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Philippines Travel Itinerary – Ultimate Travel Guide
The Philippines, oh, Philippines. It is a dream destination for many, including us, because – who can resist those crystal clear beaches and the laid-back island life? This country consists of more than 7000 islands and you can never visit them all. 4 weeks in the Philippines is a perfect amount of time to get to see the most popular islands and learn about the Filipino way of living. Our Philippines Travel Itinerary will help you easily travel around the Philippines and see the most beautiful places. A step by step guide and the best places to visit in the Philippines combined in one ultimate travel guide to the Philippines.
What you need to know before going to the Philippines
Great news! You do not need a visa to visit the Philippines for up to 30 days. The only thing (and it is really important) you need is a return or onward ticket, which get asked quite often. Please, avoid the extra expense booking a one-way ticket to anywhere on the last minute on a random date when immigration officials ask you for one – thus, book a ticket in advance. You can pre-arrange a 59-day Tourist Visa that can be extended for up to 3 years, with regular visits and fees to the immigration office. So either you are planning to visit for 30 days or less or stay around 2 months, you have two options – visa-free 30 days or $50 59 days Tourist Visa.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Philippines?
November to April is the dry season so everyone goes to the Philippines. The weather is great, sunny and just picture perfect. The low season with the winds and the rains hits the Philippines coasts starting from June and lasts until August. However, as we always note, environmental changes are impacting our world heavily and the distinction between “rainy” and “dry” seasons becomes even more blurred every single day. During the great beach weather season a crazy typhoon can hit and during the rainy season, you can have 10 days of sunshine straight. Check out the coming month forecasts before you go!
Vaccinations for the Philippines?
There are some vaccines that are recommended, such as typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, and influenza. However, those are just general recommendations and are not mandatory. Precaution and pharmaceuticals market has a heavy influence on this, thus do not take it for a word. We have never had a vaccination and no one we know has. Ohh, and Linda caught a terrible stomach virus while in the Philippines, but that is just part of travelling and you never know which face touch, itchy nose or nail biting will get you sick. Just grab the usual medicine you would and you will be completely fine. If an animal bites you – go get a rabies shot asap! No joking. And… get a good, flexible travel insurance wherever you go.
ATMs and Money in the Philippines
The official money of The Philippines is Philippine Piso. ATM’s are widely available everywhere you go, even in Coron, where they were not that common a couple of years ago. Always, before withdrawing money check the ATM you will be using as there have been cases of bank card information theft by attaching scanning devices to the card input. Be careful, and wiggle, touch, hit, press, blow into any card slot you put your card. Each time you will be charged $6 withdrawal fee and the maximum you can withdraw is 10 000 Piso ( $200). By the time we are writing this, Philippines Piso is on its 10 years all-time low, thus money exchange for tourists is very beneficial, what we cannot say about the Philippines economy.
Philippines 4 Week Travel Itinerary
Day 1. – 4. Bohol Island
Day 4. – 6. Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island
Day 6. – 11. El Nido, Palawan Island
Day 11. – 16. Coron, Palawan Island
Day 16. – 17. Bulalacao, Mindoro Island
Day 17. – 23. Boracay Island (Boracay island is closed as of 27th April 2018 for AT LEAST 6 months, so substitute this time by flying to Siargao Island, if travelling within the next 6 months)
Day 23. – 24. Cebu City, Cebu Island
Day 24. – 28. Moalboal, Cebu Island
Day 28. – 29. Oslob, Cebu Island
Day 29. – 30. Reserved to squeeze in whenever arriving somewhere late or to get to the final destination you are catching a plane out of the country
Best Places to Visit in The Philippines
Itinerary: Flying in Cebu City – Bohol Island – Cebu City – Puerto Princesa, Palawan – El Nido, Palawan – Coron, Palawan – Bulalacao, Mindoro – Boracay Island – Cebu City – Moalboal, Cebu – Oslob, Cebu – Flying out of Cebu City/or any other place.
Day 1 – 4 – Bohol Island
Most likely you will fly into Manila or Cebu City. Usually, flight tickers are the cheapest to these airports. From Cebu City, International Airport get a taxi to Cebu City Ferry Pier 4. (Use Grab ride-hailing app. to get the cheapest rates and avoid taxi scams throughout Asia and a $5 Credit for your first ride.) There you’ll catch a ferry to Tagbilaran, which is the biggest city on Bohol island. Most tourists stay at the Alona beach on Panglao Island (connected to Bohol Island with a bridge) and then rent a motorbike to travel around the island to explore. You can hire a tuk-tuk or a driver as well, but it will be more expensive.
*If you arrive late in the evening, spend a night in Cebu City and head to Bohol island the next day.
There are many beautiful places to see in Bohol so 3 days is a great amount of time to spend on the Island. Famous Chocolate Hills are on Bohol island, as well as Tarsier Sanctuary, Hinagdanan Cave, Loboc River and Alona Beach and other Beaches. Scuba diving is also very popular in Bohol.
Day 4 – 6 – Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island
You will fly into Puerto Princesa from Cebu International Airport and usually, flights to Puerto Princesa are cheap, compared to other destinations. The city itself is also cheap and boasts a budget nightlife scene as well as affordable food and spas. (Linda got a good manicure for $2). Getting around the city is mostly done by a tuk-tuk, but for long distances, there are plenty of public buses.
The Underground River is the most popular attraction in Puerto Princesa. Be warned that the Underground River is usually packed with tourists, so try to arrange the Underground River tour on your own or go early. You can book the tickets in advance and do a group tour if you don’t feel like planning the trip on your own. Next, to the Underground River some great things to do in Puerto Princesa are Estrella Falls, Honda Bay Island Hopping tour, hike Mount Bloomfield and explore the City and its great variety of foods.
Day 6 – 11 – El Nido, Palawan Island
You can either fly to El Nido (be warned, it is expensive) or arrive by bus or minivan from Puerto Princesa. Buses from Puerto Princesa run every 30 minutes – 1 hour and take up to 9 hours. The price is $7 (EUR 6) and the minivan is a bit more expensive while faster.
Getting around El Nido is easy if you have a motorbike. We strongly recommend renting a motorbike to get to all the beautiful remote beaches. Rent costs starting from PHP 400 for a day. Getting around by tuk-tuk is always an option as well, however, the sum might add up in the end. Yet, it is very conveniet and tuk-tuks are everywhere. A bicycle is a great option as well, and – environmentally friendly.
What to do in El Nido?
El Nido is famous for its lagoons, beaches, snorkelling and very, very clear waters. You might say that you have not been to The Philippines if you have not included El Nido in your Philippines travel itinerary. The main attractions in the Philippines are island hopping tours. There are 4 different tours you can choose from and 5th is a booze cruise party day trip. Usually, people tend to go to at least 2 tours, the most popular being tour A and C. The tours are well worth the $30 and you get a huge buffet lunch with amazing seafood included.
On the days you are not on the tours explore the nearby beaches on your own and relax. The beaches around El Nido are less touristy and really beautiful. Do not miss Las Cabañas Beach for the sunset and its amazing sunset bar where Pina Coladas flow freely for $2. It is by far our most favourite beach and if you wander along the shore further away you will be rewarded with a sunset just for you. Other beautiful beaches are Nacpan Beach, Duli Beach and Verde Safari Beach. If you have had a beach overdose you can go ziplining, hike up the Taraw Peak or sample the famous Balut (developing bird embryo, yummy).
Day 11. – 16. Coron, Palawan Island
You can fly into Coron, but it will cost you a kidney (we are exaggerating a little bit), or you can take a boat from El Nido. The boat trip takes approximately 7 hours, but the views are beautiful and you can sunbathe on the upper deck. The boat trip costs around $25 (EUR 20). Other than that, there is no way to get there.
Coron is a small island and you can rent a motorbike for a day to cruise it all, or rent a bicycle and split the island exploration over to a couple of days. Tuk-tuks get you around the city from one end of the main street to the other for 20 PHP ($0.40). Longer trips can be arranged, for example to the port for about 60 PHP and up.
What to do in Coron?
Coron was our favourite island as it is less touristy, somewhat cheaper and the tours here are less crowded. And those tours are amazing! Similar to El Nido there are plenty of tours to choose from depending on what you want to see, but all of them are unique and beautiful experiences. Hike Mount Tapyas, visit the Kingfisher Natural Park and soak in Maquinit Hot Springs after a long day. Our personal favourite was a firefly watching tour at the Mangrove Forest Park (Kingfisher Park). Tip: If you have a motorbike, go there yourself before 6 pm and you will pay half the price as you would with a tour.
Day 16 – 17 – Bulalacao, Mindoro Island
From Coron we had to get to Boracay but, as per usual, flights were expensive so we figured to take a boat to San Jose, Mindoro. The boat trip was comfortable, with bunk beds to sleep and mostly locals travelling. From San Jose, we took a minivan to Bulalacao, from where the next day we took a ferry to Caticlan port, where you can catch a ferry to Boracay.
Bulalacao is a small town where all kind of bread products are born. Every second shop is a bakery. Apart from that, there is not much to the town that we discovered, apart from the Ferry Port and a really quiet beach next to it. We spent a night here and you should too if you are taking the same route. The reason for this is because you cannot do the whole trip in one day, as by the time you arrive in Mindoro there are no onwards ferries to Caticlan.
Day 17 – 23 – Boracay Island
(Boracay island is closed as of 27th April 2018 for AT LEAST 6 months, so substitute this time by flying to Siargao Island, if travelling within the next 6 months)
The island of Boracay might be one of the best places to travel in the Philippines, but that comes at a cost. Due to the pollution and environmental damage the island is closed. Depending on the time you are reading this, it might be re-opened, so check with the authorities. Boracay has a great party vibe and so many fun things to do, hopefully, it will reopen soon.
Meanwhile, cut out the Bulalacao part and head straight from Coron to Siargao. Well, not straight, as you will have to fly to Manila or Cebu first, then to Siargao. Siargao is the secret gem of the Philippines, yet unexplored. Rent a motorbike and spend your days away from the tourist masses, exploring the hidden waterfalls and beaches. Siargao Island is also great for surfing if you are up to that.
You can find some great bungalows on Airbnb, and registering as a new user will give you $36 discount on your 1st booking!
Day 23 – 24 – Cebu City, Cebu Island
Back to Cebu City! Did you notice that you have been to Cebu City several times to take the flights but haven’t explored the city yet? Well, spend a day exploring this busy city and its gigantic shopping malls (SM Mall is by far the biggest). This is the best time to do the shopping for some clothes and souvenirs! Also, go check out the Taoist Temple which is located on the fancy outskirts of Cebu City.
Day 24 – 28 – Moalboal, Cebu Island
From Cebu City to Moalboal you can easily get by following our guide on how to get to Kawasan Falls (you have to go to Kawasan Falls!) Getting around Moalboal might be tricky without a motorbike, so as always, we suggest renting one. Otherwise, use tuk-tuks and to keep the price down share the ride with others going the same direction.
Most people come to Moalboal to visit Kawasan Falls, which is a must. However, there are so many other cool things to do. Moalboal has some beautiful beaches (White Sand Beach) and unique snorkelling spots where you can snorkel with turtles. We highly recommend doing that, but – on your own. Just grab a snorkel or rent one and head to Panagsama Beach and walk some 10 minutes away from all the bars and people. You will have a great private spot and the chance to snorkel with amazing sea creatures.
Day 28 – 29 – Oslob, Cebu Island
Getting from Moalboal to Oslob is easy. Just jump on any bus heading South and its last destination will be Santander. From Santander change the bus to Oslob and tell the driver or his assistant to drop you off in Tanawal. It is a small rural village some 10km out of Oslob. Yet it is best to spend the night there to do the main thing everyone who visits Oslob does – Swimming with whale sharks.
If you will stay in Tanawan you do not have to worry about getting a ride early in the morning to go swim with the whale sharks. Just get up before the sunrise and head to the Oslob Whale Shark Watching Office. Be there by the dawn and queue with others to purchase your ticket ($20). The rest is a beautiful adventure of swimming with these amazing sea animals and the feelings we cannot even describe.
After you have swum with the whale sharks you’ll feel mesmerized. Head back to your hotel, pack and catch a bus to Cebu City to catch your flight home. (all the buses heading North terminate there).
Great budget Guesthouse to stay in Oslob is L & M Hearthstones Lodge.
Day 29 – 30 – Extra time
Reserved to squeeze in whenever arriving somewhere late or to get to the final destination you are catching a plane out of the country – most likely Cebu or Manila.
Philippines Travel Itinerary – Useful Tips
Flights are expensive between some islands. For example, Coron to El Nido or El Nido to Cebu, while some are very cheap, for example, Cebu City to Puerto Princesa. You always have to book in advance to get the best deals. However, know that to save money you will have to take many boats, ferries and buses. If you have the money to spend – fly, if not – boats are relaxing and safe, laid-back way to get around.
The Philippines might not be super famous for its food, because it is mainly fried and quite basic. Seafood is widely available, the same as all kind of meats. However, vegetarians sometimes might have trouble finding suitable food, except for fruits. We love fruits and meat as well, but we have to admit, we often ate fast food as that was the easiest and cheapest option around.
Everyone speaks English in the Philippines, so do not worry about any language issues. We love the way Filipino talk English, there are these distinctions – American English, British English, and there should be Filipino English as well.
What to do in the Philippines?
You can travel around the Philippines in many different ways. As already mentioned, there are more than 7000 islands and so many have something special to see or do. Depending on your interests, for example, snorkeling, surfing, diving, partying, peaceful relaxing by the beach, you have to choose the islands you want to visit. Thus, perhaps twisting our Philippines travel itinerary a bit and adjusting it to your specific interests. However, our itinerary included a little bit of all the worlds. And it is a great way to see the Philippines and its many different colours.
If you have any questions at all regarding planning your Philippines Travel Itinerary, let us know in the comment section. We will get back to you with the best advice we can give!
Let us know if there is a topic you want us to write about!