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A flexible Philippines itinerary around Visayas Archipelago
two weeks backpacking or three weeks by bicycle
A great cycling or backpacking route in the Philippines. An alternative itinerary to visit 4 of the best islands in the Visayas. Detailed map and in-depth advice about things to do and see. Off the beaten track itineraries for off the beaten path destinations. Perfect also for Bicycle touring.
Most Philippines itineraries look very similar to each other, almost like there isn’t anything else to see in the Philippines besides El Nido and Boracay. Since we focus on off-the-beaten itineraries, we’ll leave them out of it, focusing instead on a beautiful itinerary of the Visayas Archipelago.
We ended up in the Philippines almost for fortune, for a series of coincidences, but this was the country where we really thought we may stay for a while. This is because the Philippines is a fun, friendly and beautiful country, rich in positive vibes and human creativity.
We did this itinerary by bicycle in about three weeks, but it can easily be turned into a two weeks Philippines itinerary if using any other means of transport.
The length of the Visa-free regime in the Philippines is one month, so you can also add this itinerary of the Visayas to a more mainstream Philippines itinerary (Palawan, Boracay) if you plan to stay one month. Visayas islands are also a great place to get PADI certifications on liveaboard boats, the Philippines are great for diving so you could spend your extra-time exploring the underwater world!
As usual, we think that a bicycle is the best tool to deeply explore, get in touch with the real and experience landscapes and people. Even though the Philippines are an inexplicably underrated cycling destination, you should really consider the cycling option, it’s really suited for bicycle touring beginners as well!
Anyway, the Philippines itineraries listed here could easily be done by local transports or renting a scooter. Just follow the links to get in-depth with each island’s itinerary, those include detailed interactive maps of our bicycle trip, complete with elevation profile.
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Two weeks Philippines itinerary – Visayas Islands
- Day 1: Fly to Cebu, visit Cebu City
- Day 2 to 5: Explore Bohol and Panglao Island
- Day 6 to 9: Get lost in the incredible beauty of Negros
- Day 10 to 11: the underdeveloped island of mangoes: Guimaras
- Day 11 to 13: The wilderness of Panay and its off-shore islets
- Day 13 to 14: Overnight ferry to Manila and fly out
Philippines itinerary part 1: Bohol
Maybe because this was our first real impact with the rural Philippines, we developed a strong affection for this beautiful island. I think it’s really a no miss destination for a decent tour of the Philippines.
Bohol is part of the Central Visayas province and is inhabited by around 1.3 million persons. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines, mostly for the Chocolate Hills and Panglao island, but there’s really much more in this island.
We advise spending 4 or 5 days of your 2 weeks Philippines itinerary in Bohol
- Day 1: from Tagbilaran to Panglao Island (try to make it to Pungtod, also called the Virgin Island, one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia)
- Day 2: Interiors, Jungle, and Chocolate Hills
- Day 3: Baclayon Church and central coastal area
- Day 4: the beaches of Anda
If you have more time spend a day more relaxing by the beach in Panglao or Anda, or explore the waterfalls in the interiors.
Learn more about Things to do in Bohol – 5 days itinerary
Visayas Itinerary part 2: Negros
Negros is not a famous destination in the Philippines, and that’s a pity. It’s an incredibly beautiful island, great to experience the real Philipino culture and lifestyle.
Negros island is part of the Visayas archipelago, which constitutes the central part of the Philippines state, and is an absolute must to include in a Philippines itinerary. Around 4.5 million people live here, not much considering this is the 4th biggest island in the Philippines.
We advice spending 4 days in Negros, if you have more time, consider visiting the nearby island of Siquijor
- Day 1: Dumaguete and Apo Island
- Day 2: Hike the Kanlaon Volcano, the most active in the Philippines
- Day 3 and 4: Sipalay and Sugar Beach
Philippines backpacking route part 3 – Guimaras
Guimaras is a small (604.57 km2) island in the Western Visayas province of the Philippines, it’s a wild and fascinating destination off the beaten path.
This island’s landscape is rugged and arid, compared to the rest of the Philippines, very peculiar of this island. Guimaras is world renowned for mango production, those are told to be the best mangoes in the world.
But it’s not just for the mango that we came here, Guimaras is really worth a visit, could be explored in a few days and you’ll never forget the feeling of this island.
Guimaras is very small, you can experience the island spending only one night here
- Day 1: Arrive on the island by ferry from Negros, explore the rough south coast cut through the interiors and head to Alubihod beach and the Mangrove Forest (JBLMF Ecological Park – Villa Igang). Here there are some accommodations.
- Day 2: visit the mangrove forest and head to Jordan to catch the ferry to Panay
Panay is mainly known as the gate to Boracay island, the most famous tourist destination in the Philippines and one of the most visited in South East Asia. But to our eyes, most famous and most visited usually means moore crowded and expensive.
So, since we are more the “off the beaten path” kind of travelers we advise exploring Panay and its off-shore islets instead.
Panay is the sixth-largest island in the Philippines and is inhabited by around 4 million people, is located in the Western Visayas province.
Our tour started in the busy capital Iloilo, coming by RoRo ferry from Guimaras, to end in the North-Western tip of the island in Caticlan, where boats loaded with tourists go to Boracay.
Spending 3 nights in Panay might be not enough
- Day 1: From Iloilo, head straight to Antique, stopping by the town of Miagao to visit is beautiful and interesting Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church, also known as the Fortress Church.
- Day 2: Visit the beautiful interiors of Antique province, with its waterfalls and rice paddies. There are many trekking trailsthere, as well as a long and cheap zip-line, and river kayaking opportunities in wet season.
- Day 3: visit one or two of the islets facing Culasi, Malalison and Batbatan are the closest ones. Their beaches and water quality can easily challenge Boracay.
Learn more about things to do in Panay
From Caticlan, is possible to catch the daily overnight ferry to Batangas in Luzon, from there is a 2-hour bus ride to Manila.
If you want to add Cebu to your itinerary, check this Cebu travel blog post.
Here’s the detailed interactive map with elevation profile of our whole bicycle itinerary in the Philippines, hope it helps.