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Philippines. The big trip. 21.02-06.03.2018 г.

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Philippines. The big trip. 21.02-06.03.2018 г.

Lilia D ” 08 Mar 2018, 23:00

Our independent trip to the Philippines lasted from February 21 to March 6, 2018. It was part of our comprehensive Hong Kong-Macau-Philippines tour, but I will not write about Hong Kong and Macau here, only about the Philippines. There will be many parts and many words))). The itinerary is as follows: 21 February – Mactan Island, Cebu Island, Cebu City, 22 February – Bohol Island, move to Cebu Island and Oslob (Tan Awan) 23 February – Oslob, Moalboal 24 February – Moalboal 25 February – Fly to Palawan Island, move to El Nido. February 26-27 – El Nido. Tours A and C. February 28 – El Nido. Beach Las Cabanas. March 1 – Manila March 2-6 – Borokay Island. There are two of us in our close-knit team – mother and daughter. Duties are strictly separated))). Mother (candidate of geographical sciences) is responsible for the route design, its logic, the saturation of attractions, elaboration of the traffic on which we will travel. Daughter (a business person) is in charge of booking anything and everything, controlling finances, perfect English, and making sure mom is not particularly keen)). We choose flights, hotels together. We could not choose dates of the trip as we had a hard time, but we wanted to see as much as possible, and we would like to have a rest too))); we like all kinds of transportation; we are not afraid to walk about by public transport and at night in strange countries; we would like to make a reasonable trip price; both of us have already visited dozens of countries. From this start, that turned out, I will present below. I will not describe all the attractions in detail, these descriptions are full of the Internet, I will focus more on logistics, the technical side of travel, prices. We actively used google maps and MAPS.ME the whole tour. I will say right away that we did EVERYTHING we planned, and somewhere even exceeded it)). The logistics of the route, in our opinion, was optimal, no traffic jams anywhere, which is even surprising. The Philippines is quite suitable for independent travel, transportation is quite decent, well developed, almost everywhere can be reached. Filipinos are friendly, always ready to help. We traveled around the islands of the Philippines with low-cost airlines. Because there were two of us and the weight limit on those flights was 7 kg, so we paid extra for one piece of luggage up to 20 kg when booking and we redistributed the weight of the suitcases before the flights. This is an extra hassle, but it saves money. Next I will give the prices in rubles, then in pesos, but to translate them into a single currency is not difficult, who will need it (the average peso exchange rate at the time of our trip about 1 peso = 1.1 rubles). All flights, all hotels were booked at home through different reservation sites. February 21 – Island. MAKTAN, Island. SEBU, SEBU. On February 21 (it was the 6th day of our tour) Cebu Pacific and I take a 9:45 flight from Hong Kong to SEBU city. The airfare is 5,894 rubles for 7 kg weight and 7,814 rubles for 20 kg. = 13 708 р. The flight lasts for three hours and at 12:45 we are in the Philippines on a small island. Mactan, part of the Visayan islands, where the international airport of Cebu city is located. These 2 islands are connected by two bridges and Cebu City itself is 15 km away from the airport. The Internet says that you have to pay a fixed fee (Fee) of 550 pesos per person before you go through security. This fee is paid for the use of the airport. In the case of domestic flights within the country it is less, about 200 pesos. We did not pay anything.

The historical island of Delos in Greece

It seems that this fee was already included in the ticket price. From the airport you usually leave by cab. There are two types of taxis: the yellow one is more expensive and the white one is cheaper. Go out of the airport building, where you should take maps of the city, turn right (there are signs) and walk to the door of the departure lounge, there is a white cab stand. Go to the window of a small booth, they write you something like a check and put you in the car. When you get in the counter of the cab in Cebu at once 40 pesos, and then the counter twists and for the passed km, and for the time spent in traffic jams. On average, a cab from the airport to the bus station (South Bus Terminal), Magellan’s Cross, to the piers in Cebu, where the ferries depart for Tagbilaran, will cost 200-250 pesos, drive about half an hour. But we did not need to go straight to Cebu . We wanted to visit the monuments of Magellan and Lapu-Lapu, which are located in the same park called Mactan Shrine on Mactan island. Right from the airport we took a cab to the place where Fernando Magellan died. The park is laid out at the site of the navigator’s death, which happened in 1521. At the entrance to Mactan Shrine there is a chapel next to Magellan’s tomb, which is considered his monument. Magellan was killed by Lapu Lapu, a local chief. Filipinos revere both.)) Magellan for bringing Christianity, Lapu Lapu as a fighter for independence. And a chapel at the site of Magellan’s death, and a monument to Lapu Lapu nearby. Beautiful place, very well maintained, on the beach, definitely worth a visit.

The park is on the opposite side from the bridges on Cebu Island, so our trip is much longer, but it is convenient to visit this place if we don’t have enough time. The cab driver is waiting for us in the parking lot while we walk around the park and take pictures. Back to the cab, we got in and drove now to Cebu Island to our hotel. There was traffic in Cebu, we drove a long time, more standing. In the end the meter read 450 pesos or 508 rubles. I think for a full guided tour, it was not much for two people. Our overnight hotel in Cebu Sampaguita Suites-Plaza Garcia Location Address: Magallanes Street | Plaza Garcia Building, Cebu 1101, Philippines. Cost 1036 rubles. Located in Down Town, there are also in Cebu and Up Town – a more modern area, but for us it is not convenient geographically. I chose the hotel based on its proximity to major attractions, the port, where the ferry to Bohol leaves (Bohol), the Southern Bus Terminal. The hotel is simple, but everything you need is there, checked in immediately, taking a deposit of 500 pesos. The room at the head of the bed on the bedside table is a Bible. Front of the hotel is a McDonald’s, which removes the problem of food))). We took a water boiler and all kinds of instant porridge to save time when it was very little, for meals. After we dropped our things and had a swim, we went to see Cebu City. Cebu City is the second-third by number of inhabitants (about 900 thousand) and the oldest city in the Philippines after the capital Manila. It is almost always completely negative about it. That, in my opinion, is wrong. Quite an ordinary Asian city, with a mix of old and new. With dirt, with smells, with people sleeping in the streets, which is typical for almost all cities in developing Southeast Asia (Singapore is not taken into account). And with the new buildings of banks, supermarkets, offices. Transport Cebu jeepneys and tricycles, and well as cabs. Cebu residents are friendly, friendly, English-speaking, happy to help. Foreigners are still a curiosity, our two blond heads attract attention, but unintrusive. The beggars did not bother us, only a couple of times children came up, but after our negative shaking of the head calmly went away. The main attractions of Cebu are literally right outside the door of our hotel. At the crossroads is the ubiquitous installation “I love (in this case) Cebu”.

Park Guell - the creation of the great Gaudi

Next, the central Independence Square, where the government building and a relic – a cross brought by Magellan (a symbol of Christianity). It is now made into a large cross of yew wood and placed in a chapel.

The Santo Nino main cathedral (Basilica) where the figurine of the Child Jesus brought by Magellan is kept; it was supposedly a lucky talisman for Magellan and he gave it to the local chief as a gift of friendship, but then a great fire destroyed the building where the figure was kept and only the figure remained completely unharmed. When it was found in 1565, the figure was considered a miracle and a church was built in its honor, where it still stands. The new building was built in the 18th century in a mixture of Moorish, Neo-Romanesque and Classical styles.

Many tourists and islanders come daily to the shrine, as it is believed that this crucifix can heal the sick. The cathedral is beautiful, a pleasant courtyard with religious sculptures, there is a place where round red candles are lit, probably in memory of the deceased, many paintings.

The place is very revered and pleasant.

And all around, very beautifully dressed dolls of all sizes are sold, probably symbolizing the infant Christ.

In order to accommodate all the visitors, a so-called “pilgrimage center” was built in the church courtyard.

From the cathedral we went to the Fort of San Pedro, the first Spanish fortress in the Philippines.

There are paintings of the history of the Spaniards in the islands, and a portrait of Magellan,

Next to the sculpture of the conquistador Miguel de Legazpi, who founded the city of Cebu in 1565, where Magellan died. It was from Cebu in the Philippines began to spread of Christianity, the European version of education and other elements of civilization. For a long time the city was the capital of the Philippines until it was moved to Manila. There was a wedding in the fort, and next to it in the park were children’s playgrounds where children were walking and equipment was put up for some kind of concert.

In the park, we saw the monument “OAR 400 years in the Philippines, 1606-2006”. I wondered what kind of OAR it was. In the light of recent events, our Russian Olympians at the Olympics in South Korea have the abbreviation OAR, but that has nothing to do with it))). It’s a monument to the 400-year presence of the Augustinian monks on Philippine soil.

Through the park we went to the port, to Pier 1. On the way there is a beautiful new Catholic church.

Interesting and blue-white-red port administration building, made in the form of a stylized ship.

At the pier we learned about the schedule of ferry to Bohol to Tagbilaran, where we were going tomorrow. We decided that we would buy tickets online. But in vain. The website didn’t open. We had to buy tickets at the ticket office. They only sell tickets with a passport. We did not buy. From the port we went back into the city, hoping to get to the bus station. It turned out to be a long way. We decided that tomorrow we would take a cab, so we wouldn’t have to lug our suitcases around. While walking, got acquainted with the life of Cebu City, went shopping, saw the main street Colon street, saw interesting names of banks, for example, “Bank of the Philippine Islands”. As darkness fell, the vegetable markets and night flower markets unfolded.

Philippines: independent journey

The Philippines: a self-guided trip

This is one of the most fabulous places on earth! Talking about our experience traveling to the Philippines on our own: transportation, food, prices, beaches, cheap accommodation and tips. Read, be inspired and brave the trip in 2022!

Exchange rate: 1 Philippine peso (PHP) ≈ 1.5 RUB.

The Philippines accepts visitors from Russia, but only immunized with a vaccine approved by the WHO. For convenience, we give pre-pandemic prices for flights and tours. Information about visas and flights may not be current, check with official resources. Take a look at the list of open countries.

How to travel independently in the Philippines

Traveling through China: Nanjing

The Philippines is an island nation, so there’s a wide range of transportation – from the usual buses to exotic trailers and jeepneys. Moving between islands is quite convenient – you can almost always get where you need to go by water, air or land.

Water transport

There is no shortage of water transportation in the Philippines: ferries, boats, sailboats, and boats connect the islands. There are both large ferry companies with trustworthy ferries (OceanJet) and small ones (usually their ferries are not in the best condition). There are also hydrofoils and small motor boats that can be used to travel short distances. The cost of the ticket depends on the company and the distance. For example, the price of a Cebu-Tagbilaran ferry ticket with OceanJet is about 400 pesos. Do not forget the port charge of 5 to 25 pesos.

(photo © mayrpamintuan /

Land transportation

Land transportation is even more varied than waterborne. You can take the more usual buses, cabs, trains (around Luzon Island), or risk the more exotic transport typical of the Philippines: tricycles and jeepneys.

Tricycles, or tricycles, are a motorcycle or moped with an attached box for passengers. This method is very common, especially in large cities, and is very cheap – from 7 pesos per kilometer (depending on the city and distance).

Jeepney is one of the most popular ways to travel. It is a mixture of American jeep and minibus without windows and doors. Typically, drivers cover their jeepneys with all sorts of colorful stickers. Definitely worth a ride in such a colorful and unusual form of transport! Jeepneys can be stopped on the road and jumped on the back step or even ride on the roof. The fare is about 8 pesos.

Filipinos also ride motorcycles, sometimes in groups of 5-7 people – I think not every tourist would dare to do that. It’s extreme, you can’t say anything about it.

Buses are mostly used for communication between cities, but can take you to another island (by ferry). There are both comfortable and not so comfortable. In addition, there are a variety of minibuses – a la our shuttles. There are also trains on the island of Luzon, which connect the capital with the northern and southern cities of the island.

traveling to the philippines on your own

If you are used to travel in comfort, then you can always get a cab, besides they are very inexpensive. Or you can rent a car.

(photo © Bangkokcalling /

Air travel

You can easily get around the Philippines on your own by airplane – there are a huge number of airports in the islands. The two largest airports are in Manila and Cebu. They are used for both local flights and international flights. Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Cebu Pacific, low-cost carrier Air Asia and others fly here.

Local flights are available daily from Manila. Popular airlines include Zest Air (Air Asia), Philippine Airlines, AirphilExpress, Cebu Pacific Air, SEAIR.

If you pay a fee on your trip, it may be on the passenger fare. Ask your airline representatives for more information. For example, when we departed from Tagbilaran we had to pay a fee of 100 pesos.

Where to look for cheap tickets? The best way to do this is with the Aviasales and Skyscanner search engines. To find the best price, check with both and see tickets for different dates. Read also for instructions on how to search for cheap airline tickets and how to get to the Philippines cheaply.

Visa to the Philippines

Read about how to get a visa to the Philippines for Russians and how to extend it: a detailed article-instruction, which will be useful both for those who are going to visit the islands, and for travelers who already live there.

High season, rainy season and typhoons in the Philippines

In medieval Alsfeld, the city of Little Red Riding Hood

The high season in the Philippines begins in December – you don’t want to witness the tropical rains and typhoons that hit here from May to November, and wait out the bad weather in a hotel. The sea in season is amazingly clear and inexpressibly beautiful color! In such crystal clear water just to do snorkeling and diving.

Typhoons peak in August, but there is also a risk of them during the high season – for example, we caught Typhoon Melor in mid-December 2015, which hit Luzon. Fortunately, we were on Bantayan Island at that time, 300 km away from the typhoon, and the only thing we saw were clouds and some rain.

Remember that the most “risky” island is considered to be Luzon – more precisely, its northern part, which falls in the so-called typhoon zone. But the more southern the island, the less likely to catch bad weather.

What to see in the Philippines by yourself

If you have planned an independent trip to the Philippines, it is worth getting used to the idea that you will not be able to explore all the islands – there are more than seven thousand. The most popular islands visited by travelers are considered Boracay, Cebu, Luzon, Mindanao, Palawan, Negros, Bohol.

Before you go to the Philippines, you need to decide what you’re going there for: enjoy the sun and sea on the beach, explore the islands, explore the underwater world or sightseeing.

Don’t forget to take out insurance, especially if you plan to rent a bike or engage in active sports.


how to travel independently in the philippines

The most popular among tourists is the island of Boracay. A quick walk around the island, this small island is perfect for a beach holiday. Anyone can enjoy it: there are secluded areas, nightclubs and opportunities for sports (Bulabog Beach is a concentration of windsurfers and kite surfers). The most famous beach is White Beach. On the island there is a mangrove forest (Bakhawan eco-park).

(photo © Just One Way Ticket /


solo to boracay

Many people think it’s the right place to start exploring the Philippines on their own. Often the state capital, Manila, is undeservedly overlooked. And in vain – it is worth at least two days to explore it and the island. In Manila, the first place to explore the historic district of Intramuros, built by the Spanish colonialists, and the business district of Makati. Luzon is known for the amazing mountain resort Baguio and natural attractions – volcanoes Banahoa, Taal and Mayon, rice terraces, Magdalio Waterfall and Sagada Caves.

(photo © tacit requiem (joanneQEscober ) /

The island of Cebu and its satellite islands are home to many hotels, including respectable ones. The island is the second largest and oldest, and there are many historical sites and monuments: the Basilica of Minore del Santo Niño, Last Sapper Chapel, St. Augustine Church, Fort San Pedro, Magellan Monument, and more. Next to Cebu is the wonderful island of Bantayan – great for a measured life and secluded vacation (that’s where we mostly vacationed).


solo trips to the philippines

The most popular among tourists is the island of Boracay. A quick walk around the island, this small island is perfect for a beach holiday. Anyone can enjoy it: there are secluded areas, nightclubs and opportunities for sports (Bulabog Beach is a concentration of windsurfers and kite surfers). The most famous beach is White Beach. On the island there is a mangrove forest (Bakhawan eco-park).

(photo © Just One Way Ticket /


Bohol is worth going to for the famous Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers, scenic waterfalls, caves and a nature reserve. Bohol is surrounded by 70 small islands, which are also interesting to explore. It and its satellite islands are great for diving.

Philippines: solo trips around islands

This, of course, is not the end of interesting islands – we’ve listed you just the most famous. On almost every island you can find something to your liking. If you’re a solo traveler, the Philippines is a delightful place to visit.

(photo © An diabhal glas /

What’s on offer: Food in the Philippines

When you’re traveling on your own in the Philippines, pay special attention to the local cuisine. It differs slightly in different areas of the Philippines. The main ingredient is, of course, rice, since Philippine cuisine is typically Asian. Filipinos love to add to their dishes seafood, tropical fruits, coconut milk and shavings, and a variety of spices (although compared to neighboring Vietnam, Philippine cuisine is sparing to the European stomach). In addition to rice, noodles and vegetables as a side dish are common on the islands.

  • What to try on your own trip to the Philippines:
  • Lechon – spit-roasted suckling pig;
  • Siniganga – clam or shrimp broth flavored with fruit;
  • Carabao – ox meat;
The History of a Fortress. Palanok Castle.

solo trip to the philippines

Kare-kare – soup made of ox tails and much more.

(photo © Roberto Verzo /

As for desserts, they are mostly made of local tropical fruits or rice and coconut: cakes, pastries, ice creams, jams. We recommend the halo-halo (ice cream with fruit), durian candies, rice cakes.

Alcohol: Try Philippine rum, beer, and palm wine.

When traveling in the Philippines on your own, stick to the proverbial rule: eat where the locals eat. This way, you’ll get to know all the traditional local dishes, and the locals’ unpretentious establishments usually have the tastiest food (and prices). And if you’re tired of exotic dishes, you can easily find cafes and restaurants on the islands that offer European cuisine.

  • Prices for food in inexpensive cafes:
  • rice – 10 pesos;
  • grilled pork (3 skewers) – 20 pesos;
  • grilled chicken leg – 45-50 pesos;
  • plate of vegetables – 20 pesos;
  • seafood – 40-50 per plate;
  • Rice with pork and egg from 45 pesos;
  • Instant coffee or tea – 15 pesos;
  • A small soup, from 35 pesos;

Grilled squid – 85 pesos.

Read more in this article about prices in the Philippines.

Accommodation: Hostel or hotel?

Those who go to the Philippines on their own, do not need to worry about lodging – here you will find it in sufficient quantity. Hotels, apartments, bungalows, houses, villas – the choice is impressive! You can search for hotels on Rumguru, but for private accommodation (villas, apartments, etc.) – on Airbnb. Frugal travelers are advised to book an accommodation a little farther from the sea – it will cost much cheaper.

Note that there are almost no hotels in Manila cheaper than $11. We stayed at Wanderers Guest House in the Malate area, a very small and stuffy room without a window with a fan costs 800 pesos for two – very not recommended. Conditions are spartan, bathroom on the floor. Then we wandered the streets and found Chill Out – a very cozy and homely hostel (address: 612 Remedios Street). It has a spacious room with a fan, private bathroom and window for 1200 pesos. You can drink free tea and coffee.

We also stayed in two hotels in Cebu (and both had cockroaches). The first is the Cebu Elicon House for 1,050 pesos, has a bathroom and air conditioning, but Wi-Fi only in the lobby. The address is P. Del Rosario Cebu City.

what to try in the philippines: food

The most popular among tourists is the island of Boracay. A quick walk around the island, this small island is perfect for a beach holiday. Anyone can enjoy it: there are secluded areas, nightclubs and opportunities for sports (Bulabog Beach is a concentration of windsurfers and kite surfers). The most famous beach is White Beach. On the island there is a mangrove forest (Bakhawan eco-park).

(photo © Just One Way Ticket /

Withdrawing money in the Philippines

Before our trip, we gathered information on which ATMs in the Philippines you can withdraw money from without a fee. It turned out that all ATMs charge 200 pesos except Citibank (but only for bank customers; limit is 15 thousand pesos). The maximum amount that ATMs give out is mostly 10 thousand pesos at a time. According to some reviews, you can withdraw 20,000 pesos from BPI (we checked it out at Cebu airport), BDO can withdraw cash in US dollars, and HSBC can give up to 40,000 pesos (we didn’t have such an ATM and couldn’t check the information).

Telecommunications and mobile Internet in the Philippines

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