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21 Days Travel Itinerary Advice

Posted by on Apr 18th, 2010
Filed Under: Questions, Travel Itineraries


Duncan: Hi PK/Ryan

I love your website ( and want to thank you for keeping it so real!

Hope you do not mind if I pick your brain. I have travelled extensively through SE Asia, but not really explored the Philipines. After reading your website and stories, I am more excited and confused about my impending trip.

Firstly I am irritated that I have only given myself 21 days to explore, but with that in mind and all your information on the website I would like your advice on what I intend to do in those 21 days.

I am flying into Manila on 29 April and will rest for one day, so my adventure really starts on 31 April and finishes on 18 April, when i fly back to London.

I have this notion in my head that I can travel from Manila-Daet-Legaspi-Donsol-Samar-Leyte-Bohol-Siquinor-Cebu-Giumaras Islands-Negros-Coron-Palawan-El Nido-Puerto Galera- Batanyas-Manila in the 19 days.

I definitely need to swim with the whale sharks (my lifetime dream to see one after many diving disappointments). The rest is totally flexible and I would like to get away from the madding crowd and see some really beautiful beaches and little secrets.

I would love to hear your opinion and top tips or your favourite places/must sees. I am also using this trip to gather some information on where in Phillipines I would like to retire one day so any hints on that would be great too!

I hope you will impart some of your knowledge and experiences and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards


Ryan: Hi Duncan, Okay, 21 DAYS with all those places you wanted to visit? Sorry. You got me literally screaming in front of my monitor for a bit there. I think it is impossible to cover those places man in one go!

Here is my suggestion for you, let us try to cut and try to make order out of the places you wanted to do and go:

Manila-Legazpi-Donsol-Daet-Manila Leg

Fly into Legazpi, work your way to Donsol, stay overnight (do a firefly cruise)- do the whale shark interaction first thing in the morning. Hire a van with other people and head straight to Legazpi to have some Mayon photo ops, bus back to Daet (overnight), head out to Mercedes Islands then leave same day for a nightbus to Manila.

I have yet to start writing the guide for Donsol and Legazpi (I just came back from there two weeks ago. Check out our photos and videos of whale sharks and Mayon on our Facebook Fan Page – Tourism Paradise Philippines).

Approximate time spent- 4 days at least.

Manila-Cebu-Bohol-Manila Leg

Fly into Cebu, check out the Santo Niño Basilica, then take the ferry to Tagbilaran-head out to Panglao Island. Most resorts are on Alona though there are pension houses in Tagbilaran. At the Tagbilaran airport, you can arrange an immediate tour of Bohol’s sites: Chocolate Hills, River Cruise, Tarsier Conservation, Baclayon Church, Blood Compact Site, Mahogany Forests. Arrive at your hotel/resort and maybe catch the sunset. You can head out to the better Dumaluan beach (where Bohol Beach Club is located). Check out my guide on Bohol on this. And then fly out from Tagbilaran back to Manila.

OR you can go back to Cebu and catch a flight to Puerto Princesa. Check the airlines if there is an available connection between the two places and make sure to check which day of the week it is.

Approximate time spent – 3-4 Days

Manila/Cebu-Puerto Princesa-El Ndo-Manila OR

Manila/Cebu-Puerto Princesa-El Nido-Puerto Princesa-Coron-Manila

Check out my Puerto Princesa guide on this, you can do a Underground River tour in Sabang and then come back to Puerto Princesa and work your way up to El Nido town. Be prepared for really bad roads between the two places. From El Nido, you can fly out there via SEAIR. Expensive BUT convenient. But since you want to cover Coron as well, and if there are flights on those dates between Puerto Princesa and Coron, then you are in luck but of course you have to travel back to Puerto Princesa again in order to fly to Coron. Otherwise there are no direct links between El Nido and Coron. If you are feeling adventurous, you may catch some of those cargo vessels but since you are out of time- best not to push your luck.

Without Coron – you need at least 8-10 days (4-5 days just for Puerto Princesa + Sabang’s Underground River)
With Coron – 15 days at least.

As for Puerto Galera, I am not a big fan. With this scorching summer, expect hordes of people from Manila descending there as it is the cheaper and closer getaway compared to Boracay. Batangas is GREAT – If you are diving. Anilao (beginner to advanced) and Verde Island Passage (advanced divers only) should not be missed at all.

I haven’t been to Samar/Leyte yet, so I can’t really comment on these places, except I know that you can fly into Tacloban, work your way to the different Samar Provinces for great surf spots, nice beaches, and interesting caves and it is still bereft from the hordes of tourists.

Hope that helps man!


Ps. Be forewarned, because of this massive El Niño heat, people will love going to the beaches. :D

Cheers mate!


You can also do this route if you got the time and patience- Manila bus to Daet work your way down to Sorsogon, go all the way to Matnog jump to Samar, cross over to Tacloban ferry to Leyte then jump to Cebu then Bohol. Not sure if there are ferries from Bohol to Siquijor but Cebu being a hub, there should be one coming from there. From Siguijor, you can cross over to Dumaguete and then work your way through to Bacolod jump over to Iloilo and do a side trip to Guimaras. There is a boat from Iloilo to Puerto Princesa but this is a really slow boat, From Puerto Princesa, you can work all the way to El Nido, get on to a cargo boat to Coron via Taytay then from Coron all the way back to Manila.

If you are going to do it this way, 21 days will not be enough. This would be at least a month and half and you’d spend more time on buses and boats than enjoying the sites..

Just a heads up man.

Editor addon

Ryan: Oops, from Samar you can take an overland route to Leyte and then ferry to Cebu.
Unfortunately I dont have the ferry skeds as well.

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PkTan is fascinated with this beautiful, complicated country. He loves advising travellers to Philippines and have developed this site to share all his knowledge of Philippines with everyone. Learn more about me [+]

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2 Responses to “21 Days Travel Itinerary Advice”

  1. tony o seanainn says:

    been in teh phills a lot and travelled from Manila to Davao via negros and back…i didnt book flights ..took ferries as required and a bus from Dapitan via CDO to Davao…part of the excitement is travelling on the provincial buses with the local philipinos…and the chickens and on one occasion a few baby pigs…now u wont get that on lonely planet.LOL!
    In Dumaguete came off teh bus and went into a local cafe…met a philipno and an american ex chatting and they took me to a good guest house ..accomodation was good..i recommnd Dumaguete..its clean, crime free and has a fantastic walk along the sea front…photos to follow…ingat pagali!

  2. tony o seanainn says:

    PS…the best way to travel , for me at any rate, is to just plan the basic journey, be adventerous and dont buy return airline tickets…too restrictive…then go and enjoy the journey…too much planning is just stressfull….dont destroy the serendipidy by using Lonely Planet etc as if it was the bible…LOL

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