looking for some tips + tricks for your next adventure that don't break the bank (or your finally-developed self-care habits)?! i've compiled everything i found during my favorite trips around the globe so you don't have to!
Oh wow - the Philippines far, far exceeded my expectations. I spent about a week here during our South East Asia Adventure and oh man, did it make me want to live on an island in Palawan all by myself :)
Just kidding. But, the sheer beauty, simplicity and kindness that this country exudes is pretty incredible. I would highly, highly recommend it as a spot to explore for your next big adventure.
FYI - there isn't much information out there on traveling the Philippines as a pretty normal person (read: nice - not insanely expensive accommodations; nor backpacking hostels). Everything out there is either for doing-it-up honeymooners or roughin' it backpackers - but there are definitely ways to go on this adventure without breaking the bank, while still staying in amazingly beautiful places.
Here's my take:
One of my favorite places I've ever stayed (in my life!) was The Funny Lion on Coron Island in Palawan. PLEASE (for me!!) try to stay there for at least 3 - 4 days if you can - it's magical! Amazing food, massages, rooftop pools and wonderful service. I couldn't recommend it more.
Accommodations in other parts of the islands are a bit harder to come by. We stayed in some airbnbs the rest of the time because we couldn't find anything in our price range (that wasn't a hostel!). They were okay - here's the one we stayed in on Cebu Island, in El Nido (wonderful view, super old amenities), and our hotel in Puerto Princesa. If you can splurge - do it. Otherwise, everything else was pretty much on par.
*We didn't stay here, but the Birdhouse came highly recommended in El Nido!
It definitely depends on the type of trip that you want to take, but I would highly recommend visiting Coron, El Nido and Cebu. Those were the islands we picked and they were 100% worth it. I would also recommend making it to Borhol if you could!
There are pretty inexpensive flights via AirAsia or Cebu Pacific between islands. Fly into Manila or Cebu in the beginning/end of your trip, and then go from there.
Here's the itinerary I'd recommend: Cebu (as long as you’d like) - Puerto Princesa (for one day, hire a private driver) - El Nido (2-3 days) - Coron (3-4 days) - Manila (only to leave!). We did it almost the opposite way and I definitely think this way has more options.
Also, I would HIGHLY recommend taking a boat trip between El Nido and Coron. We used Buhay Isla and it was AMAZING. It was a 3 day boat trip (instead of a 4 - 5 hour ferry ride) that took us to private islands, had amazing food and beach accomodations all for > $300! Couldn't be more worth it.
There aren't too many *restaurant* recommendations, but there are a few spots in El Nido that may be of interest!
Taste El Nido, the Vegan cafe - awesome (real!) coffee + smoothie bowls
Kopi Bake - they have real.cold.brew. perfect for the AM!
Midtown Bakery - Okay if you can get 5 pastries for less than $1 I'm down...
Marimegmeg Beach Bar - Awesome spot to hang out on the beach and order some food/beers. There’s also the beach shack right next door.
Balai Kudo Glow - my favorite spot for smoothies in El Nido. Really focused on sustainability!
Trattoria Altrove - this pizza is supposedly famous but D + I didn't really get the hype. Not really worth the wait!
The Nesting Table @ The Birdhouse - we didn’t get to go but supposedly really cool for rooftop dinner + drinks!
The Philippine Islands are known for island hopping. Definitely plan a tour (or multiple) while you're there - they're cheap and totally worth it. I would highly recommend doing the 3 day boat trip so you get a bunch in one!
Las Canabas Beach - A good place to chill when you're craving a day 'off" from tours
The Underground River - totally worth it to hire a driver and do this yourself; we did an organized tour and it was definitely a waste of time (besides the river trip - which is 45-minutes!). But the cave is amazing to experience.
Lio Beach - heard this spot is really cool
Namas'te Yoga - didn't get to try this spot out in El Nido but there were signs in all my favorite smoothie spots to try it out!
Have you been to The Philippines before? Tell me your favorite spots below!