The Philippines has always been on my bucket list and when I got the opportunity to go for 2 weeks, I tried to cram as much in as I could. I will walk you through my 2 week trip, but if I were to do it again, I would spend a bit longer if I could or else cut a bit out. I almost needed a holiday after this holiday!
We flew into Manila, which is the capital city. I wouldn’t really recommend staying here at all. Get out to the islands straight away. From here we got a flight to Boracay. We spent 3 days in Boracay Beach, but I would recommend 4/5 days, especially if you’re planning day trips, it’s nice to have a few days to just relax on the beach too. You will have to get a bus and a boat after the airport in Boracay and then a tuk tuk to your hotel. We stayed in a place called Nigi Nigi Nu Noos in Station 2. It was on the beach with reserved loungers and towels on the beach. They were wooden cabins and were spacious and clean. For breakfast, you were given a voucher for their restaurant and it didn’t have to be spent on breakfast food items.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, Frendz Hostel is just a few minute walk from here. It has nice food and even had a free pasta night one of the nights. It is a good place to book some day trips and the pub crawl from too.
During the day, you can go paddle boarding, helmet diving, parasailing or snorkelling, just to name a few. The water is crystal clear and the views are amazing. The prices for these activities are reasonable and you can definitely negotiate for a better price. There are loads of merchants along the beach. At night, there are stalls that sell clothes and accessories. You can’t miss them as you walk down the beachfront. Make sure you get out to see a sunrise or sunset. The colours are amazing!
One of the days, we did a boat trip out to a place called Ariel’s Point. You go to an island where there are kayaks, paddleboards, snorkels and 3 diving boards and all food and drink is included. It was a great day out.
One thing you have to do is go to a Hotel/restaurant called ‘Spider House’. You can get a tuk tuk there from the main beaches in Boracay or you can stay here. For sunset, get to the restaurant early to get a table so you can watch the sunset, eat and have a few drinks. You literally have to walk through a cave to get there but well worth a visit for a chilled evening. You can walk onto the dock and swim from here too.
From Boracay we flew to Cebu. On this island, you can swim with the whale sharks and also go canyoneering. From the airport, we got a 4 hour taxi to Oslob. We stayed in a hotel called Down South 118 Beach Resort and organised our whale shark tour directly with them before we arrived. We got a few hours sleep and at 6am the next morning we were collected by our driver. We got a little boat out into the sea and you can get in and swim with the whale sharks or just observe from the boat. The whale sharks are huge! It is a scary but definitely worthwhile experience. If you wanted, you could stay in Cebu City and organise your trip from there too.
Canyoneering is another major attraction in Cebu. On your way back to Cebu, after the whale sharks, you can arrange a trip to some Falls. Basically, you’ll be climbing up rock faces, jumping off waterfalls and swimming – a huge adrenaline rush. You can go to Aguinid Falls, which is tamer or else Kasawan Falls which is definitely not for the faint hearted! Check it out here.
From Cebu, we flew to Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan. We stayed in the Acacia Tree. It was clean and had private rooms, a pool, pool table, foosball and massages in your room. Staff were very friendly and helpful for organising transport and tours.
From here, you can go to the Underground River, it is part of a national park. It is around 3 hours away from our hotel. It was cool to see but it was a long trip out there. You can book this online or through your hotel. We booked with our hotel when we arrived. We also went ziplining on our way back to the hotel in a place called Ugong Rock. You do have to hike a bit and climb through rocks to get to the zipline, for those of you that are a bit claustrophobic and don’t like rock climbing.
If you’re interested in nightlife in Puerto Princesa, you can get a tuk tuk from the hotel to the centre where there a some bars and clubs.
We also did a Firefly Watching tour. You get to go down a river in a kayak with a guide at night. You can see all of the fireflies and they even land on you too which is pretty cool. The guide talks you through everything and even tells you about the consolations. You can see everything so clearly because there is no pollution there at all. Make sure you wear your mosquito repellant though! This is somewhere that photos will not capture it so just take it all in. They do try to sell you photos after you tour but all the fireflies have been photoshopped in so beware! I wouldn’t have this at the top of my list, but it was nice to do as we had a few extra days.
From Puerto Princesa you can get an overnight bus to El Nido. There was a group of us so we hired a large taxi through the hotel for around the same price and it was a lot more comfortable. The trip is around 4 hours long. El Nido is very small and not built up at all. There is not much around. The beaches do not have loungers like in Boracay, it is not ‘touristy’ as we know it. Make sure that you book your accommodation well in advance, it is expensive and there are not a lot of nice places to stay and they book out fast. Good hostels there are Our Melting Pot Hostel (OMP) and Spin Designer Hostel.
El Nido is a quiet island, but you can do a lot of diving and boat trips here. If you fancy getting your certification here for diving you can or if you just want to fun dive you can too. Just be aware that most dive companies here go out on the boat for the whole day, so for fun divers, you can do 3 dives in a day or else wait on the boat after your dive until the boat is ready to come back. Here at the trip advisor ratings for the diving schools.
There are a lot of different boat tours around El Nido. A and C are the most recommended tours, however, we wanted to do bits of each of those. Because we had a group of 8, we were able to book our own boat and select stops from different tours. It worked out at the same price and we got to see the things we wanted. Definitely an option if you don’t want to do more than one tour. Some places we went to see were; 7 Commandos Beach, Secret Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon and the sandspit. On the boat, lunch was cooked fresh for you by the crew. You were also given snorkels. At the Big Lagoon, you were able to kayak around, just be careful because there are jellyfish there in the water. And at 7 Commando Beach, there are swings and a bar. At the sandspit, there is a bar in the middle of the water so bring some money with you!
While in El Nido, you can rent motorbikes to get around and see some beaches and/or go to some viewpoints. (you will need your passport to rent the motorbikes). We found a great tapas bar called Republik Sunset Bar. There are not a lot of seats here so get here early. We got seats at the edge of the cliff looking right onto the water. The sunset there, and the tapas, were amazing! Not far from this bar is a beach where you can zip line across to an island. You can see people use the zipline from Republik.
From El Nido, we flew back to Manilla. The airport in El Nido is the smallest airport I have ever seen! It is so small that at security they go through your bags by hand, so expect small propeller planes. From Manila, you can get an international flight to your next destination.
- Book the internal flights as soon as you can. They are small planes so they book out fast and prices go up!
- If you’re planning on visiting El Nido, accommodation should be booked as early as possible. We ended up staying in a hotel that wasn’t very nice!
- Watch as many sunsets as possible!
Top Tip Traveller 🙂