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Anyone toured in the Philippines?

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Anyone toured in the Philippines?

Old 02-07-19, 11:37 AM
  #1  
FlippinFlags
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Anyone toured in the Philippines?

How long was your trip?

Where did you go?

What would you do different?

Did you stealth camp much?
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Old 02-15-19, 01:26 PM
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I was hoping somebody would reply to this, as I have thought of touring there after reading Andy Blance's experience there in 2012. Andy is a bike designer at Thorn Cycles in the UK. The story is buried in this pdf file on the Thorn/ St. John St. Cycles website

http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/Th...thARohloff.pdf on pages 14 and 15.

I have never cycle toured there, although I have visited and ridden a bike around the resort island of Panglao. My impression is it would be good as long as you avoid the incredibly congested cities and could deal with the heat. I'm not sure about camping.
I would suggest searching CGOAB for trip reports.
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Old 02-15-19, 08:19 PM
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For me that’s where I draw the line. Wouldn’t even consider the Philippines at present.
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Old 02-15-19, 08:57 PM
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Flippin, last year you asked a bunch of questions about Thailand, Malaysia, & Vietnam. Did you ultimately go and tour in any of them?
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Old 02-15-19, 09:24 PM
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I just got back from a month in the Philippines, and I've spent about five months total there spread over six trips.

There are many fantastic things to do in the Philippines. The people are nice, they're welcoming to foreign tourists, most of them speak English fairly well, the scenery is beautiful, and the beaches are warm and welcoming.

I might possibly consider doing a bike tour there. But one thing I would not do is set up ad hoc road-side camps in unpatrolled areas. If I did, I would not expect to wake up with all my stuff, and could possibly not wake up at all.

The Philippines has a lot of extremes; wealth here, and lots... lots of poverty. Desperation will drive someone with opportunity to do some bad things. There is no shortage of desperation there.

There truly is so much good in the Philippines. And as a tourist travelling with family around the major cities, and around resort areas, I feel quite safe. I do not feel so safe taking a walk at night alone in the cities except in really public areas though. And in the countryside someone who stands out a little, who is alone, who is not staying in a facility that is guarded, patrolled, or even locked, and who has the appearance of having a little money could quickly become a target. Not a target to the 999 in 1000 people, but for that 1 in 1000, yeah... a target.

The situation would be even worse if you think you're going to cycle around by day and enjoy some weed in the evening, or some of the seedier side of night-life. A traveler, alone, on a bike, at night, doing anything that is remotely illicit is putting himself at risk both from the criminal element, and from other forms of corruption. This is a country where as many as 27000 individuals have been eliminated in the past couple years without a trial or jury by exuberant drug police eager to be the heroes in the country's drug war. It's a country where I've come to expect that if I'm noticed as a passenger in a vehicle by the traffic enforcement officials, and if the vehicle's driver makes the slightest misjudgement, we're going to become the subjects of a petty shake-down for a few hundred pesos (ten or twenty dollars usually).

So sure, tour the Philippines. It will be fantastic. I can't wait to get back there again in a year or so. You will be treated so well, by the vast majority of the people. Tourists get the royal treatment, really. But spend your evenings in reputable, public places, and your nights in hotels or well-patrolled resorts. And for heaven's sake, stay out of the more remote southern regions. Southern Mindinao is not a place for anyone who isn't a local.

Ok, so where to go while you're there:

If you fly in to Manila then take a ride out to the Tagaytay Highlands. It's about 75 kilometers to Tagaytay, and about a 2400 foot elevation gain to the rim of Taal Volcano (a crater lake about 40 miles across). Get a great hotel in Tagaytay. Visit Vocano Island in the middle of the Taal crater, hike to the top and observe the lake inside of Volcano Island, and in it one of two third-order islands in the world. Ride north to Baguio and from there over to Banawe Rice Terraces, or to Sagada caves. Ride south to Bicol, several hundred kilometers. Take a flight or ferry to Cebu and from there to Bohol to see the Chocolate Hills and Panglao island. Take a flight over to Palawan and ride as much as the coast as roads you can find. Definitely stop in Coron, in El Nido, and in Puerto Princesa. Fly to Aklan and take a ferry over to Boracay (but don't expect to ride much there; I doubt there is more than seven miles of road on the island, total).

Head down to Laguna and to Hidden Valley Hot Springs to soak in natural jungle hot springs, or to Via Escoldero resort where you will have a buffet lunch served on tables set in the middle of a river. Head over to Subic Bay, Zambales, and Pampanga for some nice beaches, golf, and many tourist attractions.

As for what bike to ride; I do see road bikers there. They aren't too common within city limits, but you see them heading out to Tagaytay or other hilly regions where the traffic isn't as bad. But I think you would be best served with something like an All Road or heavy touring bike. Some of the roads there are in pretty lousy shape. I'm sure I could make do with a bike with 25 or 28mm tires, but 32 would be the minimum I would find remotely comfortable given the state of the infrastructure, and if I actually brought a bike over, I'd fit it with 38-43mm tires with a little tread on them first. The road cyclists over there are a rare breed, and honestly I don't think they have a ton of good options. You take your life in your hands riding around the streets of Manila, for example. No shoulders, no discernible rules with respect to following lane markings, park anywhere you want, make a left turn from the right lane if you feel like it, and most of the time consider yourself lucky if you (a motorist) are able to reach 15 miles per hour. Getting out of town is where the good riding is found.

Don't let the bike out of your sight unless it is locked up indoors.

Last edited by daoswald; 02-15-19 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 02-15-19, 11:38 PM
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Old 02-16-19, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
Flippin, last year you asked a bunch of questions about Thailand, Malaysia, & Vietnam. Did you ultimately go and tour in any of them?
Seriously doubt it, if you know what I mean.
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Old 02-16-19, 11:34 AM
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That is not actually what it says.

From the Australian advice above:

Importantly, we are not saying 'don't go' to this location. Rather, you should research specific threats and take extra precautions. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security threats.
Its definitely not for the faint of heart, but I think you could have a great trip if you plan it carefully and keep your wits about you.
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Old 02-16-19, 12:33 PM
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Yes, I was aware of that, but anybody who wishes to visit the Philippines should be aware it is being run by a gangster who has possibly killed many thousands. I'm a strong believer in responsible tourism, and, by encouraging people to go there, it is also encouraging the murderers in charge. I'm sure few outside the Philippines support the current leader, and even less think beyond the resort hotels, but maybe, just maybe, they should.

The Australian government can't say don't go, because of the politics, and the fact there is a large filipino community in Australia, but you agree the statement is strongly worded, unusually so.
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Old 02-16-19, 03:31 PM
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Recall Reading some posts from someone who lives there over the last year...
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Old 02-16-19, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by avole View Post
Yes, I was aware of that, but anybody who wishes to visit the Philippines should be aware it is being run by a gangster who has possibly killed many thousands. I'm a strong believer in responsible tourism, and, by encouraging people to go there, it is also encouraging the murderers in charge. I'm sure few outside the Philippines support the current leader, and even less think beyond the resort hotels, but maybe, just maybe, they should.

The Australian government can't say don't go, because of the politics, and the fact there is a large filipino community in Australia, but you agree the statement is strongly worded, unusually so.
Sure they can say don't go. They do it all the time.
Central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula, and the Sulu Archipelago and southern Sulu Sea area, do not travel
We advise against all travel here due to the very high risk. If you do travel, you should typically seek professional security advice. Be aware that regular travel insurance policies will be void and that the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance.
The level of risk for most of the Philippines has the same rating as a number of other developing countries, that people visit all the time, like Thailand or Indonesia or Colombia. If you go, be cautious. I agree with you about the murderous government in charge, but I think people can make their own decisions.
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Old 02-17-19, 05:45 AM
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Certainly, I agree, people do make their own decisions, and I am as guilty as any, having bought a place in Thailand. I'm trying to sell it, and while it is true Thailand does not have the problems the Philippines does, but, even so, it was bought without thinking things through, a lesson well learnt. You have more faith in the human race than I. The attitude tends to be "if we have a good time, and it's free, who cares"

To make it clear: there are many filipinos living in Australia. Trading links also exist. Do you really think the Australian government or any government, is going to offend the president to such an extent by advising people not to go, full stop? Governments are seldom honest about other governments. They only ever say bad things about easy targets.

Last edited by avole; 02-17-19 at 07:15 AM. Reason: re
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Old 02-18-19, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Recall Reading some posts from someone who lives there over the last year...
It would be nice to hear from somebody who has actually toured there recently. Unfortunately we aren't going to get that, so the alternative is endless arguing about peripheral subjects. Welcome to the internet.
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Old 02-18-19, 11:40 AM
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It may be in your interest, To look back through the archived touring section posts ..

he asked about touring, on the lower end bikes that he could find in the PI..
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Old 02-18-19, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by skookum View Post
It would be nice to hear from somebody who has actually toured there recently. Unfortunately we aren't going to get that, so the alternative is endless arguing about peripheral subjects. Welcome to the internet.
Toured, on bike, no.

I've had family in the Philippines since the early 2000s, and have been there six times for 3 to 4 weeks each time. I've visited at least seven of the larger islands (ones large enough to have roads), and many more of the smaller ones (ones mostly used as island hopping beach destinations). I've spent nights in many resorts. My in-laws have two homes around Manila, my wife has a cottage in Tagaytay, I've been to Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Manila, Baguio, Sagada, Infanta Quezon, Aklan, Panglao, Bohol, Zambales, Pampanga, Angeles, Subic, Banaue, Laguna, Bicol, Mayon, Davao, and more. My brothers-in-law are motor cycle enthusiasts, so I've observed the planning and execution of multi-day vintage motorcycle tours. I've also cycled in the Philippines. Not touring, just cycling. I've done it in some of the places mentioned above. While I'm in the Philippines, when not exploring the many beautiful sites, I live among the Filipinos with my wife's family. I go to the dirty, smelly gym, the wet markets, ride the jeepneys and tricycle cabs, and essentially do as the Romans do.

When my in-laws come to visit us in the US, as they do almost annually, and usually for several months, they have a hard time getting used to the notion that we can go camping, safely, in a trailer; much less backpacking in the back country. The notion is so incredible to them, as is the notion that my kids could leave their scooters in front of our front door and the would still be there the next day.

So you are correct, I haven't toured in the Philippines on bike. But I am absolutely certain that it is not as safe for a non-local to spend nights in ad hoc campsites along the road as it would be to spend the night in reasonably well regarded hotels. Even the cheapest hotel is going to be safer (though probably less comfortable). This is a country where as you head into the mountainous or jungle regions (which are plentiful) you will face PNP checkpoints every few kilometers. Why are they there? To limit the movement of terrorist groups; the kinds of groups that would love to capture a foreigner to make a point or to obtain ransom. This is a country where political opponents are at risk of being ambushed and executed en masse. Look at the Mindinao Massacre in 2009, and there are more recent ones too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...he_Philippines

Kidnappings in Philippines: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news...tspots-8834642

This is a beautiful country to visit. There are wonderful sights, wonderful people, ... so much to offer. Bicycle touring may even be a great and mostly safe adventure there. But the OP was asking about possibly setting up ad-hoc or informal camps along the way. The Philippines is not a country like what we in the "1st world" are accustomed with. I don't have to have spent many days and nights bicycle touring in this country that I love visiting to know that spending the night in informal campsites in the jungle and hills has higher odds of being victimized than most people who care about their survival would be willing to accept.

So sure, call this ill-informed conjecture if you like. But it would be quite irresponsible for someone who has spent as much time there as I have to say, "Oh sure, go for it. Set up informal camps along the way. It will be great." It *may* be great. But the consequences of becoming an unlucky victim there are significant, and there is little recourse if things go wrong.

If I were to bike tour there, I would ride to Tagaytay, or to Baguio, or to Banaue, or Sagada, or along the Bataan trail (the death march), or around Corregidor island, or along the Palawan coastline, or to Bicol. Those would be fantastic touring opportunities. I would love to do it, and who knows, maybe will do on my next trip there. One of the problems has always been how to get a bike there in the first place (multiple airline hops make it as expensive as buying an acceptable bike). But when or if I do, in the evening, I would pay my $15 bucks and stay somewhere with a door that locks.

I'm not saying don't go. I think the OP probably should go. I'm not terribly concerned about a small group touring around on bike -- that's a great idea. But a really terrible idea is camping in areas that aren't designated for overnight stays, and that lack either a lock, or a guard. The cheapest hotels are less expensive than dinner for two at a fast food chain in the US. Well worth the added security.

Last edited by daoswald; 02-18-19 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 02-18-19, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post


I'm not saying don't go. I think the OP probably should go. I'm not terribly concerned about a small group touring around on bike -- that's a great idea. But a really terrible idea is camping in areas that aren't designated for overnight stays, and that lack either a lock, or a guard. The cheapest hotels are less expensive than dinner for two at a fast food chain in the US. Well worth the added security.
Based on my limited experience in the Philippines, I would agree with that. I was never advocating camping, the OP asked about that, and I was hoping we would have the benefit of hearing from somebody that had toured there recently.

I have a friend who has a house in Panglao, he bicycle toured extensively throughout the islands about 25 years ago. He has some hair raising stories, but they aren't particularly relevant to today.
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Old 02-22-19, 10:15 PM
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I toured some of the central Islands by motorcycle a decade ago and in years prior toured some of Luzon via car as well as visited family several times and spent time in rural villages on medical missions. Outside of the insanity of Manila and the general traffic chaos near urban areas, it is a friendly and beautiful place. As in many places, there is some risk, particularly in poorer urban areas and tourist areas targeted by petty thieves. But once you are out in the beautiful countryside, you are among farmers and locals that are more likely to help than harm.

I’ve always stayed with family or in hotels while there, so I cannot comment on camping options from experience. I bet if you talked to the local priest (it’s a Catholic country with some of the oldest churches in Asia) in any town, they’d either let you camp on the church grounds or help you find a place to stay.

Hotels are generally affordable unless you are in a major city or resort area but there aren’t many out in the countryside.

My biggest piece of advice would be to get out of Manila as soon as possible, and not by riding. Catch a plane to Panglao and tour Bohol. Or catch a place to Cebu City or Ili Ilo. Anywhere but Manila.

My motorcycle trip was a trip of a lifetime. Best of luck to anyone that tours by bike.
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Old 02-23-19, 12:01 AM
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10 years ago? Unfortunately not relevant now. Duterte has changed the country dramatically, and for the worse. There has also been a rise in religious violence, though, to be fair, that has been going on for a while.

I find your advice about camping out in church grounds wrong, and possibly dangerous. You’ll note that directly contradicts what has been said before.



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Old 02-24-19, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by avole View Post
10 years ago? Unfortunately not relevant now. Duterte has changed the country dramatically, and for the worse. There has also been a rise in religious violence, though, to be fair, that has been going on for a while.

I find your advice about camping out in church grounds wrong, and possibly dangerous. Youíll note that directly contradicts what has been said before.
When was the last time you were in the Philippines? I have relatives there and my family goes every year. My brothers went last year. My mother is there now. I'm not a Duterte fan, but nobody in my family has said that they feel any less safe than in years prior.

Regarding the church grounds - like I said, ask the local priest. They will honestly tell you whether or not it is safe there, with more accuracy than some stranger on the Internet. And I'd bet that nine times out of ten they'd help you find a place to stay and get you a tasty meal to boot.
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