Philippines/planning a visit
My wife and I are retired college professors and have traveled extensively in Asia. We are trying to plan a visit to the Philippines in May or June.
We would like to spend 2 or 3 days in Manilla to see the sights. We would like to stay in an area that is not a high rent tourist area. We can see plenty of tourists without flying 5000 miles. We like to walk around some and see what life in the city is like. Obviously we want a safe area. We have done this in places like Bangkok, Hanoi, Delhi, and Phnom Penh. Is it possible in Manilla, or should I save it for some of the smaller cities? Can you help me?
Also we would like to visit 2 or 3 islands. We would particularly like to find one with a beautiful beach and an inexpensive hotel at the beach. We like to snorkle, but do not dive. We have read about Bohol and the Chocolate Hills, but we aren't sure if there are any great beaches there. What about on Cebu? Also Mindora appears easy to get to and inexpensive? Boracay sounds beautiful, but very touristy. We don't have to have expensive hotels. We would rather save money and stay more days.
I read about the coast near Naga and that area sounds interesting. We also like jungle areas. Also, is there much to do in tayaytag/Lake Taal area?
The problem is that there are so many great places to go, but they are all time consuming to get to. We would prefer 3 locations with time to relax over 5 or 6 that are go-go all the time. I am also not sure of the best way to get around on one of the islands - rent a car or public buses which have disadvantages.
Also, I know May through the Summer will involve some rain and I would like to avoid areas where rain will be heaviest and could spoil the trip. When are Typhons most prevalent?
I know I am throwing a lot at you, but I am finding the trip hard to plan. I would appreciate any help you can give me -- and suggestions for possibilities I may have missed.
After a long long time someone has asked me a question on the Philippines that is related to a holiday there! I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can. First of all I would advise you to think about deferring your visit to later in the year as May - Jun as very hot and also the rainy season.
In Manila you can stay at MAKATI CITY area which is the most touristy and downtown area of METRO MANILA. You can find hotels like SHANGRI-LA there for about $100 a night and will include breakfast as well. Websites like AGODA.COM or TRIPADVISOR.COM should be able to give you good discounts and also many more reviews from more users like me. While in Manila do visit the old part of the city - INTRAMOUROS where there is a old fort that was built during the Spanish era. From Manila Tagaytay is a day journey and is a must-visit to see the volcano within a lake within another volcano. If you have the time you could spend a night and a couple of days at SONYA'S INN at Tagaytay.
If you find MAKATI hotels expensive then check out hotels near the CALOOCAN CITY area. This part of the city is more congested and there are also too many bars and pubs that caters to the sex-tourism that Manils is known for. Makati is more clean and well-maintained.
For snorkelling opportunities from Manila you should visit the Batangas province which is at the south of the Luzon island. I have stayed at Eagle's Nest Resort at the very southern end of Anilao Barangay and they have excellent snorkelling areas close by.
If I may suggest, you can do Manila - Tagaytay - Batangas as a tour and then get back to Manila to take a flight to any island that you may wish to to. I would suggest PALAWAN which is to the South East of Manila. You will need to take a flight to Puerto Princessa. PALAWAN has several opportunities for beach resorts and has even the World Heritage sites of grottos to the north. Borocay is very touristy and I would avoid it. At Palawan we stayed at the Dos Palmas Island resort but there are other options. I have not been to Naga and Mindora but I understand that they are also good options.
I have been to Bohol and Cebu. If you have the time you should go to Cebu by air and then travel to Bohol for the day via the Jet-Catamaran.
For more information please check out my blogs -
Travel Blog - http://nileshkorgaokar.travellerspoint.com/
Photo Blog - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nileshkorgaokar/sets
You may have to scroll down or up my blog to find my travelogue on Philippines but it will have more information and perhaps websites pointing to the places I have mentioned here.
Hope I have been able to provide you with most of the information that you were looking for. If you need any more information please feel free to ask again.
Take Care and have a great trip