The Philippines – A Complete Travel Guide

The Philippines – A Complete Travel Guide

The Philippines

The Philippines | A Complete Travel Guide

By Alan & Lourdes | A Belgian & A Filipina

Facts | Budget | What to bring | Food | Things to do | Staying for the night | Movies | Car Rental | Souvenirs

Quick Facts

Land Area

298.170 km²

Population

106.651.394 | Estimate 2020

Time Zone

UTC+8

Capital

Manila

# Provinces

81

# Islands

7.641 islands | 2.000 Inhabited

Main Language

Filipino, standardised Tagalog

Currency

Philippine Peso

Your Budget

Accommodation

Budget Hostels | 760 PHP
Budget Hotels | 1.500 PHP
3-star Hotels | 2.600 PHP
Luxury Hotels | 5.400 PHP

Food

Halo-halo | ≈ 80 PHP
Balut Egg | 18 PHP
Penoy | 15 PHP

Transportation

Jeepney | 15-20 PHP
Taxi | 600-700 PHP
Ferry
Bus | 15-20 PHP
Flight

Tours

Fees

Souvenirs

T-shirts | ≈ 500 PHP

Other

Smartphone or Drone Repair
(Hopefully not necessary)
Pocket Wifi Smart | 390 PHP / Day
Local Sim Card | ≈ 50-100 PHP
Globe Traveler Sim
› 4 GB Data for 7 Days | 350 PHP
Code to 8080 = TRAVELALLIN 350
› 8 GB Data for 15 Days | 700 PHP
Code to 8080 = TRAVELALLIN 700

The iconic Filipino bus on the island of Palawan | Aircon has no use, open windows instead

What to bring

The Philippines is a tropical country where the heat quickly rises till you start to sweat, although our experience was a bit differently as we went in August till beginning of September and so we catched a lot of rain during our trip.

Essentials

Passport
Print of all bookings
Phone
Camera
Water-proof bags
Sunscreen lotion
Sunglasses
Shorts or dress
Sweater
Slippers
Strong shoes

Adventure

Hiking shoes
International driver’s License
Long trousers
Raincoat
Mosquito repellent

Extras

Drone
Camera Tripod
Laptop

Filipino Food

Breakfast

Fried Rice
Fried Fish
Hot Dogs with eggs
Pancakes

Lunch

Fried Rice
Adobo
Noodles
Fish, Meat, Bulalo Soup

Diner

Fried Rice
Escabeche
Chicken, Pork Meat, but no Beef
Tilapia with Coconut Milk

Dessert

Halo-halo
Sapin-sapin
Cheese Ice Cream
Buko Pandan (Coconut Dessert)

These tricycles are a Filipino necessity as they can bring you anywhere, fast

4 Things to Do

4 Things are not that much, but there’s a lot more on other posts about The Philippines coming soon! Stay Tuned for more…

We do recommend to visit a couple of cities and from there start with doing some guided island-hopping tours. You can visit many heritage sites in different cities in The Philippines. Intramuros us a stunning colonial-era city in the northern part of Manila which is truly worth it.

If you travel to The Philippines during one of their intriguing festivals be sure not to miss any!

1. Citytripping

Manila

Manila is a very crowded and huge city where every tourist will enter The Philippines. Nickname is Pearl of the Orient, and together with Quezon City the most populated city in the country.

Puerto Princesa

Located in the middle of Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines where the Underground River, El Nido and Coron are located.

El Nido

Translation of El Nido is the nest, and it really feels like it too. Located in the north of Palawan, it is home to many small, inhabited islands where you can travel to with a guide.

Coron

You can get to Coron by either plane from Manila or ferry from El Nido. Coron is known for it’s shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor where you can dive to by organised tour.

Dumaguete

Located on the island of Negros, from here you can travel by either bus or rented car all around the island within a couple of days.

2. Island-Hopping Tours

Lakawon

Lakawon is a island with a beautiful 360 beach where you can even stay for the night, although very expensive and if one wants to share a room with many others, well that’s up to you. There’s also a restaurant to enjoy the local foods. Be sure to bring sunscreen protection as the sand is pure white and the sun bright.

El Nido

Probably the most famous city in The Philippines, hence the amazing name and grand collection of small islands around its bay. Truly a must visit city when travelling to The Philippines.

Coron

This city has an airport to bring you back to Manila or Puerto Princesa, so many tourists include this magical place on their lists, and we cannot disagree more.

3. Heritage

Intramuros | Manila

Created by The Spanish and considered the entire city of Manila. Everything outside its walls was called extramuros. Despite being surrounded by fortifications, Intramuros was flattend to the ground during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Only the San Augustin Church survived the heavy bombings at the time.

4. Culture

Sinulog Festival in Cebu

Done in celebration of Cebu’s patron saint, Santo Niño, in January, Sinulog Festival is a week-long celebration full of dancing, processions, and parades with colourful costumes.

Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan

The festival starts in mid-January, in honour of Santo Niño in the form of locals dancing and chanting in the streets while dressed up as negritos.

Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo

Hosted by the city every 4th Sunday of January, Dinagyang Festival is held in celebration of the feast of Santo Niño and a pact between Datus and locals through street dancing and feasts.

Masskara Festival in Bacolod

Celebrated every October, locals put on elaborate costumes with masks as they parade through the streets.

© Guide to the Philippines – Festival Santo Niño

Staying for the night

Currently most of the accommodations in The Philippines are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Do your research before travelling!

Grande swimming pool at Corto Del Mar Hotel Coron

Movies to watch

The Filipinos have an infinite list of TV channels with films and TV shows to fill days, weeks and much longer if needed.

Below collection are those I watched as a non-Filipino from Europe.

Age of Colonisation

1898, Our Last Men in The Philippines [2016]

Rent a car

If one wants to see the countryside, one must take a local bus or van to travel afar, although we recommend, if your budget allows, to hire a car for your ultimate drive-through experience. You can go and stop wherever you like.

Negros | Dumaguete

Rodg Rent a Car

Rice fields in Negros

Souvenirs

As a tourist we love to remember, and at the same time, support the culture and its people by shopping local souvenirs. Just like us, we bought many T-shirts from El Nido, Palawan, Coron and even one with the famous Jeepney. A must to bring home those souvenirs when visiting The Philippines.

T-shirts

The Famous Jeepney on a T-shirt.
What else is more iconic to The Philippines? Probably a lot more.

Price ≈ 520 PHP

Hiking in the fabulous Hong Kong

Hiking in the fabulous Hong Kong

Hiking in the fabulous Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s mountains are not high, but they are magnificent

Hong Kong

The City

Hong Kong is well known for its densely-packed city full of high-rise towers built sky high, but a little further out of the city centre it’s surrouned by beautiful mountains and plenty small beach shores to explore and relax.

Colourful Housing Blocks are a normal sight

At night

Photography TIp

At night the city changes into a magnificent light show and those high-rise towers stand out against the nearby mountains.

How to get this shot?

For the most famous photobombing shot of the city you need to get to Lugard Road on Victoria Peak.

⇒ Lugard Road Lookout – Find it here on Google Maps

How to get there?

By either taking the Peak Tram or by Bus
For more information about the Peak, follow the link here

Hong Kong at night as seen from Lugard Road

National Parks

Seek Nature

National Parks

Tai Lam Country Park
Shek O Country Park
Plover Cove Country Park
Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve
Hong Kong Wetland Park
Aberdeen Country Park
Lantau South Country Park
Kam Shan Country Park
Kiu Tsui Country Park
Tai Mo Shan Country Park

Country Parks

Sai Kung East Country Park
Tai Tam Country Park
Ma On Shan Country Park
Shing Mun Country Park

High Island Reservoir – Sai Kung East Country Park

View of Lantau Peak as seen from Ngong Ping

A river at the Tai Tong Sweet Gum Woods

City Parks

Music & Relax Detox

A big advantage of Hong Kong is that it has a large amount of small to medium city parks where you can enjoy the locals dance or more like move on the rhythm of the music that comes from their speakers. It’s not dubstep or R&B or Reggae, no it’s a totally different culture and therefor it is Chinese meditational music, or just relax after an exhausting day at work or during your stay in Hong Kong.

Kowloon Walled City Park

One specific park we would like to mention is the Kowloon Walled City Park because history has it that this park is built on the historical Kowloon Walled City that stood there from around 1898 until 1994. The history of the walled city can be traced back to the Song Dynasty (960–1279), when an outpost was set up to manage the trade of salt.

With no government enforcement from the Chinese or the British, the walled city became a haven for crime and drugs. It was only during a 1959 trial for a murder that the Hong Kong government was ruled to have jurisdiction there. By that time, however, the walled city was virtually ruled by the organised crime syndicates known as triads.

The city had just a size of 0,026 km² (26.000 m²) or 2.6 hectares.

By 1990 it had about 50.000 residents within its borders.

Although the Walled City is demolished in 1994, we can still see it in documentaries or video games that take place inside the city.

Velodrome Park in Tseung Kwan O is just a heaven on its own

Weird circular mirrors at Salisbury Garden, Tsim Sha Tsui

The Mountains

Hiking Time

The Peaks

Lantau peak

Reaching a height of 934 metres above sea level, placing this mountain on number 2 behind the Tai Mo Shan mountain with a height of 957 metres. Its Cantonese name is Fung Wong Shan and literally means “Phoenix Mountain” and is famous for its sunrise scenery at the top. And, it is so beautiful up there.

Us at Lantau Peak – 2018

Lantau Peak as seen from Ngong Ping

Exploring Palawan – Island Hopping Tours in El Nido

Exploring Palawan – Island Hopping Tours in El Nido

Exploring Palawan – Island Hopping Tours in El Nido

The famous El Nido sign at the beach

El Nido

21.08.2019

One thing that comes to mind when searching about El Nido is the Island Hopping tours that are organised here and believe us it is completely worth it see these beautiful island around El Nido and it also the only way to even see them. One needs to pay the environmental and entry fees in advance.

Let’s dive right in…

The Banca Boat of the Philippines

Guided tours of El Nido

22.08.2019

Which tour package to take?

Most tours start at 9:00 and end around 16:00, but it depends on the weather and duration of the stops. Lunch is included in the trip and you can choose a to eat fish or chicken which you can tell your guide the day before. There’s plenty of rice, fish, chicken, pork and fruits. Don’t forget to inform your guide!

  • Small Lagoon
  • Big Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Shimizu Island
  • Seven Commandos Beach

Price for this tour (lunch included) : 1200 PHP / person

  • Snake Island
  • Pinagbuyutan Island
  • Entalula Beach
  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Snorkel Stop

Price for this tour (lunch included) : 1300 PHP / person

  • Helicopter Island
  • Matinloc Shrine
  • Secret Beach
  • Star Beach
  • Hidden Beach

Price for this tour (lunch included) : 1400 PHP / person

  • Ipil Beach
  • Cadlao Lagoon
  • Paradise Beach
  • Pasandigan Beach
  • Natnat Beach
  • Bukal Beach

Price for this tour (lunch included) : 1200 PHP / person

Book a tour @ JY Travel & Tours – Coron

Where to stay in Puerto Princesa?

I booked our B&B beforehand so we knew where we had to travel to after our flight. A friendly tricycle driver took us first to a tour booking operator for our next-day adventure to the Underground River of Puerto Princesa.

The B&B was called Citadel Bed & Breakfast, a quiet location on the north-east side of the city at just 1.8 km from the Kanigaran Beach to the east of the B&B and 2 km to Robinsons Place Palawan shopping mall to the west.

Full Banca Boat El Nido Tour

#PuertoPrincesaPalawan
#ExploringPalawan
#Islandhoppingtour

How to book a guided tour?

If you didn’t book an island hopping tour in advance then the “Manong Driver” is ready to help you for the bookings. He will bring you to a trusted tour guide agent and voilà you got a safer and cheaper booking.

What does a tour looks like?

Underground River tour at Sabang

  • Pick up at your hotel (8:00 am or your preference)
  • Arrive at Sabang wharf (2 or 3 hours trip)
  • Boat ride from Sabang wharf to underground river park (15 minutes)
  • Cave exploration via paddle boat (30 to 60 minutes)
  • Lunch buffet at Sabang restaurant
  • Departure from Sabang wharf to Puerto Princesa (leaves at 16:00 pm)
  • Drop-off at your hotel

It was an amazing shortcation adventure. Check booking.com for your favourite accommodation.

Air Asia present at Sabang harbour – Palawan

The Underground River

19.08.2019

Before you go!

Keep in mind a couple of things before heading to the Underground River.

You need to secure a permit at the Underground River Booking Office located at Puerto Princesa’s City Coliseum or via a tour operator. We booked our trip at … .
All of the below fees are mandatory.

Entrance fee 500 pesos 8.65 euro
Environmental fee 150 pesos 2.60 euro
Audioguide fee 85 pesos 1.47 euro

From Puerto Princesa airport, you’ll have to travel to Sabang and hop on a jeep, bus, or van in San Jose Terminal going to Sabang, which can take two to three hours.Moreover, you can’t travel straight to Sabang. You must secure a permit first at the Underground River Booking Office situated at Puerto Princesa’s City Coliseum. This is the government’s initiative to control the number of tourists that visit the protected area. Prepare your valid ID, settle the fee, and get your permit.After that, you need to head straight to Sabang Port and go to the Tourism Office. There, you’ll present your permit and pay the environmental and boat fees, as well as the mandatory audio guide. A boat will be designated for you and will take you to the Underground River entrance.You’ll then board a smaller boat that will bring you inside the Underground River. Your tour guide or boatman will use a searchlight to show you the cave’s stunning stalagmites and stalactites, rock formations, and its inhabitants (i.e., bats, birds, and reptiles).

Underground River tours last around 45 minutes. Once done, a larger boat will bring you back to Sabang Port. You can then either spend the night in town or travel back to the city.

How to get there from Puerto Princesa?

Best way to get to the Underground River is by booking a tour at … the day prior your excursion to the Underground River because you’re going to leave early around 8 am. They offer prices starting at … PHP.

Pickup and drop-off at your place of accommodation is all included in the fair.

Time of arrival back at your hotel will be somewhere in the afternoon like 4 or 5 pm depending on the season.

Underground River Entrance

Me and my love at the Underground River

Posing in front of the Underground River sign

Palawan Aircon Van Transport to El Ndio

Going to El Nido Beach

The famous El Nido sign

The El Nido rocky formations

Swiftlets Inn Breakfast Goodness

Banca Boat

A handful of tourists on the Banca Boat

Tropical Beach Lunch with some tourists

El Nido’s Last Boat

Coron Travel Tours

Choosing a tour in Coron

Rain at the rocky lake

Banca Boat nearing the beautiful nature

Coron Harbour

Hiking in Coron

Corto Del Mar Hotel – Coron

Corto Del Mar Hotel – Coron

Corto Del Mar Breakfast – Coron

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Landmark with Cross

French Fries at Lobster King – Coron

Prince Jacob – Tricycle

Exploring Palawan – Trip to the Underground River Tour

Exploring Palawan – Trip to the Underground River Tour

Exploring Palawan – Trip to the Underground River Tour

Beachfront of the Underground River in Puerto Princesa

The Philippines

19.08.2019

This trip was our most exotic trip to date and it took us to the memorable Philippines by airline departing from Hong Kong. Alan booked everything in advance and chose perfect accommodations along our path of our journey.

On our schedule was Manila, Palawan, Negros and to finish Hong Kong again before heading back home to Belgium.

To finish with the intro, this holiday was as beautiful as it can ever get. Read on to find out why…

Puerto Princesa – Citadel Bed & Breakfast

Puerto Princesa

19.08.2019

Acclaimed to be the greenest and cleanest city in the Philippines!

01. How to travel to Puerto Princesa?

Via airline AirAsia from Manila is the easiest way and it only takes 1 hour and 13 minutes. We flew to Puerto Princesa and made our way up north from there to Coron via the world-famous aircon vans.

After arrival at the Puerto Princesa Airport grab a tricycle instead of a van just to experience the real Filipino way of getting to your destination and it’s much more affordable as well.

Puerto Princesa – Citadel Bed & Breakfast

02. Where to stay in Puerto Princesa?

We booked the Citadel Bed & Breakfast, located on the north-east side of the city at just 1.8 km from the Kanigaran Beach to the east and 2 km to Robinsons Place Palawan shopping mall to the west.

Puerto Princesa – Citadel Bed & Breakfast

#PuertoPrincesaPalawan
#ExploringPalawan
#Islandhoppingtour

How to book a tour?

If you didn’t book an island hopping tour in advance then the “Manong Driver” is ready to help you for the bookings. He will bring you to a trusted tour guide agent and voilà you got a safer and cheaper booking.

What does a tour look like?

Underground River tour at Sabang

  • Pick up at your hotel (8:00 am or your preference)
  • Arrive at Sabang wharf (2 or 3 hours trip)
  • Boat ride from Sabang wharf to underground river park (15 minutes)
  • Cave exploration via paddle boat (30 to 60 minutes)
  • Lunch buffet at Sabang restaurant
  • Departure from Sabang wharf to Puerto Princesa (leaves at 16:00 pm)
  • Drop-off at your hotel

It was an amazing shortcation adventure. Check booking.com for your favourite accommodation.

Air Asia present at Sabang harbour – Palawan

The Underground River

19.08.2019

Before you go!

Keep in mind a couple of things before heading to the Underground River.

You need to secure a permit at the Underground River Booking Office located at Puerto Princesa’s City Coliseum or via a tour operator. We booked our trip at … .
All of the below fees are mandatory.

Entrance fee 500 pesos 8.65 euro
Environmental fee 150 pesos 2.60 euro
Audioguide fee 85 pesos 1.47 euro

How to get there from Puerto Princesa?

Best way to get to the Underground River is by booking a tour at … the day prior your excursion to the Underground River because you’re going to leave early around 8 am. They offer prices starting at … PHP.

Pickup and drop-off at your place of accommodation is all included in the fair.

Time of arrival back at your hotel will be somewhere in the afternoon like 4 or 5 pm depending on the season.

Underground River Entrance

Me and my love at the Underground River

Posing in front of the Underground River sign

Palawan Aircon Van Transport to El Ndio

Going to El Nido Beach

The famous El Nido sign

The El Nido rocky formations

Swiftlets Inn Breakfast Goodness

Banca Boat

A handful of tourists on the Banca Boat

Tropical Beach Lunch with some tourists

El Nido’s Last Boat

Coron Travel Tours

Choosing a tour in Coron

Rain at the rocky lake

Banca Boat nearing the beautiful nature

Coron Harbour

Hiking in Coron

Corto Del Mar Hotel – Coron

Corto Del Mar Hotel – Coron

Corto Del Mar Breakfast – Coron

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Tourism

Coron Landmark with Cross

French Fries at Lobster King – Coron

Prince Jacob – Tricycle