3 Weeks In The Philippines Itinerary

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The Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in Southeast Asia. The culture, the language, and even the traditions are split between Asia, Spanish, and even the Pacific.

It is a popular destination for beach holidays due to the number of scenic beaches, diving spots, and snorkelling adventures a traveller can do here. Many visitors don’t know that the Philippines is also an ideal destination for hiking. 

In this article, I will show you a sample of 3 weeks in the Philippines itinerary covering all major regions, including fun activities. Most flights to the Philippines are direct from the US and some from Europe. Hong Kong, the Middle East, Singapore, and Thailand are the most popular connections.

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THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO THE PHILIPPINES

there are 4 photos, cliffs with clue water and boats, brown small hilly mountain, fine sandy beach with rocky island, houses on steep steps - 3-weeks in the philippines

Before you start packing your swimsuit, there are things you should remember which will help write or plan your own itinerary that is suitable for you. These tips should help you write your travel itinerary and create a better packing list.

When is the best time to travel to the Philippines

The best travel time is between November and March because these are generally the dry seasons. December to February offers such an amazingly cool and dry season. I highly recommend you avoid April and May, when it’s too hot to do anything.

While June to September is prone to typhoons which are not only a bad time for any beach holiday but also lead to many flight cancellations.

ALSO READ: Best beach destinations for a 3-week trip and how to plan a beach vacation

Are 3 weeks enough for the Philippines

3 weeks in the Philippines is a good amount of time. Of course, the more, the better. However, having limited time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. In 20 days, you can visit cities, explore the islands, go hiking, and learn about the country’s rich culture.

To make the most of your time, it’s best to take a domestic flight when possible instead of travelling on the road. It’s also essential to have some sort of itinerary to have a visual idea of your trip. This will also help you check how to get from one place to the other the best way.

Average cost of 3 weeks in the Philippines

This country is very affordable if you want to spend 20 days here. The accommodation is the most costly part of the trip compared to its neighbouring countries, but it offers lower quality. It’s still cheaper than Europe or Norther America, though.

During my 20-day trip to the Philippines, I spent around $1,500. I travelled comfortably, stayed in private rooms in mid-range hotels and ate out most of the time. You can make it more affordable if you don’t mind sleeping in bunk beds in a hostel and eating street food. A shoestring budget for the Philippines will be less than $1,000 for a 3-week trip.

If you plan to splurge a bit, perhaps you are on your annual holiday, wedding anniversary, or honeymoon, $2,000 will make your trip luxurious. A $100-a-night room will book you in a four or five-star resort and can dine at fancier restaurants.

Language and currency

You don’t even need to learn about basic phrases since English is one of the primary languages in the Philippines, together with Tagalog. Most of the street signs, the law, and announcements in public areas are in English.

The Philippine peso (PHP) is the currency here, and ATMs only spit out pesos. ATMs also only dispense a maximum of $200 (10,000 PHP per transaction. Cash is still the king here, but places like restaurants and hotels accept payment by bank card.

How to get around the Philippines

This country’s primary means of transportation, especially in rural places, are tricycles, not cabs. In the cities, you can use ride-hailing apps like Grab (car and motorbikes) and Angkas (motorbike).

In Metro Manila, there are railways, however, these are very busy and often too crowded during rush hour. Due to its thousands of islands, the best way to get from one island to another is by bus or flying.

Flying can be a challenge here as well. There are no direct flights between islands in some areas, and you will need to connect back to Manila. This is the reason it’s vital to plan your trip accordingly.

First, list the places you want to see and check how to get from one place to another. In this way, you can avoid tracking back to Manila all the time.

Visa and COVID-19 Policy

The Philippines is very welcoming, with both the locals and visa policies. Almost all nationalities get to enjoy free-visa between 30 to 59 days. At the same time, travellers with passports from South Asia, Central Asia, and some countries in Africa have to apply for a visa beforehand.

Extending your visa is not a problem as well. Simply look for an immigration office near your current location while in the Philippines, and you can choose to extend your visa for a few days up to three months for a fee.

The Philippines is now open to tourists who are fully vaccinated. One must present their vaccination certificate (from WHO) or through your country’s official department. Unvaccinated visitors must present a negative result of a rapid COVID-19 test. You should also fill out the eArrival Card 3 days before you arrive in the Philippines and screenshot the QR code.

It is still required to wear masks in public transportation and healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.

Other travel tips

TOP THINGS TO DO IN THE PHILIPPINES (pinned map)

Click the top-right logo to enlarge the map. Credit: map data: Google

3 WEEKS IN THE PHILIPPINES ITINERARY

The Philippines is a tropical country with 7,640 islands with three main geographical divisions; Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Since it is an archipelago, the Philippines is surrounded by lush trees, mountains and various bodies of water, making it a perfect destination for activities related to nature. Such as hiking and water activities.

Aside from that, this country is also brimming with diverse cuisines and cultures due to being colonised by the Spaniards, Japanese, and US Americans.

Week 1: Luzon for 6 days – Baguio, Tagaytay, and Ilocos

3 images - colonial houses with a white horse, rice field that designed to look like steps, houses on hilly side - 3-weeks in the philippines

You will notice that I won’t be recommending you to stay in Manila, the capital city. One, because it’s super traffic and two, there’s not much to do here in terms of historical places (except Intramuros). However, it’s a great area to do some street food exploration.

There are a lot of places to visit in Luzon alone, but these three provinces are some of the must-visits. The first one is the province of Benguet which consists of the city of Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines. Baguio is famous for its cool climate and cooler places and activities for the whole family.

If you’re coming from NAIA (the international airport in Manila), there are 4 ways to reach Baguio; riding a bus, riding a bus and minivan, hailing a cab or driving. The fastest options would be to ride a taxi or drive, but they are the most expensive as well.

Places to visit and things to do in Baguio:

  • BenCab Museum
  • Burnham Park
  • Attending the Panagbenga – Flower Festival during February
  • Mines View Observation Deck
  • Baguio Botanical Garden
  • Baguio City Public Market
  • Strawberry Picking – seasonal

Next on the list is the city of Tagaytay, located in the province of Cavite. Tagaytay is famous among families and groups of friends alike because aside from the cool weather, there are also tons of tourist spots near Manila, the country’s capital. 

There are 3 ways to go to Tagaytay if you’re coming from Baguio. First is by bus, which is the least expensive but would take up the most travel time.

Travelling from Baguio to Tagaytay via bus could last up to 7 hours. The other options are taxi and car rental, with hailing a cab being the most expensive option.

Things to do and places to visit in Tagaytay:

  • Horseback riding at Taal Volcano Island – you can also do a full-day trip from Manila (horseback riding not included)
  • Puzzle Mansion Museum
  • Picnic Grove
  • Skyranch
  • People’s Par
  • Fantasy World

Where to stay in Tagaytay:

boracay beach, tagaytay mountain, palawan, philippines
Boracay on the left, Tagaytat’s Taal Volcano on the top right, and Siargao on the bottom right

Last but definitely not least is the region of Ilocos which is well-known for its historic and well-preserved structures, as well as its beaches and sumptuous foods. It is north of Baguio.

Some of them include Vigan’s longanisa and empanada, which are way different from the usual longanisas and empanadas. Unlike the two previous destinations, you can choose to ride a plane if you’re coming from Tagaytay and planning to go to Ilocos.

Other options include riding a bus, hailing a cab, then riding a bus, riding a van and then a bus, riding a night bus and a local bus, hailing a cab or driving. The fastest option would be to ride a taxi, and then a bus and the cheapest option would be to ride a van plus the local bus.

Places you could visit while you’re in Ilocos:

  • Vigan City – especially Calle Crisologo
  • Bangui Windmills
  • Sumaguing Cave
  • Bomod-ok Falls
  • Paoay Sand Dunes
  • Banaue Rice Terraces – is located 6 hours both from Vigan and Baguio

TIP: I personally would only choose one place between Baguio and Tagaytay to match with Ilocos. Or else there’s too much back and forth in Manila.

You can take a flight to Laoag, the only airport in Ilocos. Stay and explore for about 2-3 days then take a nearly 5-hour bus south to Baguio to spend another 2-3 days. Then finally, head back to Manila by bus or car to take a flight to the Visayas.

Week 2: Visayas for 7 days – Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol

3 photos - tarsier, a primate with massive yes and tiny bodies, brown little hills with sunsert background, white sandy beach with trees- 3-weeks in the philippines

The archipelago of Visayas has so much to offer, from diverse culinary to scenic views and historical buildings and welcoming people. You’ll find yourself falling in love with the place and staying there for at least 7 days during your 3 weeks in the Philippines.

20 days in the Philippines is incomplete without visiting the most-admired island in the country. You can fly from Manila to the well-liked island of Boracay and spend about 3 days there. It is known for its fine white sand beach, crystal clear water, and lively vibe in the evening. You can enjoy some boat trips that include island hopping or you can sign up for some snorkelling and diving activities.

Boracay went through some cleanup and massive renovation to protect the island. It was closed for a period of time which was also timed during the outbreak of COVID-19. When Boracay finally opened up, the beach was much cleaner, the roads were better, and the water was much clearer.

Things to do in Boracay:

Where to stay in Boracay:

From Boracay, you can head to the city of Cebu. It is known as the Queen City of the South as it is Visayas’s a trade and industry hub. There are many water activities to do in Cebu. It’s a great place to do some diving, snorkelling and canyoneering. Check out Kawasan Falls and Moalboal as day trips you from Cebu City.

Here are some of the must-see tourist attractions in Cebu:

  • Kawasan falls canyoneering activity
  • Taoist Temple
  • Mactan Shrine
  • Magellan’s Cross
  • Fort San Pedro
  • We do not recommend Whale Shark watching in Oslob due to ethical reasons

Where to stay in Cebu:

Next, head to Bohol. It is the tenth-largest island in the Philippines and is famous for its beaches, national park, and resorts. Since bodies of water surround the Visayas, the most common mode of transportation is via ferry. The ferry travel time from Cebu Port to Tagbilaran or Tubigon in Bohol is about 2 hours.

However, for those who fear seasickness, there are choices for the faster ferry at a higher price. You have to ride a bus first before riding a ferry. Compared to those who opt to ride the ferry immediately, the travel time for this is between 4 to 6 hours. Your trip would be worth it because there are tons of things to do and see in Bohol.

TIP: You can also book a full-day tour to Bohol from Cebu to avoid staying overnight in the town.

Some of the tourist spots in Bohol:

  • Chocolate Hills
  • Loboc River Cruise
  • Hinagdanan Cave
  • Panglao Island – join a tour that covers Bohol and Panglao Island
  • Tarsier Conservation Area
  • Without staying in Bohol

Week 3: Palawan or Siargao for 8 days

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Palawan is famous for its seas and impressive biodiversity. It even has an underground river where you’ll get to see various stalactites and stalagmites in the caves. There are three major areas in Palawan; Coron, El Nido, and Puerto Princesa.

Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Bohol to these areas. This means you can either take a flight with a connection in Manila or take a trip back to Cebu City, where you can find direct flights to all these locations.

However, I recommend you choose between El Nido or Coron to spend 3 days, then head down to Puerto Princessa to spend 2 days. Both Coron and El Nido are famous spots for snorkelling and diving. If you are not a fan of those activities, you can simply fly directly to Puerto Princesa and make your way to Sabang, where the Underground River is.

Spots to see in Palawan:

Where to stay in Palawan:

I wrote before to spend 8 days in Palawan or Siargao. I used the word “or” because there are no direct flights between these places. You will have to make a connection in Manila. It’s pretty easy to spend 8 days in Palawan but it can be a bit too long in Siargao if you are not an avid surfer.

Siargao is a teardrop-shaped island that is famous for being the surfing capital of the Philippines. There are also tons of other activities that you could do here, including rock climbing, cliff diving and the like.

Some of the must-visit places in Siargao include:

  • Cloud 9
  • Sugba Lagoon
  • Tayangaban Cave Pool
  • Sohoton Cove National Park
  • Green Lagoon
  • Jellyfish Sanctuary

The ideal number of days to spend in these places during your 3 weeks in the Philippines would be five days.

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is a beautiful country with many scenic spots and adrenaline-inducing activities. In fact, many other beautiful places and cities weren’t included on the list because you would definitely have to extend your stay to these other places, including Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Boracay, and the archipelago of Mindanao. 

Nevertheless, we hope you enjoyed this compilation of itineraries for a 3 weeks holiday in the Philippines. And in case the Philippines is not for you or not suitable for your travel date, I recommend you check out our 3 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia itinerary, spend solely in Vietnam for 3 weeks, or 3 weeks in Japan and South Korea.

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3 weeks in the Philippines means travelling to see fantastic beaches, glorious mountains, historical sites, signing up to fun water activities, and more. via @threeweektraveller

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