Ways to Go to Kalinga

How to Go to Tabuk City, Kalinga

Tabuk City is the capital of Kalinga, one of the 6 provinces that comprise the Cordillera Administrative Region.

In recent years, the province was put in the spotlight thanks to the popularity of Apo Whang-Od, a Filipina that’s often regarded as the last tattoo artist (mambabatok) of the Kalinga people.

To get to Apo Whang-Od, many travelers, especially local guests, prefer to take an organized Baguio – Sagada/Bontoc – Tinglayan tour. If you’d like another route, Tabuk City makes a good base.

How can one go to Tabuk City, Kalinga by public transport? Here are your options.

1. Plane – Van/Jeep

Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL) offer daily one-hour flights from Manila to Tuguegarao City (Cagayan). From Tuguegarao, you can take either a passenger van or jeepney bound for Tabuk. The trip is about 1.5 hours.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Mt. Pulag First-Timers | Hiking in the Philippines

Tuguegarao Airport

2. Bus

There are three bus companies offering daily Manila-to-Tabuk trips. Choose among Victory Liner (Kamias and Earnshaw branches), ES Transport (Cubao), and Dangwa (Sampaloc). All these buses pass by the top hotels in Tabuk City.

Should you run out tickets, there’s an abundant supply of buses bound for Tuguegarao. From Tuguegarao, enjoy a van or jeepney ride to Tabuk.

If you’re coming from Baguio, you can purchase a ticket from either GL Trans or Dangwa.

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10 Tips for Mt. Pulag First-Timers

10 Tips for Mt. Pulag First-Timers | Hiking in the Philippines

Mt. Pulag stands at 2,926 meters (9,600 ft) above sea level, making it the third tallest mountain in the Philippines and Luzon‘s highest peak. Whatever your reason for wanting to “conquer” Mt. Pulag – sea of clouds, crossing it off your bucket list, #squadgoals – we completely understand. We support you.

But because we know of a few people who haven’t successfully reached the summit, we say you should take this hike seriously. For this, we’d like to share some tips.

Expect low temperatures. Don’t skimp on the fleece.

Droplets in Mt. Pulag SummitEven some occasional hikers have to turn back because the cold is unbearable. So as early as now, be warned: The temperature can drop to zero at night, and possibly worse during the colder months.

For an overnight stay at one of the campsites, ensure that your tent is waterproof and wind-resistant. Inside, you want to set up a sleeping space that is as warm as possible.

To do this, pack an aluminum foil camping mat that can contain every inch of your body. Your sleeping bag should withstand low temperatures, and if your tolerance to cold is terrible, it doesn’t hurt to pack a light fleece blanket.

For clothing, layering is a must. See the next tip to know the basics. Don’t forget to include a pair of waterproof gloves and a balaclava or a bonnet.

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Layer up on your way to the summit.

Wearing layers of clothes is better than wearing one bulky jacket. As explained on this site, a layering system is more effective in retaining heat because “warm air is trapped between the layers acting as an insulator.”

Layers also play it safe. In different types of weather – whether it rains or the temperature drops – you have what you need. If it feels too hot along the trail, you can easily take off one layer. If you need it back again – and this is true at the summit – you can easily wear it again. That said, learn how to layer your clothes.

Here are the basics. Your base layer should be a quick-dry shirt. Don’t use cotton as cotton absorbs and retains moisture, thereby making you feel colder.

Your second or middle layer can be a wool cardigan or a fleece jacket.

Ideally, the last layer should be an anorak, or a weather-resistant parka. But if you have one of those hardshell mountain jackets, they can be a good substitute.

Pack a lightweight emergency blanket and a rain poncho.

Save for clumps of dwarf bamboo bushes, the summit is bare, so surely, you’ll be exposed to the elements. You might need extra insulation especially when arriving at the summit before sunrise. It may also rain, so a poncho is a wise investment.

It’s windy and cold at the top, and everyone will be hiding behind the bushes. For added warmth, have an emergency blanket, a heat-reflective thin wrap designed to retain your body heat.

You’ll also want to sit on the ground, so you’ll need a large plastic bag to keep you clean and dry.

Pack a pair of extra socks and change at the summit.

Unless your socks are waterproof, there’s no need to pack another pair. But why do this?

Near the summit, the vegetation changes from mossy forest to grasslands. The trail gets narrower, and on your ascent, your socks, shoes, and the lower part of your trekking pants may get wet as they brush against the dew-laden blades of grasses.

Climbing Mt. Agung soon? Here’s a packing list.

Wet wipes are your best option when the water gets too cold.

From cleaning the dishes to wiping off the mud on your feet, wet wipes are a great help especially when camping in cold weather. At the supermarket, grab a 2-in-1 pack that comes with an antibac feature. You’ll thank us later.

Follow the park’s official Facebook page.

The updates are usually weather-related, but if you have some questions, this page is helpful.

Hike one or two small mountains before your trip.

Sure, the Ambangeg Trail is the easiest among the three trails leading up to the summit. But it can still be difficult especially if you don’t have regular cardio-related exercises.

A prep hike at least a week before the climb is recommended. You can choose a smaller mountain whose trail, if possible, shares some similarities with Mt. Pulag’s. If you can find a group bound for Mt. Ulap, join them.

If you can’t have a prep hike, jog at least thirty minutes every day two weeks before the climb. Other activities that can also improve cardiovascular endurance include swimming and cycling.

Don’t expect, but hope for a “sea of clouds.”

Mt. Pulag’s famed sea of clouds is truly stunning, but catching it is not easy. It sometimes requires luck. But although luck plays a role, you can increase your chances if you book a trek from December to January, which, as explained here, gives you the highest probability of seeing this natural phenomenon.

The image below shows us at the summit above a sea of clouds, which we witnessed on my second Pulag climb (Akiki-Tawangan Trail). It wasn’t as pretty as Mt. Kinabalu‘s or Mt. Agung‘s.

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Mt Pulag Hiking in the Philippines

Invest in a good pair of hiking sandals if trekking shoes are way out of budget.

During our first Mt. Pulag climb (Ambangeg Trail), we made the mistake of wearing a pair of walking shoes. Everything was fine until we reached the mossy forest, which has a stony trail. Our shoes didn’t have a thick outsole, so my feet hurt as we walked through the rocks, which were hard and sometimes pointy.

That said, if trekking shoes or trailrunners (e.g., Salomon Speedcross 4) are way out of budget, you can opt for a pair of hiking sandals, a cheaper alternative.

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Go slow but steady.

There’s no need to rush. Take your time to examine and appreciate Mt. Pulag’s flora and fauna. Don’t run on the trail lest you run the risk of having cramps or hurting yourself.

If you plan on climbing Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, Mt. Pulag is a good prep hike.

Sea of Clouds Mt. Pulag

Candi Bentar in Indonesia

That’s Uniquely Southeast Asian! Must-Experience and Must-See in the Region

When you travel, the tendency is, you have a checklist of what to do, what to eat, what to see, and what to try or experience. If you’re budget-traveling across Southeast Asia, try a “uniquely Southeast Asian checklist.”

Here are some items to include in your list.

Thailand: Muay Thai

You’ll probably find a gym near you, but the teaching style may not be the same as what you can get in, say, Master Toddy’s in Bangkok. It may be quite difficult to get a trainer to teach you proper punching and kicking techniques.

That said, when you’re in Thailand, enroll in a multi-day course with a camp or gym that has a solid reputation. At the end of the class, you’ll walk out more confident, for sure.

Philippines: Jeepney

The jeepney is a remnant of military jeeps brought to the country by the Americans during WWII. It’s elongated and more colorful than the original. It’s the most popular public transport in the Philippines, and it’s a unique and cheap option to do some sightseeing.

On a side note, Vin Diesel was pictured on a jeepney checking out the streets of Manila.

Myanmar: Thanaka

Thanaka cream comes from the bark of the thanaka tree, and it is used for beauty purposes and for sun protection.

On your trip to see the temples of Bagan, stop by for a chat with the ladies selling this all-natural face mask. They might give you a free sample. To complete the experience, you might want to wear a lungi.

Thanaka Tree Into Thanaka Cream Bagan Myanmar

Indonesia: Candi Bentars

A candi bentar is a split gateway that’s unique in Bali. According to Wikipedia, it is an integral feature of a Balinese temple architecture. It serves as an entry way to the temple from the outside world.

When in Bali, check out the iconic Handara Gate in Pancasari Village Bedugul and the Gates of Heaven at Pura Lempuyang.

Vietnam: Ca Phe Sua Da

Vietnamese have a unique way of making delicious iced coffee.

When in Hanoi, go on a food tour and look forward to having ca phe sua da, a cup of iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. Also try egg coffee (ca phe trung).

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Ca Phe Sua Da

Laos: Tak Bat

Tak bat is a sacred Buddhist ceremony that happens early in the morning. The monks line up to collect alms (food) given by the locals.

Tak bat is practiced in all of Laos, but Luang Prabang‘s is the most organized. If you’re in LP, wake up early so that you won’t miss this unique procession.

RELATED: Best Area to Stay in Luang Prabang for Tak Bat

Tak Bat in Luang Prabang

Singapore: Changi Airport

Changi is one of the best airports in the world, if not the best. If you’re too tired to check out the city during a long layover in Singapore, fret not because Changi has a number of things to do and see to pass the time.

Some of the attractions in Changi include the Sunflower Garden and the Rain Vortex at Jewel.

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Malaysia: Mt. Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu is one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia, towering at an elevation of 4,095 m (13,435 ft). Hikers and enthusiasts sign up for a 2D1N sunrise Kinabalu trek to witness the beautiful blanket of clouds and granite slabs at the peak.

You don’t have to be a seasoned climber to summit this mountain, but a certain level of physical fitness is required, so it’s best to prepare beforehand. Cardio-related exercises are recommended at least 4 weeks prior to the climb.

On the first day, tour operators would pick you up at your hotel. Check out the link to know the best area to stay in Kota Kinabalu.

Cambodia: Apsara Dance (Robam Tep Apsara)

The Apsara dance dates back to the 7th century, according to sources. It is both a cultural and religious tradition, performed to showcase the Khmer culture and to bring blessings to the king and his people.

Witness this one-of-a-kind dance when you visit Siem Reap. Hotels such as Bou Savy arrange a buffet dinner with a performance from Apsara dancers.

At the Bayon temple, find carvings of apsaras.

Apsara Dance in Cambodia Buffet Dinner

Brunei: Royal Regalia Museum

There was a time when the Sultan of Brunei was the richest in the world. When in Brunei, head over to the Royal Regalia Museum to see exhibits used during the Sultan’s coronation such as a huge gilded chariot at the entrance hall.

Timor Leste: Uma Lulik

An uma lulik is a sacred house found in East Timor villages. Its pyramidal roof and slender posts make it appear like it’s a house on stilts. It’s similar to a traditional Ifugao house, and to the traditional huts we saw during our Sagada-Besao walk in the Philippines.

According to this post, an uma lulik serves as a link between the past and present, the dead and the living.

Khao San Road at Night

Famous Streets and Backpacker Areas in Southeast Asia

Not all countries in Southeast Asia have a so-called backpacker district. Here, we give you famous streets and areas frequented by travelers when they visit this part of the world.

You might want to check out these backpacker streets, or stay in one of the hostels within these areas. Aside from experiencing the local culture, interacting with fellow travelers can also be a life-enriching experience.

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Thailand: Khao San Road

If you’re visiting Bangkok soon, book a room at one of the hotels along Khao San Road and take in as much nightlife experience as you can because according to this article, it won’t be long before this famous backpacker street gets a makeover. It will definitely be a different experience the next time you drop by.

In Phuket, head over to Bangla Road at night if you want to party and get drunk with other backpackers / travelers.

Vietnam: Pham Ngu Lao

Pham Ngu Lao is Ho Chi Minh‘s version of Khao San Road. It’s located in District 1, and it’s where many low-budget travelers choose to book their hotel when in Ho Chi Minh. If you’re into local cuisine, Pham Ngu Lao has a number of restos where you can enjoy Vietnamese food (e.g., banh mi, pho, and coffee).

Does Hanoi also have a backpacker street?

There’s no specific street, but the Old Quarter in Hanoi‘s Hoan Kiem District can be considered as a “backpacker area.” It’s home to different types of hotels, restos, and top landmarks. Some of its most popular streets include Hang Bac, Hang Be, and Ma May.

Check out these top-reviewed hotels in Hanoi.

Cambodia: Pub Street

Siem Reap‘s Pub Street is lined with bars and vendors selling cheap cocktails and exotic food. This short road is dull during the day, but it comes to life at night. Angelina Jolie was seen hanging out at one of the bars in Pub Street when she was shooting Tomb Raider.

Check out these top-reviewed boutique hotels near Pub Street.

Indonesia: Poppies Lane

When in Indonesia, Bali is the place to be. Its three main areas – Kuta, Legian, Seminyak – are teeming with backpackers. You can find them in hostels, at clubs, at the beach, and in party villas.

There are also several “walking streets” in Bali, but Poppies Lane 1 and 2 are the most popular. Backpackers love these streets because they have everything, from shops to cheap hostels. Plus, they’re very close to the beach.

Check out this post for budget hotels near Kuta Beach.

Singapore: Bugis Street

No doubt, Bugis Street is the hottest street in Singapore. According to Wikipedia, the street used to be a nightly meetup place of transvestites and transsexuals. Fast-forward to 40 years later, it’s now a shopping and food mecca.

RELATED: Where to Stay in Bugis, Singapore | Hotel Near Bugis MRT

Philippines

To our knowledge, there’s no backpacking area in the Philippines.

Metro Manila‘s Malate and some areas in Makati may be quite known, but it’s more of an expat district. If you want to meet other budget travelers, head over to popular islands such as Boracay and El Nido in Palawan.

Myanmar

Of course, it’s possible that we did not search enough, but Bagan, Yangon, and Mandalay don’t have a specific area that backpackers congregate in.

However, if you’d like to make new friends, our suggestion is to take a Kalaw-to-Inle Lake trek. After two or three days, you’d accomplish your goal.

Laos

The most popular places in Laos are Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane. These places don’t have a specific meet-up street for backpackers. What they have are bars that are famous among foreign travelers.

In Luang Prabang, for instance, there’s Utopia Restaurant and Bar, a chill place facing the Nam Khan river. In Vang Vieng, Sakura Bar is the place to be. Check out this post to know more about the best area to stay in Vang Vieng.

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