Taal Lake, Philippines

Want to explore the smallest volcano in the world?

Taal volcano is worth a day trip from Manila, Philippines. 

This trip was more like a mini reunion with our dear friend from Beijing, Wilbur who was kind and generous to host us in their farm/ ranch house in Tagaytay


He was kind enough to pick us up at the airport, five hours after our original flight schedule, treated us for dinner, and drove us for two hours to their vacation slash ranch house in Tagaytay where we stayed for two nights! 

He even cooked and prepared breakfast for us! I am so blessed to have such heartwarming and generous Filipino friends! Really.

So the next day, we went to see the infamous smallest volcano in the world-- Taal. 

The crater lake on volcano Island is the largest lake on an island in a lake on an island in the world.

We went on our own to do this trip by taking a tricycle ride. Which was a bit rough considering the road we were taking.

But it was a nice adventure for us and we were able to take our time. We asked our tricycle driver to take stops for us just to take pictures and embrace the scenery.

When we got to the base port of the lake, we found several "resorts" doing a package tour to the crater of Taal, most of them are including lunch. We picked, Tiantongco's Resort from the mainland. And took their designated boat.

Going to the top of the crater is quite a hike, about 30-40 minutes. Most tourists opted for the horseback riding. Since we have started that day on an adventure, we took the hike on foot. And it was more fun for us! Haha.

The slope is not so steep, so it's easier to hike. Some parts were muddy and unstable though. But the higher you go, the view becomes clearer and more beautiful of the island. This being a tourist place, you can hire a guide as you wish.

The volcano's crater was a delight to see! It was surreal to be standing there in person. Because I grew up having read about Taal volcano in my school's textbooks. So if you could, do give Taal volcano a visit!

Although the volcano had been a deadliest one in the country. Don't worry too much about the state of this active volcano because they set an alarm level when an eminent eruption is about to happen. Taal volcano has been asleep for 40 years that no amount of golf balls can wake it up! ;)

It's worth to have your true love's kiss while you're up there. ;)

Oh, don't forget to bring (bottled) drinking water, although they sell them there. And try to wear comfy shoes. I'm soo used to wearing slippers on a hike but for once, I wished that I wore comfortable shoes. ;)

After a long day and hike, we treated ourselves to a nice early dinner at Sonya's Garden in Alfonso, Cavite, which is also a great place to take your lovey-dovey on a romantic date. It's about an hour and a half ride on a jeepney from where we came from.

Here's our expenses for this trip:

Php 2,000 for the round trip ferry boat.

Php 50.00 (per person) for entrance fee

Php 300.00 (the cheapest) for a guide, although in the end we realized we could have done the hike without her. But yeah, let's help local economy. :)

Php 500.00 if you want to ride a horse to the crater

Have you been to a volcano crater before? How was your experience?

Old Manila, Philippines

What's a good way to explore Manila?

Although being born in the Philippines, I have only been to Manila, a few times onlyBecause honestly, I don't like the place. :(

The very first time I went there was on a summer before my senior year in high school, with some of my classmates for a leadership training in St. Paul's Paranaque. I remembered that when my parents could afford to send me to this trip, I prepared for two months! 

It was a fun-filled experience, even though at those times we didn't have smartphones or ipods. ;)

On my second return, I was with my co-leagues, which was seven years after my first trip. I remembered feeling sad and heartbroken, especially seeing all the street children without a home to sleep in, on rainy and cold nights. Almost similar to what Frenchie and I saw...

When I became more aware of my country's situation and poverty, I have told foreign friends who wanted to visit the Philippines that they should go out of Manila the moment they come to the country. It's not that I'm ashamed of the picture they will see, but I don't want them to ONLY have an impression that the whole Philippines looks like Manila. No. We have so many beautiful places and islands that even if we are a country in poverty, we are the most beautiful and hospitable souls you will meetReally.

But then again, I still have to introduce Manila to Frenchie.

So what one can do when you're in Manila?? For us, go and explore Chinatown. Haha!

And of course try their Chinese food!

Manila-- including it's history and culture can be introduced to you by one man, who made a promise that you will see it on a different light, and beauty---- MR. CARLOS CELDRAN. 

We learned so much from his Walk This Way (walk) tour and he's very entertaining too! It's pricey for Filipino standard (Php 1, 100) but he does a barter tour every now and then, wherein you can pay him anything you can. Nice!

He starts and do most of this tour inside Intramuros.


We were able to ride in a kalesa (fare is included in the fee) during this tour going to Manila Cathedral. Fun! Fun! Fun!


He's very admirable because rain or shine, he keeps on going! As a Filipino, I learned so much about my history and culture, in the most interactive and comprehensible way possible. And oh, we ended up the tour with a glass of halo-halo! Just like our Filipino culture, we are mix-mix!

Know more about his tour dates and schedules or book it here: http://celdrantours.blogspot.com/

Have you been to Manila? What do you think of the city?

Kanlaon, Negros Oriental


This was our last stop of our Negros trip before going home to Iloilo.

Our planned was to do a "short" hike to the mountain, and see what this small city can offer.

Since we came from Bais City and we left in the afternoon, we decided to stop by Guihulgan City. Negros is such a productive island, being able to produce-- sugarcane for the whole country, that big towns have been turned into cities over the years.

Guihulgan City is our middle point before going to Kanlaon City so we spent a night at its most well known and organized guesthouse, Monterial Homes.

When we arrived there, the city was celebrating its "foundation" day, which is like their fiesta. Basically, they have sports and entertainment activities from morning til night.

What I love most about this trip is that, we've met a lot of people who have been our "angels" also known as showing us to our way, who have personally taught me to be humbled. On this trip, we were spontaneously going with what we could find for a place to stay.

There was a policeman who helped us to get to Monterial Homes after seeing us, in our lost-and-wandering-state in the street. He offered to drive us there with his own car and asked the front desk if they have any available rooms, because if they don't have, he will have to drive us to another one-- just to make sure we have a place to stay that (rainy) night. Ahhh, the Filipino hospitality and kindness to its truest form! I love it!

Good thing, we were able to eat first before taking the arduous task. So when you're in Negros, eat the famous-- Chicken Inasal with puso (rice wrapped in banana leaves)!

The very next morning, we were off to take a bus going to our final destination-- Kanlaon City, hoping to hike this...

Unfortunately, the weather and the West monsoon were a party-popper to our plans. So we ended up staying in F&C Homes for two days and eat whatever mouth-watering foods they have.

We did went for a walk and see for ourselves how big or small this city is. We went to its Tourism Officer first, but due to the torrential rain that was coming our way, they advised us that it'll be dangerous to go to any of the places they would usually recommend. The number one reason is, you can only take a habal-habal, a scooter with a local driver, but the roads are very muddy and not advisable for these trips.

We would have went to see...these places of interest, as suggested in their website: http://www.godumaguete.com/canlaon-city-negros-oriental.html

Mount Kanlaon

The most imposing landmark in the island of Negros and one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. At 2,415 meters above sea level Mt Kanlaon has the highest peak in Central Philippines. Experienced climbers consider this a "major climb, with a difficulty level of 7/9, and trail class 2-4"

One of the attractions of Mt. Kanlaon is the Sudlon waterfalls and Margaha Valley, the volcano’s former crater, which is located just below the base of the present-day active crater.

Makawiliwili Ridge

Also known as the “Saddle in the Sky”, the ridge is located between two mountain peaks almost 8000 feet above sea level, and frequently used by scientists and climbers as vantage point in observing the two craters of Kanlaon Volcano.

Mayon Zigzag

A portion of the highway from the junction of Barangay Bagawines where the road ascends in a zigzag, affording a changing panoramic view of the blue waters of Tañon Strait and the island of Cebu, and hugging the foothill dwellings of farmers like toy houses surrounded by cornfields. The climb ends in Barangay Tagbino of Canlaon City.

Adudusan Natural Water Slide

One of Canlaon’s numerous falls has carved a natural water slide that is popular among trekkers.

Inyawan Enchanted Falls

Flows 100 feet off Inyawan River at the edge of a forest. Cold and clear waters cascade downstream to join Masaulog River; accessible by road.

Quipot Falls

Bottle-shaped cascade about 100 feet; largest of three neighboring waterfalls fed by Binalbagan, Malaiba and Linothangan tributaries. Deep basin ideal for swimming and boating.

Oldest Tree

Reportedly the oldest tree in the Philippines, this huge balete tree is estimated to be more than a thousand years old. llluminated by thousands of fireflies at night, it has been called the "Wonder Tree" and is definitely a sight to behold.

Camp Mapot and Mountain Park

A verdant plateau situated 5,000 feet above sea level, first developed as a health camp, with pine trees, streams and hillside springs, rare flora and fauna, and with temperature and scenery reminiscent of Baguio’s City. Camp Mapot is a part of the Mt. Kanlaon National Park, a favorite of nature trekkers.

Sadly we were not able to see all that, but I was happy to see women (of all ages) gathered around in the plaza, everyday, for an afternoon zumba! It's really about time that physical exercises should be highlighted in one's lifestyle. ;)

After two rainy days, we decided that it's time to go back home. The rain won't stop for us. :( But I think, Frenchie was relieved to be going back home. hehe

We took the RORO boat again on our way back to Dumangas, Iloilo. Thankfully, the storm have stopped and not too many passengers on the boat.

For our expenses:

Bus from Bais City to La Libertad– Php 75 (each)

Bus from La Libertad to Guihulgan– Php 20 (each)

Monterial Homes (one night)– Php 1,000

Bus from Guihulgan to Canlaon City– Php 78 (each)

F&C Homes – Php 750/night (including breakfast)

Bus from Canlaon City to Bacolod City -- Php 108 (each)

Did you ever have a trip that didn't go as planned? What did you do instead?

Bais City, Negros Oriental


Where to go for dolphin watching in the Philippines?

Bais city’s attraction is the cute and lovable sea creatures that is slowly putting the city to a good travel spot. You are not allowed to swim with the dolphins. And that's a good thing.

When we arrived in the city after a long bus ride from Malatapay, we went directly to their tourism department, as suggested in our travel guides.

According to the city tourism officer, in order to see the dolphins we needed to sign up for their boat tour. But since we arrived on a Friday and we wanted to see the dolphins the very next day, we were unfortunate to be on a waiting list, as it was expected to be full with weekenders!

But the tourism officer was so gracious and helpful that he suggested us another way on how to see the dolphins and even led us to a cozy, Air BnB-style-home near the beach.

This was our breathtaking view from the beach at sunrise…

So without second thoughts, we stayed in this place and they arranged a small boat for us to see the dolphins. It was Php 3,000 to rent the whole thing. Luckily, two Swedish girls popped up, who coincidentally came from Apo Island as well who were also interested to see the dolphins. If you do the Math, we were to split the fee between our twosomes. ;) They were sisters by the way.

That night, Frenchie and I decided to at least see the center of the city and have dinner there. Well, lo and behold...Bais City has food stalls every night! You can choose from a wide selection of grilled foods. I love it!

I love the ambiance and the friendly people. (To eat at the food stalls was suggested by ladyboys who invited us to join them for some karaoke that Friday night!) A local also started talking and giving us advise that we need to swim/go to the sand bar, which was in fact part of the package of our boat getaway for the next day!

We had a very nice and homey accommodation. And if there is anything I love in every of our travel, it’s really the small (and big) interactions we had with the local people. We were treated to a nice breakfast and happy cheers. The very special trait of our Filipino hospitality!


After breakfast, we heard the roaring sound of our boat and we were literally picked up in front of our room because it was high tide! Very awesome!

Our whole day was spent in watching the happy dolphins swim

As we swim in the clearest and most beautiful sand bar beach…


And walked along the mangroves…


Our short but worthy stay in Bais City was truly magnificent!

And off we went on to Kanlaon City hoping to hike to only volcano in Negros!

 For our expenses:

Bus from Malatapay to Dumaguete-- Php 25 (each)

Bus from Dumaguete to Bais City-- Php 50 (each)

Tricycle ride to the house-hostel from Tourism office-- Php 50 (whole tricycle)

Boat to Dolphin sightseeing and Sandbar-- Php 1,500 (half of the whole boat rent fee)

One night of stay at the local's house-- Php 1,000 (including breakfast)

Dinner and other expenses-- Php 300

Have you seen lovely dolphins? How was your experience?