Being an English teacher in South Korea means time off work is limited to the school’s calendar, so the Lunar New Year was my last shot at a decent vacation until summer break in late July.
Naturally, I vacationed the hell out of those 3 days and 4 nights on amazing Boracay Island in the Philippines.
Boracay (pronounced Bor-ah-kye) can only be reached by boat, and is a very popular destination, especially between December and February.
The mix of beautiful beaches, ocean-adventure activities and crazy nightlife means the tourists are also an interesting mash-up: About half were families (many with babies) staying at the 5-star resorts, while the other half were 20-somethings on vacation, looking to get a tan and blow off some steam.
And while I’m still riding my post-vacation high, here are a few important things to keep in mind if you are heading that way for a little fun and sun of your own:
- Book your tickets early.
This may be a no-brainer and can be applied to all vacations, but here in South Korea two of the biggest travel times are nearly back-to-back, separated only by January. After spending November and December saving up for a Christmas vacation in Sydney, budgeting for a turnaround trip to Boracay in early February was a bit of a stretch.
So if you’re in an Asian country and want to travel (and get away from the freezing temps) for both Christmas and the Lunar New Year, it’s best to start saving up and buying those plane tickets early. Like November.
- Your money will go FAR in Boracay.
My plane ticket to the Philippines cost far more than I ever spent in Boracay. Whether converting from Korean won or USD, the exchange rate to pesos is always in your favor. I spent about $90 USD total for four nights at a hostel, and approximately $35 each day.
This includes three meals a day, and drinks at the club every night.
- Get a massage on the beach.
It costs $6 USD for a one-hour massage. Indulge.
- The White Beach is where it’s at.
The famous White Beach has all the best parts of Boracay, day or night. It’s divided into “stations” with the best restaurants at Station 2, and most of the clubs in Stations 1 and 2.
No matter what you’re looking to do or find, you can navigate while still walking along the ocean. And for a girl from Kansas, this is seriously mind-blowing, and appreciated.
- You will be approached at least 20 times per day to buy something.
The locals are incredibly friendly. And as a woman traveling with one other lady friend, I can say that we always felt safe, even when walking home at 4 a.m.
That being said, every 10 minutes you will approached to buy something: a massage, sunglasses, scuba diving package, etc. It never ends. But they are friendly, so just politely decline (or buy some cheap sunglasses, you’re on vacation!) and move on.
- Drink a San Miguel, some rum, and a fresh fruit shake.
Not necessarily in that order. San Miguel is the local beer and incredibly cheap. And every 100 feet is a fresh fruit stand, where they will make you a shake on the spot. And for about $1, you can add some rum to that shake.
- Just know that some of the women are actually men.
Called lady boys, these scantily clad ladies can be found at almost any bar or club, and usually hitting on Western men. And their legs will always be nicer than yours.
Boracay is a an absolute must for anyone in need of a vacation. Make sure to visit before this island decides to collectively jack-up its prices or become more Westernized.
What are some of your favorite vacations spots? We want to know about those hidden gems!