Monday, February 12, 2007

The great dream vacation challenge

We challenged ourselves and set a budget from a measly P900 to a hefty P15,000. See where these can take you...


TAKE your pick. A dawn-till-dusk partying at the country’s paradise island of Boracay. Or a close encounter with sea creatures on a diving exploration in Palawan. Or a trip to the remote island of Batanes, an excursion to Hong Kong Disneyland with the entire family, a shopping spree in Bangkok with friends, or a romantic escapade with your loved one in Bali?

The emergence of low-cost carriers offering budget fares has made traveling no longer a luxury but well within reach of everyone, anytime.

At the recently-concluded Travel Tour Expo in SM Megamall, we thought of challenging ourselves to find the best travel deals and bargain packages. We set a budget for one traveller and asked travel agencies where they can take us for a specific budget, from a measly P900 to a hefty P15,000. The challenge lies in looking for the most enjoyable, hassle-free vacation at the best deals. Here’s what we came up with:

 For P900 to P1,000. You can go on a day trip to Subic and explore Zoobic Safari or Ocean Adventure animal theme parks. Bus fare may cost roughly P240 one way while entrance fee costs P395 for Zoobic Safari and P450.00 for the latter.

 For P1,100 to P2,000. You can enjoy a scenic one-way cruise via Superferry to Cebu (P1,010); Bacolod or Iloilo (P1,200); Coron, Palawan (P1,400); Puerto Princesa, Palawan/Dumagete/Tagbilaran (P1,570); Cagayan/Butuan/Surigao (P1,570); and Davao (P1,980). Fares already include all taxes excep a terminal fee of P44. Add P90 to P100 to your fare and you already have one eal on board the ship.

 For P2,000 to P3,000. You can frolic on the white-sand beaches of Puerto Galera and enjoy a three-day, two-night accommodation in an aircon room at a three-star resort and daily breakfast for only P1,550. Bus fare from Manila to Batangas port costs P150 while ferry ride to Sabang or White Beach costs about P100.

Explore Puerto Princesa in Palawan and stay for three days, two nights in an aircon room at a three-star hotel with daily breakfast and land transfers for P1,270. To make the most of your budget, take the ship instead and avail of Superferry’s budget fare of P1,570 one way.

Your P3,000 can also take you to enchanting Sagada in the Mountain Province and spend a three-day, two-night accommodation in an aircon room with daily breakfast for P2,150. Bus fare from Manila to Baguio costs approximately P500 while from Baguio you can take several local transportations to Sagada for less than P500.

Or else, treat yourself to a day-long relaxing experience for the mind and body at The Farm at San Benito in Batangas. For P3,500++, the package consists of round-trip land transfers from Peninsula Hotel to The Farm and back, vegan buffet breakfast, a five-course vegan gourmet lunch, guided tour of the resort grounds, use of the resort’s facilities including pool, meditation lounges, gym and library, pavilions, choice of either one hour relaxation massage or Earth Facial Treatment, participation in resort’s spiritual development classes and fitness activity programs like yoga, etc.

 For P4,000 to P5,000. You can have a much-deserved three day, two-night vacation in Panglao island, Bohol for only P2,525. Take the Superferry and pay P1,570 from Manila to Tagbilaran. This rate includes daily breakfast and land transfers (from Panglao to a 3-star resort). From Tagbilaran, you can hop on a smaller ferry to take you to Panglao island for less than P300.

 For P7,000 to P15,000. Boracay here you come! Sink your feet in the talcum-fine white sandy beach of Boracay by availing of Cebu Pacific’s Go fares that come as low as P568 one-way (exclusive of taxes) or SeaAir’s Buy One Take One Promo of P1,445++ one-way fare per person. A round-trip fare for two persons via SeaAir using this promo costs an estimated P10,763.20 with taxes already included. You can also choose from a variety of incredibly low-room packages to Boracay which include a three-nights, two days accommodation in an airconditioned room at a three-star resort with daily breakfast. Rates start from P2,255 (hotel/resort accommodation in Station 2),P2,450 (Station 3) and P3,540 (Station 1)

 For P15,000 and above. Bakasyon grande! Go on a sightseeing and shopping vacation to Hong Kong for an approximate rate of P8,115 or US$ 168 (twin or triple sharing). Package already includes round-trip airfare, round-trip transfers, hotel accommodation for four days and three nights, city tour and daily breakfast outside the hotel. A trip to Disneyland will only require additional US$ 58 (P2,784) for an adult and US$ 48 (P2,304) for a child. However, package does not include taxes and airport fees.

Visit exciting Bangkok for P4,272 or US$ 89 (twin or triple sharing). Rate includes round-trip airfare, round-trip transfers, hotel accommodation for four days and three nights, daily breakfast, and half-day city tour. Package does not include taxes and airport fees.

Cebu Pacific also offers a Go Fares promo rate of P999 one-way to Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This rate however, does not include taxes and airport fees as well as accommodations.

Although tempting treats, most of these incredibly low rates were only available during the three-day travel expo and only through a book-and-buy basis. This means you have to pay immediately, in cash, for the trip you want to avail. Most rates have specificed travel periods and are subject to change without prior notice.

Still, there are budget-friendly packages available in the market, through airlines, travel agents and on the Internet. You just have to look for as many packages from various agencies as you can before you decide to choose the one that best suits your budget. It would help to consult a travel counselor or agent so you can take advantage of special deals or promotions, thus maximizing your vacation. And then, the next time you want to go on a trip, better plan ahead and be sure to drop by travel expositions because these one-stop-shop venues are so far, the best and most convenient place to find great travel deals and finally help you make that dream vacation happen.

No comments: