Philippines Solo Travel – Recommended Itinerary, How Much to Budget
The Philippines is one of the best destinations in Southeast Asia for solo travellers. There are several choices for safe solo travel to the Philippines including beaches, rural provinces, and big cities; all of which offer a wide range of exciting attractions and activities. A majority of the friendly locals can speak English, albeit broken, but this makes getting around and obtaining the information you need easier.
Are The Philippines Safe To Travel Solo?
It’s not uncommon to see many people travelling to the Philippines alone. If it’s your first time to do so, it might be a little more nerve-wracking but eventually you’ll get the hang of it. In fact, it’s hard to feel truly alone given the hospitality of Filipinos, a cultural trait that is well-known worldwide. Finding a Filipino who is willing to help is easy virtually everywhere in the country.
The Philippines is divided into three major areas: Luzon (home to Manila, the capital), Visayas (home to many white-sand tropical beaches), and Mindanao (home to many remote destinations). The tourist destinations of Luzon and Visayas are regarded as the safest if you’re travelling solo because tourism in these areas is well-established and have proper infrastructure in place compared to Mindanao.
On the other hand, Mindanao’s reputation as a tourist destination is tainted due to a high risk for terrorism, a problem which has been going on for many years now. Terrorism has long been a problem in the Philippines, but if you are taking a solo trip to the Philippines, avoid the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu Archipelago in Mindanao. Tourists are not recommended to go there, whether you are traveling alone or not. These areas are home to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a known terrorist group that is responsible for numerous violent outbreaks without warning, as well as kidnapping due to clashes with Filipino security. Other high-risk locations in Mindanao include Basilan, Cotabato Province, Cotabato City, and Isabela city. Despite the crisis, there are some safe destinations that are worthy of visiting in Mindanao. These include Davao, Siargao, Camiguin, Cagayan de Oro, and Bukidnon.
As the capital city, seat of government, and home to many of the country’s most powerful families and politicians, Manila is not completely free from the risk of terrorist acts either. Attacks in Metro Manila can strike at any time, particularly in public places such as shopping malls, places of worship, public transportation, and even airports. Practice vigilance, and if you notice anything suspicious, report it to the local authorities.
Terrorist acts in the Philippines are unpredictable and can strike at any moment. However, they are few and far in between in Luzon and the Visayas region compared to Mindanao. It is best to do research on the state of the country before your trip, so that you can plan your the Philippines travel itinerary by avoiding dangerous areas.
Generally speaking, the Philippines are safe to travel alone and the risk for danger is low. As long as you avoid high-risk destinations such as those mentioned here, you’ll be able to safely experience the allure of the Philippines. But just like safe travel to any country, while in the Philippines, street smarts and common sense will go a long way. If you wouldn’t walk the streets alone at night in another city, why would you so in the Philippines?
Solo Female Travellers In The Philippines
The Philippines is a popular choice for a woman solo. If you’re a female traveller going alone on a budget, numerous hostels throughout the country offer female-only rooms and dorms for your safety.
Occasionally, women in the Philippines may feel that Filipino men may come across as too friendly. If a cab driver or a person in public makes you feel uncomfortable, simply do not entertain them. When it comes to the availability of clothes for women and personal hygiene products, solo female travel the Philippines is easy. This is especially true in well-established tourist destinations such as Manila, Cebu, Boracay, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Baguio, and the like. In these locations, access to shops selling feminine needs and clothing is easily available. Mercury Drug is a chain of drugstores that carries all the medication and feminine effects needed, and can be found in most cities. Other smaller drugstores are available in areas where Mercury Drug is not.
It is also good to note that any possible dangers for women are also faced by the men when visiting the Philippines alone. These include pick-pockets especially on busy streets and shopping malls, and public transportation such as jeepneys which tend to fill up like sardines. However, by booking private on-demand transport through Grab or Uber via a mobile app, and wearing body bags while shopping, the risk for these dangers can be significantly reduced.
Backpacking Solo In The Philippines
Backpacking the Philippines alone can be a truly rewarding experience, and one that you won’t forget any time soon. The country’s tropical beaches, remote mountain areas, vibrant cities, and charming rural villages are a thrill to visit, even when you’re by yourself. Little children will likely come up to you and say hello, but Filipino adults are extremely friendly and hospitable too.
If you’d like to make friends during your trip, staying at an affordable hostel instead of a hotel is a good place to start. Oftentimes hostels have a common area where you can meet other travelers, or even join in on a group tour for company. There are certain things you can do prior to traveling alone in the Philippines for a fun and safe trip. To start, make sure that you plan all the details and iron out everything as much as possible.
Most importantly, have a phone so that you can easily communicate with friends and family while backpacking solo in the Philippines. Get in touch with your telecommunications provider back home or buy a local sim card for easy communication. Always make sure that at least one person knows where you are, just in case anything happens. If you intend to go on a road trip in the Philippines, some areas especially the mountainous regions of Sagada may have spotty or scarce mobile signal so let someone know before you go. Social media updates will let you brag about your trip, but it will also ease the minds of your loved ones while preventing you from having to send numerous texts and emails.
Before you backpack solo in the Philippines, make multiple copies of important paperwork such as your passport, credit cards, drivers’ license, and social security cards. Inn the event of theft or even forgetfulness, having spare copies of these documents will give you peace of mind.
Solo Vs. Guided Travel: What To Choose?
In the travel community, you’re usually either one of two kinds: those who prefer the flexibility of solo travel, or those who prefer the security of guided tours.
If you’d like to know why the Philippines is one of the best places for solo travellers, the only way to truly find out is to experience it yourself. The good news for solo travellers is that much of the tourism infrastructure is accommodating for those traveling alone. There are affordable hostels, the option for join-in tours, inexpensive meals, and even walking tours that you can do on your own. With the help of a solo traveller’s guide such as a guide book or the internet, experiencing the best that the Philippines has to offer is safe and easy. Definitely, solo travel in the Philippines will allow you the flexibility that guide tours can’t, which in itself is its biggest advantage. If you travel to beach destinations that offer island hopping tours, many tour operators will cater to your needs and give you the option of renting out a boat for yourself (at a higher cost), or joining in with another group for just a day.
On the other hand, guided tours may be safer and just slightly cheaper than solo travel. If the idea of commuting long journeys alone and talking to strangers doesn’t make you feel comfortable, you should go for a guided tour instead. If budget is a major consideration and you intend to go on several organized tours to see the Philippines’ top attractions, opting for guided travel will also save you a significant amount of money.
Recommended Itinerary For Solo Travel In The Philippines
There are just some destinations in the Philippines that are the best place to travel alone first time. It may very well be the most rewarding activity you can do for yourself, because traveling alone will open your eyes and liberate the mind in a way that nothing else can. You will be forced to come out of your comfort zone, and the sheer beauty and excitement that the Philippines has to offer will feed your passions.
If you’re ready to take that leap of faith, here’s an itinerary for an unforgettable trip traveling solo in the Philippines:
Start your journey in Manila, the Philippines’ capital city. Spend 2 nights exploring the vibrant cityscape, meeting locals, and sinking your teeth in delicious food. Stay near the newly-gentrified Poblacion area where there are several hostels to choose from, as well as dozens of affordable restaurants and bars.
Take a bus to the Sagada Mountain Province, nestled within the lush Cordillera Mountain Range. Pack for cold weather – as you’ll be in higher altitudes, it’ll be much colder in Sagada than in Manila. Sagada offers several opportunities for mountain climbing, but if that’s not your cup of tea, you can just appreciate the breathtaking views from several points in town. While there, visit the Hanging Coffins, and Echo Valley, Kiltepan Peak. From Sagada, make your way via bus to the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Banaue Rice Terraces, a 7-hour bus ride.
From Manila, take a 40-minute plane ride to the island paradise of Boracay, the country’s number 1 tourist destination. Boracay is famed worldwide for being the postcard-perfect definition of an island paradise. Crystal-clear blue waters, powdery white sand, and pulsating island nightlife are just some of the things awaiting you in Boracay.
The last stop for your solo trip in the Philippines should be El Nido. After all, shouldn’t you be saving the best for last? From Manila, take another plane ride to El Nido. You will be spoiled for choice with the sheer number of white-sand beaches, uninhabited islands, and sparkling emerald lagoons. Spend at least 3 nights in El Nido, which will allow you time to explore all the best tropical attractions in the area.
Once you travel alone in the Philippines, the only regret you’ll have will be not doing it any sooner. There are several budget airlines to choose from, although the most affordable is Cebu Pacific, which has you covered for all the tourist destinations throughout the country. Inter-island travel is usually done via outrigger boat or a ferry, and getting to mountain destinations in Luzon is done via bus. Solo travel to the Philippines can be as luxurious or cheap as you want it to be – there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful country.