Philippines Itinerary: 10 Days
In spite of being so close to Thailand and Indonesia, the Philippines has been mostly overlooked by travelers. In the last few years, tourists have started appreciating the charms of the rustic and untouched Philippines. An archipelago in Southeast Asia consisting of over 7000 islands, the Philippines is breathtaking and largely unexplored.
Ten days are in no way sufficient to traverse the idyllic and picturesque Philippines. There are so many pictorial islands, that you may need a month to explore them. Unfortunately, most of us have limited time and resources and have to plan accordingly. With so much to see and experience, one doesn’t know where to start, and hence planning a perfect itinerary in the Philippines is not an easy job.
Getting around in the Philippines can be problematic with unpredictable weather, poor connectivity, and an erratic transport system. Don’t squeeze too much into your travel itinerary and make it all rushed. Trying to visit more than 3 islands in 10 days, may prove ambitious. If you are planning to visit the Philippines for around 10 days and need some help to put it all together, keep reading.
Things to Know Before Traveling to the Philippines:
- The official currency of the Philippines is the peso and it is easy to exchange money in the Philippines. Credit cards are widely accepted. You will need the Philippines Peso if you are traveling to remote areas.
- The best time to visit the Philippines is during the dry season which is from November to April. It can be scorching and humid from May to October. December is a very good time to visit the Philippines.
- Uber is no longer available in Manila and has been taken over by Grab. The other alternative is to use unpredictable public transport.
- For short distances within towns and cities, tricycles, jeeps, and motorcycles are common modes of transportation. They are relatively inexpensive and allow for greater mobility.
- The local language is Filipino, but communicating is not a big problem as most Filipinos in urban areas speak decent English.
- Accommodations can be expensive at peak times and don’t expect Western standards. However, there are options for everyone, from hostels, dormitories, condominiums, guesthouses to five-star hotels, and swanky beach resorts. Take your pick.
- Traveling on flights is not that expensive if booked in advance. Ferries are very reasonable. However, the Philippines has poor connectivity, and most of the time reaching a destination is tricky. To add to the woes, flights and ferries are often delayed, disrupting the carefully laid out plans.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 1 – Manila:
If you are visiting the Philippines, you are most likely to fly to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Most tourists give Manila a miss, as there is so much more to explore in the Philippines. If you arrive early, you can head to Manila Baywalk, situated by Manila Bay. Baywalk is a vibrant seaside promenade where you can shop for souvenirs, enjoy live performances, watch the beautiful sunset, and savor local cuisine in open-air cafes and kiosks, A perfect leisure spot for the whole family.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 2 – Boracay:
There are several flights from Manila to Caticlan, but try catching a morning one if you are not interested in chaotic Manila. It is a short flight of 1 hour to Caticlan, the closest airport to Boracay. However, reaching Boracay is not that simple. One has to take a short ride in a tricycle or van to the Caticlan jetty port and from there, the boat will take you to the Boracay jetty in 15 minutes. After arriving at the Boracay jetty, you must take another tricycle/van to reach your hotel. The combined tricycle, ferry, and cab ride to Boracay takes about 45 minutes. Complicated, isn’t it? Once you have reached your hotel in Boracay, check-in, get settled, and relax.
If you don’t mind spending a little more, taking a private transfer package from Caticlan Airport to Boracay Hotel is a much smarter option. The transfer company will handle everything and you don’t have to bother about queues, taxes (terminal and environment fees), and transportation.
PS: You will need a hotel voucher from an accredited hotel to board the ferry.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 3 – Boracay:
Pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and rave parties have made Boracay one of the most visited destinations in the world. The place is around 10 square km and is swarmed by tourists, making it the liveliest place in the Philippines. The popularity took its toll and Boracay was closed for a few months in 2018 for massive rehabilitation.
In spite of the heavy influx of travelers, Boracay can take your breath away and leave you spellbound. The main hub is the White Beach, a 4 km stretch of pure white powdery sand. All the resorts, food joints, and water activities can be found on White Beach. A perfect place for tourists who are looking for lively spots and don’t mind the crowds. There are other beaches like Puka Beach and Diniwid Beach if you have the time. Ariel’s Point, a small island near Boracay can be visited for cliff diving, kayaking, and snorkeling.
Willy’s Rock, a small rocky outcrop, is a must-visit for picture-perfect Instagram posts. Sunsets in Boracay are breathtaking and what is better than taking a sunset cruise in the brightly colored Filipino sailboat – Paraw? Sailing the traditional way and exploring the islands are some of the most popular activities in Boracay.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 4 – Cebu City:
It’s time to leave Boracay, so return to the Caticlan airport (via cab/cycle and ferry) and catch a flight to Cebu City. The flight takes two hours. You can also use the bus and ferry combo to reach Cebu City, but travel time will increase significantly. Cebu City is the second-largest city in the Philippines and a bustling metropolis. If you have time and inclination, you can visit the Cebu Heritage Monument and Colon Street in Cebu.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 5 – Cebu:
The island of Cebu is a complete family destination. Because of the lush rainforest and lofty hills, Cebu is home to numerous stunning waterfalls. like Tumalog, Binalayan, and Inambakan Falls. But canyoneering in the canyons of Kawasan Falls is one of the most sought-after thrills in Cebu. Kawasan Falls is touristy and crowded, but lots of fun. The adventure takes two hours and you jump, trek, climb, and float in the deep canyons till you reach the majestic Kawasan Falls.
Another popular destination in Cebu Island is Pescador Island – a protected sanctuary for marine life. It is a wonderful destination for snorkeling as you can observe the sardines, corals, fishes, and sea turtles closely. Dolphins are also spotted.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 6 – Cebu:
Oslob in Cebu is the best place for watching Whale Sharks in the Philippines. You can take a bus or taxi from Cebu City, which will drop you at Whale Shark Activity Site in around 3 hours. It is an incredible and interactive experience to swim in crystal-clear water with gentle giants called whale sharks. The activity, lasting for just 30 minutes, is hounded with controversy as people feel that it has a negative impact on the animals. But it is a mind-blowing adventure to watch the magnificent animals from such close quarters.
If you have one extra day, you can book the Bohol countryside full-day tour which will take you to Chocolate Hills, Baclayon Church, Tarsier Viewing, and many other places. Chocolate Hills is a bizarre yet popular destination. Sorry to disappoint, but the hills are not actually made of chocolate. The attraction has 1268 symmetrical cone hills covered in green grass which dries up and becomes chocolatey brown during summers looking like giant chocolate kisses. It is worthwhile heading to this picturesque landscape only in the dry season. Viator has amazing options for half-day and full-day trips.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 7 – Palawan:
After being voted the world’s ‘best island’ for continuously three years by Travel & Leisure magazine, the island of Palawan has become a trending destination. The best way to reach Palawan from Cebu is to take a short flight of around one hour to Puerto Princesa – the capital of Palawan. Palawan is truly a romantic and idyllic paradise boasting limestone caves, aquamarine waters, exotic wildlife, and staggering mountains.
Take an early flight to Palawan and use the day to visit the Puerto Princess Underground River in Sabang. The underground part of the River Cabayugan is five miles long and part of it can be explored by boat. Visitors can take a ride and marvel at the exquisite stalactites and stalagmites found within the cave. No wonder it has been named among the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2012. It is best to book in advance, as limited slots are available
Philippines Itinerary: Day 8 – El Nido:
The best way to travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido is by road. It takes more than 5 hours to complete the journey by private car or van. Public buses can take anywhere between 6-9 hours. But despite the efforts and the cost, it is worth coming to El Nido. Island hopping around the bewitching small islands is highly recommended. You get an opportunity to visit some completely secluded and uninhabited islands. Visitors can easily spend the entire day chilling on the striking white beaches, admiring the spectacular cliffs, and enjoying the incredible water sports.
Time is short and instead of taking the long journey back to Puerto Princesa. It would be prudent to spend the night at El Nido and take a flight to Coron the next morning.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 9 – Coron:
Coron Island is as stunning as El Nido and is one of the highlights of the Philippines. The fastest way to reach Coron is to take a flight from El Nido to Busuanga airport and then drive for half an hour to reach Coron. It’s best to check before making plans as schedules can change. There is also a fast ferry from El Nido to Coron which takes about 4 hours. The six shipwrecks of Japanese ships that were sunk during World War 2 have become one of the main attractions on Coron Island. The wrecks provide opportunities for astonishing diving experiences for everyone. You will see colorful corals and marine life as you swim around and through the sunk ships.
Surrounded by black jagged hills, Twin Lagoon with its crystal clear water is another crowded tourist spot that is worth the hype. Banol Beach with its powder white sand, towering cliffs, and bright turquoise water is perfect for scuba diving. Kayangan Lake in Coron is one of the most picturesque locations in the world. You can have a relaxed stay in El Nido and Coron if you add one day to your itinerary.
Philippines Itinerary: Day 10 – Manila:
Sadly, it is time to fly back. Take a direct flight from Coron to Manila. If your international flight is late in the evening, you can do some sightseeing or shopping in Manila.
The 10-day itinerary provided is just a guide and certainly not the only way to travel the country. There are many alternative routes and locations, and it all depends on your budget, interests, and length of stay.
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