Philippines! Where do we even start?
So basically, my blog style has changed a bit, I don’t believe in being able to know everything and give advice on somewhere that I have been ONE time, for under three weeks. But, what I can do is tell you what I did while I was in the Philippines AND when I go back, what I will try to do differently, so should you only be able to go one time, you can make the most of your time and learn from my travel mishaps!
The islands in the Philippines I went to were as follows
Cebu – 7 days
I don’t think I made the best of my time in the first 3 days because I was getting jerked around by a travel company – Kkday – who I obviously don’t recommend.
I was meant to go island hopping and they kept moving my dates back until it was finally cancelled and the Oslob whale shark excursion was offered instead, which I firmly don’t condone and would recommend anyone traveling to the Philippines to stop participating in this activity.
However, knowing what I know now:
The first 4 days I was in Mactan/Cebu City and UNLESS you’re going island hopping – (which you should do whilst in the Philippines) then I would recommend spending your time in Moalboal instead which is absolute paradise and a lot closer to some of Cebu’s best attractions to visit like Kawasan Falls – Pescador – Osmena Peak etc – to read a very in depth what to do/skip/see of Cebu – read my detailed blog about it HERE
Do you need 7 days? Who wouldn’t want to enjoy it, could you cram it all in in 3-4 if you were go-go-go and short of time? Absolutely. Might not be as relaxing, but it’s doable.
Cebu city you can do in one day, island hopping would be a one day excursion and Kawasan falls/Pescador snorkeling can be done in a day – of course it depends what you want to see and do and at what pace as well whilst on your Philippines journey.
Dumaguete – 3 days
I really felt like I saw A LOT of Dumaguete and I would definitely come back to not necessarily “see more” in terms of attractions but more to live and experience the eco lifestyle. There is so much beauty in the people and scenery of Dumaguete and I love the mindset.
Compared to others, I don’t think it’s as popular of a destination in a good way, I was primarily going there on my way to Siquijor and it was out of Dumaguete or Bohol, though I would like to go to Bohol as well as it looked very beautiful, I kind’ve liked that Dumaguete was a little less known and that what I would be experiencing wouldn’t be over-crowded. Which it wasn’t at all.
After arriving I linked up with a great tour company, DumaGetMe Tropic Tours, there who offers quite a range of things in Dumaguete, I did experience her full day tour of the sights of Dumaguete which you can read about HERE
I think 3 days is a great amount of time here and would definitely say the highlight was Forest Camp and Red Rock Falls.
Siquijor – 4 days
Honestly, I couldn’t recommend Siquijor enough! I was only meant to have a short two days here and cancelled my time in Coron to extend. And still could have stayed longer! I enjoyed Cambugahay Falls, Salagdoong Cliff Jump and much more you can read about HERE in depth. In fact I still feel like I could have done more!
That being said, I also used Siquijor as my launch point for Apo Island, you can also get there from Dumaguete too – I would definitely recommend the snorkeling here, very similar to Pescador Island in terms of how many turtles there are!
If you’re going to do Apo Island from Siquijor then definitely stay more than 4 days, maybe even just on extra day, the reason I say this is because whatever day you choose to leave the ferry is limited and usually in the mornings so you lose that day on travel.
Coron – 1 day (I know.)
So, my big, I guess mishap in the Philippines.
I don’t regret extending in Siquijor, but I do wish I had more time in Coron, I cancelled my 3 days in Coron and have 1 and a half instead before going to Manila and I did enjoy some watersports with Royla Island Watersports there but I did not have the time for island hopping which I could have done all week long. To book visit – www.royalislandwatersports.com
For ultimate enjoyment, I would recommend at least one week in Coron, if not more, to really see it all. As well as Coron in Palawan of the Philippines, I would then suggest to go down to El Nido and Puerta Princessa which I didn’t do on my Philippines travels. I would definitely come back and spend two weeks just in Palawan for sure!
Manila – 2 days
So I ended with Manila, one because it was my airport point to get to India and also because I wanted to see a little bit of the city. I did a really nice bike tour with Bambikes and loved that they use bamboo and also help give jobs to those in need to produce their bikes. It’s both a great way to bike around the city and see the sites whilst helping a great cause. To book visit – www.bambike.com/ecotours
I think 2 days is plenty, unless you’re trying to shop til you drop, then of course it’s at your leisure!
So all that being said, Cebu is coming up as an international airport and more flights are becoming available each month in and out of the Philippines. I don’t think it’s necessary to go to Manila unless you really do want to get a lot of shopping done and a few sight-seeing spots in, or unless it’s a substantial flight price for you.
If this is the case I would plan those two days in the middle of your Philippines trip, in between Palawan, as that is the easiest way to get to Palawan island without a headache! You can fly from Cebu to Coron as well. I would look at Rome2Rio for all your travel planning and also plan your hotels specifically around travel dates as ferries and flights have specific operating dates.
If you mess up or want to be flexible and change dates/islands around, don’t fret, where there is a will there is a way! Buses and ferries will get you just about everywhere and it may take you 40hours of travel but there are ways around if that’s the route you want to go and want to “wing it.”
For ferries – use OceanJet website for timetable, it’s REALLY hard to figure out all times and also hard to book on their online system, I bought my tickets every time at the booth, no worries. You don’t have to book ahead unless it’s for Siquijor as that one sells out.
IDEAL PHILIPPINES ITINERARY
I would recommend planning an Itinerary that looks something like this:
Arrive Cebu/Moalboal – 4 days
Bohol – 3 days
Siquijor – 5 days
Dumaguete – 3 days
Manila – 1 night (fly out next day to Puerta Princessa and take bus to El Nido)
El Nido – 4 days
Coron – 5 days
And then either fly back to Cebu or Manila to end your trip
Just keep in mind travel days as well, I probably had 4 full travel days across my journey and only 17 of the 21 days here actually being able to see the places. If you can get to Siargio Island too, I would recommend, but I’m not sure which is the best place to fit it in from on the above.
FINAL PHILIPPINES TIPS
Book your flights in advance as they sell out fast in the Philippines, use Skyscanner where you can and also Rome2Rio is a great website to see alternatives to flying and literally every way to get to your destination.
Definitely download the GRAB app, it will work in the big cities of the Philippines and give you bargaining price guidelines if you still need to get a taxi.
If you have been to the Philippines, share your tips below and like I said at the beginning, this was my first trip and I don’t claim to know everything, this was just my experience and what I would probably shuffle around next time.
Hope you enjoyed! Thanks for reading 😊 xx