Friday, March 23, 2018

As I was browsing my Facebook account one evening, my attention was caught by an interesting photo that appeared on my wall. In the photo, my friend was sitting in a surf board in the middle of the blue ocean waiting for a perfect wave to conquer. I got easily mesmerized by his photo then I realized that I really wanted to try surfing for a very long time. But, where? Where can I find a place to try surfing and experience the ultimate beach vibe? I searched online for some answers then I stumble upon a blog about La Union or "Elyu" (a popular term among surfing communities). Since I was in Ilocos Norte during that time, I decided to go to La Union before I went back to Manila. [Read: Foodspotting in Elyu]

Elyu is not just a place for wave warriors it is also an ideal getaway for those who wants to relax and have fun.

La Union is a well-known surfing destination in the Philippines. Local and foreign tourists are captivated by the wildness of its waves and the always-summer aura of the place.

I arrived in La Union at around 6 in the morning. I was too early and I was surprised when the guy from the hostel told me that they were accepting guest at around 1 in the afternoon. Since, I don’t want to waste my time, I decided to stay in the shore and I just let the time passed as I watched hundreds of waves racing to kiss the shore. As the sun started to rise and as the horizon turned blue I was stunned by the calmness of the place. When the sunlight hits the ocean it created a sea of stars glistening in the hot morning sun. The beauty was just irresistible and on that moment I knew that my trip to this place is something unforgettable. I enjoyed watching surfers sitting on their surf boards scanning the ocean for a perfect wave to ride on. The children’s laughter while playing in the shore was a soothing music to my ear. It is one of those memorable moments where you can just relax, reflect on the beautiful things in life and just get totally lost by the present moment. 

The relaxing vibe in the Surfers Villa.

La Union offers an extraordinary beach vibe. The chillaxing environment was tempting and the laid-back lifestyle was very inviting. For me, it was like a hipster paradise. Reggae music was playing in the background, surfers dancing through the rhythm of the waves and the artsy environment will give you the feeling of an ultimate summer vibe. It was never a dull moment in La Union. The locals are happy and it’s a place without strangers. There’s no rich or poor traveler in Elyu, everyone was invited to the party; a party where everyone is free to express and a party where everyone celebrates the beauty of being alive. It was a great escape from a toxic and tiring life in the city, it’s a romantic destination for lovers who wants to savor there eternal love and a wonderful place for friends to glorify the promise of lasting friendship. For me, La Union embodies the ultimate beach vibe.

Surfer board can be rented for Php 400 including the fee for instructor for an hour.

It’s time for me to try surfing and I was extremely excited. I rented a surf board for Php400 including the instructor fee for an hour. My knees were trembling because of fear but at the same time I felt pure ecstasy. The feeling was surreal, I felt like I was a child again, it was like buying my first toy for the first time and playing with it until I get the feeling of total satisfaction. I continue to paddle and tried my best to balance and to stand on the board and when the moment came it was like a dream. A dream exploding throughout the galaxies that attracts positive energies in the whole universe. It was a moment of total bliss and satisfaction.I was stoked. As John McCarthy says “surfing is the most blissful experience you can have on this planet, a taste of heaven.”

Stoked in Elyu.
In just a 4 to 5 hours drive from Manila you can experience the bohemian/rustic vibe of La Union. Instead of just visiting the place, try to immerse yourself to the surroundings. Be a local, meet different people and just let the waves wash your sorrows.

The artsy and hipster vibe in The Circle Hostel.


  • Buses such as Partas , Viron Transportation and Dominion bus have daily trips to La Union. Ride a bus bound to Vigan or Laoag then tell the conductor to drop you off in Urbiztondo. The fare is around Php 425. Travel time is 4 to 5 hours. Visit Partas bus terminal in Cubao and Pasay.  Dominion Bus terminals is located in New York St. Quezon City while Viron Transporation is located in Sampaloc Manila. 
  • Another option is board a bus going to San Fernando, La Union. From the bus terminal, ride a tricycle going to Urbiztondo. 

La Union also offers cheap and artsy hostels and transient houses for backpackers and budget travelers. [Read: P&M Final Option Resort Review]

The Circle Hostel 
Mobile: 0917 505 4329
They have Bunk beds for Php 550 per night. Also they have hammocks for Php 450 per night. Book online now!

Flotsam Jetsam Beach Hostel
Mobile: 0917 802 1328
A beach front hostel and cafe bar that offers bohemian vibe and delicious food.
Their rooms ranges from Php 600 to 3000 a night.

Vessel Hostel
Rate is Php 980 per night in an air-conditioned room with complimentary breakfast.  

About the author:
Edss Tolentino works as a Visual Merchandiser in a retail Brand. He is an aspiring Travel writer, an adventure junkie and the seeker of the unknown. His goal is to explore the 7,641 islands of the Philippines and share its beauty to the world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

PAG-ASA has not yet officially declared summer but one can quickly find that most resorts and hotels are already fully booked.  That especially rings true for #eLyU (La Union) where even just in February, weekends are brimming with local and foreign tourists.  Fret not, your eLyU dreams can still come true with P&M Final Option Resort.  The name Final Option might ring funny but yes, the facilities are good, and you won’t feel like you made a last-option/ no-option choice; and no, the resort does not have the makings of what could be a Final Destination 6 movie.  Now that part is over, here are some of the things you can expect from this resort. [Read: Foodspotting in eLyU]

A inviting row of sun loungers will greet you as you check in on your rooms.  Photo by: Florian Villanueva

The resort sits by the beachfront and has two areas: the room area, and the poolside area where they have amazing view decks and the German Bistro.  The property is not that big which makes going from one place (or room, if you have a big group) to another convenient. 

The rooms are spacious. This comfortably fits in 6 people and you still have enough room for bags.

Towels and toiletries are provided free of charge.
The rooms are straightforward, nothing fancy but the owners did not scrimp on space as well.  The full length mirror is also a nice touch for your mirror selfies and checking out that OOTD.

Pool area right across the rooms is accessible for morning dips before breakfast
The bean-shaped pool is a nice feature of the resort as you can still swim at night or if you are just generally frightened by the waves in the beach.

The pool is definitely mermaid-friendly

The German Bistro greets you with a colorful bar
What sets Final Option in my opinion is their German Bistro which not only serves German beer-sausage combo goodness but also food that will make you throw any diet plans you have away.  They have sinigang, adobo rice, crispy kangkong, and fried chicken, among others.  Still staying true to that simplistic approach but with great quality, expect that while these may be your staple Manila finds, they are really yummy and are served generously.

German beers

No, it is never weird for sinigang to go with adobo rice.  These guarantee a romantic date of flavors in your mouth.

Fried chicken and crispy kangkong. The crispy kangkong looked and tasted nothing like those you can get in Manila. You get more kangkong and less flour.
Final Option also has decks where you can bask in the sun while enjoying the company of your friends, and the view of the beach. 

If this won't take your breath away, I don't know what will. Photo by: Florian Villanueva

Rooms atop the bistro gives you a front row seat to the beach view. Photo by: Florian Villanueva
You have not really experienced eLyU if you have not tried surfing.  Final Option offers surfing lessons for beginners as well as kayaking, boating, and paddle boarding.  Alternatively, you can people-watch at the beach and snap photos of random surfer dudes.

Sunset surfing at P&M Final Option Resort
Complete list of room rates are available here.

320 Eagle Street Ili Norte, 
San Juan, La Union
Contact Numbers: (63) 72-888-2724, (63) 929-448-5505
Book Now!

How to Go to P&M Final Option Beach Resort
  • Take a Vigan, Laoag or Abra bound bus from Cubao (Dominion, Partas, Viron, Farinas), Pasay (Partas) or Sampaloc (Viron). Fare is Php500 (USD10). Travel time is around 5-6 hours depending on the traffic situation.
  • Inform the driver or the bus conductor to drop you off in Maya Street after passing San Juan Public Market. Maya street sits is beside Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints Church. 
  • From the main road, turn left to Maya Street and walk straight. The resort is about 4 to 5 minutes walk from the National Highway.

About the Author
Beng Fontiveros works as an analyst for a global bank.  She bonds with Excel from day to night so she loves spending her free time traveling, practicing yoga, or just at home to Netflix and chill.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Masasa Beach is undeniably one of the best beaches in the province of Batangas. The sunny paradise is located in the Municipality of Tingloy which is only accessible by boat. The island holds many fascinations and wonder that can satisfy everyone’s dream of a tropical adventure. Masasa Beach is just 3 to 4 hours away from Metro Manila that’s why this is a top choice among travelers and beach fanatics. Weekenders and beach lovers flock to this beach to experience its unique charm and sun-filled excitement. The beach is surrounded by green vegetation and with towering palm trees. The turquoise blue water shimmering in a hot afternoon is just mesmerizing to watch. Masasa Beach is undoubtedly the next big tourist spot in the Province of Batangas. [Read: Top 10 Beach Resorts in Batangas]

5 Coolest Things to Do in Masasa Beach:

The sunrise at the peak of Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato

Mount Mag-Asawang Bato is a great backdrop to the picture perfect beach of Masasa. This is the mountain that you will notice in every wide shot photos of Masasa beach in the internet. Nowadays, locals offer trekking or mountain climbing for tourist who wants to witness the sunset and the sunrise in the summit. The summit is also stunning spot to have a clear view of the whole beach. The trek is ideal for beginners, barkada bonding and for those who want to experience a different kind of fun aside from the beach. The climb may take up to 3 hours depending on your speed. The trail is not that hard but be careful with rough rocks and zig zag paths. The trek cost Php500 including the guide fee. [Read: Statute of Virgin Mary in Montemaria Batangas]

The best time to climb Mt. Mag-Asawang Bato is during early in the morning. The whole view of the beach is just surreal.


The most awesome sea creature!

Masasa Beach is a diver’s paradise. The life underwater is lively and spectacular. Different species of corals and aquatic plants thrive in the tropical water of Masasa. The vibrant colors of fishes and corals are a feast in the eye. One of the main attractions during snorkeling is the surprise appearance of a Green sea turtle. This magnificent creature that feed on sea grasses near the shore. You will not be disappointed by the amazing biodiversity of marine life. If you want to experience scuba diving you can visit Sepoc Island which is just around the corner of Masasa Beach. Sepoc is widely known as a diving spot in the Philippines. [Read: A Diving Resort in Anilao]

Corals and other aquatic life


Sombrero Island

A visit to Masasa Beach is not complete without island hopping. Local boatmen offers island hopping tours in Sombrero Island and Sepoc Island for Php350 per head. They will also take you to small caves with different rock formations which is a popular setting for mermaid themed television shows.  Also, they will take you to the Lagoon with crystal clear water. You can also try cliff jumping during high tide in the lagoon.

Sepoc Island


Just relax and enjoy the moment
The long and wide shoreline of Masasa beach is an awesome playground for beach lovers and sun worshippers. Though, the sand here is not as white like in Boracay and in Palawan but it provides a fantastic sanctuary for a hot afternoon. They allow beach camping anywhere on the beach. You can also lay down your picnic mat and just enjoy your delicious and sumptuous food while staring at the azure horizon. 

The crystal clear water of Masasa Beach

My friends,enjoying the sun-filled afternoon
Masasa Beach has a shallow turquoise water which is perfect of a long period of swimming. The soft sand underneath adds fun and excitement for those who wants to savor the crystal water and cool breeze. The beach is an ideal spot for endless summer days and fun. 

The mesmerizing shore of Masasa


  • Take a bus going to Batangas City. Find a signboard "Calabarzon" for a faster travel time.
  • Alight at Batangas Grand Terminal 

  • There are buses bound for Batangas City in Cubao, LRT- Buendia and Alabang
  • Fare: From Cubao -Php 165; from Buendia- Php 157; from Alabang- Php 127
  • From Batangas Grand Terminal take the jeepney going to Anilao Port. Fare is Php 40
  • From Anilao port take the passenger boat going to Tingloy port. Php 80 to 100 for a one way trip. 
  • When you reach Tingloy port, hire a tricycle going to Masasa Beach. Fare is around Php 60 to 100.
  • There are public boats that go directly to Masasa Beach. Fare is Php100. This is the cheapest and fastest way to go to the beach since you don't need to rent a tricycle.


Overnight camping is no longer allowed in the beach. You can still pitch your tent during day time but you must leave at around 7pm. Homestay and Transient houses are the most popular choice.

Contact details for transient:
Mark- 0997 996 2627
D' Mariners- 0927 972 2679

About the Author:

Edss Tolentino works as a Visual Merchandiser in a retail brand. He is an aspiring travel writer; an adventure junkie and a seeker of the unknown. His goal is to explre the 7,641 islands of the Philippines and share it's beauty to the world.

Good news! FastCast will finally start operating their new Opol - Balbagon (Camiguin) - Jagna (Bohol) route on March 21, 2018. A lot of people are looking forward to this for a faster travel to Camiguin and Bohol from Cagayan de Oro City (via Opol) and other nearby provinces. [Read: Camiguin Travel Guide]

Here's the schedule and fare rates of FastCat service from Opol to Balbagon, Balbagon to Jagna and Jagna to Balbagon, Balbagon to Opol: 

Trip Schedule and Fare Rates Opol to Balbagon: Daily 9:30 PM arrives in Balbagon 1:15am. Travel time is 3 hours and 45 minutes. [Read: 10 Things to Do in Bohol]

Trip Schedule and Fare Rates Balbagon to Jagna: Daily 3AM arrives in Jagna 5:45am. Travel time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Trip Schedule and Fare Rates Jagna to Balbagon: Daily 12PM arrives in Balbagon 2:45PM. Travel time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. See fare rates above.

Trip Schedule and Fare Rates Balbagon to Opol: Daily 4PM arrives in Opol 7:45PM. Travel time is 3 hours and 45 minutes. See fare rates above.

Fare rates from Opol to Jagna and Jagna to Opol:

Fare rates for Vehicles:

Where to stay in Bohol? Recommended hotels to stay in Tagbilaran. Please click the name of the hotel below to check the rates and availability.
Recommended hotels to stay in Cagayan de Oro City. Please click the name of the hotel below to check the rates and availability.
  1. Red Planet Cagayan de Oro City
  2. Grand City Hotel
  3. GC Suites
  4. Rich Manor Pension House
  5. SEDA Centrio
Where to stay in Camiguin? Recommended hotels to stay in the province of Camiguin. Please click the name of the hotel below to check the rates and availability.
  1. Balai sa Baybay Resort
  2. Marianita's Cottages
  3. Guerrera Rice Paddy Villas
  4. D&A Seaside Cottages
  5. Nypa Style Resort Camiguin
  6. TheView Hotel & Restaurant
  7. Agohay Villa Forte Beach Resort
  8. Camiguin Volcano Beach Eco retreat Dive Resort
  9. Bahay Bakasyunan sa Camiguin
If this blog has helped you in any way, please like our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter Instagram at @escapemanila. Thank you for your support!

Have you been to these ports lately and saw some changes in the fare and schedule? Please let us know by commenting below. Thanks.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

We’ve written about traveling to Australia many times here on Escape Manila. One of the recent posts was on the main reasons to visit the Gold Cost. But this time round, we are going to talk about something a little different.

Question: When did you last spend time at an airport? If you travel a lot, you’re bound to find yourself visiting some airports more often than others. If you’re like me then mine is purely down to work. I have to travel back and forth between Manila and Sydney at least once a month. It is however, a relatively stress free flight. Philippine Airlines’ guide to the Manila to Sydney flight details how it takes just under half a day to get to Australia’s biggest airport. But due to it being a direct flight, the time goes pretty quick. But here’s the catch with Australian airports… don’t for one minute think they don’t have anything to offer.

Many treat airports as nothing but passageways that they need to get through. It’s all about getting from Point A to Point B, and nobody would ever think that time spent in airports would be enjoyable. But this is where most people are wrong!

Singapore's Changi Airport changed the world and how it saw airport stays. With world-class facilities that rival even those of high-end hotels, Changi Airport gives all other airports a run for their money. This has resulted in the world’s top airports undergoing major renovations to try and keep up with the trend. But restaurants aren’t the only thing that airports have come up with to make time spent in their halls more enjoyable. Scotland’s Edinburgh Airport has, for the past two years, sponsored the city’s Jazz and Blues Festival, treating its passengers to a live Jazz band playing in the very halls of the airport. Promotions like these have elevated the experiences at airports to level unseen in the past, and with more people traveling now than ever before, airports are starting to feel the demand for higher levels of entertainment.

So, now we move onto to Oz…

Australia’s airports have certainly kept up with these innovations. Sydney Airport, which I have to pass through often asserts itself as Australia’s busiest coffee hub, serving 63,000 cups of coffee a week. Australian’s take grade pride in the quality of their coffee and I have to admit, it’s amazing. One of the best coffee shops in Sydney Airport is the award-winning Toby’s Estate, which has branches in Manila, too. It’s a great introduction to just how good Australian coffee is for all. It has also the BEST cakes.

From coffee to culinary delights, Sydney airport is also home to cult chef and Kitchen by Mike star Mike McEnearney. His successful restaurant has been open in the airport since 2013 and continues to serve world-class dishes.

Brisbane Airport, while still undergoing renovations and expansions to become more global has two relatively new on-site hotels a 5-star Pullman and a 3.5-star Ibis property within walking distance of Brisbane’s domestic terminal. The airport is also going to open an Airport Conference and Meeting Centre.

These are just some of the ways that Australia’s airports have begun to answer the call for improved facilities. With great live entertainment and promotions, staying at an airport for a layover is now more enjoyable than ever.