Garin Farm Iloilo: The closest you can get to paradise
Garin Farm is a 14-hectare inland resort in the town of San Joaquin Iloilo. (See directions here. )
Along the way you can see signs of an abundant farm life with ducks, chickens, goats, rabbits and water buffalos as you walk through the pavement of their hanging gardens.
An uphill walk inside Garin Farm leads to a pavilion at the heart of the premise.
Aside from the breathtaking view, Garin Farm has other attractions to enjoy. There is a wide swimming pool for adults and children. A large artificial lagoon for kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, all terrain bikes, ziplines and a lot more.
Since Garin Farm is a Catholic themed attraction, it is specially relevant that there will be a depiciton of the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, Ten Commandments and the nine (9) major Events in the life of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the most noteworthy among the many attractions of Garin farm is the Divine Mercy Cross. There is a huge stone facade that leads to the 456 steps towards the Divine Mercy Cross.
A display of what appears to be a glimpse of heaven on earth awaits on top. Going up is difficult and tiring. It was hot and humid. I almost gave up. But nope, perseverance is the name of the game. As we all know, entering the gate of heaven will not be that easy, right? 🙂
And there it is! I am not sure if I have seen anything as white as this in my entire life. It was so bright that I want to close my eyes for a moment. The experience is something solemn yet joyful. Nothing but pure awe!
At the end of the day, it’s nice to know that it’s not yet our time so we can head off back to the world. What a relief!
Food’s pretty decent too at the restaurant across the pilgrimage entrance. with an overview of the animal farm below. A perfect time to replenish the fatigue out of that 456 steps!
How to get here:
From Iloilo International Airport:
Take the Shuttle Bus going to SM City, Iloilo
From SM City, Iloilo, take the SM Manduriao jeepney and take a stop at the nearby intersection under the overpass and ride the Oton bound jeep going to the jeepney terminal located in Mohon, Oton.
In Mohon Oton Terminal, there will be several San Joaquin jeepneys ready to take you to Garin Farm for PHP60.00.
From Iloilo City Proper:
Take the San Joaquin bound jeepney from Super terminal, Iloilo City.
You can also take buses going to Anini-y or Dao Antique in Molo Terminal then tell the bus driver conductor to drop you off in San Joaquin. From the San Joaquin drop-off, take a tricycle to Garin Farm entrance
From San Joaquin Town Proper:
Take a tricycle ride and tell the driver to take you to Garin Farm, Brgy. Huna. Brgy. Huna is a 2-minute ride from San Joaquin town proper.
For Private Transportation:
San Joaquin is the last town in the southern part of Iloilo, driving along Iloilo-Antique National Road would get you in San Joaquin in about an hour. In addition, signage and billboards directions along the highway going to Garin Farm are available to guide you.
150 per person excluding children 1-year-old
For those who doesn’t enjoy long walks, you can take a ride in the Golf Cart (3 -4 pax/ride): Entrance to Pavilion is PHP60.00; Pavilion to Cross: PHP90.00.
Lakawon Island: Boracay of Negros Occidental (Itinerary)
Lakawon Island in Negros Occidental is a 13-hectare private island resort being dubbed as the “Boracay of Negros Occidental”. It’s easy to see why once you witness its powdery fine sand beach.
Itinerary and expenses:
6:00am – Form Bacolod north terminal, ride bus going Cadiz (60php – ordinary, 100php – airconditioned)
7:00am – arrival, Cadiz, ride trike (120php/trip good for 6persons)
7:20am – arrival at Lakawon port, pay 300php/head (inclusive of resort entrance, RT pumpboat and terminal fee) Wait until there are enough passengers.
8:00am – Lakawon Resort, registration, pay 250/head for Tawhai floating bar. (optional but highly recommended) Beach Bum.
10am – floating bar opens (highlight of the trip) get a hearty brunch
Stay until you want for the day or get an accommodation 🙂
How to Get There:
Manila to Bacolod via direct flights or ferry.
Once you are in Bacolod, hop on a bus to Cadiz City. 60php for ordinary and 100php for airconditioned bus.
From there, take a tricycle (PHP 120.00) good for 6 pax to Lakawon port where you’ll find boats that will take you to Lakawon Island.
Pay 300php each (inclusive of resort entrance, RT pumpboat and terminal fee)
What to Do:
Lakawon Island offers a variety of things you can do.
For a chill beach getaway, you can swim in its inviting blue waters and explore the beach line. The long beach will always be picture perfect and ready for Instagram worthy posts.
Tawhai Floating Bar:
Probably the best attraction in Lakawon is the Tawhai Floating Bar. The first of its kind in Negros and the largest floating bar in Asia. Get a 360-degrees view of the island while pampering yourself with a drink (or two). Let the subtle waves rock you gently as you fall asleep, lying on a bed at the edge of the raft with feet dangling a meter above the sea.
If you’re in for an adventure, there are several activities available in the resort. Rent out a jet ski and tour the surrounding waters. There are kayaks and small boats for paddling around. There are also snorkeling activities that will let you witness the abundant underwater life on this part of Visayas.
Fresh seafood is abundant in the island. You can haggle (but don’t haggle much please) with the fishermen in the morning with their freshly caught fish(es). You can have the resort staff prepare them for you.
After a hearty meal or a satisfying swim, further relax by getting a massage offered in the premise.
International travel and all its expenses discouraged even the most enthusiastic wanderlust. But with some research and preparation ahead of time, expenses could easily be cut down without depriving yourself too much. Here’s my 4D/4N itinerary in HK-Macau (yes, including Disneyland) within a meager 10,000php budget J
On summary, this is the inclusion of this itinerary/budget article.
NgongPing Village (via crystal cabin cable car, Big Buddha, Tai-o village, Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path)
The Peak – sky terrace
Nathan Golden Mile (walking tour)
Night markets 🙂
Macau (Hotels/casino, Taipa village, Senado Square, Macau cathedral, St Paul ruins)
Detailed itinerary and expenses below:
✜ Day 1: (More of night 1 since we arrived in the evening :p )
• Arrive at Hongkong.
• Take city bus #21 to Mongkok (23 HKD)
• Check in at Sincere house, Mongkok
• beauty rest/sleep :p
***Note: I prefer this kind of setup because it will give you fresh energy in the morning to start on your itinerary. Although it will cost you one more night of accommodation expense 🙁 (You can tweak it anyway and book for the next day)***
✜ Day 2
Off to explore Ngong Ping village via hanging cable cars. Marvel the beauty of the giant Buddha and what the village in the mountain has to offer. At night, witness the symphony of lights and bargain through the night market.
• From mongkok station to Tung Chung station
• City gate outlet at Tung Chung (because we have purchased tickets in afternoon, we opt to visit this outlet first. Its the biggest outlet mall in HK and if you’re fan of certain quality brands, you’ll love it here <3 <3 <3 )
• Ride cable car (we purchased crystal cabin – which is a grand experience in itself!!!!) to Ngong Ping
• Ngong Ping Village attractions:
✔️ Tai o village (fisherman village) – take bus #21 (25 mins)
✔️Go back to Ngong Ping via same bus
✔️ Po Lin Monastery
✔️ Wisdom Path (follow signs around Po Lin monastery and about 15 mins walk away
***NOTE: Nong Ping hours is only until 6:30pm. Cable car ride is 25 minute scenic ride***
• Ride cable car back to Tung Chung
• MTR from tung chung to tsim sha tsui
• Symphony of lights at 8pm (near tsim sha tsui station)
• MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui to Mongkok
• ladies market
• Night market at temple street
• Bought souvenirs 🙂
• sleep 🙂
✜ Day 3
• Disney!!! <3 <3 <3
***NOTE: Will be posting a separate itinerary on how to maximize your 1 day ticket and experience all of their rides/attractions! We were here from rope drop (9:30am) to closing at about 10pm after the fireworks display. Make sure you have strong pair of legs though as we tallied 17k+ steps on roaming around Disney for a day 🙂
On the fourth day, walk with the locals and experience HK city life with a walk through the Nathan Road (golden mile), then watch the city lights up at night at one of the best viewing deck – The Peak.
• Nathan Road Golden Mile
We stayed in Mongkok so I’m starting from south to North. Here are some key points along the road:
✔️ Yau Ma Tei Station – (nothing much to see here – recommend to start your walk from Jordan station going north. or if you’re from Tsim Sha Tsui area, end your walk on Jordan station)
✔️ Jordan Station
✔️ St. Andrew’s Church
✔️ Miramar Shopping Centre
✔️ The Mira Hong Kong
✔️ The ONE
✔️ Park Lane Shopper’s Boulevard
✔️ Kowloon Park(aviary and bird pond)
✔️ Tsim Sha Tsui
✔️ Chungking Mansions
✔️ The Peninsula Hotel
✔️ Clock tower
✔️ The Museum of Art – (free on wed, 10hkd )
✔️ the Space Museum – 24hkd, 10hkd(at the head of Nathan Road)
Other attractions walking distance arund Tsim sha tsui:
✔️ Honkong museum of history 20hkd
✔️ Hongkong scince museum 20hkd, free on wed
❌Avenue of stars.. still close for renovation 🙁 🙁 🙁
***NOTE: Life in HK began at around 10-11am. Start your walking tour around or later that time or else you’ll see nothing more than closed stores/shops which are attractions in itself in HK.***
Go to any tsim sha tsui station entrance scattered around Tsim sha tsui area. Get in the train bound to Central. Alight at central.
From here, you have few options,
follow underground signs to Hongkong station and exit via exit F to IFC mall. Look for the green mini bus #1 (yes, they’re literally colored green) – 10.2HKD
We happen to miss our planned exit(option 1), and end up in Statue Square. From there, we luckily heard Filipinos talking who help us walked (yes, they accompany us on the 10 min walk) to the double decker bus #15. If you ended up in the same place, just google where this bus station is as I can’t remember the direction well :p(fare is 9.8HKD)
Peak Tram (fastest way at 45HKD roundtrip)
Most advertisement will say that peak tram is a must because its an experience in itself.. well, ride the double decker bus, sit on the upper deck.. and that’s another experience as well. :oNot recommended for those with frail heart though.. (Bus drivers in HK drive really fast – no exceptions even if its uphill :p)
The peak – sky terrace admission fee = 50USD
***NOTE: Stay here until 8:00 so you can see HK lights up at night***
Ride green minibus #1 – (this time we found it!) back to Central station.
• MTR to Mongkok
• Dinner on one dimsum – you have to wait in line for about 30 mins on a weekday. ganun karaming tao… But it’s quite good and the price are all reasonable. 75HKD for 2
✜ Day 5 Macau
Indulge in a little history tour on the Taipa village of Macau as well as enjoy the luxuries the hotel/casinos has to offer.
• Ferry from HK to Macau
• Free shuttle from ferry station to Venetian
• Free luggage service at the Venetian hotel (10MOP if not booked)
• Free shuttle to Wynn hotel (12-15 mins walk to Senado Square)
✔️st paul ruins
Form Senado square walk to Wynn Palace (12-15 mins)
• Free shuttle from Wynn Palace to Taipa city
• Taipa Village
✔️Kun Iam temple
✔️Pak Kai temple
Free shuttle from Taipa to Wynn Palace
• Roam around Wynn Hotel/Casino (play if you like :p)
• Free shuttle from Wynn to Galaxy
• Before heading to venetian, you can walk around first (or shuttle) to its nearby hotels/casino
✔️City of dreams
✔️Hard Rock Hotel
• Back to Venetian
• Venetian Grand Canal
• Venetian has inddor connecting tunnels to Four Seasons and The Parisian
• Get luggage and take free shuttle from Venetian or Parisian to Macau airport
• Macau airport >> back home :):):)
***Macau is an expensive place, but can also be free :p
• Accomodation – 338HKD (via airbnb – Mongkok area (tatlong tumbling lang from Mongkok MTR station 🙂 ))
• Transportation – approx 150HKD (all land transportation – MTR, bus etc)
• Food – 200HKD (Note: Can be very subjective, We’re light eaters and prefer brunch and dinner only with tons of snacks in between 😂. Decent meals in HK ranges from 30-40HKD per pax. We also bring cup noodles and snacks which are very helpful especially on nights we’re too exhausted to hunt for food stall/resto outside 😂)
-cable car to Ngong Ping (1 crystal cabin + 1 standard cabin) – 150HKD (promo from Asiatravel.com, link included below)
-souvenirs (not included)
-Disney – 510HKD (approx 3300php) – purchased at Klook with promo code
Golden mile walking tour – free
souvenirs – not included (case to case basis)
The peak -Sky terrace admission fee – 50HKD
Macau ferry – 110HKD (Cotai jet) – purchased promo ticket. See link below
Total: 1508HKD using *BPI conversion at 6.3php
= 9500.4 in php
❤Tip: Call 2-4 weeks before on your bank (I think BPI si the best choice so far) to arrange currency exchange. Bank excahnge rates are lower than money changers. Average money changer sells HKD st 6.6 – 7php
so your 1508HKD could easily be 10556php at 7php exchange rate. Don’t exchange in airports! That’s even a bigger rip off!
Another option for budget travelers would be the iventure card. Which is a good card (if you’re really interested on the included attractions)
Six Ngong Ping attractions worthy of the life-suspending cable car ride
Ngong Ping village boasts of the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha. Both of which were significant tourist attractions already, but what made the trip extraordinary is how to transport to the scene: via the hanging gondolas.
Ngong Ping cable cars has two varieties, standard and crystal. The crystal cabin is more appealing (or maybe not for those with fear of heights) since you can enjoy the view beneath your feet through the transparent flooring.
Prepare to hang for dear life for about 6 kilometers of aerial lift passing eight cable towers at 585 meters above sea level (highest point). While trembling, try to keep looking around (and down :)) to appreciate the massive gift selflessly presented by nature.
After the 25-minute thrilling ride, witness the culturally themed village which reflects the cultural and spiritual integrity of Ngong Ping area.
What exactly awaits you in this village on top of the mountain? A Buddhist monastery, a giant sitting Buddha and a nearby quaint fishing town to name a few.
Traditional Chinese houses serving as stores and restaurants were scattered around the area.
Ngong Ping Piazza
Spanning on about 1.5 hectares, the piazza serves as the main point linking all the other attractions such as Po Lin monastery, Big Buddha and Wisdom path.
New Pai Lau
The impressive ornamental archway that serves as the piazza’s entrance.
Twelve statues (called the Twelve Divine Generals) line up on both sides guiding the visitors from the main entrance arc to the Po Lin monastery.
Also referred to as the Earth Temple is an open space midway between Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha.
Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery translates to “Precious Lotus”. Lotus flower being a special symbol of purity.
There are three Buddha statues inside the temple representing its past, present and future lives.
There is a vegetarian restaurant beside the main temple which unfortunately we’re not able to try.
Tian Tan Buddha
Constructed from 202 bronze pieces, the 34-meter-tall Buddha is placed on top of a three-platform altar reachable via a 268-steps concrete stair.
(It took me 268 steps, bottles of water and an ice cream – from the little store on top, to reach the Big Buddha)
On top is the giant Buddha surrounded by six other smaller statues that seems to be holding an offering. I learned later, after a little research that those are referred to as “The Offering of the Six Devas”. These symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom. All of which are essential for enlightenment.
Fifteen-minute walk from the Po Lin monastery is the Wisdom Path. The trail traces a series of more than 30 wooden bars that contains verses from the heart Sutra – one of the best-known Mahayana Buddhist sutra. The verses were inscribed in Chinese calligraphy while the wooden columns were arranged in an infinity pattern (∞).
Tai O Fishing village
One bus ride (and few minutes) away from Ngong Ping village is another attraction, the Tai O fishing village. (Take Bus#21 or taxi)
Tai O fishing village is a picturesque community in the western coast of Lantau. The traditional stilt houses that sit along the waterfront were among the very few remaining stilt houses around Hongkong.
Another attraction of this village aside from the stilt houses are the Tai-o market, occasional Chinese pink dolphin viewing, boat ride or kayaking and the seasonal Tai O Dragon Boat festival held in May or June.
The modest atmosphere of the whole Ngong Ping experience is a breath of fresh air from the much modernized Hongkong. The journey leads to both cultural and spiritual discoveries that governs Buddhism. Truly worth a visit and must not be missed when in Hongkong. 🙂