The Philippines – An Exquisite Travel Guide

The Philippines – An Exquisite Travel Guide

The Philippines

The Philippines | An Exquisite Travel Guide

By Alan & Lourdes | A Belgian & A Filipina

Facts | Budget | What to bring | Food | Things to do | Staying for the night | Movies | Car Rental | Souvenirs

Quick Facts

Land Area

298.170 km²


106.651.394 | Estimate 2020

Time Zone




# Provinces


# Islands

7.641 islands | 2.000 Inhabited

Main Language

Filipino, standardised Tagalog


Philippine Peso

Your Budget


Budget Hostels | 760 PHP
Budget Hotels | 1.500 PHP
3-star Hotels | 2.600 PHP
Luxury Hotels | 5.400 PHP


Halo-halo | ≈ 80 PHP
Balut Egg | 18 PHP
Penoy | 15 PHP


Jeepney | 15-20 PHP
Taxi | 600-700 PHP
Bus | 15-20 PHP




T-shirts | ≈ 500 PHP


Smartphone or Drone Repair
(Hopefully not necessary)
Pocket Wifi Smart | 390 PHP / Day
Local Sim Card | ≈ 50-100 PHP
Globe Traveler Sim
› 4 GB Data for 7 Days | 350 PHP
Code to 8080 = TRAVELALLIN 350
› 8 GB Data for 15 Days | 700 PHP
Code to 8080 = TRAVELALLIN 700

The iconic Filipino bus on the island of Palawan | Aircon has no use, open windows instead

What to bring

The Philippines is a tropical country where the heat quickly rises till you start to sweat, although our experience was a bit differently as we went in August till beginning of September and so we catched a lot of rain during our trip.


Print of all bookings
Water-proof bags
Sunscreen lotion
Shorts or dress
Strong shoes


Hiking shoes
International driver’s License
Long trousers
Mosquito repellent


Camera Tripod

Filipino Food


Fried Rice
Fried Fish
Hot Dogs with eggs


Fried Rice
Fish, Meat, Bulalo Soup


Fried Rice
Chicken, Pork Meat, but no Beef
Tilapia with Coconut Milk


Cheese Ice Cream
Buko Pandan (Coconut Dessert)

These tricycles are a Filipino necessity as they can bring you anywhere, fast

4 Things to Do

4 Things are not that much, but there’s a lot more on other posts about The Philippines coming soon! Stay Tuned for more…

We do recommend to visit a couple of cities and from there start with doing some guided island-hopping tours. You can visit many heritage sites in different cities in The Philippines. Intramuros us a stunning colonial-era city in the northern part of Manila which is truly worth it.

If you travel to The Philippines during one of their intriguing festivals be sure not to miss any!

1. Citytripping


Manila is a very crowded and huge city where every tourist will enter The Philippines. Nickname is Pearl of the Orient, and together with Quezon City the most populated city in the country.

Puerto Princesa

Located in the middle of Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines where the Underground River, El Nido and Coron are located.

El Nido

Translation of El Nido is the nest, and it really feels like it too. Located in the north of Palawan, it is home to many small, inhabited islands where you can travel to with a guide.


You can get to Coron by either plane from Manila or ferry from El Nido. Coron is known for it’s shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor where you can dive to by organised tour.


Located on the island of Negros, from here you can travel by either bus or rented car all around the island within a couple of days.

2. Island-Hopping Tours


Lakawon is a island with a beautiful 360 beach where you can even stay for the night, although very expensive and if one wants to share a room with many others, well that’s up to you. There’s also a restaurant to enjoy the local foods. Be sure to bring sunscreen protection as the sand is pure white and the sun bright.

El Nido

Probably the most famous city in The Philippines, hence the amazing name and grand collection of small islands around its bay. Truly a must visit city when travelling to The Philippines.


This city has an airport to bring you back to Manila or Puerto Princesa, so many tourists include this magical place on their lists, and we cannot disagree more.

3. Heritage

Intramuros | Manila

Created by The Spanish and considered the entire city of Manila. Everything outside its walls was called extramuros. Despite being surrounded by fortifications, Intramuros was flattend to the ground during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Only the San Augustin Church survived the heavy bombings at the time.

4. Culture

Sinulog Festival in Cebu

Done in celebration of Cebu’s patron saint, Santo Niño, in January, Sinulog Festival is a week-long celebration full of dancing, processions, and parades with colourful costumes.

Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan

The festival starts in mid-January, in honour of Santo Niño in the form of locals dancing and chanting in the streets while dressed up as negritos.

Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo

Hosted by the city every 4th Sunday of January, Dinagyang Festival is held in celebration of the feast of Santo Niño and a pact between Datus and locals through street dancing and feasts.

Masskara Festival in Bacolod

Celebrated every October, locals put on elaborate costumes with masks as they parade through the streets.

© Guide to the Philippines – Festival Santo Niño

Staying for the night

Currently most of the accommodations in The Philippines are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Do your research before travelling!

Grande swimming pool at Corto Del Mar Hotel Coron

Movies to watch

The Filipinos have an infinite list of TV channels with films and TV shows to fill days, weeks and much longer if needed.

Below collection are those I watched as a non-Filipino from Europe.

Age of Colonisation

1898, Our Last Men in The Philippines [2016]

Rent a car

If one wants to see the countryside, one must take a local bus or van to travel afar, although we recommend, if your budget allows, to hire a car for your ultimate drive-through experience. You can go and stop wherever you like.

Negros | Dumaguete

Rodg Rent a Car

Rice fields in Negros


As a tourist we love to remember, and at the same time, support the culture and its people by shopping local souvenirs. Just like us, we bought many T-shirts from El Nido, Palawan, Coron and even one with the famous Jeepney. A must to bring home those souvenirs when visiting The Philippines.


The Famous Jeepney on a T-shirt.
What else is more iconic to The Philippines? Probably a lot more.

Price ≈ 520 PHP

The Philippines – An Exquisite Travel Guide

Preserving History – The American Petroleum Company – Petroleum Zuid Antwerpen

Preserving History – The American Petroleum Company – Petroleum Zuid Antwerpen

Preserving History – The American Petroleum Company – Petroleum Zuid Antwerpen

The American Petroleum Company Fueling Station



Petroleum or kerosine is used for many appliances likes cooking stoves, lamps, engine oil, chemistry, entertainment, and even mosquito control in Australia.

The destillation process from crude oil or petroleum is as old as the 9th century and is described by the Persian scholar Rāzi. The Chinese later used the kerosine for lighting lamps as early as 1500 BC.



Due to dangerous petroleum fires in the old harbour of Antwerp it was decided to move the entire petroleum business to the south and therefor had 54 hectares of soil to be expropriated from the Hobokense polders in the year 1900.

To grant access to the marine transportation the current quayside of Antwerp had to be extended 2 kilometres to the south and a new concrete pier had to be constructed near the site. The extension works lasted from 1897 until 1903.

Construction started in 1902 and in operation from 1903 by the American Petroleum Company or APC.

A huge devastating fire broke out on 26 August 1904 and destroyed most of its buildings and installations, except some warehouses and the congierge building survived the aftermath.

Entrance gate of the American Petroleum Company

Where the petroleum was still present, great smell, black stuff everywhere

The Interwar Period


Petroleum demand was still staggering high and the American Petroleum Company in Antwerp served as the most important petroleum harbour in Europe.

After the Second World War, WWII, most of the petroleum storage and production relocated to the northern side of Antwerp to the new Marshall dock, leaving behind 4 other companies in the area. They can remain until 2035, marking the end of their concession.

A roof of the American Petroleum Company

The concierge building of the American Petroleum Company

Blue Gate Antwerp


Petroleum Zuid became Blue Gate Antwerp in 2011, it’s a brand-new concept for the abandoned area once thriving with a blooming petroleum industry and which now has to completely disappear to make space for new a industry business.

The leftover warehouses, concierge building and lots of oil pipes are still present, at least up until 2013/2014 when everything but a warehouse of the American Petroleum Company was preserved and marked as cultural heritage.

Demolition of a warehouse of the American Petroleum Company

Almost demolished warehouse on the site

Concrete chimney

Petroleum storage tanks

Our first visit


We were well familiar with this peculiar site as teenagers who loved cycling in the area. Adventure and wild explores were in our blood starting at a very young age. Petroleum Zuid attracted us as we loved exploring the old and forgotten industrial zone of Antwerp South. When we first discovered the place it was already long abandoned and we could freely enter the site without any problems whatsoever.

Of course we knew the dangers of urban exploring, so we were always very careful. As there were many parts of the site spoiled with petroleum, oil, burned down roofs and almost collapsing buildings we were very alert of anything that could happen at any moment during our explores, and we never went alone.

Alan in his early 20s he knew this site as he had guitar classes in Hoboken, not far from this American Petroleum Company and he passed these abandoned cobblestone roads for at least a decade. He knew every street out of his head and also saw the area evolving into something completely different than it was when he first saw the place as a teenager.

Now at his 30s the site got demolished and replaced with new buildings in development.

The only warehouse currently left of the American Petroleum Company

Damaged roof of a building on the site

Sunrays entering a storage space

The Concrete Pier


Lot A consisted of the first construction of the jettypier in 1902, located near the river Scheldt and would allow the petroleum to flow above the ground to the facilities where it would be collected into the petroleum storage tanks. The pier was completed in 1903 and has a length of 301.6 metres, with a maximum tanker vessel capacity of 3. The very first tanker arrived on 3 August 1903.

During World War 1 there was no activity due to lack of the resource as it was all reserved for the war.

The concrete pier and petroleum pipes

Pipelines in the air


After the First World War the activity at the Petroleum-Zuid restarted again and restoration works of the jettypier could begin. In 1930 the underground petroleum pipes became out of use and above ground pipes were installed on the site as we can still see today.

To cover the growing demand of petroleum a new pier was errected on the south-west side of the existing pier. And in 1962 a third pier was errected for tanker barges. Which became the last pier constructed on the site.

Forever sealed

Where old pipe meets new pipe



A Swiss company started doing business in the year 1946 at Petroleum-Zuid in the coal industry. Although not lasting very long, they changed to fuel and lubricant oils.

In 1971 with the arrival of fuel trucks the export of fuel oil, or as we like to call it; mazout, became a fact. Their logo speaks for itself.


Cobblestone street towards Avia

The offices of Avia

The elevated Avia door

Demolition in action

Taken right before the demolition works started

Petroleum pipes everywhere you could see, surrounded by thousands of very old trees and cobblestone roads


Same picture before all the trees were cut


Slowly the scenery is about to change


Seen toward the other direction

Once you could not see all the facilities and buildings from my point of view, they were all covered by trees

The Philippines – An Exquisite Travel Guide

The Altitude that changed his life – 08.09.2015

The Altitude that changed his life – 08.09.2015

The Altitude that changed his life – 08.09.2015

How? You ask.


Let’s rewind to my early twenties, I was a young man who got involved in wall climbing thanks to my dad who was a climber himself and he often went to the climbing gym named Klimax. Which is a massive indoor and  outdoor climbing wall and it also has a very large boulder wall as well.

So, he said to me one day that I should start climbing and so this adventure started to take a big part in my life. Although I wasn’t competitive minded and I still am not, I did manage to pgo climbing every Monday evening together with a great group of people including Roger, Marc & Ben, among a few others.

And they convinced me to join their forces to the higher mountains since 2010. I was all prepared for the new adventure and we had a succesful trip to the highest mountain located within the borders of Switzerland, namely the Dom mountain, reaching an altitude of 4545 metres above sea level.

My very first 4000 + metre mountain was a great achievement for me. Which led us to two years later, again in the beautiful Switzerland with two more 4000 + metre mountains named Weissmies and the Allalinhorn.

After the second trip to the high Alps it was time for an Italian mountain named the Gran Paradiso. And it was there that I, oddly and unfortunately enough, had to slow down quite a bit. To mine and the other’s surprise I experienced a massive pain in both knees during the long traverse between two mountain huts due to too much force on my knees.

After this trip I had to take a break from climbing and mountaineering and to this very day I am still not going to even try to put too much force on my poor knees, although the desire to pick up climing and joining that amazing group of people on their hikes in my own country is in my head every single day.

By Alan Cuypers, once a climber, now a collector of old stories and waiting for my knees to completely recover, after which adventure awaits me once again.

My dad on the ice © X | xx.xx.xxxx

Italy 2015


It was the third time I would hike the high mountains with the same group as in 2010 & 2012, where we topped the Alphubel, Dome, Weismiess & Allalinhorn mountains in Switzerland. All reaching an altitude of 4000 metres above sealevel, with the highest among them being the Dom mountain lurking a shy 4545 metres into the sky. Ultimately we topped this one in a timespan of a mere 7 hours climb starting from the Domhütte at 2940 metres altitude.

Now, as we speak it was September 2015 when me and the group of 3 others would climb the Italian Gran Paradiso mountain and so we succeeded our goal. For me, it was tough, at least for my knees it was. It was the weight of the 16 kilos backpack and climbing rope on top on my back that was the killer of the trip. Another mistake of mine was not using walking sticks, but soon after I told my fellow colleagues about it, they gave me one to further support my right knee. I had lost a bit of hope on the day before our ultimate climb to the top of the Gran Paradiso, but after all I managed to reach the top with all of them, although at a slow pace when going down. I succeeded the climb but they had to operate my right knee on 10 November of 2015.

The operation wasn’t actually that bad, it just made me a bit more cautious when doing long hikes, putting too much force on them, among other things.

The Mont Blanc © Roger Goovaerts | 14.07.2012

Switzerland 2010


Let’s rewind to 2010, me counting 20 years of age, young and fearless, young and loving the high Alps, like a lot of us do, waiting for the moment of joy when reaching the highest point of the mountain covered in a white carpet of snow. Trust me, it’s truly asthonishing to actually stand above that thick layer of clouds hanging down below, and actually waiting just for you after finishing your exhausting yet beautiful adventure… Let’s hope they’re gone by then!

The cross at the top of the Allalinhorn © Marc Deschryver | 18.07.2012

The Dom mountain top © Marc Deschryver | 06.08.2010

The Group


Below picture was taken on the first of August of 2010 with from left to right, me (Alan), Marijke, Roger, Marc & Johan. All wonderful people with the love for climbing in their hearts. Me being clearly the youngest of them all going sharing the same goal as theirs, reaching every top on our list.

But first we have to reach the Fluhalp Hütte at a height of 2620 metres.

The Group – Day 1 | 01.08.2010

Refilling my water bottle | 01.08.2010

Reaching the Fluhalp Hütte | 01.08.2010

First time sleeping in a hut


I remember very well how it was, it was nice, at least this one. It’s big, comfortable, there are many rooms with different floors and the food is more than great. On these trips I always used to say: “the food’s more delicious over here than at home”, but nowadays I take back my words and I must say that mama’s cooking is still the best in the world. The experience I had was great and the view outside as spectacular as it could ever possibly get. White mountain tops all around us and a sweet view of the valley below us. There’s more adventure awaiting us the next day…

Taking a rest at the Fluhalp Hütte | 01.08.2010

Me looking out of a window in the Fluhalp Hütte | 01.08.2010

Posing in front of the Matterhorn mountain | 02.08.2010

Marc compairing the expanded Bifi Roll with his 2 fingers | 02.08.2010

The Glacier is melting | 02.08.2010

Täsch-Hütte this way… 1,30h? | 02.08.2010

Belaying my group over the pool passage | 02.08.2010

We’ve arrived at the Täsch-Hütte | 02.08.2010

How common is it to see photos of a dinner at the Täsch-Hütte? | 02.08.2010

Look at that view! | 03.08.2010

Look up, Alan! We’re reaching the Bivac. | 03.08.2010

The only picture I have from the Bivac of the outside. | 03.08.2010

View from the Bivac. | 04.08.2010

Above the cloud deck at the Bivac. | 04.08.2010

At the top of the Alphubel. | 04.08.2010

Italy 2015


And then came September 2015 with a new mountain peak to conquer called the Gran Paradiso located in the Graian Alps in Italy between the Aosta Valley and Piedmont regions, reaching a height of 4.061 metres above the sea.

All of which isn’t a huge height to climb, but I’ll try to keep the long story short…

It was the heavy weight on my knees and the rough terrain we had to endure in between the mountain refuges that became just a little too much for me. Also a bummer is that not using walking sticks whenever possible, is going to put too much force on your ligaments and therefor damage everything.

The Gran Paradiso as seen from the valley – 5 days before Gran Paradiso © Alan Cuypers | 04.09.2015

The beginning of the end – 1 day before Gran Paradiso | 08.09.2015

Refuge Frédéric Chabod – 1 day before Gran Paradiso | 08.09.2015

The Gran Paradiso


It was a very early morning after a good sleep at an altitude of 2.000 plus metres followed by a quick breakfast and getting outside to start the long hike to the peak as soon as possible

Our schedule looked like this:

Expected hour of arrival: 11 to 12 am.

Expected time back at the refuge: 5 to 6 pm.

Start of the day: 2 am.

Refuge Frédéric Chabod – Early morning next day | 09.09.2015

Flashlight trail | 09.09.2015

Ice crack on the glacier | 09.09.2015

Sun above the glacier | 09.09.2015

Statue Maria at top of Gran Paradiso | 09.09.2015

Roger looking back at the peak of Gran Paradiso | 09.09.2015

The lone ranger


To slowly recover from a rather painful and very exhausting hike two days earlier the group let met go back to the first refuge first. I was ok with the idea and started the long battle. This time my backpack weighed a lot less and I could walk somewhat comfortably to the refuge.

Two 3.000 metres ridges had to be climbed still, although they’re considered easy level, to me they felt quite decent. I knew already what was about to come.

The most difficult part was going down instead of up as it puts more force on the knees and legs, so this was to my disadvantage as there were a lot of altitudes to cover today.

Climbing down at the Via Ferrate next day | 10.09.2015

Cooling my feet in the fresh stream | 10.09.2015

Hi donkey | 10.09.2015

Today 2021


Today I feel very well, I must say. No pain in the knees, only during extensive force or long hikes I can feel discomfort in them. Short hikes and long biking trips are truly no problem whatsoever.

Let’s hope that all pain and discomfort goes away over time and that I can join my exuisite mouintaineering team to reach new heights!

I truly miss the high altitude and adventure within…

Alan Cuypers | Adventure is my middle name