The Philippines is a hidden gem when it comes to island getaways. Far less crowded than the islands of Thailand & Indonesia and so beautiful and serene. There is something to do for everyone in the Philippines - lazing around, snorkeling, scuba diving, sunset sailing, partying, luxury stays, budget stays, backpacking, mountain hikes, swimming with whales, underwater rivers and so much more. You cannot do all in one trip to this treasure trove and thus you have to take your pick on the kind of trip you want.
This itinerary is a 10 day trip to 2 islands in the country - El Nido, Palawan and Boracay. Both are on opposite ends of the spectrum with different things to do and experience. So much to write about this gorgeous destination, hence Long Post alert!
Landed in Manila and spent a night since most flights/ferries to islands further down start in the morning. While in Manila you can explore casinos, malls, restaurants and enjoy a city break.
Stay: Hotel Belmont, near Manila airport (My rating: 4/5)
Day 2 - Day 3
First stop - El nido, Palawan island. We chose Lagen Island Resort to stay in the lap of luxury for 2 days. Lagen Island is part of the El Nido Resorts group. It takes a 75-minute direct flight from Manila or a 6 hour land trip from Puerto Princesa City. We chose the flight operated by El Nido Resorts - Air Swift. To book this flight, you have to show a confirmed reservation in one of the island resorts part of the group.
Once you land at the tiny El Nido airport, your transit to the resort you've booked is taken care of completely by the resort crew and you do not have to worry or lift a single piece of luggage. Mind you, the journey from the airport to the resort includes 1)buggy cart to jetty 2) speed boat to a bigger banca boat 3) banca boat to the island 4) speed boat from banca boat to the resort. And after all this, you find your luggage safe and secure in your room when you check-in. Such is the level of efficiency and hospitality in the Philippines.
Talking of hospitality, Philippines has been the most hospitable country I've been to with the warmest of people. The staff at all the hotels we stayed at (5 for the entire trip) were unlike any other hotel staff we've found. You have to experience it to believe it.