Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Coron Food & Room for Budget Travelers

Being a solo traveler in Coron, I only have to think about my own preferences regarding accommodation and food options. Yet as a frugal mountaineer, what else can you expect from me when it comes to those 2 basic needs?

First, let me talk about my accommodation in Coron town. There are plenty of choices, with air conditioned rooms usually starting at Php 1,000+/night for budget hotels. However, I plan to spend less than Php 500/night. 

I have considered Majika lodge with room rate starting at Php 250/night. But their location on top of a videoke bar along a busy street made me look for other places that are more peaceful at night. So I chose to stay at Sea Breeze lodge with similar pricing on their rooms.

The lodge is located near Sea Dive Hotel, but on a more down-to-earth surroundings, a typical local neighborhood. Melody the caretaker who also operates their variety store, gave me a brief tour of the 3 room options. There are 2 rooms priced at Php 250 and Php 300, but they are too cramped, and the single beds seem flimsy built. 

So I chose the room above with a double bed and single bed for Php 350/night. Common washroom is shared by the occupants of the 3 rooms on our floor. Water pressure is weak, so I have to use the pail and water dipper when taking a bath, no shower option.

Amenities include only the beddings and a bath towel. The room is spartan with an electric fan, plus a side table with a Gideon bible and ashtray on top of it. The 2 windows don't have screens to protect the occupants against insects, so I rubbed alcohol on my legs and feet at nights to avoid being bitten by pesky mosquitoes. 

The electric fan served both as cooling fan and mosquito "drive-away" machine. Since the place sits on the sea, it can get really cold and windy on early mornings, so sometimes I turn off the electric fan.

Talking about food, I've had 2 cheap breakfasts at Andes Peak Foodhouse near the Coron municipal hall. A longsilog meal (sausage, garlic rice and egg) costs only Php 50, while generous serving of noodle/pasta dishes cost only Php 20. 

I noticed that many locals patronize this restaurant, and I saw only one fellow Filipino tourist who came inside during the times I dined there. They open as early as 6:00 am, which is good for an early-riser like me.

Another cheap meal option is at Binalot Tong eatery, near the wharf at the back of the fruit stalls. A meal of binalot meat, rice, and boiled egg costs Php 80. However, this restaurant opens at past 7:00 am, and closes at night. 

A dinner of tapsilog (cured beef, garlic rice, and egg) at Jackie's Restaurant near Sea Dive costs only Php 89, but the portion size is small for a man's appetite. A few steps on its left is a local bakery, where freshly-baked breads can be bought as early as 5:00 am.

With bigger budget, better quality food can be enjoyed at Lolo Nonoy's where a viand and rice starts at Php 65. Probably noticing that I enjoyed my late lunch food of dinuguan (blood and offal stew) at their place, the chef gave me a free bowl of pinapaitan (innards/offals in a sour spicy soup). 

You can buy seafoods at the market and they will cook it for Php 200/kg. Halo-halo here costs Php 50 per serving, which I can only appreciate on a hot day. Aside from the reasonable price, the nipa hut ambiance and service here is above average, so its patronized by many tourists.

For my last dinner in Coron, I bought a 1.5kg of surat (triggerfish), for only Php 120 in the wet market. I arranged it to be grilled at Jackie's Restaurant for Php 100/kg. As I cannot finish the whole fish all by myself, I asked some of my tourmates to join me for dinner, but it was only Nina (the Russian lady) who can join me that time.

This is quite a splurge at about Php 300 total dinner cost, but its still cheap and worth it, considering that the fish is regarded locally to be better than lapu-lapu (garoupa).

I may have been scrimping on my breakfast and dinner meals, but with enough reason. Why? Well, our island tour packages include a lunch fest with grilled fishes, pork or chicken, and steamed blue crabs. Dessert is usually ripe banana, and sometimes include soda drink aside from bottled water. Lunch is always very heavy, so I don't really feel hungry during dinner time. 

Bottled water is expensive at Coron stores, about Php 30/liter. Good thing that I brought my Nalgene water bottle, so I can just refill it from purified water stations at Php 3/liter. The lady owner of the water station near the tourism office even offered to refill it for free while I'm in Coron, hehe.

Local beers at the restaurants usually starts at Php 50, like in Lolo Nonoy's place. But if you fancy capping the night at a quiet seaside restaurant, La Sirenetta is a good choice at same Php 50 price for an ice-cold beer. I just avoid ordering food there as its quite expensive, like the prices of Sea Dive restaurant, its neighbor. 

Below is a view of La Sirenetta as seen from Sea Dive restaurant.

For pasalubong, I only bought tamarind candies and roasted cashew nuts. Cashew nuts are usually sold at Php 600/kg or Php 100 for every pack of 150gm. I was able to negotiate 6 packs of 150gm cashew nuts for Php 90 per pack.

In my 4days/3nights stay in Coron, I spent about Php 5k for accommodation, food, drinks, trike fares, a massage, 3 island tours, and tips. If I will include my promo RT airfare (P 835), terminal fees (P 230), and pasalubong (P 600), my total expense is still less than Php 7k. Not bad, huh?

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  1. Hi, Dami ko natutunan sa post mo. Can you give me an advice kung ano ano ang mganda gawin sa Coron considering na 3000 lang budget ko kasama accom at tours? posssible ba?

    Sana matulungan mo ako, here is my email ad, vash_blue@yahoo.com. Thank you

  2. Hi, Vanessa. Island tours start at Php 650/pax, rooms at Php 250/night, and meals say Php 80/person. So a Php 3,000 budget is more than enough if you are staying for 3D/2N only, and if availing only 1 island tour. Just choose among the island tour packages of Coron Galeri, to see what you prefer.

    For my 4D/3N stay with 3 island tour packages, I spent almost Php 5k, including all the food and drinks. For 3k budget, it is possible for you to get 2 island tour packages in 3-4 nights stay, but you have to spend less than Php 100/meal, skip the drinks, and sadly no more tip to the boatmen. Make sure to leave Php 200 for the van transfer and terminal fee at Coron airport.