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Tropical beaches, crystal-clear waters, secret lagoons, breathtaking waterfalls, and lovely local smiles.
I strongly believe that the Philippines is a little bit of heaven on earth and with over 7,000 islands, it might be difficult to determine what to do or where to visit in the Philippines.
Whether you are planning a 2 -or 3 week Philippines itinerary, this comprehensive philippines travel guide will show you the top attractions, hotels, restaurants, and transportation options along the way.
Besides all this helpful information, I also added a map of the philippines including our route which can help you to plan your own trip to the Philippines!
READ ALSO: 42 x Best hotels in the Philippines
The perfect 3 week philippines itinerary
START Manila | END Cebu
DURATION 21 days
METHOD OF TRANSPORT Plane, bus + boat
BEST TIME OF YEAR December-May
WHEN DID WE GO June 2019
HIGHLIGHTS Coron, El Nido, Port Barton, Puerto Princesa, Siargao, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor
Map of the Philippines itinerary
Ont his map of the Philippines you will find the route that we did during our 3 weeks backpacking in the country.
You will probably start your tour in Manila, the bustling metropolis of the Philippines. It’s also our first stop in the Philippines on this trip.
Flying to Manila is not only inexpensive, but there are numerous connecting flight options to various island, which makes it easy to start your journey from here.
The neighbourhood of Makati is where we stayed because it’s a great place to stay with plenty of trendy eateries, a fantastic atmosphere, and numerous shopping centres nearby. Just what you need to relax after your (possibly long) international trip.
- 1-2 day (depending on your arrival or departure)
Where to stay in Manila
Things to do in Manila
- Explore the city with a Bamboo Bike Tour
- Join a walking tour and an authentic cooking class
- Shop ’till you drop in SM Megamall, one of the world’s largest shopping malls
- Enjoy a relaxing massage or hop in one of the great restaurants
Where to eat in Manila
- Hummus Elijah (located in trendy Makati, wonderful vegan/vegetarian menu, most helpful service, our favorite picks: falafel, vegan shakshuka, pita bread, and hummus)
How to get in Manila
- By plane, Manila Airport (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) is the main gateway for everyone traveling to the Philippines. There are daily flights to every continent which makes it very easy to travel to.
- From Manila Airport to city center or your hotel, best by Grab taxi which is the most convenient and safest way, prices are around PHP 300-400 per car/one-way ($5-7)
We continued our journey from Manila to Coron in the Philippines, home to some of the country’s most famous beaches and untouched islands. Coron is a very laid-back town at the northern tip of Palawan where you’ll definitely have an amazing time during your journey.
It’s popular among divers and has a lot of great island-hopping tours. Some of the most amazing Japanese warship wrecks can be found in the bay near Coron. And if you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure, a multi-day expedition boat tour of the Philippines is a must-do.
- 3 – 5 days
Where to stay in Coron
Things to do in Coron
- As there are so many great things to do, we listed down our favorites here: Coron Travel Guide: 7 x best things to do + tips
Where to eat in Coron
All the mentioned places are vegetarian/vegan-friendly.
- Altrove Pizzeria (delicious oven-baked pizzas, romantic cozy setting, wonderful service, go before 7 pm to avoid long waiting lines, our fav picks: Meditteranean pizza with extra veggies PHP 480)
- Full Lotus (a cozy place with a cute interior and great WiFi, our fav picks: the Bangkok bowl, veggies with hummus, veggie sandwich, and the yummy mango cheesecake)
- Falafel (best falafel place in Coron, try the falafel wrap or the falafel pita bread, so good!)
- Ala-e Hippie House (cozy setting with lots of good vegan options like the coconut tofu or vegetable noodles)
- Summer Café (great breakfast or brunch spot, yummy plant-based food, juices, smoothie bowls, and salads)
How to get in Coron
- From Manila Domestic Airport, by plane, multiple flights a day, the journey takes around 40 minutes, between $25-$100/one-way
Among all the places in Palawan, El Nido is our favourite and even though it becomes more busy and developed each year, it remains authentic and relaxed.
From stunning natural scenery and incredible island-hopping trips to relaxing on lovely beaches and enjoying tasty beach bars. We could stay here for a week without becoming bored!
Also, since 2017, El Nido has been plastic-free thanks to a ban on all kinds of plastic on island tours and boats. We really like this!
- 3-5 days
Where to stay in El Nido
Things to do in El Nido
- As there are so many great things to do, we listed down our favorites here: El Nido Travel Guide: best things to do + tips
Where to eat in El Nido
All the mentioned places are vegetarian/vegan-friendly.
- Taste (delicious smoothie bowls, all plant-based food, great spot to work on your laptop)
- The Cavern (all plant-based food, sister-restaurant of Taste in El Nido Town, lovely interior, our fav picks: eggplant lasagna or vegan pizza)
- Glow (one in El Nido Town and one in the new POPS district at Corong-Corong Beach, wonderful vegetarian/vegan spot, smoothie bowls, cold-pressed juices, cruelty-free burgers)
- Beach Shack (favorite spot to hang out during the day, lots of good food, vegetarian/vegan-friendly)
- Altrove Pizzeria (same as in Coron, delicious oven-baked pizzas, cozy setting)
How to get in El Nido
- From Coron, by plane, multiple flights a day, the journey takes around 40 minutes, between $100-$200/one-way
- Another option is by ferry, the journey takes around 3h 30 minutes, prices around $35/one-way
- Or join a 4-day Coron to El Nido Expedition, which takes you along the most beautiful islands around Palawan
We took a 3-hour minivan ride from El Nido to Port Barton, a laid-back community we had skipped on our last vacation. Even if it’s more tranquil than El Nido, you can still go on magnificent boat tours or just relax on the beach with a good read as the world goes by.
Although we didn’t take a boat tour here, it was a great place to stop on the long drive from El Nido to Puerto Princesa.
- 1-2 days
Where to stay in Port Barton
Things to do in Port Barton
- Spend your days island-hopping and visit the more unspoiled islands and snorkeling spots (we highly recommend the Port Barton DIY Island-hopping tour where you can mix and match you favorite places)
- Ask a local to bring you to White Beach, which is only a short boat ride away from Port Barton
- Enjoy cocktails on the beach ( our favorite beach bar was Reggae Bar)
- Rent a scooter to explore the nearby waterfalls (PHP 500/day)
Where to eat in Port Barton
All the mentioned places are vegetarian/vegan-friendly.
- Gorgonzola Pizza (amazing vegan Italian food, lovely concept to create your own pizza, the best and biggest pizza’s we ever ate, our fav pick: pizza with vegan cheese and vegetables + coconut tiramisu)
- Lunazul (a lovely place to have breakfast or lunch, great WiFi and amazing local food, Spanish atmosphere and lovely tapas, our fav picks: patatas bravas, veggie sandwich, Lunazul salad + fruit salad with granola)
- Mabuti (cozy restaurant with great vegan options like the tasty vegan burger, also great WiFi here)
How to get in Port Barton
You’ll notice right away that Puerto Princesa is very different from Coron and El Nido when you get there as this is the most capital of Palawan and also the most populated area of the Island.
The International Airport makes it easy to get from Palawan to the Visayas islands, like Cebu, Borocay, or Siargao so I only stayed here for one night.
If you have more time in Palawan, you can explore the underground river or embark on an exciting 4-day balabac adventure, among other exciting activities.
- 1 day
Where to stay in Puerto Princesa
Things to do in Puerto Princesa
- Visit the amazing Underground River, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
- Go shopping in the SM City Mall
- Join a 4-day adventure to the untouched islands of Balabac
Where to eat in Puerto Princesa
- Ima’s Vegetarian Restaurant (vegetarian/vegan heaven in Puerto Princesa)
How to get in Puerto Princesa
- From El Nido to Puerto Princesa, by minivan/bus, 4-hour drive, prices around $7 – Check your seats here
Siargao is one of my favourite places in the world because of its friendly locals, pristine white beaches, great restaurants, fun things to do, and stunning scenery.
The best place to stay is in General Luna, where all the great bars and delicious restaurants are. Besides the many places to eat, General Luna is also where all the tours to the beautiful islands around Siargao leave from. Make sure you visit Daku, Naked, and Guyam Island.
There are also many amazing things to do on the island, such as surfing at Cloud 9, widely considered to be one of the world’s top places, or you can get a scooter and cruise around the island if you’d rather explore on your own.
- 3 – 5 days
Where to stay in Siargao
Things to do in Siargao
- Visit the Magpupungko Rock Pools (be sure to go when it’s low tide, PHP 50 pp entrance fee + PHP 20 parking, also check the other side of the rock where you find a small private beach)
- Relax at Pacifico Beach, a beautiful stretch of beach located in the north (not for beginner surfers)
- Hang with the locals at Alegria Beach
- Try out the secret palm tree swing at the Maasin River (PHP 20 per person entrance fee, PHP 50 pp to take pictures on the bamboo raft or PHP 500 for the kayak)
- Surf at the world-famous Cloud 9 or watch pros practicing their skills (Jacking Horse and Quicksilver on the left of the deck are best for beginner surfers, Cloud 9 at the right is exclusively for advanced surfers)
- Take a day trip to Sugba Lagoon, a quiet and stunning blue lagoon surrounded by wonderful scenery (PHP 300 pp to use paddle boards or kayaks)
- Grab a healthy smoothie bowl at Shaka
- Rent a scooter, drive around the whole island and be sure to stop at the Coconut Tree Farm viewpoint (PHP 300-450 per day)
- Discover Sohoton Cove in Bucas Grande National Park, our most favorite day trip from Siargao. This Sohoton Cove Tour includes also a visit to the tree closest islands to Siargao (Daku, Guyam and Naked Island)
- Go on an island-hopping trip and visit the beautiful Daku, Guyam and Naked Island
- A day trip which we highly recommend and where you visit 10 highlights on Siargao Island, is this Siargao Land Tour (beaches, palm-tree swings, lagoons, rock-pools and lots of viewpoints all in one day)
Where to eat in Siargao
- For all best places to eat in Siargao, be sure to check out our favorite 9 x vegan-friendly restaurants in Siargao
How to get in Siargao
- From Puerto Princesa (Palawan), by plane, one stopover in Cebu/no direct flight possible, the journey takes around 4h 20 min, between $120-200 per person (check carefully if you have enough transit time between the two flights)
- Another option (and also how we did it) is to fly to Cebu first (1h 15 min, around $40 per person) and then take the ferry to Surigao (8 hours, leaves twice a day, around $23 per person for an economy bed) and change ferry to Siargao (3 hours, three times a day, around $10 per person in tourist class)
- From Siargao airport, you can take a van to General Luna (PHP 600) or a tricycle (PHP 400). From Dapa where the ferries arrive, it’s around PHP 250/tricycle
This is one of the islands that you should absolutely include on your Philippines itinerary because it is a massive island with many gorgeous waterfalls and exciting activities.
Personally, I really liked Moalboal because it is a paradise for divers but also centrally located to do many other activities.
Even though, it’s one of the most famous diving spots in the world, Moalbaol is perfect for snorkelers and scuba divers alike since it offers daily opportunities to swim with whale sharks and see millions of sardines pass just beneath the surface of the water.
And besides all these amazing things, great food is easy to find! There are many delicious restaurants and cosy bars serving local food and international dishes.
Nevertheless, if you plan on staying in Moalbaol, don’t miss out on a canyoneering tour to see the stunning Kawasan Waterfall.
- 3-4 days
Where to stay in Cebu
Things to do in Cebu
- Explore the many epic waterfalls like Kawasan Falls, Inambakan Falls, Tumalog Waterfalls and the Dao Waterfalls
- Go canyoneering at the Kawasan Falls
- Hike Osmena Peak with sunrise (still on our to-do list)
- Swim, snorkel or dive with millions of sardines in Moalboal
- Go diving at Pescador Island (we booked a package of 3 dives at Neptune Diving Resort and paid PHP 3600 per person.
- Swim with whale sharks in Oslob (be beware that it has become a real tourist trap in the last years, for a real authentic experience you better go to the island of Leyte)
- A great combination tour to see the two main highlights is the Oslob Whale Shark and Kawasan Falls Day Tour
- Take a day trip to Kalanggaman Island, Leyte’s most beautiful snaking sandbar
Where to eat in Cebu
- Lunhaw Vegan Cafe in Cebu City (best vegan spot, our fav picks: the pumpkin/spinach lasagna, the black burger, and the peanut butter smoothie bowl)
- For all best places to eat in Moalboal, be sure to check out our favorite 4 x vegan-friendly restaurants in Moalboal
How to get in Cebu City/Moalboal
- From Siargao, by plane, direct flight, the journey takes only 1 hour, prices are around $80 per person
- Then from the airport to Cebu City, by white taxi (around PHP 250/one-way)
- Or from the airport to Moalboal, by bus (PHP 160 per person, 3-4 hours, leaving at South Bus Terminal)
- A cheaper option instead of flying from Siargao (and also how we did it last time) is to take the ferry to Surigao (3 hours, 5 times a day, around $10 per person in tourist class) and then change ferry to Cebu (8 hours, night ferry at 8 pm, around $23 per person for an economy bed)
Bohol is another stunning island that you will see on the itinerary.
It takes just one hour to travel from Cebu to Bohol, where you may explore the island’s many unique attractions, such the chocolate hills, or search for the world’s tiniest primates.
Alona Beach, which has most of the bars, restaurants, and shops, is by far the busiest spot on the island. From here, you can also take magnificent boat cruises, and if you enjoy diving as we do, this may be your happy place
- 3-5 days
Where to stay in Bohol
Things to do in Bohol
- Go diving at Balicasag Reef
- See the world-famous Chocolat Hills, especially beautiful with sunrise or sunset (PHP 50 entrance fee per person)
- Meet the smallest primates (tarsiers) in the world at the Tarsier Conservation Area (PHP 80 entrance fee per person)
- A highly recommend day tour which includes a visit to the Chocolate Hills and where you meet the tarsiers is this Bohol Countryside Tour)
- Join a peaceful river cruise along the beautiful Loboc River or consider the unique and eco-friendly stand-up paddle tour
- Explore the more cultural side of Bohol and visit one of the authentic churches
- Visit the man-made Mahogany Forest
- Have a relaxing beach day at Alona Beach
- Discover Bohol’s most beautiful islands, Balicasag and Virgin Island
Where to eat in Bohol
All the mentioned places are vegetarian/vegan-friendly and are located on Panglao Island, which is the most popular place in Bohol.
- Aluna Beach Lounge (relaxed place to have a cocktail right at Alona beach)
- Genesis Divers (cheap and local place located right in front of Alona beach, try their delicious vegetable curry)
- Shaka (our favorite breakfast & lunch spot, definitely try their orange clock burger and their power bowls or salads)
How to get in Bohol (Panglao Island)
- From Cebu City, by ferry (take the boat to Tagbilaran Pier), takes around 1,5 hour, prices between $8-24/one-way,
- Then from Tagbilaran Pier, you take the bus to Alona Beach, 30-minute drive, PHP 40 per person
Siquijor is an island that should absolutely be included in your itinerary if you love activities such as cliff jumping, Tarzan swings, and lovely beaches. This small island is known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning white-powder beaches, as well as its wonderful restaurants and breathtaking waterfalls.
Most importantly, every day you will be treated to a spectacular sunset. We had a great day renting a scooter, driving around for the entire day, and taking in all of the breathtaking sights.
- 3-4 days
Where to stay in Siquijor
Things to do in Siquijor
- Join a snorkeling or diving trip to Apo Island (can only be booked from Coconut Grove Beach Resort)
- Visit Salagdoong Beach and try the famous cliff jumping
- Visit the amazing Cambugahay Falls and spend the day doing some crazy Tarzan swings (be sure to go early to beat the crowds)
- Visit the much quieter and more peaceful Lugnason Falls
- Watch the sunset at Solangon Beach
- Climb up the big hanging palm tree at Paliton Beach
- Rent a motorbike and drive around the island (around PHP 300/day)
Where to eat in Siquijor
All the mentioned places are vegetarian/vegan-friendly.
- Baha Bar (amazing place with a lovely atmosphere, great for dinner, wide menu with lots of healthy food, western & European style, shared platters and great dessert)
- Monkey Business (a lovely place to hang out for breakfast or dinner, great vibes and lots of good healthy food, try the vegetable noodles or the mango coconut pancakes)
- Luca Loko Restaurant (cozy and cute little restaurant with lots of delicious veggie options, try the couscous salad and the loko potatoes)
- Dolce Amor Restaurant (new modern Italian restaurant with a beautiful interior, great menu with delicious pizzas and pasta, possible to create a personalized veggie pizza)
- Sunset Restaurant (part of Coconut Grove Resort but open to everyone, more expensive menu but worth the views, most beautiful place to enjoy the sunset while having a romantic dinner on the beach, every Thursday BBQ with acoustic band & fire dancers)
How to get in Siquijor
- From Bohol, by ferry, the journey takes around 1h 20 minutes, prices around $18/one-way per person
- From Larena Pier in Siquijor, you take a jeepney or minivan for around PHP400/one-way (which can be shared)
If this is your first time visiting the Philippines, I highly recommend this 3 week Philippines itinerary.
Even though I’ve been to the Philippines multiple times, I can assure you that there’s much more to discover and experience there.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions, suggestions, or opinions regarding this particular journey.
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Discover the Philippines with my favourite travel apps
To plan my adventures, I use these FREE websites and apps as they provide the best information, the best deals, and they are user-friendly.
- Skyscanner – Flight deals
- Booking.com – Hotels and accommodation
- TourRadar – Group trips
- TripAdvisor – Reviews and activities
- HostelWorld – Hostels
- GetYourGuide – Activities and excursions
- RentalCars – Car rental
- Omio – Transport
- iVisa – Travel documents
- Wise – Money transfer
- InsuredNomads – Travel Insurance
PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.