Motorcycle Rental Philippines

Renting a motorcycle in the Philippines is something which is becoming easier by the day.  If you are traveling around the Philippines, chances are that, even if you don’t see a motorcycle rental establishment, if you ask around, you will find someone willing to rent out his/her motorcycle for a fee.

Most motorcycles in the Philippines are small displacement (125 – 250cc), but bigger displacement motorcycles are slowly finding their way into the market and you will need one with an engine of 400cc or above to be able to ride through the expressways legally.  These expressways are not common and at the time of writing are limited to the ones taking you from Metro Manila north and southbound.

The Philippines has, however, a pretty good road system connecting the different provinces and islands.  Roro (Roll on roll off) ferries offer connections between the main and neighboring islands, making roadtrips a great alternative to traveling by bus, crammed vans or flights.  Not to mention that traveling by road with the ability to stop as one wishes, will allow you to visit some very remote areas and see some of the less travelled places in the country.

It is important to know that a lot of these roads are under construction and it is not strange to suddenly come across sections which disappear or have 2 lanes (one in each direction) merge into one, having vehicles take turns to go through.  Towns and villages are also usually built on the sides of the road, so watch out for kids running (and playing basketball in the middle of the road) and all sorts of animals on the road.

Renting a scooter or small displacement motorcycle will probably set you back php150-700/day.  Remember to ask for a helmet and know that you will most likely not be covered by any insurance in case of accident, in which case you will have to pay for any hospitalization and repairs to the motorcycle.  Also remember to ask for the OR/CR (Original Receipt/Certificate of Registration) as you will need to present them in case you get pulled over by the police or if you plan to get your motorcycle on a roro to get to another island.

At Sakay & Co, we offer, not only the rental service of custom motorcycles in different styles (cafe racer, tracker, scrambler, bobber…) but the added service of a support vehicle.  If you plan to ride around the Philippines, you may want to combine that with scuba diving, surfing, or just relaxing by the beach.

Your travel plans may also be for a duration of more than 10 days and your luggage may be bulkier than the ideal for a motorcycle trip.  So no need to worry, we take c are of your luggage, you pick up the bike, enjoy the ride and we deliver your luggage safely at the next destination.  We have ridden all the itineraries we offer and we provide valuable information about the routes.  We are not the biggest fans of organised tours, so you never have to feel you are part of one.  You only see us when we pick up/deliver your luggage, unless you want to see more of us for any guided experience or other forms of assistance.

 

Vigan

The Ilocos Sur capital, Vigan City, first got its name from the Chinese settlers who originally called the area Bee Gan which means “Beautiful Shore.” When the Spanish came they spelled the Hokkien Chinese name, exchanging B for V, and wrote Bee Gan as Vigan, which is still the name used to this day.

The influence of both Spanish and Chinese can also be appreciated in the architectural fusion of old buildings that have been preserved and have also earned it a place in the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.

Crisologo St., in the Mestizo District, houses the finest surviving examples of a Spanish Colonial town — cobblestone streets, two strorey buildings made of stone on the ground floor and wood with capiz-shell windows on the first floor. Explore closely by either walking the length of the busy street or hiring a horse-drawn carriage, called a calesa, to take you directly to the must-sees which are spread in the grid of streets between Plaza de Burgos and Liberation Boulevard. Some of the buildings are now hotels, shops, restaurants, musuems and private residences.

Aside from the old part of town, Vigan has a little-known surf scene. Head down to the area around Playa de Oro and Choco Surf Point if you are looking to catch some waves and prefer some place a little less crowded than the more popular surf spots in the Philippines. You will most likely be surfing by yourself here in some pretty good waves.

Where to eat in Vigan?

As Vigan is a popular destination among tourists and most of its sights are concentrated in a small area, one must be cautious of tourist traps. At the time of writing, McDonalds was listed as the 5th best restaurant on Trip Advisor, which made us wonder. The popular Cafe Leona is an easy choice and if you can ignore the rushed, impersonal service and limited dessert selections, it may be worth a quick bite. Here you can treat yourself to the traditional Ilocos longganisa and bagnet, as well as an extremely wide variety of foreign cuisines, such as Japanese and Italian.

Unfortunately, the lack of good service and quality of food should not come as a surprise in many of the recommended places catering to the tourist masses, but seeing tempura, bento boxes, pasta and pizza next to the more traditional options, makes one wonder what the real specialty is.

Our pick for a better meal, quieter atmosphere and more personal and pleasant service would definitely have to be St. Marthas Cafe, located in the Ciudad Fernandina Vigan Hotel.

Coffee Break Vigan is also worth checking out to cool off and satisfy your sweet tooth while stroling around Crisologo St.

If architecture is your thing and you have bagnet and / or longganisa cravings then Vigan is definitely worth the trip!

Mayoyao Rice Terraces

The Mayoyao rice terraces are situated a (roughly) 2 hour ride to the east of Banaue.  They are probably the least visited of the 5 rice terraces in the Unesco World Heritage list, and when one visits the town, the reasons for this, become more than apparent.

The rice terraces in Mayoyao are perhaps some of the most spectacular, however, the lack of food and lodging options in the town, and the fact that they are a little out of the way for most visitors, make them an “off the beaten path” attraction that should definitely not be.

The rice terraces are, like in Batad, carved into the sides of the mountains surrounding the village (of a much more uniform construction than Batad), occupying a vast area.  There is a view point from which one can look in every direction to appreciate the view the view of the terraces, away from everything and everyone and surrounded by different shades of green and earthy brown (depending on the time of the year).  The view is naturally framed by the massive mountains of the Cordillera that add to the spectacle.

If you are in Banaue, this should definitely be on your list and can be done in a day trip.  On the way, you will be able to see the Bangaan rice terraces, the snake river and the also beautiful rice terraces in Ducligan.  If time is not an issue, there is a hiking trail which will take a couple of days and can start in Banaue and end in Mayoyao (or viceversa) passing by Pula and Mt. Amuyao or Cambulo, a great way to see other rice terraces, hidden in the Ifugao mountains.

Banaue

Banaue has become a popular destination from which tourists chose to visit the famous rice terraces.  5 of these rice terraces in the Ifugao province made it to the UNESCO World Heritage list, and 2 of them are within the boundaries of the municipality of Banaue (Batad and Bangaan).

There are a few ways of experiencing Banaue, as there are a number of ways one can visit these and more rice terraces.  Not having your own form of transportation can become tedious, or rather, having it can make things a lot easier for the traveller.  Batad, and Bangaan are a mere 30 to 40 minutes ride from the Banaue town proper (about 10 minutes from each other, if you don’t count the hike from the car park to Batad), and if planned carefully, one can surely fit a visit to both in one day and make it back before sundown.

One way to visit the Batad rice terraces is  by hiking to Tappiyah falls, through the rice terraces and getting to see what the locals call the 8th wonder of the world, from a few different angles.  The hike takes, roughly, an average of 5 hours.  It is energy draining, but you can have a bite and rest well once you reach the lower part of the village.  The falls are quite impressive and they are a great place to take a dip and freshen up before heading back up the 800 steps that take you back to the terraces.  Having finished the hike, you can take a last look at the breathtaking view from one of the inns overlooking the valley and head over to Bangaan.  These rice terraces are visible from the road, and do not require hiking to appreciate the beautiful view (although there are hikes that take you down to the actual village).

If you want to visit Sagada or Mayoyao by road, they are both roughly a 2 hour ride away, in opposite directions.

If you are in the mood for a longer hike, there are also a few options through which you can visit the towns of Pula, Cambulo, Mt. Amuyao and even Mayoyao, but these usually require one to spend the night in a homestay in the mountains, so if you are on a tight schedule, it may not be an option.  If time is not an issue, it’s probably the best way to experience the area.

Where to eat when in Banaue?  We tried as many places as we could, and started with those ranking high in Trip Advisor and Google, but we had the best overall experience at The restaurant/bakery by the Banaue View Inn.  Food was tasty and well prepared, especially comparing to most of the other places we tried.  The only “but” would be that being a bakery, it was a little disappointing that the bread served with the pasta, was cheap industrial toast bread, and that the only dessert option available at the time was a rather small and sad looking brownie.

Another option we enjoyed considerably more than the rest was 7th Heaven Cafe.  Literally a stones throw away from the previous one, with simple but tasty food, friendly staff and a killer view (something common to most restaurants in Banaue)

We tried eating at Las Vegas Cafe a few times, but every time we went there (for an early dinner) it was closed (even if we had seen it was open earlier in the day).

If you are on a budget, Banaue Evergreen Hostel is without a doubt the place we would recommend.  The staff is not only friendly, but they go out of their way to help and make your stay more memorable, not to mention how good they are at helping plan your visit and recommending places to visit.

La Union

San Juan is a small surfing town in the province of La Union in the Ilocos Region of the Philippines.

It is roughly a 5 hour ride from Manila, depending on traffic, and is a very popular destination for locals to spend their weekends and ride the waves in its various spots.

There are 2 surfing seasons in La Union, the north swell (October-April) and the southwest monsoon (habagat) (July-September), during which one can expect consistent waves.  If in La Union between July to September, know that it is also rainy season.  But if you are going to be in the water anyway… who cares?

If you are in La Union to catch some waves, you have a good selection of spots availabble no matter your level.  Beach break is where you will find most surfing schools and is beginner friendly.  Monaliza Point is on the north end of the beach and is a very enjoyable right hander over a rocky coral bottom and a little further south of the beach, about a 5-10 minute ride, you will find Carille/Jesus Point, another very long right hander.

If surf is not your thing, lazying by the beach is not in your plans and you are in the mood for hiking, you can check out Tangadan Falls which are located aproximately 20km east of San Juan in San Gabriel.  Alternatively, head over to Tapuakan River, just over 50km south from San Juan, in Pugo, where you’ll be able to go for a dip in it’s shallow stream, relax and enjoy the scenery.

If you are out for some great coffee or if you have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend El Union Coffee.  Friendly staff, nice atmosphere and its really close to Monaliza Point, if you feel like catching some waves before or after.

If you are up for a good ride, Bessang Pass is one of our favourite roads in the country.  Nice winding mountain roads which twist up the mountains on the way to Sagada.  It has absolutely stunning views and you will pass innumerable waterfalls and very little traffic.

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