Nine nights in the Philippines
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Feb 4, 2012 4:53 AM Last Post By: gregs3071
Jan 25, 2012 2:24 PM
Nine nights in the PhilippinesHello,
My girlfriend and I arrive in Manila Feb 24 and depart March 4 so only have 9 nights in the Philippines. I'm trying to figure out how we can best maximize our time. If feasible we are interested in getting off the beaten path, doing some island hopping and hiking. Even potentially a multi-day excursion for either of those activities if it were possible and worthwhile. I've been considering two options so far.
Heading straight to El Nido but prefer to avoid the expense of the direct flight. My thought is we could fly into Puerto Princesa then bus/van to El Nido from there but is it crazy to spend a day that way given our time constraints? El Nido looks incredible but could we do just as well somewhere we can fly direct to more cost effectively? Given the El Nido choice how worthwhile is it to then somehow make our way by boat to Coron (after hanging out a few days on the beach/hiking etc.) and fly back to Manila from there? I had been looking into an El Nido to Coron boat trip with Tao Philippines which could have been an awesome way to make that journey but they are totally booked. Is there any other way to island hop our way to Coron from El Nido perhaps staying a night or two on islands along the way? Haven't seen many options online for this sort of thing other than Tao Philippines. I'm game to just hire a boat upon arrival if that's an option but won't have any camping gear so not sure what my options are for overnight island hopping in that area if any exist at all.
The second option I am less clear on. If not able to make it to El Nido we figured why not try and swim with the whale sharks so could head to Cebu perhaps find somewhere in the area to do that then proceed to island hopping/hiking around there before heading back to Manila. Any specific suggestions for where to go in the area? Would we be better off flying to Legazpi and heading to Donsol to do this? Cebu seemed like the more well rounded choice if just heading to one place but I'm really not too sure. Lastly Boracay seems the most convenient but also the most resort like so would probably prefer to get somewhere that felt a little more like our own tropical paradise adventure. Again is hiring a boat for multi-day island hopping or trekking an option in any of these places?
Any recommendations on the feasibility of either option given our time constraints as well as more specifically which islands to visit for the second option would be much appreciated.
Thanks so much for your help!
Jan 25, 2012 3:32 PM
1you can find whale sharks in sogod bay, leyte, which is the island to the north of cebu. leyte & it's neighbour samar are pretty well off-the-beaten-track. you may be able to do some trekking there
you can also find whale sharks off oslob which is in the south of cebu. tours from dumaguete on the neighbouring island of negros are also visiting oslob according to some recent posts. siquijor & bohol are also nearby which opens up island hopping opportunities
Jan 25, 2012 7:16 PM
Jan 25, 2012 9:54 PM
3Depending on when you arrive and when you leave you may lose a day either side. I would definitely recommend scheduling the night before your flight out to stay in Manila, if your domestic flight or transport were delayed or cancelled you would be screwed and miss your international flight.
So based on that you have either 7 nights or 8 nights, it's not very long to see what you want to. As mentioned already travelling here can be very slow and frustrating and transport doesn't always link up where you expect it to.
Realistically, if you do the El Nido to Coron route, the Tao Philippines trip is 5 days/4 nights, so you aren't going to be left with much time. Especially as depending on the time of your flight into Puerto Princesa will determine if you can get to El Nido the same day. You would need to factor in a night or two in El Nido before the Tao trip and a night in Coron afterwards and a night in Manila, so there is almost all your time gone.
Your best option I think would be to fly down to Bohol, go to Panglao, hire a bike and do some tours, dolphin watching, snorkelling and then get the fast ferry to Dumaguete and try and do the whaleshark trip to Oslob from there. Then fly Dumaguete back to Manila for a night before your flight out.
Being realistic, this is all you are going to be able to fit into that short a time.
Edited by: loubbylou
Jan 26, 2012 1:54 AM
Jan 26, 2012 6:19 AM
5Ah getting off the beaten track. El Nido is certainly not off the beaten track even though it takes some time to get there. You can get there from PP in about 6 hours, minivans leave in morning about 7am and cost 700pesos each person. Beware things in the PI do not always go to plan and flights can be cancelled esp. if there is heavy rain.
Jan 26, 2012 1:25 PM
6Hmm ok thanks for the responses everyone that definitely helps. The Panglao/Dumaguete option you outlined is intriguing loubbylou, as is the aswang but we're Canadian and spend enough time getting hassled by bigfoot up in the mountains so forget dealing with vampires on our beach vacation. I like the easy access to Panglao/Dumaguete given our time constraints but am wondering if it might be more developed than we are after. I realize the off the beaten track thing may come across as a bit cliche and quite relative but for example during my Thai travels I have really enjoyed Koh Tao (sai ree beach) over Koh Samui (chaweng beach) or for Indonesia the Gili Islands (Trawangan) over Bali (Kuta). I suppose the relative size of the islands is likely also part of the equation. I'm sure people would question my definition of getting off the beaten track with those examples but what I loved about Gili T was the option to stay at a quiet beach bungalow a little further up on the east side of the island making it feel somewhat secluded even given the development further south along the coast combined with the general laid back vibe of the entire place. Koh Tao seemed to have this as well even given its increasing development.
I'm going to look further into the Lyte/Samar option you proposed gregs, Samar looks awesome and abundant with treks but I have yet to nail down where specifically would be best to set up shop and what exactly getting around would look like for that route.
Also a good reminder about the uncertainty surrounding increased travel time Herbie but I've gotta say I also always seem drawn back to El Nido/Coron for some reason. I came across Abandon Paradise Expedition (http://cect.webs.com/) in Coron on one of the other posts and it looks like an interesting option. Does anyone know anything about these guys? I think spending a few days doing something rugged like this followed by a few days at a nice resort would be perfect for us. Anyhow like I said I can appreciate the more realistic approach you suggested loubbylou and I'm sure if we went for that we'd still have an awesome time.
Any further insights are greatly appreciated!
Jan 26, 2012 9:43 PM
7TurbRubFud, if you want not as touristy as Panglao, then another option is to drop that and get a return flight to Dumaguete. You can then get the ferry to Siquijor as others suggested. Siquijor is relatively quiet and you can have fun on a motorbike - the island is really easy to explore, with waterfalls and nice beaches. Lots of local life too. Then back to Dumaguete by ferry and do the whaleshark watching trip to Oslob. Or if you want a more deserted beach on Bohol, skip Panglao and go to Anda beach instead, further east then to Dumaguete for the whaleshark watching.
Leyte and Samar is going to involve a lot of travelling time, this is time you really don't have! Travelling in the Philippines is not as easy as travel in Thailand, the transport links just aren't as good and where a journey you think should take 3 hours looking at a map, in reality it can take 8-12 hours.
Jan 27, 2012 1:05 AM
8The problem with Coron is getting there, there is a ferry from El Nido but times in the PI can slip, have you heard about filipino time (rubber time) everything is late, much will depend on the weather, also PI ferries are not the most reliable in the world.
Yes I got caught in Palawan form Port Barton to Sabang about 120 kms took over 9 hours. (First jeepney's engine blew-up after 4kms, next bus broke down after 10 kms but fixed after about 20mins, next puncture after about 20 kms, 2nd punture after another 10kms or so, arrived at Sanang junction at 4pm after leaving Port Barton at 8am, took tricycle to Sabang as not sure if any more transport and many people allready waiting, arrived at Sabang at about 5.20pm.
Public transport on Palawan is slow and not that reliable, if you can afford it you can take minivans which are quicker, more reliable and AC.
Jan 27, 2012 2:05 AM
9go to Anda beach instead
oh yes, anda is very quiet & very beautiful. well worth taking the time to tour the ancient caves there (burial caves, shaman's caves, trader's caves, etc). there's a lot more to bohol than just panglao
camiguin is also worth serious consideration. it's about a 2 hour boat ride from anda, or a longer ferry journey from jagna. technically it is part of mindanao but it is an island unto itself & is safe to visit
Feb 1, 2012 2:08 PM
10Dumaguete to Siquijor does appear to be a pretty prime option. Camiguin looks awesome too but maybe too much travel time if we are looking to incorporate a stop off to see the whale sharks in Oslob? If not this really appeals to me. Would flying either into or out of Cagayan de Oro make this more feasible?
What about Donsol to see the whale sharks and then heading to Caramoan? Does anyone have any input on this region or similar routes? If not Caramoan anywhere else worth seeing in the area given our timeframe?
Feb 3, 2012 12:08 AM
Feb 3, 2012 12:35 PM
12Ok cool many thanks for all the excellent advice. So I think it'll be Manila to Dumaguete, attempt to see the whale sharks in Oslob then either head down to Siquijor or across to Anda and potentially from there on to Camiguin if we are feeling really ambitious and as though we haven't done enough traveling around already.
Based on what I've seen trying to get from Dumaguete to Camiguin through Anda in one day is probably overly ambitious but Dumaguete to Anda in a day should be doable right? Approx 2 hour boat ride to Taglibaran from Dumaguete then 2 hours on the bus from Taglibaran to Anda? Assuming the schedules all lined up perfectly it seems as though another 2 hours to Camiguin wouldn't be so bad but from what I've read about Philippines travel this is probably no can do'sville. If this Camiguin leg were to come together it then seems flying Cagayan de Oro back to Manila for the flight home is the way to go?
Feb 3, 2012 12:49 PM
Feb 4, 2012 4:02 AM
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