If you are visiting the pearl of the orient seas for the first time, you need to know that the Philippines is composed of numerous scattered islands (much like Indonesia but smaller). Most tourists and backpackers only have 2 weeks to spare for traveling so here, I will give you a perfect two-week itinerary so you can get the most out of your holiday in the Philippines. I will share with you some tips on where to stay, what to do, and how long do you need to stay in one place.
Two weeks is too short if you aim to cover many islands but it is more than enough to see everything a place has to offer if you will focus on just 3 different destinations. This way, you get to save some places, like Boracay, for when you come back with more knowledge and experience. Trust me, traveling from one place to another in the Philippines will take up more of your golden time than you would expect so make sure to just focus on 3 destinations with easy connections to maximize the little time you have on enjoyment and sights.
2 Week Philippines Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Manila
Number of days to stay: 1
Some airlines nowadays also land in Cebu so if you want to avoid the capital altogether, it is up to you. However, most of the major international flights still land in Manila so your stay in the capital will depend on the time of your arrival. Unless you are very interested in shopping, one full day in Manila is enough.
Where to stay in Manila:
The area of Taguig (Bonifacio Global City), Pasay and Makati are the most recommended areas for tourists as these areas are highly organized in terms of transports, restaurants and activities to do. There are literally hundreds of hotels to choose from and all are in close proximity to restaurants and malls. These places are also close to the airport.
What to do:
Manila is a great place to start off your 2 week philippines itinerary. If you love shopping, Manila is the right place to be. No other place in the country could beat it. You can also visit the Old city of Intramuros and learn a bit of the capital’s history. If you have kids, you can also visit Manila Ocean Park for fun and adventure.
Days 2-5: Cebu
Number of days to stay: 4
You can head to Cebu directly and avoid Manila altogether. This gives you a day extra to do more and explore more. Cebu is in the Visayas region and it is the Queen city of the South. It is known as the centre for adventure and it is also the gateway to the pristine beaches in the region. Cebu is big and so 4 days minimum is necessary if you want to really experience the island life in the province and all the amazing things to do here.
Where to stay in Cebu:
Cebu city is busy but compared to its cousin, Manila, Cebu is still a gem in itself. Its historic and old-world charm blends perfectly with the modern chaos. Most of the resorts are found in Cebu city and Mactan Island (where the airport is). Chain hotels and resorts like Movenpick, Radisson, Shangri-La and many others are found in the area. There are many hotel choices in Cebu for every budget.
What to do:
Take a local bus to the beautiful countryside. Moalboal is an awesome place for adventure as it offers canyoneering expeditions, diving, spelunking, and other extreme nature trips. It is also blessed with white sandy beaches perfect for beach bumming.
Chase waterfalls like Kawasan and Mantayupan falls. Arrange a boat tour to some of the best islands like Sumilon and Bantayan. Rent a motorcycle or a car and visit the historical places in Cebu City. Visit numerous flower gardens including the temple of Leah, Sirao Flower farm, and 10,000 roses café. If you love diving, Cebu’s best diving spots like Pescador Island and Malapascua will surely give you a thrilling adventure. Finally, you can also try culinary adventure and try Cebu’s lechon belly (roasted pig belly) before heading to Bohol.
Days 6- 10: Bohol
Number of days to stay: 5
There is a very good connection between Cebu and Bohol. These two big islands are close to each other so it is easy to travel from one to the other. There are direct flights from Cebu to Tagbilaran (commercial capital of Bohol) and there are also numerous fast ferries plying the route of Cebu to Tagbilaran or Tubigon in Bohol. Travel time in a ferry is two hours and fare range from 300 to 1500 pesos depending on the seat class and ferry company.
Where to stay in Bohol:
Most tourists flock to Panglao Island and Tagbilaran but there are also resorts found in nearby towns of Loon, Maribojoc, Baclayon, Islands of Pamilacan and Cabilao, and Carmen (where the chocolate hills are located). In panglao, the most high-end resorts include Eskaya, South Palms, Coco Beach Club, Amorita Resort and Hennan. There are of course numerous budget accommodations and bed and breakfasts that are surely of good quality for a much cheaper price.
What to do:
Bohol is massive and it is packed with numerous natural attractions that even if I have been back for several times already, I still discover new places. The countryside is totally awesome. Join a countryside tour to see the famous tourist route including: the chocolate hills, man-made forest in Bilar, tarsier sanctuary, historic churches (Baclayon and Alburquerque), Loboc river cruise, twin bamboo bridges, and python rehabilitation center.
Aside from the usual countryside tour, you can also rent a motorcycle and just explore on your own. One day is enough to completely tour the island of Panglao. Some things to visit on the island are: Hinagdanan cave, Dumaluan beach, Bohol bee Farm (sample their homemade ice cream), Alona beach and have lunch at Egay’s Farm.
If you love to chase waterfalls, head to Loon and trek to Kabintian and Piong waterfalls. Other very notable waterfalls in Bohol are: Mag-Aso, Kawasan, and Pangas. There are also more than 30 caves (all are deep by the way) in Cantamis Baslay alone. There is also a beautiful spring in Loon called Danicob Spring.
Lastly, if you love the beach, aside from Panglao Island’s beaches, you can also find white sandy beaches in Cabilao, Anda and Pamilacan Islands. Pamilacan also offers excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities.
Day 11-14: Palawan
Number of days to stay: 4
Palawan is called the “Last Frontier” of the Philippines and it is blessed with numerous natural wonders and heritage sites. It has been named the “best island” in the world twice in a row and is still making the list of the world’s best up to this moment. This gem of an island will surely melt your heart in wonder. It is so beautiful that there is no other place to best see last than Palawan. It will leave a lasting impression, I bet that.
Where to stay:
Palawan’s commercial capital is Puerto Princesa and it is where most of the flights arrive although nowadays there are also flights going directly to Coron (Busuanga) and San Vicente (El NIdo). If you are in Puerto Princesa, there are many choices for accommodations depending on your budget and preferences. The most luxurious resorts can be found in Coron and El Nido like the Huma Island Resort, Amanpulo and the El NIdo chain of resorts in Lagen, Miniloc, and Pangulasian islands.
What to do:
Puerto Princesa city tour is fun and you get to see the butterfly sanctuary, crocodile farm and the local church. You can also kayak and go on a firefly watching adventure or do some island hopping in Honda Bay. Do not miss the famous natural wonder the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and Cave system where you can see monkeys and monitor lizards.
Port Barton and San Vicente are also budding towns that are worth a visit. You can also check the twin beaches of Nacpan and go on dolphin and whale watching. If you love to dive, head out to Coron for the world-class shipwreck-diving experience where you can find a dozen Japanese naval ships at the bottom. If you are a beach lover, El Nido will be your paradise. There are a lot of beaches and islands scattered in the Bacuit Bay and each is more beautiful than the other.
Finally, if you love to dive, Tubbataha Reef off the coast of Palawan will blow your mind with its stunning marine life and healthy coral system.
At the end of the day, you can either go back to Manila or to Cebu to catch your international flight back home – marking the end of your 2 week philippines itinerary.