15 Best Places to Visit in the Philippines
The Philippines is a destination that is easy to visit multiple times due to its more than 7,000 islands. The most difficult decision you make as a traveler, is figuring out which places to visit first. The Philippines is divided into the three main island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, representing different regions in the country.
The scenery in each region of the Philippines ranges from mountainous and tropical to metropolitan. You can enjoy a day of walking the historical colonial streets of the capital city of Manila or catch a rare glimpse of tiny tarsier monkeys at a private sanctuary on the island of Bohol. The steep, plush mountains provide unforgettable hiking experiences.
Since you are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, it’s not surprising the Philippines has some of the best beaches in Asia, and the scuba diving opportunities are outstanding.
Plan your travels around this tropical island nation with our list of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
There is a reason that Boracay Island is considered the beach capital of the Philippines because there are more than 12 beaches. This tiny island in the west Visayas region is ideal for beach-goers who are after simple relaxation in the sun or water activities. White Beach, on the west side of the island, is one of the best beaches in the Philippines.
Puka Shell Beach is on the tip of the island and is a favorite spot for shell collectors. Cagban Beach is a quiet spot with nearby caves that are rumored to still contain treasure chests. Diniwid Beach is a tiny beach at the north end of White Beach that has the best view of the island from a platform rock located there.
This island is known for its many resorts, so finding a place to stay is easy. For a panoramic view of the island, take a day trip to Mount Luho, its highest point.
The island of Bohol in the Philippines’ central Visayas region runs at a slower pace, and it’s a destination that showcases the country’s natural beauty. One of the most unique natural wonders on the island is the Chocolate Hills in Carmen. This UNESCO-protected site is a collection of 1,200 geological formations that turn brown in the dry season, resembling a landscape of chocolate candy kisses.
Bohol is home to a family-owned sanctuary for the tiny tarsier primate, known for its large engaging eyes. For a small fee, you can take an intimate walk through the grounds, and stand inches away from the small nocturnal mammal.
The top draw of Bohol is the beach. Panglao Island features some of the best beaches in Bohol: Alona Beach and Danao Beach, which have fantastic diving; Dao Beach and Bingag Beach, which are popular resort areas; Bolod Beach, which has a large stretch of shoreline; and Doljo Beach, which is fairly remote but fantastic for finding seashells.
Snorkeling with a whale shark
The island of Cebu, in the central Visayas region, is considered the port to some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Philippines. If you are an underwater enthusiast, Cebu is one of your best options for excursions that get you up-close to whale sharks, coral reefs, and sea turtles.
Some of the most spectacular scenery from the water near Cebu are the sea caves that attract photographers and outdoor enthusiasts looking for unique diving and snorkeling sites. The Sudlon National Park, located approximately an hour from Cebu City, is a breathtaking park to explore and hike.
While Cebu’s greatest draw is its water, Cebu City is a metropolitan area, with tourist attractions like museums and cathedrals that will interest history buffs.
The rice terraces of Banaue are one of the most striking things to see in the Philippines. The emerald-green terraces are an agricultural wonder in this area. Some of the terraces are estimated to have been hand-carved into the mountainside more than 2,000 years ago.
The Batad Rice Terraces and the Bangaan Rice Terraces are protected UNESCO World Heritage sites.
For a deeper taste of this region, take a stroll through the Banaue Ethnic Village or the Hiwang Village to mingle with the Indigenous people who farm the rice terraces.
Your most impressive view of the terraces is at sunrise, when clouds and fog lift off the mountain to reveal the intricate landscape of the terraces. You can base yourself in the town of Banaue and hike or drive to the Batad rice terraces, or arrange a stay in a native hut of the Ifugao people for a more authentic experience.
Bantay Bell Tower in Vigan
The historical city of Vigan in the northern Philippines is one of the most charming towns to visit in the Luzon region. Its culture is a fusion of Chinese and Spanish influences originating from settlers to the area.
Take a ride in a horse-drawn kalesa through the streets and admire the colonial architecture, courtesy of the Spanish who colonized the area in the 18th century. Vigan is a city with many nuances to explore.
The best view of the area is from the Bantay Bell Tower, which is also a noted landmark in the area. The Calle Crisologo historic district is a walkable district, where you will encounter many local craftsman and see historical architecture.
A visit to the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is breathtaking and a perfect spot to sit and people-watch as you take in the local culture.
Jeepney in front of the Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, Manila
The Philippines capital of Manila, on the island of Luzon, is a bustling city with non-stop activity. Hop on board one of the colorful jeepneys, the main form of public transportation, to get a taste of local life while you visit Manila’s top attractions.
Usually over-packed with locals, the bumpy ride through the streets on the iconic and kitschy jeep/bus hybrid vehicles will be one of the highlights of your visit.
Plan stops to the main park in the city, Rizal Park, and the San Agustin Church, which was built in the 16th century. Buy local fruits and handmade gifts at the public market at Quiapo Church, where you are likely to see several thousand people show up on Fridays for worship.
7. Davao City
For a city scene outside of Manila, head to Davao City, which has a large metropolitan area. Davao City is the main city in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.
Despite its malls and large population, Davao City features many natural elements, including the Eden Nature Park, Philippine Eagle Center, and the Davao Baywalk near the sea.
One of the best places to visit in Davao City is Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines. Davao City is a prime location for shopping, as there are several large malls, including Abreeza Mall and SM Lanang Premier Mall. For a peek into Davao City history and culture, the tiny Davao Museum of History and Ethnography is worth a visit.
Hanging coffins of Sagada
One of the most unique experiences you can have in the Philippines is in the northern tribal region in Sagada. Nestled in the rugged and remote Cordillera Mountains are tribes that embrace the occasional visitor.
This area is a paradise for the advanced outdoor enthusiast. The steep mountains and high elevation enhance the thrill and skill level required for outdoor adventure. Hiking is popular in Sagada, particularly to Mount Ampaco, which has the highest peak in the region or through Echo Valley, which has steep and rugged terrain.
One of the best places to visit in this region of the Philippines is the hanging coffins that hide deep in the mountains. It is best to connect with a local guide to take you to this incredible site because this is not a tourist area, but rather an authentic tribal region hiding an experience worthy of bragging rights.
9. Coron Island
One of the top diving destinations in the world, Coron Island is a tropical paradise, with electric blue and green water that almost seems unreal. The mountainous island sits on the tip of the Palawan island region, the western-most section of islands in the Philippines.
The island is popular for diving because of the numerous wrecks here. Many of the preserved shipwrecks are located in depths ranging from shallow water at just three meters to deep water at 42 meters.
Some of the wrecks require more than one dive to explore due to their size, but you can easily spend a week diving in this area. For non-shipwreck diving, check out Barracuda Lake, a former volcano with many unusual rock formations and fish.
Baguio is a city tucked away in a mountainous region on Luzon Island. Though it is a city, Baguio is intimate and reminiscent of a cottage-type environment. Baguio is called the City of Pines for the rich pine forests and cooler temperatures that surround it.
You can explore one of the many hiking and biking trails or take in a round of golf at one of the resorts in the area. Baguio is unique to other destinations in the Philippines because the city is surrounded by trees and not water.
Parks like Mines View and Burnham let you enjoy some of the flora and fauna that are special to this region. Be sure to spend some time along Session Road, which is the main drag through Baguio, where you can take in a slice of local life.
11. Puerto Princesa
The rock islands, caves, and natural parks of Palawan Island are the hidden paradise of the Philippines. The coastal city of Puerto Princesa is where you should base yourself in order to explore some of these natural gems of the country.
The Subterranean River National Park is a great first stop to see a five-mile underground river and impressive limestone caves. The UNESCO World Heritage site has boat tours that take you through the national park.
Other must-see spots in Puerto Princesa are Honda Bay, which is popular for snorkeling, and Ugong Rock, where you can try ziplining and caving.
On Samal Island, also called Garden City of Samal, hiking, diving, and kayaking are a way of life. One of the top things to do on Samal Island, besides relaxing at the beach, is visit the Monfort Bat Sanctuary, which is home to millions of bats in the caves.
An enjoyable day trip away from the beach is to Hagimit Falls, where you can walk on the nature trails and cool off in one of the pools below the tropical waterfalls. Samal Island is a short distance away from Davao City, which makes a great change of pace when you want a more metropolitan scene or a broader range of dining.
13. Apo Island
Sea turtle in the waters off Apo Island
If a swim with sea turtles sounds like the experience of a lifetime then you will want to head to Apo Island in the Philippines. The reason this location lends itself to swimming with turtles and other sea life is because of the protected marine sanctuary. The Apo Island Marine Reserve is where you can take guided trips to see the sea turtles up close and snorkel at the coral reefs.
The island is an eco-traveler’s dream. The protected landscape is some of the most untouched in the country. For great views of the island and the water go to the Apo Island View Deck. To get a sense of life on the island for the locals take a stroll on the Lagoon Trail through the Apo Village to see the local flora and fauna and engage with those who live on the island.
14. El Nido
Aerial view of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
El Nido is a stunning place to visit in the Philippines for its clear water lagoons, marine life, coral reefs, and limestone cliffs. You can even take part in cliff climbing excursions, or go to Taraw Peak to experience a canopy walk with the best views of the landscape.
El Nido is also known for its pristine beaches, like Nacpan Beach and Lio Beach, and as the launch point for island-hopping adventures. Island hopping excursions to places like El Nido Big Lagoon or Snake Island to experience the cliffs and caves from the water are a memorable way to experience El Nido.
Wooden walkway for surfers to access the Cloud 9 surf break on Siargao Island
Travelers that enjoy making an itinerary up as they go should put Siargao Island on the agenda. The small island is big with experiences, from sought-after surfing waves to unusual rock formations and stunning waterfalls.
Surfing is what Siargao is most known for. The famous Cloud 9 break is here, but there are many coastline spots that bring in large waves. So, even if you do not surf, watching some of the championship surfers that come to the island is a fun activity.
Deep sea fishing is popular out of Siargao as anglers try year-round for sailfish and mahi-mahi. Another trip option when you visit Siargao is to do a bit of island hopping to places like Bucas Grande, where you can see the Sohoton Caves and the non-sting jellyfish.
15 Gorgeous Places To Visit In Philippines To Swim, Dive, Trek, & Explore
The Philippines, a popular destination, perfect for your luxury vacation, is a home to more than 7,000 islands. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to choose from a wide range of stunning islands to visit first. To say that the Philippines is an island lover’s destination would be an understatement! The entire country is spread across islands, each of which is a traveler’s delight. A list of the finest places to visit in Philippines
From transparent emerald seas to white sand beaches, the islands of Philippines offer the ultimate island getaway.
15 Best Places To Visit In Philippines
The Philippines offer you a wide range from mountains to tropical regions to metropolitans. Stroll around the colonial streets of Manila, or you can catch the glimpses of small tarsier monkeys in the private sanctuary. We have curated a list of the finest places to visit in Philippines that covers the best beaches, picturesque resort towns, and verdant jungles for you to explore. Take your pick:
Manila, the capital of Philippines, is the heart and soul of the country. Gleaming skyscrapers rise across the Asian metropolis amidst the concrete buzz of the city. With modern parks, malls, and hotels with the best hospitality, Manila is one of the best places to visit in Philippines.
Places To Stay: Okada Manila, Red Planet Aurora Boulevard, Conrad Manila, Fairmont Makati, The Peninsula Manila
Places to visit: Fort Santiago, Pinto Art Museum, Ayala Museum, Manila American Cemetery, San Agustin Church, Chinese Cemetery, National Museum of the Filipino People
Cebu is located in the Central Visayas region of Philippines and includes more than 150 islands and islets. It ranks among the best places to visit in Philippines and draws more than 2 million tourists every year. With the white beaches and superb diving spots, Cebu has become the top tourist destination in the Philippines.
Places To Stay: Maayo Hotel, Carl‘s Island Inn, Carl‘s Island Inn, One Central Hotel & Suites, Appleton Boutique Hotel Cebu, Appleton Boutique Hotel Cebu
Places to visit: Museo Sugbo, Casa Gorordo Museum, Fort San Pedro, Basilica Minore del Santo Nino
Bohol is the land of the iconic Chocolate Hills. These unique geological formations look like chocolate mounds especially in the dry season when they turn brown. These 1,200 hills draw in the crowds, making it among the top tourist spots in the Philippines. The rest of Bohol is covered in thick jungles with meandering rivers perfect for kayaking.
Places To Stay: Alaia Studios, RedDoorz near Panglao Municipal Hall, Bird of Paradise, Selectum Mangrove Residence, Three Little Birds Resort
Places to visit: Chocolate Hills, Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, Rice Museum, Blood Compact Monument, San Pedro Church, Danao Beach, Lamanok Island
4. El Nido, Palawan
When you are deciding where to go in Philippines, one of the first places you will come across is El Nido, the gateway to the stunningly beautiful Bacuit archipelago. The steep limestone cliffs right in the middle of blue-green Ocean is a sight for sore eyes! With many islets and caves to explore, El Nido is unmissable!
Places To Stay: La Españolita Resto & Rooms, Cuna Hotel, Focus Rooms, Maligaya Beach Bungalows, One El Nido Suite, ZEN Rooms La Soledad El Nido
Places to visit: Nacpan Beach, Marimegmeg Beach, Lio Beach, Duli Beach, Balay Cuyonon, Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls, Shimizu Island
5. Coron Island
Coron Island is a part of the Busuanga and Calamian Islands and a base for access to all the nearby islands making it one of the top Philippines holiday destinations for adventurers! Mangrove kayaking, jungle trekking, motorbiking, island-hopping – these are just some of the activities to do in this pristine archipelago.
Places To Stay: Zenvea Hotel, Charms Hotel, Coron Soleil Express Hotel, Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel, Coron Visitors Hotel, Asia Grand View Hotel, Pirates Diving Resort Coron
Places to visit: Kayangan Lake, Twin Lagoon, Mount Tapyas, Occam Occam Beach, Aguila, Barracuda Lake
6. Puerto Princesa
Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan and ideal to cover while on a trip to El Nido. It’s the subterranean river that flows underneath the island that makes it among the top places to visit in Philippines. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has incredible underground caves and limestone karst mountain landscapes. It was even voted among the New Seven Wonders of the World!
Places To Stay: Atremaru Jungle Retreat, Atremaru Jungle Retreat, Palawan Village Hotel, RedDoorz near Kinabuch Puerto Princesa, Sheridan Boutique Hotel
Places to visit: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Park, Palawan Museum, Palawan Butterfly Eco Garden and Tribal Village, Palawan Heritage Centre, Nagtabon Beach
7. Mactan Island
Mactan Island is where you head for luxurious relaxation! Housing many resorts, it is one of the ideal places to visit in Philippines for couples. With excellent diving spots, access to the shopping centres of Cebu City, and island hopping tours, it offers everything to honeymooners.
Places To Stay: Appleton Boutique Hotel Cebu, Eloisa Royal Suites, Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino, Hidden Hill Hotel, Goldberry Suites and Hotel
Places to visit: Nalusuan Island Marine Sanctuary, Carbon market, The Palace Casino Cebu, Talima, Lapu-Lapu Monument, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Tagaytay is a scenic town near Manila on the island of Luzon. Located precariously on the ridge of the Taal Volcano, it overlooks the beautiful Taal Lake. Its picturesque beauty ranks it among the most popular tourist spots in the Philippines. The town is awash with hues of blue and green throughout the year.
Places To Stay: The Perfect Get away, Taal Vista Hotel, Aviatrix Travel Concierge Services, Quest Hotel Tagaytay, Containers by Eco Hotel, Sang Yoo Mountain View Tagaytay
Places to visit: Taal Lake, Taal Volcano, People’s Park in the Sky, Puzzle Mansion, Museo Orlina, Sky Ranch, Pink Sisters
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Donsol is a wildlife enthusiast’s delight! The island is often listed among the most visited tourist places in Philippines for its whale shark interactions. Whale sharks are a gentler, slow-moving variety of sharks and are the largest fish on earth. Swimming with the whale sharks is possible in this region and is an exciting experience you cannot miss!
Places to stay: Elysia Beach Resort, AGM Beachfront Resort, Vitton and Woodland Beach Resort
Places to visit: Donsol Whale Shark Interaction Centre, Jovellar Underground River, Sigpit Falls
Not many people know about the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, but Vigan is among the best places to visit in Philippines to see this heritage live. In fact, it is also a UNESCO Heritage Site and you can experience the Spanish culture in its cuisine and architecture. Vigan ranks among the top 20 tourist destination in the Philippines and is a delight for history buffs.
Places To Stay: Paradores de Vigan, LaVie Hotel, ZEN Rooms Casa Marita Vigan, One Vittoria Hotel, ZEN Rooms Vigan Tourist Inn, Hotel Veneto De Vigan
Places to visit: Mestizo District, St. Paul Cathedral, Pottery Factories, La Nuestra Senora de La Asuncion Parish Church, Magsingal Museum, Juan Luna Shrine
Sagada is among the offbeat Philippines tourist attractions. The quaint town is located in the Cordillera Mountains away from the beaches and is famous for its limestone hills. The weird centuries-old coffins tied up high on the limestone cliffs are a sight to behold! The landscape is also dotted with rice terraces and the mountains hold secret caves and waterfalls.
Places To Stay: Gina’s Hilltop House , Nuestra Hogar Lodge Sagada, Agape Log Cabin And Restaurant, Agape Log Cabin And Restaurant, Rusty Nail Inn, Banga-an BnB and Coffee House
Places to visit: Echo Valley Hanging Coffins, Sumaguing Cave, Bomod-ok Falls, Lake Danum, Kiltepan View, Lumiang Burial Cave, Ganduyan Museum, Besao
Moalboal is an idyllic backpacker’s destination. Located in Cebu province, its among the top tourist places in Philippines for diving. A spectacular coral wall is found right off the coast and is ideal for snorkeling. With many resorts and hostels to choose from, Moalboal caters to every type of traveler.
Places To Stay: D´Gecko Hotel, Krismark Dive Lodge, Speed 8 Inn by Cocotel, Cebu Seaview Dive Resort, Blue Abyss Resort , Adams View hotel
Places to visit: Panagsama Beach, Pescador Island, Candongao Peak, Badian Bay
13. Batan Island
Batan Island is located in the Batan province and is the perfect mix of hills, countryside views, and beaches. Blessed with a pleasant weather year-round, the island is one of the best places to visit in Philippines. It’s also the best place to soak in the local culture and architecture.
Best Time To Visit: March to October
Ideal Duration: 2 Nights/3 Days
Places To Stay: Best Western Premier Panbil, Blitz Hotel Batam Centre, Beverly Hotel Batam, Aston Batam Hotel & Residence, Radisson Golf & Convention Center Batam
Places to visit: Vayang Rolling Hills, Basco Lighthouse, House of Dakay, Dipnaysupuan Tunnels, Tukon Chapel, Valugan Boulder Beach, PAGASA Weather Station
The wonderful island of Siquijor is filled with mystique and intrigue for Filipinos. The jungles of the island hold century-old secrets of local healers. But today, the island is also one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines and known for its waterfalls, beaches, and coral reefs.
Places To Stay: Monkey Republic Siquijor, Tropicasa Siquijor, Mandala Tribe Treehouses, charisma beach resort, Islandia Beach Resort
Places to visit: Paliton Beach, Cambugahay Falls, Balete Tree, Lugnason Falls, San Isidro Convent, Salagdoong Beach
The tiny island of Boracay is only about 7 KM long but offers one of the best beaches in Asia – The White Beach. A popular tourist destination, it provides best water activities like jet skiing, scuba diving, Flyfish, and snorkeling. Currently closed for environmental rehabilitation, the island is likely to open in November, the best season to experience the island on all Philippine holidays.
Places To Stay: Diniview Villa Resort, Under the Stars Luxury Apartment, The District Boracay, Mandala Spa & Resort Villas, Fairways and Bluewater Boracay
Things to do: Scuba diving, watersports, island hopping, relaxing on the beach
The list of places to visit in Philippines is exhaustive, and we have included just the best ones here! South East Asia is a wonderful destination for travel and you must book your Philippines tour right away to explore more of this beautiful country!
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Frequently Asked Questions about Places to Visit in Philippines
What are the best attractions in the Philippines?
Some of the best places that you can visit in the Philippines are Manila, Cebu, Bohol, El Nido, Coron Island, Puerto Princesa, Mactan Island, Tagaytay, Donsol, Vigan, Sagada, Moalboal, Batan Island, Siquijor, and Boracay.
What is there to do outdoors in the Philippines?
The Philippines is a tropical destination that includes various nature reserves and indulge in several adventures during your tour. Tourists love relaxing at the pristine beaches and relishing the intriguing watersports.
Is it safe to visit the Philippines during covid times?
The Government of Philippines has lifted all the restrictions that were put up to contain covid. Both, vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are allowed to visit Philippines on certain conditions such as following basic rules and regulations, maintaining social distancing, and testing yourself for covid before departure.
What is there to do in the Philippines at night?
Some of the best things that you can do in the Philippines at night are dining at some of the popular restaurants and trying out various amazing cuisines, exploring the vibrant streets of Philippines, and visiting the local markets.
Which are the best restaurants in the Philippines?
The best restaurants where you can dine during your Philippines tour are:
2. Bar Pintxos,
3. Benjarong Thai Restaurant,
5. Bondi and Bourke,
6. China Blue,
7. Crystal Dragon,
9. Hua Yuan Brasserie Chinoise.
What is the cheapest month to fly to the Philippines?
June is the cheapest month to fly to the Philippines as the lowest number of flights are booked in this season. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to the Philippines, you can check out the best packages to get the maximum deals on your budget.
Which are the best months to visit the Philippines?
If you are planning to visit the Philippines, then make sure to plan your tour between November and February, as during these months, the weather in this place gets really pleasant because of which you can explore various attractions without any hassle.
How many days are required to explore the Philippines?
A 6-7 days tour is recommended in order to explore the major attractions in the Philippines but if you want to go for a thorough and relaxing vacation, then 8-9 days are sufficient to explore the hidden gems of this place and spend a relaxing holiday simultaneously.
10 Best Places to Visit in the Philippines
The Philippines is an island nation located in the Western Pacific. The region boasts one of the world’s longest combined coastlines due to the nation’s seven thousand tropical islands. These islands have beautiful coral reefs and spectacular diving, wildlife like whale sharks and dugongs, and mountainous tropical rainforests.
Filipino people are smiling, warm, and generous. Flights can be found to Manila or Cebu, and interisland travel is easy to find via plane, car, train, or ferry. Here is a look at some of the best places to visit in the Philippines:
10. Vigan [SEE MAP]
Obra19 / Wikipedia
A visit to the Crisologo St region of this town is like a step back to colonial times. Horses pull carts along cobblestone streets, and dark-wood mansions flank the sides, as a reminder of the grand life that many enjoyed in this colonial Spanish trading post. At the time, many goods like beeswax and gold were traded to China for exotic Asian items.
Today, the main income for this port is tourism, though the splendor from its trading history remains. Vigan has two hearts, a shopping center in the North, and a business district in the South. Tourists will enjoy the museums that have been created from several mansions, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Mestizo district.
9. Bohol [SEE MAP]
oldandsolo / Flickr
The huge orange eyes and tiny fingers of the miniscule tarsier serve as the spokesmodel for the island of Bohol. Just a short trip from Cebu, this area is one of the few remaining homes for this tiny primate. The unique geologic oddity of the chocolate hills serves as the second draw for the non-divers to the region.
The mogul-like hills come with a legend of being formed by the rocks thrown by an angry giant. Most of the visitors to this region are, however, here to partake in the breathtaking dive opportunities that the region has to offer. It is the jumping off point for the marine reserves off of Pangalo and Pamlican islands.
8. Manila [SEE MAP]
anykeyh / Flickr
This Asian megacity is the capital of the Philippines, the fly-in point for most tourists, and a bustling opportunity to appreciate bounds of culture new and old. From tall gleaming buildings on the skyscraper gazing tour to the turn-of-the century landmarks on the self-guided downtown tour, there is much to see in Manila.
Food, whether from a street cart or high cuisine restaurant, is excellent and diverse, representing much more than the blend of Spanish, indigenous, and Chinese heritages that have found their way to this island nation. There is never a bad time to go to Manila, as there are almost two-dozen annual festivals to keep the city celebrating.
7. Donsol [SEE MAP]
Located in the province of Sorsogon, a place of pristine beaches, stunning waterfalls and unexplored caves, the sleepy fishing village of Donsol is the place in the Philippines to see whale sharks. They like tropical waters, which makes Donsol Bay a great habitat for them.
The protected species migrates through Donsol between November and June, with the numbers peaking between February and May. This huge fish is not shy about approaching boats; indeed, some carry scars from encounters with propellers.
6. Tagaytay [SEE MAP]
lulaymb / Flickr
The Taal volcano that sits majestically above the town of Tagaytay is a combination of active and extinct craters that create a beautiful tapestry of must-sees. Lake Taal is nestled inside the old Taal volcano crater, and the central island for the lake is the currently active volcano craters, which can be seen steaming on certain days.
Those who have never seen the pristine waters of a crater lake in person will be astonished at their pristine beauty. The long town of Tagaytay sits along this ridge, and is known for being clean, laid back, and a haven for foodies. Tourist attractions in town include the Punta de Santiago lighthouse, St Anne Shrine, and the large local flower farm.
5. Cebu [SEE MAP]
dbgg1979 / Flickr
Cebu is an island province in the Philippines, consisting of the main island itself and 167 surrounding islands. Its capital, Cebu city, is the oldest in the Philippines, and home to the nation’s second international airport.
The city is a smaller but similarly busy version of Manila, with many of the same urban benefits of new, old, cutting edge and cultural. One advantage that Cebu has is Matcan island, featuring a premiere dive site that is a short drive from an international airport. Another diving gem, the island and resorts of Malapascua, is about a four hour drive to the port town of Maya, and then must be accessed by boat. It is well worth the trip, however, as it is often considered the number one dive site in the country.
4. Mindoro [SEE MAP]
Jun Acullador / Flickr
Mindoro is an island that consists of two different regions, Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental, which are separated from one another by a high mountain range. The north of the region is mostly remote, and home to the primitive Mangayan tribe. This trip is well worth it for divers, however, as the town of Sablayan is the doorway to the island of Pangan and the pristine Apo Reef Marine Natural Park.
There is only one resort on the island, so reservations are recommended. In Mindoro Oriental, the main tourism location is the town of Puerto Galera. This is the ideal beach town, with resorts and white sand beaches for the water lovers, as well as jeep trips, orchid-filled rainforests, kayaking rivers and waterfalls for the trekkers in the group.
3. Banuae [SEE MAP]
IRRI Images / Flickr
The mud-walled rice terraces in Banuae are reason enough to take the bus trip from Manila to this unique indigenous town. The agricultural engineering system represented here was built 2000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation.
Though the serene and impressive flats would be enough to make this a must-see, the spectacular wood-carved rice guardians make the trip even more worthwhile. The ancient, crude sculptures are reminiscent of tikis, and believed to protect the crops from harm.
Though tourism has brought the Western world to an ancient way of life and created a large tourist market here, there are opportunities to visit less touristy towns whose rice crops are still the main staple of their economy for those seeking a more authentic experience.
2. Boracay [SEE MAP]
Endless white sand beaches, colorful outrigger sailboat rides, and beautiful resorts grace this island that has been consistently in the top three beaches in the world by travel review sites. The most populous region of Boracay is the central part of White Beach, which has the most opportunities for food, adventure, shopping, and public merriment.
Moving further away, more remote options are available, but they come with reduced amenities. Lodging ranges from budget shacks to high-end full-service resorts, but the white sand beaches, turquoise water, and romantic ambiance are open to all.
1. Palawan [SEE MAP]
Philippine Fly Boy / Flickr
One of the best places to visit in the Philippines, Palawan is an island province that stretches from Mindoro to Borneo between the South China and Sulu seas. Puerto Princesa, which is close to large karst formations with an underground river, is the provincial capital.
Coron Reefs on Busuanga Island is a popular diving spot, drawing divers who want to explore Japanese shipwrecks from World War II. Another popular destination is El Nido, a town sandwiched between towering limestone karst cliffs and the beautiful Bacuit Bay.
Map of the Philippines
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