7 Day Philippines Travel Itinerary

Note from Editors: In view of the current situation, please avoid all unnecessary travel and try to stay home. Don’t worry, like all things, it will end at some point and you’ll be able to travel again. In the meantime, check out what you can do while staying at home.

The Philippines is one of the most diverse countries full of pristine beaches, exotic islands, big metropolitan cities, and stunning landscapes. This 7 Day Philippines Travel Itinerary allows you to explore this unique country in just a week.

A bay surrounded by cliffs and a a local boat in El Nido.
One of the many bays around El Nido.

7 Day Philippines Travel Itinerary Overview

One week is a very short time to see such an expansive and varied country as the Philippines, so our journey will start and end in different cities.

Below you’ll see a day-by-day breakdown of where this travel itinerary will take you and its highlights. We’ve allowed some breathing time so your schedule doesn’t drive you crazy while you get to see the major points and have some time to relax too!

  • Day 1 – Manila: Intramuros, Museo Filipino and Manila Bay
  • Day 2 – El Nido: Nacpan Beach and Nagkalit-Kalit Falls
  • Day 3 – El Nido: Big Lagoon and Hidden Lagoon
  • Day 4 – Sabang: Underground river
  • Day 5 – Puerto Princesa: Snorkeling, Palaweno Brewery, fireflies and Mangrooves
  • Day 6 – Cebu: Temple of Leah and Walking Tour
  • Day 7 – Cebu: Bohol and Waterfalls

How Much Does It Cost to Travel in the Philippines for a Week

You can travel to the Philippines on any budget. I have estimated the costs for budget, mid-range, and luxury travelers to the Philippines.

Examples of Prices

  • Public ferry ride: $10 – $20, depending on the destination.
  • Jeepney ride: $0.20 – $0.50.
  • Local beer: $1 – $2.
  • A hostel bed: $8 – $10.
  • Tricycle ride: $0.50 – $0.70.
  • A small basket of strawberries: $2.50.
  • A cup of coffee: $0.15-$5.
  • Island hopping tour: $35.
  • Scooter rent: $9/day.

These are the estimated costs for a week and includes accommodation, transportation, food and drinks, day trips, and things to do.

currency in the Philippines

Budget

Traveling 7 days in the Philippines on a budget cost approximately between $265 and $365. Prices of hostels vary between $10 to $15 a night. The cost of food averages between $7 – $10, depending on what you eat and an occasional beer. The cost breakdown is:

  • Food: $50 – $70.
  • Accommodation: $60 – $90.
  • Getting around: $100 – $125.
  • Activities: $50 – $80.

Getting around the Philippines costs the most because for this itinerary you would need to fly. The country consists of islands which are pretty far away from each other and you don’t want to spend most of your time getting from one place to another.

If you have more time, you can opt for local buses and ferries between each destination to save money and see the Philippines from a perspective of a local.

Mid-Range

Traveling around the Philippines for a week on a mid-range budget will set you back on average between $450 and $630. You will stay in local boutique accommodation, dine out at restaurants, getting to your destination comfortably, and enjoying premium activities.

  • Food: $100 – $140.
  • Accommodation: $150 – $240.
  • Getting around: $125 – $150.
  • Activities: $75 – $100.

Luxury

Do you want to enjoy the Philippines while traveling in luxury? A week will cost you between $900 to $1345 in total. This includes staying in luxurious hotels and resorts, three-course meals in good restaurants, traveling around without a hassle, and exploring all the luxuries of the Philippines.

  • Food: $175 – $245.
  • Accommodation: $450 – $600.
  • Getting around: $200 – $250.
  • Activities: $150 – $250.

Day one – Manila

Manila is also known as the Pearl of the Orient and it’s the capital city of the Philippines.

Arriving in Manila

For citizens of most countries, a visa is not required to enter the Philippines if you stay less than 30 days. To enter the Philippines, you need to have a valid onward ticket. Make sure you have one to avoid being denied entry.

Arrive the day before in Manila to get the most out of your day. If that is not possible, arrive in the morning and drop your bags off at your hotel or hostel.

A Jeepney is the cheapest way to get from the airport to Manila and cost around $0.50. A taxi from the airport costs between $2 and $5, depending on the drop off point.

Explore Intramuros

Intramuros is the oldest district of Manila. It’s home to the Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. You can explore the old colonial neighborhood in just a few morning hours by bicycle. Alternatively, you may opt for a bike tour with a guide to hear more about the history from a local.

An Intramuros square with a statue and the cathedral in the background.
One of the squares in Intramuros.

Museo Filipino

To get a good grasp of the culture and history of the Philippines, head over to the Museo Filipino. It’s full of information, objects, and photographs of the Philippines.

Also, an excellent way to escape the heat in the afternoon.

Watch the Sunset at Manila Bay

End your day in Manila while watching the sunset at Manila Bay. Roxas Boulevard is a good spot to enjoy the sunset.

If you want to watch the sunset in style, head over to the Sky Deck at The Bayleaf Hotel, a chill rooftop bar.

Where to Stay in Manila?

Budget: Humble Hut Hostel. A good, centrally located hostel with friendly staff and clean rooms.

Mid-Range: Red Planet Manila Bay. This modern hotel is located near all the sights, restaurants, and the sunset at Manila bay.

Luxury: New Coast Hotel Manila. A luxury hotel offering views of Manila Bay, and a lovely swimming pool.

Day two – El Nido

Important Information on El Nido regulations

Before traveling to El Nido, there is one thing you should know. All the tours and key sights are strictly regulated by the government. These rules and guidelines are in place to protect the environment from overcrowding. Please note the following:

  • You are allowed to visit ONE premium sight per day. These premium sights are the Big Lagoon (Tour A), Small Lagoon (Tour D), and Secret Beach (Tour C). Combinations are prohibited.
  • Pre-registration for the premium sights is required. If you book your day trip, your tour operator will register you. You cannot simply arrive at the spot.
  • You will have to pay additional fees. The environmental fee is between ₱100 and ₱200, depending on the sight.
  • Number of visitors is limited. The government limits access to the key sights around El Nido to protect the environment. If you do not reserve a tour, you may not be able to do it on your planned day. Consider booking in advance.

Transferring from Manila to El Nido

Leave your hotel or hostel in Manila after breakfast and grab a morning flight, best before 11 AM. The flight only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to El Nido Airport and you should arrive at your hotel or hostel around 1 PM.

If you have more than 7 days and limited budget, you can travel cheaper but longer. Here are some options.

Nacpan Beach

Nacpan Beach is one of the best beaches around El Nido. It’s a little out of the way, but you’ll avoid the crowds. If you don’t want to bring your own towels, you can rent them on the beach for around $2.

Nagkalit-Kalit Falls

It takes a 40-minute hike to get to the Nagkalit-Kalit Falls and you will be rewarded with a refreshing dip in the pool at the bottom of the waterfalls. A local guide to take you there cost $6. You have to cross several streams to get there.

Day three – El Nido

Big Lagoon and Hidden Lagoon

To visit Big Lagoon you need to select Tour A. Try to book in advance to avoid missing out.

Have an early breakfast on day three and be ready around 8 AM.

Today you will be picked up for your island and lagoon tour around El Nido. You will visit the famous Big Lagoon, Hidden Lagoon, 7 Commando Beach, and Shimizu Island. You will spend your day swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing.

Please remember about the additional environment fee of ₱200 and blue lagoon entry ₱200. You can also rent a kayak for ₱400 ($6) to enter the lagoon.

Where to Stay in El Nido

Budget: Outpost Beach Hostel – Adults Only. Located right on the beach, and has cheap food and relaxing vibes.

Mid-range: Desert Rose Hotel. A comfortable hotel where breakfast on your own terrace is possible.

Luxury: El Nido Garden Resort: A luxury resort on the edge of town with fantastic sunsets.

Day Four – Sabang

Transferring from El Nido to Sabang

Head to bed early after your day at the lagoons. You will depart from El Nido at 4 AM the next morning.

The most convenient way to get to Sabang is by van, which can be booked in advance. A shared van costs around $16 per person. You will arrive in Sabang at 10 AM. You can drop off your bags at your hotel.

Entering the caves on a paddle boat through the river.
The entrance to the Subterranean river.

Subterranean River National Park

The highlight of Sabang is the Subterranean River. This underground river is one of the longest in the world. You can discover the caves and the river in a paddleboat which takes around 45 minutes.

Tickets to the underground river are limited. You can get it from the ticket office immediately after arriving in Sabang.

If you are going there yourself, you can either walk 5km through a jungle trail or book a Bangka boat at the information office, which takes you there in 15 minutes.

One important thing not to forget is to get your park permit at the information office at the entrance. Without a park permit, you’re not allowed access to the cave and subterranean river.

A Massage on the Beach

Sabang is a great place to get a massage. There are many small stalls around the beach offering massage on the spot and they are highly skilled in what they’re doing. This is the best moment to treat your body to some well-deserved relaxation. Prices range between $5 – $10 per hour.

Where to Stay in Sabang?

Budget: Cafe Sabang. Clean rooms next to a cafe offering freshly baked bread and pizza.

Mid-range: Dabdab Tourist Inn. Near the beach in Sabang. Friendly and comfortable atmosphere.

Luxury: Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort. A luxury resort right on the beach with some good restaurants on-site.

Day Five – Puerto Princesa

Transferring from Sabang to Puerto Princesa

Get some rest and leave your accommodation at around 10 AM.

The journey from Sabang to Puerto Princesa only takes around 2 hours. You can get there by minivan, local bus or Jeepney. Getting a bus or a Jeepney will be the cheapest way to get to Puerto Princesa.

If you don’t want the hassle of finding a Jeepney to get there, you can always book a transfer in advance which picks you up from your hotel.

Jeepney

Snorkeling in Honda Bay

Once you have settled down in Puerto Princesa, head over to Honda Bay. It’s possible to visit the bay, the islands and snorkeling spots with a tour, but you can also do it yourself

Get a Jeepney or taxi to the Lourdes Pier. From there you can grab a private boat for around $30, and create your own itinerary. If your budget is tight, wait for a couple of other travelers to arrive and share the boat together.

Starfish and Luli island are the best islands for a swim and to relax. You can go snorkeling around most of the islands, but Pambato Reef is the best place to see the local marine life. Be careful while snorkeling, as the currents can be strong.

Palaweno Brewery

Palaweno Brewery is the first all female-run craft brewery in the Philippines. They have a small beer selection but are definitely worth a visit if you’re a fan of craft beer.

Fireflies and Mangroves

In the evening you can go firefly watching. Near Puerto Princesa, there is a mangrove river. At night, it lights up with thousands of fireflies. There’s an option to visit the mangroves and fireflies with a tour from Puerto Princesa.

Do, however, be aware that these tours are “touristic” in nature and can get busy. So if you’re not a fan of crowds, skip this one.

Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa?

Budget: C Hostel. A clean hostel with a beautiful garden.

Mid-range: Deep Forest Garden Hotel. This comfortable and clean hotel is located near the city center and the airport. It has a pool for you to relax in.

Luxury: Munting Paraiso. An excellent resort located just outside of Puerto Princesa with quiet surroundings for a good night’s sleep.

Day Six – Cebu

Transferring from Puerto Princesa to Cebu

After breakfast, make your way to the airport in Puerto Princesa. You can get a flight to Cebu for around $25 but can get even lower if you compare flights in advance. The total flight time is only one hour and fifteen minutes. The airport at Cebu is located close to Cebu City, and you will arrive at your hotel around 1 PM.

Temple of Leah

The Temple of Leah is a Roman-style temple located outside of Cebu City. To get to the temple, just grab the 04D, 04I, or 04H jeepney from downtown Cebu City for only $0.60.

A classical roman-styled temple with a fountain in the front.
The entrance to the Roman-style Temple of Leah.

Cebu City Walking Tour

The best way to explore Cebu City is on foot. You can sign up for a walking tour allowing you to experience the city through the eyes of a local.

The city is more than 500 years old and full of old churches, parks, and forts.

The church and historical city center of Cebu City.
The historical center of Cebu City.

Where to Stay in Cebu?

You will spend the last two nights on this Philippines travel itinerary in Cebu City.

Budget: HQ Hostel – Adults Only. A modern hostel close to the city center with a bar, garden, and delightful breakfast.

Mid-range: Hotel OYO 210 Apple Tree Suites. A clean hotel in a safe area with great beds. This hotel is close to both the city center and the airport.

Luxury: Radisson Blu Cebu. One of the most luxurious hotels in the city right next to the Cebu City Mall. They have a great pool bar.

Day Seven – Cebu

You can either explore the neighboring island of Bohol, or the nature and waterfalls of Cebu Island on your last day.

Explore Bohol

Bohol is known for the thousands of uniformly shaped hills that make up its landscape. Take the ferry from Cebu City for $15 to Tagbilaran. You also have to pay a ₱25 ferry fee at the pier.

From Tagbilaran you can explore Bohol. You can get to the well known Chocolate Hills by bus, car or Jeepney.

If you dont want to go to Bohol by yourself, you can get an organized day trip from Cebu.

Hundreds of uniformly shaped hills on the island of Bohol.
The ‘Chocolate Hills’ of Bohol.

Explore the Waterfalls

You can also spend your last day exploring the waterfalls and natural pools of Cebu Island.

The Kawasan waterfalls and Aguinid waterfalls are secluded and surrounded by jungles. It’s a nice way to explore the vast nature of this island while relaxing and enjoying the waterfalls and the pools. 

The Kawasan waterfalls which end in a fresh water pool.
The Kawasan Waterfalls on Cebu Island.

Stay Safe in the Philippines

Be Careful of Pickpockets

As in most places around the world, be careful of pickpockets. Consider leaving your valuables at your hotel in a safe or with a member of staff. Best practice is to not wear jewelry or expensive watches and bring only the amount of cash needed for the day.

ATM Fraud

ATM fraud or ATM skimming can happen. Try to limit the number of times you have to withdraw monet. If possible, get cash from inside a bank or shopping mall.

Free Public Wi-Fi

Be careful while using free public Wi-Fi anywhere. They are usually unprotected, which allows criminals to access your phone or laptop. If you want to be safe, consider getting a VPN on your device.

Be Mindful of Diseases

Dengue fever occurs in the Philippines. You can limit mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing and using anti-mosquito repellents.

Hepatitis A and B is another risk, which is transmitted through contaminated food or water, or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Vaccinating before the trip is recommended.

How to Prepare for a Trip to the Philippines

Get Insured

One of the most important things to arrange before traveling to the Philippines is getting travel insurance. Accidents can happen even if you are extremely cautious. By getting insured your medical expenses are covered.

Get a Sim Card

With a local sim card, you can stay connected to the internet while traveling. You can get a reliable sim card on arrival at the airport.

Bring a Power Adapter

The Philippines uses different kinds of power outlets. Make sure you can charge your devices anywhere by getting a suitable Universal Power Adapter.

Get a Guidebook

Lonely Planet Philippines is a good source of useful information. Until very recently we took it with us on nearly every trip. now most information is available online, but if you want to have access to all the main points in one place, then you can print out this article, or get a physical guidebook.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

You can’t drink tap water in the Philippines. While you can buy bottled water everywhere, it’s not good for the environment. Get a Water Bottle with a Filter instead. The filter removes 99% of the waterborne bacteria and parasites while saving you money.

Where to Go Next in the Philippines?

Do you want to spend more time in the Philippines? You can make your way North to Banaue, with its stunning rice terraces and scenery.

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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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98 thoughts on “7 Day Philippines Travel Itinerary”

  1. Php 600+ per day is wow. I didn’t know things could be that cheap… I’m from PH and I don’t travel around that much here as am more into international trips thus I don’t have an idea. I guesstimated it would be around Php 1k per day. Awesome.

      1. May have been cheap for you but certainly not cheap for the locals where the “mandated” (read: not always the case or often not followed)minimum wage for a family of 4 is about P400-450/day. No, there are no different prices for locals and foreign tourists. However, since haggling is the way to go (as is the cae all over the world) initial prices will always be high. If you “walk away”, prices will drop dramatically. Apples are not native to the country so prices will always be “ridiculously high and most likely not subject to haggling. Black speckled skinned bananas are the preferred because it indicates ripeness. (In fact in a recent international health study, it was found that black speckled skinned bananas are actually healthier. While some locals may HINT at charging for taking a picture, it is not mandatory. While reading your blog about the local ood, I was actually laughing ‘cos it seems despite being a so called “seasoned traveller”, you come off as naive when it comes to dealing with locals and local culture.
        Ps that spot of the Great Wall where you had pictures taken IS a touristy area cleaned and maintained by the Chinese government for the benefit of mostly Western tourists and their first world/EU standards.

      2. Hi Guys..nice to read about your travels…My effort was not to live so cheaply on 3 visits to the Philippines, but one thing for sure. A low priced room in Manila for P800 per night will get you a very nice 2 bedroom hut in a lovely resort with pool and lots of amenities outside of Manila in a place like Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao…the prices vary quite abit there…moreso than here in Canada. For P200 per night in Manila in 2003, it was pretty much like a jail cell, except hotter.

  2. I’m from the Philippines and you give me a whole new level of appreciation for my country. Guess I should travel more often :)

    PS: There’s a Malasimbo festival happening this weekend, sayang that you missed it!

      1. Hi. Just stumbled upon ur blog while researching ways on how to travel on a budget. How much would I approximately need if im gonna travel?? Sorry if im a bit off topic. How did u do it? Do u travel continously or u go home after traveling to one country to another? I dont think I can sleep on a bus stop though. Im from philippines and I must say that is not safe. Saw ur article also on filipino street food. Must say bravo to you guys but I for one would never eat in those places. People who eat in carinderias are mainly the one earning less than 3usd per day. I went home to manila few years back with my husband we had food poison in boracay. And I got salmonella in manila.

    1. The one good thing about the airport here in Vancouver Canada is that they have Burger King and other fast food restaurants and the prices are the same as anywhere in Vancouver..Burger King has a sale on now…$.25 for coffee..

  3. Your daily budget was incredibly low, well done to keep it even under your $25 a day budget plan, that’s incredible! It’s a shame it was very tiring but I guess when you are travelling at fast pace it has to be that way because you move a lot. We found that out by ourselves few times and felt absolutely exhausted afterwards. Time to recharge the batteries for your next adventure ;)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thanks Franca. Yes, we were on a constant move. I guess if we stayed in one place for a longer period of time, we would spend less money.

  4. Great point about arriving after midnight – there seems to be a haggling golden hour sometime in the late afternoon. If rooms aren’t already booked for the night, the owner wants to fill the room so sometimes you can find a cheaper price. But if you wait too long, all the rooms are booked or you’re stuck with the higher price they quote you. Have you found that in general booking in person is cheaper?

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, we have, but in Indonesia, for example, it worked just the opposite. Online booking was much cheaper and haggling was not always an option.

  5. Hitch-Hikers Handbook

    Great and informative post as always! I’m glad you had a nice & cheap stay in the Philippines :) Take care!

  6. I love this post – very straight forward and informative.I find the Philippines more expensive than Thailand and Malaysia, but of course, high budget or low budget perceptions varies a lot form person to person.

    I would never pay to take a photo of a fruit stall or with a person and I really appreciate to know this situations can happen beforehand. Thank you for the info :)

  7. This was so cool in how you broke everything down, Agness! I sure wouldn’t want to sleep on busses and at bus stops but I always admire your adventurous, won’t-let-it-get-us-down attitude! Fantastic job on sticking to your budget. Thank you for sharing as I’m always curious how you two pull it off! Cigarettes? :)

  8. Thanks for breaking this down, Agness. Very helpful. Would love to go to Philippines in the nearest future. I would expect the food to be less expensive. Strawberries and grilled chicken cost as much as here in the states.
    Love the price on the Cigarettes – $1.34 :)

  9. What a helpful post Agness. Thanks or those detailed information on travelling through the Philippines. That probably helps a lot of people. I hopefully remember this post when I will travel there one day :)

  10. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    You guys really prove how accessible travelling the world is for anyone who has a passion to see it, even on really limited budgets – it’s really inspiring!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thanks. This is what we have been doing all the time – showing people that “I don’t have money to travel” excuse sucks :)!!

  11. Lauren @ JustinPlusLauren.com

    It seems like it can be a very cheap country to travel in, which is fantastic news for us! But, I will remember your tips as to not get ripped off! Great post :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Most of Asian countries are like that, but when you go out, dine out and party and do a lot of excursions, it’s gonna be much more expensive…

  12. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    What a great breakdown of your expenses. One of the reasons many relatives keep going back to the Philippines is the cheap cost. Wonderful tips. Strawberries are expensive and I can’t get over how cheap your hostel is. Glad you had a cheap stay.

  13. Ron | Active Planet Travels

    Great breakdown for the Philippines. I almost made it there during my trip through Asia but didn’t have quite enough time as I had to be back here in the states for a few road trips! At least now I’ve got a better idea of the costs, can’t wait to go see those chocolate hills!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hey Ron. That’s a pitty you could not explore the Philippines. They are cheap and so beautiful. Will post some photos of the chocolate Hills later on!

  14. Rachel of Hippie in Heels

    I’m surprised they want money for you to take a photo of them. I always ask first in India to make sure they are ok and if not I won’t take the photo, but I don’t think I’d pay them. That’s such a shame :( Plus. when I travel in Asia (esp India) people take my photo all the time without asking!! Should I start charging 5 rupees !?

    1. Tell me about it! If I had a dollar for every time someone took my photo in China I could treat myself to a day at the spa!

      1. Agness Walewinder

        It’s totally crazy with Chinese asking you to take some photos with them. Philippines are just the opposite. They ask you to pay them to take a photo with them! :D

      1. Agness,

        I respect you as a person but before you write something or go somewhere else DO SOME RESEARCH FIRST. A “smart and adventurous” person should be ready for anything. Apparently, you are an inexperienced one and you should check on your words before typing. To exaggerate is different from stating the facts. I hope that you wont’t go to other “third world countries” that are poorer than the Philippines because I’m scared of how you would belittle their culture especially the food. You haven’t eaten anything “authentic” as what your photos have shown because you didn’t even go to where “street foods” in the Philippines should be. Thank the Philippines because now a lot of people will read your trashy post. I hope that next time you won’t generalize and specify the place you’ve been to in a certain country. You haven’t seen anything because all you focused on are the negatives. And stop comparing the country to China. To be able to be credible you should be experienced enough. Your article is so disappointing and irresponsible. Please learn for it. Think first before typing. And if you are a fair bloggger, post my comment because as you said, you read and try to post every comment. I’ve been to a lot of countries too. It’s just funny how you found the worst thing that you think you can ever see or eat in the Philippines. It just goes to show how unprepared you were in travelling. Try to read what the other bloggers and writers have in their articles too. Looks like you just read your own. Good luck on your next journey. Hopefully you’ll find the “standard” and “good quality” food with your $25.

      2. Juan De La Cruz

        Pardon me but I don’t believe what you are saying. Give me your actual experience on this. Its sad that you made a sweeping generalization about the locals and made all of them look like extortionists and “prepare some change as locals ask foreigners to pay them for taking photos of them, street food, etc.”

      3. Agness Walewinder

        The post is based on what we have experienced in the Philippines. Nobody lies here.

    2. Please don’t refer to her experience because that is so isolated. There are lot’s of articles that are far more credible than this. If you want to travel to the Philippines please read articles that will show photos, experiences and constructive criticisms that will truly show how a certain place is. Her article is very plain, one-sided and insensitive. When I go to certain country, I do a research first about their culture, food, religion and even the things that I’m not suppose to do when I am in their country. That is called “respect”.

    3. Hai,
      I’m kranthi,nice to talk to u,u mentioned in ur comment that indians take ur pic without ur permission,.I’m Indian ..I laughed for a while on seeing ur comment..and it happens with some members only not with all..

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