Philippines

The Philippines was the first country that we landed in and knew we would return.  It is that impressive, offering paradise in many places.  Sadly it is left off of most traveler’s itineraries, as beach time is owned by Thailand and Indonesia.  The Philippines makes a Thai beach seem like Long Island, and is much less touristy than Indonesia.  To see spectacular wildlife, beautiful beaches and interesting culture (including mummies), the Philippines will consistently surprise.  Make time to visit the Philippines and you will find yourself coming back, as will we.

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DON’T MISS: An island-hopping tour from El Nido.
MUST SEE:Palawan, Coron, Negros, the Cordillera in Luzon (Sagada, Banaue)
MUST TASTE: Roast pork and chicken.  Anthony Bourdain rates lechon pork from the Philippines as the world’s best pork and this is a man who knows his pig.

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TRIP PLANNING: Plan for a week to see any one major island (i.e. Palawan, Negros, Cebu, Luzon).  If you go to Palawan, go to El Nido, then take a multi-day cruise around Coron.  Scuba divers should spend a lot of time choosing locations to visit as there are many otherworldly dive sites scattered throughout the archipelago.
GETTING AROUND: Cebu Pacific has incredibly cheap fares from other parts of Asia to the Philippines and island-to-island in the Philippines.  You can fly from $20 between islands, especially if you plan ahead.

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OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $81.65
COST OF A BEER: $1 for a Red Horse, but be careful, it’s strong beer!
KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: Avoid the tourist islands of Boracay and Bohol, they are great for sunning yourself, but are similar to islands of Thailand and Indonesia and charge more for their built out tourist infrastructure.

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YOU NEED TO KNOW: Travel across islands can be difficult and time-consuming.  Fly when possible using Cebu Pacific and Zest Air.
IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would not go to Bohol.
HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: Travelfish Phillippines forum, Lonely Planet Philippines, TripAdvisor Philippines.  Any suggestions?  Please let us know, we had a hard time finding good resources, so send them our way!

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WE WERE THERE FOR: 3 weeks
OUR HIGHLIGHT: Waking up to the sound of the ocean from our $17/night beachfront bungalow in El Nido (Tandikan Cottages).
WHERE WE WENT: Puerto Princesa and El Nido (Palawan), Bohol, Panglao, Luzon (Manila, Sagada, Banue, Bontoc, Baguio)
WE REGRET MISSING: Malapascua and Negros Occidental

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Philippines Highlights

Short on time? The highlight reel of 3 weeks in the Philippines including gorgeous beaches, stunning sunsets, climbing for coconuts, tribal warriors, burning graves and more. Tour the Philippines in 29 photos!

29 Photos

Palawan

Palawan is composed of the long and narrow Palawan Island, plus a number of other smaller islands surrounding the main island. The capital of Palawan is Puerto Princesa, but the star is El Nido; a gorgeous beach town with nothing to do but soak in the views and relax sea side. The highlight of our time in the Philippines was this stunning island and the friendly, smiling people.

19 Photos

Banaue

Banaue features 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." They are a sight to behold and well worth the long journey to Northern Luzon to see them. The terraces are still planted today and you can see locals working the terraced fields, which it is said if they were extended end to end would encircle half the globe!

17 Photos

Bohol-Panglao

Bohol is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of Bohol Island and 75 minor surrounding islands. Its capital is Tagbilaran City. With a land area of 1,589.68 square miles and a coastline of162 miles long, Bohol is the tenth largest island of the Philippines. It is known for tarsiers, which are the creatures that inspired E.T., chocolate mountains and beautiful beaches.

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Sagada

Sagada is a mountain retreat tucked up in Northern Luzon, famous for its "hanging coffins," which is a traditional way of burying people that is still utilized. Not everyone is qualified to be buried this way; one had to, among other things, be married, have grandchildren and sacrifice more than 20 chickens and pigs for the honor to be buried in this way. We loved our time in Sagada and were lucky enough to be there during All Souls Day, similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico or Halloween in the U.S.

24 Photos

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