I have around 6 weeks put aside to travel to the Philippines from the start of November.
1. I want to see the obvious places like the rice terraces of Banaue, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol whilst there but was wondering if there were any other sort of hidden gems to go to, maybe off the beaten track which won't be overdone by tourism.
2. I also plan on diving and taking a PADI course in open water to get me started. Anyone done this in the Philippines and where is good/bad to take the course.
I meant to add, i'm on a budget of around £25/$40 a day all included.
I know diving will cost more and this has been accounted for seperately
You should be fine on that budget. The Philippines is more expensive than the mainland destinations like Thialand but it's still relatively cheap by Western standards.
It was one of our favourite countries and we are heading back out there in January and can't wait. You'll find most places are a lot less 'touristy' than other areas in SE Asia so it's easy to find places off the beaten track.
Clearly the places you list are the most popular but even when we went to the Batad rice terraces we were the only Western people we saw there all day and we had the place pretty much to ourselves.. maybe luck more than anything!
We only really visited the places you have listed on our first trip back in 2009/10 and are looking foward to seeing more this time around.
I can't recommend on the diving I'm afraid but you'll find lots of places which do it and I'm sure they will be fine, my husband dived with a fwe companies out there and always felt safe.
Have a great time it really is an amazing place.
I have this strong suspicion i've read your blogs on the philippines a long time ago when i was originally planning and thinking about my trip, which is why i've probably ended up with those destinations and how come they're the same as where you went.
I'm glad to hear its less 'touristy'. Some places i've been in China/Korea recently have been overdone by too many people so be nice if that's not the case.
How long are you heading out there for in January, and where are you planning to go thats new to where you've already been?
If you're looking for less touristic place you should go to Palawan, El Nido. It's great! Or Bohol. It's also special.