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Where to go from Manila

Yorkshire, United...
Level Contributor
6 posts
40 reviews
Where to go from Manila

I'm flying into Manila with two older kids. We've been all around Thailand and Vietnam but I don't really know anything about the Philippines. We're there for 4 weeks and after a couple of nights in the capital we're happy to just stay on one of the islands for the full time maybe island hop to another at most (we've done a ton of backpacking and are ready to rest for a while)

We'd like somewhere with a nice beach and enough to keep us occupied with a few excursions...

Could anyone recommend somewhere?

Would you recommend travelling though the country by train/ferry or flights? (Is it as easy as other SE Asian countries to get around?) We tend to travel on a budget as we are long-term travellers.

Also, could anyone tell me how the Philippines compares price wise to the rest of SE Asia? We've had a good run on a modest budget so far, wondering if Philippines is roughly the same.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

5 replies to this topic
Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Philippines, Kuala Lumpur
Level Contributor
27,105 posts
2,243 reviews
1. Re: Where to go from Manila

<<We'd like somewhere with a nice beach and enough to keep us occupied with a few excursions...>>

I would choose Alona Beach Bohol which has beaches , culture, sightseeing, diving and snorkelling(a complete destination). From there you can reach within a few hours by fast ferry Siquijor (laid back beach island) Cebu(lots of beautiful islands such as Camotes, Malapascua, Banyayan and sightseeing) and Dumaguete.

<<Would you recommend travelling though the country by train/ferry or flights?>>

Trains are quite non-existent so it depends on your preference. Options will generally be on flights, fast ferry or slow ferry or bus/private driver.

I suggest you go to the main page and read the FAQs to the right there as there are lots of beach threads.

If on a smartphone scroll down and click on "full version" so these can be seen.

Leyte Island...
Destination Expert
for Cebu City, Cebu Island
Level Contributor
11,968 posts
53 reviews
2. Re: Where to go from Manila

happy to just stay on one of the islands for the full time maybe island hop to another at most (we've done a ton of backpacking and are ready to rest for a while)

We'd like somewhere with a nice beach and enough to keep us occupied with a few excursions...

Could anyone recommend somewhere?


The Philippines is more than 7500 islands and planes don't fly to most of the 7500 islands. Unless you take a charter flight. So many transfers are done by boat. For instance, Boracay, probably the best known destination internationally still requires a boat trip. And one of my favourite islands, Malapascua, requires a boat trip.

The destination that meets your needs in my opinion is Panglao Island Bohol. With side trip possibilities to Siquijor, Camiguin and Cebu.

As previously posted

Bohol province is more than 75 islands.

The main island in the province is Bohol. Most foreigners want to stay at Alona Beach. Alona Beach is on Panglao island. Panglao island is attached to main land Bohol by 2 bridges.

Bohol province has

- Bat tours on Cabgan Island

- Multiple white sand beaches from fairly developed with many bars and restaurants to mostly deserted

- Diving/snorkelling

- Island hopping the islands nearby to Panglao Island

- Day trips to Oslob in Southern Cebu from Alona Beach to swim with whale sharks with no diving or snorkelling experience necessary. This has just become a lot easier with https://apekoptravel.com/

- sea kayaking

- mini rice terraces

- the Chocolate Hills

- ATV tours

- whale and dolphin watching

- tarsier sanctuaries. Tarsiers are the smallest primate in the world. They have our eyes in a tiny body the size of a fist.

- butterfly sanctuaries. They will show the life cycle of the butterfly then take you into a cage with butterflies. They also have large glass screens with butterflies on them .They will try and take pictures in front of the screens making it appear you have wings.

- wild life sanctuaries with monkeys and sanctuaries with pythons you can sit with and have your photo taken

- fire fly tours

- jungle adventure tours

- zip lining/flying fox

- historical sites dating back to 1565 including St.Joseph the Worker Cathedral in Tagbilaran City, Blood Compact, the Baclayon Church and museum and the church ruins in Loboc

- multiple waterfalls where you can go swimming.

- multiple caves including swimming underground in a small lake in the Hinagdanan cave on Panglao Island

- lunch tours on the Loboc river. I had previously been on 8 countryside tours of Bohol and never wanted to go on a lunch cruise until I saw this video


now I have been on my 9th country side tour and can definitely recommend you do a lunch tour with these people

- kayaking on the Loboc river

- hanging bamboo bridges over the Loboc river. There are 2 bridges. You cross the river on one bamboo bridge and come back on the other.

- the Bohol Bee Farm on Panglao island where you can see raffia cloth made using a traditional loom. They are also making clothes and knick knacks. You can eat a meal with edible flowers and honey. They also have home made ice cream with flavours such as Durian ice cream

- rice paddies which means there is a high chance of seeing a Carabao in action

- Shopping in Tagbilaran City. There are several large malls. BQ Mall has a large supermarket, Fun centre for the kids, a cheap foodcourt and cinemas with the latest movies on the second to top level.

- and more

From Tagbilaran Bohol, you can catch the 10.20am daily Oceanjet fast ferry to Larena on Siquijor.

Siquijor has

- faith healers in the mountains.

- white sand beaches

- historical sights/sites

- diving/snorkelling

- cliff jumping

- a huge multiple level waterfall called Cambugahay falls. Check some of the videos on youtube


- a butterfly sanctuary

- the Cantabon cave

- Old Enchanted Balete Tree with fish foot spa

- rice paddies which means there is a high chance of seeing a Carabao in action

- and more

From Jagna Bohol, you can catch the daily 1pm supershuttle ferry to Camiguin, so long as it is running.

Camiguin Island has,

- volcano trekking.

- a huge, white sand, sand bar called White Island

- Hot springs. Ardent Hot Springs is a series of pools ranging from luke warm to 38c. Some of the pools have mini waterfalls.

- Cold springs

- historical sights/sites

- A sunken cemetery

- Waterfalls

- Diving/snorkelling

- Rice paddies. Which means there is a high chance of seeing a Carabao in action.

- and more

From Tagbilaran Bohol, you do a day trip of the historical and other sites in Metro Cebu. Cebu City is the original site of Spanish Occupation in the Philippines. Catch an early fast ferry in the morning from Tagbilaran Bohol to Pier 1 in Cebu City and catch a fast ferry back to Tagbilaran in the afternoon/evening.

You can do a full tour of Metro Cebu which will take all day and will include the TOP and the Taoist Temple

If you are looking for a smaller option, Here is my do it yourself walking tour of Downtown Cebu City

Before you start, it would be helpful if you had a map of Cebu City. EZ maps available in Cebu City have all the locations mentioned below marked on them. However, people more modern than me have suggested using a map app on your phone.

For your walking tour,

- You can start touring straight from pier 1 as Fort San Pedro is right next to pier 1. It is the original site of Spanish occupation in the Philippines, Originally a wooden fort built in 1565, it is now made of stone. It has a museum on site. It has toilets inside. Bring your own toilet tissue

- In front of Fort San Pedro is the Plaza Independencia. It is crowded with Filipinos on Sunday but relatively empty every other day. You won't notice it but there is a tunnel under Plaza Independencia to assist with the flow of traffic from Cebu City to Talisay City on the SRP, otherwise know as the Cebu Coast Road.

- From there you can walk to Carbon Markets, passing Malacañang of the South on the way. Malacañang of the South is on the other side of the road to Plaza Independencia on M.C. Briones.

- Carbon Markets is along M.C. Briones and is massive. Shop for bargains if you want.

- Back track slightly along M.C. Briones and go along D. Jakosalem Street. Until you can see the Magellan's Cross dome to the right. The original cross was planted there in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, just before he popped over to Mactan island and got himself killed by Lapu Lapu. The original cross is still there but is now encased in tindalo wood to protect it.

- After checking out the cross, move inside the adjacent Sto Niño Basilica. The original church was built in 1565 but burnt down twice. The current church building was constructed in the 18th Century. There is a huge amount of artwork to check out plus it is the location of the Sto Niño doll. The doll of the baby Jesus. There is always a long line up of Filipinos waiting to pray in front of it. The open square inside the church has been redeveloped with statues, seating and a fountain. There is a museum on site. There are toilets near the museum and toilets inside the church on the far side of the open square from the Sto Niño doll, at the end of the corridor where most of the painted art work is located. Bring your own toilet tissue

- After Sto Niño Basilica, walk out the main entrance and straight along the short Zamora Street to Legaspi Street. You will then be at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. To get inside turn right into Legaspi Street and go in the nearest entrance.

- After Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, you can stop off at the Archdiocesan Museum next to the cathedral.

- Continue past the Archdiocesan Museum along Mabini Street street until it becomes Sikatuna Street. This occurs on the corner of Colon and Sikatuna. At this corner, you will be able to see the Heritage of Cebu nearby.

- The Heritage of Cebu is a huge statue in the shape of a ship's bow. With statues of historical figures on the sides.

- Added by Al22tecc from Trip Advisor. Insert a stop after heritage museum, visit Jesuit House Museum which is 40 meters away. Form Heritage of Cebu Monument go down a very narrow road to your right called Binakayan. Then back to Heritage of Cebu

- From Heritage of Cebu, you will be able to see Sandiego Yap Ancestral House. It is an old wooden building on the corner. It houses a huge amount of historical artefacts.

- After Sandiego Yap Ancestral House turn the corner into L Jaena Street. Walk about one block and you will be at the Casa Gorordo Museum. It is the former home of the Philippines first Filipino bishop, Bishop Gorordo. The house is set up as it may have been in the nineteenth century. It has toilets and a gift shop in a separate building on the grounds. Bring your own toilet tissue.

After Casa Gorordo, continue along L Jaena Street to the end. Turn right into M.J. Cuenco Avenue. Walk along M.J. Cuenco Avenue to the Plaza Independencia. Turn Left into the Legaspi Extension and walk down to pier 1. The total length of this trip, from Pier 1 back to Pier 1, will be about 3 kilometres or 2 miles.

Leyte Island...
Destination Expert
for Cebu City, Cebu Island
Level Contributor
11,968 posts
53 reviews
3. Re: Where to go from Manila

Forgot to add that there are presently 8 flights a day from Manila to Tagbilaran Bohol.

I can't compare prices with other countries for you.

But I can say this

- The Philippines has always been cheap for me.

- It doesn't matter how much money you have, you can get by on it in the Philippines, it is just the level of comfort, quality and ambiance that will vary. The more money you have to spend, the more comfortable you will be.

Don't know if you think this is cheap but you can get a small 2 storey, 3 bedroom house for P3500 per night, 10 minutes walk to the beach at Alona beach at Flower garden Resort. I have not been inside the three bedroom but I have been inside the 2 bedroom and thought it quite nice. The resort has a nice swimming pool and barbecue area.


For ultra cheap near Alona beach, it is Hope Homes. Pay P750 per night to hire a motorbike and they throw in a room for free


puerto princesa
Level Contributor
7,537 posts
447 reviews
4. Re: Where to go from Manila

Wow, difficult to beat that huge post above but i would consider Port Barton in Palawan where you could rent a bungalow by the beach for the whole month. The beach is sandy and safe. There is island hopping, snorkeling , waterfall trek, and a great place to chill out.


Yorkshire, United...
Level Contributor
6 posts
40 reviews
5. Re: Where to go from Manila

Thanks so much for taking the time to help and give such incredibly detailed replies. This has absolutely informed me of everything I needed to know, thank you, much appreciated :)

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