7 places in the Philippines for solo travelers

Written by Danna Peña

A penchant for traveling and self-discovery has deeply embedded itself in today’s generation. With that comes the rise of the solo traveler, who enjoys all the perks of independence that simply cannot be realized while traveling with a group.

Whether solo travelers are doing so for business or leisure, the Philippines has boundless destinations that fit the bill, it’s just a matter of knowing which places are most accommodating to what these lone travelers usually seek.

A 2018 study from Agoda on solo travel trends found that the two top motivators of solo traveling are breaking free from routine and exploring new cultures. And while the idea of a bucolic and off-the-grid getaway seems compelling, the same study suggests that solo leisure travelers spend more time in front of their laptops and phones than any other traveler type — an indicator that connectivity, besides safety and convenience, is of high importance.

With that in mind, CNN Philippines Life compiled a short list of the seven best places in the Philippines for solo travel, from cosmopolitan cities to more laid back destinations.

Batanes, Cagayan Valley

If being off the grid is the agenda, Batanes in Cagayan Valley is a prime choice. Located in the northernmost tip of the Philippines, the province is ideal for stays of no less than five days due to its distant location and changes in weather.

Throughout the year, travelers are always advised to bring rain gear in the event of strong winds and heavy downpours. Albeit its seclusion from the rest of Luzon — Batanes is only accessible via air travel from Manila — solo travelers will find the journey well worth it for its sublime nature spots, rich Ivatan culture, and hospitable people.

Unmissable activities include feasting your eyes on the glorious rock formations of Alapad, visiting the stunning Marlboro Hills, and climbing the famous Basco Lighthouse. As a solo traveler, go beyond the sights by engaging in immersive cultural tours, where you can take your time learning more about the Ivatan’s way of life.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱9,000 – ₱12,000

Sagada, Mountain Province

Only about eight hours away from Manila, Sagada is a top pick for solo travelers for its serene atmosphere, cool climate, and safe environment. Most accommodations in Sagada provide decent WiFi service, while restaurants and cafes are accessible within the town proper.

Striking a balance between laid-back and adventure-filled, Sagada offers exhilarating activities such as spelunking and hiking, while also providing serene spots for coffee, conversations (with newfound friends, perhaps?), and contemplation.

Solo travelers can keep warm by sipping on specialty Sagada rice wine, which also makes for a great present for a loved one back home. Other solo activities you can engage in include learning the art of pottery at Sagada Pottery and trekking to Echo Valley where you can witness the mysterious hanging coffins.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱6,000 – ₱8,000

Dumaguete, Negros Oriental

Coined as “The City of Gentle People,” a solo traveler will feel right at home in the small town of Dumaguete. A university town that boasts the conveniences of a big city such as lodging spaces, restaurants, and a bustling nightlife, it is generally known for its relaxed atmosphere. During your stay, take a leisurely stroll at Rizal Boulevard and dine solo from several food stalls along the stretch.

Also famous for its coast line, Dumaguete offers rich diving spots and marine sanctuaries that are accessible within a 20-minute drive along the highway. Go snorkeling in Apo Island and bear witness to the rich marine life and extensive coral reefs that are sought after by local and international divers alike.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱7,000 – ₱10,000

Coron, Palawan

White sand beaches, towering limestone karsts, and crystal clear lakes come to mind when one envisions the stunning island of Coron in Palawan. Solo travelers prefer this spot over El Nido for the budget-friendly rates of accommodations and tours, and for its unique urban-rural environment. Stable WiFi connection is difficult to find in the area, making the destination ideal for those who are looking to disconnect from today’s fast-paced lifestyle.

When exploring Coron, allocate at least five days to go island hopping, snorkeling, and basking in the glory of its several stunning nature spots. Several tour agencies offer island hopping packages for solo travelers, but you can also opt to join a group to minimize costs. Must-visit tourist spots include Kayangan Lake, Malcapuya Island, and Barracuda Lake. Coron is undeniably the perfect escape for the solo traveling heliophile.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱7,000 – ₱10,000

Cebu City, Cebu

Itching to solo travel but you have a lot of work on your plate? Cebu might just be a convenient choice. The tourist-friendly destination offers establishments with stable WiFi connection and affordable to high-end hotels, hostels, and Airbnbs. Solo travelers can opt to explore nearby islands such as Sumilon Island for water activities or its mountainous landscapes like Osmeña Peak for trekking. Other leisurely activities include strolling the Terrazas De Flores Botanical Garden or checking out Tops Lookout for a spectacular 360-degree view of Cebu City.

Renting a motorbike to tour multiple cities is highly recommended for solo travelers, however, it’s a safety precaution to have driving experience. Since Cebu City is a highly industrialized city, a caveat would be its traffic similar to Metro Manila’s, which can be avoided by traveling during off-peak hours.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱8,000 – ₱10,000

Malaybalay City, Bukidnon

There’s more to Bukidnon than the sweetest pineapples in the Philippines. Despite not being top of mind for solo flights, Bukidnon will put a person’s solo traveling prowess to the test.

Bukidnon isn’t the ideal destination for beachgoers as it is landlocked, yet it doesn’t fall short on natural attractions like caves and mountains. Must-see nature sights include Mount Capistrano, Blue Water Cave, and Nasuli Spring, among many others.

Lone travelers can find relaxation amid the tranquil atmosphere of Bukidnon. Coined as the “Baguio of Mindanao,” Bukidnon is known for its year-round cool temperature and towering pine trees. Visit the Agora Market to have delicious yet affordable breakfast, and hop on a habal-habal afterwards to Dahilayan Adventure Park for a thrilling zipline experience. You can also visit Camp Phillips on the same day, which is the home of the Del Monte Plantations.

Stay at the Monastery of the Transfiguration, a simple lodging space run by Benedictine monks who encourage guests to observe silence and be alone. Located high up in the mountains with lush greenery in its vicinity, it’s the ideal place for meditation and soul searching.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱4,000 – ₱6,000

Mariveles, Bataan

Given its accessibility and close proximity to Manila, Mariveles is a prime — yet often overlooked — spot for solo travelers that’s suitable for day trips to longer periods of stay. Due to its growing online exposure by local travel bloggers, tourists are starting to discover all that this province has to offer.

Mariveles, about four hours away from Metro Manila, is located in the southern tip of Bataan, making it home to a stunning coastline. Solo travelers who want a change of scenery will be satisfied with its range of stunning nature sights and thrilling water activities. A handful of affordable hotels are also available in the town proper of Mariveles.

A must-do tour is the Five Fingers Cove adventure, which is named due to its resemblance to the five fingers on the map. There are no accommodations available in the cove-to-cove adventure, but solo travelers can opt to do an overnight camp if not just a day tour. Best for those yearning a digital detox, there is little to no signal during the adventure.

When in Mariveles, a solo traveler should also explore Sisiman Bay. Similar to the Five Fingers Cove adventure, solo travelers can opt to camp or do a day trip in Sisiman Bay. Known as a photographer’s haven, Sisiman Bay boasts a scenic view of the Sisiman Lighthouse, a short and picturesque hike at San Miguel Peak, and the pebbled-lined shores of Sisiman Beach.

Estimated budget for a 4-5 night stay, including lodging, food, and transpo within the area: ₱6,000 – ₱8,000

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