Travel

Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort

Villa Escudero is not your typical resort. It is a working coconut plantation which was opened in 1981 to the public as a tourist attraction offering a glimpse of the Philippine country and plantation life. You get to experience and relive the Philippine country culture and history within a day in Villa Escudero.

It is located at Km 91, Maharlika Highway, Tiaong, Quezon, Philippines. It is actually in the border between San Pablo, Laguna and Tiaong, Quezon. Hacienda Escudero is easy to find when you’re in the highway since there is a big sign. After entering, the guard will give you directions where to go for the resort.

Day Tour Package (Adult)

The cost of the day tour package is not a fixed amount. It will depend on what time of the year you plan to visit and on what specific day. Prices range from 950 pesos to 1600 pesos. It costs 950 pesos from Monday to Thursday of non-peak season(September to November). From Friday to Sunday and holidays of non-peak season, day tour package will cost 1,150.During the peak season (December-August), the lowest price for the day tour package will already cost 1,450 pesos so I think it’s best to visit Villa Escudero during the non-peak season.

For the full list of prices and/or booking of day tour package, visit their website.

Arrival

Upon arriving, we were greeted by staff wearing traditional Filipino attires. Women are wearing baro’t saya while men are wearing camisa de Chino. At the reception, they will give you your tickets. They will also offer gulaman, a cold beverage loved by us Filipinos.

Museum and Carabao Cart Ride

From the reception area, we walked towards the museum. We also stopped by the ancestral house and took a few pictures. There is an area where you can leave your things because it is not allowed inside the museum.

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The museum isn’t what I expected it would be.. I read somewhere that the items featured in the museum is from the family’s private collection. For a private collection, they have a lot. Their collection is varied from church artifacts to ancient jars. There is also a display of an excavation site. It was really nice to look around the museum, make sure to read the descriptions. Also, photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum.

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After we went to the museum, we rode the carabao cart towards the area near the pool. In the carabao cart, you will be serenaded with old songs. It felt like I was transported to the past when these songs were still regularly played.

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Swimming Pools and Outdoor Jacuzzi

When I saw the pool area, I was really really amazed. Everything was just so beautiful.

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There is a playground on the kiddie pool so the children can enjoy the water and play at the same time.

There are two lifeguards that ensure the safety of everyone in the pool. There are also lounge chairs on the shallow part of the water. So cool! You can enjoy the heat of the sun and relax while still feeling the cool water under you.

IMG_2463IMG_2468Aside from the pools above, there is another pool, however, it is only for 18 years old and above. The water here is in 5ft and is quite deep. There is also an outdoor jacuzzi here, how cool! There are no lifeguards here so the age limit is understandable.

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Bamboo Rafting

Another activity you can enjoy in Villa Escudero is the bamboo rafting. The maximum capacity of the bamboo raft is 2 so you can enjoy rafting alone or you can have someone else to help you paddle. It’s my first time to touch a paddle my entire life so I had difficulty paddling. It’s heavier than I thought. In spite of this, I really enjoyed this. Labasin Lake is so peaceful and calm, I was really able to relax while bamboo rafting.

The water is up to 30 ft so life vests are really necessary. I was not scared though because the staff are really attentive.

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Waterfall Restaurant

I believe that this is the main reason people come here in Villa Escudero. My mother actually found out about Villa Escudero through an article about this waterfall restaurant. It is really quite unique- a restaurant on a waterfalls. From your table, you can see the Labasin Falls and feel its water on your feet.

The buffet restaurant is already part of the day tour package and you only need to give them your ticket. They offer Filipino foods like inihaw na Tilapia, kalderetang baka, sinigang and more.

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Cultural Show

During the weekends and holidays, ┬áVilla Escudero offers a cultural show showing the folk dances in different parts of the Philippine like Tinikling, Singkil, Pandanggo sa Ilaw and many more. The dancers are really good and they have reenacted the old times well. While dancers dance on stage, traditional musical instruments and guitars are also played. Someone is also narrating a description of every dance so we’ve learn a thing or two about the history from the cultural show.

The show is held in a dining hall so you can order drinks and snacks while watching. My family tried pancit canton, chicken skin and fries. The servings are large so each meal is worth it.

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Overall, I really enjoyed our day visit and the money we spent are so worth it.

 

 

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Singapore Trip: The City Tour

My family and I were able to wander around the city through a guided half-day City Experience Tour offered by AsiaTravel. You can choose between a morning city tour or an afternoon city tour. The city tour will last for 3 and 1/2 hours.

We were picked up by a driver from a hotel to a drop-off area where we transfer to a tour bus. Inside the tour bus, eating and drinking (aside from water) is strictly prohibited so it would be best to eat before the tour.

Along the way, our tour guide gives us a brief history of Singapore and stories about the every day life in Singapore. This, for me, is one of the advantages of having a guided tour- you get to hear stories about the place you visit. As we pass by buildings, our tour guide is telling us histories of some building and what these buildings meant for the locals. I believe that stories are what makes a place interesting.

Our tour guide described Singapore as a multi-cultural and multi-racial nation. As we go on the tour, I realized how true it was. Singapore is indeed home to diverse people and culture. It fascinates me how everyone can live together. Singapore is proof that a place can be home to people even when there’s diversity.

Another thing that really fascinates me is how environment-friendly the country is. There are really trees and plants everywhere- even on the buildings themselves! Some buildings are vertical gardens.

Our first stop is Merlion Park. Merlion Park is the iconic tourist attraction in Singapore. The Merlion is a statute of a mythical creature with the head of lion and a body of a fish spouting water from its mouth. Our tour guide joked that a photograph of you with the Merlion is all the proof you need that you’ve been to Singapore.

When we arrived in the park, there were already a lot of tourists that it is difficult to take a picture. However, if you are patient, you can get just the right shot for you. I actually regret that I spent all my time there taking a picture instead of just appreciating the view. The view from the Merlion Park is actually fascinating. You can see the Marina Bay Sands from there. Marina Bay Sands is a five-star hotel that looks like a ship on top of three buildings. The Singapore Flyer, a giant ferris wheel, is another attraction that you can see from Merlion Park.

After taking pictures with the iconic Merlion, we had a short river cruise. We rode bumboats from Merlion Park, went around Marina Bay a bit and the cruise ended in Clarke Quay. These bumboats and the Singapore River are actually very important in the history of Singapore for these are the means of trade way back. We were also told that Clarke Quay used to be warehouses back then. Nowadays, Clarke Quay is a place of restaurants and bars. We were able to pass by other important historical buildings and statues on our short river cruise. What these buildings are and their history was explained through a video presentation on the river cruise.

From Clarke Quay, we went to China Town. We stopped by a souvenir store called Gracious. Different souvenir items are available here like keychains, magnets, caps, shirts and more. Three shirts here costs 10 Singapore Dollars. My mother bought shirts here which we regretted because there are still lots of stalls in China Town with cheaper price. Aside from the temple we saw in China Town, all we saw are some stalls and men playing a board game that I did not recognize. That is why I think that China Town is more on for commercial purposes.

After China Town, we went to Little India. China Town and Little India are very different. In Little India, I actually caught a glimpse of Indian Culture. I can hear Indian music as I walked down the streets. There are lots of decoration and the place actually smells like their spices. Because we were already tired from the tour, my family and I didn’t get to look around much. We just stayed in one of the eateries there and tried Indian cuisine. Surprisingly, we loved it and ordered a lot.

After Little India, we were drove back to our hotel. Even if it’s just short, I actually enjoyed our city tour a lot. I think this tour is nice for people like us- first timers in Singapore.