I know that it’s not that easy to plan a trip and it’s not at all CHEAP to travel. Airfare would consume a huge chunk in my budget, plus my accommodation, then I have to spend for the tours, of course I need to eat (A LOT!), and not to forget the souvenirs. But I have to start somewhere to make it happen…Coron seemed to be a great place to start.
Around late April 2016, Skyjet Airlines had a seat sale to Coron for PHP 888 base fare per way and after 1-2 hours spent on refreshing its website’s booking page, I bagged a promo fare for only PHP 2,341.00 (Roundtrip Manila-Coron via Busuanga-Manila) all-in. Regular airfare with Skyjet going to Coron would cost you as much as PHP 2,800 - 4,900 per way all-in, so you really need to scour for promo fares to save a lot. You can also check out promo fares with Cebu Pacific and Philippines Airlines (PAL Express). That was one big hurdle I’ve overcame.
Next, I need to look for a place to stay. Coron, being a premier vacation destination has a lot of hotels that cater to luxurious, mid-range, budget and backpacker type of travelers that range from as high as PHP 25,000 / night in a private resort to as low as PHP 500 / night in a backpacker guest house. As for me, I opted for a backpacker type hotel to save money and I found Seahorse Guest House’s dormitory-type room to be the best fit for my needs. Priced at PHP 750 / night with free breakfast, the room is air-conditioned, includes a private toilet and bath with hot and cold shower, there are 4 beds in a room meaning I get to share it with other people which I do not mind since I only need a place to sleep. I inquired for the room availability and after a few exchange of emails with Sir Marc, I booked it.
That was two down, only one more to go – the tours. Since I’m on a solo trip, the best option for me is to join group tours to cut on the cost. I stumbled upon some articles that recommend Corong Galeri a.k.a. Calamianes Expedition and Eco-Tours and arranged a tour with them. That was the last piece in my preparations; I was all set and was just waiting for my travel dates on Jun 7-10, 2016.
A few weeks had passed and the day came, my flight schedule was on a Tuesday at 10:30 AM. Boarding started around 10:00 AM. As I was approaching the plane, I was thinking if I will take my camera out from my bag. I was a bit hesitant at first but I took it out anyway and captured some shots of the plane from a distance. Then I boarded the plane smiling to myself, I don’t know how to describe it but I was happy and excited, but I don’t want anyone to know kind of feeling. It was a short flight from Manila to Coron and 40 minutes later we touched down at Francisco B. Reyes Airport in Busuanga Island, Coron, Palawan. The airport is located up on the mountains and to get to Coron Town I needed to take a van.
The regular rate for the van was PHP 150 and the travel time from the airport to Coron Town was approximately 35 minutes. I was dropped off at Seahorse Guest House by 12:15H, I immediately checked-in to get some rest before starting on my escapade. My room, or should I say my bed, was already prepared when I arrived. I was assigned on the top bunk, there was no one in the room but the other 3 beds were already occupied. It was clean and comfortable, the shower room was located near the main door and it was separate from toilet which was in the middle then there was a lavatory situated before the beds. I also have my own locker; it was spacious that it can fit my whole backpack. The hotel staff starting from the security, the servers, to the receptionists were all very courteous, always smiling and helpful. Most importantly, it was only within a five to fifteen minute walk radius from the tour office, souvenir shops, public market, church, banks, park, and the island hopping boat port and most food establishments which was actually impressive.
I went to Corong Galeri to confirm my tour for the next day and had lunch before starting on my DIY Biking tour around town. I went all over the town on a mountain bike from 14:30H – 17:30H, it cost me PHP 300 (PHP 100/hour).
I went to Mt. Tapyas and hiked to its peak. 723 steps and forty minutes later, I have reached its top, at last! I can see the whole town of Coron from the deck. It was the best spot to watch the sunset but it was cloudy at that time. In fact, it rained a few minutes after I got to summit. I got stranded at Mt. Tapyas due to heavy rains and was able to get back to the base around 20:00H.
With my stomach already grumbling, I went to Lolo Nonoy’s for dinner located just along the National Road near the church. It is where the locals would direct you if you want a satisfying Filipino home-cooked meal. You can order from the menu but if you do not want to wait you can order some ready to eat food from their counter. The price of each dish on the counter ranges from PHP60 – PHP90 and it was really good.
The following day is the start of my island hopping tour. We went to Malcapuya Island, Banana Island and Bulog Island. These islands all have powdery white sand beaches, clear waters and mesmerizing views. It was a whole day spent in paradise.
We returned to Coron town by 17:20H, I headed back to the hotel for a quick rest, and then I traveled to Maquinit Hot Spring. I hailed a tricycle, the standard fare was PHP 300 round trip, there was an entrance fee of PHP 200; the tour cost a total of PHP 500. The road going to the hot spring was not all paved a few kilometers near the site was off road. Travel time from town to the hot spring was fifteen minutes. The place was very close to nature, there were some huts and tables made of hardwood. A large rustic round pool was constructed close to the sea. The water was too hot. This was very different from the other hot springs that I’ve tried. I need to gradually put my whole body under the water. At first, it felt like I’ve been burnt by boiling water, but eventually my body adjusted to the spring’s temperature. After a few minutes of having my body underwater, I found myself sweating. I began to catch my breath and felt tired with just sitting on the steps doing nothing. The water temperature increased my heart rate and stirred my metabolism. Maquinit Hot Spring is open until 20:00H but if you’re already inside the premises you can stay until 22:00H. I packed up at 19:30H and journeyed back to the hotel.
I went to Carl’s BBQ for dinner. The ambiance at Carl’s was pleasant. They have a few huts good for couples or groups to dine in. Price was mid-range from PHP 120 -PHP 300. Unfortunately for me, my experience at Carl’s was not up to par. My food came in after more than an hour with no explanation nor apologies. I didn’t mind waiting if it was worth it, but the food was not that good. I went back to the hotel with a full stomach but not a happy one.
I started my day early at 06:00H and by 08:00H I was already at Corong Galeri for my tour. This time I signed up for Tour B1, to visit more islands (CYC Beach, Siete Pecados, Calachuchi Beach, Calachuchi Coral Eden, Hidden Lagoon plus Kayangan Lake). It was all about fun water activities and discovering the world under the sea.
I went for the last time at Lolo Nonoy’s for dinner after I bought some souvenirs at Coron Souvenir and Gift Shop also along the National Road. The next day, I was picked up at the hotel around 10:00H to get to the airport.
Coron is the type of vacation destination where there is so much to do, with so little time. It felt like I can go back again and again and I would never get tired of what it has to offer.
Here was my 4D / 3N Itinerary
|10:30H-11:10H||Departure from (MNL) Manila Domestic Airport Terminal 4 via Sky Jet|
|11:10H-11:40H||Arrival at (USU) Busuanga Airport / Baggage Claim|
|11:40H-12:15H||Travel from airport to Hotel/Accommodation in Coron Town (Around 35 mins)|
|13:00H-13:30H||Visit Corong Galeri to book tours for the following day|
|13:30H-14:30H||Lunch at Carinderia (Canteen)|
|14:30H-17:30H||Rented a bike and go around town.|
|17:30H-20:00H||Off to Mt. Tapyas.|
|20:00H-21:00H||Dinner at Lolo Nonoy’s|
|21:00H||Back to hotel|
|08:00H||Meet up at Corong Galeri office for the Tour|
|08:30H||Off to the Island Hopping Boat Port|
|09:45H-11:15H||Boat ride to Malcapuya Island|
|11:15H-14:00H||Stay at Malcapuya Island|
|14:00H-15:30H||Hop to Banana Island (Additional Php 300)|
|15:30H-16:10H||Transfer to Bulog Island|
|16:10H-17:20H||Travel back to Coron Town|
|18:00H-19:30H||Maquinit Hot Spring|
|20:15H-21:30H||Dinner at Carl’s BBQ|
|21:40H||Back to hotel|
|08:00H||Meet up at Corong Galeri office for the Tour|
|08:30H||Off to the Island Hopping Boat Port|
|10:30H-11:30H||Siete Pecados Marine Park|
|12:00H-13:00H||Lunch at Calachuchi Beach|
|13:00H-13:45H||Calachuchi Coral Garden|
|14:10H-14:40H||Hike to Kayangan|
|16:00H-16:30H||Back to Coron Town|
|19:00H-20:00H||Dinner at Lolo Nonoy’s|
|20:10H||Back to Hotel|
Day 4 – Until Next Time
|10:00H-11:00H||Travel to Busuanga Airport|
|12:00H-13:20H||Travel from (USU) Busuanga Airport to (MLA) Manila Domestic Airport Terminal 4. The travel time was supposed to be 40 mins but we landed late in Manila due to airport traffic.|
Daily Breakdown of Expenses
|PHP 250||Manila Airport food expense|
|PHP 200||Busuanga Airport food expense for my mom and my sister|
|PHP 150||Van transfer from Airport to Hotel|
|PHP 150||Lunch (Carinderia)|
|PHP 300||Bike rental – 100/hour x 3 hours|
|PHP 380||Dinner @ Lolo Nonoy’s|
|PHP 950||Tour-C Malcapuya Island|
|PHP 300||Additional for Banana and Bulog Islands|
|PHP 150||Snorkel and mask rental|
|PHP 500||Maquinit Hot Spring – 300 RT tricycle fare, 200 hot spring entrance fee|
|PHP 330||Dinner @ Carl’s BBQ|
|PHP 650||Tour-B1 Siete Pecados, CYC Beach, Calachuchi Beach, Calachuchi Coral Eden, Hidden Lagoon|
|PHP 300||Additional for Kayangan Lake|
|PHP 230||Dinner @ Lolo Nonoy’s|
|PHP 150||Van transfer from Hotel to Busuanga Airport|
|PHP 100||Terminal Fee|
|PHP 2,341||Roundtrip Airfare|
|PHP 2,250||Lodging - 750/night x 3|
|PHP 1,430||Day 1|
|PHP 2,230||Day 2|
|PHP 2,200||Day 3|
|PHP 250||Day 4|
|PHP 10,701||Grand Total – 4D/3N Coron Solo Travel
I was able to apply some of the tips/guides that I have read about DIY/budget traveling for my first trip. It can still be lowered but I think that it was not too bad for a first-timer and that was quite an accomplishment for me.
How about you? When are you going to start on your own adventure?
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