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Be frivolous. Be brave.

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Day 1 Highlights

Rai Maneesorn (Sunflower Field)

Midwinter Green Khao Yai (Restaurant)

Day 2 Highlights

Khao Yai National Park (Important Information)

Khao Yai 30km. View Point (in Khao Yai National Park)

Dinner at ครัวหญ้าคาเขาใหญ่ (Thai Restaurant)

Day 3 Highlights

Palio Khao Yai

The Chocolate Factory Khao Yai

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

TIPS?!

IGTV

Best time to visit Khao Yai:End November to Early January
Recommended length of visit at Khao Yai:~ 3 nights (max. 4 nights at best, and really stretching it!)

With the constant advertisements on the things to do beyond Bangkok city itself, we have places like Hua Hin (~ 2.5 hours from Bangkok) and Khao Yai (~ 3 hours from Bangkok) popping up every so often. Which reminds me, I should probably start working on my Hua Hin article soon huh. 😀

Khao Yai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Khao Yai National Park is the third largest and probably the most visited! If you were to do a quick google image search on Khao Yai, you would probably see quaint-looking buildings that you would not believe they are actually located in Thailand. The buildings / hotels are designed to make you feel like you are in some European scene immersed in lush green calmness. Well, at least that was my impression of Khao Yai even before I went. Oh and also not to forget the amazing sunflower fields filling the entire vista!

J and I trying to catch the sunlight.

There are so many luxurious themed hotels that will take your breath away and be just spoil for choices, so I will not delve into that. Let me bring you through my 4D3N stay at Khao Yai – things in my itinerary you can probably forgo and things that are must dos!

Day 1 Highlights: Rai Maneesorn (Sunflower Field)

Operating Hours:07 00 – 18 00 daily
Entrance Fee:Foreigner: 80 Baht / pax

Local Adult: 40 Baht / pax

Local Child: 20 Baht / pax

(collection of fee happens at the carparking area; someone will signal you to wind down your window and pay up as you are parking your vehicle)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 – 2 hours

(depending on how intense you want your sunflower selfie game to be)
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

We arrived at the sunflower field at about 16 30. Considering that the sun would be setting in about 1.5 hours’ time, there were not many visitors. The evening air was cooling and crisp! There was not much I could ask for. Everyone could find their own little spot around the big vast field to have plentiful of beautiful pictures with the sunflowers and not be obstructed. The distant sunset as the backdrop added an awesome texture to the whole peripheral vision I must say!

You will not be stopped by anyone when you step onto and between the rows of sunflowers on the planting field. Just make sure you are gracious enough to do not pluck, destroy or stomp on any sunflowers in the process! 😀

As there are not much shady areas to hide from the sultry afternoon sun, I suggest visiting the field in the morning or evening! I would prefer the evening.

This sunflower field is a must visit place when in Khao Yai. You have to make sure you do not miss it!

Day 1 Highlights: Midwinter Green Khao Yai (Restaurant)

Operating Hours:10 00 – 22 00 daily
Personal Breakdown Rating: (out of 5)Ambience 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Food Quality 🙂 🙂
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):~ 1150 Baht

(This also depends on what exactly you are order. We had 2 mains and 2 sides.)

The WOW factor of course came from the ambience. I have to say it is probably one of the most romantic dinner spots I have seen, especially the outdoor seating – which by the way, has people queuing for. We decided to take the indoor seating as it was a pretty cold night and I was already freezing my arse off just walking from the parking lot all the way to the restaurant.

Outside Midwinter Green restaurant.

The outdoor seating took my breath away with its dim lightings and candles on each table. There was also a stage outside with a live band. I would say it would make a perfect date night! However, being me, I could not appreciate it that much as I wonder how long would anyone’s bowl of cream of mushroom soup remain hot out in the cold? 15 seconds or less? Haha! 😀

The restaurant’s property is amazingly lit. Alas, food wise… … I would say for the price I paid for, it was definitely going to the ambience. I could get better food with such a price point elsewhere I reckon, but of course that is just my opinion.

Unless you just want to splurge and have a chill expensive dinner night out, I would think you can just give this restaurant a miss.

Khao Yai National Park (Important Information)

Address:There are 2 entrances into Khao Yai National Park.

Khao Yai National Park Southern Fee Entrance Station
Noen Hom, Mueang Prachinburi District, Prachin Buri 25230, Thailand

Khao Yai National Park Northern Fee Entrance Station
Lam Takhong Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand

I would reckon most of us would be coming in from the Northern entrance as most accommodations are located there.
Operating Hours of  Khao Yai National Park:06 00 – 18 00 daily
Entrance Fee: (one-time payment into the park will allow you to see all the sights within the park)Adult Foreigner: 400 Baht / pax

Child Foreigner: 200 Baht / pax

Local Adult: 40 Baht / pax

Local Child: 20 Baht / pax

NOTE: Entrance ticket is only valid for 1 day. If you are setting up camp or staying in some bungalows in the National Park, then the ticket is valid for 3 days!
Recommended length of visit:~ 6 – 8 hours
Overall Personal Rating of National Park: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (a brush of fresh air in the outskirts)

Day 2 Highlights: Haew Suwat Waterfall (in Khao Yai National Park)

Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

We were there at about 09 00 and there were already quite a handful of people. From the parking lot, we had to walk 200 m on uneven ground and down a series of flight of stairs. Definitely wearing firm gripping shoes is much needed.

You need to navigate through loose rocks underfoot and boulders before having the waterfall directly right in front of you.

To get a more artistic angle of the waterfall, venture further towards a mini cave-like indent on the right. Not much people would manoeuvre their way there, so you have quite a bit of personal space to enjoy the waterfall!

This sight was definitely a nice way to start the cold morning!

Day 2 Highlights: Haew Narok Waterfall (in Khao Yai National Park)

Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

We were there at about noon,  and oh boy the crowd was man insane. By this time, the weather was not very forgiving. The humidity, together with the mosquitoes, were starting to get to our skin.

We started with a gentle descend on concrete ground for about 10 minutes followed by crossing a wooden bridge. There was a rest point and a viewing area of the river before a flight of steps up.

View from the wooden bridge.

Thereafter, we had to make our way down a series of incredibly narrow steep steps to the viewing deck of the waterfall. Good thing there were handle bars on each side for people to have an additional grip, as it can be proven a challenge for some visitors.

There is no rush, so just take your time to make your way there!

Comparing Haew Suwat Waterfall and this waterfall, I would prefer the earlier. I guess the part of manoeuvring through the boulders and getting into the little cave-like indent still gets to me instead of just mere viewing the waterfall from the top deck down.

On a side note, not related to this waterfall… …We settled for a simple lunch at Noen Homme Café (just outside Khao Yai National Park, exiting the Khao Yai National Park Southern Fee Entrance Station), about 15 minutes’ drive from the waterfall.

Oh I have to say, their sliced cake was so so good. I am not sure if it was because I was so hungry, but it was really good. Haha! 😀

Day 2 Highlights: Khao Yai 30km. View Point (in Khao Yai National Park)

Mountainous vista from view point.
Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 20 minutes
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

After speaking with Noen Homme Café owner, we took a longer respite and decided to forgo the other attractions that was planned. She recommended that we headed back as the sun was setting and the drive to the Khao Yai National Park Northern Fee Entrance Station was a distance away. She mentioned that wild animals tend to start roaming at dusk and can be a little dangerous.

Hence, we decided to just take our time to drive back to our accommodation up North now that we had quite a bit of time to spare having forgo an attraction or two!

This viewing point was unplanned. There were many cars parked on the side, and that caught our attention. We decided to follow suit and did not regret it! The view was amazingly calming! You can see the distant hills and the valley just below. It was evening and the cool breeze now envelopes the surroundings. A nice way to end of a day trip in Khao Yai National Park!

Day 2 Highlights: Dinner at ครัวหญ้าคาเขาใหญ่ (Thai Restaurant)

Address:101/3 หมู่5 ตำบลหมูสี ปากช่อง Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
Operating Hours:10 00 – 20 00 daily
Personal Breakdown Rating: (out of 5)Ambience 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Food Quality 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):~ 425 Baht (this also depends on what exactly you are order)
For only 2 girls, we sure did order a hell load!

It was a random Google searched restaurant just 5 minutes’ drive from our accommodation. We wanted to eat something local. For the price range and quality of Thai dishes, I would imperatively say I would go back again. Really not a bad Thai restaurant! Yum yum! Ah how I miss Thai food!

Day 3 Highlights: Palio Khao Yai

Operating Hours:Sunday – Thursday (08 30 – 21 00)
Saturday & Public Holiday (08 30 – 22 00)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1.5 – 2 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

We started the day by ambling through a shopping complex that is Tuscan village-themed. I would say there are probably only 3 reasons for you to decide on heading to Palio Khao Yai.

Uno: You are into little handmade trinkets and quirky-looking items for gifts and souvenirs.

Dos: You want a nice place to relax and have a cuppa; soaking up the chill Sunday vibes.

Tres: You want to have an Instagram-worthy shot or shots.

If you want none of the above, I would say just give this a miss. You are not really missing out. Haha! I would not go back to this place again. Not because it is not nice, but I guess themed places maybe isn’t my cuppa, if you know what I mean. Of course, if you are referring to themed parks then that’s totally different! 😀

But I must say this place would definitely score you some insta-worthy shots! That’s for sure!

Day 3 Highlights: The Chocolate Factory Khao Yai

Operating Hours:09 30 – 21 30 daily
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):Approx. typical pricing in a café.

Aye… … I do not know how to put this gently, so just ‘no’ would suffice. That is basically all I can say. Unless you want to buy chocolates home as gifts or even just for yourself, I would not come here. I do not know if the chocolates are nice, because they do not give out samples, but J did bought like a couple back.

Her review and direct quote? ‘It’s not a must buy. Just buy for fun… …to show your support and presence there (Khao Yai).’

Well… ok my darlings, if you want to show your support for local products, then I guess, go right ahead.

We did not dine at the restaurant, just at the café, and had ordered 2 items off their menu. I suggested ordering a third item afterward, not because they were good, but because I wanted to wash down the previously 2 items ordered. It was just not to our taste.

I would say if you love After You Dessert Café in Bangkok, then just stick with that. You can skip this.

Day 3 Highlights: PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

Operating Hours:Sunday – Thursday (08 00 – 20 00)
Friday & Saturday (08 00 – 22 00)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1.5 – 2 hour

(if you are dining at the restaurant, then of course it would be longer)
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Other than the sunflower field which I was excited for, visit to this winery was also one of the top things I was looking forward to! I have never been on a vineyard, so I guess new experiences are always refreshing!

PB Valley Estate is the largest vineyard in Khao Yai. The Estate has wine tasting tours that includes a professional guided tour around the vineyard and the explanation about the various wines and grapes.

Guided tours are conducted 6 times daily, and it is about 70 minutes. For more details and booking, click here.

J and I on a working tractor, mind you. Haha!

We took the latest tour slot. I would suggest for that as it is much cooling in the evening and fewer people as well. You could also end off your tour with dinner at the restaurant!

TIPS?!

1If you want to visit the sunflower field, then December is the golden month for you. We went during the first week of December. The flowers bloomed perfectly and plentiful! As we were driving around Khao Yai, we saw many other smaller sunflower patches, so it was not only at Rai Maneesorn.
2We did not fully explore Khao Yai National Park, as it is pretty huge. However, there is one sight I thought it would be nice if we had gone to. Khao Chiew Viewpoint (Pha Diew Dai Cliff). Maybe you can check that out and see it for yourself! 😀

IGTV

I would say this mini road trip to Khao Yai was quite an all rounded one; covering some waterfall attractions, a sunflower field and a vineyard. If you are looking for a sweet escape from Bangkok’s city buzz, then Khao Yai is definitely a scene for you!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

For now, let’s just stay home until it is safe.

Dee

Be frivolous. Be brave.

TravelWhenever

How to get around

Purchase Angkor Pass

Day 1 Highlights

Pre Rup Temple

Banteay Srei Temple

Angkor Wat Temple

Day 2 Highlights

Ta Prohm Temple

Bayon Temple

TIPS?!

Operating Hours: Most temples: 07 30 – 17 30 daily
Angkor Wat Temple & Srah Srang: 05 00 – 17 30 daily
Phnom Bakheng & Pre Rup: 05 00 – 19 00 daily
Entrance Fee: 1 Day Angkor Pass: USD $37
3 Days Angkor Pass: USD $62
7 Days Angkor Pass: USD $72
Children under 12 are not required to purchase a pass.
Passport needs to be presented for verification.
Recommended length of visit: ~ 2 Full Days
(depending on how intense you want to immerse yourself into the temple enigma)

My first time in Cambodia was never meant to be the main vacation destination per se. You see, we were travelling from Vietnam and were making our way to Thailand, and hence, we decided, alright… … why not just spend some time in Cambodia.

And so… … probably the shortest layover I had, we spend less than 48 hours in Siem Reap. We knew we had so much grounds to cover in such short time span. We really had to narrow down on our picks at the Angkor Archaeological Park. In hindsight, I reckoned we did make the best out of it! Though I wished I had more time to really immerse in the sunrise at certain temples. But oh well, there is always next time.

How to get around?

Our tuk tuk driver at the airport, whom we randomly picked out of a sea of other persistent taxi and tuk tuk drivers, turned out to be our main, well… … ONLY source of getting around during our less than 48 hours layover in Siem Reap.

After haggling hard over prices, we got ourselves a sweet private alfresco ride for USD $43; 2 days around anywhere within the Angkor Archaeological Park. We also got him to recommend a decent lunch spot for respite that was along the way to the sights. I would say, it was a pretty good deal.

The tuk tuk drivers near the Angkor region are pretty experienced. All we had to do was to tell our driver what were our narrowed down sights we were interested, and he would map out the best route for us!

Our driver, Mr Heang, was very patient as he waited for us at each temple site. And you do know, when girls snap photos, the wait can be long. REAL long. 😀 He was also accommodating when we wanted to stop over for lunch and wanted to do a little browsing at the shop nearby for clothes and souvenirs etc. Being very observant, we were always in awe by how he always manage to spot us amongst the horde of people. We would be at the entrance of the temple site, barely a few seconds in, scanning through the buzzing crowd, and he would already be waving at us or sometimes calling out to us.

So anyone who is going to embark on their temple exploration at the Angkor Archaeological Park, can hit Mr Heang up at (+855) 096 88 31034. This is in no way sponsored. I just thought he was a nice guy, his service was pretty much great and he gave good price! So yeah! 🙂

Purchase Angkor Pass

Before entering the park, the driver brought us to the official ticketing counters get our Angkor Pass. I know of some websites stating that you could purchase your Angkor Pass online, however, from my understanding, this online option has not be officially rolled out by Angkor Enterprise. Hence, if you do purchase your pass online, I guess it would be at your own risk.

My humble suggestion would be for you to just get your driver to take you to the official Angkor Park Pass Ticket Counters. The counter staff are really efficient. We were there at around 10 am, and did not take long at all to get our pass.

The 1 Day Angkor Pass was a slightly more popular option, so that queue was a little longer. That would be something to consider if you are going for this option.

Day 1 Highlights: Pre Rup Temple

Pre rup is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It was built in 961 AD. Being the first attraction of the day, we were imperatively mesmerised by the whole Indiana Jones vibe it was exhuming. From afar, we were greeted by 3 main towers. You could head up to the upper platform for a nice elevated angle via the long flight of stairs. The intricate details of the ruin pillars together with the brick walls made this whole walk through out of this world.

What I love about this site was that it was not as crowded as the other temples. We were there at about 10.30 am, it was quite peaceful. We spend about an 1 hour marvelling and snapping shots. 😀

Day 1 Highlights: Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei is also a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This temple definitely has more complex stone carvings than Pre Rup. Because of the elaborate carvings, it was said that it was craved by the hands of women, as these were too fine for the hand of a man.

Compared to Pre Rup, I was even more enraptured with Banteay Srei. I guess it has to be the labyrinthine corridors and walkways through nicely carved doors and steps that made this whole experience magical. I felt like I could lose myself in this maze. Not literally, of course.

We spend about 1.5 hours here.

Day 1 Highlights: Angkor Wat Temple

And of course no one would ever miss Angkor Wat when here at the Angkor Archaeological Park; no matter how touristy this temple is! Most people would come for the sunrise. But it is just as amazing if you could look beyond the crowd and pay attention to the small details of the monument.

Take time to look at the ceiling and the pillars. Some of them have inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Khmer. This temple can be difficult to grasp because of the vastness and many pathways leading you to new findings. To really explore every corner of Angkor Wat, you most certainty need ample time. Alas, time was definitely something we did not have. For this, I would say this would be my first stop if I ever would to come back!

We spend about 2.5 hours here.

Day 2 Highlights: Ta Prohm Temple

Now this is by far, in my opinion, the most jaw-dropping sight here at the Angkor Archaeological Park. This temple saw a surge in popularity ever since it appeared in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, back in 2001. Build as a Buddhist monastery, Ta Prohm has traditional Khmer structures.

What makes this temple so out-of-this-world unique is how the Cambodian jungle managed to get itself intertwined with the structure of the temple. Silk-cotton and fig trees took root between the loosened stones that made the temple foundation, forming what we now see: a seamless merger of nature and man-made. It was indeed an overwhelming sight!

Though we felt we could and would love to spend more time here, we only took a mere 40 minutes. It was only slightly past 9 and not even 10, but the crowd was really starting to populate the compound and it was starting to get a little claustrophobic. We decided to take our leave.

Day 2 Highlights: Bayon Temple

Known as the ‘face temple’, for a very obvious reason. The iconic peaceful smiling looking visages you will espy from any and every angle as you amble around Bayon Temple can take you to another level, literally. At times you have stone carved heads glaring down at you, and at times, these head would be at your peripheral vision.

Make your way to the upper tier to have a better view, and soak in the serenity of the 200 faces from all angles, which are the emblem of inner peace.

I was not really sure what was the occasion, or this temple is really a popular tourist site, but the horde of crowd that flooded this temple was beyond words. We too only took a mere 40 minutes. It was roughly 10 odd in the morning. So FYI for your travel planning!

TIPS?!

1 If you are planning to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, then purchase your Angkor Pass the day before. Any Angkor Pass sold after 5 pm is valid for the next day. You do not want to be stuck in an insane queue just to get your pass and then rushing to Angkor Wat to catch the sunrise. It would be too much stress to handle in the morning ya?
2Apparently the dress code has become more stringent over the years, and the guards working do enforce this pretty strong now. Wearing tank tops, bare shoulders tops, shorts and skirts that show flesh above the knees are considered disrespectful. So probably don’t take the risk, and bring a shawl for cover up if needed. Or just don’t wear any of those.
3If you want avoid great loads of people wandering the temples alongside you, then I suggest you start your adventure early? I would say 7 would be a good time to start. Though to face facts, there is no way to avoid the crowd when you are at Angkor Wat any time of the day.

Even though we might have seen countless pictures of the Angkor temples, nothing ever comes close to the actual experience of seeing them and walking through the monument yourself. Every temple has a different story to tell, and to say which is the best, or the must see, is really subjective. All I could say is, I have no regrets narrowing down to these 5 temples.

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there? + TIPS?!

Getting around Bohol Island? + TIPS?!

Place to stay? Henann Resort Alona Beach

Sights & Sounds on Bohol Island? Bohol Countryside Tour!

Dumaluan Beach

Manmade Forest

Chocolate Hills

Hanging Bridge

Hinagdanan Cave

Bohol! A little island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region. Its capital? Tagbilaran City!

Since we were travelling around Cebu (which is another island province to the West of Bohol), we decided to spend a few days exploring this nearby area where the major geographic landmark attraction lies in Carmen, Bohol; the Chocolate Hills!

 

How to get there? + TIPS?!

Option #1: Cebu City to Bohol

If you are going straight to Bohol from Cebu city, then this is quite a hassle- free option!

Take a metered- taxi from your hotel stay in the city or from the airport and get the driver to take you to the ferry terminal. As there are a few ferry terminals in Cebu city, let the driver know you are heading to Bohol, so he could direct you to the right ferry terminal that actually has ferry services that operate from Cebu city to Bohol.

If I did recall correctly, the taxi ride costs about 60(ish) pesos from our hotel at Best Western Plus Lex Cebu to the ferry terminal. It was definitely less than 100 pesos for sure.

We were brought straight to the ferry ticketing booths. There were a few ferry companies to choose from, with a wide selection of timings (clearly pasted at the front booths), comfort levels (wider seats, etc.), and duration of the ferry journey.

We took OceanJet.

Since the ferry ride is at most 2 hours long, we weren’t particular about which ferry company to choose. As long as we could get to Bohol the quickest, we were pretty cool with any!

Option #2: Cebu City to Liloan (Santander) to Dumaguete to Bohol

So if you are already travelling around Cebu, and obviously deviating far from Cebu City, then this option is really feasible! I stand by this!

I usually do not like to retract my steps, and I would try to find all sort of ways not to do so, unless I really can’t find any viable option. But, fret not, in this case I have found it!

It really does save you a hell load of travelling time as compared to you heading back to Cebu City AGAIN (which, mind you, is an approximately 4 hours bus ride if you start from Santander- South end of Cebu island), and to take Option #1 when travelling to Bohol!

‘Cause is there a saying that goes something like this- if you are riding with the locals, then you ain’t doing it wrong?! Right? 😀

So here goes… …

If you are travelling from Cebu city to explore other parts of Cebu (countryside) along the way… …

Then, from your city accommodation, take a metered- taxi to the Cebu South Bus Terminal; located near Elizabeth Mall. Get the AIR-CON bus tickets as the price difference is really not that much anyway!

These bright yellow Ceres public buses are by far the cheapest mode of transportation around Cebu, and are really hard to miss! Get on the bus that is bound for Oslob-Liloan Terminal or Liloan Port (you can stop at small villages en route to Liloan). The place you should be looking to alight is at Liloan Port. This is a mini bus and ferry port a.k.a Puerto Del Sur Passenger Terminal, Lilo-an Santander Cebu. You do not need to be afraid as to where you should alight because this Liloan Port is the terminal end for the Ceres bus!

If you are travelling from anywhere else in Cebu, but not from Cebu city… …

Then, just make sure you take any Ceres bus that is bound for Liloan Port or hire a private driver if you really want to ensure you are heading the right way. Ask your accommodation staff or any locals for help on which bus to board, I am sure they would help.

Liloan Port where you can purchase your ferry tickets to Dumaguete! The ferry would disembark at Sibulan Terminal over at Dumaguete.

Click here for ferry schedule from Liloan Port to Sibulan Terminal (vice versa).

Do take advantage of the fact that you are already at Dumaguete, and spend a day exploring the city! Take the first (and probably the only) ferry out to Bohol the following day!

It’s a definite win-win situation! You get to explore more places, en route to Bohol, without even backtracking! Yay! 😀

To ensure you do not miss your limited ferry ride out to Bohol, check out the ferry departure timings and its prices for OceanJet here!

TIPS?!

1

Don’t buy ferry tickets in advance!

There may bound to have ferry cancellations for who knows what reasons; you never know right? Hence, I feel there is no need to purchase your ferry tickets much earlier, online or what not.

If you have the intent to leave for Bohol, then just purchase the tickets then and there.

2

Check ferry departure timings online first!

Ferry operating companies, just like any airline flight companies, usually have departure timing schedules and price quotations on their official websites, along with the dates you would like to board.

So double check the timings prior, and head down to the ferry terminal slightly earlier to purchase the tickets to avoid missing a ferry and having to wait a long while for the next one.

3

Bring loads of seasick candies!

If you are a person who is easily down with motion sickness like me, go get yourself a bag or two (or three even, you never know 🙁 ) of sour gummies- gummy bears, gummy worms, anything sour!

The ride may be only about 2 hours, but it could be the most antagonising 2 hours of hell if you are nausea throughout. What I like to do is force sleep if possible, and if it doesn’t work (which usually it does work), then sour candy stuffing is my next best alternative.

 

Getting around Bohol Island? + TIPS?!

Getting around Bohol is ain’t as cheap in my opinion as there ain’t many taxis available once away from the capital; Tagbilaran City.

Upon disembarking the ferry either coming from Cebu city or Dumaguete, you would be greeted very welcomingly by private tour representatives, private drivers, hotel transfer staff from various hotels around, etc. It was extremely overwhelming I would say.

We didn’t arrange any hotel transfer thinking we could definitely get a taxi somewhere near the wharf. Well, it turns out taxi drivers love quoting prices way over the roof, and they refuse to go by the metered pricing. And well, there ain’t that many taxis around either. So either you get into the overpriced taxi, engaged a private driver or get the hotel transfer which obviously ain’t cheap as you pay for security I guess.

So how to get a good cheap(er) deal?

TIPS?!- Getting CHEAP(ER) HOTEL TRANSFER!

The key lies in your observation skills! Look for OTHER hotel transfer drivers with signboard of their guest names. These are drivers on official work duty to pick their guests from the wharf and back to the hotel safely.

What you need to do is to speak with these drivers and tell them you are going to whichever hotel you have booked. They will then quote you a price, and obviously you will have to say a flat,’NO.’ Then, ‘walk over’ to another hotel transfer driver, and try again. Usually within the first try, the first driver you spoke to earlier would budge and deduce the price. And if you still find it too pricey, and you can reject. #actofhaggling

Usually you would not need to reject them at all, because what they quote the second time is usually quite reasonable. What they are doing now is earning a quick buck using the company car. So either way, it is a win-win for everyone! Plus, it’s a added win for you because you will obviously and definitely be the first to alight at your hotel/resort! I mean, the driver cannot possibly be seen with non-guests in the company car right?

So there you have it, cheap(er) rates for hotel transfer from the wharf. The driver wins with extra earned pocket money, and so do you!

1. Taxi/ Tricycle within the capital; Tagbilaran City ONLY

Whilst travelling through Tagbilaran City, we saw taxis and tricycles (motorbikes with an attached passenger seating) here and there. Though not a lot like what you would see in Bangkok, Thailand, but it was definitely more compared to the other parts on Bohol island.

Taxis here are not metered- taxis, so remember to haggle if you need to before getting into one. Usually they quote prices double the metered- pricing. Tricycles work the same way.

2. Rent a motorbike

If I knew how to ride one, I would gladly use this mode of transportation. It is so much cheaper, and it’s basically a road trip through Bohol on two wheels! Yes, please!

But, alas, I know nuts about riding one. Maybe I should really consider learning.

3. Engage a private van/car

This is by far the easiest, idiot proof way to go. Though pricey, it was the best and fastest mode of transportation, aside motorbiking of course.

How this works is that you engage a private car driver (or a van, if you have a group of people), tell him where you want to go, and he will take you there. Basically, you plan your own tour itinerary around Bohol countryside, with your own personal ‘chauffeur’.

The ‘chauffeur’ did tell us his recommended itinerary, however, we just eliminated those that we found not as appealing and replaced them with sights/spots we wanted. Hence, I find this very flexible. It’s like a road trip, just that you are not behind the wheels. Talk about having the ‘princess treatment’, which I clearly do not need, but oh well, blame it on me not being able to ride a motorbike! I guess there’s always a hefty price to pay for being a ‘princess’ with a personal ‘chauffeur’.

We jammed packed as much countryside seeing within the time frame we engaged the chauffer’, which is a whole day affair from 9 am – 5 pm.

More of the countryside tour is down below… …

4. Ride the public bus

Unless you have all the time in the world, I do not ever suggest this mode of transport. It would take you ages to travel from one attraction to the next. So really, don’t even bother.

Either you get yourself the ‘princess treatment’ and engage a private driver, or ride a motorbike! Or just go on one of those group tours, if you do not want to plan your own itinerary.

5. Walking burns calories

And if all else fails, then well, the cheapest mode of transportation is your legs. Haha! #workthosecalories

 

Place to stay? Henann Resort Alona Beach

Cleanliness of room

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Location of resort

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Facilities

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service of staff

🙂

Morning buffet spread

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Overall Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

This is by far the most lavish stay we had when in the Philippines. Which honestly, it is worth every penny we chipped in. Putting their staff service aside, this resort left us in awe, and still do. With a massive resort layout, and way too many swimming pools (not complaining here) that just awash the ground level, this resort just makes you believe you are living in celestial heaven. Just ethereal!

This is a new resort. During our stay, there was an entire block of rooms still under renovation. The best thing is all the facilities are well and running, so it really doesn’t affect the guests at current. I reckoned it was why the rates we got for the room ain’t as expensive as it would be, since the resort is still in the midst of rolling out.

Room type we stayed in

Superior Room
Rate/night (USD $)

114.96

The triumph card this resort has, I would say, is its location. Alona beach is very strategically located at the resort’s very own ‘backyard’! With limited transportation available on Bohol island, oh man, this is a definite plus point!

We got to waste the afternoon and night away by the beach, and not worry about transport back. Furthermore, there are many seaside restaurants just within minutes of sauntering along the beach. Indulge in a seafood feast, or enjoy a nice pizza, there are way too many food options here to satisfy your dinner cravings!

And if you are lucky, night street flame performers would get your adrenaline pumping and totally knock your socks off in admiration! To add on to the fun, and if you are a real daredevil, just volunteer yourself to be part of the flame throwing act! Now, that would be an experience you would remember for sure! 😀

Well, I guess this is a classic case of minimal service, and yet customers/guests would still return for all the other ‘perks’ the resort offers. And by ‘perks’, I really do mean the awesome location!

Sights & Sounds on Bohol Island? Bohol Countryside Tour!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0KDYDVJwMY[/youtube]

Rate (PHP $)

2900/ hired car (4 seater)
Duration

09  00 – 17 00

 

Dumaluan Beach

Dumaluan beach was definitely more happening than over at Alona beach. Crazy as this sounds, but it was true. Happening in the sense that more people are swimming in the water, more children are playing by the coast, and well, the sum it all; the day vibe was just much more upbeat! However, if you prefer a more night party scene, then Alona beach is more your groove.

Personally, I prefer Dumaluan beach. I am more of a day person. Haha!

 

Manmade Forest

The manmade mahogany forest stretches across 2 km. It is located between Loboc town and Bilar town, and it is the main road way en route to the long awaited Chocolate Hills at Carmen town! Basically, this was more of a pit stop!

The tall, similar height and densely planted mahogany trees were the corollary of the 1960s National Reforestation Program! So I guess, the people of the present are indeed reaping the benefits of the past!

Once in the canopy of the mahogany trees, the view was pretty much surreal when looking up! And with very few cars passing, snapping pictures in the middle of the road was really pretty much just a norm! Haha! 😀

 

Chocolate Hills

Entry fee/pax (PHP $)

50

And the long awaited Chocolate Hills at Carmen town! I saw this on Google whilst researching, and this definitely got my heart intertwined!

I loved pictures of them when they were all stained chocolaty during the dry season (late November to May), and when they were lush green on wetter season. Either way, it was just perfect to be looking at them under the bright illuminating natural sunlight when I was there!

So obviously we had to work for our views, and climbed a long flight of stairs; which would then open up to the viewing point of the Chocolate Hills! Magnificent!

TIPS?!

We each had to pay the entrance fee before the car could even advance further for us to alight. A receipt, together with orange stamp-looking coupons, would be presented to you.

Keep the receipt as the ticketing guy would have already noted your hired car license plate number on it. After you are done swooning over the Chocolate Hills, you could present the receipt to the booth near the area you alighted prior. They would then alert your hired driver to come get you!

The area is kind of small for all visitors’ cars to be parking there, so they use this system of relay!

 

Hanging Bridge

Entry fee/pax (PHP $)

20

According to some websites, this bridge at Sevilla town (which in my opinion, is hugely misleading and exaggerating) is said to be the ‘most dangerous’ bridge to cross. Well… … I embarrassingly believed those websites, and thought to myself, “Oh yes! A little adrenaline rush? Why not? Let’s do this!”

Well, if I had knew it was going to be like how I had experienced it, well… … Let’s just say, I would not go back for seconds. #justsaying

I mean it’s not that terrible. It’s just a… … Bridge. That. You. Cross… … -.-‘

There are some minor pit holes which your slipper could get caught in, and when you walk through the bamboo deck, the bridge would sway. With added people on it, the swaying gets rougher. Oh yeah… … But that was just about it. Nothing too adrenaline-rush-worthy.

Not to mention, every step you take, the bamboo deck might cave in a little under your weight (which is pretty normal, unless you are weightless that is). So I really don’t see the deal here. I don’t know, that’s probably just me. Maybe to others, it is quite scary. After all, I did hear screams.

There are two bridges, which allows you to move only in one direction (to and fro).

One for you to cross over to the other side of the Sipatan River, where there is a mini shop selling souvenirs and fresh coconut water, and the other bridge is for you to cross back. This really reduces the human traffic on the bridge, which makes it so much safer.

So no worries! Pretty much safe! That is… … Unless you are afraid of dogs like J. Haha! I recall there was a brown spotted white dog, just aimlessly crossing the bridge to and fro, and that totally got J’s legs to jelly mode on the bridge. It was hilarious.

To think that she could still help me snap some shots; kudos to her for being such a good sport! I wanted to snap some of her but I guess she just wanted to get the hell off the bridge with her jelly legs! Haha! 😀

 

Hinagdanan Cave

Entry fee/pax (PHP $)

25 (without swimming)
Car parking (PHP $)

15/car

If you have been to caves in Vietnam, then you would know Hinagdanan Cave is not even close. However, I would say this is a humble substitute? There is an option for swimming in the lagoon, and the entry fee to that would be slightly more than PHP $25.

There would be local guides loitering around the entrance of the cave offering to take you for a tour in the cave. If you do not want one, then remember to politely decline, or else they will tag alongside you into the cave, and oh hey, you just might have gotten yourself a guide in the cave. Haha!

The cave is small to not get lost in, hence, in my opinion, there is no need for a guide at all. If you are planning for a lagoon swim, be prepared to be photographed by other visitors who are in there. There is no such thing as a private swimming affair in the small cave, just for you information.

Overall, I would say this limestone cave on Panglao Island in Bohol is a refreshing start to a series of cave exploration around the world?

Carpe diem, you never know what the future would bring, so remember to Travel Whenever and start exploring!

Dee

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

Route: Ronny Creek–> Crater Falls –> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Walks in the Cradle Mountain region are very walkers’ friendly I would say. With so many route options available leading to the same destination (as the saying goes, “All roads lead to Rome”, well in this case, “All tracks lead to a virtually impeccable landscape”), it’s no wonder we found ourselves revisiting the same spot again, just via a different trail each time.

You can choose your route base on your level of fitness and endurance, hence you will not be missing out on the spectacular vista and feeling all despondent because of the lack of fitness profiency.

You will be amaze by what each trail has to offer! Every trail opens up to a whole new world of alpine scrubs, meadows and tannin stained streams and lakes.

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Going via this route was sort unplanned as it was a wrong turn made on our part. However, it was definitely a mistake well made. It was also this route where I saw cute “Christopher Columnus” and his family.

This route passing by Lake Lilla has many uneven rocky sections. But definitely a trail to stumble across with many tiny streams of tannin waters that really looked so refreshing as it glistens under the Summer sky. Totally sparkly gorgeous!

I remember a really long and arduous flight of steps we had to surmount as we journeied towards Wombat Pool (or was it passing by Wombat Pool-I cannot remember vividly.). A rest platform is avaiable at Wombat Pool before a steeper incline- probably a good spot to recharge and hydrate before a round of heavy duty up slope.

Travelling up the rocky incline was actually one of the best parts of the hike. I always feel so invigorated when I enconunter such sections of a hike. Reminiscing the time at Cape Raoul in Port Arthur, Hobart, where I had to cross a moss- filled slippery tree log on four limps, and climbing at the edge of the cliff.

In this case, I wasn’t climbing on four limbs, nor was I anywhere near the very edge, but this activity had about the same level of fun and excietment ! 😀

The good thing about this route up is that there will be mini sections of somewhat flat (hmmmm… … not exactly flat per se) and saf(er) grounds for us to take a breather and enjoy the beauty that came with.

We could just stand many feet above sea level and enjoy the inundating landscape. The cloudless sky and the unobstructed view of Wombat Pool down below, with Lake Lilla and a partial Dove Lake view all within my peripheral version! Just awesome!

Climbing further up on partial boarded stairs and inclined gravels led us to a rest spot for people to take pictures of the magnificent Crater Lake down below. How blue and calm the lake looks, and from the top, we could see the boat shed too! This was definitely one of the highlights.

 

To Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

In my opinion, the route from Ronny Creek is much gentler as compared to the one via Lake Lilla. Yes, there is no running away from many flights of boarded stairs, but I just feel safer as I ascended amongst the tall alphines.

Maybe I have registered internallly that if I fall to my death, the bushes would somehow miraculously cushion the impact. I know, how silly of me to think that, but I just do. Haha…

Besides, the inital journey from Ronny Creek has all flat boarded platforms. How very welcoming it was. This is the same area where we saw many fluffy wombats!

After languorously trotting upwards, we finally reached a much cooler section of the hike- Crater Falls, where we entered the rainforest. We could really feel the temperature drop a few degrees as we entered the rainforest; so much cooler as compared to the Summer’s heat. Of course we had to spend some time inside the rainforest to cool ourselves down, hydrate, slump in the bench and listen to the waterfall crashing down.

Once we were out of the cool rainforest and into the heat, we had another round of stairs climbing and walking on unevenness before we arrived at the boat shed on Crater Lake.

From here onwards, the route is basically the same as the route via Lake Lilla.

 

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Combining BOTH routes in one?

Because the earlier route wasn’t part of the plan (as mentioned), in order to cover Crater Falls, and having already covered Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, we decided to get to the Falls via Ronny Creek- which was much easier. And since we were already at the Falls, so why not just continue on since the Crater Lake isn’t that far away. This was our, then, rationale.

As I have been through both routes, I reckon I have enough “qualification” to make a suggestion on how to improve/modify and make the hike more experiential?

Hence, my suggestion for the route to Marions Lookout would be to COMBINE BOTH:

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout–> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Crater Falls–> Ronny Creek
Average Walk Time: I can’t vouch the duration as I have not done this route in unison. But if I would gauge… Probably 5(ish) hours? But don’t take my word for it, give amble time to rest, hydrate, lunch and snap (photos).
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

My philosophy? After some hard work (climbing), a sweet reward (cool rainforest) will come.

Turn around and ENJOY

The key to get the most out of any walks/ hikes is to not rush through it. Take a moment or two to turn back and immerse the view behind. You will be surprise what the backdrop offers. Of course don’t take too long a pause, if not a 3 hours hike may actually take 6 hours? 😀

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park. Travel whenever and enjoy the hike!

Dee