Read more about the article Taal Volcano – Philippines
Taal Volcano - Philippines

Taal Volcano – Philippines

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The Smallest Active Volcano in the World

At just 7 hours after returning from Taipei back into Manila, our last day in the Philippines would become a special surprise thanks to our Philippine friends who planned this day on our backs and told us just once we were about to take the plane into Manila the night before. The magnificent Taal Volcano National Park. What best way to end this great trip than spending the last day with them and enjoying these marvellous landscapes and nature merely 2 hours south of Manila.

The heat again played against us, although I keep saying that I totally don’t mind the heat, but mind the cold. We were anyway lucky towards the afternoon, with the refreshing thunderstorm out of the sudden. Quite unexpected, but kept the rest of the day under clouds and fresh air. This is part of the magic in here, the unexpected. And not precisely talking about rain, but how about a volcanic eruption? Mind that this is one of the most active in the world, and as recent as early 2020 it has put the area on a stand-still once again.

Reaching this place is really straightforward and comfortable. For at least half of the way there is a good motorway where you need to pay several times for tolls along the way, while for the remaining of the journey this will be a single lane road in each direction. With just some traffic near one mall you will pass along the way, there seems to be no complication at all. (more…)

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Read more about the article Boracay – Philippines
Boracay - Philippines

Boracay – Philippines

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White Beach: One of the top 10 beaches in the world

On our next move within the Philippines we travelled southwest of the country to this little piece of paradise, the island of Boracay. Barely 4 months since I was in another piece of paradise at the other side of the planet, 15500 kilometres to the west of Boracay, 15000 of them being the vast of the Pacific Ocean; San Pedro Ambergris in Belize (or La Isla Bonita as it is better known). Thankfully in this occasion weather made a huge difference to what was back then in the Caribbean with a horrible one! Although our second day was quite cloudy I have to admit it was even a relief after the intense heat and unbearable sun from the first day.

The island of Boracay is located in the region called Western Visayas. It’s so small that the nearest airports are on the larger neighbouring island of Panay, but easily to commute from/to as described in the transport section below.

It rapidly boomed in tourism being one of the most visited islands in the Philippines without doubts for its worldwide renown pristine beaches of fine white sand and turquoise waters. But something almost the 100% of first time visitors to the Philippines do not know is that there are by far much better islands and beaches elsewhere across the countless the country is formed of. (more…)

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Read more about the article Laoag, Paoay and Santa Maria – Philippines
Laoag, Paoay and Santa Maria - Philippines

Laoag, Paoay and Santa Maria – Philippines

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City of Lights

On our next move in the Philippines after Manila we head to the northern region of Ilocos Norte, flying to it’s capital city, Laoag, where the only commercial airport for the whole region is located. We knew the night we landed and the following day would be extremely packed with a very explicit visit of Laoag in the night, Paoay in the morning, then the drive south towards Vigan, highlight for this trip but not before an unexpected surprise stop over by Pangil, an ancient dead coral reef and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Santa Maria Church; passing through countless tobacco fields plantations and beautiful landscapes; then back again towards Laoag for a late evening departure flight to Manila.

So right upon landing, our friend came to pick us from the airport and gave us a small tour around the landmarks of Laoag. Few minutes after we were already on way to the neighbouring village of Paoay where we drop our bags at the hotel and then enjoyed an amazing Northern Philippine dinner where we sampled the incredibly good Ilocano dishes. That was a great feast! We will always keep these great memories!

So here they are the key reasons in getting to this region: meeting my friend in Paoay, its World Heritage listed church, and of course, getting to visit the best preserved and almost untouched Spanish-Oriental colonial city in Asia, Vigan, a fascinating city like no other, and yet another UNESCO site visited in our growing list.


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Read more about the article Manila – Philippines
Manila - Philippines

Manila – Philippines

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The Pearl of the Orient

Finally the date has come! 10 months waiting for this moment since we booked our tickets, now a reality. And thankfully as we found a good air fare in hotukdeals app on our phones (remember you can also check the website version here, just type flights in the search box). Although originally on a split flight from London to Abu Dhabi with Etihad, and Abu Dhabi to Manila on Philippine Airlines (both companies do code-share on this route); the flight times dramatically changed for the Philippine Airlines leg meaning we could not make the connecting flight in Abu Dhabi on time. Luckily for us in this case, Philippine Airlines re-booked us instead on the direct London to Manila which they recently introduced.

If you are the kind of person who cannot sleep on long haul flights then try to make everything possible to get some sleep on the outbound flight, always any flight from west to east; otherwise the jet lag will be definitely terrible. If you can or have someone who can get for you some sleeping tablets then that’s a good bet however needless to say careful with it and mind the doses. This flight is among one of the longest direct in the world, and to this date the longest I’ve ever done. And it was our lucky day, we managed entire 4 seats rows for each of us since the outbound flight was half empty.

Our plan on this trip was not only visiting Manila, but some other places during the 9 days in total we stayed across the Philippines and Taiwan. For instance, our stay in Manila was shortened to 2 days on our arrival and a last one before our departure back home. The rest of the places we would visit are Taal, Laoag, Paoay, Santa Maria, Vigan, Boracay and Taipei.


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