Summer Trip to Coron (DAY 2): D.I.Y. Tour of Coron Town

Hollywood-styled signage of Coron which can be seen on its port area

Hollywood-styled signage of Coron which can be seen from the port area

My friend, are you a tourist or a traveller?  I recently read an article/quiz about the difference of the two.  To make the story short, a Traveller is the one who is not afraid to explore the city sans tour guide.  And that’s what we did in the afternoon of our second day in Coron.

When I asked my friend Rommel about the tour packages in Coron, he said not to choose the City Tour since it’s more expensive and can be done DYI (For those who don’t know what the acronym means, it’s “do-it-yourself”).  I checked on different sites that arranges Coron Town Tour and the fee was Php 500-700 per person.  Since an option to save money was possible, I planned of hiring a tricycle to take us to the different places at the town even if this is my first time in Coron.

After our Calauit Safari Tour in the morning, we head back to our hotel.  Since our tour includes hiring a tricycle to take us to our hotel, we asked him if he can tour us around and he obliged.  The fee?  Php 500 only!  But before we head to the hotel, we already visited the first place of out tour.  Actually, we already visited it unknowingly on our first day.  The place is called Lualhati Park.

Lualhati Park

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If you will go on an island tour, this is the starting point.  It is just five steps (as in!) away from the port area.  This baywalk is good if you want to be sentimental while staring at the sea. LOL.

A place for your "senti" moments. HAHA!

A place for your “senti” moments. HAHA!

Turning to a different direction and a few more steps fronting the park is Coron’s Public Market.

Coron Public Market

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This is where you can buy all their known goodies like different kinds of dried fish, kasuy and small gifts or pasalubong.  Though it may look dirty but it is one of the cleanest wet and dry market that I’ve seen with no foul smell but you will smell the sea and its fresh produce.  And since this is a palengke (wet market), expect that the goods here are cheaper.

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A lady selling different kinds of packed dried fish inside Coron’s Public Market

Mount Taypas and Mount Tapyas Cross

We failed to recall that our hotel is near Mt. Tapyas so we rode a short distance going there with our hired tricycle.  But if you are staying at Mount Tapyas Hotel, It is just 2 blocks away, so you can always walk going there.   We’ve heard that we need to climb 700+ steps going there, so we decided to buy drinks at the foot of the mountain.  By the way, there is no fee going to the top of Mt. Tapyas.

Collage of our climb at the top of Mt. Tapyas

Collage of our climb at the top of Mt. Tapyas

This is the best place to see the entire Coron and its nearby island.  You will also get to see the famous Mount Tapyas Cross.

The tall metal cross on top of Mount Tapyas

The tall metal cross on top of Mount Tapyas

View at the top

View at the top

Us enjoying the view and relaxing a bit after the climb

Us enjoying the view and relaxing a bit after the climb

We’ve noticed that there are seats and gazebos along the way to the top where you can rest a bit from climbing.  Unlike climbing other mountains, this is easier since the path is flat and cemented.  Take your time and enjoy the view.

After picture-taking and resting, we went down and rode our rented tricycle to relax our feet at Maquinit Hot Spring.

Maquinit Hot Sprint

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It took 15-20 minutes for us to get here.  Going to a hot spring resort is not new to me since my place in Laguna is abundant with it.  But this one is different because the water is salty and it is really damn hot!

Dipping our tired feet in a pool of salty hot spring water

Dipping our tired feet in a pool of salty hot spring water

My advise:  Don’t go diving here cause the man-made pool is shallow, similar to a kiddie pool.  Dip your feet first and allow your body to adjust to the temperature then slowly submerge yourself in the pool.  Aside from enjoying the water, you can also tour their mangrove.  How much is the fee to this resort?  It’s Php 150.  Quite expensive since we stayed there in less than an hour.  But if you want to stay longer, small cottages and tables are for rent which we didn’t do.  We just placed our stuff near the pool and look after it.  Besides neither one of us dared to do lapses at the pool.  HAHA!

If we are going to compute for the expenses we have for this short tour, here it is:

Php 500 – Tricycle Ride / 5 people = Php 100 fee per person

Php 100  + Php 150 (Entrance fee at Maquinit Hot Spring) = Php 250!!!

WOW!  We saved a lot here!  Instead of paying Php 500 per person, it was cut into half because we did it DIY-style.  So the next time you will tour the town of Coron, hire a tricycle and ask them where to go.  Hope I helped you with this, my friend.  Wait for my day 3 post to learn more.

-Tinakits-

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Summer Trip to Coron: Planning Stage

Our group photo overlooking the Blue Lagoon in Coron, Palawan

Our group photo overlooking the Blue Lagoon in Coron, Palawan

My friend, how was your summer?  How did you enjoy it?  Regardless of your location or the seasons in your country, summer is the happiest season for most.  This is where students end their school year and when the working adults create so many reasons to go on vacation.  In a tropical country like the Philippines, it is the best season to enjoy the best of our country.  That is, exploring the beaches.  So if you are one of those who want to plan out any vacation in Coron in the future, readout this series for your guide.  Of course, I will start my Coron Trip Series with the Planning Stage:

TIP #1:  PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO GO AND WAIT FOR ANY PROMO RELEASES FROM DIFFERENT AIRLINES ONCE ITS AVAILABLE AND BOOK IMMEDIATELY

My friends in my previous Department, my boyfriend B and I share the same passion for exploring the wonderful beaches in the Philippines and because of this, we always in constant search for our next destination.  And I tell you, we have a lot on our list!  Just like last year, B and I were reminisced the wonderful vacation we’ve had in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan in 2011.  Since we felt that the time we spent for snorkeling was short-changed on our last vacation, we agreed that we will explore the beauty of Palawan next year.  I guess PAL Express (new name for Airphil) heard our conversation that they decided to have a Piso Fare November of 2012!  Since Coron was on our list, we decided to book a round trip flight to Busuanga (gateway of Coron) for 2 intended for June of 2013.  The price?  Php 1,500 per person, ALL-IN (“All-in” means the price already includes the base fare, travel tax, fuel tax, surcharges, etc.)

Excited as I was, I told my friend Marie about our plan and she got envious because she heard Coron was full of beaches and we bought a roundtrip ticket for a very low price.  So I booked one for her and she availed of the discount we had.  A month after, one of our friend named Jill heard from Marie about our adventure for 2013.  Since June was her birth month and all her planned vacation for that year was cancelled, she sent me a message saying she wants to join us, too.  And off I go to my lappie and booked another ticket for her.  The price?  Around Php 2,000 roundtrip.  Now that makes us 4.  Another friend of ours, Sir Romie, heard about our planned adventure.  Since he’s very stressed with some personal matters and he hasn’t gone on a real vacation, he asked me to book a ticket for him so that he could join us!  He asked me that favor last December.  I booked the ticket but it cost him around Php 3,000 which is double the price of my ticket for the same destination.

What’s the moral of the story?

Have a list of the places you want to go.  So that once airlines starts with their promotion, you already have an idea what’s your destination will be for your trip.

– Sign up on different airlines news feed for you to get notifications about their upcoming promotions so that you won’t miss any of their deals.

– Make sure you always ALWAYS save money so that once a promo becomes available, you have the money to book for tickets and other expenses for the trip.  Really, it pays a lot if you save.

– Once an airline promo becomes available for the destination you want, BOOK IT!

– Be aware of the holidays in your country so you can plan out your vacation.  You may click here for reference.

Map of Calamines Group of island as posted in Coron Galeri's office in the town of Coron,  Northern palawan

Map of Calamines Group of island as posted in Coron Galeri‘s office in the town of Coron, Northern Palawan

TIP #2: RESEARCH ABOUT YOUR DESTINATION

Since we already have tickets, the next thing is plan for our itinerary.  I have not been to Coron nor any of my companions.  For this, I have 2 options for researching:

1.  Fire up Google and search for blog entries and travel agencies that features Coron

I know there are fellow adventurers that have been to the Northern part of Palawan that were eager to share their experiences to others.  They will provide details of their planning, their activities, suggestions and hands-on experience which you need to consider in planning your itinerary.

Based on my research, here are some of the things I’ve learned in Coron:

– Coron is a part of the Calamines group of islands.  There’s a lot of small islands there mostly with white sand beaches.  Good for beach bumming.

– The seas of Coron were protected with diverse marine life.  Which means the place is good for snorkeling and diving.

– During World War 2, Northern Palawan was one of the sites for war battles with ships falling victim to bombs.  That is why Coron is a very known for shipwreck diving.

– Palawan is a well-secluded area and far from the city which was considered in building projects like the Iwahig Penal Colony in Puerto Princesa and Tala Leprosarium in Culion, Palawan – a place for those suffering from leprosy.  Culion is a part of Calamines Group.  Due to the social stigma about people suffering from leprosy, Culion was not a popular destination and was secluded from development which preserved its environment, monuments and ancient Spanish architecture.  Therefore, it is a great place to travel back in time and see Palawan during her younger years.

– Due to its diverse flora and fauna, the island of Calauit became the area for African animals purchased by the late President Ferdinand Marcos which was now called the Calauit Safari Park.

2.  Ask a friend you know have already visited the place

Lucky that I found a friend who visited the place last year.  Rommel, a friend and co-worker whom I share the same passion for cheer dancing, told me of his experience.  There’s nothing like getting tips from someone you completely trust.  Based on his first-hand experience, he said that it is best to hire a travel guide to arrange all the tours for our group.  He said touring the islands of Coron is a bit complicated since we need to pay a certain amount every time we enter an island or beach since some were protected  by the different tribes in Palawan, some were privately owned and a few were  no longer open to public for conservation reasons.  He also suggested to hire the services of the company named Coron Galeri to arrange everything for us.

The great thing about Rommel’s suggestion is that Coron Galeri has their own website where you can see all the available tour packages they offer.  He also gave me tips on arranging our itinerary:

– Among all of the Coron tours you can avail in an agency, do not choose to avail of their Coron Town Tour.  Why?  It is expensive and you can do it on your own. He was right about this and I will provide you details on my next entry.

– Hop all the islands you can for the entire duration.  But always check on the news in Coron for the islands that are not for touring.

– to get to another island, it requires time and boat ride.  Choose well on which island you want to go.  For our group, we chose to go to Calauit for their safari rather than going to Culion.

– There are no food nor convenience store chains in the town of Coron.  But they have Sari-sari Stores and eatery or calinderias around.

– Coron is a province.  Do not expect that their nightlife is like in Manila or in Boracay that it is open till sunrise.

– Roads are small.  Mode of transportation there is Tricycle.

– ATM Machines are not easy to find.  Better have cash in hand for your spending’s.

TIP #3:  RESEARCH ON THE BEST ACCOMMODATION THAT WILL FIT YOUR BUDGET

There are so many options on room accommodation.  Agoda, Hotels.com and Palawan-resort websites provides you with lists to choose from.  Research well on their amenities and their proximity to the places you want to go.  Since a part of our agenda is to go to Mount Tapyas and I am obsess with a good view but with affordable rates, we chose Mount Tapyas Hotel for our temporary home in Coron.

Facade of our home in Coron - Mount Tapyas Hotel

Facade of our home in Coron – Mount Tapyas Hotel

After our deliberation and agreement, we came up with this itinerary.  By the way, we have 4 days for this trip:

Day 1: Island Eco Tour. This means island-hopping to Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoons, Barracuda Lake, Banol Beach, Smith Point White beach, Atwayan Beach

Day 2: Calauit Safari (travel via boat) & Black Island in the morning.  Mount Tapyas climb and Maquinit Hotspring in the afternoon.

Day 3: Beach-hopping to Bulog Island, Banana Island and Malcapuya Island

Day 4: Catch a flight going back to Manila

NOTE:  This itinerary was not followed.  Hihihi!  More on that on my future post.

Everything is set on our trip! Hope I helped you in planning for your future trip in Coron.  How was our vacation?  It was memorable!  I’ll post our 4-day adventure next.

My friend, any questions about planning for your Coron Trip?  Let me know so that I can help you.

-Tinakits-