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What to expect

Washington, DC
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12 posts
6 reviews
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What to expect

Ok, so we've planned out our first 10 days (of a 4 week trip) and have a good idea of what we'll do the rest of the time, but I'd love any input you can provide.

* People have told us 'be careful' when you go to the Philippines. It's either a concern about the roads to Banaue being too dangerous - it's not like the US here or people taking advantage of us

- I'm Filipino but my husband would definitely not pass for one -- all the posts I've read seem to be very positive...has anyone personally experienced crime againsts tourists?

- We've been to Costa Rica and driven on a very dangerous road -- could Banaue be worse than this?

* We plan to spend 10 days in Palawan (4 hotels), spend 3 nites in Boracay and the rest on Luzon (12 nites) --- if Banaue is too dangerous of a drive, any other suggestions on where to go? Is Subic / Iba / La Union better than Baguio?

Thanks in advance!

Manila, Philippines
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732 posts
21 reviews
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1. Re: What to expect

Banaue's roads, specially the road leading to Bangaan is really "thrilling", but I guess that's part of the trip! And I hope you are not driving from Manila to Banaue. There are tour operators and public buses of course that are more experienced with these routes.

If you have to take your own vehicle, well, Baguio is lovely during Christmas, though congested, specially the always crowded SM Baguio. Session road will obviously be jampacked too, as plans for the "fake" snow machines are ongoing. But there are still a lot of lovely places. Better yet enjoy a lovely stay at Camp John Hay Manor. If you are already going to Boracay and Palawan, you may skip Subic, Zambales and La Union, in my opinion.

As for crimes against tourists - well it sounds like you're well travelled and am sure and hope you won't encounter any of that here. Just keep on your travel smarts! Always be aware of what's around you, not just because you're in the Philippines, petty thefts are all over the world. Be wary of overpricing opportunists and people offering services. During these holidays, its difficult to avoid overpricing taxis, etc.

I'm excited for you and your 10 day Palawan trip! Might unkowingly bump into you if you'll be going after Christmas as our family usually spend that season in those major Palawan resorts!

Enjoy the beauty of the Philippines!

Washington, DC
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12 posts
6 reviews
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2. Re: What to expect

Thanks, Impulsetraveler! That makes me feel a lot better!

We were thinking of hiring a private car (with driver!) to drive us to Banaue rather than taking a bus (I get car sick easily). If anyone has any recommendations, that would be truly helpful!

We'll be in Palawan for New Year - El Nido area - so if you see a couple truly enjoying themselves, be sure to say hi! We can't wait! ;-)

Makati, Philippines
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533 posts
59 reviews
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3. Re: What to expect

mabu-hey!

Impulse Traveller has pretty much covered everything...

The last time I was in Banaue was in the early 90's. We also took a trip to Sagada which was quite virginal during those times. In both occassions, we left our car in Baguio and took the bus, which almost took an eternity (almost the whole day though) but it was quite a rewarding experience which quite frankily i would rather just do once.

Hope you dont miss out on ilocos region (especially Vigan, Paoay, Batac Oily empanadas,Burgos & Mira Ira, you can fly in from Laoag, a pretty commercial but missable place especially Fort Ilocandia and the dismal pagudpud resorts). Anton Carag helms some pretty great White water rafting in the Cagayan area. Iba, Zambales, Subic and La Union are nice but pretty uneventful in my opinion. Baguio is still a sentimental fave of me and my friends (and it has one of the cutest Starbucks in the entire archipelago!) I wish i could suggest the Bicol area but since it was ravaged like New Orleans a few days ago, might not be a good idea.

El Nido is the best place and my personal favorite to be in palawan (Of course, if money is no issue then the terribly expensive but seriously dated Amanpulo will suit you quite well) SEAIR and Soriano flies into El Nido town for around USD 150-200. SEAIR has seasonal flights from Boracay to El Nido which you might want to check out. The Miniloc Resort (and posh sister Lagen featured in the Amazing Race a few seasons ago) is still tops for me (try asking if they have a balik-bayan rate or something), but there are a few other resorts in the area: the new age-vegan malacapao (not sure of the spelling) and dolarog (not sure if its operating.. heard it had some environmental issues last time).

As for Boracay.. need we say more.

Safety issues? hm, just like what impulse traveller mentioned, just keep you wits about you like anywhere else in the world. I've been to places which can be a bit scarier than Manila, like Brasil (I stuck out like a sore thumb)

A few nuissances would be, for me, taxi cabs in metro manila. Try a reputable supplier like avis or hertz, they might even give you a good rate should you get a car from them for your planned trips in the islands and get hotels with easy access to everything. (Makati or Ortigas)

anyway, have fun kids.

Manila, Philippines
13 posts
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4. Re: What to expect

I saw an ad recently in the papers about package tours to Banaue offered by Engrande Travel (which I nipped for future reference). Contact numbers: 851-0361, 453-8809 to 10, 851-1549. Apparently, they do private and bus tours.

Cebu Pacific is offering really cheap fares to Laoag (and many other cities). You might want to check that out and visit Pagudpud or go to Batanes from there.

I echo the sentiment of the others- inggit ako, your trip sounds wonderful!

5. Re: What to expect

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