While working non-stop on Project Runway Philippines earlier this year, I promised myself that I would take a much-deserved break after the first leg of shoots concluded. Not only would I take a break; but I would do it alone. Yes… alone. It has always been something I’ve wanted to do; and this was the perfect opportunity to do it.
I picked Coron as my destination; because I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it. Aside from that, my first experience in Palawan was for work (a shoot in El Nido); so I wanted to go back to that wonderful island but in a new area. And you know what? It was a great experience that I would not forget.
Flights and Accommodations
Before I get into the details of the amazing sights I saw, I will run you through the tickets I bought and the resort that I stayed in.
I only booked my tickets one month before my trip; so seat sales weren’t exactly in the horizon when I decided to take this vacation. Still, I did my due diligence and checked the cheapest fares from the usual suspects. I ended up flying with Philippine Airlines. They had a special offer when you book via their mobile site; and the total roundtrip fare was around Php6,500.
As for the accommodations, I honestly wanted to splurge. Given that I was traveling alone and was in charge of my own budget, I decided to pick a well-reviewed resort that had amazing views and a spa. It HAS to have a spa. I just set a budget cap for myself based on my current savings for travel. (Side note: Yes, I always set aside money strictly for travel. I highly recommend you do it as well.) I checked Agoda for options; and I picked Busuanga Bay Lodge. It was not as expensive as Two Seasons or Huma Island (Those resorts are insanely pricey especially for a solo traveler.); but I felt like it would still have a luxurious, exclusive feel. I just went with the pictures I saw and my gut feel. It’s still more expensive than the average hotel or resort in Coron; but I just went with it and have no regrets.
The resort itself is about an hour away from the airport. When I arrived, I was welcomed with the staff singing followed by a cool drink. I was then oriented about the facilities that the resort has to offer and the activities I could organize with the person in charge. I was also accompanied to my room and the guide showed me its features from the balcony lock to the television. It allowed me to familiarize myself with the place I’ll call home for the next couple of days.
Busuanga Bay Lodge is one of the few resorts situated in Sitio Lawi, Barangay Concepcion. It’s literally perched in the mountains and the roads are still being built to this day. Still, it adds a great deal of privacy and security. The views are also quite unique from Coron town proper, which is about an hour away. Their room packages usually include breakfast, airport transfers, use of resort facilities and non-motorized sports equipment (ex. kayak). They have two restaurants that serve an array of dishes and drinks. They also have a small spa where you could get a massage. It really has everything you could ever need to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. I really loved staying here.
Coron Galeri Tours
A decision I made in traveling solo was to be extra cautious. This was my first time; so I didn’t want to take any chances with my safety. I went on organized tours with round trip transfers from the resort already covered. I made sure I was always with a guide and I had a pre-planned itinerary for the day. I rarely wandered off by myself; and I only stayed in Coron town until the afternoon. After the tour, I was immediately whisked back to Busuanga Bay Lodge. Traveling solo was an adventure; but I’m not too adventurous that I would go around looking for places to go all by myself. I had to pre-plan and pre-arrange everything even before arriving in Busuanga.
As for the tours themselves, I had to join group tours to save money. Customizing a trip all on my own would be more costly. I booked these with Coron Galeri. They have a number of options for group tours and as long as you meet the minimum number of people, it would push through. They are very organized and the guides are knowledgeable. It was really fun for me; because being without companions allowed me to talk to other people also in the group. We took each other’s pictures and chatted along the way.
I had two full days for activities; so I picked Tour B-1 (Php650/pax) and Tour B-2 (Php750). This includes at least 5 stops and a delicious lunch.
I was thankful that the weather was generally favorable (save for a few moments in the morning when we were met with strong waves). I just spent the days relaxing, swimming and simply ogling at the beautiful sights of Coron. On more than one occasion, I just kept going “wow” at the natural beauty of it all.
Since I went on organized tours, I missed certain tourist spots such as the Tapyas Viewdeck, the hot springs, the ship wrecks, Malcapuya Island (among others) and the Calauit Safari Park. That is why I plan to go back to Coron in the future. Still, what I did get to see and experience are more than what I expected given the limited time I had on the island.
Tips on Traveling Solo
1) Have a budget but be prepared to spend more than usual.
Traveling alone means that accommodations, food and transportation cannot and will not be split with another person or with a group of people. You only rely on yourself and your own money to make it through the trip. Make sure you have a budget; but consider the fact that you will spend more than usual.
Still, the upside to this is that you control the expenses. You can pick the hotel that you will stay in. You can pick the tours you will join. You can scrimp on the food you eat. Your money is your sole responsibility; so you get to decide whether you’ll splurge or save on each activity and each expense. Very adult!
2) Join group tours and meet new people.
This is really the ideal set-up for solo travelers. Group tours mean that you will be able to share the full expenses of an organized tour with other people. This is also your opportunity to meet new people and practice your social skills. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to take a photo of you, or ask where they’re from to start a conversation. Everyone has a story to tell; and it’s always great to widen your horizons.
3) Enjoy yourself but be safe.
Depending on your comfort level, traveling alone is a great time to be adventurous and explore places on your own. If you’re like me, you want everything to be organized before you even step foot on your destination. Others are braver. They like not having any plans and going with the flow. Either way, your first priority has to be your safety. There’s always a level of danger in being alone in a strange place. Don’t always trust every person you meet; and don’t go for the first deal offered to you. Always be aware that being alone means you’re more vulnerable. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
4) Make the most of “me” time.
Trips with friends are great; but traveling solo has its perks… Number one of which is you control your schedule.
You don’t have to be dragged by friends to an activity. You don’t have to join another tour if you don’t feel like it. You can wake up at noon if that’s your plan… Read a book. Get a massage. Lounge by the pool the whole morning. Sleep! No one will resent you for it. Solo travel is “me” time to its fullest. Make the most of it.