Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week itinerary Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week itinerary

Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week itinerary

Imagine remote islands with palm trees leaning over pristine white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. The Philippines is a country consisting of 7641 islands that not only offers tropical islands but also rice terraces, hiking, surfing, and great diving. An interesting mix of Spanish, American, and Chinese cultures formed Filipino into the extremely welcoming people they are today. Discover the best of the country in this Philippines Travel Guide.

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Philippines Travel itinerary

Traveling in the Philippines takes time because all islands are divided by the ocean. Experiencing the entire country in 3 weeks is impossible. However, this 3-week route takes you along some of the country’s highlights. This Philippines Travel Guide includes extra time meant as travel time.

Day 1: Manila

Manila, the capital of the Philippines. This is where your, soon incredible, journey starts. Most people have a love-hate relationship with this city and spend one or two nights here.

Tip: Grab Taxi is a great way to get reliable transportation around the city.

Where to Stay in Manila

Makati is the area where you need to spend the night and find all the trendy restaurants and bars.

Day 2 – 3: Coron

The small fishing village Coron is all about hopping from one stunning island to the other. On the morning of day 2, fly from Manila to Busuanga island, followed by a 30-minute drive to Coron town.

Once you arrive, relax, hike up Mt. Tapyas before sunset, and go island hopping by boat (book online) on day 3. You can arrange this in advance or at the harbor.

Must-Try! The Philippines has the most delicious mangos. Don’t miss these!

Where to stay in Coron

Hotels in Coron are available for every kind of budget, whether you want something more luxurious or something that’s more budget-friendly. See all hotels in Coron.

Tip: The best place to stay is in the center of town; this has the most options, with the only downside that you won’t have any beach near your hotel.

Day 4 – 6: El Nido

A 4-hour ferry from Coron (find tickets) takes you to one of the most stunning locations in your Philippines Travel Guide. El Nido is located on the northern tip of Palawan Island, offering pristine white beaches and paradise islands. You can visit these places by joining an El Nido Island Hopping Tour.

Where to Stay in El Nido

Choose a hostel or hotel on one of the beautiful beaches in El Nido. See all hotels here.

Tip: You could also choose to stay in El Nido town. Although the town itself used to be a little underwhelming, it has been developing fast and now has some great hotels and restaurants.

Day 7: Puerto Princesa

From El Nido, drive down to Puerto Princesa to spend the night before catching your flight to Cebu.

Getting to El Nido is possible by van or public transport. In Puerto Princesa, we highly recommend visiting the Iwahig Open Prison and having dinner at Kalui.

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Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week itinerary

Good to know: Unfortunately, the standard Filipino kitchen isn’t that great. Rice and pork or BBQ chicken are the typical dishes. However, at popular restaurants, it is an entirely different world.

Where to Stay in Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa has plenty of hotels to choose from that are perfect for spending the night before your journey to Cebu. See all hotels in Puerto Princesa.

Did you know? Puerto Princesa is known as ‘the city in the forest’ because of its luscious greenery and tropical atmosphere.

Day 8 – 9: Cebu

Cebu is one of the main islands and transport hubs of the Philippines. Arrive in Cebu by airplane from Puerto Princesa in the morning of day 8. Directly hop into the bus or car and make your way down to Moalboal. The following day, go Canyoneering in Badian and jump off the Kawasan Falls!

Where to stay in Cebu

You can stay in Moalboal or Cebu city for your canyoning trip. Moalboal is the most convenient as it is very close to Badian, but keep in mind that this cheaper option can be fully booked due to the lack of accommodations.

Alternatively, stay in Cebu City, which, although quite far away from Badian (around a 3-hour drive), has the option of free pick-up and drop-off (with Island Trek Tours).

Day 10 – 12: Bohol

Discover the unique landscapes of Bohol with rice terraces, chocolate hills, and white sand beaches. But what makes Bohol unique is the Philippine Tarsier. Tiny, monkey-like animals that move during the night.

The endangered Tarsiers are extremely sensitive to light and sound. Only visit Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, where you’re not allowed to touch, talk or photograph them with flash. If you see tarsiers in cages, that’s not OK! Learn more about responsible wildlife Tourism.

Are you interested in visiting churches? Bohol has plenty! Did you know? The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia.

Where to stay in Bohol

Bohol’s beauty makes it a hotel paradise! From luxury spas to cute guesthouses, there’s something for everyone on the island.

Day 13 – 15: Siquijor

Majestic waterfalls, the friendliest Filipinos, and beautiful local life. The island of Siquijor is stunning to explore by motorbike in a 2-hour drive. Read about all the Things To Do in Siquijor.

Where to stay in Siquijor

Most hotels are located on the western coastline of Siquijor or in the town of San Juan (which has the yummiest restaurants!)

Day 16: Travel day

While you’re still buzzing from the incredible last 15 days, it’s time to head back to Cebu to catch a flight to Siargao. Getting back to Cebu is a long trip, but it’s worth it for the next part of your itinerary.

  • Catch the boat from Siquijor to Dumaguete (30 min) – (tickets)
  • At Dumaguete, take the boat to Liloan Port, Cebu (20 min)
  • From Liloan Port, catch the public bus to Cebu City (4 h)

Spend the night in Cebu City and fly out to Siargao the next morning. Please note: If you’re planning to fly to Siargao, keep in mind that evening flights are often canceled. The Siargao runway does not have lights yet (April 2019).

Day 17 – 20: Siargao

Welcome to the ‘Most Beautiful Island in Asia’. Siargao has the perfect island vibe with great beaches, surfing, scenic drives, island hopping, incredible food, and a chilled vibe. You could easily spend a week in Siargao.

Where to stay in Siargao

There are three main tourism towns; General Luna, Dapa, and Pacifico. See all hotels on the island of Siargao.

Day 21: Manila

Spend your last day in Manila. We recommend you to be back in Manila at least 10 hours before your international flight back home leaves. Why? Most flights in the afternoon are delayed. We have been to The Philippines twice and had just two flights leaving in time or too early haha.

Food recommendation: On your last day, visit Hummus Elijah in Makati!

Additional Philippines Travel Itinerary Options

If you have more or less time available, use one of the following options in your Philippines Travel itinerary.

  • Visit the rice fields in the north of the Philippines (4-week route)
  • Skip Puerto Princesa and fly directly from El Nido to Cebu (more relaxed)
  • Skip Siquijor and spend your time in Cebu and Bohol (more relaxed)

Costs of traveling in the Philippines

The Philippines is a budget travel country. It is affordable getting around, and there is accommodation for every kind of budget. Especially the prices for accommodation are a little higher compared to Indonesia or Thailand. If you’re on a tight budget, take the overnight ferries instead of an airplane and travel by bus. Their currency is Philippine Peso (PHP, ₱).

  • Hotel: 30 USD / night
  • Food: 2 – 10 USD / day
  • Entrance Fee: 0.5 – 10 USD
  • Simcard: 15 USD / 9GB
  • Water: 0.35 USD / 1.5L
  • Fruit: 0.5 USD / bunch of bananas

Wifi and Sim Cards in the Philippines

Wifi is something you cannot relate to in the Philippines. It is unstable, and if they offer it, it’s usually not fast. We always recommend getting a sim card to use Google Maps or make phone calls in emergencies. It is best to get a GLOBE or SMART Sim card (9GB for 1000 PHP) and top it up once you’re out of data.

How to get around the Philippines?

Transportation in the Philippines is well arranged, affordable but time-consuming. Travel overland by taxi, tricycles, jeepneys, buses, and minivans and go from island to island by boat or airplane.

Flights go as often as buses in the Philippines to cross to another island. Flight delays are common, so it is recommended never to book too tight with connecting flights or activities.

Boats and buses
Ferries to cross to a different island are very common. Taking an overnight ferry can reduce costs on your travel budget. Booking boats and long bus rides in advance is common.

To cover short distances, a tricycle very convenient. The vehicle is kind of a 3-wheeled tuk-tuk. You have to bargain with this kind of transport. Our rule of thumb was: 100 PHP for 2 persons including luggage for a 10-min drive.

In the main tourist areas (not cities), we recommend to rent a motorbike and drive around by yourself. The price for tourists is about 400 – 600 PHP (±9 USD) per day depending on the season.

Best Time to visit the Philippines

From December to April, during the dry season, is the best time to visit the Philippines. Where March to May are the busiest and most expensive months. It is best to avoid traveling there from July to October when the typhoon season is active.

Always do research per location. For example, El Nido and Siargao could have two completely different seasons at the same time of the year.

Is the Philippines safe to travel?

Through media, the Philippines is commonly sketched as unsafe and a no-go destination. That’s not true. The deep southern tip (Mindanao area) of the Philippines is the only no-go area due to possible terrorism. The rest of the Philippines is safe.

It breaks our hearts to hear that people don’t visit the Philippines because of stories. Why? The Filipino people are some of the friendliest in southeast Asia. Although Tagalog is their first language, everyone understands and speaks English which makes it even easier.

Visa Philippines

Most nationalities will receive a 30-day Visa on Arrival when flying to the Philippines. The only requirements are that your passport is valid for at least 6 months and that you must have an outbound ticket that will show you’re leaving the country within those 30 days. A standard visa is extendable up to 60 days.

Blog comments (35)

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  • Jessica

    Hi! Thanks for sharing this, I always find your website and instagram helpful when planning trips :)
    What time of the year did you visit the Philippines? I am planning on going mid-January for a few weeks and want to visit at least Palawan (Coron, El Nido, Taytay) but what other islands would you suggest? All webpages state that weather conditions can be very different on different islands but I find it hard to find reliable information on which specific islands are worth visiting in mid-January. Hope you can help out and thanks for being an inspiration for traveling!

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Jessica, thank you! We visited twice in January. Palawan has good weather during that season but also the other islands you read about on our website we had fine weather in January.

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