A 3 week Philippines itinerary can be hard to plan. So here’s our tried and tested guide to the best islands in the Philippines.
So we heard travelling the Philippines was one of the tougher countries when it comes to making decisions and planning a route, and it certainly was.
There is no easy way to do it. With over 7,500 islands to choose from and the popular tourist destinations scattered across the scale, here’s how we decided to it. Along with our favourite places/must sees!
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
Best Time To Visit The Philippines
The Philippines are most popular during the dry season, between November and April.
At this time the country is fully accessible, including its many beautiful islands and more remote areas.
Temperatures are high during March and April, so it’s best to travel during the cooler months of December to February.
You can obviously give or take a few days, minus a few activities and even add different ones on, but we hope it helps you on your way to experiencing some of the most beautiful islands in the world.
What To Pack
3 Weeks In The Philippines Itinerary
Palawan (4 Days)
Palawan is the furthest West of the islands and a perfect place to begin your backpacking Philippines itinerary. Also, home to the clearest water and incredible landscapes.
Palawan is a world class cultural, adventure and nature destination. From trekking through the hills, valleys, and rivers to snorkeling and diving, there are truly remarkable experiences awaiting you in Palawan.
The island province of Palawan has so much to offer to those who want to get to the heart and soul of the Philippines.
Palawan also boasts about it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Puerto Princesa Underground River.
Tours can get busy and pricey if left to the last minute. So we recommend booking a Puerto Princesa: Underground River Full-Day Trip in advance.
If there’s one place you HAVE to add to your 3 week Philippines itinerary, it’s El Nido.
Most people go to Palawan specifically for El Nido and Coron. We didn’t make it up to Coron but you can access it via ferry from El Nido.
We’ve allowed 4 day’s for Palawan in this 3 week Philippines itinerary. Purely because it’s so unbelievably beautiful and definitely one of the best things to do in the Philippines.
Also, once you’ve flown into the Philippines, you will probably want some down-time straight away. Including making a start on your tan.
Whether you’re jet lagged and want to chill or geared up and ready for adventure, on the island of Palawan, you have everything.
Next up, we flew right out East to our second favourite island, Siargao.
Siargao is a tear-drop shaped island known as the ‘Surfing Capital of the Philippines’. However, you don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy the beautiful scenery and natural attractions on the island.
Its laid back vibes and hippie atmosphere captured our hearts and if you’re looking to chill, surf or eat green, then Siargao is the place for you.
Siargao is the Philippines’ new Bali. With smoothie shacks, surfing communities, and a completely different local culture, it’s becoming one of the ‘coolest’ places in the Philippines.
We also gave Siargao a generous amount of time on the 3 week Philippines itinerary. This is because the 4th and the 8th day will be travel days. (This is the only downfall to wanting to see as much of the Philippines as possible).
In total you’ll get a good amount of time to island hop, surf, eat smoothie bowls, walk through the main town and visit all the amazing beaches the island has to offer.
Cebu is the largest island in the Visayas region, and is particularly rich in Spanish colonial history. It was the original capital of the Philippines until the 17th century.
As it’s the most central island to the main places in the Philippines, it acts as a hub for flights, ferries and other efficient modes of transport.
Cebu boasts of it’s ethnically diverse population. Its inhabitants are made up of Malay, Chinese, Filipino and an ever-growing number of westerners.
It’s now considered to be the most dynamic island in the Philippines, attracting tourist from all over the world.
Home to Kawasan Falls and Oslob’s famous whale sharks, these are two of the top reasons tourists come to the Philippines!
So if you’re looking to tick them both off, it may be worth booking a Oslob Whale Shark Swimming and Kawasan Falls Canyoneering tour in advance.
Cebu island also gives easy access to Bohol and Siquijor by ferry.
After flying in from Siargao, a few days in Cebu is generally enough. This is where the waterfall adventures start. You can tick a couple of waterfalls off in a day and also try everything that Moalboal has to offer.
Bohol is well known for its Chocolate Hills. There’s no doubt that it has some of the best waterfalls and beaches too.
The island of Panglao, attached to the bottom of Bohol, is a beach lovers heaven and the mainland is just screaming with adventure!
Bohol is also the home of the tarsier, the big eyed insect insect-eating primate whose size is smaller than your fist. Scientists regard the tarsier as the oldest mammal now inhabiting the earth.
We definitely recommend hopping on a scooter to explore the waterfalls if you’re adding Bohol to your 3 week Philippines itinerary.
In our opinion a couple of days in Bohol is enough.
A lot of people tend to only visit for the famous chocolate hills, however Ingkumhan Falls and the beaches were our favourite places on the island.
For most Filipinos, Siquijor is a mysterious other-world of witchcraft and the unknown.
However, these days Siquijor’s most popular healing practice involves a deck chair with a cocktail, relaxing at one of it’s wonderfully affordable beach resorts.
Attractions include great diving, waterfalls, caves and forest walks in the hilly interior.
In terms of snorkelling, you’ll find that just about everywhere on Siquijor Island is good for sticking on a mask and jumping in.
Oh and if you’re a fan of cliff jumps you’re going to want to check out Salagdoong Beach.
However, don’t forget to take your flip flops with you because there is the possibility of stepping on sea urchins. And that’s not nice!
Our advice is to rent a bike and search the rope swings and cliff jumps throughout the island! Siquijor is easily in the top three of our favourite islands in the Philippines.
For a 3 week Philippines itinerary, we recommend three nights on Siquijor. In our opinion, that’s just enough time to see the quirky and different sides to it.
And don’t forget to head to Paliton beach for at least one sunset too!
Negros Island is split into two provinces, the North (Negros Occidental) and the South (Negros Oriental).
We decided to visit both areas, the capitals being Bacolod and Dumaguete.
With a mixture of things to do in both capitals, you can really grab a feel for the Filipino culture or jump on boats at either end and head to the closest paradise islands.
We can highly recommend Lakawon in the North and Apo in the South!
Bacolod is not so common for tourists, so if you like to go off the beaten track then it’s definitely a good option to add to your 3 week Philippines itinerary.
You’re very likely to spot the most beautiful turtles when snorkelling or diving around Apo Island.
There are many boat trips to and from the port of Dauin, which is South of Dumaguete.
Make sure you definitely check out what else Dumaguete has to offer, like Manjuyod Sanbar and it’s beautiful waterfalls.
On this 3 week Philippines itinerary, we’ve left 3 days for the whole Negros island. Although we’ve listed so many potential things to do, you probably won’t get them all done in 3 days.
As we previously mentioned Negros Occidental (Bacolod) is off the beaten track and we only visited here to stay with a Filipino friend.
If you’re interested in visiting a local city in the Philippines with minimal tourists then definitely take the Negros Occidental route.
On the other hand, if you’re visiting the Philippines on holiday, then the Negros Oriental (Dumaguete) route gives you more of a touristy touch, with snorkelling tours and commercialised hotels and home stays.
For pre-booking accommodation when travelling, we always recommend Booking.com!
From 5 star hotels, to budget backpacker hostels, it’s got everything and the site is super easy to use.
So to compare deals, and pre-book all of your Philippines accommodation, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.