This past May I spent 6 weeks traveling through South-East Asia. The second stop after my week in Vietnam was the Philippines! I did the Philippines in 2 weeks.
Now I feel like before I jump into the 2 week itinerary I should warn you that the Philippines is not necessarily the “easiest” place to travel. Be prepared to take a lot of flights, (the Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands) have some flights (possibly) be canceled, and be weary of any theft and scams.
Now, for those of you I haven’t scared off yet, let me tell you the positive side of visiting the Philippines. It is one of the most stunning Countries I have ever traveled too. The beaches, the waters, the palm trees, all of it! Not to mention most of the people you meet are extremely friendly, polite and helpful.
Because the Philippines is made up of so many Islands, you’re going to have to pick & choose which ones to go to if you have a limited amount of time. I’d recommend to stick to 3-4 destinations in two weeks time, and keep in mind that some of those days may be spent as travel days, or overnights in main cities such as Manila or Cebu.
Here is my suggested itinerary for the Philippines in 2 weeks. I did have a flight canceled and lost a day in Palawan, but it’s just one of those things you need to brush off. It’s part of traveling, right?
Day 1-3: Moalboal
Moalboal is a province in Cebu that is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from the airport. Once you get out of the city the drive is pretty scenic through the jungle. I think Moalboal is one of the most under-rated places in the Philippines. It’s laid-back, has great food, and friendly people.
Moalboal is also where you will find the famously stunning Kawasan falls. If you’re going to Kawasan falls to take photos, I’d recommend going early in the morning when they open, at 7:00am. You can get there by motorbike, or hire a driver to take you there and back. You can also book a canyoneering adventure for a half day!
On your second day in Moalboal, you can drive 3-3.5 hours to Oslob, if your interested in swimming with whale sharks. There is of course some controversy about this as they feed the whale sharks so they come by, but I’ll leave this up to you to do the research and see if it’s the right decision for you.
Some other activities you could do instead include snorkelling with sea turtles and sardines, (amazing!) scuba diving, and relaxing at one of the many cafe.
Day 3: Sleepover in Cebu city
Wherever you decide to go next, you’ll be flying out of Cebu city. It’s best to stay overnight in Cebu city before your flight the next day to avoid any complications that could make you miss your flight.
Day 4-9: Siargao
Ok. So I’m not sure where to start describing this Island. I like to call it “palm tree island,” since it’s completely covered in palm trees. It’s one of the most beautiful sights! I spent 6 nights on Siargao Island, and I’d definitely recommend that you do too. (Though I’d also recommend you stay longer!)
Siargao has tons beautiful beaches, surfing, island hopping, restaurants, and yoga classes. It’s the perfect island to really kick back and start living that “island life.” I stayed at an airbnb about a 10 minute motorbike ride outside of the main town, General Luna. You will need a motorbike to get around the island so be prepared for that!
One thing I’d definitely recommend doing is the Island hopping tour. Most hotels and airbnb’s will let you book directly with them. It’s about $25-30 a person for the day, and you go to three of the nearby islands. Spend time exploring, relaxing on the beach, and grabbing lunch at the biggest islands little “cafe.” Be sure to bring plenty of water with you too, it gets hot!
I’d also recommend taking the time to watch the sunset/sunrise, surfing lessons, exploring the many palm forests, Mapupungko Pool, and really just get lost.
One more thing, the wifi on the island is well…let’s just say it’s not so great. Depending where you’re staying be prepared to have very spotty internet connection. The wifi & data work best very early in the mornings before most people are up, so if you have anything important to take care of (or Instagram photos your dying to post) make sure to get up early!
Day 10-13: Coron, Palawan
Coron must be one of the most epic places I’ve ever been. It looks like something out of a fantasy movie. Now if you’ve done some research on Palawan I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is a big debate of whether to go to El Nido, or Coron. From what I’ve read and heard from other travellers, El Nido is a lot more “touristic” and can be much more crowded, especially during high seasons. I’ve also heard that El Nido has some more options for nicer beaches than Coron.
But if your looking for less crowds, incredible sights, and you love diving/snorkeling, then Coron is a great option for you!
I unfortunately lost a day here because I had a flight canceled in Cebu. (If you can avoid flying with Philippine airlines…avoid it.)I also hit one day of rain on the island hopping tour which was a bit of a bummer, but I had a few sunny breaks at least to snap some great photos!
I stayed at the Two Seasons Coron while I was here which was absolutely beautiful. The resort was on it’s own little island with beachfront, pool, restaurants, and spa. It was the perfect place to relax after exploring the islands.
Because I lost a day I unfortunately didn’t have time to go scuba diving in Coron, but if you do then I’d definitely recommend to do it, I’ve heard incredible things!
Day 14: Sleepover in Manila
Wherever you’re departing to, you’ll likely be flying out of Manila. Splurge a little for a nicer hotel close to the airport, and just relax on the last night before flying home. You can also find a good restaurant or explore the city. I only checked into my hotel at 6pm and had to be back at the airport for a flight to Bangkok at 3am, so I just relaxed at the hotel, ordered room service, and got a short sleep in before leaving!
There are so many places to explore that you could honestly spend months traveling the Philippines, but these 3 places are a must in my books. Make sure to get a sim card at the airport when you land, (make sure you’re phone is unlocked too!) This will make things much easier for you if your having trouble connecting to wifi on some of the islands. Also make sure to book tours with your hotels when you can, in order to avoid any scams. Rainy season in the Philippines starts the beginning of June-October. (I went just on the brink of rainy season and hit some rain the last coupe days.) It’s best to travel in the Philippines from the months of November-May.
Highlights of the Phillippines:
Snorkeling in Moalboal
Island hopping in Siargao
Sunrises/sunsets in Siargao
Kayaking twin lagoon Coron
Island hopping Coron