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.