Last Updated on April 20, 2021
This is my very last post about the Philippines – at least for now. I am sharing my island hopping journey in pictures, and I hope that these photos will convince you to visit the Philippines. I’m already daydreaming about my next trip to this gorgeous country, and I can’t wait to visit all the places I didn’t make it to the first time around.Whenever people ask me about my favorite places in South East Asia, I can’t stop gushing over the picture-perfect beaches I visited, the lush green islands with their scenic rice fields and softly swaying palm trees, a stark contrast to the urban sprawl of Manila which is rapidly turning into a modern, advanced city; rivaling Singapore and Bangkok with the number of skyscrapers and shopping malls that continue to emerge in the ever growing capital. When I sat in one of Manila’s third-wave coffee shops, located in one of the shiny fancy malls, after returning from Palawan, I couldn’t believe that a day earlier, I had shared the road with ox carts and that I didn’t even have cell phone reception in El Nido – now I was surrounded by people who were all glued to their smartphones again.The many faces of the Philippines were fascinating, the marine life breathtaking, the people welcoming and kind. But I’ll let the photos speak for themselves – visit the Philippines virtually through my pictures:It all started when I flew into Manila, and the capital couldn’t have been more surprising – I expected to hate it because everyone who had visited the city seemed to thoroughly dislike it. Read more about my time in Manila here: Living it up in Manila
From Manila, I flew to Boracay, because I was craving some beach time. I had been wanting to visit Boracay, famous for its ridiculously pretty White Beach, for years, and this travel dream finally came true.I spent hours just staring out at the water, listening to the sound of the softly clashing waves. For the first time in months, I was able to relax 100%.As if a stunning 4-kilometer long beach with soft, powdery sand and crystal clear water weren’t enough, Boracay also boasts some of the most memorable sunsets I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Every single night! Read more about my time in Boracay here: Debauchery in Paradise: Letting loose in BoracayMy next stop was Bohol, a short flight from Boracay, which I added to my itinerary to meet these little guys:Tarsiers! The other attraction Bohol is famous for are the oddly shaped Chocolate Hills. I should have stayed longer to check out some of the beaches, but I was told there are nicer beaches in Siquijor, a nearby island reachable by ferry.You can read more about my time in Bohol here: Tarsiers and chocolate hills in Bohol
Siquijor was the one place in the Philippines that exceeded my expectations – by far!It might have been the witchcraft (which Siquijor is famous for) that charmed me, or simply the incredible natural beauty of the island. Read more about this magical place here: Searching for magic in mystical SiquijorFrom Siquijor, I took a ferry to Dumaguete, where I based myself to do what would be a highlight of my trip: Swimming with sea turtles in Apo Island! I 100% recommend adding Apo Island to your itinerary when you visit the Philippines.
For the stunning underwater life in all its glory, have a look at my Apo Island gallery on Flickr.
The next island on my itinerary was sadly not just a quick ferry ride away – instead, it took me nearly 16 hours to get from Dumaguete to El Nido, and the trip there included buses, a ferry, a minivan, a plane and a taxi.My destination was worth the strenuous travel day though: Palawan, the crown jewel of the Philippines. In my opinion, you can’t visit the Philippines and NOT go to Palawan.I could go on and on about the incredibly picturesque beaches and lagoons of the Bacuit Archipelago off the coast of El Nido, but I let the pictures speak for themselves.El Nido was indeed the grand finale to a fabulous journey, and you can read more about it (and marvel at more photos!) in these two articles:
- The grand finale of my Philippines trip: El Nido (Part I)
- The grand finale of my Philippines trip: El Nido (Part II)
From Palawan I flew back to Manila for a few days of city life after weeks of island and beach hopping, and got to know fancy speakeasy bars, indulged in scrumptious vegetarian food (a rare find on most of the islands I went to) and visited the historic district of Manila, Intramuros, before boarding my plane to Bangkok.Considering that the Philippines consist of more than 7,000 islands, I feel like I only got a small teaser of the country, but I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the country.If you’re considering visiting the Philippines, check out my budget breakdown: How much does it cost to travel in the Philippines?, which also has some travel planning and money saving tips.
Maria Carmen Losa Wellington
Saturday 11th of March 2017
Wow! Your photos made me want to travel more in the Philippines. I am from the Philippines, but I prefer traveling elsewhere. I think I traveled to more foreign cities than in the Philippines. I need to go to Siquijor!!! BTW, thank you for sharing these amazing places in the Philippines. All the best to you.
Tuesday 26th of July 2016
Just came across your blog and your Philippines posting! I love it!! I am a single mom and have a 7 year old boy. We went jet-setting off to the Philippines a few months ago and loved it. We arrived in Manila and submersed ourselves into culture and took the overnight ferry from Batangas to the little island outside of Boracay and then took little boats out to Boracay for some beach time. My son especially loved the Volcano in Tagatay ! We took a whole day to road trip up there from Manila. We had crepes at a darling Cafe and then drove down this windy tiny mountain road to a boat that took us across this volcanic lake. Once across there is horses you can rent to ride up to the top of the volcano. Such a neat experience and amazing views. Cannot wait to go back. Two weeks is NOT long enough to see all of the amazingness. Happy Travels to you and thank you for sharing!!
Thursday 28th of July 2016
Hi Caty, thank you so much for your comment! I love that you went to the Philippines with your son - amazing!! I can't wait to go back there either :) I hope I'll get to return this coming winter :)
Tuesday 5th of January 2016
Hi Dani, I love your posts! Extremely insightful :)
So, I'm planning a trip to the Philippines (from Mumbai) in April 2016. I have a pretty ambitious itinerary and wanted to know your thoughts about it: Mumbai to Manila - Reach Manila (2nd April) Manila to Banaue / Batad - Leave 2nd April night and reach 3rd April (early morning) Stay in Batad - 3rd April Batad / Banaue to Manila - Leave 4th April night and reach Manila 5th April (early morning) Manila to Legaspi (Donsol) - Leave 5th April morning/noon and reach 5th April evening Stay in Donsol - 6th April Donsol/Legaspi to Cebu/Bohol - Leave 7th April morning and reach 7th April noon/evening Stay in Bohol - 8th April Bohol to Dumaguette - Leave 9th April morning and reach 9th April noon/evening Dumaguete to Apo Island - 10th April Dumaguete to Manila - 11th April Manila to Batanes - 12th April (early morning) Stay in Batanes - 12th April, 13th April Batanes to Manila - 14th April (early morning) Stay in Manila - 14th April Manila to Mumbai - 15th April
What are your thoughts on this itinerary? Any suggestions would be more than welcome :)
Tuesday 5th of January 2016
Very ambitious indeed, Nina! :D I would probably skip a couple of stops and enjoy others more. Traveling in the Philippines is hard and frustrating at times. Almost every single one of my flights was delayed. I'd plan in some buffer time for that, for example. Going up to Banaue and Batad for two days only seems rushed to me - I suggest reading Alex' posts about her trip up there to decide if you want to add on another day. Batanes is supposed to be beautiful but also very far out of the way.. I'd consider traveling to Malapascua (from Cebu) instead, to save you some time, and it's just as beautiful. Just some food for thought :)
Julius @ Traveltipy
Tuesday 29th of September 2015
Hi Dani, I read your story about you and Jess and I had to say I was sad. But when I then browsed through some of your articles, I saw you are certainly lucky girl and I am now back lucky as well. :) I wish you all the best! BTW I like all these pictures! They are really amazing!
Wednesday 30th of September 2015
Hi Julius, thank you for your comment :) Yes, I am lucky and I guess break-ups are just part of life.. Can't be living the dream all the time, right? ;)
Saturday 12th of September 2015
These photos are making me jealous lol. The Philippines have been on my bucket list for wayyyy too long. I simply must go!
Sunday 13th of September 2015
Soooo worth it, Brock!! :)