Last year I spent a couple of weeks travelling around the Philippines by myself.
Some people think the Philippines is an odd choice for solo travel, however I don’t agree. English is widely spoken making it easy to ask for help if you need it, which is a big plus for the nervous solo traveler. Prices are low, which is also a good selling point for a single traveller used to paying supplements for everything.
People will tell you it is ‘dangerous’ but really that wasn’t my experience. The most dangerous thing I found were the bus drivers, who overtake on blind bends and generally drive like maniacs, but apart from that…
Anyway, here is my itinerary for a week or so trip around the island of Luzon. This took me eight days (you could do it faster or slower depending on your mood) and at the end I flew down to Cebu for some beach relaxation. All this is really easy to organize once you arrive in Philippines, so you can change plans as the mood takes you.
This itinerary basically makes a loop around Luzon, from Manila and back to Manila again.
Start and finish: Manila
So firstly, Manila. Note which airport you are flying into. Many budget airlines fly to Clark, and you can expect a long journey into the city if your plane lands there.
Is Manila dangerous? You can see my conclusions in my Manila post here. Certainly if enough people tell you it is dangerous and fill your head with horror stories about the city then that changes your mindset to an extent.
It’s an interesting city. You can wander around the intramuros (‘between the walls’) and explore the old part of the city there, or sit and relax and enjoy a spot of people watching in the park. I did feel a couple of days was enough though.
From Manila I took a bus to the rice terraces of Banaue. This is a truly stunning region with an amazing landscape and lots of hiking opportunities. You could wander off on your own but it may be better to find people to hike with. I met some other travellers on the way up, but also plenty of local guides met the bus when we got there, eager to sell their services. I spent two nights there and could easily have stayed longer.
Next stop: Sagada, a small town with the so-called ‘hanging coffins’. There are a lot of hiking opportunities here, all within easy reach of the town. Also good for caving, but since I’m not a fan of creepy, dark spaces I gave that a miss.
From Sagada I looped back to Baguio
Baguio is a pretty little city known for having a (relatively) mild, agreeable climate. There are many things to do in the surrounding countryside, so I’m told, but I only stayed there one night. It is a nice city to break up the journey back to Manila.
Great ideas for a week trip in Luzon. Banaue looks incredible… I wish I would have done better research for my weekend there. I ended up at clubs in Manila with a friend and squeezed in a quick trip to Taal Volcano, but I would have had a much better time if I had read your article and gone solo, lol!
This was a long time ago now; I barely remember it. I always wish I’d done more after I get back, but really the best stuff is the stuff you do.