Philippines 10 day itinerary - Palawan
Over Easter I spent 10 days island hopping in Palawan. Before I start, I cannot stress this enough. It is not long enough!! Every place you go to you will want to stay longer, if possible do try to extend, but if not, this is what I did and I do think I made the most of the time I had. You could also do this trip in reverse order depending on costs of internal flights. This is the rough outline of my route as well as some general tips I picked up in my short time in the Philippines. When I started writing this blog it was a 15 minute read! So I have split it into parts. Read the others here:
I decided to choose Palawan as I didn't have much time and wanted to see a few different places without spending the whole 10 days travelling. I also wanted to save costs and not fly everywhere so Palawan seemed like the perfect choice as I was able to fly into one end of the island and out of the other. The Philippines isn't the easiest place to get around as the 7000+ islands are really spread out, so if you do plan to explore more, make sure to budget for domestic flights or be prepared for 20+ hour ferry journeys!
Day 1 - London - Manila (flight with Air China Layover in Beijing only £320!!)
Manila - Coron (Flights with Cebu Pacific)
Day 2 - Coron private tour stayed at Hop Hostel.
Day 3 - Overnight tour with Red Carabao.
Day 4 - Ferry to El Nido. Explored El Nido town. Stayed at Spin Hostel (4 nights).
Day 5 - Zipline and beach day at Las Cabanas.
Day 6 - Tour A with Paradise Tours.
Day 7 - Return bus to Nacpan beach.
Day 8 - Bus to Port Barton, boat trip to White beach. Stayed at Ausan Beach cottages.
Day 9 - Coco beach, bus to Puerta Princessa. Flight to Manila. Over night at Manila Home stay.
Day 10 - Flight from Manila to London
Coron is a cluster of picturesque islands including a sleepy little fishing town named Coron Town Proper. Not much to do during the day unless you get out on a boat but it becomes a different place at night. A mix of backpackers, holiday makers and locals squeezed into the few bars that the town has to offer. The boat tours showcase picture perfect views everywhere you look with world class diving and some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. For more information check out my ultimate guide to Coron here.
El Nido is a bit more built up than Coron and has more of a 'strip' of bars and restaurants in the town. The beaches in the town are not great but there are plenty of others a short trike ride away. I found the water to be much clearer here than it was in Coron and again make sure to get out on at least one boat tour if not more to see the real beauty of the place. You can read my guide to El Nido here.
The quietest of the places I visited on my trip to the Philippines but still has plenty to offer. Electricity isn't available 24 hours in all places (including fans) so thats something to check when booking accom, but there are lots of boats trips and other activities to do which are much cheaper than in the more built up areas. A short post on my time in Port Barton can be read here.
I wasn't planning to write about Manila as I wasn't there long enough to explore, but I just have to mention NomadsMNL Backpackers Homestay which was the perfect place to stay between flights. Advertised as a hostel but each person/ couple has their own room. There is a shared bathroom and kitchen stocked with snacks and the hosts even picked me up from the airport and dropped me back there at 4am for about half the price of a taxi!
Tips for travelling the Philippines
Double rum and coke is cheaper than single, as mixer is more expensive than rum. Rum, Rum, Rum (triple rum and coke) is the cheapest thing to drink in the bars.
San Miguel light is also a local drink (brewed in the Philippines) one of the cheapest beers and less calories than normal beer. The other option is Red Horse but be careful of these as the alcohol is not regulated so you may feel the effects far quicker than a normal beer.
I didn't really feel the need to haggle much in the Philippines, it seems that most prices are set and they value honesty with some places even offering an honesty payment system where you can leave money and take change for items you want to buy.
Bring a refillable water bottle with you as many places don't allow you to bring plastic. There are plenty of places to fill up water even in the restaurants if you ask nicely.
Try banana cues - fried bananas usually served on a stick, there is also a similar version using sweet potato.
Wifi is not as reliable in the Philippines as it is in the rest of Asia. If you you can't live without it, it is possible to buy a local sim card for around 1000 pesos (£14ish) which will give you 16gb of data which is more than enough. However even the signal can be pretty shocking in some places so go without if you can.
Don't be surprised if you are not given a knife with your meal, locals usually use their hands or just a fork, sometimes you may be given a spoon but I never quite worked out what to do with it.
Roosters are everywhere and are extremely loud, earplugs may be a good idea!
As with any backpacking trip my advice is pack what you think you need then take out half! Think about how many times you will be packing and repacking this bag and also that you will be carrying it around in 30 degree heat. Leave the straighteners at home!
Dry bag and/or waterproof phone case are pretty much essential for boat trips but are sold all over so you can pick these up when you get there.
Some places will only allow reef safe suncream but do be careful because in my experience it does not work! Do your research into brands before you go or make sure to reapply regularly especially if you are super pale like me!
On this, the Philippine sun is like no other place I have been! I used factor 50 every day and still managed to get burnt so just be extra careful even if it is cloudy.
Like most islands, expect everything to run a bit later than advertised. Filipinos are very laid back and it's best just to embrace it.
Bring extra layers for ferries and bus journeys as the air con can get freezing!
A lot of places don't have toilet roll so bring your own from the hotel but remember not to flush it!
Filipinos love to entertain, every guide I met tried to sing or perform in some way they are really amongst the most welcoming people I have met so be sure to be just as friendly.
Make the most of every minute you have on this beautiful group of islands!