ONE MONTH ITINERARY IN THE PHILIPPINES + BUDGET 2018
With over 7,000 islands in this country to choose from, it can be a challenge when deciding which ones to visit during your trip to the Philippines. From beautiful beaches, canyoneering and island hopping to swimming with turtles and sardines, the Philippines has it all! In this guide, we will give you a rough idea of what each island we recommend has to offer.
During our month in the Philippines we managed to take every form of transport to get us from A to B, whether we were crammed in a minivan, attempting to sleep on a night bus, taking the plane or a slow boat journey there was always a budget easy option if you organise yourself in advance.
Here is our one-month itinerary for traveling around the Philippines, tried and tested in January/February 2018. Of course, you can pick and choose which suits your desires and cover these in less time, but we enjoy taking it slow while covering as much ground as possible!
OVERVIEW OF OUR ROUTE
El Nido - Via Puerto Princesa
PLACES WE ALSO RECOMMEND
Most likely this will be where you fly in, we suggest grabbing the next flight out to your chosen island and not wasting your time here. Although the city has great shopping, we found our time would have been better spent elsewhere.
However, if you do decide to spend time here, make sure to visit Chinatown walk! The shopping here is ridiculously cheap no matter what you're set out to buy.
For example we brought:
2x Addidas shoes - 1350
2x Neck pillows - 220
Girls Nike Jumper - 280
JBL Bluethooth Speaker (decent size) - 800
Long Nike spandex tights - 50
Denim shorts - 150
Mac Foundation and Powder - 180
Kylie Lipstick - 50
Total was: 3080peso or $83.60 NZD... By far the cheapest shopping we have found in South East Asia so far.
Keen to trek through the Banaue rice terraces or Batad? We recommend blocking out a few days to do at least one of these. Although many places will steer you into thinking you need a guide, you can easily do these on your own. We completed the Batad rice terraces all the way to the waterfall and back with no issues. There are also some hot springs you can hike to but sadly we had no idea about them until we were at the bus station ready to leave!
This is an overnight bus trip from Manila and costs roughly 1600pesos for a return ticket per person. Beware, the bus is absolutely freezing cold! We had read that they are notoriously chilly, but who knew we would be buying two fluffy blankets to survive the night.
Batad rice terraces + Waterfall
Banaue rice terrace
Paradise on earth? Or tourist trap? Depends on your mindset going in.
El Nido has become extremely popular in the tourism industry, Mostly for its island hopping tours. The sites you will explore will be absolutely gorgeous, but be prepared for loads of boats and other fellow travelers to be fighting for that same location. Still worth doing for sure!
We stayed on the opposite side of the island in Sibaltan at the Tapik Beach Park Guesthouse to get away from the crowds for a few nights and just rented a scooter to get back and forth. This was a great place to stay, offering its own private island hopping tours as well. There's a small local town here with food shops, massages, hairdressers and even kite-surfing.
Marimegmeg beach for sunset
Island hopping tour A (Be sure to shop around, the prices can vary considerably! Plus make sure the tour includes each of the destinations you want to see, each tour labeled tour A can be different to the tour agency's tour A right next door)
Squidos café and restaurant-Great WIFI!
Falafel salad/wrap from the stall across from Squidos
Coconut shake from the local market lady- Must try this!
Nagitkalit waterfall (Very expensive at 250pesos per person)
TIP: Heading to Coron? Book in advance online! We booked through a tour agency that forgot to mention it was not a secured ticket, therefore we were not given a spot on the boat, had to stay an extra night, then hope for a spare two seats the next morning. Their system is whack!
After a long journey from El Nido, we were super excited for what Coron had to offer. This destination was jam-packed with great food, some of the best cocktails we have had, our favourite tours AND the best hot springs we have been to so far. We suggest popping straight into the Hot Springs once you have checked into your hotel after the long boat ride to relax, we can’t even explain how well we slept that night!
We suggest you make a plan for which destinations you most want to visit island hopping wise and head out the next day to explore different agencies, their prices and what each has to offer compared to the other (This is exactly what we did).
Coron was our first experience with AirBnB and it was great! We stayed in a lovely home called The Pink House for a great price.
Maquinit Hot Spring
Reefs and Wrecks tour
Coron Super Ultimate tour
Mount Tapyas for sunrise
Fireflies and Plankton tour with floating restaurant dinner (Jessie's favourite tour! Also very romantic)
Kayangan lake viewpoint
We flew into Cebu City from Coron but didn't stay here long due to the horrible smell. Although, it is home to a variety of attractions worth exploring if you enjoy history.
Jump on a bus and head to Moalboal where you will find some great adventurous activities on land, river, and ocean!
Pangsama Beach (Swim with turtles and sardines right off the beach!)
Kawasan Canyoneering ( An absolute must do in the Philippines)
DUMAGUETE / MANJUYOD
The Maldives of the Philippines! Everyone is in search of those beautiful white sandbars located in the middle of crystal clear blue water, and this is where you can find it. To organise our trip to the Manjuyod sandbar we popped into the Tourist information center where they speak great English and can help you out with anything you need!
In Dumaguete itself, there are a few things to do such as the Casaroro Falls and Twin Lakes, but considering they are so far out it makes it a bit harder to visit. Hiring a bike or going on a tour would be best if you have the time.
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
Rizal Boulevard (Street food and evening stroll)
One of our favourite little islands in South East Asia! This gorgeous island was by far the friendliest place we had come across in the Philippines and with so many adventurous activities to do we struggled to leave. Whether you want to relax on the white sandy beaches watching the sunset with a coconut in your hand, dunk your feet in the natural spring water while having your feet nibbled at by fish or cliff jumping from 35ft, this place has it all!
Salagdoon Beach (Cliff jumping)
Century Old Balete Tree (Fish foot spa)
Paliton Beach for sunset
Our last stop in the Philippines before catching our flight to Malaysia. Home to the famous Chocolate Hills and cute little tarsiers this island has a lot to offer! We suggest renting a scooter during your stay in Bohol, most hotspots are quite spread out making it hard on the bank if you plan to tricycle your way around.
If it wasn’t for some hard research and Instagramming though, we would not have come across the Cabagnow Cave pool, THIS WAS AMAZING! Although it is quite a long journey by scooter, it is well worth the trip.
Cabagnow Cave Pool
Loboc Eco-Tourism Adventure Park (Ziplining across the valley)
Bilar Man-Made Forest
Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridge
OTHER RECOMMENDED PLACES TO VISIT
Our biggest regret during our travels in the Philippines was definitely not visiting Siargao. This beautiful little island is such a dreamy, down to earth, environmentally friendly place to explore. With efforts to clean up, keep it local and authentic, your visit can be a great contribution to all of this. Friends of ours not only extended their trip there to a few months, they even bought land!
From what we saw and heard, it is every surfer's dream.
THIS ISLAND IS ON SHUTDOWN. From the 26th of April, Boracay will be shut down for six months, so if you had planned to go to this slice of paradise then you may want to start considering another option!
This tiny island is the Philippines top tourist destination by far! Tourists flock here to see for themselves the dreamy white beaches and participate in all night partying at the beach bars. We highly recommend this to travelers looking to drink the days away and meet an abundance of new people when it reopens.
Although Puerto Princesa is often used as the gateway to El Nido, there are a few attractions that make it worthwhile for at least a day of exploring. You are given the option to see most of these through the city tour, but we recommend hiring a motorbike and creating your own tour! Nothing better than being on your own timeframe and saving some money.
Underground River tour
This beautiful area is super chilled out and a great place to adventure on kayaks, relax on a beach and even hike to awesome waterfalls. If you have the time then it is worth a visit on your journey from Puerto Princesa to El Nido.
WHAT TO BUDGET
Currency: Philippine Peso, 100Peso = $2.72NZD
Overall daily spend: We were spending 4160pesos or $113NZD on average a day for two people including all food, activities, scooter rental almost every day and accommodation. You can definitely get by cheaper than this if you have to.
Accommodation: For a budget room with airconditioning and private bathroom 600-1000pesos. This was quite cheap for a traveling couple. Obviously, if you are solo then there are cheap hostel options to choose from.
Food: 50-150 This can vary heavily depending on how local you want to go. A few times we tried the local buffet ‘been sitting out all day’ option which is absolutely cheaper, but not something we could eat every day. It was a lot harder for us to find decent vegetarian food so often we would head to the closest mall to get cheap meals!
Water bottle: 30 We suggest buying a reusable bottle if you can from a store, or just a once off plastic bottle then find water refill stations which only require a few pesos to refill! Saves you money and the environment from more plastic.
Scooter hire: 300-500 Be sure to shop around for the cheapest deals, and if your planning to hire for more than a day then try to barter them down for a deal!
Bottle of local rum: 100 for a 1L bottle (Goes great with coke while sitting on the beach listening to music!)
Activities: Depends on how much you are willing to pay for an activity, we will always look on trip advisor for the price and decide whether it is worth it. To give you an idea here is our list of activity costs:
(These prices are per person!)
Batad Rice Terraces: Free
El Nido island hopping tour A: 1200
Coron Hot Springs: 200
Coron Concepcion Falls donation: 20
Coron Firefly, Plankton, and floating dinner tour: 900
Coron Super Ultimate Tour: 1600
Coron Reefs and Wrecks Tour: 1250
Canyoneering: 1500 (Including Lunch)
MoalBoal fin hire: 75
Private boat to Manjoyod Sandbar: 1500 (For the whole boat no matter how many people)
Siquijor Cambugahay falls: 50 for the rope swing
Siquihor Salagdoon Beach: Entry 35 + Hammock hire 50
Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary: 60
Bohol Loboc Eco-Tourism Zipline: 400
Movie ticket: 140
Chocolate hills entry: 50
Cabagnow Cave Pool: Entry 5 +Parking 5 + Swim 50
Find your accommodation early to get the best prices
Check out our video from 1 month travel in the Philippines