I adore the Philippines, but why? so many factors It's lovely, inexpensive, simple to navigate, the locals are friendly, it seems adventurous without sacrificing contemporary conveniences, and it's simple to get the impression that you are off the beaten road. Not to mention the delicious seafood or the several fantastic beaches. or the sheer number of people who speak English.
Philippine Islands! a nation made up primarily of hundreds or thousands of islands! I only went to Boracay once, where I also learnt how to dive and spent the majority of my time in the water. I'm certain that Deeps and Ryan and I will visit the Philippines again someday to explore more of this stunning nation. I'm providing useful advice and information while writing about my experiences in Manila and Boracay. Please ask if you have any questions!
Things to Know before you Go
Visa (for Indian Passport holders): For holders of Indian passports travelling to Philippines, you need to apply for a prior tourist visa before entry. Maximum number of dyas granted in 14 days and visa extension needs to be applied if required.
Currency: Philippines currency is Pesos. 1 PHP ~ 1.4 INR
Best way to travel : On a budget, you can take the Train, Buses and local transportation to get you to the places in Manila. Domestic flights will connect you with the major islands, ferries are also an option, but is time consuming
Accommodation : Hotels range from cheap to luxurious, and depends on the place you stay in Manila. Going into the Islands/regional area, your options are limited, at the same time they are cheap.
Language : Tagalog is the official language of the country. But English is widely spoken among the locals.
Food: A dish of excellent mystery meat sold as street food can be purchased for as little as $1. Meals in restaurants that cater to tourists often cost between $5 and $20. Prices will be higher if you choose to dine there. Vegetarian options are limited as I didn't find much in the city.
Water: Get bottled water to drink. If you are staying for a long time, do get a bottle with a purifier, it will help you cut down your bottle cost.
Wifi & Mobile data: It is better to get a sim card with a data plan going into the regional area, coverage is not guaranteed though. It is not expensive as well.
Credit Cards and ATMs: better to carry cash wherever you go. Most of the times, I paid cash. It is also risky to carry a big wallet in Manila, so need to be mindful of how much you withdraw from the ATM everytime
Safety: There are numerous thing you need to take into account. Most of the crimes are not violent, but there are scams which involves overcharging tourists. Happens in India as well. So be aware and do your maximum research before you plan your itinerary. Consider what you will do back home, when an incident like this happens?
Best time to Visit
The hottest months (summer) are from March through May and the climate is tropical. June marks the beginning of the rainy season, which lasts through October and may bring powerful typhoons. November through February are the coolest months, with mid-January to late-February being the optimum time for cooler, drier weather. All year round, there is a lot of rain in areas that are immediately exposed to the Pacific Ocean.
I visited Boracay end of October, which was good enough. Didn't have too many tourists and the prices were not high.
The Philippines is an island nation with 7,000 islands. Some of the most significant cities for tourists are listed below.
The national capital of the Philippines, Manila, is one of the world's most densely inhabited cities, with few remaining historical monuments and other notable sites dispersed around Metro Manila and the surrounding region.
Cebu, the first city in the Philippines to be established by the West, is a significant hub for trade, business, industry, culture, and tourism.
The gateway to Northern Mindanao is Cagayan de Oro, often known as the "City of Golden Friendship," which is well-renowned for its whitewater rafting.
On the Philippine island of Palawan, there is a coastal community called El Nido that is a popular tourist attraction. El Nido is made up of 45 islands and islets. There are also limestone cliffs here that create a Karst backdrop akin to those in Ha Long Bay, Krabi, and Guilin.
Scuba diving was developed in the Philippines in Batangas, which is also known for its beaches and world-class dive locations. It is a well-liked location due to its accessibility by land, which takes around 2 hours from the airport in Manila. The Taal Volcano and the Taal Heritage Town are located there.
How to get to Philippines
Air Asia flies from Chennai to Manila via Kuala Lumpur and is the cheapest of all options. More Luxurious option is flying Malaysian or Singapore airlines which has got good connectivity with Manila
Although it is already very affordable to travel to the country, there are still methods to reduce your costs without forgoing too much comfort or authentic experiences.
If you are a single person, I would recommend the dorms, still 1000 INR (20 AUD) per day, but you get to meet a lot of fellow travellers. Budget Hotels starts at 1500 INR (30 AUD)
Flights are the quickest ways to go island hopping. Air ais has got extensive network across the region
The Visayas region in particular, has a robust network of inter-island boats. Tickets are available through ticketing and travel agents or at the pier. Hotels and resorts would also have information on ferry schedules.
Where to Stay
The nicest, cleanest, and safest place to stay when visiting Manila is definitely Makati, in the opinion of many tourists who have visited the Philippines before. The City of Makati may be the greatest neighbourhood in Manila for first-time tourists because it provides a wide range of hotel alternatives, from cheap to luxurious, and makes shopping, nightlife, and tourist attractions fairly accessible.
The three stations that make up White Beach are named after the places where longtail boats drop off passengers. The finest station to stay at if you're visiting Boracay for the first time is Station 1, which has its own distinct flavour.
White Beach Station 3 is the southernmost of the three stations and is renowned for being more cost-effective than Stations 1 or 2. There are numerous backpacker choices available in this area that are geared towards people who would prefer spend their money on entertainment than lodging.
How to Travel around Philippines
Click on the Images to Zoom
Fly within the country on the local airlines. You’ll find information on flight schedules, destinations, booking, and on-line ticketing on their websites. My most preferred option is Air Asia
Try the roll-on-roll-off (RORO) or passenger ships connecting Manila and the nation's major ports if you want to go by water. Take swift sea vessels and other ferry services to and from smaller islands. Additionally, hotels provide island hopping by banca (small, local boat).
Renting a car
An international driver's licence is good for three months if you want to test out the local roads. In large cities, you can rent a car; just ask the staff at your hotel for help. To avoid having to worry about directions and local traffic laws, it could be simpler to go with a native driver.
One Week in Philippines
Visa constraints for Indian nationals means you get only 14 days to visit Philippines. So one week to 10 days is What we can plan. My first visit took me to Boracay and Manila (including Taal Volcano). Ideally I would love to swap it with Palawan & Cebu
Palawan - 4 days (Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Island Hopping)
Cebu - 4 days (Cebu City, Moalboal - snorkelling & Cambais Falls, Kawasan Falls & Inambakan Falls)
Manila - 2 days (including flying & flying out) . Just Chilling out and some Landmarks
Sharing my experiences in Boracay , El Nido, Manila & Taal Volcano
In the heart of the Philippines, just north of the much larger Panay Island, is the little island of Boracay. For the majority of people, this is what "paradise" entails: palm-lined white sand beaches with sparkling water softly lapping at the coast. It's without a doubt one of the most popular places to visit in the Philippines. The best thing, though? You'll always be near to the breathtaking Boracay coast no matter where you stay.
Plenty of water activities to do and you can easily spend 2 to 3 days. I learnt Scuba diving in Boracay, so it is always close to my heart. In my opinion it is a one time visit destination and I would prefer the Islands of Palawan
2. El Nido
One of the most well-liked destinations for travellers to the Philippines is El Nido. Everyone eventually makes their way to El Nido because of the beaches' legendary parties, white sand, and turquoise waters.
Go on one of the amazing island-hopping cruises and enjoy your time in the pristine waters or snorkel the reefs. The local boys can show you the underwater caves since they are difficult to discover and, ye they are dangerous. But I've seen people doing it for fun. I'm not a big fan of these extreme water activities if they are not regulated.
El Nido is one of the best places in The Philippines to climb. The cliffs overhanging the ocean offer so incredible views from the top which even the beginner climbers can enjoy.
3. Taal Lake & Volcano (Day trip from Manila)
Taal is an active volcano located in Taal Lake, which was created by massive eruptions throughout the prehistoric period. Volcano Island, which is located in the north-west corner of the lake, houses the volcano itself. The hasty evacuation of Volcano Island was caused by the most recent significant eruption, which occurred in January 2020. Many regions were affected by the ash fall, including Taguig City in Metro Manila
The first phase entails taking a boat across the sizable lake and arriving on a sandy beach at the base of the mountain after about 20 minutes. From here, you can either hike up the challenging incline or ride a horse.
4. Manila ( Not in my original plan, but the Cebu earthquake made me to switch plans)
Places I Visited in Manila :
Start your day at Intramuros
Stop at the Fort Santiago
Visit the Cathedral of Manila and San Agustin Church
Have a break at Rizal Park
*Mall of Asia (if you have time left or on the way to Airport)
There is so much to see within Metro Manila's vastness. However, if you don't know your way around, going from point A to point B can be difficult. But what it lacks in this area, its people make up for. Like the majority of Filipinos, people in Manila are cordial, accommodating, and friendly. Because nearly everyone speaks and understands English, there is no need to worry about a language barrier.
To say the least, using public transit in Metro Manila may be unexpected. The process of commuting involves extensive preparation for newcomers. There are many alternatives available to you, including the MRT, LRT, taxi, bus, and jeepney, but none of them ensure a hassle-free trip.
The most economical option is to have a local acquaintance who is well knowledgeable about the history of these locations accompany you as you take the tour on your own. But even if you don't, going on tours is fantastic. In either case, I strongly advise that you have someone give you an explanation of the history and significance of each attraction so that you aren't just staring at empty structures. Local knowledge could be the deciding factor.
Conclusion & Our Recommendation
Many travellers miss the Philippines because it remains one of Southeast Asia's best-kept secrets. My stay in the Philippines was definitely unforgettable; I got to know some amazing people, climbed a volcano for the first time, and went diving for the first time. In the near future, I'd like to go back to this wonderful place and set sail for remote islands. My favourite nation in all of Southeast Asia is the Philippines. Get there before the backpacker hordes descend once the secret is out!
Must Go Destination