A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to The Philippines

A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to the Philippines

Guest Post by John from PreTravels.com

The Philippines is a beautiful country made up of over 7000 islands and with that comes plenty of sandy beaches and sea life filled waters. You could just visit to enjoy the sun sea and sand but there is much more to see and do here. Backpacking in South East Asia is popular due to it being cheap, fun, quite safe and really easy to get around. You’ll also love the local people here, it would be difficult not to. Everyone is welcoming and warm and you’ll see why the upbeat attitude brings visitors back to this slice of paradise.

Daily Backpacker Budget for the Philippines – Approx 2000 Pesos/ US$ 40 per day 

The Philippines is definitely backpacker budget friendly, costing around 40 US dollars a day or around 2000 Philippine Pesos. Of course, this will depend on the town you are staying in and how many internal flights you wish to take but expect to pay between 5 and 15 US dollars per night in hostels or beach bungalows and food and drink are very cheap. All you need is an organised backpack (check out these packing cubes reviews), a rough itinerary and travel plan and off you go.  

Top things to do in the Philippines

There are plenty of places to explore amongst the islands that make up the Philippines, whatever your backpacking style. From ancient historical places to beautiful natural wonders and some amazing wildlife too. Here are a few of the top things to do whilst here.

Rice Terraces of Banaue

Probably the most famous site of the country these rice terraces etched out of the mountainside are more than 2000 years old. You can even hire a guide to hike through the terraces and see the area from the best view points. 

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol

Such an amazing site to see these bumpy hills are a beautiful natural phenomenon. A truly unique landscape so get those cameras ready. The hills seem to go on forever, some taller than others and in some places, they are strangely uniform.

Snorkel with Whale Sharks

Donsol is one of the few places on earth where these gentle sea creatures gather together. Swimming with them here in the South end of Luzon is one to tick off the bucket list. Get into the water where the giants are swimming but make sure you don’t get too close!

The beaches of Boracay

Although a tourist hotspot, it is so for a reason. There are so many beautiful beaches to visit on this island. These include the lively White Beach, the peaceful Puka Shell Beach, the perfect place for water sports Bulabog Beach, the best beach for sunset at Diniwid Beach and the top snorkelling beach of Tambisaan Beach. These are just a few of the gorgeous examples in Boracay.

Take a boat trip from Port Barton

This funky beach town is less visited due to its location. However, it is close to some of the prettiest islands in the country. Base yourself here for a few days and take boat trips to explore the nearby islands.

San Agustin Church in Manila

Visit this beautiful church to learn about its incredible history. The standing church today is the third building that has been built in this space as the first and second churches were both made of wood and were destroyed by fire. Now built of stone the decoration inside is incredible.

Visit Coron island the home of the Tagbanua people  

The island is a beautiful cluster of jagged limestone cliffs and peaks. Explore the part of the island you have admission to and enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the surrounding waters. You can also spot a variety of sea life at the nearby Siete Picados Marine Park.

Where to stay in the Philippines

Hostels are the best budget accommodation in the Philippines, prices vary per island but they are definitely pocket friendly. Here are some of the best places to stay in the Philippines.

MNL Boracay Beach Hostel in Boracay 

At about 18 US dollars per night this hostel is great value in Boracay. Being well located near to the D mall, the hostel has a relaxed atmosphere and a rooftop terrace with live music. There’s also air conditioning, breakfast and a night time bar.

Junction Hostel Makati in Luzon

A modern hostel with a home from home feel. A dorm bed here will set you back about 18 US dollars per night. Here you will find clean rooms, air conditioning good shared bathrooms, internet access and a great common area to relax and watch films with other guests.

Our Melting Pot El Nido in Palawan

This accommodation is very basic but at 10 US dollars per night it is excellent for your budget and that includes breakfast too! The location is also really good, walking distance from restaurants, bars and cafes, a spa and the beach.

What to eat in the Philippines

The Philippines is famous for different kinds of chicken and noodle dishes. These include BBQ chicken and Pancit Bihon which is a rice noodle dish with chicken and vegetables. Chicken abodo is the most famous dish you’ll find everywhere which is basically chicken marinated in a mixture of soya sauce and vinegar.

Roadside street food trucks are in abundance and you’ll always find something delicious and cheap to eat. The best street markets for food are found in Manilla, Palawan and

A strange dish to try here if you dare is Balut. This is a developing duck embryo cooked and eaten from the shell. The duck embryo is usually 17 days old when the chick is not developed enough to fully show its beak, feathers and claws. Not for the squeamish but try if you are adventurous.   

How to get to the Philippines

The best way to get to the Philippines is by plane of course, and even getting from one island to the next is best by internal flights. For shorter trips boats are the best way to get around and you can get some cheap tours and deals.

Special events

If you are visiting during January then head to Kalibo where there is a mardi gras like festival which lasts two weeks. At the end of the festival there’s a procession through the streets which happens on the third Sunday of January. This is followed by dancing and festivities non-stop for a few days! Definitely a great time to visit and join in the fun.

In April in an annual event which takes place in Masbate City and it showcases skills in livestock handling. It is fabulous to see events including lassoing, wrestling, and cattle riding. The event is free to attend and you’ll also find a fair, exhibitions and the trade of cattle and horses. A very different type of festival in the Philippines.

So, is backpacking the Philippines for you?

This country is truly a unique destination and there are so many things to do and places to explore even on a backpacker’s budget. You really can travel the world at minimum cost. If you are thinking of starting a backpacking trip then make sure the Philippines are on your list. 

This was a guest post by John Miller, a big time travel enthusiast who loves sharing what he’s come to find out about this lovely planet. You can follow his travel tips, adventures and destination guides on Pretravels.com.

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