Metro Manila · One month in the Philippines
You don't live in the Philippines but really want to get to know the country, its past and present, culture and entertainment, urban life and nature? To make sure you make the most out of your stay, we prepared a sample schedule that shows what you can do and see within one month.
Day 1: Arrival
Your Philippines adventure will most probably start at NAIA Airport, as this is where most international flights arrive. Check our link to see how to get a cab, money etc. We recommend to get a hostel or hotel either in Manila City or Makati City. Prices for a night range from 1000 Pesos for very simple rooms in Malate to 7000 Pesos in the luxury hotel chains along Roxas Boulevard and Ayala Avenue.
Manila can be quite overwhelming for new arrivals. Therefore it is advisable to stay only a few days in the city before departing to the greener and more relaxed parts of the country.
DAY 2: History and Culture
Your first day should be all about getting to know the exiting history and culture of the Philippine Nation. The old colonial times come back to life in the old city center of Intramuros. The nearby National Museum of the Filipino People will teach you the archipelago's history from pre-colonial times to the independence after World War II. Enjoy a seafood dinner during sunset at Harbor View restaurant, with a panoramic view over Manila Bay.
Day 3: Shopping
After all that history and culture, it is time for some more mundane fun, the favorite leisure activity of the Manileños: shopping! If you stay over the weekend, don't miss out on the morning market in Salcedo Village (Saturdays) or Legazpi Village (Sundays). Here you'll find handcrafts and high-class local and international delicacies. You want it more authentic and down-to-earth? Look for the nearest wet market, a public market where you can get fresh fish, meat, fruits, et cetera. But have a look on our advises regarding healthy food first!
Now is also the best time to order a suit or dress from the tailor for it to be ready before you have to go back. You can find several small tailor shops along Arnaiz Avenue, behind the Greenbelt complex. Your dress should be ready for pick-up after one to three weeks.
Day 4: Adventure and Entertainment
Now that you got a first overview over the city it is time for some excitement. Try riding a jeepney or tricycle today. Choose a short route first, we don't want you to get lost in Manila. Afterwards you may visit the underwater world of Manila Ocean Park or the amusement park Star City. If there is still time left, you may have a tour over the Chinese Cemetery with its bombastic mausoleums.
Day 5: Relaxation
OK, time to relax a bit after the tightly-packed schedule of the first days. Get some snacks and have a picnic in one of the green oases of Manila, be it Salcedo Park, Ayala Triangle, Rizal Park, or the UP campus. In the afternoon you should grant your body some wellness: visit a beauty parlor or a spa, get a full-body massage, manicure, pedicure and/or a facial treatment.
Second Week: Road-tripping in Luzon
Relaxed from the wellness day you are now ready to leave the Megacity and get to know the beautiful countryside of the Philippines. First you might want to see other parts of Luzon, the island on which Manila is located.
Among the top destinations that are near enough for a day trip are Mount Pinatubo, the Taal Volcano, Batangas, and the Pagsanjan Waterfalls. You can also make it a longer trip and combine the latter three destinations, as they are all located in the south of Luzon. Up north await you the rice terraces of Banaue and Sagada, great places for hiking and spelunking. If you are more into history, go to Ilocos and visit old churches, the Marcos Mausoleum, and the colonial town of Vigan.
For these trips you might rent a car with driver or join a group tour organized by a travel agency. For shorter trips you might also take a regular air-conditioned bus. Check our interlinks or search for Philippine travel blogs. They often give step-by-step descriptions of how to get to certain places using public transport.
Day 21 or earlier: Visa extension
The standard tourist visa lasts for only 21 days. You might give your passport to an agency that takes care of the extension. Or you take a short trip to another nearby country instead. The flight won't cost you much more than the visa extension fee, and after re-entering the Philippines you have a new visa, valid for another 21 days.
Third and fourth week: island-hopping in the Philippines (Bohol, Cebu, Palawan)
It is hard to choose which of the 7,107 islands to visit if you have only a couple of weeks to discover the Philippines. Our suggestion is to visit Bohol, Cebu and Palawan, plus some smaller surrounding islands.
Take a flight from Manila to Tagbilaran, Bohol. The island boasts of tourist sights such as the Chocolate Hills, a swing bridge, a butterfly and a tarsier sanctuary. You can do much of this in one day, though, and after two or three days you are ready to go to Cebu.
While Bohol's treasures lay in the center of the island, Cebu's highlights can be found at the coast. The island has beautiful diving spots and getting a license here is cheap and takes less than a week. In Oslob you can snorkel with wale sharks (just as in Donsol). Locals will bring you to beautiful hidden waterfalls on motorcycles.
After a couple of days in Cebu you fly to Palawan (Airport Puerto Princesa) and take a van up north of the island, to El Nido with it's marvelous lagoons. Go island-hopping, rent canoes or just relax at one of the many dream beaches. The last highlight of your Philippines trip will be the the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the seven 'Natural World Wonders'.