Philippines Travel Guide – Ultimate 3 Week Itinerary

Get ready for a Philippines Travel Guide about unforgettable 3 weeks through the enchanting islands of the country. Join us as we dive into crystal-clear waters, explore the stunning landscape of Palawan and surf the waves of Siargao. Get ready for 3 weeks of island hopping bliss through the Philippines.

Philippines Travel Guide: 3 Week Itinerary

The Philippines is an archipelago comprising over 7,000 islands in South East Asia. It is known for some of the world’s most beautiful beaches with white sands, turquoise water and lively marine life. The Philippines is a melting pot of cultures, which diversity is evident in its festivals, cuisine, music, dance and architecture. Furthermore Filipinos are known for their warm hospitality and kindness. Discover the best places and where to go in this Philippines Travel Guide.

It’s an absolutely amazing, but also very large country. There is an incredible amount to see and of course it is not possible to see everything of this beautiful country in 3 weeks. Nevertheless, with our Travel Guide we want to enable you to see some of the most beautiful places in the Philippines in 3 weeks and get an impression of this stunning place. Moreover, our itinerary is suitable for backpackers, hotel vacationers and families with children. Plan your trip with us – easier than ever before!

DAY 1: Manila

Your itinerary starts in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. From historic Intramuros to the modern skyline of Makati, Manila offers a broad spectrum for the adventurous traveler. Dive into the eclectic cuisine and immerse yourself in the rich history. Also explore the bustling markets and lively neighborhoods that define this vibrant metropolis.

As we unfortunately arrived very late and our plane to Siargao left early in the morning, we stayed at the airport. Because of that we didn’t see very much of Manila. Depending on your flight times, you can plan more time to see Manila.

Where to stay in Manila?

Discover the heart of Manila’s vibrant energy by immersing yourself in the bustling districts of Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC). In Makati, indulge in upscale accommodations nestled among skyscrapers and luxurious shopping centers. Meanwhile, BGC offers a modern cosmopolitan atmosphere with trendy hotels, chic restaurants and dynamic night life. For a taste of Manila’s rich history, consider staying in the historic district of Intramuros, where charming boutique hotels line cobblestone streets steeped in colonial heritage. Whether you seek the pulse of urban life or the charm of Manila’s past, your stay in these diverse neighborhoods promises and unforgettable journey through the heart of the Philippines’ capital city.

DAY 2: Travel Day from Manila to Siargao

Go on an unforgettable journey from the bustling streets of Manila to the tropical paradise of Siargao. Turquoise water and powder-white sandy beaches are waiting for you. Start your adventure by catching a flight from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) to Siargao Island’s Sayak Airport (IAO).

From Manila, you can take a direct flight to Siargao. Several airlines offer direct flights, including Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and SkyJet Airlines. The flight duration is approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. We recommend that you fly very early so that you still have a lot of the day left and can make the most of your time in Siargao. In fact, the cost of the flight is relatively cheap and you save a lot of travel time.

DAY 3 – 6: Siargao

Welcome to Siargao, where crystal-clear waters meet powder-white sandy beaches in a tropical paradise like no other. Nestled in the heart of the Philippines, Siargao attracts adventures, surfers and nature lovers from all over the world. It’s the first stunning destination on your Philippines travel itinerary.

Dive into the azure depths of its pristine lagoons, where colorful marine life dances beneath the waves or conquer the legendary sells of the surfing hotspot Cloud 9. Wander through lush coconut groves and mangrove forests and feel the pulse of the island life. Whether you seek adrenaline-fueled thrills or tranquil moments of serenity, this Philippines Travel Guide about Siargao offers unforgettable experience, leaving you forever captivated by its magical beauty.

Where to stay in Siargao?

Of course, Siargao offers many accommodations inviting travelers to unwind in paradise. From beachfront bungalows to luxurious resorts, there is something for every type of adventurer.

General Luna is the hub of activity in Siargao, especially for surfers. You’ll find a variety of resorts, hostels and guesthouses here, ranging from budget to luxury.

For the surfers, Cloud 9 presents a lot of surf camps and boutique accommodations catering to wave enthusiasts. Wake up to the sound of the ocean and spend your days chasing the perfect swell.

For those seeking a quieter atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of General Luna, Pacifico offers a more laid-back vibe. You’ll find beachfront accommodations and eco-resorts perfect for relaxation.

Another option is Dapa: It’s a bit quieter as well and it provides a glimpse into the authentic charm of Siargao beyond its tourist hotspots. Besides, it’s location makes it a practical choice for travelers arriving and departing from Siargao.

Day 3: Arrival at Makulay Siargao Resort

From the airport in Siargao, various transportation options are available to reach your accommodation. In fact, you can choose between a private shuttle, tricycle or rental car. We booked a private shuttle at our accommodation and would recommend you to do the same.

After landing in Siargao we went to our accommodation – the Makulay Siargao Resort in Santa Fe near General Luna. Here we made the most of our first day and treated ourselves to a beach day on a beautiful (private) beach. At low tide, we were even able to explore a small island on foot. To round off the day, we of course watched the breathtaking sunset in Siargao for the first time.

Day 4: Maasin River & Magpupungko Rock Pools

To explore the island to the max and to take full advantage of this Travel Guide of the Philippines, we highly recommend renting a scooter. We rented ours directly from the accommodation. Scooters or motorcycles can be rented for between 300 and 600 Philippine Pesos (approx. 5 to 10 USD) per day, especially depending on the location and model. Generally, the normal range in Siarago is between 300 to 400 Philippine Pesos per day.

A land tour of Siargao by scooter offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the island’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and hidden gems. Our first stop will be the famous Maasin River, where the famous Palm Rope Swing used to be. You can take boat rides through the lush greenery and quiet nature. After that you will head to the Magpupungko Rock Pools. During low tide they unveil natural infinity pools with beautiful blue water. In addition to that, many other attractions await you along the way, such as the Palm Viewpoint and the Coconut Tree Road.

Tip: Be sure to check the tide before you go to the Magpupungko Rock Pools, as they are only accessible during low tide. Make sure you also take beach shoes with you, as the Rock Pools are very sharp-edged and some sea urchins hide there.

Day 5: Island Hopping Tour

Discover the pristine islands surrounding Siargao during an island hopping adventure. Visit remote beaches, snorkel among colorful coral reefs and enjoy freshly prepared seafood picnics on the sand.

Hop aboard a traditional outrigger boat and set sail to explore three enchanting islands dotting the azure waters of Siargao. Begin your adventure at Naked Island, a secluded sandbar boasting powdery white sands and panoramic ocean views. Bask in the sun, swim in the crystalline waters, or simply unwind amidst the serenity of this untouched paradise.

Next, venture to Daku Island, a tropical oasis fringed with coconut palms and swaying hammocks. Indulge in a sumptuous beachside feast of fresh seafood and local delicacies, served by warm and welcoming island hosts. Dive into the inviting waters for a refreshing swim or partake in a game of beach volleyball with fellow travelers, soaking in the island vibes.

Last but not least, conclude your island-hopping adventure at Guyam Island, a tiny islet brimming with charm and natural beauty. Explore its pristine shores, adorned with colorful shells and stunning marine life. Or simply relax beneath the shade of swaying palms as gentle ocean breezes kiss your skin.

As the sun dips below the horizon, reflect on the magic of your 3 Island Tour in Siargao. With each island offering its own unique charm, this unforgettable excursion promises a day of adventure, relaxation and discovery amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Philippine archipelago.

Tip: As the engines of the boats in Siargao are very loud, you should bring ear protection. Simple in-ear headphones should be perfectly adequate.

Day 6: Sohoton Cove National Park

You can use your last day in Siargao to go to Sohoton Cove National Park – a real highlight on this Philippines Travel Guide. It’s a breathtaking natural attraction located on Bucas Grande Island. It is known for its picturesque lagoons surrounded by stunning limestone formations, clear waters and diverse marine life. It’s offering visitors a unique and enchanting experience of the Philippine nature.

As you venture into the heart of Sohoton Cove, you’ll be greeted by towering limestone cliffs draped in lush greenery. They creating a dramatic backdrop against the turquoise sea. Glide through narrow passages and winding waterways aboard a traditional boat. Take a look at the natural wonders that unfold before your eyes.

Firstly, enter the enchanting world of Sohoton Cove’s Hagukan Cave, where sunlight dances upon the emerald waters, illuminating hidden chambers and limestone formations shrouded in mystery. Continue your exploration with a visit to the breathtaking Jellyfish Sanctuary, a real oasis teeming with translucent creatures gracefully drifting beneath the surface. Sum up your journey with a visit to the captivating Titikan Lake, a hidden oasis which invites you to pause, reflect and reconnect.

DAY 7: Travel Day to from Siargao to San Vicente, Palawan

Traveling from Siargao to San Vicente involves a combination of air and land or sea transportation. Start by flying from Siargao to either Manila or Cebu. Therefore several airlines operate flights between Siargao and Manila or Cebu, including Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and SkyJet Airlines. The flight duration is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

From Manila or Cebu take a flight to Puerto Princesa, the capital city of Palawan. Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS) serves as the main gateway to Palawan. Multiple airlines offer flights between Manila or Cebu and Puerto Princesa, including Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Philippines. The flight duration is around 1 to 1.5 hours.

Upon arrival in Puerto Princesa you have, in fact, several options to travel to San Vicente:

  • Van transfers are available from Puerto Princesa to San Vicente. The journey takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic. Nevertheless, you will have a nice view over the landscape in Palawan.
  • Public bus also operate between Puerto Princesa and San Vicente. The travel time is similar to van transfers.
  • You can also take a private taxi for more flexibility and convenience.

DAY 8 – 9: San Vicente, Palawan

San Vicente is a picturesque municipality nestled on the western coast of Palawan, the next destination on the Philippines Travel Guide. It is known for the longest beach in the Philippines and its untouched natural beauty. In addition to that, San Vicente offers travelers an idyllic retreat away from the crowds. It’s a hidden gem for travelers seeking an authentic destination in Palawan.

Sink your toes into powdery white sands as you stroll along the expansive stretch of Long Beach, hailed as one of the longest white sand beaches in the world. Explore not only the magical underwater world of San Vicente through snorkeling or diving excursions, where colorful coral reefs and diverse marine life beckon beneath the surface. But swim alongside tropical fish, sea turtles and breathtaking corals, immersing yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of the underwater realm.

Venture inland to discover the lush landscapes and rich biodiversity of San Vicente’s hinterlands. Embark on hiking trails through verdant jungles and rolling hills. Even more hidden waterfalls, pristine rivers and exotic wildlife await your exploration.

In this Philippines Travel Guide we recommend you to do an Island-Hopping Tour here as well. You can explore remote beaches, hidden lagoons and beautiful coral reefs.

Where to stay in San Vicente?

When choosing where to stay in San Vicente, consider your preferences regarding locations and budget.

The Long Beach area, known for its stunning stretch of sand, offers several accommodations choices ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses to mid-range resorts. Therefore, staying along Long Beach provides easy access to the beautiful coastline and stunning sunsets.

Port Barton, an old fishing village in San Vicente, offers a more relaxed atmosphere compared to other tourist destinations in Palawan. You’ll find various beachfront resorts, cottages and guesthouses in Port Barton.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, consider staying on Inaladelan Island, also known as German Island. This private island features eco-friendly accommodation options such as beachfront cottages and tents, offering a serene escape surrounded by pristine nature.

DAY 10: Travel Day from San Vicente to El Nido

To travel from San Vicente to El Nido you have the following options:

For example, you can hire a private van or car to take you directly from San Vicente to El Nido. However, this is the most convenient option if you prefer privacy and flexibility. For that you can negotiate with local drivers or arrange transportation through your accommodation.

There are also public vans operating between San Vicente and El Nido. These vans typically depart from San Vicente’s town center and drop you off in El Nido. You can inquire about the van schedule and purchase tickets at the terminal or through local travel agencies.

However, in this Philippines Travel Guide we recommend to travel early by public or private van to save time and make the most of this itinerary. The journey takes approximately 4 to 5 hours.

DAY 11 – 14: El Nido, Palawan

Nestled within the stunning archipelago of the Philippines lies the breathtaking paradise of El Nido. El Nido is famous for its island-hopping tours, which take visitors to explore the stunning limestone karst landscapes, hidden lagoons and remote beaches of Bacuit Bay.

As you step onto the powdery shores of El Nido, you are greeted by a panorama of turquoise hues that stretch as far as the eye can see. Besides, each corner of this enchanting destination holds a treasure trove of natural wonders waiting to be explores.

Embark on a journey of discovery as you island hop through the Bacuit Archipelago, where secluded lagoons, hidden beaches and towering limestone formations await. For those with a sense of adventure, El Nido offers a playground of activities, from snorkeling amidst colorful coral reefs to diving into the depths of its underwater caves. While the sun sets on the horizon, immerse yourself in the lively energy of El Nido’s bustling town center.

Where to stay in El Nido?

In El Nido, you can choose one of numerous accommodations on the beautiful beaches such as Corong Corong Beach, Las Cabanas Beach or Lio Beach. The main hub of activity is El Nido Town Proper, offering a wide selection of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and budget accommodations. Staying in the town proper provides easy access to restaurants, shops, tour operators and nightlife options.

Day 11: Nacpan Beach

On the pristine coastline of Palawan, lies the idyllic oasis of Nacpan Beach, a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers and beach enthusiasts alike. Nacpan beach is a stunning stretch of coastline located about 17 kilometers north of El Nido town. Indeed, it’s a must see on this Philippines Travel Guide. Known for its postcard-perfect landscape characterized by its long stretch of powdery white sand, swaying coconut palm trees and panoramic views of the surrounding turquoise water, Nacpan Beach is often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Overall, it’s ideal for relaxation and unwinding admits nature’s beauty.

With its powdery white sands stretching for kilometers, framed by swaying coconut palms and turquoise waters, Nacpan Beach undoubtedly embodies the epitome of tropical perfection. Find your own secluded spot to bask in the warm glow of the sun or spread out a blanket and watch in awe as the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant hues during sunset. As the day draws to a close, treat your taste buds to a feast of fresh seafood and local delicacies served up by beachfront eateries.  

How to get to Nacpan Beach?

From El Nido town you can take a tricycle or motorcycle to Nacpan Beach. Generally, it’s about 45 minutes ride depending on road conditions. Some adventurous travelers prefer to rend a motorcycle and ride to Nacpan Beach on their own. However, be mindful of road conditions and your riding skills, as some parts of the road may be rough or unpaved.

Day 12: Highlights Tour A (Private Tour)

Firstly, you should take the opportunity to go on your first island hopping tour here. You can choose between numerous tour operators and different tour routes. We definitely recommend booking a private tour to avoid the crowds of tourists and set your own schedule. El Nido offers the most stunning destinations in your Philippines Travel Guide.

For our first island hopping tour in El Nido we choose the private Highlights Tour A, a combination of tour A and C. You will be with a private tour guide and your own boat crew the whole time. You head for the Big Lagoon, Secret Beach, 7th Commando Beach, Helicopter Island and Hidden Beach. Catering is also provided.

Day 13: Explore by kayak

Discover the beauty of El Nido from a unique perspective: Instead of a guided boat tour, you also have the option of exploring the breathtaking island world of the Bacuit archipelago yourself. Hire a kayak and explore the island of Cadlao, for example. El Nido is a real paddling paradise!

Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or a novice adventurer, El Nido offers routes suitable for all skill levels. From leisurely sunset paddles to challenging expeditions, there’s an experience tailored to every explorer’s desire.

Day 14: Tour B (Private Tour)

As the highlights of El Nido are best explored by boat, in this Philippines Travel Guide we highly recommend taking another island hopping tour. We decided on Tour B to cover all the highlights with the boat tours and the kayak. On tour B you can visit Entalula Island, Snake Island, Cudugnon Cave and Cathedral Cave.

Before continuing with a unique adventure the next day, you can enjoy the sunset at Las Cabanas Beach in the evening. A highlight in this Philippines Travel Guide for watching sunsets on beautiful beaches.

DAY 15 – 17: Linapacan (Keelooma)

Time to say goodbye to El Nido. We set off early in the morning with Keelooma from El Nido to Coron. This will not be a simple and boring ferry trips, but a 3-day tour via Linapacan to the most beautiful bays between El Nido and Coron with overnight stays in unique camps on remote islands. This should definitely not be missing from the Philippines Travel Guide.

Linapacan is a hidden gem for those seeking calmness and adventure off the beaten path far from the bustling crowds. With its untouched beaches, turquoise waters and lush landscapes, it embodies the essence of tropical paradise. Embark on an underwater odyssey as you snorkel through beautiful coral gardens. Dive beneath the surface to encounter majestic sea turtles and a lot of tropical fish that call the surrounding waters home.

Get ready for a jaw-dropping adventure!

DAY 18 – 20: Coron, Palawan

With its crystal-clear waters, lush landscapes and dramatic limestone cliffs, Coron attracts travelers from around the world to uncover its natural wonders. It’s a dream destination and a must see in a Travel Guide when coming to the Philippines.

Coron’s crown jewel is undoubtedly its collection of enchanting islands, each more breathtaking than the last. Embark on island-hopping adventures to hidden coves, secluded lagoons and secret beaches accessible only by boat. Marvel at the towering limestone formations of Kayangan Lake, known as the cleanest lake in the Philippines or swim through the ethereal beauty of Twin Lagoon, where warm and cool waters converge in a mesmerizing display.

For the adventurous souls, Coron also offers a playground of activities, from snorkeling and kayaking to trekking through verdant jungles and exploring hidden caves. Ascend to the summit of Mount Tapyas for panoramic views of the surrounding islands and a breathtaking sunset that paints the sky in hues of pink and gold.

But Coron is more than just a natural wonderland – it’s a melting pot of cultures and traditions that reflect the Philippines’ rich heritage. Immerse yourself in the warmth of Filipino hospitality as you sample mouthwatering delicacies at local restaurants, browse vibrant markets brimming with handmade crafts and dance the night away to the rhythm of traditional music under the stars.

Where to stay in Coron?

The main hub of activity is the proper town of Coron. Here you’ll find a variety of hotels, guesthouses and hostels catering to different budgets. It offers convenient access to restaurants, shops and tour agencies.

For those who prefer a more secluded experience, there are accommodations near Twin Lagoon and Kayangan Lake as well. Undoubtedly, these options provide a serene environment surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Some resorts offer overwater bungalows and private beach access.

Day 18: Super Ultimate Tour C

Embark on the ultimate adventure amidst the breathtaking landscape of Coron with the Super Ultimate Tour C. Brace yourself for a day of unparalleled beauty as you navigate pristine waters, hidden lagoons and iconic landmarks that define this tropical paradise. Another island hopping bliss in this Philippines Travel Guide.

The Super Ultimate Tour C takes travelers on a stunning journey through Coron’s most coveted destinations, including Kayangan Lake and Twin Lagoon. Kayangan Lake is often hailed as the cleanest lake in the Philippines. Marvel at the surreal limestone formations that frame the emerald waters, inviting you to plunge into its refreshing water. After that you can swim in the Twin Lagoon through hidden crevice or paddle on a kayak to uncover the natural wonders concealed within this idyllic place.

Day 19: Explore more of Coron

We spontaneously decided to go on another boat tour. This time we just drove to the harbor and let ourselves be surprised. The skipper and his son showed us even more beautiful bays and we were able to simply relax on the deck and jump into the cool water in between.

Optional: Lace up your hiking boots and embark on scenic treks to viewpoints offering panoramic views of Coron’s breathtaking landscape. For example, climb to the summit of Mt. Tapyas for sweeping views of Coron Town and the surrounding islands or trek through lush jungles to discover hidden waterfalls and natural wonders. Otherwise, you can (also) go to Maquinit Hot Springs, a natural saltwater hot spring nestled amidst lush mangroves. Relax in the warm, therapeutic waters while surrounded by tranquil scenery. Especially enjoyable during cooler evenings!

Day 20: Culion Island Escapade

The last day definitely didn’t disappoint. With the private Culion Island Escapade we were able to see the beautiful islands of Malcapuya and Bulog Dos as well as Sandbar Beach.

Malcapuya Island, with its long stretches of soft, golden sand and swaying palm trees, presents the perfect setting for a tranquil retreat. Relax in the warm tropical sun and swim in the azure waters. Furthermore, just a stone’s throw away lies Bulog Dos Island, a tiny speck in the vast ocean. Take a dip in the clear, shallow waters or simply unwind in the shade of coconut trees, lulled by the gentle ocean breeze.

DAY 21: Travel Day from Coron to Manila

On the last day, we return from Coron to Manila. Here you can of course – depending on how much time you have – explore the city (again). A wonderful 3 weeks in the Philippines and this Travel Guide with the most beautiful places are coming to an end.

The fastest and most convenient way to travel from Coron to Manila is by air. Therefore several airlines offer daily flights from Busuanga Airport (USU) to Manila (MNL), including Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirSwift. The flight duration is usually around 1 hour.

Costs & Budget for the Philippines

A Philippines Travel Guide involves understanding the costs associated with accommodation, food, transportation and activities.

Accommodation, Transportation & more

Accommodation options in the Philippines vary widely in price, with budget accommodations ranging from 10 to 30 USD per night, mid-range hotels and beach reasorts from 30 to 80 USD per night and luxury accommodations over 100 USD per night.

Food expenses are generally affordable, especially when dining at local restaurants and street food stalls. Meals at budget-friendly restaurants can range from 1 to 5 USD per dish, at mid-range restaurants between 5 to 15 USD per meal and at fine dining restaurants between 15 to 50 USD or more.

Transportation costs depend on the mode of transportation and distance traveled. The budget-friendliest way is traveling via public vans and buses or tricycles for shorter distances. Ferries or flights are recommended for longer distances, although flights are a bit more expensive but make traveling much faster. Especially if you ony have limited amount of time and want to get the most out of your vacation.

Activities and excursions in the Philippines vary in price depending on the type and duration. Besides, there are entrance fees to tourist attractions and national parks typically ranging from 1 to 10 USD per person. Guided tours, island hopping and adventure activities can range from 10 to 50 USD or more per person, for example. Especially private tours are a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it.

Summary

Total: For us, the most expensive cost was the flights from Zurich and Manila and back. We booked very late and therefore paid 1,500 USD per person. You can definitely save money if you book your flights 3 to 6 months before your travel date. You should also book domestic flights well in advance to save money. We also booked many tours in advance from home, which can be significantly more expensive than booking the tours locally. Next time we would be more spontaneous and book more tours locally, also to have more flexibility. For three weeks in the Philippines, we paid a little under 4,000 USD per person including the flight from Zurich to Manila.

Best time to visit

From January to May, during the dry season, is the best time to visit the Philippines. However, March to May are not only the hottest but also the busiest and the most expensive months to visit the Philippines. Avoid traveling from June to November, as this is the rainy season and typhoons occur more frequently during these months. In addition you need to be aware of regional particularities. For example, the best months to visit Siargao are from April to June.

Cash & ATMS

While major credit and debit cards are accepted in many stores, especially in urban areas and tourist locations, smaller retailers, markets and some local eateries may only accept cash. Therefore it is advisable to carry a mixture of cash and cards to be flexible.

ATMs are widely available in the Philippines, especially in urban areas and popular tourist destinations. But in many tourist locations the ATMs are often empty and a maximum of 10,000 Pesos could be withdrawn, so be prepared. In addition, it is recommended to inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid problems when using your card abroad.

Wifi & SIM Cards

The internet in the Philippines has improved significantly in recent years, but there are still some challenges and variations in quality and reliability across different areas of the country. But Wifi is commonly available in hotels, cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, airports and other public places in major cities and tourist destinations.

Purchasing a local SIM card is a convenient and cost-effective way to stay connected while traveling in the Philippines. These Sim cards are available at airports, convenience stores, mobile phone shops and offical carrier stores throughout the country. The providers offer various prepaid data plans suitable for tourists, ranging from daily, weekly to monthly packages.

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