Imagine remote islands with coconut tree fringed beaches, crystal clear waters and golden sunsets. That’s what you will find in the Philippines! Consisting of 7,641 islands this paradise spot has everything to offer from dreamy beaches, rice terraces and hiking to surfing and great diving spots. An interesting mix of Spanish, American, and Chinese cultures formed the Filipino into extremely welcoming people. In this free Philippines Travel Guide, I will share our 4-week itinerary and other important information on travelling the Philippines with you!
Philippines Travel Route
The first thing you should know about travelling in the Philippines: it takes time. There are so many islands that are all divided by ocean, which makes it impossible to explore the entire country within a few weeks.
That’s why you should narrow down to the islands you really want to visit, so you can still enjoy most of the places!
We managed to visit 5 islands in 1 month – let me take you to some of the country’s highlights and our insights on what you shouldn’t miss. I will also share the places in the right order how we visited them, so it’s clear how we got from one island to the other.
Are you ready to get to know how to travel the Philippines in 1 month? Read on!
Day 1 – 2: Manila
Manila, the capital of the Philippines, will be your first stop, as it’s easiest to fly here first. This is where soon your island-hopping adventure starts. However, travellers have different opinions on the city: some like it, others not really. We had a good time in Manila, but it’s enough to spend two nights here to get an impression on the city’s life.
Rooftop view on Manila form Lub d Hostel in Makati.
Makati is the most common area for travellers to spend their nights. Here, you can also find trendy bars and restaurants. Lub d in Makati is an amazing accommodation that I can recommend with very clean, tidy rooms and super friendly staff. Moreover, they have a stunning rooftop with great city views!
➳ Tip: The most reliable and safest way to get around in Manila is by Grab Taxi.
Our room in Lub d Hostel in Manila.
In Manila, we realized that Karaoke is very popular in the Philippines and almost every single bar has some fun events going on in the nights. That’s how we ended up in a Karaoke Bar one night with several Filipinos in the middle of Manila having a few bottles of Red Horse (the most popular beer in the Philippines, don’t miss it!).
Here’s a small video that my boyfriend Ville cut together: 1 Minute in Manila! Make sure you check out his Instagram @vvictorazzo.
Day 3 – 10: Palawan
After 2 days in Manila, it’s time to finally start the island hopping! From Manila head straight to Palawan. Palawan includes some of the most popular islands in the Philippines and is full of heavenly beaches. A must include in this Philippines Travel Guide and a must-do in the Philippines!
Island hopping from El Nido to the surrounding picturesque islands is very popular.
You’ll find famous spots like Nacpan Beach, hidden paradises like Port Barton and popular El Nido, that’s especially famous for its island hopping and kayak tours. 8 days will be the perfect time to enjoy those places to the fullest.
The easiest way to get to Palawan is by plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa, the biggest city of Palawan. Once you arrived at the airport you can take a shuttle to Port Barton or El Nido, depending on where you want to go first.
➳ Read: Top Places to visit in Palawan: 8-day Itinerary.
Palawan and its beautiful beaches.
➳ Tip: Book your flights from Manila to Palawan before heading to the Philippines! It will be more relaxed if you plan and book your first stop after Manila ahead, so you don’t have to spend your time on booking flights instead of exploring the city.
Day 11 – 13: Coron
Coron is the next highlight of the Philippines Travel Guide. Here it’s all about hopping from one beautiful island to another. That’s why one of the main activities to do here is booking an island hopping tour- you won’t regret!
To get to Coron you can take a ferry from El Nido, Palawan that will take around 4 hours to arrive.
Coron and its beautiful azule waters from the top (before our drone drowned in the water… :D)
We loved this small island and preferred the island hopping tour in Coron, as it was less touristic and less crowded than in El Nido. But of course, there is much more to explore in Coron than only the island hopping.
Day 13 – 20: Siargao Island
The next stop is my favourite island in this Philippines Travel Guide: Siargao Island!
Already when you arrive you’ll realize that most parts of the island are completely covered with palm trees. It’s laid back vibes, cafes and bars, surfer vibes, pristine beaches, and friendly locals are only a few of the main reasons you have to visit this island! One week is perfect to make the most of your time here.
Siargao Island is covered with coconut trees. It’s laid back vibes and beauty make it my favourite island in the Philippines.
Siargao Island is located in the east of the Philippines, which make it a big distance from Palawan and Coron. Coming here by ferry takes more than 24 hours and is quite complicated, as there are no direct ferries. Besides that, we made a really bad experience with one of the ferry companies on our way back from Siargao Island.
Therefore the easiest and quickest way to get to Siargao Island is by plane. The tickets are not really cheap, but I am so glad we still decided to visit Siargao and put it on our 4-week Philippines Itinerary because you really won’t be disappointed!
You can fly directly from Busuanga, Coron (USU) to Siargao Island (IAO), which takes around 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Vary between US$150- US$200.
Check your best flight options here.
Siargao Island and its laid back vibes make it a paradise for every solo traveller, couples and adventurers.
Day 21: Travel Day to Cebu
Cebu is one of the main islands and transport hubs of the Philippines. Travel to Cebu by plane or ferry from Siargao Island. When you arrived at the port/airport, take the public bus to Moalboal, which is the best area to stay in Cebu. The bus ride will take about 5 more hours but is also the cheapest way to get to Moalboal.
You can spot beautiful underwater life in Cebu!
Taking the ferry
Usually, taking the ferry is the better way to travel. It doesn’t only save you money but is way more environment friendly, which is why we decided for the long way instead of the plane.
To get from Siargao Island to Cebu by ferry is a very long way though and you have to take two different ferries including an overnight ferry:
1. Fast ferry from Dapa, Siargao to Surigao (1,5 hours)
2. Night Ferry from Surigao to Cebu (8 hours)
However, after we got scammed by the company and the ferry ride was an absolute nightmare, you should choose to go by plane, which only costs US$30 upwards.
➳ Must Read: Our nightmare ferry experience in the Philippines.
Night Ferry from Surigao to Cebu.
Day 22 – 24: Cebu
After your arrival day in Cebu, you can start the first day exploring with one of the main attractions this island is known for: Canyoneering in Badian. This is such a fun and adventurous activity you shouldn’t miss during your Philippines Travel!
Kawasan Canyoneering in Cebu is a must do!
Day 25 – 28: Siquijor Island
Awesome waterfalls, turquoise waters and the perfect island to surround by scooter, that’s Siquijor. This is one of the less popular islands for tourists and for us a must include in the Philippines Travel Guide!
Take the ferry from Cebu to Siquijor Island. For that you have to take a bus first to get from Moalboal down to Santander, from where your first ferry departs:
1. Ferry from Liloan Port, Santander (Cebu) to Dumaguete
2. Ferry from Dumaguete to Siquijor Island (40 mins)
Siquijor Island is a small island, that’s why you can easily take a TukTuk from the port to your accommodation.
Siquijor Island offers beautiful azure waterfalls.
Day 29: Stopover Cebu
After your intense and unforgettable island hopping, it’s time to say goodbye to the Philippines. There is no airport on Siquijor Island, so you have to take the same way back by ferry that you got here. Back at Liloan Port in Cebu, take the public bus to Cebu City (4 hours), where you’ll spend the last night.
➳ Tip: If you’re not vegetarian you have to go to “House of Lechon” in Cebu City for your last dinner. This is a really delicious restaurant offering traditional Lechon. It’s a little more pricey but worth enjoying the last evening in the Philippines.
“House of Lechon” in Cebu City.
Day 30: Departure Day
Bye-bye Philippines! After so many impressions it’s time to head to back home or your next destination (whatever your plan is :D). Take a Grab Taxi to the airport to catch your departure flight.
International flights from Cebu will most likely include a small stopover to change planes in Manila.
Philippines Travel Guide: Costs
The Philippines belong to the budget travel countries. Compared to other countries in Asia like Thailand or Indonesia, it’s a little bit more expensive when it comes to accommodation. Also, you should have in mind the many transportation costs that come up to you when travelling to the different islands.
We travelled as a couple and spent around US$1,800 each for 30 days using the same travel itinerary as in this Travel Guide (budget depends on personal plans and activities & can turn out more or less than that).
Have in mind that if you’re travelling as a couple or with a friend you can split the accommodation costs.
Double room: $30 per night
Meals: $1 – $5
Attraction Entrance Fees: $0.5 – $10
Sim Card: $15 (9GB) (Get one that you can top up with SMART or GLOBE)
How to get around in the Philippines
Another important aspect to mention in this Philippines Travel Guide is how to get around in the Philippines.
Transportation in the Philippines offers many opportunities to get from one place to another, but it’s very time-consuming. Always plan enough time to arrive on the islands and expect to be tired after your arrival.
The best way to travel overland is by Grab Taxi (not available on all islands though), tricycles (Tuktuks), public buses and minivans (more expensive than buses but also more comfortable). The best way to explore the islands in your own pace is by renting a scooter.
To get from island to island, take the ferry or plane. They are leaving on a daily regular basis.
➳ Good to know: Flight delays are very common in the Philippines, which is why you shouldn’t book too tight with connecting flights or activities.
Ferry to cross from island to island.
Safety in the Philippines
Often the Philippines are pointed out as a no-go destination belonging to the more dangerous countries to travel to, especially in the media. Well, I can tell you that this is not true!
First of all, it obviously depends on where you travel to. The dangerous areas of the Philippines are located in the deep south (Mindanao area) and you should avoid coming here, also because of the risk of terrorism. Also, you have to be more careful in Manila, as robberies are more common here, but if you are aware and don’t present your values on open streets the risk is much lower. I felt really safe on all the islands we travelled to!
Secondly, the Filipinos are known as the friendliest people in Southeast Asia and we felt so welcomed and taken care of everywhere we went. Besides that, all the locals understand and speak really well English, which makes it much easier to communicate and connect to them and travel around.
Best time to visit the Philippines
Usually, the best time to visit the Philippines is the dry season from December to April. You will not only make sure that the weather is on your side then, but it will also be cheaper than in the busiest and most expensive months from March to May.
Avoid travelling during the typhoon season from July to October.
The best to do before you decide on when to travel is to do some research on the different locations you want to see. As the Philippines are very big and the islands located in distance from each other, Coron and Siargao, for example, can have very different seasons at the same time of the year.
The last aspect to mention in our Philippines Travel Guide: the visa.
The most common visa that most nationalities get is a 30-day Visa on arrival. Requirements for that are that your passport is valid for at least 6 more months after your arrival and that you have a return ticket out of the Philippines within those 30 days. The standard visa can also be extended for up to 60 days if you want to stay longer.
However, always check before your trip if you need a visa! The requirements and possibilities vary from passport to passport.
➳ Click here to check if you need a visa.
Here is a small insight in our Philippines Travel last year. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading the Philippines Travel Guide and could take some valuable information out of it! Are you already planning your trip to this beautiful destination? Leave comments and questions below! 🙂