Three weeks in Hong Kong, The Philippines, and Thailand
I've been reading the DansDeals forum for a while, but my first real post!
Firstly a disclaimer: being very, very new to credit cards and points, this entire trip was paid for out of our pockets
My husband and I got married in the summer, and since we both love to travel we were hoping to go somewhere extra special for our honeymoon. When the cheap Hong Kong flights came up last summer, I jumped on them keeping in mind the beautiful Asian countries in the vicinity. Weíre all about beautiful nature and less about city, so we planned on spending very little time in Hong Kong. Iíd seen very enticing pictures of the Philippines, but there was very little (kosher) information online. I knew I wanted to go to Thailand as well. We decided that three weeks during our long college winter break would be enough time to see all three countries. After doing A LOT of research I realized that there was A LOT to see and do in the Philippines, that travel within the country would take up a lot of time, and that we would need to take A LOT of flights. I knew that I was hooked on visiting Palawan after seeing the unbelievably gorgeous pictures on many travel blogs, and since I couldnít decide between Coron and El Nido, we settled on visiting both. The cute Tarsiers and Chocolate Hills of Bohol became our other destination in the Philippines. Iíd originally planned on hiking the Taal Volcano during the day in Manila we had in between Palawan and Bohol, but we realized a few days into the trip that we would need the time for a bit of relaxing from all the travel. With regard to Thailand, the descriptions of Koh Lipe were very appealing, however I knew that after the Philippines we would not be up to all the different modes of transportation that it entails. So I decided that we would spend a week in Phuket and Khao Lak, and a weekend in Bangkok.
Flights: I ignored all the bad reviews of Cebu Pacific and AirAsia and booked all the domestic and international flights (besides for the China Eastern between Hong Kong) with them. Contrary to all the reviews that they constantly are being delayed, out of our many flights only one was delayed and we managed to get on an earlier one anyways.
Hotels: The hotels were mostly very cheap guesthouses that were booked through Agoda, although I did make sure to find ones with very good reviews. All were clean and most exceeded our expectations. Booking a couple of months in advance for both hotels and flights definitely made a difference price- wise, especially since we were travelling during the very high season.
Food: At the time, the Chabad Houses in the Philippines were located in Manila, Cebu and Clark therefore we planned on bringing our own food for the time that we would spend in the Philippines. We figured that in Thailand we would rely on the Chabad restaurants for most of our meals. We packed one suitcase dedicated to food that included lots of protein bars, nature valley bars, meal mart and labriute shelf stable meals, meat sticks, oatmeal packets, soup cups, lots of crackers, packs of peanut butter, salmon sleeves and cans etc. Turns out we literally did not find anything kosher in the locations that we visited (besides for the occasional kosher snickers bar or Pringles can). We were planning on spending the one Shabbos we would be in the Philippines alone, since there wasnít supposed to be a Chabad house in Palawan. We were in luck however, as we found out at the Chabad of Kowloon, a Chabad couple had moved to El Nido a couple of weeks before, intending on opening a Chabad house there. It was so nice to be able to spend our Shabbos with them and their Israeli backpacker guests.
Activities: After reading lots and lots of trip reports, forums, guidebooks, and everything else I could get my hands on, I had a very good idea of what we wanted to see/do. I noticed that it would not be necessary to book anything in advance, and actually that ended up saving us A LOT of money. More details to follow.
The actual day to day report of what we did is taking a lot of time to write, so figured I would post this first and the rest is to follow sometime is the nearish future.