Ilocos Norte’s tropical paradise: Playa Tropical Hotel

In one of my media junkets courtesy of North Philippines Visitors Bureau’s Lakbay Norte, I was fortunate to stay at Playa Tropical Resort Hotel in Brgy. Victoria, Currimao, Ilocos Norte.

Playa Tropical Resort Hotel has an Asian-inspired architecture reminiscent of Bali, Indonesia.

From the exterior to its interior, Playa Tropical Resort Hotel is a delightful place to stay in. The bed where I slept was cozy. We stayed at a Deluxe Double room which costs Php 3,800 per night.

The resort is perfect for families and also for honeymooners. One of its prime rooms is the Casa, which has a private pool of its own. The Casa room costs Php 12,500/night.

If you’re looking for a resort getaway in Ilocos Norte, then don’t miss staying at the Playa Tropical Hotel.

Disclosure Policy: This is a sponsored trip by the North Philippines Visitors Bureau.

For tours and hotel bookings, you may visit http://www.explore8.com

Top 5 things to experience in Ilocos Norte

If you’re in the mood for a road trip this summer, then pack your bags and head to Ilocos Norte. Located 408 kilometers northwest of Manila, the province of Ilocos Norte is a haven for outdoor adventurers.

It is where you’ll experience the cool breeze from the mountains, a lazy day on the beach, a reflective walk through a path of puddles, a climb to an ethereal formation, an adrenaline-filled slide down the sand dunes, and a mouthwatering food trip.

Here are the top five things to do when visiting Ilocos Norte:

1. Trek through the Adams Trail and take a dip in Anuplig Falls. Stretch your legs and arms and trek in the virgin forests of Adams, Ilocos Norte.  After passing by the Patapat Viaduct, you may hire a motorcycle or opt to ride on a truck at the Junction. Don’t worry. After an hour’s ride, you’ll find yourself in the small town of Adams, where only 1,790 people reside.

From the drop-off point, you can approach the friendly locals and ask for a guide to the Anuplig Falls. If you have enough time, spend the night in town and chill with some Bugnay wine, which is made from wild cherries. The whole day is not enough to see 18 waterfalls and 10 man-made hanging bridges in Adams.

2. Swim and sunbathe in Pagudpud. 

Saud Beach of Pagudpud by Joseph Dy

The azure and turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon Cove or the Maira-Ira Cove will truly invite you to swim and just spend a lazy day on the beach. Then, give your stomach a healthy treat in Kapuluan Vista Resort near the lagoon. The resort offers organic food-garden salad to homemade vanilla ice cream.

3. Climb up and take photos of the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. 

From Pagudpud, proceed to Burgos where you’ll find the mysterious Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. From the drop-off point, you’ll have to skip from one coral to another or you may opt to cool your feet on the puddles as you get closer to the magnificent creation.

Kapurpurawan, which in local dialect means “white,” was once underwater, which may explain why the rocks in the area are shaped like waves. As you climb up the rock, you’ll be amazed by the “submarine-looking formation” with the deep blue sea in the background.

4.  Ride a 4 x 4 and drive through the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes. Known as the Desert of the North, the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte are one of the country’s national geological monuments. You can scream your heart out as you ride the 4 x4 and drive through the La Paz sand dunes, which range from 10 to 30 meters in height.  Then, surf on the sand through sandboarding and feel the adrenaline rush.

5. Eat what your heart desires.   

You have to allot a space in your stomach to accommodate the luscious Ilocano dishes like laing and pinakbet. Satisfy your cravings with the crispy bagnet at Herencia Café in Paoay. Fill your hunger with the delectable empanada in Batac.

Poque-Poque

Then, treat your taste buds to Dinuguan Pizza and Poque-poque (eggplant) pizza at Saramsam Café in Laoag City. Before you leave Ilocos Norte, don’t forget to bring home the biscocho from Pasuquin and the chichacorn from Paoay.

Pizza from Herencia Cafe

Lakbay Norte Chronicles: Sandboarding the second time around

No two experiences are alike. There’s always something new.

Despite the distance from Manila, Ilocos Norte is always worth a visit. It keeps one of the national geological monuments in the Philippines—the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes.

The Lakbay Norte group returned to the so-called Desert of the North. But this time around, we went to La Paz Sand Dunes, where the slopes were steeper and narrower.

The LEAD movement, an eco-adventure group, introduced the sport, Sandboarding. Though it was my second time to experience sandboarding, I still felt scared yet excited again. They call the 45-degree slope, the “devil’s track.” Here’s why: Watch the animated photos.

Photo by Roland Fontilla Jr.

Photos by Roland Fontilla Jr.

It was so fun that I tried climbing up despite the sand eroding from the slope. This time, the board turned around and so I tumbled and fell. I ended up laughing and posing with the peace sign. Yesssssss! What an adrenaline rush!

Sandboarding in La Paz was more thrilling than that of Suba, Paoay, where we had our first taste of the excitement that the budding sport brings. But Paoay has the more scenic and breathtaking view of the dunes.

Life’s lessons learned from Sandboarding:

1. Don’t be afraid to take the risk. Sometimes, the risk would make your life exciting.

2. When you fall, smile and pose and you won’t even notice that you got hurt.

3. Standing up never felt so great after falling from the cliff of the dunes. Just like in life, success is not as sweet as it is without failure.

4. Leave footprints where there is none. Create the path that you wish to take.

Travel Notes: 

  • Best time to sandboard: Sunrise (5:30-6am) or Sunset (4:00-6:00pm)
  • Contact LEAD Movement:  -Renie Tan/ Tina Tan, LEAD Movement Officer- 09198735516

2010 is Trip@dora’s birth year

When 2010 came in, I didn’t expect but I did wish that it would be a travel year. In my 2009 year-ender blog, I wrote, “I wish and hope for more travels this 2010.”

Despite my puzzled life, God still showered me with blessings. Thank you Lord! :) I survived another year! :) Trip@dora explored 15 domestic destinations and 1 international destination.

My 2010 highlights:

Jovial January

The North Philippines Visitors Bureau invited me to join the Lakbay Norte—a tour of the north. For seven days (January 24-31, 2010), I rediscovered eight (8) provinces in the North along with cool bloggers and fellow journalists, who later on became my friends. In one chilling bus, we traveled a total of 1,798 kilometers covering Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Norte, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Zambales,  and Tarlac.

Here were the highlights of the trip:

Funky February

I was supposed to go to Baguio for the Panagbenga Festival but circumstances didn’t allow me to. Fortunately, I was able to witness for the second time, the Philippine International Hot Air  Balloon Festival! Colorful big balloons filled the blue sky. It was such a wonderful sight. There’s even a beer balloon! lol.

Memorable March

-I was busy with my new work so no travel for me for this month. But then, I still felt privileged and lucky to meet and interview the Filipino boxing legend-turned-congressman, Manny Pacquiao.  I even had my boxing gloves signed.

-It’s also the birth month of Trip@dora. Inspired by my travel blogger friends, I decided to bring Trip@dora to life.  This is my way of helping Philippine tourism by promoting our 7,107 beautiful islands.  As I’ve responded to Melo Villareal’s question, Travel blogging 101: Why do you want to blog:

“Tripadora was born because of hope, belief, and love. Life should be lived to the fullest. I have started writing about my misadventures and adventures with the hope that these would help and encourage travelers to explore the Philippines. Filipinos should not be strangers in their own country or to put it with emphasis, ‘Wag tayong maging dayuhan sa sarili nating bansa. Tourism in the Philippines has great potentials, which should be made known to the world. I believe that our country will progress when the tourism sector is empowered. I love the Philippines and this is my contribution to help the Pearl of the Orient regain its luster.”

Adventurous April

-After waiting for a month, my itchy feet were ready to roam the largest city in the world–Davao City. It was another adventure month as I’ve tried three ziplines! I’d definitely return since I missed Camp Sabros’ zipline in Kapatagan.

-The fun continued in Samal Island! Thank God I have Wish, my Canon D10! Snorkeling was fun with underwater shots :)

I still have a lot of backlogs for this trip but here were the articles that I wrote:

Marvelous May

-This was a busy month for work because of the Philippine elections. Nonetheless, I found time to enjoy summer and joined Mama’s incentive trip in Shangri-La Boracay. Since I booked within the week of travel, the fare was quite expensive. But the joy shared with the family was priceless.


Money is just money. :) Experience lasts a lifetime!

-Off-topic (work-related): I also went to General Santos City during this month for a one-on-one interview with no less than the boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao.

But here’s a travel-related post on General Santos City and South Cotabato:

Jumpy June

We covered the Epic Relay 250-km in Subic. One of the pit stops was the Pawikan Sanctuary in Morong, Bataan. I was saddened when I saw the state of the pawikans in their rehabilitation pond.

But during our visit, the caretaker assured us that they would be in a better place when the ‘Pawikan Center’ is finished.

Jammed July-September

Travel hiatus. I was busy with work covering the UAAP and the NCAA.  But it was fun working especially if you have these kind of people around you. lol :)

Su is a monsterrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Optimistic October
-At last, it’s flying time again for Trip@dora! I missed covering Philippine Festivals from my previous work. So, when October came, I didn’t let the chance pass to experience the colorful MassKara Festival in Bacolod City.

It was another first time travel. It’s also my first time to travel solo since my supposed companions backed out from the trip. (I’ve yet to blog about this. haha. backlogs :)

Notable November

-November has always been special to me since it’s my birth month. To celebrate another year of life, I treated my parents to paradise: Coron getaway :)

Dazzling December

-My supposed Hong Kong trip last September was postponed to December due to the hostage crisis in August. Though I paid penalty fees for rebooking, I was glad that I did choose December.

It’s winter season in Hong Kong. No, they didn’t have snow but still I was able to wear winter clothes. hahaha. I love the cool weather! Reminiscing childhood memories in Disneyland was fun! I have yet to write my entries for this trip. haha. backlogs again.

But here were the videos that I took:

Traveling is not just a matter of seeing the views and going to places. It’s enriching not only your life but also the lives of the people whom you meet along the way. It’s learning in a vast classroom of life.

Cheers to another year of exploring the unexplored and living life to the fullest! This is Trip@dora bidding 2010 goodbye! 2011, get ready! Backpack and GPS are ready! hahaha.

Shoebox of 2010 Memories

“Window Shopping” at the Philippine Travel Mart


SEPT. 3- The Opening Day of the 21st Philippine Travel Mart

SM Megamall

After work, my colleagues and I went to Megatrade Hall B to check out travel fares and packages.  We paid an entrance fee of Php 50.00 and went in. We arrived at around 8:00 pm so some of the booths were already closed(Cebu Pacific.)

We were told that closing time is at 9:00pm but still, there were a lot of people lining up especially in the AirphilExpress booth designed with banderitas displaying the fares. I didn’t have Wish, my camera with me. So I didn’t take a photo. Nonetheless, if my memory serves me right, the lowest fare is Php 88.00 (For Travel April 16-May 30, 2011) for local destinations. They also have Php 320.00 fare for their Airbus 320 routes.

Another booth that I specifically visited was the SEAIR booth. I’ve been wanting to go to Batanes for so long but the airfare was sky high. They have a buy 1 take 1 promo for Batanes, PhP 14,344 all- in Roundtrip (for travel until June 2011). Still, it’s expensive for me. haha. So, I was there to just check it out.

For those of you who want to rediscover the North, I recommend that you visit the Manila North Tollways Corporation/North Philippines Visitors Bureau booth. They have an interactive booth, which gives you a glimpse of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan ValleyIlocos Norte, La Union, and Pampanga.

Here are the other deals and packages that I’ve collected from the flyers:

PALAWAN

Ultimate Adventure Palawan (Booth K126)

El Nido Adventure Package

3D 2N- Php 4,300 (rate group for 8 persons) (Public Shuttle)

Coron Package

3D 2N- Php 3,600

Puerto Princesa -3D 2N 2,450.00/ per person

Buy 1 take 1- Php 4,300.0

Barkada Package 9+ 1 FREE Package Php 3,200/per person

Island Paradise Tours & Convention (Booth 188)

Palawan City Tour Php 1,650/per person 3D 2N

Honda Bay Island Hopping +City Tour Php 2,650.00/pax 3D 2N

Underground River/City Tour Php 3,990.00/pax 3D 2N

Underground River/Honda Bay/City Tour Php 4,500.00/pax 4D 3N

Coron Island Hopping, Town Tour, Maquinit Hotspring, Mt. Tapyas Php 3,650/pax (min. of 6 pax) 3D 2N

EL Nido Island Hopping 3D 2N Php 5,650.00/pax (min of 6 pax)

BORACAY

Turquoise Travel

Boracay Holidays Triple Sharing Php 2,780 per person

SEAIR

Airfare Php 3,500 (RT)

Sweet Travel & Tours

Station 2  Php 2,400/ pax 3D 2N


BOHOL

Sweet Travel & Tours

Php 2,730 3D 2N at Panglao Island

J8Travel

Php 1,799 3D 2N (min. of 4 pax)

BANAUE/SAGADA

J8 Travel

3D 2N Php 2,999

Sweet Travel

Banaue 3D 2N  Php 1,520/ pax

Sagada 3d 2N Php 2,000/pax


CARAMOAN

Sweet Travel

3D 2N  Php 5,495/pax (min 11-20 pax)


PAGSANJAN FALLS
Php 1,999.00 day tour

DONSOL

Dive and Whaleshark interaction

Php 3,350/pax (min. of 6 pax)

HIGH-END RESORTS

MARINDUQUE

Bellarocca Php 10,500/pax triple sharing (with Airfare & accommodation for 3D 2N)

Php 11,500/ pax twin sharing

MISIBIS BAY, BICOL

Php 16,888 +++/pax (RT airfare, meals, and  3D 2N accommodation)


For people, who have been itching to travel, go and visit the Philippine Travel Mart, which runs until Sunday, Sept 5. This is the time that we should #helpDOT. Our tourism industry needs the much needed help from us Filipinos especially with the travel advisory imposed by the Hong Kong government.


Huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bansa! Ang Ganda ng Pinas! Tara! Biyahe Tayo! :)