Hostel is the usual accommodation of choice for budget travellers and backpackers since it is affordable and you’ll get to meet different people with the same passion in travelling like you. As I have travelled in some countries abroad, I got exposed to backpacking and hostel culture that I even volunteered to some. The Philippines has just started to become a popular backpacker’s destination hence; hostels have just begun to become well known, especially for Filipinos.
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Ms Jermaine of The Circle Hostel invited BZFLAG Travel to check out their place. The Circle Hostel is a chain of budget friendly, eco˗hostel in the Philippines. Their hostels are mostly located in a surfing destination and surfing has always been on my bucket list so, I quickly accepted the invitation.
Last September 19 to 22, I was finally able to visit this place. Surprisingly, it was my first hostel experience in the Philippines, and it didn’t disappoint me. My friend and I arrived at the hostel at past 6 in the morning, feeling groggy from the long and crazy bus ride. We stayed in the common area first since there’s still no one at the reception and the usual check-in time is at 12 noon. Fortunately, Ate Raquel accommodated and checked us in at 7 AM, hence, we were able to take a long nap and recharged our exhausted body (and soul Haha!). We stayed here for four days thus we were able to fully experienced and immersed ourselves in “The Circle” quite well.
I have summed up the ten awesome reasons why you should check this place out.
1. They live up to their tagline “There Are No Strangers”.
This hostel strategically placed all the power outlets in the common area so you will have no choice but to mingle with other people. Kidding aside. The hostel was so homey that you naturally form an instant community and connections with other guests. The vibe is so cosy and laid back that you can just spend your whole afternoon lying in a hammock or on their colourful bean bags while playing your music of choice. At night, you can play cards, Jenga or even have a drinking session with your new found friends. We were lucky to try the Lambanog from Baler, though.
2. It is an eco˗friendly hostel.
As the global warming and climate change becomes alarming, it is nice to know that there are still some establishments who are concerned with the environment, and The Circle Hostel is one of them. The majority of the hostel structure were built from woods, trees and leaves˗ bamboos, coconuts, etc. They practice segregation system having different trash bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable. They also reuse plastic bags and bottles as much as possible.
3. Convenient Location.
So far, they have three branches which are located in Zambales, Baler and La Union so that you can choose depends on your site preference. Going to La Union branch was pretty easy and is just one bus away from Cubao or Pasay. In La Union branch, the hostel is near to different restaurants and food stalls and very accessible to other activities like pottery making. Sorry to burst your bubble, but their hostels are not beach front hostel although it is within a reasonable distance from the beach (it is few meters away, just across the road).
4. Everywhere seems to be Instagram˗worthy.
At this generation, where updating their social media is a must, this is your place to be. Once you enter their gate, you will be welcomed with different paintings, colourful walls and tiles, tonnes of quotations about life and travels. You will feel the artsy, chill vibes and will not even notice you are already smiling while reading those quotes painted on their walls. Also, you can showcase your talent or express your feelings through painting on their wall, just remember, NO name tagging.
5. They offer tours.
They offer some local tours in each hostel branch like Tangadan Falls tour in La Union that costs 500 pesos per pax. On the other hand, in their Zambales branch, they have an Aeta Tour in Yangil community where you can immerse with the local’s culture (like their music, arts and archery) while helping rebuild their forest by doing tree planting. Travel with a purpose, anyone? Not just will make your trip more fun but also a meaningful one.
6. Solo (Female) Traveler friendly.
If you’ve been tempted to experience solo travel yet you don’t know how to start; this hostel is an ideal place to jumpstart your adventure. This hostel is a nice place to make new friends easily, boosting your socialising skill. They also provide dorm room exclusive for girls, to make you feel more at ease if you’re not yet used to sleeping/staying with some guys around in one room. Surprisingly, the majority that we met during our stay were solo female travellers.
7. They serve complimentary breakfast.
There’s nothing much special about it. Bread, spreads and bananas, but hey, free breakfast is still free breakfast. It’s a good deal especially if you’re scrimping on your budget. They also provide free hot and cold drinking water so you can just buy some coffee or tea to complete your meal. They’re selling coffee inside the hostel for 50 pesos, though.
8. Decent toilet and bathroom
Beyond their nipa huts style and artistic façade, they have a decent toilet with bidet, yup with bidet! The shower also has a hot and cold options. Their bathroom was a shared one, but it was well kept, based on my experience there.☺ It just tends to be a bit dim at night. You can also enjoy some arts or quotation printed at the back of the door while nature is calling you.
9. Fresh air, closer to nature ambience.
Don’t expect this hostel to be a fancy hotel like standard. This one is more nature oriented, and it’s a hostel after all. All the dormitories are in open air/ open space. They only have fan rooms, and during our stay, electric fan sufficed since it usually rained and got chilly at night. They also provide mosquito net and privacy curtains in each bunk beds. You also have an option on whether you’ll have hammock or bunk beds depending on your budget and style.
10. You can have an Impromptu Boodle fight!
One of the highlights of our stay here was the Boodle fight prepared by the accommodating and kind, Kuya AJ. Just after we came from surfing lesson, we were all famished. He cooked Inihaw na Liempo and Fern Salad, placed on coconut leaves on top of a surf board, making it as our improvised table. It was one sumptuous lunch that I ended up as the last one standing or finishing the food. I think they also have this thing in other branches, and if you’re lucky, enough you get to experience Sashimi party in The Circle Baler courtesy of Rafael.
Overall, my stay at The Circle Hostel- the La Union was amazing. I will come back and perhaps do hostel hopping with their other branches. Thank you, Jermaine, for inviting TMT. And also with AJ and Rafael, for being friendly and accommodating, for making our stay a pleasant one. Thanks for the Boodle fight and the Lambanog. Haha!
Be it a soul searching trip, just want to get stoked with surfing, the start of your solo travel, out of town with friends but with a tight budget; whether you are a weekday warrior (like us) or a weekend wanderer, this hostel will always be a good option to stay. Indeed, there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met.
Nice to know:
- They provide lockers, just bring your own padlock.
- Since they’re in the coastal area, there’s an abundance of mosquitoes. So, bring an insect repellent.
- They are not accepting credit card. Bring cash.
- They can give you a free sticker for your souvenir.
- You can buy their hammocks for P1400 pesos.
- They have pretty fast WiFi connection, but you won’t be needing them most of the time anyway.
Rates differ per season:
P350 for hammocks, P450 for bunk beds from June to August (Off Season)
P400 for hammocks, P500 for bunk beds from September to November
P450 for hammocks, P550 for bunk beds from December to February (Peak Season)
They are also accepting Day trip visitors with P150 per person. You can utilise their lockers, toilets and the common room.
For more details, reach them through:
The Circle Hostel
Website: FB: The Circle Hostel
Email: [email protected]
Mobile Number: 09175054329
About the Writer
Krista is a Dentist by profession but backpacker by heart. She believes in living in the moment, one day at a time. She prefers on collecting good memories and experiences over material things. She is into mountain climbing, dental missions, budget travels, dark chocolates, steak and frozen yoghurt.
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