You could actually spend years here exploring all of the islands. Heck, you could spend an entire lifetime - and that still wouldn’t be enough! But for the sake of all you workin’ folk out there hoping to experience the Philippines in the 10 days you can afford, follow this itinerary to make the most of your time.
The three Filipino destinations focused on in this itinerary will take you from the capital city of Manila to the stunning island of Palawan to the cultural mecca of Cebu.
Flying in the Manila International Airport is a smart choice. This is one of the largest airports in all of the Philippines and you can generally find a pretty sweet flight deal. It’s recommended that you spend at least one of two days in Manila, even if city life isn’t your thing. But, since you are limited on time, you might opt to depart from Manila right away for more natural surroundings.
Wondering what to pack for your Philippines trip? Let us help you with the essentials in our Ultimate Packing List for Worldwide Travel (tried and tested!)
Did you know that the famous book (and movie) The Beach by author Alex Garland was inspired by Philippines’ El Nido? Even though the setting technically takes place in Thailand, Garland wrote the novel while spending time in the strikingly stunning beaches of El Nido. So if you’re a fan of The Beach, El Nido is a must. Actually, it’s a must even if you have no idea what book we’re talking about.
It is highly recommended that you spend a full day in El Nido partaking in an island hopping boat tour. These tours take you to the islands in the area where you’ll spend the entire day snorkeling, chilling on the beach, and cruising around on a speedboat. Just don’t forget your reef-safe sunscreen!
Island hopping is a real treat since you’ll get to stop at uninhabited islands that are completely secluded and devoid of all human influence. If an all-day island party sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can certainly find that. The most popular party boat in El Nido is called Le Boat. This is a fun choice for backpackers looking to socialize and just have a good time.
The next step in the itinerary is to book a ferry to Coron from El Nido. This is super easy, cheap, and doesn’t take much time. You also have the option to take a flight, but when you add up everything from check-in time to security waits, it makes more sense to take a quick-and-easy ferry. And, you’ll save about $100 USD by opting for the ferry instead of air travel.
You can easily spend all of your Coron time reading a good book on the beach, but if you haven’t spent much time in the water yet this is the perfect place to do it. Coron is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world. If you already have your diving certification, great. If not, there are plenty of dive shops that teach the certification course (and it’s one of the cheapest places in the world to do it).
When we talk about Cebu, we are talking about the island as a whole. Try not to get it confused with Cebu City, which is the largest city on the island itself. On day 8, it’s time to make your way to Cebu island. You will have to fly to Cebu from Coron, unless you plan on spending a few days just getting there.
Once in Cebu, you have tons of options to fill your time. You can make your way down south to snorkel (or scuba dive) with eight million sardines in Moalboal, or you can meander around Cebu city where you’ll be able to gorge yourself on street food. If this sounds like the better option, make sure to visit Sugbo Market. This is one of the largest food markets in the Philippines and has everything from fried chicken to cheesy scallops.
We recommend you stay at Moalboal Eco Lodge, sustainable accommodation nestled amongst palm trees - the perfect end to your Philippine adventure.
Day 10: Fly Home
Unfortunately, the time has come to fly home. Cebu also has a very large international airport similar to Manila’s, so you’ll be able to catch a flight home from there. On this tenth day, we guarantee that you’ll be wishing for more time in the Philippines. The good news is you can always come back! And chances are you will.