Author: reispost

Resting beer

Brewing craft beer at home

Brewing my very first batch of craft beer at home

On the 7th of june 2017, you might want to take note of this date, I have purchased my first homebrew starter pack. To be honest I was a bit surprised to find a homebrewing kit for sale at Hema, our local discount houseware store in The Netherlands. They teamed up with the Brooklyn Brew Shop for this special offer. To be honest, my girlfriend spotted the package for me, as she wanted to use the yeasting flask as a vase to put flowers in, which is so NOT going to happen!

Brewing can be done by everyone!

I am very eager to learn how to make beer myself. This starter pack is a good first step into making your own beer at home. I must say, brewing your own beer is actually pretty easy! All it takes is your starter brewing kit containing the yeasting flask and some useful tools. For the rest you’ll need a couple of big pots and a fine strain. And oh yeah, a lot of patience! Brewing one batch of beer takes up to one month!

To be continued!

At this moment, my very first craft brew is yeasting, and it has one more week to go! I will keep you posted on the progress! In the meantime, I’m doing research on brewing beer at home. And I am shopping online for some more serious brewing equipment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BewarenBewaren

BewarenBewaren

Malamadre Motorcycles sets the bar high for Bali’s custom scene

The custom motorcycle scene is more alive than ever. When on Bali, I was astonished by the number of cool custom creations cruising the streets of Canggu. I paid a visit to Malamadre Motorcycles, the guys that set the bar high for Bali’s custom bike scene.

The Malamadre Motorcycles workshop wasn’t hard to find. With numerous great looking custom motorcycles parked in front of the shop on Canggu’s main street; Batu Bolong. Add the open workshop and the awesome oldschool gasoline pump, and this place couldn’t get any more attractive to a petrolhead like me.

Malamadre sign
The Malamadre sign outside makes the shop hard to miss.

When entering the shop I heard a conversation in rattling fast fluent Spanish. I was then noticed and welcomed by owner Dirk Goetz. After expressing my enthusiasm and interest in his workshop’s creations he was more than happy to share his story with me.

While his name doesn’t give it away, Dirk is originally from Spain, from where he used to work for Volkswagen AG on international management level. It only took one surfing trip to Bali for Dirk to fall in love with the Island. He decided to leave Spain and his professional career behind and to start living the good life and enjoy the beautiful island.

IMG_0015
Check this beauty out, definitely my favorite!

How Malamadre was born

Malamadre Motorcycles was born in 2015, when Dirk decided he wanted to ride something more exiting than a scooter. After browsing through several options, he ended up buying a Suzuki Thunder 250. Fortunately, Dirk didn’t just stop there, he had a desire to customize his bike in to a vintage brat style motorcycle. So, guess what, that’s just what he did, he rebuilt the bike at a good friend’s garage in Canggu.

Then, there was one more thing Dirk desired: owning a brand. Together with his wife, Elo and some good friends they decided on the name and logo. Malamadre is the name of a bad ass character from the Spanish movie Celda 211, as well as Dirk’s preferred nickname during games of poker. And I must say, it has a badass ring to it.
Malamadre Motorcycles was born, and Dirk’s Suzuki Thunder was the first official Malamadre custom; the MM1.

Malamadre all over the world

Riding around on his bike, Dirk soon got noticed by other motorcycle fanatics, wanting to give their standard bikes a similar custom treatment. By a combination of word of mouth and a strong social media strategy, Malamadre Motorcycles has grown extensively. Until today, over 50 motorcycles, ranging from 200 to 1200cc, have been delivered to satisfied customers living all over the world, as far as New York, Belfast and Sydney!

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This shop is awesome, and the quality finish on the bikes is insane!

Look great on your bike

What’s probably one the best things about Malamadre Motorycles, is that a selection of their creations are available for rent. So, in case you want to look a whole lot cooler than the other tourists on their lousy scooters, you now know where to go. To complement your swagger, Malamadre has recently launched a clothing line: The Essence 1.1, available online and in their shops in Canggu and in Galleries Lafayette in Jakarta

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Look cool on your bike wearing the Malamadre Clothing line

 

 

 

 

Mekong Delta Tour

Before passing the Vietnam-Cambodia border, we went on a tour with local Susan Bui for a Mekong Delta experience. Susan is born and raised in a small village near Can Tho so she knows what’s up in the Mekong area.

We were advised booking the tour with Susan by the Sigoong hostel in HCMC. A great place to stay when discovering the former Saigon. Thanks for the great tip!

From the very first moment we were in contact with Susan via her Facebook page, she showed her professionalism by giving us clear and detailed instructions on how to get from HCMC to the meeting point with Susan in Bing Minh. She even wrote a message in Vietnamese which we could show to the bus driver! This turned out to be very usefull, because unless you speak a fair bit of Vietnamese, communicating with these guys is bloody impossible.

Susan boat lady
Susan our tour guide from Can Tho Touring with Susan

 

After a bowl of phó at the bus station restaurant we boarded her father’s boat, which had some start up issues. Having floated around in circles on the river’s strong current and banging in to a few other boats, Susan’s father gave up. Susan called her back up boat which arrived within 15 minutes. After tying up the boats together, dragging daddy’s boat to the mechanic, we were on our way to our first destination.

The first stop was at a place Susan called the ‘baby veggie village’. A small village where the people are planting vegetable seeds and grow them until they are big enough to be sold to farmers and wholesalers.

A lady planting new seeds. The seeds are planted on pallets so they are easily transportable to the buyers.

In the same village we also had a look at how the traditional palm leaf roofs are made. We even got to try to do it ourselves. It’s a nice job for a couple of minutes, but can you imagine these ladies produce up to 80 roof panels per day?!

Having a go at the traditional roof making. A roof made out of panels like these lasts for 5 years! Not sure if the one I did will though…

 

Our last stop before getting back on the boat was at an ancient rice splitting factory. A massive 30-year old machine that separates the rice from its skin. As efficient as the Vietnamese are, instead of throwing away the rice skins, they burn it, making it a source of heat. It doesn’t end there, they use the ashes from the burnt rice skin as fertilizer for the baby veggie plant production.

The lady on the boat was waiting for us at the ramp of the rice splitting factory to bring us to our next stop, the local market to get groceries for our dinner. On the boat ride there we discussed what we would like to cook that night. We agreed on making a bbq eggplant salad, a traditional Vietnamese chicken curry, wontons filled with pork and as a desert we made rice cake steamed on jack fruit leaves. The market visit was a unique experience, with us being the only tourists there, we were constantly looked and pointed at by the locals. It was like we were the attraction here.

Live fish at the local market, one tried to escape it’s destiny!

 

When we got back from the market visit, it was Susan’s dad who was picking us up with his repaired boat! He had taken it to the local mechanic and the problem was solved, with the engine running like dream again!

While we thought it was time to head towards Susan’s house, she still had one more surprise for us. She took us to the Phu Ly Khmer temple. A beautiful 400 year old Buddhist temple which has been renovated 3 years ago so it all looked brand new! A very impressive place to be!

The beautiful Khmer temple

 

After the temple visit it was time to go to Susan’s parents home. She showed us the large house with a beautiful garden overlooking the rice fields. We sat down in the garden’s gazebo and Susan brought  a plateful of local fruits for us to enjoy, delicious! While the sun was setting, creating a magnificent scenery, Susan brought out a kite with which we played together with the neighbor’s kids. It was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to take some beautiful photos.

Kids with kite at sunset
The neighbor’s kids playing with the kite at sunset
The magnificent view on the sunset from Susan’s backyard
Quite a sunset going on at Susan’s home stay

After the fun it was time to get to work in the kitchen. Susan’s mother had already started making the curry, and we were invited to help grilling the eggplants, making the wontons and preparaing sticky Banh Lá mít, jack fruit leaf cake. It was fun and educating. Susan set the table for only the 3 of us. It turned out that her parents had already eaten.       Only her father joined the table at some point with a bottle of red brownish liquid which we learned was Rượu nếp than. A special homemade variety of rice wine. After shouting ‘Mot Hai Ba Yo!’ meaning ‘1,2,3 cheers!’we downed the shots. The taste was very good! It tasted slightly more sweet than the white rice wine, but still pretty strong at around 25%. After two repetitions Susan’s father lied down in his outside bed and was off to sleep.


For us it had  been a long day too so we also went to bed. Besides we were told to get up at 4:30AM the next day to get to the floating market at sunrise.

After a good night of sleep in our extremely pretty ‘hello kitty meets pink princess’ design bed, we had a quick cold shower. The ‘road ‘to Susan’s parents house is only accessible by motorbike, so Susan’s father and her cousin took us and our backpacks on their motorbikes towards the taxi stand where Susan was already waiting for us. The taxi took us over the immensely long bridge towards Can Tho city. From there on we continued by boat. It was a beautiful boat ride with the sun rising behind us.

Going to the market at sunrise!

After a 25 minute boat ride we arrived at the famous floating market. And we weren’t the only ones! It was crazy busy with boats crisscrossing all over the place.


Susan told us this specific market was a wholesale market specializing in fruit and vegetable. Meaning that the buyers here would sell the products on to local markets on land. The buyers have to take at least 10 kg of a product. Each boat sells specific product(s) only. There were boats full of watermelons only, and a bit further another boat was loaded with ton of pineapples. All boats have a long stick pointing in the air showcasing the products they sell.


There were also smaller boats maneuvering between the bigger ones, selling breakfast items such as Banh Mi, Dumpling stuffed with minced pork, and bun rieu ca, a crab stock based noodle soup! Yes, we had all of it, so it was a big breakfast! We also got coffee and a coconut from a guy who Susan called ‘The floating Starbucks’.

With our stomachs stuffed we left the market and headed on to our next stop, the rice noodle factory! To be honest this place was a bit touristy, but it was still very interesting to see the process of rice noodle making. We got to try some of the production steps ourselves which was good fun.

It was time to get in the boat again and head to the last location of the Can Tho tour, the fruit gardens. A garden filled with a huge variety of fruit trees.

On the way there something very special happened. Daphne and I got married by Susan and her boat lady. From palm leaves they made rings, a tiara, and even a bouquet of roses! They thought it was very strange that we are together for more than 9 years and we’re not even married yet. So that’s arranged now!

Oh my god, it’s a tiara! It’s a tiaraaaaahh #amyfarrahfowler

 

Back to the fruit gardens! They had everything here, mango, jackfruit, pineapple, star fruit, water apple, custard apple, you name it. All kinds of exotic fruits we don’t have in Europe. We enjoyed a large plate of fruits together with a pot of tea after which it was time to get to Can Tho city.
Susan arranged a bus to get to our next destination: Ha Tien and even a hotel where we could store our backpacks until we were picked up by the shuttle bus there. It was there that we said goodbye to Susan, thanking her very much for a great experience! The tour we did costs 65 dollars each. This is all inclusive so there’s no need to reach for your wallet at any point during the tour. If you would like to book a tour with Susan you can do it here!

 

Hello Hue

The second stop of our north to south journey across Vietnam is Hue. Hue is located halfway the long thin shaped country. We travelled from Hanoi to Hue by nightbus. A 12 hour lasting trip, leaving at 7 PM. We arrived in Hue at 6 AM, guess we had a bus driver with a heavy right foot. Tickets for night busses are generally easy obtainable at your accommodation. We booked ours at the Rendezvous hostel in Hanoi.

Besides the fact that you don’t want to be traveling in a nightbus for more than 12 hours, Hue is a little city with some pretty insteresting sights. A two night stay here is long enough to see all things necessary. After these two nights you’ll be fully recharged to commence your epic motorcycle trip from Hue to Hanoi, crossing the beautiful Hai Van Pass. More on that later!

Imperial City

Probably the major tourist attraction in Hue. This ancient part of Hue is surrounded by walls. Several generations of emperors and their family and staff lived here. We visited this magnificent place on a beautiful sunny day. Which resulted in heaps of great photos! Check the weather forecast before visiting because it’s not worth visiting the  Emperor’s city on a rainy day.

One of the many beautiful structures inside the Imperial City
View of the gardens and the entrance gate

There are some tombs to visit around Hue. However the weather on our second day in Hue didn’t allow us to visit them. You can either rent a motorbike yourself or go on a tour with a local. Most accommodations can arrange this for you.
Where to eat

To be honest, Hue was not particularly a culinary highlight of our journey through Vietnam. There are some local specialties like Banh Xeo, a fried shrimp pancake, which I tried, but it’s not that big of a deal.

Risotto restaurant

Like I said, Hue is not the place for enjoying local cuisine, plus we had a secret craving for some western food. Going in to this touristy restaurant with TripAdvisor logos everywhere, was not a bad decision at all! They serve proper pizza here and the risotto with green peas and chorizo I had was delicious!

Boulangerie Francaise 

This tiny French bakery cafe is ideal for breakfast or lunch. Another thing which is to like about this boulangerie is that they teach underprivileged kids from the streets to work here.

Where to drink

Roots coffee

A nicely designed coffee bar which was located right next to our hotel. A Triumph bonneville as decor and great coffee and smoothies is wat we loved about this place. They also have a motorbike parking facility next door, where some pretty cool bikes are stalled.

Now that’s a good sense of style! A Bonnie as decor!


Bar next to Boulangerie Francaise

I’m sorry but I could not discover the name of this cost bar located next to the French bakery. We spotted it during lunch and decided to visit it later on. A nice place with ridiculously cheap beers during happy hour. There’s live music performed by locals every night from approximately 8PM!

DMZ bar

Located in the main bar street you can’t really miss the DMZ bar. They claim to be the first bar of Hue. With its cool army look interior and old school hip hop and R&B tunes, it’s a nice place to have a couple of beers.

Where to stay

Tanh An Guesthouse

You’ll get serious value for money here. It’s located in a little alley, but their sign is at the main road so it’s easy to find. Once you pass the reception on the corner you will most likely be welcomed by the hilariously funny and singing host. Comfy spacious double rooms at only 5 USD per person per night. The Imperial city and my recommended bars and restaurants are all within maximum half an our walking distance. Check for availability here.

Hue to Hoi An by motorcycle 

We were tipped by fellow travelers Asweroam to book a motorbike at Motorvina. They offer one way motorbike rental including a luggage transfer. Which means that you can just drop your bags at their rental office in Hue, get on your bike, ride the Hai Van Pass to Hoi An, leave the motorcycle there and collect your bags at the Hoi An office. Highly recommended if there’s two of you riding one motorbike! Check out the availability of their bikes here. I rented the Honda XR 150 which was a great bike to take on the Hai Van Pass! It ain’t cheap but the one way service with luggage transfer is very convenient!

Our XR150, a very decent bike to take on the Hai Van Pass with!

A rare custom motorcycle discovery in Hoi An

Check this out to learn where to find two true hidden gems for motorcycle fanatics in Hoi An!

While travelling you often randomly meet awesome people with shared interests. This happened to me once again last week in Hoi An. While discovering the city on our bicycles we decided to cross the bridge to the other side of town to find out what’s there. We found the very cool and original designed Knoy Bar. It was the custom Yamaha SR400 tracker motorcycle parked in front of the bar that mostly got my attention.

Custom SR400 tracker
Roc’s custom SR400 tracker

 

After a chat with the extremely kind owner Fong and his brother from another mother Roc we soon learned that we all shared the love for motorcycles.

Piston head ashtray
A piston head that serves as an ashtray is a clear hint that this bar is runned by motorcycle enthusiasts.

Fong told me that he had only opened his bar 3 months ago. After he had been traveling in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia for a while he started building the bar all by himself, using mainly recycled vintage resources, which give the bar it’s unique and cool vibe. Check the bar out here!

Doggie bar surveillance
The Knoy Bar is under constant surveillance by this curious little doggie

After having shared our stories on motorcycles and travel, Roc told me about his friend with a unique custom motorcycle workshop at his house in Hoi An. Naturally,I was stoked to see this place so we agreed on going there the next day for a meet and shoot.
The day after we met at the Knoy Bar again and Roc took me on the back of his cool SR400 to his friends’ place. It was a wild Vietnamese style ride. Roc didn’t bother using the horn at all, as the amazing exhaust sound would let the other road users know that we were coming and that they had to make way.

Let's goooo
Let’s goooo!

 

10 minutes later we arrived, all hyped up from the short but exciting ride. However I had to let the adrenaline rush go when I got introduced to Tientran, probably the most zen and introvert Vietnamese man I have met so far. After an awkward, eye-contact-avoiding handshake, Tien let me enter his amazing workshop. It was full of old school helmets, retro biker jackets, and heaps of leather bags which Tien was apparently making and selling.

Leather bags
Tiens’ business on the side, leather bags

 

I spotted a cool custom Yamaha SR bobber in a dark corner of which I attempted to take some photos. But it was to dark for getting good shots. Then, the doors on the street side  went open and I was absolutely stunned by what I was presented with! There was a 1972 BMW R71 army sidecar. After about three firm kicks on the kickstart Tien got it to run. Roc told me that this was something really special as Tien had never done this for anyone before. The fist exclusive ReisPost item here guys!

Custom Hoi An
Tien rolling out his precious creations

 

After that he also started up the SR bobber custom and rolled it outside allowing me to take some nice shots of that too. Soon a small crowd gathered to admire Tien’s creations. Not a big surprise if you check out my pictures below!

Yamaha SR bobber custom
Tien and his cool SR bobber custom
Customs in Hoi An
These bikes soon gathered an admiring crowd!

 

Follow Roc and his friends on Instagram, as they are soon leaving on a motorcycle road trip!

Hi Hoi An!

Getting from Hue to Hoi An by motorcycle

We arrived in Hoi An, soaking wet as a result of continuous showers during our Hai Van Pass trip per motorbike. Unfortunately we did not get to see the beautiful views from the highest point of the pass. All we saw were raindrops in grey clouds, with a maximum sight of 30 meters. Accepting the fact that the rain water had reached body parts you’d rather keep dry, we kept on going. As soon as we crossed the top of the pass, the weather conditions improved.

We cruised through Da Nang and had our minds blown by the overwhelming amount of mega hotels and resorts. What surprised us even more, were the number of construction sites, developing even more tourist accommodations. We were glad we didn’t plan to stay in Da Nang and we continued our route towards Hoi An. At the point we nearly dried up, the rain came back, half an our later we were happy to arrive at our homestay called Holy Land, where we found a comforting hot shower.

After I returned the motorcycle to the Hoi An branch of Motorvina and collected our backpacks, I took a taxi back to our home stay. It was time to head into the city for something to eat!

Walking through the very charming old town we instantly felt this was a place where we would want to stay longer than the initially planned 3 nights. There’s just too many good street food stands, restaurants, bars, tailors. Read on to learn more about our favorite places in Hoi An!

Hoi An by biycle!
Tip: discover Hoi An by bicycle!

 

Where to eat

Hola Taco

After our motorcycle trip we were starving. We heard promising stories about this Mexican place so we went straight for Hola Taco the afternoon we arrived in Hoi An. Looking the prices we assumed they had a shared dining concept going on here. When our food order arrived we learned this wasn’t the case. The servings of nachos with pulled chicken and cheese, tacos with slow cooked beef and chicken enchiladas were humongous! And it was delicious too! I wonder who teached the all Vietnamese staff to cook this way! After taking numerous breaks from eating we managed to empty our plates. Ready to be rolled out of the restaurant.

Hola Taco Hoi Ain
Satisfy your Mexican food craving at Hola Taco!

Banh Mi competition

When traveling in Vietnam you can’t really miss the famous mixed pork meat sandwiches called Banh Mi. In Hoi An there are two places who claim to serve the very best Banh Mi pork sandwich of Vietnam. So it’s time to find out who’s right.

Banh Mi Phuong

It was actually celebrity foodie Anthony Bourdain who said this is the  place to get the best Banh Mi in Vietnam. Due to this claim Banh Mi Phuong is now extremely popular and you have to cue around lunchtime to get your hands on a fresh crisp French baguette stuffed with BBQ pork, cold cut pork meats and a special spiced pork pathé. Grab a seat inside the restaurant and wait to be served, otherwise get in line and order for take away. In my opinion ‘number 9’ on the menu is a delicious mixed pork sandwich, but my vote for best Banh Mi evaahh goes to the Banh Mi Queen. Another very good sandwich they serve here at Phuong is the hot tuna baguette!

Banh My Phuong
‘Number 9’ at Banh My Phuong

The Banh Mi Queen

Where there’s a menu to choose from at Banh My Phuong, it’s just one specific sandwich which is served at the Banh Mi Queen. Take a seat in the living room like setting, choose your drink and order the number of sandwiches you would like. Your only choice is wether you like chili or not, the rest is decided by the Queen. I usually ate two Banh Mi sandwiches with chili, because they are too damn tasty here to just have one! By the way, it is possible to order a Banh My Op La here, which is a vegetarian version with omelette, strongly recommended by Daphne.

Best Banh My at The Banh My Queen in Hoi Ain
The Banh My Sandwich made by the Queen, my absolute favorite!

Chips and Fish Café

So, the name and location aren’t this place’s strongest points. It’s located on the far left corner on the south bank of the river. It’s a quiet spot where you do still get nice views over the water. They  serve Bia Hoi at 15 cents plus the seafood here as well as the local specialties White Rose and Cao Lau are very tasty. A good place to eat when you’re on a budget!

Jim’s snackbar

Telling you about this place betrays us of craving some western food every now and then! The Dutch owner Jim stands for serving high quality fast food. And he’s serious about this! We ate the best burgers here since Fergburger in Queenstown New Zealand. Jim uses a blend of Australian beef kinds to make the perfect patties himself. He also serves special beers from all over the world. A must go! Check out my Stamp account for the exact location! Jim told us he was going to move his restaurant to a bigger building soon, so check the location before you visit and don’t miss it!

Best Burger in Hoi An, and beyond!
One of the best burgers I ever had at Jim’s Snackbar in Hoi An

Where to drink

Reaching Out Teahouse

Looking for a quiet place to completely relax with a cup of tea? Look no further. At reaching out you will be served by hearing and speaking impaired people. You order by filling out your choice on paper menu sheets. The Reaching Out Teahouse is an initiative of Reaching Out, an organization creating chances for disadvantaged people. There’s a workshop in Hoi An where disabled people craft the most beautiful traditional Vietnamese ceramic tea sets but clothing too. The shop is called Reaching Out and is located one block south behind the Teahouse. Bring a fat wallet as you visit because it isn’t cheap! If you’re not buying the shop is still worth paying a visit.

Enjoying tea and cookies at Reaching Out Teahouse
Not your ordinary cup of tea at Reaching Out Teahouse

Cocobox Hoi An

Easy to find, as there are two Cocobox locations in Hoi An. Niceley designed coffee houses serving great juices, smoothies and food. Look for some Dutch details in the interior when you’re there.

Smoothies at Cocobox Hoi An
Wake up call smoothie and something healthy with carrot. And a cool Sportster in the back.

The Espresso Station

If you really want to get your caffeine kick, halt at the espresso station! It’s tucked away in a little alley. There’s a small sign on the wall hinting you to turn right from the main street . Try their espresso to taste their craftsmanship. They roast their own beans in the coffee shop! Cool off with their delicious iced coconut and coffee treat!

Me trying out my new camouflage shirt at the Espresso Station’s terrace.

GAM

You’ll probably be attracted automatically by this pretty building close to the bridge crossing the river. It looks like a museum, which it is, for Gems and Artstones, explaining the name. There’s a Teagarden inside. Or you could soak up some sun and slurp some rosé at one of the benches at the front, like we preferred. A very nice place for a drink or two overlooking the busy main street .

Winebar at the GAM in Hoi An
Sippin’ rosé at the GAM winebar

K’noy Cafe

We accidentally discovered this place after we biked over the big bridge behind the market. A cool bar nicely designed out of recycled material only. Oil barrels serve as stools and when modified even as couches. Owner Phong has spent the last three months building up his bar. Relaxed place for a coffee, beer or cocktail, whatever works for you. It was also here where I met Roc, who took me to this cool workshop in Hoi An!

K'noy Bar Hoi An
The cool looking K’noy bar at the other side of the big bridge in Hoi An

Tailors

The first thing you’ll notice when wandering through Hoi An’s old town is the excessive amount of tailors. This is where you can get custom clothing made at very competing prices! Think of suits and shirts in endless color and print possibilities. And custom made dresses and jumpsuits for girls. The shops have big portfolios inside too choose a design from. Next, simply pick the color or print of your taste. It usually takes one day for them to make it. There are tailors everywhere in Hoi An, and most of them are on tripadvisor so you can check out some reviews. Daphne had two jumpsuits and a dress made at Thinh Cuong. This cothing shop is situated outside of the city centre on the way to the beach. We were browsing some shops there and noticed that the lady from the Thinh Cuong shop was very friendly and not pushy at all. Therefore we thought she deserved the business. At first, Daphne had only one jumpsuit made, to see wether this tailor would be any good. Of course, it turned out to be a success and another jumpsuit was ordered. One day later, when we went to collect it, the order for a custom dress was placed.


Sa Pa ricefield trekking

During our stay in Hanoi we made a little excursion up north to Sa Pa for some trekking through the rice fields. Check out some of my favorite pictures from the two day tour below!

We booked the 3 night 2 day tour at the Rendezvous hostel for 63 USD per person. I can recommend booking here, as we heard from fellow trekkers they paid over a 100 dollars for the exact same tour. Even when you’re not staying at the Rendezvous hostel, you can still book the tour here.

Included in the tour package is the following:

  • 9 PM nightbus from Hanoi to Sa Pa, including transfers
  • Breakfast on arrival
  • Tour guides
  • Lunch and dinner on both trekking days (excluding drinks)
  • 1 night in a home stay or hotel  including breakfast (home stay recommended!)
  • (Night)bus back to Hanoi

Here are some tips if you’re seduced by the pictures and booked a tour!

Check the weather forecast! We were extremely lucky which the clear sunny weather on both days. It rains very often in Sa Pa, and walking 12 KM in the rain on slippery paths just isn’t fun.

It gets seriously cold at night in Sa Pa! When we arrived at 5 AM it was only 5 degrees! That’s a huge difference compared to Hanoi. So bring warm clothes. On the other side, if the sun comes out, it gets hot real quick. So pack one set of clothes for cold weather and one for hot weather.


For the hike it is recommended to wear firm shoes with a good profile. Hiking shoes are best if you have them. If you don’t have them, don’t worry, I did it on my Nikes and I was fine! Do expect your shoes to get dirty though! Which is not a problem, as you can get them cleaned for 1 USD per pair by a shoe polisher while enjoying a beer at the beercorner back in Hanoi.

On the trekking you will be accompanied by several kind Vietnamese ladies who will guide you through the rice fields. If you’re lucky you’ll get a lady who speaks English and you’ll have a nice conversation partner whom will teach you lots about the Vietnamese culture and habits.


Even though a tour guide is included in the price, these ladies expect to be paid at the end of the trekking. They carry items varying from little pouches to scarfs and bracelets which they want to sell to you in return for their help along the way. In my opinion it’s fair because if it wasn’t for their help and guidance, we probably would have crashed down a valley and still be there now.

Happy times in Hanoi

As opposed to most travelers exploring Vietnam, we commenced our adventure in Hanoi. Leaving the phenomenal Philippine paradise behind, we flew from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino airport to Noi Bai airport, Hanoi.

Did you know that you need a letter of approval before you are allowed to enter Vietnam? Well, we casually forgot about arranging this in advance. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s easy to obtain a rush visa from Vietnam Evisa for roughly 50 USD, depending on the hurry you’re in.

However, we booked our ticket from Manila to Hoi An on the 29th of January 2017 quite some time ago while still traveling Australia’s East coast. Not realizing the Vietnamese would be celebrating Tet at that time.

Tet is the Lunar (Chinese) New Years celebration in Vietnam, taking place in most South East Asian countries. It’s a 3 day public holiday. Long story short, it means that most of the Embassies are closed and arranging a rush visa is not an option. The only way to get in to the country on a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday is if you pay. A so called penalty fee has to be payed in order to have a poor bastard, who has to work on weekends and public holidays, stamp your passport. My guess is that this poor guy isn’t actually that poor, as we payed 424 USD for two people to get a one month single entry visa 😩.

We looked at other options like flying somewhere else from Manila and wait there for Tet to be over, but that would cost us about the same amount of money, and have a big impact on our planned route through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. So, lesson learned: always check the required visa criteria way in advance!

Vietnam one month single entry
Probably the most expensive sticker I will ever buy in my life…

Fortunately, Hanoi made up for this big bummer by being such an amazing city! Especially when you’re into food and beer, which happens to be kind of my thing.

Read on to find out about my favorite Hanoi spots which I’d like to share with you!

Where to Stay

When in Hanoi, you want to stay in the Old Quarter area. This part of the city is full of street food stands and cheap beer cafes! We stayed in the Rendezvous hostel which I would certainly recommend if you’re looking for a cheap and comfortable bed in Hanoi. Check for availability here!

Hanoi Rendezvous hostel
The bunk beds at the Rendezvous hostel in Hanoi rise high, but offer privacy too!

By the way, the reception staff arranged a very reasonably priced and amazing rice field trekking tour in Sa Pa for us. Check out the beautiful photos in my post on this Vietnam highlight here!

Drink 

There are loads of options when it comes to drinking tea, coffee or beer in Hanoi! The city is packed with little coffee houses and bia hoi corners. Below are our favorite picks!

Raw Juicery

This is where we started our days in Hanoi. This tiny juicery with a fresh colorful interior has some delicious smoothies and cold pressed juices on the menu. You can also create your own smoothies. I created one with avocado, banana, soy milk, spinach, peanut butter, cinnamon and chocolate chips as topping. Try it out yourself, if they haven’t put it on the menu yet!

Raw juicery Hanoi
At the raw juicery, there’s a small but relaxed seating area upstairs too!

 

Cong Caphe
Sitting in a decor of war memorabilia, you’ll enjoy great Vietnamese coffee and tea specialties. They serve both the traditional Vietnamese coffee here as well as modern varieties. Definitely try out the iced coconut coffee! Cong Caphe is a chain and you will therefore find them spread through the city of Hanoi!

Black Vietnamese iced coffee
Black Vietnamese iced coffee at Cong. A great place to work on ReisPost.com!

 

Skyline Hanoi 

If you want to escape the traffic chaos for a moment, this is your sanctuary! On the 11th floor of the Tirant Hotel you can enjoy great views over the city, while not being disturbed by the traffic noise. Pick a clear day! While it looks quite classy up here, beers are still priced at just 25.000 dong, 1 USD!

Beercorner

The beercorner is where it’s happening! This is where locals and tourists blend and every night feels like weekend here. You can easily sit here from afternoon till midnight. Cheap beer, snacks and loads of people to meet! We specifically liked the Green Pepper bar for it’s friendly and alert staff! You’ll find this bar right on the big crossing of the beercorner.

Beercorner
Chiah! Or something like that, is Vietnamese for cheers!

 

Bar Betta 

This bar is not in Old Quarter but definitely worth a visit after you’ve been to one of the many museums in the area. Like the military museum where you’ll find some impressive exhibits. Read on to find out more about some cultural activities in Hanoi! It’s not easy to spot, from the street you only see the stairs going up! Check out my Stamp account for the exact location!

Don’t have a Stamp account yet? Sign up using the code ‘reispost’, so you will automatically follow me! It’s an easy way to find all my favorite bars and restaurants as well as interesting spots around the world!
Where to Eat

Hanoi is the street food capital of Vietnam! Especially is Old Quarter you’ll find delicious Vietnamese specialties sold right on the street! Just take a seat on the mini seats and enjoy! Check out my Stamp account for the best locations!

Banh My new style
A new style of Banh My, it’s delicious! Check my Stamp account to find this lady in Hanoi!

 

Green tangerine

Fancy a lunch or dinner in a romantic French ambiance? This is the place to go. It’s the complete opposite of what you experience on the streets of Hanoi. But that’s what makes it so special. We had lunch here and it was incredible! The food was served in very creative ways and tasted amazing. Try out the set lunch menu for only 265.000 dong, about 11 USD. We had some aperitifs and drank two glasses of white wine, which totaled our romantic lunch at about 1 million dong. This is relatively expensive for Vietnamese standards, but worth it! The next day you can eat for 2 USD to level it out 😉.

Great lunch at the Green Tangerine
Enjoying a great lunch at the Green Tangerine!

 

Banh mi 25

Looking for the best Banh Mi sandwich in Hanoi? Look no further! This is it! It looks like a street food stand, but due to the big succes they also have a little restaurant serving great coffee and juices next door! My advice: order the mixed sandwich and ask for a little bit of extra pathé!

Banh mi 25 Hanoi
The little streetfood stand of Banh My 25 with the restaurant in the back


Cultural 

There’s a lot to do and see in Hanoi! Just walking the streets is an inspiring experience on its own. But there are also some very interesting museums to visit. We arrived in Hanoi during the Tet celebration, and most museums were closed. Something to bear in mind if you’re planning on visiting Vietnam late January/early February. Below you’ll find a number of interesting tourist activities.

Vietnamese Women’s Museum

This museum exhibits the important role of the women in the Vietnamese history. The museum is divided in three main sections: the role of women during the Vietnamese wars, the role of women within the family and female fashion. There are interesting temporary exhibitions as well. When we were there, numerous beautiful photographs of old Vietnamese women were on display. At the time of writing, entrance ticket were only 1 USD per person. Definitely worth a visit!

Vietnamese women Museum Hanoi
The Vietnamese Women Museum


Military Museum

The military museum in Hanoi is hard to miss. A big fighter jet is located at the entrance and the Hanoi Flag tower is located right on the courtyard of the museum. Most of the artifacts on display are seized French or US aircrafts and tanks. To me, the most impressive was the arty statue consisting of parts of destroyed aircrafts. The statue symbolizes the enormous amount (nearly 2000!) of enemy aircrafts shot down during the Vietnam wars.

Statue military museum
The impressive arty aircraft statue at the military museum

 

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum 

This is where the Vietnamese honor their previous leader Ho Chi Minh. Even though he reigned over 300 years ago, he is still a highly respected figure. As he is seen as the liberator of Vietnam. The balsamed body is on display. If you like to see it you have to get up early, as visitors are allowed between 08:00 and 11:00 AM. The earlier the better because cues can get as long as 5KM in peak season! And the doors to Mr. Ho Chi Minh’s bedroom will close at 11:00 no matter how long you have been in line.
Market visit

Definitely an interesting and free thing to do, visit a market in Hanoi! There’s many interesting things to see on the food market. Fish are kept alive in small tubs. There’s live frogs in cages. And check out the picture of this beautifully decorated chicken! 😜

Chicken with rose
Chicks like roses, don’t they?

City Architecture 

While wandering through the city of Hanoi there’s something interesting happening on every corner. Whether it’s the crazy traffic or a vendor trying to sell you some sort of food you’ve never seen before. Just try everything please, I tasted as much as possible and did not regret one thing I put in my mouth. But back to the subject here! If you like classic (French) architecture, Hanoi is your place. The city is full of beautiful buildings in which you’ll recognize the French influences. You’ll find yourself taking heaps of photos in the areas just outside of the Old Quarter.

Paris or Hanoi
Sometimes you wonder whether you’re in Paris or Hanoi!

Custom Scramblers in El Nido! Lakwatsero Motorcycles

While cruising on my rental through Corong-Corong, the little town just before El Nido, I accidentally discovered Lakwatsero Motorcycles. The custom scramblers outside grabbed my attention. I couldn’t resist popping in to have a chat and find out who they are and what they do. Owned by two Spanish hombres Nanni and Pepillo and their Filipino partners in crime Poks and Kols, Lakwatsero Motorcycles is creating seriously cool scramblers and trackers for their customers.


Co-founder Nanni was studying medicine in Spain and was supposed to be calling himself a doctor some day. It was back in 2007 when he was working as a volunteer on the Philippine island Negros Oriental when he fell in love with the country.
A few years later he was working on a party boat together with his childhood friend Pepillo. It was one big continuous fiesta during and after work. After a while they felt it was time to do something slightly less crazy. So they opened a bar. And not just some random bar! Read all about this bar on one of the most beautiful locations in the world, and about my other bar and restaurant recommendations here!


Back to bikes now! Today, together with their local team of mechanics they are creating seriously cool custom scramblers and trackers for their customers. They mainly use the reliable Honda tmx and Kawasaki Barako as donor bikes. These are the hard working 175cc motorbikes you usually find in tricycles, the Filipino version of the tuctuc.

Great army style looks on one the first Lakwatsero builds!

Their early customers are mostly friends and acquaintances who bring in their bikes in order to have it customized to their preferences. With this tactic Lakwatsero aims to bring more great looking custom scramblers to the Filipino streets. These creations being the ultimate advertisement representing their business.

One of the first builds by Lakwatsero, great advertisement on wheels

Lakwatsero is the Taglish word which is translated to: The husband who is always out of the house, doing stuff he enjoys. The muchachos came up with this name for their custom garage as their Filipino partners gave them these nicknames earlier.

Nanni’s ride

Currently there’s already a line to get in to if you want to have your bike customized by Lakwatsero Motorcycles. Which is a good sign of course! In the near future, Lakwatsero will create several customs which are available for hire, so even as a tourist, you can ride the magnificent roads of El Nido in style.

Filipino style workshop
The Filipino style workshop, it takes real craftsmanship to build such great looking custom scramblers from here


Keep an eye on these guys by following them on Instagram!

El Nido views

How to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido

Getting from Puerto Princesa to El Nido

Where to eat, drink and what to do

Palawan was definitely one of the highlights of our trip through the Philippines in January 2017. The Island’s nature is breathtakingly beautiful. While on the road you’ll be overwhelmed by the abundance of palm trees and forrest packed mountains. If you keep traveling up north you’ll reach the much visited El Nido archipelago. After staying here for one week we totally get why this little town and her surroundings are so immensely popular. Read on to learn about my recommendations on where to eat, drink and ride!

Epic El Nido views
This is the payoff for the long trip to El Nido

But first, you’ll need to get there. And to put it straight, the trip there is not going to be easy. But hey, it’s one of the best places we’ve visited during our journey, and trust me, it’s worth the hassle. You’ll have forgotten about it after being there for five minutes.

It’s most likely you fly to Palawan Island. Palawan’s main airport is located in the city called Puerto Princesa. Having a super romantic name like that you’ll probably imagine it to be a pretty little idyllic harbour city. Well… it’s not, but it’s alright to stay for a night or two if you wish to relax a bit after your flight.

Where to stay in Puerto Princesa

When we were there we stayed at the Bamboo Backbackers Lounge. A brand new hostel built by travelers for travelers. You can choose between staying in an open bamboo hut with 8 mattresses on the floor (mosquito nets are provided and already set up) or in private double rooms. We did the latter and payed just 500 pesos in total for a double room. (Fresh waffle and a coffee for breakfast included!) There’s a small bar to have a beer with your fellow travelers and a very relaxed atmosphere. The Scottish girl who manages the place is super kind and always in for a friendly chat! Check Booking.com here for availability.

Where to eat in Puerto Princesa

For diner in Puerto Princesa check out Bona’s Chaoling. A Vietnamese place serving great bowls of noodles in beef stew soup at incredibly low prices. The value for money here is really good. Try the garlic bread with it. Only if you’re not planning on going out afterwards 😉. Pay as you order, take your number to your table and wait food the good stuff to be served.

Waiting for the pho!
Waiting for the good stuff to be served!

Going directly from Puerto Princesa to El Nido

You could also choose not to stay in Puerto Princesa and continue traveling up north towards El Nido straight away. Depending on your time of arrival in Puerto Princesa this is a plausible option.
You have two options to get to paradise. Option 1: go by bus. Option 2: go by Minivan.

Going by bus will take you about 7 hours getting to the El Nido. There are two major bus companies, Roro and Cherry. They basically run the same service with buses leaving every two hours. Roro starts at 04:00 AM and then every two hours. Cherry starts at 05:00 AM and then every two hours. The prices are the same for both bus companies, 280 pesos for non-aircon and 370 pesos for aircon.

Tip: some buses have air conditioning and some don’t. Every second bus has aircon, so the one leaving at 04:00 AM doesn’t, the one at 06:00 AM does, and so on.  We prefer and recommend traveling in non-air conditioned buses after catching a severe cold during a 5 hour trip in a freezer on wheels once on Cebu Island. The non-aircon coaches have the side windows opened which supplies more than enough fresh air while riding. It only gets a little hot inside during a few longer stops on the way. But trust me, that’s better than being sick while you’re traveling.

These buses depart from the San Jose bus terminal. Getting there from Puerto Princesa Airport is easy and fast by tricycle. It will take about 25 minutes depending on traffic and will cost between 100 and 150 pesos depending on your negotiating skills.

Negotiating Advice

know the average prices for your trip. You can always ask this at service desks on the airport. When negotiating, be the first to mention a price. Avoid making it sound like a question, this will make you look insecure. Just say: 100 pesos to San Jose bus terminal. And see what he comes back with. If you feel he’s asking too much, just walk to the next tricycle driver. This trick always works, he’ll probably come after you lowering his price. Unless you’re trying to get a unrealistically low price.

If you have stayed at Bamboo Backbackers in Puerto Princesa, they can arrange you a tricycle to get to the San Jose bus terminal. The ride will take approximately 15 minutes and cost you between 50 and 100 pesos depending on your hassling skills.

Option 2 go by minivan

If you go by minivan the trip takes about 5 hours. There are loads of minivan drivers racing up and down from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa. The minivans get filled with as many people inside as possible. The drivers even build in extra seats added to the existing interior to carry as much travelers as possible. This results in a uncomfortably cosy 5 hour lasting journey being pushed into your neighbor in every corner, as the minivan drivers race like maniacs. But the upside of it all is that you will get to you’re desired destination fast. Most minivans cost 500 pesos one way per person. They can often be booked from your accommodation or directly at the bus terminal.

Tip: Don’t take the departing times too serious. Most of the times the driver won’t leave before he got the most out of his minivan’s capacity. But in case things are really taking too long,  don’t be shy and open your mouth. They will keep on waiting as long as no one says anything.

Tip: when taking a minibus make sure you get the seat right behind the driver, in most cases this is the most comfortable and spacious seat.

Puerto Princesa to El Nido
The route from Puerto Princesa to El Nido

Optional overnight stay in Taytay

On our way from Puerto Princesa to El Nido we travelled by Roro bus. Since we had plenty of time, we decided that we didn’t want to be traveling all day long. So, to break up the trip, we decided to stop in Taytay.
Taytay once used to be the capital city of Palawan. You wouldn’t say that when you’re walking around in this little town. We stayed here for two nights and dined at all restaraunts in town, all two of them! We stayed in Pem’s Pension, good value private cottages and a very hospitable host. Breakfast is included in the room rate. While the breakfast isn’t that special, the food served during diner is amazing. Try their sizzling dishes, they’re delicious!

As I already mentioned, there’s one other restaurant in town, it’s at Casa Rosa. High up on the hill overlooking the little town you can enjoy an extensive menu ranging from typical Filipino dishes to pizza and pasta. I tried the Filipino fish in creamy coconut and it was delicious.

Discover Taytay by motorbike

When you stay in Taytay it’s best to hire a motorbike and discover the area. There’s not many things to see but the ride through the area alone is a treat. We went to Lake Danao, the biggest lake on Palawan island. Prepare yourself for a bit of off-road riding to get there. When at the lake there are canoes for hire. It’s free when the manager is not there, the paddles are hidden on the roof of the boat house, but you didn’t get that from me.

Taytay, the Hollywood of Palawan! Haha not! But okay for a stop on the road to El Nido.

Fort Santa Isabel

Back in town there’s the Fort Santa Isabel to visit. A 300 year old fort once built to back off the Spanish. Today it’s open to the public during the day. At night it’s closed down, as too many locals were drinking and making love in the fort, we were told by the owner of Pem’s Pension. He gave us a private tour at night after we found the fort closed at 17:00. He happened to have the key to the fort, how cool is that.

Fort Santa Isabel in Taytay
Fort Santa Isabel in Taytay at dusk

Getting from Taytay to El Nido

From Taytay it’s just a short trip going to El Nido. Again you can choose between the minivans or the Roro and Cherry bus companies. We took a minivan as it suited our timing best at that time. From Taytay to El Nido we payed 200 per person.

And then, after 1,5 hours, you have finally arrived in paradise. When you’re getting closer you’ll start to get what all the fuss is about. The magnificent views on the mountain like islands escalating out of the ocean are surreal.

Where to stay in El Nido

During our stay in El Nido we slept in the Our Melting Pot hostel. Locally better known as OMP. A bed in a 9 persons mixed dorm will set you back 600 pesos per person. This is including breakfast. We would definitely recommend this place if you’re traveling on a budget. Check for availability here!

Where to eat and drink in El Nido

In the town of El Nido and Corong Corong, the little town before El Nido, you will find many different restaurants. In one week obviously we weren’t able to visit them all, but these are the venues we visited. Read on to find out what’s goood.

Republica Sunset Bar

Definitely our favorite spot in Corong Corong and beyond! It starts with the location of the place. There’s not many bars in the world that offer a view like this. The menu exists out of tapas. And as the owners are from Spain, they know what they are doing. Authentic tortilla, paella, bravas, gambas al ajillo, it’s all there! And man, it’s all so damn tasty. We couldn’t get enough of this place. The staff is so friendly and super quick. ​Make sure you get there around 16:00 pm for a nice seat with a stunning view.
Two of the hombres who own Republica also happen to be the proud owners of Lakwatsero Motorcycles, check out the article on this start up custom scrambler workshop in El Nido right here

Sea Jane Resto Bar

The place looks kind of shabby, however the fresh seafood here is amazing. While seated right on the beach with your feet in the sand you’ll get rich servings (7 pieces) of gamba’s for only 250 peso’s. Just have your pick from the broad selection of seafood at the entrance, order a beer at the bar, take a seat and wait for the goodness to be served.

Grilled fish, gambas and squid

Mezzanine

If you fancy a more stylish restaurant, visit Mezzanine. This two story restaurant boasting nice views over the El Nido harbour serves great Italian food. From antipasti to homemade pasta and of course pizza. They also serve a broad selection of cocktails and theres a happy hour from 16:00 to 19:00, buy one get one free!

Altrové trattoria

If pizza is your thing, but you care less about the ambiance and views, try Altrové! Located in a little alley off the main street parallel to the beach, serving authentic Napolitan pizza. Using imported tomatoes from Italy for the sauce. Their mozzarella and prosciuto crudo are also genuine Italian. If you really dislike the restaurants ambiance, you can always order take away and take your pizza to the beach or any other place you prefer.

V & V bagels

A rare find in the Philippines, but El Nido has it all; a New York bagel shop. Serving ridiculously good fresh baked bagels. You can either have your bagel in or take it away to the beach. I suggest the latter as the restaurant’s ambiance isn’t their strength. 

Art cafe

Our mistake while in El Nido. We went here because of the high rating on tripadvisor. However we didn’t have a good experience at all. We don’t know what the fuzz is about. Lousy service, careless staff, and the food from the endless conceptless menu was below average.

Marber Bar

Big club house style bar at the beach playing classic soul, blues and rock. Plus they have a pooltable! Extremely friendly staff who already recognize you on the second day you visit, I love that! Great place for a relaxed beer (or six). We didn’t eat here but the food passing by looked okay, mainly burgers and pizza. The place is owned by a very friendly German living the dream, owning a bar at the beach in paradise. Check out their special hangover menu, it’s hilarious.

Sava Beachbar

Stylish lounge bar right at the beach. Chill in the beanbags while enjoying a cocktail and great old school disco tunes. Every Tuesday and Saturday things get a little bit more uptempo from 23:00 till late thanks to techno dj Electronido.

Pukka bar

I you really want to drink your head off, go here. This backpackers packed place goes crazy from 00:00 till late with DJ’s and live music.

Maremegmeg Beach Bars

When you feel like you have been misbehaving at the El Nido beach bars you can always lay low for a night at the bars on Maremegmeg beach. A tricycle ride here will take about 15 minutes and costs between 120 and 150 pesos. When there, walk down the long stairs and try out these great sunset bars.

Sun Bar

This is the first bar you’ll find down the stairs. If you really need to quench your thirsty hangover, take a seat here. The tunes are good, and while you’re there try the garlic and chili gambas to bring your tastebuds back to life.


The rest of the bars is located on the other end of the beach, but they are worth the walk!

Maremegmeg beach club

Nicely designed bar with comfy canvas beach chairs, good for a drink or two. Food is nothing special, the thick cut fries with aioli are good though.


The beach shack

Great bar with happy hour from 4 till 7: ice buckets full of 6 San Miguel beers for only 300 pesos. Great tunes, bean bags, feet in the sand and an amazing sunset going on right in front of you. Definitely our favorite pick at Maremegmeg beach.

Beautiful beaches nearby El Nido

While walking around in El Nido town, you’ll constantly hear tricycle riders offering you rides to nearby places of interest. My advice, don’t go by tricycle but hire a motorbike yourself. It’s an amazing way to discover the area. For only 500 pesos per day you’ll have your own great fun Honda XRM, a semi-automatic off the road style 125cc motor scooter. The bigger manual shift off-road bikes set you back 1250 pesos per day, in my opinion it’s not worth the difference. As an experienced motorcycle rider I still had good fun on the XMR.

Maremegmeg Beach

Close to El Nido, a nice beach boasting amazing views and various great bars! See above for our favorite picks here!

Nacpan beach and Twin beach

About half an our away you’ll find Nacpan Beach. A wide stretched beach with endless rows of palm trees and nice views on the adjacent Twin Beach. Beware of some pretty big waves. I almost lost my GoPro camera and Daphne lost her sunglasses, and almost her bikini top, which delivered more great views!

Endless rows of palm trees at Nacpan beach
Endless rows of palm trees at Nacpan beach
Climbing palm tree
Climbing the inclined palm tree at Nacpan Beach, it’s more slippery than you think. See how high you can get!

At the time of writing Twin Beach was closed to the public, if we understood the vague notice sign correctly, there seems to be a conflict going on between the locals and an investment company about who owns the land.

Duli beach

A bit further up north is Duli Beach. Popular amongst surfers. Not very suitable for beach bums. There’s a strong wind and many sand flies!

Tip: You could tour the entire north road of El Nido. While on the map this looks like a main road, bear in mind that most of the eastern section consists of unpaved roads. But still it’s a beautiful route with great views!

Amazing views north of Sibaltan!

El Nido Island Tours

Probably the most popular tourist activity in El Nido, the island tours. There’s four different tour options to choose from, A, B, C and D. According to other travellers tour A and C are the most interesting tours. We did tour C, which takes you to Hidden Beach, Secret Beach, Helicopter Island, Matinloc Shrine and some very cool snorkling spots inbetween. Our guide said we were ‘lucky’ to get on this tour as the coast guard had cancelled this tour for over a week due to rough sea conditions. Still it was pretty intense during our trip. We weren’t able to get to Secret Beach as we would probably have been smashed against the cliffs due to the massive waves. One of the others on our boat lost his wedding ring after his hand got stuck between some underwater rocks . The poor guy got married a week ago and was on his honeymoon. On the next snorkeling spot we got slammed to a coral reef, cutting our feet and legs which is not a pleasant experience 😬. I think the coast guard was feeling very optimistic that morning.

The tours will cost you 1200 to 1400 pesos, plus you have to pay an environment tax at 200 pesos, this is also necessarily for going to beaches and other tourist activities. Note that you only have to pay this fee once! Always keep the ticket you receive with you and never give it to a tour operator. In our opinion the tour was nice to see the beautiful islands of El Nido and the lunch included in the tour price was great.

TAO Experience

However, if you have time and money on your side, book a tour with TAO experience or Buhay Isla for an multiple day expedition to uninhabited islands where you will camp. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for this but we heard great stories about these trips from fellow travelers.

Hire a kayak in El Nido

This was definitely a highlight of our visit in El Nido. We rented a duo Kayak at the Maremegmeg beach club for just 100 pesos an hour. From here you can paddle out to some beautiful abandonded beaches. The big advantage compared to the organized boat tours is that you are actually the only one at the locations you go to. While with the boat tours there’s at least 150 other tourists there… It’s a great workout as well. Here’s some free advice, follow the coastline, as the currents are less strong. Check out the photos and video below for an impression.

Paddling a duo Kayak
Paddling duo Kayak requires good team work

The El Nido Zipline

Another popular and fun thing to do while in El Nido is the island zipline. You can get to the platform from Maremegmeg beach or from the main road. I suggest the latter as it is a shorter climb up. Still it is a pretty intense climb, especially after a heavy night of drinking. Bring a bottle of water as there are no shops up there. The ride will cost you 500 pesos. Make sure you get there before 4pm as you have to walk back which is not possible during high tide. In first instance were planning to go down during sunset but unfortunately this is not possible.