Puerto Galera: DIY Itinerary and Expenses

A cancelled trip among friends to Southern Visayas made me consider going to Puerto Galera as an alternative. I initially wanted to push through with the cancelled trip even if it meant traveling solo, but the recent events in Marawi and Resorts World made me feel wary of going. The boyfriend offered to come with me but as it was a few days before our travel date, the airline prices were so expensive. So where to go without needing to get on a plane? My sister suggested Puerto Galera since she was there a few weeks ago. I was supposed to have 8 vacation days, but I shortened it to 4 days for Puerto Galera.

My Companion:

Good thing I have a kaladkarin boyfriend and is game for almost-last minute trips 🙂

Sunset at Talipanan Beach

How to go to Puerto Galera from Metro Manila:

We headed to Jam Transit Terminal located in Cubao where we found buses headed to Batangas Port. It took us 3 hours to reach the port because we encountered Friday morning traffic in EDSA.

Upon reaching Batangas Port, there are a LOT of agents(?) who will forcefully pester you to avail their services. They don’t ask for money as it is their job to get customers for their respective shipping lines. They will guide you to their ticketing booth where you can buy tickets to Puerto Galera. We bought tickets to White Beach from Minolo Shipping Lines as they seemed to have the most favorable reviews online. We also had to pay a separate terminal fee.

Aboard the boat of Minolo Shipping Lines

While having the agents to guide you where to go once in Batangas Port is convenient, I advice you not to entrust your luggage to them. We made the mistake of not getting our bags fast enough and the agents who guided us wouldn’t give back our bags. After we bought the tickets, they went into the pasalubong center which I thought was on the way to the boarding area. But no. One of the agents asked us to buy overpriced and tasteless pasalubong from their stall. Only once we bought some that they gave our bags back. So persistent. And then we found out that the boarding area was in another building. Boyfriend and I wondered exactly what happened while we were waiting for our boarding call.

Muelle Bay

It is a 2-hour sea journey from the port for Puerto Galera. In our case, the boat stopped at Muelle Bay where free shuttles of Minolo were waiting to take us to White Beach. A stall was propped up near the docking area to collect environmental fees from the arriving passengers. The driver asked us where we would be staying and dropped each group to the nearest point in White Beach. Since we were staying in a different area, the driver texted our hotel to pick us up in White Beach. I didn’t have to text the hotel to inform them we’ve arrived.

Our Accommodation:

While searching for our accommodations, I considered these criteria: boyfriend wanted somewhere with a pool and I wanted somewhere not located in White Beach because I read that it can get noisy at night. I searched and searched until I found Tribal Hills Mountain Resort. Their promo page indicated that their off peak season rates are in effect (60% off). That made them within our budget range so I reserved a room immediately!

Tribal Hills Mountain Resort

I reserved through their email address. After a few pleasant email exchanges and paying the downpayment through Paypal, our room was already reserved 🙂

The resort’s pool. A staff mans the poolside bar from 6 PM til midnight daily.

I loved the location of the resort. It is located on a hilltop offering a wonderful view of the surrounding hills from our terrace and of the beach from their Tree Tops restaurant. It was quiet and it felt like we were the only people there. Although I loved the location, I discovered that I hated going out of our room late at night. I encountered a few large frogs and grasshoppers on my way to the pool on the first night when I couldn’t sleep. They had me running back to our room immediately. LOL.

Standard double room

Terrace

The staff were also very attentive. Everytime we would leave our room, they would ask us if we needed anything or if we wanted to go to the beach. Since it was off peak season and they only have few guests, the drivers were always available to drop us off or to pick us up from the nearby beaches. The shuttle was free as long as the destination was White Beach, Aninuan Beach or Talipanan Beach.

Each room is also given a broadband device for the length of the stay. We could bring this even outside the resort. There is no signal inside the rooms though.

The food was delicious! They cook our orders from scratch so we had to wait longer than usual for our food to arrive but it is always worth the wait. 🙂

Tree Tops Restaurant

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The 4D/3N Itinerary:

Day 1

We got to finally settle in our room at Tribal Hills at around 1 PM. We rested for about half an hour before we couldn’t ignore our growling stomachs anymore. We headed to Tree Tops Restaurant, ordered Bicol Epxress and requested the chef to make it super spicy. Eating late lunch with an awesome view of the beach and a tasty serving of Bicol Express was enough to recharge us.

Bicol Express

Our first and only destination of the day was Talipanan Beach. The shuttle took us to the nearest drop off point and we walked the rest of the way. The road was under construction and vehicles would have a hard time plying the uneven dirt road to Talipanan Beach.

A quiet afternoon in Talipanan Beach

An afternoon in Talipanan Beach is so serene. There were only a few people and the calm waters made it perfect for swimming. We just had to be careful not to go too far from the shore as there is a point where the water immediately becomes too deep. We both don’t know how to swim. LOL.

Luca Cucina Italiana

For dinner, we headed to Luca Cucina Italiana which was a well-known establishment in Talipanan Beach. The food is cooked by an Italian so the food is authentic and yummy 🙂 We ate in the dark though since moths started coming in. We ordered the Lucas Pizza which was a bestseller according to the staff, and a plate of fries. The pizza was huge for just the 2 of us and we only finished half. We took the rest home to eat for breakfast the next day 🙂

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Where to Eat in Sagada

Related Posts:

Sagada: DIY Itinerary and Expenses

A Review of Coda Lines and PinoyTravel

Where to Stay in Sagada: Misty Lodge and Cafe

Aside from the views and activities that Sagada has to offer, we were also bombarded with the sheer number of restaurants offering different kinds of cuisine. Boyfriend was especially happy about the abundance of vegetable dishes available in Sagada, while I was generally giddy with the numerous options available to us 🙂

The following is a list of establishments where we ate in Sagada, what we ordered and our experiences.

Gaia Cafe and Crafts

Gaia Cafe and Crafts

We ate here after our grueling Cave Connection Adventure. Gaia is famous for it’s vegetarian-friendly food. They also use natural herbs, spices and seasoning with no MSG in their dishes which made me feel like I was about to cleanse my body with their food. LOL. It was way past lunchtime when we arrived at the establishment so the place was only half full. I thought I would have a hard time choosing what to order because I didn’t love vegetables, but I found some items which called out to me.

His: Vegetable Omelette with Brown Rice

I ordered the homemade peanut butter and banana sandwich and hot chocolate. These were my third choice since my first and second option were no longer available. Boyfriend ordered the vegetable omelette which was the meal of the day.

Hers: Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

Hers: Hot Chocotae

Both dishes tasted delicious. I envied boyfriend when he gobbled up his plate in under 10 minutes because I found the omelette tasty as well. The hot chocolate was so welcome in my stomach since I was starting to feel cold.

Gaia Cafe and Crafts menu

Overall, it was a pleasant experience. I just wish that we could have arrived earlier so that I could have tasted their pasta with pesto sauce that I was looking forward to.

Sagada Brew

I will never forget that you made me wait an hour for my food 😦

For our first dinner in Sagada, we walked to Sagada Brew. The place was fully packed when we arrived but nevertheless, we still lined up to place our order at the counter. We were thinking that since the place was so busy, the food is awesome.

Dinner time at Sagada Brew

I wish someone would have told me that if Sagada Brew as packed, we had to wait for our food to arrive for over an hour. They even forgot to cook our food and only remembered when we followed up with the kitchen for the third time. I wouldn’t recommend to eat at Sagada Brew during the busy meal times.

His: Beef Caldereta

Hers: Rosemary Pepper Chicken

We immediately dug in when our food finally arrived. Boyfriend like his beef caldereta but he told me it wasn’t worth waiting an hour for. My rosemary pepper chicken was a disappointment because the inside was cold. Like eating something from the refrigerator and chucking it in the microwave just to warm the surface 😦

Sagada Brew: Breakfast Favorites menu

Sagada Brew: Lunch & Dinner menu

Sagada Brew: Hot & Cold Drinks menu

Sagada Brew: Pastas, Sandwiches & Snacks menu

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A Day at Minalungao National Park

The sudden announcement of a 4-day weekend due to to ASEAN summit was such a pleasant surprise for me. I immediately thought of where I can spend it but I had limited budget at the time. After much thought, I decided to go somewhere near Manila for a day tour and spend the rest of the long weekend relaxing at home.

My Companion:

Good thing the boyfriend was game when I suggested that we go check out Minalungao National Park for a day. We have never been there before, so naturally we were both excited to see the place.

Boyfriend didn’t want to be in this photo because of the flowers in the background 😀

How to get there:

We arrived at Five Star’s bus terminal at 4 AM. We underestimated the long weekend rush so we had to wait for a bus to Gapan for over an hour. We also checked the other bus terminal along EDSA, but the lines to Gapan were longer there. It was pure luck when an empty Cisco bus to Gapan arrived and we were the first one to get on it.

The fare Php 150 each. After paying the conductor, we slept for the whole 3 hours of the journey to Gapan.

Our Tour Guide:

Visitors to Minalungao National Park don’t really need a guide, but we opted for guides because we wanted a hassle-free trip and we wanted to do all the activities in the park. While searching for information about Minalungao, I stumbled upon the Facebook page of Sir Darine. He comes highly recommended by travel bloggers and visitors of Minalungao.

I sent a message on Facebook inquiring about the tour packages and I chose to avail the complete package for Php 999 per person. This included:

  • Transportation – Gapan-Minalungao National Park-Gapan
  • Entrance fee
  • Registration fee
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Life vest
  • Complete tour of Minalungao
  • Services of a tour guide
  • Toilet & shower fees
  • Rental of a floating cottage – if there are 3 or more people availing the package

When we came, Sir Darine had to take care of another group of visitors so he assigned Sir Kim to us. I loved the practice of Sir Darine and his group prior to our arrival. They were in constant communication with us since the night before our visit to confirm our departure from Manila, where we were, where to alight in Gapan and other useful tips for us 🙂

From Gapan, it was another hour to Minalungao National Park via tricycle. It was long but good thing we stopped halfway to eat some breakfast.

Things to do in Minalungao National Park:

  1. Cross the hanging bridge. The bridge offers a view of Minalungao National Park in all its beauty so this is a must do. Crossing the bridge is really unavoidable since this leads to the hotel, the 1000 Steps to the shrine and the zipline.

    View of Minalungao National Park from the hanging bridge

  2. Go up 1000 steps to see the shrine. This was such a big challenge for my knees. LOL. Sir Kim reminded us to buy water for our trek to the top. I was appreciative of this because the sun was already shining brightly. There wasn’t even a cool breeze in the summit. The shrine at the very end of the 1000 steps was a good place to meditate, pray and take in the view. But the other visitors were so loud and rowdy while taking their selfies.

    I wish there were numbers to tell me how many more steps I have to take before I reach the end.

    The giant cross at the end of the 1000 steps

  3. Explore the caves. It took us less than 10 minutes to explore the entirety of the caves in Minalungao. I wished that I could have stayed inside longer because it was so cool but there was a long line of visitors waiting for their turn in the caves.

    Spelunking for 10 minutes 🙂

  4. Rent a kayak. Visitors can rent a kayak for Php 200 per hour. Renters should leave their IDs at the shop and they can claim it at the end of the hour. Our relationship almost ended because of this. LOL. Boyfriend and I spent almost half the time arguing over how to properly row and navigate the kayak. In the end, I just let him steer for the 2 of us. 😀

    I let the boyfriend do all the work so we wouldn’t fight anymore. LOL.

  5. Rent a floating cottage. For those wanting to rent a floating cottage a take a cruise along Penaranda River, it’s best to arrive early in the morning so you can have the best location for swimming. I wanted to go on a floating cottage even if it was just the 2 of us, but Sir Kim discouraged us. Aside from the long lines of people wanting to rent a cottage, the river was already crowded that maneuvering it along the river would be next to impossible. Hence, we rented a kayak instead.

    Countless floating cottages along Penaranda River

  6. Swim! We looked for the shallower part of the river for swimming. The water was clean and clear, but not really refreshing. I was expecting the water to be cool but it was in fact, warm 😦

    There is a lifeguard constantly on watch to reprimand guests not wearing a life vest while swimming.

    Clear waters. But I wish it was colder.

  7. Go on a food trip. I was surprised to discover that there were a lot of restaurants and stall in the park offering different food and snacks. Boyfriend and I chose to try the different snacks when we got tired of swimming. Also the lunch prepared for us was very delicious ❤

    Both the barbecue and sinigang ng hipon were so yummy! ❤

  8. Ride the zipline. We opted not to do this since we convinced ourselves that the view is just the same from the hanging bridge. There were many people who rode this throughout the day though. The rate for a 2-way zipline ride is Php 200.

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