05 March 2020
Before all the chaos brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, my boyfriend and I were able to sneak one trip. It was our first trip together for Year 2020 and first actual trip that it was only just the two of us (apart from the group of strangers we were with. Haha!). Our destination? Rizal, Philippines.
For the longest time, we had been putting off trips because, although we can commute, it wasn’t something we had the time or luxury for. If we were going to take a trip, it had to be one-day, as we were both working and also don’t have that much extra cash to spare.
Cue Facebook ad from EBK Travel & Tours – Express Biyaheko. For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to go to Rizal (specifically Antipolo), but the places I wanted to see seemed relatively pricey. Add in the price of commuting to and from the place. It all added up and while I promote that memories are priceless, my stingy self just couldn’t put myself to pay up the price.
I’ve been getting ads we all know very well. Cheap tours, DIY trips, and the like. When I stumbled upon the EBK post, my heart literally fluttered. P699/person (aka ~$14)!!! Now, that might still seem like a lot, especially if you think of renting a car, etc. But because it was just the two of us, renting would be way too expensive – commuting would land us the same… With the hassle of hopping from one vehicle to another. The P699 tour included ten destinations. Now, upon research, the destinations weren’t really ten… Some were within the same vicinity! But that didn’t matter. We were just very excited to go. And it was definitely worth it! All throughout the trip, I kept thinking to myself – if we tried to do this on our own, we would have been goners! Hahaha.
Anyways, before we jump on to the trip itself (will create a second post!), let’s talk logistics! I for one always want to know these things prior to anything!
For starters, the P699 package tour included of the following (PS As of March 2020!):
- Van transportation (some with karaoke… Ours had! Although not used enough! Haha)
- Daranak Falls cottage
- Driver and coordinator plus respective fees (i.e. personnel fee, parking fee)
- Ten destinations
Additional payments were entrance fees and/or other site-seeing activities that weren’t free to begin with, which were the following:
- Spider Web trail (P150/person)
- Calinawan Cave Entrance and local guide fee (P70/person)
- El Patio Razon entrance fee (P80/person)
- Treasure Mountain entrance fee (P150/person)
Additional that you could pay for (but we didn’t):
- Sierra Madre Mountain viewing fee (P50/person)
- Daranak falls entrance fee (P75/person) –> we went here, but I could have sworn we only paid P450 to our tour guide in total!
- Kawa bath (P300/hour for 6 persons)
So what were the places that we got to see?
- Treasure Mountain, Sea of Clouds
- Spider Web Trail (within vicinity of Treasure Mountain)
- El Patio Razon
- Hobbit House (within vicinity of El Patio Razon)
- Kawa Hot Bath (within vicinity of El Patio Razon)
- Sierra Madre Mountain Resort
- Regina RICA Shrine
- Calinawan Cave
- Daranak Falls
- Windmill Farm
And how was my first booking of an online tour? Here were my thoughts!
- I am someone that is TERRIFIED of any online transactions. “Terrified” is an understatement. I always feel as if something is a scam. In this online day and age, I’m one of those people with access to the internet and digital technology that has not even once bought something online on my own. But the process was relatively easy!
- Down payment is needed – at least half. Thank goodness that over the counter payment at the banks is something that no longer terrifies me (although, my boyfriend did this step for us hehe). It gives me physical proof of something I purchased, so less anxiety!
- You send the receipt online and the rest of the payment is given on the day itself. I believe they also gave us physical receipts at the end of the day for this (not for entrance fees however?). So another win-win for me!
- I was somewhat worried because they informed us that we would be placed in a group chat with our driver and coordinator before the trip. The day before, we still did not have access to the group, and I think it was already late afternoon when we got added! I was panicking that we’d get stood up. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case! Also, thankfully, they still respond relatively quickly through their FB page.
- Our van was jam-packed, but still had one comfy seat for everyone. They really made the most of the van! Haha. No complaints. Everyone was informed to just bring enough things to keep on your lap. Overall, a comfy ride nonetheless. There was a couple unfortunately that wasn’t able to sit next to each other because of the odd man out seat! (Thankfully, we arrived just before them, and got to get our own couple seat. I would have hated not to sit next to my boyfriend!).
- They came right on time. I was very impressed considering the 3:30AM meet-up! We also left on time too. They were very considerate all throughout. They’d watch our bags (again, another fear of mine. I just cannot trust people!). They took care of all the entrance fees so we could just enjoy the day. A stress-free trip!
- Our driver and coordinator were very kind. Our coordinator was an expert at taking photos! It definitely saved us the awkwardness in asking people to help us out. And we got cute couple pics out of it!
- Overall, an amazing trip and would definitely recommend their tours. I’m hoping that I can get to try their other tours in the future. Cheers to wishful thinking!
NOTE: Watch out for my next post where I take you on my trip down memory lane (that’s all I can do during this pandemic!) to Tanay, Rizal!