Its more fun in the Philippines – Cebu

I just got back from a crazy, adventure-filled weekend in the Philippines. 2nd time I’m in the Philippines this year – shows how much I love this country.

3 days 2 nights in Cebu was a little rush but it was good enough to experience two exciting activities – Canyoneering in Kawasan Falls & Swimming with Whale Sharks.

There are a couple of other interesting activities like snorkeling/diving in Mactan Island (Mactan), taking a dip in Tumalog Falls (Oslob) and hopping over to the white beach at Sumiblon Island (Oslob). I personally think that there would be insufficient time if you choose to take the public bus to travel between the different locations for a 3d2n itinerary.

Rough Itinerary (consolidated after the trip)

Journey

1045 -1615 Singapore – Kalibo – Cebu
~5 hours Cebu airport – Badian Airport – South Terminal
Bus fare is around 120-150 peso (according to the staff in the airport, there is no bus anymore)
Taxi Fare is about 300 peso
South Terminal – Badian
about 175 peso
Accomodation: Lambog beach homestay 400 peso each for domitary
0800-1430 Canyoneering Canyoneering~1500p + 300p (pickup)
~2hours Badian – Oslob Transport about 100peso (2 bus rides) Accomodation:
Aaron Beach Resort 1700 peso
or
Stop N’ Shop Inn 1500 peso
0600-0800 Whale swimming Activity 1000 peso + 100 entrance fees (hidden cost)
0900-1330 Oslob – Airport Transport about 500 peso
1515 – 2035 Flight Home

Based on the flight timing , it makes more sense to go to Badian first then Oslob because canyoneering in Kawasan falls takes almost half a day while whale sharks snorkeling takes only maximum 2 hours.

  1. In order to do the activities mentioned, you have to leave Cebu City. It took almost an hour to get to South Terminal from the airport with the bad traffic. The jam could be pretty terrible during certain time of the day.map1

2. From South Terminal, there are buses running every 10mins/20mins (alternating between ac/non-ac buses) to Badian. Ride the bus (should be at berth 10) bound to Bato via Barili then let the driver/bus conductor know that you want to alight at Badian. Google Maps shows that it takes about 3 hours but hurhur no it takes about 4 hours, factoring in the bad traffic.

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3. Badian – Oslob takes about another 2 hours. You have to hop on a bus that stops outside a “Filipino and Korean Food Restaurant” in Badian. Bus would take you to Bato (end stop) and you have to alight to take another bus heading towards Cebu City (but stop at Oslob). If you are doing whale shark snorkeling, please let the driver know that you would want to stop at Aaron’s Resort or somewhere around that area, if not they will take you to Oslob central which is about maybe another 10 km away.

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^ Bus from Badian to Oslob. Yes, you might not even get a seat for the 2 hours journey. However this is only about 100 peso with a transfer!! If you are on a tight budget, the only way to get to Oslob is to take the bus. Alternatively, you can take a tricycle but it would cost about 1400 peso for a 2 hour journey.

4. Oslob – Cebu South Terminal takes about 4 hours. This bus is the bus that you took from Bato to Oslob. You can stand by the road side and wait for the yellow bus to come.

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”Don’t know…sometimes 10 mins, 20 mins, or 30 mins. We don’t know. Just wait” that was what the locals said when we asked. If you think it would be a dreary, unpredictable and long wait, you would be surprised. One by one, local people started crowding around, mingling and making conversations. They know exactly where we are heading and were more excited than us when the right yellow bus was approaching from a distance. I love their smiles, their enthusiasm and most importantly, they did not expect anything more than just smiles and enthusiasm from us.

Activities

Canyoneering!

There are two ways to experience Kawasan Falls. Either you do a short trek in and just relax in the 3 waterfall spots, or you trek up the hills and descend very narrow canyons, cross Kanlaob River and some streams to reach the falls.

Price: With effect from September 1, 2016. Previous rate of 1,200 Pesos/person will increase to 1,500 Pesos/person.

I read from a blog about a guide, Kuya Yoyoy (Mobile No: 09777753176) and he is truly an amazing man. I called him in the evening just before the canyoneering trip and thankfully he was available! The trip was filled with laughter and screams thanks to him. Apparently he was also one of first few trekkers who started this route for canyoneering. He is experienced and knows exactly which spot/angle gives the best photos/videos! (if this is important to you hahaa) If you would like to consider a guide, you can contact him through his Facebook page.

The entire trek downstream was a magical experience. Although it encompassed adrenaline activities, I also experienced the serenity and peace of nature. It was a really good blend!

What to bring?

  • Try not to bring your phone/valuables, just enough cash to pay the guide and extra cash if you are hungry/want to buy souvenirs. There are some shops in the middle and at the end of canyoneering. You can put your stuff in waterproof bags but if you look at the photos below you will realize that the bag would be a nuisance.
  • Waterproof camera/Gopro camera. Do get the anti-fog strips for Gopro cameras if you want the pictures/videos to turn out clear. (I got my anti-fog strips at the airport’s electronic store)

What to wear?

  • This may sound funny but obviously something comfortable! Shoes which are suitable for water/land activities. You could lend/rent shoes from the guides if you don’t have a suitable pair. Yoyoy did not charge us extra for the shoes.

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What to expect?

  • Cliff jumping! There is a compulsory jump which is about 3 metres? After which, all the jumps are optional. With Yoyoy, there were about 5-6 possible jump spots. It was good as it built my confidence for the final 40 feet jump at level two of Kawasan Falls. I remember freezing at the 5 metres mark in Boracay two years ago and I told myself that I would never do cliff jumping again. Nevertheless, I completed the final jump this time, yay!
  • Kawasan Falls (final) is beautiful but there is an additional fee of 300 peso if you want to ride on the rafts to go under the waterfall. If you don’t wish to pay, you can only swim near the shore.

So so so…photos!

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Local people selling food in the middle of the canyoneering trek! ^

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En route to the restaurant to wait for a bus to Oslob on a tricycle!

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^ Accommodation for the night, it is just beside Aaron’s resort (which was full that night). It was a pretty decent place. Internet connection is shitty in all locations outside Cebu city so don’t expect too much. Sea front, nice family…so I definitely recommend this place, Stop ‘N Shop Tourist Inn. It was 1500 peso a night.

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks!

What to bring?

  • 1000 peso for 30 mins of snorkeling. Prices differ if you are just “watching” or if you choose to dive. Do bring additional 100 peso per person for the hidden charge-entrance fees.
  • Waterproof camera/Gopro camera. You can rent waterproof cameras. It comes with a photo taking service from the staff rowing the boats.
  • Snorkeling fins if you have!

What to expect?

  • Harmless but humongous whale sharks.
  • Loads of tourists! So start early! Be at the location before 6 am. The starting point is supposedly Aaron’s Resort.
  • Since it’s an activity that relies on nature or wildlife, it’s not without it controversies. If you want to experience it, it is important to follow the interaction code of conduct. There will be a briefing before the start of the trip.

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^ Lorry ride from Aaron’s resort to the starting point.

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Generally, it is extremely easy to travel around the Philippines because people are extremely helpful, friendly and they also speak pretty good English. The entire trip was not planned beforehand but we met a lot of kind and enthusiastic people who gave us suggestions and solutions to help us get back to the airport ON TIME!

The year 2017 brings with it seven long weekends! Think about it…Cebu is definitely an ideal holiday destination! 🙂

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