Looking for somewhere new to travel or a relaxing holiday in paradise surroundings, the Philippines may just be the answer for you. I have been lucky enough to travel here twice and both times it has been an amazing experience, and the costs are not out of this world!
The Philippines is situated in South East Asia and comprises of roughly 7000 islands which means the country has many places of outstanding natural beauty in some very quite and secluded places. It has a population of around 100 million and the currency is the Filipino Peso (PHP). When travelling there you are only allowed to take in 50,000 peso which is around $975, £742 or €837, so if you take more and get stopped at customs there is the risk of the money being confiscated. There are plenty of places to change money so this is not really an issue.
The couple of times I have been there I have travelled with Air China from Heathrow airport in London. The cost of the flights were no more than £370 return on both occasions and to me that is an absolute bargain. There is a transfer in Beijing but the total flight time including transfers is roughly 19 hours. A direct flight with Philippines Airlines is around 14 hours but obviously the cost increases. On my last journey there my flight from Heathrow was around 10.40pm so I was lucky enough to get a row of 4 seats to myself, business class eat your heart out!!!!
The flight with Air China was pleasant enough. The first half of the journey lasts around 10 hours, comes complete with 2 meals and the first time I flew with them I had a very generous baggage allowance of 40kg and hand luggage, but this all depends on who you book with as the second time I flew with them the flight was through an agency and I only had 25kg but this was ample for me. They have the usual in flight entertainment and the air cabin crew were very very good. The second half of the flight lasts around 4 hours and this includes 1 meal. Depending on the aircraft you may get in flight entertainment but not always as the second time I did the journey it was a Boeing 737 for this leg and it had no entertainment, but for the price it was not too much of an issue.
A lot of airlines like Emirates, Kuwait Airways etc have lots of deals on so it’s always a good idea to use a site like Skyscanner to try and get the best deal. Below are some of the flights available now, flying out on the 14th November and returning 29th November. All prices below are return flights but as always these prices can change by the minute but it gives you a flavour of how cheap it is to get there.
Once you have arrived in Manilla chances are you will want to go straight to a hotel to get some rest before travelling around. If you do try to get the hotel to arrange a taxi – if you don’t you might run the risk of being ripped of by the airport taxi’s. A 200 peso journey could cost you 800 peso so you have been warned!
What To Do
The first time I travelled to the Philippines I stayed in Manilla for a couple of days. I didn’t see too many sights in the capital as I was visiting friends but I stayed in a hotel there for a couple of nights and the prices were very cheap. I paid roughly 1500 per night for a basic hotel which was clean, had air con, restaurant and all the basic amenities you would expect.
Another one of the reasons I haven’t seen too much of Manilla is because of the traffic. It is an absolute nightmare to put it bluntly.
I’ve done a journey from the airport to Katipunan Ave, Quezon City which during the day took roughly 4 hours and doing the same journey at around 3am took around 20 minutes. That doesn’t mean avoid the area, just make sure you plan your stay very well so you get the most out of your visit.
A place I like very much and have spent some time in is Cebu in the Central Visayas. Getting there is fairly easy from Manilla and short cheap flight that is no longer than an hour will touch you down at Mactan-Cebu International Airport. You can fly there with Cebu Pacific, AirAsia or Philippines Airlines with the first 2 probably being the cheapest.
Depending on what you want to do, Bohol is a very good place to start. Getting there is simple with boats and flights from Cebu and doesn’t take a day too long at all. I have stayed on Panglao Island near Alona beach. The guest house I stayed in was called The Chillout Guesthouse and was a nice cheap budget hotel. The staff are uber friendly, clean rooms and they come with a choice of fans or air con. The most expensive room is around 1500 peso per night and is an absolute bargain. The guest house has a rating of 8.0 on Booking.com so definitely worth a look.
The beaches in Bohol are stunning with Alona beach being one of my favourites. During the day there are many Island hopping trips to go on (these are a must), which involve diving, whale watching and lots more, then in the evening there are lots of restaurants with beach side tables and fresh fish to die for.
Most of the restaurants and bars have a happy hour and my tip is to visit Hennan Resorts beach bar which is open to the public and a lovely place to chillout and relax in the evening. During happy hour cocktails and beers are 2 for 1 with 2 bottles of San Miguel Light for 90 peso!
Also within Cebu there are many other places to visit like the Sirao Gardens, Temple of Leah, Tumalog Falls and there are countless islands to visit too like Oslango Island, Virgin Island and Caohagan Island to name a few.
Another stunning place to visit is Palawan. Once voted one of the most beautiful islands in the world and constantly in many top ten lists of places to visit it is an absolute must. Getting there is around an hour flight from Manilla or Mactan-Cebu and you will arrive in Puerto Princesa which is the main town on the island.
I cannot stress how beautiful this island is with it’s stunning beaches and Unesco World Heritage Site, I will let the pictures in the gallery below do the talking as words will not do the island justice:
Much More In The Philippines
There is so much more to do and see in this exciting and beautiful country. There are the 2000 year old Banaue Rice Terraces, Borocay, San Agustin Church in Manilla, The Active Mayon Volcano just to name a few. With it’s amazing and friendly people, stunning food, the Phillippines is an affordable, beautiful and exciting place to visit and certainly somewhere I will go time and time again!!