Solo travel in the Philippines is something I will be doing again very soon. Having just returned from an action-packed 30-day solo adventure in the Philippines, I couldn’t wait to write up an insider guide to help others experience this gorgeous country.

The Philippines is a wonderful, exotic and relatively simple place to travel. The country consists of over 7,000 islands and you know what that means… there is no shortage of perfect beaches, crystal-clear water, amazing snorkelling, diving, wildlife and waterfalls. It really is a magical place, let me tell ya.

Solo travel can be scary, overwhelming, and challenging at times – but that’s what it’s all about. Pushing your boundaries, growing as an individual, experiencing all experiences (good and bad) and really learning about yourself are my favourite part of travelling solo.

Solo travel in the Philippines (and Southeast Asia in general) is extremely common, popular, CHEAP, and safe. There’s such a wide array of places to go, things to do, and adventures to be had here. The locals are so friendly, plus they are so easy to make friends with as they speak such fantastic English.

Strap in solo travellers, I’ve compiled this in-depth guide of everything you’ll need to know about travelling solo in the Philippines. This is gonna be the best trip of your life.

Joe at coconut view in Siargao, Philippines
Reporting live from the Philippines
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

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8 Things to Do in the Philippines When Travelling Solo

There are so many amazing things to do in the Philippines as a solo traveller. But, speaking from my personal experiences, the following activities or things to do are things I can 100% recommend to most solo travellers backpacking in the Philippines.

1. Make New Friends

The Philippines is such a great country to visit as a solo traveller. Backpacking Southeast Asia is great, whatever country you go to. There are tons of travellers everywhere you go (many of them solo), and meeting like-minded and friendly people is super easy… Even for introverts like me.

Whether you have just arrived in Manila, or you are relaxing on a remote beach in while staying in Siquijor, you will find people from all sorts of countries who are on a solo mission and want to make friends, just like you.

cebu philippines nacho hostel friends
Gang business
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

Filipinos are especially friendly and welcoming. They also speak fabulous English and making friends with locals in this country is a walk in the park. Grab a couple of San Miguels, offer one to a local, and have a good ol’ natter. What’s the worst that could happen?

2. Go Island Hopping

As the Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, what better way to explore a few of them than to go on an island hopping tour? Island hopping tours in this country are excellent. Activities as part of the tours range from snorkelling or fishing all the way to boozing and partying.

Looking down a shallow inlet surrounded by jungle covered limestone cliffs with clear turquoise sea water and blue skies in the Philippines.
*Insert heart eyes emoji*
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Island hopping tours are incredible for solo travellers. Mainly because it’s a boozy affair and a bit of alcohol is a superb social lubricant and provides timid solo travellers like me with a bit of Dutch courage to approach people and start conversations.

Island hopping tours from El Nido, Coron, Boracay, and Siargao are all great. If possible, arrange with a hostel buddy to go on one together or join a full tour to improve your chances of finding cool people on the tours.

3. Surf!

The Philippines probably isn’t the first place that pops into your head when someone says surfing. But let me tell you mate, there are some world-class waves to be discovered here.

The surfing capital of the Philippines is Siargao – my favourite island out of the lot! It is absolute heaven for any type of surfer.

Joe with a surfboard in Siargao, Philippines
Secret Beach is elite
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

The famous Cloud 9 surf break has the potential to unleash massive barreling waves over a stunning reef and is of such high quality it has hosted WSL (World Surf League) events. If you’re a beginner, never fear, there are a bunch of beginner reaks around the island including Secret Spot and Jacking Horse.

Some of the best friends I made in the Philippines were people I met out in the surf, bonding over a common hobby is so easy. Surfing with an instructor or solo is always fun too though!

4. Go Canyoneering

Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls on Cebu Island is an adrenaline-filled adventure that will live on in your memory.

Sending it off big jumps, slippery rocks, and rope swings into enchanting aquamarine water is certainly exhilarating. This is my idea of fun anyway, and not a single person on my tour didn’t have an epic time.

The Philippines is full of jungles, waterfalls, and hidden gems for you to explore and find your own spots to go cliff jumping and canyoneering. But to be honest, joining an organised tour such as the one to Kawasan Falls is probably the best, safest, and most fun option.

5. Scuba Dive, Freedive or Snorkel

The Philippines has some of the best snorkelling, scuba diving and freediving in the world; it’s also one of the cheapest places in the world to dive.

Will underwater being guided on a dive
Underwater Darth Vader.
Photo: Will Hatton

Certain spots such as Moalboal, home to the Sardine Run are otherworldly. Wherever you are in the Philippines, getting in the ocean is a great idea. Scuba courses and fun dive tours are a great way to make friends and snorkel tours can be great for this too.

6. Relax at One of the Thousands of Beaches

With over 7,000 amazing islands in the Philippines, only god knows how many beaches there are in this place. Rent a moped or book a driver and go explore!

Tropical beach at Cloud 9 Surf Spot, Siargao, Philippines
How sexy is that!?
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

There are a bunch of popular beaches but there are some seriously golden secret spots in this country. Get Google Maps out, speak to locals, or go off on your own and see what you can find.

7. Take a Cooking Class

Filipino food isn’t the best in the world, I’ll be the first to admit that. But, taking a cooking class in Manila is a great way to socialise as a solo traveller and learn a lot about Filipino traditions, culture, and cuisine.

jollibee philippines fast food manila
Or just go full send Filipino and get Jollibee 😉
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

Wherever I travel, I love to take cooking classes. It’s fun to do alone, but also is a great way to meet others who also have a passion for food.

8. Visit a Volcano!

The Philippines is home to around 300 volcanoes and about 24 of them are active. Hiking volcanoes is such a powerful thing to do and it really fits with the personal development and deep sense of adventure that many solo travellers are seeking to embrace.

Will sitting on a rock topless in front of mountains
No shirt, no problems?
Photo: Will Hatton

Going to Taal is one fantastic sight and makes for a memorable adventure. Other cool hikes include trekking Mount Pulag, Mount Arayat, Mount Hibok-Hiok and Mayon Volcano.

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The 5 Best Solo Destinations in the Philippines

“Ok, but if there are over 7,000 islands, where the hell should I go?” I can hear you already…

I’ve compiled a list of the best locations for solo travellers in the Philippines, based on my personal experiences and stories from backpackers I’ve met on the road…

1. Siargao

Siargao is one of the best places to visit in the world. Is that excessive? No, I really think it is.

Now I will admit, I only left Siargao a couple of weeks ago, so this recommendation may contain some recency bias. But, there is no denying that it’s a magical place for any type of backpacker.

sunset in Siargao, Philippines
Siargao, I love you
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

What makes Siargao solo travel so fantastic is the sense of community. There are so many amazing hostels in Siargao and the backpacking scene is seriously thriving.

My favourite hostel has to be Sinag Hostel though. The friendliness of the staff is just unmatched and it’s very affordable.

Siargao is a great place for backpackers looking to do things like chill on beaches, surf, party, and just rent mopeds and explore the stunning island. Siargao is island life defined.

2. El Nido

El Nido on the island of Palawan is one of the most popular backpacking locations in the Philippines, and you know what that means… There are TONS of other solo travellers.

El Nido is most well known for its simply magical white sand beaches and stunning coral reefs bustling with marine life. It’s one of the best places in the Philippines to join in on island hopping tours.

Will taking a selfie on a traditional Filipino boat under the sun
Remember when selfie sticks were cool? Me neither.
Photo: Will Hatton

The only thing about El Nido is that the entire island of Palawan is slightly more expensive than the rest of the country… but it’s like this for a reason. It’s one of the best places!

The most popular hostel for solo travellers looking to socialise in El Nido is definitely Mad Monkey Nacpan Beach.

If you don’t know how Mad Monkeys work, they are kinda party hostels that encourage social interaction (and drinking). They host a bunch of activities for people to get to know each other and have fun.

3. Manila

I hate cities. I loved Manila.

Well, I didn’t love Manila, but I did love my stay in the city. Why? Because of the people I met!

Manila is such a hub of backpacker activity in the Philippines due to the volume of people flying into, out of, and around the Philippines. (So is Cebu City to be fair, so that can be our imaginary number 4.5.)

Because of the guaranteed activity in the city, backpackers flood the hostels to make contacts, connections, and plans for their onward journeys.

philippines manila city skyline
Manila is more than just another shitty city
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

It was in Manila that I met some friends that I ended up travelling with to other islands, who had also just begun their solo trips in the Philippines.

I stayed in Ola Hostel and loved it here, so I can defo recommend it to other solo travellers. They have fun games like beer pong and darts. They also have a nice rooftop bar which comes alive at 6 pm and is great for people looking to get their laptops out and do some admin during the day.

If you’re looking for a short break from the city, then check out the Airbnbs in Tagaytay instead.

4. Siquijor

Siquijor may be small, but boy oh boy is it mighty. This little island is incredible and is close to Cebu. It’s a dream destination for many (myself included) boasting amazing waterfalls, beaches and lush jungles.

Siquijor is the perfect destination for solo travellers who are seeking the perfect blend of seclusion and action. The atmosphere is sublime.

The local people in Siquijor are largely responsible for this atmosphere. – they’re legends. They welcome foreigners as their own and I made some real connections with many of the locals I met here.

Local kids in Philippines making silly faces
Acting my own age
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

Siquijor is so small that it makes for the perfect location for solo travellers to go off, explore, and soul search. All without any risk of wandering too far from the nest or getting into any real danger.

There are a bunch of great hostels in Siquijor, but your nest of choice should probably be Fable Hostel. This place is the perfect base for any type of traveller and is also great for solo female travellers in the Philippines as they have female-only dorm rooms.

5. Moalboal

Moalboal is a cute little beach town on the island of Cebu. It is famous for many things including its extremely unique marine life (notably the sardine run). Here, thousands of sardines can be reliably seen all over the coastline shoaling in spectacular fashion.

Moalboal has a lovely soul to it and is a cheap place to visit. Solo travellers have plenty of cool activities awaiting them, including easy access to canyoneering at Kawasan Falls and island hopping tours.

Head over to Chilli Bar for a wild night out and to party with all your new friends. But just before that, get yourself over to MOHO hostel. They have free drinks between 8-8:30 pm and have all sorts of fun and games going on such as beer pong and quiz nights.

The atmosphere is perfect for solo travellers and the owner Roy is hilarious. I love you, Roy.

The Best Travel Apps for Solo Travel in the Philippines

Having these terrific travel apps in your arsenal will give you superpowers. Trust me.

  • Google Maps – Do I need to explain this one?
  • Booking.com – Easily the best app for accommodation.
  • Hostelworld – A great alternative to Booking.com for finding the best hostels in the Philippines.
  • Google Translate – Such an easy way to speak every language.
  • Grab – Grab is the Uber of Southeast Asia. Use Grab to book cheap and reliable rides from A to B.
  • Foodpanda – Great for lazy takeaway days, especially in the big cities.
  • Tinder – Dating apps like Hinge, Bumble or Tinder aren’t just for hook-ups! You can make and meet friends on these things too.
  • GetYourGuide – Book tours and meet other travellers.
  • Maps.me – The Philippines is notorious for dodgy wifi, download some maps offline – trust me.
  • Holafly – An e-SIM application that allows you to download an unlimited plan for your trip without installing a physical card.
  • Airbnb – A great place to find a homestay with a local family, I particularly loved the Airbnb in Baguio I stayed in for this exact reason.

Facebook groups are also a great shout for solo backpackers, and so is the Hostelworld chat for your location. My best tip though? Get off yo’ phone and go chat to people!

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Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in the Philippines

Staying safe in the Philippines is relatively straightforward. As with most places, exercising common sense can take you very far. HOWEVER, there are bad people all over the world, so you shouldn’t be naive to the possibilities of danger.

Solo female travellers should be especially careful, as usual, but not paranoid. I met lots of solo female travellers here and besides the odd motorbike crash or catcall, nothing else negative happened to them.

Joe on a scooter with a surfboard and Osprey Farpoint 40 - Hand lugagge only
Stay safe on bikes, please guys.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

The US Travel Advisory suggests you exercise increased caution when visiting the Philippines. Whilst I believe this to be accurate for some locations such as the not so well travelled islands and places like Davao, it’s overdoing it for most places.

Places with a thriving backpacker scene are generally very safe. Filipinos are honourable, honest and hospitable people – you would be extremely unlucky to be a victim of any sort.

If you do end up heading to Mindanao, be sure to be careful as the situation can be a little up and down, but the Airbnbs in Cagayan de Oro provide a safe and secure base and a connection to the locals too.

Tips for Solo Travelling in the Philippines

If this is your first big solo trip, don’t worry, these tips will help you have a killer time in the Philippines and could also save your ass.

red horse, philippines beer manila
Don’t drink too many of these alone!
Photo: @joemiddlehurst
  • Travel light and pick a trusty backpack over a rolling suitcase.
  • Book hostels. It’s the BEST way to travel solo. You’ll meet awesome people and they’re often nicer than hotels.
  • If you’re travelling on a tight budget, you can get cheap transport tickets if you book in advance.
  • Don’t just visit cities… please. Countries are more than just their tourist hotspots and Instagram-famous locations.
  • That being said… Still do the touristy things… there is a reason they’re popular.
  • Leave your heels at home. Good travel shoes are essential.
  • Book Tours – It’s one of the best ways to experience a country. Plus, it’s a great way to meet others travelling solo.
  • Get travel insurance for the Philippines. You never know what can happen, and we want you safe, not hundreds of dollars in debt and unable to get home safely.

My final tip would be to just go for it and also to go with the flow. Nothing ever unfolds exactly how you imagined it, but this is the beauty of travel. We love the mystery of surprises, don’t we?

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SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

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Final Words for Your Solo Philippines Trip

I hope this guide has equipped you with the knowledge, confidence and inspiration to embark on a solo adventure in the Philippines. If you made it this far, I know you’re reaaaally thinking about it, so you should defo just go!

If I could recommend one place to anyone it would have to be Siargao Island. I just fell in love with the place. It’s got such a friendly community feel to it and I never once felt alone here – despite arriving solo. Actually, I did take myself off on a few solo nature adventures, but you get the point.

Another place which is perfectly suited to every type of solo traveller is the island of Palawan. Check out popular spots like Coron, El Nido and Part Barton for some of the backpacking crowds and the best activities in the country.

Ok, folks. All that’s left to do is stop making excuses, book your ticket, pack your bag, and go to the Philippines. Good luck, you’ve got this.

Cebu Pacific Flight, Aeorplane, Airplane in Philippines
Go catch that flight. You got this.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst
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