Planning a Trip to the Philippines

The relatively open door policy adopted by Philippines has made it one of the most easiest of countries to visit with hardly any barriers in place for entering tourists. Residents of over 150 countries, which have diplomatic relations with the country can enter Philippines and stay there for up to thirty days without having a visitor’s visa. The only condition being is that you should have proof of return passage and a passport with at least six months validity.

There are some exceptions to this rule for a few different nationalities which your Embassy or Consulate can verify in your home city. Customs allow you to bring in your personal belongings without paying duty as well as unlimited foreign exchange. However, when leaving the country you are forbidden to carry any currency in excess of USD 10,000 or equivalent. To make the most of your trip you will need to set aside at least two to three weeks for your Philippines holiday. Suggested itinerary,with top attractions, is described below….

Planning a trip to the Philippines

MANILA (two days)

Once you have arrived at the International Airport, the rest of the Philippines can be easily visited by budget airlines(as there are no road links), which fly to most of the popular places of this charming island country. Many travelers like to skip Manila in order to save time, but they are making a huge mistake. This metropolitan city is full of diverse culture, history and entertainment. The city’s museums, broad streets and shopping malls, make Manila a must all types of tourists.

Manila, Philippines

THE CORDILLERA RICE TERRACES (two days)

A nine hour road trip, over treacherous mountain roads, high into the Cordillera mountains, where even the Spanish colonists feared to enter, will bring you to this special UNESCO world heritage site. Walking over tricky hiking trails you will discover the unique terraces of rice fields, carved out of the mountain, dating back to 500 years.

SIARGAO (two days)

Long kept as a secret, Siargao opened its doors to the outside world only in the seventies. This Pacific Ocean coastline town is known to have some of the most challenging surfing spots in the world. Cloud 9, as it is named after, boasts of a reputation of having powerful waves and rocky bottom backsides. Numerous resorts and hotels can be found here, which take visitors to the outlying popular destinations on conducted tours.

PALAWAN (four to six days)

This 260 mile piece of paradise, runs along the archipelago’s western flank and is often referred to as the best island in the world. The capital Puerto Princesa is famous for its local craft beer and a variety of food delicacies. A short distance away from the city is the underground river – one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Here you will come upon an archipelago of over 40 stunning limestone islands, where one can hike up to the edge of the cliffs or simply go island hopping. At the extreme northern end of Palawan lies Coron, with its gorgeous beaches and lagoons and the site of a World War II wreck.

BOHOL (two days)

The once laid back and sleepy island of Bohol has today earned a reputation of leading travel destination due to the presence of the Chocolate Hills. The karst limestone which gave these hills their origin are full of deep gorges and valleys, ideal for rappelling and ziplining. Bohol can be easily accessed from the Tagbilaran airport in Cebu or by ferry from the same place. Once you have found your stay in any of the island’s many resorts, take time out to go to Panglao to catch a glimpse, if you are lucky, of the dancing spinner dolphins in the Bohol sea.

DAVAO (two days)

The city of Davao, acts as the gateway point to the three major island groups, which constitute the majority of the Philippines. This major metropolis, is situated on a relatively unspoilt marine and forest habitat. As it affords easy access to both the mountains and the sea, Davao has become a topmost adventure sport destination today. The added attractions here are some animal conservation centres such as, Philippines Eagle Center and Monfort Bat Sanctuary, which are well worth a visit.

PAMPANGA

The cultural hotbed of Pampanga, lies to the north of Manila and showcases the colonial way of life of the Spaniards who once ruled here. Everything from the unique architecture to the food flavor and culture has a mix of Latin in it. The place tops in culinary eats as on the bucket list of food lovers who want to taste the best of the Kapampangan food.

BORACAY

It is said that most people, on return, have left their heart in the beautiful island of Boracay. The experiences here are so unique that visitors have fallen love with the place. Travelers have compared the island and the beaches with best in the world, and not surprisingly Boracay has always stolen the show.

The now unforgettable sunsets and miles of powdery stretches of white sand have made Boracay legendary. To get away from the hordes of tourists, a visit to Alta Vista de Boracay is highly recommended. From here one can have a commanding 360 degree view of the whole island. Thrill seekers can opt for diving from the cliffs on Magic island, which caters to both first timers and professionals alike.

The Philippines has a whole lot of other attractions, but make sure you don’t lose out on the ones mentioned above. Enjoy what this paradise country has to offer and do all what you have not done before.

Boracay, Philippines


*This is a collaborative post.

Family Adventure Ideas for the Bold Parent

Having kids comes with its fair share of chaos at times! And going on a family holiday, or travelling with kids in tow, is certainly no exception. But there are a lot of things that can play a role in helping you make things more pleasant for the whole family, and the first thing to remember is that you need to consider their needs and pick the perfect vacation choices for them.

It is important that your kids enjoy themselves as much as possible, and that they have a fun and enriching time, which still having plenty of opportunities for everyone to relax too. There are a few things you can do that will help you to take your holidays to the next level, so make sure you think about the best family travel ideas you possibly can. These are a few of the best and most impressive family adventure ideas for the bolder parents out there…

Family Adventure Ideas for the Bold Parent

Check Out London

There are so many excellent places in the world that you need to visit, but London is definitely one of the best. There are so many amazing things to experience and enjoy in the UK capital, and a day out in London with the kids can be one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable family adventures you are likely to have. There are so many things you have to bear in mind if you want to get this right, and you will need to plan your day well. The London Eye is often considered a must- do attraction for families. It is fun for all ages to see the sights of London in this unique way! You can also choose from museums, galleries, parks, tours, restaurants and other exciting attractions to create the perfect adventure for your family based on everyone’s particular interests; with so much to choose from, you will certainly find plenty to suit your specific family! The great news is that there are also a lot of family-friendly things you can do in London that are free of charge these days too, so it doesn’t have to work out expensive.

Tower of London, London Bridge, Thames, London attraction

Go Somewhere Exotic

If the big cities don’t take your fancy, it might be a good idea to check out somewhere a little more exotic. This is the perfect chance for you and your family to jet off across the world if your budget allows and absorb a new culture for a while. Check out G Adventures Costa Rica travel experiences to help you understand how exotic trips that you can take as a family make an enriching experience all round. There is nothing like learning about geography and cultures by being immersed in it first hand, so it is an excellent experience for children and adults alike.

Scenic photo of mountain in background, green fields and forests

The Beach is Your Friend

As a family, you have to think about what you can do that is going to provide hours of enjoyment without clearing out the bank account. One of the best options these days would be to head for the beach. This is something that allows the whole family to enjoy a day of sand, sea, and hopefully sun! It is brilliant for the entire family’s wellbeing to spend time enjoying the fresh air, sea breeze and therapeutic effects of the water. Plus you’re really only going to have to pay for parking (and possibly food). The beach is the ideal family adventure, so is definitely one to consider when making travel plans.

Gorgeous blue sea and sky, tropical island

It is so important to make the right choices when you are trying to do what is best for your kids. There are a lot of travel experiences that can enrich their lives and at the same time, help the entire family get the most from their vacation. This is why you need to think hard about the different family adventures, as careful choices can really make things ideal for the children and boost the experiences of the whole family.

*This is a collaborative post.

Earning by the Sea: 30 Days Wild Guest Post

My last 30 Days Wild guest post is by
Kaya La Roche, 34 years old, from Margate Kent. She blogs at earningbythesea.co.uk

Guest post 30 days wild. Image Kent castle

What is your favourite nature activity?

We really enjoy woodland walks as a family and walking our dog Lola on the beach. I feel really lucky to live a five minute walk from the sea.

Where is your favourite wild place?

Blean woods near Canterbury in Kent. The woods are beautiful and there are lots of tree carvings and dens for children to explore.

Who or what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

Our local Forest school is taking part and my daughter Willow used to attend there so I saw a picture on their Facebook page.

Where are your favourite outdoor places? Which nature activities do you most enjoy? I would love to hear from you! Tell me in comments.

Becky the Traveller: 30 Days Wild Guest Post

Only a few guest posts left to publish now as we near the end of #30DaysWild for this year. But we do still have one whole week left yet to go – yay! I am really enjoying reading these guest posts and I hope you are too!

Today’s post is written by Becky Angell, 41, from Nottingham…

Becky the Traveller - 30 days wild guest post

What is your favourite nature activity?

Hiking is one of my favourite activities, because it combines my love of nature, wildlife keeping fit and being outdoors (yes even in the rain!)

Where is your favourite wild place?

Can I pick two! Peak District National Park – closest national park to my home, it’s beautiful and great for hiking. Attenborough Nature Reserve, as an avid birdwatcher I love visiting here and seeing the birds but other insects. It’s generally a very peaceful place to be.

Who or what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

I love promoting the outdoors to my readers so why not take my own advice.

Find Becky at the following channels:

Becky the Traveller Blog

Becky the Traveller Facebook

Becky the Traveller Instagram

Life in Rose Tinted Glasses: 30 Days Wild (Guest Post)

Today’s guest post is by George from Gloucestershire, who is completing the 30 Days Wild challenge for the first time. They write over at Life in Rose Tinted Glasses. Read on…

30 Days Wild guest post - life in rose tinted glasses

What is your favourite nature activity?

We love walking the dog up the local hills. They’re easy to access, free to park at and have a play area as well so we all have fun. We love the fact that you can go to them all year round and the views from the top are worth the effort.

Where is your favourite wild place?

Wenchford in the Forest of Dean. It has a little stream that you can paddle in, lovely trails to walk along and a great picnic area. It’s beautiful there, even with the crowds in summer it always feels peaceful and relaxing. We’ve spent hours there and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody moan they are bored!

Who or what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

We need to get outdoors more. We’ve not got out of the habit of staying in since winter and we need to get out and enjoy the little bit of summer England gets.

Hannah Elizabeth – 30 Days Wild – Guest Post

Today’s 30 Days Wild guest post is from Hannah Elizabeth, aged 21. She is currently studying at university and shares her time between Nottingham, Leeds and London. You can find her over at Hannah Elizabeth.

30 days wild guest post

What is your favourite nature activity?

My favourite nature activity is walking the dogs around new parks, especially ones with wildlife and art because I also love taking photos and it’s the perfect opportunity.

Duck and ducklings in a lake

Where is your favourite wild place?

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of my favourite wild places. I love the art and the mixture of wildlife. Now that I’ve been so many times, I feel comfortable going off the path a little and into the woods for the slightly more wilderness side of things.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Hannah at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Who or what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

Honestly, I’d never heard of the challenge before but now that I have, I’m definitely going to do a post about it. It’s such a great and meaningful challenge to be involved in so thank you!

Sheep in a field around a picnic bench

What has been your favourite random act of wildness so far? Tell me in comments!

The Dozy Owl – 30 Days Wild (Guest Post)

Today’s guest post is from Kieran, aged 24, from Glasgow. He really loves sleep! (Don’t we all?!) You can find him blogging over at The Dozy Owl.

30 Days Wild Guest Post text, Scottish Highlands image

What is your favourite nature activity?

Walking around the local park, it gets tough in a big city trying to keep in touch with nature so it’s important to do it when you can!

Where is your favourite wild place?

The river where I grew up in the Scottish highlands, a long winding river with a great natural pool for swimming in. You can see fish swimming around if your lucky!

Who or what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

I’m always trying to improve my sleep and wanted to find out what effect going outside would have on it. It helped massively! Slept like a baby after getting into nature for a day.

I agree getting outside in nature helps with sleep, and overall wellbeing? Do you agree? Let me know in comments!

Beginners Guide To Mountain Biking with Halfords

When it comes to mountain biking, are you more likely to go shredding, or end up OTB? (Hint: if you don’t know what these terms are, check out the guide below!) If you are a novice, or are yet to try it out but are keen to have a go, then this is the post for you!

Mountain biking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy spending time outdoors. It is an excellent way to keep fit; fantastic for health and wellbeing. Not only that, with so many tracks to choose from throughout the UK, it can also inspire and motivate people to see more of the country too. Plus it is a lovely clean, eco- friendly hobby (or is it a sport?!) as well. So basically, it is pretty much perfect!

Whilst I am somewhat of a beginner myself, I do have some excellent expert tips to get you started, thanks to this very handy Halfords Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking, and also with the help of some very experienced fellow bloggers too…

Beginners Guide to Mountain Biking

Choose The Correct Bike

There are several factors to consider when choosing a mountain bike; style of frame, wheel size, type of tyre and what type of mountain bike itself. The Beginner’s guide talks you through these considerations, so check that out for further details. Halfords stock a great range of mountain bikes, so you’re bound to find the ideal one for you!

With regard to the type of bike; there is front suspension, full suspension and electric. I have noticed that electric mountain bikes can sometimes get negative press, as they are seen as ‘cheating’ or somehow missing the point. However, there are also benefits to them, as this article explains. I particularly wanted to give them a quick mention though, because I believe they might potentially make mountain biking more accessible for some SEND people, so that is certainly worth noting.

Get the Gear

Any experienced mountain biker will tell you, having the right equipment is absolute key! Safety gear – helmet, elbow and knee pads, and gloves – are essential. Welsh Mum also suggests mudguards so your legs don’t get covered, waterproof gear, a comfortable backpack, and the right shoes and socks all make a big difference. Check out the gear list in the Halfords guide.

Chronicles of Theo mountain biking

Image: Chronicles of Theo mountain biking.

Bike Trails

There are trails all over the UK and they are helpfully colour coded to a standard grading system, so you can pick the right level of difficulty. Green is the beginners route, if you are just starting out. You can find out more about locations in the Halfords guide. (Told you, it’s super useful!)

Expert Advice

Miss LJ Beauty spends a huge part of her life mountain biking, and has been lucky enough to travel the world. Here is her advice:

Why not join a local mountain biking group? To find like minded people of all ability’s The key to learning is have fun! Mountain biking is progressive sport there are always new things to learn. No matter what level you are. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone on a trail! We are a friendly bunch And are more than happy to help!

Get on your bike and come shredding!

Miss LJ Beauty Fort William down hill

Image: Miss LJ Beauty on Fort William down hill.

Have you been mountain biking? Why do you love it? Where is your favourite trail? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords.

30 Days Wild: Guest Post – Butcher Baker Baby

As promised, today is my first 30 Days Wild themed guest post. This one is written by Jules from Derbyshire. It is her first year taking part in the 30 Days Wild challenge! Here is her post…

30 Days Wild guest post. ilam peak district image

What is your favourite nature activity?

Woodland walks particularly when they are full of snowdrops/bluebells. It reminds me of the change of seasons and that spring/summer are not too far behind. I’m lucky to have a stunning snowdrop wood (Dimminsdale) and bluebell wood (Serpents Wood at Calke Abbey) on my doorstep. We make sure every year we visit to take the beauty in.

Where is your favourite wild place?

Ilam near Dovedale in the Peak District. A beautiful valley that can be popular with walkers but it’s still possible to find pockets of calm. The drive down to the village provides stunning views across Dovedale/Manifold/Thorpe Cloud and the riverside woodland is a haven for plants. Late spring the wild garlic takes over. Come autumn the range of colours from the trees in the valley is stunning. Truly a beautiful place throughout the seasons.

Who or what inspired you to take part in the challenge?

Some friends did it last year.

You can find Jules over on Instagram: @butcherbakerbaby

What Random Act of Wildness did you do today? I would love to read about it in comments!

Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.