Concepcion Iloilo: A Truly Natural Experience

Concepcion, a small town in Iloilo that hides a beautiful gem. The town of Concepcion is blessed with one of the most scenic seascapes in the whole Province of Iloilo.

How to get there:

For commuters, it would take around 2 hours by Bus from the Ceres Bus Terminal in Jaro. To see the scenic and enchanting islands from Concepcion town proper, visitors can take a 25-minute boat ride to Bulobadiangan Island.

Note: You must coordinate with the Tourism Office located at Conception’s fish port to book your boat transfer to any of the Islands.

There are six islands of interest when you visit Concepcion Iloilo.

1.) Bulobadiangan Island (Sandbar Island)

– The long stretch of white sand composed of pulverized corals and seashells.

Entrance: 25php

Day Tour Cottage: 400php

Overnight Cottage: 1,500php

2.) Badiango

-Your next Island resort

Actvities: Kayak, Jetski, Banana Boat Ride

Entrance: 25php

Day Tour Cottage: 800/1,000php

Overnight Cottage: 2,500php

3.) Agho Island

-It is a small Island with an area approximately eight hectares with a long stretch of powdery white sand. The waters surrounding the Island is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, boating and even diving.

Entrance: 30php

Day Tour Cottage: 500php

Overnight Cottage: 1,500php

4.) Bago Sipol

-Astonishing and almost indescribable. The water ranges form the palest aquamarine and turquoise to the deepest sapphire match with its sparkling white sand.

Entrance: 25

Day Tour Cottage: 500php

Overnight Cottage: 1,500php

5.) Lumpatan

-Mainly made up of granite rocks. You will probably want to walk its 300-meter trail that frames almost half of the island.

Entrance: Donation

Day Tour Cottage: None

Overnight Cottage: None

6.) Pan De Azucar

-Your visit to Concepcion will not be complete without visiting its most popular island, Pan De Azucar. It is the biggest among Concepcion’s 17 Islands and home to One of Panay’s highest peaks and town’s famous landmark – Mt. Manaphag. Travelers can tell if they’re near Concepcion because the peak of this steepy mountain is visible from neighboring towns of Ajuy, Sara, and San Dionisio.

Decided to hike Hampangan Rock, which offers an overlooking view of the Concepcion Islands and a close view of Mt. Manaphag, the second highest peak in Panay Island. The easy hike took about 20 minutes.

Concepcion is full of exciting places that many of us do not remember to visit.

Contact and Guide: Hallel Passenger Boat- 09108531398. Thanks Jerson 🙂

Have you been to these destinations? Let me know your experience.

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Siquijor Island- Video

 

Siquijor is an island of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas between Cebu, Negros, Bohol, and Mindanao. The Spaniards called Siquijor Isla del Fuego or “Island of Fire,” because the island gave off an eerie glow. This glow came from the great swarms of fireflies that harbored in the numerous molave trees on the island. which forested most of the island.

The serene Siquijor is blessed with scenic beauty, archaic churches, and natural attractions. For most Filipinos, Siquijor is a mysterious other-world of witchcraft, sorcery, magic and the unknown. So much that older people from other islands are afraid to visit! However, Siquijor now offers a different kind of healing in modern times; the one that heals your soul. These days Siquijor’s most popular healing practice involves a cocktail and a deckchair at any number of its laid-back and wonderfully affordable beach resorts.

Isla del Fuego: Siquijor Island

Siquijor is an island of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas between Cebu, Negros, Bohol, and Mindanao. The Spaniards called Siquijor Isla del Fuego or “Island of Fire,” because the island gave off an eerie glow. This glow came from the great swarms of fireflies that harbored in the numerous molave trees on the island. which forested most of the island.

The serene Siquijor is blessed with scenic beauty, archaic churches, and natural attractions. For most Filipinos, Siquijor is a mysterious other-world of witchcraft, sorcery, magic and the unknown. So much that older people from other islands are afraid to visit! However, Siquijor now offers a different kind of healing in modern times; the one that heals your soul. These days Siquijor’s most popular healing practice involves a cocktail and a deckchair at any number of its laid-back and wonderfully affordable beach resorts.

How to get there:

To get the Island the most common and used option is the ferry. There are connections from Cebu City (Cebu Island), Dumaguete (Negros Island) or Tagbilaran (Bohol Island) among others cities. There are two ferry terminals on the westward side of the island: Siquijor town and Larena. At the end of the pier of each, you’ll find some touts tricycles to bring you to your hotel or resorts.

There are several passenger boats daily from Dumaguete to Siquijor Island town and some larger RoRo boats. There are also several boats a week between Tagbilaran on Bohol and Larena. I advise you get hold of the RoRo because it’s more stable on rough seas.

Siquijor is not the party island. If you come here looking for a “full-moon” this is the wrong place but if you want to relax and unwind, swim into lovely water waterfalls and crystal clear aquamarine stunning beaches, diving or snorkelling, unforgettable sunsets, discover each nook by yourself, taste the best filipino food or just talk and share experiences with the local people, Siquijor is waiting for you.

The minute I landed at the port of Siquijor, I already fell in love with its unspoiled environment and the warm hospitality of its people. You can experience a coastal tour of the island in just one daytime. Here are few of the recommended place to visit:

Cambugahay Falls

One of the most exciting places to visit when in Siquior is the Cambugahay Falls. The waterfall consists of three tiered cascading falls with crisp and clean warm water originating from natural springs, rainwater, and watershed.

The Cambugahay Falls is situated just two kilometers outside the town of Lazi. Above the falls, there’s a paid parking bay on your left for your motorbike (P25). Steps just across the road will take you down a steep stairway to this series of popular swimming spots.

When visiting the place, one must try their Tarzan swing by hanging in a vine and drop yourself into the water.

Note: Bring a sarong or throw-over clothing as there is no change room at the falls. Never leave valuables unattended, as theft isn’t uncommon.

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St. Isidore Church and Convent

Built by Spanish priest in 1884 in Lazi, it is the biggest and among the oldest convents in Asia and recognized as a National Historical Landmark. The church was built of sea stones and wood.

Right in from the San Isidro Labrador Church is the U-shaped bahay na bato convent. This convent is said to be one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era.  It now houses the Siquijor Heritage Museum which has collections of important church relics and paraphernalia.

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Lazi Church/San Isidro Labrador Parish Church
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Lazi Church/San Isidro Labrador Parish Church

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Convent

Salagdoong Beach

One of the best places to visit especially for the beach lovers when in Siquijor is the Salagdoong Beach. A few kilometres past the town of Maria, Salagdoong Beach is popular with rowdy day trippers. The place also has nice rock formations and a nice white sand. However, because the place has a very cheap entrance of PHP 25.00, the beach is usually flooded by locals during holidays. There’s a half-open water park that has seen much better days, and you can jump into the ocean from 6m to 12m concrete platforms built into the rocks. There’s a restaurant wherein you can have your lunch while doing the coastal tour. Nothing great about the food that they serve, though.

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Aerial Shot

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Balete Tree

Just west of the village of Campalanas is a tremendous Balete Tree (Banyan Tree), estimated to be 400 years old and has become tourist spot for curious tourists who are visiting Siquijor. The tree provides water to supply the village but locals believe that this tree is inhabited by other spirits.

In front of the tree is a spring fed pool filled with flesh nibbling fish. While at the site you can dip your tired feet into the water and enjoy the little fishes tickling  your toes.

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Balete Tree

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A nearby souvenir shop sells coconut water, coffee and bottled ‘love potion’ made from a mix of herbs.

Note: Visiting the enchanted tree is for free.The place has caretakers which maintain the cleanliness of the place and they have a Tip Box where you can give donations if you want.

Francis of Assisi Church

The moment you arrive the Island of Siquijor you will immediately see the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The church was built with stone and has the usual crucible form of the old Spanish churches.

End your day with Siquijor Sunset

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Allow yourself some days in Siquijor and it will give you a fresh and authentic perspective of the country. And probably the most memorable sunsets of your life!

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Have you been to Siquijor? It’s awesome right? Share your experiences in the comment section! 🙂

Tromsø Norway: “The Paris of the North”

Welcome to the arctic city of Tromsø, the world’s most northern university town and the largest city in the Nordic countries north of the Arctic Circle. The city lies between the sharp craggy peaks of the Lyngen Alps, and combines wild scenery with urban life. Tromsø is often referred to as Paris of the North due to its lively atmosphere.

You’ll likely have to connect from a Scandinavian city like Oslo to get to Tromsø, Norway. Tromsø is roughly 2.5 hour flight from Oslo, the Capital city of Norway. When you reached be prepared that everything in there is expensive and for a budget traveller like me there’s a way to save cost. From the airport I took a local bus to the city centre of Tromsø. City bus routes 40 and 42 run between the airport and Tromsø city centre and the bus ride takes approximately 20 minutes. It is located outside the airport opposite the carpark about 3 minutes walk.

A single ticket for these city buses (purchased on board the bus) costs NOK 50 for adults and NOK 25 for children/seniors. It’s possible to buy tickets for city buses in advance at Point Kiosk at the airport. A pre-paid ticket costs NOK 30 for adults and NOK 16 for children and seniors.

You may also try The Flybussen (Airport Express Coach) runs between the airport and Tromsø city centre. It takes approximately 15 min by bus between the airport and the city centre. Note: Price is higher than local bus.

There are taxies located outside the arrival hall at the airport. It takes 10 minutes by taxi from the airport to the city centre and the price is between NOK 200-250 (at daytime; additional cost during the night and weekends). Some waiting time may happen.

I stayed 2 nights in Tromsø at Tromsø, Thon Hotel Tromsø, Centrally located. From the airport can get off the bus when you reach Scandic Grand Hotel. From there it is less than 100 metres walk to the hotel. The driver can point you in the right direction. Note: There are two Thon hotels in Tromsø; Thon Hotel Tromsø and Thon Hotel Polar (near each other though).

When in December at Tromsø you’ll have a little bit of daylight 9:30am to 2pm, so if you want to do any kind of outdoor activity where you’ll want light, try to schedule it within that window.

Recommended attractions:

– Polaria- an Arctic Experience!

Five minutes walk from the centre of Tromsø. An interesting place to go, for sure, but not very big and not a huge amount to see.  Their films on the northern lights, the happy seals and information on the decreasing icecap are worth it. I recommend staying for less than an hour.

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View Outside
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View Outside

– Mack Brewery- Relaxing Pub in Basement

The actual brewery has now moved but you can still do a short tour. A fascinating place filled with history, intertwined with Norwegian Culture. The pub itself is quite large, rustic and tasteful decoration with a huge selection of Mack beers.

Mack’s brewpub Ølhallen is the oldest pub in Tromsø. Currently the pub offer a menu of Norwegian quality beer from 67 taps. Ølhallen is one of the most iconic venues in Tromsø. It’s a place where townspeople of all ages meet and taste the best beers brewed by Mack – The world’s most northern brewery.

The beer in Norway is very expensive, but well worth trying a few while you are there – after all – its not every day you go to the world’s most northern brewery 🙂

– The Polar Museum (Polarmuseet)

The Polar Museum tells the exciting story of risky Arctic trapping and courageous polar expeditions. This museum is located in the Tromsø town centre. It is 10 minutes walk from my hotel. A cozy museum that I could learn about the Arctic and a good way to see the history of Tromsø and surrounds. There are plenty of information about the history of fishing and hunting in the Artic region. The museum focuses on hunting and the exploration of the North Pole. However, if you are interested and willing to read, you can spend about an hour inside.

Note: Guide book in English helps! (forgotten to take photos though)

-The Arctic Cathedral- a landmark in Tromsø

You can walk which probably take about 30 minutes from the centrum, as it is quite a walk from Tromso town across the bridge then you can catch a bus right from the centrum to this place (local bus 26) and make sure you have a prepaid travel card.

The Cathedral is beautiful but only requires a short visit to see everything. The church looks great from outside and the best views are at night when the lights are on. It is such a pity that this Cathedral had erratic opening times and charges an entrance fee. It costs NOK 50 per person to get inside the church.

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View Outside

 

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– Tromsø Gondola lift (Fjellheisen)- Experience Tromsø’s best view!

From Arctic Cathedral head towards the cable car to enjoy the best views of Tromsø. If you do not prefer to walk catch the bus number 26. The best time to go there is just an hour before sunset. Take pictures in the light and after couple of hours take pictures of Tromsø with all its lights at night. On some days you can also see Northern lights from this view point.

The cable car runs from Solliveien in Tromsdalen up to the mountain ledge Storsteinen (421 m above sea level) in just four minutes. From the viewing platform at the upper station, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tromsø and the surrounding islands, mountains and fjords. At the fully licensed Fjellstua restaurant, you can enjoy a delicious dinner based on local produce or select light meals from the café menu, while you take pleasure in the view.

The Cable Car is Tromsø’s most popular tourist destination. The viewing platform is very accessible and has lift access to it. I walked around the edge of the front of the mountain down to the lower viewing area – crunching through the snow as I gingerly went!

In summer, the panorama deck at the upper station provides excellent opportunities of seeing the Midnight Sun, while in winter it’s an ideal place for hunting the magical Northern Lights.

It is open till late 23:00 hours so enjoy your Tromsø evening seeing one of the most amazing views in the world.

Note: You can also hike the mountain

 

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-Chasing the Northern Lights

Tromsø is situated right in the centre of the Northern Lights zone and is therefore among the best places on earth to observe this phenomenon. Northern Lights dancing above Tromsø is a pretty regular occurrence, since the city is situated almost perfectly in the center of the Northern Lights oval. And when that green curtain shimmers across the sky, it’s nothing short of spectacular.

There is a wide variety of activities and excursions to see the Northern Lights. Half of the tourist brochure is dedicated to the assorted aurora chasing activities going on every day in the winter season. I’m not generally a fan of organised trips. I pride myself on being an independent traveller, hunting out interesting hotels, local restaurants, and interesting sights beyond the usual tourist trail.

Now, In Tromsø there are opportunities to see the northern lights yourself, by hiking to Prestvannet (40 minutes), a lake in the middle of the island offering good views to the north and a certain level of protection from the city lights. Or a local bus will take you to the north of the island.

I hike for three times and only in the third attempt I manage to see the Northern Lights. It was a stunning display, lasting for 10 minutes at varying degrees of intensity. The lights shot across the sky, dancing and twirling like ribbons all around, a party in the sky. I saw white, green, yellow, and even the lesser-spotted pink/purple colour edging one of the ribbons. It was magnificent!

I feel privileged to have seen it.

Note: Took photos using my iPhone without filter by the way

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Additional ideas to see Northern Lights of what you can do at a low cost:
– Take bus 37 to Tromsø Museum and take a long stroll along Tromsø Island’s dark western side. Use a couple of hours strolling to the bus terminal at Giæverbukta, from where there are frequent departures to the city centre right up until 11:30pm.
– If there is snow, hire cross-country skis at Tromsø Outdoor (address: Sjøgata 14, right in the centre). Go on a long ski trip in the floodlit ski tracks above the city. Good exercise, fresh air, great views and maybe the appearance of the Northern Lights as well. There are also good floodlit ski tracks across the bridge in Tromsdalen.

-Get tour! The advantage of a tour is straightforward. Firstly, you have the ability to change location. Some tours will drive all the way to find clear skies. Secondly, you have knowledgable guides, skilled at reading the forecasts and knowing the best locations around Troms county. Note: No refund can be made for northern lights activities booked if you do not see the northern lights.

Northern Lights Facts

Above the Arctic Circle you will enter the Land of the Northern Lights, where you have the possibility to experience nature’s own firework. The Northern Lights are particles that are hurled into space after storms on the sun’s surface. They are attracted by the magnetic North Pole (and South Pole) and enter the atmosphere in a ring-like zone around the poles. Most of the Northern Lights outbursts visible are green, but large outbursts can also include other colors.

In order to see the Northern Lights it must be dark and clear (easier to spot away from the lights of the city centres). The greatest frequency is between 6 pm and 2 am. Patience and dedication will pay off. The Northern Lights might be visible for a couple of minutes or most of the evening. Kindly note however that northern lights observations are never guaranteed (depending on solar activity and a clear sky).

Want to have your own amazing Northern Lights Photos? Try this below:
Northern Lights Photography Settings
  • Step 1: Set to Manual.
  • Step 2: ISO setting. ISO 1600 is a good start.
  • Step 3: Aperture = f-stop. f-2.8.
  • Step 4: Shutter speed. 20 sec.
  • Step 5: Use a Tripod
  • Step 6: Zoom & Focus.
  • Step 7: Remotely release the shutter.

Or you can download a Northern Lights photo taker app.

 

Other Activities in Winter:

-Dog Sledding

-Snowmobiling

-Reindeer Sledding with the Sami

-Safari

-Cruise

Practical Information:

1.) Clothing- good idea to have several layers with the woollen layers as close to your skin as possible. With several layers, it makes it easier to regulate your temperature if it’s warm or cold.

2.) Power Outlets- take a C or F European standard plug with two round pins.

3.) Drinking Water- tap water in Tromsø is very pure and clean and is often better than bottled water. It is safe to drink, but in the larger hotels they recommend letting the tap run a bit first so you get cold water.

4.) ATM machines are widely available in downtown Tromsø and at Tromsø airport. Please note that owing to bank fees it may be cheaper to use your credit card instead of exchanging money. There are currently no money exchange agencies such as Forex or Western Union in Tromsø, so better exchange currency at Oslo Airport on arrival in Norway

You’ve almost reached the end of this article! I appreciate your interest in Tromsø and I hope you will love it there as much as I did! Tromsø is so much more than just chasing the Northern Lights.

Thank you for reading!

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Sun, Sea, Beach and Wanderbites: Lombok Day Trip

Lombok island has so much to see, do, discover, explore and experience. Whether you want to get some great deals at the local markets, sunbathe on some untouched beaches or experience the wonderful underwater world.

Natural beauty makes Lombok a must visit destination. Enjoy the short video 🙂