I never thought of the Philippines as a big country. It was just a few islands somewhere in the Pacific, right? It turns out there are more than 7,000 islands, and they are BIG. The country is roughly on par with the area of the Western United States I explored for #TerryTreks. Two months out West wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything there, so two months in the Philippines won’t be enough time to see everything there. I will have to be strategic in where I go.

I believe in independent, long-term, budget travel, which is different from the two week vacations I had when I was working for a company. In those trips I wanted everything to go smoothly, so I booked everything in advance. There was no time to deal with problems. On the kind of trip that I will be taking to the Philippines, I will have more time than money. I can take time to figure stuff out once I am there, which means I don’t have to book anything in advance.

However, it’s still good to have a plan. So I did a lot of research and came up with a rough itinerary. The benefit of not having anything booked is that I’ll be able to spend more time in places I find I like.

The Plan

The main island of Luzon, where Manila is, is especially big. It’s a twelve hour bus ride from Manila all the way to the tip of the Island in the North. The North appeals to me because it’s a remote area with mountains, UNESCO listed rice terraces, historic towns, and one of the best beaches in the archipelago. I’ll be spending a lot of time there.

Manila – Big city life.
Mount Pinatubo – Active volcano that erupted in 1991.
Banue – Gateway to the rice terraces.
Batad – See the Batad rice terraces, called the eight wonder of the world.
Sagada – The Philippines’ backpacker mecca in the mountains. Lots of caves, hiking, and waterfalls.
Baguio – Cool hill town.
Vigan – UNESCO World Heritage site of the best preserved Spanish town in Asia.
Pagudpud – Said to be one of the best beaches in the Philippines.

Lacking a developed tourist infrastructure like in Thailand, North Luzon will be adventurous travel on public buses and jeepneys. After this I’d like to visit the remote island paradise of Palawan in the South. It’s a 24 hour ferry from Manila, so I will likely fly.

Sabang – Site of the UNESCO World Heritage underground river.
Port Barton – Pristine islands and beaches.
El Nido – More pristine islands and beaches.
Coron – Famous for wreck diving. Not sure if I can get here, due to the ferry situation.

Palawan should also be adventure travel at its best. This will be an exhausting trip.

I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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