Our 26 days Philippines itinerary for explorers

Our 26 days Philippines itinerary for explorers

Southeast Asia has always been an attractive region on the Earth for us. Not because of the growing mass tourism- we are explorers and we always look much beyond the “famous and popular”. But because of the incredible natural and cultural beauty that you can find everywhere in this place. And the Philippines were a desirable part of our bucket list. We have aimed at this country for a long time and when we arranged our Philippines itinerary, we wanted to explore as much as possible of what this country can reveal.

Planning a Philippines itinerary

I have planned many itineraries before, but when I started to design an itinerary in the Philippines, I found that it was more difficult than normal. And yes, just take a look at the map of the country- it is not a simple strip of land like Vietnam. Not a small compact island like Sri Lanka. But it is a complicated bunch of islands. Two of these islands are larger (Luzon and Mindanao), but even these islands, although they are a compact mass of land, have an extremely complicated shape too.

At the same time, from what I have read about the Philippines, there is so much beauty. How to skip one place, but to choose another place? Because we were not just heading to beaches and diving. We wanted to touch and taste everything in this country. I knew that this was impossible for the short time that we had, but at least tried to build something as good as possible.

On a beach in the Philippines- Daku Islands
On a beach in the Philippines- Daku Island

Our Philippines itinerary- planned for 26 days

We had 26 days for our Philippines trip itinerary, which was really not enough to try everything. So, we had to choose only a part of the Philippines and only a part of the things that one can do there. Some people prefer to travel slowly, enjoying a long time in one destination. Others are faster. We would like to be slower, but 26 days were really too limiting for that. So we had to chose- to be slower, thus seeing and visiting less, or to visit and see more, but to be faster. We chose the second and built our Philippines itinerary that way.

I made a list of the things that we wanted to see and experience. Then I looked at the map of the Philippines, identifying the places where we could do these things. I drew many spots on the map, which had to be joined by a line of our route. Of course, the spots we really too many and we knew that it is impossible to draw a line, which could be passed within 26 days, even if we are fast. We had to reject many spots and to select only the possible ones.

I excluded Mindanao Island since it is currently the most unsafe place in the Philippines. I also excluded Palawan, Coron and the other islands in this area, since they are too away from the main archipelago, and left these places for a next trip in the future. Luzon Island is also too big to explore in detail, so we chose only some places to visit.

Our 26 days route in the Philippines
Our 26 days route in the Philippines

Our Philippines itinerary performance

Finally, I planned our Philippines itinerary and we successfully have done it in about 85-90%. Here is what we really performed:

We started our trip from Manila and in general, made it in three main parts. The first part was in the northern part of Luzon Island. We made several days circle from Manila, visiting Mount Pinatubo, then Baguio, Sagada, and San Juan resort, before back to Manila.
The second part was in the Visayas area of the Philippines. We moved to Batangas, then visited Boracay Island, Bacolod, Manjuyod Sandbar, Siquijor Island, Bohol Island and finally- Cebu City.

And in the third part, we made a several days trip to Siargao Island, then back to Cebu. Finally, we visited Legazpi and Donsol, before finishing our Philippines itinerary back to Manila.

As you can see, it was a bit complicated itinerary. And we made it with our children, so I can say that it was not just possible to perform such an itinerary with kids, but they really enjoyed it (they were 6 and 9 years old!). We all enjoyed it too.

A normal part of our itinerary- traveling by tricycle
A normal part of our itinerary- traveling by tricycle

How did we make it

When you build an itinerary, you have to plan these two important things- accommodation and transportation. While the accommodation is easy (we are looking only for budget places to sleep), transportation was a real challenge. A challenge in the big cities, a challenge in the big Luzon Island, a challenge in the small islands and a challenge on the sea.

We traveled by jeepneys, tricycles, a rental car, ferries, buses, domestic planes, a scooter, and boats. Some of these had to be reserved in advance. For other ways of transport, there was no timetable anywhere, so it was impossible to plan an exact schedule and I had to add some flexibility to our itinerary.

On top of that, the route planners like Rome2Rio couldn’t give us a realistic time when we traveled by our rental car. In reality, we traveled much longer than the time the website calculated, so we had to cancel some destinations (and the hotels there) and change our route.

In other words, the transportation that we used in the Philippines was really complicated, although we still made it successfully (with some exceptions). And in our Transportation in the Philippines post, you can see all the details.

In an offroad vehicle for Mount Pinatubo trekking
In an offroad vehicle for Mount Pinatubo trekking

Our Philippines itinerary in details

Here is what we really performed in the Philippines.

Day 1: MANILA

First impressions of the Philippines and Manila. Visited: Ayala Triangle in Makati, and Ayala Museum. 

Transportation:

  • Shuttle bus from the airport to our hotel in Malate area
  • Taxi from the hotel to Ayala
  • Light train from Ayala to Malate

Accommodation: Stay Malate hotel, Manila

Day 2: MANILA-CAPAS

Explored Intramuros- the historical fortress of Manila. Then traveled to Angeles and Clark, where we got our rental car from Gaano. Finally reached Capas, preparing for the trekking in Pinatubo in the next day.

Transportation:

  • Light train to Intramuros
  • Rental bike from one of the cafes
  • Taxi to Philippine Rabbit Bus Station
  • Bus to Angeles
  • Two jeepneys to Gaano Rental Car in Clark area
  • Rental car driving to Capas

Accommodation: A hotel arranged by Pinaykeypoint company in Capas

Day 3: CAPAS-PINATUBO-BAGUIO

We made trekking in Mt. Pinatubo, joining Pinaykeypoint company. It finished in the afternoon, and we had to back to Clark to change our rental car with a better one. Then we traveled to Baguio.

Transportation:

  • Rental car driving to Santa Juliana village
  • Pinaykeypoint offroad vehicle, then trekking to Pinatubo Crater Lake, and then back to
  • Santa Juliana by Pinaykeypoint offroad vehicle
  • Rental car driving back to Clark
  • Another rental car driving to Baguio

Check for rental cars in the Philippines from HERE!

Accommodation: Le Monette hotel, Baguio

Pinatubo Crater Lake
Pinatubo Crater Lake

Day 4: BAGUIO-SAGADA

In the morning we explored Baguio- its center with its Burnham Park, and Camp John Hay Park. Then in the afternoon, we traveled to Sagada, much longer than expected (166 km for 8 hours, instead of the calculated 3 hours and 10 mins).

Transportation:

  • Rental car- to Camp John Hay Park, then to Sagada

Accommodation: Seetooville Guesthouse, Sagada

Day 5: SAGADA

We explored Sagada and its attractions- Sumaguing Cave and Hanging Coffins site- all with a mandatory guide.

Transportation:

  • Rental car around the town

Accommodation: Ganduyan Inn, Sagada

Day 6: SAGADA-SAN JUAN

We left Sagada and Cordillera Mountains, and descent to the seacoast. We found San Juan resort, played on the beach there and relaxed.

Transportation:

  • A rental car from Sagada to San Juan

Accommodation: the cheapest guesthouse we found, without booking in advance.

The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada

Day 7: SAN JUAN-MANILA

Back to Clark and returned the rental car to Gaano. Then proceeded to Angeles and back to Manila, ready for the next part of our itinerary.

Transportation:

  • A rental car from San Juan to Clark
  • Jeepney to Philippine Rabbit Bus station in Angeles missed the last bus to Manila
  • Tricycle from Philippine Rabbit Bus station to Dau Bus terminal
  • Bus from Angeles to Manila Philippine Rabbit Bus station
  • Taxi to Stay Malate hotel

Accommodation: Stay Malate hotel, Manila

Day 8: MANILA-BATANGAS

We had to spend half a day to arrange the next details of the trip. Then, in the afternoon we traveled by bus to Batangas, to be ready for the ferry to Caticlan (and Boracay) the next day.

Transportation:

  • Taxi to Buendia Bus Terminal
  • Bus from Buendia, Manila to Batangas
  • Tricycle from Batangas Port to the hotel
  • Jeepney to the center (for dinner), then by tricycle again back to the hotel

Accommodation: Bicotels hotel, Batangas

Day 9: BATANGAS-CATICLAN

That day we traveled the whole day by ferry from Batangas to Caticlan. Although we didn’t visit any interesting sites, sailing on the sea was really exciting.

Transportation:

  • Jeepney and tricycle from Bicotels hotel in Batangas to the port
  • Ferry of 2GO shipping company from Batangas to Caticlan

Check for ferries information in the Philippines from HERE!

Accommodation: S-E Hotel & Residence

The beach of Boracay Island
The beach of Boracay Island

Day 10: CATICLAN-BORACAY

We just moved from Caticlan Jetty Port to Boracay Cagban Jetty Port, then the rest of the day we spent in Boracay, mainly on its western beach.

Transportation:

  • Speed boat from Caticlan to Boracay
  • Tricycle from Boracay Cagban Jetty Port to the center of Boracay

Accommodation: Lola’s Lodge, Boracay

Day 11: BORACAY-CATICLAN-ILOILO-BACOLOD

Early in the morning we back to Caticlan and got the bus to Iloilo. In the afternoon we traveled by ferry to Bacolod, in the neighboring Negros Island.

Transportation:

  • Tricycle from the center of Boracay to Cagban Jetty Port
  • Speed boat from Boracay to Caticlan
  • Bus from Caticlan to Iloilo
  • Taxi from Iloilo Central Bus Terminal to Iloilo Port
  • Ferry from Iloilo to Bacolod
  • Taxi from Bacolod port to the hotel

Check for the long distance bus in the Philippines from HERE!

Accommodation: Khokoon Inn, Bacolod

Day 12: BACOLOD-BAIS

In the morning we used the time to visit the local landmark of Bacolod- The Ruins. Then we got the bus to the other end of Negros Island and the small town of Bais, where we had to enjoy Manjuyod Sandbar. We didn’t have time that day but at least prepared well for it to the next day.

Transportation:

  • Two jeepneys and a tricycle from the hotel to The Ruins
  • A tricycle and two jeepneys from The Ruins back to the hotel
  • Taxi from the hotel to the South Bus Terminal
  • Bus from Bacolod to Bais- approximately for 6 hours
  • Tricycle from Bais to Canibol Wharf (the starting point for Manjuyod Sandbar cruise), then another tricycle back to the center of Bais

Accommodation: Ricky Soler’s accommodation, from Airbnb

Manjuyod Sandbar- shallow sea and blue sky
Manjuyod Sandbar- shallow sea and blue sky

Day 13: BAIS-MANJUYOD SANDBAR-DUMAGUETE-LAZI, SIQUIJOR

The first half of this day was dedicated to Manjuyod Sandbar. We finished at noon, then back to Bais and got the bus to Dumaguete. From Dumaguete, we got the speed boat to Siquijor, and from the western port of the island by tricycle reached our accommodation in Lazi Town.

Transportation:

  • Tricycle from Bais to Canibol Wharf
  • Boat from Canibol Wharf to Manjuyod Sandbar and back
  • Bus from Bais to Dumaguete
  • Speed boat from Dumaguete to Siquijor
  • Tricycle from Siquijor Port to Lazi (about 1 hour)

Accommodation: NB 7Js Pension House & Restaurant

Day 14: SIQUIJOR

This day we spent in Siquijor Island, in the area around Lazi. We enjoyed Cambugahay Falls, then the coastal villages west of Lazi Port.

Transportation:

  • Tricycle from the hotel to Cambugahay Falls. Then we back on foot.

Accommodation: NB 7Js Pension House & Restaurant

Day 15: LAZI-LARENA, SIQUIJOR-TAGBILARAN, BOHOL

First, we traveled by bus to Salagdoong Beach, then proceeded by tricycle to Larena. From there we got a ferry to Tagbilaran. We wanted to visit some of the Panglao beaches (some of the best in the Philippines), but because we had to prepare the transport for our Bohol trip on the next day we couldn’t go to Panglao.

Transportation:

  • Bus from Lazi to Salagdoong Beach
  • Tricycle from Salagdoong Beach to Larena
  • Ferry (speed boat) from Larena to Tagbilaran

Accommodation: The Lucky Place Budget Inn, Tagbilaran

Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor Island
Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor Island

Day 16: TAGBILARAN-BOHOL TRIP-TAGBILARAN-CEBU

That day we made the classical Bohol route, including the Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary, Man-Made Forest, Loboc River cruise, Python Sanctuary, Baclayon Church and Blood Compact. We made it by tricycle. Then we got one of the evening speed boats to Cebu.

Transportation:

  • Tricycle for the whole Bohol trip
  • Ferry (speed boat) from Tagbilaran to Cebu
  • Taxi to the hotel

Accommodation: Hotel de Mercedes, Cebu

Day 17: CEBU

We decided to spend a whole day in Cebu, focusing on Mactan Island. But again, we had to spend the morning in the hotel, to arrange the next steps of our Philippines itinerary. We were able to go to Mactan not earlier than in the afternoon. There we enjoyed our time at one of the Mactan beaches until evening.

Transportation:

  • Taxi to Parkmall (one of the main jeepney terminals in Cebu)
  • Jeepney to Mactan Shrine
  • Taxi to the beach
  • Jeepney back to Parkmall
  • Jeepney to the hotel

Accommodation: Hotel de Mercedes, Cebu

Day 18: CEBU-Ferry to SURIGAO

That day we explored the main historical and cultural sites of Cebu- Sto Nino Church and the Magellan Cross, Fort San Pedro, and Casa Gorordo. In the evening we went to one of the Cebu ports for our ferry to Surigao.

Transportation:

  • Taxi from Fort San Pedro to Casa Gorordo
  • Taxi from Hotel de Mercedes to Cebu Port (Terminal 3)
  • Ferry from Cebu to Surigao

Accommodation: in the ferry

Chocolate Hills in Bohol Island
Chocolate Hills in Bohol Island

Day 19: SURIGAO-UNION, SIARGAO

We arrived at Surigao early in the morning, then got another speed boat to Dapa, Siargao Island. From Dapa we got a tricycle to Union Village. It was rainy in the morning, so we spent the rest of the day exploring the area around the village.

Transportation:

  • Speed boat from Surigao to Dapa, Siargao
  • Tricycle from Dapa to Union Village, Siargao

Accommodation: Dream Getaway Bungalows, Union village, Siargao

Day 20: UNION, SIARGAO

That was our first day to explore Siargao Island, particularly its eastern part. We rent a scooter and traveled to General Luna. We visited the famous Cloud 9 (no big waves at this time of the year, it was February), then we traveled to Magpupungko Rock Pools, stopping at most of the other places on the way.

Transportation:

  • Scooter for the whole trip of that day

Accommodation: Dream Getaway Bungalows, Union village, Siargao

Day 21: UNION, SIARGAO

We proceeded with our exploration of Siargao Island. That day we made the Three Islands hoping. We started this trip from General Luna and visited the islands of Guyam, Daku, and Naked, then our boatman took us back to Union Village.

Transportation:

  • Tricycle from Union Village to General Luna
  • Boat for the Three Islands hoping

Accommodation: Dream Getaway Bungalows, Union village, Siargao

Guyam Island near Siargao
Guyam Island near Siargao

Day 22: UNION, SIARGAO-SURIGAO- Ferry to Cebu

We finished our time in Siargao and had to back to Cebu. So we traveled to Surigao and visited one of the most popular malls while waited our night ferry to Cebu.

Transportation:

  • Tricycle from Union Village to Dapa
  • Speed boat from Dapa, Siargao to Surigao
  • Tricycle from Surigao Port to Gaisano Capital Surigao Mall, then another tricycle back to the port
  • Ferry from Surigao to Cebu

Accommodation: in the ferry

Day 23: CEBU-LEGAZPI-DONSOL

We arrived at Cebu in the morning and spent the day slowly moving to Mactan Airport, waiting for our plane to Legazpi. Then we flew to Legazpi and arrived there in the late afternoon. From Legazpi, we got a minibus to Donsol. In the evening we had time to visit the Fireflies Sanctuary on Ogod River.

Transportation:

  • Taxi from the port in Cebu to Robinsons Galleria Center
  • Shuttle bus from SM Center to Mactan Airport
  • Airplane from Cebu to Legazpi
  • Tricycle from Legazpi Airport to the Bus Terminal
  • Minibus (van) from Legazpi to Donsol
  • Tricycle from Donsol to Ogod River and back
  • Boat on Ogod River for fireflies watching

Check the Philippines flights information from HERE!

Accommodation: Dancalan Beach Resort, Donsol

Day 24: DONSOL-LEGAZPI

In the morning we joined a whale shark cruise. We were not lucky and could see only one whale shark, only its back. Then at noon we moved back to Legazpi and spent there the rest of the day.

Transportation:

  • Whale shark watching tour boat
  • Tricycle from Donsol to the Bus Terminal
  • Jeepney from Donsol to Legazpi
  • Tricycle from Daraga, Legazpi to our hotel

Accommodation: Commuter’s Inn, Legazpi

Mayon Volcano near Legazpi
Mayon Volcano near Legazpi

Day 25: LEGAZPI-MANILA

Our flight back to Manila was in the afternoon. So we spent the morning in Cagsawa Ruins, watching Mayon Volcano. Then we arrived in Manila in the evening and traveled to our hotel in Malate (but this time another neighboring hotel).

Transportation:

  • Jeepney from the hotel to Cagsawa Ruins, then another jeepney back to the hotel
  • Tricycle from the hotel to the airport
  • Airplane from Legazpi to Manila
  • Jeepney from Manila Airport to EDSA Light Railway Station
  • Light train from EDSA to Malate
  • Tricycle from Pedro Gil Light Railway Station to our hotel

Accommodation: Adriatico Arms Hotel & Café, Manila

Day 26: MANILA-Airport

During our last day in the Philippines, we made the last walk around Manila. We tried to visit Malacanang Palace, but we couldn’t because it needs an application at least 3 days in advance. Finally, in the late afternoon, we went to the airport in Manila and left the Philippines by a night flight.

Transportation:

  • Light train from Malate to United Nations Station
  • Tricycle from United Nations Station to Malacanang Park
  • Taxi from Malacanang Park to the Palace area
  • Light train from Legarda to Pedro Gil stations
  • Shuttle bus from Malate to the airport
Manila, Intramuros
Manila, Intramuros

Conclusion

As you can see, it was a long trip, full of traveling and visited places. We are budget travelers and you can notice that we tried to use cheap ways of transportation, and all our accommodation places were very cheap. The hotels were far from luxury, but still nice (at least most of them) and really enough for safe and comfortable spending the night. And the final cost (not including the air tickets to and from Manila) for 2 adults and 2 children was reasonable- around 2000 USD for all these 26 days.

Anyway, I can say that if you want to explore the Philippines and see various sides and faces of this incredibly beautiful country, this itinerary could be proper (with some variations). If you don’t have 26 days for traveling, you can always perform just a part of it. For example, you can explore the northern part of Luzon (and if you have 3-4 more days, you can include Padugpud on the northern coast of the island, then back through Baler- which is what we initially planned). Or you can make the trip from Manila to Cebu only. Or, of course, you can just build a different itinerary, including different destinations in the Philippines. But if you decide to follow our itinerary, you can follow our experience and if you are a more adventurous traveler, I am sure you would enjoy it.

Check out some travel books about the Philippines!

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The Philippines is an incredibly beautiful island country. See our 26 days Philippines itinerary, built to explore as more as possible of this country!  The Philippines is an incredibly beautiful island country. See our 26 days Philippines itinerary, built to explore as more as possible of this country!

 


Krasen and Ying Ying

a travel couple from Bulgaria and China. We love to explore our planet and we want to make it meaningful. Welcome to our travel blog!

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