Philippines Travel Guide

***POST IN PROGRESS***

I am currently working on exact costs for everything from my trip as well as itinerary suggestions and more things to do in The Philippines. Please leave a comment below if you came here from the Philippines Travel Guide YouTube video so I know what you are looking for, and how I can help! 

Hey everyone, I hope you have enjoyed The Philippines series.

We’ll call it Season 1 of Travel Deeper Philippines because I will most definitely be back again very soon – There is still so much I need to see and do thanks to all of your recommendations in the comments and on Instagram.

With that said, Let me preface with – this Philippines Guide by saying this is entirely based on my own experience.

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands. I visited only about 24 over the course of 78 days – So to pretend I know everything would be pretty ignorant.

I spent a total of 78 days in the country, from January 16th until April 4th of 2018.

Now, Based on the positive feedback from the Iceland Travel Guide, the goal of this video is to break down everything I learned from Traveling in The Philippines, from the logistics such as visas, transportation, and costs, to my favorite places, recommendations, and also the setbacks and frustrations.

And if you have any questions after this video, leave them below, and I think I’ll go live next Friday to chat and catch up with you all because I haven’t done it in awhile.

But before I get started with all the details, I want to take a quick minute to thank our sponsor of this video, which is my friends over at Audible.

SPONSOR:

This is actually a very fitting sponsor for this episode because I used Audible throughout my entire trip in the Philippines.

For example, I actually get sick reading in cars, so on that 10-hour journey from Manila to Northern Luzon, I listened to “Open” by Andre Agassi – a great road trip listen – I highly recommend it.

They also have Audible Originals which are exclusive audio titles created by celebrated storytellers from all walks of life like theater, journalism, literature and much more.

If you want to test them out, you can get your first Audiobook for free when you try Audible for 30 days, by visiting Audible.com/gareth or for my US viewers, simply text “gareth” to 500500

It’s that new year, new you attitude, so if one of your goal’s for 2019 was to travel more, this is a great way to get inspired by listening to audiobooks that have helped me travel like “Vagabonding” by Ralf Potts or “The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss.

I actually have a list of the 10 Books That Changed my Life in the video description and you can get those on Audible as well.

Again, If you want to test them out, you can get your first Audiobook for free when you try Audible for 30 days, by visiting Audible.com/gareth or simply text “gareth” to 500500 if you’re in the US.

All the links are in the video description, and thank you again to Audible for sponsoring this video…

Okay, let’s dive in!

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VISA REQUIREMENTS:

– First, I think we should start at the beginning – getting into the country.

– US Citizens don’t need a Visa prior to entering if you plan on staying 30 days or less.

– Here’s the trick, and this is the same for many countries, if you do plan on staying longer you will still need to purchase a ticket leaving within 30 days if you don’t want to get a visa prior to your arrival.

– All you need to do is buy a cheap ticket to somewhere close. I bought one for $45 to Taipai or Hong Kong or Vietnam.

– Then once you are in the country you can renew your 30 day tourist visa at Visa office.

– You can actually get the visa extension as you go through customs at Manila airport – that will give you 59 days.

– For all other countries, I put a few helpful links in the video description to check.

SAFETY & PEOPLE:

– Next, the most comment question I get everywhere is “is it safe?”

– My answer, there wasn’t one moment in the three months that I was there that I felt unsafe.

– Take that with a grain of salt – I am a 6’2” 200lb man.

– As with anywhere, be careful of your things, especially in Manila and Cebu.

– Many locals will warn you of pick pockets

– The best thing possible – Don’t go anywhere alone at night.

– There are many islands that don’t have street lights – and most places in Manila and Cebu don’t either.

– As far as traveling goes, the common answer most people say is that you shouldn’t go south. Places like Mindanao and the Sulu islands have had a complicated past, but Davao City is on my list for next time, and my friend Mike Corey of Fearless and Far just completed a trip there with a group of other YouTubers in the south.

– Best thing to do here is travel with people who know the area. If they say don’t go somewhere, don’t/

– As for the people, I didn’t believe what people said about them before arriving. Everyone raves how friendly they are – and to my complete surprise it was 100% true.

They are the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever met.

TRANSPORTATION:

Cheap flights: between most islands is very common $50-100 per flight.

– besides some remote/popular places like Palawan and Siargao – but they’re planning international airport arriving in Siargao soon.

Uber: In Manila and Cebu I took Uber everywhere because you can get rides very cheap for American standards.

Scooter: On the islands I rented a scooter almost everywhere. Scooter rentals range between $5-10 USD per day.

Jeepney: The most famous form of transportation is the Jeepney, but with all the traffic in the city I preferred the Uber.

Habal-Habal, more in the south, which mean hop on off off, is an improvised moto taxis are quicker to get around.

Metro system: Manila has a pretty limited, but if you’re heading downtown, it’s a nice ride at the right time of day.

Tricycles are great, cheap and very common.

ACCOMMODATION:

– In the cities I stayed in Home Stays / Airbnb

– Islands I mostly stayed in Hostels, Hotels, and Resorts

– I paid an average of $40 per night for my own airbnb in Makati

– I paid between $30 and $50 per night everywhere else.

– Most expensive hotels were in Palawan

CELL PHONE & WIFI:

– Smart vs Globe

– This was kind of confusing at first – you had to recharge but there were all these different discounts and codes to use for different plans. You can get unlimited, but I was told it slows down if you use too much. So I paid per gigs.

– Globe is said to be better in the cities, while Smart is better on the islands.

– I got both, and honestly neither are great, but they do the job.

– Wifi outside of Cebu and Manila isn’t great overall. You have to find little coffee shops or some hostel that will pay extra for better service.

FOOD:

– Filipino food is an interesting blend of a lot of cultures and regions across the islands. Spanish and Chinese are two major influences based on the countries history.

– There are number of curry dishes, stir fries, fish, and virtually everything comes with rice and served with vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce, and calamansi.

– Popular dishes included adobo, pancit, kare-kare, and lots of seafood and pork.

– My favorite dishes included, Lechon in Cebu, Sisig in Angeles, and Lapaz Batchoy in Iloilo, also the fresh fish at the market in Siargao and on the Tao expedition in Palawan was delicious.

– I also ate my weight in Mangos and drank way too much buko or coconut water.

– There is also a ton of unique street foods, from chicken feet, and intestines to sweet bananas, delicious flash fried qual eggs to the most famous Balut.

– Fast food is very popular and if you’ve seen my Fast Food Video from Manila you can see the different options there.

DESTINATIONS – MY ITINERARY:

Now let’s talk about specific destinations.

I did it as two trips really, coming back to Manila for two weeks in between.

The first leg started in Manila.

  • MANILA
  • Let’s start with Manila, most likely this will be the place where you arrive.
  • Honestly, people give Manila a hard time. Yes, traffic is terrible. It’s hot and crowded, but there are plenty of gems in this city to enjoy for a few days.
  • Poverty
  • 1. Intramurals
  • 2. Malls (Green Belt)
  • 3. BGC
  • 4. Makati – technically it’s own city.
  • 4. Night Markets (A Venue)
  • 5. Poblacion
  • CEBU CITY
  • Getting crowded with traffic like Manila
  • I was here first for Sinulog – the biggest festival in the country.
  • Significant historical site – Magellan came here
  • From there I traveled to waterfalls around the island
  • Oslob is very popular for diving with whale sharks, but there is some mixed emotions around it.
  • It supports a community, however some say it’s not right that they feed the whale sharks to attract them and mess with their natural habits. I didn’t go. You can form your own opinion on that one.
  • ILOILO

– Went to Iloilo City for Dinagyang Festival, it felt more cozy and small town than Sinulog in Cebu, so if you want more of a cultural experience, this is the place to be.

There is also a great food aspect of this festival.

– While you’re here you need to check out the LaPaz Market for the Lapaz Batchoy.

– If I had more time I would have liked to go over to Guimaras Island – apparently where the best mangos in the country are from – they even have a Mango festival. I need to get back for that.

  • DUMAGUETE
  • Negros Island
  • Great city with university
  • Stayed at Atmosphere Resort – which is doing great things for the community.
  • Dived Apo Island – most sea turtles I’ve seen
  • Mountain biking
  • The very popular Manhuad Sandbar is close by.
  • SIQUIJOR
  • Cliff diving at a popular beach
  • My first taste of scooter life, filling up on the side of the road.
  • Beautiful old church,
  • town of Lazi,
  • Worked on my backflip on my birthday
  • Awesome mountain top sunset

**Then I came back to Manila for two weeks to catch up on work with good wifi**

PART II

NORTH

– When I come back this is where I want to spend more time. Along with the south.

– Highlight of the trip.

– Long journey north from Manila. Stop in San Juan La Union to surf.

– Most people stop in Baguio and then head to Sagada.

– Rice Terraces, cooler than everywhere else. Incredible war history.

BOHOL

– Probably the most “attraction” based island I went to.

– Tarsiers and Chocolate Hills were incredibly unique and interesting.

– Panglao Island is where most people stay and it has some nice beaches, boat trips.

– Coolest dive of my entire trip was here because I ran into the school of Jack Fish.

– I would like to explore more of the eastern side next time.

– Ferry from Bohol to Camiguin.

CAMIGUIN

– Last minute addition, most unplanned. Probably the most untouched island I went to.

– Volcanos, and ruins, and waterfalls, giant clams, and two incredible island day trips right off shore.

SIARGAO

– The most hyped up island at the moment

– Surfing capital

– great restaurants

– lots of hostels and foreigners

– I worry about this place

– I did not mention Boracay because I skipped it.

PALAWAN

– Flew into to Puerto Princesa for only one day to renew my visa

– Took a crazy van to El Nido

– One day in El Nido, great beaches and place to relax

– Tao Expedition to Coron – Highlight of the trip.

– Two days in Coron, one diving Japanese war ships and one on a boat trip.

THAT WAS MY TRIP!

FAVORITE SPOTS:

Best Group Trip: Tao

Best Hotel/Resort: Atmosphere

Best Beach: White Island off Camiguin was incredible as a Sandbar, and Nacpan was probably my favorite traditional beach.

Best Waterfall: Cebu

Best Food: Lapaz Batchoy

Favorite Island: I loved Siargao, but I don’t want to ruin it. If you do go there, go see the Sun Crew – Otherwise, they were all amazing for different reasons – Siquijor and Camiguin also stand out because I like more remote places.

Favorite Aspect of Life: Everyone plans basketball, for those that know me. Basketball is my passion.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

3 Comments

  1. Came here from you video Philippines travel guide. Thank you for sharing my husband and I would love to do you exact itinerary. Do you have a ball park as to how much USD you may have spent. We are trying to plan out trip and try to be as budget friendly as possible.

  2. The prices looks good, as expected. In fact “is it safe?” is also my question and an answer of who really “explored” the place is really more valuabe that from who just followed a guided plan. For unsafe places is better to follow a package with a guide, but I think that could be a good idea also do a trip to Philippines, without too much limitations in the choices by safety pourposes..

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