I visited the Philippines from half January till half February 2020, just after the Mt Taal volcano eruption. I was lucky that my flight went on time without any delays, a week earlier that would not have been the case. My travel through the Philippines went very smooth, no delays, no cancellations, no crime, good weather, all good memories. The last day my stomach got a little bit upset but that was all, four weeks of happiness and joy here in the Philippines.
Tip: Book the plane tickets in advance and buy the flexible version. This in case unexpected weather changes your plans.
I always do a lot of preparations and research before I plan my itinerary to a country. Buy the Lonely Planet, visit a lot of blogs and website to get an good impression of what I want and like to see. I used the website Reis Expert (in Dutch) to get a good impression of the activities and highlights in the Philippines. I love to surf and added Siargao to my travel route and stayed here a bit longer. I decided not to visit Boracay, this was not logic in my route and sounded too touristy for me. I went to the upcoming and more relaxing Siquijor instead.
My suggested itinerary through the Philippines
Almost everybody starts and ends their travel journey in Manila, most international airlines arrive/depart here, just like mine with KLM directly from Amsterdam via Taipei. You can travel to the second biggest city Cebu from some Asian capitals. I made a kind of U shaped itinerary around the Philippines which was efficient and saw a lot of the highlights this way. Check my itinerary below:
1 night; Manila is not a very attractive city and I prefer the beach and went straight to the islands after 1 night in the close to the airport neighborhood Makati.
5-6 nights; This was my longest stay in the Philippines on one island. Perfect to recover from jet-lag and time to find some waves to surf. Loved the vibe in Siargao. Unfortunately I got a lot of rain during my stay here, in this part of the Philippines it is rainy season in Jan-Feb.
4-5 nights; After Siargao I flew to Cebu an then the ferry to Bohol. The island famous for the Chocolate hills and Tarsier. My father lives here for a couple of months a year and was my personal tour guide on and around the island. Check the tips in the Bohol blog!
3-4 nights; By ferry we traveled together from Bohol to Siquijor and Apo island. Indeed stunning and not so touristy but enough to give you a real holiday feeling. The underwater world around Apo is amazing. Loved this trip!
1 night; Just one night to continue the next day to Palawan, otherwise you can’t make it directly.
2-3 nights; Long travel day from Bohol, first ferry to Cebu, plane to Puerto Princesa and shuttle van to Port Barton. I loved nature ocean meets jungle vibe here, perfect to chill and relax from the long journey.
3-4 nights; The basis to discover the spectacular Bacuit Archipelago by boat. Amazing rock formations and perfect blue ocean, white beaches and stunning sunsets. Be aware you are not the only one to admire these pearls.
2-3 nights; For me the basis to get on the TAO expedition and discovered the Busuanga Island by motorbike. You can book tours to see the Coron islands separately.
2-4 nights; The best part of my Philippine holiday, the 5 day expedition with the sailing boat from the TAO Experience. This is an indescribable trip with only highlights and looking back with a big smile on my face. You must check this blog to see how stunning the Philippines are in nature, food and persons.
1 day; Back to Manila with the plane from El Nido. Only one day in Manila to get on the plane back to Amsterdam.
Tip: I noticed that a lot of travelers rush literally through a country. That is not my style, I prefer to see and explore and get in touch with the locals and surroundings. It is still a holiday a bit of relax time now and then is necessary; you don’t want to need a holiday after your traveling!!!