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PHILIPPINES

Heaven on Earth? YES.

With over seven thousand islands the Philippines are layered with countless white beaches and hundreds of deliciously fresh coconuts – so what are you waiting for? Book your flights and discover Asia’s best-kept secrets…

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FAQ:

  • UK residents have a free 28-day tourist visa
  • Best time to visit: the dry season is between October and May
  • The cheapest months to fly are in March/ April from Manchester Airport
  • 1 British Pound = roughly 72 Philippine Pisos
  • Locals speak really good English
  • Good WiFi is very hard to come by
  • If you want to island-hop (I strongly recommend) then book your flights between islands as far in advance as you possibly can, it can get really expensive if not
  • Filipino cuisines are delicious

I spent 28 days island hopping and adventuring so here’s a list of 10 favourites to do in the Philippines:

1. Swim with whale sharks in Donsol

So, I have been obsessed with whale sharks for what seems like forever so I wanted to go to a place where I knew that whale sharks would swim naturally on their own terms. I did my research. Donsol is south of Manila where we first landed in the Philippines. Ready for a journey? Yes? Me too.

To get to Donsol you have to take a bus to Barlaran from the airport for 20 pesos (27p) which took around 20 minutes. Next, you have to catch a bus to Cubao (Araneta Centre) costing 35 pesos (48p) which took around 2 hours with bad traffic. The bus terminal was very efficient, a ticket to Legazpi City costs 1,100 pesos (£15.30) leaving at 9pm to then arrive 11 hours later. The last stretch of the journey would require you taking a minibus to the Donsoltourist information centre, this costs 98 pesos (£1.36) and takes around an hour.

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Accommodation:

Dancalan Beach next door to the tourist information centre – 500 pesos for a double room, 250 each (£3.47) with a shared bathroom. This place was a beautiful start to our trip because it was so quiet, the beach was right at our doorstep. Make sure you order their vegetable fried rice and mango pancakes!

Come 12 o’clock we hopped on a private boat with four men on a mission to find whale sharks. I cannot applaud these men enough as they were nothing less than professionals. The water wasn’t clear and the sun was hiding yet these guys spotted our first whale shark within 20 minutes! We had hired the boat for 3 hours so for us to be entering the water this soon was really exciting.

*Due to cloudy conditions please excuse these poor quality GoPro photographs!

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2. Cebu – Kawasan Falls

Most famous for those icy blue waters and yes, the water really is this blue!

Tip: Visit in time for sunrise in order to beat the crowds!

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3. Cebu – White Beach

We stayed in Moalboal which is about 30-minutes on a scooter from Kawasan Falls and a 5-minute scooter ride to White Beach. 

Tip: We loved hiring a scooter and going for long rides to explore the surrounding area –  it was beautiful!

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4. Cebu – Badian – Inambakan Falls

There are so many destinations in the Philippines for waterfalls. If I were you I’d research the ones you like the look of the most, rent a scooter and go from there. 

Tip: We arrived at around 11am and this place was still quite empty whereas I’ve heard Kawasan Falls can get very busy after a certain time!

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5. Siargao Island – Soul Tribe Beach Retreat

A surfers paradise. It was hard to leave this island; we enjoyed the people, food, scooter rides and water so much that we ended up staying longer than expected.

Accommodation: Soul Tribe Beach Retreat is a beautiful getaway for anyone wanting to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of travelling. 

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6. Siargao – Island Boat Tour

The boat tours from this island are beautiful and easy to book through your accommodation: we were taken to a few sand islands, snorkel spots and ended with a Filipino BBQ (where you buy all of the ingredients at the market beforehand) on the beach. This may possibly have been one of the best meals in my entire life…

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7. Bohol Island

Here, we completed our first night and deep dive with Bohol Divers Club. Diving is probably one of my favourite activities to do in Southeast Asia because it’s cheap and lets you discover what a fascinating underwater world we have!

Bohol is also home to the Chocolate Hills. Unfortunately, there is no chocolate to be found but there is, however, perfectly shaped hills dotted across the horizon… sorcery.

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8. Siquijor Island – Cambugahay Falls 

Known for its mystical witchcraft, scuba diving and adventure packed waterfalls. We stayed in a small town called San Juan at JJ packers, I recommend heading down to Monkey Business for their delicious food!

Tips: have 50 Pisos ready for entry and don’t forget to explore the surrounding waterfalls instead of staying by the main one. 

Swing through the jungle like Tarzan and I’ll be your Jane. Too cheesy? Moving on…

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9. Siquijor Island – Salagdoong Beach

Tip: From San Juan, it took around 1hr – 1hr30 to drive here on a scooter but there are lots of gorgeous views along the way to keep you occupied!

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10. Palawan – El Nido > Coron

Finally, home to crystal clear water, palmy beaches and mermaid life is Palawan.

Island hopping tours were easy to set up through front desks or travel shops along the main strips. As a big fan of the Filipino BBQ, I highly recommend taking an El Nido > Coron boat tour for the day where you can bag yourself a gorgeous beach BBQ cooked while you’re working up an appetite free diving towards abandoned shipwrecks and getting that insta-worthy shot jumping into Kayangan Lake!

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That concludes my 10 favourite things to do in the Philippines, thanks for reading!

Drop me a comment if you have any more questions.

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BALI Chapter 2 & LOMBOK

Welcome back!


If you’ve just read my Bali Chapter 1 then get ready for more chilled vibes starting in Ubud. This charming town is flourishing with quirky vegan cafes, travellers whizzing around on scooters and looming waterfalls.


Hungry? Yes me too…

Check out ‘Creperie’ for a magical place to enjoy breakfast or a light snack before heading out on your adventures. I ate here twice within the three days I spent in Ubud. Try the Nutella crepe covered in chopped up strawberries and mango if you have a sweet tooth like me! With a packed menu listing mystical sounding dishes and drinks, the ceiling painted intergalactic and cute pillows for seats, what’s not to love about this hippie cafe?


Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Oh wait, yes please do!

Ubud is close by to many enchanting waterfalls and is just an hour scooter ride away from my favourite – NungNung. Type it into maps.me or google maps and it will lead you through windy roads of lush countryside, past small villages and locals waving to you. Walking to the waterfall from the car park will take around 10/15 minutes and is downhill, however, the way back up to the top is a different story as it is very steep but definitely worth breaking a sweat for. Get there early to have this magnificent product of nature to yourself…


I’ll be your Jane… swing above the jungle or hide away in a nest within the trees. This was a fun activity to do just outside of Ubud, take your scooter and ride through the rustic villages along the way to ‘BaliSwing’.


On your way back to Ubud, take a detour to the rice terraces where you’ll find beautifully crafted landscapes open to anyone who fancies taking a stroll. You can also find cute signs and photo points along the meandering walkway. I would recommend that you get here an hour before sunset so you can witness the sun shining low through the trees.


Hike up Mount Batur during the early hours of the morning to catch a breathtaking sunrise over the ocean and surrounding mountains. Pastel colours present themselves accompanied by the brisk fresh air hugging your neck and a sweeping fog running across the sky.


I woke up at around 2am to drive down to the bottom of the mountain. On arrival I was given a torch to help navigate my way through the darkness. It took two hours to hike to the top along with hundreds of other tourists flashing their lights along the way. Tip: carry water and snacks as you will find yourself tiring quickly without them!


Get creative! I took a silversmith class at a shop called ‘Studio Perak’ where I made a silver feather cuff for my beautiful mother and a crescent moon necklace for myself. The course was three hours long in which time you could make as much as you want. I definitely recommend this experience, costing £40 in including the silver!


I’m already planning my next trip to Ubud, here’s a few more photos I captured in and around this quaint town…


Next stop > Gili T

An island full of bars, restaurants, villas, hostels and a long stretch of beach! I loved staying on this tiny island. The ferries pull in straight onto the sand where people are sunbathing and enjoying the crystal clear water. The only form of transportation is if you rent a bicycle or pay to sit in a horse and carriage which I thought was quite charming.


Under the sea you’ll find turtles and statues if you swim out far enough towards Gili M. You can also pay £20 for a three island snorkelling tour lasting for around 4 hours where you’ll get dropped off at various points around the Gili islands. You’ll find turtles swimming gracefully and scuba divers exploring as you venture deeper into the blue sea.


I love the water. Coming to the Gili islands is perfect for you if you’re wanting a chilled out beach vibe but with plenty to do at night. You can relax by the beach, cycle around the whole of Gili T within 40 minutes and sip fresh coconuts whilst swaying in a hammock.


For the foodie: eat at ‘Scallywags’ for the best meal on the island! A beachside BBQ with a mouthwatering unlimited salad buffet. I ordered a fillet steak cooked medium rare with a side of fries, I then loaded my plate with crispy iceberg lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, coleslaw, breadsticks and the best dips I’ve ever tasted! I love a good buffet.


Do not leave Indonesia without visiting Lombok! This is by far my favourite beach island because it is still yet to be developed; the villages are still running off dirt tracks for roads and locals live in charming bamboo houses sitting on small stilts. I spent most of my time in Kuta, south of Lombok, where I fell in love with TanjungAn beach. As soon as I parked my scooter under a large tree, I was instantly hypnotised by the soft white sand and the crystal blue water in front of me.


I spent full days admiring the warm ocean, stunning mountains and calm waves.


For the sunset I hiked up to a viewpoint  to the right of Tanjung An beach where I could see the dark blue horizon and Lombok’s beautiful backdrop as the sun sank behind the mountains.


Make friends with the welcoming locals… I was swimming by myself when a family nearby invited me over asking for my name and where I was from. Within minutes I was teaching their children how to swim like a mermaid and dive backwards into the water over and over again. This is probably my favourite memory from Indonesia as I felt peacefully content surrounded by wonderful strangers.


Thank you for reading, if you have any questions about what I have done then please feel free to ask! Here’s some more photos I took when exploring the surrounding area of Kuta by scooter…

Happy travelling!

xoxo

Love Thy Traveller