The Philippines is an incredibly beautiful country and a tropical paradise in Southeast Asia with amazing beaches, stunning coastlines, islands, lagoons and coral reefs. With a huge selection of surfing spots, diving areas and tropical rain forests, planning a Philippines itinerary to an undiscovered paradise is not a simple task. The choice of places makes it quite a task to squeeze everything you want to see into 2 weeks in the Philippines.
Although the Philippines is not the largest Southeast Asian country (it is a little larger than Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam) its geographical layout makes it slightly more challenging to get around.
While there are lots of things to do in Manila, there’s also 7107 islands in the Philippines.
So, if you want to explore thoroughly, you will need more than 2 weeks in the Philippines to cover the whole country.
Two months might be closer to the mark!
Travel blogger Krasen Jelyazkov from JourneyBeyondTheHorizon spent 25 days in the Philippines in February with his wife, Ying Ying, and two kids (aged 6 and 9) and the whole family loved it!
So, if you have only two weeks to travel around the Philippines, start in Manila and follow this Philippines itinerary (2 weeks) to discover some of the most beautiful islands in Southeast Asia.
- Useful tips for your Philippines itinerary
- Best time to visit the Philippines
- How to get around the Philippines
- Philippines Accommodation
- Communications in the Philippines
- Philippines Itinerary (2 weeks)
- Day 1: Manila
- Day 2: Manila to Batangas
- Day 3: Caticlan to Boracay
- Day 4: Boracay to Bacolod
- Day 5: Bacolod and Bais
- Day 6: Bais to Siquijor
- Day 7: Siquijor
- Day 8: Larena to Tagbilaran
- Day 9: Bohol
- Day 10: Cebu City
- Day 11: Surigao to Siargao
- Day 12: Siargao
- Day 13: Siargao
- Day 14: Siargao to Manila
Useful tips for your Philippines itinerary
This Philippines itinerary is perfect if you’re looking for an adventure with plenty of activities and want to see places in the Philippines that are off the beaten track.
We planned it so that we could see as much as possible, yet have enough downtime for our Philippines itinerary to be an enjoyable experience.
My Philippines itinerary is for people who are looking to explore rather than stay in one place.
Best time to visit the Philippines
There are two main seasons to travel but keep in mind that the weather in the Philippines doesn’t always behave itself.
The best season to visit is during the dry season, from December to April, when there might be occasional short rainy periods but plenty of blue skies.
Stay away from the rainy season during the rest of the year, when rains are longer and stronger.
Make sure not to visit the Philippines during typhoon season as typhoons can disrupt your holiday and cause havoc to local transport.
Even though this is the low season when prices are much cheaper, it’s not worth taking the risk as ferry services are often suspended during a typhoon.
Another place to visit in the Philippines is the little-known island of Marinduque.
How to get around the Philippines
This Philippines itinerary is a journey on land and across the water, using local buses and boats.
The main transport on land for this Philippines itinerary is by bus and, fortunately, there are a lot of buses and bus stations along the route.
You will use buses from Manila to Batangas, from Caticlan to Iloilo, from Bacolod to Bais and from Bais to Dumaguete.
The main bus company in the Philippines is Ceres, which has yellow buses everywhere.
You can pay for your ticket over the counter or directly to the driver when you board the bus.
Usually, you by seat, so if you’re travelling with a toddler who will sit on your lap insist on paying per seat.
Ship, ferry and boat
This is the main form of transport between the islands in the Philippines.
You will travel by water from Batangas to Caticlan, from Caticlan to Boracay and back, from Iloilo to Bacolod, from Dumaguete to Siquijor, from Larena to Tagbilaran, from Tagbilaran to Cebu, from Cebu to Surigao and from Surigao to Dapa (Siargao).
Usually, you don’t need to buy tickets in advance but for the longer trips, especially when spending a night on the board, it is advisable to book ahead.
You can buy online tickets between Batangas and Caticlan from here.
Other shipping companies, operating in most of the other routes on your itinerary are OceanJet, Montenegro, Cokalion and Medallion.
There is also a terminal fee in every port, where you board the vessel (15-20 PHP), with the exception of the boat from Caticlan to Boracay and back (100 PHP).
One of the cheapest and most attractive forms of local transport in the Philippines is the jeepney, which is a mix between a military jeep and a city bus.
Travelling by jeepney itself is an attraction as it is one of the symbols of the Philippines.
Jeepneys are usually richly decorated.
You sit inside with the locals, pay your fare to the driver (usually between 8 and 15 PHP within a city) and enjoy.
They have their own routes (the starting and ending points are usually displayed) but it’s safer to just ask the driver whether is it going to where you want.
A tricycle is another attractive way of travelling like a local and sometimes the only way to travel from a bus station or pier to your hotel or other destination.
Tricycles are everywhere and the only public transport on the islands of Boracay, Siquijor (with an exception of some private jeepneys and a few small local buses, running only in the morning) and Siargao.
Beware as they often try to charge foreigners more than the locals (1 km should not cost more than 50 PHP, so bargain hard).
Taxis are more comfortable than jeepneys and tricycles and are not expensive.
Taxi fares start from 40 PHP and for a few km you can expect to pay no more than 200 PHP.
It is highly advisable you take a taxi with a meter, if possible, and avoid the exorbitant prices of taxes around the piers and bus stations.
This is the best private transport around Siquijor, Bohol and Siargao islands.
We rode around in two scooters for two adults and two children without a problem; of course, you just need to be careful.
You can rent scooters from almost every hotel for 350 to 500 PHP.
Riding a scooter will give you the freedom and independence to explore wherever and whenever you want.
The Philippines has a range of hotels for all budgets, from luxury to the cheapest budget options.
Cheap hotels and hostels are usually between 800 and 2000 PHP.
From our experience, I’d advise not to book options which require payment in advance to account for public transport mishaps.
It’s only too easy to miss the last speed boat for the day or the last bus, so if you don’t arrive at your hotel getting a refund can be problematic.
We had one such experience and I had to write to Agoda and they had to communicate with the hotel.
Involving both parties agree to cancel my booking and refund the money was a long and complicated procedure.
In many places, you can usually find accommodation options when you arrive at the destination without booking in advance but don’t try that during high season.
Airbnb is also popular in the Philippines and it is not expensive.
Again, just try to avoid payment in advance.
Communications in the Philippines
The internet in the Philippines is very low quality.
Most of the hotels offer WiFi but it is not stable, with lots of interruptions especially in the evening.
Mobile internet is painfully slow (you can wait minutes to open a single page if it opens at all).
The best internet is in Manila and Cebu.
The two main operators are Globe and Smart but keep in mind if you have a Smart card, you can’t call Globe numbers (at least it was our experience).
However, if you have a Globe card, you can call Smart, as far as I know.
Philippines Itinerary (2 weeks)
So, with all this in mind, are you ready to plan a Philippines itinerary for 2 weeks from Manila to Siargao?
Day 1: Manila
The first thing to do in Manila is to store your luggage at your hotel and take a walk around the capital, especially if this is your first visit to the Philippines.
Walk the streets around your hotel, buy something from a local supermarket and take some photos. Just soak up the atmosphere of the city.
Makati and Ayala Museum
This is the modern centre of Manila.
Manila is not a single city but a conglomerate of many cities joined in one large urban area and Makati is one of those areas.
If your accommodation is not in Makati, take a light rail (if there is a railway station nearby), taxi or jeepney to Ayala Triangle – a nice garden with restaurants in the middle of the centre.
Visit Ayala Museum, where you can learn a lot about the culture and history of the Philippines and enjoy the park and restaurants.
Day 2: Manila to Batangas
Spend the first half of the day exploring Intramuros the travel by bus to Batangas and take the ferry to Caticlan, the starting point of visiting Boracay.
It is a kind of “Old town”, where you will see a few churches including the impressive Manila Cathedral as well as lovely houses, small gardens and shops.
There are a few places where you can rent a bicycle and explore this place by bike (for 100 PHP per hour).
The most historical part of Intramuros is Fort Santiago which has a beautiful garden with a pond.
Walk on the fortress walls and visit the Rizal Museum (Entrance fee: 80 PHP), dedicated to this famous national hero of the Philippines.
Exit Intramuros through its southern gate.
Next to it is Rizal Park, with a large map of the Philippines, which is interesting to look at.
There are also two large museums on both sides – The National Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Fine Arts.
You can see monuments, gardens, children playgrounds and many other things making this park a nice place to walk.
Bus to Batangas
At noon, grab your luggage and head to Buendia Bus Station to board the bus to Batangas.
It’s a two-hour ride and the final bus stop is at Batangas port, where you can buy a ferry ticket to Boracay for the 9 pm ferry (800 PHP is the cheapest, open-air class).
Day 3: Caticlan to Boracay
Travel from Caticlan to Boracay, where you spend the rest of the day.
Early in the morning, you arrive in Caticlan Jetty Port.
Today is time to chill out in the most famous place in the Philippines, Boracay.
What makes it famous and is its beaches, which has the purest white sand and nightlife to enjoy a party.
Boracay used to be a quite dirty place until last year when the government closed it for a few months to undertake a massive cleanup of the island.
Now there are restrictions that allow no more than 20,000 visitors on the island.
You need to make your hotel reservation in advance, as it will be checked at the Caticlan Jetty Port before you are allowed to board the ferry. There is a 100PHP terminal and environmental fee for every visitor.
The boat arrives in Boracay in 15 minutes (there are boats every 10 minutes in both directions).
When you arrive, take a tricycle to your accommodation and leave your luggage there while you explore Boracay for the rest of the day.
The island is long and narrow, with beaches on both sides, only a few minutes walk from the main road.
If you’re after more than the beach, head for the hilly area in the north and visit Puka Shell Beach.
At night, enjoy the nightlife in the centre or on the beach.
Day 4: Boracay to Bacolod
Travel day from Boracay to Bacolod via Iloilo by bus
Leave Boracay early in the morning via the port of Boracay to Caticlan Jetty Port, where you will see the yellow buses of Ceres in front of the pier.
The buses for Iloilo leave every 20 minutes in the morning (330 PHP).
The trip to Iloilo is around six hours (with stops in a few places, including Kalibo, and a stop for lunch).
From Iloilo bus station, take a tricycle or a taxi (we got a taxi for around 200 PHP) to Iloilo port, which is on Iloilo River.
There are speed boats to Bacolod every hour or so (250 PHP).
Spend the night in Bacolod, the main city on Negros Island.
Day 5: Bacolod and Bais
Spend the first half of the day exploring the points of interest in Bacolod then take the bus to Bais.
Bacolod’s most famous landmark is called The Ruins (Entrance fee: 100 PHP), once a mansion of a rich and noble family who lived in it during the early 20th century.
During World War II, it was destroyed by guerillas and these days only its walls remain, although, there is a lovely garden.
Make sure you’re at the South Bus Station by noon to catch the bus to Dumaguete, which stops in Bais.
The trip to Bais is around five hours, with a few stops on the road.
Bais is a small town with a few hotels and AirBnBs.
One of the things to do here is the Manjuyod Sandbar cruise for the next day.
Day 6: Bais to Siquijor
This is the day to discover one of the most beautiful destinations of the whole itinerary, Manjuyod Sandbar, which is an 8km long strip of sand that becomes exposed during low tide.
It’s like a shoal just up to your knees, with crystal clear sea water. Read more about our Manjuyod Sandbar cruise.
After a Manjuyod Sandbar cruise in the morning, catch the bus to Dumaguete followed by a speed boat to Siquijor Island.
Bais to Siquijor
You need to go to the pier early in the morning to get to the sandbar by boat, a trip that needs to be organised the day before.
The cost of hiring a small boat (for five people) is 2500 PHP and the trip to the sandbar is only 10 minutes.
The boatman just waits for you as you enjoy watching the sea lap on the sand in the morning, walk along the shoal like in “Interstellar” movie or relax in the boat.
Make sure you’re back to Bais at noon to catch the bus (80 PHP) to Dumaguete.
The bus ride takes about an hour and the bus drops you at the port, where you get the speed boat to Siquijor (120 PHP).
At Siquijor, there are three towns I’d recommend staying at – San Juan, Lazi and Maria – all are close to some of Siquijor’s points of interest. We stayed in Lazi near Cambugahay Waterfalls.
Day 7: Siquijor
Stay two nights: explore the island, beaches, waterfalls and other interesting places.
Siquijor Island is as a beautiful and mysterious place, a tropical paradise full of natural places to enjoy.
So, the first thing to do is to rent a scooter to explore the island.
The best beaches in Siquijor are on its south coast, especially near San Juan.
Check out Paliton Beach, Tubod Beach and Ocean Front.
There is another beach, which is famous for its diving opportunities- it is Salagdoong Beach on the eastern coast.
The interior of the island also has lots to explore, including waterfalls such as Cambugahay Waterfalls, tropical forest, caves such as Sambulawan Cave and the famous Underground River.
Day 8: Larena to Tagbilaran
How to travel from Larena to Tagbilaran
Ocean Jet leaves Larena at 12:30, which gives you a little more time in the morning to enjoy Siquijor.
The speed boat from Larena to Tagbilaran costs 700 PHP and arrives in Tagbilaran at around 2.30 pm.
Tagbilaran is the main city in Bohol Island, one of the most exotic islands in the Philippines, and a starting point to explore the island.
Then you can use the rest of the day visiting a small neighbouring island, called Panglao, where you can enjoy some excellent beaches, including a small cave at the seacoast- Hinagdanan Cave.
Day 9: Bohol
Explore Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River cruise, Python Sanctuary and a few other places.
There are two main options – touring by scooter (500 PHP for 24 hours) or by tricycle (around 1500 PHP) but we found a tricycle for 1200 PHP.
Start your trip at Chocolate Hills (Entrance fee: 50 PHP) in the interior of Bohol Island. These hills are karst formations covered by grass and named for its soft brown colour in April.
On the road back to Tagbilaran, stop at the Tarsier Sanctuary (Entrance fee: 60 PHP) to see the tarsiers (small mammals that are part of the monkey family).
These cute mammals have big eyes. They spend most of the day hanging around in their trees and hunt at night in the nearby forest.
The Man-Made Forest is a wild looking forest planted by humans. Then you arrive at the next stop Loboc River, which is a good spot to take a lunch cruise (500 PHP) for delicious local food and live music.
The Python Sanctuary is a good spot to see the pythons and other animals, which are typical of this island.
Baclayon Church is an old and beautiful building while another historic site, Blood Compact, is a small memorial dedicated to the peace agreement between the Spaniards and the locals in the 16th century.
You’ll be back in Tagbilaran just in time to catch the last speed boat to Cebu (400 PHP), which leaves at 630 pm and arrives in Cebu two hours later.
Day 10: Cebu City
Visit Santo Nino Church, Magellan Cross, Fort San Pedro and other house-museums. Travel to Surigao in the evening.
This day’s theme is more historical as Cebu is not only one of the largest cities in the Philippines but it’s also the oldest city in the country.
Here you can see the oldest street, the oldest church, as well as many other places which take you right back into history.
Start in the historic centre, which is easy to explore on foot. Walk along Colon Street, which was the first street built in the Philippines, the head to Santo Nino Church, the oldest in the country where you can see the Magellan’s Cross.
Ferdinand Magellan was the famous Portuguese navigator who died in Cebu.
Then visit Fort San Pedro, which is the first Spanish military fortress in the Philippines. It’s now a lovely museum with a nice garden.
Finally, head north to Casa Gorordo, Yap-Santiago House and The Heritage of Cebu, which is a large historical memorial.
In the evening, head to the port and board the ferry to Surigao (from 820 PHP). It’s an overnight trip and it’s best to book your berth in advance at the Cokaliong or Medallion offices.
Day 11: Surigao to Siargao
Arrive in Surigao and take a speed boat to Dapa on Siargao Island.
The boat arrives at Surigao in the morning, where you board a speed boat to Dapa in Siargao (there’s an early boat departing at 5.30 am and arriving in Siargao at 8 am).
All that travelling will be worth it once you arrive at Siargao, which is the most stunning tropical paradise.
Siargao, or Palm Island, is also the surfing capital of the Philippines.
You don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy the island either
The best place to stay in Siargao is the resort town of General Luna. Catch a tricycle to your hotel and rent a scooter while you’re there (350 to 500 PHP per day).
One place not to miss is the famous surfing spot, Cloud 9, and if you’re there in September, the huge waves and surfing championships are amazing to watch.
Of course, if you’re a surfer you’ll be a paradise you’ll never want to leave!
Head north for about an hour past coconut plantations to Magpupungko (Entrance fee: 50 PHP), which is a stunning region with coastal rock pools, excellent diving, swimming and cliff jumping.
It’s must-visit place in Siargao but don’t go too late or the tide might be too high. Because catching the lower tide is better for this place.
Back at General Luna, stop in the middle of the road, turn of the light of your scooter and enjoy the cosmic view of the night sky before heading back to your hotel.
Day 12: Siargao
Bucas Grande (Sohoton) day cruise visiting caves, lagoons and wildlife sanctuaries.
There so many things to do in Siargao, you do need to stay weeks to enjoy it all.
If you only have a short time, one of the best things to experience during your short stay is a cruise to Sohoton Cove National Park on Bucas Grande Island.
Boat trips can be arranged at the General Luna pier (but make sure to do it the night before or at least not later than 6.30 am!). Hiring a boat for five people costs 3500 PHP and it takes 2.5 hours to get to the destination.,
Once you’re there, you’ll be in an incredibly beautiful lagoon with a labyrinth of water canals and a hilly island covered in lush rainforest.
Explore three caves, which will transport you into another world, and visit the Jellyfish Sanctuary where you can swim safely with thousands of jellyfish.
Day 13: Siargao
As Siargao has some of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines, exploring several islands should be on your agenda.
Go on a three-island hopping adventure visiting Guyam, Daku and Naked Island.
The three islands hopping adventure starts at General Luna pier in the morning. A small boat costs 1500 PHP and will take you to three stunning islets southeast of Siargao.
Guyam, Daku and Naked islands
Guyam Island is a small island with coconut palms that can be explored on foot in five minutes.
Daku Island is larger and covered with a forest of coconut palms. There’s a small village near the coast and lovely beaches with crystal clear water.
Naked Island is a sandbar in the middle of the sea, with nothing but sand and a great place to feel like Robinson Crusoe.
Day 14: Siargao to Manila
This is the saddest day of the trip when you have to leave this amazing tropical paradise.
All that travel by bus and by boat is an adventure you’ll always remember but the return trip to Manila is a flight from Sayak Airport.
Two weeks exploring the Philippines is on my Philippine itinerary is an unforgettable experience and although some of the local transport may sound challenging, the most difficult part of this itinerary is leaving this incredibly beautiful paradise.
Krasen Jelyazkov (from Bulgaria) and his wife Ying Ying (from China) live in China and share their travels on Journey Beyond the Horizon aims to inspire people to explore places off the beaten track. Liebster Award a few months ago.