Where To Go, What To Do: 15 Best Things To Do In The Philippines - Updated 2024

best places to visit in the philippines
Bea
Bea 
Updated
| 7 min read

So you’re headed to the Philippines, and you’re not quite sure what to put on your itinerary? Don’t fret! The Philippines is truly peppered with many beautiful sights to see, scrumptious food to eat and so much warmth and hospitality, that it might be confusing for a first-time visitor to figure out which destinations to prioritize. But thankfully, your accommodation is sorted, for plenty of amazing options are available here - from eco hotels to kid-friendly resorts in the Philippines. Many beautiful attractions and activities await you in this majestic country. Check out these 15 best things to do in the Philippines.

1. Visit the museum at Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro, Barangay San Roque, Cebu
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Raschid Salting used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in Cebu City, the historic Fort San Pedro is a landmark from the colonial past of the Philippines. The fort was established in the 16th century by Miguel López de Legazpi, the first governor of the Spanish-ruled Captaincy General of the Philippines, and served as a military defense stronghold for the first colonial settlement in the country. In the intervening years, the fort had been used as a rebel base, military barracks, public offices, and even a zoo. Visitors today can learn more about landmark’s history at the small museum located on the fort’s grounds, and meander through the picturesque walled garden.

Fort San Pedro

Address: A. Pigafetta Street, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines

Opening hours: 8am - 7pm (daily)

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2. Admire picturesque panoramas at Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park

Lake Balinsasayao
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user rocker_jkb used under CC BY 2.0

Marvel at the amazing scenery of Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park. This beautiful landscape of twin crater lakes and lush forest is located near Dumaguete and is a wonderful recreation area. Rent a kayak or paddle board and spend your day skimming the clear water of the lakes, hike along the verdant, mountainside trails, or go bird-watching and scan the skies for the area’s 114 species of local fowl. There is also an on-site restaurant where you can enjoy your meal while admiring the wondrous lake scenery.

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park

Address: Sibulan, Negros Oriental, Philippines

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

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3. Hike to Hulugan Falls

Fall in Love with Hulugan Falls
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ElliotAndal used under CC BY-SA 4.0

With its thunderous cascade of sparkling water and lush forest setting, Hulugan Falls is a marvelous sight to behold. This waterfall is massive, with a cataract pouring from 235 feet (72 meters) overhead. Visitors can even take a dip in the pool of cool water at the cascade’s base. Two hiking trails lead to the falls, and it is necessary to engage a tour guide at the Barangay Captain’s House. This magnificent attraction is located in Barangay San Salvador in Luisiana. In addition to Hulugan Falls, you can also stop at Talay Falls and Hidden Falls along the way, two smaller but no less beautiful waterfalls.

Hulugan Falls

Address: Luisiana, Laguna, Philippines

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4. Step back in time at Tabon Caves (from USD 69.2)

best places to visit in the philippines | step back in time at tabon caves
Source: www.klook.com

Renowned at the “Cradle of Civilization,” Tabon Caves in Puerto Princesa is a unique and beautiful historical sight that boasts an astounding collection of archaeological finds. On this guided excursion, you get to explore the wondrous cave systems and learn more about the area’s incredible history and astounding discoveries like the skullcap of the oldest confirmed modern human! You also get to admire the magnificent limestone formations and natural scenery from a boat tour. Additionally, the tour includes lunch and round-trip transportation in Palawan.

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Tabon Cave Excursion in Puerto Princesa - Klook

5. Snorkel at Looc Fish Sanctuary

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

For an unforgettable underwater adventure Looc Fish Sanctuary in Romblon is a must-see. This protected marine area encompasses a beautiful coral reef and is home to a rich biodiversity of underwater creatures. Swim through huge schools of reef fish, snorkel past colorful coral formations, or watch feeding demonstrations from the sanctuary’s floating hut. The sanctuary’s pontoon also has tables set up so you can enjoy a picnic. Some snorkeling gear is available to rent.

Looc Fish Sanctuary

Address: Poblacion, Looc, Romblon 5507 Looc, Philippines

Website: Looc Fish Sanctuary

Opening hours: 8am - 4pm (daily)

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6. Pose with the marvelous murals at Art in Island (from USD 14.05)

Marvel at the staggering works in Asia’s largest 3D art museum! Art in Island: 3D Interactive Art Museum is located in Quezon City perfect for a day of family-filled fun. As its name suggests, this stellar museum is filled with unique works that seem to leap off the walls (and floor and ceilings)! Guests can pose with all the works and take plenty of mind-boggling pictures throughout the museum’s 12 zones. There is also a café and souvenir store on site.

Traveler's tips

This is an interactive museum. Most of the artworks here are unique and cannot be found anywhere else. You'll surely enjoy taking a lot of pictures here for a good laugh, because I did. Make sure to wear socks and comfortable shoes when visiting the museum so you don't have to rent or buy socks to enter the property.

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Art in Island: The Media Square Ticket in Manila, Philippines

1061 reviews

7. Stroll through Rizal Park

Rizal Monument at Rizal Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Maynard Rabanal used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Sprawling Rizal Park is one of Manila’s most famous landmarks. The park, which is also known as Luneta Park, contains beautiful open lawns, paved walking trails, and public museums. Another interesting fact about this park is it has been the site of many historic moments. The park is named after Filipino patriot José Rizal, whose execution at this site led to the Filipino uprising for independence from the Spanish. Also, the park commemorates other important historic figures through public monuments. With its gorgeous fountains and ornamental gardens, Rizal Park is a pleasant place to enjoy a stroll or take in a concert at one of the many public music venues.

Rizal Park

Address: Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines

Opening hours: 5am - 9pm (daily)

Price: Free

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8. Enjoy the superb attractions at Manila Ocean Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Dive into a good time at Manila Ocean Park! This outstanding, family-friendly attraction combines endless entertainment and education. It showcases the awe-inspiring array of sea creatures that can be found in Southeast Asia. Manila Ocean World is home to over 14,000 marine creatures and includes stellar exhibits that will take your breath away like the 220-degree curved walkway tunnel where you can watch sea creatures drift above your head. In addition to the aquarium exhibits, the park offers a number of unique attractions, including the Augmented Reality Encounter, a bird show, a sea lion show, and more.

Manila Ocean Park

Address: Quirino Grandstand, 666 Behind, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines

Website: Manila Ocean Park

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 9am - 6pm

Price: From 570 PHP (12 USD)

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9. Encounter history at Aguinaldo Shrine and Museum

The Aguinaldo Shrine is the national shrine located in Kawit, Cavite in the Republic of the Philippines
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ricardo C. Eusebio used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Learn more about Filipino history at Aguinaldo Shrine and Museum. This landmark was the ancestral home of Emilio Aguinaldo, who served as the first President of the Philippines. The site is also where the Philippine Declaration of Independence was declared in 1898. Today, it houses an extensive museum, where guests can explore a number of terrific exhibits that cover topics such as the life of Emilio Aguinaldo, the revolution against Spain, and the Philippines’ war against the United States. The site also features traditional furnishings and decorative pieces and has a beautiful garden to explore. The museum is located in Kawit and is open daily.

Aguinaldo Shrine and Museum

Address: Kawit, 4104 Cavite, Philippines

Website: Aguinaldo Shrine and Museum

Opening hours: 8am - 4pm (daily)

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10. Catch the sunset from Manila Baywalk

Manila Baywalk
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ramon FVelasquez used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Stroll along Manila Baywalk and enjoy wonderful panoramas of the Philippines’ capital city. This expanse of seaside promenade spans Roxas Boulevard and stretches from Rizal Park to Cultural Center of the Philippines. It offers wonderful views across Manila Bay. The trail is just over a mile (2 kilometers) long, with many eateries are situated along the promenade. Manila Baywalk is a scenic stretch no matter the time of day but it’s a particularly beautiful spot to enjoy the sunset.

Manila Baywalk

Address: Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila, 1004 Metro Manila, Philippines

Opening hours: 5am - 12:30am (daily)

Price: Free

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11. Party in Boracay

Party in Boracay
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ronald Tagra used under CC BY 2.0

One of the Philippines’ more popular beaches and tourist spots, Boracay is never a bore when it comes to hosting the best parties. Its white sand beaches, beautiful sunsets and lively atmosphere prove to be a great backdrop to its amazing nightlife. You can visit its many bars and restaurants, or even go partying in any one of Boracay’s clubs by the beach, or go for a Pub Crawl to meet new people and hop around different Boracay clubs and bars. With a cocktail in hand, sand under your feet and a beat that electrifies, Boracay is truly one of the best places to party here in the Philippines.

Boracay

Address: Boracay, Malay, Philippines

Website: Boracay Guide

Traveler's tips

Firedancer

While doing some pub crawls in Boracay, don't forget to take a snap with the fire dancers. Fire dancing is one feature that some bars on the island use to draw customers in. You'll also find some fire dancers by the beach. 

Traveler's tips

Boracay is known for its nightlife, from watching fire dancers to joining a pub crawl. On our vacation there, we went to Epic Boracay. It has a gate fee that includes two alcoholic drinks. If you want a table, it will cost you more, but it's consumable and great if you're going with a group, like we did. It was a night of fun, dancing, good music, and a lot of drinks, which made me not function well the next day. So I recommend that you drink moderately if you have tours to join the next morning.

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12. Hike Mt. Pulag

mt pulag
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jose Nicdao used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re wondering what to do in the Philippines, how about hiking Mt. Pulag? The third tallest mountain in the Philippines, Mt. Pulag is famous for the enchanting view travelers get upon reaching the top: a sea full of clouds, so close that it feels like you can hop on one and just ride through the sky. If you think this is breathtaking in itself, wait for the sunrise - because of its high altitude, Mt. Pulag lets its dwellers see a sunrise with a myriad of colors, unlike any other. You can hike Mt. Pulag for a minimal entrance fee of PHP 100 (2.00 USD), and camp at the site for PHP 50 (1.00 USD).

Mt. Pulag

Address: Mount Pulag, Kabayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Price: from 2.00 USD

Tip from Content Creator

Rex

Rex

Mount Pulag Mount Pulag

Photos of Mount Pulag shared by content creator from the Philippines, Rex Lim Lim.

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13. Fill your tummy with tasty dishes at Lechon at Zubuchon

Lechón kawali
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Foodista used under CC BY 2.0

It’s a common joke among Filipinos that you leave the Philippines a dozen pounds heavier than you enter, and this is with good reason: Filipinos not only love to eat good food, but we also love to serve good food to our guests. And though the Philippines has a lot of tasty dishes (like the Sinigang, Kare-Kare, and Adobo), Cebu Lechon is definitely one of the top crowd favorites. Eating lechon is a must-do in the Philippines. Try out Zubuchon - a restaurant that has branches in both Cebu and Manila - and go for their healthier take on the classic Lechon. Even more impressive, Anthony Bourdain ate here and said it was the “best pig ever”!

Lechon at Zubuchon

Address: Talisay Street, San Antonio, Makati City

Price: from 10 USD per kilo

Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm

Website: Zubuchon

Traveler's tips

Cebu Lechon is, in my opinion, superior to other lechons in the Philippines. It has a distinct taste that you can only experience when you're eating lechon in Cebu, so I suggest that you make it your main mission when in Cebu to taste the local lechon. Also, it is best paired with their puso rice, which is basically rice wrapped in coconut leaves and shaped into a triangular form.

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14. Go "malling" at SM Megamall

SM Ice Rink at Manila's Megamall
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user RioHondo used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’ve ever been to the Philippines, you might have noticed that there’s a mall on just about every corner. In fact, malls are so common that we’ve already invented a term for going to the mall: “malling.” “Malling” is one of the most well-known Filipino past times, and if you find that you have a spare day without any itinerary, you can go to SM Megamall and spend hours going through the department store, exploring the restaurants and food courts, going ice skating, watching a movie or bowling!

SM Megamall

Address: Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines

Opening Hours: 10am-10pm.

Website: SM Megamall

Traveler's tips

SM Mega Mall is my favorite branch of SM in the country because it is very accessible from where I live. Though it is big, I know where my favorite shops are. For shopping, they have the usual Zara, Uniqlo, H&M, Mango, and the like. But the biggest plus is that it offers many activities, including archery, baking, ice skating, bowling, and the like.

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15. Go island-hopping on the Hundred Islands

"Few from Hundreds" (jeff-euro photography)

Posted by Jeffrey Espiritu Eurolfan on Friday, 27 January 2017

One of the top things to do in the Philippines is to go island-hopping. The Philippines is composed of more than 7000 islands, and Hundred Islands gives you a taste of what it’s like to explore some of those unique islands. You can go snorkeling, check out the different islands, go kayaking, and even eat fresh seafood while you’re at it! And as a bonus, going island-hopping through Hundred Islands doesn’t hurt the pocket at all: there’s only a small PHP 40 (0.80 USD) entrance fee, and you only have to pay whatever boat fee you agree on, on top of that.

Island-hopping on the Hundred Islands

Address: Alaminos, Pangasinan, Philippines

Price: from 0.80 USD

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16. Attend a fiesta

Sinulog Festival 2012 Photos
Source: Photo by user Constantine Agustin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Philippines is a strongly Catholic country, and as such, regularly pays homage and worships various saints through festivals, all year-round. Some of the more notable ones include the Masskara Festival, and of course, the Sinulog Festival. When in the Philippines, try catching Sinulog, a city-wide festival in Cebu with colorful floats, creative dancing, great food, and a contagious street party vibe! Sinulog typically happens in January, so if your trip is scheduled around then, you’re in luck!

Sinulog Festival

Address: Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

Website: Sinulog Festival

Traveler's tips

Tawo-Tawo Festival Tawo Tawo Festival Tawo Tawo Festival

Aside from Sinulog Festival, the Philippines is home to a lot of other festivals all over the country. Each city, town, municipality and province has their own festival, which usually happen during Fiesta Celebrations. One festival I recommend you to check out is the Tawo-Tawo festival from the City of Bayawan in Negros Oriental. It is a lively and colorful festival, that is a form of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. Tawo-Tawo means Person-Person or we simply translate this as a scarecrow, as this symbolizes a guard that drives the birds away during rice season. 

Traveler's tips

Every town in the Philippines has its own fiesta. The fiesta in each town is always in honor of a saint, Sto. Niño, and the Virgin Mary. In my town, we have the fiesta of St. John the Baptist because he is known as the baptizer, so you can expect water to be part of the celebration. For those who don't want to go home drenched in water, I suggest you stay indoors during the celebration and just taste the many food prepared by the host. 

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17. Marvel at the Underground River

Puerto Princesa Underground River
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mike Gonzalez used under CC BY-SA 3.0

How can a river possibly flow underground? The Philippines has many curious natural gems, and the Underground River in Palawan is surely one of them. Palawan’s underground river is one of the 7 wonders of nature, what with its majestic rock formations, caves and waterfalls. What’s more, you don’t need to spend a lot to see it either - entrance fee is PHP 175 (3.50 USD) for local adults, PHP 250 (5.00 USD) for foreign tourists, and there’s a small environmental fee of PHP 40 (0.80 USD).

Underground River

Address: Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

Price: from 4.30 USD

Website: Underground River

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18. Visit the Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces
Source: Photo by user Jose Nicdao used under CC BY 2.0

Dubbed as the 8th wonder of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Banaue Rice Terraces is a mountain made into stairs to accommodate a vast field of rice. This site is one of the top things to see in the Philippines. This natural gem is worthy of the name, and seeing it up close and personal is a very different experience from just seeing it on your usual postcard. Here, you can take photos, learn about the local culture, and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

Banaue Rice Terraces

Address: Nueva Vizcaya - Ifugao - Mountain Province Rd, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines

Price: from 1.00 USD entrance fee

Website: Banaue Rice Terraces

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19. Pick fresh strawberries in Baguio

Lagalag in La Trinidad (2402014949)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Shubert Ciencia used under CC BY 2.0

Baguio is known to be one of the coldest places in the Philippines, but aside from that, there are many things one can do in Baguio, like horseback-riding and visiting Burnham Park. It’s also only in Baguio where you can get strawberry “taho,” a local delicacy made of soy, pearls, and strawberry syrup, and it’s because Baguio is one of the best places - if not the best place - to get fresh and juicy strawberries. So, if you want to tickle your tastebuds or maybe make some strawberry jam, head on over to breezy Baguio!

Baguio

Address: Baguio City, Benguet, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

Website: Baguio City

Traveler's tips

If Canada has apple picking, we have strawberry picking here. It is a delightful activity compared to just buying them at the many stalls in the public market. You can guarantee they're fresh and have a longer shelf life, especially if you're bringing them back to your hometown. The people in charge gave us a basket and scissors to help with the picking, and when we were done, they weighed it, and then we knew how much to pay for everything.

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20. Surfing in Baler

Baler, Aurora
Source: Photo by Flickr user susancorpuz90 used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking for adventure in clear blue waters, you might want to check out surfing in Baler. Baler is one of the best places to go in the Philippines for a surf trip, and people here are very welcoming, so if you don’t know how to surf, they’ll teach you in a heartbeat. Baler also houses some of the quirkiest hostels that host foreigners and locals, surfers and non-surfers alike, and also has other tourist destinations, like the Diguisit Falls.

Baler

Address: Baler, Aurora, Philippines

Website: Baler

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21. See the stunning beauty of Chocolate Hills and Loboc River (from USD 105.0)

The best way to see the stunning natural beauty of Bohol region of the Philippines is by going on a private tour. And with this tour, you can spend an enjoyable day exploring the best sights of Bohol like Manmade Mahogany Forest, a beautiful 16th-century Baclayon Church, Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary, and the world-renowned Chocolate Hills. The tour also includes a relaxing cruise on Loboc River where you will also be served a scrumptious lunch.

Traveler's tips

Chocolate hills from below

How about viewing Chocolate Hills from below? Yes, you can do that by going on an an ATV and Buggy adventure ride. This is another way of experiencing and viewing the Chocolate Hills. I personally enjoyed this two-in-one adventure, riding the ATV and viewing the Chocolate Hills from a different perspective. 

Traveler's tips

I love Bohol for its chill vibe, like if you're there, life is slow, and it's okay. But if you're visiting to see the many tourist attractions, you really have to plan your itinerary because there are lots of things to see and experience, such as viewing the Chocolate Hills from two vantage points: the observation deck and the hill's base through riding an ATV.

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Private Bohol and Chocolate Hills with Loboc River Cruise

Duration: 8 hours

15 reviews

22. Explore Intramuros on a bamboo bike (from USD 37.0)

An eco-friendly way of seeing the best sights of Manila’s Intramuros district is via this unique bamboo bike tour. Choose a bike that suits your style and size, and led by your friendly local guide, explore all the historic sights of this beautiful area. See Puerta Real Gardens, Puerta del Parian gate, Plaza Roma, Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, and more. End your tour with a tasty Filipino snack.

Traveler's tips

Good Tip

Puerta Rea is a significant landmark that offers a glimpse into the country's colonial past. 

To fully enjoy Puerta Real, consider these tips:

1. Historical Exploration: Begin your visit with a stroll through the gate, taking in its impressive architecture. Intramuros is rich in history, so explore the well-preserved Spanish-era buildings, churches, and museums.

2. Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the area's history. Knowledgeable guides can provide fascinating stories and historical context.

3. Fort Santiago: Don't miss Fort Santiago. It's a key attraction offering more historical exhibits, beautiful gardens, and scenic views of the Pasig River.

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Experience Intramuros with Bamboo Bicycle - Ecotours

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

338 reviews

23. Swim, snorkel and explore El Nido, Palawan (from USD 24.0)

One of the must-see spots in the Philippines is El Nido, Palawan. And the most relaxing way to see this picturesque region is with this island-hopping tour. See five different islands and explore their various attractions like hidden beaches, lagoons, caves, shrines, and more. Swim, snorkel, explore, sunbathe and click pictures of the awe-inspiring limestone mountains. A delicious lunch is also provided on this tour.

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El Nido Island-Hopping Tour

Duration: 6 to 8 hours

58 reviews

24. Swim with whale sharks in Cebu - Oslob (from USD 182.0)

If swimming with whale sharks has always been on your bucket list, then you can check that off during your trip to Cebu in the Philippines. Cebu-Oslob is well-known for its whale shark experience, where visitors can go swimming with these gentle giants of the ocean. And in this tour, besides swimming with whale sharks, you will also get a chance to experience the natural beauty of Cebu. See the impressive Kawasan and Tumalog Falls, capture stunning pictures or dip your toes in the cool water.

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Cebu Whale Shark Interaction + Moalboal Sea Turtles and Sardines Run

Duration: 15 hours

1 review

25. Have fun in the water at Mapupungko Beach and Sugba Lagoon (from USD 93.0)

One of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines, Siargao Island, is certainly worth a visit. With this tour, you can see two amazing sites on this island - Sugba Lagoon and Mapupungko Beach. The turquoise blue lagoon is home to amazing wildlife, a harmless species of jellyfish, colorful corals, and more. Go paddleboarding, snorkeling or swimming in the calm waters of Sugba lagoon. At Mapupungko Beach, swim in two natural pools and see the amazing rock formations.

Tip from Content Creator

Johnny

Johnny

Sugba Lagoon, Siargao Sugba Lagoon, Siargao Sugba Lagoon, Siargao

Sugba Lagoon offers fun activities, however, you are not allowed to eat at or bring food to the area to avoid trash accumulation.

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Siargao Mapupungko & Sugba Lagoon Siargao Island Tour

Duration: 6 hours

3 reviews

Do something different in the Philippines

When in the Philippines, it’s rare to see an itinerary filled with the same thing over and over again - and that’s because the Philippines is simply filled with so many sights to see, food to eat, and things to do, that you will most likely run out of time before you run out of bucket list items! For the full Philippine experience, try out many different things across the different regions of the Philippines. You might just surprise yourself with how beautiful the country truly is!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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A young Filipina passionate about seeing the world, understanding its people and creating new ways for them to explore their potential and lead more meaningful lives. Also a big fan of beaches,...Read more

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