I've been to many countries in the past few years and have always had a habit of dragging my Travel Guides for the longest time. I came back from Boracay, Philippines a day ago and told myself that I should start working on my Travel Guide at this very moment now that it's still fresh in my mind.

In fact, I'm exceptionally motivated because I feel that many first-timers travelling to this tourist attraction are only seeing a facade of what the island offers itself but not the fuller picture. Hence, here's a quick compilation of The Complete Guide to Boracay, Philippines, along with various tips for tourists.


Just a brief introduction of my visit to Boracay: I had a 4D3N stay at Boracay, Philippines over at an affordable AirBnB apartment, about a 15-minute walk away from White Beach, Station 1. I was travelling with my boyfriend as first-time tourists from Singapore. We never did much research beforehand except for a known fact of how beautiful the beaches of Boracay are. After our short but fulfilling trip, we took away lots of fun and memories, yet a different perspective of Boracay Island.
We alighted at Kalibo Airport, Philippines (a really small transit, by the way) from Tiger Airways and purchased a 5-day Internet Plan from Globe Telecom's booth located right outside the Airport. Our host booked our shuttle transportation from Kalibo Airport to Boracay Island through Island Star Express for 550PHP/pax per trip, which I only found out later that it was much cheaper to book directly from the agency itself at 400PHP/pax. #cheated

Upon reaching our resort, it was already 6:30pm even though we took a morning flight from Singapore at 11+am. The sky was already dark because the sun usually starts to set between 5:30pm - 6:00pm. We decided to take a quick tour around the vicinity before having a good dinner and tucking ourselves in for the next day. Here are some of the quick tips we can provide for first-time tourists based on our own experiences.

Note: As mentioned, all information provided in article are only based on our own experiences. Our 4D3N Stay is based at Station 1.

Water Activities
1) Make bookings in the morning/afternoon

Although we first stepped onto the beach in the evening, the locals were already approaching tourists (they ALWAYS target the Asians and Caucasians) to book for activities for the following day. It would be better to do so the next day instead because there will be more varieties of packages from different locals and companies to choose from, and you can compare the rates offered by different companies before making your final decision.

2) Choose from a range of activities available

An example of a sheet of activities the locals will hand out to you

Basically, all of them offer more or less the same kind of activities (more activities overleaf). Some of the more popular activities include Parasailing, Island Hopping, Snorkeling and Fly Fish. You can also opt for activity packages to try out a wider range of activities at a more affordable price. Now that we've come to the topic of rates, Point No. 3 is going to be really, really essential for you...

3) Prices will be marked up for tourists - HAGGLE!

What my boyfriend did was admittedly a really smart move. Whenever we got approached to go for any activities, he would say,

"Name me your best price. Just now people offer me 3000PHP for Activities A, B, and C. What's your offer?"

Usually, they will give a look of shock because they know that you're not the one to be conned. They will try to lower down the prices even further or offer you more activities to convince you to go on board the activities with their company. If we still found that the rates could still possibly be lowered down, my boyfriend will end off by saying,

"Ok, best price ah? I walk down and see others. If yours best price, I come back for you."

Thereby, you can not only go further down to compare and hopefully slash prices even more, or leave in a semi-nice manner without offending them. Eventually, we managed to get offered an activity package of Snorkelling + Island Hopping + Parasailing + Sailing Boat = 2500PHP/pax. I believe that we could have bargained it even cheaper but the boss directly gave us the offer and we felt that it was already pretty reasonable.

Going back to the activity sheet above, please do NOT believe the prices stated there. To side track a little, Wei Min and I made friends with some of the locals there when they were talking about the topic of basketball. On our third day when they saw us again, they asked us whether we were interested in any other activities apart from the ones we went for on the second day. And this, I quote from them,

"We will give you cheap package. Don't look at the price here *points at activity sheet*, this is only for the Chinese."

Of course, what they are trying to say is that the prices really are marked up as a tourist trap. So don't be afraid to negotiate for the rates unless you're willing to pay for double or even triple of the original price.

4) More suitable for big groups

For an instance like this, Wei Min and I couldn't take a ride on the Fly Fish because there was a minimum pax of 4 (if I recall correctly) needed to take up the activity. In fact, you might also be able to negotiate for a better deal in a big group as you are providing them with a greater number of customers.

5) Extra costs for snorkeling may apply

Snorkeling in the cooling waters with my baby

Upon confirmation of the booking of our activity package, the boss appointed us to make immediate payment for the package, along with additional fees for snorkeling gear of 500PHP. During our snorkeling activity, we were handed a small slip of paper getting us to pay for extra snorkeling fees of 50PHP. I had no idea what it was for because we were so excited to head down to the waters at that point of time, but we still had to pay for that during the end of our activity.
 Recommendations

6) For the Buffet Lover

Great entertainment against the sea breeze

Boracay Regency
White Beach, Station 1
Main Beach Wing, Level 1
6:00am - 10:00pm

Think a huge spread of piping hot seafood, pasta bar and sweet desserts, while taking in the fantastic entertainment and evening music against the sea breeze (pun intended). I especially loved their clams and oysters and the mix-and-match counter where customers could choose which ingredients went according to their preference. The chef will hand you a number card and whip your dish up for you instantly. For a price of 7500PHP/pax, it was worth it.

Group photo with the talented dancing chefs

On top of that, the source that sealed the deal for our dining experience was the bunch of dancing chefs that left everyone with a pleasant surprise! They started dancing in tune to the live music in harmony and even rocked to top hits such as Gangnam Style and Uptown Funk. There was also a short photo-taking session once everything ended, and I quickly went up to snap a picture with them and put on my chef hat!

7) For the Fast Food Lover

Triple quarter-pound beef patties 

White Beach, Station 1
Lot 483, Brgy. Balabag
Sun - Thu: 7:00am - 11:00pm
Fri - Sat: 7:00am - 12:00am

I'm no beef lover, but my boyfriend was AMAZED. He placed an order for the Bully Boy Burger that contained triple quarter-pound beef patties just to try it out. He took a quick bite into the huge burger and exclaimed how juicy and yummy the patty tasted. And guess what? The burger costed no more than 10 bucks!!!! Now that's something you can't find in Singapore! I had my fair bit of joy munching on their thin-cut Freedom Fries which pretty much tasted like McDonalds' twister fries.

8) For the Money-Savvy

Fish 'N Chips set meal

Boracay, Station 1
Kamayan Bldg, Balabag
Mon - Sun: 11:00am - 10:00pm

I was so thankful that we chanced upon this place while in search of a simple dining area to have a quick meal. We took up a really (and I mean, REALLY) great promotion of only 99PHP (that's only a little past SGD$3!!) for a Fish 'N Chips set meal with ice lemon tea. We thought the portion might be small but it was rather big for such a small price we paid. The restaurant was clean, had access to the washroom, complimentary iced water, and the staff were really polite and helpful! And yes, it's air-conditioned.

9) For the Fruit Shakes Lover

Boracay, Station 1
White Beach Balabag

I can't BELIEVE that I missed this out!!! This popular beach shack is famous for their refreshing and delicious fruit shakes and milkshakes. Tourists even go back to have their shakes every other day while given the chance in Boracay Island. More than forty milkshake flavours are offered, including customer favourites such as Mango Pineapple and Avocado Banana Milkshake.

10) For the Unique Dining Experience

Snapping a quick picture with the hobbit representatives!

D' Mall Plaza, Station 1

While walking along D'Mall in hope to chance by an interesting shop, what grabbed my attention instead were the sizes of the staff working for a particular restaurant. I took a closer look and found out that most of the staff from D' Hobbit House were petite! Obviously, I couldn't help but dine in to a restaurant with such an interesting concept after getting thrilled by such uniqueness from a restaurant. Food was average and staff were okay.. But it was worth a try! Psst, they have a live band too.
Recommendations

11) Visit D'Mall for clothes and souvenirs

A one-stop shopping experience right in the heart of Boracay, D'Mall offers a stretch of unique shops. From beach wear, sourvenir shops, and provision shops, to budget restaurants, pharmacies and phone repair vendors. You may use their public toilet at 5PHP/entry, and refill complimentary water from one of their coolers.

12) Visit Puka Beach for beautiful handmade seashell bracelets


Famous for its white powdery sand at Puka Beach, locals converge to gathering authentic Puka Shells and painstakingly handmade these beautiful shells into pretty strings of bracelets with an assortment of colours. I simply love them to beads (ha. ha. ha.) because they look so perfect for any beach getaways or on days out to match a simple outfit!

13) Visit 24/7 Quick Mart for snacks and groceries

Super convenient, easily spotted along the main streets of Boracay Island. They provide basic goods, snacks and items you'd find in normal convenience shops. One thing my boyfriend and I found out, however, was that they don't sell adapters. Refer to Point 23 for more details.

14) Visit White Beach for massage and nail services



Besides offering a range of fun-filled activities and a stretch of restaurants, you will also come across many shops that provide massage services, manicure and pedicure nail services, henna art, hair braiding, and tattoo art services. My boyfriend and I went for the full massage service in a couple room in which we managed to bargain for 300PHP/pax. I'm not sure if that's the lowest you can go because I believe you could actually slash the prices further. It was a relaxing oil massage nonetheless.
Transportation

15) Airport to Boracay: Book a Shuttle

Upon reaching Kalibo Airport, we had to take a shuttle from the airport to Boracay Island. Takes about 1.5-2 hours in total, depending on the efficiency of their staff and the location of your resort or apartment. As mentioned above, you may book a shuttle through agencies so that it's more convenient with a transportation package. For us, our host booked our shuttle through Island Star Express.

16) Boracay to Apartment: Take a Tuk-Tuk

As you reach Boracay Island, you'll find the narrow roads of the island getting slightly congested with vehicles such as shuttles, Tuk-Tuks and motorcycles. For my boyfriend and I, our AirBnB apartment was somewhere up along a hilltop where we had to go through a tiring 15-minutes climb uphill. In cases whereby it gets a little dark and you'd like a transport back to your resort/apartment, you can pay about 100-120PHP for a Tuk-Tuk ride. They usually mark up the price to 150PHP for tourists. 

17) Boracay to Apartment: Take a Motorcycle

We borrowed our host's bike twice and my boy was really excited

A cheaper alternative will be to take a motorcycle. Motorcyclists tend to give you a horn to ask whether if you want a ride. Apparently, we were able to squeeze 3 people to a bike while riding at a slower pace. It's definitely dangerous as people there don't wear helmets too, so it's all about weighing out the pros and cons. For a ride on a bike, it costs about 30-50PHP. The prices, however, might be higher during the night.

General Tips

18) Tipping for Picture-Taking with Sandcastles

Before we tipped the locals 20PHP for their help

Chanced upon these gorgeous sandcastles that marked as a landmark of the island. A few local teenagers approached us and asked if we wanted a photograph, stating that only tipping is needed. We gave them 20PHP for a few pictures snapped for us. Just when we were walking down White Beach thereafter, we saw other locals doing the exact same thing but with different sandcastle creations, such as using candles to light it up during sunset. Really creative!

19) Get a Waterproof Sling Bag

Caught sight of Koreans using their selfie-stick

Many other things that you'll see along White Beach are sights such as selfie-sticks, Boracay key chains (7 for 400PHP with your name carved on them), kids selling mangoes, and even waterproof sling bags. We managed to bargain 2 sling bags for 100PHP. Initially, I was afraid that it wasn't fully waterproof and I obviously didn't want to take the risk. But it really worked wonders and we even managed to take photos underwater!!! I really recommend getting the waterproof sling bags if you're heading to the beach for a swim.

20) Slap on layers and layers of sunscreen lotion

Overlooking Boracay at my AirBnB apartment with an after-tan

Of course, we never forgot to slap on sunscreen before we headed outdoors for a full day on the beach. However, one thing we forgot was to slap on many, many layers as the sun was really scorching hot, especially during their summer time. Remember to bring your suntan lotion out and apply on your skin every few hours or so. 

21) Starbucks allows free access to washrooms

Starbucks conveniently located along the stretch shops of White Beach

One difficulty I met while on the island was finding washrooms. When walking past Pizza Hut, the staff told us that their toilets were "under maintenance". (not sure if it was true, either) Had to go to a public toilet along D'Mall for 5PHP/entry. Thankfully, we found ourselves the perfect hangout place for anything - to take cover from the rain, to have great cakes and coffee, to enjoy some air-con, and also to use their clean toilets. :p

22) Not every stall allows bargaining of prices

Although it's important to go around haggling for cheaper rates and prices, not every stall allows that. Basically, don't go haggling for prices at authentic shops, restaurants or even hotels. I usually only do so when locals approach us to purchase their items or at small shops.

23) Bring a universal adapter

To all Singaporeans who are using the three pin plug - DO remember to bring a universal adapter with you. Philippines only use two round pins and we were so panicky when we found out about it and went in search for adapters. Thankfully, we managed to get one at one of their local photo repair outlets in the morning as most shops were closed at night. Also, you might want to bring a portable charger with you because it really did save me a lot of trouble.

Departure

24) Kalibo Airport charges for Terminal Fees

Without the help of our host, we wouldn't have made it past Kalibo Airport upon departure on our final day at Philippines because we were initially unaware of the terminal fees of 500PHP/pax. Don't get yourselves caught up with this situation and remember to change for extra cash just in case.

25) Kalibo Airport VIP Lounge

A cozy room for relaxation before our flight

After getting our passports checked before our flight, we had to wait about 1.5 hours more before boarding. Chanced upon the Kalibo Airport VIP Lounge at a little corner while we were desperately finding a place to settle down. Since we had a little bit of extra cash on us, we decided to pay SGD$15 worth of PHP/pax for entry - and we never regretted our decisions! :-)

Refreshments, snacks, cup noodles, drinks provided

 Juiciest sweet mangoes that we couldn't stop eating

Besides the above refreshments at the self-service counter (no limit to your orders), they also had entertainment such as Korean music playing in the background, free Wi-Fi services, comfortable seats away from the crazy crowds in the airport, and a perfect view of the airplanes so that you'll know when your flight arrives. The service was great and they prepare your cup noodles and slice the mangoes right on the spot for you. I love how pleasant our 1.5 hours felt before we left for our flight back to Singapore.

Parasailing on our second day at Boracay Island

All in all, it was a fascinating experience with the vast, crystal clear waters with tiny fish squirming in the icy cold sea. In fact, what the pictures show you are what you'll actually see in reality - which makes it a really heavenly sight. However, don't forget that at the end of the day, it's still a tourist attraction there and it might get a little frustrating hearing the same sales pitches along the beach every now and then. Just smile at them, walk on, and enjoy the happier moments you create with your friends and family on the island =)

My favourite part of the island :-)

In a nutshell, we spent about 500SGD each in totality for our 4D3N Trip to the island. I hope this article came in useful for those who intend to visit Boracay, Philippines, and wishing all of you a great holiday!



Disclaimer: All thoughts and illustrations above solely belong to the Author's personal view points and do not represent the views of the general public. The Author's views are not written to put-down or insult any individual, business or the general public, but to express her own opinions on the topic.