Hey guys! I get a lot of questions on the routes I’ve taken through the Philippines and for my advice on it. So I’ve decided to put together a post detailing my itinerary.
I hope you’ll find it useful in planning your adventures in this beautiful country!
PS. Yes, I’ve been twice but I preferred my second route more 🙂
Manila, Manila. Oh crazy Manila!
Missed out by many, the Philippines’s crazy city isn’t often that appealing. However, I’ve spent a good 4-5 days there, and I can confirm, it is definitely worth a visit! While it doesn’t have all the obvious cultural and historical attractions of many Asian cities like Bangkok or Hanoi, it has some of its own unique merits.
I’ve written a longer guide about the city here. The key must-see is the area of Intramuros, known as the Walled City, the beautiful area was founded by the Spanish in 1571.
Also, where else can you stay in a hotel as cool as this!!
This is the H20 Hotel by Manila marina area. Super cool!
This island is popular with Filipino tourists and foreign tourists alike. A quick flight down on AirAsia, Cebu Pacific or Philippine Air takes around 40 minutes to either Caticlan or Kalibo. If you can, fly into Caticlan for a nice, easy quick connection.
I would advise a minimum of a 4 night stay here to soak up the atmosphere and get involved with everything on offer. For those heading to Boracay to kitesurf, I would suggest at least 5-6 days. I’ve put together the top 10 reasons to keep Boracay on your Philippines travel itinerary here!
Read my guide to kitesurfing in Boracay here – a must-do for one of the best spots in the world to enjoy the sport!
I’ve stayed in both MNL Boracay hostel in the centre of town and also Spider House (check my review here), just along the beach at Diniwid. Both are brilliant but there’s no shortage of great hotels in Boracay for sure.
From Boracay, I flew onto Cebu directly with Cebu Pacific.
A 30 minute taxi took us to the South Bus Station, where we jumped on a bus bound for Oslob for whale shark swimming. I’ve put together a blog post here on the ethical issues lined to whale shark swimming in Oslob, so everyone can make their own mind up on the activity 🙂
1 or 2 nights are generally enough in this town. A fantastic day trip on this end of the island is to Kawasan Falls and Mainit Hot Springs – you can read my guide to the region here.
Ask around in Oslob, and you can find a direct boat over to Bohol fairly easily. I loved Bohol and thoroughly recommend a few nights stay here – or as many as you can spare really. There is so much to do! Check out my top 15 best things to do on Bohol and Panglao here.
Also, I couldn’t give a strong enough recommendation to the amazing Bohol Bee Farm on the Panglao area of the island. You can read all about it here and why I rate it as simply my favourite place in the whole country!
We spent an amazing 8 days in Bohol, but could certainly have done longer if we had the time.
5. El Nido
Arguably one of the most famous spots in the whole country. We originally had direct flights from Cebu to Puerta Princesa but sadly we missed them (first time for everything and all!)
Unfortunately, bad weather meant the ferries from Tagbilaran on Bohol were all cancelled, so we had to wait for the next available one over to Cebu. Eventually we got to Cebu. However, it took quite the fight with the airline staff to be put on a new flight but unfortunately, there was no space on the daily direct flight. So 24 hours later, via a 10 hour layover back in Manila, we finally got to Palawan and started the 5-6 hour bus ride up to El Nido. Not ideal!
However, El Nido is always worth the journey. Again, spend as long here as you can – we had 5 days and could have done with longer – and that’s for my 2nd visit!
The whole area is based around the water, and the opportunities to get in, under or on it are endless. I’ve put together the top 20 things to do in El Nido here, as well as an essential guide to the area.
Lastly, we flew back to Manila for a night before our flight back to the UK. Unfortunately, my boyfriend was very sick but a stay in a luxury hotel in Makati sure helped ease the symptoms.
I hope my itinerary helps you plan your future trip to the Philippines. As you might have gathered, I love the country an enormous amount so drop me a line if you would like any advice or further recommendations!