Hello my fellow backpackers! Welcome to this ultimate guide about Backpacking Itineraries in Philippines. Of course our theme for this blog will be “Pinas Muna” — or Philippines first. I am a backpacker myself and I often travel solo around the Philippines. Most of my itineraries were loved by many travelers on Facebook! As a result, here is a list I’ve created starting from the very first backpacking I did down to the most recent ones this year.
“Why did I started to do backpacking?”
Well for starters, backpacking is CHEAP. Yeap, you read those 5 letters right. And for those of you who haven’t tried this type of traveling yet, lemme tell you that backpacking has a lot of benefits from meeting new friends along the way to hopping from 1 province to the other with only 1 backpack and probably a map. Map sounds very traditional so let’s change it to Google maps instead. Lol.
But on a more serious note, I have learned a lot of lessons and experiences because of backpacking. It changed my perspectives about traveling in a lot of ways I never expected. For instance, it made me realize that traveling is not really expensive at all. Because that is the whole point of backpacking. It’s about experiencing traveling in the cheapest way possible. And I believe that’s something everyone deserves to know.
An Overview About the Philippines
Philippines has more than 7,000+ islands. 7641 to be exact. That is surely lots of islands compared to the land surface that the country acquire. This is exactly why Philippines has a lot of backpacking advantages.
From North to South and West to East, you can expect beach and island activities of your choice. It is also the best place to do scuba diving and/or freediving. Philippines also offers a vast and rich culture and traditions. One of the most popular culture we have are: (1) the Igorots of the Cordillera Region, (2) the T’boli tribe of SOCCKSARGEN Region and (3) the Ati people of the Panay Island.
The Philippines is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean — broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
WHY IS PHILIPPINES THE BEST COUNTRY FOR BACKPACKING?
Firstly, it’s not expensive. Secondly, feel free to get fed up on countless island-hopping trips. And thirdly, why is this even a question? Lol, just kidding! What I want to say is, it’s not even an argument why Philippines is the best country for backpacking. The first 2 reasons alone sums it all up and I’m also pretty confident these reasons will suffice.
I am not being biased, but these are the actual reasons why. Philippines is definitely the best country to backpack in Asia because we have a lot of gems from North to South and from West to East. Hence, the backpacking itineraries in Philippines are the best.
Whatever you wanna do, we have it. Except for snow-related activities of course since we only have hot and rainy season. And a Disneyland too. Lol. But apart from that, I believe we have everything.
Below are the activities/places to expect when traveling around the Philippines:
- Waterfalls and Canyoneering
- Islands and sandbars
- Cliff jumping or cliff diving
- Scuba diving/Freediving
- Snorkeling and Swimming
- Sky diving
- Sand surfing
- ATV, bicycle, horseback riding
- Helmet diving and other beach activities
- Historical and Heritage sites
- Traditional and ethnic groups
- Motorcycling around the island
IS IT CHEAP TO TRAVEL AROUND THE PHILIPPINES
YES. It is very cheap to travel around my country. At least that’s what most foreigners tell me.
The amount of money you will spend is cheap compared to the scenery that you will get to experience. For instance, some of the cheapest solo backpacking trips I’ve had to date are (1) Biliran & Leyte trip and (2) SOCCKSARGEN trip. These places are not very expensive but the places to see are breathtaking!
List of Backpacking Itineraries in Philippines
Now here are my most favorite backpacking trips in the Philippines! I am a huge fan of solo backpacking trips. These itineraries are assuming that you will be staying in a cheap backpacker’s hostel, traveling mostly on foot and long bus rides, eating at cheap restaurants and everything is a DIY (Do It Yourself) trip.
1. SOCCSKSARGEN MINDANAO
This trip was the last backpacking trip I’ve had before COVID-19 happened. Actually, me and my friends were still in Mindanao at that time. Long story short, we almost got stuck in Cotabato! Lol. Still, I think that we were lucky enough.
SOCCSKSARGEN aka Region 12’s South Central Mindanao is an abbreviation for South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City. To add up on the list, the province of Maguindanao is also included and will be part of this backpacking adventure. Therefore, summing up a total of 5 provinces to tick off on your Project 81 list.
Reasons why this is my top 1 backpacking itinerary:
- CHEAP. I spent more or less PHP 5,000.00 for this trip with my friends.
- The ideal days to travel is only 4 – 5 days and you have scratched off 5 provinces already.
- Expect not less than 5 waterfalls in this adventure!
- Includes everything I love about traveling: backpacking, minor hiking, waterfalls and ethnic culture experience.
2. ZAMBASULTA MINDANAO
I think that this is the most epic backpacking trip I’ve ever had in the Philippines! It includes going to one of the most avoided places in the country due to its blood-war history and background. Well, I don’t intend anything bad about it but honestly, ZAMBASULTA trip has one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the Philippines!
ZAMBASULTA is an abbreviation for the following provinces: (1) ZAMboanga del Sur, (2) BAsilan, (3) SULu and (4) TAwi-Tawi. These provinces are located in Mindanao and is also the farthest provinces you will see in the South of the Philippine map. Yes! That’s what make it really exciting to backpack these provinces.
Heads up! Although this backpacking itinerary is particularly expensive for backpackers, I still consider it one of the most epic backpacking itineraries in Philippines. Since again, the provinces included in this trip are not the usual selection of travelers due to its proximity and background history on wars.
3. BACKPACKING 6 PROVINCES IN VISAYAS FOR 11 DAYS (OWN BACKPACKING ROUTE)
Romblon, Antique, Ilo-Ilo, Guimaras, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental. These are the 6 provinces I went to during an 11-day backpacking trip last 2019. I am mostly proud of this trip as I have hopped on to one province to the other while learning about the different culture and traditions in each province.
Mind you, these places are really beautiful to visit and definitely one for the books! But I should tell you that this itinerary includes lots of long ferry trips, bus journey and definitely lotsa walks too.
I consider this one of the best backpacking trips I’ve ever had because (1) I made this route and (2) accomplishing it! You might want to bring a travel buddy with you because this trip is worth sharing! 🙂
4. CENTRAL VISAYAS
Cheers to the first ever solo backpacking trip I’ve ever done. I initially booked a piso-fare ticket from Cebu Pacific going to Cebu and a return flight from Dumaguete back to Manila with Philippine Airlines.
My Central Visayas itinerary (Cebu, Dumaguete and Siquijor) was so memorable for me. Not only because it was my first ever solo trip but because I also met few good friends along the way. Friends who remained my friends until this day! 🙂
Sharing with you my itinerary below!
Day 1: 10,000 Roses Cafe in Mactan
Read Here: 10, 000 Roses Cafe Travel Guide
Day 2: North Cebu Mountain Tour
Read Here: North Cebu Travel Guide
Day 4: Oslob Whale Shark Watching + Tumalog Falls + Sumilon Island
Read Here: Oslob Travel Guide
Day 6: Siquijor
Read Here: Siquijor DIY Travel Guide
Day 7: Apo Island
5. BACKPACKING 4 PROVINCES IN MINDANAO FOR 5 DAYS (OWN BACKPACKING ROUTE)
Another itinerary I have created on my own! Get ready to backpack these 4 provinces in Mindanao: Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Camiguin. Mind you, this is another journey of night bus trips and cheap travels. In this backpacking itinerary, you will be able to unlock one of the many interesting tourist destination in Mindanao! For instance, the Enchanted River of Surigao and the promising island of Camiguin.
6. BILIRAN + LEYTE BACKPACKING TRIP
Last on the list for the backpacking itineraries in Philippines is Bilian x Leyte trip. It was another one of my solo trip and I can say that is was one of the best too. It includes the breathtaking Kalanggaman Island and Lake Danao (Guitar-shaped Lake) in Leyte. Of course, Biliran’s beautiful Sambawan island and majestic waterfalls!
Day 1 & 2: Biliran
Read Here: Biliran’s Sambawan Island and Ulan-Ulan Falls Travel Guide
Day 3 & 4: Leyte
Read Here: Kalanggaman Island x Lake Danao Travel Guide
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