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the old frontier
Philippines
the old frontier

Believe it or not, we had a lot of difficulty reducing our trip in the Philippines to just 40-days. The amount of mind-blowing destinations made it very hard to narrow it down so we crammed as many of them in as we could! This also means that this trip is fairly travel-heavy as we venture far off the beaten path and provide you with a true backpacking experience. The travel is well worth it though as you’ll get to feel the rush of travelling to places where very few other people have been and trust us, the Philippines is hiding plenty of beauty within its borders. Each trip follows a custom itinerary through the islands depending on the seasonal weather patterns to ensure the best places are visited at the best times. From the amazing snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities to the stellar surfing to the breathtaking hikes to the laidback days on the beach, there is no low point on this adventure!

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Manila

Often given a bad reputation for its enormous size and overcrowded population, Manila is actually much more charming than it is given credit for. The city is separated into many distinct districts and when you downsize sprawling Manila into more manageable and smaller cities then individually some of them aren't so bad. We stay at a very cool, backpacker's spot that showcases some of the best live music and dancing venues that Manila has to offer, and seeing the jovial spirit of Filipinos in full force at karaoke and dance bars is a great way to enjoy your time here. Another district houses a massive modern shopping complex that has a very unique vibe to it and is a convenient place for your all-in-one shopping stop. So your expectations may be low for Manila, but enter the city with an open mind and you may very well enjoy your time here!

 
the old frontier
▷Click to Watch!
Philippines
Banaue Rice Terraces

It'll feel like you're traveling back in time, and in many ways you are, when you take the winding road through Northern Philippines and into the dazzling world of the ancient emerald rice terraces of Banaue. Miraculously dug by hand and carved into the hills by the indigenous Ifugao people over 2000 years ago, the Banaue rice terraces cover over 10,000 km of hillside. And life has not changed much since the terraces were built as they are still the main source of food for the region. Hiking through the mountains of Banaue will not only give you incredible views of the stunning rice terraces and the surrounding scenery, but it will also give you a peek into a humbling lifestyle of farming and village life. Experiencing the Banaue rice terraces will give you an opportunity to see a sight often dubbed 'the 8th Wonder of the World' and also to walk through a world where simpler times prevail and just having food to eat and a place to sleep is more than enough reason to smile!

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Malapascua

With the opportunity to do three different wreck dives, explore the underwater sanctuary of Gato Island and frequent appearances of the rarely spotted thresher shark near the island, Malapascua is a diver's dream! Couple the amazing adventures off the island with Malapascua's beautiful beaches, friendly locals and delicious food and this island is a beach bum's dream, too. So whether on land or sea, this is a great place to relax and experience the beauty of this epic destination!

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Boracay

Boracay is widely considered to be one of the nicest tropical islands in the world and its beauty is a source of pride for the Filipino people who love taking time off to enjoy the paradise island. With 7 km of powdery white-sand beaches contrasted by the vibrant aqua blue colour of the water, it is easy to see why we enjoy stopping off at Boracay on our Philippines trip! But half the fun in Boracay happens after the sun sets, when the nightlife heats up and a walk down the beach leads to grooving drum circles at Rasta bars as well as dancing and partying at one of the many outdoor clubs that host rocking parties well into the night. A good daily routine in Boracay consists of laying in the sun, swimming in the ocean, taking a nap in a hammock, then partying the night away. Wake up and repeat.

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Catanduanes

With little development and very few tourists, staying on Catanduanes Island presents an awesome opportunity to hang out with the local Filipino people and experience their famous hospitality. The famous Majestics surf break is right outside our front door on Pururan Beach, our perfect spot on Catanduanes. There isn't much to the island besides the wicked beach, the stellar waves and the people on it, but that is just what we like from a destination! We spend most of our days hitting the beach for some R & R (rum and relaxation) and enjoying the happy-go-lucky atmosphere instilled by the local people, who ensure that each day and night is stress-free and full of fun!

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Camsur Watersports Complex

Give a young, ambitious Filipino provincial governor a budget to attract tourists and what does he build? The world's best wakeboarking park: Camsur Watersports Complex! Surrounded by thick jungle and a massive volcano hovering above it, this park was built with every consideration of endless fun and entertainment in mind. Between wakeboarding sessions your cabanas are only a 5 minute walk away, and a bar and restaurant are set up perfectly for viewing and relaxing. To add to it all, prices for wakeboarding are about $4/hour (or less for a full day), and you can even go wakeboarding after dark! The good times carry on all night as the hosts love our groups and always throw us a grand party – you might even find yourself sharing laughs with the governor himself!

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Palawan

Palawan has long been on Free & Easy’s radar, but with 7107 islands in the Philippines we originally chose a different routing for our trips that had not included it. Transport has since improved, and more flights are available, so starting in 2013 we’ve added the Palawan island experience - and onwards to Coron - as a brand new 9-day component to our 20 and 40-day Philippines trips! Adding in these 9-days makes this our dream 20/40-day Philippines experience, and allows us to travel to some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches and dive sites, and visit the world’s longest underground subterranean river.

Palawan is an archipelago of 1,780 pristine limestone islands with underground rivers, rocky coves, virgin rainforest and, of course, sugar-white sandy beaches. The crystal clear waters and massive limestone karsts that drop down to powder white sand beaches give rise to comparison to places like Railay & Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, or Halong Bay in Vietnam – which are often considered to be some of the most beautiful places on the planet! For a more thorough description about El Nido and why it's such an amazing location on Palawan, check out this short article, www.everywheremag.com/articles/443.

The difference in Palawan is it's in the Philippines where there is a fraction of the tourists, and being so far West in the Philippines, it is relatively unexplored. Palawan is closer to Borneo than Manila, and Chinese traders used to walk the now sunken land bridge that connected to Borneo. Even Filipinos describe Palawan as their country's ‘Last Frontier’, as it is inconceivably exotic and tropical. The Palawan 9-days will visit 3 locations total - Puerto Princessa Underground River, El Nido, and thirdly Coron.

The beaches of Palawan, have earned credits such as best beach in Asia, or best in the Philippines and ranked in top 10 lists for best in the world! (Usually El Nido specifically.) We are very excited to take our groups, and can guarantee now that each of our 20 and 40-day Philippines trips will be even more jam-packed with goodness.

Click on the names ‘Underground River’ or ‘Coron’ above for a further summary of the Palawan experience.

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Donsol

The quiet fishing village of Donsol in a remote part of The Philippines has become one of the most astounding places to visit in the world because of its amazing residents that grace the waters here for part of each year and give you a chance to swim with the them. Whale sharks, the largest fish in the world and one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet, swarm to the tropical waters near Donsol in incredible numbers each year around March. We time our Philippines trip at this time to coincide with the arrival of the whale sharks to Donsol and getting to see and swim with these friendly giants makes the trip to Donsol more than worthwhile!

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Sabang Beach, Palawan

Another jaw-dropping destination on our Philippines trip in the wondrous island province of Palawan, Sabang Beach is a small but nonetheless wicked beach town that is great for swimming, soaking in the sun and just spending all day on the beach! But the best part of being at Sabang Beach is visiting one of the most naturally wondrous places on the planet: The Puerto Princesa Underground River. Recently named 1 of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, it is one of the most impressive and pristine cave systems in the world that you can paddle right through! The river itself is 8.2 km long and flows directly to the sea, and being just a short hike away from Sabang Beach it makes for one of the most memorable day trips you're sure to ever take in your life.

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Siargao

Located in the far eastern part of The Philippines, Siargao is an incredible island that truly offers everything we could want from a destination. Its low-key travel community and laid-back population create the perfect vibe to enjoy Siargao's gorgeous scenery, wicked beaches and its stellar surf scene that rivals any in Southeast Asia. There's plenty of reasons why we spend an entire week here on our Philippines trip, but the waves are what make it the hardest to leave. The water is warm, the surf community is friendly and helpful, the views from your board are always ridiculously amazing and the beaches offer a chilled sanctuary to rest between surf sessions. The few beach bars are great places to gather at night with the locals and other travellers and enjoy parties in paradise before you go to bed and wake up to another awesome day in the surf and sun.

 
the old frontier
Philippines
Coron

Coron Island in Palawan is a haven for divers from all over the world because of its famous World War II underwater shipwrecks that are surrounded by breathtaking coral reefs. It is widely considered one of the best dive spots in the world, and was even listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba diving sites! And for beach bums who just want to get their sun kissed tan, the powder white sand beaches of Coron Island make your time above the water just as epic as your time spent below it!

 
the old frontier
None
Philippines
Sohoton Lagoon

Travelling by boat to Sohoton Lagoon, which is an island encircling a lagoon, you'll pass by many gorgeous islands and empty beaches including the aptly named Paradise Island, but you'll keep going until you reach a place that is especially amazing: an island of white-sand and palm trees surrounding a calm turquoise-blue lagoon shimmering in the sun. This is Sohoton Lagoon, an island paradise we get to enjoy on our Philippines trip, staying in a single giant house and enjoying incredible barbecue feasts on the beach. When visiting Sohoton Lagoon, you really do get to taste paradise!

40 days in Philippines
the old frontier

the old frontier

Believe it or not, we had a lot of difficulty reducing our trip in the Philippines to just 40-days. The amount of mind-blowing destinations made it very hard to narrow it down so we crammed as many of them in as we could! This also means that this trip is fairly travel-heavy as we venture far off the beaten path and provide you with a true backpacking experience. The travel is well worth it though as you’ll get to feel the rush of travelling to places where very few other people have been and trust us, the Philippines is hiding plenty of beauty within its borders. Each trip follows a custom itinerary through the islands depending on the seasonal weather patterns to ensure the best places are visited at the best times. From the amazing snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities to the stellar surfing to the breathtaking hikes to the laidback days on the beach, there is no low point on this adventure!

12

stops

40

days

1

country

the old frontier
Philippines
the old frontier

Believe it or not, we had a lot of difficulty reducing our trip in the Philippines to just 40-days. The amount of mind-blowing destinations made it very hard to narrow it down so we crammed as many of them in as we could! This also means that this trip is fairly travel-heavy as we venture far off the beaten path and provide you with a true backpacking experience. The travel is well worth it though as you’ll get to feel the rush of travelling to places where very few other people have been and trust us, the Philippines is hiding plenty of beauty within its borders. Each trip follows a custom itinerary through the islands depending on the seasonal weather patterns to ensure the best places are visited at the best times. From the amazing snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities to the stellar surfing to the breathtaking hikes to the laidback days on the beach, there is no low point on this adventure!

Click on a stop to explore inside this adventure.

Epic Experiences you will have on this adventure

Go Scuba Diving

Diving is like no other experience on Earth. Life under the water is silent and peaceful, everything is flowing and moving in a way that we land creatures are unaccustomed to. Despite all of our high tech equipment, we are extremely out of our element in the water and it is a humbling experience to watch and observe what life is like under the sea. Fish come in all shapes, sizes and colours and move together in a harmonious unison through beautiful coral and twisted sunlight. On our trips, scuba diving is a huge activity as we travel to countries that offer some of the best diving in the world. The Caribbean in Central America possesses the second largest reef in the world, the warm waters of the South Pacific in Southeast Asia are home to the largest diversity of sea-life in the world and the seas of the Mediterranean are full of rich history and beauty. There is a whole universe under the ocean and experiencing what it's like to be in it is a must at least once in your life!

Surf a Wave

Nothing compares to the feeling you get the first time you paddle into a wave, stand up as it breaks and ride the face of it – this is the incomparable feeling of surfing. When you get it right, you'll know, because you'll be more excited than the first time you had sex and probably more addicted to it, too! Surfing is arguably the most challenging sport in the world and requires you to learn much more than physical coordination. In order to surf a wave, you'll need patience, discipline, a lack of fear and an insatiable urge to have fun. It's no coincidence that 7 of the countries that we run trips to (Indonesia, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru & South Africa) have wicked surf scenes, because there's nothing quite like it. *** PLEASE NOTE surfing is dependent on the right conditions and not always possible

Travel through the Puerto Princesa Underground River

Named 1 of the new 7 Wonders of the World, the Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the most stunning sights to see in the world. The underground river is 8.2 km long and navigates its way through a magnificent limestone karst mountain landscape. The caves are filled with massive formations of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as several large chambers and lagoons that truly make this sight a wonder!

Swimming with Whale Sharks

***ONLY AVAILABLE ON OUR MARCH TRIP DATE!*** There’s nothing like swimming next to the largest fish in the animal kingdom to feel how small we truly are. While the word ‘shark’ might conjure up images of Jaws and blood-soaked waters, Whale Sharks are actually filter feeder sharks and the majority of their diet is made up of plankton -- so a clumsy looking human swimming around won't be very appetizing. But swimming with this beast isn't as easy as jumping into the ocean. Although you don't require scuba gear as whale sharks commonly swim around the surface, they can be elusive and many divers/snorkelers never get the chance to see one up close. Whale Sharks can be found in many places around the world but arguably the best place in the world to swim with them is the Philippines. Donsol possesses one of the largest school of whale sharks in the world and it's no coincidence that we time our March Philippines adventure to coincide with the best time to see these beautiful creatures up close. It's an experience our group leaders never get sick of and our group members never cease to be amazed by. So snap on your facemask, pull on those flippers and dive into the big blue for an awe-inspiring adventure with these gentle giants. (Boat & guide included, snorkel/diving gear not included).

Take a Jeepney Ride

Jeepneys are a traditional mode of transportation in the Philippines. They came to be after the American presence in the Philippines during WWII. After the Japanese were defeated by the Americans, many Jeeps were sold or left behind. The Filipinos, with their ever sunny dispositions, turned the vehicles into brightly coloured, flashy, and economic modes of public transportation for the people of the Philippines. We are very lucky to have the chance to take them for a few rides ourselves! Many Jeepneys offer the ability to sit on the roof, which makes for epic views when driving through some beautiful and scenic locations! We take multiple Jeepney rides on the Cloud 9 trip, but our favourite is in Catanduanes where we take them for a scenic drive along the coast, ending at an amazing view point and waterfall. Find a seat and hang on!

Visit Hot Springs after a long travel day

Now this is what we call a travel day! Leaving El Nido and heading to Coron, we hop on a boat for the day! Bring snacks, drinks, cards, whatever you want! Lay in the sun, have a nap, play some games. This is what travel is: making the best of your down time. You won’t even realize that you spent the day traveling from one island to another. Once we end up in Coron, we keep the party going at the Maquinit Hot Springs. A relaxing, all-natural hot spring, that allows alcohol consumption with a bar on the premises. What’s not to love? It’s a great way to unwind after a long (but very scenic) travel day. This is how we travel! Join us!

Learn to be a Mermaid (or Merman)

Now this is a unique experience you won't find anywhere else! Yes, there really is a Mermaid Swimming Academy to be found in Boracay. They will get you outfitted in your very own mermaid tail and teach you the basics of swimming like you're straight out of a Disney movie! How cool is that?! All your childhood fantasies are about to come true. And this isn't only for the ladies. Let it be known that Free & Easy trips have produced their fair share of handsome mermen. The warm turquoise waters and white sand beaches of Boracay are the perfect backdrop for this magical day. And let's be honest, this is probably one of the most Instagrammable activities you will ever take part in. Talk about an epic experience #UnderTheSea!

Bathe Under a Waterfall

When leaving home and hitting the road with your backpack, one thought you may have in mind is that you're not going to have another good shower for awhile. In most parts of the world water pressure is lower, there is often no hot water and you just can't seem to scrub off that distinct backpacker odour. However, there is one place where hundreds of gallons of refreshing fresh water can pour all over you in a surreal bathing experience and that spot is found at the bottom of a waterfall. When hiking around jungles, one of our favourite things to search out is a good tropical waterfall where you can swim, relax, and get right under it and let the huge torrent of water pour all over you and wash you clean! But the best part is often the simple sight of the waterfall itself, because for whatever reason there are few things in the world we find more captivating to watch than water dropping from great heights. Maybe it's because nothing falls with the grace of water, but either way it's an amazing feeling to come upon a gorgeous waterfall in the jungle and head straight into its downpour for the best shower of your life!

Have a Tropical Island All to Yourself

This experience is one we all dream about, but think is only possible for the rich and famous, however, we are able to do this on our Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand trips! And it's true that having an entire island to yourself seems a bit lavish, but it's a luxurious and relaxing experience that also leads to a whole lot of fun! It's like when you were younger and you first got to experience what having a house to yourself was like, but this time there’s no neighbours or even cops. We like to head to the island with our groups for a night or sometimes several stocked with frisbees, food, snorkel gear, coolers of beer, guitars, bottles of rum, fishing gear and our hammocks - everything we could possibly need. And then we just literally do whatever we want!

Hike the Rice Terraces of Banaue

There's no denying that the Banaue rice terraces in the Philippines are one of the most amazing sights on the planet. Etched out of the hillside over 2000 years ago, the seemingly endless number of terraces stretch through valleys and around hills and are all connected by thousands of stone staircases that the local farmers hike up and down each day. On our experience of the rice terraces, we ride out of town on the top of local Jeepnies until we reach the first breathtaking view and begin to walk. As you make your way across the terraces, you feel like you're stepping back in time as the rice is still farmed the same way it has been for thousands of years. The lifestyle of the farmers reflects the peacefulness of the setting as after our first day of trekking, we spend a night in a secluded guesthouse with a view so captivating that you'll spend your entire morning just admiring the place you've found yourself in. The second day of hiking requires a climb and the hundreds of steps may feel more like a fitness test than part of a vacation but upon reaching the top, you'll be completely invigorated by an amazing waterfall that'll cap off an incredible experience that showcases some of the great beauty that the Philippines has to offer.

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