Are you looking for your next digital nomad base? Look no further! The Philippines will make you never want to leave! To be fair, you have to be careful about choosing the right island, because Internet connectivity varies a lot. But don’t worry, there are places that have it all! Read on if you want to find out how to combine the perfect island escape with some efficient work hours!
Let’s be honest, the whole digital nomad lifestyle only makes sense if you fully embrace the fact that you are location independent. So, why spend your days in a noisy city if natural beauty is your thing? At least for my taste, I can get so much more out of it if I am in a relaxing and beautiful environment. Surrounded by palm trees and the sound of ocean waves, I simply seem to function better.
That’s why I loved our one month trip to the Philippines in October. It was the perfect mixture of getting some serious workload off my chest, while successfully improving my suntan. Almost every day, we enjoyed a swim in the ocean and a long walk at the beach, while also being productive a few hours a day. That is my definition of a perfect life-work-balance.
Plus, we got to spend three days with 400 fellow travel bloggers in Manila, networking with companies from the travel industry at TBEX, “THE WORLD’S LARGEST GATHERING OF TRAVEL BLOGGERS, WRITERS, NEW MEDIA CONTENT CREATORS, AND SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY TRAVEL INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS.” A perfect wrap-up of how it is like to be a TBEX newbie is coming soon. So stay tuned!
Back to our reasons why it’s so much more fun in the Philippines! Let’s start with my favorite part, the beach:
1) 7641 Islands – there must be one for your taste too!
If you have been following my blog then you might know by now that I am an absolute beach bum and sun follower. Recently, I got 20 of my travel blogger friends to tell me their top 5 beaches from around the world, in order to get more inspiration and extend my bucket list. But that’s a whole other story.
In the Philippines, we visited many places but if I had to pick one, it would be Kalanggaman Island, a small island an hour from Leyte Island. It really is a hidden gem and I’d say it’s an absolute insider tip that you should keep to yourself for now or only share it with your best friends. So, yes, you are now part of the inner circle and if you still hesitate, let me show you why you should go to Kalanggaman Island at least once in your life.
What I love about traveling is when I discover places that are not yet overrun by tourists. To be honest, I’d rather be on a deserted island than sipping a cocktail on a beach chair next to hundreds of others. Perhaps that’s why I loved it so much on the Galapagos Islands this year in March. On Kalanggaman Island you (still) don’t have to elbow your way through to the water, it actually gives you the feeling that Robinson Crusoe must have had….
There is no running water, restaurants or sleeping facilities on the island. Ok so you will have to forget about WIFI and your work for a day or two! But if you hire a tent or bring your own, you can play castaway for a night! 😉 And if you stay only for the day and get bored of lying on your beach towel all day, you can go snorkeling, rent a stand-up paddleboard or even go scuba diving. For advice and help, the friendly staff at Leyte Gulf Travel and Tour are happy to assist you. It’s totally doable to organize everything on your own though, but they are there to makes things easier during your time in Leyte, not just at Kalanggaman!
How to get to Kalanggaman Island:
- On the Island of Leyte, you take a bus from Tacloban City to Palompon (3 hours). Then hop on a boat (1 hour). Done!
- Hire a van from one of the well-known companies, Grandtours or Havens, in Tacloban City for about P300 round trip.
- Make a reservation for your boat at the Eco-Tourism office a day or two in advance. They monitor the amount of people and limit it to 500 per day. So, especially in high season be prepared and book in advance.
- The price for the boat (for a maximum of 15 people) is P3000, so be sure to make friends beforehand and split the cost!
Where to stay and what to do on Kalanggaman Island:
- We stayed in Tacloban City at XYZ Hotel, which is not a budget accommodation, but includes a yummy breakfast buffet and pool on the rooftop. Check out their availability for your travel dates.
- If you prefer to stay in Palompon, there is Pacci Hotel – a local’s recommendation, check the reviews and prices here.
- If I go back one day to visit the island, I’d prefer to stay in Palompon. This saves you the long bus ride in the morning. You simply hop onto a boat after you wake up and enjoy the beauty of the island for a whole day.
- On second thought, I’ll be bringing my tent and sleep on the island – a unique experience for sure!
2) Friendly, friendlier, the Philippines!
Beautiful landscape and dreamy beaches are surely only half of your travel experience. It’s mostly the people around you who can turn a trip into an unforgettable memory. At least, this was my experience in the Philippines. Asia lovers already know that there is some sort of special kindness and friendliness towards travellers in countries like Thailand and Indonesia. Yet, I got the feeling that it is almost a tad more genuine or intense in the Philippines than anywhere I’ve been in Asia.
3.) Food heaven – delicious taste will make your senses go wild!
Now, there could be a whole blog post about this topic, but I will keep it short and simple: O-M-G! Think delicious spices, mixed with fresh vegetables and seafood, plus a portion of love – the food in the Philippines is absolutely delicious. And if coconuts, mangos, curries and seafood are your thing, then you’ll be in paradise! So, while you are working hard on your digital nomad projects, rest assured that your nutrition will be well balanced!
One of my favorite food experiences was the so called “Boodle Fight.” Everyone stands in front of a table that is covered with big banana leaves. On top of the leaves, you’ll find fresh seafood, a mixture of vegetables and fruits, delicious sauces and plenty of rice. Now, the best part is that you get to eat with your hands! Perhaps that is where the name comes from…we didn’t end up fighting each other, although it was more of a fight with oneself to learn how to elegantly shuffle rice with sauce into our mouths!
4) The world’s best beaches – even with a great WIFI connection!
Let’s go once again back to this topic: the beach. I know, I was raving about it before but it’s hard enough to pick one favourite in a place of almost countless islands. So, I thought I would give you a few more examples in case you decided to try to combine your work with a vacation hotspot.
Here are some good places to combine relaxation with work:
While this is not the beach escape I mentioned earlier, I want to start with the country’s capital as an exception. Manila lies right at the ocean, but it’s not recommended to take a dip there. It used to have the cleanest waterfront in Asia but that was a long time ago. Yet, if you want to get into vacation mode (perhaps you don’t ever get out of it as you are continuously travelling like me) then the Belmont Hotel gives you an introduction to Filipino diversity. It’s a five-star hotel close to the airport where we were hosted a couple of nights during TBEX. The rooftop pool and great WiFi made me want to stay longer…Check for availability here.
Of course, I was glad to leave the city in order to fully immerse in the more natural side of the Philippines! Bohol is an island south of Manila. We flew into Cebu and took a short ferry ride to neighboring Bohol. This green island is famous for its funky little mountains that are known as the “Chocolate Hills.” Due to a current project, we skipped the tour to the mountains and stayed at our accommodation by the beach.
TIP: Skip Alona Beach! It’s plastered with hotels, boats, and vendors. The West coast around Momo Beach is almost deserted and has nice waters to swim in!
An odyssey later, we arrived on an island Northwest of Cebu Island. Bantayan Island seems to be slowly moving its way into the radar of travellers. The people on the island seem to be preparing for the big tourist rush, with many new hotels and beach bungalows under construction during our stay. The ones that are already up and running are mostly spread out along the beach. We stayed a few days at Marlin Beach Resort and enjoyed a good WiFi connection right at the beach. Check their availability for your travel dates here.
TIP: Break up your journey or start as early as possible in the morning! The traffic in Cebu city is horrendous! It took us almost two hours to get from the ferry dock (coming from Bohol) out of Cebu city. The bus ride up to the North also was longer than the expected 3 hours. In the end, we missed the last ferry (at 5 PM) and had to stay in a little harbour town to wait for the next ferry in the morning.
Sad but true, this island was put into the center of the world’s attention only after it got struck by typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Three years later, the terrible disaster that took many lives is almost invisible, and the optimism of the people who survived and still live there is incredible. If you want to experience genuine happiness shown to you by welcoming locals, and watch a flourishing variety of tourist activities, then you should pay a visit to Leyte. Small cafes, with great work-space atmosphere in Tacloban and good WiFi, lush nature and crystal clear water are at your doorstep.
5) Quirky Facts about the Philippines that will blow your mind!
Travelling is about widening your horizon, right? For me, it is the most entertaining way to learn new things. Like I said before; the number of islands you find in the Philippines seems infinite. If you wanted to spend one day on each of the 7641 islands (including the 534 recently discovered,) it would take you over 20 years! Wouldn’t that be a great nomad challenge!? 😀 This huge amount of islands naturally creates a vast cultural diversity and many firsts. You will be able to say without a blink: the Philippines are unique and one of a kind.
Some facts about the Philippines you didn’t know:
- There are 170 different languages spoken and only two official ones: Filipino and English.
- Nowhere else in the world will you find so many different dialects in one nation: more than 500.
- Some Filipinos don’t even understand each other when they speak in their home dialect.
- From June to December is typhoon season – the Filipinos name those heavy winds from A-Z. Each year they get through the whole the alphabet.
- The Filipinos start their Christmas preparations on the 1st of October. You’ll see Christmas trees and decorations everywhere, while listening to Jingle Bells & Co!
- The Philippines have the world’s largest population, but you can still find deserted islands and beaches because in total the area is big enough to not make it feel crowded.
So, who is up for a workation in the Philippines?
Hopefully this post got you into the mood… Let me know how your workation goes!
NOT DONE READING YET?
Check out A 13-Day Workation on the Atlantic where you can read about a cool cruise from Columbia to Portugal with 200 fellow digital nomads.
Or perhaps you’re still deciding if the digital nomad lifestyle is for you, read here how Five years of full-time travelling have changed my life.
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Thank you TPB Philippines for this great trip to Leyte Island.
Like always, all opinion are MY OWN. So, to everyone else, no worries on biases or BS, you won’t find that here. I keep this real. Thanks for the support!