Here’s a suggested 3 weeks itinerary in the Philippines, which includes the provinces Ifugao, Palawan, Cebu and Siargao.
Personally, I’m really excited to write about these because these include some of my favorite places (specifically, Coron in Palawan and Siargao). Whereas the previous post I made about a suggested 2 Weeks Itinerary in the Philippines covers some “classic” or must-see spots for first-timers, this guide is more extensive and I’ve specifically chosen the locations where you can have the best time/see the best of the Philippines
For example, Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province is typically not visited by foreign tourists but it’s actually a great place to see man-made rice terraces in person and mingle with the locals who live there.
So, without further, here’s our guide to 3 Weeks in the Philippines.
- Useful facts about the Philippines
- Things to keep in mind
- Itinerary Summary
- Day 1 – Fly into Manila / Take bus to Ifugao
- Days 2-3 – Batad Rice Terraces
- Day 4 – Fly into Palawan / Travel to El Nido
- Days 5-6 – Island hopping in El Nido
- Day 7 – Ferry to Coron
- Days 8-11 – Island hopping in Coron
- Days 12-13 – Malapascua
- Day 14 – Day trip to Kalanggaman Island
- Day 15 – Head back to Cebu City / Fly to Siargao
- Day 16-20 – Siargao
- Day 21 – Departure
- What to read next:
Useful facts about the Philippines
Here are some useful facts about the Philippines:
- Visa. Over 150 countries can enter the Philippines without a visa. You can check your visa eligibility here.
- Currency. Philippine Peso is the only currency used.
- Language. Filipino is the national language, but English is also widely spoken.
- Weather. The Philippines is a tropical country with 2 seasons: dry season (November to May) and rainy season (June to October). The dry season is the best time to visit this country. In particular, December to February are cool months with few rainfall so these are the best months to book your ticket.
- Modes of transportation. Public transport is highly available and includes motorbikes, tricycles, jeepneys, buses, and taxis. Grab is also used.
For more information, read our other guides:
Things to keep in mind
When planning your itinerary, here are some things to take in mind.
- The Philippines is an archipelago made up of over 7000 islands. This means you will need to take flights or ferries to travel between provinces. In some cases, you’ll need to allocate a day for commuting alone.
- Be flexible in your itinerary. Flights may get postponed; in fact, local flights are often delayed especially from afternoon to early night. You will need to have some buffer time. Ferries also may get delayed or cancelled depending on the weather.
- It’s best to book your flights in advance to get them cheaper. Budget airlines include Cebu Pacific and Air Asia.
- For me, 3 weeks is just an ideal time to see the best of the Philippines.
This 2 weeks itinerary in the Philippines covers Ifugao, Palawan, Cebu and Siargao.
The first leg is Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao. This can be reached by an overnight bus from Manila. If you like trekking and adventure, you’ll find this a great experience. Moreover, Batad isn’t commercialized yet so you can really get to see how the people live there.
The second leg is Palawan. Palawan is one of — if not the best — destination in the Philippines. Spend days island hopping in El Nido and then hop on a ferry to Coron. El Nido and Coron have similar features, but Coron is slightly less crowded and it also has unique spots like Kayangan Lake. (My personal preference is Coron over El Nido, but no worries because you can visit both.)
The third leg is Cebu, specifically the northern area where you can find Malapascua. Malapascua is a small island known for diving. Here you can go on a dive to see thresher sharks in the wild.
The final leg is Siargao. Siargao is a tropical island known as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. You can spend your days here lazying, surfing, island hopping, and basically just living the island life. This is one of my absolute favorite places in the country.
For reference, here is a short summary of this itinerary:
|Fly into Manila / Take bus to Ifugao
|Trekking to Batad Rice Terraces
|Fly into Palawan / Travel to El Nido
|Island hopping in El Nido
|Ferry to Coron
|Island hopping in Coron
|Fly into Cebu / Head to Malapascua
|Day trip in Kalanggaman Island
|Head back to City City / Fly to Siargao
|Flight back home
Day 1 – Fly into Manila / Take bus to Ifugao
You’ll be arriving in Manila (via Ninoy Aquino International Airport).
From there, take a taxi (or Grab) to Ohayami Trans Terminal in Sampaloc or Coda Lines Terminal in Cubao and get on an overnight bus to Banaue. From Banaue, take a tricycle to the Saddle and then trek for around 15 minutes to reach the village.
Days 2-3 – Batad Rice Terraces
Once you arrive in Batad, look for a homestay. Drop off your bag and have a local breakfast first while enjoying the view of the rice terraces. Then get a guide to accompany you in exploring the rice fields and trekking to Tappiya Falls, which is about 2 hours away from the village.
The next morning, you can trek to Awa Viewdeck or rest in your homestay.
In the early evening, trek back to the Saddle and take the bus ride back to Manila.
Where to stay in Batad
Here are some recommended homestays in Batad:
- Ramon’s Homestay: Agoda
- Batad View Inn and Restaurant: Agoda
- Batad Top View Point Homestay and Restaurant: Agoda
Day 4 – Fly into Palawan / Travel to El Nido
From Manila, fly into Puerto Princesa Airport in Palawan. From the airport there are vans waiting to take you to El Nido, about 5-6 hours away.
Where to stay in El Nido
Here are some recommended resorts in El Nido:
Days 5-6 – Island hopping in El Nido
El Nido has over 40 islands where you can find white-sand beaches, lagoons surrounded by karst formations, and snorkeling & dive spots. The presence of karsts suggests that it has once been underwater.
The main activity in El Nido is island hopping. It’s easy to do this because there are standardized tours (Tours A-E). Tours A-D are island hopping tours while Tour E is a land tour which includes Nacpan Beach and lesser-visited beaches.
The best package is Tour A, where you can see the Big Lagoon. This is one of the most famous spots in El Nido. Other recommended tours are Tour C which includes good snorkeling spots such as Matinloc Shrine and Tour C which includes the Small Lagoon.
There are other things to do here as well. You can charter a boat to head to a remote beach or rent a kayak to get to nearby islands. You can book dives and visit the over 30 dive spots in Bacuit Bay. For the adventurous, it’s possible to get to the top of Taraw Cliff, which offers a nice panoramic view of the town.
Day 7 – Ferry to Coron
From El Nido, ride a Montenegro Fast Ferry to Coron. Travel time is around 4 hours. There are 2 schedules per day: 6AM and 12 noon.
There is another ferry line but it takes longer (around 6 hours).
Where to stay in Coron
Here are some recommended resorts in Coron:
Days 8-11 – Island hopping in Coron
As I said above, Coron and El Nido have similar features — white-sand beaches, sand bars and clear lagoons surrounded by karst towers. The difference is that Coron is slightly less crowded, the town less commercial, and in my opinion it is way more beautiful in general.
Coron happened to be one of my favorite places in the Philippines. I fell in love with this place on day one and it’s at the top of my recommendations list.
Similar to El Nido, the main activity in Coron is island hopping. The best spots you can visit are the Twin Lagoon and Kayangan Lake, which is considered the cleanest lake in Asia.
You can also hike to the summit of Mount Tapyas for the sunset or relax in Maquinit Hot Spring, a natural hot spring resort surrounded by a mangrove forest. For day trips, you can visit Culion which is a heritage town or go to Calauit Safari.
Days 12-13 – Malapascua
From the town of Coron, ride a van to Busuanga Airport which is about 40 minutes away and take a local flight to Cebu City (via Mactan Airport).
From Cebu City, head to Cebu North Terminal and then ride a bus to Maya Port. Then hop on a boat to Malapascua Island. Travel time will take around 4-5 hours.
Malapascua is a small island known for diving. You can charter a boat that will take you to the surrounding snorkeling spots and beaches. Or book an advanced dive to Monad Shoal, which is a cleaning station for thresher sharks. Thresher sharks normally live deep in the ocean, but here you can see them at about 25-30 feet only.
Where to stay in Malapascua
Here are some recommended resorts in Malapascua:
- Malapascua Budget Inn: Agoda
- Thresher Cove Dive Resort: Read our review here | Agoda
- Buena Vista Resort & Spa: Agoda
Day 14 – Day trip to Kalanggaman Island
Another thing that you can do while in Malapascua is go on a day trip to Kalanggaman Island, which is about 2 hours away. Similar to Kawasan Falls in Cebu, Kalanggaman Island is a recognizable tourist spot because it’s a favorite of IG influencers and blogger/vloggers.
Kalanggaman Island is a bird-shaped island known for its white sand bar. Here you can beach bum, swim, and take nice pictures at the sand bar area.
Day 15 – Head back to Cebu City / Fly to Siargao
Head back to Cebu City and then take a local flight to Siargao Airport. Typically, tourists back a Manila-Surigao flight because a direct flight to Siargao is expensive but it’s cheaper coming from Cebu.
Once you get to Siargao Airport, there are public transports that will take you to General Luna, the tourist hub in Siargao.
Where to stay in Siargao
Here are some of the recommended resorts in General Luna:
You can also check our guide to Best Resorts in Siargao.
Day 16-20 – Siargao
Welcome to Siargao! This is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
Siargao Island is a tropical island known for surfing. It used to be an off-beaten location that receives more foreign tourists than local, but today it’s becoming popular.
The best activity in Siargao is surfing. There are a number of surf breaks around the island, but if you’re a beginner the best location is Cloud 9 in General Luna. For only P500, you can get a 1-hour surfing tutorial with surfboard rental.
You can also explore the island by motorbike or by chartering a private vehicle for tour. Some of the spots you can visit are the Magpupungko Rock Pools, Maasin River, and caves with lagoons. You can also island hop, kayak and cliff jump in Sugba Lagoon, or head to the nearby Sohoton Cove where you can explore around a “jungle” filled with lush islets and stingless jellyfishes.
Siargao is an amazing place and you’ll have a great time here.
Day 21 – Departure
This is a great itinerary and it features a mix of adventure — trekking, island hopping, diving, and surfing.
If you want to explore more of the Philippines, I recommend exploring the rest of Mindanao Region aside from Siargao. Mindanao has a lot of interesting nature attractions, culture & history, and just as importantly great food!
Here’s an estimate of expenses, including updated rates on activities (Updated as of 2021).
|Homestays cost as cheap as P500-700
Regular hotel standard room is around P700-1200
|P60-150 per meal
– Batad guide fee: P800-1200 (good for 5 people)
– El Nido island hopping tours: P1200 – P1400 per person
– Coron island hopping tours: P900-1500 per person
– Diving: Fun dive is P1300-1800 or depending on package
– Day trip to Kalanggaman Island: P800 + entrance fee of P150 for locals or P500 for foreigners
– Surfing: Surfing lesson – P500 for 1 hour with surfboard rental / surfboard rental – P500-600 per day
– Island hopping (Naked Island, Daku Island, Guyam Island): P1500 for whole boat rental
– Sugba Lagoon and other islands: P1600-2800 for whole boat rental
*For boat rentals, you can find other joiners to share costs with.
|Public transport is cheap.
Motorbike rental is usually around P400-600 per day, depending on location.
|For 2 people, a safe budget would be P45,000-50,000 each ($915-1000 each).
Has this suggested 3 weeks itinerary in the Philippines been helpful in your planning? If you have comments or questions, let me know in the comment section below!
What to read next:
Planning a trip to the Philippines? Check out these guides!
- First-Timers Guide to the Philippines
- Best Places to Visit in the Philippines
- Things You Need to Know Before Visiting the Philippines
- Is the Philippines Safe to Visit?
- Off-the-Beaten-Track Destinations in the Philippines
- Suggested 2 Weeks Itinerary in the Philippines
- Suggested 3 Weeks Itinerary in the Philippines
- Philippines Packing List
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).