Going on a journey all by yourself, especially if you are a woman, has got to be one of the most liberating experiences you’ll ever have. Some people, especially your family, might disapprove of the idea of you traveling alone in an unfamiliar land perhaps because they fear that you will be a potential target of being duped or that you won’t even be able to read a map to save yourself.
However, cliché as it may sound, there’s nothing a man can do that a woman can’t. In fact, women solo travelers from all over the world are now increasing in number. From the United States to India to Southeast Asia, more women are starting to see the benefits of traveling alone.
Thankfully for us, the Philippines, in general, is a peaceful country with very loving and hospitable people. If you’re daring enough to try traveling by yourself, you may want to start with this list of places conducive for solo travelers – especially if you are woman trying it out for the first time.
Batanes is the smallest province in the Philippines that has a population of less than 17,000 and with the lowest crime rate in the country. In fact, some even regard Batanes as home to the most honest Filipinos. One concrete example is the Honesty Coffee Shop, a small sari-sari store in the town of Ivana, where the honesty of the Ivatans (locals of Batanes) and tourists alike is tested. No one mans the store. If you wish to buy something, you just get it, list it down in a logbook, and then leave your payment inside a box.
Public transportation is very limited in Batanes so its rustic beauty is best explored by foot or bike. The straight out of a magazine landscape and rolling hills overlooking the azure sea is definitely a breathtaking sight to behold, a perfect place for people who want some peace of mind. Sabtang and Itbayat, the neighboring islands of Batan, can be accessed via a faluwa or a motorized passenger boat that looks like a small ‘Noah’s Ark.’
If there’s anything you need to worry about, it will be motion sickness. Water tends to be very rough in Batanes because you will be sailing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the West Philippine Sea.
2. Coron, Palawan
Coron is located in the Northern part of Palawan. Most, if not all, parts of Palawan are normally safe. The town of Coron in Busuanga is probably the most tourist-friendly, especially to foreigners and backpackers. As a matter of fact, the majority of visitors in Coron are travelers from all over the world so the locals are used to interacting with foreigners on a daily basis.
Dubbed as the Philippine’s “Last Paradise,” Coron is home to the famous Kayangan Lake, the cleanest lake in the Philippines. If you are someone who loves marine life, then snorkeling and scuba diving in Coron’s WWII shipwrecks, rich and unspoiled coral gardens swarming with fish of all kinds, should top your list. Various touring companies offer island hopping in private or you can even join a group tour to get more bang for your buck.
Bohol is famous not only for its Chocolate Hills but for its warm and friendly people. The laid back lifestyle of the locals together with its rich natural resources seem to be the best assets of this quaint little province in Visayas.
If you want a quick escape from the stressful life in the city, then book a plane ticket to Bohol. After that, you can lounge on the beach of Panglao, admire the lushly green man-made forest in Loboc and enjoy a sumptuous meal while cruising the Loboc River while being serenaded by the cheerful locals.
4. Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Go on a road trip and head to the northernmost tip of Luzon. The 11-hour bus trip is butt numbing so hitting three birds with one stone is probably the best way to go to avoid boredom inside the bus.
On your way to Pagudpud, drop by first in the World Heritage Site – Vigan, walk along the cobblestone of Calle Crisologo and have a blast from the past with the houses’ colonial architecture. Just a two hour-bus ride away from Vigan is Laoag, where the famous La Paz Sand Dunes and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Paoay Church are located.
Your third and final stop, the small coastal town of Pagudpud, is a perfect place to unwind. All the tourist attractions in Pagudpud and its neighboring towns can be accessed by hiring a tricycle. The peaceful rural communities and absence of mass tourism make Pagudpud visit-worthy.
Crime rate here is also pretty low so no need to fret even if you are a solo traveler. In fact, the only threat to travelers when touring Pagudpud is the absence of enough streetlights at night, even on the national highway, so make sure to be back from your tour before dark.
How to get there: Ride a Partas Bus to Vigan. From Vigan, take an ordinary bus to Laoag, then ride another ordinary bus to Pagudpud. For a more convenient trip, you may take a plane to Laoag via Cebu Pacific or PAL Express.
5. Davao City
Davao is probably the place with the most disciplined people. In fact, it is even regarded as the safest and most livable city in the Philippines. In terms of getting around, taxi drivers are monitored by the local government and it is actually safe to walk around the city even at night.
When you’re done exploring the city, go on a 15-minute boat ride to the Island Garden of Samal where Davaoeños and tourists alike spend a whole day or two to retreat from the noisy and fast-paced city.
If you are up for some adventure, you can also easily arrange a trip to Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain of the Philippines.