In spite of being so close to Thailand and Indonesia, Philippines has been mostly overlooked by travellers. 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, 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 Philippines is not an easy job.
Getting around in Philippines can be problematic with unpredictable weather, poor connectivity and erratic transport system. Don’t squeeze too much in your travel itinerary and make it all rushed. Trying to visit more than 3 islands in 10 days, may prove to be ambitious. If you are planning to visit Philippines for around 10 days and need some help to put it all together, keep reading.
Things to Know Beforehand :
- The official currency of Philippines is Peso and it is easy to exchange currency in Philippines. Credit cards are widely accepted. You will need Philippines’ Peso if you are travelling to remote areas.
- The best time to visit Philippines is during the dry season which is from November to April. It can be very hot and humid from May to October.
- Uber is no longer available in Manila and has been taken over by Grab. The other alternative is to use the unpredictable public transport.
- 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, 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.
Day 1 – Manila:
If you are visiting Philippines, you are most likely to fly into Manila, the capital city of Philippines. Most tourists give Manila a miss, as there is so much more to explore in 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.
Day 2 – Boracay:
There are several flights from Manila to Caticlan, but try to catch a morning one if you have no interest in chaotic Manila. It is a short flight of 50 minutes to Caticlan, the closest airport to Boracay. However, reaching Boracay is not that simple. One has to take a short ride in tricycle or van to the Caticlan jetty port and from there, the boat will take you to the Boracay jetty in 15 minutes. After reaching the Boracay jetty, you will have to take another tricycle/van to reach your hotel. 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, it is a much smarter option to take a private transfer package from Caticlan airport to Boracay hotel. They transfer company will handle everything and you don’t have to bother about queues, taxes (terminal and environment fee) and transportation. PS: You will need a hotel voucher from an accredited hotel to board the ferry.
Day 3 – Boracay:
Pristine beaches, turquoise waters and rave parties has made Boracay one of the most visited destination in the world. The place is around 10 square kms and swarmed by tourists, making it the liveliest places in 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 travellers, 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 snorkelling.
Willy’s Rock, a small rocky outcrop, is a must-visit for a 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 is one of the most popular activities in Boracay.
Day 4 – Cebu City:
It is time to leave Boracay, so head back to the Caticlan airport and take a flight to Cebu City. The flight takes two hours. You can use the bus and ferry combo to reach Cebu City, but travel time will increase significantly. Cebu city is the second-largest city in Philippines and a bustling metropolis. If you have time and inclination, you can visit Cebu Heritage Monument and Colon street in Cebu.
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 snorkelling as you can observe the sardines, corals, fishes and sea turtles closely. Dolphins are also spotted.
Day 6 – Cebu:
Oslob in Cebu is the best place for Whale Sharks watching in 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 the 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 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 dry season.
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 of 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 is 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 amongst the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2012. It is best to book in advance, as limited slots are available
Day 8 – El Nido:
The best way to travel from Pureto Princesa to El nido is by road. It takes more than 5 hours to complete the journey. 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 Pureto Princesa. It would be prudent to spend the night at El Nido and take a flight to Coron the next morning.
Day 9 – Coron:
Coron Island is as stunning as El Nido and one of the highlights of 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. 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 in 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.
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 is 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