Have you ever been interested in planning a trip to the Philippines, but have no idea where to even begin when it comes to mapping out an itinerary? Because the Philippines has so much to offer, you might feel the urge to squeeze in as many destinations as possible into your trip, but after you read this post, you will have a better idea on where to go and what to do for a 5-day trip.
This beautiful Southeast Asian country consists of over 7,000 islands, so your best bet is to pick and choose the ideal spots for what you’re looking to gain from your travels. Certain islands cater to more adventurous spirits, while others are oriented towards more family-friendly activities. Whatever kind of traveler you may be, there are two Philippine islands that offer just about everything: Palawan and Boracay. If you’re one of those people that feels overwhelmed with the planning process, check out this hypothetical 5 day itinerary to the Philippines. Alternatively, if you want to have someone handle the logistics for you, another option would be to visit a site like philippinestravelpackage.com.
5 Day Itinerary to the Philippines
Day 1- Puerto Princesa Palawan
There are two main airports that fly to Palawan: Manila, where it is a non-stop 75 minute flight, and Cebu City. There are several places you can arrive in Palawan:
- Private charter to El Nido (most expensive)
- Flight to Coron (2nd most expensive)
- Flight to Puerto Princesa (least expensive).
We picked Puerto Princesa as the centerpiece of this itinerary because it has many activities that will keep you busy, and it’s also the most budget-friendly option. For accommodations, it mostly depends on your budget. You can choose to stay in a cost-efficient hostel, Airbnb, or guesthouse or upgrade to a resort or hotel. Finding a decent place to stay might just be the easiest part of planning your trip, because there are many great options available. Keep in mind that if you are traveling with children, some resorts do not cater to families, so make sure to check ahead.
After arriving and settling into your accommodations, you can opt to leave your accommodation and head straight to the city, or just stay in and enjoy the room and the hotel’s facilities.
Day 2 – Puerto Princesa Palawan
One of the most well-known sites in the Philippines, and specifically in Puerto Princesa, is the Subterranean River National Park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the new 7 Wonders of the World. It is a series of long caves stretching 5 miles with a river running through it. It’s famous for its stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations and is home to bats: lots and lots of bats. The guides even tell you to not open your mouth when you’re inside the caves to avoid getting guano (bat poop!) in your mouth. This is definitely a must-see spot in Palawan, and is perfect for nature-loving travelers.
Another place you may choose to visit after the underground river is Ugong Rock, where adventure junkies can get their fix by spelunking, rock climbing, and ziplining through scenic rock formations.
Day 3 – Last day in Puerto Princesa
You could realistically spend a few more days in Puerto Princesa with all of the activities the island has to offer.
You might also be interested in some island hopping, and Honda Bay is the place to be. If you sign up for an island hopping tour, the best islands are Lilu Island and Cowrie Island, which are both ideal for snorkeling, swimming, or just relaxing. Other activities to help you enjoy your last day are visiting beaches like Nagtabon and Sabang.
Day 4 – Depart Palawan and arrive in Boracay
Your easiest way to get from Palawan to Boracay is to take an early flight from Puerto Princesa to Cebu or Manila, and then take another direct flight to Boracay. Note that these flights are a roundabout connection: you either go south to north or north to south again. There are no direct flights from Puerto Princesa to Boracay. This will eat up at least 4 hours of your day, not counting the layover period you’ll do in either Manila or Cebu, more if you end up going to Kalibo airport than Caticlan airport.
Once in Boracay, you’ll see exactly why this is one of the most popular destination in all of the Philippines.
Your first day in Boracay should be spent enjoying the scenery and one of the best ways is to go paraw sailing. A paraw is a narrow fishing boat used by locals for fishing that became a popular way to ferry tourists. Due to its narrow shape, this boat glides through the water smoothly and is perfect for relaxing and watching the sun set.
Boracay is also one of the top spots for nightlife in the Philippines. There are so many bars, clubs, and restaurants found at White Beach that all you have to do to find a good time is stroll down the lively streets in this area. Many bars have cover charges, so keep this in mind before you head out for the night.
Day 5 – Boracay Island Hopping
This last day on Boracay should be spent hopping from island to island. Start at Puka Beach and spend the morning relaxing on the white sand. After this, the boat tours typically include Crocodile Island, Crystal Cove, Ariel’s Point, and Magic Island. Crocodile Island is surrounded by clear shallow waters, so it is ideal for snorkeling. Crystal Cove is just as it sounds and offers two mysterious coves to explore.
If you’ve never gone diving, but always wanted to learn, now’s your chance – Boracay is also known as one of the best places in the world to dive for beginners. Not only are the waters calm and clear, they are also home to a huge variety of corals and marine life, as well as several shipwrecks and caves. So if SCUBA is something you’ve always wanted to try, be sure to sign up for a one-time dive or even a diving course to earn your certification.
Ruby’s Personal Notes:
Having been to both Palawan and Boracay, I would NOT recommend going to both Palawan and Boracay in a one-time 5 day trip. It leaves so little time for you to explore the beauty of the islands. You can spend more than a week in Palawan and still not experience all of the area’s sights and beauty. Boracay for a 3 day weekend is doable, but maybe use the other 2 days to go to Cebu instead of Puerto Princesa or do Iloilo, which is a quick ferry ride away if you want to extend it to a 5 day itinerary.
What was recommended above are two of the well-known and loved tourist spots within the country, but there’s so many hidden gems in the Philippines to discover. How do I know? Oh, because I lived there for 20+ years of my life, and have actually been to a lot of the Philippine provinces.
Boracay is closed to tourists as of April 2018 to help the island recover from massive development and waste that happened in the area. Boracay is expected to reopen after 6 months, in October 2018, BUT Philippine bureaucracy is not always reliable, so this 6 month closing can turn into more than 6 months. Please make alternate plans if Boracay is still closed after October 2018.