Seeing the over 7,000 islands forming the Philippines would require several life times, each main island has diverse landscapes and natural attractions.
The Philippines extend over a very large area, making them subject to different seasons, including the rainy and typhoon one. Be wise when you plan your trip! Be prepared that your most used means of transport will be airplanes and ferry boats, and the weather can often delay your scheduled journeys. Unfortunately, we had to exclude the south due to safety reasons (The ISIS cell is reportedly being defeated slowly).
ISLAND HOPPING ITINERARY IN THE PHILIPPINES
We are including the most beautiful and accessible places we’ve been to, we didn’t manage to see all of the 7,000 islands (only 6,950 missing!) but we did our best during our three week stay!
Manila will probably be your first approach to Philippines. If presumably you are in the Philippines for its amazing islands and nature, don’t feel sorry to skip it as we did. Manila Ninoy Aquino busy airport is the main base of Cebu Pacific, which will provide you good deals to fly from one island to the next.
Cebu is a fairly big island in the centre of the Philippines. It doesn’t offer remarkable beaches, but features some exciting activities in the ocean as the famous whale shark seeing in Oslob, and the sardines run in Pescador Island. Also, dozens of waterfalls make Cebu worth the trip! Check out our close encounter with a whale shark here!
A few hours by ferry from Cebu, which makes them good to be visited in the same week, gives Bohol a deserved spot on this list: after visiting charming Chocolate Hills, you can relax on Panglao long beach or make the trip to the tiny islands of Pamilacan and Balicasag to enjoy some island life and spot dolphins and sea turtles.
EL NIDO, PALAWAN
El Nido represents the ideal of a holiday to the Philippines: plenty of wonderful remote islets and dreamlike sandy beaches will steal your heart, as happened to us during our stay in Palawan. Join a tour on a bangka boat and let the marvelous landscapes delight your senses.
As for Cebu&Bohol, El Nido&Coron come in pairs, as the former is the northern most island of Palawan region. Similarly to El Nido, many islets rise here and there around the mainland, Coron is better for diving and snorkeling. We had the time to see them both, if you have to choose one, El Nido has more islands and beaches nearby.
Located half way between El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Port Barton offers some pristine isolated beaches, nature here is still dominant and untouched in many points. Port Barton is your best alternative to El Nido if you want to avoid mass tourism.
PUERTO PRINCESA (UNDERGROUND RIVER)
Palawan alone would be worth staying two weeks, since it has so much to offer! In the central area, Puerto Princesa Underground River is a must see if you want to experience something different: explore this subterranean river flowing through a 7-kilometer-long dark cave.
Boracay island is considered the ultimate tourist destination of Philippines: prices go higher as the sand becomes whiter. A good option if you want nothing but a pure beach stay, and if you like having some party life at night. Watch your dates! Boracay has become so overcrowded recently that the government announced a 6-month closure of the island to protect its endangered environment, starting April 2018!
Far from the previous listed, situated in the south-east of Philippines, Siargao island offers white sandy beaches too, but it is cheaper and less busy compared to Boracay. It is also a good destination for those who like surfing.
Here’s some practical info about the Philippines:
HOTELS – WHERE TO STAY IN THE PHILIPPINES?
You can pre book all of your Philippines accomodation with free cancellation here.
Alternative Beach Cottages, El Nido: find out what it’s like to live on a cottage right on the beach facing the lovely El Nido bay.
For diving lovers, check out this island stay in Bohol: Cabilao Sanctuary Beach & Dive Resort.
Sangat Island Dive Resort, Coron: native-style cottages in a wonderful location within Coron Bay.
WEATHER – WHEN TO GO TO THE PHILIPPINES?
It is quite complicated to define a weather pattern in the Philippines, winds and currents come from every direction and behave very randomly. Generally speaking they’re subject to a tropical climate, thus dry season goes from December to May, and the typhoons hit between June and November.
DO I NEED A TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes you do. Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
VISA – HOW TO GET A VISA TO THE PHILIPPINES?
The Philippines have a tourist visa free policy up to 30 days for most countries worldwide. If you are not sure, click here to double check if you need a visa to The Philippines.
FLIGHTS – WHERE TO START YOUR TRIP?
As said, Manila will probably be your first landing point in The Philippines. From here, there are direct flights to the main islands Cebu, Bohol, Palawan. The most touristy places as El Nido, Coron, Boracay, have small local airports that usually provide single daily flights, normally only to and from Ninoy Aquino Manila Airport.
FERRY&BUS – HOW TO BOOK TICKETS IN THE PHILIPPINES?
Ferry ticket management is local and different from place to place. Short trips are normally bookable the previous day via any local agency. Read more info here about longer routes as Cebu-Bohol or El Nido-Manila.
Hop on any liner bus and pay for your ticket onboard, or agree a price for a van ride for trips like El Nido-Puerto Princesa.
If you have more time to spend, we suggest to reach one of the many tiny islands scattered around Philippines and live a few days isolated in a paradise setting!
This should do it to start planning your trip to the Philippines, you can also read our related articles for deeper info. Should you need more details, let us know in the comments below.
SAFE TRAVELS TO PHILIPPINES!