DIY Trip to Eastern Visayas

There has been a lot of clamor in the social media about Kalanggaman Island. I’m one of those who fell in love upon first sight of this haven and this November, I had the chance to visit the place with two friends.

The good problem I had is that we have alloted 4 days for this trip. Although Kalanggaman is such a beauty, it will be a waste to just spend all of our days there. The solution- we explored Biliran and a bit of Leyte too!

Our itinerary for this 4-day Visayas trip went like this- Kalanggaman Island to Sambawan to Biliran to McArthur Park and San Juanico Bridge.

Day 1: The Trip to Kalanggaman Island

We traveled for 3-hours by land to reach Palompon where the boats to Kalanggaman Island reside. These vans to Palompon are outside the airport- our fare is 200 but I think it is not fixed, you can haggle depending on how many you are in the van. From the eco tourism office in Palompon, the boat ride to reach the island which was actually situated in the middle of the sea is 1 hour. After which you’ll see:

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What you need to know: 

  • The eco tourism office looking after the island only allows a certain number of visitors per day. From my experience, they’re not very strict but best to call to make sure. Contact details and rates are here.
  • There are not much to do in the island other than to talk, watch the sunset, gaze at the stars and swim, swim, swim. It is small- almost 1/5 of Boracay only but that’s one thing I liked about this island. If you really want to rest and think, this place is highly recommended.
  • There are no hotels in the island but there are cottages with limited availability. You may bring your tent and also rent from the eco tourism office for 250Php.
  • No food in the island so buy everything you need at the eco-tourism office or the market place near it.
  • Comfort rooms are not comfortable and the fresh water supply is very limited. You have to be extra careful too because there’s the risk of being splintered. I did!
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Sunset at Kalanggaman ❤

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Day 2: The Trip to Biliran

We only stayed overnight in Kalanggaman. 7am the next day, we headed back to the eco tourism office to start the voyage to the next destination. Our original plan is go to Sambawan Island next via Maripipi.

From the station a few blocks from the eco tourism office, we rode the van heading to Tacloban and asked to be dropped off Lemon. Fare is 110Php. The trip to Lemon was about an hour long. From there we rode a van headed to Naval Port in Biliran for 60Php.

It was a long trip and the road was narrow and winding but it was the best trip I’ve had so far. Everywhere I looked there was a lush of green trees and mountain welcoming me. It felt like being in a different world and I appreciated the Philippines even more because I never thought we had something this beautiful within us. (I’m so amazed maybe because I’m so used to the traffic and skyscrapers in the Metro)

We reached Naval at around 2:00pm and by then the boat to Sambawan has already left. The last trip was at 11:00am and the option we have is to rent a private boat for 3,000Php. Due to budget constraints, we did not pursue the Sambawan trip and just checked in TJ Pensionne house for 850 a night for the Biliran Island Tour.

What you need to know:

  • If you’re planning to include Sambawan Island in your trip, better to leave Kalanggaman Island very early to reach Naval Port in time for the 11:00am boat trip unless you’re one of the lucky guys who can afford a private boat.
  • In front of the TJ Pensionne house is Gelo’s Place. You can eat here but it is quite pricey. Alternatively, you can take a short walk to the market place where there are barbecue stands and carenderias offering good food at a low price.

Day 3: The Biliran Island Tour

You’re lucky if you’ll stay at TJ pensionne house because they have a mini van you can rent and use for the Biliran Island tour. We were charged 1500Php for a whole day trip including the gas fee and tour guide- you just have to take care of the merienda and lunch.

Biliran although relatively small compared to its neighboring cities is also too big to be explored in just a day. We explored a bit of Almeria, a small municipality whose attractions are mostly falls and rice terraces.

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YOLO!
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Kinaraha Waterfalls. We had to trek for about 5 minutes to reach this one.
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Boulders and clear waters along the way.
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Mainit Hotspring. This place amazingly consist of a portion where the waters are ‘mainit’ or hot. Our tour guide says that elderly locals bathe here to ease arthritis pains.
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Mystic and majestic Tinago Falls.
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Recoletos falls. We hiked (yes, not just trekked) for about 30 minutes to reach this one. Probably named after the priest who discovered this place.
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Ulan Ulan Falls. I think this is named as such because of the water that drizzle-like drops from the strong current that is given off by the falls.
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Mang Kanor’s place. Serves fresh buko for just 25php. This is the perfect place to rest after the long hike. You’ll be amazed at how good the house built by the owner himself looks.
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Iyosan Rice Terraces.

What you need to know:

  • Reaching the falls is quite challenging. If you chanced upon visiting on a rainy season, it is muddy and slippery so better to use the appropriate walking gears for ease and to protect yourself too.
  • You may opt to ride a habal habal instead of the mini van but it is more dangerous. The way to the falls and rice terraces is secluded so you have to be extra careful with choosing your guide. Strongly suggest to just avail of the mini van tour care of the TJ Pensionne house.

Day 4: General MacArthur Park and San Juanico Bridge

As a Filipino, I personally looked forward to seeing the statue of General MacArthur and the San Juanico Bridge. Imagine seeing the places you just read in textbooks, right? So to wrap up the 4-day trip, we passed by these places on our way to the airport.

We took the 4am trip of the Grand Tours Van in Biliran to Palo, Leyte. The fare is 120Php and the trip is for around 1 and a half hours. At Palo, Leyte we just rode a tricycle to the General MacArthur Park for 10Php.

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Defining moment. Haha.

From the park, we rode a tricycle to the Jeep station where we will take off to go to the San Juanico Bridge. We rode the jeep to downtown for 13Php and the trip was about 30 minutes. From downtown, we rode another jeep to San Juanico for 13Php and the trip took about 45 minutes.

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Another defining moment.
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Excuse the sign. We moved like ninjas and battled the heat of the sun for this.
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At the other end of the bridge! ❤

What you need to know:

  • It’s a bad idea to go to the San Juanico bridge when your flight is on the afternoon of the same day because it can get really traffic in Tacloban!
  • You can rent a tricycle for 150Php to take you from end to end the San Juanico bridge and also to drive you back to the jeep station going to downtown.
  • If you have time, you can walk along the bridge because it’s not prohibited. Just make sure to put on enough sunblock as it is extremely hot in the area.

Visayas has a lot to offer- that is one realization. When we were at the other end of the San Juanico Bridge in Samar, a force was pulling me to visit the place. maybe if you’re planning to take a trip to the Visayas region and you’re feeling more adventurous than usual, you can plan for a 1-week trip cause the beauty this place has to offer is definitely sulit!

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