Philippines: 2 Week Itinerary

I arrived in the Philippines at the start of the rain season (end of May-beginning of June) so I decided to only stay for 2 weeks despite wanting to stay forever and explore all that the Philippines has to offer. One of the top things I wanted to do here was get my PADI Open Water Diving certification and island hop in El Nido. I didn’t have my itinerary booked before I came so it definitely changed quite a bit as I travelled. I was also not expecting to spend as long as I did in Moalboal but after having a few nightmare hostel experiences I needed to chill out for a week and pull myself together before heading out again. After all the adjustments and bumps along the way, this is what my two weeks in the Philippines ended up looking like:

Cebu City x 1 night
Moalboal x 8 nights
Puerto Princesa x 1 night
El Nido x 3 nights
Puerto Princesa x 1 night

CEBU CITY 1 NIGHT
Where I stayed: Ayo Homtel

I landed in Cebu from Singapore late at night so I wanted to find a place to sleep close to the airport just for the night. I ended up staying on Lapu Lapu (the island where the airport is located). It was only a 15 minute taxi drive away and my hostel, although extremely empty, was nice. Definitely a fine place to stay for the night before or after a flight but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re planning on spending any longer in the area as there isn’t much nearby.

My next stop was Moalboal. There are a few options on ways you can get to Moalboal from Cebu: you can take a taxi, rent a car or take the public bus. Because I had the time and did not have the money I decided to figure out how to take the bus. I had to take a taxi from my hostel to the bus station but once there I was able to take the cheapest bus for less than $2 to Moalboal.

MOALBOAL 8 NIGHTS
Where I ended up staying: Cebu Dive Centre

Most backpackers don’t spend as long as I did in Moalboal, especially if they’re not diving. Usually it’s a 2 night stop to do some snorkelling and then people are off to Oslob and Bohol. Even I, doing my PADI Open Water course, didn’t expect to spend as long as I did in Moalboal.

It all started a few hours after I arrived. I had gone for dinner with a girl I met at my hostel and was cleaning up some of my stuff when I saw a little critter crawl around the floor. After sleeping in a hostel with bed bugs in Singapore, I investigated and my insides crawled when I saw that this little fucker was also indeed a bed bug. I told some other people staying in my room and to my surprise a girl on a top bunk had said that she found two bed bugs in her bed this morning. Then while we were talking about this I saw ANOTHER one crawl across my bed. If you don’t know about bed bugs then you need to read my post here to find out more about them because they are most definitely something you want to avoid on your travels and well, all the time.

I quickly grabbed my things and went to tell the manager that I wanted a refund and that there were bed bugs everywhere. Although very nice and mostly accommodating, they told me that they knew there was bed bugs earlier that week and thought they were all gone! At this point it was late at night and I was not sure what to do with my things or where to sleep. I started by taking my flashlight and inspecting every inch of my bag, clothes, everything. After this, the girl I went for dinner with and I walked down the street to see if there was any other place to sleep. The Philippines is a developing country and our hostel was in a very quiet area and I didn’t know the neighbourhood very well yet. After walking in the dark for about 10 minutes we realized that everything was closed. Luckily for her she was doing a tour that left early in the morning so she wasn’t too concerned about finding a place to sleep – at this point I didn’t really care either as I didn’t necessarily have important things to do the next day. We went back to the hostel and my first night in Moalboal was spent sleeping on a bench outside the hostel.

Surprisingly I got a decent 5-6 hour sleep and didn’t feel too bad the next day! Then my loving partner got me a hotel for the night to clean up, feel refreshed and give me some time to find a place to sleep for the next few nights. I ended up talking to my dive school and staying right at the dive resort. It was absolutely perfect and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I even had the place to myself for a few nights and it was so easy being right above the dive shop. If you are heading to Moalboal to go diving then I would highly recommend Cebu Dive Centre. I had done a LOT of research about the most reputable, cheapest and best diving location and found this centre and it most definitely did not disappoint!

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I decided to stay at the dive centre a few days after I finished the course to explore the area and relax a bit. I was able to do a day trip to Oslob to see the whale sharks as well as take a scooter to Kawasan Falls and do some hiking. It was a great place to base myself and still explore a lot of Cebu island.

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PUERTO PRINCESA 1 NIGHT
Where I stayed: Sheebang Hostel 

I really enjoyed my short time in Puerto Princesa. It felt much more authentic than many of the other places I had been to so far. I liked that everyone was just busy living their regular lives there without tourism everywhere. The hostel I stayed at was fine for just one night and had a great restaurant on site too.

EL NIDO 3 NIGHTS
Where I stayed: Outpost Beach Hostel

Sadly for me, it rained a lot when I was in El Nido. From what I did experience it was a magical place with much to see and do, and would be even more wonderful during the dry season.

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My only recommendation for El Nido would be to splurge on accommodation as prices are generally higher here yet the standards are lower. So if you want something that’s clean and has running water then this isn’t the place to chose the cheapest hostel there is. The hostel I stayed at was very clean, had hot water and was a “party hostel” but was also very expensive. Since I was a solo traveller on a budget this hostel would not be one I would go to again. There were a few issues – it was farther away from the city, making it more difficult to get around especially since I didn’t ride a scooter. The wifi also never worked so it was difficult to make plans and decide on what to do in El Nido. It was also right on the water without really a beach until sunset when the ride went down.. some days you would even need to walk through the water past your knees to get in and out of the hostel.

That being said, this was the view every night at sunset…

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So I mean really.. what more could you ask for?

PUERTO PRINCESA 1 NIGHT
Where I stayed: Sheebang Hostel

My last night in the Philippines was spent back in Puerto Princesa. I stayed at the same hostel as I had before and again just explored the neighbouring areas. Aaaand I also went and got my nails done for $5 🙂

I’m on a long journey to see as much of the world as possible so it’s not often that I’ll say I really want to go back to a place I’ve already been. The Phillipines is definitely a place I would like to return to over and over again. I fell in love with both it’s people, spirit, and underwater world and can’t wait to come back and see even more.

xx, S

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