In March 2018 I spent 2 weeks (about 14 days) traveling solo in the Philippines. Although I had already traveled through practically all of Southeast Asia, the Philippines were always left behind. I had this idea that traveling to the Philippines would be a bit too expensive for a backpacking solo trip, and that it would require a minimum travel time of a month to be worth actually going there. Fortunately I changed my mind and, taking advantage of the fact that I was in London at the time on a work trip, I bought a return flight to Manila, and off I went to see if I had indeed taken the right decision or not.
Travelling in the Philippines does end up becoming a little more expensive than in the other Southeast Asian countries. To save travel time, the plane is always the most effective way to move between islands, but not always the cheapest. The accommodation is also not that cheap, I paid substantially more for accommodation than I did in other countries in that part of the world. As for travel time: yes, indeed a month would be the ideal duration, to be able to properly explore this country, but I ended up making the most out of my 2 weeks traveling through the Philippines, at least enough to make me want to go back as soon as possible!
Below you’ll find a 2-week travel itinerary through the Philippines to help you plan your next adventure. I hope it helps!
Philippines Travel Itinerary Map
Detailed Travel Itinerary
Day 1 | Manila
My trip started in Manila. Almost all the blogs and websites I found, when I was working on my travel itinerary in the Philippines, recommended to flee the capital as soon as possible. I decided to do the exact opposite and to give this city a chance. What I found out was that, despite having one of the worst traffic situations in Southeast Asia, it did quite a lot to offer culturally.
Accommodation: I stayed at the Heroes Hostel. Comfortable, excellent breakfast and good location next to one of the main city accesses. You can always look for other options here: Accommodation in Manila.
What to visit: Fort Santiago, Intramuros District, Manila Cathedral, Paco Park, Chinese Cemetery, Pasay Seafood Market, American Cemetery.
Day 3 | Cebu and Bohol
Cebu was just a waypoint on my way to Bohol. It is known for being the crossing point to several other islands such as Bantayan Island (popular for its white sand beaches and crystal clear waters), the Camotes (which not only offers heavenly beaches, but also several different activities like trekkings or visiting the Bukilat Grotto, the Lake Danao), and Nalusuan (perfect for those seeking for diving opportunities). But visitors also go to Cebu for its incredible waterfalls, natural landscapes and wildlife.
Accommodation: As mentioned before, I did not stay in Cebu, so I can’t really recommend a particular hotel, but you can look for accommodation options in Cebu here: Accommodation in Cebu.
When I first started working on my travel itinerary in the Philippines, I immediately added a visit to the Tarsiers Sanctuary and the famous Chocolate Hills in Bohol island. And that’s exactly what I did. After my flight from Manila landed in Cebu, I took a taxi to the harbor where I got a ticket for a ferry that, only a few hours later, would be taking me to Tagbilaran, Bohol’s capital.
Oceanjet and SuperCat are two of the ferry companies that operate this 2 hour trip, but please note that during the typhoon season (from September to February), ferries may be cancelled or delayed. Tickets can be purchased directly at the harbor, through each company’s websites or through the website 12go.asia.
Accommodation: I stayed at Tr3ats Guesthouse Bohol, but honestly, I think you can do better. I ended up staying far away from the city center and the rooms weren’t exactly comfortable. You can look for other accommodation options here: Accommodation in Bohol.
Day 5 | Coron
From Bohol I took a ferry back to Cebu, from where I would need to get on another 1h30 flight to Busuanga, the capital of the island of Coron, in the province of Palawan. I had a 3 day boat expedition from TAO Philippines waiting there for me to take me to El Nido, the final destination in the tour. I recommend this experience to everyone who asks me for travel tips about the Philippines, it is in fact amazing and very well organised. It’s 3 days of pure relaxation with amazing people, through surreal deserted islands.
I didn’t stay long in Busuanga, Coron’s capital, just one night, since I didn’t have time to spare and I would be leaving very early the following morning on the boat expedition. But if you do have the time, I recommend that you explore the island a little bit more, for what I’ve been told, it’s worth it.
Accommodation: I stayed for only one night at the Sunvalley Tourist Inn, which I recommend. You have to walk a little bit to get to the center of the town, but nothing special really, and the rooms are very comfortable. If you choose to stay one night only, just to get on the TAO boat tour the next day, I recommend you stay right in the center of Busuanga, so that you’re closer to their office, where the tour begins. If you choose to stay a few more days in Coron, then flee from Busuanga (that is really not charming at all and has chaotic traffic) and look for Accommodation in Coron.
What to visit and do: Climb Mount Tapyas, go on a island-hopping tour, visit Kayangan Lake, go diving in the Apo Reef Nature Reserve, snorkel at Twin Lagoon, visit the Maquinit hot springs.
Day 8 | El Nido
The TAO expedition ends in El Nido, one of the main tourism meccas in the Philippines. I spent 2 nights here before leaving to my last destination in the Philippines, Por Barton.
The city of El Nido is extremely packed with tourism. There are hundreds of cafes, restaurants, bars, travel and tour agencies all over the place. Traffic is chaotic and this is not where you’ll be relaxing on the sand. But it is the place from where countless boats, filled with tourists, go on island hopping tours. These tours can be booked at one of the many local travel agencies. Alternatively, if you want to flee the crowds of tourists, you can always rent a private boat and leave early in the morning or in the afternoon. That’s what I did in a Dive Center in El Nido, along with the group of people I met on the TAO expedition.
Accommodation: It wasn’t easy to find accommodation in El Nido. The prices here were much higher than in the rest of the places I’d been in the Philippines. I needed privacy (I am now officially too old for dorm rooms at hostels), so I booked a private room at the Together Pension. It’s not bad, but if you book accommodation in advance (and not last minute like I did), you can do better. Click here to look for other accommodation options in El Nido: Accommodation in El Nido.
What to visit and do: Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Nacpan Beach, Snake Island, Hidden Beach, Seven Commandos Beach, Simizu Island, Secret Lagoon, Las Cabanas Beach.
Day 10 | Port Barton
I left El Nido in a minivan that took 4 hours to reach Port Barton, my last destination in the Philippines. The ticket was purchased the night before, in one of the travel agencies at El Nido.
After hearing so many positive comments about the relaxed and authentic atmosphere of Port Barton, I knew this would have to be my last stop in paradise. This was where I spent almost 4 days of total relaxation, on paradise-like beaches where I got to update my book readings, while lying on a hammock, by the shade of a palm tree, and took countless dips in warm and crystal clear waters. I did stand-up paddle, relaxed, met amazing people and made a promise to come back someday.
Accommodation: The bungalows at Russell’s Place became my home in Port Barton. Simple but comfortable, they were all I needed. For other accommodation options click here: Accommodation in Port Barton.
What to do and visit: Go on a island-hopping tour, trekking to the Pamuayan waterfalls, kayak at the Small Lagoon, do yoga by the beach, do stand-up paddle at sunset, take a boat to White Beach.
Day 13 | Manila
On my last day in Port Barton I took a minivan to the airport of Puerto Princesa where I would get on a flight towards Manila the following day.
Accommodation: In my second visit to Manila I chose to stay in a small guesthouse in the neighborhood of Santo Niño, called NoMadsMNL Backpackers Homestay. The room was simple, but relatively comfortable, and cheap., and you can use the kitchen. For other accommodation options click here: Accommodation in Manila.
And here you go, a two-week travel itinerary in the Philippines. I hope it helps you and convinces you to get that backpack on and get on a flight as soon as possible!