Top 4 backpacker destinations in the Philippines

So you read here about Boracay, and realized that it is the place you want to visit in the Philippines. This is the best place in the Philippines for backpackers for certain, and we advise anyone to start his vacation there. You can meet many cool people, with some you’d like to continue traveling, and some will tell you stories and share their knowledge with you.

After having the time of your life in Boracay, there will come a moment that you’ll feel ripe enough for the continuation of your trip, as you cannot stay in heaven forever. And then what? Read below to get a clue on how the rest of your vacation is going to be like. All of these destinations work great with Boracay and each other, and a month backpacking in the Philippines is hardly enough for all, but if you want to push it through in such a time window you can use the services of a travel agency such as

#1 El Nido

El Nido PH

The best place in the Philippines after Boracay, so it’s one you definitely want to visit. Even try to make it on the wet season May-October, be attentive to the weather and keep your schedule flexible. El Nido is the crown jewel of Palawan, and it’s easily accessible from Boracay.

Why El Nido? The most beautiful beaches in the world. Not the beach, as in singular, but many, popular or hidden, long or short, whatever! El Nido is the only competition for Boracay in the Philippines. Stay in the center in Mad Monkey El Nido, or in one of the most beautiful beaches around in Mad Monkey Nacpan if you feel like having a quieter time, and we’ll make sure you enjoy your time there to the max.

What to do there? Island hopping is a must! You can choose between 4 tours, but if you have the time why don’t you do all? Snorkeling and scuba diving is also great there. If you go on an island hopping tour, don’t forget to bring a snorkeling mask. It is the perfect place if you’re traveling as a couple, as not many places are as romantic as El Nido.

Where to stay? Mad Monkeys of course!

Where to eat? Breakfast local: Silog Republic – serve cheap Filipino Breakfasts. That’s not a bad place to start your day, especially if you had a lot to drink the night before. Breakfast: V and V Bagel – great Italian coffee, and freshly baked bagels. The classic: Art Café – this place serves good food to tourists for yours now. Great pizzas! Seafood: The unanimous opinion is Squidos. You can tell by the ever present long line of guests. Drinking: Pukka bar in Corong Corong beach is very close to Mad Monkey and one of the liveliest bars in town.

#2 Coron

Kayangan Lake Coron PH

Coron is very easy to get to from El Nido, and if you’re already close by (3 hours away by a fast ferry), it’s important for you to know that Coron is a backpackers’ paradise. Almost as beautiful as El Nido, and so much cheaper. It is the second most beautiful place in Palawan in our opinion.

Why Coron? Because you’re already in El Nido, and it will be a crime not to hop by in this amazing place. Because you want to get away from the crowd that flock to El Nido during the high season.

What to do there? Island hopping again. Like, it’s really that good that you should go island hopping in El Nido and then in Coron right after. For the scuba divers among you, Coron is a place you must dive, for some of the world’s best wreck dives are here. The lagoons of Coron (the Twin Lagoons) and Barracuda Lake (which has a mix of fresh and salt water) are a must visit.

Where to stay in Coron? Fat Monkey Hostel. This neat place is 10 ride from town situated in a mango grove. The Fat Monkey also organizes a 3 day castaway tour of sailing, camping on isolated islands, eating food cooked over a bonfire, feeling like pirates.

Where to eat? Breakfast: Fika Indulgence – excellent waffles and pancakes, as well as Filipino breakfast dishes. Cheapest eats: Lolo Nonoy’s – one of the oldest establishments serving home-cooked local food. Lunch: KT’s Sinugba sa Balay – a Filipino style grill house, which is affordable and supposed to be the best one in Coron. Nice ambience but long waiting time so come prepared. Diner: Trattoria Altrov’e – best pizza in town, wood oven baked of course. Also famous for their seafood pasta dishes which are generous and filling. Drinking: Hangover Bar is your best bet – probably the best in town.

#3 Cebu

Cebu PH

You can reach Cebu from El Nido, Coron, Boracay, and actually all places in this post, and most destinations in central and southern Philippines. It is a travel hub for many destinations in the Philippines, and an adventure packed island by itself. Spend some time in Cebu when you transfer here, and you will definitely not regret doing so.

Why Cebu? Why not, you’re already there… and it’s cheaper here than many other places in the Philippines. Plus, it’s very easy to get around the island.

What to do in Cebu? Diving in Malapascua is one of the highlights, as there are thresher sharks present all year around in Monad Shoal. It attracts divers from all over the world, so if you’re into diving don’t miss it under any circumstances. Whale shark snorkeling in Oslob is another famous attraction. Going to Kawasan Falls in Moal Boal is another. Those are the 3 basic attractions that you should cover, and there are more things you can do. Trekking from Dalaguete (Nearby Oslob) through Osmeña Peak is a good idea for you who love a little bit of trekking.

Where to stay? Tr3ats Guesthouse is by far one of the best hostels in Cebu City – Very affordable, cool atmosphere, and in the most central location. Sharky Hostel in Oslob is one of the cheapest and offers the best quality for the price. They also have affordable private rooms. Chief Mau in Panangsama Moalboal is the newest and coolest hostel around. It’s also famous for its vibrant bar open till the wee hours.

Where to eat? In Cebu City just go round the city center and the malls. You will be fine because there are endless options for all budgets. The Pleasure Principle Resto-bar in Panangsama is one of the best restaurants on the beach, as well as Kockonuts (this one has a great ambience, romantic and intimate). For drink’s head to Chili Bar, the liveliest one on the beach. Well, besides of the whale sharks there isn’t much to do, so just pick any of the restaurants in the northern part of the beach, and get ready to move on.

#4 Siargao


This is the next hot place in the Philippines. A place that started as a surfers’ place, became a backpacking paradise and will soon be one of the most popular places in the country, along with Boracay and Palawan.

Why visit Siargao? Be among the first to visit here, before it will change due to overflowing tourism. It is still virgin, affordable, fun, and accommodating!

What to do? Learn how to surf, as it is after all the surfing capital of the Philippines. Visit Sugba Lagoon and the tidal pools of Siargao, explore the white beaches, and go island hopping in breathtaking islands. Party every night of the week. The parties are far from what you’ll have in Boracay. Let’s put it this way, the nightlife scene is premature, but wild!

Where to stay? The Smiling Pig – one of the newest, friendliest, and cheapest in Tourism Road, Siargao. This is truly a place to hang out with new friends. They only have dorms, and no private rooms. If you want a hostel that does offer private rooms, try Jing’s Place, also in a central location close by. Not as fun, but very good value.

Where to eat in Siargao? Breakfast: Shaka Siargao – fruit bowls, muesli, acai, fruit shakes. Their powerbowls will give you enough energy for the rest of the day. Lunch: Mama’s Grill – very affordable Filipino grill that make fresh seafood and meat. One of the busiest in the island because it’s really that good. Dinner: Kermit – genuine and high quality Italian food. Drinking: Bravo – a Spanish restaurant with really good food and a great lounge, very suitable for group, drinking into the night and meeting new people.


Rough Budget Travel Guide to El Nido

It’s 45minutes before the so called ‘End of the World’ and I’m sitting here on my lappy, working my ass out, while pondering about what I’ve done in my life – mostly my travels (*it’s perhaps one of the innermost drives that fuels me), will the aftermath God find this cause noble? Oh well. Enough with my thoughts.

This is just a sudden blog post, while on the middle of my thoughts, I received this PM via FB from someone asking a rough budget guide to El Nido.

El Nido Map

El Nido Map


Hi, Roj!

Good evening! Actually d kita kilala

Pero magtatanong lang sana ako about sa Palawan trip… if you wont mind. Kasi napansin ko uv been to almost all of the tourist destinations ng Pinas. So, i think ikaw yung pinaka-reliable person na pwedeng makatulong amin. hehehe!

Nasa Saudi ako ngayon at plano namin ng wife ko at mga kaibigan namin na pumunta ng El Nido pag-uwi namin– mga 2nd week of January ’13. Kaso wala kaming makitang murang packages (d namin kaya ang 10k+, hanggang 6k lang kami. hehehe). May alam ka bang mura na package? Or Anong advice mo para malessen ang expenses namin? We badly need your inputs.

Thanks in advance!

– – –

So with his kind words, the travel soul in me awakened. There’s nothing more fulfilling of being a travel blogger than being able to help fellow traveler. So below I’ve come up with a quick how to get there and budget accommodations + etc + etc to El Nido.

How to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa, Palawan?

Bus/Van: Eulen Joy Bus Line or Sweety Bus Line go from Puerto Princesa to El Nido at 5, 7, and 9am (Php 350 ; eight hours travel). Departure from El Nido for Puerto Princesa roughly between 5 and 8:30am.

The Aircon RoRo Bus leaves daily at 6am, and 2pm; the return bus also leaves at 6am and 2pm (6hrs ; Php500)

Fort Valley Vans leave Puerto Princesa for El Nido at 7 and 11am (Php 600 ; six hours). A Saviour Shuttle Company leaves at 7am.

El Nido Map

El Nido Affordable Accommodations

Lualhati Cottage. Rizal St. Cel 0919 319 6683 @ SR/DR/Fan/Bath P500. Located at the Southern edge of town heading in the direction of Corong-corong.

Cliffside Cottages. Rizal St, Cel 0919 785 6625. SR/DR/Fan/Bath P600

Ricos’ Beach Cottage . Hama St, Cel 0929 467 1632 @ SR/DR/Fan P600 and P750, SR/DR/ac/bath P1600.

Dara Faye Beach Cottages . Hama St Cel 0919 322 1416. SR/DR/fan/bath P700, cottage/fan/bath P1000.

Marina Garden Beach Cottages. Hama St. Cel 0917 624 7722 @ Cottage / fan/bath P730 and P1000. A more established place with basic, conventional cottages and a new building with good, clean rooms.

El Nido Island Hopping Guide

El Nido Palawan

El Nido Palawan

You can also have a boat take you from El Nido to a beach or nearby island of your choice. A few suggestions might be:

  • Bocal Island (P600 per boat, up to 4 passengers)
  • Paradise Beach (P600)
  • Pasandigan Cove (P700) ; good for snorkelling
  • Dilumacad (Helicopter Island) P700
  • Ipil Beach (P600)
  • Lapus-Lapus Beach (P600)
  • Inabuyutan Island (P1000)
  • and Seven Commandos Beach (P700) ; excellent for snorkeling.

El Nido Budget Tour Contacts

A variety of whole day island hopping tours (9am-4pm) P750 and P900 per person, including BBQ Lunch, can be arranged through Judith in the Travel Center of El Nido Boutique and Artcafe, Cel 0920 902 6317. She also organizes kayak tours.

Tuba-tours (Rhoderikc dela Cruz) Hama St next to the Squidos Restaurant, Cel 0927 724 5496, offers island hopping around El Nido.

An Eco Tourism Development Fee of P200 per person to be paid (good for ten days).

So there it is! An instant budget guide to El Nido.

Special Thanks to my copy of Philippines Travel Guide by Jens Peters, 2012 edition.

Highly Recommended: You could read reviews about the book HERE

Phil Travel Guide 2012 by Jens Peters. Got myself a copy from the author himself! ^^,

Phil Travel Guide 2012 by Jens Peters. Got myself a copy from the author himself! ^^,