THE PHILIPPINES: 30 days in paradise – Travel Guide

Before flying to the Philippines we knew almost nothing about this country and it was rather an impulsive decision to fly there. Nevertheless, the Philippines is a beautiful place with wonderful people and we had such a great time there. In this blog post, I’m gonna share all of my experiences, costs and tips for traveling to this amazing country.

BASIC THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES

Before flying to the Philippines there are a few things that you should be aware of.

  • The Phillippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, situated in the western Pacific Ocean.

  • There are some parts of the Philippines that are not safe for tourists. I am speaking of the Southern part of the country. There are ongoing conflicts with terrorist groups and the military. (more information) However, the middle and northern parts are really safe to travel for tourists. I never felt unsafe or anything like that.

  • For a 30 day stay, there is no visa required (depending on your nationality).

  • The official currency in the Philippines is the Philippine peso (PHP).

  • There are over 7,100 islands in the Philippines.

  • There are only two seasons in the Philippines – dry and wet season.
    The dry season starts late October until May and wet season is from June until October. It’s rather hot and humid all year round but I really recommend going in dry season as it can rain a lot in the wet season and also typhoons are a common thing at that time in the Philippines.

THE CULTURE

People in the Philippines are laid-back, so don’t expect fast traveling. Filipinos are very open-minded, kind, polite and great hosts! The English language is also widely spoken in the Philippines which makes traveling a lot easier.

DESTINATIONS

1. Puerto Princessa

We booked a flight from Cebu to Puerto Princessa (Flights were around 60 Euros per person) because the flights to El Nido were too expensive.  We couldn’t explore the area around Puerto Princessa because it almost rained for a week straight when we went there. We stayed at a lovely Airbnb for 5 days and had the best host ever! Unfortunately, I can’t find it on Airbnb anymore.

What to do in Puerto Princessa

On the first rain-free day we went to Honda Bay, which is located about 20-30 minutes north from Puerto Princessa airport. From there you can do day trips to different islands by boat. For a one-day boat trip, we paid 600 pesos which is around 10 euros per person (food inclusive). You won’t need to book a day trip in advance because there are a lot of boats probably. We went to Starfish Island, Luli Island and some others, that I can’t remember the name of. I would really recommend doing a day trip there, as it is quite relaxing and really beautiful to see!

2. El Nido

El Nido is probably the most famous place in Palawan or even in the Philippines. It’s actually a very small town with a small port where all the boat tours start. A quite touristy place but definitely worth a see.

How to get there

The cheapest way from Puerto Princesa is by van, but I have to warn you – it is a 5h drive with 18 people in a van that is built for 10! It’s quite a special experience but only costs 350 PHP (ca. 6 euros). Of course, there are other possibilities to go to El Nido: you can take the bus (takes longer), a private van (costs more) or take the plane.

What to do in El Nido

When you’re in El Nido you probably came because you saw all the well-known photos on Instagram. El Nido is famous for its beautiful, crystal clear water and its astonishing lagoons. There are 4 different boat-tours you can book (A, B, C, D) (find more details here) You can make a reservation for these online, but I recommend to do it in El Nido at the port the day before. There are lots of places where you can book a tour. If you’re a group of 4 or you can find other people I would totally recommend to go on a private boat! By doing so, you’re more flexible (you can go to whatever Island you’d like) and it’s way more stress-free. We always bargained with the locals that are selling these tours and I promise you, you will get it a lot cheaper than online. A day trip on a boat costed us 5000PHP in total (divided by 4 it was around 22 Euros per person). We always made sure to start very early, to be already at a nice spot before the sun really rose and before all the tourists would arrive. El Nido is also a good place for scuba diving, but we missed that when we were there. 

My favorite spots in El Nido

Cadlao Lagoon, Shimizu Island, Martin Lock Shrine, 7 Commando Beach, Small Lagoon & Big Lagoon and Secret Beach.
We also spend a few hours at unknown beaches, that weren’t on the regular tours. This was also very nice because we could enjoy the silence and rest a little bit after waking up so early.

Best restaurant in El Nido

The best restaurant in El Nido is Happiness Restaurant. They have the best pita bread with falafels. Make sure to book a table or go there early because it’s always packed in the evening.

Best way to get around in El Nido

Tuktuk (cheap & you can share with up to 4 people ☺)

What I liked about El Nido

The landscape, beaches, lagoons & crystal clear water

What I disliked about El Nido

As this little town is full of tourists the prices for accommodation are (unbelievably) high! Make sure to book a few weeks in advance!

3. Coron

Coron is an island group in the northern part of the province Palawan.
The vibe in Coron is a bit more relaxed than in El Nido, but there are still many tourists. 

How to get there

We took the speed boat from El Nido to Coron. The ride takes around 3 hours and costs 30 Euros per person.

What to do in Coron

The island has a big sign saying “CORON” on top of a hill (like the Hollywood sign) and you can hike up the hill (around 700 steps). From there you have a nice view overlooking the island. It’s a really nice place to enjoy a sunset ☺ 

In Coron, you can also do day-tours with a boat, but it’s cheaper than in El Nido. There is also no booking in advance necessary, just go to the port and bargain with the locals. There are also some “regular” tours you can book but you can also compile your own.

My favorite spots in Coron:

Banol Beach, Shipwreck (free diving next to an old Chinese Shipwreck), Twin Lagoon and Kayangan Lake

Best restaurant in Coron

Brujita (freshest food on the island with international cuisine)

Best way to get around in Coron

tuktuk or scooter or even by foot (as it’s a small island)

What I liked about Coron

I love that Coron is more quiet than El Nido and the beaches are as beautiful as in El Nido. 

What I disliked about Coron

The streets are really bad! Make sure that your accommodation is not so far away from the port.

4. Siargao

Siargao is located in the very East of the Philippines. The island consists literally 98% of palm trees. It’s famous for surfing as there are many surfing world cups held in Siargao.

How to get there

From Coron we flew to Siargao (via Cebu). 

Where to stay

We stayed in General Luna. This is the part where most of the people, restaurants and accommodations are.

Best way to get around in Siargao

I recommend renting a scooter for the duration of your stay, as it’s an easy way to explore the whole island.

Things to do in Siargao

There are a lot of things you can do in Siargao. You can go surfing or island hopping. But you can also make a day trip to Magpunko Rockpools, the famous bent palm or Sugba Lagoon. If you’re not up to an adventure you can chill on the famous Cloud 9 pier in General Luna. I am sure you will not get bored! ☺

Best restaurant in Siargao

Lotus Shores – This is actually a yoga retreat/hotel but it has the best restaurant ever! The food is vegan and so fresh, unbelievably tasty and healthy! The location of Lotus Shores reminds me a bit of Bali. It’s so relaxed, surrounded by nature and maybe a bit spiritual. Definitely a must-try!!

What I like about Siargao

The Island is really clean compared to all of the other places we visited in Asia. Most of the restaurants don’t use single-use plastic.

My 30 day trip to the Philippines was absolutely amazing. I was really overwhelmed by the beautiful and diverse landscape, the white sandy beaches and the lovely people and their hospitality!  Make sure to check out the short video my boyfriend Raphael (@backpackpassion) made of our month in the Philippines 🙂 

I hope that my blog post has helped you plan your trip to the Philippines and I am sure you will love this country!

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below ☺

xx
Jacky

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