The Philippines Backpacking Guide

Best places to visit, travel tips, and Philippines itinerary advice

Looking for places to stay? Browse Philippines hostels or guesthouses & hotels

The Philippines feels different from anywhere else in Southeast Asia. With a unique mix of cultural influences and far from the tourist crowds of Thailand or Bali, it invites you to discover it your own way. Backpacking in the Philippines is not always quite as effortless as it is in mainland Southeast Asia (in part due to the added logistics of travelling between islands), but I think it’s also one of the region’s most rewarding destinations.

There are many reasons why I love the Philippines. It has some of the best beaches in Asia, and with over 7000 islands it’s an island-hopping paradise. Superb snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing spots are scattered all across the archipelago. Beyond the beaches and reefs, you’ll find lush jungles, stunning volcanoes, and tropical pine forests in Northern Luzon that are perfect for hiking and caving adventures.

What also makes me a big fan is its cultural diversity. The Phillipines owes this to its many ethnic groups but also due to foreign influence, as it was once a Spanish colony and briefly a US one. The main religion on most islands is catholic, and you can find traces of Hispanic influence in many place names or on restaurant menus. If you squint your eyes, you can sometimes feel like you’re in Latin America. Contrasting to this is the Filipino’s love for American sports and pop culture, which you’ll quickly notice if you listen to any radio or pass by any karaoke booth. Jeepneys are also a living reminder of the US prescence during WW2; these heavily modified and colorfully painted US army jeeps still proudly serve as the local transportation. 

While mainland Asia is hugely popular among Western backpackers, the Philippines is relatively less visited. Maybe this is due to its geographic separation from popular countries such as Thailand or Vietnam, or perhaps because it can seem more culturally familiar to Westerners at first glance. I discovered the Philippines after travelling elsewhere in Asia, and it ended up being possibly my favorite country in the region.

Keep in mind that due to fewer travellers and a fragmented geography, there is less of a clear-cut backpacker circuit. Particularly outside of popular Palawan or Bohol, it helps to be a bit adventurous and to follow your own path.

Where to go in The Philippines

Philippines travel map

The Philippines has many islands that are quite spread apart, and not all of them are conveniently connected. This makes planning a route a bit more challenging, but it can also makes things more fun, as you’re encouraged to hop around and no one follows quite the same route. The best places to visit are spread all over the archipelago, though if you’re pressed for time it makes sense to target only one or two islands.

Here is what some of the regions are most known for:

  • Palawan for beautiful beaches, mangroves and caves near Sabang, spectacular island hopping around El Nido and Coron, and wreck diving around Coron. The route from Puerto Princesa to Coron is arguably the main backpacker trail with many including Palawan in their itinerary.
  • Northern Luzon for hiking, caving, and the UNESCO world heritage rice terraces of Banaue
  • Boracay Island is the most heavily advertised holiday destination of the Philippines. It’s the least ‘backpackery’ place. Expect lots of resorts and activities like para-sailing, banana boats, jetskis, water-skiing, etc. Prices are generally much higher here than elsewhere in the Philippines.
  • Southeast Luzon (Bicol) has an impressive volcano near Legazpi which can be hiked. You can swim with whale sharks in nearby Donsol (if you’re lucky enough to find any).
  • Bohol for visiting local villages, seeing tarsier monkeys, and the quircky Chocolate Hills (slightly overrated with apparently no walking paths around it, but still cool)
  • Cebu is particularly of interest for scuba diving; check out Malapascua Island, and I’ve heard great things about Moalboal and Apo Island.
  • Siargao is an emerging destination popular especially with surfers. I’ve been told the first backpacker hostels recently opened here.
  • Mindanao: off the beaten track. This region has had some security issues due to separatist activity so check travel advisories before going here, though incidents have been rare and many do travel here, sharing enthusiastic reports. 

This of course barely scratches the surface. The Philippines is like a collection of destinations wrapped into one, and this guide will cover only some of the most known ones (and the ones I was able to cover in the month that I spent there).

Getting around

The most common entry point is Manila, either flying into its main airport (most long distance flights go here) or to Clark Airport near Angeles, 80km north of Manila (favored by regional budget carriers including AirAsia). Some flights also go direct to Cebu City, located more centrally in the Philippines.

The big cities are congested and stressful, and so they might not leave the best first impression. If you’ve only just arrived, keep in mind that those laidback beaches and smaller towns are going to feel very different.

Buses are the best way to get around on the islands, such as the largest island of Luzon where Manila is located. But to see a variety of places, you’ll inevitably have to cross some water.

As far as ferries go, the short ones are worth it: for instance between Bohol and Cebu or Cebu and Malapascua island. Taking a boat from El Nido to Coron Island is a particularly nice journey and is a bit of an attraction in itself. (You can also do this leg as a tour with an adventure company where you sleep in hammocks on deserted islands along the way, though this isn’t cheap.)

Ferries are not great for covering long distances however. Forget about taking a boat from Manila to Palawan for example; there’s a boat connection but it only goes once a week and takes a good 28 hours to get there. Because everything is quite spread apart in the Philippines realistically you’ll probably end up taking an internal flight or two if you want to see a lot. Fortunately local carriers offer pretty cheap flights: check Cebu Airlines, Tiger Air or AirAsia Zest.

Places to visit in the Philippines

The following are just some of the best places to visit and top destinations in the Philippines:

  • Hop between stunning islands in the Bacuit Archipelago
    Vietnam’s Halong Bay may be impressive but it’s also overcrowded. Want to have the place a little more to yourself? Then go to the Bacuit Archipelago to the north of Palawan. The peaceful islands, secret beaches and karst cliffs are simply drop-dead gorgeous, and you can have some incredible snorkeling to boot. Some great island hopping tours depart from El Nido on Palawan and from Coron Island.

  • Visit Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins in Sagada
    Hit up Northern Luzon and you might feel like you’re in a whole different country. As you get higher up in the mountains the feeling of tropical summer recedes, turning gradually into more of a gentle European spring with the smell of pine trees in the air. Sagada is a good base for trekking and caving.

  • See the impressive Ifugao rice terraces
    A UNESCO world heritage site, the rice terraces near Banaue in Northern Luzon are a major tourist attraction. I recommend making the hike to nearby Batad instead; this village can only reached by foot, but you will be rewarded with the sight of stunning amphitheater-style rice terraces that are even more impressive than the ones at Banaue.

  • Go to a tarsier monkey sanctuary on Bohol
    The island of Bohol is home to the rare tarsier monkeys, small nocturnal and giant-eyed creatures. You might be lucky enough to see them in the wild, though the semi-wild sanctuary on Bohol is your guaranteed way to see them.

  • See the Chocolate Hills on Bohol
    While I don’t recommend going to Bohol just to see the Chocolate Hills (they’re a little overrated), they are still a fun curiosity. For some unexplained reason the landscape in central Bohol is dotted with little Super Mario esque hills, which are chocolate-coloured for part of the year.

  • Snorkel with whale sharks
    These gentle giants are not dangerous to humans; they only eat plankton. But they are also the largest fish in existence and their scale is truly something to be appreciated. Donsol in Southeast Luzon and Oslob on Cebu are places where you can go on a boat and jump in the water right next to these huge creatures. Keep in mind however that sightings are by no mean guaranteed (even in season).

  • Visit the Subterranean River National Park
    Sabang on Palawan is home to one of the longest cave rivers in the world. The boat tour is interesting–you will see some cool rock formations and a lot of bats. Also of interest is the nature surrounding Sabang. Walk westward along the beach and you’ll find a small waterfall that leads into the sea, and you can see hundreds of mudkicker fishes hanging onto the rocks here. Wake up early and take a boat tour of the nearby mangrove forest to see lots of snakes, crabs and tropical birds. Around the cave entrance, you can easily spot monkeys and giant lizards.

  • Learn to Scuba dive in Puerto Galera, near Manila
    While you can get Open Water certified in tons of different locations, a popular place for Scuba training at highly competitive prices is Puerto Galera on Oriental Mindano.
  • Dive the great dive sites of the Philippines
    The Philippines is truly a diver’s paradise. Come face-to-face with rare thresher sharks around Malapascua Island (don’t worry, they don’t bite!), discover amazing WW2 wrecks around Coron Island, or dive the world’s second-largest contiguous coral reef system of Apo Reef in Mindano. Bohol has some good wall dives around Panglao Island, and some unique dive sites around Bien Unido where hundreds of statues of the Virgin Mary can be found on the ocean bottom, creating surreal underwater scenes.
  • Hike a giant volcano
    The Philippines is home to some impressive volcanoes. There are several around Manila that can make for good day-trips (like Taal Volcano). I hiked Mount Mayon near Legasbi, which has one of the most symmetrical cones in the world (and is still a little active).

  • Be a beach bum
    Need a break from your active travelling? There are beaches a-plenty to relax. Boracay Island is the prime beach resort location, though it’s more for holidayers than for travellers. You’ll find great beaches all over the country.

  • Sing!
    Filipinos love karaoke. Even in tiny villages with bamboo huts you may hear tunes like Livin’ On A Prayer blast from the speakers after work hours. Filipinos are known to be very musically gifted, and it’s said they’re born with a guitar in their hands. Should you be invited, bring some rum and share the fun.

Suggested hostels

Enjoying your trip is as much about where you’re staying as where you’re going. The Philippines has some great backpacker hostels, particularly in the main travel spots on Palawan and Luzon.

browse philippines hostels »
Pink Manila Hostel Manila A relaxing refuge from the busy streets of Manila, with rooftop bar and swimming pool.
Z Hostel Manila Modern newly built hostel with lots of amenities. Dorm beds and some private rooms.
Our Melting Pot El Nido The top rated backpacker hangout in Palawan’s island hopping hub.
Outpost Beach Hostel El Nido Located on the more secluded southern beach with spectacular sunset views from its two decks.
Frendz Resort Boracay Boracay may be a resort island, but this hostel brings low prices and good vibes.
Noordzee Hostel Cebu Some ways south of Cebu, on its own beach away from touristy areas. Dorms and private beach cottages.
Pink Banaue Hostel Banaue The only hostel near the Banaue Rice Terraces (the other options here are guesthouses)

Suggested budget hostels

You won’t find the insane bargains of, say, Vietnam or Cambodia, but the Philippines nevertheless has good budget options at very low prices by Western standards. is a great site to check as they have the biggest selection of independent hotels. Below are a few picks.

search philippines hotels »
Park Avenue Guesthouse Manila Most Manila hotels are in modern high-rises, but this one is in a historical 2-level house in a pleasant street not far from the bayfront.
El Gordo’s Adventures and Guesthouse El Nido Bunks and rooms with open wooden deck overlooking El Nido Bay. Private rooms starting at $30.
Garden Bay Beach Resort El Nido El Nido Bungalows with verandas in private beach area on the edge of town.
Ralph’s Place Boracay Rustic but modern bamboo huts, 2 min from the beach.
Dave’s Straw Hat Inn Boracay Peaceful hidden guesthouse with gardens, book exchange, and pancake breakfast.

Philippines travel tips

Meeting people

You’ll run into plenty of other travellers in Manila, Palawan, and Borocay. But if you’re travelling off the beaten track, you may find that solo travel is not quite as effortless as in mainland Asia. Many parts of the Philippines aren’t frequented so much by travellers, with some scattered hubs forming mainly around popular scuba diving spots.

However, contact with locals is easy as at least 60% of the population speaks English. Filipinos are known to be welcoming and friendly, and you’ll probably end up meeting many locals or domestic travellers. This is super fun and very different from elsewhere in the region.

Riding jeepneys is cheap and fun

You will find jeepneys all over the Philippines. These colorful converted jeeps serve as local hop-on-hop-off buses following set routes. Simply jump on board by entering through the back, then pass the money to the driver in front. Jeepneys are inexpensive and ideal for short distances (along with the ubiquitous tricycles which you can hail on many streets). Do take care at night in Manila though as taking Jeepneys reportedly isn’t always safe and taxis are recommended at night.

Since all passengers share the same seating area it’s a nice way to be among locals and potentially make some chit-chat. Some Jeepneys let you sit on the roof as well, which can be fun and adventurous especially when driving around windy mountain roads.

Expect cities to be stressful

Manila is a busy, congested and chaotic city. Sometimes such chaos can be interesting, such as in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam where seeing seemingly infinite shoals of honking scooters flowing through the streets can be a thrill. But in Manila you just end up stuck in traffic a lot. Some of the neighborhoods are a little rough, and the historical sights around Intramuros are only of mild interest to foreigners.

This is not say you can’t have a good time in Manila (for instance, its nightlife seemed good), but the city can be more stressful than expected. The second biggest city, Cebu, is less hectic than Manila, but not by much.

I recommend finding a nice hostel or hotel in the cities so that you have a relaxing home base. Explore the cities a little, but then head on to the countryside where the Philippines truly shines.

The food is a mixed bag

With my apologies to Filipinos who are clearly proud of their food, but the cuisine doesn’t always appeal to foreign tastebuds. It seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it thing among travellers and expats. From my point of view, many dishes get smothered with too much salt, too much sugar, or too much fat. American-inspired fast food is also ubiquitous in the cities which makes healthier options more difficult to find at times.

There is in fact some great food in the Philippines if you look around, or if you ask locals what’s best. It’s also helpful to consult travel guides or Tripadvisor for the best dishes or restaurants. But it’s a bit different from a country like Thailand where a delicious pad Thai is only ever a street corner away. Some travellers don’t really take to the Filipino fare, but keep your nose peeled and you can certainly eat well.

Are you insured?

Get travel insurance and you’ll be covered for medical expenses, theft, personal liability, cancellation, and more. I recommend World Nomads, which offer flexible insurance for independent travellers with 24-hour worldwide assistance.

Get a quote at world nomads »

Researching your Philippines trip

Hopefully this page has already given you some ideas. It’s also be worth picking up a Philippines travel guide, as the distributed geography of the islands makes it not always obvious where to go next or how to get there. Don’t feel like you have to go to the places mentioned here or in other overviews! There are many roads-less-travelled, and finding them can be its own reward.

Many Filipinos blog about their own country in English, so a great way to find out about alternative destinations is to follow these blogs. Probably the biggest of them is Pinoy Adventurista, which covers all of the provinces. Two Monkeys Travel is co-written by a Brit and a Filipina, and their top 40 filipino travel blogs can lead you to countless tips and stories about places all over the country.


Related links

Around the web

Philippines: before you go

Incompatible? Get a universal travel adaptor.
Flights How to Find Cheap Flights Like a Pro
Currency 1 USD = 53 Philippine Peso
1 EUR = 63 Philippine Peso
1 GBP = 71 Philippine Peso
(Today’s rates.)
ATMs Widely available everywhere except for some smaller islands. Tip: Get a prepaid debit card with Transferwise or Revolut to avoid international ATM and currency conversion fees.
Internet Relatively slow internet speeds. Good 3G & 4G coverage.
(Need a VPN?)
Insurance Get a quote at World Nomads. Travel insurance covers you for theft, medical emergencies, and more. (Why it’s wise to get travel insurance.)
Places to stay
Pack & Prepare
Books for Philippines


  1. Mandy Yanga Reply January 18, 2018 at 6:00 am

    I’m really glad you visited our beautiful country, the Philippines! Thank you for visiting. If ever you plan again to visit the country, I hope you try Amanpulo. It’s amazing and so breath-taking 🙂

  2. Vera S Reply November 21, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Hey Marek! Thank you SO much for your blog and all the inspirational posts. Me and my two friends are going on a 6 month long south east Asia trip starting in February and so far we’ve planned the entire trip based on your blog 😉

    However, I wanted to ask if you (or anyone else reading this) recently have heard anything about the safety situation in the Philippines? We are particularly interested in visiting Palawan, Bohol and Cebu. We are from Sweden, and here there have been a few articles in the papers on how ISIS is targeting some areas in the Philippines and our government have even put Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago on the list of places Swedes should not visit att ALL. We really don’t want to miss out on the Philippines, but then theres the whole safety first thing… Do you know if the situation recently has worsened or do you think it is as safe as it sounds in your post?

    We promise not to hold you responsible for whatever you say haha, but I feel like you might have a pretty good idea of how the talk goes among backpackers right now and thought I at least should try asking.

    /Vera (and Emelie and Saga) from Sweden

    • Marek Reply November 22, 2017 at 12:13 am

      Hey Vera (and friends), glad you’re finding my blog useful! That’s a great question and always a tough one to answer, so this is just my 2 cents 🙂

      Firstly about Mindanao, the no-travel warnings are (sadly) nothing new. There have been rebel separatists there for 70+ years and there have been no-travel warnings for Mindanao for as long as I can remember (since at least 2011). Things have gotten more heated this year though so I think it’s best to avoid this region as a tourist.

      I’d personally be much less worried about the rest of the country though. I saw some concerns about Palawan and Bohol a while ago but they’ve now disappeared from the UK and US travel advisories. The UK foreign office has still marked the very southern bit of Cebu as orange on their maps but that does need to be kept in perspective.

      For what it’s worth, I’ll be travelling around the Philippines myself again in January (unless somehow things change dramatically), though I won’t be going to Mindanao.

  3. Helen Tailor Reply August 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for the post.I will get all the information in the post what I need. I will plan a trip to the Philippines soon.Thanks for sharing.

  4. Rose Reply July 31, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Omg I’m jealous Marek!!! I have only visited a few from your list! But I’m looking forward to explore my country more. Thanks for this helpful post about traveling Philippines.

  5. alberto Reply July 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I love this post and I did part of it as well,

    here is a video I made. It is a great way to explore the Philippines from home!

    • Marek Reply July 18, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Awesome video, thanks for sharing!

  6. Levi Cin Reply June 19, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I want to hang out too! Tell me how. I’m basically new in town and all I know are the neighborhood working places. Good thing they’re fine!

  7. zoe Reply November 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    hi marek, heaps of great info here thanks so much! i’m spending some time in sogod bay and then want to travel on from there. i’m thinking of going to bohol, malapascua island and palawan. do you think 10 days is too short for these 3 places?

  8. Helene Reply October 16, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the post, Marek. It was very informative and helpful. I am from Norway, and it is not easy to find information about the Philippines here as there are not many Norwegians that has been there.

    My best friend and I are planning a trip to the Philippines early/mid June 2017. Do you know how the weather is at this time? We want to see beautiful white beaches with crystal clear water and beautiful nature. We also like to party (we are 23 years old) and we want to both stay at places where there are a lot of things happening and some places that are a litte more quite. Do you have a travel route you would recommend? Is it best to book flights from Norway to Manila and from Manila to Norway, or should we fly back home from another place? I saw someone wrote that they where planning to visit – Palawan – Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Sabang, Bacuit, Coron.
    – Boracay
    – Cebu
    Would this route work for us as well? And in what way do you get to the different places? By flight or boat?


    • Marek Reply October 17, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      I’m not sure about the weather situation, but the route you mention is a fairly typical route and you’d get to see many of the cool things in the Philippines. With flights I’d recommend using a flight search engine such as Momondo or Skyscanner to see where the cheapest flights from Norway are. Manila is not really a big hub – if there are direct flights from Oslo to Manila they might be quite pricey, so it could be worth going via Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong. There is some partying going on in El Nido and of course in the cities, but don’t expect loads of partying all the time as is more common in Thailand or on Bali. For more partying, you might still want to look at Boracay. (A more ‘commercial’ place but it also has much more nightlife.)

    • Wilbert Reply January 29, 2017 at 2:53 am

      Im from the Philippines.
      If you are coming from Manila, there is a direct flight to Cebu, Palawan ( both Coron and Puerto Princesa). My suggestion is from Manila( you can party here in BGC) take a plane to Cebu. In Cebu go to Oslob first where you can swim with the gentle whale sharks, then go to Moalboal where you can swim with millions of sardines and dive with the threshre shark which is i guess gentle too haha and do canyoneering which is super fun. Then head to Bohol by boat. Then from bohol, fly to Puerto Princesa in Palawan, go to the underground river etc. Then take the shuttle(500pesos) to El Nido, spend 3 days island hoping there and go to Coron and island hoping and ship wrecks. Then fly to Boracay to party before heading to Manila to go home. If you have any questions, I’ll help as much as I can.

      • Analisa Reply March 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

        Hi Wilbert, your suggested route is similar to what I wanted to do on my first trip this year, minus Bohol. My points of interest are Palawan, El Nido, Coron, Cebu and Boracay. Flying into Manila. Can you recommend how I should navigate through this and the suggested transportation from one point of interest to another (plane,boat, etc.)?

  9. Meagan Browno Reply October 4, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Amazing blog with great info. Glad to find it. Keep it up dear.

  10. Diana V, Reply September 12, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Hello Marek! What a piece of inspiration. Thanks a lot! I am glad I found it 🙂 I am living now in Manila. It’s been almost a month since I came. And I still have almost a year to go! As you said, the city can be really challenging sometimes. So I definitely need to explore the country and get to know it better. My boyfriend is coming in between December-January to spend a month here. I hope we can really do the best of it. Is there anything special we should consider when travelling in this time of the year? Could you possibly recomend me the best options to look for low budget fligh tickets? (to travel inside the Philippines and for my bf coming from Germany). Thanks again 🙂

  11. Katie Reply August 29, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Thanks for this post it helped me so much with my travels! Just a foreword for those heading to Oslob – swimming with the whale sharks where sightings are “guaranteed” is pretty sad to see. It’s become more or less a zoo, with those who benefit from the tourism feeding the whales to make them stay, which in turn interferes with their migration patterns. Also not mentioned here is to keep the weather in mind! If like me you are travelling around August, you may sadly want to give Palawan a miss as it’s too rainy, and head for Cebu and Bohol instead! Finally, homestays are an amazing way to experience Filipino life, as are lots of guesthouses as they are locally run. The highlight of my trip ended up being when I stayed on a farm near Baguio (happy house farm if anyone is interested!), seeing how local people live and eating the BEST filipino food ever (it does exist, I promise). Also another quick tip – at Manila airport, cross the road from the expensive yellow metered taxis and you have the standard white metered taxis…. at half the price. Safe travels everyone!

    • Marek Reply August 30, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Great tips Katie, thanks for sharing (and sad to hear about the feeding of whale sharks).

    • Lauren Reply September 13, 2016 at 3:35 am

      Does anyone know how the weather is on Palawan in mid to late October? Any info would be appreciated!

      • Ryan Reply September 21, 2016 at 5:48 am

        Hi lauren, rainy season in the philippines usually last up to sept to early october so you might expect to experience occasional rains unless typhoon forms South china sea near the island. It

  12. Béatrice Vu Reply August 25, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Wow, this post inspire me a lot, I’m currently looking for a solo destination and I’m debating between Hawaii and Philippines can you guys help me out?

  13. Teresa Reply July 31, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Hello guys! I just booked my flight to the Philippines and the more I read the more I really get worried about the rainy season- I’m heading there from the middle of August until beginning of September. Does anyone know how the rainy season there feels like? I was even thinking about skipping the Philippines and flying over to Vietnam. I would be happy about anyone’seen experiences! Thank [email protected]

    • Katie Reply August 29, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Cebu and Bohol are beautiful at this time of year (especially Bohol) but you may want to give Palawan a miss. As most of its activities are water based, so many boat trips are cancelled and it’s a bit of a risk!

  14. Angela Reply July 24, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Your opinion please — we plan to backpack around Philippines next summer 2017 in July-August. I understand that they’re the months we should avoid due to weather. Is it that bad and rain a lot all month in July and beginning of August? Will it be more safer to travel early June and return in July? Your inputs will be helpful. Thanks

    • Katie Reply August 29, 2016 at 9:13 am

      As for my response above, head for Bohol over Palawan!

  15. Ryan Reply July 24, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Extremely helpful! Thank you so much.

  16. Sue Jacobs Reply June 14, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Can you give some advice please, I am a 55yr old single lady who will be travelling for 5 mths in December. Some of my countries will be in tour groups but when I hit the Philippines next March/April I would like to go it alone as there a certain things I would like to see as the Hanging Coffins and snorkelling with the whale sharks. I have 2.5 weeks there. Any recommendations for a single lady and is it safe?

    P.s your blog is very good and interesting

    Many thanks Sue

    • Marek Reply June 26, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Hi Sue. Sounds like a fantastic adventure! It’s safe in the Philippines. In Manilla I would take just a bit more care at night (for instance, use taxis instead of local buses). But outside of the big city, it’s very safe, and it’s common for people to travel around solo.

      In addition to those great sights you’ve already mentioned you might enjoy going to Palawan and El Nido. It’s nice to take the boat tours from there to see the lagoons and islands. These day tours are in groups so that gives you something to do with other people in addition to exploring the area on your own.

      Hope this helps

    • Sue Jacobs Reply July 10, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      Sorry I have not replied early….Thank you for your help that makes me feel a lot happier knowing it’s pretty safe and I will definitely have a look at those other places 🙂

  17. Nicolaj Reply June 11, 2016 at 10:27 am

    This post had everything I needed 🙂 Thanks a lot
    Only been to Boracay (many times), but never anywhere els in the Philippines 😀 Missing out on a lot I can see 😀

  18. Sherry C. Reply May 24, 2016 at 6:02 am

    Hola Marek,

    Such a wonderful blog for me to explore Philippines soon. Am planning for a solo trip say about 4 days 3 nights to Luzon. I would love to wish like the rice terrace near Banaue in Northern Luzon, Super Mario Esque hills at Bohol, Mount Mayon near Legasbi. Do you think the time is sufficient to visit all these places. Any good recommendation to stay in rice terraces? Most probably I will Clark airport in the evening and would it be advisable to have any tour guide to guide me to Northern Luzon.

    • Marek Reply May 24, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Hola Sherry. Realistically I’m not sure those things can be combined within 4 days. Getting to Banaue already takes an overnight bus from Manilla, then going all the way back etc. so that’s 2-3 days in itself. I’d probably pick 1 or 2 things in the Philippines that aren’t too far apart and focus on that. It’s difficult for me to offer specific accommodation or tour guide recommendations as I actually don’t remember where I stayed myself!

      • Bridget Reply June 2, 2016 at 8:50 am

        Great post, Marek. I just arrived in Malaysia after six weeks in the Philippines. If it helps, I stayed at Banaue Home Stay in Banaue and Ramon’s Homestay in Batad. Both were good and both were inexpensive. In my opinion, the rice terraces at Batad were the star of the show, but it is all beautiful. Hope you have a great trip!

  19. Daniela Reply May 16, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Hi there!

    I am having a serious case of “wanderlust” reading this! My BF and I are packing up, leaving our jobs and starting our adventure on November 5th- flying into Kuala Lumpur (got insanely cheap flights!).

    We are desperate to go to the Philippines before we head off to Indonesia, Australia, NZ etc.

    We don’t have a time-scale. We could be in the Philippines anywhere between 3 and 6 weeks!

    I just wondered if you could offer some advice on the following:
    1)Is there a logical order to do places in? We want to be both time and cost-efficient.
    2) How far in advance do we need to book internal flights?
    3) How long do you think we need in each place?

    I’ve looked at places in depth and whilst Boracay looks amazing-I have no clue whether 2 days is plentiful or 5 days is waaay too long! It’s the same issue with other places around the Philippines!

    We are saving a LOT of money at the moment and are 28 and 33 so want to enjoy our time rather than feel we’re rushing and having to move around every day.

    Any advice would be massively appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!

    Daniela 🙂

    • Marek Reply May 18, 2016 at 10:58 am

      Hey Daniela. Sounds exciting! To be honest there isn’t a logical order to the Philippines. It’s not like Vietnam for instance where you go either north-to-south or south-to-north, so just do it in the order you feel like or which seems logical to you. I personally booked internal flights just 2 to 3 days in advance and this worked fine. How long you wish to spend in each place depends on how you feel, and if you don’t have a set time frame I highly recommend playing it by ear! Since flights unusually need to be booked only a couple of days in advance, you can often just stay flexible. With any smaller islands I would usually commit to staying 2 nights / 3 days, then extend if I feel like. I know these aren’t definitive answers but I hope it helps 🙂

      • Daniela Reply May 24, 2016 at 10:42 am

        Thanks for the reply Marek!
        Really good knowing in advance that we can be more flexible with our plans!
        Is there a month that you strongly suggest visiting it in? I originally had planned to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Philippines in November-but now, I’m reading a lot of people saying there’s still a chance of typhoons and it’s best to wait until Feb?

        Which countries do you think would be best to visit in November?


  20. archer pelayo lalu Reply April 28, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Thanks Malek for the great insight. Thanks for mentioning Z Hostel, too as one of your recommended hostel while in Manila/Makati City.

  21. Rebecca Reply April 8, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Hi Marek,

    Great blog!!! Me and my friend are planning on travelling to the Philippines between end of June-early July this year, for 2 weeks. Definitely on our list is Palawan, El Nido, Coron, Sabang, Boracay. Do you think we would have time to squeeze in the rice terraces too? Or do you think it would all be too rushed? Also I know that the North especially can be very wet at that time of year, thoughts on this? Better to avoid ? Thanks!

    • Marek Reply April 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      Hey Rebecca. You might catch the start of the rainy season a bit, though June is arguably a nicer time to see the rice terraces than when I did in Apr/May. (They’ll be lusher and greener.) I’d say you need at least 4 days to include north Luzon in a meaningful way: you’ll probably have to do a night / stopover in Manila, then take a night bus to Banaue, stay at least a day or two, and then head all the way back. It might be a lot of trouble… I’d be inclined to keep the route more compact, but then I also know some people prefer to keep pace and see as much as possible. It’s always hard to say so probably should go with your intuition on this one. 🙂

  22. Angela Reply April 3, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Which month did you go to Philippines?

    • Marek Reply April 7, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      I was there in April/May

  23. Lara Reply March 31, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    And oh! Batanes is also a must-see though it could get pricey if you go up to the Northern-most part of the country. It is my dream go-to place here in the Philippines, I haven’t gone there yet because of the cost (only Philippine Airlines flies to that part of the country) and when I say cost, it’s like flying from Manila to Hong Kong/Singapore price (or more)

  24. Lara Reply March 31, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    BTW, include Dumaguete and Siquijor on your list as well 🙂

  25. Lara Reply March 31, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Hi! I’m from the Philippines and I feel really flattered reading about your thoughts! I agree with your insights about Manila and the cities. It’s bustling and so stressful in the city that’s why I myself go out on an escapade away from the city. There are other places I would want to share with you just in care you’d be visiting back here. You might want to try beach bumming in parts of Quezon Province like Borawan, Kwebang Lampas, Jomalig Island or in Marinduque, try going to Maniwaya Island and go island hopping in Palad Sandbar and Ugong Rock Formation (one of my favorites) .. Down south, you may also want to try going to Northern Samar and Potipot Island in Zambales 🙂 Boracay isn’t appealing for me anymore knowing that it has been so commercialized.

    Hope you’ll come back around and bump into you one of these days!

    • Marek Reply April 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing your tips Lara! I do hope to go back to the Philippines sometime and see more places. 🙂

  26. Ramon Reply March 26, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Hello Marek! Great resource for travellers you have put together! I agree on your take on manila, it’s only really necessary to pass through on ingress and egress, and as I found out.. connecting flights to other domestic destinations like from palawan to bohol which was exhausting and stressful. On the upside, I was fortunate to have been recommended by a swiss couple a nice small family’s guestroom in pasay which is a hidden gem, and I would have preferred to have stayed had I known about it when I first arrived. It’s not open to the public or advertised, and unsure if it would be ok for them or you if I posted a link but anyone reading this tip could try looking on google maps near edsa taft and inquire if any room is available. I’m on my way out headed back home tomorrow and will bring my fiance next year to show her palawan with a nice place to in pasay to start our trip together now that I have beach and city cred as advance scout.

  27. Rebecca Pehrson Reply March 2, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Hi Marek, great post! Me and my sister are currently in Lombok soon going to the Philippines. We were wondering how long time you spent over there as we don’t have too much time left. We want to see nice beaches, local villages, local food, go diving, see the rice terrace and maybe go trekking somewhere if it’s possible. Where would you recommend us going?


    • Marek Reply March 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Hey Rebecca! I spent over a month in the Philippines but that was travelling all over the country. If your time is limited I’d maybe focus on Palawan first (nice beaches and nature) and go to north luzon for the rice terraces (lots of trekking trails around sagada, too). You’ll also get two different landscapes this way: flat tropical lands on Palawan, and tropical pine forests and mountains in north Luzon.

  28. Nathan lowe Reply January 8, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Marek and fellow travellers!

    What a fantastic blog/website, I have spent hours and hours (at work) reading it.

    I plan to travel to Phillipes with my GF at the end of march for around 4 weeks and plan to visit:
    – Palawan – Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Sabang, Bacuit, Coron.
    – Boracay
    – Cebu

    What would be the best possible route that generally offers the least expensive travel?

    We can either land in Manila, travel the Phillipines then onto Hanoi.
    Or start at Hanoi and go to the Philippines from Ho Chi Minh.

    Thanks in advance!!!

      • Mhel Alfaro Reply February 3, 2016 at 4:04 am

        Hi Nathan!
        Skip borcay since you will be traveling cebu try to visit Camotes Island.. camotes island is unspoiled, inexpensive and you can do lot more outdoor activities and its a lot more better than boracay. Its up north of cebu.


  29. Joseph Cohen Reply December 15, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Thanks Marek, for the great inside, I had a great trip. I went to Cebu and visited places like Tumalogfalls, Whale Shark,Moalmoal and Dumanjug. The weather was perfect, nice people, cheap but yet quite delicious food. I had a small problem though…the traffic, always a lot of cars.
    So small tip all travellers, just rent a mobet or motorbike, much much easier ( that is the place where I did it.

    Have a great trip everyone 🙂

    • Nathan lowe Reply January 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      How was Moalboal?
      I had a friend visit around 8 months ago and he said the beach had been completely over turned by bad weather and it wasn’t very nice?

      What do you think?

  30. Iris Buenconsejo Reply September 20, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Thanks for visiting our country! I’m sharing this post to my travel startup, Go See Philippines on Facebook I agree with the Manila situation – I do suggest to get away from it as far as possible if your perception is we’re about the beaches and the lovely tropical climate. But reality is, if you totally want to immerse in a deeply culturally-rooted experience, stay in Manila for a while, go see some architecture, know about the people, attend some upcoming food scenes, festivals, bazaars, check out starting food trucks, walk around and jog in Makati or BGC, stroll around Luneta Park, befriend a vendor and buy a souvenir, chronicle everything you see.

    I’m glad you get to visit the main attractions like Palawan and Bohol and get a real feel of Philippines. But we’d love to invite you over again and try other destinations! 🙂

    The problem I see with majority of foreign tourists is that they expect so much from Philippines as if it is the same country like any other Asian country (blame TV and media lol). In Palawan, it’s just El Nido that is being highlighted – can’t blame them. The place is beautiful. But we’re going there this week to debunk the myth and check out some offbeat paths & underrated experiences. But as Asian as it can be, Philippines is quite unexplainable. It’s not Vietnam or Singapore but we have our Spanish feats and if you’re looking into a more less touristy Asian country, since we are mostly overlooked, you’re in luck.

    I hope you could visit Philippines again! My team and I would love to get in touch with you and maybe challenge you to see more beyond the usual places! Check out our website, for a gist of what we are about and our Facebook and Instagram (@goseephilippines) and you’ll see more beautiful places you haven’t been to here 🙂

    Our team is on the hunt for the undiscoverable and the lesser known parts of Philippines. I, myself, is still foreign here after living 20+ years. We can’t wait to suggest you some places next time you visit!


  31. Faye Lee Reply August 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I agree with your post! I recently visited Siem Reap and how I wish Philippines have its own “PUB street” there’s not much tourists compared to Thailand or Cambodia. I guess it’s because the sites are far from each other, but boy they are worth it! They’re beautiful especially for those who love beaches. I agree with the food. Not a fan of it.

  32. Dean Gamay Reply June 26, 2015 at 1:37 am

    Hi you might want to check Batanes, the northern most part of the
    Philippines! Amazing landscapes and sceneries. Not to mention the 0%
    crime rate record over the years. Must visit! 🙂

  33. Molla Jafar Sadique Reply June 25, 2015 at 9:59 am

    You just missed snake massage in Philippines! It is the only country where you can get a massage by snakes! Fon !

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply June 30, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      Snake massage looks pretty crazy! Good tip

  34. Avin Lee Reply May 4, 2015 at 5:09 am

    how lucky you are 🙂

  35. Elisabet Campos Reply March 2, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Hi, Marek!

    Excellent post. The image of the man snorkeling with the whale shark is amazing. I have read somewhere that Philippines welcomes the biggest coach surfing community, and that’s a good opportunity for the backpackers.

    Kind regards,

  36. Leslie L. Reply February 4, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    It’s amazing how you’ve spent so much of your travel here in our beautiful country. I am a Filipina, a Philippine citizen for 30+ yrs now but I have only been in Dalaguete mainly in Dive Spot Asia. I did scuba diving for the very first time; it was quite an experience. I must say you should consider going to Dalaguete or the beaches in the southern part of Cebu are superb, too. Although I only did scuba diving once but I must say that I have experienced the best scuba diving in Cebu Philippines.

  37. JonesAroundTheWorld Reply February 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Great and informative post man. I’m heading to the Phillipines in a bit and am stoked for what’s in store. I’m thinking El Nido, Coron, Cebu, and Borocay…I don’t dive because I have an ear condition unfortunately, but am still looking forward to relaxing on the beaches. You think it’s best just to wait until you get there accomodations? I’ve looked at some hostels and AirBNB’s, but I feel like I’d be able to find it cheaper there.

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply February 1, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Personally I often just wing it. Unless there is a major national holiday or something I find it’s never a problem to just show up. In El Nido I couldn’t check in to the hostel I wanted so I stayed somewhere down the street for a night and then moved to my prefered hostel for the rest of my stay. If you’re flexible, things will often be cheaper if you’re there in person, and you can ask to see the rooms as well before you decide. I do make an exception usually for the first place I stay at after I land, so that I don’t have to search around while jetlagged/grumpy/in need of a shower 🙂

    • Nathan lowe Reply January 8, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Hi there,

      In what order did you visit the above?

      Thank you

  38. Sam Reply January 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Marek, I’m from the UK and it’s great reading all your posts and advice. The information is very useful and interesting. I’m going travelling in April (bought my ticket to Thailand and handed in my notice 😮 !) I’m definitely going round Thailand etc, but I really want to go to the Philippines as well because it is less travelled, and just looks so interesting! How did you get from Manila to Palawan? Did you fly from Manila, and then took a bus around Palawan? I think from researching the main areas I want to go to are Sabang, El Nido and Coron! Also, from your experience of the whole of SE Asia, where is the best place and cheapest to get your scuba diving certificate? Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks so much!


    • Marek Indietraveller Reply January 18, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Sam. I flew from Manila to Puerto Princesa, then bused it to Sabang and El Nido, boat to Coron, and then flight back to Manila. Taking boats between Manila and Palawan is highly impractical (I forgot the exact details but something to the effect of 30+ hours on a freighter ship that goes once a week… i.e. no one really does this). You can get scuba certified in a lot of places for a good price, including the Philippines, but it’s worth having a look at Koh Tao in Thailand. It has a huge concentration of dive centers with great facilities and some of the lowest prices around. A bit more info here: Best of luck on your trip and have fun!

      • Sam Reply January 19, 2015 at 10:40 am

        Hi Marek,

        Thank you for getting back to me, your experience is so helpful! I’ve read your diving blog and decided I’m definitely going to go to Koh Tao, it looks great! Just to confirm, did you get a bus back to Puerto Princesa, or get a flight from Coron? I’ve had a look and P.P looks like the only airport on Palawan. I just wish April would hurry up haha!

        Sam 🙂

        • Marek Indietraveller Reply January 19, 2015 at 12:09 pm

          I flew directly from Coron. There’s a very small airport there with regular flights to Manila.

  39. lausanch Reply January 14, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    This is awesome, thank you! I have just booked my flight to Philippines and I can’t wait! I’m looking fwd to some diving; I would love to see whale sharks but in Donsol as in Oslob I read because they feed them, they don’t follow their natural migration and affects their health because they are not ingesting their “normal” nutrients.
    Actually your map is quite similar to mine, I just need to plan the routes because there will be lot of transport involved as per what i read.
    Maybe you can advise me regarding the backpacking and night/party scene: I have been travelling past yearin Indonesia and Thailand, besides Boracay, is there any other place for backpacking you can recommend with a chill but nice night life? similar to Koh Tao or Gili T. We don’t need clubs or crazy parties but places where we can meet up wit other backpackers and have a beer, music etc.

    Thanks! Laura
    PS- are you Dutch?! I live in The Hague!

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply January 15, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Hoi Laura (Yes, I’m Dutch! 🙂

      As far as I know the government made rules against scuba diving with whale sharks (at least in Donsol) and only allows snorkeling/swimming with them. Sounds like they’re not being very environmentally concious though which is really unfortunate.

      There isn’t a place *quite* like Koh Tao or Gili T in the Philippines, but El Nido on Palawan has a similar vibe. There’s a nice little bar scene and a bunch of places on the beach with torches and hammocks where you can have a beer at night. It’s not quite as buzzing as Koh Tao or Gili T, but El Nido is probably the closest you’ll find and I definitely recommended it!

      Have a great trip 🙂

      • lausanch Reply January 15, 2015 at 6:00 pm

        Goedenavond! 🙂
        Snorkel with the whale sharks will be sufficient, but I would like to do some nice diving there!
        Thanks for the tip around El Nido, I actually didn’t know if it was worth to stay there or just visit for a day trip, so this definitely helps! I have the feeling Philippines is not as common for backpacking as Thailand or other Asian countries; this is why i asked for something similar to Koh Tao.

        Dank u wel!

        • Kate T Reply March 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm

          Hi Laura, you may also want to check out Puerto Galera for a cheaper alternative. Beach + bars. 🙂

          • lausanch March 6, 2015 at 4:29 pm

            Hi Kate! Thanks , we were looking at Puerto Galera but we have not many days and many people told us the was a bit sexual tourist area ( i have no idea, this isnwhat we were told). My route is Manila -Legazpi/Donsol-Boracay-Cebu/Bohol-Puerto Princesa-El Nido. Im there for 23 days so managed to plan and stay 3/4 days in each place… cant wait!

  40. Rebecca Guy Reply January 12, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Thanks for sharing, I’m currently planning my Philippines trip (will be spending a month there in April) and really looking forward to it. Will check out your other posts which I’m sure will help me with my planning 🙂

  41. Xcite Reply December 18, 2014 at 1:54 am

    Hi, thanks for the great write up about the Philippines. Just a little correction: It’s spelled Boracay NOT Borocay, and Manila NOT Manilla.

    Regarding the food, I find that foreigners tend to either hate it or love it. There is usually no in between. Probably because the taste palettes are usually sweet, sour or salty. I’m curious though: which dishes have you tried? Have you tried these three dishes: adobo, sinigang and tinola? These three dishes are usually what I recommend when anyone asks me about Filipino food. 🙂

    As for other sites to see: Might I suggest Mt. Kanlaon (Negros Island) for mountain/volcano climbing, Caramoan (Camarines Sur) and Calaguas (Camarines Norte) for some isolated beaches, Siargao for surfing. There are so many places to see but I think you’ve listed all the major ones!

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply December 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      I had adobo which I really liked, though can’t remember if I tried the other two! There’s some really good dishes, and I had some excellent fresh seafood as well. The overall palette can just be polarizing for foreigners, probably because we’re not used to the intensity. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing those suggestions!

      • Xcite Reply December 19, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        You’re right. It’s usually the intensity that turns foreigners off. I think it’s because most of our dishes are meant to be eaten with heaps and heaps of rice which most visitors aren’t accustomed to.

        Sinigang is a tamarind based soup with shrimp, pork or fish as meat. Tinola is ginger based soup with chicken as meat. If you haven’t tried those, better try them next time! My foreign friends loved them so much, they actually studied how to cook them. Haha

  42. Gerrvy Zuniso Reply December 18, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Correction! It’s BORACAY not BOROCAY, The BORACAY beach of the Philippines was voted recently by international travel website as the ‘BEST BEACH in the WORLD”,beat those beaches of Thailand,Indonesia,Greece,Mexico etc.. Anyways, the Philippines has unique beauty in all asian countries,Philippines was blessed with numerous natural wonders & beauties,that you cannot find in other countries.Mabuhay Philippines!

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply December 18, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks for letting me know! Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember the correct spelling. I’ve corrected it now.

  43. Daniel Hogberg Reply August 21, 2014 at 12:11 am

    For anyone spending a few days in Manila before heading north or south i strongly suggest the diving in Subic Bay, easily accessed from Manila by either bus, van or taxi (2-3 hours). Great diving on both war-wrecks and reef sites at a very reasonable price. Read more about Subic Bay on below link:

    • Albert Reply December 19, 2014 at 12:54 am

      You should go to Coron Palawan. Typing this comment gives me goosebumps. I will never forget the feeling. The best diving site id ever been.

  44. Mc Pol Cruz Reply May 9, 2014 at 3:51 am

    I’m from The Philippines and you traveled many places here than I am. I would love to swim with that whale shark someday. I like this post about our country. Thank you.

  45. stunningly schoonhead Reply April 15, 2014 at 1:45 am

    Hi Marek. Thanks for your post about our country. Oslob, Cebu is a sure place if you want to swim with the whale sharks. The fishermen there feed the whale sharks by throwing krill in the water. My whale shark and other Oslob experience is detailed here: Take note, however, that whale shark feeding is highly discouraged by environmentalists for it distracts the natural ability to feed.
    I also agree with you about the island hopping in El Nido. The place is insanely beautiful!! Cheers to more happy travels! 🙂

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply April 16, 2014 at 2:06 am

      Thanks for sharing that great tip. In Donsol I believe they don’t feed them, though my guide admitted to me that less and less whale sharks were coming there probably because of the tourism. In my case we had a dozen boats chasing a single shark which must have been really stressful for that poor shark.

      As is probably clear from this page I loved travelling in your country, and also meeting many Filipino backpackers along the way. It’s cool to read about your whale shark experience (and I’m a little jealous you got to see them 🙂

  46. Brandi Klein Reply April 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Hey Marek! Thanks for your post. I am just curious how much did it cost for the duration of your backpacking in the Philippines? I am going backpacking for three weeks this summer in July and just trying to figure our some budgeting. Anything would be helpful!

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply April 13, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Heya. A lot depends on your travel style. I unfortunately didn’t keep detailed records so I can’t be too specific, though I spent roughly $25-30/day in the Philippines. That was travelling as a low-budget backpacker, though not always going for the ultimate cheapest options (E.g. not always having street food but having sit down meals as well).

      It’s possible to travel for less if you are thrifty. Fellow travel bloggers over at eTramping for example travelled there for $15/day (though I think that figure did not include flights) This is an extreme example of travelling on a budget however and is harder to achieve as their post explains.

      Much depends on where you go. The main cities of Manila and Cebu, and Boracay Island, are more expensive than average. For example a dorm bed in Manila will easily cost $10-$13, whereas elsewhere in the countryside (for example on Bohol) you can still find them for $5-6 (or get a private room for that money).

      I’d say $25 a day travelling as backpacker is probably a good guideline.

      Hope this helps a little. Good luck on your trip!

  47. Brandon Quittem Reply October 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks Marek! Great overview. Planning to spent some time in the Philippines next spring. Hopefully before monsoon season in June ha ha.

    Planning to leave India in March and either fly to the South (Indonesia maybe) and then moving North. Or possibly Flying to BKK from India and doing the big 4 before moving south. What advice would you have? Cheapest flights in/out of Philippines??


    • Marek Indietraveller Reply October 30, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      Hi Brandon, thanks! Try Cebu Airlines, Zest Airlines, and Philippines Airlines for cheap flights (they’re not always in flight search engines so it’s good to search on their sites directly). AirAsia also flies to Clark Airport (budget airport near Manilla) from Singapore and Bangkok if I recall correctly.

      My plan was originally to go to Indonesia / Malaysia (Sabah) and work my way up, but it turned out there are very few ferries between these countries. For instance it’s not possible to take a boat from Borneo to Palawan, which is unfortunate as on the map it seems like they’d connect nicely. It’s probably possible to do it some other way, but flying might be the easiest option (it’s what I ended up doing anyway).

      Enjoy the Philippines, I’m sure you’ll love it 🙂

      • Brandon Quittem Reply November 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm

        Thanks Marek – huge help with the airlines options as well as the lack of ferries! Speaking of Malaysia – worth the effort? If you could only do 1 area which would you chose?

        • Marek Indietraveller Reply November 8, 2013 at 1:17 am

          Might not be the best to answer that one as in main Malaysia I only spent time in Kuala Lumpur. On Sabah I went diving at Palau Sipadan which is incredible, and had a nice jungle tour near Sadakan which lets you see a lot of wildlife (birds, crocs, monkeys). But Sabah is also very developed with higher prices than elsewhere in region, and a lot of the landscape there has been ruined by palm oil plantations. I thought it was a bit of a mixed bag (but you may have a different experience :).

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