Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week Travel Route

Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week Travel Route

Philippines Travel Guide: The Ultimate 3-week Travel Route

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 guide

Philippines Travel Route

Traveling in the Philippines takes time because all islands are divided by an 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.

philippines travel guide 3 weeks route

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. Makati is the area where you need to spend the night and find all the trendy restaurants and bars. (get a hotel)
Tip: Grab Taxi is a great way to get reliable transportation around the city.

3-week philippines travel route el nido

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 (find tickets) followed by a 30-minute drive to Coron town. Relax, hike up the 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!

➳ Read our 2-day Coron Guide

philippines travel route coron

Day 4 – 6: El Nido

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

➳ Read: Things to do in El Nido, Palawan

philippines travel guide island hopping

Day 7: Puerto Princesa

From El Nido, drive down to Puerto Princesa to spend the night before catching your flight to Cebu. (Find tickets) Getting to El Nido is possible by van or public transport. In Puerto Princesa, we highly recommend visiting the Iwahig Open Prison and have dinner at Kalui.

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.

➳ Read: How to get in El Nido


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!


Day 10 – 12: Bohol

Discover the unique landscapes of Bohol with rice terraces, the chocolate hills, and white sand beaches. But what makes Bohol unique is the Philippine Tarsier. Tiny, monkey-like, animals that move during the night.
It is just a short 2-hour ferry ride from Cebu to Bohol. Get boat tickets.

philippines travel guide chocolate  hills

The endangered Tarsiers are extremely sensitive to light and sound. Only visit Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary where you’re not allowed to touch, use your camera flash them or talk. Tarsier in cages is not OK!

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

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. From Bohol, take the 1.5-hour ferry to Siquijor. (get tickets)

➳ Read: Things To Do in Siquijor

philippines travel route siquijor

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. (cheapest tickets here) Getting back to Cebu is a long trip.

  • Catch the boat to 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)
3-week philippines travel route church

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 on Siargao.

➳ Read: Siargao Guide: Top Things to see in Siargao

palm trees philippines travel guide

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 in 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 Route options

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

  • 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 on 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 buses. Their currency is Philippine Peso (PHP, ₱).

Double room: $30 per night
Lunch / Dinner: $1 – $5
Fruit snacks: $0.5 bunch of bananas
Drinking water: $0.35 for 1.5L
Attraction entrances $0.5 – $10
Sim card: $15 (9GB)

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.

➳ Read: Get your Sim Card here

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.

philippines travel guide transport

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. ➳ Book your flights in advance.

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. ➳ Book online

philippines travel guide airplane

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 when people don’t visit the Philippines because of stories. Why? The Filipino people are some of the friendliest around 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.

Online check if you need a Visa

Blog comments (25)

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  • The 3 weeks vacation was not enough with so many places to visit in the Philippines. Anyway, thank you for posting this blog.

    • Salt in our Hair

      3 weeks worked great for us but if you have more time then you should definitely make the trip longer in beautiful Philippines!💙

  • I love the Philippines! Visited Cebu and El Nido April last year and going back to the Philippines July this year. My partner and I love Moalboal last time, the perfect balance of locals and backpackers… do you reccommend anywhere similar to Moalboal with gorgeous water to snorkel, relaxed vibe and activities close by? x

  • Hi,
    Great post and very useful in terms of planning.
    My wife and myself we are planning a two week trip, involving:

    3 nights in Singapur
    6 nights Palawan
    and then 4 nights in either:
    – Bohol + Siquijor + Cebu to fly back to Singapur, or
    – Siargao!

    Tempted by Siargao reading your reviews, do you think it is worth it over the Islands near Cebu, thanks!

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi, I would split the 4 nights over Bohol and Siquijor and skip Cebu island. Fly to Manilla from Dumaguete airport. Make sure to check the status with the Taal volcano too.

  • I’m visiting the Philippines at the end of Feb for two weeks. I fly into Manilla and then looking at travelling to El Nido and Coron but haven’t decided which additional place to visit. I have two weeks in total – any recommendations? Would love some amazing beaches which aren’t too touristy! Thanks!

  • Hi guys! I am following you on instagram for a looong time now and didn’t know about your website!

    I love your travel guide for the philippines because we’re now planning a 3 week trip & your guide is really helpful!! Love your website!! Thank you!

    • Salt in our Hair

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment and so glad you found our website! Enjoy the Philippines- it’s incredible❤️

  • Teresa Bell

    This post is really helpful – we are there at the end of January 2020 and struggling with our itinerary as there seems to be so many places to see. Your suggestions seem perfect for us – thank you.

  • Also, will it be crazy expensive to check in bags for the domestic flights? Or should I plan on bringing only a carry-on?

    Lastly, if I’m flying in, I’m going to try to copy this itinerary so would it be best to fly into Manila and out of Manila or fly into Cebu (go backwards on the guide) and fly out of Manila?

    • Salt in our Hair

      I would book your flights a week in advance but I don’t know about the prices. This is different for each company. Checking in bags won’t be too expensive but please check it with your flight operator in advance. All international flights, or at least that we’ve done all had to go through Manila first. enjoy!

  • This blog post is perfect and exactly what I needed! Thank you so much!

    Per your itinerary, can I book flights a couple of days before or do I need to book in advance? Will the prices go up substantially? I would like to follow this guide, but want some flexibility in case I really like a place/etc. so I would like to book my flights as I go.

    Thank you!!

  • Hi, do you think I could just do El Nido and Siargao in two weeks? I want to surf too. Thanks!

  • Shaik Nazia Neloufer

    Very informative, appreciate that information specially about the food. Would love to travel here soon.

    • Salt in our Hair

      Thank you for reading and hope you get to visit the Philippines soon!

      • I’m travelling solo in November, arriving in Manila for 3 nights then looking to do a similar trip to what you’ve outlined.

        Do you have any tips for solo travellers?

        • Salt in our Hair

          Hi Dave. Thanks for your comment! As we always travel as a couple, it’s hard for us to say one hundred percent what it’s like for a solo traveller. Philippines is very safe but just be street smart at night etc. The great thing about the Philippines is there are lots of backpackers there so you will easily meet lots of people through hostels, island hopping tours and other activities. Enjoy your time!

  • I encourage you to re-think your idea & statement re: the “standard” Filipino kitchen. There is an abundance of fish, seafood, and fruit in that country, where they make stews, soups, noodles etc. Give their culinary skills more credit!

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Momo,

      You’re probably right! This was just our opinion of the food but we’d love to go back and experience more!

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