Are you looking for the best places to visit in the Philippines? If so, look no more. We’ve prepared the ultimate tourist destinations list for you. From Manila to Palawan, you will know where to make your way through our beautiful country.
But first, did you know that many Southeast Asian countries are majorly connected by rail and road to each other? This is not the case with the Philippines. Our country is the only one in this area that does not have road links or land borders with any of the neighboring countries.
If you are a thrill-seeker looking to have a good time, this should not act as a deterrence. Any person looking for the best place to visit in Philippines should definitely pay a closer look at the destinations listed below. As you will see, these are some of the attractions that make flying to the Philippines worth the trip.
1. Manila: The Heart of the Empire
Often, many out of town travelers will opt to skip taking a lengthy exploration tour of Manila in favor of a visit to other destinations. But don’t be fooled! Manila has a lot to offer. The Metro Manila conglomeration has more entertainment, history, and culture than many other tourist hotspots in this list.
In its heydays, Manila served as the official seat for two of its successive colonial rulers. Today, you can still feel Spain’s presence in Fort Santiago, one of its most feared bastions and in Intramuros, its old walled city. An American presence is today manifested in the buildings surrounding Rizal Park, many of which are owned by the government.
To get the best out of your tour to Manila, you will have no option but to first understand its intricate transport system. Having done this, you can now easily move around and get to visit some of its top sights including the shopping malls, museums, and Chinese-Filipino eating places and businesses.
2. Cebu: Queen City
Cebu or the “Queen City of the South” competes with Manila when it comes to seeking recognition as the top places to visit in Philippines. While Manila claims to be the top spot, thanks to its history, Cebu has a better beat in terms of more fun for each square mile, access to better outdoor places, and easy access to a means of transportation.
The Spanish people first arrived in Cebu from Mexico. Over time, they sought to remake its people and their surroundings to match their image. Spanish influence is still present at the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. A visit to the Basilica allows you to see the glass-covered niche holding the Christ Child statue.
It’s a precious statue that continues to command innumerable devotees all over Cebu. It’s a devotion known to peak as the Sinulog Festival gets closer. The festival occurs every year in January.
The waters surrounding this city are renowned by locals and tourists for their biodiversity with prominent dive spots dotting the area around it, e.g., Moalboal and Sumilon Island. The two spots attract both amateur and professional divers from around the world all through the year.
3. The Cordilleras’ Rice Terraces: Popularly Known as the Mountain Magic
Cordilleras also known as the most mountainous terrain in all of the Philippines is yet another best place to visit in Philippines. It’s a region that was able to keep the first colonizers at bay, making it possible for the Ifugao, who reside in the region to maintain their unique culture.
But today, times have changed, and buses are now able to make a trip to Banaue through the treacherous curvaceous highways. Tourists can now take a 9-hour bus ride from Manila all the way to the mountains, accessing areas that proved inaccessible to the Spanish colonizers.
Get a chance of a lifetime to hike around rice terraces that were carved from the mountains more than five hundred years ago as you also visit numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the terraces, you are bound to come across a particular way of life which all revolves around rice.
Be prepared to hike and walk some challenging trails plunging right into sheer cliff sides and steeply down numerous mountainsides.
4. Siargao: Surfing on Cloud Nine
Its short coastline looking towards the Pacific Ocean happens to have very few beaches that are family-friendly. But as time has proven, again and again, this never stops international thrill-seekers from converging here every year and attempting to surf in its challenging spots.
This is one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines that the outside world got to discover in the early ’70s. For long, only the locals knew about this hotspot, with surfers only coming to know about it much later. Popularly known as cloud-nine, this is a surfing spot with a very ferocious reputation.
Its rocky bottom and powerful waves are known to shred egos and backsides every once in a while. Recently, the island has started to take on a familial turn, thanks to word-of-mouth and a hit movie.
The new tours and islands popping around the island continue to capitalize on fascinating features such as the presence of a Magpupungko tidal pool, and outlying islands with white sandy beaches, such as Daku Island, Guyam Island, and Naked Island.
5. Boracay: Beach Party Bingo
If the sole reason you visited the Philippines was to party, then make sure to head to Boracay straight from the airport. It’s an island known for its 2.5 miles of White Beach featuring powdery white sand filled with a boisterous gathering of bars, restaurants, and resorts. D’Mall, the only shopping center here organizes massive parties during the Holy Week as well as during the Christmas holidays.
Boracay was practically inaccessible and unknown before the 80s. Today, you can easily access it via boat or plane from any part in the country or larger Southeast Asia region. Gulping down shots is not the only favorite pastime here as there are plenty of activities to take part in, e.g., golf, parasailing, and ATVing.
If you are into windsurfing, you can visit the area in the low season, which occurs between the months of June and October.
6. Bohol: Beaches, Churches, Nature
Bohol, the sleepy island has for years only been known to its subtle erotic Chocolate Hills. In the recent past, the island has gone on to develop a reputation for itself as one of the top places you must visit when you are in the Philippines.
The island got its erotic Chocolate Hills from the karst limestone. This is the same limestone that also gave it gorges made for rappelling through and for zip lining; its clean, winding rivers: and the white sandy beaches to be found near Panglao.
Access to the island is quite easy. You can opt to take a SuperCAT ferry traveling from Cebu or fly directly into Tagbilaran Airport. On arrival, you will find yourself faced with all types of adventures.
Choices include scheduling a meet with the freaky-looking tarsier, opting to go island hopping, or visiting the ancient Baclayon Church. It all depends on what tickles your fancy. Just confirm that you have a nice warm place to spend the night.
7. Davao: Adventure Travel Hotspot
In the Philippines, you will notice that there exist three major groupings: Mindano on the southern end (where Davao City is the major metropolis as well as its main gateway), the Visayas (where Cebu is the largest city), and Luzon (where Manila serves as the head).
Davao is the youngest of the three and its forest habitat and marine life are largely unspoiled. The simplified access to the sea and the mountains offered by Davao makes it a leading spot for adventure seekers.
The city also has a host of animal reservations that provide shelter and also help to maintain various endangered species. All these reservations are worth visiting and includes the Monfort Bat Sanctuary located on Samal Island. It helps in maintaining a community of fruit bats.
Another reservation in the city is the Philippine Eagle Center. This particular center assists in breeding and maintaining the population of the Pithecophaga jefferyi eagles.
8. Pampanga: Cultural Hotbed
Pampanga province, located in the northern part of Manila, once held a unique reputation that led many to believe that the province was actually more Spanish compared to the Spanish themselves. For this reason, the nature in which they chose to embrace the colonialists’ lifestyle helped to influence its culture, cuisine, and unique architecture.
The province has a Latin culture enhanced by its own local twist. It’s what makes it a must-visit destination, especially if you are a foodie traveler. You can opt to make a dedicated trip that would see you enjoy the best Kampangan food available, or compile a culinary itinerary comprising of all the top eats in the Philippines.
Pampanga is also well-known for Mount Pinatubo. The mountain had an explosion in 1991 that saw it bury several surrounding towns in a pile of ash. There is, however, nothing to worry about as the volcano is no longer active. Locals today, even manage to make regular treks to its scenic crater lake.
9. Siquijor: Witches and Beaches
The island of Siquijor is considered one of the Philippines’ last frontiers. It greatly benefits from a reputation of witchcraft, verdant jungle, and gorgeous beaches. While the beaches here do not have the same crowds that you would find at Boracay and Phuket, they do have great sights.
Paliton Beach and Kagusan Beach provide great snorkeling and white-sand swimming opportunities with very few beach touts walking around. Some of the other natural features that are present on this island include the mysterious Llihan Cave and the cascading Cambugahay Falls.
Over the years, its culture has continued to remain predominantly Catholic, although it does have an occult underside. After making your way through the two-hundred-year-old coral churches such as the San Isidro Labrador Church located in Lazi, try and make your way to a local witchdoctor.
Popularly known as a “mambabarang”, the witchdoctor can prepare a curse or love portion for you on-demand as you wait.
10. Legazpi: Mayon Volcano Sounds & Sights
Legazpi city is only a short distance by air from Manila. But just because it is nearby does not mean that they are any similar. This is a city that has greatly benefited from its close proximity to Mayon Volcano. And it definitely deserves to sit here among this list of the best places to visit in the Philippines.
Apart from the ability to see its perfect cone from any location, Legazpi also boasts of endless adventure avenues, easy access to the sea, and lots of open spaces. Depending on how much time you have on your hands, you can spend half the time riding an ATV along the slopes of Mayon Volcano as you speed past large boulders created by the recent eruptions on the mountain.
You can spend the rest of your time exploring what this city has to offer. This includes gazing at churches that are more than a few centuries old or eating spicy food prepared by the locals. Some of these churches have somehow managed to survive the massive eruptions of Mayon that have taken place over the years.
11. Palawan: World’s Best Island
Palawan or the “world’s best island” help make up part of the Philippines’ arm. It comprises of a two hundred and sixty-mile sliver running northeast from the southwest along the western flank of the archipelago. You can expect to find and experience paradise as soon as you arrive on this island.
On visiting Puerto Princesa, its capital, you will find lots of local food spreads, including the best craft beer shops in the Philippines. Take a drive or flight to El Nido town and get to discover an archipelago like no other.
It’s filled with forty astoundingly good-looking islands made from limestone. All these are great for someone looking to hike around cliffs or go island hopping. At the north-most part of this island is the Coron. It harbors a dive site from a World War II wreck.
If you are still not sure of what to do on your visit to Palawan, then be sure to book tours, activities, and get to discover other amazing places on Tikigo. It’s your guide to everything you have ever wanted to know about Palawan and the Philippines!