo from Good Taste Restaurant Facebook Page

A Baguio food trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting Good Taste. It is probably the most famous and most recommended restaurant for both tourists and locals. What made them famous is that they serve large servings of their Chinese and Filipino cuisines in a very affordable price. Honestly, servings here are much more than what stated in the menu so this place is really a gem for budget travelers. It is a common thing to see a long line in front of the building they occupy along Otek St. across Burnham Park but no worries, waiting time could not be that long as the restaurant is huge and few floors are used to accommodate customers. They are famous for their buttered chicken and one viand serving good for 4-5 people will only costs you Php 200–Php 300. My personal favorites here are Lechon Chopsuey and Buttered Chicken.

Address: Otek St, Baguio, Benguet

  • 50’s Diner

An America diner that serves burgers, milkshakes, steaks, rice meals, sandwiches, etc. with an ambiance that will definitely bring you back in the retro 50’s. Our first dine in experience was on their General Luna branch but from what I heard is they already closed that OG branch but continued their legacy on branches that can be found in Porta Vaga Mall (Session Rd.) and Military Cut Off Rd. Honestly, the food here are kinda generic but knowing the price, how big their servings are and experiencing a retro aura, definitely worth at least a go.

Address: 166 B Military Cut Off Road 2600 Baguio City / Porta Vaga Mall, 105 Session Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet

  • The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant

If you want to savor Cordilleran cuisines, then this might be the place for you. Get a first hand experience of Cordilleran tradition by tasting authentic cordilleran food choices and ambiance as it is located in a place designed as a traditional Igorot house that stands just beside the famous attraction, Tam-awan Village. Don’t missed out to try local dishes such as Pinikpikan which is a cordilleran version of chicken tinola, Dinakdakan and Pinuneg.

Pinikpikan
Inside the farmer's daughter restaurant
Dinakdakan

Address: Tam-awan Village, Long Long Benguet Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet

  • Sizzling Plate Baguio

It is the first ever restaurant we tried on our first Baguio trip and surprisingly, didn’t disappoint. It is also one of the Baguio’s classic restaurant and a home of quality yet affordable steaks. Aside from their hearty meals, the cabin wood style interior of this place will surely add up on the vibe and will fit to your Baguio cold weather experience. Main steak meals are served with java rice and soup and you can’t help but crave as you see and hear how your steak sizzles as you pour their in-house gravy or steak sauce. Don’t also miss trying their famous sansrival for your dessert.

Address: 86 Session Rd, Baguio / Leonard Wood Rd, Baguio / 4 Carino St, Baguio / SM City Baguio

  • Ili-likha Artists’ Wateringhole

Used to be known as Ili-likha Artist Village, this place was conceptualized by film director, Eric De Guia or known as “Kidlat Tahimik”. It is a food hub where good food and art collides. The place is like a tree house with few floors and paths or holes that will lead you to its different food stalls. The entire place is made of overgrown trees, recycled materials such as woods, steels, tiles, a wall that is made of glass bottles, Ifugao sculptures, and many more that you couldn’t imagine. It is definitely a must visit when touring around Baguio City! If you want to know more about this place, you can read a more detailed blog about it here.

Address: #32 Assumption Road, Brgy. Kabayanihan, Baguio City

  • Vanilla Café

Vanilla Café is a French-inspired café located inside Kamiseta Hotel. It is for sure, the most beautifully decorated café I’ve ever been so far. Chairs, tables and furnitures used here are all vintage in style that will make you feel staying in a royal palace. The whole place is well lit with their high glass windows and sitting beside it is surely the best spot to eat your meal. The cold breeze and the smell of pine trees outside the café will make you fall in love in the place even more. When it comes to the food they serve, honestly, it’s a so-so for me and a bit pricey. But with the ambiance and view you can get from here, it is surely worth the time even just for once.

Address: 20 Brgy Lualhati, Ignacio Villamor St, Baguio City

  • Mang Ed Bakareta House

Just like The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant, Mang Ed Bakareta House offers authentic cordilleran cuisines. The difference here is that, it gives a lutong-bahay or karinderya vibe that could give you a different dining experience from the other food places on this list. As what I heard, there are other Mang Ed branch that is more modern and airconditioned but we opt to went on their branch in the Slaughterhouse compound that has a turo-turo style setting to get a more local experience. We tried Pinapaitan, Kilawin, Dinakdakan and my most favorite is their Tinuno or grilled liempo served with blood sauce. I was skeptical to try it first because of the sauce, but surprisingly it was good and it is comparable to the crispy dinuguan dish.

Address: Slaughterhouse Compound (Main-Inside Basketball Court Slaughterhouse Compound (Extension-Infront of Brgy. Hall, Baguio City

  • Pizza Volante

I’ve been hearing this restaurant for so long and we were able to finally try it during our fourth visit in the city. The place offers pasta dishes, desserts and of course, pizza as their name suggests. I would recommend you trying their pizzas as you could get a well topped meal in a very cheap price. We visited their branch along session road (second floor) for an early dinner and it made the feels more special. How could you not love eating a slice of pizza with an overlooking view of the iconic Session Rd. as the sun sets for the day?

Address: Session Rd, Baguio, 2600 Benguet / Wright Park, Romulo Dr, Baguio / Ordonio Dr, Camp John Hay, Baguio

  • Choco-late De Batirol

A café restaurant set in a garden located inside Camp John Hay. This place is famous for their chocolate drinks traditionally prepared. We went here during afternoon to take a rest after a lengthy walk since morning and I love that their al fresco setup gives so much relaxing feeling. We had their Baguio blend (strawberry) hot chocolate and iced batirol in almond flavor perfectly paired with their turon with chocolate drizzles. They also serve meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Baguio blend hot chocolate
Iced batirol in almond flavor

Address: Igorot Park, Camp John Hay, Baguio

  • Baguio Night Market

A Baguio trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the famous Baguio Night Market in Harrison Road. Aside from buying ukay-ukay, many people go here for a food trip session. Food stalls are now placed on a parking lot beside the Harrison Road to accommodate more people. You’ll have a lot of food choices here from Filipino food such as sisig, dinakdakan, arroz caldo and mami, Mediterranean food like kebab and shawarma, Korean street foods such as tteokbokki and mandu and of course, don’t forget to try tasting their strawberry/ube flavored taho. The night market is open every day from 9:00 PM until 12:00 AM.

Address: Harrison Road, Baguio City

Kawai Beach Camp: Beach Glamping Experience in Lobo, Batangas

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kawai Beach Camp

It’s summer time again for us, Filipinos! And what we love about living in this tropical country is to enjoy our beautiful beaches especially on this time of the year. If you’re looking for a beach less crowded, you might love this resort we discovered. It’s not your normal beach resort but they offer a total beach glamping experience located in Lobo, Batangas. Here’s a travel guide to Kawai Beach Camp.

Lobo, Batangas

I rarely hear Lobo, Batangas when it comes to travel and beach destinations in Batangas as it always been overshadowed by the more famous white beaches of Laiya. If you haven’t heard about this coastline town, Lobo is located in the southern tip of the province of Batangas and just about a 3-4 hour drive from Manila. They have white sand and pebble beaches along the coastal barangays of Fabrica, Olo-Olo, Sawang and Malabrigo. Aside from these beaches, you may also visit their mangrove eco park and hike to Malabrigo Lighthouse.

How to go to Kawai Beach Camp

Option 1

From Manila, ride a bus going to Batangas Grand Terminal. From Batangas Grand Terminal, ride a jeepney going to SM City Batangas. Jeepney terminal to Lobo is located at the back of the Most Holy Trinity Parish Church located just across SM City Batangas (Fare is Php 100). Once arrived in the town of Lobo, ride a tricycle going to Kawai Beach Camp. Fare is Php 150 per ride and since the resort is quite new and drivers may not be familiar of it yet, just tell the driver that it is located beside Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort.

Option 2

From Manila, ride a bus going to SM Lipa. From SM Lipa Grand Transport Terminal, ride a mini bus to Lobo (Fare is Php 125/each). Once arrived in Lobo proper, charter a tricycle that will take you directly to Kawai Beach Camp.

Kawai Beach Camp

I’m glad that I found this beach camp when I am browsing over facebook where to go for an overnight beach trip. Kawai Beach Camp is located in Brgy. Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas just beside Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort. We arrived at the resort at around 1:00 PM and we were welcomed by the owner of resort. What I first noticed is how warm, friendly and welcoming both the owner and their staffs.

The camp during the night

The resort has 7 glamping tents where 3 of them are airconditioned while the rest of the 4 tents are in a fan setup. Tents can be 1-bed setup good for 1-2 pax, 2-bed setup for 3-4 pax or 3-bed setup good for 5-6 pax (depending on its availability). Here are the current rates of the resort for the month of March to May (This already includes breakfast that can be served from 7AM to 10AM).

Photo from Kawai official Facebook Page

Note: Prices are subject for change without prior notice. For any recent update of their rates and for other inquiries, visit their facebook page here.

Here’s also a rough map of the resort for your reference:

We booked the tent number 5 which is an AC tent and we were surprised on how big the tent is and how clean, comfortable and aesthetic the overall style of the accommodation. It’s complete with furnishings you will be needing for your stay such as mini cabinets, baskets, table, own trash bins, additional fan (above your AC) and power outlets to charge your gadgets. You also have your own fairy lights inside the tent, another tables and chairs outside each tent for guests use and bean bags you may seat and lie on to relax. It has 4 common toilets and 4 common showers and based on my experience, since they only have limited guests due to limited number of tents, there’s no queue in using these common areas.

The resort is beach front so you may access the beach anytime you want. Staying also includes the following:

  • Unlimited Kapeng Barako
  • Unlimited purified drinking water
  • Use of grill
  • Fresh towels
  • Soap and shampoo (provided in the shower area)
  • Free bonfire at night

Don’t expect the beach here to be powdery as what most of beach bums like. The shores of Malabrigo beach are pebbled and the waters are crystal blue. We walked along its shore and take some photos on few rock formations we found near the resort. We also had a mini trek going to the Malabrigo Lighthouse. I love it here as you can really have a day of solitude away from the chaotic crowd. We had our bean bags settled in the beach front and witnessed how lovely the sun sets from this point.

Malabrigo Beach just in front of the resort
Malabrigo Lighthouse

During the night, you can enjoy the bonfire inclusion on your stay. Staffs may ask you when do you want the bonfire so they can set it up for you. For dinner, you may order in the resort as they also offer food on their menu to serve. In our case, we had Pork Sinigang for Php 395 good for 3-4 pax. Here’s the resort’s complete menu for your reference.

Other things to know before going:

  • Check-in time is 2:00 PM and checkout time is 12:00 Noon
  • Resort does not offer any Wi-Fi service but Globe/Gomo are reliable cell signals
  • No smoking of cigarettes within the premises
  • The resort requires 50% down payment to reserve that can be paid through Gcash or BPI
  • The resort does not allow bringing of portable stoves and appliances for cooking
  • Access to treehouse is for tent 7 guests only
  • For other inquries, contact Kawai Beach Camp on their official facebook page here

Overall, this is a fun glamping experience by the beach that I would recommend for everyone to try. From the accommodation up to the excellent services of the resort, I would definitely love getting back. Book your stay now at Kawai Beach Camp!

Roxas City, Capiz Day Trip: The Ruins of Alcatraz + The Edge of Roxas City

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I would like to start this article by saying “No, Capiz is not a home of aswangs or a terrifying creature of our Philippine folklore”. Capiz is a province in the northeastern part of Panay Island known to be the “Seafood Capital of the Philippines”. Aside from its delectable fresh seafoods, the province is home of some historical landmarks, beaches and caves. I got a chance to have a quick day trip to Roxas City, the capital city of Capiz, during my last visit in my hometown in Iloilo. It’s about a 2 hour drive away from the City of Iloilo, so a daytrip to the city would be really possible. I got a chance to visit the famous Ruins of Alcatraz and The Edge of Roxas City, so here’s a DIY trip guide you can follow.

How to get to Roxas?

From Iloilo, ride a bus bound to Roxas City from Tagbak Bus Terminal. Upon drop off on Pueblo Panay Roxas Terminal, you can ride a tricycle to drop you off in any point in Roxas.

From Manila, there are daily direct flight from Manila going to Roxas City.

Ruins of Alcatraz

We ride a tricycle upon drop off at the bus terminal, we told the driver that we wish to visit both the Ruins of Alcatraz and The Edge of Roxas City. The driver offered us to stopped by the ruins first, then he’ll wait for us so he can drop us off in Culasi Port where The Edge is located. A pretty much convenient deal we can’t hold out against.

No entrance fee is being solicited in the ruins but there’s a minimal parking fee if you have a vehicle/tricycle with. The Ruins of Alcatraz, located in Brgy. Culasi, Sitio Nipa, Roxas, City, is abandoned unfinished resort owned by Bermejo Family. It’s supposed to be a grand resort facing the seashore of Roxas but due to circumstances, it is remained deserted. The place and its weathered walls are so cinematic in sight that I can compare it to the set of Maze Runner. Perfect for cinematic photos and a perfect spot to be mesmerized by the shores of Roxas. They named the place Ruins of Alcatraz because the place and its vibe somehow resembles the famous prison island of Alcatraz.

Please be minded that there’s a lot of kids who will approach you upon entrance of the vicinity and offers you a tour of the area and take photos of you with the walls. Even you don’t say yes, they’ll still follow you around and insist. I don’t have issue with the kids offering this kind of services for extra income but it’s kind of annoying, that some kids get mad or ask for more if you didn’t give them enough (at least for them). They’ll demand you a hundred pesos or more by just tailing you for some time in the area. Lol

The Edge of Roxas City

From the Ruins of Alcatraz, we make our way to Culasi Port. From there, you have to walk/trek for around 10 minutes to reach The Edge of Roxas City. Just ask the locals on the area, and you’ll surely make your way without getting lost. The place has a Bali-inspired view and a good place to unwind and relax. I would say, the place is photo worthy with the swing as my favorite spot.

Unfortunately, when we visit The Edge they are not serving any food yet so we just take our time to relax and appreciate the view from this point. There’s a lot of food place to try also in Roxas, from seafood place up to hip restaurants and café along Baybay beach. Upon trekking down back in Culasi Port, we ride a tricycle bound along Baybay Beach and have a lunch at The Shack Coffee + Boards. This food hub serves a variety of foods, coffee and shakes in a reasonable price. I like the vibe of this place plus the fact that it has a view of the sea right in front of you.

Photo at The Shack Coffee + Boards

This was just a quick trip to this city and I wish to come again someday to explore more of this province.