Friday, August 17, 2012

Cagayan Valley: The Nitty-Gritty


Choosing Cagayan Valley was a hasty decision for a Holy Week destination. I can no longer remember what convinced us to choose the province of Cagayan but I'm certain we almost did not push through because of the long lines at the terminal. Luckily, Victory Liner now has an online booking and reservation system for trips to Tuguegarao. Several airlines offer flights to Tuguegarao with a travel time of 1hour but if you plan to take the bus, prepare your arse for a long-haul journey! Or, if you're like me who can doze off anywhere, it's a perfect excuse for a 12-hour long sleep.

Where to Stay:

In Palaui: Bayanihan Hall 


Nothing beats homestays where one can experience living in a local community. When in Palaui, consider staying in Bayanihan Hall. Room rate is P200/head. If you plan to pitch tents, rate is P150/head for setting up tents in the yard. 

Charlie and Jenny also served freshly cooked meals. For PhP150 per meal, we were served with a huge bowl of steaming, hot sinigang na isda, several varieties of fish fried to a crisp, a plateful of rice, and a cup of coffee. The fish served was fresh from the morning's catch. If you plan to bring food, Kuya Charlie and Ate Jenny can cook them for you.

To inquire for the availability of the room, contact Charlie Acebedo at 63906.845.54.72. 


In Tuguegarao: Pensione Joselina

We stayed for a night at a creepy hotel no longer worth mentioning. Good thing we went around Tuguegarao and spotted a fairly new pension house with rooms priced at a cheaper rate as compared to that squeaky hotel. The double room was priced at PhP600 per night.

The place is at Aguinaldo St. Centro 6, right smack in the center of Tuguegarao City and near grocery stores and fastfood chains.

Contact them at numbers 078.844.7318 or 63906.930.1313.



Itinerary:
Day 0: 
3PM - Board the bus to Tuguegarao

Day 1: Palaui Island
4AM -   Arrive at Tuguegarao - Breakfast by the road - Walk a few meters away from Victory Liner Terminal to Brickstone Mall and wait for van to Sta.Ana
10AM - Arrive at Sta. Ana - Once you get to Sta. Ana, ride a tricycle bound to the port. At the pier, take the boat to Punta Verde, the jump-off point for trekking to the lighthouse.
11AM - Check in at Bayanihan Hall
12PM - Brunch courtesy of Bayanihan Hall
1PM -   Trek to Cape Engano Lighthouse
4PM -   Boat ride back to Bayanihan Hall
7PM -   Dinner

Sta. Ana Port


Note:  For boat rates to Palaui and nearby islands, contact Berly at 63927.785.4547. Boat rate to Punta Verde is P750 (round trip) , up to a maximum of 8 persons per boat.



8AM -  Breakfast courtesy of Bayanihan Hall
9AM -  Trek to falls
11AM - Boat back to Sta.Ana
12PM - Lunch at the van terminal
1PM -  Catch the last trip back to Tuguegarao at 1PM. First trip from Sta.Ana-Tuguegarao is at 3AM.
6PM -  Walk around Tuguegarao



Note: There are also vans bound to Aparri from Sta.Ana Terminal. See schedule above.

Day 3: Tuguegarao/Penablanca
12PM - Brunch at Budyok's
1PM -  Found our way to Penablanca Terminal
2PM -  Visit Callao Cave
4PM -  Back to Tuguegarao
7PM -  Dinner


Day 4:
3PM -  Ride bus back to Manila

Here's my expense notes for the Cagayan Valley Trip (all in PhP):


My total expenses amounted to PhP 5500 for a 4-day Holy Week trip to Tuguegarao. It could have been cheaper but considering that Cagayan Valley is a hot, hot city, I did not pass up on the chance to get a huge cup of halo halo and I did guiltily stock up on bottles of soda. :)

Tips to get cheaper rates: 
- Visit Callao Cave a early in the day to ensure that there will be traysis waiting for you at the other side of Pinacanauan River. The traysi will charge the same PhP60/head rate. If you go late in the afternoon like we did, chances are there will be no available traysis and you will have to rent the whole traysi for PhP300.
- Do not check in at the first hotel you see :) I know it's hot but just a few blocks away are cheaper and nicer accommodations.
- Tuguegarao is a traysi city. If possible, always go to the traysi terminal to get cheaper rates. 

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