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Exploring Philippines

How To Spend Your Time

A nation of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines offers an array of topography, culture, and sights to take in. Deciding where to go with only a two-week holiday can be daunting. There are four main island groups: Luzon, Palawan, the Visayas, and Mindanao. On a typical trip, we recommend limiting yourself to two of those, allowing time for visits to more than one island within a group.

For a first-time visitor, we recommend starting in Manila to see the old walled city of Intramuros before heading north into the Cordillera. See the rice terraces in Banaue, the hanging coffins of Sagada, and learn about the traditions of the Igorot people. If you have a few extra days, wander the town of Vigan to take in the well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture. This route requires many hours in a van and accommodation options are limited. We recommend spending the second part of your trip relaxing on one of the beaches in Palawan or the Visayas.

Palawan has been hailed the best island in the world by many visitors and is home to miles of beaches, clear waters, lush jungle, and the jutting limestone cliffs of El Nido and Coron. There’s plenty to keep you busy on land or in the water and some truly lovely resorts in which to relax and let the world melt away. For divers, the shipwrecks of Coron are well worth experiencing firsthand. Covered in healthy coral and sitting within 30 meters, most of the wrecks make for a great dive regardless whether you choose to penetrate the ship.

The Visayas presents multiple options. For those seeking a pure white sand beach, Boracay is hard to beat. While it has become quite busy in recent years, we know a few delightful places to escape the crowds and enjoy the beauty of this small island. With romantic boutique properties, excellent restaurants, and lively nightlife, Boracay is a great honeymoon destination.

If the action of Boracay isn’t appealing but the thought of a white sand beach is, Bohol is the place to head. Lovely beaches line the shores of Panglao, snorkeling and diving along neighboring Balicasag Island is excellent, and some of our favorite boutique resorts in the country can be found here. If you didn’t get enough culture and exploration in the Cordillera, spend a day seeing the Chocolate Hills, touring the Tarsier Sanctuary, and gazing at Boholano art. With an international airport in the planning stages, Bohol is likely to hit the tourist map in a major way very soon!

If you have more than two weeks, we suggesting spending additional time in Palawan or the Visayas. For divers heading to the Visayas, the area around Dumaguete on the island of Negros is our recommendation. Apo Island is a short boat ride away and the shore diving off Dauin is highly rewarding for underwater photographers. If diving isn’t a priority, Siquijor is our pick for a unique spot to unwind and experience a bit of Filipino magic. In Palawan, experience El Nido and either Coron or one of the lovely resorts on the east side of Palawan.

Take a look at our sample itineraries for suggestions of how to spend your time in the Philippines but please bear in mind these are merely ideas. We’re here to custom-design the right holiday for you so please do get in touch.

Manila
The bustling capital city is home to historic Intramuros and Rizal Park. Let us arrange a bicycle tour of the walled city so you can explore the narrow streets and learn about the nation's colonial past. More
Banaue
Ancient rice terraces in Batad, coffins mounted on a cliff in Sagada, the Cordillera is home to some of the most unique and fascinating bits of the Philippines. More
Vigan
Some of the best preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the world can be found in Vigan. Wander the cobbled streets, sample the Spanish-influenced cuisine, and relax in one of the city's historic boutique hotels. More
Boracay
Sink your toes into the white sands of Boracay. Grab a cocktail, take it easy, and watch the clear blue water lap against the shore. When night falls, join the parties of District Two or slip away to romantic Diniwid beach. More
Bohol
Chocolate hills, tiny tarsiers, Boholano art, beautiful beaches, and some lovely snorkeling and diving make Bohol one of our favorite parts of the Philippines. The gorgeous boutique resorts don't hurt, either! More
Negros Oriental
The island of Negros is home to world-class diving off the coast of Dauin and on neighboring Apo Island. Waterfalls and adventure are just a day trip away from the university town of Dumaguete. On neighboring Siquijor settle in to the tranquility of an island known for sorcery and healing powers. More
Negros Occidental
On the west coast of Negros you'll find Bacolod, the city of smiles. Sugar plantations in the area host historic mansions and in October, the streets come alive with the annual MassKara festival. More
Puerto Princesa
The gateway to Palawan, Puerto Princesa sits near one of the longest subterranean rivers in the world. Let us arrange a stay for you at a beachside hotel with mountain views just a short boat ride away. More
El Nido
When people refer to Palawan as the most beautiful island in the world, images of El Nido come to mind. Limestone cliffs jut from aquamarine water, lush jungle fills the interior, and the coasts are lined with dazzling beaches. Some of the finest resorts in the country dot the islands around this northern bit of Palawan. More
Coron
For divers, the WWII shipwrecks of Coron are one of the highlights of the Philippines. Natural hot springs, clear blue lakes, isolated beaches, and a rather surprising game reserve and wildlife sanctuary make Coron a fun destination for divers and landlubbers alike. More
Puerto Galera
Fast drift dives and schools of big fish await experienced divers in Puerto Galera while shallow macro dives make for excellent underwater photography, relaxing night dives, and the perfect place to learn or improve your dive skills. More
Tubbataha Reefs
The greatest variety of marine life in the Philippines is within Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park; only accessible for diving mid-March to mid-June

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