Budget Guide to Backpacking The Philippines

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Budget Backpacker Guide To The Philippines Earth Picture

The Philippines is a place that manages to remain off of the average budget backpacker’s Southeast Asian itinerary, which is a surprise because it is a great place to travel.

Cheap internal flights link many of the 7000+ islands and good local transport can get you around the islands once you’ve reached them.

This is a country that’s absolutely blessed with natural beauty. It’s also a country that has its own distinct character.

Although heavily influenced by American and Spanish culture through a history of foreign occupation, The Philippines still sets itself apart from the States, Spain and from the rest of Asia. Backpacking the Philippines is a blast and there is a good backpacker vibe on many of these stunning islands.

Check out our post:ย Top 10 Things To Do In The Philippines!

How Much Will The Philippines Cost?

egypt for budget backpackers
Budget For The Philippines

$60-$70/day for 2 people. (Max $35 Each!)

This amount varies greatly depending on how many flights you take, how much you travel around and whether or not you visit during holiday times, which can drive prices up significantly.

If you’re coming during Easter, expect high prices at tourist spots like Boracay, but you can avoid the price hikes if you head to Palawan.

The Philippines is worth every penny!

Budget Accommodation: ($5-$15/night)

You’ll probably be spending a lot of time in beach bungalows and huts which are basic, but usually an excellent value. Rooms in Manila may leave a bit to be desired, and you may find yourself in a heavily prostituted area, but the rooms are usually acceptable even for a picky backpacker.

It is still possible to find cheap accommodation on Boracay and other top tourist spots you just have to keep your eyes peeled.

Airbnb Coupon CodeIf you would rather book an apartment or stay with a host on Airbnb, why not get an Airbnb discount while you’re at it? Make sure you use our special $25 Airbnb Coupon Codeย and save money!

GOAT NOTE:ย Click here to find hostels in the Philippines for as little as $5 / dorm bed! There are also incredible deals on private double rooms. Have a look ๐Ÿ™‚

See our El Nido page for more accommodations.

backpacking guide to the philippines where to stay

Eating: ($2-$4/meal)

The Philippines is famous for various chicken and noodle dishes including delicious BBQ chicken, chicken adobo and Pancit Bihon (a tasty rice noodle dish with chicken and vegetables).

You can always find good deals on food from $1 side-of-the-road burger joints to nice fancy meals in a restaurant, you will rarely find an “expensive meal” in the Philippines.

Budget Backpacker Guide To Eating in the philippines
Food In The Philippines – A Delicious BBQ Chicken

Rice Terrace & Other Entrance Fees: (Average $5/person)

Entrence fees For Budget Backpackers in Egypt

There aren’t too many fees in the Philippines. Many temples can be entered for free, as well as beautiful parks and memorial monuments. There is no entrance fee to most rice terraces but guides can be surprisingly expensive as can the tricycle rides to the famous view points.

They definitely have the tourist price running at these types of sites but just remember that it’s worth the extra few bucks. Check out our Banaue Page for more about the terraces.

Alcohol: ($0.75 Beer, $3 Cocktails)

San Miguel Beer for budget backpackers in the Philippines
San Miguel Beer

The Philippines is one of the cheapest countries to get drunk in. Beers are amazingly cheap, especially in Manila where you can easily find a bucket of 6 beers for less than 5 dollars in a bar.

Outside of Manila the prices go up a bit but it’s always an excellent value. The main beer of choice is San Miguel which is delicious and rarely comes in at over a buck for a small beer. They don’t really do “big beers” in the Philippines but you can sometimes find them at 7-11.

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Highlights & Must-Do’s:ย 

Must Do Budget Backpacker
Highlights & Must Do’s

The Philippines beaches are famous worldwide, but there is much more to this archipelago than lying on white sand and soaking in the sun.

Under the surface of the sea is an incredible wonderland of aquatic life, while above the surface, away from the beaches, you can find some intriguing landscapes both man-made and natural.

There are some nice city parks, old towns and monuments that can be explored for free, as well as some interesting museums.


We may not have seen many of the 7,101 islands, but this one is our favourite. Palawan sits at the far southwestern reaches of the country where it enjoys some of the most diverse landscapes as well as some of the best aquatic life in the country.

It boasts a Natural Wonder Of The World known as The Underground Cave System and it also has some of the nicest beaches and affordable resorts you’ll find anywhere. With beautiful beach towns like Port Barton and El Nido, this island is perfect and it’s not on the beaten path!

El Nido budget backpackers guide to philippines
El Nido

budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodation

Click here for the best hostels in El Nidoย & Puerto Princesa on Palawan

Click here for the best hotels in El Nido & Puerto Princesa on Palawan

The Rice Terraces Of Banaue:

This place will blow you away! A staggering 10,369 square kilometers of rice terraces etched out of the mountainside with such amazing ingenuity you’ll wonder how man could accomplish such a feat.

The true wonder lies in the fact that they are more than 2000 years old, so this entire landscape was created long before the invention of the crane and bulldozer.

Budget Backpacking the banaue rice terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces

budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodation

Click here for the best hotels, guesthouses & homestays in Banaue


This Island has quite a few amazing sites to see, from the Super Mario-esque chocolate hills to the spectacular diving which is routinely listed as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. You can also try your luck at spotting a Tarsier, the cute little bug-eyed creature endemic to this region. There are so many things to do in Bohol!

Bohol for budget backpackers guide
The Chocolate Hills Of Bohol

budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodation

Click here for the best accommodations near Bohol

Camp Out On An Island By Yourself:

This is an essential Philippines experience for any backpacker with an adventurous spirit. Hire a captain to take you out to one of the thousands of isolated, uninhabited islands and just set up camp.

We camped on an island just north of El Nido on Palawan island and it was surprisingly easy to arrange and extremely cheap! You can even try to borrow a mosquito net from your guesthouse and sleep under the stars!


budget backpackers camping alone on an island in the philippines
Camping Out On A Deserted Island Near El Nido

Go Snorkelling Or Scuba Diving:

The waters around The Philippines are blessed with some of the most amazing sea life anywhere on earth. The corals are stunning and there are so many dive/snorkel sites to choose from that you could spend years here and still not see them all.

This place is truly a diver’s paradise and exudes an underwater-lovers vibe everywhere you go. To miss the treasures below the surface of The Philippines would be like visiting Egypt and skipping the Pyramids.

Budget Backpackers diving in The Philippines
Scuba Diving In The Philippines

Snorkel With Whale Sharks:

Head down to the South end of Luzon and get in the water with these graceful giants. Donsol is one of the few places on earth where these gentle goliaths congregate and swimming with them is an essential Filipino experience.

budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodation

Click here for the best hotels, homestays & guesthouses in Donsol


Okay so it’s not exactly off the beaten path, but Boracay is a must-see site in The Philippines. Many backpackers fear that it will be overrun with expensive accommodation and all-inclusive package tourists, but there are still some backpacker spots that may not be right on the main stretch of sand, but ย they will have a better vibe.

budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodationย Click here for the best hostels on Boracay

Click here for the best hotels on Boracay

Manila may not be a “must-visit” place or highlight of a trip to the Philippines, but it’s a city that most travellers will find themselves in during their stay. It’s a main transport hub of the islands. Check out the best places to visit in the big city of Manila, here.

Off The Beaten Path In The Philippines:

Off The Beaten Path Budget Backpackers
Off The Beaten Path

It’s important while travelling around the world to find a place to yourself. A place where few other backpackers go and a place that you feel like you alone have discovered.ย 

The guidebooks don’t always accurately portray hidden gems and sometimes they miss out on them completely.

We like to list off the beaten path ideas from our own personal experience and because we were limited by stormy weather during our stay in the Philippines, we were unable to reach some of the truly hidden gems that we had planned to. We will be updating this list upon our return to The Philippines.

Port Barton:

A lot of people know of Port Barton but it seems that few people venture here. This funky beach town is set near one of the countries most beautiful island chains and you can hire a boat to take you out on day trips to the surrounding islands.

budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodation

Click here for the best accommodations in Port Barton

Any Deserted Island:

It’s surprisingly easy to hire a boat to drop you off on a deserted island in The Philippines. We’d recommend ensuring cellular coverage if you’re being dropped off and left alone as you never know how reliable the boatman will be.

Bring lotsย of water and food for backup, even if you’re going to try to hunt for your own dinner!

Backpackers Finding an isolated island in the philippines
An Isolated Island

What Is The Budget Accommodation Like In The Philippines?

Budget Accommodation for budget backpackers
Budget Accommodation

The hotels and guesthouses in The Philippines are of a great value. Although the average room cost is a little bit higher than other countries in Southeast Asia they are usually of pretty high standards. Beach huts and bungalows in The Philippines are actually of better value than similar places in Thailand and you will often get breakfast included.


budget backpacking guide to the philippines best accommodation

Click here for the cheapest (and best) hostels in the Philippinesย 

Click here for top hotels, guesthouses and homestays in the Philippines

Pros Of Budget Backpacking In The Philippines:

Pros of budget backpacking egypt
Pros Of Backpacking The Philippines

The Philippines is a great place for backpacking on a budget and it is amazing that more people don’t make their way over here on a typical Southeast Asian itinerary.

The country exudes an excellent backpacker’s vibe and boasts some of the best beaches and scenery in the world.

From the powdery white sands of Boracay and the dreamy islands around Palawan to the Banaue rice terraces and Bohol’s chocolate hills, the Philippines has something for everyone.

The Ease Of Camping On Islands:

As we stated above, there is nowhere else better to fend for yourself in a tropical paradise. It’s no wonder they’ve filmed Survivor here in so many different languages. This place is made for tropical solitude.

Funky Transport:

If you travel in the Philippines, you’ll definitely find yourself in a Jeepney. These cool, chromed out rides are left over from World War II and they have since been “pimped out”.

It’s hilarious to see the variety of slogans and pictures that are artistically painted on the side of these old relics. From religious quotes to sexual innuendos, these are the funkiest modes of transport in the world.

Budget Backpackers transport in the philippines, a jeepney
A Typically Proud Jeepney Owner

Cheap Flights:

Most backpackers like to take public transport so that you can mingle with the locals and “see the countryside”. Ya ya, we’ve said it hundreds of times as well. But when internal flights are cheaper than bus and ferry rides, you soon find yourself opting for the cheaper, more comfortable option. Flights can be had for as little as $20, making it hard to resist!

The Scenery:

There is no doubt that The Philippines is a beautiful place. Everywhere you look, something catches your eye. There are so many cool landscapes and beautiful beaches here that your camera will be working overtime.

Budget Backpackers finding scenery in The Philippines
A Stunning Sunset in El Nido

Cons Of Travel In The Philippines:

cons to budget backpacking egypt
Cons Of Backpacking The Philippines

No matter how great a country is, there will always be a few cons to go along with the pros. the Philippines is so full of great culture, stunning sites and lost islands that there are sure to be a few things to watch out for. Nowhere is perfect right?

There aren’t many cons to travelling here, but the few that stand out are listed below.

Holiday Season Crowds:

During holiday season, The Philippines becomes extremely busy. Millions of Filipino families have left home to find better work abroad, so when the holidays come, so do the returning family members making it a nightmare to book transportation and hotels.

Luckily you can avoid it by spending a week or so on the lesser visited islands like Palawan, but make sure you book your flight and hotel at least a week or two before. If you’ve planned your stay in the Philippines during Christmas or Easter, don’t worry it won’t ruin your trip. It will probably just slow it down a bit.

The Weather:

Sure in rains everywhere, but nowhere is quite like The Philippines. Crazy typhoons can render the archipelago untravelable for days on end. There are times when flights are cancelled for a week straight, making your holiday turn into a wet and wild nightmare.

There is no planning for the weather these days so try to avoid typhoon season and cross your fingers. No matter what, don’t let the weather ruin your stay, if you must be indoors, try to be indoors with a local family.

Watching the weather budget backpackers guide
An Exciting Lightning Storm In Port Barton


Hmm, the transportation is a pro and a con? Yes! Sure they look cool, but Jeepneys can be extremely uncomfortable, especially on long journeys.

If you’ve never been to Africa then you’re probably not used to having chickens and children thrown on your lap, while get used to it if you want to travel in the Philippines.

Prostitution & Sex Tourism:

Unfortunately, sex tourism is a huge issue in The Philippines. You may have come across it a bit in Thailand or Cambodia, but if you haven’t been to The Philippines then you haven’t fully witnessed it.

It’s extremely disturbing and depressing to see 60-year-old men taking advantage of poor, teenage Filipina women and it happens everywhere here. It seems that perverts congregate in places where laws are less forbidding, and The Philippines is definitely no exception.

The People:

The people you encounter while backpacking through a country can have a profound impact on the way you view a destination. Not only the local people, but the types of other travellers as well.

Types Of Other Travellers:

Budget Backpacker
Types Of Travellers

The Philippines is a great place to meet other backpackers. Most of the young, gap-year party crowds stay on the main Southeast Asian itinerary but the few that make it to the Philippines are likely more adventurous and are looking for more than just a party.

The age demographic is definitely higher here then the rest of the region and everyone is out for an experience. Many of the other foreigners you’ll see have married Filipino locals and are expats.

There is a lot of sex tourism in the Philippines so unfortunately you’re likely to see skeezy old men walking around with teenage girls on their arms.

The Locals:

The Locals

Filipinos are extremely friendly and genuine. They’re usually very willing to invite you in for dinner or tea and if you stay at a locally owned guesthouse then you’ll probably be treated like family.

In other parts of Southeast Asia you’ll probably notice more smiles and happy hellos, but in the Philippines they are more westernised and will say hello if they are interested in you.

The Filipinos who genuinely want to talk to you are likely to engage you in a real conversation, not one that leads to you buying something.

Be wary of tourist pricing on some Jeepneys and Minibuses. Ask your hotel or guesthouse the cost of transportation beforehand.

Communication In The Philippines:


English is the second language in The Philippines and is spoken like native tongue. You will have no problem communicating with locals here unless you are on some isolated island somewhere.

The Americans set up English schools during their occupation here and many of the locals speak with that familiar American twang. If you do decide to pick up a bit of Tagalog (the local language) you will likely gain respect from the Filipinos.

Visa Regulations For The Philippines:

Visa Budget Backpackers
Visa Regulations

A free 21 day visa is granted on arrival at all major airports in The Philippines. This is probably not enough time to see much of the country so you will want to extend it in Manila.

Depending on the time your flight lands, you should be able to buy an extended visa at the airport (up to 3 months) for around $76.

If you can’t extend at the airport then you can do it at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation’s main office at Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila, or at any of its provincial offices for the same price. It can be processed in about 2 hours.

You can buy an extended visa before your arrival in the Philippines but it will probably be more expensive than obtaining it once you land.

***UPDATE, October, 2013*** Nationals from many countries are now able to stay in the Philippines for 30 days without a visa, provided you have proof of onward travel and your passport is valid for 6 months past the expiration date of your planned stay. Please refer to this link:ย https://www.dfa.gov.ph/index.php/list-of-countries-for-21-day-visa

Entry Requirements To The Philippines:

Budget backpacker entry requirement
Entry Requirements

You will need to have at least one blank page in your passport which must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry.

To enter the Philippines you will need to fly. If you are already in Southeast Asia we recommend booking a flight with AirAsia, Zest Air or Cebu Pacific. Flying return from KL to Manila can be as cheap as $100 depending on the season.

There is no need for a proof of onward journey (ie: return flights) to enter the Philippines.

Health In The Philippines:

Budget backpacking health
Health In The Philippines

The biggest health risk one may encounter while backpacking through The Philippines, as well as any other Southeast Asian country, is likely food poisoning. ย The standards of cooking here, however, are quite high and there is a very low risk of getting sick.

There is a low risk of malaria and measles but really nothing to be worried about. There is no need to take malaria tablets here, but if you are the one in 10,000 people who contract the illness, DON’T BLAME US! There is however a growing risk of Dengue Fever in rural areas so make sure you put on bug spray and try to sleep under a mosquito net.

There are no required vaccinations to enter The Philippines.

*Note: We are not doctors. Always consult a travel doctor before heading off on a trip to the Philippines.

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Phone & Internet In The Philippines:

phone and internet budget backpackers
Phone & Internet

You should have no problem connecting to the internet in The Philippines. Most guesthouses, hostels and even beach bungalows are wired with wi-fi. Almost all tourist restaurants will also have free wifi so you can enjoy checking your emails while watching the sunset with a cocktail.

Phones and SIM card are very cheap in The Philippines and the coverage is excellent. It’s a good idea to have a mobile here because you will likely be calling to reserve Jeepney rides and hotels.

When Is The Best Time To Visit The Philippines?

When To Go budget backpacker
Weather In The Philippines

You can pretty much visit The Philippines at any time of year but we would definitely recommend avoiding the holy week (around Easter). The weather is unpredictable here so even if you come during the best possible time, you may have heavy rains.

At the same time, if you come during the off-season, there is a chance that you won’t see a drop of precipitation the entire time. Generally the best time to visit is from January to May, when the country is at its driest.

This is also the tourist high-season with most foreign visitors arriving between January and March. Most Filipinos are off for summer holidays in April and May but the crowds won’t really affect you except for the fact that you will hear more loud karaoke at night.

Typhoon season is from June to early December when dark clouds and torrential downpours can soak the coasts for days on end. Typhoons are unpredictable so just forget about them and see what happens!

Overall Rating:

7 Stars1

Great diving and snorkelling, stunning islands, friendly people, beautiful rice terraces, funky transport, delicious food and cheap flights, The Philippines is well deserving of a 7 star rating.

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Four photographs of popular places in The Philippines with text overlay Budget Backpackers Guide To The Philippines

Five photographs of beaches in The Philippines with text overlay A Budget Backpackers Guide To The Philippines

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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116 thoughts on “Budget Guide to Backpacking The Philippines”

  1. Good stuff guys, heading to Philippines for month and a half in June, your articles really helped. I can’t wait.

  2. Wow! You’ve really explored a lot. I’m from here and I haven’t been to Palawan or even Banaue lol.. Anyway, I just started working and I hope to travel soon. I’m loving the two of you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks a lot Donna! You’re from a beautiful country and one that we hope to return to soon. If you plan to travel then you’re very lucky being in the Philippines because you have so many amazing destinations right at your door step! Thanks for your comment. Keep your backpack packed and safe travels!

  4. You’re definitely right. There are a lot of places in the Philippines that anyone, foreign or local, can go to. This is especially if you want to avoid the crowds.

  5. I’m heading down to the Philippines in a month with a friend, coming in from Japan. We heard a lot of greats things about it and you reassured us of its wonders. We’re Planning on Manila (since we’re landing there), Cebu and then Palawan and finally back to Manila to fly out. Any recommendations in Cebu, you covered a bit in Palawan. We can’at wait for the trip and will comment once we return! Cheers!

  6. Wish everyone visiting the country would read your blog before embarking on a trip. You’re a real traveller in my opinion. Travelling with an open mind with a goal to have a good time.

  7. Well written, so well done, nice, clear and informative.

    I am thinking of getting away poss for 6 months, I have done a fair bit of travel in my time {and do not want to be jumping about every 10 mins} but I want a more static spot, or spots but longer periods if you get my meaning. I am thinking of taking the lap top and doing the work whilst I’m away. I have been on the net all day looking and I like the sound of the Philippines I like the sound of these huts.

    Kind Regards


  8. That’s great Alex! The Philippines is definitely somewhere that you can spend a lot of time. With so many islands and different things to see and do, you could spend 6 months here and not see it all. Palawan was one of our favourite islands.

    Have a great trip, wherever you end up!
    Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hello GoatsOnTheRoad,

    Are May and June still weatherly right time to backpack in Philippines?

    Thanks. James

  10. Hey James,

    Given the weather varients, you can visit the Philippines anytime depending on where you plan to go. May is one of the best times to visit, but much of the country is beginning the Monsoon season by June.

    Hope this helps! Enjoy the Philippines!

  11. Hello GOTR,

    Thanks for your quick response.

    I’m planning to do a 10-day of whole Philippines backpacking.
    (Manila city –> Rice Terrace –> Taal Volacno –> Mayon Volcano –> Cebu city tour –> Chocolate Hills –> Palawan (Puerto Princesa) –> Cagayan de Oro/Mindanao/Davao –> Manila)

    Is that any other major attractions i missed out here?

    Thanks. James

  12. Hey James and thanks again for commenting!
    I may be misunderstanding your comment though. You said 10 days… did you mean to visit all 10 places? This would be a lot of time on ferries and airports and absolutely no time to see the beauty of the Philippines. In ten days I would attempt to see 2 places, 3 MAX. Of course everyone has their own travel style but I really think if you travel that quickly you wont really see anything. Especially in places like Palawan where 10 days wouldn’t be enough.
    Try to size down your itinerary and consider enjoying the place more. If you go to 10 places in 10 days and try to see everything, you’ll end up seeing nothing.

    If you spent 5 days in Palawan that would barely be enough to visit the caves, beautiful Port Barton and El Nidos stunning islands. I’d say choose Palawan and one other island. You’ll enjoy your stay more. Maybe you can go back one day and see more!

    Hope this helps. In any case, let us know how it goes!

  13. For sure! There are so many places off the beaten path, or on the beaten path…it’s up to the traveller to decide where they want to go ๐Ÿ™‚ The Philippines is great!

  14. That was an amazing read about the Philippines (long, but totally worth it).
    I hope a lot of people get to read this, especially those in the SE trail who skip the Philippines you mentioned. This basically sum up the basics of the Philippines!
    I will definitely tell people interested in travelling here about this blog post if they want to read an interesting travel article.

    There are really so many locations to visit, apart from the most popular ones that are being totally ignored (and some which even the locals know nothing about).


  15. Thanks a lot for your kind words.
    There is so much to explore in the Philippines, we didn’t even scratch the surface! We’ll have to go back again one day soon.

    Thanks for spreading the word about our article ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. Lovely stuff boys.
    I’m going back to the Philippines early next year for the first time in 17 years.I had spent every British winter there for ten years.
    .Spent along time (3 months a year) in general Luna.Which is now too expensive for an old scrunter Like me.I used to rent a cottage on the beach + 3 meals for 125peso.I’m going to visit old friends there then head for Romblon & then to Palawan which I haven’t visited since the mid 80s when you had to go by river/sea boat to get to el nido.
    Are there any little gems places at around ยฃ20 a day still out there? I’m going for four months & I’d be looking for quiet cheap place for two month hopefully somewhere that you can sail.
    Cheers David

  17. Hey !

    Loved the info – I actually read it all which says a lot for a blog. All very useful and straight to the point information. I will definitely use your site again!

    I have 2 weeks booked for the Philippines from July 27th. For the first week, I am with my fellow teachers (I teach in South Korea) in Boracay for a wild vacay and much needed holiday.

    After that, I am going to be alone for a week. I was wondering if you can suggest any good sociable and safe places for a 25 year old female to travel to. I am especially interested in Palawan, but don’t want to get the lonely vibe.

    Your help is appreciated!


  18. Hey David!
    Wow, I’m sure the Philippines has changed a lot in the past 17 years! That will be really cool for you to go back and see it now. We love it there.

    We spent a lot of time on Palawan and spent 8 days in El Nido. We stayed at a place called Cliffside Cottages. Check out our link for where to sleep, eat and what to do in El Nido on a budget: https://www.goatsontheroad.com/city-info-3/

    We also spent the night on a deserted island just off of El Nido, just us and a mosquito net. We had the boat drop us off in the morning and pick us up the next day in the evening. Highly recommend that!

    Enjoy your time in the Philippines ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Hey Andy!

    We’re glad you enjoyed the post! We loved our time spent on Palawan. There aren’t a ton of tourists, but there are just enough (in my opinion) to not get bored. El Nido is busier than Port Barton, which is a very basic beach town. You can go sailing around to different islands off of El Nido, go diving and snorkelling, go swimming and there are some nice beach restaurants and bars. We loved it there and spent 8 nights in El Nido. Also, on Palawan there is the newest natural Wonder Of The World – The Underground River in Sabang. It’s pretty cool.

    Check out our link for what to do and see around the Philippines:

    Cheers Andy, have a great time ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Hey guys,
    Great info!
    Im interested in camping on an island. Do you think its possible to organise a boat to drop me off on a deserted island off the coast of Boracay?
    Thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Hey AJ,

    We didn’t actually spend any time on the islands around Boracay, but it’s most likely possible! All you have to do is talk to a tour agency or a boat man and arrange for them to drop you off and pick you up on a certain date and time. Preferably you will be on an island with cell phone service in case you need to call someone.

    Bring a mosquito net, some food, paper and matches for fire and have a great time!

    Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Hey guys, I really do love you both for appreciating our country. You are just one of the many awesome foreigners visiting us that would always look forward to exploring more! That was really wonderful. Though I really never had the chance to go to El Nido yet, but I wont let this year pass without dropping by and enjoy the serenity it offers. I am a magazine writer and I would really appreciate your contributions so far if you wish to share some exciting experiences here in the newly published travel mag in the Phils. We are due to launch it this October. Do email me at acelle_flymag2013@yahoo.com. More power to your blog and a big hug to both of you!! By the way anyone who may wish to travel around Manila, which I live, can also contact me for a budgeted tour guide experience.
    Be happy and well!

  23. Hi!

    Thank you for this awesome post, helping other backpackers like you to discover my country PHILIPPINES! As a local, I’ve already visited places here and realized I need to explore more our own before going outside the country. When I visited KK in Malaysia, I met few backpackers usually european people who skipped the country on their SE asian backpacking itinerary. As a proud Filipino, I urged them to try the country for a visit.

    In one way or another, I’m thankful for you because you are promoting tourism in my country. This gives opportunity to locals to somehow earn and uplift their lives. If they see tourism as a good avenue for them to have a livelihood, they would be conscious enough to take care of the environment.Overall, a win-win situation for both locals and visitors.

    Good luck and spread this great blog to other adventurous people.

    Best Regards,


  24. Thanks for the kind words RJ!
    We loved our time spent in the Philippines, it’s such a diverse country. There’s so much to see and do there that we could’ve spent a year and not seen it all.

    It’s a great thing when local people realize the value of tourism and they take care of their environment. It’s a shame people aren’t willing to take care of nature regardless of tourism. But we are glad to hear that the Filipinos are proud of their country and are wiling to make sure it stays beautiful!

    Thanks again for the comment, enjoy travelling through your wonderful country ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Hey– this is a fantastic guide, a really great find! HOWEVER, the fact that you include COCK-FIGHTS as a must-see frankly disgusts me. “The blades insure minimal animal suffering”? What a ridiculously ignorant statement. It’s an abhorrent “sport” consisting of maximum animal suffering. It’s cruelty, plain and simple. One could argue that, not being of this culture, I have no right to pass judgement, but to those people, I would say, “animals are animals, no matter what culture surrounds them and cruelty and suffering is cruelty and suffering.”
    So. Save for the cock-fighting endorsement, great page, thanks. I’d love it if you didn’t include such an awful pastime though.

  26. Hey Lindsay,
    Glad you liked the guide!
    I agree with you to some extent on the cockfighting debate, but I only endorse it as a view into local culture. I don’t necessarily agree with pitting two animals together for a fight, but I am interested in other cultures, even when I don’t agree with them. Cockfighting is a huge part of Philippines’ culture and has been for hundreds of years. I also don’t agree with self-mutilation but I would love to see the vegetarian festival in Thailand. We don’t always understand other customs, but to turn a blind eye to them and walk away keeps us from learning and growing as people. We don’t always endorse what we see in travel, but travel is to witness the peculiar and avoid judgement. We should be spectators of local traditions and see them from a neutral perspective.
    If one finds certain cultures offensive, then that person should avoid partaking but should not push their views on others. If you are against cock-fighting, don’t go. If you don’t agree with the running of the bulls, skip the festival in spain. If you don’t agree with Islam, avoid mosques.
    Travel is independent, personal and without judgement. Our view on these pages are just that.
    Hopefully you’ll agree with this to some extent.

    Thanks for reading and for your comment.

  27. To travel is to witness the peculiar and avoid judgement. That, sir, is quite the platitude. We judge everything constantly, whether we do it loudly or inside our heads, and that’s okay. Traveling is experiencing and meeting people and witnessing and exploring and soo many other things. To come home from travels without any judgements would be really strange.
    If I meet, and I hope I will, locals and if, for some reason, cock-fighting comes up, I will definitely voice the opinion that it’s a horrendously cruel practice. That’s not turning a blind eye (nor does witnessing cock-fighting help anyone to learn or grow as a person). It’s quite the contrary; it’s actively engaging someone of the culture in an issue in a way that they very possibly have never looked at it. I have a feeling that would be a very rich conversation and, if anything, will BE what helps us BOTH grow and learn as people.
    I think that to travel with the goal of witnessing anything from a neutral perspective is a very new-agey, unrealistic and unnecessary objective. We’re us. I’m me. When I travel, I don’t travel as an ambassador of nowhere, with absolutely no preconceived notions about places or people. I’m human. I meet people as me, with my opinions and listen to people from all over the world with their opinions and we change each other’s minds and agree on things and disagree about others and learn and grow and all that good stuff.

    The point is, it’s perfectly acceptable to be vehemently against a cruel practice, even if you are a visitor to the country it’s taking place in.
    Cock-fighting, dog-fighting, these absolutely despicable sports don’t “offend” me. I will not simply “not go” so that I don’t see something that I don’t care for. It’s a much, much larger issue than that.

    I know that the Philippines will be a thousand different things and your info has been amusing and informative, so thanks again. But really! I just couldn’t let that pass by.

  28. Hi,

    omg! I’ve never seen any blog as concise and as informative as this! Thanks for a complete all-in-one guide to the Philippines, and being all-out on how you did find the people, culture, etc.

    Great job! Happy travels!

    Fritzie from Cebu, Philippines

  29. Hi guys,

    The Philippines sound amazing, we have just over 3 weeks planned there over Christmas and New Year, we’ve managed to book hotels for Apo Island (Christmas) and Boracay (New Year), then we’re planning on heading to Palawan on 2nd January, is there anything there that you would definitely recommend doing? We’re thinking of working our way up from Puerto Princesa to Coron and flying back to Manila from there, taking in El Nido and some deserted islands on the way hopefully.

    We’ve chosen these areas of the Philippines as its in the middle of a round the world trip and thought it would be nice to chill out on some beautiful islands before hitting the US and South America.

    Any tips/advice would be much appreciated.


  30. Hey James!

    It sounds like you guys are on a great trip!

    You’ve got yourself a pretty perfect itinerary I think. We loved Palawan, it was such a chilled out island with just enough to do. Not too busy, but not too dead. El Nido was awesome, make sure to do some snorkelling or diving. We highly recommend spending the night on one of the deserted islands surrounding El Nido. We had a boat drop us off at one and we slept under a mosquito net on the sand, brought our own food, snorkelled and had a great time ๐Ÿ™‚

    Port Barton is another cool little beachside town. There’s not nearly as much to do here as in El Nido, but it has some good small restaurants, nice beach, great surrounding islands and a chilled out vibe.

    We also saw the Underground River at Sabang, it’s the newest natural wonder of the world. It was pretty cool, not outstanding, but worth a visit if you have time.

    Have a great time.

    Cheers and happy travels.

  31. As what i read in your blog. it seems that you really love Philippines .as a Filipino i am very happy to read this uplifting kind of blog post. (L) I will include this blog in my Blog roll (Y)

    I am looking forward we can travel together here in Philippines , I have lots of tourist spot that i can recommend you in a low budget.

    Keep in touch! I will Follow your travel. (B)

  32. Hello Jonathan,

    Thanks for the kind words ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, we loved our time travelling in the Philippines! It’s awesome. We’re always looking for new places off the beaten path, it would be great if you could recommend some!


  33. Yawn. Lindsay, you’re entitled to your opinion and welcome to try to convince as many Filipinos as you can to think like yourself, but these people have taken a lot of time and effort to make this blog informative, why do you think it’s ok to use it as a forum for your political/moral beliefs????? Before you go off on one and give unsolicited sanctimonious lectures, try getting over yourself.

  34. Great article guys! You should also go to Cagayan de Oro in the island of Mindanao the next time you visit the Philippines. It’s a great island with plenty of natural resources and outdoor activities.

  35. Hello.
    I would appreciate if you could recommend me a nice place to camp far away from crowds. A nice insolate island to spend a week or so with good snorkeling. Somewhere like Tinaga in Camarines Norte where we spent a wonderfull week. Like there are so many places we don’t want to repeat.
    Thanks a lot for your help.

  36. Hi guys
    My husband and I are travelling next April to Philippines for 21 days.
    Like you suggest, we are interested in camping on an lonely island. Have you heard about any special place.
    Thanks a lot for your help.

  37. Lovely guide for backpackers! The Philippines are very backpacker friendly. Sad is that when we arrived here we couldnt find the hostel scene they have in other Asian countries. So, to get things started, after 1 year of backpacking we opened our own hostel. We would love to meet you here in Boljoon, just 25 minutes from the whale sharks and an ideal spot for island hopping. We have quality dorms, family rooms and privates. Lets keep backpacking! Kind regards, Noordzee Hostel Boljoon

  38. Hello,

    Camping out on an island is a great experience in the Philippines. We did it on an island just off of El Nido. there are quite a few around that area. You just have to talk to a tour agency or a fisherman/boat man and tell him you’d like to be dropped off there for the night. I’d suggest having a cell phone though in case of emergency.

    Have fun!

  39. Hi, I just came across your blog for the first time today because I’m thinking of heading to the Philippines in July. Your post was extremely helpful. Thank you for all of the recommendations. I’ll be back for more advice in the future I’m sure!

  40. Does that cultural tolerance include a respect for Pinoy acceptance of inter-generational dating and love? Apparently not for you, since you categorically reject it as being perversion.

  41. VERRY good place to go Maripipi island
    Go to napo beach resort
    Good room good food room from 500 peso to 2500
    Food 60 peso to 200 peso
    Very nice pool good place to relax

  42. I would like to camp for a few days in Philippines very much. But I’m afraid a bit. Was it safe to camp there? Were you camping with other people, or just two of you?

  43. Is it dangerous for a girl (21 years old) traveling alone backpacking?
    I mean there is a lot of warning about sex tourism but is it dangerous for me ?

  44. It was the two of us and another couple from England. If you are solo, I probably wouldn’t recommend camping in the middle of nowhere by yourself. If it’s a campsite area, then sure.

    Hopefully you can do some camping though as it’s a lot of fun!

  45. Hi Joanie!

    No, you’ll be absolutely fine backpacking by yourself, especially if you stick to the backpacker areas. If you venture off by yourself, all of the typical precautions that you would take anywhere in the world will apply. You don’t have to worry about sex tourism.

    Enjoy the Philippines!

  46. I guess a lot has changed in the 2 years since you guys visited Palawan. We came to Cliffside Cottages specifically because of this post, and because, as adventurous/budget travellers, we wanted to camp on a deserted island in Palawan.

    Unfortunately, no one at Cliffside was able to give us any information whatsoever on camping on the islands, and when we asked around town we were only pointed in the direction of tours that cost 6,000 pesos+ per person – not exactly the easy, budget option we had our hopes set on! Just wanted to let you know this so that any other readers remain informed.

    Cliffside Cottages no longer seems willing and/or able to help with camping expeditions, which are themselves very expensive and not easy to do in Palawan. It’s a shame, as we were very excited for the prospect of camping out on a deserted beach.

  47. The roosters that fight probably live much healthier, happier lives than the McChickens getting chowed down worldwide. Not condonding cock fighting – not condonding McChickens. Just saying.

  48. Hey Guys,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you went there because of this post and had no luck ๐Ÿ™ Really, that’s not good at all. Thanks for sharing your experience on here. We’ve recently had people say that they went and camped on deserted islands in the area, but I’ve also heard that Palawan has changed quite a bit and is more touristy now – which might mean that they’re really pushing for tours.

    Again, sorry you couldn’t experience that adventure and thanks for telling us.

  49. That’s ok, of course it isn’t your fault! A lot can change over 2 or 3 years. And I think El Nido is on its way to tourist central – if it ever gets an airport, I’m sure it will be ruined by overdevelopment. One tour office even told us that you must have a guide “by law” (yeah, right) – so that’s why it was so expensive to camp overnight, because you need to pay the guide for 24 hours or whatever. All these silly “regulations” and tourist fees – that’s the mark of tourism development.

    We just found it really strange that no one at Cliffside seemed to know what we were talking about when we asked about camping, because it seems you had such luck with them. But we stayed there anyways because they were the only budget option we could find in town. And Midtown Bakery is amazing! Did you have their pan de coco? Best thing ever when hot out of the oven!

    Thanks for your reply, and we wish you safe travels now and in the future.

  50. This is an incredible incite in travelling the Philippines! Thanks very much, I am now in the process of convincing my boyfriend we need to add this to our Asia trip this year!

  51. Wow! Tourism is definitely picking up there it seems ….

    haha, yep, loved Midtown Bakery! So good. Glad you guys still found Cliffside to be a budget option though.

    Happy travels and all the best to you ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Hi Mary,

    At the time of writing, the Canadian dollar and the US Dollar were equal, but we were basing this article on Canadian currency.

    When we were travelling there, 1 CAD = 40 Pesos….but now 1 CAD = 34 Pesos!

    the Canadian currency isn’t doing so well, but the US is!

  53. I’m so happy to find this post! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a native here in the Philippines yet I still find this very informative. Thanks for your kind words. I’m travelling to Palawan on April so I’m really excited since it became one of your favorite islands here. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m pretty sure I would enjoy the trip. Heading out to cebu after and still confused where to head to next. Thaks again for a great read! ๐Ÿ™‚ Salamat.

  54. so glad to have found your blog,so informatve and full of joy. am a backpacker from Cebu and i want to try travelling my whole countrty by land anytime this year.

  55. Enjoyed reading about your rum-induced El Nido island stay over at CanadianTraveler, wish we had thought of that! Couldn’t agree more with the items you wrote here too.

  56. Hi Guys…very good article to read,i enjoyed every bit of it.
    Im planning on doing a month in the Philipines next year feb but im getting all my ducks in a row now already. Is it better to take cash or is there sufficient ways to get money? And if i live on a comfortable budget how much would be enough? Im planning on doing Palawan and seeing the rice terraces and atleast one volcano. Surfing and snorkling would make up alot of our time aswell. Im open to any suggestions….thank you!!

    Oh one last thing…will one backpack be enough? Is there spots to get clothes washed and dried at the bungalows?

  57. Hi Hendrik,

    That’s exciting! The Philippines is a great country to travel through. You can bring your ATM debit card and use that at the machines in the country, to withdraw local currency. We always travel with a VISA card and about $300 USD cash, as a back up.

    Yes, there are many places to have your laundry done, you can just ask at your guesthouse. A very comfortable budget would be $50/day – but we travelled to the Philippines on around that for two people ๐Ÿ™‚


  58. My two cents is do not use taxi (expensive) and do not use buses to get around (too crowded). Rent a motorbike and get around wherever you want.
    I stayed in Cebu and traveled around the province to the South: Tumalog falls, Whale Sharks, Moalmoal, Dumanjug. I get there by motorbike myself which I rented in Cebu city for a month for pretty cheap: ceburentalmotorbike. com. They have all the contacts on the web site so good luck! and I really advise you to see whale sharks: unforgettable!

  59. Hi Alice!

    Motorbike is definitely a great way to get around in SE Asia ๐Ÿ™‚ We saw Whale Sharks when we were in Mozambique, and wanted to in Donsol, Phils, but the weather didn’t cooperate and we didn’t see any ๐Ÿ™

  60. Hi! It’s really nice hearing those great comments from you guys. ๐Ÿ™‚ Im from the Philippines. Cheers to all Pinoys out there! I also want to recommend the ENCHANTED RIVER in Surigao, Philippines. You should search for it and see how amazing this place is. It will surely take your breath away.

  61. HI! if your planning to be in cebu in the future and want to try island hopping please contact me for reservation and more information.we are currently in our soft opening and we offer big big discount.
    our boat rental and package tour include snorkeling gear with fin and life jacket..free lunch with bbq party for our package hopping tour..hope to see you soon.thank you..
    kakaotalk: kimdawn2592
    p.s. i also want to go to the enchanted river..the water was very clear and very mysterious.

  62. Hi!
    Unfortunately, I have only 10-12 days free during Christmas and really wanted to visit the Philippines.
    Do you think it makes sense?

  63. Philippines seems to have it all,it’s also a great destination for surfing in such places as Siargao Island, Catandaunes Island,Samar Island, La union, Pagudpud to name a few.It can be fickle but not to worry just kick back into the groove of Filipino time. Bahala Nah! Some other nice layed back spots I’ve encountered over years are Siquijor Island,Camotes Islands and Bantayan Island.Getting there can be on the bangkas can be half the fun but sometimes scarey.
    I can recommend trying to learn some of the language for some of the out of the way places.Some Tagalog and Cebuano can be very handy and is much appreciated by the locals who are overwhelmingly friendly, kind, gentle and caring people.

  64. awesome website guys, been looking at your info on the Philippines as I wasn’t sure where to start. Now have lots of food for thought!!

  65. Hi there goats,

    I have a question about flights. I am flying in to Manila and am planning to check out Palawan(el nido, corn, puerto princess) then to Cebu that general area. Now when you went how did you book flights? What websites or airliners did you use? Do you recommend booking in advance or is it easier to do it while you are there in the country. I am having a hard time finding these famous ‘cheap’ flights.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

  66. Hi Antonio,

    We flew with Zest Air and Air Asia when we were there. You can also check Cebu Air. There may be more now, but those are the ones that I know of ๐Ÿ™‚ You can book online with them.

  67. Deserted islands are great and tons around here.
    Check out some great spots in the Palawan area. Half way between El Nido and Coron, clearest waters in the world, so excellent snorkeling, 52 islands in the area, most of which are deserted, so you can combine with local boat tour and sleep on your own island.

  68. Thank you guys for this amazing articles, btw what do you mean exactly by : Weโ€™d recommend ensuring cellular coverage. And how cheap is the boat?

  69. Greetings from USA, I am looking at living somewhere in the Philippines. I have been there before and love it dearly. Where are some CHEAP beach nipa’s for a incredible sunset? BTW. ….. love your articles โ™ก

  70. Cammotes โ™กโ™กโ™กโ™กโ™ก love it there! Hot water…… lol
    Maybe I should return, don’t yet know where to find home yet there. 8 will find love again!

  71. Mabuhay cousin Lyn, where you you suggest for me to find simple nipa on beach for sunsets? I adore Pinoy & am returning to find my last true love as I will be moving there for good somewhere; )

  72. Depends on where you want to settle ๐Ÿ™‚ You can easily build your own nipa hut I think (not really sure about the policy of this, you might want to research more) or rent one as it is common here ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you like the Philippines.

  73. This blog is so helpful. I recently visited Philippines and was amazed by the beauty of the beaches especially in Visayas and Mindanao regions. Although traffic was crazy especially in Manila and Cebu. Good thing I was able to rent out a motorcycle, which I found out to be available in Cebu, Boracay, and Palawan. ]

  74. We recommend that you have a cell phone with you and that it works out there – you would want to be connected in case anything happened. I don’t remember what we paid actually, you’ll have to negotiate. Cheers.

  75. This was great to read! I just booked my flight yesterday, have never been! I have 2 weeks to explore and just taking a backpack and going! I knew I wanted to see much around Cebu, but this gave me some other ideas, as I’d like to maybe hit 3 islands, and Manila doesn’t interest me, I don’t care for big cities. Great post! Thanks

  76. Nothing compares to the adventures that unfold at Cagayan de Oro City (City of Golden Friendship) ,the white water rafting. Must visit the place also. Rest assured, You will never regret.

  77. This attitude problem is rife amoungst the Back Packing fraternity in particular. I find Back Packer people to be generally nice, sociable people, although a little confused with identity issues, daft hairstyles and clothes etc, but that is their choice and is not offensive. What is quite awful is their narrow minded terrible attitude towards men, those who through no fault of their own, happen to be older, who like attractive young women, as do men of all ages, and who go with girls where a fee is involved. So many people in Asia are just so sick and tired of their nasty, embittered hate and disrespectful slander and name calling of others. It’s sickening. Like some people in Thailand have told me, just ignore them, I know it’s difficult but you won’t change anything by saying anything against it. Unfortunately you just have to put up with it and tolerate the abusive language from the narrow minded. Sad I know, but that’s how things are in the modern western world, where it’s OK for men to go to bed with each other, for a man to bed an old lady, as is his rightful choice, but if you like attractive young women over the age of consent, then you are a pervert. The world has gone ever so slightly mad, and neither of us are likely to be able to change it.

  78. Hello!

    Thank you for an Amazing article! It was very interesting to read.

    Me and my boyfriends are interested/planning to visit Philippines late august-early september. Is it a good idea you Think?
    Also I am very worried because of the kidnapping, terrorist, and decease dangers.. U.S State department published a new warning 21 april 2016 again (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/philippines-travel-warning.html) and I have read that there are many locations of NO GO zones.. We thought of backpacking.

    I will be sincerely grateful if someone would share, reflect, and if you post author would answer on this comment of mine.

    Greetings from Sweden!

  79. Hello Michelle,

    We personally do not listen to the Government warnings, especially the US one. In our opinion, the US is a dangerous country at the moment! So many murders, mass murders, shootings by the police, etc. But yet, it’s not listed as dangerous.

    Obviously, we cannot tell you what to do, where to go, or who to listen to, and you have to do your own due diligence and research.

    Mindano is known for some kidnappings in the Philippines, but the other islands are fine. We loved Palawan, North and South Luzon, and many people go to Cebu as well.

    I hope you enjoy your trip to the Philippines.

  80. Backpacking in the Philippines is the best decision you’ll ever make. The country has a lot of beautiful places to see. The beaches are picturesque and the sunset is amazing. Food is cheaper compared to neighboring Asian countries.

  81. You actually need an onward ticket, otherwise you might get denied at check-in or on immigration check.

  82. Love your post and your writing skills. I love how you explain each and how you took those pictures. It’s so lovely and wonderful. I’m so glad you find Philippines beautiful and amazing. Thank you for sharing your awesome experience here in the Philippines!

  83. The Philippines is beautiful, but the dangerous driving, lack of sidewalks and constant touts have really ruined of for us. Sure it’s beautiful, but its such a pain to move around I’d rather be at home. So sad because the people are friendly and wonderful. Its a shame they have to endure this chaos. ๐Ÿ™

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