Does visiting beautiful islands in the Philippines sound like an interesting idea to you? If so, this is SO understandable!!! The pictures of the beautiful and heavenly beaches with turquoise waters of the Philippine Islands have made us dream for quite some time now. Our dreams became reality for 17 days during which we experienced extraordinary adventures in the heart of the 7641 islands that make up the archipelago.
The Incredible Islands to Visit in the Philippines
If there was only one beach destination to choose from, we would have chosen El Nido (which means The Nest) in the Philippines. This small hamlet on the island of Palawan is what you might call a terrestrial paradise. We went on two boat trips to discover the lagoons, reefs and beaches of the surrounding islands (tours A and C), in addition to relaxing for hours on the pristine white beaches (Lio Beach, Nacpan Beach, Las Cabanas Beach). And to crown our days, we were greeted with sunsets of unbelievable splendor.
After 5 hours of ferry from El Nido, capsizing in the middle of tumultuous waves, we reached another corner of paradise, the peaceful village of Coron, located on the island of Busuanga. This village is named after the island that lies right in front of the village, which also contains the main attractions and reasons why Coron has become so popular.
So we left for 2 days of Island Hopping, during which we swam in a lake (Kayangan Lake) and a lagoon (Twin Lagoon), snorkeled to admire fish and a boat wreck (Reef Garden, Skeleton Wreck, CYC Beach) and gilded on turquoise beaches which made all the beaches in the world look pale in comparison (Malcapuya Beach, Bulog One, Coco Beach).
On the island of Busuanga, we climbed Mount Tapyas, from where we could witness a magnificent sunset over the entire bay of Coron. And to relax our bodies, what more soothing than a dip at Maquinit Hotspring, one of the few salted water hot springs in the world, with water temperatures ranging from 38 to 41 degrees Celsius.
We spent 48 hours on Bohol, an island renowned for its “Chocolate Hills“, which is one of the many natural beauties of the country. There are more than 1200 chocolate hills spread over 50 square kilometres. The latter take their name from the vegetation that turns brown at the end of the dry season. We rented two ATVs and rode across the surroundings of the Chocolate Hills. The children loved it, and so did we!
But Bohol is not just about these hills! This island is full of diversity, sheltering magnificent tropical forests, rice fields as far as the eye can see, idyllic beaches and an extraordinary flora and fauna. Among the fauna, the small tarsiers of the Philippines are the world’ s smallest primates, and one of the most endangered species. They have the particularity of having eyeballs larger than the brain, having the ability to turn their heads over 360 degrees, and committing suicide when they are disturbed by too much noise or when they are touched. They then bang their heads against a hard surface or hold their breath until death.
Cebu is the second most populated urban area in the country, after Manila. It is the oldest city in the country and the place where Magellan landed when he discovered the archipelago and also the place where he was murdered 20 days later, when he sought to claim the island for the Spanish crown.
The weather was not very nice, so we took the opportunity to visit the 7th and 26th largest shopping centres in the world, SM Seaside City Cebu and SM City Cebu. Even though we didn’t buy anything, we walked for hours and hours, tasted local specialties and watched the Lego 2 movie in the theater.
For a better preparation
We divided our 17 days in the Philippines as follows:
- 7 days in El Nido;
- 5 days in Coron;
- 2 days in Tagbilaran, on the island of Bohol;
- 3 days in Cebu.
We reached El Nido by bus after landing in Puerto Princessa. The journey from El Nido to Coron was done by ferry. From Coron to Cebu, we took a domestic flight. Then we boarded another ferry to visit Bohol from Cebu (round trip).
In El Nido and Coron, we moved in tricyles, as a replacement for the tuk-tuk. A tricycle is a 3-wheeled vehicle made up of a motorcycle to which a wrap-around frame is attached, and in which up to 7 passengers can sit. Tricyles differ in shape from one island to another, and can also be customized with different colors, signs or Bible verses.
In Bohol, since the distances were long, we preferred to rent a car. In the big city of Cebu, the Grab application (the Asian Uber) allowed us to save money compared to taxis.
To visit the islands, we boarded these flexible but stable boats, made of bamboo.
I have tasted the balut! It’s a culinary specialty from Southeast Asia, and particularly popular in the Philippines. Some may vomit at the thought of eating a fertilized egg, or rather simply called a fetus. But the taste is not bad at all! The one I ate was 13 days old, so it was still small. Steamed, you drink the broth seasoned with salt, vinegar and chili pepper. Then you swallow the yellow altogether with the chick. The white is a little hard, so you may or may not eat it. And then you drink what’s left of the broth in the egg. It gives men some manhood, they say! The kids were mad at me for a couple of minutes after that.
Filipino cuisine is not bad at all! Among the local specialties, you can enjoy many pork dishes, such as lechon, sisig and tocino. And for the more adventurous, the crocodile that is well prepared can be appetizing!
Our expenses were inflated by our 4 days of Island Hopping in El Nido and Coron (an average of USD 100 per day for the 4 of us). But on second thought, these activities would have cost a lot more elsewhere. Although the cost of living on the islands (El Nido and Coron) is relatively expensive compared to that of the major cities (Cebu), the Philippines remains one of the most affordable countries we have visited, with an average of 30 USD per night for accommodation and 25 USD per day for food, between the 4 of us.
The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 126,600.00 PHP (2,530.98 USD);
- 7,450.00 PHP (148.94 USD) per day;
- 1,860.00 PHP (37.18 USD) per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flight||27,000.00 PHP / 539.78 USD|
|Accomodation||26,200.00 PHP / 523.79 USD|
|Transport (including gas)||25,900.00 PHP / 517.79 USD|
|Eating out||16,700.00 PHP / 333.87 USD|
|Groceries||5,200.00 PHP / 103.96 USD|
|Activities||25,600.00 PHP / 511.79 USD|
|Total||126,600.00 PHP / 2,530.98 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-01-31 to 2019-02-17|
|Number of days||17|
|Cities we visited||El Nido, Coron, Bohol, Cebu|
|Inbound||From Sri Lanka by plane|
|Outbound||To Australia by plane|
|Mode of transport||Rental car, ferry, tricyle|
|Distance travelled (car, bike & foot)||1145 km|
|Number of photos taken||5050 (297 per day)|
|Currency||The Philippine Peso (1.00 USD = 50.02 PHP)|
The Philippines was undoubtedly the island & beach destination that we were most eager to experience during our world trip. And we were not disappointed! The landscapes are breathtaking, the food is good, the people are friendly and the cost of living is low. What more could you ask for?
See you soon on our next adventures in Australia!
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