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Thoughts and Reviews

Best Places For Solo Travel In The Philippines

Posted: July 13, 2015 at 12:37 pm   /   by   /   comments (12)

“Don’t be scared to walk alone. Don’t be scared to like it.” -John Mayer

Traveling alone is a truly liberating experience that one should try it at least once in their lives. It may seem unusual for your family or friends to go on a solo travel but the growing number of Filipina who bravely went on their own to experience the world is a proof that if you badly want something enough, you can make it happen despite fear and other hurdles.

With over 80 provinces in the country, you have a lot of options for your first solo trip in the Philippines. For starters, these places can be a good start:

1. Sagada

A fifth class municipality in the Mountain Province, Sagada is the place to be if you’re up for cooler weather and adventure. With friendly locals and so many things to do from trekking to sightseeing, Sagada would make you forget that you’re on a solo adventure.

Sagada

View outside Lumiang Cave

Recommended Activities:
Cave Connection: experience the physically challenging cave connection that starts at the opening of the Lumiang Cave. Depending on how fast you walk, caving can take between 2 to 4 hours. Aside from the impressive rock formations, you’ll be amazed with the guides’ flexibility and strength.

Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak: witnessing the sunrise is undoubtedly one of the best things to do for free in life. Although it’s not really free in Sagada but witnessing at a place such as Kiltepan Peak will definitely make you feel grateful for being alive..it’s just beautiful.

Bonfire Festival: this festival is a good way to experience the local culture. With free samples of rice wine and live performance of tribal dance around a huge bonfire, it’s a unique way to experience Sagada and its culture.

How to Get There:
Head to Baguio City which is roughly around 6 hours away from Manila. In Baguio, head to Dangwa Bus Terminal where you can take the bus heading directly to Sagada. It’s another round of 6-hour bus trip.

Tip: It’s best to experience Sagada on lean season especially if you’re planning to do the cave connection. By doing so, you’re also doing a great favor to the environment and the locals.

2. El Nido, Palawan 

This may be a bit bias as El Nido is one of my favorite destinations in the country. But it also happened to be one of the first destinations I’ve been to during my first solo trip. With travelers from different parts of the globe and with beautiful beaches, solo traveling in El Nido is truly a memorable experience.

Island Hopping in El Nido

Contrary to what many people believed, traveling to this part of the country doesn’t really mean breaking your budget. There are several ways on how you can travel to El Nido cheaply.

Recommended Activities:
Go for an island-hopping tour: do not leave El Nido without trying out one of their island hopping tour activities. You can choose among Tour A (big lagoon, small lagoon, Simizu island, secret lagoon, and 7 Commandos Beach), Tour B (Entalula Island, Pinagbuyutan Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave, and Cathedral Cave), Tour C (hidden beach, Helicopter Island, secret beach, Matinloc Shrine, and Star Beach), and Tour D (Bukal Island, Ipil Beach, Nat-Nat Beach, Cadlao Lagoon, and Paradise Beach).

Visit Nacpan Beach: if you’re someone who love beaches with less crowd, then visiting Nacpan Beach should be on your to-do list in El Nido. Located in Sitio Calitang, the beach can be reach by any vehicle (motorcycle is the common means of transportation; you can rent one for a day for P700).

Watch archeologists at work at Ille Cave: fascinated with archeology? Then definitely include Ille Cave in your list! We were lucky when we got there as we were able to witness a group of archeologists and students doing their work and sharing their findings at the end of the day. It’s a brief yet very enriching experience.

How to Get There:
El Nido is 4-6 hours away from Puerto Princesa. You can take the RoRo bus (trike and jeepney drivers know where the RoRo bus station is) which is a good option if you wanted to have an ample leg room. But if you miss it, you can take the van which for me isn’t really comfortable especially if you’re seated at the back.

3. Davao City

Listed as one of the safest and liveliest cities in Asia, Davao City is a good place to explore especially if it’s your first solo travel. It has the right combination of urban development and environmental preservation. In Davao,  you have easy access to the beach as Samal Island is just 20-30 minutes away from the city.

Water Tubing in Davao City

Water Tubing in Davao City

Recommended Activities:
Eat durian: you haven’t really been to Davao if you haven’t tried (or smelled) the durian. Also known as the king of fruits, durian is not for the faint of heart. Its pungent smell may instantly turn you off but trust me, it tastes better than it smells. You can easily find durian vendors outside Magsaysay Park.

Go water tubing: if you’re looking for adrenaline rush, then I say, go for water tubing. It may not be as challenging a water rafting but this 4-hour water activity is enough to give you a boost of adrenaline.

Go on a food trip: guests of the city are often amazed on how cheap the food in Davao is. You can easily find a buffet restaurant for less than P200 and a decent meal for less than P50. The durian coffee of Blugre, grilled food of Luz Kinilaw, and desserts from Lachi’s are some of the must-try cafe and restaurants in Davao.

How to Get There:
There are direct flights from Manila and Cebu for Davao.

4. Dumaguete City

A city in the province of Negros Oriental, Dumaguete is unlike most cities as it’s very laid back. I instantly fell in love with this vibe when I went here in 2013.

Delectable cake from Sans Rival Cakes and Silvanas

Delectable cake from Sans Rival Cakes and Silvanas

Recommended Activities:
Try the famous silvanas: a combination of nutty meringue and buttercream, the silvanas in Dumaguete is a must-try. You can buy creamy silvanas and other delectable desserts at the Sans Rival Cakes and Silvanas at Rizal Avenue.

Visit the old belfry in the province: the belfry in the city is Dumaguete’s iconic structure. Just a few meters away from St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, this is the oldest belfry in the province (built in 1970s).

Dive in Apo Island: the Apo Island is considered to be one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. It’s a 45-minute away from the city. To get there, take a jeepney or bus bound for Zamboangita. From there, you can take a boat to get to Apo Island.

How to Get There:
There are direct flights from Manila and Cebu. You can also take the RoRo from Cebu.

5. Camiguin

Camiguin is the second smallest province in the country with a total land area of 237.95 sq.km. With its size, you can easily go around it in just a day or two, making it an ideal quick getaway for solo travelers.

White Island in Camiguin

White Island in Camiguin

Recommended Activities:
Visit the old church ruins: walking around the old church ruins is an educational experience as you get to understand the impact of the volcanic eruption that happened to Camiguin decades ago.

Enjoy the sea and sand at the ‘White Island’: this isn’t really a white island but a sandbar. There are no cottages or huts in the area and it can get really hot between 9 am and noon; hence, it’s best to go here early in the morning.

Try and buy boxes (yes, they’re really good!) of VjANDEP pastel: the #1 delicacy of Camiguin, the pastel is a cream-filled pastry sold in a local bakeshop. Aside from the original yema filling, the pastel is now available in several varieties including cheese, mango, durian, and macapuno.

Take a dip at Ardent’s Hot Spring Resort: soothe your tired muscles by taking a dip in one of the pools of Ardent’s Hot Spring Resort.

How to Get There:
There’s a direct flight from Manila, Cebu, and Davao to Cagayan de Oro City. From Cagayan, a ferry can take you to Camiguin Island.

Do you have other suggestions for first time solo travelers?

  • These all look incredible! I cannot wait to visit the Philippines one day 🙂

    Simone x | The Aussie Flashpacker

  • Claudia Luxembourg

    I have been dreaming of the Philippines for ages now, and keep adding places to my list. Palawan is perhaps the first place I would head to 🙂

  • DeafWanderlust

    I did once thought of going to Philippines with my travel buddy and did thought of going alone too! These places sound a good start! I haven’t heard of any of these places except Palawan!

  • Kimberly

    Camiguin sounds pretty cool for me… old cities, ruins, white beach, AND hot springs…yes please!

  • Antonette Spaan

    The water tubing seems like soooo much fun, would love to do that some day. I think that the Philippines have so much more to offer than just beaches, I will definitely consider a visit when I’m going to Asia again in the future.

  • Some great recommendations in here – so much more to the Philippines than just beautiful beaches! I love the sound of the water tubing and caving trips, and those silvanas look (and sound) delicious!

  • The silvanas are a must-try in Dumaguete. They are really good!

  • That’s right Antonette! Philippines is more than just the beach and diving 🙂

  • Camiguin is also one of my favorite destinations here in the Philippines. It’s a place where you can truly rest and relax.

  • You should try Sagada once you get back here. It’s a beautiful place with so many activities and food to try.

  • Palawan is so beautiful Claudia. There are long stretches of white sand beaches in some towns that you will love especially if you’re someone who really don’t like crowded places.

  • Come and visit the Philippines Simone 🙂