After traveling for almost a decade now (I’m not that old, I just started young) and setting foot on each of the 80 provinces of the Philippines on a budget, I guess it would be of great help to suggest some backpacking routes for those who are just starting out. I made it plain and simple with some suggestions on each route. I also don’t want to give a detailed itinerary for most of the places below as I want the traveler to be excited in his/her journey. Please do your best to make your own adventure and not copy mine.
Let this Philippine map guide you where the places are. This is especially helpful for foreigners:
1. Central Visayas Loop: Cebu-Bohol-Dumaguete-Siquijor
Highlights: Chocolate Hills (If you want to take a different shot, go to Sagbayan Peak) and Apo Island
Add to your itinerary: Cebu City Heritage tour, Osmena Peak, Tumalog Falls, Boljoon, Chocolate Hills, Tarsier at Corella, Panglao island, Silliman University, Apo island, Salagdoong Beach and Cambughay Falls.
Accommodations: Cebu City Cheap Accommodations, Dumaguete: Harold’s Mansion has Php250/night (dorm-type, AC), Siquijor: I stayed at JJ Backpacker’s Inn in San Juan, rented a tent for only Php150/night
2. Bicolandia: Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Sorsogon
Highlights: Calaguas Island, Mt. Mayon and Whaleshark Watching
Add to your itinerary: CWC in Pili, CamSur, Food Trip in Naga City, Albay Tour, Whaleshark Encounter, Daraga Church and Bulusan Lake
Accommodations: Naga City- Old Sampaguita Inn (as low as Php150/night, common CR, fanroom), Beach Camping in Calaguas island.
3. Diver’s Paradise: Coron, Palawan
Highlights: Wreck dive and Kayangan Lake
Add to your itinerary: Mt. Tapyas, Banana Island, Maquinit hotspring, Siete Pecados, Kayangan Lake and Calawit Safari Park.
Cheap Accommodations: Seadive, Coron Bay Lodge.
4. The Heritage of Ilocandia: Vigan-Paoay-Batac-Laoag-Pagudpud-Adams
Highlights: UNESCO-Stamped Heritage Village in Vigan and Paoay Church
Add to your itinerary: Sta. Maria Church in Ilocos Sur, Kalesa Tour in Vigan, Bangui Windmills, Saud Beach, Kapurpurawan Rock Formations and Adams waterfalls.
Cheap Accommodations: Vigan- Grandpa’s inn. Pagudpud- Edu’s Homestay (0920-2504858, Php500/night). Adams- Log Cabin and winery (Php150/night).
5. Busy to Beach: Iloilo City to Boracay (via Antique)
Highlights: River-kayaking in Tibiao, Antique, Puka Beach and Party in Boracay
Related Blog: Not Your Ordinary Boracay,
Cheap Accommodations: Boracay Cheap Accommodations
6. Rice Terraces Overload: Ifugao Rice Terraces
Highlight: Trekking from Batad to Bangaan Rice Terraces (5-6 hours trek, local guide needed)
If you want to explore the UNESCO-inscribed terraced mountains, read this:
The five inscribed clusters are; (i) the Nagacadan terrace cluster in the municipality of Kiangan, a rice terrace cluster manifested in two distinct ascending rows of terraces bisected by a river; (ii) the Hungduan terrace cluster that uniquely emerges into a spider web; (iii) the central Mayoyao terrace cluster which is characterized by terraces interspersed with traditional farmers’ bale (houses) and alang (granaries); (iv) the Bangaan terrace cluster in the municipality of Banaue that backdrops a typical Ifugao traditional village; and (v) the Batad terrace cluster of the municipality of Banaue that is nestled in amphitheatre-like semi-circular terraces with a village at its base. (lifted from UNESCO website)
Related blog: Batad, What Happened to Your Charm?
Cheap Accommodations: I stayed at Batad Pension and Guesthouse (choose between regular oom and Ifugao hut), Php200/night. They serve sumptuous food- adobo is FTW! Also check this helpful accommodation guide.
7. Adrenaline Rush: CDO-Camiguin-Iligan-Bukidnon
Highlights: Whitewater Rafting and Tinago Falls
Add to your itinerary: CDO-Whitewater rafting; Camiguin- White island, Mantigue island, Sunken Cemetery; Iligan- Maria Cristina Falls, Tinago Falls, Lechon in front of Timoga Falls; Bukidnon- Dahilayan Park, Trek to 2 trees in Malaybalay City.
Related blog: Northern Mindanao Escapade Summary and Expenses
Accommodations: Cheap Accommodations in Camiguin Island
8. Southern and Central Mindanao: Davao to Gen. Santos City and Saranggani
Highlights: Tuna Fish Port and Gumasa White Beach
Add to your itinerary: Samal Island, Davao Foodtrip, Drink and Party at MTS, Mt. Apo, Kapatagan, GenSan Tuna Fishport, Gumasa White Beach in Glan, Saranggani.
Cheap Accommodations:Green Window and Homitori in Davao City (both less than Php200/night) and Residencia Heneral Traveller’s Inn, General Santos City (Php250/night).
9. White Beach Only: Puerto Princesa City and El Nido, Palawan
Highlights: Underground River and El Nido island hopping, Tour C
10. The Ultimate Dream: Batanes- Batan and Sabtang islands
Highlight: Sabtang Island.
Related blog: Visit Batanes Series
Cheap Accommodations in Batanes.
NOTE: The following routes are best explored for a week or more. I don’t recommend you cramming it to a 3D/2N holiday.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO NOW AND EXPLORE THE PHILIPPINES.
Need extra help? Read: How to Start Your Own Backpacking Trip