Trip to Vietnamese Village (Palawan)

On the north side of Puerto Princesa (close to Honda Bay) is a village of Vietnamese people. Most of them have died or moved on but there are a few that remained and started businesses in Puerto Princesa. (Vietnamese restaurants are everywhere!) At the center of the village is a shrine! Read more


How to take the ferry from Manila to Coron

Taking the ferry from Manila to Coron can be a challenge but the good news is the transportation system, namely the ferries, are slowly getting better. Coron, while popular for tourists, is still a small island group with a limited amount of Filipinos living on it. Ferry companies mainly cater to locals, not tourists so we are the after thoughts in many ways. Read more


Where are the Philippines articles?

Some  people have noticed that many of the articles about traveling in the Philippines have disappeared. This is partly due to the fact that I feel they were not really giving people an honest picture of what is going on in the country and what is happening as a traveler in the land of corruption. Read more

, ,

Cheapest way to Dumaguete from Cebu

If you are arriving in Cebu City at the airport and traveling to Dumaguete in Negros, what is the best way to get there and what is the cheapest way? There are several options out there but I think I have found the cheapest one. If there is one even better, let me know!

Let’s get the elephant in the room dealt with. The easiest and best route is a direct flight from Manila to Dumaguete airport. We all know that but the prices to do that leave it out of the discussion as the cheapest way to get to Negros.

The other elephant in the room is a direct ferry from Cebu City to Dumaguete City. It is possible but you have to travel on the right days and it is not the cheapest option either. It is affordable but it is the winner of how low can we go on travel.

In order to travel on a budget along this route, we will need:

  • A jeepney ride
  • A boat ride
  • A short walk
  • A bus
  • A ferry ride
  • Another jeepney ride

It might sound like a lot of jumping around but it is really is not. It also is part of the adventure of saving some money. This is the cultural experience you came to the Philippines for, right?

Steps to the cheapest way to Dumaguete

After landing in Cebu International Airport, you will walk out the terminal after some customs agent treats you like you a terrorist. As you step out, you will look to the right and about 50 meters down the road or so is jeepney coming by. No one in the airport will tell you they exist for some reason. Just walk down to where the workers are and wait until a jeepney (multi-cab) comes by and get on it. It will cost you 15 cents and you will get off at the Metro ferry terminal.

Once there, you will just walk down to the ticket booth and buy a ticket to cross to Cebu City. You are technically in Lapu Lapu City at this point. It is not a big deal. All you need to do is cross the channel on the boat. The cost of this is roughly 25 cents or 13 pesos.

Now, you are in downtown Cebu City. You have a small walk ahead of you. Just walk through Plaza Independencia (local park) and head down Legaspi St. until you get to Colon St. (This is the most well known street in Cebu) Turn left and walk two blocks and then turn right on Loen Kilat St. You will walk about two blocks and turn left at Elizabeth Mall (locals call it E-Mall). Just go straight until you see the entrance of the Cebu South Bus Terminal. Congrats, you just did the hard part. It is all easy from here.

The next thing you will do is fight the ordinary bus marked Bato. If you are going for the cheapest way to Dumaguete, you will need the non-air conditioned bus to save some money. This is also smarter as the bus drivers in the Philippines treats the air conditioner control as an ice box.

Once the bus is moving, a conductor will come and hand you a ticket with the price to pay to Bato. It should be around $3. Pay it and relax. You have a long ride ahead of you.

When you arrive at the small town of Bato, they will let you out at the terminal for Maayo Shipping. This is the ferry to take you to Negros on the cheap. They start running at about five in the morning and until late. There is also a small restaurant at the terminal if you are hungry. Be warned: they only have local dishes! The Maayo Shipping ferry will cost you about $1.25 to cross to Tampi in San Jose. Expect about a 40 minute trip.

The last thing you will do is walk out the gate and wait for a Cere Liner bus to come by and pick you up. They will take you to the heart of Dumaguete for about a quarter. You have made it. You just did the cheapest way to Dumaguete.

The total expense for traveling from Cebu comes out to $4.90. There are easiest way but this is the cheapest that I know of!

Is doing this option safe?

I believe it is and yes, I have done it many times. If I have never been to the Philippines, I would suggest just taking the ferry from Cebu City that is ran by Cokaliong Shipping Lines. It is easy and will only cost you about $13 to use overnight.

The main concern of safety would be between the Cebu Pier and the bus terminal. Downtown Cebu can be war zone at night and if you have never been in a dodgy area before, Cebu City is not the place to have your first experience. This is the skid row of the Philippines. 

It might be worth it for you to spend the extra dollar and a quarter and get a taxi from the pier to the bus terminal at night. I would even think twice operating in that area and I am a seasoned traveler that is a former combat fighter. Those images of how dangerous the Philippines is are from this area!

Otherwise, the rest of the trip is safe but make sure you are watching advisories put out by the State Department and take them serious. They do not put them out just so people can have something to read. Realize that you are not in Kansas anymore and your puppy is not Toto. Security conditions can change at any moment in this area of the world.

With all that said, if you have tried the cheapest way to Dumaguete lately, let me know how it worked for you and the cost of doing it. If you know of a better way to get there that is even cheaper, let us know in the comments before as well.

Are you going to Dumuguete, Philippines?

One of the ways that we keep the lights on at Travel the Fire is by helping you make sound decisions then booking using our travel partner, Agoda. At no charge to you, you help us keep this resource online when booking hotels and flights using the link below.

, , ,

Vietnamese people in the Philippines

There is a large group of Vietnamese in the Philippines. They are mainly found in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. How they get here and what are they doing today? That answer is not as simple as some would think but let’s see what we can figure out, shall we?

From the start, there is several stories to how they got here. The most logical one is they came by boat to Palawan right before the fall of Saigon. They would put the influx of Vietnamese refugees at around Spring, 1975. It could have been a little before that but who knows the exact date?

They came to Puerto Princesa in hopes of making it to the United States and getting US Citizenship. As the story goes, some of them were successful in doing that as well. Other returned to Vietnam as well.

The rest of them are who we want to discuss: the Vietnamese in the Philippines and made a new life in the islands.

One of the reasons so many of them stayed was the government did not abuse them or make their life hard in the transition. The government of the Philippines worked with the Catholic Church of the Philippines and the Department of States of United States to address the refugee crisis.

How did the Vietnamese in the Philippines develop

The Catholic Church set aside a track of land in Puerto Princesa to develop a whole village for the Vietnamese. They could live much like they did before. They had their own shops, restaurants, markets and even a temple. There was also a church as well.

This was their home until 1996 when the Philippine government changed their position and closed the Viet Ville as it was called. The few people who had originally came from Vietnam were set to be forced back to their homeland. In reality, the numbers were quite small. The majority were either in the United States, married a Filipino, or had passed away by this point. This is over two decades after the fact.

Most of the people had moved closer to the center of Puerto Princesa where they could do business easier and they have become doctors, businessmen, or found jobs. In short, they had become part of the social culture of the local society. Outside of cultural and physical differences, they were assimilated.

The truth of the matter is most of the Vietnamese-Filipino today have never been to Vietnam and they only speak limited Vietnamese. They are proudly Filipino and they consider Palawan their homeland. Most of them I know are actually half Filipino and half Vietnamese. That is not to say that there is not some pure Vietnamese in Palawan. I just have not met them.

The Viet Ville served its’ purpose. It kept the people save in a time that they were not well liked in this part of the world because of geo-political issues. The Philippines has provided refugee to other groups like this in the past and this is part of the reason that the nation has many different ethical groups.

The legacy of Vietnamese in the Philippines: Restaurants!

The main thing that they have given the city is dozens of Vietnamese restaurants that are good food and normally quite cheap. You normally can eat for about $4 at most of them. There is a few higher end restaurants but most serve the working class of Palawan.

As you walk across the city of Puerto Princesa, on about every street is one of these restaurants where you can get Banh Xeo, Rau muong, Nom hoa chuoi, and Ca tim kho to on order. They are on about every block on Rizal Ave, for example.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

One of the best places in the city to get some authentic Vietnamese cuisine while in Puerto Princesa on Rizal Extension past the airport at Rene’s Saigon Restaurant. I have always had a great experience there.

The culture of having these eateries is under attack though. They use to line from the capitol to the airport. One Vietnamese restaurant after another was the norm. This is no longer true.

They were pushed out by the local government to make well for pricey hotels and restaurants that were professional managed. As most of the eateries have verbal agreement with land owners; they had no recourse but to move somewhere else in the city. Many of them just called it quits.

It is also worth mentioning that many of these that are still around are open around the clock providing meals to tricycle drivers, police officers and any one else out at night.

What happen to the Viet Ville?

Well it basically became a tourist attraction for people visiting Palawan. It has one of the better Vietnamese restaurants there as well. Not very many people live there today but there is still a temple there and the restaurant still is profitable for the people working there.

As a general rule, I always end a day out on Honda Bay where I have been island hopping with dinner at the Viet Ville Restaurant. It is good food, the staff are very friendly and it helps the kids in the village get to school.

There will probably come a day that the village is completely closed down to make way for some hotel or resort. We could say it won’t happen but we saw what happened to the eateries in town and the village is only a kilometer from Honda Bay; a major tourist attraction in Palawan.

The good news is the Viet Ville has served its’ purpose and it has lived to also provide a livelihood to the next generation. If it does not make it to a third generation; it still did what it was designed to do.

If you ever in Puerto Princesa and are leaving toward El Nido, try and stop by the village, have a good lunch, support the local Vietnamese in the Philippines and go on to see the exotic place that they call home today.


, , ,

My problem with Montenegro Lines!

There is many ferry companies in the Philippines but there is only two of them that serve Palawan from Iloilo City. While I use Milagrosa Shipping most of the time, I would like to use Montenegro Lines. They have newer, faster and just better ships. Read more

, , ,

Max’s Restaurant has some great chicken!


I woke to a tropical depression in Quezon City, Philippines and I was hungry. The closest thing was Max’s Restaurant. It is a chicken restaurant that has stores across the Philippines. It is pretty tasty for what they have if you ask me. Read more

, ,

Best Hostel in Makati: My stay at Hilik Boutique Hostel

I was in Makati, Philippines and I needed a place for the night. I tried out the new Hilik Boutique Hostel above Subway. I knew it was clean, has wifi, and gave you a free breakfast. All of which are winners in my mind.

I have had friends tell me that it was pretty good and I do have to admit that they have an amazing location. They are directly across the street from the night market at A-venue mall. You can not ask for a better place to base out of while in Makati. If going to the triangle, you are there in five minutes by foot.

One thing that I really thought added character to the place was the painted up walls with traditional filipino themes. It was pretty cool especially to see a guide for basic tagalog words (the language spoken by most in Metro Manila).

Hilik Hostel painted walls

Sony Nex 5t, 1/160 sec, F/, 2000 ISO

Another thing I did notice quickly is how professional they run the Hilik Boutique Hostel in Makati and the staff are quite on top of any issue that someone had. It was refreshing to see as this is not always the case in the Philippines.

They seemed to all speak very good English and was smart cookies. One of my pet peeves about the Philippines is hostel with staff that do not understand English much. It is hard for people from somewhere outside the region of the Philippines to communicate with them. This was NOT an issue here. I was very thankful for this.

If you just go to the desk and ask them for something, they will help you out. One of the guys even ran downstairs to the Mini Stop store for me!

Hilik Boutique Hostel beds

Sony Nex 5t, 1/100 sec, F/3.5, 3200 ISO

What does Hilik Boutique Hostel offer?

According to Agoda, they have free wifi, lockers, and a shared kitchen (not sure about that one). They also offer free breakfast.

For me, I needed a clean bed in an air conditioned room. I knew that I could find it there. Some of the hostels along Makati Avenue are closer to whore houses than hostels. I needed something clean and professional.

The next thing that I needed was free wifi. They also have a free desktop in the lobby for people to use. I wanted wifi that was in the dorm though. Hilik Boutique Hostel provided that. I did not remember to check the speeds as I was very tired from traveling. I was able to upload a 10 minute video in about an hour if I recall right. Should not be a problem for the average user.

The last thing that I wanted was the free breakfast. I am sorry that I didn’t have my camera with me but it was two eggs scrambled and some toast with Peanut Butter. They also provided some juice for drink. It is not much but hey, it was included in the price for staying there.

One other thing that I really liked was that the staff let the people in the room control the air conditioner. Filipinos have a history of turning rooms into ice boxes. I liked that I could make sure the room was comfortable without being a walk in freezer.

All in all, it might not be the cheapest place in the Makati area to stay at, the location and the breakfast do make it a winner in my mind. However, I have not stayed at many hostels in Makati. I do live in the city is the reason.
Hilik Boutique Hostel prices

What about prices and booking?

I paid P500 or $10.04 for the night but I see that Adoga is booking nights for $8.97. My suggestion is use them if you are staying more than one night. A few night of saving can buy you some pinoy Barbeque at the night market across the street.

While they are not the cheapest, they do have clean beds, free wifi and breakfast to make it of value.

Anything under P500 would lead me to believe they would start to cut corners to be cheaper and you would value or security in the process. That is nothing something you want to risk while in Metro Manila.

Hilik Boutique Hostel dorms

Sony Nex 5t, 1/50 sec, F/3.5, 3200 ISO

Getting to Hilik Boutique Hostel

If you are coming from the airport (most would), there is a few options for you. It will depend of how many bags you have which is best for you.

The clear choice is to use a taxi cab at inflated prices. If using the airport cabs, plan for P300 or more for the short trip. I DO NOT suggest using them. You can easily walk across the street from Terminal 3 at NAIA Airport and get a cab for less than P150.

Another option would be to take the Airport shuttle to Baclaran (behind McDonalds) and walk about 50 meters to the MRT train. Just take the train for two stops to Ayala. From there you just walk to Hilik Boutique Hostel that is about a kilometer from the terminal. This option would cost you about P35 or less than an American dollar.

The final option would be the very adventurous and should only be done in daylight. It would mean walking across the airport to Newport area. Once there, you would get a jeepney to Roxas Blvd for P8. After that, grab a bus to Ayala and do as I said above.

If something in on a bus to Cubao, grab a bus that is going to Ayala Station and get off there.

If you do stay at Hilik Boutique Hostel, let me know how it went!

, , ,

Flying out of El Nido Airport!

I found myself in El Nido, Palawan and needing to fly back to Manila right away. The airport that is close by is privately owned and used by an airline owned by one of the resorts. The only other option that I had was a seven hour journey back to Puerto Princesa (which I didn’t have the time). Read more