I'm still having a post-getaway hangover from our recent Subic trip. We stayed at the superb Lighthouse Marina Resort and had a wonderful overall trip in Subic. In fact, driving to Subic isn't as stressful and long as I remember it to be. It only took us around 2 hours from Manila to Subic via SCTEx without traffic.
Doing the cruise control was fun! I just set the speed and you don't have to step on the gas anymore. As soon as you tap on the brakes, the speed will need to be set again. You can increase/decrease your speed by toggling the +/- switch by the steering wheel. This made my trip more enjoyable hehe
You will save some money when shopping for duty free items in Subic but obviously, going there also entails some other costs like gas and toll. Here's a short summary of the other expenses we incurred. [accurate as of August 2012]
1) Upon entering NLEx, we paid Php45.00 for a "class a" vehicle.
2) At the last toll gate of NLEx, we paid Php173.00. Take note that 3 kilometers after this toll gate, you will exit after the "Dau exit" and there will be an interchange for SCTEx.
3) Another toll gate will greet you at the start of SCTEx were we paid Php168.00
4) As we entered Subic-Tipo zone just a few meters after the exit tollgate of SCTEx, we paid another Php22.00
Total toll costs (1-way) is Php 408.00 ; To and fro toll costs would amount to Php 816.00
Upon entering SBMA, do remember that traffic rules here is much stricter compared to manila. Please follow the first stop - first go rule so you wouldn't incur additional expenses to pay for fines.
Duty Free Shopping in Subic
So far, I can only recommend two places to shop for duty free goods here. One is the Royal Subic Duty Free and the other is the Puregold Duty Free.
Both of them has almost same priced goods (used some chocolates we bought as basis). To help you partially decide on where to shop, here's a button list of their positive and negative aspects:
(You can compare both. + means good and of course, - means not good)
|Image from Jeepney Guide|
Why shop in Royal Subic Duty Free?
> You get the option to pay using your credit card in Peso or US Dollar. (+)
> Very unorganized display orientation. I got dizzy. (-)
> The non-food items are just so-so. Nothing much to see. (-)
> We found a particular brand of candy that we really like while we were on Europe. (+)
> American hardware stuff outside the grocery area (+)
> Transport terminal for commuters (+)
> Less expensive food cart right outside the grocery (+)
> Not for claustrophobic people. Aisles are narrower. (-)
> Somewhat old already (-)
|Image from SubicBayLiving.com|
Why shop in Puregold Duty Free? (More info from another blogger)
> If you're using credit card, they automatically convert it to Peso for you. (-)
> Shopping experience is better in terms of the way they display the goods (+)
> More quality and imported items / non-food (+)
> The imported gummy candy we are looking for is not available here (-)
> Branded boutique shops outside the grocery area (+)
> No transport terminal. You must cross the road and walk to Royal Subic Duty Free (-)
> SnR food!!! (+)
> Brighter and roomier interior. Aisles are wider. (+)
> Fresh and newer than Royal Subic Duty Free (+)
Royal Subic Duty Free (+)=5 ; (-)=4
Puregold Duty Free (+)=6; (-)=3
The score might be almost a tie but it's up to you on what your priorities are. For me, Puregold is better because of the wider aisles and organized display showcase.
Other duty free shops in the area
We roamed around inside SBMA for a bit and there were a couple other duty free shops in the area. We stopped by 1 or 2 and had a look at some of the displayed items. It didn't look nice or appealing enough so we just left. They looked similar to the duty free shops around Clark and believe me, they are no good! The goods being sold in one of the duty free shops in Clark sells fake branded goods. Better buy stuff from reputable stores instead. If you really want to take a look at the other duty free shops around the area, check out this site (they have listed down some of the outlet stores in the area as well):
Harbor Point Mall in Subic
I already went here before the Harbor Point mall was even constructed for an ocular visit and now, it's finally open! To know what stores are available inside the mall, click here.
It looked like a normal less crowded mall for me. Honestly, this mall would've been 1million times better had they made it to be an "outlet" mall (like Citadel outlets or Camarillo premium oulets in the US) where all the outlet stores can come together. This will surely drive a significant number of tourists to Subic.
For tourists, It's just a simple mall. For residents and weekenders, there are restaurants and cinemas plus a Puregold grocery store. Here are some photos of the Harbor Point Mall in Subic: (Blurry photos taken using an iPhone 3G-rrasic)
If you're on the way back to Manila, I do recommend you to drop by Caltex NLEx (Southbound). It's the second gas station (First gas station is Shell) coming from the entrance of NLEx from SCTEx. Caltex Megastation (KM62) has an Adidas Outlet store that is really cheap! I bought a nice sneakers there once for just 1,800 pesos! That was also a rare find because it wasn't available in Manila. Although we know that most stuff in outlet stores are old stocks already, that one is admittedly a nice buy! That station also has a Nike outlet store.
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