Text page


Philippines forum

3 - 4 weeks in Phillipines

Posted by nickolt on 15/11/2010 at 11:55

Hello everyone.

My bf and I are beginning our trip of SE Asia/China in the Phillipines. We land in Manila on January 8th at 12:55 am. Do you guys have an advice on how safe it will be taking a taxi to a hotel/guesthouse/hostel at this time at night?? Also, any advice on which guesthouse might provide airport pickup at that time, or is easier to get to.

The places we are interested in seeing are Manila for a few days (3 at the most I think), the Cordillera region, Palawan, and possibly Bohol or Donsol.

In the Cordillera, we are interested in Sagada and Banuae specifically. Any other places in the area that are worth checking out? Does 6 days sound like enough time?

For Palawan, we want to do El Nido, Coron, Puerto Princesa. Any other reccomended places? We want to give at least 10 days to Palawan in total.

Now, what are you opinions on Donsol and Bohol. What do you think is the better option between the two, or do you think we shouldnt even include either of them? I am really interested in swimming with the whale sharks in Donsol, however I know its not really peak season for them when we are there (end of January) so I dont want to be disappointed with not seeing them. Is Donsol beautiful enough that its worth it even if we dont see the whalesharks?

Any other places you think might be worth checking out within our timeframe are appreciated as well.

One more question ! If you have an route advice for getting between these places, that would be appreciated as well.

Thanks in advance guys, I know there are a ton of questions in this post.

#1 nickolt has been a member since 25/10/2010. Posts: 21

Posted by goonistik on 15/11/2010 at 17:54

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Times}p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Times; min-height: 14.0px}Hi!

At that time of day, you are probably better off taking the coupon taxi at the airport. I recommend you stay in Makati as it is close to the airport and the airport taxi fee is lower.
For backpacker accommodations, "Our melting pot" hostel has been getting positive reviews in the net.

IMHO, 6 days in the cordilleras is rushing it. There areas are remote and involve long bus trips. 7 days is better but 8-10 days seems like a better pace. Between Banaue and Sagada, my friends and I prefer Sagada. I cannot describe the relaxed idyllic atmosphere of the place.

If you like to trek,you can climb Mt.Pulag. There is a company that offers whitewater rafting and kayaking in Tuguegarao. That Kayak/rafting trip was awesome. I'm dying to do it again.
But you will need to spend several more days to these things.

Take the overnight Manila-Banaue bus. Be sure to take anti-motion sickness tablets. I normally don't get motion sickness but the Halsema pass has some crazy bends. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling dizzy from all the twists and turns the bus was making.

Once you get off the bus, you can look for a place to stay and than walk to the tourist office and ask about a trip to Battad. Spend maybe 2 days in Banaue.

Take the jeepney to Bontoc. They were cementing the road so it might be fully paved by now. But I did bring along a 3m dust mask because the provincial roads can get dusty. Beautiful views on this road.

At Bontoc, you take another jeep to go to Sagada.
Spend time in Sagada. I recommend the cave connection. (LOL. You'll probably kill me for recommending that)

When you are through with Sagada, take the bus to Baguio. (6 hour trip). Unless you want to spend 6 hours or more on the bus, spend a day in Baguio, before heading out to Manila.

The alternative is: From Sagada, take the jeep to Bontoc and than take a bus to Manila (12-13 hours on the bus. Yikes!).

If you are coming from Baguio, you can consider stopping off at Angeles city, Pampanga. This is where Anhtony Bourdain went for his show "No reservations." This is the jump-off point to tour mount pinatubo or to take a river tour. Especially now, the migratory birds have flown in for the winter and are roosting in Candaba.

As for your concerns about Donsol: Donsol is in the province of Sorsogon. No matter what province you go to in the Philippines, there will always be a beautiful spot to visit.

#2 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 563

Posted by JiroIsCounting on 23/12/2010 at 15:42

Unless you know someone in the Philippines, you must not travel alone outside the city of Manila....

Sad to say, this country is beautiful but due to some people have tainted the natural beauty of this 7,100 islands.....

I dont recommend you go to Cordillera region, visayas and mindanao unless you have a local friend there...

Be sure to check your embassy for current announcement regarding travelling to the Philippines.

Manila in general is busy...Busy and fast....You must stay in Makati area and Ortigas area in Manila only....Dont dare to go other places.....

Good Luck and Travel Safe

#3 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24

Posted by boxee on 23/12/2010 at 19:58


are u from the phillpines , if not what has made u say that phili is not a safe place


#4 boxee has been a member since 26/3/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 131

Posted by JiroIsCounting on 27/12/2010 at 08:57

@ boxee

no im not...but i stayed there before...

i did not say Philippines is not a safe place. What I said is "Unless you know someone in the Philippines, you must not travel alone outside the city of Manila"

That country is beautiful and I admire it...Manilenos are friendly....There are some places you should avoid and not dare to go to....If you will do a 'lil research on the net, you will find what I said is correct....

Due to politics this beautiful country lost its charm and reputation as one of the most beautiful country in Asia...Pilipinos in general are friendly, and they speak English well since thats their second language ( FYI: Philippines, i believe they are in the 5th spot - counrtries with most people who speaks English).

I can recommend the following places:

01. Ortigas and Makati Area in Manila ( shopping, dining, night life)
02. Subic Bay (SBMA), Olongapo City (golf, beach, shopping,night life,eco tourism) -btw Subic Bay is where the US Naval Base sits before......this is city is CLEAN and not crowded..This place is A OK.2 hour bus trip from Manila...
03.Boracay ( nothing special , only beaches and a lot of tourist -Asians,English,Americans,Aussies)
04. PALAWAN - an island outside Manila (eco tourism, tarsiers, monkeys, preserved forests,beaches )
05. Bohol - outside Manila ( only chocolate hills )

I advise to get prior bookings to hotels around Makati Area or Ortigas Area ....and let the hotel arrange for an airport pick up...or you can ride the Airport Taxi (not the local ones)......Taxis in Manila can rip your money off.....WHY? because fuel now in Philippines cost too much-traffic jams are really heavy.....thats why most taxis in Manila now uses LPG....YUP! LPG tank..like the one use for cooking....

Oh by the way.... Manila is a place for shopping.....and i mean shopping......every intersections along EDSA (big highway in Manila) have malls....and not just a mall..but BIG MALLS....and last time i went there they just opened the largest mall in ASIA--- name is Mall of Asia...it is located along Roxas BLVD...and built under the areas of water filled with soils.....lols...imagine .....putting soil embankment on water just to build a MALL......hehehe.....

To conclude......Manila is a fast place and Philippines is a beautiful country.....your trip will be better if you will plan it and have a local travel agency advise you and help you....

Have fun and travel safe....

#5 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24

Posted by JiroIsCounting on 27/12/2010 at 09:54

I must add :

01. Travel Warnings from U.S.Department of State ( Thats why I advised to check your local travel advisory from your embassy in the Philippines). Pls. have a look...



02. If your really want to visit Philippines and places mentioned, I think 3-4 weeks is not enough.....I should suggest the following :

-Arrival Manila Airport ( prior to your arrival you should have booked hotels and asked them for an Airport pickup )...i believe that there are no backpackers area in Manila.....In Makati and Ortigas there are few hotels much cheaper than 5 stars....I will not name names...

-In Manila (i assumed you stay in Ortigas and Makati area), you can do a 'lil shopping, dining, clubbing and relaxing..you have Shangrila, SM Mega Mall, Robinsons, Rustans, Rockwell for shopping & dining...there are many malls..i forgot the names of the new ones...
You can ride a taxi or MRT depends on your location... I will not suggest your ride the local bus...

-In Manila you can book a flight to Puerto Princessa, Palawan...via Cebu Pacific or Phil. Airlines...

-or you can go Bohol and Banaue, Sagada furst since these areas are on the Northern Part....

-January is not the right time to go whale watching....currents drive the whales away from that area Donsol...summer is the best time....
-I forgot to say...you maybe intereste to consider to go to Kalibo,Aklan for the Ati-Atihan Festival...thats on January...
- After your Northern Area travels...you can go back Manila (your basepoint) and have take a bus to Subic Bay,Olongapo for resorts, golf, dining, shopping, relax, scuba diving, eco tourism.....you will not be dissapointed with this place...then come back Manila for your next international flight...

#6 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24

Posted by goonistik on 27/12/2010 at 10:09

Dear Jirolscounting,

If you believed everything in those travel advisories, you would never leave the USA. They are written by bureaucrats whose attitude is "cover your ass" so that they cannot be accused of being negligent.

The best travel advisory comes from informed locals who can appraise travelers about the real situation.

You are entitled to your opinion but I regret that I must respectfully disagree with you about the safety and security of the Philippines.

#7 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 563

Posted by JiroIsCounting on 27/12/2010 at 15:30


I assumed your are a Filipino (are you staying in Australia now?).
Did you read the entire transcript of the links i mentioned in my previous post ?

I dont believe easily on everything I read from the net, seen from the news, and read from the paper. I research and compare and see for myself.

The point is, what is the intention of those travel advisories?

They were not written by bureaucrats nor it is not the opinion of one person. Those T.A. are prepared by not only one individual who GOOGLEs his homework and post something on the net the next day.

Those TA are prepared and made by group of people who dedicate themeselves to do public service and help and advise people with no cost involved for the betterment & safety of everyone.....It is based on research and investigation - based on facts and based on their own resouces.....Not based on the results from a random Google search.

If you read carefully, the TA advise and suggest the travelers and expats working, living in the Philippines to exercise extreme caution only to selected areas in the Philippines.

Any country can be dangerous, proper education and updated knowledge about the country you want to travel to is necessary. Its how you will adopt and how prepare you are and informed...

Never did I say that Philippines is not safe in general....There are areas travelers should avoid and not dare to come to and I consider not safe....

Consider the following latest link(25 December 2010) from your local News Channel in the Philippines...



Sad to say, i somewhat hurt your feelings and got emotional with my posts....

Philippines is composed of more than 7,107 islands , thus it is impossible not to pick one place to go to to which is not safe and beautiful..........

".....like any country, my country can be comparable to yours....the only difference is we dont speak the same language......"


#8 JiroIsCounting has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 24

Posted by mindanao on 12/9/2011 at 02:10

i did not say Philippines is not a safe place. What I said is "Unless you know someone in the Philippines, you must not travel alone outside the city of Manila" -what a ridilicous statement -so ur saying manila is safer than every other art of phils?i know many travellers that have gone to different islands around phils and havent had any problem ,ive been to mindanao several times which is supposed to be most dangerous place on earth according to travel advisories -how about some of the people who write them actually go there then and see for themselves?.

#9 mindanao has been a member since 12/9/2011. Posts: 19

Posted by touristdriver on 12/11/2011 at 13:03

you seems like smart person but it seems you don't know much about philippines. there are lots of inns, guesthouse, backpacker's lodge in manila and i believe cordillera is the safest place for a foreigner to be.

#10 touristdriver has been a member since 12/11/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by KevandJho on 13/11/2011 at 19:42

I love parts of your itenerary, especially the part where you want to commit ten days to Palawan. I've been there and really loved Coron, El Nido, Sabang and to a lesser extent Puerto Princessa.

Coron and El Nido present world class snorkeling/diving possibilities....utterly amazing!Five days and some island hopping around El Nido could possibly supply you several photo albums of great pictures.
The "underground river" in Sabang is a must see and well worth a day trip.

Although I've never been there, friends rave about the beauty of Bohol.
As for Manila, I would cut at least a day off and limit it to one or two, but that just me.
I'm not crazy about big cities.

Hope you have a great trip!!

#11 KevandJho has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 65

Posted by KevandJho on 13/11/2011 at 20:37

Geographically you have a lot of ground to cover, so hopefully you will be flying to most destinations or you will be on the road a lot.

Seems to me that you have a north segment to cover and a south segment, with Manila being somewhere in the middle.
If I were to do this trip.....

I would fly from Manila to Buswanga/Coron. From there you can take about a six hour boat ride to El Nido. From El Nido you can bus it right down to Puerto Princessa, stopping any where along the way, Once in PP, you can do a day trip to "the Underground River" near Sabang and then back to PP the same day. After PP you can fly to Bohol, but may have to go to Cebu first to get a connecting flight. From Bohol you would then fly back to Manila to start the North portion of your trip. I know this route very well as we did it all the way to Cebu, but not onto Bohol.

The Boat trip between Coron and El Nido will eat up sometime and the bus trip between El Nido and PP was about 4-5 hours but had some intresting sights in some parts.

Onto the North....

Not sure about the closest airport to Sagada and Banuae , however, I do know that planes fly to Baguio. If you do this part by road miles you will be spending a way too much time in the bus.

Plane trips in the Philippines are realitivly cheap (compared to other countries) however, I guess it all comes down to your budget and how much time you want to spend riding a bus.

Hope this north/south strategy helps.

#12 KevandJho has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 65

Posted by KevandJho on 13/11/2011 at 20:41

Sorry about this...[fred color=rgb(36, 121, 148)

Seems to happen when you do a cut and paste and once it's there I can't seem to edit it out???

#13 KevandJho has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 65

Posted by stoneman on 15/11/2011 at 05:29

"tons of questions" that can easily be answered by google. A wealth of info out there, you just have to press a few keys eg travel blogs, accom. - tripadvisor, general questions - travelfish, travellerspoint, virtual tourist for travel guides and accessing forums. If not, consult a travel agency.

#14 stoneman has been a member since 8/5/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 100

Posted by joyce888 on 25/10/2012 at 03:32

Jirols Counting- Dont you know that Visayas Region is safer that Metro Manila? Infact the country's top tourist destinations can be found in Visayas like Boracay, Bohol, Cebu and Negros. Visit any of those places mentioned once for you to find out .

#15 joyce888 has been a member since 25/10/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by enigmatic on 25/10/2012 at 05:54

Everything I've heard about the Philippines suggests the opposite: locals are ludicrously friendly except in Manila, which is home to most of the scam artists and muggers (still a tiny minority, but a tiny minority that's very active in being initially friendly to approaching tourists).

Even the previously off-limits areas in rural Mindanao and Sulu might be improving; since the terrorist organization responsible for the attacks on journalists and officials declared a ceasefire more recently than the US State Department updated their website.

In Coron right now; couldn't feel much safer and that's despite the fact that I'm in a bar on stilts over sea and there's a typhoon passing.

#16 enigmatic has been a member since 14/4/2011. Posts: 84

Posted by luxxpress on 8/7/2013 at 21:29

philippines is a nice country to travel! have a nice and safe trip :)


www.luxxpress.com - travel bus from la to vegas

#17 luxxpress has been a member since 8/7/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by kampleverma on 20/11/2013 at 05:03

its good to know about philippines country tour

#18 kampleverma has been a member since 20/11/2013. Posts: 1

Please login to add your reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a post to the forum. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.