BUDGETARIAN SERIES: Cagayan Trip for less than Php 5,000 ($107)

BUDGETARIAN SERIES: Cagayan Trip for less than Php 5,000 ($107)

This Cagayan getaway of ours just became quite unforgettable. See, I have been traveling since 2007 and call me lucky, but I have never experienced any flight cancellations. Well, not until last March 2 of this year. Me and the other passengers were already at the coaster waiting to be transferred to the plane when the ground crew was radioed to inform us that we will not be flying to our destination that day. Apparently, it was raining heavily in Tuguegarao.

How could you prepare for something impromptu like that? Good thing we always travel light and have no luggage checked in to retrieve plus listening to instructions can really come a long way. We end up being the first in line and had the luxury to rebook our flights to the following day.

The morning after, we went to the airport again and prayed hard so as not to face another flight cancellation. Glad it wasn’t. So from there, off we went to Cagayan. Finally.

Also read: 
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My Dream Krabi-Phuket Trip for Only Php 15,000 ($318)

Jump-off point

From Manila, the fastest way to get to Callao Cave and Palaui Island is by plane via Tuguegarao City. Cebu Pacific flies daily directly to Tuguegarao and is only an hour plane ride away.

But if you’ve got patience and time to endure the 12-hour land travel, you can opt for the bus ride instead. Though based from our experience, the bus fare was way more expensive than that of our plane ticket just because we availed such during one of CebPac’s seat sales.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Commute to San Vicente, Cagayan

After having a quick lunch in Tuguegarao City, we took a tricycle to a van terminal going to Sta Ana. From Sta Ana, we took another tricycle that will take us to our Palaui hosts’ house. Land travel was at least 4 hours. Since it was already past 5 pm, we agreed to have our island hopping tour the next morning.

Day 2: Palaui Island Hopping Tour

We woke up as early as 5 am and it was still raining when we started our island hopping tour. Blame it on the late arrival of the amihan, I was more soaked by the rain than of the saltwater. I was even wearing a rain coat because of the cold wind. Yes, we picked a wrong time to visit Palaui. Well, this made us more motivated to be back by their summer time to which the locals said to fall between the months of April and June.

Read our full experience here.

Palaui Island (2)

Spots to Visit:

>> Cape Engaño Lighthouse
>> Siwangag Cove
>> Siwangagan Island Beach
>> Crocodile Island
>> Gotan Mangrove Forest
>> Anguib Beach
>> Punta Verde
>> Baratubut Falls

Day 3: Callao Cave Tour

And so we are back to Tuguegarao in preparation of going back to Manila. But since we have a half-day to spare, what we did was explore the famous Callao Cave which is only less than an hour away from the city. We also had the time to go pasalubong shopping since chicharabao is abundant in this side of town.

Read our full experience here.

Bella Palaui (3)

Spots to Visit:

>> Pinacanauan River
>> Callao Cave

Where We Stayed

Palaui Island
We stayed at our hosts’ humble home in San Vicente port. They were kind enough to accommodate us for 2 nights (for free) and without asking anything in return.

Tuguegarao
We booked our overnight stay in Tuguegarao in Hotel Joselina Main Branch. Rate per night is P850 for a room for 2 pax.

Food Recommendations

>> Pancit Batil Patong – Our lunch after we landed in Tuguegarao. We went straight Jomar’s, one of the famous panciteria in the city, to try this local dish. We only did one mistake though, we ordered two separate  meals. One is actually enough for 2 persons. With the never ending sahog, pairing it with sukang Iloco and poof, you got yourself a one delectable super food.

>> Tinola – My favorite ulam in the world! This dish however has been cooked by our host’s wife, Ate Nova, using a  native chicken. And I must say, she can really cook! One of the best I have ever tasted.

>> Paksiw na Danggit – This was also cooked by Ate Nova but I just have to showcase this one. I didn’t even had a danggit before (that is not dried) let alone have seen one. So we really did enjoyed this dish. Dameng laman pala nito, in all fairness!

>> There is also a Luna StrEAT Park that is just around our hotel’s corner in Tuguegarao. A banchetto style of food park that you get to choose what to eat.

Travel Tips

• Make sure that you go to Palaui Island during their summer time to which the locals are in an agreement to be from April to June.
• During the island hopping tour, it is better to have a packed lunch with you. If not, you may ask your boatman if such can be prearranged.
• Don’t forget to put on some sunscreen.
• Bring a bottle of water at all times. You’ll need it most especially when ascending the 184 steps to Callao Cave.
• For the full effect of the light coming through the cave holes, be sure to visit the Callao Cave before or during lunch time.

**Our Cagayan Valley tour has been done during our Cagayan Valley-Tuguegarao trip last Mar 3-6, 2016. Pics were taken using Nikon D3100 and Sony Cybershot TX30.

Travel Expense Summary

Expenses Total Divide by 2
Roundtrip Ticket to Tuguegarao

1854

927

Day 1: Manila – Sta Ana, Cagayan

Trike from airport to Jomar’s

50

25

Lunch at Jomar’s

206

103

Trike to van terminal to Sta Ana

20

10

Van fare to Sta Ana terminal

360

180

Trike to Palaui accommodation

40

20

Dinner c/o our Palaui hosts

0

0

Day 2: Palaui Island

Boat rental

3,500

1,750

Tip to tour guide

500

250

Cape Engaño tour guide + tip

300

150

Breakfast & Lunch c/o Palaui hosts

0

0

Baratubut Falls tour guide

50

25

Day Pass & Environmental Fee

140

70

Day 3: Sta Ana – Tuguegarao

Van to Tuguegarao

360

180

Trike to Hotel Joselina

30

15

Hotel Joselina

850

425

Triple J’s Pancit Cabagan

90

45

Trike tour to Callao Cave

600

300

Entrance fee to Callao Cave

40

20

Tip to Callao tour guide

150

75

Native halo-halo

50

25

Dinner at Luna StrEAT

384

192

Day 4: Back to Manila

Trike to airport

50

25

Airport Terminal Fee

300

150

TOTAL

Php 9,924

Php 4,962

Note: Pasalubong money not included.

Contacts

To our boatman and Palaui host, Kuya Nanding, who entertained us the best that he can, maraming salamat po! Really couldn’t thank you and your family enough. I highly recommend him. Contact him at 0935-996-6744. If you happen to avail his services, kindly say hi for me!

Our only contact for our Tuguegarao tour is Hotel Joselina. They are also the ones who helped us find a tricycle to take us to Callao Cave at a reasonable price. Their rooms are also clean but the Caggay branch looks newer though quite far from the center. Contact them at 0917-5538-556 or visit their website hoteljoselina.com.

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Written by Tody Dino

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