Travelling with Kids – Philippine Travel Blog

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A Destination of Smiles – The Philippines

It is definitely more fun in the Philippines. And even more fun travelling this country of a million smiles with the kids and our family. From volcanoes and white sandy beaches, to wild but friendly water giants, to towering shopping malls, the Philippines is a country that will seduce you into coming back over and over again. Except maybe to Manila but more about that later.

Having been to the Philippines numerous times in the past, this was our first time travelling there with the kids and also our first time venturing out from our relatives’ homes in Manila and the provinces to the magnificent islands and waters that have captured the hearts of travelers from around the world. With an initial feeling of uncertainty and worry about how the kids would handle the heat and difference in environment, and how us adults would handle the kids, I’m happy to say it was bloody amazing and we are already planning our next visit back to this tropical paradise! So read on if you too are thinking about going on a tropical adventure to this country of over 7,100 colorful islands.

Kawasan Falls Philippine Travel Blog with Kids

We visited the following areas on our three week escapade for my dad’s 60th birthday adventure:

– Cebu
– Bohol
– Bulacan
– Palawan
– Manila
– Tagaytay

What an amazing 60th birthday bash my dad had! – Island hopping, relaxing by the pool, touristy sightseeing, delicious meals, and most of all spending time with relatives. We were a traveling party of 12 – 8 adults, 2 kids and 2 infants and, extra family and friends joined us at some of the destinations so we almost always hired a van to get around.

Traveling the Philippines with kids travel blog

Getting around the Philippines

Hiring a van with a driver was so convenient for us because we didn’t have to worry about anything for the whole day! We hired a van for the full day when we went to Cebu and Bohol.

In Manila we used Grab and taxis and our cousins kindly drove us around. I downloaded the Grab app as instructed by my cousins and found it super convenient and safe to use.

In Bulacan we caught a lot of tricycles and were also driven around by family. We didn’t get to ride on a jeepney during this trip but hopefully we’ll get to hang off one next time!

 – 3500 – 3800php – daily driver and van
– Tricycle fares are per person and I’m not sure how they price it but we paid around 20php for a trip of around 1-1.5kms. Either way it’s a fast cheap way of getting around town if you don’t have too far to go but can’t be bothered walking in the heat of the sun.
– from 15php – bottle of water from Hypermarket supermarket
7php-60php for snacks like biscuits and chips

Tricycle PHilippines travel blog
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his is a tricycle in Coron – they feel so much bigger than the ones in Bulacan. It seems that each different area of the Philippines has a slight different type of tricycle in the way that they are made, however, almost all of them are able to fit around 8 people!

When going to Cebu from Manila we flew by plane which was only about an hour and twenty minutes long. There are quite a few flights per day that fly to Cebu by airlines such as Philippines Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. Having flown from Melbourne on an 8 hour flight, the one hour flight was nothing for the kids! They happily looked out the window and had a short nap.

From Cebu to Bohol we took a ferry which was around 2 hours. I ended up chatting to a lovely lady from Anda the whole way learning all about their beautiful beaches there and mysterious caves! I’d love to visit there next time we’re in Bohol. From Bohol back to Manila we caught a plane which was faster and more efficient.

Philippines Travel Blog jeepney manila

From the gorgeous beaches and resorts of Bohol and whimsical waterfalls of Cebu, we traveled up to Bulacan which is a province north of Manila to visit relatives. There were ate freshly picked fruits and veggies and a roasted suckling pig was cooked for my dad’s birthday celebration.

Bulacan rooster farm to table
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his is my uncle’s rooster farm. Straight organised rows of trees were planted along with the roosters’ houses. It was so eye opening seeing all the animals such as roosters, chickens, pigs, goats, fish etc being grown and eaten so fresh!

There are some awesome things to see around Bulacan however we chose to spend our time chilling out with our cousins and we got to watch a movie in the cinemas at SM Baliwag. We watched Beauty & the Beast as soon as it came out! It was everything I hoped it would be.

We didn’t just used transport with wheels to get around the Philippines – we rode on a lot of boats both big and little. The kids loved being so close to the water and we made sure they wore their life jackets at all times so they felt safe!

Swimming with the whale sharks Oslob Cebu
Here is our party of 13 riding a skinny little bangka in Oslob to see the whalesharks. Hannah wanted to just get into the water since she could see it right at her fingertips. We ended up dipping her in for a bit over the side!

 After swimming through the beautiful turquoise waters of Coron and lazing around on the powdery warm sandy beaches of Bohol, we found ourselves in busy, smokey, excruciating gridlocked traffic and inefficient ways that is Manila. Luckily our wonderfully amazing cousins had some fun things planned for us. I didn’t really know where to go out in Manila except for the shopping malls and gosh there are a lot of them! My cousins took us to some amazing places which I’ll share with you on a separate blog post on Manila. One of the places worth mentioning was Kidzania in Bonifacio Global City. It is a must-see place when visiting the Philippines with kids.Kids travel guide to the Philippines

Other things to note when traveling to the Philippines with kids

1. Shots. We had left it too late for the kids to get immunized

before heading to the Philippines but if I had booked in at the doctor earlier, we would’ve gotten a shot for Typhoid and I think Hep A? I can’t remember now but we came back home feeling well. Hannah had around four mosquito bites while the rest of us hardly had any. I even bought two cans of insect repellent with me and I hardly finished them.

2. Bottled water. Always drink bottled water and never drink out of the taps. Even the water we boiled in the kettle was from a bottle. We ended up buying huge containers of water every time we knew we were going to be at a certain place for more than two days. Thankfully none of us got sick. Mr 4yo got the runs on our second week there but after a day he was fine.

3. Spare clothes. Bring lots of spare clothing for the kids. You never know when a little accident may happen, and you’ll feel so good changing into a fresh set of clothes after a long day out sweating in the heat. You also never know when you’ll come across and cool swimming spot you’ll want to go for a dip in so always have some clothes and bathers with you!

4. Currency exchange. If you withdraw some money before heading to the Philippines, you can get a good rate of exchange at the currency exchange outlets. You can find them in most of the airports and shopping centres. We did that, and also withdraw money from an ATM, which charged us a fee each time. So if you find a RCBC atm or bank, you can withdraw a max of 20,000php from there instead of the standard 10,000php that the other ATMs like BDO allow.

5. Tips. Before arriving in the Philippines I would highly recommend that you have some Philippine pesos ready at hand, and have some smaller denominations like 10 and 20php notes. Tipping is common practice and with the hard working people helping you out, I’m sure you’ll be wanting to give them a little extra for their service and effort.

6. Attitude. Be open-minded, positive and adaptable. There are lots of different dishes to try in the Philippines that can’t be found elsewhere and having an open mind will allow you to enjoy each experience a lot more. The service there is also a lot slower than I’m used to – 45mins wait to get my take away dinner order and 15mins waiting in line at the supermarket. Not all places were like this but I noticed a lot of improvement opportunities in Manila in terms of customer service. It made me feel so happy to be home when I got back to Melbourne! – I was able to visit two banks, Vodafone and get lunch all in half an hour!

No matter how positive I was, I could handle everything except the traffic of Manila – when you’re sitting in traffic for an hour just to get somewhere less than 8kms away, it’s just simply ridiculous. I already don’t drive to work in Melbourne because I hate sitting in traffic – you should see the traffic in Manila. If I didn’t have luggage and kids to carry with me, I’m sure I would’ve just walked to most of the places. Does anyone have the answer to reducing traffic in Manila? It is simply a big waste of time. No wonder a lot of travellers are now bypassing Manila altogether and going straight to places like Cebu and Borocay. Hopefully those other cities can get their infrastructure right before it gets as busy as Manila.

Philippines family travel blog
There, there, it’s ok. You don’t have to put up with the traffic everyday!

7. A Globe mobile SIM – As soon as we arrived in Manila, we walked over to Mall of Asia (MOA) and stopped by a Globe outlet to get a Globe SIM and some credit. We paid 500php ( approximately $13AUD) for unlimited data, sms and calls to other Globe SIM holders for 15 days which is expensive by Philippine standards but it was convenient and easy so that’s what we went with. Since there were a lot of us traveling together, having our mobiles made it easier for us to get around together and apart. And if you want to stay in touch with others that aren’t with Globe, you can just use the data included to contact them via Facebook, Whatsapp or Viber etc! In my previous trips to Europe and Asia I didn’t even bring a mobile phone with me at all – how times have changed.

8. Nappies, wipes, baby food & formula. These 4 items can be easily found in all the SM stores and supermarkets so don’t fret if you haven’t pack enough or have forgotten something for the kids. They have everything from baby nappies and wipes to baby cologne in the toiletries section. I always like to peruse the toiletries and make up section whenever I’m overseas. They always have such different things. In the Philippines it’s all about the whitening of the skin. Whitening lotion, whitening soaps and whitening creams line the shelves. So different to the shops here in Australia where everything is all about getting a tan…getting darker and bronzed up!

9. The people. The people of the Philippines are super friendly and love kids. There is always someone happy to help out and unlike my experience in China, if they see you with a pram or a baby in the Philippines, they almost always let you board the elevators first instead of pushing in front of you! Most people speak English and even just by saying simple greetings and “thank you” in Tagalog (“Salamat po”), it will get you far. I didn’t experience as much beggars begging through the windows of our van as I did in previous visits and there were less people haggling with you on the street. I felt quite safe traveling with the kids despite my initial worrying!

Aguinid Falls Philippines family travel blog
Our friendly and knowledgeable guides at Aguinid Falls in Cebu. Mark and Meyer not only helped us navigate and climb the falls, they took pictures of us with our cameras while they were at it! 

We met some absolutely gorgeous people with big, welcoming hearts on this trip, and I always leave the Philippines so sad but excited to come back because of all our relatives and friends that live there.

10. Kids life jackets and water shoes. We traveled with a 4yo, 3yo and two 1 year olds in tow and visiting the gorgeous places that we did meant that we were constantly in and out of water. Whether it was in the open seas or in the hidden inland waterfalls, having brought our own life jackets from home made it so easy for us when it came to swimming with the kids. You can purchase them from stores like Big W and any of the outdoor shops like Anaconda.

If you’re thinking about adding a stamp from the Philippines to your passport, just do it! Snorkelling, shopping, swimming, eating and partying – don’t you know it’s more fun in the Philippines? You’ll be forever in awe at the sights, sounds and smells of this vibrant country and its people.

It is the perfect place to discover the truly amazing natural wonders of this world but also on the flip side, it is an essential trip to be made in order to come back home to a feeling of immense gratitude, and humbleness for all the blessings we have here. Clean water supply, working toilets, less polluted air and efficiency are just some of the simple luxuries  we take for granted on a daily basis.

 
Temple of Leah in Cebu – built by Mr. Teodorico Adarna to show his endless devotion and undying love for his wife, Leah.  Kawasan falls Cebu Philippines travel guide
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alking along rickety wooden bridges and blue flowing rivers on the way to Kawasan Falls. Passing lots of locals, travelers and people coming back from Badian canyoneering!

Have you traveled to the Philippines with kids? What were your favourite and least favourite travel spots?

philippine trails travel guide map blog

For more info on Cebu, Bohol, Palawan and Manila be sure to subscribe to my blog to be the first to be notified when a new post is published!

Thank you so much for your continued support here and on Instagram and Facebook. It’s been so nice chatting with readers and answering questions about tours and things to do in the Philippines especially on Instgram. If there are any other topics or places you would like to read about please let me know. In the meantime hope you’re having a great week! x

Travel Diary – Family Itinerary Hong Kong + Cruise

First family holiday overseas? We’ve got the perfect itinerary!

Hong Kong Travel Diary Royal Caribbean Cruises

Happy Thursday everybody! I hope you’re having a fulfilling week so far and the weekend is right here so it can only get better. I apologise for my absence and lack of posts in the past few weeks. I’ve missed posting for you but if you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll no doubt know that we’ve just come back from our first family holiday overseas with Little Miss H. First time taking a toddler overseas = planning, preparation, may a little strees? = lack of blog posts. This is just a quick little post to give you an overview of our itinerary and then I’ll  have some separate posts for you on each different places. Hopefully this info will be of help or interest to you if you are visiting Hong Kong or Okinawa, Japan soon, or if you are embarking on your first family holiday!

Our son Mr D is three years old, almost four, and Little Miss H was ten months at the time of our trip so packing a bunch of nappies and carrying around a pram as well as our luggage was just one of the extra things to think about when planning for our trip. All in all it was one of the most happiest and amazing weeks we’ve had yet and I can’t wait for the next one.

Hong Kong cruise Family Travel Diary

Day 1: Hong Kong sights & board ship
Day 2: Xiamen, China
Day 3: Cruising
Day 4: Okinawa, Japan
Day 5: Cruising
Day 6: Hong Kong & Dinsey’s Hollywood Hotel
Day 7: Disneyland
Day 8: Disneyland & depart for Melbourne

Depart MELB 14:30 Arrived in HKG 21:00
We flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong which was around a 9.5hr long flight and arrived at ten in the evening. We saw the bright city lights as we had a taxi take us to our hotel (we stayed overnight at L’Hotel, Causeway Bay) where we checked in and slept ready for the next day.

Day 1: Hong Kong sights then cruise departs for Xiamen at 17:oo
We checked out the areas of Victoria Harbour and Causeway Bay seeing the sights, doing a little shopping and, enjoying the cuisine before catching another taxi to the Kowloon side to board our cruise ship Voyager of the Seas, which is part of the Royal Caribbean fleet. We had never been on a cruise before and were in awe as we walked through the check in terminal at how huge the vessel was that stood there docked in front of us. It was all happening on the pool deck where vibrant music played and a dance party greeted everyone as the ship left Hong Kong.egg waffle Hong Kong food Discover

Day 2: Xiamen – Day 3: Cruising – Day 4 Okinawa, Japan – Day 5: Cruising
Our cruise was the 5 Night Okinawa and Xiamen Cruise that alternated between days of cruising and days at the ports in Xiamen, Okinawa and of course, Hong Kong. There was such a great variety of activities on the ship and without spoiling my upcoming blog post, let me just tell you that from sports, to music, the ship had it covered. We were spoilt for choice when it came to which experience to pick from each day. We were even so spoiled for choice when it came to the food (I’ll talk more about this in the coming posts!). One thing I hadn’t expected was how much we all loved and missed the staff/crew on the ship when we had to disembark. Imagine if we went on a cruise longer than five days! I think I’d be crying having to leave everybody that made our trip so special. (Or maybe I’m just a tad bit too sentimental!).Royal Caribbean cruise Family travel

Day 6: Hong Kong sights & Disney hotel check-in
After saying our goodbyes to the amazing staff on board, we made our way to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel on Lantau Island at around . We decided to explore more of Hong Kong and spent the rest of the day in Central and Causeway Bay eating and shopping our way through the busy and wet streets (it was pouring rain!). We made it back to our hotel in time for to see the nightly fireworks show (upon our arrival at the hotel we upgraded to a room with a view of the fireworks). The kids were squealing with excitement seeing the explosions of colour in the dark night sky. 
Hong Kong Causeway Bay Family travel blog

Day 7: Disneyland – Day 8: Disneyland and departed HKG 19:10, arrived in MELB 06:25
The next two days were dedicated to the magic and happiness that is Disneyland. Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest of the six Disneyland parks around the world and it was such a great one to visit with Little Miss H and Mr D. We spent one and a half days there and still didn’t get to see all the things we wanted (we missed out on watching the Lion King show and seeing the Paint the Night parade as it wasn’t running due to Halloween preparations) so we will definitely be coming back to catch Lightning McQueen in the night parade. With shuttle buses running every few minutes between the two Disney hotels and the Disneyland park, it was so convenient traveling with the kids to the character breakfast and Disney dim sum we had booked. I’ve posted a few photos of the most adorable little buns you’ll ever eat on my IG feed and I’ll post more here in my upcoming posts!Hong Kong Disneyland

Our flight back home was a night flight and with all the wondrous things the kids saw at Disneyland during the day, they both slept through almost the entire flight They were still sleeping when we landed in back in Melbourne.

How the cruise and trip to Hong Kong ticked all the boxes on First Family Holiday Wishlist
The above itinerary totally hit the spot when it came to all the things we wanted to do and see. The hubby and I love trying new things and visiting new places together and having Mr D and Little Miss H there with us made everything even more unforgettable. When planning the trip we had a few things on our wishlist and below is how the above itinerary ticked all our boxes.

1) Somewhere we’ve never been – We wanted our first ever holiday as a family of four to be somewhere we’d all never been before. That’s the thing about traveling. When you’re in a place that’s new, unfamiliar and far from home, it immediately brings you to the present moment. No routines, no auto-pilot, no pre-existing behaviours allows for total immersion into something new and, either exhilarating or terrifying. And with that something new shocking your system, it brings about learning and growing as you are forced to learn about and adapt to the environment around you. With the cruise we were able to unpack just once and visit multiple destinations. You’re traveling and covering ground (or water!) while you’re asleep so it’s a great way to get from one place to the other. Okinawa’s Shuri castle was grand, Hong Kong Disneyland was a dream and we took the obligatory pic with Bruce Lee’s statue. Somewhere we’ve never been? Tick!

2) Warm and sunny – We wanted to go somewhere that was summery and bright. It was hot in Hong Kong (although it did rain there during our time at Disneyland) but not as hot as it was in Okinawa. The suns rays helped us to defrost from Melbourne’s winter chills. It was just so nice to lay around in the sun all day and the kids coped rather well with the change of climate. They didn’t complain and Mr D loved covering himself with sunscreen.

3) A bit of shopping and trying out the local cuisine – The hubby loves city destinations and Hong Kong with it’s amazing food, shopping and bustling city vibe was just the ticket! When the hubby had booked our trip and I had started Googling things to do and see in Hong Kong, I couldn’t believe we had never been there before. And now after having been, I know we’ll totally be back for more!

4) Ease and Convenience – Haha I did say “wishlist” right? But yes, we wanted to go on a holiday that would be as fuss-free and as relaxing as you can get with two little kids. Hong Kong is not too far away but still far enough to feel like you’ve gone somewhere totally exotic. The time difference is only two hours so none of us experienced any jetlag and we were able to get straight back into the swing of things when we arrived home! The availability and options of food on the cruise was perfect for our little ones – they could have ice cream whenever they wanted and they could pick from so many different types of dishes (our kids love to eat!). Swimming pools open 24/7 and meet and greets with the Dreamworks characters were another things the kids loved. With everything organised, all the hubby and I had to do was relax and just show up. Ease and Convenience? Big tick!

I think one of the biggest things that surprised me was how much we were able to do and see in such a short amount of time however our energy levels stay high and we weren’t ending each day feeling exhausted. I think what helped with this was that we stayed right near the Disneyland theme park and it was super easy to get back to the hotel and relax. And the other thing that helped was the cruise. Cruising has never really been something that’s on my bucketlist. I never had the urge to really want to go on a cruise ship, but my parents had recently been on one and raved on and on about it when they got back from their trip. The hubby also spent a lot of time trying to find something that would suit what we wanted to accomplish during the short amount of time he had off work that wasn’t too expensive. With all inclusive packages and super friendly crew on board, I now see why cruising is such a crowd favourite.

I think one thing to think about before booking a cruise is to check that the cruise line you’re inquiring with are actively doing something to combat the impact that they have on the environment. It wasn’t something I had thought about before but after spending time staring out at the beautiful big ocean on our trip, and seeing such a huge vessel carrying thousands of people to different destinations across the seas, I wonder how air pollution, waste management and fuel consumption is being addressed. I’m so new to the world of cruising and would love for everyone to enjoy a holiday on one as it was so incredible – all the more reason for us to be aware and choose wisely.

We had the most wonderful experience traveling as a family overseas for the first time and we can’t wait for the next adventure! Royal Caribbean were amazing and we’ll definitely be looking into cruising with them again. Hong Kong has just way too many things for us to see and do so we’ll have to come back for more! Next time I really want to see the life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. We didn’t get to visit it this time round because we didn’t want to cram too much into our days but it looks ginormous!

Hong Kong Noah's ark Family travel blog

The hubby and I are very similar in the way that we are quite open to trying new things, cope well with unexpected situations and are organised but also flexible – thank you Wes for being such a good travel buddy, baby daddy and all round companion. Thank you for carrying  Little Miss H so close to you even though the sun was scorching down. Thank you for looking after our kids while I waited in line to try the FlowRider hahah! Thank you choosing the cruise and the places you did! Our holiday wouldn’t have been as fun as it was if it weren’t for you!

We celebrated our wedding anniversary while we were away and here’s hoping we have many more adventures to come! I hope this post was helpful and if you have any questions at all leave me a comment, or if you are going to Hong Kong soon let me know what sights, restaurants or shops you’d recommend to visit!

Night! xx

Hong Kong Disneyland Family Travel Blog the Urban MA Avenue of the Stars Hong Kong Family Travel Blog The Urban MA