If you have only 2 weeks in the Philippines, don’t panic. In this guide, we have drafted the most awesome things for your vacation in the Philippines. With over 7.000 islands it is hard to choose your dream place. There are just too many beautiful places, from pristine beaches, tropical islands, breathtaking waterfalls to absolutely stunning snorkeling and scuba diving possibilities.
But we picked the TOP islands with all the cool activities you should do and we are more than confident that you will love your time in the Philippines.
So keep reading to decide which islands should be in your 2 weeks itinerary as you can’t see it all, but don’t worry. After all, you have a reason to come back. Ready?
HOW TO SPEND 2 WEEKS IN THE PHILIPPINES
If you found this 2 weeks Philippines itinerary, you know that you first need to find out what islands are there and then which ones you would like to see. But if you have only 2 weeks in the Philippines we recommend you to CHOOSE 2 “big” islands.
For instance, you can start in Manila (2 nights bracketing your trip), continue to Cebu (6 days) with a quick stop at Bohol and finish in Palawan (6 days). For 3 weeks in the Philippines, you can add a third island such as Siargao. Totally up to you. But rather explore 2 islands fully than spend your time running around and catching boats and flights. In the end, you might not enjoy the real Philippines but rather airports, harbors, and buses.
We know it can be overwhelming to decide where to even start. Don’t worry, we got you covered! Let’s start to plan your trip. The following map shows all the islands that will be mentioned in this post.
Manila as the capital of the Philippines is a big chaotic city and you won’t miss anything by skipping it. That is why we recommend you to jump on the plane right away and head to Cebu. Although, there are still some nice corners to explore. However, we wouldn’t stay longer than 2 nights. If you look for accommodation check out the Heroes Hotel. A modern and clean hotel with rooms that have heroes as themes. It is also close to the airport.
CEBU 5 – 7 DAYS
If you only have 2 weeks in the Philippines, Cebu is a great place to start. Cebu Island is located in the heart of the Philippines and has all you need. You can easily spend 5 days wandering around Cebu. There is just so much to see. Among other things, scuba diving is a big drawcard. So if you decide to choose just one destination for your Philippines vacation, it should be Cebu. From beautiful waterfalls, stunning nature, outstanding beaches to great snorkeling and scuba diving possibilities. Make sure to check our ultimate Cebu guide to check all the places we visited.
RECOMMENDED DAYS TO SPEND IN CEBU: 5-7 days
TOP SPOTS TO SEE IN CEBU
HOW TO GET TO CEBU
The International Airport connects to most places in the Philippines (Palawan, Siargao, etc.) as well as several international destinations.
EXPLORE WATERFALLS IN CEBU
Cebu has over 100 beautiful waterfalls, mostly with turquoise waters. Many people only visit the Kawasan Falls, but there are other underrated waterfalls, so if you like to beat the crowds head for instance to Inambakan Falls, Dao Falls, Kabutongan Falls, and Aguinid Falls.
At the Kawasan Falls, you can do canyoneering adventure tours through the turquoise waters all the way down into the Kawasan Falls.
After the Kawasan Falls you can head out to Osmeña Peak. It is the highest mountain in Cebu. Make sure to check it out for beautiful sunsets and sunrises with 360-degree views. An absolutely perfect spot for photo addicts. Find out more here.
The most famous thing to do at Moalboal is free diving right into sardine balls. Imagine jumping into crystal clear water and into thousands of sardines. You can snorkel just a few meters offshore, or go for a dive at nearby Pescador Island. One of the best beaches in Moalboal is White Beach with a relaxing atmosphere.
WHERE TO STAY IN CEBU
BUDGET: We stayed in Leope Hotel which is a 10-minute walk from Cebu North Bus Terminal. We paid less than $25 per night.
MIDDLE RANGE: Fantasy Lodge is a 1-hour ride away from Dumaguete City and 4 hours from Cebu City.
LUXURY: Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort is located 16 km away from Cebu City with free Wi-Fi and parking, swimming pools, a spa, and a gym.
TRANSPORT TIP: We recommend you to use the ride-sharing app Grab to get around. Find out more about our positive experiences here.
Once you are in Cebu, Malapascua Island definitely needs to be a stop during your time in the Philippines as it is a perfect place for beach addicts. The beaches have white powdery sand and its a gateway to one of the best diving spots. If you are into scuba diving, you need do take a deep dive to have a chance to see THRESHER SHARKS.
WHERE TO STAY ON MALAPASCUA ISLAND
Malapascua Island has many options for you to enjoy this paradise.
BUDGET: In Neverland, for less than $23 you can enjoy a stay in a jungle cottage in beautiful surroundings.
MIDDLE RANGE: Located just 750m from Bounty Beach, SLAM’S GARDEN RESORT is a perfect budget place with private rooms and bathrooms for less than $35 a night.
LUXURY: Golden Sands Destination Resorts is the only place we found falling into the luxury category with great beach views and amenities.
Malapascua is a great place to get to beautiful Kalanggaman Island with its extraordinary shape. You can visit this island on a day tour or even stay there overnight and sleep on the beach FOR FREE! Just make sure to bring (or rent) a tent. We loved this island because it has amazing sandbar. To be precise, the longest sandbar in the Philippines!
Oslob is another destination that you can explore. It is famous for its whale sharks. You can choose from either swimming or scuba diving with whale sharks. Find out more about snorkeling with whales sharks in Oslob.
BOHOL 3 – 7 Days
I can see you panicking. I know that you only have 2 weeks in the Philippines, but you need to check out Bohol Island. Bohol belongs to one of our favorite islands. It is a cute island and easy to wander around. Except for hanging out on wonderful beaches, there are many unique things for you to do. From breathtaking Chocolate Hills, endless rice fields to white-sand beaches. And if you are not sure if you should include Bohol in your 2 weeks Philippines itinerary, here are all the top spots for you to see:
RECOMMENDED DAYS TO VISIT BOHOL: 3 – 7 DAYS
TOP SPOTS TO SEE IN BOHOL
- CHOCOLATE HILLS
- TARSIER SANCTUARY
- BILAL MAN-MADE FORREST
- PANGLAO ISLAND
HOW TO GET TO BOHOL
You will likely enter Bohol via Tagbilaran. Either by plane (e.g., from Manila) or by ferry (e.g., from Cebu City). Find more details here.
ENTRANCE FEE: 100 PESOS (in 2018)
The Chocolate Hills is one of the most unique landscapes in the Philippines. These 1776 cute hills made of limestone are spread in an area of 50 km². In the dry season, the color of the hills turns brown and, you probably guessed it, makes the hills look like chocolate bonbons. Can you spot one in the back?
EXTRA TIP: You can use your entrance ticket for the whole day and for multiple entries. That means you can come for sunrise, leave the Chocolate Hills and come back for sunset as well.
Tarsiers are one of the world’s smallest primates and can rotate their heads 360 degrees and you can see them in Bohol.
There are only 2 parks where you can see the cute tarsiers. One is called Tarsier Conservation Area and the other Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary.
ENTRANCE FEE: 60 PESOS (in 2018)
We visited the Tarsier Conservation Area. It is a small park with strict rules in order to make sure that the tarsiers are safe. One thing you need to know is that tarsiers hate loud environments. As tarsiers are nocturnal animals, they sleep mostly during the day, and any kind of noise disturbs them. Unfortunately, a lot of stress can kill them. They might commit suicide by holding their breath or just banging their heads on wood. So please obey the rules of the park.
EXTRA TIP: If you would like to visit the Chocolate Hills and the Tarsier Sanctuary, you can easily do it in one day as there are many tour operators which run great trips from Tagbilaran or Panglao Island. Check some options here.
BILAL MAN-MADE FORREST
After admiring the Chocolate Hills and meeting cute tarsiers make sure to check out the Bilal Man-made forest. This beautiful forest is a 2 km stretch along a road of beautiful mahogany trees.
Now, it is beach time. And Panglao is where you want to be for that. If you would like to see the best beaches during your 2 weeks in the Philippines head to Dumaluan Beach. Alona Beach is the main beach on Panglao and a tad too touristy and busy for our taste. You can also do an island hopping tour to Balicasag and Virgin Island to snorkel with dolphins and sea turtles in their natural habitat.
HOW TO GET TO PANGLAO ISLAND
From Tagbilaran, you can take several buses (1h, P25) that head to Alona Beach. Alternatively, look for a habal-habal* (P150). Be prepared to pay more if you start at the airport.
*transport that looks like a tricycle
WHERE TO STAY IN BOHOL
BUDGET: Fox & The Firefly Cottages are great budget bungalows for less than $38 and located in the forest areas of Loboc which makes it perfect for exploring the Chocolate Hills. You can also go to the river at night to search for fireflies.
MIDDLE RANGE: Imagine-Bohol is a great place just 1.2 km from Danao Beach and for $44 per night.
PALAWAN 6 – 10 DAYS
We can guess that Palawan is already added to your travel itinerary for the Philippines and we are not judging. Palawan is located in the west of the Philippines and for many travelers a must-visit location. It is well known for beaches, lagoons, cliffs, and nearby Coron has according to some people the best wreck diving in the world.
Palawan is also one of the more touristy spots in the Philippines. It has a lot to offer and many travelers come here to see famous El Nido in the very north of the island.
RECOMMENDED DAYS TO STAY IN PALAWAN: 6-10 DAYS
TOP SPOTS TO SEE IN PALAWAN
- PUERTO PRINCESA
- PORT BARTON
- EL NIDO
HOW TO GET TO PALAWAN
You will likely enter Palawan via its capital Puerto Princesa. There are flight connections to Cebu and of course Manila. Most people head straight up north to Port Barton and El Nido. We say for a good reason. The tours (Honda Bay, underground river, etc.) you can take from Puerto Princesa are overpriced.
EXTRA TIP: Be warned that tricycle drivers tend to be nasty here. Make sure to agree for a price before you enter any. It is also recommended to not to visit places south of Puerto Princesa on Palawan to make sure to be safe.
On the way to El Nido, make sure to stop at Port Barton. It’s roughly a 4.5 hours drive from Puerto Princesa. Usually, your hotel in Puerto can help organize transport up north but you can also book it online.
Port Barton is a small village and launching pad to some of the hidden gems of the Philippines. We saw one of the most beautiful sunsets in the whole of Southeast Asia.
EXTRA TIP: Book your hotel ahead during high season or you might end up without any accommodation. We had big troubles finding a place.
First and foremost El Nido is famous for its beaches. You have to add El Nido to your 2 weeks Philippines itinerary if you are a beach addict. However, once you come to El Nido you might be overwhelmed by all the tourists and tour agencies around you. If you are prepared, it will be half as bad. We promise.
Then there are those mass tourism infused island-hopping options: A, B, C and D. Quickly you will be wondering which tour to choose? Why not take them all and spend “big money” 😀 It is P1200 – P1400 per person per tour and includes lunch. (Spoiler: Tours are very cheap). So if you have only 2 weeks in the Philippines and want to see iconic landscapes, you will love El Nido.
We did Tour A (with a big boat) and Tour C (on a private boat) and especially Tour C was nice and less touristy as our guide tried to beat the crowds. During Tour A we experienced mass tourism at its peak.
TOUR A (LAGOONS)
The highlights for Tour A are lagoons with clear waters, surrounded by jagged rock formations. The stops are:
- Small Lagoon
- Big Lagoon
- Secret Lagoon
- 7 Commando Beach
- Shimizu Island
Rent a kayak (extra cost: P400) and explore this paradise on your own (kind of). We hesitated at first because there were so many kayaks around but in the end, this is what you came for, right? Behind Big Lagoon is Secret Lagoon. You will get there via a small entrance and, let’s face it, it’s not really secret. Just be ready that you won’t be alone. However, you might find corners where you can have some moments of tranquility.
TOUR B (CAVES)
On Tour B you will visit beaches and caves:
- Snake Island
- Entalula Beach
- Pinagbuyutan Island
- Cudugnon Cave
- Cathedral Cave
TOUR C (BEACHES)
Tour C will take you to the best beaches in the Bacuit Archipelago:
- Matinloc Shrine
- Secret Beach
- Star Beach
- Hidden Beach
- Helicopter Island
We did this tour on a small private boat. We met two other travelers who were happy to share the costs for a private boat. It was much better than being on a big boat and we were flexible regarding the itinerary and at times could even avoid the crowds from the other bigger tour boats. We shared the cost and the boat cost P5000.
TOUR D (CADLAO ISLANDS)
- Pasandigan Beach
- Paradise Beach
- Nat Nat Beach
- Bucal Beach
HOW TO AVOID THE CROWDS IN EL NIDO?
Well, there are really just 2 ways to avoid some of the crowds out on the tours:
- Option 1: Take a private boat. This way you will be at least in peace on the boat and more flexible in regards to where and when you visit the highlights. This way you might avoid the bigger boats which have up to 30 people on them. We came to several beaches and had them to ourselves.
- Option 2: Stay overnight on the beach and camp on one of the islands.
All you need to do is to find tour operators that offer exactly that. Luckily, we have a recommendation for you. By accident, we found a little tour office called Napoleon Wrasses Travel & Tours that can help you out. You can find them on Google Maps and like most tour operators they have an office on Calle Hama. They offer both private boats (P5000 in 2018) and overnight stays on their private island. Try to find 2 other travelers and book a private boat together to cut the costs. Easy!
HOW TO GET TO EL NIDO?
You can take either a van/minibus (P600, 5-6 hours) or a big bus (P400, 7-8 hours) run by Roro Bus or Cherry Bus to Puerto Princesa. The transport usually leaves from Corong-Corong bus station which you can reach by tricycle (P50).
EXTRA TIP: Trust us when we say go for the big bus. The van drivers will put as many people as possible in the vans and if they could they would strap people to the roofs.
WHERE TO STAY IN EL NIDO?
If you are not sure where to stay in El Nido, don’t worry. Although it is one of the busiest places in the entire Philippines there are a lot of accommodation options to choose from.
BUDGET: Aleston Secret El Nido Hotel has great rooms for $36 for a double bedroom just 1.6 km from Big Lagoon and one of the places to stay in El Nido.
MIDDLE RANGE: Coco Resort offers peaceful accommodation in El Nido, just 30m from Corong-Corong Beach.
LUXURY: If you are into glamping then you must try this place: Dryft Darocotan Island. For the ones who like ultimate luxury try Panorama Resort, located just 3.4 km from Big Lagoon. Panorama Resort has a number of amenities including a private beach.
Coron is situated in the north of Palawan. There is a little town called Coron Town located on Busuanga Island and there is Coron Island. All of this, is part of the Calamian Islands. It is a place out of this world and needs to be in your 2 weeks Philippines itinerary. Coron is most famous for being a wreck-diving mecca. But there are also beaches, lagoons, and limestone cliffs.
TOP THINGS TO SEE IN CORON
- Skeleton Shipwreck
- Twin Lagoon
- Kayangan Lake
- Ditaytayan Island
- Black Island
There are many tours that you can choose from. Our favorite one is the shipwreck & twin lagoon island hopping tour.
HOW TO GET TO CORON?
If you are coming or going to Manila it is easiest to fly into Busuanga Island Airport. There are also connections to Cebu.
If you come from El Nido on Palawan you can take a ferry from El Nido to Coron, which takes 7 to 9 hours. Two operators are Bunso and Overcomer.
WHERE TO STAY IN CORON?
BUDGET: Stay at the jungle hut in Ecocio Eco Hostel for only for $15 per night. Ecocio Eco Hostel is just 7km from away Twin Lagoon.
MIDDLE RANGE: Discovery Island Resort and Dive Center has many spacious rooms with sea view balconies and is just a 5-minute boat ride away from Coron Town.
LUXURY: Bacau Bay Resort Coron is a 4-star resort located in Coron 7 km away from Twin Lagoon.
SIARGAO 4 – 7 DAYS
At the time of our visit, Siargao seemed to be disconnected from the tourism buzz we experienced in other parts of the Philippines. So make sure to visit before that changes. While Siargao is most famous for surf breaks it also has a lot to offer for non-surfers. Tiny islands, beaches, and coves can be easily found. If you have more than 2 weeks in the Philippines Siargao is a great option to get to know the Philippines even more.
RECOMMENDED DAYS TO STAY IN SIARGAO: 4 – 7 DAYS
TOP SPOTS TO SEE IN SIARGAO
- ROPE SWING AT MAASIN SECRET RIVER
- ISLAND HOPPING
- MAGPUPUNGKO ROCK POOLS
- SURF AT CLOUD 9
HOW TO GET TO SIARGAO
We flew into Siargao from Cebu. The airport (IAO) is located in the middle of the island. It takes around 1 hour to get to Cloud 9 the tourist hub in Siargao.
The other option to get to Siargao is by boat from Surigao City located on Mindanao. However, Mindanao is not necessarily a place to visit at the moment. If you do, be extra careful and make sure to consult your country’s embassy beforehand.
EXTRA TIP: The best time to visit Siargao is late February to October. We visited in rainy season which can escalate quickly to typhoon season and that’s no fun. We had 3 days straight rain and no electricity. Furthermore, all planes and boats were cancelled. People were literally stuck in paradise.
SURF AT CLOUD 9
Siargao is very famous for surfing and Cloud 9 is one of the world’s best surf breaks. Clod 9 is suitable for all levels, from beginner to advanced surfers. You can even hire teachers at the beach.
MAPPUPUNGKO ROCK POOLS
Here we explored one of the first beaches. This white sand beach had such a nice atmosphere and you could feel the local vibe. Make sure to come during low tide to be able to access the rock pools.
RENT A SCOOTER AND DRIVE AROUND
The best way how to explore Siargao is by driving around on a scooter. We drove for many hours and never get bored. Siargao is such a palm tree paradise. It was very unfortunate that the weather wasn’t on our side. We even stopped at an elementary school and joined a class that was very touching.
If you have time for only 1 island hopping tour, make sure to check out one of the most famous nearby islands: Guyam Island, Daku Island, and Naked Island. The price for the island hopping tour starts from P1.300 per person (around $26).
TAKE A SWING
We are sure you have seen some photos on Instagram from this place. You can swing close to Maasin village. Rent a boat and admire the place to the fullest.
WHERE TO STAY IN SIARGAO
BUDGET: Bamboo Garden is a great value and you can find a private bungalow for less than $30 with private bathrooms.
MIDDLE RANGE: Dahun Villas Siargao is located 9km away from Cloud 9 Surfing Area and has very cute jungle huts.
LUXURY: Salina Beach Villas is located just 1.4km from Guyam Island and 3.1km from Cloud 9 and has amazing beach views.
FAQ FOR A TRIP TO THE PHILIPPINES
WHAT IS THE BEST MONTH TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES?
The best month to visit the Philippines is during the dry season, between November and April. Most of the islands and remote areas are fully accessible. The most popular months are December, January, and February when the temperatures are a bit cooler.
WHAT MONTHS ARE THE RAINY SEASON IN THE PHILIPPINES?
The rainy season in the Philippines starts in June and lasts till October. It is not recommended to travel between September and October as it is also typhoon season in the Philippines.
IS IT SAFE TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES?
We traveled through the Philippines for 1 month and we really felt safe. It is a very large country and we can’t say for sure that it is 100% safe. But what country is it? Nevertheless, we wouldn’t recommend you to go to the south of the Philippines, especially Mindanao due to the very high levels of violent crime and the high risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings. Martial law is in place across the whole of Mindanao until 31 December 2019.
WHAT IS THE SAFEST PLACE IN THE PHILIPPINES?
In general, we really felt safe on every island we visited. Cebu, Bohol, in Palawan, Siargao and even in Manila. Just follow common sense when you travel.
IS THE PHILIPPINES CHEAP?
Generally speaking, the Philippines is a cheap destination. You can easily spend $25-30 per day in the Philippines, sleeping, eating and transportation included if you are on a budget.
IS THE PHILIPPINES AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY?
No, the Philippines is not an Islamic country. Not that it matters, but just to get some facts straight: 90% of the population is Christian. The Philippines is the biggest Roman Catholic nation in Asia and 5th biggest in the world. About 5.6% of the population of the Philippines is Muslim, making Islam the second-largest religion in the country.
WHAT CURRENCY IS USED IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippine peso (PHP) is the official currency of the Philippines.
100 USD = 5211.00000 PHP
WHAT MONTH IS THE CHEAPEST TO FLY TO THE PHILIPPINES?
June should be the cheapest month to fly to Manila from the U.S.
Of course, you cannot possibly see everything on your first visit to the Philippines. But we hope that our Philippines guide will help you to enjoy some of the best parts of this beautiful and diverse country. Enjoy your 2 weeks in the Philippines and we are sure you will be back again.
What islands are you planning to visit? Let us know in the comments.
Disclaimer: Please note, that we paid for all tours, flights, and accommodation, etc. ourselves. However, some of the links mentioned above are affiliate links and we will earn a little percentage of the sale if you purchase through our links at no extra cost to you. This helps us to keep our website running. We highly appreciate your support.