3 Weeks Backpacking the PHILIPPINES Itinerary and Budget
Updated: Feb 3, 2019
In April 2018 I spent three weeks solo backpacking in the Philippines. I absolutely LOVED it. The Philippines are unbelievably beautiful and are home to some of the loveliest people in the world.
Here's what I did and how I got around:
Manila (1 night)
I was able to get a cheap fare from Sydney to Manila for only $260 with Cebu Pacific. Most travel blogs I had read and most of the advice I had been given from fellow travellers told me to skip Manila completely as it was dangerous/dirty and not worth visiting. I had completely intended to do this but due to flight schedules I needed to stay overnight in Manila before catching my flight to Coron the following day.
Luckily for me I really enjoyed my time in Manila. I had a friend living in the city who was happy to show me around for the short time I was there.
I stayed in this hotel as it was just across the road from the international terminal.
Coron (5 nights)
From Manila I flew with Cebu Pacific to Coron (Busuanga).
I spent 5 nights in Coron and stayed at Fat Monkey Hostel which was basic, but clean and cheap. The main town of Coron is located on Busuanga Island but the main attractions of the area are located on Coron Island - a short boat ride away.
I joined a 'super ultimate' island hopping tour for the day which visited top spots like Barracuda Lake, K and Twin Lagoon. It was pretty touristy - in some of the attractions they make all tourists wear red life jackets when swimming which kind of detracts from the experience. But overall, Coron was insanely beautiful and remains relatively untouched. You can easily spend 2-3 days exploring the different islands, snorkelling spots and beaches surrounding Coron town.
Coron is famous for its shipwreck diving as during WW2 an American airstrike sunk 25+ Japanese ships sheltering in the area. Although most of the dives are for advanced divers, luckily there are a couple of shallower wrecks I was able to dive. I did a triple dive with Reggae Dive which included 1 reef and 2 shipwrecks. Swimming through the abandoned wrecks was really eerie but incredibly fascinating as they are still relatively in tact. My dive master pointed out shoe soles from those working on the ship that were still remaining all these years later.
Scuba Diving, Coron
Scuba Diving, Coron
On my last day I spent the day relaxing by the pool at The Funny Lion hotel. They have a beautiful infinity pool and a rooftop spa deck looking out over Coron. They charge walk-in guests 1000p ($25) to use their facilities for the day but 500p of that is able to be redeemed on food and drinks at their restaurant. That was enough for me to get lunch and a couple of drinks.
The Funny Lion, Coron
A quick walk up the nearby Mt Tapyas is well worth it for sunset.
Mt Tapyas, Coron
Mt Tapyas, Coron
Tao Expedition (4 nights)
In Coron I joined a Tao expedition for 5 days/4 nights. I spent an incredible 5 days exploring the islands between Coron and El Nido. You can read all about my Tao Expedition experience here.
Tao Expedition Boat
El Nido (3 nights)
After spending 5 days 'roughing it' with no electricity, wifi or showers I stayed in a more 'luxurious' hostel in El Nido that had air conditioning, decent wifi and an included buffet breakfast.
There are a number of island hopping tours you can join in El Nido but I decided against doing them as I had just spent the last 5 days island hopping. So I spent my time exploring El Nido and the restaurants and beaches nearby. I really loved Las Cabanas beach - it's a really great spot for sunset.
The Bird House, Las Cabanas
On my last day in El Nido I hired a scooter which gave me the freedom to explore the island. I drive to Lio Beach and Nacpan Beach (and stacked it on the way back from Nacpan Beach which cut my adventuring short). Nevertheless, a scooter/motorbike really is a great way to explore the area.
Puerto Princessa (1 night)
The only way to get in/out of El Nido is either by boat, an expensive flight or by a 6 hour van trip to Puerto Princessa. I took the 6 hour van trip and spent the night in Puerto Princessa before flying to Cebu the next morning. Flying into Coron and travelling by boat to El Nido meant I luckily only had to do the van trip once. I stayed in Sheebang Hostel which was really comfortable and close to the airport.
Flying over Puerto Princessa
Oslob (1 night)
I flew from Puerto Princessa to Cebu (for only $30!) and caught a bus down to Oslob. The bus ride took 5 hours and was without air-con but only cost ($4). I stayed the night in Sharky's Hostel just outside of Oslob and the next morning was up at 5:30am to swim with whale sharks.
Moalboal (3 nights)
As there wasn't much else to do in Oslob I caught a bus to Moalboal the next morning. The bus took around 3 hours. While Moalboal refers to the main town on the highway, the main spot where tourists stay is Panagsama beach.
While in Moalboal I did an incredible shore dive with a school of millions of sardines that swarm just off the shore of Panagsama beach. Best of all the dives were only $25 each!! I also did a dive just off the coast at Pescador Island.
Sardine Dive, Panagsama Beach
Shore Dive at Panagsama Beach, Moalboal
One of the coolest things I did whilst backpacking in the Philippines was canyoning at Kawasan Falls. I went on a guided tour with a group and we made our way jumping, sliding and swimming down a series of levels of waterfalls until we reached Kawasan Falls. The jumps got to as high as 15m and the whole thing was a super fun adrenaline-inducing experience!
Canyoning at Kawasan Falls
Cebu City (1 night)
I was lucky enough to meet some other backpackers who were going in the same direction as me and we split the cost of a private (and air-conditioned!) car to drive us from Moalboal to Cebu which ended up being the same price as catching the bus alone. I stopped in for a night in Cebu City before my early flight out of the Philippines the next day. I stayed at 1521 hostel on Mactan Island which is just outside the city and close to the airport (which I would really recommend as with traffic, it can take over an hour to get from Cebu City to the airport).
Altogether, the cost of food, accommodation, transport and spending money for 3 weeks in the Philippines totalled just under $2,100. A large proportion of that total was made up of the $700 for my 5 day/4night Tao Expedition and $430 spent on flights (Sydney to Manila, Manila to Coron, Puerto Princess to Cebu).
I really would recommend at least 3 weeks for the Philippines as travelling between islands and towns tends to be slow (and can be expensive), but of course, totally worth it as the Philippines is such an awesome, safe and beautiful country to travel!