A Weekend in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Also read:

10 Days in Malaysia & Laos – Budget & Itinerary

Backpacking in Laos Part 1 of 3: Vientiane

Backpacking in Laos Part of 2 of 3: Vang Vieng

Backpacking in Laos Part of 3 of 3: Luang Prabang

We decided to stay in Malaysia for the weekend before flying to our intended destination which was Laos. I and my companions have already explored Kuala Lumpur in the past so we discussed where to stay. I originally wanted to explore Melaka but Jayvee has already been there. It was Jayvee who suggested going to Cameron Highlands because she wanted to see the tea plantations there. A quick Google search about Cameron Highlands had all of us agreeing immediately. LOL.

My Companions

Jayvee and Karla have appeared on my blog so many times. However, it was my first time traveling with Myr. This trip became so much more fun and unforgettable because they were with me. I couldn’t count how many times I laughed until my belly ached because of them. I am so happy to have kaladkarin friends like them and who are on the same wavelength as I 🙂

L-R: Jayvee, Myr, Karla, Ruby at the peak of Mossy Forest

The Flight: Cebu Pacific

We could easily have skipped the trip to Cameron Highlands and went straight to Laos if not for the fact that we were flying with Cebu Pacific. This airline is notorious for its delayed flights and we didn’t want to risk missing our flight to Laos in the early morning if we flew to Kuala Lumpur at midnight on the same day.

Surprisingly, our flight wasn’t delayed even though it was one of the last flights to leave NAIA Terminal 3. We arrived past midnight in Kuala Lumpur and decided to wait there until early morning to go straight to Cameron Highlands. It was easy enough to find seats and catch some sleep at the airport.

How to go to Cameron Highlands

Commuting to Cameron Highlands from KLIA 2 was so easy. I was impressed with the transportation system in Kuala Lumpur. Just before exiting KLIA 2, we found ticket counters for shuttle buses bound for different places in Kuala Lumpur. We just approached one of the ticket counters and asked for tickets to TBS-BTS.

Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS): Kuala Lumpur’s Central Bus TerminalThe Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) is the central bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur. It is connected to Bandar Tasik Selatan (TBS) train station, hence the name TBS-BTS. A faster option to go to TBS would be via the KLIA Ekpres. We chose the bus because it was way cheaper and we weren’t in a hurry. We arrived at TBS in under 1 hour.

Bus schedules are posted for everyone’s reference

I was amazed once I arrived at TBS. It looked like an airport terminal. We bought tickets in just under 5 minutes because they had a centralized ticketing system. This meant that we could go to any counter and just tell the agent where we were going. The agent just pulled up all the buses and the scheduled departures going to Cameron Highlands and we chose our preferred time or bus company.

Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS): Kuala Lumpur’s central bus terminal. Ticket counters are located on the second floor

The tickets indicated our gate number where we would wait for our bus to arrive. The screen on our assigned gate indicated that we were ready for boarding 10 minutes before our departure and another agent arrived to scan our tickets. Everything was so efficient and new to me that it got me wishing that we had the same system in Manila.

Waiting area for passengers at the ground floor

This wasn’t our bus, but this was the gate where we had to wait. Our bus arrived after 10 minutes.

I was asleep for most of the trip, but woke up when we were traversing the zigzag roads going up to Cameron Highlands. I have to mention that our driver was so careful and didn’t go over the speed limit while driving.

It took around 4 hours with 2 stopovers to arrive in Cameron Highlands. We alighted at the bus terminal, immediately looked for lunch, and went to find our guesthouse which was walking distance away from the town.

Our Accommodation: Mentigi Guesthouse

Our guesthouse was really walking distance away from the town, but what we didn’t know was that it was an uphill walk. LOL. They provided free shuttle to and from the terminal, but their shuttle wasn’t there when we arrived and I forgot to inform the guesthouse our estimated time of arrival. So we decided to walk.

We chose Mentigi Guesthouse because it was the cheapest guesthouse with good reviews in Agoda. I didn’t notice that there was no air conditioning when I booked, but it wasn’t really a concern when we were finally able to feel the cold weather of Cameron Highlands. It also helped that Allaine and Ver who took turns manning the reception area were Filipino. They were so friendly with all the guests and we felt at home because of them.

Lounge

We reserved the room that could accommodate 4 people and it was more than enough for us. My favorite part was the bed and the blankets. It was so hard to leave their warmth every morning when confronted with the cold and rainy weather. LOL.

Mentigi Guesthouse’s room for 4. It was a lot neater before we arrived and made a mess of things. LOL.

Our room had a veranda, coffee making facilities, hair dryer and a water heater in the bathroom – all of which, we thoroughly enjoyed.

The guesthouse also had a garden area which we only enjoyed during our last day because it finally stopped raining!

Breakfast wasn’t included in the room, but there were snacks for sale at the reception.

Itinerary: 3D/2N

Day 1: Night Market

We arrived in Cameron Highlands around noon. Our original plan was to drop our bags at the guesthouse and immediately explore the town of Tanah Rata. The rain made that impossible since we were only planning to walk around the town. So we napped the afternoon away until it was time to leave for the Night Market.

Pasar Malam

The Night Market or locally called “Pasar Malam” is a famous tourist attraction in Cameron Highlands. The bazaar only takes place on weekends and during holidays. There is a wide array of products sold here: native products, food, merchandise, vegetables, plants and souvenirs. It was a 10-15 minute drive away from Mentigi Guesthouse. There is no public transportation in Cameron Highlands so taxis are always the answer when you want to go somewhere.

Fresh vegetables

Lovely flowers from the highlands ❤

There were only a few people when we arrived at the Night Market because it was still raining. Luckily, we had umbrellas and raincoats with us. We had the best time trying out all the local foods there. Our favorite find was a stick of strawberries already coated in hardened chocolate. The first bite of chocolate and the juice suddenly oozing from the strawberry was heavenly.

Chocolate & strawberries are always a good idea ❤

Our dinner that night for only MYR 6!

We wanted to explore more but the rains were getting heavier and we were getting wetter despite our umbrella and raincoats. We decided to go back to the guesthouse and rest because we had an early start the next day. Continue reading

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6 Days in Coron, Palawan

Related Posts:

6-Day Coron Itinerary and Expenses for 2

Coron, Palawan is as amazing as the photos and videos about the place have led me to believe. I had the most fun and saw so much beauty in the 6 days that I was there. I’ll try my best to share our amazing experiences there in this blog post 🙂

My Companion:

During this trip, I realized that the boyfriend has been my constant companion for all my trips this year. I am not complaining since I love being with him ❤

Ruby and Francis in Coron ❤

The Flight: Cebu Pacific

Our flight to Busuanga was on time since it was still early in the morning. As soon as we landed at Busuanga airport, there were several vans waiting to take passengers to Coron. We just told one of the drivers where we would be staying and they pointed us to the van that would take us there. Fare to Coron town from the airport and vice versa is Php 150. Travel time is approximately 30-40 minutes.

Our ride to and from Busuanga

We just had a few issues during our flight back to Manila though. First, we were surprised that a terminal fee of Php 100 per person is still being collected. It should have been included when I purchased our tickets. Second, our flight was delayed for about 30 minutes – not really a big deal for us though. Finally when we boarded the plane, the temperature inside was a bit warm. The flight attendants told us that it would get better once we were on air but I still felt hot. I’m not sure if the warm temperature caused it but when we were taking off and preparing to land, I had a hard time breathing and I felt that my lungs were being squeezed. It was for only less than a minute but it was enough for me to get scared. Also, we experienced some turbulence during the flight because we went through a storm at some point. It wasn’t the most comfortable and smooth plane ride I experienced.

Our Accommodation: Sea Horse Guesthouse

We got a bit spoiled with the pool at Puerto Galera but the hotels with a pool in Coron were waaaaaay outside our budget. I found Sea Horse Guesthouse while browsing through Agoda. Although it didn’t have a pool, it was under the same management as Sunz en Coron Resort which meant that the guests can use the resort’s pool for free 🙂 Aside from the perk, the location of the guesthouse was right smack in the middle of Coron town which meant that almost everything (i.e. the restaurants we wanted to try) was within walking distance. The room rate also included free breakfast.

Reception

The staff were always ready to greet us with a good morning or evening even if we were just going down to the reception area to refill our water bottles. They were always able to help with our queries and attentive to our needs.

Our homebase for 6 days in Coron

The regular room rate as of September 2017 is Php 2,000/room. They also have dorm accommodations for Php 700/person/night.  I was able to score a discount by booking through Agoda so it was within our budget 🙂

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Though our stay was great and pleasant, I have 2 areas where I wish they would improve: (1) the rooms didn’t have cabinets or any storage where we can put clothes. We either hung them in the only racks provided or they stayed in our bags. (2) Also, there were limited choices for breakfast: cornsilog, tocilog and continental breakfast. The corned beef meal and the jam which came with the continental breakfast were so good but we didn’t like the tocino meal. Since we stayed for 6 days, we found the choices very limited.

Breakfast can be availed at the rooftop which gave a good view of the sea and a portion of the town

Itinerary: 6D/5N

Day 1: DIY Coron Town Tour

We arrived in Coron early enough to avail one of the island tours if we wanted. But rainy weather welcomed us so we opted to wait until our room was ready, eat brunch at Kainan ni Tita Mariz, rest for a bit and start in the early afternoon for our DIY Coron Town Tour.

St. Augustine Church exterior

It was a short walk from the guesthouse to St. Augustine Church. I said a quick prayer to keep us safe during the trip and for some sun in the following days.

St. Augustine Church interior

We were supposed to ride a tricycle to the base of Mt. Tapyas but the folks at the guesthouse told us we could walk since it was near. They were right though we weren’t prepared to be so out of breath when we arrive at the base. They didn’t warn us that it was an uphill walk. LOL.

Stairs to Mt. Tapyas summit

A big cross sits on top of Mt. Tapyas

The climb up to Mt. Tapyas took 30-40 minutes including breaks. According to the locals, there are around 700 steps up to the summit. It was challenging to our knees but we made it! 🙂 The view from the summit and the cool breeze managed to sweep our tiredness away.

Coron town viewed from Mt. Tapyas

Mt. Tapyas also offered a view of the nearby mountains

We didn’t wait for the sunset since it was a bit cloudy and I predicted that we won’t be able to see the sun anyway. We made our way down and the boyfriend was able to negotiate with a tricycle driver (there would be many waiting in Mt. Tapyas) to take us to and from the hotspring for Php 350.

Maquinit Hot Spring entrance fee rates

Maquinit Hotspring

The road to Maquinit Hot Spring was unpaved and rough – no wonder the drivers were charging Php 300-400 as it wasn’t an easy drive. We were so excited to soak in the hot waters after the 30-minute trip. Although soaking in a legit seawater hot spring was a new experience for us, we thought that the Php 200 per person entrance fee was not really worth it. The hot spring is usually 38-41 degree Celsius in temperature so it isn’t advisable to soak in the water too long. I love hot baths but I only managed to stay for 20 minutes. There are no shower facilities so guests can rinse off the saltwater from the hot spring. As we were leaving, we realized that we burned Php 400 (plus Php 350 tricycle fare) just so we can have a 20-minute hot bath and take pictures inside. Not really the best use of our money.

A short dip at the hotspring and a few tables and chairs can’t really justify the Php 200 entrance fee

To end our day, we ate at Lolo Noy’s Food Restaurant. The locals say that it’s one of the more affordable restaurants but we still managed to rack up more than Php 500 in our bill. We ordered a LOT.

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Day 2: Reef & Wrecks Tour c/o JY Travel & Tours

We were picked up from the guesthouse by JY Travel and Tours and taken to the wharf to wait for our other tour companions for the day. Looking back, this tour was the most tiring out of the 3 that we availed as it involved a lot of snorkeling and swimming.

There are only 4 destinations in this tour because the spots are far away from each other. We arrived at our first destination after almost an hour of travel from Coron wharf. Our tour guide told us to wear our snorkel masks and life vests and jump to the sea so we can take a look at East Tangat Shipwreck which sunk during World War II (same with all other shipwrecks in Coron). It was eerily amazing to be able to see a piece of history under the ocean.

East Tangat Shipwreck

We only spent about 30 minutes in the site and traveled for an hour to get to Pass Island where we will be eating lunch. It was a bit gloomy in the morning but the sun was shining when we got to the island. The fine white sand and cystal clear waters were very tempting but my stomach was more important. LOL. Lunch prepared by JY Travel and Tours was satisfying and delicious. I just wasn’t blown away like our tour lunch in El Nido.

Usual lunch served by JY Travel and Tours. Grilled fish, meat, vegetable dish, seaweed salad and fruits for dessert. No other seafood 😦

Approaching Pass Island

Clear blue waters ❤

The next stop was the Lusong Coral Garden which in my opinion is the best among the coral gardens I’ve seen in during my travels. Our boat dropped us off at the starting point and we were left to swim by ourselves so we can leisurely take in the beauty of the coral garden. It wasn’t so easy though because we were swimming with life vests against the current. Boyfriend and I had to stop several times to recharge and catch our breaths. We swam all the way to where our boat was waiting and they took us to the our final destination of the day which was only about a minute away.

Lusong Coral Garden

Lusong Coral Garden

The Lusong Gunboat is my favorite shipwreck I saw in Coron. Since it was located in the shallower parts of the sea, I can see the ship in almost its entirety. And as it was low tide during our visit, I could stand on the bow with the water up to my chest. I was standing on a piece of history! Disclaimer: we asked permission from our tour guide if it was okay to stand on the shipwreck and he said fine because the part of the wreck where we could stand didn’t have any corals we could potentially disturb.

Lusong Gunboat Shipwreck

The clear water was a blessing so we can see below

Continue reading

GetGo Membership Card

Finally! After months and months of waiting, my GetGo Membership Card has arrived! It took 6 months for Cebu Pacific to deliver my card which was very frustrating. I don’t even know what caused the delay.

GetGo sent me 2 cards either by mistake or because they thought sending me 2 will ease my frustration from waiting for 6 months for this

GetGo sent me 2 cards either by mistake or because they thought sending me 2 will ease my frustration from waiting 6 months for this.

What is GetGo?

GetGo is the newest lifestyle rewards program that gives members free flights just by flying with Cebu Pacific and earning points through their everyday spend with GetGo’s merchant partners. These points can be used to buy free flights and add-ons from Cebu Pacific.

When this rewards program was launched, I immediately registered as a member. Since I frequently flew with Cebu Pacific, it seemed logical to sign up, earn points and get free flights 😀

The registration process was easy and intuitive. I just went to their website and filled out my details. After the registration process, I was given a membership number that I can use to redeem rewards or flights. This is GetGo’s website: www.GetGo.com.ph

GetGo also gives out membership cards for a fee which members can present to GetGo merchant partners to avail discounts and earn points. This is where my frustration with GetGo began.

GetGo Card Gets Delayed for 6 Months!

At first, I didn’t request for a GetGo card. Back then, there was no existing promotions with GetGo merchant partners and the only way to earn points was flying with Cebu Pacific.

When GetGo launched their promotions, I decided to request for my membership card. I passed by a GetGo booth at the airport terminal once and asked if I could get my card there. The staff told me that the booth was for new members only. Since I was already an existing member, I had to request for my card through their website. I did just that and paid Php 100 for the delivery. The standard waiting time for the GetGo cards to be delivered was up t0 20 business days.

20 business days passed by but my card didn’t arrive. It took 3 follow up emails, a phone call to their hotline and a long, slightly irate message to their Facebook page before a courier knocked on my door to deliver my card. I placed my request last February 17 and my card arrived on August 31… 1 day after I sent my long letter to their Facebook page. I wonder if my card would still have arrived if I followed up nicely and politely like I did the previous times.

The arrival of my card meant that I can now present my card to GetGo’s merchant partners to earn points and avail discounts. I am specially interested to get discounts from their partner hotels for some staycation. Members can view the current promotions here: https://www.getgo.com.ph/web/getgo/promos

The GetGo Card

When the courier handed the GetGo packet, I was surprised to find 2 cards there. It seemed that they sent me the card that got delayed and produced a new one for me.

I was wondering why there was a rubber band around the envelope.

I was wondering why there was a rubber band around the envelope.

The cards are housed in a very nice and sturdy envelope which I kept to use for my documents. 🙂

It turned out that there were 2 separate envelopes in the packet.

It turns out that there were 2 separate envelopes in the packet.

The cards they sent me were of different designs but had the same information printed. So I can use either of them.

The cards came with a 1-page pamphlet with all the relevant details

The cards came with a 1-page pamphlet with all the relevant details

The page that came with the cards contains information regarding the benefits of GetGo, how to activate the card, and how to redeem points for free flights. The back side contains the Terms and Conditions for membership in GetGo.

Both the card designs were nice. When I ordered, these were only the 2 available designs, but GetGo has added 3 more designs since. I stored the beach card for safekeeping/as a souvenir and put the bike card in my wallet. I honestly can’t remember which design I requested, but the bike design is nice to have with me as a constant reminder that I need to learn how to ride a bike. LOL. 😀

Another card added to my wallet.

Another card added to my wallet.

I just hope that my future transactions with GetGo go smoothly without any hitch or delay.