As we moved around quite a bit in the Philippines, visiting 6 islands in 2 weeks, I wanted to share our itinerary to show you just how much you can visit in such a time frame and how to make the most of your time there. With so many islands to explore, it’s a bit daunting at first to choose which ones to visit and decide how much time to spend on each one so hopefully this itinerary will be useful to you.
The only things we booked in advance were our internal flights (directly on each airline's website), our first night hotel stay and a private transfer to get to our hotel upon arrival. The rest we sorted out once we were in the Philippines and we had no trouble finding accommodation, sorting out our daily activities, booking ferries, buses, etc. Most places don't accept card payments so you'll mainly be paying in cash.
If you're a lover of the ocean and want to do as much snorkelling as possible, I would suggest taking your own gear with you instead of having to rent it every time. There are some amazing snorkelling and diving spots in the Philippines so you'll want to make sure you're fully equipped.
If there’s one important piece of advice I can give you, it's to try to negotiate travel and accommodation prices as much as possible in advance (obviously not for official ticket prices on buses or boats though). If you're getting a regular taxi, make sure they use their taximeter otherwise they will overcharge you. It’s also normal for porters to charge tourists 10-20 PHP for transferring you to and from the Bankas (local boats) if they’re not already on the shore.
Days 1 to 2: Malapascua & Kalanggaman
Flew from Manila international Airport to Cebu City with Cebu Pacific;
From Cebu we had a private taxi transfer arranged with our hotel (Evoloution Dive) to go to Maya (3 hour drive) and then a Banka to Malapascua (30 minutes) - 4,500 PHP;
On our first day we enjoyed the beaches of Malapascua and also went on a 3 hour private boat tour to explore the island and the coral gardens -1,000 PHP;
On our second day we went on a day tour to Kalanggaman (2 hour Banka crossing). We bought our tickets from Mabuhay restaurant the day before going and each paid the official price: 600 PHP + 500 PHP environmental fee which you pay on Kalanggaman Island.
✰ IMPORTANT: There are no cash machines in Malapascua so make sure you have enough cash on you for your entire stay. Ging-Ging's is a lovely restaurant that you can't miss out on!
Days 3 to 4: Cebu
Took a Banka from Malapascua back to Maya. We bought our tickets at the port, which is actually just a beach, just before leaving (departure times vary depending on amount of people present) -120 PHP each;
Took a bus from Maya to Cebu City (over 5 hours long due to heavy traffic in Cebu City) - 163 PHP each. You can also go by private transfer but try to negotiate as best as you can;
Took a taxi from Cebu City to Moalboal (2 hours). The driver was the friend of a man we travelled next to on the bus so we negotiated a fix rate of 2,000 PHP;
On our third day we went to Kawasan Falls. You can either go by bus or by tricycle and the driver will wait for you to bring you back to Moalboal (30 minutes) - 700 PHP (per tricycle) + 40 PHP entrance fee each. In the afternoon we realxed on the beach of Moalboal and went snorkelling;
Took a van transfer from Moalboal to Talawan which we found whilst waiting for the bus and paid 200 PHP each (2 hours);
On our fourth day we went to Tumalog Falls - the only way to get there from Talawan is by motorbike (20 minutes) as it's rather hilly. We both went on the same bike with the driver making it 3 of us on the bike (this is not uncommon in the Philippines) - 120 PHP each. The guy will wait for you to then take you back to Talawan.
✰ IMPORTANT: Try to get to the waterfalls first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Days 5 to 6: Bohol
On our fifth day we took a bus from Talawan back to Cebu City (2 hours) - 80 PHP each - and then the ferry from Cebu Port to Tabligaran (2 hour crossing);
We rented a scooter in Tabligaran for 2 days (1,000 PHP in total) to get around the island and stayed in Loboc for 2 nights;
On day 6 we drove around the inlands of Bohol and visited the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Conservation Area.
✰ IMPORTANT: There are lots of mosquitos in the inlands of Bohol so make sure to use a strong repellant. Sarimanok is a lovely new restaurant just outside of Loboc town and the food is really good.
Days 7 to 10: El Nido
On day 7 we took the ferry from Tabligaran back to Cebu Port and a taxi to Cebu airport and flew with Air Swiff straight to El Nido (it's definitely worth paying that bit more and arriving straight in El Nido rather than arriving in Puerto Princesa and having to get a 5 hour bus ride);
On our eighth day we did Tour C, on our ninth day we did Tour A, and on our tenth day we rented a scooter - 500 PHP - and went to Verde Safari Beach. The dirt track to get there is not easy so I wouldn't recommend it unless you feel really comfortable riding a scooter.
✰ IMPORTANT: If you're travelling in a small group you'll be better off renting a private boat in El Nido instead of going on a boat tour with 20 other tourists.
Days 11 to 14: Coron
On day 11, we took the fast ferry from El Nido Bay to Coron (3 hours) - definitely worth paying a bit more to get the fast ferry as the slow one takes up to 5 hours;
On day 14, we then flew from Francisco B. Reyes Airport back to Manila with Cebu Pacific for our international flight back home.
✰ IMPORTANT: We booked both private boat tours with Roger and his crew. They made our excursions so much more fun and made sure we got to the places when no one else was there. You can ask for Roger at the port or contact him on +63 946 280 1984.
As you probably already know, I’m curious by nature and always want to see as much as possible when I go somewhere with fear of missing out on something so we really did pack in as much as we could on this trip. As they say – Live each day as if it was your last!
Do you have any additional travel tips to share for someone wanting to travel around the Philippines?
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English and French wanderer. Based in Paris. Tasting the world through one escape to another...