The Philippines is a country made up out of 7641 islands with the clearest azure blue oceans and pristine white sand beaches. However, It has much more to offer than just beaches. You can find incredible diving, surfing, beautiful rice terraces and hiking. I also found the culture very different from the rest of South-East Asia. The Filipino culture is heavily influenced by the Spanish and the people are extremely welcoming and warm.
My ideal Philippines travel route will take you to a few different islands. If you’re planning on seeing this many islands, long travel days unfortunately can’t be avoided. You’ll note the many ferries/buses and planes in this itinerary.
Philippines Travel route for 4 weeks:
Manila- 1 day
It’s highly likely that you’ll fly into Manila. You can consider flying straight to your first destination, but for me it was cheapest to fly to Manila first. I only had enough time for a quick walking tour before moving on, but I’d say it was enough. Considering all the beautiful places to visit, you don’t want to waste too many days in Manila.
Place to stay In Manila:
Lub D Makati: This hostel is quiet and clean and in a neighborhood with lots of nice food options. It would also be a great space for digital nomads, as it also has a co-working space.
Z hostel: If you’re looking for a hostel that is a little more lively, then stay at Z hostel. They have more social activities and great rooftop parties.
Flight from Manila to Busuanga Airport
Coron – 2 days
From Manilla I flew into Busuanga airport. There are mini vans that will leave once they fill up. You will pay a set fee off 250 php to take you to any hostel/hotel in Coron.
When you think of the Philippines you think of pristine beaches and blue water. This is exactly what you’ll get in Coron. The easiest way to see all the spots around this area is by booking an island hopping tour. I also wrote an article about everything there is to do in Coron and all the stops of the islands tour: what to do in Coron
Wondering where to stay in Coron?
Bam Bam Hostel: This Hostel is situated right in the center of town and the staff was very helpful. All the rooms have air-conditioning, which is very needed in the Philippines. There’s a lovely courtyard outside with different restaurants and live music at times. The music never bothered me, because they always stopped before it got too late. Something to keep in mind though, if you prefer a more quiet place.
The Funny Lion: Looking for a more luxurious experience? Have a look at the funny lion. They have lovely rooms, a fantastic pool and very helpful staff.
Ferry from Coron to El Nido
El Nido- 2 days
From Coron you can take a ferry to El Nido. There’s another island hopping tour to do, pretty beaches and a climb up tar raw cliff are some of the activities that should be on your list. This spot is pretty touristy and similar to Coron, so we decided to move on after hitting the most famous spots.
Where to stay in El Nido:
Frendz Hostel: If you’re looking for a social hostel in the center of town, this is the one!
Fisheye the Rooms: If you’re looking for a nice apartment in the center of town, this is the one!
Puerto Princesa – 1 day
I didn’t actually spend any time in Puerto Princessa, but my flight to Cebu departed from here. I did here that the Iwahig prison there is interesting to visit.
Flight from puerto Princessa to Cebu
and Ferry from Cebu to to Ormoc, Leyte
Van from Ormoc to Maasin, change to jeepney to Padre Burgos. It is easy to travel by public transport until 6pm. Travel duration is approximately 3.5hr
Peters dive resort in Leyte – 3 days
After some research, I found that this is the absolute best spot to snorkel with whale sharks. It’s a more ethical destination then Oslob, where the whales are fed and crowded by hundreds of people. At Peters dive resort they go with one boat, with a maximum of 12 people. They allow you to snorkel with the whale sharks, but you have to keep your distance and they limit the time to 30 min per whale shark. You are not allowed to swim in front of them, so they don’t feel crowded. I got incredibly lucky and got to swim with two different whale sharks that both stuck around for 30 min.
Night Ferry from Hilongos to Cebu
Bus from Cebu to Maya Port
Ferry from Maya Port to Malapascua
Malapascua – 3 days
Malapascua is famous for the diving, especially with Thresher sharks. The thresher sharks can be seen year round. I decided to get my advanced open water license here, so had to stay for 3 days. I was lucky enough to see the sharks on several occasions. There’s many dive spots that are worth the trip. However, if you’re not a diver, this may be a stop I’d skip.
Where to Stay in Malapascua?
Most dive schools are located along the Bounty Beach coast. Diving days usually start quite early, so a hotel/hostel on the beach would be ideal
OceanVida Beach and Dive Resort: This beautiful resort is right on Bounty beach and also offers diving courses. It books up pretty fast, so make sure to get your reservation in time.
Malapascua Budget inn: Looking for a budget option? This hostel has just redone their common area and the staff is very friendly. It’s simple, but has what you need if you’re traveling on a tight budget.
Ferry from Malapascua to Maya Port
Bus from Maya Port to Cebu
Bus from Cebu to Moalboal
Moalboal- 4 days
Moalboal was one of my favorite stops in the Philippines, despite it being very touristy. Its the perfect base to explore from, as there are many adventure activities nearby. Waterfalls, hikes and diving are all on the list. My absolute favorite thing to do was to go snorkeling early morning and see the turtles and schools of sardines only 15 meters from the coastline. I wrote a travel guide to Moalboal with all the info you need, including how to find the snorkeling spot!
Where to stay in Moalboal:
Crazy Bears This was my favorite hostel in Moalboal. It was super clean, nice facilities and friendly staff. There is a nice social area as well. Although there are other hostels that organize more social activities, it’s a good place to chill.
Hangover Hostel. This hostel was little more chaotic, but friendly people. They organize a bit more evening activities, which makes it easy to meet people. They have a free family dinner every Sunday and have a bit more of a party vibe.
If you’re looking for a nice private room instead of the hostel experience, have a look at Harman Suites. It has the perfect location with a beach view and located on the Main Street with all the restaurants and bars.
Siquijor- 3 days
Siquijor is a small, but beautiful island just below Cebu. It has many waterfalls to visit, with Cambugahay Falls being the most famous ones. Besides that, it has great snorkeling spots. It’s a great little getaway. Not quite off the beaten track, but off the main travel route.
Where to stay in Malapascua?
Tagbaloyon Lodging house: This is a great budget option, close to Tibod beach. This beach is wonderful for snorkeling. If you’re lucky you can see turtles here!
Fable hostel: This was the hostel I stayed at. It’s well organized, has a nice common area and its located on the side of the island that has lots to visit. You can rent a scooter for them, which you’ll definitely need to get around.
Siargao- 5 days
Imagine a remote island that’s full of stunning palm trees, beautiful beaches and it’s a perfect surf destination! It’s pretty far out of the usual route, so many people choose to skip it. If you do manage to make your way over there, it will absolutely be worth it. The island is becoming increasingly popular and evolving rapidly so in a few years the experience might be completely different.
If you are curious, you can find my 1 week itinerary for Siargao here.
Where to Stay in Siargao?
Alpas Hostel: I loved staying at Alpas! The owner and staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and made all of us feel so welcome. There’s both the option to stay in a dorm and private.
Mao Mao Surf: If you’re a couple, that wants a romantic cabin on the beach, this might be the spot for you!