We hadn’t planned to go to the Philippines but to sulk China (which is in cold with Vietnam, my country), we wanted to choose a friendly country in Southeast Asia: the Philippines
This is THE country of digital nomads. We have chosen to explore only 2 regions during this first trip to the Philippines: Palawan & Mindoro, to get a glimpse of the Filipino aquatic world and also to try to understand why so many French people are expatriating here
We are quite proud of this route which is optimal (in our opinion) in terms of the sequence of different transports. There are several days where you spend your time in the transports, but the landscapes are worth it and … anyway it’s like that in the Philippines, you can’t do anything about it 🙂
- Manila (2 days) : flight from Hong Kong. Visit of Intramuros. We fled quickly from Manila because the city isn’t safe and it took us 1 hour to drive 10km.
- El Nido (4 days): morning flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa then 5h bus to El Nido. We rented a motorcycle to visit Nacpan Beach & Las Cabanas Beach and did the “island hooping tours” A & B
- Coron (5 days): boat from El Nido to Coron (duration: 6 to 7 hours). We rented a motorcycle to go to Cabo beach & Hot Springs. We did some diving and the “island hooping tour” B
- Puerto Galera (5 days): boat from Coron (6 hours) to San Jose and then bus to Calapan. One night in Calapan and one hour bus to Puerto Galera (more info about this trip here). The 4 remaining days are dedicated to the beach and idleness.
- Manila (2 days): A full day to travel by boat and bus from Puerto Galera. And one day to wait for the plane to our next destination: Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
Some pictures to make you want to:
El Nido & its boat excursions
Coron and diving
Puerto Galera in idleness mode
- 1€ = 53 pesos
- Our total budget for the Philippines (excluding airfare): 1158€ for 17 nights, 18 days for two people, or 64€/day
Why such a budget? We have (too) much (too much) taken advantage of the excursions and dives
To help you plan your expenses (if you don’t plan to pay for excursions like us), here are the details
- Hotel & food: 35€ per day for 2 people (20€ for a double room, 7,5€/meal for two)
- Excursions: 20€/excursion/person approx
- Dive: 60€ per set of three dives
- between 30€ and 50€ a plane ticket within the Philippines
- boat to go from one island to another: between 18€ and 20€/person
- long-distance bus (5h): between 10€ and 12€/person
- Services (I mark it in pesos because it’s very little when converted into euros)
- Tip between 20 pesos and 50 pesos at the restaurant, between 100 and 150 pesos for excursions
- Tricycle 10 pesos/person
- Linen: between 40 and 65 pesos/kg
- Mask and snorkel rental: 100 pesos/day
- Scooter rental: between 300 and 600 pesos/day
- Kayak rental: 300 pesos/day
Our favorite addresses
- Manila: Our Awesome Hotel, 25€ per night, large room with view on the whole Makati, nice rooftop, fast internet with local restaurants and services next door
- El Nido: Blessed Inn, noisy but unbeatable price (16€ per night). Stop by the hotel for excursions.
- Coron : Apartment of Gabrielle, impeccable service for 20€ per night. Not far from the local restaurant Levine’s. Stop by the hotel for excursions and other services (massage, linen, mask and snorkel rental)
- Coron : Corto Divers for diving 100% personalized and not so expensive (60€ for 3 fun dives)
- Puerto Galera: the Badladz hotels, whether the Dive Resort or Beach Resort, the service is impeccable (between 12€ and 20€ per night). The hotel really simplifies your life: a phone call and a scooter is dropped off in front of the hotel. Their restaurant is bad at all.
- It is absolutely necessary to have an exit ticket otherwise nobody will let you get on the plane, see our article on this subject
- To bring with you
- the quiescent balls: for long boat trips with a very noisy engine
- a waterproof bag: for boat trips to small islands, your belongings will be wet, so make sure you bring a waterproof bag
- mask and snorkel: to bring if you already have one, if not, you can rent one
- a small jacket for night bus trips, the air conditioning is very very cold
- a lot of sunscreen: the sun is very strong in the Philippines, it isn’t the ideal place to tan. You tan in spite of yourself because of different aquatic activities (snorkelling, swimming…)
- Filipinos are almost fluent in English wherever you go, so don’t worry too much! But they will be happy if you say “Salamat” for “thank you”
- Money withdrawal: between 10,000 pesos and 15,000 pesos maximum per withdrawal (City Bank & HSBC allow you to withdraw large sums of money unlike other banks). Regardless of the amount, a fee of 200 pesos is applied for each withdrawal. Be aware that 1000 pesos bills are very big for Filipinos (20% of the monthly salary for some), so don’t expect the street vendors to have change for you. Try to break this bill as soon as you have the opportunity.
- Remember to inform your bank before your departure, several people have had their cards blocked after successive withdrawals of money in the Philippines
- Remember to buy airline tickets within the Philippines
- for a departure during the week preferably because Filipinos travel a lot on weekends
- a few days in advance, the last-minute doesn’t work, the prices are soaring
- We did not find haggling useful here, the prices we are given are correct and Filipinos get offended if we haggle when they give the right price. So if it’s for 10 cents, frankly, avoid it!
- Filipino monthly salaries are between 100€ and 200€, if the service is good, don’t hesitate to leave big tips. American tourists (very numerous in the Philippines) tend to leave a lot of tips, it is expected that you do the same (see the tips quoted in the Budget section).
- El Nido and Coron don’t have idyllic beaches that are easily accessible, so if you don’t want to take boats or excursions, forget Palawan, prefer Puerto Galera (Mindoro) or Visayas.