In April 2016, 8 of us decided to go on an adventure to our friend’s homeland … the Philippines. We had just shy of 3 weeks in ths amazing country. In this post, I will explain to you where we went, how much does almost 3 weeks in the Philippines cost, how to travel in the Philippines and what to pack.
It all started back in the UK. Now, most of you are probably thinking that a return flight to the Philippines will cost more than £500. WRONG. We did not fly direct, which you may see as a problem. However, when on a long distance flight and you hate flying as I did – it’s nice to get off and have a break and a walk around. We flew with Air China via Beijing. We had a 2-4 hour stop over at Beijing airport, which has some decent facilities where you can get some good food rather than the awful plane food they serve you.
So April Is one of the best times of the year to go to the Philippines as its dry, not too hot and lots of daylight! So for April, to fly to the Philippines return it was £347 return. So there are deals out there, you just need to look for them. Trippal can certainly help you find decent flights. So we landed in Manila. Fortunately, because our friend is from Manila, his family were there to pick us up.
TOP TRIPPAL TIP! What I would strongly advise you to do is to unlock your phone before you get to the Philippines and buy a SIM card at the airport. The wifi in the Philippines is terrible, so you are much better using cellular data.
A great place to stay in Manila is Z hostel. It’s a youth hostel with a great vibe, very clean rooms and an amazing rooftop bar which overlooks Manila. You can’t purchase drinks with cash in this bar, you have to top up your card at the hostel reception. Z hostel is located fairly central to nice bars, restaurants, and the food market. The food market is situated just around the corner from Z hostel, and I would strongly advise you to try it out. Now I am a very fussy eater, however – this time I decided to go rogue and try lots of different things. So what Phillipineo delicacies could you try? Chicken intestine, pigs blood, chicken feet, pigs face and balut – a duck embryo street food snack. Balut is not for the faint-hearted, and I was too scared to try it. There are plenty of places in Manila to buy merchandise such as hats, t-shirts, wallets etc. All non-genuine products.
Z hostel is a great night out in Manila, and even the locals go there to have a good time. Personally, I wouldn’t spend any longer than 2 days in Manila, as the beauty of the Philippines is on the islands.
So after Manila, we flew to Coron for 3 days. The flight to Coron was around £40 and it takes about 90 minutes to fly there. At the airport in Coron, there are plenty of taxi’s and people offering lifts. You can easily negotiate with these people, so don’t be scared going in at a low price and work your way up. The more of you there are, the better. So I would also strongly advise to try and team up with people at the airport.
In Coron, I stayed in one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever set my eyes on. This place is called Hop Hostel. Its a short 5 minute walk from the center of Coron, and it has an incredibly chilled out vibe. What’s even better, you can book double beds to yourself, and every bed has curtains for privacy. Its really clean and does great coffee! So what can you do whilst in Coron? To be honest with you, there isn’t much to do in Coron town. You can visit the hot springs and this can be arranged through your hostel. But the best things to do whilst in Coron is to get out on a boat. If you are traveling alone, I would recommend to organise a tour through your hostel or speak to some of the reps on the street. If you are going through a street rep, make sure you negotiate a good price. If you are going through your hostel, the chances are it will be a set price.
When you get out on the boat, you start to realise the real beauty of the Philippines. The earlier your boat sets sail, the better. So be prepared for an early start. You can usually rent snorkeling gear from your reps. It’s totally worth it because the sea life is incredible. You usually get food prepared on your boats which is fresh fish, salads, rice etc. Be prepared, its the law that tourists need to wear a life jacket and the reps strongly enforce this.
In the evening, there is a great Italian place to go for dinner called Altrove. The pizza is amazing. There are plenty of restaurants down the same street as Altrove. What’s even better, after you have stuffed your face with Pizza, you can get a rickshaw back up the hill to your hostel. In Coron, don’t expect mad nights clubbing and coming home in the early hours. There are a few bars in Coron, but they all tend to close by midnight. There is also a bar on the top of hop hostel, a nice place to chill out and have a few drinks with a good view.
So after Coron, we went to a place called El Nido. We got the fast craft boat from the port in Coron. The fast craft costs about £30, but there are slower boats available. On the fast craft boat, its fairly choppy and quick – so I would not advise to do it if you suffer from sea sickness or have a bad hangover. We went to El Nido for 4 days.
Once you arrive in El Nido, there are lots of options to get you to your accommodation. There are reps from hostels, but if you have something pre-booked you can tell your rickshaw drivers where you are staying. Again, always negotiate with the drivers. So where to stay in El Nido? Well, as there was a big group of us, we stayed in an Air BnB. However based on the people I spoke to, the top hostels that people recommended were Backpackers Inn and Spin Designer Hostel. Both in decent locations and right next to the town center. There are many things to do in El Nido.
Again, you see the real beauty of the Philippines when you are on a boat sailing around the islands. I would suggest you do this in El Nido as well as Coron. El Nido is just nice to walk around. There are plenty of places to go shopping, buy clothes and eat food. A great place to go is Sausage with Benefits, they do a great sausage sandwich and nice filter coffee. For the lads, if you want to watch the football – squido’s sports bar is the place to be.
A great thing to do in El Nido is to rent a motorbike and ride to Napcan beach. This is about 45 minutes from El Nido town center, but it’s an amazing beach to spend the day. To rent a bike, you need to take your driving license with you. Your hostel will tell you a good place to rent them from. It’s one straight road. Always keep an eye on your petrol gauge because your fuel can run out quite quickly, but don’t worry – there are plenty of little side shops where you can fill up. When you get to Napcan beach, park up your bike and enjoy the beauty of the beach. There are even hostels at Napcan beach where you can stay if you wanted to spend some more time there. Mad monkey hostel was strongly recommended to me. I would check the time the sun sets when you are there and allow yourself plenty of time to get back to El Nido before nightfall.
The nightlife in El Nido is much better than Coron … and let me tell you – we had some VERY MESSY NIGHTS. My advice to you is to follow the action. All the bars are busy. If you want a relaxed chilled vibe, I would suggest you go to a place called SAVA beach bar. It has a nice relaxed feel to it, where you can enjoy some cocktails and shisha. But for the party animals out there, I think SAVA is a great place to start – then see where the night takes you. Now seriously, El Nido has lots of ladyboys. So boys, watch out! My friend has his wallet stolen by a ladyboy and a few other lads on the island experienced the same. After the hungover nights in El Nido, grab yourself a message. They are all fairly cheap and dotted around the island.
We got the bus to Puerto Princesa from El Nido. It takes around 4 hours, but Puerto Princesa is a well-connected airport. The flight cost around £60 but we booked the flights quite late. We were going to visit Boracay island, however at the time we were there the island was shut for 3 months to clean up the plastic that was washed up on the shore. From Puerto Princesa, we flew to Siargao. When we landed, we got a taxi to the town center which is called General Luna. However, we did not book accommodation in advance which was a massive mistake. We spent 6 days in Siargao.
Due to Boracay being closed, all tourists have the same idea as us and went to Siargao. We managed to get an Air BnB, but it was a stressful task. So even now Boracay is open again, I would always suggest booking ahead even if you are alone. In General Luna, there are lots to do. You can go deep sea fishing, ride motorbikes around the island, relax on the beach, go surfing, eat, drink, play pool and the list goes on. But we treated this destination as a relaxation spot. We visited various hotels to use their hotel pool. There is a hotel called Isla Cabana that do amazing food and they have an infinity pool that overlooks the sea. If you are not staying there, you can usually pay around £5 to stay there for the day as long as you buy food.
The island is becoming more and more popular with tourists and they are building lots of hostels and hotels. But the nightlife is amazing in Siargao. Rumbar is a fantastic place for a night out. It plays great music and everyone in there is as drunk as a skunk. Nightlife in Siargao can be what you want it to be, relaxed, moderate or full-on crazy. Jungle disco is also one for a crazy night out. But for the more relaxed evenings, you can grab some food and sip some cocktails at Siargao’s popular restaurants such as Kermit’s – they serve amazing pizza and do great cocktails. Bravo is also another great place to eat and drink some beers/cocktails.
TRIPPAL TOP TIP! From Siargao, we flew back to Manila for a few days. There is only one flight to Manila a day from the island, so make sure you don’t miss it! Also, make sure you book this as soon as you can to get cheaper prices.
So what do you pack for 3 weeks in the Philippines?
Apart from the obvious stuff like clothes, swim shorts, toiletries etc … here are a few things I would suggest to pack.
- A pen. Like many again countries, places ask you to fill out stupid forms at airports. A pen always comes in handy.
- Immodium. Again, like many again countries – westerners get upset stomachs. Immodium will certainly help with this.
- Insect Spray. There are lots of insects in the Philippines. Give yourself a quick spray before you head out to keep yourself bug-free.
- Cash is king in the Philippines, especially on the islands. So when you see an ATM, get plenty of cash out to last you. Not many places take card.
- Surprisingly, a Jumper. It gets cold on busses and on boats. They blast the aircon and it gets cold.
How much does 3 weeks in the Philippines cost?
It depends on how much you drink and how many activities you do. On average, I and my friends spent between £850-1000 excluding flights. But for this, we stayed in very nice hostels, did lots of activities, ate great food, got drunk and saw some amazing places. The Philippines is a fantastic mix of adventure and relaxation – so it’s definitely a recommendation from Trippal. What’s even better, we can help you plan your trip. So why not get in touch with one of our travel experts and we can help you nail your next adventure?