This time last year if you told me I was going to climb a mountain and meet a 101 year old woman in the Mountain Province of The Philippines, I would deem it ridiculous. My 2 flatmates had booked their flights a few months before, anxious to meet this woman and get a traditional tattoo from the humble village of Buscalan. I have to admit, there were times when I called them crazy. However was I jealous? Was I dying to join them on a wild adventure? My boyfriend was hooked on the idea, and with the flights being so cheap, I thought to myself, why not?
Being a backpacker anywhere in the world can be scary. However it sure is an experience worth taking. I didn't have much experience with backpacking although I have been on road trips. Living out of a backpack/rucksack is somewhat humbling as you are roughing it out at times and using up everything you have. The Philippines has a large amount of backpackers as it can be an adventurous destination if you search in the right places. Not only can it be adventurous, but can run cheaper than you imagine. As The Philippines is a third world country, £100 can definitely go a long way.
Best Backpacking Destinations
If you're keen on hiking, I highly recommend the Mountain Province of the North. A 10 hour bus ride from Quezon City, Metro Manila to Bontoc can cost about 725.00 Php (roughly £10). Although it does seem like a long bus ride, the destination is truly worth it. We travelled from Bontoc to a small village just before Buscalan (as there isn't direct transport to the village as of yet) via rooftop jeepney which only cost us £1.50, now that was an experience worth taking.
El Nido, Palawan is a beautiful place to visit. Although it is a popular tourist destination, there are other ways to see its beauty rather than going to the main city. There are bus and van journeys from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, costing at around 300-700 Php (about £3.50-£9.50) which lasts for about 5-6 hours. Once you get to El Nido, try not to spend too long there and hit the road by tricycle, by foot or by motorbike around the North Coast. There are breathtaking views and beaches waiting.
Essential Items to Pack (with clickable links)
These are items I would advise in bringing not only for The Philippines but also wherever you plan to backpack across (this is tailored for warmer countries).
-Backpack This is a little too obvious but I recommend buying the right one which will last, yes some backpacks can be pricey but it's a great investment. I will be buying the Osprey Farpoint 40 Litre Backpack for my next trip across Europe.
-Packing Cubes These were the best thing when constantly on the move. If you want your stuff organised well and also to optimise space, I would definitely invest in packing cubes. I have the Pack of 6 Packing Cubes which I swear by and always use, even for suitcases!
-Microfibre Towel Not only do I use this backpacking but also for daily life. I have a Lightweight Towel that is the perfect size and does the job. It packs in very well so is great for optimising as much space as possible.
-Mosquito Net (mostly for hot countries with high amount of mosquitoes/insects). Many Airbnb's/hotel's do provide mosquito nets in The Philippines however a 2 Person Travel Mosquito Net folds into a small bag and is handy to keep with you.
-Backpack Lock It was a peace of mind knowing my valuables (like my GoPro Hero 3, Portable Charger and Phone) were safe. Mine was an easy to use Combination Lock which fit perfectly through the zips of my bag.
-Filter Water Bottle Most water in The Philippines is bottled and secured, however if you're more off track with little to no access to bottled water, this Filter Bottle can filter out tap/river water and is perfectly fine to drink.
When backpacking, I recommend using Airbnb if you aren't keen on going to Hostels. However if you are, HostelWorld and Booking.com are best for finding the cheapest prices. Make sure you either book or phone up in advance as Hostels do tend to book up fast as it is the cheapest option.
So my little motto is 'Take the Leap': go out and have a crazy adventure, meet new people from the four corners of the world and experience a completely new culture. I know I definitely have got the travel bug now.
If you would like to hear more about my Philippines adventure, comment below or send me an email, I'd love to hear from you.
Current Status: Northern Ireland
Next Stop: Florida, US