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Backpacking to the Philippines

Do you want to spend a real adventure holiday in the South China Sea, which you can combine with an attractive nightlife, great dives and relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world? Then you’ve come to the right place in the Philippines. You can expect 7107 islands on your trip, of which about 1000 are inhabited.

More than 2000 however are completely nameless. Which of course means that there is a big adventure playground where you can play Robinson Crusoe. Despite the almost 100 million inhabitants, half of whom already live on the largest island Luzon, you will find untouched jungle areas and lonely beaches in masses. Go crazy in the afterlife of the 12 or 13 or 14 million metropolis Manila or climb the Mayon volcano because of its perfect cone shape one of the most beautiful active volcanoes in the world.

Palaway auf den Phillippinen

Palawan – Philippines

By the way, there are currently 20 active islands in the Philippines. Only 11 islands have an area of more than 2 500 square meters. The largest islands are Luzon with more than 100 000 sqm, followed by Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Mindoro, Panay and Palawan. The rest is rather small. But especially on these islands, as for example Bohol in the Visayas, a multi-faceted biodiversity awaits you.
More than 5000 different animal and countless insect species as well as almost 15000 different plant species will be discovered during your expeditions through the 37 national parks that have been transformed into Protected Landscapes and Natural Parks. Among them are quite strange animals like the Tamarau, many parrot species, dolphins, partly huge crocodiles and snakes and the unique Koboldmakis.

Not for nothing the Philippines belong to the 17 most species-rich regions of the earth. They are a true megadiversityland. On your island trips you will discover a variety of exotic landscapes, ranging from inaccessible mountain regions with bizarre rock formations, tropical forests and volcanic lakes to lagoons and crystal clear rivers. Dream beaches can be found in abundance on every island. And if you stick your head in the water, you’ll find yourself in an aquarium.

The fifth largest island state in the world after Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Japan was found by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan. But he has not only found the island world, but also his Totim fight with an indigenous chief on the dream island of Cebu. Look at the island world for 20 to 30 euros a day – you don’t need more than that except in Manila, Boracay and Cebu – and discover such destinations as the rice terraces in Banaue, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which are 2000 years old and are considered the 8th wonder of the world by the locals. Good beaches and divesports can be found already 2 hours from Manila in Batangas. There you should also have a look at Taal Volcano and Taal City.

The top island of world class in the Philippines is Boracay. But if you want to escape the international tourism and jet set and discover islands and beaches that are just as beautiful, then go to CamarinesSur or Coron, where you will discover a lot of ship wraks while diving. Donsol is considered the shark metropolis for whale sharks. And if you’re looking for a real picture book island, then head to Malapascua Island. Probably the wildest island is Palawan. Discover the rare dugongs and dive with countless manta rays at eye level. Spectacular is a tour through the Puerto Princesa underwater river. Also try the Philippine mangoes, which are considered to be the best in the world.

Tradition and culture in the Philippines

The island world of the Philippines is divided between modern and old traditions. For over 300 years the Spaniards had the say, later the Americans. That characterizes. Because of the strong Catholic influence in the Easter week every year some believers like their idol can be nailed to the cross. But in real. But in the secluded villages in the interior of the island you will also meet witches, shamans and healers who produce strange brews after ancient ceremonies and perform apparent miracles. Philippine mythology, by the way, is full of stories about magical beings and figures.

The good thing is that you can get on with English everywhere. Only very few locals speak Spanish. Beside the artificial main language Tagalog, Filipino, Cebuano and many dialects and languages are spoken, which can differ strongly from island to island. There are always some Barrio Fiesta taking place in the villages, which have more or less also to do with the religion.

The Filipino celebrates anyway somewhat differently than the rest of the Catholics. On the Sunday of the Dead and All Souls’ Day there is a party atmosphere around the clock. The Flores de Mayo festival (May flowers) at the end of the dry season is also celebrated. If you are at the right time in the Visayas – i.e. in the middle of the country – then you will experience the exuberant atmosphere at the Ati-Atihan-Fest in Kalibo.

But not everything is a perfect world in the island world. A whole series of minority conflicts swell up, which are also carried out here and there once with force of arms. A very dangerous area is the Sulu Sea. Where the Muslim terrorist group Abu Sayaf is up to no good.

Backpacker Route in the Philippines

If you can, then take your time to discover the country and the many islands with their thousand little secrets in peace and quiet. Many have gone there only once and never left again. The Philippines make it possible, like Robinson Crusoe, to live far away from the gunshot. On the other hand, there are more and more tourist areas and islands. But if you don’t get in a stupid queue you can avoid mass tourism and pick the beautiful corners out of the Phillippines.

The problem on the Phillippines is only that the main means of transport beside the bus on land are probably the boats on the water. Also locals are aware that backpackers and tourists pay a lot of money for crossings on the ship… Gone are the days when you came from one island to another for a little trip. You only get good prices in the rainy season, or if you get together with other backpackers.

Route 1: The classic (15-20 days)

  • 2 days Manila – experience chaos, culture and Filipinos. Visit Manila Metropolitan Theatre and Rizal Park.
  • 2-3 days Jet Set island paradise Boracay. Wellness, fantastic beaches and first-class infrastructure.
  • 2 days Bohol with the unique Chocolate Hills. Around the island there are hot divespots.
  • 2 days Bantayan – away from mass tourism.
  • 1 day Volcano Mayon – one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world.
  • 2 nights Angeles – experience nightlife totally
  • 2 Days Experience Cebu City
  • 2 days diving two of the best dive sites in the world, the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and around the Apo Reef in the Mindoro Strait.
  • 2 days visiting Palawan with the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
  • Experience 2 days of rice terraces of Banaue. A true man-made wonder of the world.

Route 2: All or nothing (20 – 40 days)

  • 2 days Manila – experience chaos, culture and Filipinos. Visit Manila Metropolitan Theatre and Rizal Park.
  • 2-3 days Jet Set island paradise Boracay. Wellness, fantastic beaches and first-class infrastructure.
  • 2 days Bohol with the unique Chocolate Hills. Around the island there are hot divespots.
  • 2 days Bantayan – away from mass tourism.
  • 1 day Volcano Mayon – one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world.
  • 2 nights Angeles – experience nightlife totally
  • 2 Days Experience Cebu City
  • 2 days diving two of the best dive sites in the world, the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and around the Apo Reef in the Mindoro Strait.
  • 2 days visiting Palawan with the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
  • Experience 2 days of rice terraces of Banaue. A true man-made wonder of the world.
  • 2 days around the small island of Ticao to meet whale sharks and manta rays under water. Including a row of lonely beaches.
  • 2 days beachlife, nightlife and pure diving on the small island Malapascua experience. Highlights are the thresher sharks, manta rays and hammerhead sharks.
  • 2 – 4 days diving around the biggest Philippine coral reef Caubyan and Calituban.
  • 2 days visiting San Dionisio
  • Experience 2 days the bustling city of Dumaguete on Negros Oriental and start from there island trips to Apo Island and Siquior, the witch island.
  • 2 Days Exploring Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park
  • Escape 2 days from the heat to the mountain town of Baguio.
  • 2 days exploring the jungle around Cagayan de Oro, doing rafting and moving from there to the north of Mindanao.
  • 2 days hike from Davao to the highest mountain of the country, Mount Apo.
  • Enjoy 2 days marina, diving and jungle around Puerto Galera on the island of Mindoro.

Travel times in the Philippines

The good thing about a trip to the Philippines is that no place is more than 200 kilometers away from the South China Sea – if you like the sea. Therefore, the climate is automatically strongly influenced by the water, which is good and bad at the same time. On the one hand, the Philippines are located in the tropical region and can therefore be visited all year round due to the temperatures. On the other hand, the islands are part of the typhoon catchment area. And this has fatal consequences every year. The typhoons, which partly rush over the archipelago with wind speeds of more than 300 kilometers per hour, leave devastating areas especially on the eastern island around Samar.

In the north and east, typhoons occur regularly, especially from July to September. The rest of the country is hit all year round by lush rain showers. In the Philippines there are four climate zones that vary greatly. So there are strong separations of dry and rainy season and no separation of dry and rainy season at all. Even snow can fall at Pulag Mountain. The climate table of the Corona Classification, which divides the country into different climate zones in 1921, gives more detailed information. The best travel time for the Philippines is roughly from Christmas to April.

Backpacker Budget in the Philippines

One thing right away. In the Philippines you can travel and live really cheap, if you stay away from the tourist places. In dreamlike places at the sea or also in the mountains you will always find a spot cheap accommodation in small huts. Whether business or private, the prices are sometimes super cheap. With 20 Euro you can spend a whole day. Some also manage cheaper. A jeepney ride costs around 0,1 Euro as much as a coffee. For a bottle of water (1.5L) always drink bottled, you pay 20 cents. A half grilled chicken at the street stand costs about 1,8 Euro. A freshly grilled fish might cost 1,4 Euro. For the bed in a hostel you might put down Euro. But this is only necessary in big cities.
On the tourist island Boracay the prices are as follows.

  • 1 hour massage on the beach 5 Euro
  • 2 hours boat trip to the diving and snorkeling areas 5 Euro
  • Minivan from Kaliboto Caticlan Ferry 3,5 Euro
  • Ferry from Caticlan to Boracay for foreigners 3.6 Euro
  • Tricycle trip on the island 1.5 euros for 3 km

Almost all other islands are cheaper.

Bus fares and domestic fares Philippines

The bus tickets for long-distance buses cost 8-16 Euro depending on standard and distance. You can also travel with the cheaper Jeepneys. Very short distances in city traffic can be covered with the cheap Tricycles for a few cents. A ferry trip can be undertaken with wooden Outrigger boats adventurously from island to island or you take large slow ferries, which also call at the different islands for little money. More expensive, but much faster it goes with the SpeedFerry. From Cebu to Bohol it can cost 15 Euro.

Some distances are better covered by plane. Such a boat trip from Manila to Cebu already takes two days. The boats are not exactly the yellow of the egg. If you search intensively, you will also find a return flight for 90 euros. A flight lasts one hour. Good offers can be found at the airlines Philippine Airlines, PAL Express, CebuPacific, AirAsia and TigerAirways.

Boats and ferries in the Philippines

As mentioned above, all companies offer different price categories depending on class and distance. The best known ferry companies that also cover longer distances are WG&A SuperFerry, Sulpicio Lines, Negros Navigation, Trans Asia Shipping Lines and Cebu Ferries. You can find all dates and prices on the websites.

Train travel on Luzon

In the north on the biggest island Luzon there are also trains. Have a look at the offers for the Bicol Express and the MayonLimited.

Taxi in the Philippines

It is best to get into the Yellowcab taxis only. They are a bit more expensive, but also legitimate. With others you never know where it is your turn. The price will be changed during the trip. Start costs one Euro, afterwards every 300 m one Cent more.

Backpacker accommodation in the Philippines

In the Philippines there is just about every kind of accommodation you can imagine. There is something for every budget and every demand.

Hotels in the Philippines

You can look for hotels for business trips or family-friendly hotels. But you can also find expensive design hotels and boutique hotels with 3, 4 or even 5 stars. There are wellness hotels as well as city hotels and hotels on the beach. If your budget is lower, then look around for budget hotels, hostels, bed&breakfasts, guesthouses or pensions. The best thing is to look for resorts. Most accommodations nowadays are equipped with WLAN. If they are far away, then not at all. But that also has its charm.

The prices for an overnight stay in a budget hotel in Manila cost you around 23 to 40 euros. This can be worth it, especially if you are on the exhausting long return flight.

Hostels in the Philippines

Hostels are not as well known as in South America. However, they do exist, especially in the larger cities. Here are the average prices according to Hostelworld in different cities and regions.

  • Manila 8 Euro
  • Boracay Island 7- 9 Euro
  • Puerto Princesa City 6 Euro
  • Cebu 8 Euro
  • El Nido 6 Euro
  • Moalboal 5-6 Euro
  • Panglao Island 7 Euro
  • Donsol 9 Euro

A bit more expensive are the Bed and Breakfast accommodations. You can expect prices that are similar to those of budget hotels. So for 30 Euro you will get something good. You will still have a private guide included.
On the tourist island Boracay you can find everything, but it also costs a little more, although not much. In the hotel you have to calculate approximately as follows.

  • 1 Star 11 – 25 Euro
  • 2 stars 15 – 55 Euro
  • 3 stars 23 – 150 Euro
  • 4 stars 50 – 320 Euro
  • 5 stars 300 – …. Euro

No matter where you go, there is always cheap accommodation. On some islands you won’t even find a hotel or a resort, but with a family you will somehow find accommodation. You will also get to know the Filipino lifestyle up close.

Camping in the Philippines

What’s not so hot in the Philippines now is camping. But nobody is stopping you from pitching your tent somewhere. Especially during trekking tours in the bushes it can be worthwhile to take a tent with you. Otherwise is to be advised against it already for safety reasons in a tent in the free wild orbit to spend the night.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in the Philippines

The Philippines is a geographically very diverse country, where you can find everything from flat plains, fantastic beach regions, hundreds of lonely islands to active volcanoes and dense primeval forests. It is well worth getting to know one of the most confusing and chaotic cities in the world, Manila. The city of Cebu further south, also known as “Queen City of the South” and the first city in the archipelago to be founded by western explorers, is somewhat more peaceful. A visit to the Philippines includes a detour to Banaue. There the 2000 year old rice terraces of the indigenous Igorots can be seen on steep mountain slopes. They are part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage.

Also included is the Underground River on the island of Palawan. The best dive sites of the Philippines are far away in the TubbatahaReefNational Marine Park. But there are also good divespots all around most of the islands. So also around Malapascua, Apo Island, Puerto Galeras, CamarinesSur and Boracay. The latter is also the starting point for international beach tourism. There are whale sharks to see donsol and tresher sharks and huge manta rays around Malapascua. An ascent to the crater of the Mayon volcano is something for adventure seekers. And a must is a visit to the unique geographical ridge formation of the Choclate Hills on the island of Bohol.

Backpacker Highlights in the Philippines

One of the backpacker highlights in the Philippines is certainly a ride with a HablHabl. With 3 or 4 people you have to climb up to a 125. And then it’s off, high up or low down. And that over stick and stone and by partly wild watercourses. If you are lucky, you will see the world’s largest eagle, the Philippine Monkey Eating Eagle, and the cute tarsi that only exist in the Philippines. Even if one should not be a ScubaDiver, it is worthwhile to go on a diving safari. Mostly these resemble an Icelandhopping.

Often several islands are visited on different days with offshore diving and snorkeling spots on the tours. Especially in the centrally located Visayan this is worth it. Those who can dominate the choking effect should try a half-baked almost hatched duck egg. Simply order a Balut. A real alcoholic clapper is the tuba-coconut wine, if it was just freshly tapped by a daring climber in the up to 40 m high treetops.
What you can make wonderful in the Philippines is playing Robinson Crusoe on one of the countless uninhabited islands. Free yourself from all constraints. If you want to free yourself from pain without consulting a doctor, then get into the hands of the miracle healers, who will cure you again with Bentosa and Hilot. Outrigger boating is the most adventurous way to travel between the islands.

Backpacker insider tips on the Philippines

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of BacuitBay at Palawan. Siargao is an island off Mindano, which is the absolute surf center in the region. Camiguin Island is the top spot for adventurers who like jungle and volcanoes. There are 7 of them on almost 30 000 ha. If you want to experience something very special on your Philippine tour, you have to visit the witch island Siquior. In the interior of the island there are still numerous “witches” who handle unknown herbs. Not every Filipino dares to visit the island. Trekkers who prefer the heights are right on Batanes. Mindanao also offers good and challenging trekking tours. One of them leads up to Mount Apo.

Further good trekking tours lead to Mt. Kanlaon and Mount Pulag. Large, partly still little explored cave systems can be found in the interior of Negros Oriental. Rock climbing is popular on Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Puting Bato and Wawa Gorge. White-water rafting at the highest level is close to the city of Cagayan de Oro City and Davao. One has a hammer view from the Capul lighthouse. Away from the shot you are on San Bernardino Island, which attracts with bizarre rock formations. Palanan can only be reached with a seven hour boat ride from San Mariano. Many old colonial buildings can still be found there. Worth seeing is the Pinacanauan River and the Dicotcotan Beach. The ambience around the Twin Lakes in the mountains above the provincial metropolis Dumaguete is quite mystical.

Food & Drinks in the Philippines

Asian cuisine is considered nutritious and varied in the various countries. This is not the case in the Philippines. Despite all the diversity of species that can be found on the more than 7,000 islands and in the waters of the South China Sea, Philippine cuisine is considered boring. Although there are traces of Spanish-Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Japanese and American cuisine to be found in the local cuisine, they are only traces. American fast food cuisine has often established itself in the cities.

Food in the Philippines

On land and at sea, rice is usually eaten in some form together with beef, pork, chicken or fish. If you want to enjoy shrimps, crabs and lobsters or mussel dishes, you have to dig deeper into your pocket. Otherwise, everything is fried in fat or fried. One of the best, tastiest and healthiest dishes, which is only available near the sea, is the so-called Kinilaw. Raw fish is marinated in vinegar and eaten with finely chopped ingredients such as tamarind, garlic, ginger, chilli and mango. The dish resembles the Peruvian Cebiche. Also delicious are the stuffed steamed dumplings Siopao, the simple pasta dish Pancit and the well-known spring rolls.

If you want to stick to the Philippine indigenous dishes, you have to swallow hard. A certain choking effect can occur in the stomach when you eat Balut. Balut is a slightly hatched duck egg, inside which there is an almost full-grown duck embryo with a beak, which then cracks pleasantly in the oral cavity while biting. A sucking pig roasted well on the spit, that is known as Lechonbaboy in the native linguistic usage, is served on festive occasions. What for the sweet-mouths is HaloHalo. The popular coconut-flavoured ice-cream dish is served on every street corner. Where possible, you should stuff yourself with mangos. The delicious Philippine fruit is considered one of the best in the world.

Drinking in the Philippines

Coca-Cola and other well-known soft drink brands belong to the standard consumption of Filipinos A peculiarity is the enjoyment of clear water with food. However, the beer bottle is also a popular choice. The San Miguel brand is unrivalled in the local beer market. Those who want to drink a quick intoxication with long bad aftereffects will fall back on the local brandy brand Tanduay. The coconut wine Tuba is also “dangerous”. Tasty anti-alcoholic drinks are fresh coconut milk and various freshly squeezed fruit juices. A freshly squeezed papaya juice is very healthy and refreshing.

Backpacker Visum and vaccinations in the Philippines

According to the Federal Foreign Office, the entry requirements for German citizens are currently as follows.

  • Passport: Yes
  • Provisional passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Temporary identity card: No
  • Children’s passport: Yes

A still valid child ID card according to the old model will still be recognized upon entry to the Philippines. However, various airlines flying to the Philippines are having problems presenting this document. It is therefore advisable to carry a new child passport or a passport with you. As in almost all cases, the travel document presented must be valid for at least half a year beyond the intended period of stay. Children’s entries in the parents’ passport will not be accepted.

Visa and medical information

As a rule, a tourist visa is issued for 30 days without any problems. This can then be extended several times for up to 59 days in the various immigration offices.


When entering the Philippines, you should have the recommended standard vaccinations of the Robert Koch Institute. The Philippines is located in the tropical region. This also means that malaria, dengue and diarrhoea are known. During the rainy season, influenza A/H5N1 (bird flu) also occurs in isolated regions. Chikungunya and cholera are also known in rural areas. Rabies must also be guarded against. Snake bites and contact with aggressive sea creatures are also not uncommon.

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