Yay, the time has finally come. Backpacking Philippines is finally possible again in 2022. After almost 2 years of lockdown, the Philippines opened its doors to international tourists again on Feb. 10, 2022, so our long-awaited dream of a backpacking trip to the Philippines came true early in 2022. Almost 3 weeks we were on the road in the dreamlike country and visited some of the most beautiful places there. Our Philippines itinerary is especially suitable for people who are on the Philippines for the first time and want to get a first impression of what the more than 7,000 islands have to offer.

Arrival Philippines 2022 | Corona Restrictions

Even though tourists are now allowed to enter the Philippines again (despite the Corona pandemic) this of course does not mean that this is super easy and doable without any problems. Entering the Philippines in 2022 still poses some challenges. Travel within the Philippines is also unfortunately not unregulated and associated with some hurdles. To help you a bit with the topic of entering the Philippines and traveling within the Philippines, we have written down our own experiences of our round trip in March 2022. You can read it all here in our travel report:

Philippines 2022 | Entry, S-PaSS, Covid Rules

Philippines Backpacking Itinerary

As already described above, there were some peculiarities and restrictions that made our Philippines itinerary 2022 a bit more elaborate. First of all, in March 2022 not all islands were open without restrictions for all tourists without testing and in addition there was a devastating typhoon in the Philippines at the end of 2021, which devastated large areas of land.

So, of course, the tourist infrastructure on many islands has been destroyed and (due to the pandemic) has not yet been rebuilt. Thus, in March/April 2022, there are still some islands in the Philippines that are difficult for tourists to access or very complicated to travel. This has already very limited our travel planning and we have also taken this into account in our Philippines itinerary 2022.

In addition, this time we also wanted to take it a little easier than other trips (like Iceland) and enjoy more and be on the road less. Therefore, we have included in our itinerary for the Philippines only 3 islands (Coron, Cebu and Palawan). More we would not recommend at a maximum of 3 weeks, unless you really do not want to miss anything and accept a little more stress.


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Day 1 Arrival Manila – Onward journey to Cebu (Moalboal)

You will probably start your Philippines backpacking trip just like we did via Manila, because direct flights to Cebu or other islands are very few and very expensive. Since most flights from Germany arrive late in the evening in Manila, you will be forced to spend one night in Manila and then fly on early in the morning.

For a short but comfortable night near the airport we can recommend KHotel Manila*. Here you will sleep in comfortable double rooms with balcony and air conditioning. The next morning you should fly to Cebu early in the morning and take a bus or a cab to Moalboal.

We would not recommend staying in Cebu because the city does not really have much to offer and is instead loud and uncomfortable. We recommend you to go directly south to the tourist hot sport Moalboal. There it is much quieter, nicer and all possible highlights and sights of southern Cebu are nearby.

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide
Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines

Philippines Backpacking – Arrival Moalboal

You have several options to get from Cebu Airport to Moaboal, ranging from cheap and slow to fast and expensive. How to get from Cebu Airport to Moalboal is presented below.

By Taxi (fast & expensive)

Directly at the airport of Cebu you will be approached at the exit by cab drivers who want to drive you for 2000-2500 pesos directly to your hotel in Moalboal. Of course you can bargain a bit to get a better price. We think this option is the best, because you will be the fastest and you will be brought directly to your hotel. For 2 people this option does not cost 1000 pesos (17 euros) more than the cheapest option by bus or minivan. But you will save some hours of travel time and you will be comfortable and safe on the way.

By minivan (slow and cheaper)

We chose this option, but would not do it again. You take a cab from the airport to the Van Terminal on Junquera Street in Downtown (Google Maps link). This takes about 30 minutes and costs 500 pesos. There you will be put into the next waiting vehicle and have to wait until the bus is full. This can take up to an hour. The price per person is 180 pesos.

If you have large backpacks with you and they also block a seat, then you also pay the price of one person. At the van terminal you have the possibility to buy something to eat or drink at numerous stores. The van will take about 3-4 hours to Moalboal and drop you off at a large parking lot right in the center of town. There you have to pay your “tourist tax” (pass slip) and then you can go by trike to your hotel.

By bus (even slower and a bit cheaper)

It is similar if you want to go by bus to Moalboal. You take a cab to the South Bus Terminal (Google Maps Link), which takes about 30 minutes and costs about 500 pesos. There you will get on the next bus to the south. A ticket will cost you 150 pesos. The bus takes more like 5-6 hours, as there are still passengers getting on and off along the way.

Our experience with the journey to Moalboal

We chose, as mentioned, the variant of cab and the minivan on our Philippines backpacking trip. At the van terminal we had to wait another 1 hour, which we would have rather spent more on the beach. Since the fares are generally quite cheap, we would recommend the faster variant with the cab. But the ride with the minivan was still quite ok after it finally started.

We looked out of the window the whole time and thus got the first impressions of what awaits us in the Philippines. Accordingly, the driving time passed quickly for us. Nevertheless, we were totally happy when we finally arrived in Moalboal. In Moalboal, we first paid the resort tax and then drove within 10 minutes to the gorgeous Ravanela Hotel on the beautiful Whitebeach.

Here we jumped right into our bathing suits and jumped into the sea. If you are there early enough you should do a little snorkeling excursion. The reef directly at White Beach and in front of the hotel is beautiful and especially at sunset the chance to see turtles is high.

Hotel recommendation Moalboal

Ravenala Beach Bungalows The Ravenala is an absolute heart recommendation from us. It really is the most beautiful hotel in the area and a wonderful place to feel at home. The photos on Booking.com* simply do not do justice to this great place. The hotel is located in a beautifully maintained garden with several bungalows, from which you have a view of the beach and the sea. In the center is the common area where you can eat or drink cocktails. In a few steps you are on the beach and in the sea where you can also swim to unbelievably beautiful corals that are just under the water surface. It is just the perfect place to snorkel and at sunset there are always several turtles in the shallow water. We felt very comfortable here and would have liked to stay longer.
  • super delicious food (breakfast included)
  • beautiful garden
  • directly at the beach (White Beach) and the sea
  • huge coral reefs only a few meters from the beach
Ravenala Beach Bungalows | Check Prices*

Day 2 | Scooter tour to the Cebus waterfalls

Today starts the first real day of the Philippines backpacking trip. The area south of Moalboal has an incredible amount of waterfalls to offer, which you can experience as part of a tour or on your own. We would recommend you to rent a scooter and drive to the most beautiful waterfalls around Moalboal in Cebu. You are independent and super flexible and it is also fun.

During our round trip through the Philippines in March 2022, unfortunately, some access roads to the waterfalls were still devastated by the typhoon that raged over the Philippines at the end of 2021. We could therefore unfortunately not visit all the waterfalls near Moalboal. Nevertheless, here are the most beautiful Moalboal waterfalls for you:

Kawasan Falls

Kawasan Falls is probably the most famous waterfall on Cebu. The multi-tiered waterfalls are located in the province of Badian in the west of Cebu. Kawasan Waterfall consists of 3 levels, all of which have natural pools. These natural pools are filled with the “Gatorade” blue water of the waterfall and invite you to swim and take many great pictures. Especially popular are the pictures sitting on the wooden raft. The surroundings of the Kawasan Falls are also incredibly beautiful. Limestone canyons enclosed by the bright green of trees and plants. Simply Wow!

The best time to visit the falls is during the dry season between late December and early June. At this time, the waterfalls and the river carry less water and can usually be visited without any problems. In the rainy season, however, the water level may be too high and the current too strong, so that a visit to the waterfalls or even a canyoneering tour is not possible here.

In the rainy season, you should therefore keep an eye on the weather and find out early whether a visit is possible. Since the Kawasan Falls are one of the main attractions on Cebu, you should be here early in the morning. So you can enjoy the waterfalls and the beautiful nature without many other people. Unfortunately, we could only do the canyoneering tour in March 2022 and could not visit the actual Kawasan Falls.

Due to the typhoon at the end of December 2021, most of the tourist infrastructure was destroyed, so you could not get to the falls through the normal entrance. Also the canyoneering tour ended in front of the Kawasan Falls. Nevertheless, the tour was a mega great experience that you should not miss.

Montpellier

The Montpellier Waterfall is a rather untouristy alternative to the Kawasan Waterfall. Although there is no multi-level waterfall to experience, you can enjoy the very high waterfall with the turquoise natural pool in front of it in peace and do not have to share it with many other people.

The Montpellier Waterfall is about 1 hour away from Moalboal. From the road you can reach the Montpellier Waterfall after about 15 minutes walk. The path leads through a private area. Unfortunately, this waterfall was also closed during our visit in March 2022. So it is best to ask your hotel in advance if the waterfall can be visited.

Cambais Falls

Cambais Waterfall was fortunately open during our visit to Cebu, so we were able to visit it. However, you could see the damage left by the typhoon, so that a whole part of nature was destroyed. From Moalboal you can reach the entrance to the Cambais waterfall after about 50 minutes. The way with the scooter leads you into the mountains. The actual Cambais waterfall can be reached after a 15 minute walk. Since the path is currently not so well recognizable, we would recommend you to take a guide at least for the way there.

Our guide was a little boy who we gladly gave a few pesos to so he could lead us to the Cambais waterfall. He also showed us how to climb up the side of the first small waterfall on the right to visit the waterfall behind it as well. Here we said goodbye to our guide to enjoy in peace the wonderful nature and a short bath in the water of the waterfall. Afterwards we walked back on our own and could spend a few minutes with some cute little puppies. Also on the way back we stopped again and again to enjoy the great landscape and to soak up the impressions.

Day 3 | Sardine Run and White Beach, Moalboal

Relaxing and swimming at the beautiful White Beach is of course always possible, but for today’s day of our Philippines backpacking trip we had planned some additional action. At the nearby Panagsama Beach you can experience an incredible natural spectacle. For this we drove with the scooter in about 15 minutes from White Beach to Panagsama Beach, which is the actual tourist center of Moalboal.

Here you can find a lot of restaurants, bars and of course hotels. Everything but in a not so nice atmosphere as on the north White Beach, which is why we would not recommend anyone to stay here at Panagsama Beach. You can take the scooter to the center of the village and park it at a free place near the beach.

It doesn’t really matter where, but so that you have a point for the navigation system you can also go to the following point to park the scooter there (Google Maps link). You can then just go into the water here and in a few minutes swim to the place where you can see the thousands of sardines.

It is really incredible, but true. You swim from the beach just 50 meters out into the sea and see thousands and thousands of sardines swimming around in a huge shoal just a few meters below you. You should have fins with you or borrow some, because with them you can get under water very well and can then also dive through the sardine shoals during freediving. An incredible spectacle that you should not miss.

You can spend several hours here or as long as your strength lasts. If you prefer to do the whole thing in an organized tour, you can book it here. You will be picked up from your hotel and will be provided with a guide who will show you the perfect spot for the sardines, snorkel and fins. In the afternoon we relaxed from the spectacle on White Beach in front of our hotel (Ravanela Beach Resort*) and enjoyed the sunset with a cocktail.

Day 4 Kawasan Falls Canyoneering

Today we felt like some more action and what could be better than canyoneering at the famous Kawasan Falls in Cebu. Canyoneering we had done only in India and is a hike through a narrow gorge or the river that runs through it. You can’t do this tour alone, you have to book a tour with a guide. We booked ours directly at our hotel, but you can also book a tour online*. We paid just under 25 euros per person for the tour and were picked up by tricycle from our hotel in the morning and brought back in the afternoon.

The Kawasan Zipline

Arrived at the starting point of the canyoneering tour the first highlight was already waiting for us, because we had to choose between walking 20 minutes to the Kawasan Canyon or to bridge the distance by zipline. The choice was of course not difficult and so we hung only a few minutes later in a safety harness on a several hundred meters long wire rope. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide

And off we went, hurtling at breakneck speed over the jungle at a height of 50 meters and having a blast. But the fun slowly stopped as we approached the target platform, where helping hands were already waiting to take us off the rope. But just before this platform, our momentum and maybe our luck left us and we stopped and slowly glided backwards to the middle of the zipline. Bummer!

So now we were hanging there waiting for someone to get us down. A funny situation. After a few minutes we saw someone hanging from the platform and crawling towards us. After endless minutes of waiting, he finally reached us and attached a rope to our harness and his colleagues on the platform pulled us towards the platform. Finally we were safe and could walk the remaining meters to the start of the Kawasan hike.

Kawasan Canyoneering

After the zipline, we had to walk for a few more minutes and then the canyoneering tour finally started. After we entered the water of the Kawasan River we were carried along by the (not too strong) current and could just let ourselves drift and admire the 50 meters high walls of the canyon. In the next hours the drifting in the water alternated again and again with climbing, hiking and of course jumping into the water. The guide always showed us exactly where we had to go and what we had to watch out for.

There is no paved path or any kind of railing to hold on to. You really have to be careful where you step or jump. The highlight of the whole canyoning hike at Kawasan Falls are of course the many small and big jumps that you sometimes have to do (rather the small ones) and sometimes can do (rather the big ones). It is of course not always easy and already a big thrill, but if the guide jumps ahead and also shows you exactly where to jump (and where not), then it is all doable and relatively safe.

After a few meters a small ledge came into our field of vision and I knew immediately, this will be the jump that will cost me the most nerves. This ledge was 7 meters high and these 7 meters look just as high from above as from below. Nevertheless I wanted to dare this jump. And after our guide had made the jump first and called to me from below unmistakably, I should also finally jump down, I finally took all my courage together and jumped into the depth. The free fall is both the worst and the most beautiful thing, but after a second it’s all over and you land in the deep water and know you’ve made it.

The last waterfall of the Kawasan hike

After this exciting experience, the trail continues relatively flat and you have more time to admire the great nature around you. After a few minutes you come to the last waterfall of the hike. The actual last one would be the Kawasan Fall itself, but since we were on Cebu in the spring of 2022, not all the destruction of the typhoon of late 2021 could be removed and thus the actual Kawasan Fall was closed to the public. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide However, the last waterfall on our tour was also very impressive and beautiful. We were lucky to be here all alone and could take pictures in peace and enjoy the nature. Besides, we could buy fried bananas and something cold to drink at a stand to strengthen us before it went back to the road and then to the hotel. If you want to know more about Kawasan Falls Canyoning, then read our travel report:

Kawasan Falls Canyoneering I Waterfall Hike in Cebu

Day 5 Scooter Tour Cancalanog Falls and Sardine Run

On today’s day of our Philippines round trip we wanted to see another Cebu waterfall and this time a less visited and not so crowded waterfall. We chose Cancalanog Falls in the central hill country of Cebu. Since we wanted to be flexible and also adventurous on the road, we went of course again with the scooter. The ride takes you south on the big main road from Moalboal, then after a short time into the hilly center of Cebu Island. Here the road becomes much more adventurous.

It is not asphalted throughout and you sometimes have to drive very carefully so that the narrow scooter tires stay intact. After a few kilometers we are almost there and only have to drive a short but very steep piece downhill. We manage that pretty well, but we’re already jittery about the way back, where we have to drive uphill on the steep path.

Whether our little scooter that with both of us on it creates at all? Arrived at the official (very small) parking lot (Google Maps link) we put down our scooter and walked about 200 meters through the forest downhill until we finally arrived. We have to admit, the waterfall is not really high and should not really be called a waterfall, because the water falls here only a few meters. But the natural basin into which the water falls is really very beautiful and is lined with steep rocks.

Here, too, the typhoon and probably also the tourist-free Corona period have left their mark, because the terrain is not really in good shape, so that, for example, the way to the water seems quite adventurous, because you have to walk over holey and broken concrete slabs and sometimes also have to hold on to branches.

We took several laps in the cool water and were all alone at the waterfall. Well, except for the construction workers who were dismantling a tree with screaming chainsaws just a few hundred meters away. But you can not have everything. After we had splashed enough we ran back to our scooter and tackled the steep climb. And unfortunately, the path was really too steep for us, so Sabrina had to dismount on the way so that I could get up the mountain alone.

Back at the hotel in Moalboal we used the afternoon to have another look at the sardines at Panagsama Beach. We still had the scooter and so we grabbed our snorkeling equipment and quickly drove over. We went into the water at a different spot this time so we had to swim a little less to the sardines. Again, the schools of fish were right below us and we could almost touch them with our feet. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide The special highlight today was that we discovered a sea turtle just a few meters from us under the water surface. We quickly dived there and since I had big fins with me this time, I was able to swim super close to the elegant turtle and take really great photos. What a great day!

Day 6 Arrival Coron

Today’s day of our Philippines itinerary took us to another and this time much smaller island, Coron or Busuanga. Busuanga is the actual name of the island. Even though Coron is only a 1.5 hour flight from Cebu, the journey from Moalboal is a day trip. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideAt 6am we took a private cab (3000 pesos) from the hotel directly to Cebu Airport. The ride was relatively pleasant and also took just under 3 hours.

From Cebu we flew to Coron (Busuanga) at 1pm and from there we took a minivan to Coron Town, which takes about 30 minutes from the airport in the north. After arriving in Coron Town, we made our dive arrangements for the next day – we wanted to do Shipwreck Diving – and then drove to our hotel La Natura, which is located a little bit outside. There we relaxed at the pool after this exhausting day.

Hotel recommendation Coron

La Natura Resort  La Natura Resort in Coron consists of a beautiful garden-like complex located a bit away from the hustle and bustle of Coron Town. You are in the middle of nature and far away from other tourists or the noise of the city. You wouldn't expect it, but the owners have built a wonderful resort here that you can't even imagine from the outside. There is a large pool, a lovingly landscaped garden and the spacious cabins are equipped with large bed and ceiling fan.
  • large pool with whirlpool
  • lovingly landscaped garden
  • away from the noisy hustle and bustle of the city
  • WLAN & breakfast included

La Natura Resort | Check Availability*

Day 7 Shipwreck Diving in Coron

One of the special highlights in Coron are the many shipwrecks from the 2nd World War, which lie here directly off the coast. Almost nowhere in the world is there such a large density of wrecks that are so easy to explore while snorkeling or diving. A total of 10 Japanese warships from the Pacific battles of World War 2 lie here from the time Japan occupied the Philippines.

Within a very short time, the Japanese warships that had retreated to the Coron coast were destroyed by the American forces. The fact that the boats were so close to the coast is nowadays a blessing for adventurous people like us, despite the macabre aftertaste.

On one dive you usually visit 2-3 shipwrecks. On our wreck dive there were 2 wrecks and a spot of colorful coral. It was totally amazing to discover such a big ship on the bottom of the sea and then to dive through a small hatch in the middle of it. We recommend this unique experience to every diver who visits the island of Coron. All information about Shipwreck Five on Coron can be found here:

Coron Wreck Diving I All you need to know

Day 8 Private Boat Tour Coron

An island hopping tour on Coron Island in the Philippines is probably one of the most beautiful highlights you can see on Coron. Even if Coron (or the main island Busuanga) itself is not worth seeing, the lagoons and bays off the coast are.

The islands that we saw on our Super Ultimate Tour off Coron are among the most beautiful natural highlights that we saw on our round trip through the Philippines. Our tour started at 8 o’clock in the morning. After it took a few minutes until the paperwork of the boat captain was done we started to the following highlights.

The highlights of the Coron Super Ultimate Tour

Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake is probably the most famous lake in Coron and definitely one of the most beautiful spots in the region. If you have booked a private tour then you will be lucky to get to this lake before the other group tours. You will first drive into a small bay, which looks beautiful in itself. Then you go down the stairs to the actual Kayangan Lake.

There is a large jetty that gives you a view of the really crystal clear greenish shimmering water. By the way, the water here is freshwater and the lake has really very impressive underwater rock formations. You can see them while snorkeling or free diving.

Since we were lucky enough to be the first ones at Kayangan Lake that day, we were able to enjoy the lake alone for almost half an hour before other tourists arrived. Then we went on to the next highlight, the neighboring Barracuda Lake. By the way, you can read more about Kayangang Lake here:

Kayangan Lake I Tips for the most beautiful highlight in Coron

Barracuda Lake

The Barracuda Lake is located right next to Kayangan Lake and the special feature of this lake are, as the name suggests, the barracudas, which you can see here with luck. Barracudas are about 1-1.5 meters long predatory fish, which can be dangerous for you. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide Barracuda Lake is relatively similar to Kayangan Lake next door.

Here, too, the boat landing is on one side, you walk down a staircase between the sharp limestone rocks to the other side, where there is a large jetty and the almost transparent water of the lake. By the way, the Barracuda Lake is up to 40 meters deep and has a pleasant water temperature of 28° degrees all year round The main activities at Barracuda Lake are, like at Kayangan Lake, swimming and snorkeling and of course looking for barracudas. In our separate travel report you can read more about Barracuda Lake.

Twin Lagoons

The Twin Lagoons are again a very special highlight of the island world of Coron. As the name suggests, this highlight consists of 2 lagoons, which are connected by a thin rock wall. At low tide you can swim through a hole in the rock wall or at high tide you can climb a ladder over the rock wall.

On the other side of the Twin Lagoons you can’t do more than swim, because there is no jetty or anything you can walk on. Also this side of the lagoon doesn’t look as spectacular as the other side where the boats are anchored.

Therefore we would recommend you not to stay too long, but to swim back to the rock face and this time take the ladder. With the boat side in the background you can take really nice photos. If you want to know more about Twin Lagoon read our travel report: Twin Lagoon Coron I The most important tips for your visit

Beach 91

Lunch is served at this beach. The beach itself is beautiful and perfect for swimming. The lunch, however, puts the crown on the whole thing again. We had a large buffet with seafood, crab, chicken, vegetarian options and of course fruit to the bone.

After lunch we even had some time to explore the area a bit by kayak. Next door is Sunset Cove, a small cove that can be explored by kayak.

Twin Peaks Coral Garden

Here is another beautiful snorkeling spot where you can explore the amazing underwater world of Coron. Don’t forget your snorkel mask, because there is a lot to discover here.

CYC Beach

The end of the Super Ultimate Tour in Coron is the CYC Beach. So after all the strenuous activities you can relax a little bit. The sand is super fine and at the edge of the beach there are also some mangroves. You can go swimming here or just relax on the beach.Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide Since this is the last stop, we will go back to the port of Coron.

Where should I book a boat tour in Coron?

Under the current Coron circumstances you have to book a tour to enter Coron at all. We can highly recommend the Provider El Nido Paradise* highly recommended. With this tour we also experienced the highlight of our Philippines round trip, the 3 day boat tour from Coron to El Nido.

Read more about it here: 3 Day Boat Trip from Coron to El Nido I An unforgettable Trip This provider also offers all kinds of excursions on Coron and among others the Super Ultimate Tour on which you also visit the numerous highlights described here.

Day 9-11 Boat trip to El Nido

If we had to name a highlight of our Philippines backpacking trip it would probably be this tour. Within 3 days we went by boat from Coron to El Nido and visited in this time many great deserted islands, snorkeling spots and even a cliff to jump down.

Just the feeling of always being on the road and no matter when and where you look over the railing always hundreds of green overgrown islands to see made this trip so incomparable. But let’s start at the beginning: We booked this boat tour from Coron to El Nido after a long research with the provider El Nido Paradise*. This one has many, very good reviews and also the price was very good compared to other similar providers.

El Nido Paradise Boat Tour Coron-El Nido| Check Prices*

We started our tour by meeting early in the morning at the port of Coron. There we had to do some organizational things and then we went on the boat. There was a small briefing at the beginning before we started in the direction of our first destination. The first day started with a snorkeling tour in the Blue Lagoon near Coron and then led us to Ditaytayan Island, where we saw one of the most beautiful beaches. Here we just relaxed in the hammock after the obligatory photos and enjoyed the view and the tranquility.

The days on board

This is actually how all the days of the three-day boat trip go, it’s a completely individual mix of activities like snorkeling, kayaking or beach visits, relaxing on board and delicious food. There are new activities offered almost every hour (sometimes even more frequently) in which you can participate or not. It is up to each person to decide.

In the course of a day you go to different snorkeling spots, lonely beaches, sandbanks or even beautiful islands. The great thing is that under normal circumstances you would never get to these great places. Because the normal 1 day tours that you can take from El Nido or Coron never go that far out. This means that the beaches and islands that you can experience on a three-day boat tour, you can only see on such a multi-day boat tour.

We just felt totally comfortable and couldn’t believe what a beautiful landscape we were driving through. And then there is of course the incredibly delicious food with which the crew of El Nido Paradise* has spoiled us over the 3 days. All information about the 3-day boat trip from Coron to El Nido can be found here:

3 day boat trip from Coron to El Nido I An unforgettable trip

Day 12 Backpacking Philippines – Explore El Nido

After the 3 days on the high seas we recommend that you first arrive in El Nido and find your way around. El Nido is mainly divided into two areas. On the one hand you have El Nido Town with its lively alleys, cafes, souvernir stores and hotels and then the area around Corong Corong Beach. Here it is a bit quieter.

Here you will find mainly hotels on the beach and a relaxed atmosphere. From Corong Corong Beach it takes about 20 minutes to walk to El Nido Town and only a few minutes by tricycle. So decide if you want a little more hustle and bustle or if you prefer to enjoy the peace and quiet.

We spent the first day just strolling through the alleys, drinking delicious coffee and planning the next few days. Because although El Nido is such a small place there is a lot to do.

Things To Do In El Nido Palawan

Hotel recommendation El Nido

Fisheye Hotel Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideThe Fisheye Hotel* is located in the middle of the hustle and bustle of El Nido Town and yet you sleep here quietly in the backyard. You won’t hear anything of the noise of the city. The hotel has only 4 rooms and the whole complex is lovingly decorated in Bali-style. Breakfast is also included here and it is also delicious. There is also a hotel-owned store where you can buy chic jewelry and clothes. We felt very comfortable here and you can get everywhere quickly on foot.

  • stylishly furnished in Bali-style
  • Air conditioning and TV with Netflix
  • Rooms are quietly located in the backyard
  • Double room from 30 Euro

Fisheye Hotel | Check Availability*

Frendz Hostel El Nido Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideAre you looking for a little more action and want to meet other people quickly? Then you should check in at Frendz Hostel*. From the roof terrace with its huge pool you have a breathtaking view of the sea. You have a huge common area with pool table and bar. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, you’re in the wrong place, but if you want to party on the roof terrace in the evening, you’re in the right place.

  • Large hostel in the middle of town
  • Huge roof terrace with pool
  • Large common area
  • Party at the hotel pool in the evening

Frendz Hostel | Check Prices*

Hotel recommendation at Corong Corong Beach

Moringa Resort Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideThere are no bungalows here but nicely furnished double rooms from which you have a great view of the huge pool and the hotel grounds. From the higher rooms you even have a view of the sea, which is not far away. Breakfast is included and you can also order dinner in the hotel restaurant. Wi-Fi is also available and for 100 pesos you can be in El Nido Town in a few minutes by trike.

  • big hotel pool
  • nicely furnished double rooms
  • each room has a balcony
  • Breakfast is included

Moringa Resort | Check Availability*

Day 13 Scooter Tour to Napcan Beach, Twin Beach and Marimegmeg Beach

To explore more than just the destinations within walking distance, we rented a scooter for today’s day of our Philippines backpacking trip. We love to explore the area with the scooter. You are flexible and can organize the day according to your own wishes. Our first destination for the day should also be the most distant of the day… Napcan Beach. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide From El Nido, we were at Napcan Beach after just 45 minutes. Here, a nearly 4 km long and 50 m wide bay awaited us. Beach wherever you look. We went for a walk to look for a suitable place. Unfortunately there were not so many shady places. Only at the entrance to the beach, where you can rent sunbeds with umbrellas and the tourists cavort.

After we had taken a short break to take photos and fly drone we were also besieged by small sand fleas and bitten several times. This spoiled our visit to Napcan Beach a bit, so we decided to stop for a short lunch in El Nido and then drive to the next beach. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideThe next beach for today should be Maremegmeg Beach. It is located a bit north of El Nido. It is about 50-55 minutes from Napcan Beach.

The Marimegmeg Beach is considered to be the most beautiful beach of El Nido and was very popular and also touristic especially before Corona. The entrance to the beach is through a path that has a lot of stores on the right and left side. Due to the pandemic, however, almost everything had to close, so that currently only a handful of stores are open.

On the beach itself there are lots of hotels and beach bars with cool music, swings and beanbags. A little bit you feel here like on Bali. The further you go along the beach the quieter it gets. So we were able to find a quiet place to spend the rest of the day just relaxing on the beach.

Day 14 Boat Tour B

The new day should be a bit more active again and we had planned a boat tour. From El Nido you can start to 4 different boat tours, each with different beaches, bays and caves. The different boat tours in El Nido are funnily standardized and have the names Tour A – D. They also cost exactly the same everywhere. They also cost exactly the same everywhere, so it makes no difference where you book your tour, because on the beach you will be randomly distributed to the boats anyway. You can also easily book the tours online through the provider El Nido Paradise*. We were very satisfied with the provider. Everything is well and professionally organized! The different tours take you to different beautiful destinations and are divided as follows:

Tour A : Lagoons and Beaches

Tour A is the most popular tour in El Nido, because it includes the famous Big Lagoon. You will see a selection of the most beautiful destinations in El Nido, but you will also meet most of the other tourists.

  • Big Lagoon
  • Seven Commando Beach
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Payon Payong Beach
  • Shimizu Island

Cost: 1200 Pesos + 200 Pesos Enviromental Fee

Tour B: Caves and Bays

On Tour B you will see mysterious caves, great beaches and Snake Island, which looks especially impressive from the drone. Note that Snake Island is visited at noon, when it is mostly high tide and thus the sandbar is not really visible.

  • Papaya Beach
  • Entalula Island
  • Cudugnon Cave
  • Catheral Cave
  • Snake Island

Cost: 1300 Pesos + 200 Pesos Enviromental Fee

Tour C : Hidden Beaches

This tour is the second most popular tour in El Nido and offers a great mix of adventure and snorkeling. You will visit beautiful beaches and the insane Helicopter Island.

  • Hidden Beach
  • Star Beach
  • Talisay Beach
  • Helicopter Island
  • Matinloc Shrine

Cost: 1400 pesos + 200 pesos environmental fee

Tour D : Island Beaches

On this rather unpopular tour you will visit the Small Lagoon and a selection of the most beautiful beaches of El Nido.

  • Nat-Nat Beach
  • Paradise Beach
  • Cadloa Lagoon
  • Pasandigan Beach
  • Small Lagoon

Cost: 1200 Pesos + 200 Pesos Enviromental Fee Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide

Our experience with Tour B

We decided to take the group tour B on our Philippines backpacking trip. We had thought about doing a private tour again like in Coron, but this time we wanted to save a little money. So we were ready at 9am at El Nido Beach to start our tour. After some organizational things we went on the boat and were ready to go.

While next to us all the boats already left for their tours, we waited…. and waited. Unfortunately, one person was much too late and made sure that we left only around 10 o’clock. There was directly at the beginning the mood something in the cellar.

Entalula Beach

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideBut with our first destination the mood got better. First we went to Entalula Beach. This was actually the destination we were looking forward to the most. In the right bay, a steep rock juts out of the water, making for a perfect image with the drone. While the whole group was snorkeling and walking on the beach in the left bay, we had the right bay all to ourselves.

We only had to walk through the waist-high water to get there. Here we could take pictures in peace, fly drone and enjoy the amazing view. We had just under 45 minutes at Entalula Beach, but would have preferred to stay the whole day. A dreamlike spot on earth, which has taken our breath away.

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide
Entalula Island

Snorkeling

After the beach visit we went on to another island. Here we docked next to a steep cliff and were able to snorkel. The snorkeling spot was quite nice, but not to compare with other snorkeling spots we have already seen in the Philippines.

Snake Island and lunch

Next, we headed to Snake Island. Snake Island is a long sandbank that leads from a small island over to the “mainland”. Unfortunately we had no luck with the tides during our visit. At high tide the sandbank is under water and can only be guessed at.

A real highlight is the visit at low tide. But to see the sandbank also at high tide you can climb a hill on the small island within a few minutes and enjoy the view. Or you can fly with your drone to have an even better view.

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide
Snake Island

After the descent from the viewpoint we had to wait, because lunch is served on Snake Island. You can spend your free time exploring the small island or going for a swim. We looked for a shady spot in the water, because it was really hot in the meantime and just relaxed a bit. With lunch the crew really outdid themselves. There was a huge buffet of different kinds of meat and fish, vegetables, rice and lots of fruit. Even for vegetarians there was enough choice, so that I (Sabrina) did not have to starve.

Cudugnon Cave

After so much beach and sea it was time for a little change. And we definitely got that with Cudugnon Cave. The boat stops for this a few meters away from a beach at a limestone wall. From the mooring we first went into the water, then through a hole in the limestone wall and into the cave behind it.

The cave was really huge and really impressive. Through some holes some light was shining into the first part of the cave. In the second part it was a bit brighter and you had the opportunity to climb around a bit and take pictures. A really cool experience and a nice change to the other spots.

Cathedral Cave

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideThe last stop of our tour was the Cathedral Cave. This is another big cave between the limestone rocks. It is already visible from the outside and we went by boat to the entrance of the cave and could take some pictures. Swimming is unfortunately no longer allowed here, because there are probably some poisonous sea snakes. So you can only see this great place from the boat. After all had made their photos we went back to El Nido.

Return trip to El Nido

The drive back to El Nido was really nice and relaxing. We sat on the wooden boards outside the boat, let our legs dangle over the sea, were flashed by the great impressions of the day and watched how the islands around El Nido are bathed in the warm light of the sunset. What a beautiful ending to this great day.

Day 15 Canopy Walk + Kayak Tour

The next day of our backpacking trip to the Philippines starts early and with a little mix up. We wanted to do the hike to Taraw Cliff and for this we already started at short before 8am. We told the driver of the tricycle only briefly that we wanted to go to Taraw Cliff and just went without further research.

We were then dropped off at the office of the Canopy Walk and were still of the opinion to be right… because somehow we have thrown the hike to the Taraw Cliff and the Canopy Walk in a drawer and thought it was the same activity. To make a long story short: They are two different activities. Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide

Canopy Walk

So we started with the Canopy Walk. At the office of the Canopy Walk you can choose between 2 options. You can just walk to the top and enjoy the view or you can also walk over the nets. You pay 700 pesos per person if you not only want to climb to the top but also walk over the nets. You should definitely do that. If you only pay 400 pesos then you climb to the top and then the same way back.

At the beginning you walk over a long wobbly suspension bridge. Here you will be secured with your safety harness on a guide rope, so that you can not fall off in any case. The rest of the way is also really super secured. Everywhere there are railings and there are footbridges and paths built into the rock, which make the hike relatively easy and definitely safe.

It is never strenuous and you can reach the top in less than 20 minutes. From the observation deck there you have a great view of the bay of El Nido and the sea. If you have chosen the “big” package for 700 pesos then it goes even further over the various nets that are stretched up there in dizzying heights. There are always photo breaks and your guide will take numerous photos of you.

We found the canopy walk hike really nice and would rate it as one of the highlights of El Nido. You really have a beautiful view from up there and enjoy a panorama that you can otherwise only see with a drone. We also had a super nice guide who told us something about the hike to Taraw Cliff, which we actually wanted to do. The official trail has been closed for some time because there have been some accidents.

But unofficially there are guides who accompany you to the Taraw Cliff. And our guide at the Canopy Walk does exactly that. So we didn’t have to think long and booked the climb for the next day. After the visit of the canopy walk we just had morning and strolled a little bit through El Nido. After that we went to Corong Corong Beach, because we had planned another sportive activity for today. Do you want more information about the Canopy Walk:

Canopy Walk El Nido (Taraw Cliff)

Kayak Tour at Corong Corong Beach

During our research for the Philippines we hardly read anything about kayak trips in El Nido. But since we love such excursions, this came despite the little info directly on our ToDo list. And what can we say, this was one of the most amazing excursions we did in El Nido.

From Corong Corong Beach you have the option to paddle to several beaches. We first paddled to Ipil Beach 2 within about 45 minutes. The path leads along the limestone cliffs and at one point through a huge gap in the rocks. You will also pass some other beaches, which you can visit on the way back.

Ipil Beach 2

Arrived at Ipil Beach 2 we were totally impressed. The scenery is just incredibly beautiful. White beach, perfect turquoise water and the cliffs covered with green plants. But the best part was… we were completely alone. So we spread our beach towel under a small tree and enjoyed the wonderful time in this beautiful place.

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide
Ipil Beach 2

Papaya Beach

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide
Papaya Beach

From Ipil Beach 2 we wanted to go to Seven Commandos first, because this is also a beach that is visited by the boat tours. But at the same time this is exactly the problem. It was swarming with boats and tourists and for us it was just too crowded. So we paddled directly a few meters further and stopped next at Papaya Beach. Here, in addition to the wonderful beach, there is also a palm tree with a swing that makes a particularly nice photo motif.

Here were also a few other tourists on the road but one has found without problem a quiet spot and could enjoy the time on this great beach. Since we already had late afternoon we started after Papaya Beach the way back towards Corong Corong Beach. If you have more time you can paddle from here to Lapus Lapus Beach. We did not make it on this day.

Day 16 Taraw Cliff + Las Cabanas Beach

Today it should finally be time. The real hike up Taraw Cliff was coming up. Already at 5 o’clock in the morning we should be at the office of the Canopy Walks to meet the guide. From here, we first headed towards El Nido Bakery and then continued through the winding paths off the main roads to the starting point of the hike.

We were told to bring something to drink and sturdy shoes. From our guide we got gloves and headlamps and we were ready to go. It was really still pitch dark and you could only see the small part that was illuminated by the headlamp. With every step you had to be careful where you step. In some places you also had to climb or walk over very narrow rocks.

Our guide always told us exactly where to hold on and where to step in these places. And so it went over stick and stone within about 45 minutes high on the cliffs of the mountain Taraw. Shortly before we were on top, it was slowly getting light and the first birds accompanied our ascent with their singing. Just in time for sunrise we had made it and could marvel at the magnificent view of El Nido. Illuminated by the warm light and with the rising sun behind us, this was one of the most amazing views of our Philippines backpacking trip.Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide We were not alone on the mountain but the number of other tourists kept within limits, so that we could find a place for us. On the mountain, however, there is no viewing platform or the like. That means you have to look for a place on the pointed rocks somewhere. We spent some time here with taking photos, flying drone and enjoy before it went back to the descent.

This then takes place in the light, but you still have to watch out properly where you step. At 7:30 a.m. we were then back down in El Nido and thus had a great experience before breakfast. The breakfast in our hotel we had more than earned afterwards. All information about the hike on the Taraw Cliff can be found here:

Taraw Cliff Hike 2022 I El Nido Palawan

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate Guide
View of Maremegmeg and Las Cabanas

Since the start of the day was already so exhausting, the rest of the day was just to relax. We chose Las Cabanas Beach for this, which is directly adjacent to Marimegmeg Beach, but a bit quieter and more relaxed. This is where we spent the rest of the day.

Day 17 Kayak Tour and Arrival Puerto Princesa

On the last real vacation day of our Philippines backpacking trip in El Nido, we had until the afternoon and wanted to spend this time again on a secluded beach. So after breakfast we quickly checked out of our hotel, rented a kayak and paddled to Lapus Lapus Beach this time.

The beach can be reached in about 10-15 minutes from Corong Corong Beach. Part of the beach is private property, but during our visit we were able to go ashore on the far right side of the beach without any problem and had a small section of beach for ourselves. We spread out our beach towel under the tree and spent the day swimming, snorkeling and reviewing our great Philippines backpacking trip.

In the late afternoon, we had to go back and get ready for our drive to Puerto Princesa. The van was supposed to pick us up at 5pm, but we were actually picked up at 6pm. After that we went within about 5.5 hours and partly like on a roller coaster towards Puerto Princesa. The ride was really terrible and we were glad when we finally arrived at our hotel.

Hotel recommendation Puerto Princesa

Backpacking Philippines in 2022 | The Ultimate GuideIf you have to stay overnight in Puerto Princesa, like we did, we can recommend the Hotel Cleon Villas Pension*. The owner was really super nice and even waited longer for us because we arrived there around midnight. The rooms are simple but very clean and perfect for one night.

Hotel Cleon Villas | Check Prices*

Day 18 Continue to Manila and fly back home

On the last day of our Philippines backpacking trip, we continued our return journey by taking an early morning plane to Manila. We deliberately took the plane to Manila in the morning, although our flight to Germany started in the early evening. We have always heard and read that the domestic flights in the Philippines are delayed or even canceled.

So, in order not to take any risks, we planned enough time to take a later flight to Manila in case of emergency. But for us everything worked out and the flight started on time. So we were already in Manila in the morning and could still look at the city for a few hours. We left our luggage at a storage place at the airport and left with only a small backpack. We took a cab to the historic district of Intramuros within 45 minutes. Here are many parks, museum and buildings from the colonial era.

However, we spent most of our time looking for air-conditioned cafes or buildings because it was just incredibly hot. So we slowly strolled from one air-conditioned building to the next, meanwhile taking in the sights. For a few hours it was quite nice to stroll here and also to bridge the time until our flight. So if you have a few hours in Manila you should go to Intramuros.

Conclusion after 2,5 weeks Philippines backpacking trip

We had been dreaming of a backpacking trip to the Philippines for so long and we were not disappointed. The Philippines is simply a gorgeous country that impressed us with its underwater world, beautiful beaches and stunning islands. We are sure that it was not the last trip for to the Philippines. We will definitely come back again!

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