Need help? Cebu Vs. Kota Kinabalu

Old Apr 4th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Need help? Cebu Vs. Kota Kinabalu

I'm planning a vacation with my wife, my 5 year old daughter and my 3 year old son to Asia around mid-december. Before we go to Hong Kong, we plan to stay at a resort for a few days to get over the jet lag. Because of the flight schedule and recommendations from friends, we've come to choosing between Cebu, Phillipines or Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. In addition, Shangri-La resorts for both locations come highly recommended. I'd appreciate any suggestions/comments from my fellow travellers. Thanks.
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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If you want a resort to recover from jet lag, I'd suggest you choose the one closest to your destination. The Phillipines are closer than Kota Kinabalu to Hong Kong. But look at your airline routings and make sure that's the most convenient place.
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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Both of my destinations are practically the same distance from HK (2:50hrs vs 3:00hrs) and they are equally convenient stops for my travelling route. My most important criteria is which destination and hotel would be the best choice for my family.
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Old Apr 4th, 2008, 08:06 PM
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I've not been to the Phillipines, but have been to Kota Kinabalu. There are two Shangri-Las there. Choose the one closer to town, as it will give you more options. That area of Malaysia is really beautiful. You can opt for some day trips, such as to Kinabalu Park which has lots to do and see besides climbing Mt. Kinabalu.
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Old Apr 5th, 2008, 12:08 AM
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Hmm, I am not sure that I would pick either to be honest. Look at the weather websites for Malaysia for December. There may be more rain than you would want in KK at that time. There is a large monsoon pattern which is over that area of SE Asia at that time. Even if you donít have actual rain, you are bound to have cloud cover.

The thing with Cebu is that while the hotel is of course quite nice and has lovely grounds, IMO the Shangri-La in Mactan is not really ďresortyĒ. It is not on an isolated beach, it is rather more in the middle of huge Cebu City. (The pictures may be a bit deceiving). If that is not an issue for you, then this would be fine, as the weather is certainly good there in December. I have to say however that when I went there, I was kind of surprised as I was expecting it to be like a beach resort, and it is more like a city hotel on a beach; itís in a vague way like Miami, but of course Cebu is not nearly as nice as South Beach (the beach itself is nice).

You might want to look at Phuket, great weather at that time of year, lots of nice hotels and if you go before Christmas, you should be able to get some very good deals as it is before the peak of Christmas. Easy flights to Hong Kong. Or go to Bangkok and stay at a river hotel with a nice pool (like the Marriott Riverside) where you can get a resort feel but also be in a great city. You may even be able to get a non-stop flight from your home to Bangkok, a nice plus with kids. Easy flights to Hong Kong from Bangkok.

I can only also say that December in Hong Kong is just the best weather we have all year, so you could just come here to get over the jet lag by relaxing a bit first and not trying to see it all at once. I can understand wanting a beach vacation, but it might be just as easy to relax here as well. You can take ferry rides to outlying islands (or hire your own boat), go to Ocean Park (or Disney if you feel the need), go to beaches here (a bit on the cool side but still pretty, you wonít be swimming), and of course there is lots of hiking and walking.
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Old Apr 5th, 2008, 01:04 PM
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I stayed at the Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu, the one a little bit further from town. Very pleasant hotel and they care about kids. At the waterfront but no beach. But for that they have shuttle speed boats going to different coral islands nearby.
I visited Cebu City (Cebu is also the whole island) several times. But never stayed at the Shangri-La.
Mactan is the airport site and the beaches there are not worth talking about.
I would go to Borneo and hope the weather gods are graceful during your visit.
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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Thanks for all the great advices. I never mentioned that I'd be travelling from Toronto. Phuket was my top choice, until I realized that there was no short flight (>30 hrs vs. 20hrs to KK). The problem is that I'll be travelling with my 2 kids. I was also considering Sanya, Hainan, until my friend recommended Cebu after they have been to both places. I'm also concern about getting into the rainy season of KK, and heard about the not so great beach of Cebu. After getting over the jet lag, we will go straight to Disney HK for about 3 days before spending the next 2 weeks with our family in HK. I'm still open for any recommendations. I know it's pretty difficult to pick a perfect place. Thanks.
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 10:30 AM
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I have to say I'm surprised that it would take you 10 hours longer to get to Phuket than to Kota Kinabalu. In general, there are much better air connections to Phuket than to KK. Do you already have plane tickets to Hong Kong? Which airline are you flying? Perhaps we can help with routing.

I was in Kota Kinabalu in late Nov/Dec a few years ago. We had only one afternoon of really hard rain, but, of course, that's no guarantee.
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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if i were u i wud definitely choose cebu.. cebu alone has both urban and rual destinations to go to.. you can be in the cheapest or the most expensive tourist attractions.. what's great is that these are world class destinations.. and cebu is located near many islands.. to name a few are:

BANTAYANnever been to the island.. poor me.. i mean rich me for positive vibe and in the name of THE SECRET.. hehehhe.. i will be going there this summer! geoffy and the rest of the geng are already there.. and they left me out! sheeez.... it could have been a nice party with all the hot girls in their bikini.. hahaha.. scary!


SIQUIJOR
hmm mystical..the whole UP LAAGANS will do their usual laag to the island of siquijor... i have no plans of going there anytime soon.. bwahahahha...


CAMIGUIN
haaaaay.. this place is part of my list.. but its too far.. and it reminds me of gelli de belen and jomari yllana.. hahahah...



BOHOL

again all of the people in my family visited here except ME.. they've reached all these places in my list except ME.. because i was BUSY tending the goats and feeding the PIGs.. hehe.. i have heard that the cost of going there will almost be like going to boracay.. hmmm.. mag pambot ra ko doh!


LEYTE

i havent reached the part near EASTERN SAMAR.. but my 'surfer boy' friend told me that LEYTE has surfing spots.. particularly in CALICOAN.. among the spots i have listed.. this is the one most likely to happen.. i have plans with my ally also known as 'the real surfer boy' to pack our things up and just take along with us Php 2000 in each of our pockets.. a tent.. and some extra 'de lata'.. and NO we have no special connection whatsoever.. we just have the same WAVE length.. bwahahahahhahahahahaha...


and of course this is not an OPTION but a MUST... the one place i keep on going back..the one place i HAVE TO be in every vacation because i HAVE TO..


CAMOTES ISLANDSi have been SICK about this place.. i have been PROUD of this place.. its like my love-hate relationship place.. hahahahah... but it definitely saves and stores a lot of wonderful summer memories.. as they would say there is no place like home.. pait... there is nothing beautiful as eating HANY CHOKNUT in the white sands of santiago... i have to kill in order to get every CHOKNUT i have to munch..


either way.. these places are mostly reached by boat.. and travelling by boat is really cheap and we have a lot of choices.. now for better planning and for the latest schedules of shipping.. i can always rely on this webpage...


www.schedule.ph

happy trip.. feel free to pm me..
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 08:47 PM
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Cliffpali,
No advertising please............
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Old Apr 8th, 2008, 09:05 AM
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Hi Kathie,

No, I have not bought the tickets to HK yet as I have yet to decide the path and destinations. Here are some of the best routes:

1) If KK is chosen:
YYZ (Dec 10, 10:30am) to BKI (Dec 11, 6:55pm) by Cathay Pacific. (19hr 25min)

2a) If Phuket is chosen:
YYZ (Dec 8 10:30pm) to HKT (Dec 10, 5:25pm) by Cathay Pacific (30hr 55min)

2b) If Phuket is chosen (more expensive but shorter trip *maybe too short for us):
YYZ (Dec 11, 10:30pm) to HKT (Dec 13, 11:30am) by Cathay Pacific (25hr)

For any options, the trip from BKI or HKT to HKG may be taken between Dec 16 and 18. The return trip home is intended to be on Jan 2, 2009.

My preferred airline is Air Canada or Cathay Pacific because they offer direct flight between HK and Toronto, which cut each flight by at least 5 hrs.

I appreciate Cliffpali's suggestions, but I'll be travelling with 2 young kids (3 and 5). Judging from our trip to Turks and Caicos last month, they just love to stay at the resort as long as the resort has lots of kids activities and nice beaches/pools. Island hopping isn't really their ideas of a good time.

I have also spoken to Shangri-La office in Singapore which have properties in KK and Cebu. They recommend KK as the resort at KK offers more Kids programs. My main concern of KK remains the weather as my kids love sunny days (please remember that we're from Toronto). Phuket would be perfect if a beter route (reasonably priced) can be found. Then we would probably stay at Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket, which we've been told to be very kids friendly. The question remains (Is Phuket a better enough choice over KK or Cebu to be worth the extra time and cost?) BTW, staying at HK airport overnight to catch a flight before flying to Phuket is also an option. But does it worth extra cost and hassel?
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Old Apr 8th, 2008, 05:31 PM
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So if I understand the flights correctly, you're flying non-stop from Torono to Hong Kong, then would fly onward to either Kota Kinabalu or Phuket. So the difference in travel times must be due to the length of your layover in Hong Kong.

Phuket will have better weather at that time of year, but will also be much more expensive. KK may have some rainstorms (weatherbase says it averages 9.5 inches of rain in December), but it will still be tropical and very warm. When we were there, it would rain hard in the late afternoon some days, but there were no days of solid rain. I'm from Seattle and if you live here you just have to be willing to do things in the rain, so rain may bother me less than it might bother you.
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Old Apr 9th, 2008, 02:48 AM
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When I look at the CX schedule, I see that going from Toronto to Phuket via Hong Kong only takes about 26 hours from boarding in Toronto to getting off the plane in Phuket. Of course, thatís a longish time for sure, but it only requires one stop in Hong Kong and a layover of only 1.5 hours to connect to the Phuket flight (way more than enough time, by the way. Your luggage will go on its own and there is no immigration for you in Hong Kong, all you are doing is changing planes. You will have time for some Starbucks.) CX829 departs Toronto at 10:30 pm and arrives into Hong Kong at 7:35 am (the flight is 20 hours, I am ignoring crossing the dateline, just count hours in the air, that is all that really matters), you then connect at 9 am to CX 6716 to Phuket (flight is 3.5 hours). You would be in Phuket for lunch, some afternoon fun, an early dinner and then to bed early to try to start the jet lag catch-up, This routing can be done on Saturdays or Thursdays.

I agree on the Sheraton, a good choice for families as it is on a very wide, nice beach with very gentle waves. There have a long lazy-river like pool and several other pools too. I like the Marriott and it is popular on this board, the surf, however is rougher, but your kids may hang out at the pools anyway and just go to put their feet in the ocean, so I would put that into the consideration too.
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Old Apr 9th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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Yes, the extra length of the trip to Phuket is mainly due to the layover. From my research, the 25hr option to Phuket from Toronto is only available for Thursday which the flight arrives HK on Monday. Thinking about the main purpose of this portion of the trip (getting over jet lag, relax and let the kids have some fun before HK), KK may be a good reason. Some of my friends also suggested me to look for advice on Trip advisor just yesterday. I'm surprise to see the positive comments about Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru. I assume even on the rainy days, it sounds like my kids will have plenty to do. It also sounds like (from Kathie and others) that it unlikely to be raining all day. Can I expect to see some sun even on rainy days in December? I still like Phuket more (BTW, JW Mariott looks really good too), but I may consider Phuket as my stop next time when I travel to Asia when my kids are a bit older and hopefully can handle longer filights. Any more comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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Old Apr 9th, 2008, 08:55 AM
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I used to live in Singapore, and have to say that December is an overcase and rainy month. They are quite similar in rain patterns during the winter monsoon. Of course there will be people who have been to KK in December and had great weather and that is what I would wish for you, but the odds would be against you. Look at the weather tables and decide. I just think it is a chance to take when you do have other choices, but I am sure you have fun whatever. All I can say is that if this were my vacation, I would go to Phuket as the weather is not going to be any issue at all in December.

While getting to Hong Kong from Hawaii is a pain, it is possible, you might look into it. Again, Hawaii is not at its best weathewise then. But pre-Christmas you won't find it as pricey as Christmas.

I also disagree with the analsyis that Phuket pre-Christmas will be expensive. You would be htere just beofre then. Look at prices. They do go up dramatically at Christmas, and places get booked out.
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Old Apr 9th, 2008, 09:02 AM
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While the very highest hotel rates in Phuket are Christmas and New Years, high season rates are in effect beginning Nov. 1.
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Old Apr 10th, 2008, 07:43 AM
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Yes, Phuket would definitely my first choice if it wasn't the length of the trip. I travelled with my kids for 16 hours last year and it was quite unbearable, so every hour counts. I have been to Hawaii many times and love it. Once again, it's the length of the trip. Not only I need to stop to get to Hawaii. I'll then have to make another stop in Japan before getting to HK. Last time I did it, I spent 2 weeks in Hawaii and 1 week in Japan before heading to HK. That was before I had kids. My main question remains, will my family have a great time staying at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru at KK even if it rains a lot?
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Old Apr 10th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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My crystal ball is a bit cloudy, so I can't answer your question specifically ;-)

It's a lovely resort, and as you mentioned, it has children's activities. I expect they have plenty of things to do when it rains. My experience of the monsoon rains in various parts of Malaysia is that it doesn't tend to rain all day, but it does rain hard when it rains. So an afternoon "shower" might dump and inch of rain or more, but it is often sunny both before and after the storm.

I think the answer depends on you and your family and how you feel about rain. For some people, having it rain on their vacation "spoils" it all. For others of us, a rain storm can be an opportunity to do something indoors - read, go to the spa, or simply stand by the window and watch the storm move across the sea.
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Old Apr 10th, 2008, 06:37 PM
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Hi Kathie, I don't think my family will mind if it rains an hour or two a day. After all, we'll have another 2 1/2 weeks of pretty good weather in HK including 3 days at Disney. I do believe KK will be a good choice to relax and get over the jet lag as I simply can not find any better flight plan. Beside, we'll probably go to Asia again in 2010. Then we'll have more choices when my kids are older. Thanks for all of your positive feedback. I'll probably book my flight before the end of tonight. Good Travel
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Old Apr 11th, 2008, 05:21 AM
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Hi kingchow,
glad to hear you are going to choose the Tanjung Aru. Think you wont regret it. It was one of my most remarkable stays during the last years. The only bad thing, I caught some sandfly bites on one of these nice coral islands. So take a good repeller.
Disneys in Hongkong is much smaller as in Orlando or Paris. More shops than shows. Hope it will entertain your kids for 3 days.
Enjoy your trip!
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