A giant among the famous tourist destinations of Asia, the Philippines is a country that needs no introduction. With picture-perfect beaches, rich biodiversity, colonial architecture, and indigenous culture, these islands attract millions of visitors each year. Whether you are looking for the best diving sites, most exotic jungle landscapes, thrilling volcano hikes, breathtaking natural wonders, best Spanish colonial buildings, or the most Instagram-worthy spots on the planet, this country has got them all. You will also have many accommodation choices that will suit your needs and style, from economy hotels to the most luxurious villas. From Luzon to Mindanao and every other province in between, we will give you a run-down on the best places to visit in the Philippines. Scroll down to know more!
Recently reopened after a six-month ban due to overcrowding, Boracay is the ultimate beach destination in the Philippines and one of the top-ranked beach vacation spots in the world. Visitors to Boracay island can enjoy a range of water activities like jet skiing, scuba diving, windsurfing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkelling, or swimming. The powdery, white sand beaches of the island including White Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and in the world, are immaculately clean and the blue waters are crystal clear. You can also enjoy delicious local treats, shop for shell jewellery, or explore the various beaches via a local mode of transport: an e-jeepney.
Tip from Trip101 local expert
Boracay is renowned for its white sand beach and picturesque sunsets, but the best way to view and experience the sunset is by joining a paraw sailing tour. The boat is called 'paraw' in the Cebuano language. I've tried it, and it's an experience on its own. Imagine the scenic view, the sound of the waves, and the water splashing on your feet.
Located in the country’s Central Visayas region, Cebu is very easy to access from almost anywhere in the Philippines. There are beautiful beaches, spectacular diving locations, resorts and luxury hotels, heritage sites, and many beautiful islands in this famous tourist destination. Diving and swimming with whale sharks and canyoning the river that leads to the Kawasan Falls are some of the popular tourist activities here. Visitors can even explore the nearby islands of Bohol Strait via boat rides. Several Spanish colonial-era churches, shrines and landmarks that dot its capital city, Cebu City, should also be visited while you’re here.
Duration: 3 Day(s) Duration
Constantly making it on the world’s top beach destination lists, El Nido in the Palawan region of the Philippines is blessed with mesmerising natural beauty. This hot spot is comprised of a group of islands with a very diverse ecosystem, home to many unique geological formations, as well as flora and fauna. Visitors are attracted in droves to El Nido’s pristine beaches, dense forests, waterfalls, lagoons, caves, and enchanting cliffs. Diving is one of the most popular activities here, especially in Bacuit Bay. Swimming, snorkelling, hiking and visiting the various islands are other activities you can enjoy here.
Duration: 4hrs - 5hrsDuration
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Famous for its dense forests and thriving jungle life, Bohol is another popular tourist spot in the Philippines’ Central Visayas region. It covers quite a large area consisting of the main island and 75 surrounding islands, no wonder plenty of beach resorts dot its extensive shoreline. You can explore the brown limestone mounds of Chocolate Hills, visit the fabulous diving sites at Panglao Island, or cruise on the Loboc River. Learn about Asia’s smallest primate, the Philippine Tarsier, at the Tarsier Conservatory.
Vistors to Bohol will also enjoy admiring the beautiful architectural landmarks, beaches, caves, and waterfalls. The region’s capital, Tagbilaran, is worth checking out too, with its many restaurants, bars and shopping avenues.
5. Vigan City
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vigan City is the only surviving city in Asia that still has its original Spanish, oriental, and native Philippine structures intact. Visitors throng this 16th-century city to admire the amazing architecture, especially in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Walk through the cobblestoned streets of Calle Crisologo, and visit popular areas, including Plaza Salcedo, an Earthquake Baroque church known as Vigan Cathedral, Plaza Burgos, the many traditional Bahay na Bato houses and more. Sampling the local food at restaurants and cruising along the Mestizo River are other popular activities to try here.
Home to one of the six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Banaue is another well-known destination on the Philippine tourism map. Said to be at least 1000 years old, the Bangaan and Batad Rice Terraces go up thousands of feet in the mountains. These mud-walled rice fields are not just beautiful to look at, but they are awe-inspiring too, considering the ingenious irrigation method used to maintain them. There are more than 48 rice terraces in this area, and they occupy a large portion of the mountainous region of Ifugao province. In Banaue, you can also learn about the Ifugao culture while visiting the villages.
Duration: 4 days
Nicknamed the ‘Eco-Tourism Center of the Philippines’, Puerto Princesa is a well-known city on Palawan Island, Philippines. It is often used as a start-off point for tourists heading to Coron, El Nido, and other similarly exotic destinations. But the city offers many attractions that warrant an extended stay. Check out the Emerald Beach and Nature Park, Palawan Rescue and Wildlife Center, Puerto Princesa, and Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
When soaking up the sun, you can explore Puerto Princesa seafront, Sabang Beach, and the nearby island of Honda Bay. Many restaurants and bars that serve excellent seafood and local dishes are also available here. A tour of Puerto Princesa Underground River is another experience you should not miss in this coastal city.
Located in the famous province of Cebu, Mactan Island is a relatively overlooked destination by most tourists. It is an island that showcases diverse marine and rich coral species, it offers some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the country right off its shores. Island hopping to the Bohol Strait is another popular activity here, along with water sports like sailing, jet-skiing, and more. Many marine conservation centres like Nalusuan Island Marine Sanctuary and San Vicente Marine Sanctuary are also located nearby.
Duration: 6 to 8 hours
As the main island of Batanes in Northern Philippines, this destination offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the wild and raw beauty of the country. The scene of the Japanese invasion during WWII, Batan Island is known for being home to many active and inactive volcanoes that are responsible for the lush greenery and hilly geography of the island. Visitors can admire the beauty of the rugged coastal cliffs and quaint limestone and coral houses, or visit Valugan Boulder Beach and Basco Lighthouse. Taking a boat trip to the nearby Sabtang Island is another popular thing to do from Batan Island.
Duration: 2 Day(s) Duration
Shrouded in mystical traditions, the island of Siquijor is an up-and-coming tourist destination in the Philippines. During the Spanish occupation of the island, it was known as Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire) from the magical glow it emits due to the thousands of fireflies inhabiting the island. In reference to its mystical practise of sorcery and magic, the island holds many festivals where mountain healers make potions and practise ancient rituals.
Siquijor is also home to the beautiful Cambugahay Falls, the 100-year-old Balete tree, and several beaches and caves. Siquijor, along with its neighbor Apo Island, is ringed by coral reefs that offer amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities to visitors.
Known as the best spot to swim with whale sharks in the Philippines, Donsol has firmly established itself on the tourist map of the country. To go swimming with whale sharks here, the easiest way is to book guided tours with recognised dive centres in the area. This municipality also offers offbeat tours like night shrimp-catching or firefly watching. There are plenty of hills in this area which provides great biking and hiking opportunities. Diving trips to nearby islands can also be arranged from here.
Another awesome island in Batanes is Sabtang Island. It is the smallest among the three major islands of Batanes but is well known for its traditional limestone-walled and cogon grass-topped houses, beautiful beaches, and Mission-style churches. Visitors can admire the well-preserved Chavayan and Savidug villages and learn about the Ivatan culture on the island. The San Vicente Ferrer Church, ruins of ancient fortresses, and the natural stone arch on Morong Beach are a few must-visit tourist attractions on Sabtang Island.
Taal Volcano has a rather interesting geography, which is aptly described by its moniker “island within a lake within an island within a lake”. It is located next to the hill town of Tagaytay and is a popular weekend destination for Manila residents. Taal Volcano is considered to be the smallest active volcano in the world, with 30 eruptions recorded thus far. Visitors can hike to the top of the volcano and enjoy panoramic views of the crater, Taal Lake, and the surrounding mountain landscapes from the rim. The views from atop the volcano are said to be wallpaper-worthy and absolutely breathtaking.
The island province of Catanduanes consists of several islands and islets and is often known as ‘The Land of the Howling Winds’ due to its typhoon-prone location. Despite this, it is a popular tourist spot famous for its lagoons, beaches, bays, churches, prehistoric caves, and a variety of flora and fauna. Snorkelling or swimming in the lagoons and glimpsing the diverse wildlife are some family activities you can enjoy here.
Visitors can go surfing at Puraran Majestic Wave Beach, check out the stunning Luyang Cave, or admire the rugged mountainous topography from Binurong Point. Don’t forget to marvel at the architecture of the Holy Cross of Batalay Shrine, as well as the Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church (otherwise known as Bato Church).
Nicknamed ‘The Maldives of the Philippines’, Manjuyod Sandbar is a seven-kilometre (4.3 mi) strip of white sand in the Negros Oriental province of the Philippines. To reach the sandbar, visitors have to take a ferry that often includes a dolphin or whale watching tour as well. Depending on the tide, you can choose to sunbathe or laze around on the shoal, or you can swim, snorkel, and frolic in the water. Starfish are easily spotted in the surrounding turquoise waters. Other nearby attractions include the natural rock formation of Himampangon Cave and the protected Candabong forest.
Duration: 10.0 hour
16. Iloilo City
The very modern and urbanised Iloilo City is located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Amidst modern features, there are plenty of charming attractions here, including numerous museums, art galleries, and historic churches. Many cultural and religious festivals are also fervently celebrated here.
Visitors can check out Museo Iloilo, Western Visayas Regional Museum, Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art, and Museum of Philippine Economic History. Admire the Spanish colonial architecture in Calle Real, Iloilo Customs House, and the old Iloilo City Hall of the American colonial period. Marvel at the opulent mansions like the Mansion de Lopez and Villa Lizares, or visit religious buildings like Jaro Cathedral and Molo Church. Several parks and shopping areas are also scattered across the city.
17. Mayon Volcano
Located on the Luzon Island of the Philippines, Mayon Volcano is a perfectly conical active stratovolcano that erupted as recently as 2018. Despite threats of eruption, tourism has continued to boom in this famous attraction in the Bicol region. Besides taking pictures of the incredible Mayon Volcano, the most popular draw here is the Cagsawa ruins. It consists of a dilapidated stone church belfry standing alone in the grass. It is a testament to the violent nature of the nearby volcano when it buried nearly 1200 residents in 1814. Visitors can also attend one of the numerous festivals held in honour of the volcano, or explore Albay Biosphere Reserve.
18. Kalanggaman Island
The idyllic island paradise of Kalanggaman Island looks like something out of a movie, with its blue waters, brilliant white sand beaches, swaying coconut palm trees, and an overall laidback island vibe. The sandbar extending out to the side is the main attraction of this island. The surrounding crystal clear waters are suitable for diving, snorkelling, standup paddleboarding, swimming, and kayaking. Or you can just laze around on the beach and mingle with the friendly island locals.
As the Philippines’ most famous waterfall, Pagsanjan Falls sees a steady footfall of tourists each year. The waterfalls are characterised by their unique three-tier shape and can be accessed in two ways - either by an adventurous canoe trip on 14 rapids from Pagsanjan, or a short hike from Cavinti town. The canoe trip is the most popular form of travel to the falls since it takes visitors through the spectacular boulder-lined Pagsanjan Gorge and ends at a natural pool under the falls. Devil’s Cave, which hides behind a curtain of water, is also a must-visit place here
Duration: 8 hours
Since it is the capital city of the Philippines, most tourists use Manila as a base to hop off to other exotic beach destinations in the country through cheap flights. But there are a number of natural, architectural, and culinary attractions in this highly urbanized city.
The most famous spots to visit here are the historic Walled City of Intramuros, where you can admire the stunning architecture, the National Museum Complex in Rizal Park which is home to a number of museums, Manila’s Chinatown (otherwise known as Binondo), where you can shop for inexpensive items or eat delicious fusion food, and Manila Ocean Park for some theme park fun for the whole family.
Duration: 4.0 hour
Shaped like a teardrop, Siargao is a beautiful island in the Philippine Sea. It is renowned for its epic surf breaks, which attracts professional and amateur surfers from across the world, especially at the Cloud 9 surfing spot. But for those who are not into surfing, Siargao Island also offers other fantastic experiences like snorkelling, swimming, and lazing around on the beach. Check out the cliff jumping opportunities at Magpupungko Rock Pools, caving at Tayangban Cave Pools, or the island-hopping excursions to Dako Island, Guyam Island, and Naked Island.
Duration: 4 to 10 hours
Located in the South China Sea, Subic Bay is a strategically important part of the Philippines. It was once home to a U.S. Naval Base. As such, there are several shipwrecks in this area perfect for wreck diving and snorkelling. The forest reserve of Pamulaklakin Nature Park provides visitors with a range of walking trails through lush jungles. Several theme parks and Zoobic Safari are also available in Subic Bay, making it an ideal family-friendly holiday destination. Visitors should also check out Malawaan Park, which offers scenic views of the bay area. While you’re here, catch a glimpse of the sunset at the Boardwalk, or admire the architecture of the Spanish Gate.
Duration: 9.5 hour
Located only a short drive away from Manila, Hidden Valley is home to natural springs in the middle of a lush, tropical rainforest. There are six natural hot and cold pools to be enjoyed here, along with several waterfalls, lagoons, and the majestic century-old Amlang tree. The family-friendly Hidden Valley has been featured in many television programmes and offers plenty of opportunities to relax, walk around, soak in the calm waters, or simply unwind in the lap of nature. Several species of bird and plant life can also be observed here.
Duration: 8 hour
Known as the “second summer capital of the Philippines”, Tagaytay enjoys a cool climate and scenic views all around. It is a popular destination for domestic tourists due to its proximity to Metro Manila. The main attractions of Tagaytay include breathtaking views of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake, which can be enjoyed from various points in the city. Besides this, visitors also flock here for the shrines and churches, Picnic Grove Complex, Ayala Malls Serin, and People’s Park in the Sky. If you’re travelling with your kids, you should also add Sky Ranch in your itinerary as it’s one of the best theme and amusement parks in the Philippines.
Duration: 14 hours
Situated off the Bohol Sea, Camiguin Island is a picturesque piece of paradise that will enthrall all kinds of visitors. The island is home to four volcanoes that have given rise to dense forests, waterfalls, and springs. Several beautiful beaches are also found on the island, enabling snorkelling, diving and swimming opportunities. Visitors to Camiguin can climb a volcano, participate in the annual Lanzones Festival which celebrates the sweet fruit, and admire many cultural landmarks, including the Old Bonbon Church ruins, Santo Rosario Church in Sagay, the Spanish-era watchtower in Guinsiliban, the old Mambajao Fountain, and Sunken Cemetery of Catarman.
Duration: 6 hours
Aptly nicknamed the ‘Summer Capital of the Philippines’, Baguio City is situated in a mountainous area and enjoys a year-round cool climate that attracts both domestic and international tourists. Visitors can go boating in Burnham Lake, enjoy views of the Cordillera mountains from Mines View Park, admire the architecture of the Mansion, or visit the Baguio Cathedral. Several museums that highlight the culture and history of the area are also worth visiting, like Baguio Museum, Museo Kordilyera and Laperal White House. It is also well-known for its folk art and craft traditions like weaving, tattooing, and silver craft.
Duration: 13 hours
The stunning Coron Island is situated in the Calamian Islands in the Philippines and is a popular spot for ecotourism. It is best known for its breathtaking natural beauty. This destination boasts amazing diving and snorkelling opportunities since there are a number of WWII shipwrecks in the surrounding waters. Other famous natural attractions in the area include the rock formations, postcard-perfect cliffs of the Twin Lagoons, the crystal clear waters of Kayangan Lake and Barracuda Lake, various white sandy beaches and more. Coron Island also serves as a perfect base to go island-hopping. From here you can check out beautiful spots like Maquinit Springs, Malcapuya Beach, Coron Town, and more.
Duration: 8 hours
Another strategically important island in the Luzon area, Corregidor Island was significant to the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces during WWII. The ruins of the American naval base, fortifications, barracks, bunkers, mortars, and secret tunnels can be explored via guided tours on the island. Visitors can even go walking, hiking, or biking along the many woodland trails. Enjoy birdwatching, take in spectacular sunsets from several viewpoints, go on a guided night visit to Malinta Tunnel or view the nearby sites of Fort Drum, La Monja, Mariveles, and more on boat tours.
Duration: 9 hours
Nestled in the Zambales mountain range of Luzon is the volcanic Mount Pinatubo. Though it had catastrophic effects on the surrounding areas after it erupted in 1991, Mount Pinatubo is a safe place to visit today. Due to its proximity to Manila, the mountain is a popular trekking destination for locals and visitors alike. The lake formed in the crater of the volcano, Lake Pinatubo, is filled with crystal clear water that is majestic to look at, but not suitable for swimming. For those who wish to admire the beauty of this area, adventure tours offered by multiple operators are available from Manila.
Duration: 15 hours
Even though it is one of the most populated cities in the country, Davao City is a thriving tourism hub in Southern Philippines. A number of museums and historical sites dot the city, including Mindanao Folk Arts Museum, Japanese Tunnel, Davao Museum, and Philippine-Japan Museum. Visitors should also check out the Philippine Eagle Foundation and Nature Center which is home to the endangered Philippine eagle. On your trip here, climb the majestic Mount Apo, sunbathe on the scenic beaches of Samal Island, or participate in the Kadayawan Festival.
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
A group of islands with astounding natural beauty, friendly locals, and ancient culture mixed with colonial influences, Philippines should be featured on every traveller’s list. Adventurers will surely find the many cool places to stay for backpackers exciting and newly weds won’t have problems looking for the most romantic honeymoon spots. If you’re planning a holiday to this magical country, be sure to arm yourself with our list of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
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