This Philippines 7 days itinerary was planned for about 5 months in advance when suddenly my friend found a cheap ticket online and urged me to go with her. It was my very first time traveling to the country so definitely, I would add the most well-known destinations into the plan, including Manila and El Nido.
In my calculated budget, the total cost for a 7-day trip that included a 2-way plane ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Manila, transportation methods, and meals was about $500. The Cebu Airline 2-way tickets from Ho Chi Minh City to Manila cost roughly about $115. And the inland ticket from Manila to Puerto Princesa and then to El Nido cost about $25.
Part 1 – Places to Visit in Manila
First, Things to Know to Travel Manila
Surprisingly, Manila doesn’t have many places to visit. Therefore, I only spent about 2 days in Manila in my Philippines 7 days itinerary.
For transportation, I rode on the Manila Metro Rail Transit System and on a tricycle, which is a type of motorbike with a trunk that can carry a max of 5 people, because these tickets were low priced. It was 40 pesos for the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) and about 20 pesos for the tricycle. In the Philippines currency, 1 peso is about USD 0.021.
Also, the street food in Manila is varied but not as good in my opinion if you don’t have a strong stomach.
About the accommodation, I stayed in the area of Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong. It’s in the center of Manila’s MRT system in which going north or south would be easy.
Literally, Intramuros means ‘Inside the wall’ in Spanish. Actually, the area is known as the oldest district in Manila and the old government capital. At Intramuros, there is a lot of beautiful architecture, buildings, and an old church built charmingly like the ones in Europe. Many universities in Manila are in the Citadel. Thus, if you want to go to this destination, it is better to go early and avoid rush hour, because it is usually crowded like sardines in a can.
Besides the Intramuros Citadel, in Manila, you can also visit the National Museum, Manila City Hall, Santa Cruz Church, Quiapo Church, China Town, and the Methodist Church. If you decide to take the Light Rail Transit system, also known as the LRT, as your method of transportation, keep in mind that all around the station they have posted “must-visit” destinations for you to take a look at.
Taal Volcano, Tagaytay
First, heading to Taft Avenue Station where you will see a bus stop behind the McDonalds near the station. Then, asking a driver to take you to Taal Volcano with the fee is 80 pesos for 1 way. It would take about 3 hours to drive 60km from Manila to Tagaytay thanks to the heavy traffic jam in Manila. Finally, the bus will drop you off at a bus stop where you should be able to take a tricycle to the harbor of Taal Volcano – a volcano that is still active.
On the volcano, there is a lake in one of the craters called Taal Crater Lake. At the harbor, they have a service package including ships, horses to the crater, and a jockey. I and my friend had to pay 3,500 pesos for the services plus 500 pesos for the tricycle in 2 ways. The cheaper and enjoyable way is to pay for a ship to the island, then trekking to the volcano if you have time. The best time to start is 6 am from Manila if you want to explore the island on foot. Surely, you won’t regret going here because the view is absolutely incredible!
The place is truly quite far from the center of Manila. If you are going to the bay, also be sure to visit the Mall of Asia too. In fact, it is a huge mall on the coast of the bay, and you get to see a beautiful sunset too.
To go to Manila Bay, you can go to Taft Avenue Station, and under the station, there are different transportation methods that can take you to the Mall of Asia for only 7 pesos for 1 way. At the mall, you could ask for the way to the beach, then enjoy the view and have some of their famous mango juice.
Shopping at Manila
As a shopaholic, I love to do shopping while traveling. Fortunately, there are a lot of different malls with many brands such as H&M, Zara, etc. You can also go to the business center with many cool offices. The mall, Bonifacio High Street, also called Mini-Singapore, has many different stores for everyone of all ages too!
Part 2 – To the Beautiful El Nido
How to Get to El Nido?
There are 3 ways that you can go to the place:
- Flying from Manila to the Puerto Princesa airport and then taking a bus or van to El Nido. It is the best way in my opinion as it is both affordable and convenient at the same time.
- Flying directly from Manila to El Nido. You have to buy a ticket and it’s very pricey.
- By ship.
It took around 1.5 hours to fly from Manila to Puerto Princesa with Cebu Airlight, and without delay. Then I took a van (but you can also take a bus) to go to El Nido. It took around 5 to 6 hours for 600 pesos for 1 way.
Where to Stay There?
I looked for hostels near the beach on Booking.com. Honestly, in this Philippines 7 days itinerary, I didn’t have to choose accommodations carefully because I just needed a place for showering and sleeping at night because, during the day, I just wandered around the island. Hence, cheaper is better. It was around $27 – $30 a night for a room for two.
Otherwise, if you want varied options with good deals, below is a list of El Nido hotels for your consideration:
What to Eat at the Place?
The food in El Nido isn’t expensive at all. The price for staying at a hostel doesn’t cover breakfast but you can order it and pay extra or look for a restaurant to eat for about 70 – 120 pesos per 1 person.
For dinner, there are 2 places that I found impressive, Bulalo Plaza Restaurant and Squidos. To elaborate, Bulalo Plaza is a local restaurant and the meals are delicious even though I don’t have the stomach to eat Filipino foods. For around 600 pesos, you can be extremely full. And Squidos, the restaurant near the beach, has good service, and good food as well. You can also go to a bar with good cocktails, and live music!
Ok, Let’s Discover El Nido!
“Don’t take anything except photos and don’t leave anything except your footprints,” is the first sentence that you will once you step on the boat going towards El Nido, a place where environmental awareness is the top priority. Everything is brought from the land and sold on the boats which use solar panels to power the motors. At El Nido, there are tours that took us to the islands from 9 am. till about 3:30 pm. The tour included transportation, lunch, and a tour guide.
You can easily find places that sell tours in the area. Otherwise, CAERA Travel and Tour is suggested by TripAdvisor because it has good service and the tour guide is enthusiastic. They have tour selections of A, B, C, and D. I chose Tour A for the second day and Tour C for the first day because they are the most interesting in my opinion. Specifically, the ticket for Tour A is 840 pesos when discounted and the ticket for tour C is 1200 pesos plus 200 pesos for an environmental fee. Just a note, this is a one-time fee, you will receive an invoice for the first payment but you don’t have to pay this fee the next time you take a tour with CAERA Travel and Tour. All the costs include seafood for lunch.
To me, tour A was awesome! I was so surprised that there was only me and my friend on the tour. Instead of adding us to a group with other tourists, they offered us a private tour, which was very impressive! Each tour will take you to a different island, and there are activities that you can do such as diving, kayaking, or relaxing in a private lagoon. You can go to 4 islands near El Nido if you kayak. The price is 800 pesos a day.
Nacpan Beach is 40 minutes away from El Nido if you go by motorbike. You can come there by motorbike or tricycle. In my opinion, I love the first choice because it is easy to ride and the seats are comfortable. I rented a motorbike for 300 pesos by the way.
Nacpan Beach was extremely beautiful with a 3 colored sea that you can clearly see, and some small shops. Lying down on the beach with a bottle of beer is going to be incredibly relaxing for a regular afternoon, or for the last day before you have to be on a bus to your home country.
As it was my first time ever going to the country, perhaps this trip couldn’t cover all the hidden gems or secret “hot” spot to discover more in the country. Nevertheless, it still had so much joy and a lot of new experiences for me. Anyway, I hope you will find this Philippines 7 days itinerary informative and helpful for planning your next trip to the country too.
I keep wandering around the globe in every of my spare time. And yes, sharing is caring. So let’s follow my itinerary to discover the broad life!
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