The Philippines

The Philippines has the most amazing beaches, mountains and waterfalls that you’ll ever see. With over 7,000 islands, however, you’ve got to be willing to throw on a backpack and get off the beaten path to discover some of the most exotic beaches in the world.

AT A GLANCE

Where: The Philippine islands are located on the western side of the Pacific Ocean, just north of Indonesia.

Best For: Beaches, Surfing, Waterfalls, Diving with Whale Sharks

Language: Filipino (Tagalog) and English. English is an official language and taught in all schools across the country.

Religion: Christian and Muslim (for most of Mindanao)

Population: 104.9 million

Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)

Cards & Cash: You can withdraw PHP at some ATMs in the Philippines using your debit cards. With most ATMs, there’s an ATM fee of 250 PHP and a maximum withdrawal of 10,000 PHP per day. Note that ATMs can also be harder to find in some areas. Credit cards can be used in hotels, restaurants, and stores. Cash is king for food and transport.

Visa: 30-day stamp on arrival, for western passports. A week before the 30-days expires, you can apply for a 30-60-day extension (and you can do this for 6 months).

WHEN TO VISIT

The Best Time to Visit the Philippines: December – February

Dry Season: November- April

Hottest Months: April – May

Rainy Season: June – October

Typhoon Season: September – October

TOP 5 AREAS TO CHECK OUT

Palawan

Asia’s most beautiful, unspoiled island with the best beaches on Earth

Leyte

Ethically Swim with Whale Sharks

Banaue Rice Terraces

Breathtaking, hand-carved rice terraces as far as the eye can see

Boracay

Stunning white sand beaches and international beach parties

Bohol

Home of the little Tarsier monkey and authentic city life – connected to Panglao Island

PRO TIP

Keep the change! Be sure to keep all your coins because you’ll be needing them for jeeps, buses, and tricycles.

PACKING

Bring

Sunscreen, active shoes, dry bag, underwater camera, tampons, water bottle (it can get very hot and humid on some days), light rain jacket

Leave

High heels, jeans, flashy jewelry, rolling suitcases (you’ll need a backpack here)

coron island
Sea turtle

GETTING AROUND

Jeepney – Public Share Taxis: Made from old World War II army jeeps, these shared taxis follow various routes in every city, starting at 8 PHP. Wave one down, tell the driver your location, and if they’re going that way, you can hop on. When you’re ready to get off, yell “Para Po.” If you don’t know what your location looks like, ask a local next to you and they’ll be happy to help you.

Bus: A cheap way to travel long-distance by land. For trips that are 8+ hours, take a night bus!

Tricycle: Tricycles are just motorcycles with a large sidecar attached that can carry around four people. Base fare starts around 20-50 PHP depending on the area.

Boats: For long-distance boat rides, you’ll take roll-on/roll-off (RORO) boats, which run from Manila to the Visayas to Davao. Bangkas are smaller wooden boats for shorter travels.

Private Driver: Tourist Driver Manila is the most popular company for areas in northern, southern, and central Luzon. For places in Visayas or Mindanao, you can a driver for 1 day for 5,500 PHP. A 12-hour driver would cost roughly 8,000 PHP, inclusive of gas and toll fees.

Taxi Driver: Tell your driver to turn the meter on, and don’t ever let a driver convince you to pay extra because of ‘traffic’. Always carry small bills; drivers don’t always have change. The base fare starts at 40 PHP.

Grab Taxi: Cheaper and more convenient! Just like Uber, Grab shows you the price of your trip before booking.

HOW TO GET TO

For Manila, fly into Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport

  • 3-Hours 25-minutes from Bangkok
  • 4-Hours 15-minutes from Jakarta
  • 8-Hours 5-minutes from Sydney
  • 14-Hours 30-minutes from Los Angeles

For Palawan, fly into Puerto Princesa International Airport

  • 1-Hours 15-minutes from Manila

For Cebu, fly into Mactan International Airport

  • 1-Hours 15-minutes from Manila
  • 18-Hours 5-minutes from Los Angeles

Direct flights to the Philippines almost always stop in Manila first. If you want cheaper airfare, sometimes it’s a good idea to book your round-trip flights in and out of Manila; and book smaller airlines between islands.

Want all the inside info?

Mad Monkey Hostels

Mad Monkey Hostel Philippines
Booking.com

One of Asia’s most popular party hostels has recently popped up in the Philippines. Mad Monkey Hostels is known for epic group adventures, island tours, BBQ nights, and now…beach parties. Come solo. You’ll be part of the international clan in no time. Mad Monkeys Hostels has two locations…

Best For: Solo Backpackers

Starting at: $18 per night for a dorm- they even have tents for rent!

 

Outpost Beach Hostel, El Nido

Want to adventure on the most exotic island in the world? Located on the isolated Corong-Corong Beach, here is where you come to get in touch with nature, along with other international backpackers. Join the most famous boat tours, explore pristine waterfalls, swim in blue lagoons – Outpost Beach Hostel will help you see it all.

Best For: Exploring an Exotic Island

Where: El Nido

Starting at: $15 per night for a dorm- $50 for private rooms

 

Tropical Fun Ta Sea Rentals, Siquijor Island

Tropical Fun Ta Sea Resort

Visiting Siquijor Island is a must! Wake up to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. Then go boating or jet skiing right in front of the hotel. Kayaks are free for guests, too! Rent a bike and explore the island – and then come back to a toes-in-the-sand sunset.

Best For: Water Activities

Where: Siquijor Island

Starting at: $69

 

Isla de Paz Beach Resort, Siquijor Island

The most picturesque bungalows surrounded by palm trees and hammocks – just steps to the beach! The rooms are basic, the prices are affordable, and the location is superb! The owners will help you acquire a snorkel, a scooter (even teach you how to ride) and then point you in the right direction for a day of island adventures.

First time on AirBnb? Use this link for big discounts!

Best For: Budget Adventurers

Where: Siquijor Island

Starting at: $17

Carolina del Mar, Cebu

Coming to the Philippines to play in waterfalls, swim with sea turtles, snorkel with coral, go parasailing, go canyoning, have a beach day, swim in the ocean…Carolina Del Mar ticks all of your adventure bucket list items off the list. When you adventure is over, hang out in a hammock and enjoy some of the warmest island hospitality there is.

Best For: Island Adventures

Where: Barangay Ponong, Cebu Island

Starting at: $40

 

Nacpan Beach Glamping, El Nido

Glamping in the Philippines

Glamour + Camping = Glamping. Get it? Snuggled into the palm trees where Calitang Beach and Nacpan Beach meet -Nacpan Beach Glamping allows you to adventure barefoot, wake up with the sun and go to sleep under the stars. The luxury tents are air-conditioned, clean, stunning, and can fit up to 3 people each.

First time on AirBnb? Use this link for big discounts!

Best for: Something different

Starts at: $134 per night

Where: Nacpan Beach, El Nido

 

Henann Crystal Sands Resort, Boracay

A luxury resort on the white sand beach of a paradise island… this is what living your best life looks like.  This beachfront resort is literally in the best location – steps to the beach and the beach bars. Or don’t leave at all. Stay and enjoy the infinity pool, spa, gym…you get the picture.

Best for: Luxury

Starts at: $166 per night

Where: White Beach, Boracay

 

Bohol Beach Club, Panglao Island

A newly renovated resort on the coast of Panglao Island, Bohol Beach Club offers a private white sand beach, spacious rooms, and private tours where you can go island hopping and dolphin watching. This truly is the whole package.

Best for: One-stop-shop vacation

Starts at: $189 per night

Where: Panglao Island, Bohol

 

Panorama Resort, El Nido

Landing itself on my “Most Unique Hotels in the World” list, Panorama Resort offers you the chance to sleep in exotic grass-covered huts surrounded by pure jungle – and only steps away to the gorgeous twisting pool and white sand beach. And with one of the best beach bars on the island…the party comes to you.

Best for: Stylish and peaceful area

Starts at: $228 per night

Where: Corong Corong Beach, El Nido

 

Paolyn Floating House Restaurant, Coron

Dive from your bed into the waters of Kayangan Lake, grab a kayak and adventure, swim in the crystal-clear water, snorkel with incredible marine life, and then freshen up for dinner on the small restaurant raft where it’s impossible not to make new friends.  The only accommodation “on” Coron, Paolyn Floating House is truly a special experience reserved for those willing to spend a pretty penny on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Best for: A Bucket List Experience

Starts at: $192 per night

Where: Kayangan Lake, Coron

 

El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island, Miniloc

Have you ever dreamed of living at the edge of the Earth, where houses are built on stilts over turquoise water that let you go from your bed to the ocean. Where you can snorkel, paddle board, and kayak in the morning. Where fresh seafood dinner – caught from the ocean that morning – is served overlooking the sun setting on the water. This is that.

Best for: Honeymoon experience

Starts at: $660 per night

Where: Miniloc Island

 

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