Solo travel in the Philippines

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Adventurous GatG, Beach GatG, Diving GatG

Imagine a postcard perfect beach, sparkling white sand and crystal clear lagoons. Whilst many solo travel to Thailand for this experience, the Philippines are just as stunning.

But with over 7,000 islands on offer you don’t need to go all the way to Thailand to see limestone karst and rice terraces. Not only does it have friendly locals but the Philippines is also reasonably cheap. But with it being so big, where do you start?

Below is our guide to solo travel in the Philippines which includes where to go, a two week itinerary and how friendly it is for solo female travellers. All companies and recommendations are from solo female travellers. If you are planning a trip here just click on the relevant section or read the full article to get inspired.

Contents

(Photo @ Saranya Dinakaran)

Solo Travel in The Philippines

The Philippines with its 7,107 islands may appear to be an intimidating country to visit if you’ve never been there before but it’s brimming with sand beaches and heartwarming hospitality for solo female travellers. You may feel more at ease on the islands than in the capital. If you venture into a shopping centre, restaurant or coffee shop, don’t be surprised by the presence of security guards.

Views of Treasure Mountain

Must See Places in The Philippines

Places To See in Manilla

If you like museums then the capital is a good place to start. Many of the things to see in Manilla are the museums. Delve into the country’s history at the Museo Filipino Intramuros museum, visit the National Museum of Anthropology, or just “be in the moment” in historically significant locations like Luneta Park and the historic walled city of Intramuros, also located nearby.

A little bit further out, but well worth a visit, is the Pinto Art Museum at Antipolo, which features exhibits from a wide range of Filipino artists. The museum is spread out through a number of inter-connected mission-style buildings set in well maintained tropical gardens. The buildings and many of the artworks provide fantastic backdrops.

Pinto Art Museum

Other recommended Manila tourist attractions are the Museum of the Filipino People, and the Presidential Museum and Library to learn more about the country’s current and past presidents (if that interests you).

Manila is also good for the shopping Girls about the Globe (GatGs) with some of the world’s largest shopping malls like SM City North EDSA and SM Megamall where you can find a variety of retail shops and restaurants. Just a short ride away from the Megamall are two more cities that are pulsing with life, day in and day out; Bonifacio Global City and Makati City. Both can be holiday destinations in their own right with plenty more shopping and places to eat out in-between.

A gorgeous white beach in Port Barton (photo @ Jess Willow)

Beaches in The Philippines

For those who want sand, sun, and sea, nothing screams ‘tropical island' like a good old beach trip. You can’t visit the Philippines and not go to at least one. White-sand beaches go without saying and some of these like the ones in Palawan or Siargao are nothing short of beautiful but the country is home to many other types of beaches too.

For starters, there’s the Lantangan Beach in Caramoan. Other than having smooth pebbles on the shore rather than sand, it’s also referred to as the “singing beach” because when the waves crash along the pebbles, you can hear them producing soft sounds at different pitches.

The Philippines is also home to pink beaches with seven to choose from. You can find these at Zamboanga, Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Davao Oriental, Camarines Norte, and Palawan. These Philippines' must-sees are definitely even more beautiful because of their iconic sunsets and the beautiful hues at the end of each day.

Yes, the Philippines really is this gorgeous (photo @ Jess Willow)

Palawan Island Philippines

If you only get to see one island in the Philippines make it Palawan. With UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a charming fishing village, this island should be at the top of your Philippines bucket list.

Get lost in the underground river at Puerto Princesa, then explore the lagoons and sinkholes of the Bacuit archipelago. The shipwrecks here offer amazing diving, plus you can lay on an amazing beach afterwards. The pictures don’t even do it justice. In fact it’s so good that it’s even been named The Best Island in the World. If that’s not reason enough to book a trip to the Philippines then I don’t know what is.

Parasailing anyone? (photo @ Saranya Dinakaran)

Boracay Adventure

Boracay is one of the most popular attractions for a reason. As well as the infamous White Beach Boracay, the island attracts scuba divers and adrenalin seekers who come to parasail above the islands or experience the thrill of the wind racing through their hair on a speedboat ride. It has all the adrenalin sports you can think of including the large inflatable rides, zorbs and zip-lines. If you want to meet others, this is the place. Stay a few days and the commercialism may get too much so plan your escape through island hopping and sail to Puka beach and Crocodile Island (which doesn’t actually have any crocodiles). 

Naked Island Camigiun (photo @ Katrina Adinda Djajadiningrat

Diving in the Philippines

Known as one of the best places in the world for diving, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is an amazing dive site which has a UNESCO World Heritage status. Dive off Panglao Island at the Black Forest site to see black coral, or if big sharks are more your thing go diving (or just swimming) with whale sharks at Malapascua Island.

Philippines diving doesn’t have to be restricted to the daytime. If you’ve never done a night dive, here is a good a place as any. Night diving in El Nido gives you the opportunity to watch an amazing sunset amongst limestone karst then experience the sea life and enchantment of the bioluminescence bay.

Palawan sandy beaches

Wildlife

For the wildlife GatG try and spot the Philippines tarsiers with their big eyes and rotating heads. Instead of going to the conservation centre in Bohol, see these cute little primates in their natural habitat on a night safari instead. Spotting them isn’t always guaranteed but you get to experience the tropical jungle in the dark and learn all about the fauna. 

Banaue (photo @ Katrina Adinda Djajadiningrat)

Mountains in The Philippines

The Philippines is perfect for the active GatG with many mountains with breathtaking views to climb and conquer. Pico De Loro is a great trail to start (there’s a beach here too), or head to Mt. Batulao in Batangas. For a little more adventure, the trails of Taal Volcano (also in Batangas) and the iconic Mt. Pinatubo are also friendly trails for beginners.

Or maybe you prefer being perched on limestones, overlooking a vast horizon at the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal province. This is also where you can find Treasure Mountain where you can ride to the top for a picture-perfect landscape of the Sierra Madre ranges.

For those who prefer somewhere off the beaten track with some solitude away from tourists, head to Port Barton, a beautiful, quiet village close to a gorgeous white beach. There is so much to do here from hiking in the Cordillera Central mountains, admiring coral churches, marvelling at towering rice terraces in Banaue, and getting the adrenalin flowing whilst canyoning at Kawasan Falls.

Traffic on El NIdo (photo @ Jess Willow)

Adventure Tourism in the Philippines

For the adventurous GatG, you can ride quad bikes (ATV) over sand dunes in Paoay, off-road in Rizal province, or along the sides of active volcanoes such as Mt. Pinatubo in Tarlac or Mt. Mayon in Albay. Just don’t forget to bring extra clean clothes.

If you prefer going underground, kayak through the Underground River in Palawan to the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs Site to see more than 100 prehistoric drawings of humans and animals carved on its walls. There is so much more to the Philippines than the beaches.

Camiguin Island (photo @ Katrina Adinda Djajadiningrat)

Philippines Tours

G Adventures Tours If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration, G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 12 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book one of their tours you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.

G Adventures Philippines tours range from a 9 day Philippines Palawan Adventure, a 13 day Philippines Island Hopping trip, to a 16 day Northern Philippines and Palawan Adventure travelling from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Experience pristine beaches and discover the colonial history of the country’s capital whilst in the company of like-minded others. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company. 

Click here for itineraries, prices, and start dates

Intrepid Tours – Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people who book their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels for their tours to the Philippines and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more than G Adventures.

Intrepid Philippines tours range from an 8 day Philippines Palawan island getaway, a 12 day Real Philippines tour, to an 18 day Philippines adventure beginning in Manilla, trekking through Banaue and ending in El Nido on a lush beach. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.

Click here for the full itineraries, prices, and start dates

Philippines Day Tours – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including the Philippines. Choose from a Boracay: island and beach-hopping boat tour with snorkeling, an island hopping tour in El Nido amongst lagoons, or a Puerto Princesa underground river tour with an optional massage. There are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.

* Check all tours, prices and availability for the Philippines

Expert Interview - The Philippines with Aileen

Aileen Adalid is originally from the Philippines and has travelled extensively throughout the country. She describes the Philippines as “It’s more fun!” and gives us an insight into visiting the Philippines as a woman traveller.

Can you tell us about your background?

It has been almost 3 years since I was working in a 9-to-5 job thinking: “Is this all there is to it? Does my ‘unconventional dream’ really have to take the backseat? Since then, I've flown around the French Alps as a paraglider, played around with elephants in Thailand, ventured the busy streets of Hong Kong alone, and so much more! Plus, as I hopped from one country to another, I had even managed to set up an online business and a successful travel blog that lead me to live a more sustainable travel lifestyle today.

Expert Interview - The Philippines with Aileen

What do you think is the Philippines attraction for solo females?

I think the main two factors that attract women travellers (and men as well!) to the Philippines is the well-known warmth of the locals and the pristine natural wonders that we have — white sandy beaches, lush forests, picturesque mountains, Philippine islands, you name it! Philippines always has something for everyone; no matter what kind of traveler you may be!

If you only had two weeks to see the country, what would your perfect itinerary be?


Whenever I give suggested itineraries for the Philippines, I group it into two! So for 2 weeks, if you want…

Partying with a mix of adventure = First stop would of course be Manila as it is not only the center but it is also where the country’s most amazing nightlife activities can be seen and done (go to Makati and the BGC-Fort). This should be followed by Boracay, Cebu, Puerto Galera, and Davao. (Angeles, Pampanga is often mentioned as a great nightlife place but I find it a bit too seedy).

Full-blown adventure and relaxation = Batanes, Bohol, Calaguas, Malapascua, El Nido, Coron, Siargao, and Siquijor.

For a month’s itinerary Katrina, a solo female traveller, recommends this solo route: Cebu then take a bus to Bohol, a boat to Siquijor Island, then Camiguin Island then onto Siargao Island which is shaped like a tear-drop. After that spend another week in Sagada and Banue. See, who needs Thailand!

Are there any hidden gems in the country that people should definitely visit?

A LOT! If I have to pick my top five, those would definitely be Batanes (my hometown!), Caramoan, Calaguas, Camiguin, and Siargao.

The Philippines

Travelling around the Philippines

The Philippines is a group of islands (we have 7,107 of them!) so even though the islands are well-connected, expect to endure hours of boat or bus rides. Rest assured, when it comes to language, talking to the locals won’t be a problem at all since a lot of us Filipinos speak English!

Is there anything to do in the evenings as a solo?


Of course, especially if you go down the ‘party-style’ kind of adventure. There are various ways to meet locals too and you can do that by couchsurfing/home stays, joining parties, participating in bar-hopping sprees, going on group tours, or simply by just approaching anyone you see — truth be told, there’s a high chance that you’ll be approached first and you might even be invited to a Filipino’s home!

It’s really no news that us Filipinos LOVE foreigners and that we do our best to make you feel welcome in our country.

Expert Interview - The Philippines with Aileen

Is it easy to meet other travellers?

I have met many women travelling alone but I have to say that going by my experience, I noticed that the males tend to outnumber the females and it might have to do with how the guys are running after the beauty or ‘experiences’ with Filipinas — if you know what I mean, haha! Anyhow, Philippines is absolutely more than that kind of destination since it’s easy to fall in love with the culture and the way of life here. Other than friendly traveling locals, you’ll see a lot of traveling foreigners in the country too. To add, even if a backpacker scene such as that in Thailand is not as apparent here, there are a lot of opportunities to stay and be connected. In fact, there are tons of expats in the country!

What would you avoid in the country?


Try not to be too flashy; always be careful with your belongings. This is not to say that the Philippines is extremely dangerous because it’s not; but like any other city in the world, it’s best to always be vigilant. And if you’re staying in big cities like that in Manila and Cebu, be wary of traffic because we have the worst traffic sometimes (actually, all the time, especially during rush hours!). Also, try to avoid Philippines travel during summer time because the beaches will most surely be packed!

Expert Interview - The Philippines with Aileen

What would you say to someone who is looking to go to the Philippines alone for the first time?
 JUST. DO. IT. 
I assure you… you won’t ever, ever, regret it!

Where can people follow you?

To know more about me and my travels, you can always stop by my blog at iAmAileen.com For my daily updates, you can see them over on Facebook.

Map of The Philippines

Plan a Trip to The Philippines

Budget – £40 a day

 

 

 

Capital – Manila

Population – 104.9 million

Language spoken – The official language in the Philippines is Filipino, and English. Other languages such as Spanish, Tamil and Mandarin and many others are also spoken.

Local CurrencyPhilippine Peso 

Do I need a visa? 

Vaccinations Required 

 

LingoUseful Filipino phrases

Useful Info

Airlines to the Philippines 

The Best Time to Go – March for Manilla. The Philippines does have a rainy season, which is the six months from June to November. 

Which Plug Do I Need?

UNESCO Sites in the Philippines 

Events and Festivals in the Philippines 

Local Cost Guide

Local Customs & Etiquette  

Thanks to fellow solo travellers who gave their tips and images for this article: Saranya Dinakaran, Jane Lowrie, Katrina Adinda Djajadiningrat, Marie Chevavavalier, and Jess Willow.

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