The Philippines with its more than 7000 beautiful islands is like heaven on earth. From its exaulted, most sought islands such as Boracay, Cebu and Palawan to the lowkey ones like Siargao and Bohol, this archipelago in Southeast Asia possesses some of the most amazingly stunning destinations in the world. You may think you have seen it all but this country still has more up its sleeves. Look beyond the usual tourists tracks and you would discover some of the most underrated but awe-inspiring destinations you’ve probably never heard of before. Among these are the provinces of Leyte and Biliran.
Leyte and Biliran are two provinces located in Central Visayas. They are unlikely known to tourists as these places are plagued by strong typhoons more than half the time in a year. They make headlines in weather news but seldom do they make it to the pages of some top travel magazines or websites. They have been lurking in the shadows for such a long time which I really couldn’t decide whether or not has done them better as they were spared from the largely negative effects of commercialism but has rendered them irrelevant to the local travel scene. Just like the innocence of a child, these provinces still has in them their purest touch which would certainly endear them to travelers who love taking off-beaten tracks.
WHAT EXACTLY CAN LEYTE AND BILIRAN OFFER
- Beautiful Beaches & Islands – Leyte and Biliran is home to some of the most beautiful virgin islands that boast of white sandy shores and refreshing clear waters.
- Stunning Waterfalls & Hotsprings – These two provinces boast of untouched mountains covered in verdant rainforests which conceal numerous waterfalls and hotsprings.
- Rich Underwater Environment – The water surrounding these two island provinces are teeming with so much life and abundance.
- Undiscovered Mountains – Surrounding the islands are mountains not known to many which offers new trails and adventure for thrill seekers.
- Cultural Learning – These two provinces is a mixture of different ethnicity which will definitely broaden your perspective and cultural sense.
SO HOW TO TRAVEL TO THESE BEAUTIFUL PROVINCES ON A BUDGET FOR 5 DAYS?
Day 1: Tacloban City Tour
Tacloban was badly hit during Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 that scars of that devastating catastrophe are still very evident in its every corner but the city seems to be coping just fine no matter how huge the damage it had to endure. Busy streets, lively places of business and smiles of people are what I had observed during my visit. I took an early morning flight to Tacloban and I arrived there at 7AM immediately taking a tricycle to wander around the city. To be honest, there is really nothing much to see in this city but what little it can offer could already fill your mind with so much wonder. I went to see San Juanico Bridge -the iconic bridge that connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte, Sto. Niño Shrine which is another genius from no other than former First Lady Imelda Marcos and of course, MacArthur Statue -which symbolizes the historic return of the American General Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines to free us from the Japanese in WWII.
- Instead of hiring a tricycle to take you to each tourist sites, you can instead take local transpo. Fare is only P7/way. Not only that it will enable you to save, you can also travel like a true local.
- When going to San Juanico Bridge, you can take the jeep going to Samar. You can ask the driver to drop you off before the bridge. There, prepare to go on a bit of walking to explore the bridge until the other end of it. Please make sure you are certain with what you are doing since there won’t be any other options once you get started. Vehicles are prohibited to stop anywhere in the bridge unless due to emergency.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||City Tour - P500
Entrance Fee + Camera Fee (Sto. Niño Shrine) - P230
Brunch - P150
Dinner - P60
Sleep - P800
Total <<>> P1740
|CONTACT PERSON||Raul Labita - 09175094639 (Tricycle Driver)|
Day 2: Inopacan, Leyte’s Cuatro Islas
Among the places I scanned through the web while I was drafting my itinerary, Cuatro Islas caught my curiosity the most. Imagine exploring four different stunning and unspoiled islands in a day! That’s one heck of an eventful day right?! So on my 2nd day, this is where I was. I was already prepared to spend more than what I had allotted for this day’s adventure but thank goodness for Edz and Lanie whom I got to share the boat cost with. We weren’t that lucky though since during the tour there were drizzles here and there until it finally came to a downpour which shortened our time to explore.
How did I get here: From Tacloban, I rode a van bound to Maasin which will pass by the town of Inopacan (3 hrs ; P170). The port for boats going to Cuatro Islas is situated at the back of the Municipal Hall which is just a few walks away from the highway.
- Exploring Cuatro Islas is more favorable for those travelling in groups. Solo travelers needs to prepare to shell out more of their budget just in case there won’t be anyone to share the boat cost with.
- Overnight stay is allowed but you have to bring your own tent since there are no accommodation available in each island.
- If you wish to explore all 4 islands then you will need to spend more on boat and entrance fee since only 3 islands are under the jurisdiction of Inopacan and the other island, Himokilan belongs to a different town.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Island Hopping Tour @ P3000/3 - P1000
Registration Fee - P60
Food - P150
Van To Ormoc - P120
Van To Palompon - P130
Sleep - P350
Total <<>> P1810
|CONTACT PERSON||Local Touris
Bong Abenoja - 09486231860
Lemin Polo - 09103649464
Day 3: A Visit To Kalanggaman Island
Early 2016 when I first had a glimpse of this magnificent Island on Instagram. Following that were a staggering number of its photos popping up in social media. Kalanggaman Island is undeniably gorgeous that I grabbed the first chance I got my hands on a discounted flight to Tacloban last year just so I could witness its allure firsthand. Fast forward 2017 and I found myself staring in so much awe at the beauty I’ve been dreaming to see for a very long time and all my lips could utter at that time was “It was all worth it.” The creamy white shores of sugary sands and rough coral stones, the long stretch of sandbar, the clear turquoise water and the rich underwater paradise it offers is worth one helluva ride to Palompon.
How did I get here: After exploring Cuatro Islas, I, together with Edz and Lanie, tried to check the nearby Island of Canigao but failed miserably because of the rain. From Bato Port, we rode a tricycle going to Matalom Teminal and rode a van to Ormoc (2hrs ; P120). Then in Ormoc, we rode another van going to Palompon (1.5hrs ; P110). Spent the night in Love Inn then the following morning rode a pedicab going to the City Tourism Office. There we hired a boat to take us to Kalanggaman Island.
- Bring food and water since there’s none sold in the island.
- If you are to stay overnight, you may either stay on a tent or rent a cottage for P500. You may have to pay extra for mattress and pillow.
- There are toilet and bath rooms in the island but they are poorly maintained.
- There are no fresh water available in the island suitable for bath and other washing/cleansing needs.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Boat to Kalanggaman Island (shared) @ P3000/9 - P333
Entrance Fee Daytrip - P200
Food - P300
Van back to Ormoc - P120
Sleep - P350
Total <<>> P1303
|BOAT & OTHER FEES||Boat (up to 20 pax) - P3000
Entrance Fee: P200 (Day trip) ; P300 (Overnight)
|CONTACT PERSON||Ate Mae - 09069753053 (Boat)|
Day 4: Exploring Maripipi & Sambawan Islands
Capturing my attention as strongly as Kalanggaman Island was Sambawan Island. The photos of a small island stretching like a sleeping alligator bound by deep blue water with verdant mountains of a distant island as the backdrop were some of the things I barely can resist. And how am I just glad this treasure of Biliran is just as much as I had expected it and more.
How did I get here: After an eventful day in Kalanggaman, I took a van to Ormoc (2 hrs ; P110) and spent the night there. Early the following morning, I rode a van to Naval (2 hrs ; P130). Got off the public market and walked to the port. Bought my tickets and road a ferry to Maripipi Island (3 hrs ; P70). Once in Maripipi Island, I hired an motorcycle (P300) to wander around and to take me to Bgry. Ol Og where boats to Sambawan Island awaits (P500).
- Plan you itinerary carefully if you want to include Maripipi and Sambawan Islands since there are no regular trips to the island on Sundays.
- There are only 3 regular trips going to Maripipi Island from Naval Port which are scheduled to depart every hour starting 10AM.
- In unfavorable sea conditions, trips might be cancelled. Other option if you miss the ferry is to take a boat (P1200 – P1500) from Kawayan, a town 30 minutes away from Naval via jeepney.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Van Ormoc-Naval - P130
Ferry + Terminal Fee - P70
Maripipi Tour - P300
Boat Maripipi-Sambawan (Shared) @ P500/5 - P100
Food - P250
Entrance Fee (Sambawan Is) - P100
Sleep - P300
Total <<>> P1250
|BOAT & ENTRANCE FEE||Boat Transfers
Ferry Naval-Maripipi + Terminal Fee - P70
Boat Maripipi-Sambawan - P600 (up to 5 pax)
Boat Maripipi-Kawayan - P600 (up to 5 pax)
Boat Kawayan-Sambawan - P1200
Sambawan Island - P100 (Day Trip) : P200 (Overnight)
Overnight Cottages (Sambawan Is)
Small 4-6pax - P1500
Big 10-15pax - P2500
Tent Rental - P300
Tent Space - Small P50 ; Big P150
|CONTACT PERSON||Kuya Gidab - 09481696233 (Boat Maripipi-Sambawan)
Kuya Jun-Jun - 09355206342 (Boat Kawayan)
Sambawan Caretaker - 09264104866
Day 5: Chasing Waterfalls In Biliran
If there is a province worthy to be called as the “Waterfall Capital Of The Philippines”, Biliran would top the list. This province has over thirty waterfalls some of which are still undiscovered and unknown to the most of us. I saved the best part of my adventure for my last day. You know how I am with waterfalls. They are my first love! But as much as I wanna see them all, my full 8 hours was only enough to see four breathtaking waterfalls namely Tinago, Bagongbong, Recoletos and Ulan-ulan. Like can they still get any harder to get to?!!
How did I get here: After spending the night in Sambawan Island, I road a boat to Kawayan sharing it with 5 other people. Once at the port, I hired a motorcycle to take me to each waterfalls.
- I got my motorcycle ride for P900 taking me to every waterfall my time would allow. Normal rate is P400/waterfall, depends on your haggling skills so it’s best to tag someone along to share the cost with.
- Bagongbong, Recoletos and Ulan-Ulan Falls are kind of hard to get to. Not only that the roads leading to them are difficult, they also require trekking for 30 minutes to an hour along unpaved, muddy roads.
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES||Boat Sambawan-Kawayan (shared) - P100
Motorcycle Tour - P900
Food - 250
Entrance Fees - P60
Van Naval-Tacloban - P120
Total <<>> P1430
|CONTACT PERSON||Alfie Leones - 09261269714 (Motorcycle Driver)|
WHERE TO STAY
WELL COLLECTED MEMOIRS OF A BEAUTIFUL PLACE
Sometimes it only takes getting lost to find oneself. When getting lost, might as well be in paradise.
There you have it lovelies. Stay tuned for more posts about my trip in Leyte and Biliran. Until next time. Ciao. 🙂