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 travel to Thailand for this experience, the Philippines are just as stunning.
With over 7,000 islands on offer, you don’t need to go all the way to Thailand to see limestone karsts and rice terraces or the Temple of Leah (a famous Cebu tourist spot). Not only does it have friendly locals but the Philippines is also reasonably cheap.
If you're planning a trip to the Philippines, below is our guide to solo travel in the Philippines. All companies and recommendations are from solo female travellers. If you are planning a trip just click on the relevant section or read the full article to get inspired.
N.b. For every booking made through this article, I donate money to projects helping vulnerable girls about the globe. Thank you for helping to make a difference to their lives.
- Solo Travel in The Philippines
- Must See Places in The Philippines
- Places To See in Manilla
- Beaches in The Philippines
- Palawan Island
- Boracay Adventure
- Diving in The Philippines
- Tours To The Philippines
- Where To Stay in The Philippines
- Travel Around The Philippines
- Map of The Philippines
- Plan a Trip to The Philippines
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 sandy beaches and heartwarming hospitality for solo female travellers. Filipinos are known for being friendly and welcoming to their country. The Philippines has something for all types of traveller whether you're into islands, beaches and diving or culture and nightlife.
Most of the locals speak English which is really helpful too. The Philippines is a popular backpacking destination and there are ex-pats here as well as digital nomads that come to co-work with others in Manilla or Cebu.
You may feel more at ease on the islands than in the capital as the islands have a more comfortable vibe. If you do stay in Manilla when you venture into a shopping centre, restaurant or coffee shop, don’t be surprised by the presence of security guards. As with most big cities you need to be vigilant with your belongings so just keep an eye on your valuables if you’re spending time in the capital or Cebu for example.
To meet others here, the best islands are Palawan (the most popular), Boracay or Siargoa which is an ideal place for the surfing Girl about the Globe. For those searching for yoga retreats in the Philippines, you can combine yoga with a week’s surf camp in Puritan Beach, Catanduanes.
If you’re here during the peak season you’ll find lots of beach goers that you can strike up a conversation with or choose a homestay to meet locals. If you’re feeling apprehensive about going to the Philippines alone consider taking one of the recommended group tours.
* Before you travel, check what paperwork or visas are required for The Philippines.
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.
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.
Manila is also good for the shopping Girl about the Globe 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.
Beaches in The Philippines
For those who want sand, sun, and sea, transport yourself to a tropical island on 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 Lantangan Beach in Caramoan. Other than having smooth pebbles on the shore rather than sand, it’s also referred to as the “singing beach.” 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.
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.
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 adrenaline 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).
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 as good a place as any. Night diving in El Nido gives you the opportunity to watch an amazing sunset amongst limestone karst and experience the sea life and enchantment of the bioluminescence bay.
Wildlife in The Philippines
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.
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.
Adventure Tourism in the Philippines
For the adventurous GatG, you can ride quad bikes (ATVs) 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.
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 Travel Philippines – 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. Read our Intrepid Travel Reviews
For the backpacker solo, TruTravels offers classic tours to the Philippines. From 8 days to 17 days you can travel the country with a group of less than 20 like-minded travellers exploring the capital and island hopping around the best parts of the Philippines. See the view of the capital from a rooftop bar in Manilla, swim with turtles, go sailing and even try canyoning in one of the most beautiful countries. Trips have a maximum of 20 people with most travellers between the ages of 18 and mid 30’s. Prices start from £975 based on a twin share.
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. Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty to book as a solo and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.* Check all day tours, prices and availability for the Philippines
Where To Stay in The Philippines
The Philippines has a variety of accommodations for all budgets. You’ll find hostels, guesthouses, B&Bs, inns and all-inclusive resorts. Plus there’s Airbnb which offers rooms with a local and rental accommodation in the Philippines on a short-term basis. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment or bungalow.
If you’re backpacking the Philippines and looking to meet others, My Green Hostel or Where2Next Hostel in Palawan are great options for solos. If you’re heading to Panglao island choose Glamping Alona or MNL Boutique Hostel in Manila.
All of the accommodations below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement.
Located in Cebu, this B&B is just steps away from a beautiful beach. It’s in a great location to snorkel or hike and the owners can arrange whale shark tours too. Watch the waves from the open lounge, hire a bike and cycle around the surrounding area or just enjoy a leisurely breakfast as you wake up next to the ocean. Choose from a double or twin room.
- Prices from £22 / $30 per night for a double or twin room
- To book, check prices or availability: Ocean View Lodging House
Situated in the heart of Metro Manila, these 3-star suites offer peace and quiet within the city. Rooms are cosy with a nice ambience and each one has air-conditioning and a kitchenette and you also get your own slippers. The suites are close to supermarkets, banks and restaurants. Choose from a studio with a garden view or a deluxe double room with a balcony.
- Prices from £39 / $48 per night for a double room with a balcony
- To book, check prices or availability: New Manila Suites
If you’re searching for 3-star apartments in Panglao, the Three Shooting Stars is a perfect choice. The owners go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. It’s close to the beach and there’s a beautiful garden with hammocks and places to chill out. It’s central but in a quiet location away from the main street. Each apartment has a kitchenette and dining area.
- Prices from £28 / $39 per night for an apartment
- To book, check prices or availability: The Three Shooting Stars
Situated in a beautiful location by the river and surrounded by greenery, this 4-star heritage property offers a relaxing atmosphere and good food to match. Situated near Pagsanjan Town you can walk to the bars, restaurants and shops at the historical plaza. The terrace has stunning river views and to relax you even more there’s an onsite spa where you can treat yourself to a massage. Breakfast is included too! Choose from a dormitory room, a suite, a king suite, a suite with a river view or garden view.
- Prices from £88 / $122 per night for a king suite
- To book, check prices or availability: Casa Marina Bed and Breakfast
Travel Around The Philippines
There are a few ways to travel around the Philippines. You can travel by air or by ferry to reach the islands or there are local buses called jeepneys for short rides overland.
There are a lot of islands to travel around in the Philippines and even though the main islands are connected you may have to spend a few hours on a boat to reach them. The main hubs are Cebu and Manilla so you may not have a direct route depending on where you are travelling to. Rome 2 Rio is a good resource to plan your journey.
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 Currency – Philippine Peso
Lingo – Useful Filipino phrases
The Best Time to Go – March for Manilla. The Philippines does have a rainy season, which is the six months from June to November.
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.