- What’s in this guide?
- ~WEEK 1 ITINERARY: LUZON~
- Day 1: Simmer in the capital’s hustle and bustle
- Day 2: Fly to Coron
- Day 3: Go to a Coron Tour
- Day 4: Try some water sports
- Day 5: Hop to El Nido
- Day 6: Go island hopping in El Nido
- Day 7: Take one final dip in El Nido
- ~WEEK 2 ITINERARY: VISAYAS~
- ~WEEK 3 ITINERARY: MINDANAO~
- Before you go…
Are you planning a 3-week vacation in the Philippines? If so, you’re at the right post. Three weeks or 21 days are enough time to have a glimpse of the beauty of this country, from north to south. Like how we say it, “mula Batanes hanggang Jolo!” (from Batanes to Jolo!). While a grand vacation in PH sounds exhilarating, planning is the most challenging part. As a local who loves traveling, I came up with this 3 week Philippines itinerary guide for every tourist who wants to visit our beautiful country.
What’s in this guide?
For this guide, I decided to divide it into three separate weeks, each week for every island group. This way, you can experience and witness the beauty of varying cultures, cuisines, tourist spots, and more.
This guide is for those who are looking for a real adventure. I also aim to break the monotony of staying in the capital and other cities in the metro. With this guide, I encourage my readers not to stay in one place. If you want to make the most out of your PH visit, you should visit as many places as you can while enjoying it at the same time.
~WEEK 1 ITINERARY: LUZON~
Day 1: Simmer in the capital’s hustle and bustle
Upon your arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), you should rest first in your chosen hotel. You can also go around the city to dine and shop for some goods. Although Metro Manila is bustling and noisy, you can find some hidden gems that offer some peace and quiet.
Where to eat in Manila:
During your first day, treat yourself to a hearty meal in any of the following restaurants:
Located in the Katigbak Parkway in Rizal Park, you can dine with the view of the Manila Bay. It’s the best seafood destination in town and it also offers a romantic vibe at night. You can enjoy some Filipino, Asian, and international cuisines here. Just note that the price tends to be at the mid to high range.
If you want a place where you can spend the night and dine, you should check in at Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros. They have the Raffaele Woodfire Pizza. This place offers Italian and European flavors, perfect for foreigners who are looking for something familiar to their taste buds.
Another restaurant you can try at Bayleaf Hotel is the Sky Deck Bar. It’s the best place to dine and wine, alfresco style. Nothing is better than starting your vacation on a relaxing dinner overlooking the city skyline.
Day 2: Fly to Coron
The real beauty of the Philippines lies outside of Manila. After resting overnight, I suggest flying to Coron the next day. Flights to this destination usually take five hours through domestic airlines. I suggest booking an early flight so you can arrive at Palawan before lunchtime.
With Palawan re-claiming its spot as the most beautiful island in the world, it’s a must-see for every tourist.
Upon arrival, take your time to settle. You can explore around town and have some hearty lunch. A good way to kick off your week in Palawan is to book a half-day guided tour around the city. This tour may include a hike to the famous Mt. Tapyas. Don’t forget to take photos of the large ‘Coron’ sign!
Where to stay in Coron:
If you’re in the Philippines to splurge, you might as well book a room in Two Seasons. This luxury hotel has cozy and spacious suits perfect for singles, couples, or families. Aside from its excellent location, the hotel also boasts an in-house spa and massage that you can enjoy.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly accommodation with some luxuries, you should check in at Coron Soleil. They have cozy rooms with privacy and proximity to the hotel’s pool. There’s also a poolside bar at the hotel where you can relax after a tiring day.
Day 3: Go to a Coron Tour
On your second day in Coron, you should join a Coron Tour. Local guides offer an all-in tour where you are brought in different spots of the island.
Stops include the Kayangan Lake and the Siete Pecados Marine Park. You can swim and snorkel on these spots too. On Siete Pecados, you’ll enjoy some quiet time since it’s not very crowded.
The last stop of the tour is the twin lagoon in Coron. It has limestone cliffs and clear waters. There are also other spots you can visit for the Coron Tour. The good thing is that you can request the less beaten path so you can avoid large crowds.
Day 4: Try some water sports
The next day, it’s all about making some splash. Coron doesn’t run out of things to do in the waters. You should head to the Royal Island Resort and Watersports where you can book a kayak, canoe, parasail, paraglide, and a lot more! You can also charter a boat here as well as jet skis, yachts, and disco boats.
Prices for the watersport rentals are pretty affordable. For example, you can rent a private speedboat for roughly $250 for up to 8 hours. Just make sure that you book ahead to ensure that there are available vessels.
Make sure that you go beach hopping in Coron. It’s a great way to escape the crowd since the main spots on the island tend to get packed during peak season.
Some of the best destinations are the Bulod Dos Island Sandbar as well as the Malcapuya Island.
If you prefer a guided beach hopping experience, you can book one from the local tour providers. Make sure that the tour guide is licensed and that there’s a pre-set itinerary.
Such tours start early in the morning and end at 5 pm. However, some providers won’t leave until past 10 am so you still have time for some watersports.
Day 5: Hop to El Nido
After spending three days in Coron, it’s time to hop into another paradise: El Nido. The rest of your week in Luzon will be spent basking in the beauty of this island. From Coron, you can choose between the fast ferry and the slow ferry. The fast ferry leaves early at 6 am and it will only take 3 to 4 hours to reach El Nido. Meanwhile, the slow ferry leaves at 8 am but it will take 9 hours to arrive in Coron.
Where to stay in El Nido:
For those who have the budget, the Cauayan Island Resort is a luxurious choice in El Nido. You can book a room with a direct view of the ocean. It’s a cozy coastline accommodation that imbibes an authentic tropical vibe. The hotel also offers a lot of island activities so you no longer have to busy yourself in individual bookings.
If you’re looking for the best value, the El Nido Reef Strand Resort might be the paradise you’re looking for. It’s only 1.8 miles away from the Lio Tourism Estate, which is a top spot for tourists. If you arrived at El Nido Airport, this hotel is just 3 kilometers away.
Start your stay in El Nido by going around the town proper. You can also book a half-day tour if you’re early enough to catch the fast ferry.
Day 6: Go island hopping in El Nido
On the next day, it’s time to discover the beauty of El Nido. Since this is a very touristy place, it’s easy to find a local guide that offers tours. Although you can look for one upon arrival, it’s still best to book ahead to prevent problems.
I recommend that you book a tour with Corazon Travel and Tours. They offer island hopping tours around El Nido for as low as $25. The tour includes visiting lagoons and beaches. Overall, their Tour A package includes five spots with free hotel pickup. This tour will last for 6 to 8 hours.
Day 7: Take one final dip in El Nido
On your 7th day, I suggest enjoying the beach near your accommodation as you prepare for your flight going to Cebu. From Luzon, we’re going to Visayas to start the second week of your stay in the country.
You can also take this opportunity to enjoy some local cuisines. The following are some of the popular restaurants in El Nido:
Where to eat in El Nido:
If you’re craving for some international flavors, The Nesting Place in Barangay Corong-Corong is a good choice. It’s a very laidback place with the perfect view of the El Nido islands. This place is also perfect for lunch dates, but you can always drop by anytime from breakfast to dinner. I recommend making a reservation to secure a good spot.
For the vegans out there, Taste El Nido is the perfect dining spot. They have a large branch in Corong-Corong where you can taste sumptuous vegan food. They serve large breakfast bowls but they also have meals until dinner. Overall, the restaurant offers great food with a good price.
~WEEK 2 ITINERARY: VISAYAS~
Day 8: Explore Cebu City
After pampering yourself in Palawan, the next stop to jumpstart your second week is Cebu City. This is a tourist hub at the heart of Visayas. Cebu City is dubbed as the ‘Manila of Visayas’ with its ever-growing economy. But unlike the noisy Manila, Cebu City keeps you close to nature.
To go to Cebu from Palawan, you need to book a flight from Puerto Princesa International Airport to Mactan International Airport. Such flights are only 1 hour and 10 minutes long.
Upon arrival at Cebu, the best thing to do is to settle into the city. You can admire the view of Cebu City from Tops Lookout, which is about 30 minutes away from Cebu City proper. It’s an observation deck with sweeping vantages of the city.
After going around the city, make sure that you fill your stomach with sumptuous food from these restaurants.
Where to eat in Cebu:
If there’s one food Cebu City is known for, it would be their signature Lechon Cebu. Lechon is a roasted suckling pig with very crispy skin and juicy meat. Rico’s Lechon is an institution when it comes to lechon so you should try to drop by their cozy place along Talamban Road. Aside from lechon, they also serve other Filipino dishes.
If you want Italian, European, and Mediterranean flavors, you should head to Anzani in Lahug. Their restaurant has a nice ambiance and good food. They also have vegetarian and vegan options. Unlike the budget-friendly Rico’s Lechon, Anzani is in the mid to high price range. Nevertheless, every dollar – or peso for that matter – is worth it.
Day 9: Go to Mactan Island
After spending a day in Cebu City, go to Mactan Island for some water adventure. There are a lot of water activities here, including scuba diving, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, banana boat riding, and more.
Water sports in Mactan costs around $25 to $100, depending on what you’re going to book. I recommend the NTJ Watersports Cebu so you can enjoy any watersports you like. They also have very friendly staff and crew. Aside from watersports, they also offer ocean yours along the coasts of Mactan, which lasts for at least 3 hours.
Day 10-12: Go around Bohol
For your 10th to 12th day, I recommend exploring the beauty of Bohol. This island is beside Mactan and can be reached through a fast ferry in just two hours. You should book your tickets ahead to ensure that you will have a boat for that day. On normal days, the ferries going to Bohol are departing every hour.
In Bohol, one of the first things you should see is the famed Chocolate Hills. You can rent ATVs here to explore the marvelous hills that change its colors based on the weather. A single ATV will cost $20 an hour while two-person buggies will be around $36 per hour. Anyway, if you don’t want to drive, you can book your private transport and the driver will bring you straight to the Carmen viewpoint.
About 30 minutes away from the Chocolate Hills, you can visit the Tarsiers Conservation Area of Bohol. They charge a small entrance fee of $2. This is located in Loboc, which is also the home of the enchanted Loboc River. If you still have time, you can join a river cruise here.
Moreover, you can also spend a day at the Molave Cove Resort, which is known for its cliff jump site. They have 5-meter high cliffs with a jumping platform. If you don’t want the adrenaline, you can rent a snorkel instead. Remember that this resort is located in Panglao Island with ferries going to and fro Tagbilaran City in mainland Bohol. If you’re not planning to stay the night in Panglao, you shouldn’t miss the last ferry that departs at 6:30 pm.
You’re free to schedule which of these activities you’ll do first on your 3-day stay in Bohol.
Are you looking for a place to stay in Bohol? Here are two of the best picks!
Where to stay in Bohol:
If you’re looking for luxury, I highly recommend the Amun Ini Beach Resort & Spa. It’s located in Anda along the Bas Daku Beach. They have spacious and cozy suites with ocean views. They are also family-friendly, in case you’re planning for a grand family vacation. Price-wise, this hotel offers reasonable rates for around $240 a night per room.
If you don’t want to spend a lot on accommodation, the best choice is Henann Resort Alona Beach. For as low as $120, you can get a nice room and enjoy all the amenities of the resort. They also have an infinity pool. If you have kids, they get to stay free! Take note that this is located in Panglao Island, which brings you closer to various watersports and other attractions.
Day 13: Join an Oslob day trip
Before we head back to Mactan or Cebu City, make sure that you spend a day at Oslob. This place is known for its whale shark diving and snorkeling. You can book a whale watching tour courtesy of Oslob Whale Sharks. Each tour costs around $120 or more, but it’s worth every cent since this experience is good for the whole day. The fee includes snorkeling equipment, private transport, and lunch. The departure point would be from Cebu City.
If you don’t have the heart to get up close with the sharks, you still have a lot to enjoy in Oslob. You can take the less beaten path at Sumilon Island. It’s located southeast of Oslob and popular for its breath-taking sandbar, crystal clear waters, and white sand.
You can also take a break from the waters by joining a cave tour on Sumilon Island as well. For sweeping views of Sumilon, you should climb the rugged lighthouse on the island.
During your tour around Oslob, you can also drop by the Tumalog Falls to freshen up. If you’re a nerdy type, you will surely have a great time at Museo Oslob where artifacts and antiques are on display.
I know that all of these can be challenging to fit in one day. Feel free to pick what suits your vibe.
Day 14: Back to Mactan Island
On your last day in Visayas, I recommend heading back to Mactan Island. This will keep you close to the airport while doing some side trips to make the most out of your stay.
If you’re all packed and don’t want to go wet on the beach, you can go around Mactan to visit some iconic landmarks. The most popular is the Scape Skydeck, which has a stunning view of the city skyline. They have cozy seats here where you can also dine al fresco.
You can also visit the Magellan Shrine that’s not too far from the airport. For musicians out there, you can visit a guitar factory in Lapu-Lapu City. Cebu is known for its handcrafted string instruments, which is one of the best in the country. You may even end up purchasing one!
~WEEK 3 ITINERARY: MINDANAO~
Day 15: Sure go in Siargao!
From Mactan Airport, you need to book a flight to Siargao Island. This flight usually lasts for only an hour so you can get started right away once you arrive.
In Siargao, you can stay in General Luna since this is the top spot for backpackers and tourists. However, if you want to avoid the crowd, you can settle at Baybay or Pacifico. These are located north of General Luna.
For your first day, I recommend going around the island before starting your water adventures. If you decided to fly mid-day, don’t miss the Burgos Coconut Road. It’s like a coco paradise where you can take some souvenir shots. In fact, this is one of the most photographed spots in Siargao.
You can also start the Mindanao leg with an appetizing food trip. Below are some of the best places for foodies.
To cap the day, you should enjoy a good walk along the Cloud 9 Boardwalk. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset and to have a romantic moment with your loved one.
Where to eat in Siargao:
If you’re staying in General Luna, you shouldn’t miss Bravo Restaurant. They offer Mediterranean, Spanish, and other international cuisines. Unlike restaurants with shiny facades, Bravo adheres to the humble life on the island. They have a large and airy dining area with cushy seats and pillows. It’s only a few feet away from the shore so you’ll enjoy that sultry and tropical vibe as you dine.
At Kermit Siargao, Filipino and Italian flavors converge. It’s a tourist favorite because of their authentic Italian homemade pasta and pizza. It was once recognized by Conde Nast as a place that serves one of the best pizzas in the country. The best part is they have a happy hour from 4 pm to 7 pm where you can join other tourists chilling out.
Where to stay in Siargao:
If you want to enjoy the island life in luxury, you should stay at Isla Cabana Resort in General Luna. This place has cozy suites with ocean views. They are also a stone’s throw away from the beach and they have an outdoor pool for the guests to enjoy. For a hassle-free arrival, they also have a complimentary airport shuttle service.
Another great find in General Luna is Reef Beach Resort. They have simple, clean, and cozy rooms with complete amenities. They are also near the Cloud 9 Boardwalk. The place is kid-friendly, in case you’re traveling with youngsters. Their pricing is also manageable even for local visitors.
Day 16: Go island hopping in Siargao
For your second day in Siargao, we’re going to splash on its large and sprawling waves. Siargao is the Philippines surfing capital so surfers are a typical sight here. You can also try riding the waves by renting a surfboard in one of the surf shops around the beach. If you’re new to surfing, you can pay for one-on-one lessons with expert surfers in the locality.
However, if you’re not an avid surfer, your activity should be island hopping. Siargao is still underdeveloped so a lot of spots are still pristine.
Many hotels in Siargao can organize island hopping tours for you. You can also commission a boat to bring you to three of the islands around Siargao: Naked Island, Baku Island, and Guyam Island.
At Daku, you can have lunch from the beach shacks that cook grilled seafood. You can go around these three islands for half a day.
After island hopping, you must visit the Magpupungko Rock Pools, which is almost an hour away from General Luna. This spot is less crowded but very breath-taking. The waters are crystal clear and the rocks offer a stunning backdrop.
Day 17: Visit beaches and falls
On the 17th day, I recommend hiking around to visit falls and beaches. The Taktak Waterfall is the most popular on the island, which is 25 minutes north from Pacifico. Remember that they charge a small entrance fee.
Aside from Taktak, you can visit Pacifico beach as well as Alegria beach while you’re exploring up north.
Day 18: Visit Sugba Lagoon
For your 18th day in the Philippines, we will visit the Sugba Lagoon. There are boats making trips to this island from the Del Carmen Port. You can rent a boat here to take you to and from the Sugba Lagoon. You can also make the most from your trip by making side trips to Pamomoan beach and the Kawgahan Sandbar.
Renting a boat costs about $30 for six people. Nevertheless, you can pay for the same amount even with fewer passengers if you want an exclusive tour.
Day 19: Hop to Corregidor Island
The following day, we will continue the island exploration by going to Corregidor Island. This shouldn’t be mistaken for another Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. The one in Siargao is listed as Casolian Island, through some locals call it Corregidor.
This island is located at the majestic Bucas Grande, which can be reached through a rented boat. The rental cost is around $20. Upon arriving at Corregidor Island, you can hike for a great view of the island.
Corregidor Island is 45 minutes away from General Luna so you need an outrigger boat to reach the island.
Day 20: Marvel at Sohoton Cove
For the second to the last day, we will cap our water adventures at Sohoton Cove. This one is located in Bucas Grande and is part of the Sohoton Cove National Park. It’s so stunning that it was dubbed as the El Nido of the south.
From Siargao Island, Sohoton Cove can be reached through a 1-hour boat ride. Here, you can swim, snorkel, and watch the sunset. You can also fill your stomach in Sohoton Bay Resort.
If you love caves, you should ask for a guided tour in Crystal Cave. Just a warning though, this cave isn’t for claustrophobics.
Day 21: Relax by the beach
On your last day, you can simply relax by the beach while you prepare for your flight back home. You can have a good swim in the waters. Make sure that you shop for some souvenirs, too.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Take note that you’re not supposed to dive within 24 to 48 hours before a flight.
That’s it! It’s my 3-week guide to help you visit some of the best places in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. As an archipelago, a few weeks aren’t enough to visit all the amazing places in PH. Maybe on your next visit, we can plan a different itinerary to cover more places you didn’t get to see on this vacation.
I hope you enjoyed this guide and I’m hoping that it helped you plan your trip. Feel free to tweak and add your choice of activities here!
Before you go…
This 3 week Philippines itinerary is made to serve as a guide for first-time and repeat visitors to this beautiful country. I personally recommend this to those flying solo or traveling with their special someone. For a jam-packed 3-week itinerary like this, it could be challenging to bring very young kids.
One last tip: Before you go, make sure that you have booked your accommodation. You should also inquire about the tours and activities you plan to do. Although planning a long vacation is like creating a map, the effort is worth it.
I hope you enjoyed this quick tour all over the country! Do you have something to add? Feel free to share your travel experience in the comment section!