Thursday, October 18, 2012

Davao Takeaway Thoughts & Tips

  • For shirts and local crafts, go to Aldevinco Shopping Center. Be warned that not all crafts are really “local” aka made in Davao/ the Philippines. I spotted the ethnic-y bags that I saw in Bangkok. The bags were sold for Php 150 (BHT 100 in Bangkok).
Aldevinco Shopping Center

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hostel Reviews: Sampaguita Inn and MyHotel Davao

Davao offers a lot of cheap budget accommodations for solo travellers. There’s even a new dormitel (mixed dorm). Since rooms were affordable, I wanted my own room. Sampaguita Inn is heavily recommended for a budget traveller like me. The new Sampaguita Inn is located in Mayon St., Davao City.

From Fracisco Bangoy Airport, I hailed a cab going to Sampaguita Inn Annex for Php 155. They had no rooms available. The old Sampaguita inn was just around the corner so I checked if they had free room. No luck. My stomach was grumbling. Although they had their own cafeteria, I wanted to eat somewhere where the menu is familiar. Me and backpack. I found myself wandering around Illustre street and found a 24-hour McDonald’s. Hoorah!

After breakfast, I draped myself in the Inn’s lobby and waited until a room became available. It took me a good hour of listening to my playlist before an airconditioned room became vacant. More expensive, but I was so tired already and I wanted to rest. The aircon room cost me Php 475.

Sampaguita Inn:

Room Rates of Sampaguita Inn

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Last 36 Hours in Davao City: Food, Shopping and Museums

Two days of my Davao adventure were happily spent in a paradise called Isla Reta. With only 36 hours, I ditched my planned Samal Island daytrip plan and opted to check out the museums, restos, and of course... shopping. I only have one whole day for all of these.

I chose another place this time: MyHotel, located in the very busy San Pedro St.

Dinner: some random buffet place
On the night of my arrival, I randomly picked a buffet resto near my place. The restaurant was wel-lit, and the diners were decently dressed (like they came from an event). Seems like a good choice. 

For Php 139.00, I had two whole plates of the main course and one small plate of dessert. Hina ko no?  I wanted to try some local sushi buffet (meron ba???) but I didn’t get to research on that. The kilawin was enough to fill that craving.

Comes with a free glass of iced tea.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Resort Review: Isla Reta Beach Resort

Since I just whipped up this Isla Reta trip just a night before, I had no time to find Isla Reta’s website and contact info and reserve a room. Good thing I was able to get one! By the end of the day, all the rooms were occupied. There were a lot of campers by the beach.

The beach sand has some crumbly rocks and broken shells but the real white sand can still shine through. The Talisay trees give this island its character. 

Ever thought of napping under a coconut tree? Try napping under a Talisay tree.

Isla Reta Rates
Day trip rate: Php 75.00/pax/day; 4-10 years old Php 35.00; 3 years old and below – Free
Overnight rate: Php 150.00/pax/night; Kids – Php 75.00/head
Concrete room (with private CR): Php 800/night – free entrance fee for 2 pax
Native room (separate CR): Php 700/night – free entrance fee for 3 pax
Dormitory type room: Php 6,500 – free entrance for 22 pax
Bringing your own tent: Php 100.00

More rates of the island

Rules. Ahem.
I got my own room with a private bathroom.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Discovering Davao: Isla Reta Paradise

While having dinner at Penong’s, I wasn’t really crazy about doing the day trip in Samal Island and exploring the bat caves and waterfalls. I was craving for some solid white sand paradise beach. I also traveled to Baler, Donsol and Guimaras this year, but their beaches are not exactly not at par with Calaguas (ang taas naman kasi ng peg no?). I needed my dose of white sand.

I whipped out my mobile phone and searched "White beaches in Davao". I encountered Isla Reta in my pre-trip research but I promptly dumped the idea because 1) I was uncertain that I would enjoy a solo beachbumming experience and 2) there’s not a lot of info about it. I found bits and pieces about how to go there and where to stay.

How to go to Isla Reta:
  • Proceed to Sta. Ana Wharf. I did this by taking a cab. I asked the reception how to commute but they didn’t really know (!?!?!). Cab from Sampaguita Inn to the wharf costs around Php 71.00. 
  • Find the boat going to Talicud Island. One way fare costs Php 70.00. The Isla Reta boat leaves at around 09:00 am. Research says this is just a one hour boat ride. Wrong! The actual boat ride was around 1 hour and 30 minutes. I don’t get seasick or anything, but, it was a SLOW boat ride. Make sure you are armed with a fully-charged mp3 player with a nice or fresh playlist. The boat leaves Isla Reta at 3:00pm going back to Sta. Ana wharf. You can do a daytrip tour.

I didn’t have any reservations, because I had no solid plans of staying the night in the island. I wanted to check the beach first. My heart was pounding when I saw the white sand! 

When I landed in this beach, I was in paradise

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Discovering Davao: Ditching The Plan

Davao is one relatively expensive plane ride away from Manila. I have been unlucky scouting for cheap flights, since I started traveling in 2009. One of my bestfriends traveled to Davao in 2010, while I drooled with her stories about food.I'll have my own dose of Davao someday.

January 1, 2012, Airphilippines offered delectable seat sale prices. This is my chance. Armed with one solo travel experience, I decided to try out solo traveling in my own country. I booked a round trip MNL-DVO flight for Php 940.00 (that has a round trip base fare of Php 24.00). What a great way to start 2012!

The trip was scheduled two weeks after my two-week Indochina adventure. I was still on such a high from all the great pictures experience from all those countries. I had to free some space in my memory card. Time to discover Davao. Someday is here.

There’s a lot to do in Davao. A lot. Too many suggestions. There’s a lot of info in blogs and forums for a “standard” Davao first-timer trip. However, a lot of these are for groups. I had some difficulty crafting my own itinerary. And because I was traveling alone, I had to choose some activities that were more manageable to do alone. I ditched the white-water rafting suggestion.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Indochina: Summary of Expenses and Insights

The total financial damage of this adventure:

MNL-SGN/HCMC via Cebu Pacific (15kg baggage)

BKK-MNL via Cebu Pacific (20 kg baggage)

Philippine Travel Tax

Terminal Fee

Vietnam - HCMC and Mui Ne

Cambodia - PP and SR

Thailand - Bangkok


Subtotal 1

Subtotal 2
Conversion Rate to PHP


Converted to PHP
Total in PHP (excluding pasalubongs)


Some would say that our expenses are quite high. The plane fares are relatively high compared to their seat-sale prices three years ago. Airfare prices are relatively high nowadays but don't let that stop you from traveling - just budget it! Also, our trip is quite long, compared to some itineraries which run from 7-9 days for these countries. Not that cheap, but not that expensive either. Not bad eh for a couple of stamps on the passport.

Breakdown, per country:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bangkok Budget and Takeaway Thoughts & Tips

Bangkok is pretty cheap... IF you won’t shop. Teeeeheeee.

Food is glorious. Shopping is an experience, even for a non-shopper.

Everybody is here to shop
The table of our expenses EXCLUDING shopping. 


Food from gas station during trip
Taxi fare from Khao San to Hua Lamphong - 100
Train from Hua Lamphong to Silom
Accomodation: Sunflower Place, twin room - 890, 4 nights
Hostel deposit: refundable upon check-out
Deposit refund

Day 10: Chatuchak Weekend Market

Breakfast meal and drink
Train from Sala Daeng to Mo Chit Station
Shopping Damage
Red Snapper Restaurant dinner - 380
Meiji Drink from 7-11

Breakfast meal and drink
Train from Sala Daeng to Central Pier
Boat ride to N9 Tha Chang
Entrance Fee of Grand Palace
Wat Pho/ Reclining Buddha
Very late lunch with drink
Ferry back to Central Pier
BTS back to sala Daeng
Random 7-11 snacks and light dinner

Day 12: DIY Ayutthaya

Train from Sala Daeng to Victory Monument Station
Van ride to Ayutthaya
Tuktuk rental for 4 hours - 700 (we haggled)
Various entrance fees in Ayutthaya
Ovaltine Shake in Ayuttaya
Van back to BKK
Train back to Sala Daeng
Patpong Market Shopping Damage

Day 13: MBK Shopping/ Fly Out Date

Breakfast meal and drink
Food Shopping in Lalai Sap Market
Shopping bag
Train to National Stadium
MBK Shopping Experience
BTS going back to Sala Daeng
BTS to Pha Naiya
Airport link
Airport food: Meiji drink (again)
Airport food: Waffle
Airport snack: Pistachio
Total Expenses in BHT
Exchange Rate (USD to BHT)
Total Expenses in PHP

I'll keep my shopping expenses a secret.:P
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