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Suggestions for a trip to the Philippines

Travel Forums Asia Suggestions for a trip to the Philippines

1. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 8y

I am planning a trip to Hong Kong & the Philippines next April. I'll be flying to Hong Kong, staying there for 3 or so nights, then getting a flight to Manila. My husband and I will be visiting a friend who works in Manila. How much time should I spend in Manila? is 2-3 nights enough? After that I don't know where to go first? I only have 2 weeks or just under. Obviously as time is restricted, I don't want to spend lots of time travelling. I was thinking a few days in Boracay, then some where else. There is just so much to choose from! How about Palawan, how long would it take to get there from Boracay? Is it easy enough?

Is April a good time to visit the Philippines?

I spent 3 months travelling SE Asia nearly 3 years ago & we didn't have time to include the Philippines, I just wish I could take more time.

Thanks all.

2. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 8y

The Philippines is huge with over 7000 islands so it is very difficult to say what is the best place for you to go to. Travel around the Philippines is quite hard as there are no trains and so I would suggest you buy a guide book and scour through it and decide what area you like the look of and just visit 1 or 2 islands in that area. 2-3 days is enough time in Manila as it is a great big sprawling metropolis and I expect you will want to leave for the fresh air of 1 of the small islands as soon as possible. April is summer in the Philippines so you should have great weather, but remember that it does have a tropical climate so it can rain at any time. I was in the Philippines last March and it rained a lot, but when I was there last September, which is supposedly the rainy season, it was beautiful and sunny most of the time. I will be back in Philippines next March and April as well so hopefully we will both get good weather. I will be in the Western Visayas, so if you look at them and decide you want to visit around there give me a shout and I can give you some tips as the city of Bacolod is fast becoming my 2nd home.

3. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 8y

Thanks. I have the lonely planet SE Asia, so had a quick flick through that. I think it maybe dated and it hasn't got too much detail. Any recommendations as to which guide book? I usually get a rough guide or lonely planet, but haven't been too impressed with them as of late.

Looks like we will fly from Manila to Caticlan, spend a few days in Boracay, then check some other islands in the Visayas. Best to stay in one area rather then trying to cover too many areas. I'm thinking of flying back to Hong Kong from Cebu City, to avoid back tracking to Manila.

How easy is it to navigate around the Visayas? Is it quite a large area?

4. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 768 posts) 8y

I have both the Rough Guide and Insight Guide books and they are both pretty out of date, even though they are the latest editions. For example in Bacolod there is a massive SM Supermall that everyone goes to for shopping, restaurants etc, it has been there for a few years now but in the guide books it is not on the map of Bacolod or even mentioned in the shopping or eating guide yet it is a huge complex!
If you are flying back to HK (who are you flying with, as Cebu Pacific have stopped flying to HK from Cebu?) from Cebu I would suggest you just travel around the island of Cebu as it has some great beaches and Cebu City itself is also a very nice city. If you want to be really adventurous you could visit my favourite beach which is in Sipalay on Negros Occiental. You can fly to Bacolod from Cebu and then you have to take a 5 hour bus ride down to Sipalay, then take either a boat or a bike to Sugar Beach. It is a long journey but worth it as there will be hardly anyone else there and the beach is stunning. The Visayas is a very large area and like all of the Philippines it does involve a lot of travelling as there are no trains so all travel is by boat, bus, taxi, bike and jeepney.
There are also some lovely tiny islands like Guimaras and Siquijor (pronounced sicky-whore!!) that are worth visiting. Or if you are into cities then I really like Iloilo. It's not got much for tourists but it is a lively little place that I have a soft spot for. Bacolod is the capital of Negros Occidental and is a big and busy city and probably not really recommended as a main place to visit for a short time, but as I have been there many times now I have found some great bars and restaurants and places of interest such as Mambukal mountain resort nearby.
Boracay will be very touristy compared with everywhere else in the Philippines, so be aware of that as you travel around after visiting Boracay. Nowhere else in the Philippines (as far as I know) will you find as many bars and tourists as in Boracay, but that is what I love about the Philippines, the fact that you wont see any other western tourists and you will be stared at a lot but normally in a friendly way so don't think they are being rude, they just don't see many westerners.
Another option would be for you to visit the Romblom islands. They are right next to Borocay and apparently they are incredibly beautiful but without the tourists. I haven't been there but I am intending to go there soon.
Deciding where to go in the Phiippines is very hard as you have over 7000 islands to choose from, but I am sure you will love it there. The main thing to remember is that it is quite a poor country and does not have the infrastructure of many other SE Asia countries, for example Thailand. It is not set up for tourists (apart from Boracay) and is therefore a much harder place to travel around, but that is what really makes the Philippines special as you feel like you really are visiting a country and not just following the hordes as a tourist. Everyone has been to Thailand, not many have travelled around the Philippines. Let me know where you decide to go!!

5. Posted by donna_sage (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Boracay is a good choice during summer but that place will be very crowded, it is the highly commercialized beach in the philippines. But Boracay is still the best beach in the phils.
Why not try Palawan or Pagudpud? And even Camiguin will be a good choice too.:)

6. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 8y

Quoting bwiiian

I have both the Rough Guide and Insight Guide books and they are both pretty out of date, even though they are the latest editions. For example in Bacolod there is a massive SM Supermall that everyone goes to for shopping, restaurants etc, it has been there for a few years now but in the guide books it is not on the map of Bacolod or even mentioned in the shopping or eating guide yet it is a huge complex!
If you are flying back to HK (who are you flying with, as Cebu Pacific have stopped flying to HK from Cebu?) from Cebu I would suggest you just travel around the island of Cebu as it has some great beaches and Cebu City itself is also a very nice city. If you want to be really adventurous you could visit my favourite beach which is in Sipalay on Negros Occiental. You can fly to Bacolod from Cebu and then you have to take a 5 hour bus ride down to Sipalay, then take either a boat or a bike to Sugar Beach. It is a long journey but worth it as there will be hardly anyone else there and the beach is stunning. The Visayas is a very large area and like all of the Philippines it does involve a lot of travelling as there are no trains so all travel is by boat, bus, taxi, bike and jeepney.
There are also some lovely tiny islands like Guimaras and Siquijor (pronounced sicky-whore!!) that are worth visiting. Or if you are into cities then I really like Iloilo. It's not got much for tourists but it is a lively little place that I have a soft spot for. Bacolod is the capital of Negros Occidental and is a big and busy city and probably not really recommended as a main place to visit for a short time, but as I have been there many times now I have found some great bars and restaurants and places of interest such as Mambukal mountain resort nearby.
Boracay will be very touristy compared with everywhere else in the Philippines, so be aware of that as you travel around after visiting Boracay. Nowhere else in the Philippines (as far as I know) will you find as many bars and tourists as in Boracay, but that is what I love about the Philippines, the fact that you wont see any other western tourists and you will be stared at a lot but normally in a friendly way so don't think they are being rude, they just don't see many westerners.
Another option would be for you to visit the Romblom islands. They are right next to Borocay and apparently they are incredibly beautiful but without the tourists. I haven't been there but I am intending to go there soon.
Deciding where to go in the Phiippines is very hard as you have over 7000 islands to choose from, but I am sure you will love it there. The main thing to remember is that it is quite a poor country and does not have the infrastructure of many other SE Asia countries, for example Thailand. It is not set up for tourists (apart from Boracay) and is therefore a much harder place to travel around, but that is what really makes the Philippines special as you feel like you really are visiting a country and not just following the hordes as a tourist. Everyone has been to Thailand, not many have travelled around the Philippines. Let me know where you decide to go!!

Wow thanks, you've given me loads of ideas here.... I will have to look all these places up.

I have checked the Cebu Pacific Airlines website and they do one daily flight from Cebu City to Hong Kong.

At this stage I was thinking of stopping off at 1 or 2 places in between Boracay & Cebu to break the boats journeys up.

My husband friend who works in Manila, is taking a bit of time off & heading South, so I'll see where he finds too.

I have been to Thailand a few times, whilst I always love it, I found the last time I went parts of it had lost it's charm (mainly Phi Phi). I don't mind being started at, I spent some time in India, where this always happened-no nasty startes just curious stares. I found myself doing the same thing back. It's a shame you can't do that in the UK

7. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member 352 posts) 8y

Quoting donna_sage

Boracay is a good choice during summer but that place will be very crowded, it is the highly commercialized beach in the philippines. But Boracay is still the best beach in the phils.
Why not try Palawan or Pagudpud? And even Camiguin will be a good choice too.:)

Hi, thanks for the suggestions. As I don't have a great deal of time after Hong Kong & Manila, I'm not sure whether I could fit Palawan in. I haven't heard of Pagudpud or Camiguin, so I will look these up.

8. Posted by pixiepop (Budding Member 9 posts) 8y

If you're intent on checking out Boracay and are willing to splurge a little on your accommodations, I hear the Discovery Shores Hotel and The Tides Hotel are quite lovely places to stay in.

[ Edit: Links removed. ]

9. Posted by msmitheman (Budding Member 12 posts) 8y

I am in Boracay at the moment kitesurfing. The last time I was here was 10 years ago, and whilst I was expecting it to have developed in that time, I was disappointed to see that it has been done in a terrible way. The island has become very over developed and scruffy and not in a "characteristic" way that you find elsewhere in SE Asia. The island is extremely polluted, especially on the East Coast of Bulabog Beach (where I've been kiting...if you cut your foot in the water its infected by the time you get out). Expect to walk around smelling sewers most of your time.

Having said that there are plenty of nice resorts, just don't expect a quiet, idyllic experience!

10. Posted by pau_p1 (Respected Member 214 posts) 8y

just to add in..

I think 2 or 3 days in Manila is enough.. during that time, you can drive south to and have lunch in Tagaytay City which offers the best views of the Taal Volcano and lake... you can find a lot of Spa amenities there as well... Or you can drive north to Subic and check out their parks there...

In Manila, checkout Intramuros and Fort Santiago, Rizal Park, and maybe have night gimmicks in Malate area.. You may also checkout the Makati area which is adjacent to Manila which is more modern than Old Manila. You may also checkout the old quarters in Manila like Chinatown, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, and Quiapo.. you can try to check my [snip].. Oh the Manila Ocean Park is also now open... In Manila, if you like spas.. I recommend The Spa..

I believe South East Airlines (SEAir) has flights between Caticlan (Boracay) and Puerto Princesa or Busuanga in Palawan.. April is in the midst of summer and you should expect weather with about 32-36 degrees Celcius plus some humidity.. Students are on summer vacation and my guess is that many accomodation specially beach resorts would have this as their peak time..

Moderator: Sorry, no promos please.

[ Edit: Edited on Dec 7, 2008, at 7:12 PM by pau_p1 ]