PVGAMS
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4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 7:43 am

Last week was another public holiday (dragon boat festival) here in China, so decided to get out of Shanghai for a few days. We chose Boracay, Philippines as the destination for this short four day trip. Having done Thailand, Indonesia, and others the past couple times, and never having been to the Philippines before, I decided to give it a try. My only requirements were sun, beach, crystal clear water, within 3-5 hours flying from PVG, and a nice hotel. This is how I came to choose Fridays Resort Boracay for my 4 day trip.

2009.05.27 (originally 2009.05.26)
Flight 5J 679
PVG-MNL
A319
00.30-04.00


The trip started off with a slight glitch. I usually don’t opt flying low cost carriers but Cebu Pacific (5J) had such great fares, I decided to give them a go. Big mistake…. 9 hours prior to departure I receive a call that my PVG-MNL flight had been canceled. Only possibility was to book me on the next flight out, 24 hours later. Pretty big disappointment to the start of my trip. Having tried my luck with the Cebu Pacific call center a couple weeks prior, I decided not to call and try get something out of it, and instead left that for after the trip.
Finally made it out the next day, got to PVG terminal two, checked-in for the 3 hour, early morning flight (00.30-04.00). Got the pre-booked seats in row 1 (was afraid these would be gone as I only had them for the canceled flight. The flight was pretty uneventful, no food/beverages, but arrival 15 minutes early. Arrived at the low cost terminal 3 at Manila Int’l Airport, got my luggage and proceeded to level three to check in for my domestic leg to Caticlan airport.



2009.05.27 (originally 2009.05.26)
Flight 5J 891
MNL-MPH
ATR-72
05.30-06.30


Luggage limits were only 10 kg, but we knew this already and had packed light. Check-in was smooth, they had to weigh each person with their carry-on luggage due to balance issues for the ATR-72. Unfortunately my pre-booked seats for this flight were gone, and had to settle for somewhere in the middle of the plane. After check-in, paid the 200 pesos airport fee and headed over to the gates. Terminal 3 is pretty boring with very little restaurant and shopping activity. Boarding occurred at 5.15 and walked over to the parked plane.



The flight was only 40 minutes, and we had some great views of the Philippine islands below. Had the first glimpse of the crystal clear waters that were awaiting me!!! Couldn’t wait!!

















Landing was, simply put, awesome!! Had read about it before, the very short runway and abrupt stop at the end and then the U-turn back to the terminal. Would have loved to be sitting in seat 1C/1D facing backwards to feel the force of the brakes.

At the airport we were greeted by a Fridays staff member, who took our luggage to the waiting van. I quickly changed into some shorts as we’d have to get on the boat via the beach and we’d be getting wet. The weather and water were amazing. We had our private boat transfer to the main island of Boracay where we were met by another van that would take us to the hotel.





The Fridays hotel was pretty nice. After having read several reviews online I had expected more, but was still satisfied. The service in the Philippines tops that of any other Asian country I’ve been to (China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.), and was very impressed. The rooms at Fridays are nice, don’t expect 5 star, I’d put it at 4 star room quality/design. Very traditional Philippine bamboo rooms/villas. The rooms were a 30 second walk from the beach and restaurant.

















































Boxer Manny Pacquiao's Hotel:



Everyday was spent lounging on the beach. We did a 3 hour snorkeling trip out to crocodile island (no crocodiles, just fish and coral) and Puka Beach (beautiful sand and water). Most of the breakfasts and lunches were done in and around the hotel and dinners we usually did near boat station 2 and 3. Definitely go to D’Talipapa if you’re ever there. It’s a small wet-market selling all sorts of seafood. Very cheap and the surrounding restaurants will prepare the food you buy right there for a small fee. Had lots of lobster, prawns, crab, and even fresh oysters. Very tasty!





















Fire dancer show and live music:







Boat station 2 and 3 is really where all the nightlife is. After dinner we usually walked along the beach there, hopping from bar to bar. Lots of live music and activities going on.

I had mixed feelings leaving. The resort was nice, but had expected a little better for the price. The service made up for everything though. Had tried to extend the trip by a day, and the hotel staff were very helpful in trying to get this done, but Cebu Pacific just wouldn’t budge. So after 4 days of rest and relaxation, we headed back to the Caticlan airport. Just as we were leaving, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour happened that lasted about 2 hours. Our flight was delayed due to this, as all radio activity was down in the area. No flights were able to land. When everything finally came back to normal, we boarded and headed back to Manila.

2009.05.30
Flight 5J 906
MPH-MNL
ATR-72
15.35-16.40


We had seats 1C and 1D (rear facing). The power of the small ATR is immense and can really feel it during takeoff. We were pushed forward as the plane sped down the runway and the sight looking down to the back of the plane during climb was something new. We arrived in wet Manila a little late, after being in the air for just over an hour.

2009.05.30
Flight 5J 678
MNL-PVG
A319
20.20-23.45


Proceeded to collect luggage and headed back up to level three for check-in for the international flight back to PVG. Again go the pre-booked seats up front and headed for immigration. WOW, is all I can say about immigration at Manila airport. Very slow, and havn’t had to wait this long since my time in Beijing in the mid 90’s. Was in line for almost 1.5 hours. The immigration lady would take phone calls every couple minutes, leave and then come back, and take a very long time on certain people. Ridiculous!! When it was our turn she was done within 2 minutes.

Grabbed some dinner and the last mango shake of the holiday (I think I had over 20 mango shakes in 4 days) and then headed for the gate. Boarding was again smooth, took my seat up front, and we were off in no time. 3 hours later we arrived at PVG. Due to H1N1, and confirmed cases in both Philippines and Shanghai, our flight was checked, though I believe most flights are being checked now. Everyone had to remain seated while 5 guys in Hazmat suits boarded the plane and took everyone’s temperature. Everyone on our flight was fine but they said they had one case of a high fever individual earlier in the day.













At immigration our temperatures were taken again, and we had to fill in forms with our contact information. Within 10 minutes I was out the door and headed for my comfy own bed!

Overall a nice 4 day break. Was at the Hilton (Conrad) Rangali Island in the Maldives 10 years ago and would still rate that my favorite Paradise on earth. Nonetheless, Boracay is a great option for a short few days break.....
Would I fly Cebu Pacific again?….probably not. Would I stay at Fridays Boracay again?.....maybe……

Next up…….Seattle or Bali……still deciding……..
 
aznmadsci
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 8:40 am



Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
low cost terminal 3 at Manila Int’l Airport

Too bad you didn't take any pictures inside T3. This isn't the low cost terminal as eventually many of the non-PR international airlines will transfer from the older T1 to T3. T3 just started seeing services first with 5J and definitely looks impressive driving by it. Once more airlines move over, whenever they do transfer over, expect a bit more things to do around the terminal.

Other than that, seems like you enjoyed Boracay! Thanks for sharing!

Colin  wave 
The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
 
Superfly
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 9:02 am



Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):

WOW!
These are some INCREDIBLE pictures!
Fantastic trip report man!
Now where are all the beautiful Filipinas? Big grin

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
Everyone had to remain seated while 5 guys in Hazmat suits boarded the plane and took everyone’s temperature.

If that was on Southwest, I would have thought it was a joke.
5 guys getting on your plane dressed up in Ghostbusters uniforms?
Strange!
Bring back the Concorde
 
PVGAMS
Topic Author
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 9:40 am



Quoting Superfly (Reply 2):
Fantastic trip report man!

Thanks!

Quoting Superfly (Reply 2):
Now where are all the beautiful Filipinas? Big grin

Was there with Mrs. PVGAMS, but you can take my word for it that they were all there  Wink
 
Superfly
Posts: 37735
Joined: Thu May 11, 2000 8:01 am

RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 9:53 am



Quoting PVGAMS (Reply 3):
Was there with Mrs. PVGAMS, but you can take my word for it that they were all there  

Damn, you should have gave me that airline ticket.
Just image the trip report I would have put together!  Silly

Fantastic report man!

This remindes me that I am long overdue for a visit to my ladies in Cebu, Iloilo City, Bacalod and Manila.
Bring back the Concorde
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 3:42 pm

Great report with stunning pictures! The beach and the water look fantastic.

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
Luggage limits were only 10 kg, but we knew this already and had packed light.

That's ridiculous!

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
Due to H1N1, and confirmed cases in both Philippines and Shanghai, our flight was checked, though I believe most flights are being checked now. Everyone had to remain seated while 5 guys in Hazmat suits boarded the plane and took everyone’s temperature. Everyone on our flight was fine but they said they had one case of a high fever individual earlier in the day.

Drastic measures - but on the other hand, the Chinese authorities have good reasons to be very careful.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
TDubJFK
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 3:46 pm

What an amazing report and pics. Many of your photos could go right into a travel magazine!

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
The flight was pretty uneventful, no food/beverages,

Wow they do seem like a real cheapie-fleabag operation .. not even a beverage service on a 3 hr international flight? I know they're low-cost, but wow.

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
Had tried to extend the trip by a day, and the hotel staff were very helpful in trying to get this done, but Cebu Pacific just wouldn’t budge

I can't believe the airline wouldn't let you adjust your return trip by a day considering that their cancellation caused you to miss a day at the beginning of yout trip.

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
Everyone had to remain seated while 5 guys in Hazmat suits boarded

How theatrical .. LOL

Quoting Superfly (Reply 4):
This remindes me that I am long overdue for a visit to my ladies in Cebu, Iloilo City, Bacalod and Manila.

"Me rove you rong time! Me suckeesuckee too!" Eeeeeuuwww .. Those ladies, right?  wink 
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pdxtriple7
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 5:29 pm

Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing!
 
Superfly
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Joined: Thu May 11, 2000 8:01 am

RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 6:36 pm



Quoting TDubJFK (Reply 6):
"Me rove you rong time! Me suckeesuckee too!" Eeeeeuuwww .. Those ladies, right?

No. Friend I went to college with.
Bring back the Concorde
 
staralliance38
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun May 31, 2009 9:07 pm

Great TR! Thanks for sharing!

I need to go back home to the Philippines and I've been planning to do an Asia hop.

Cebu Pacific looks great too!

Are there any flights going into Bagiuo? That's where I would stay  Smile. If not, then I'll stay a bit in MNL.

Gustoko pashal-pashal
Roar, lion, roar
 
PVGAMS
Topic Author
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:59 am



Quoting TDubJFK (Reply 6):

Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
Had tried to extend the trip by a day, and the hotel staff were very helpful in trying to get this done, but Cebu Pacific just wouldn’t budge

I can't believe the airline wouldn't let you adjust your return trip by a day considering that their cancellation caused you to miss a day at the beginning of yout trip.

Well they would allow me to change, but they wanted to charge me 3 times the original ticket price for the change. Didn't even consider it.....
Overall i wasn't impressed with Cebu Pacific at all, they canceled my flight late and i lost my preferred seating for which i paid a little extra....no reimbursement for anything. Their call center is slow and their operators are clueless. I'm writing them a complaint letter but don't expect much out of it. I'll suck up the loss. They have one less customer out there as a result of this, and i definitely won't be recommending friends to fly them. Too much risk of throwing your vacation plans off....
 
MSP7378
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Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:28 pm

RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:51 pm

That place looks fantastic! Thanks for posting this...makes a grey MSP look even worse!
 
henkybaby
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:07 pm

Thank you for this TR. I am still doubting if I should include Boracay in my sabbatical starting January 1st. From what you describe it sure sounds tempting. I love the Philippine people and the scenery looks stunning. Not too sure about the accommodation though. Did you see any other attractive options there?

Boracay or Cebu... Where would you go in March?
Wherever you go, there you are!
 
PVGAMS
Topic Author
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:29 am



Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 12):

thanks, if you're in the area i would definitely give Boracay a try if I were you. If you're coming over all the way from NL, there are nicer places in S.E.A. For example, Palawan has much nicer water/beaches, but not so much the nightlife (if thats what you're after). March is a great time to go to PH, weather should be great, not too much rain other than the occasional shower. Also, you won't have the algae on the beach in Boracay (a minor issue).

Personally i would choose Boracay over Cebu. Boracay has more of a small island feel to it, which is great. The White Beach has all sorts of accommodation, from pretty nice places (boat station 1) to backpacker hostels (boat station 3). Station 2 is obviously somewhere in between. The people are great, the food is very nice, and the beaches aren't too packed.

If you end up choosing Boracay, consider the new Shangri-la. It has it's own private beach, but is a little further away from the rest of the action on the island. If i would go back, thats probably where i'd stay. Its probably the best place on the island.

My next trip is Bali (hope you can give me some hotel tips - see your JAL TR). Then sometime after that i'm gonna try Redang Island in Malaysia. Will post TR.
 
gabrielchew
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:23 am



Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 1):
Quoting PVGAMS (Thread starter):
low cost terminal 3 at Manila Int’l Airport

Too bad you didn't take any pictures inside T3. This isn't the low cost terminal as eventually many of the non-PR international airlines will transfer from the older T1 to T3. T3 just started seeing services first with 5J and definitely looks impressive driving by it. Once more airlines move over, whenever they do transfer over, expect a bit more things to do around the terminal.

I flew into MNL T3 yesterday on a Cebu Pacfic flight from Hong Kong. T3 is dull, grey and lacking a single ounce of architectural style. Also, it was far too cold. On the plus side, it was empty, and I was outside the terminal within twenty minutes. T1 might be busy and slow, but at least it was interesting! T2 yesterday flying domestically was horrible - I've never seen so many birds living in a departure lounge! Overall NAIA (MNL) is not nice. My flight from HKG was very good - got a brand new A319, excellent legroom thoughout, although there was no carpet (never seen that before), only some sort of vinyl. Flight landed 30 minutes early into Manila. Hope my return flight to Shanghai next week isn't cancelled like your's was.
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henkybaby
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:01 pm



Quoting PVGAMS (Reply 13):
My next trip is Bali (hope you can give me some hotel tips - see your JAL TR).

Asked and answered in said report.

Quoting PVGAMS (Reply 13):
If you end up choosing Boracay, consider the new Shangri-la.

I know. But since I am going to be traveling 6 months I need to cut down on the 5 star resorts a bit. I try to mix it up: one month in style, one month backpacking (meaning 3 star  Smile ). I figured that the Philippines were an excellent location for the latter since the country is cheaper anyways and the people are so friendly that staying anywhere is a pleasure. Have you heard of Dave's Straw Hat Inn?
Wherever you go, there you are!
 
PVGAMS
Topic Author
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:00 am

Quoting Henkybaby (Reply 15):
Have you heard of Dave's Straw Hat Inn?

From what i've read, its pretty budget, but still decent. You're not directly on the beach though, which is a minus for me. And you're by boat station 3, which is the lower budget part of the island. Its only a couple minutes walk to the beach though, and the beach is pretty much the same whether you're at boat station 1, 2, or 3. Stations 2 and 3 are obviously a little more busy with lots of peddlers trying to sell you trips and goods.
The main action is at boat station 2 (D'mall, restaurants, better dive centers, D'talipapa - wet market).

These links have some good maps of the hotels on the island
1. http://www.boracay.com/map_central_bora.php
2. http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=11.9667&lon=121.9244&zoom=13

You may want to consider Nigi Nigi. They have 2 hotels, Nigi Nigi and Nigi Nigi Too. Nigi Nigi is right in the middle of boat station 2 and a friend who was staying there said it was good value for money.
Nigi Nigi Too is right by Willy's Rock at the top of boat station 2. Not right in the middle of the action, but still within a short motorbike ride or 15 minute walk. Had lunch there and was actually quite good (best/biggest burger on the island - or so they claim).

[Edited 2009-06-11 20:02:43]
 
henkybaby
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:35 am



Quoting PVGAMS (Reply 16):

Thanks for that! I will have a good look. I don't think budget is my thing and I do want to be at the beach and preferably with a pool too. Damn, travel is expensive... Big grin
Wherever you go, there you are!
 
ba319-131
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RE: 4 Days In Paradise - Boracay, PH (many Pics)

Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:14 am

Thanks, good report & pictures.

Resort looks nice though I'll not add it to the list of place to go, seems you felt it was overpriced for what you got, still, looks like an enjoyable break.

Regards

Mark
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