Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trip To Boracay, Philippines: D'Talipapa Market

Photo By: Elin Chow

A trip to Boracay is never complete without visiting the famous D'Talipapa. D'Talipapa is a wet market where you can buy fresh and live seafood and proceed to any restaurant nearby to have it prepared and cooked in your favorite styles. Alternatively, you can also purchase fresh seafood and bring them home to cook for your family and friends.

The market is a popular destination for visitors looking for souvenirs to bring home or with a craving for fresh seafood. This is also a place where you will find cheaper grocery items, restaurants and fresh products.

Situated in Station 2, D'Talipapa is accessible from the main road of Boracay (the road between Boracay Holiday Resort and Henann Lagoon Resort) and Station 2 of White Beach. The market is located just a 5 minutes walk away from Hennan Lagoon Resort. From the Resort, look out for the large D'Talipapa sign. Simply ask the locals if you are unsure of the directions.

D'Talipapa consists of few blocks of retail shops and restaurants crowded along the narrow lanes.

You will find plenty of restaurants offering cooking services, fast-food restaurants, pharmacies and grocery stores in the market.

Money changer and ATM machine are also available inside the vicinity of D'Talipapa, so do not worry if you run out of cash.

The narrow streets are also lined with rows and rows of souvenir shops selling some of the typical tourist souvenirs like fridge magnets, key chains, t-shirts, bags, sarongs and wooden crafts. Souvenirs sold at the market are said to be cheaper than those sold in D'mall or beachfront shops along the White Beach. Be sure to haggle for lower prices especially when you are buying more than one item from the same vendor.

The D'Talipapa Wet Market is both a wholesale outlet, trading in daily catches that freshly arrive from the ocean, and also a retail market, where visitors can purchase fresh live seafood.

The Wet Market offers a large array of seafood such as lobsters, prawns, shrimps, crabs, squids, oysters, scallops, sea urchins and a wide selection of fish that you may not recognize. Other than fresh seafood, the market also offers a wide selection of vegetables, fruits, meat and poultry products for visitors to choose from. 

The fun part about visiting D'Talipapa Market was that we get to select and buy whatever seafood we want from any of the vendors and then take them to any of the restaurants nearby for cooking and serving. The restaurant will prepare and cook the seafood for you in whatever way you like at a minimal fee.

The market was actually smaller than that what we have expected. Even so, the interesting selection of seafood offered here would not disappoint. This is certainly a paradise for seafood lovers!

As you walked down the wet market, you will find all sorts of live seafood, fresh from the ocean, available in abundance. The freshness of seafood are guaranteed as there are a daily supply of lobsters from Palawan or Surigao, fish and shells from Iloilo, Roxas and Mainland Aklan. It is impossible to get seafood fresher than D'Talipapa in Boracay.

Fresh catches of the day are either kept in large water filled basins and tanks or are neatly arranged on trays or in plastic crates and covered in ice to keep them fresh for the rest of the day. The market is filled with vendors calling out the day's catch, who are desperate to attract the attention of seafood lovers.

Being a coastal town, many would expect the price of seafood to be ridiculously cheap in Boracay since they are brought directly from the local fishermen. However, seafood sold at D'Talipapa Market were not as cheap as many would think. Most of the local vendors will usually ask for a price higher than what they expect to receive because they expect to negotiate. So be prepared to haggle and negotiate for a lower price, especially when you are buying more than one item from the same vendor. It is highly likely that the vendors will rid you off if you do not haggle. After all, the market is always a great place for a bargain.

During lunch and dinner time. the market is bustling with both locals and tourists browsing for fresh seafood. Most of the seafood lovers were excited at thought of picking out their own seafood and were eager to try everything on display.

However, most vendors speak little English. To buy, simply choose the seafood you want. The vendor will type an amount into a calculator and hand it to you. This is when you will have to start the haggling process. Once you agree with the price, the vendor will then pack the items into individual plastic bags for you.

Haggling can be an entertainingly frustrating and time-consuming experience. It was difficult to haggle and prices are not always negotiable. I would suggest that you think about a maximum amount you are willing to pay for the item before you start bargaining.

Just as vendors usually starts with absurdly high prices, we decided to use the same trick by offering a much lower price than what we expected to pay in the end. Do not go overboard though. The original price usually lies around 75% of the asking price.Even so, I would suggest you to lower your starting price to only half of the original price. This will not only provide you more room to negotiate, but also keep the vendors happy.

Another trick that you can use is to ignore the vendors and try to walk away when they refused to lower their offer price, but usually they will not let you walk away without buying anything. This is when they will try to counter offer you another price lower than the original. You may have to repeat these steps for a few times until both parties can mutual agree on a price. Be firm, confident but polite while haggling. Do not let the vendors get to you, no matter how hard they push.

Of course, the key to making a good deal is knowing the real price.  But unfortunately, you will never know the real price of seafood in Boracay, so you will have no idea whether you are getting the best deal. Just pay if you are happy with the price and enjoy your meal.

Please bear in mind that some seafood in the market does command a premium price, especially when it is alive. Whether you want the seafood alive or dead will certainly make a huge difference in price. Crabs and lobsters, in particular, are not cheap, so do expect to pay a premium price to enjoy these.

We decided to spent a little extra on a live lobster this time. Walking down the Wet Market, we stopped at one of the stalls to inquire about the price of lobsters.

We were initially offered PHP 2,500 (about RM 227.30) for a middle-sized green lobster. That was definitely too expensive! So we started haggling over the price by lowering the asking price to PHP 1,500 (about RM 136.40). Of course, the vendor refused to accept our offered price and actually tried to convince us that PHP 2,500 was the best price we will get in Boracay.

Since they refused to lower the price of the lobster, we decided to ignore them and try to walk away. But just like what we expected, the vendor will not let you walk away just like that. They tried to counter-offer us another price lower than the original asking price, but higher than what we expected to pay.

We simply negotiated until we reached a compromise. Eventually, the vendor agreed to give us a 20% off. We paid PHP 2,000 (about RM 181.20) for the lobster. The lobster was not cheap, but well worth the cost because it was very much alive and kicking.

Other than the lobster, we also bought some middle sized prawns from the same vendor. We were initially offered 4 prawns for PHP 800 (about RM 72.73), which was obviously overpriced. So we started the haggling process again and eventually we paid PHP 500 (about RM 45) for 6 middle sized prawns.

In total, we paid PHP 3,000 (about RM 272.73) for a middle-sized lobster and 6 prawns. Not exactly cheap, but definitely worth the price. We decided to make the purchase even though we knew that we still overpaid. The entire haggling process took about half an hour. Haggling is tiring and extremely time-consuming. Even if we were not quite satisfied with the price, we do not want to start the process over and over again. Since we found the price quite reasonable, we decided to just pay and enjoy our meal.

Stepping out of the market, we randomly walked into a restaurant named "Natalia Kusina" to have our seafood feast prepared and served.

You can choose to reserve a table with a restaurant before making your purchases at the wet market. This will guarantee you a table after you have made your purchase.

We passed all our purchases to the owner of the restaurant and were given a cooking service menu to decide how we wanted our food to be cooked. The restaurant also offers side dishes and drinks that can be ordered separately from an ala carte menu.

Please note that the price paid for raw seafood is not inclusive of food preparation charges you would have to pay for your food twice - once to the vendors for the raw seafood and the other to the restaurant for the preparation of food.

Most of the restaurants at D'Talipapa charges approximately PHP 150 per kilogram for each dish, with condiments and ingredients included in the fee.

Stir Fried Kangkong with Garlic

Apart from our seafood purchase, we also ordered Stir Fried Kangkong with Garlic from the restaurant. The Kangkong was well-cooked, deliciously seasoned with garlic and salt. A very simple dish but incredibly tasty.

Grilled Lobster

Grilled to perfection, the meat is incredibly sweet and not too dry to eat. The meat is firm, chewy but not mushy. It was surprisingly  tender and meat comes off from the shell easily. Even without any garnishing, the meat is wonderful flavorful on its own. A delight to eat!

Salt & Pepper Prawns

The salt and pepper prawns are perfectly cooked with a bouncy, chewy bite. Taste is just right, savory, but not too salty. The prawns were incredibly fresh, tender and sweet. I am not a big fan of prawns, but I really enjoyed this dish.

Overall, the fish market experience was very interesting. The seafood we bought were very fresh and delicious. We paid PHP 500 for the cooking service and soft drinks. In total, we spent PHP 3,000 (about RM 272.73) to enjoy such an amazing feast.

D'Talipapa Market is definitely a place you should not miss when visiting Boracay. Dining at D'Talipapa is a great experience and even though it was a little expensive, it never disappoint. Do not miss this place if you are a seafood lover. This is where you will get to enjoy fresh seafood cooked the way you like. So, make sure you bring an empty stomach and plenty of cash so that you can try some of the freshly caught seafood in Boracay.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on my 4 days adventures in Boracay! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

1 comment:

  1. This is quite a comprehensive post about Boracay's D'Talipapa. Cheers!