Philippines πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­

Β· 6 min read

Itinerary 🌍

Cebu in 2 days
Relax, canyons and sardini
El Nido in 4 days
Lagoons, boat, surf and scuba
Coron in 4 days
Boat, hike and chill
Manila in 2 days
Shopping malls and relax

General Tips πŸ‘

  • It's generally safe on the small town islands, although apply best practices.
  • Folks are super kind and attentive, but usually speaks only very basic english.
  • Fairly poor country but very organised and developed for tourism.
  • Cash is definitely king, take some PHP before leaving. There's a lot of ATMs on the islands also.
  • Network/4G is generally good (bought Holafly ESim).
  • WhatsApp is widely used, specially for bookings/activities.
  • While the country is composed by islands, not many fish dishes (mostly pork).
  • Tourist from everywhere but mostly asian (Korean).
  • Smoking is widely restricted in all the country and public places but people are super chill with that on tour.
  • or AllTrails are super useful applications for hike tours.
  • Overall expensive, more that we thought, so budget accordingly.
  • Book internal flight long in advance since they become sold-out very fast (specially Airswift).
  • Overall great destination for any kind of trip (family, friends, couple or solo).
  • Private healthcare is top quality, we had some food poisoning and local GPs were amazing.
  • Bring your driving license for scooters.
  • There was no malaria in the islands we went to and not too many mosquitos.
  • It's called Philippines after prince Phillip 2 from Austria - interesting country history.
  • Jetlag from Europe is quite tought.

Budget πŸ’Έ

We overall spent a quite a lot of money since we wanted a proper break so our personal daily budget is not super relevant for this one. But overall 100Β£/day would be ok, with the following breakdown:

  • Hotel: 100Β£/night for two persons in average.
  • Food: 10Β£/person for a take-away lunch, 20Β£/person nice dinner.
  • Activities: 120Β£/person for a private day-trip on boat.

Transportation πŸšƒ

We took flights between the four islands we visited, and did via AirSwift, which is like the local RyanAir. Everything was very smooth and safe, with no delays or issues. Flights were actually awesome since we could see very well all the islands and beaches below. They tend to change their flight times a lot (you get an email notification), so we advice to allow extra padding time (like a day) if you plan to catch an international flight after.

Since we stayed mostly in small beach towns, we didn't need a car or other transportations (usually done by boat or tour). We did however rented a tiny scooter on El Nido to explore northern beaches which was great, so pack your driving licence.

Apps πŸ’Ύ

  • Netflix: Perfect for wavy boat transfers.
  • XCurrency: Offline and up-to-date currency rates.
  • TravelSpend: Log and budget your expenses day by day.
  • Free offline map of the world, including trail paths to checkout viewpoints.
  • AllTrails: Discover all the local jungle trails with details and GPS.
  • AirBnB and The best to find cheap accommodations.

Food πŸ—

We were expecting a seafood bonanza, but turned out even if the country is surrounded by water fish is not the to-go resource and pork with chicken are kings. Neither of us being super fan of this, we mostly searched for simple grill fish places or international food.

We did tried some local specialty like the super fat Lechon (pork belly), or a couple of fried chicken places, but not super keen on those.

Since it's very open to tourism, it's anyway very easy to find any kind of cuisine even in remote places, including the classics like Italian, Spanish, fast-food and Asian.

Telecom πŸ“ž

We used Holafly ESim and that was ok/great. Unlimited data for the entire trip, that we managed to setup before leaving. Overall good coverage even in remote places, enough to text and browse but tight for streaming (good limitation to actually enjoy the place!)

Visas πŸ›‚

No need for visas if you come from UK/EU. Passing the border has been very easy, and the entrance was just a stamp on our passport.

We did however need to register on the Philippines web application and show a QR Code on arrival. The user experience was a bit confusing, and it can be filled only 48h prior to arrival.

Hotels 🏠

We booked all our accommodations in advance, by using or directly on the hotel website to get a cheaper rate.

For this trip we were quite tired so we decided to go fancy and expensive (always a swimming pool, big room etc..). All the hotels were amazing with super nice staff although sometimes too attentive ;)

As said earlier, staff in general are young local folks learning english and how to interact with tourist. They are very nice, but sometimes need a bit of patience. Make sure to repeat a couple of time what you want/need.

Tourism πŸ„πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

We went end of March during the Easter bank holiday and it was quite packed, both with international tourism and local due to country holidays (again book stuff in advance).

Tourist nationality really depends on the island you're going to. We found out Cebu is the top Korean destination, while El Nido is much more European.

Packing List πŸ“¦

  • Hiking shoes
  • Water shoes (strongly recommended to avoid foot cuts)
  • Driving license
  • Mosquito repellent (not too many but still)
  • Snorkelling gear (mask, snorkel, wetsuit, rash vest and fins if possible)

Overall Experience πŸ€“

We had a great time in Philippines and would strongly recommend to check it out. It was the perfect 'fun trip', a mix of beautiful places, beach, relaxing and outdoor activities (canyoning, surfing, scuba diving, hiking). Very easy to move within the country and do activities. We would compare it to our trip to Yucatan.

On the downside, it was way less authentic and remote than we expected, already very touristic such as Thailand compared to other south-east asian countries. We'll definitely be back to visit lots of other missed islands!

Hope this was helpful, you can ask us any questions on Instagram.

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