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first trip to philippines - Banaue and Boracay

a backbacker is looking for information about the trip to banaue and boracay
8 years ago, March 7th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #65235  
Hello guys!

I really appreciate it very much if you can help me with those questions:

I am coming first time to philippines (manila) on 8 or 9 april for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, I read that there are long holidays at that time. So, is it possible to book a ticket on the night bus from Manila to Banaue by e-mail? Should I book a ticket ASAP to get a seat? Could somebody tell me, how comfortable are those busses... is it possible to sleep on the bus during the night trip and how safe is it on the bus? Any possibility to get ribbed off while I am sleeping?

In addition, could you please inform me if is one full day enough to visit those famous rice terraces? (because time is short, I plan to take a night bus back to Manila on the same day) Is it a good time to visit Banaue in April...no chanches of rain or heavy clouds...?

Couple of questions about Boracay also: what are the chances to find budget accommodation in mid April in Boracay and how much would it cost? I have heard that April is high season and all the philippines people keep travelling...

This will be my second trip to Asia. I am backbacker and prefer to travel on a budget😊))

Thank you very much,


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8 years ago, March 8th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #65309  
B Posts: 360

I have taken a few buses in the Philippines, I find them crowded and most of the passengers brought their bags into the bus with them. So, the aisles are crammed with bags and suitcases, I guess no one trusts that a checked in bag will be there when they reach their destination. Buses had the A/C up full and they were cold. Have a long sleeve shirt or jacket available - no toilet on board so go to the toilet first and keep the fluids down. I can't tell you if this is typical of all buses. Buses that I was on as part of a tour were better though. Money talks!

The only commercial buses I used in the PI were the Rabbit Bus company and the Victory Liner bus company and only to Subic via Dau.


Here is a few links on Banaue that I found on Google. Looks like a long ride.



Why not just add a day or two to the Banaue trip instead of doing everything in one day.

There are some tours to Banaue that might be simpler to arrange and safer.

http://www.destination360.com/asia/philippines/banaue-rice-terraces.php (Sample link.)

I never thought of April as high season. To me high season is usually when it is cold in N. America and N. Europe which would be from around November through to March. If anything you would be at the end of a high season. December and January are definitely crowded because many of the Filipino workers come back to the PI for the holidays.

If your first foray into Asia was Thailand you will find the Philippines a little more expensive. If you were staying in a place in Thailand for the equivalent of $10 US you will find one in the Philippines too but the place will be more ratty or very basic (even with walls separating rooms made out of woven straw or reeds!) My preference is a private room with my own toilet, shared toilets usually are not the cleanest, but that is an old fart's opinion.

Be aware that most Seven Eleven stores, hotels, banks of course, malls, casinos and bars will have armed guards at the front door! Lots of private armed guards in front of many places. This is normal, been this way for the past 12 years. When I was in the Navy and visiting there I never noticed them 25 years ago though.

One benefit of the Philippines over other Asian countries is that almost everyone speaks English, signs are in English or Tagalog. You can use a dictionary with Tagalog if you want but English will do 90% of the time.


I usually stay in the Ermita area of Manila. There a few bars in this area that you can ignore - not the same as Bangkok though. Various priced hotels and a few hostels in this area. I have used the Stone House B&B on Mabini Street. Various priced rooms from dorm to private rooms with air (1000 P.) Fan only rooms are the cheapest. Easy walk to Robinson Mall, travel agencies, markets, restaurants even casinos. Mabini Pension is just down from the Stone House, avoid the fan rooms at street side - blinking sign will keep you up at night and jeepney road noise is loud. A/C room will be okay since you can shut the windows.

Good luck.

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8 years ago, March 8th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #65324  
B Posts: 22
Hi I'm sheng from manila...Sagada is a nice place actually that was the first one we would like to visit but the problem was a lot of people going there especially its holyweek at that date that u mentioned. If plan change and we will not go to PAGUDPUD and VIGAN well ill go there no matter what happend.
To be honest..i tried to ask many buses about reservation of ticket well most of them told me that they dont have reservation u need to go there."first come first serve" :-( So u need to prepare yourself for a long line for your ticket. Some of them has a super delux bus means u can lay down and sleep with single chair only for you and an ordinary aircon as per my research.

There are two ways in getting to Sagada. Either you go there via Baguio or via Banaue.

I advise you to stay there for 3 to 5 days so u can enjoy what sagada has something for you. ITs not only about the rice terraces, there are lot of things u can see and do. One more thing the travel time is not short it will take u 10 to 12 hours if im not mistaken. The weather there is nice im sure because its summer here in Philippines.

For boracay yes its expensive going there i assure u now cause its summer and im sure its hard for you to find a place to stay cause a lot of people going there...But u can try it if u really like. Im planning to go there in December so this month im going to make a book and reserve a ticket its cheaper only for me to go there.

Im glad that u chose Philippine! really like sagada cause its really an amazing place. If u need help just let me know. Have a good day. :-)

Sheng Reply to this

8 years ago, March 8th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #65333  
Thank you for very detailed answers, links and for hints😊)

While going to PI, my preliminary idea was to go straight from Manila to Banaue and after that Boracay, Cebu and Bohol. Thanks to your advice I think its better to make some new plans: in the beginning I take a flight from HK to Cebu and stay around there (incl Bohol). Then if I find an addommodation at a normal price in boracay I go there and afterwards, when the holyweek is over I try to go to Banaue. I am thinking about going there with special tour. Riding with a slow, crowded and freezing bus does not seem very comfortable😊

My budget for accommodation is around 1000-1300 PHP for 1 night. I am not sure if I can get hot shower in my room for this price😊 But, this Stone House B&B seemed to be pretty good for that price. Halberd, have you been in Cebu as well? I have heard that in PI tourists should be more careful and that it may not be as safe as in Thailand. Is that correct?

Armed guards everywhere...thats something new for me.

By the way, my first trip was to Thailand. Halberd was right about this😊 I visited Bangkok and southern thailand for 3 weeks last year. During this vacation I plan to go after PI to Bali as well for 1 week. I seem to have pretty tight schedule this time.

Sheng, you would recommend me to go to Sagada instead of Banaue? I will check the information about sagada😊

hoping to have a wonderful time in PI,

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8 years ago, March 9th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #65346  
B Posts: 22
Yes i would like to recommend sagada cause there is also a rice terraces and has its own share of magnificent landscapes. Though smaller, but still an amazing work of art.

What to see in Sagada

2. ECHO VALLEY w Hanging Coffins
3. KILTEPAN View Point a majestic view of Kiltepan Terraces and Chico River where one can chill and reflect watching clouds passing. Good for camping
6.LATANG Underground River
7. BOKONG Waterfalls

And many more. :-) Im sure u will have a wonderful time. I guess every places here in PH are crowded this coming Holyweek. Just let me know if u need help. Goodluck.

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8 years ago, March 9th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #65398  
I have heard that in PI tourists should be more careful and that it may not be as safe as in Thailand. Is that correct?

* You just need to know the right places to go.
* April is high season, specially during the Holy Week.
* I don't think you'll need a hot shower on April, it would be really warm ...
* Your accommodation budget would be good for hostels/dorm types
* Banaue/Sagada by Bus will take you forever! (kidding, but it will take you atleast 10 hours)

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8 years ago, March 9th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #65419  
B Posts: 360
In Manila the Stone House B&B will have hot water, A/C, color TV and private toilet/shower for around 1000 piso. I think the price was 1000 for a smaller room and 1100 - 1200 for a little bigger room. (Any roaches are at no charge!) Other B&B's also have rooms in that price range in Manila.

After a while you do not notice the guards and just take it for granted when you enter some store your bag may be checked for bombs or guns or something.

I forgot about the holidays. I think most of the popular tourist areas will be safe enough. There is the occasional bomb that goes off in Manila or somewhere but like in Thailand you would have to be very unlucky to be near it.

Some overseas holidays are adventures!

Enjoy yourself.

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