Philippine Eden Presents Paradise

With Chinese new year almost upon us, for this month’s getaway suggestion we leave China’s borders, as our weekender guide tells the tales of his Christmas trip to the central Philippines.


Several friends of mine had recommended the tropical destination of Cebu and its reputation did not disappoint. One of roughly seven thousand islands, Cebu is regarded as the diving capital of the region. A three-hour flight from Shenzhen was followed by an initial taxi to Oslob—on the far south of the island—with whale shark watching being the first thing on the agenda.

The following morning, I found myself swimming just meters away from the largest fish in our oceans. For the equivalent of 110 RMB per person this “once in a lifetime experience” could not be missed. A quick visit to Tumalog scenic waterfalls before taking a delightful two-hour boat trip over to Bohol Island and the white sandy beaches of Panglao. Pure bliss.

My first beach Christmas Eve was celebrated in true Filipino fashion with party games and unlimited rum and cokes, preceding a whole hog roast accompanied by an assortment of traditional Filipino dishes. Classic “adobo” chicken was my pick of the bunch, but my girlfriend preferred the “sinigang” seafood soup which was quite spicy and extremely sour.

Return direct flights set me back around 2,500 RMB. Total hotel costs came in at 1,500 RMB and my spending budget of 6,000 RMB was more than enough to get by.

Over to the central part of Bohol Island, and the main attraction of the chocolate hills. Like some bizarre scene from Mario Kart, the utterly unique land formations almost resemble “Hershey’s” chocolate drops as far as the eye can see. From there, it was over to Loboc to catch a glimpse of the elusive Tarsier monkeys with their huge bulging eyes. A short drive from Loboc to Valladolid presented the perfect way to round off the day with an evening firefly show.

My final day was spent leisurely cruising around some of the smaller archipelagos. I cannot emphasize how idyllic the scenery was; clear blue sea, coral sands and a seemingly endless variety of marine life. For me it was truly Eden. Added to this was the charming and humble nature of the Filipino locals. Outwardly friendly and helpful, it really felt like nothing was too much trouble for them.

I would totally recommend this trip for anybody looking for a getaway over the Chinese New Year. Return direct flights set me back around 2,500 RMB. Total hotel costs came in at 1,500 RMB and my spending budget of 6,000 RMB was more than enough to get by eating and drinking well. The most expensive thing was actually the initial taxi to Oslob, which worked out about 400 RMB.

Sadly, it was time for the inevitable return trip. A short ferry from Bohol followed by a brief look around Cebu city and it was back on the plane to Shenzhen and home to Dongguan. I only had a week to glimpse this beautiful paradise and I’m seriously considering going back to explore more of this jewel of the Philippines.

Category The Weekender