Life-Trotting with Maribeth

Hola! I'm Maribeth. I work online. I love: food, photography, and travel (among other things). Can't tell you enough about me so read my blog. :)

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Sagada, Mt. Province Philippines

Follow us on our tour and adventures at the beautiful place of Sagada, Mt. Province.

Cagayan De Oro White Water Rafting

Conquering 21 major rapids at Cagayan De Oro River. A very rewarding experience for a beginner like me!

The Majestic Mayon Volcano

The Mayon Volcano is well-known for its perfect cone shape. Even the thick clouds that cover some part of the volcano won't stop you from getting impressed with its majestic beauty.

Summerscape at CamSur: Wakeboarding

Summer's definitely not over yet. Wakeboarding at CamSur can make your arms and neck really sore but it's all worth the fun and experience! :)

Isla Gigantes Adventure

An unspoiled group of islands in the town of Carles, Iloilo. White sand, pristine water, and beautiful scenery - truly a paradise.

Snorkeling. More fun in the Philippines

With those giant whale sharks swimming in Tan-awan, Oslob sea, snorkeling is indeed more fun in the Philippines!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Travel Guide: Isla Gigantes in Less Than PhP2000

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Ever since we have posted pictures of our Isla Gigantes Adventure, friends started to ask a lot of questions on how to get there, how much did we spend all in all, etc. So I thought I'd post a guide on how to get to Isla Gigantes and some tips on what to expect at the island.

Gigantes Group of Islands is accessible via Estancia (Iloilo) port.

How To Get There:

1. Estancia is just 2 hours away from Roxas City, Capiz via Ceres bus. Fare is PhP81.
    From Iloilo, bus ride is approximately 3.5 hours. Fare is PhP145 via Sara/Balasan-bound Ceres bus.
    Estancia-bound bus fare from Iloilo is PhP152.

2. From the bus terminal, you can go to the port of Estancia by riding a tricycle. Fare is only PhP10.

3. Passenger boats leave from Estancia port at 2pm so make sure you arrive early. Boat travel is approximately 1.5-2hrs and fare is PhP80 per person. From Isla Gigantes to Estancia port, passenger boats leave at 9am.

4. Once you get to the island, you will have to ride a motorcycle going to Gigantes Hideaway Inn. Fare is also PhP10 per person.

Important Notes:

*For those who need to travel by plane, nearest airport would be in Roxas City. But flights are very limited. If there is no flight to Roxas City from your area, next option is Iloilo or Kalibo. But I am not sure if there is direct bus or van routes from Kalibo to Estancia.

*Sara/Balasan Ceres bus will only drop you off at Bani-an corner where you will have to ride a tricycle going to Estancia port which is about 5-10 minutes. Tricycle fare is also PhP10.

*I think there are also L300 passenger vans that travel to Estancia but I'm not sure about this.

*It is best to contact someone from the Island to know if there is a boat trip when you get there. They may also arrange a boat service for you.

*It is best to go there during summer as it may be difficult or may not even be possible to go to the island when there is low pressure in the area.


Electricity in the island is limited. It is only available from 4pm-11:30pm. Though the resort uses a generator after the electricity is cut off. But i think they only turn the generator on for a few hours.

Mobile Networks

There is no mobile network signal in the island. You can try hanging your cellphone on the tree. You may be able to receive some text messages. If you are desperate to make a phone call or send a text message, the resort caretakers can accompany you to a higher area within the mountains where there is a signal. They call it their "call center". ^^

Water Supply

The resort owner, Mr. Joel Decano, boasts of their unlimited water supply which comes from a natural spring. You can even drink water straight from the faucet. We brought our own mineral water but we were also able to drink from their supply. It has a taste so you may not get used to it easily. :)

Gigantes Hideaway Inn Expenses


Accommodation is PhP200 per person per night. You can take any of the rooms they offer. Our group occupied the whole house which has 3 bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and 1 restroom.


The resort can provide food for you. They will charge you with the same price from the market. Then you will just give their cook, Manang Anggay, a tip for her cooking service. Seafoods are very cheap in the island and our sumptuous dinner on our first night was only PhP745.

Island Hopping

Boat rental is PhP2500 including the tour guide fee. This activity will take you to seven beautiful islands including Tanke, a natural pool.


The tour guide fee for spelunking is PhP200.


Breakdown of Isla Gigantes Expenses (Accommodation, Food, Activities, Tips):


3kgs Scallops (Shell-on) @35/kg - 105
1kg Scallops (meat)                       100
1.5kg Fish @ 80/kg                       120
2kgs Crab @190/kg                       380
Soup                                               40 
Total                                             745


7 Eggs            56
Hotdog           25 
Total              81


.5 kg Scallop (Meat)    50


2kgs Scallops (shell-on)     70
.5kg Scallops (Meat)         50
1kg Fish                            80
2kgs Crab                         380
1.5 gantang Rice              120 
Total                                 700

Accommodation (2nights)

7pax @ 200each - 2800

Activities & Misc.

Boat Rental - 2500
Spelunking Tour Guide Service - 200
Cooking Service Tip - 358

Overall Total Expenses at the Island: 7700

Total Expenses per person: 1100


Here is a breakdown of the overall total expenses for each person (in a group of 7) for the Isla Gigantes trip:

Bus fare from Roxas or Iloilo: 80 (Roxas) / 145 (Iloilo)
Tricycle Fare from terminal to Andok's Restaurant: 10
Andok's Restaurant (lunch): 40
Tricycle Fare To Pa-on Beach Club (Side trip while waiting for the boat schedule at 2pm):10
Pa-on Beach Club Entrance Fee: 20 (consumable)
Tricycle Fare to Port: 10
Boat Fare to Isla Gigantes: 80
Motorcycle fare to Gigantes Hideaway: 10
Gigantes Hideaway Inn Expenses (Accommodation,Food,Activities  + tips): 1100
Boat Fare Back To Estancia - 80
Tricycle Fare to Pa-on Beach Club - 10
Lunch at Pa-on Beach Club (No entrance fee if you eat there or maybe order something) - 145
Tricycle Fare To Bus Terminal - 10
Bus Fare to Roxas or Iloilo - 80 (Roxas) / 152 (Iloilo)

Overall Total Expenses Per Person:

From Roxas - PhP1685

From Iloilo - PhP1822


Isla Gigantes Contact Information:

Joel Decano
Proprietor/Tourism Officer
Facebook: Isla Gigantes

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Isla Gigantes, Carles, Iloilo

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Second on my summerscape 2012 list is Isla Gigantes, located in Carles, Iloilo. Though a boat trip to Isla Gigantes is only available in Estancia. My companions were from Roxas City, Capiz and I'm the only one who's coming from Iloilo so I had to leave at least an hour earlier than them. Travel time from Iloilo to Estancia is approximately 3.5 hours while from Roxas City is only 2 hours. I took a Sara-Balasan bound Ceres bus since there was no Estancia route yet. The Ceres officer instructed me to get off the bus at corner Bani-an and ride a tricycle to Estancia which was 10-15 minutes only. And that's what i exactly did. :)

Bus fare was PhP145 while tricycle fare was PhP10. Me and my friend agreed to meet at Andok's restaurant and we coincidentally arrived right at the same time and that's where I first met 5 of my companions!^^ Lunch at Andok's was only PhP40 for each of us. It was just 12nn and the boat was scheduled to leave at 2pm. So we decided to go to the plaza which was just across Andok's. Since we had to wait for more than an hour, we decided to go to Pa-on Beach Club. Tricycle fare was also PhP10 per person. Entrance fee at Pa-on Beach Club is PhP20 and it's consumable. You can order for a bottle of mineral water or softdrinks for that. :D The view at Pa-on was very beautiful that we felt like looking at a painting. It only got us very excited to go to Isla Gigantes.

From Pa-on, we went to the pier at around 1:30pm. We did not take the passenger boat because our contact person from the resort said that they will fetch us using their service boat. So we had to wait for another 1hour for the service boat to leave because they were waiting for their other supplies to be loaded on the boat. Since it was not a regular passenger boat and they were loaded with supplies, it took us approximately 3 hours - which felt like forever - to reach the island.

When we arrived, it was low tide already and we had to take a very small boat to go to the shore. We were also a bit disappointed to find out that the resort was not in the front of the beach. The shore is also not good for swimming because it was actually a mangrove. We were already planning to swim after settling at the resort because we felt exhausted of the long travel. But all the disappointment disappeared when we saw the food they prepared for us!lol

The island is abundant of seafoods, especially scallops. They gather a minimum of 2 tons per day according to Mr. Joel Decano, owner of Gigantes Hideaway Inn and tourism officer of Isla Gigantes. We were worried that the food might be very expensive especially that they prepared a lot. But it wasn't. They just charge us with the same amount on how much they bought it from the market (the scallops were just PhP30/kilo). Then they just charged us with the spices and other cooking ingredients they used. For the cooking services, Sir Joel told us to just give the cook a tip. A detailed breakdown of our expenses will be provided on the next post. :D

So after the sumptuous dinner, we stayed outside the house and had a "few" drinks. There are cottages and other rooms but we stayed in the house with three bedrooms, a living and dining room, kitchen and a restrom. Sir Joseph, brother of Sir Joel, joined us and showed us photos of the islands where we will be hopping the next day. The pictures were very beautiful and we got really excited. He also told us some information about the island and its history.

Isla Gigantes is actually a group of islands. It was called Isla Gigantes because there were wooden coffins found in one of the caves in the island which measured 7-12ft. We even saw 2 of the coffins that they brought in the resort. The island is rich in history and it was even featured in Magandang Gabi Bayan years ago.

We started our island hopping adventure early the next day because there were 7 islands waiting for us but I think we only went to 6 due to lack of time. Nevertheless, we had a great time! 

Island 1: Uaydahon Island

First stop was the Uaydahon island. White sand, big rocks, pristine water, a hammock, coconut trees, seashells - simply paradise.

Island 2

I don't know the name of this island but this is really beautiful. This is a diving site so we really enjoyed swimming here. We also had our lunch here. The sandy part in between also gives you a "back-to-back beach". Isn't that nice? :D

Island 3: The Natural Pool called Tanke

Cliff Diving
The "Tanke" was the highlight of the trip. The natural pool surrounded by the tall rocks was  stunningly beautiful. The  water was very clear and the place itself was mesmerizing.  There is a small hole somewhere in the rocks that fills the lagoon with seawater during high tide. Then it washes away the leaves fallen from the trees and other dirt during low tide which explains why the lagoon looks clean.

Island 4: Cabugao Island

Island 5

There were some people having a picnic in the island. We just visited the small cave and went on to the next island because we were running out of time. 

Island 6: Sand Bar

The Sand Bar is also a good spot to go swimming. The water becomes deep a few feet away from the shore due to steep sand. It was also a good spot for snorkeling and you can actually see different fishes unlike in the 2nd island where we didn't enjoy the coral reef, only the cool water. :D

The reason why we need to finish the island hopping early is because we wanted to go caving or "spelunking". It was a fun and thrilling adventure as we climb through the rocks at the cave and trailing our way down to the rocky mountain.

After caving, we went back to the resort and freshened up. We were all tired and all we were thinking was to drink an ice-cold coke or water and indulge in the fresh seafoods that Manang Anggay (the cook) prepared for us. :D After dinner, we stayed at the tree house, had a few drinks and lots of stories to share with each other. 

We left at 9am the next morning aboard the passenger boat. Travel time was only 2hours and we headed straight to Pa-on Beach Club to have our lunch. We paid 80 each for our lunch and additional 65 for the halo-halo we ordered individually. After lunch, we all went home with lots of memories to cherish at Isla Gigantes. :)

Isla Gigantes Contact Information:

Joel Decano
Proprietor/Tourism Officer
Facebook: Isla Gigantes

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I ♥ CEBU ~ Mactan Island Tour

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On our last day in Cebu, the original plan was to go malling. But since we already did that for 2 days, we just decided to leave our baggage at the airport and go to Mactan Shrine. There are tour packages for a Mactan Island tour but they're way too expensive. It was actually easy to go there commuting.

From Sampaguita hotel, we took a taxi cab going to the airport. Fare was PhP203. Then we left our baggage at the Malayan Insurance-something (I forgot the exact name). From the airport we took a taxi cab going to Mactan shrine - fare was PhP113.50. Then an "umbrella boy" approached us and gave us an umbrella. We didn't know what was that for or how much. They just actually lend you an umbrella since it was a very sunny day and you'll just give them some cash after your tour inside the shrine.

Since we haven't taken breakfast yet, we decided to eat first before going to the shrine. Then a number of umbrella boys were telling us to go to this-and-that sutukil restaurant. We didn't want to waste time so I just followed one of them. He then brought us to Fredz Sutukil and told us that he will guide us inside the shrine. 

The seafoods were a bit pricey but it was really delicious. Here's some photos and the breakdown of our lunch at Fredz Sutukil:

View at Fredz Sutukil Restaurant
Lunch at Fredz Sutukil:

1 platter rice - 40
Cooking Charges (2 dishes for 1 fish) - 160
1L Sprite - 80
Lapu-Lapu (600g) - 288
1 chicken BBQ - 80

Total of PhP648


There is no entrance fee at the Mactan Shrine. There's just a donation box at the entrance so you can donate any amount you want or nothing at all. You also do not need a tour guide because it was just a small place that looks much like a plaza. But we just let our tour guide, Junel, accompany us inside. He looked pitiful and kind anyway.

Magellan's remains were buried here.

This is is the spot where Magellan died.
The view at the back is where Magellan and Lapu-lapu fought.
After the tour, we asked Junel how to commute back to the airport. He also did not demand any particular amount for his tour-guiding so I just gave hime PhP100. He said that being an umbrella boy was his only source of income which he is still proud because he's earning it in a legal way. So if you visit Mactan shrine, you can look for this guy. :)

Going back to the airport was fairly easy. No need to ride a taxi at all. We rode a jeepney that passes at SM Savemore with only PhP9 fare. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Savemore and walk through the street beside Savemore and you will see yellow multi-cabs. It's just beside the Island Souvenirs building.

It was 5 hours before our flight so we decided to have some coffee first (Starbucks is beside Island Souvenirs). After coffee, we saw this sign:

It's always good to end a vacation with a relaxing massage. Since we had few more hours left before our flight, we availed a one-hour massage from Nuat Thai. A dry body massage was only PhP150 while a massage with oil was PhP200.

So after that invigorating massage, we rode a multi-cab going back to the airport for an PhP8 fare. I think it was just around 5pm and our flight was 7pm. So we had to wait for 2 more hours at the airport. But 30 minutes before the flight departure, Cebu Pacific crew announced that our flight was delayed and the new estimated time of departure was 11:45pm! I'm used to Cebu Pacific's delayed flights but not this LONG. The gave us a chickenjoy meal and offered us a hotel accommodation at Cebu and just catch an early flight the day after. Maybe half of the passengers stayed at Cebu while half of us waited for the 11:45pm flight. 

Well, except for the delayed flight, the whole trip was a great experience for me and my BF. :D

Mactan Island Tour Expenses:

Sampaguita Suites to Mactan International Airport (via taxi) - 203/2(persons) = 101.5
Airport Baggage Deposit Fee (21kgs for 5 hours) - 150/2(persons) = 75
Airport to Mactan Shrine (via taxi) - 113.50/2(persons) = 56.75
Lunch at Sutukil Restaurant - 648/2(persons) = 324
Tourguide (optional) - 100/2(persons) = 50
Mactan Shrine Donation (optional) - 20
Mactan Shrine to SM Savemore (via Jeepney) - 9
Savemore to Airport - 8
Terminal Fee - 200

Total = 844.25/person

Friday, April 20, 2012

I ♥ CEBU ~ DIY Cebu City Tour

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So we didn't stick to our original DIY itinerary. lol The whale sharks got us really tired and exhausted. Anyway, we went back to Cebu City after the whale shark watching at Tan-awan, Oslob. We checked in at Sampaguita Suites at Plaza Garcia branch. I chose this branch because it's near SM City and luckily, it is also near two of Cebu's attractions - the Sto. Niño Basilica Church and Magellan's Cross. We started the tour on our 3rd Day though. We just went malling after the whale shark watching.

Apparently, you can find many tour packages from anywhere in Cebu particularly from taxi drivers. Even the security guard at Sampaguita suites presented us a laminated flyer of sort. But it was too expensive for two persons only. Maybe for a group of 4 or more, the tour packages could be worth their money. Another reason I didn't want to avail of any tour packages is because we don't really want to go to all of the tourist attractions. So here is our customized Cebu City tour on a Sunday:

Magellan's Cross

Magellan's Cross is just outside Sto. Niño Church. So before going inside the Basilica, we visited Magellan's Cross first which is just across the street from Sampaguita Suites. 

Sto. Niño Basilica Church

We then went inside the Church. It was Sunday morning and there were a lot of people attending a mass and others just touring inside the Basilica.

Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro is just near the Basilica but we do not know how to get there by commuting so we just rode a taxi. The fare was just Php47 anyway. The entrance fee to the Fort San Pedro is PhP30

From Fort San Pedro, we headed to SM City Cebu for lunch and to buy some hiking gears like tent and sleeping bags. The taxi fare from Fort San Pedro to SM was PhP75. 

Taoist Temple

Next on our plan is to go to the Taoist Temple. Before going there, we dropped our bought stuff at the hotel first. It was already past 5pm when we went to the Taoist temple and unfortunately, the temple closes at 5pm! So the taxi driver told us that we could just take pictures outside the temple since we were already there. ^^

From the Taoist Temple, we wanted to go to Tops but you really have to rent a taxi going there and the driver offered to take us there for PhP1500. He even lowered it down to PhP1100 but it was still expensive for us. He said that they charge a fix rate because it's too far and they have no assurance that they'll have passengers back to the city. So we just went to Ayala Mall since it was the nearest mall from Taoist Temple that we know of. From Ayala, we already know how to commute back to Sampaguita hotel.

There are other tourist attractions that we have not visited in Cebu City but I still enjoyed our DIY tour. It feels good to go to places on your own because you get to learn different routes and it makes the whole trip more fun and challenging. :)

Summary of Expenses:

From Sampaguita Hotel - Sto. Nino Church and Magellan's Cross - 0
Sto. Nino Church - Fort San Pedro (via taxi) - 47
Fort San Pedro to SM City Cebu (via taxi) - 75
[ SM City to Sampaguita Hotel (via taxi) - 75 ]
Sampaguita Hotel to Taoist Temple to Ayala Center (via taxi) - 180
Ayala Center to Sampaguita Hotel - 8

Total Expenses for our Cebu City tour = PhP385 (taxi fare not divided)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I ♥ CEBU ~ Whale Sharks at Tan-awan, Oslob

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The day after we went to Osmeña Peak, we headed straight to Tan-awan, Oslob Cebu, at 6am which is only an hour ride from Dalaguete. We rode a Sunrays bus going there and just told the "konduktor" to drop us at tan-awan brgy. hall or where we can watch the whale shark. The bus fare was PhP50/person. There are also Ceres buses but we rode the first one that passed at Dalaguete. :D

We first paid for the fees which amounted to PhP420/person. PhP320 for the boat and swimming (fee). But if you don't intend to swim, you will only pay PhP300. Then PhP100 for the entrance fee which includes the use of a life jacket. There are already tourists before us so we had to wait for our turn though the line isn't that long yet. So it was a good thing that we went there early.

click to enlarge

I actually expected that guests will be oriented about the rules or proper conduct in whale watching. But there was no briefing or orientation. You just have to refer to the code of conduct in their sign board →

We left our bags inside the sari-sari store which was also part of the whale shark watching site. We were a bit hesitant to leave our valuables there but we had no other choice but to leave it there. Thankfully, the people there are trustworthy. 

The taxi driver who brought us to the airport on our last day told us that he was from Tan-awan. He said that the town has long been a home to the whale sharks. Ever since he was a child he already saw and heard about the butandings. He said that there was a large whale shark before, as large as a Ceres bus. But it is no longer there, perhaps it's already dead. The driver further told us that fishermen don't dare kill these whale sharks because of their superstitious belief that if you take one from them, they will also take one from your family in return. 

Anyway, the whole encounter with the whale sharks was really really fun. I think you cannot fully appreciate these magical creatures if you don't see them underwater. Most tourists just watch them from above the water so I can't imagine how they enjoyed their Swimming or even just watching them underwater is truly a one heck of an  experience! The gentle giants are really magnificent, amazing, and magical. I love watching their spots that seem to glow underwater and their gills that seem to breathe life under the sea.

Here's a compilation of the underwater videos we took using Sony TX10.

music used: Shark in the Water by VV Brown

Right after the whale shark encounter, we took a shower and had our brunch. They serve food there like grilled fish and pork. There is also a carinderia across the street. On my DIY Cebu itinerary, we were supposed to go to Kawasan Falls after Oslob. But we got really tired swimming so we just headed back to Cebu City. :D

How To Get To Tan-awan, Oslob:

1. From Cebu City, go to South Bus Terminal.
2. Ride a bus going to Oslob.
3. Tell the "konduktor" to drop you at the whale shark watching site.

Summary of Expenses:

Dalaguete to Tan-awan - 50
Whale Shark Watching Fees:
Entrance - 100
Boat+Swimming - 320
Tan-awan to Cebu City (via aircon Ceres bus) - 155
Southbus Terminal to Sapaguita Hotel (Via Taxi) - 61

Total Expenses Per Person From Dalaguete To Tan-awan To Cebu City - PhP686
Total Expenses Per Person From Cebu City - Tan-awan & Vice Versa - PhP791

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I ♥ CEBU - Osmeña Peak

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Our Iloilo - Cebu flight arrived at around 9am. Plan was to go to Osmeña Peak after lunch so we just stayed at SM City first to check some hiking gears and to have lunch. From the airport, we took a taxi cab going to SM which costed us PhP176.50 (I will provide a breakdown of all the expenses at the end of this post for reference). Since it was just past 9 yet, we stayed at Starbucks waiting for the mall to open. Starbucks frappuccino is one of my guilty pleasures so I couldn't resist the

At around 1pm, we went to the south bus terminal near Elizabeth mall. We rode a jeepney going to "E-Mall" (short for Elizabeth Mall) with only PhP8.00 fare and walked our way going to the terminal. Just ask some vendors or security guards for a direction. You will have to pay for the terminal fee before going into the bus. The trip to Dalaguete is about 2 hours so we opted for an aircon Ceres bus. Just ask which bus is going to Dalaguete. The "konduktor" didn't know where Osmeña Peak is. He told us that there is NO Osmeña Peak in "Dalagit", only Ocean Bay. So I just told him to drop us at Dalaguete town proper. I don't know how to pronounce it actually but the "konduktor" pronounces it as "Dalagit".

As soon as we got off the bus, there are guides who would offer to take you to Osmeña Peak using a habal-habal or a motorcycle. The fare was PhP150 per person for a one-way trip. I wasn't sure if it was overpriced or not but we just accepted the offer. The winding road to Mantalongon was a bit scary especially when you're riding a habal-habal. All I did was trust the driver and the God above for our safety. When we finally got at the foot of the mountain that we were about to trek, there were two kids who served as our guide as we trekked our way at the peak. I think it took us 10-15 minutes to reach the peak and it was very tiring because we brought our bags with us. We actually told the driver to drop us at a nearby lodge at Dalaguete first to leave our bags but he though we wanted to stay at Mantalongon. 

There were only three tourists aside from us probably because it was Friday - Friday the 13th to be exact. ^^ When we went back, the habal-habal driver already smelled of Tanduay. He must had a few drinks when we went up at the peak. So that got us nervous because he had to drive us back to Dalaguete. Thankfully we had a safe trip back to Dalaguete and he dropped us at a lodge.

I forgot the name of the lodge - actually I don't know if it has a I just remember that it was painted in pink and it was near a school. The room rate was Php400/12 hrs. We checked-in at 6pm so it was already a good deal for us since we're planning to leave at 5am to go to Tan-awan for the whale watching. But I will cover that in my next post. :D

Summary of Expenses:

Taxi Fare (Airport to SM City Cebu - 176.50
Jeepney Fare (SM City Cebu to Elizabeth Mall) - 8/person
Southbus Terminal Fee - 5/person
Southbus Terminal to Dalaguete Town Proper (Via Aircon Ceres Bus) 105/person
Dalaguete to Osmeña Peak (via habal-habal)- 300/person (roundtrip)
Tourguide at Osmeña Peak (optional) - 100 (optional)
Dalaguete Lodge - 400/12hrs (for 2 persons)

Total Expenses for this trip: PhP756.25/person