The Philippines is a country of over 7000 islands and as complex as it is wildly beautiful, exotic and eccentric.
Famous for fabulous surfing, tiny primates, enormous and bewildering cities, paradise beaches, colourful festivals and several of the world’s natural wonders, it’s one of the top South East Asian destinations for family adventure.
Flights from London to over 30 destinations in the Philippines including Manila, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, Siargao and Davao.
Quick internal connections
Connecting flights from Manila to most holiday islands take between 45 minutes and two hours.
Palawan Island in the Philippines was voted world’s most beautiful by Conde Nast Traveller in both 2015 and 2016.
World class surf
Cloud 9 in Siargao is one of the world’s top surf breaks.
The Philippines has 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites including Tubbataha Reef and Puerto Princesa Underground River, both in Palawan.
Chocolate & primates
Bohol is home to the legendary Chocolate Mountains and the indigenous habitat of Tarsier, the world’s smallest primate.
Temperatures between 27˚C and 32˚C year round.
Where to go
The tiny paradise island of Borocay is just 45 minutes by air from Manila and couldn’t be more different from the relentless Philippines’ capital. If you’ve heard the name before, it’s probably because of the number of times the island beaches sneak on to world top five lists or it might be its reputation for water sports (it’s the country’s windsurfing capital). For outdoor adventuring, tropical shores, blue seas and just enough restaurants, shops and gorgeous resorts for comfort, Borocay is an excellent introduction to the Philippine’s with kids.
The west coast of Borocay has a wide range of beach hotels. Best for families are at the quieter Puka Shell Beach end of the island.
Don’t miss: Mount Luho trekking, Ariel’s Point cliff jumping, mermaid swimming, helmet diving, Borocay bat cave, Indiana Jones eco tours and the longest underwater tunnel walk in the Philippines.
Average temperatures of 27 – 30˚C year round. Best time to visit is between October and June for dry weather and low chance of rainfall or tropical storms.
Is this the most beautiful island in the world? According to Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure readers, who voted it number one loveliest in 2016. It’s also home to the world’s most beautiful beach, El Nido, and the world’s longest underground river which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.
Palawan’s hotels are on the north east and west coasts. The four El Nido eco-resorts each have their own islands. El Nido on Miniloc Island is designed for families with an excellent kid’s activity programme, spacious villas and beach suites.
Don’t miss: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, El Nido Beach, Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, snorkelling in Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa Butterfly Garden, Tagkuriring Falls, Ingawan Rice Fields and Tagabinet Caves.
The island capital, Puerto Princesa, is the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines and the least densely populated.
Average temperature of 30˚C all year round. Climate is hot and humid with dry weather from December to April and highest rainfall from May to November.
A fast ferry crossing from Cebu, home to the oldest city in the Philippines, Bohol is the land of the famous Chocolate Hills and one of the country’s loveliest and most bio-diverse islands.
You can visit Bohol for the day from Cebu City or stay in one of the island resorts near Alona Beach on the south west coast.
Undeveloped and traditional, Bohol’s known for its magnificent waterfalls, gorgeous rivers and outlying paradise islands. Touring the island by car is a great adventure with older kids.
Don’t miss: the Chocolate Mountain Adventure Park, Mag-Aso-Falls, Loboc River cruises, Dolphin watching at Balicasag Island, Virgin Island and the Tarsier Foundation.
Direct flights from Manila to Bohol take one hour and 25 minutes.
Best known as the Philippine’s top surf spot, gorgeous Siargao Island is just as idyllic if you don’t intend to ride a single wave for your entire stay. It has stunning white beaches, lagoon like sea pools, lush forests, dramatic waterfalls, glorious seafood restaurants and a laid back friendliness kids will love.
Barefoot and beachy in every sense, Siargao offers friendly local hotels and charming family resorts.
Don’t miss: Naked, Daku and Guyam Islands, sailing in Sugba Lagoon, Sohoton Caves, Magpupungko Pool, General Luna Beach and, if you surf, Cloud 9 Break.
There are domestic flights from Cebu City to Siargao all year round.
What to do
The Chocolate Hills, Bohol One of the most iconic sights in the Phlippines, this collection of over 1200 conical hills are bright green during the rainy season, turning to deep brown in dryer weather.
Tarsier Foundation Trek, Bohol The Tarsier is the world’s smallest known primate and indigenous to the Philippines. No sightings are guaranteed on this trek but it’s good fun and helps to support the sanctuary which protects these endangered creatures.
Danao Adventure Park, Bohol The Philippines is the unofficial ziplining capital of the world and Danao Adventure Park has more than a fair share of the high flying action.
Lamanoc Island Tour, Bohol Trekking through mangrove forests, paddling in crystal clear lagoons and exploring ancient caves is all part of the mystical adventure on this fascinating day long island tour from Anda on the south east coast of Bohol.
Helmet Diving, Borocay Drop to the ocean bed with a full-face helmet and watch tropical fish all around for 15 minutes. Done in the company of a qualified PADI guide.
Wave Rider, Borocay Get a first taste of surfing or brush up on your technique before hitting the sea for real. Instruction included and group session are available.
Discovery Tunnel, Borocay Walk through the underwater discovery tunnel at Borocay Aquarium and over 900 species of fish seem to enclose you on every side. Fun for kids too young to snorkel or helmet dive.
Indiana Jones Eco Tour, Borocay Forest trekking, sailing, swimming and bat caving through Borocay’s lush and wild jungle areas in the company of local guides. Good for teenagers.
Museo Sugbo, Cebu City Fascinating museum housed in the former provincial jailhouse at the hear of Cebu City. There are several galleries and the museum building is lovely.
University of San Carlos Museum, Cebu City Artefacts, archaeological finds and some very strange and eccentric exhibits are at the heart of this well curated collection. Interesting for older kids.
Educational value for kids
Visit Bulabog Beach in Borocay first thing in the morning for kid’s kite surfing lessons before it gets too busy.
See traditional Fire Dancers performing on the beach at sunset in Borocay.
Take a culture cruise on Bohol’s Loboc River.
Learn to sail a mini-catamaran or traditional Bangka Boat in Bacait Bay on Palawan Island.
Take a guided cruise on the Puerto Princesa Underground River.
Hire a habal-habal (Philippines’ tricycle) and do some eco-friendly exploring – locals pile kids on one bike, but that’s best avoided.
You only find Jeepneys in the Philippines so catch one for a sightseeing tour round Cebu, it’s bit bumpy but great fun.
Getting about with kids in the Philippines
Hiring a car on the islands is a good way to explore with older kids. Try to avoid driving in cities, public transport or taxis are much less stressful and many resorts have their own transport services. Island tours are a good way to see major attractions. Domestic flights are available from Manila and Cebu to most islands. Fast ferry services run from Cebu to Bohol and there are longer sailings from Manila to many of the Philippines’ holiday islands.