Dubbed as the Pearl of the Orient Seas – the Philippines takes pride in its stunning landscape and wonders of nature. Located in Southeast Asia, this archipelagic gem is composed of more than 7,000 islands, diverse culture, and a melting pot of races. Another thing that attracts tourists here is the local’s fluency in the English language, the hospitality of the Filipinos, and the very low cost of living. So if you’re planning an Asian escapade, you might as well check these 10 places to visit in the Philippines.
PRO TIP: Skip the hustle and bustle of the capital Manila. If you want to get close to nature and enjoy a relaxing vacation, head to these provinces instead:
1. Puerto Princesa, Palawan
If you’re looking for a pristine tropical experience, head straight to Puerto Princesa in the Palawan province. Puerto Princesa is a coastal city and home to limestone caves and the famed Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This dazzling river and cave were voted as one of 2012’s New 7 Wonders of the World.
Also, Puerto Princesa is synonymous with azure waters and the laidback beauty of nature. It’s literally a breath of fresh air to take an extended vacation in this place. You can go island hopping to visit the Honda Bay and to go around the long stretch of Palawan Island.
If you’re looking forward to a staycation, cozying by the beach is a great activity. But for those who want to seek the thrill, you can go kayaking, jet-skiing, and sports fishing. Almost all watersports in Puerto Princesa are affordable between Php 300 and Php 15,000 (US$6 to US$300) that can be availed in groups.
For those who want to go out of the water, a city tour is the best way to experience the locality. You can go around the World War II Museum, Palawan’s Rescue and Wildlife Center, and the Heritage Museum.
2. Boracay, Aklan
In 2019, the CNN Traveler declared Boracay Island in the province of Aklan as the best island in Asia. Its fine white sand is the first thing that will magnetize a tourist here as well as its crystal clear waters. This is also the go-to island for party-goers, famous for its LaBoracay night raves every Labor Day (May 1). However, since its reopening, beach parties are already prohibited to limit the damage on the island.
This itty-bitty island receives thousands of tourists per year. And after a six-month closure and rehabilitation in 2018, Boracay was reopened with a refreshed view.
Still, Boracay has a lot more to offer than its spell-binding shorelines. You can join the two-hour inland tour that will take you through the island’s 220-hectare Mangrove reserve. You can also witness the picturesque view of Mt. Luho, where the ocean seems to stretch to infinity.
However, take note that Boracay gets packed during summer in the Philippines between March to May.
For those who don’t want to flaunt their beach bums, they can fly to Bohol. From Manila, you can take a domestic flight to Tagbilaran City, the capital of Bohol. It’s a 1 hour and 15-minute flight through local airlines like Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, and Philippine Airlines (PAL).
A visit to Bohol will not be complete without laying eyes on its ever-famous Chocolate Hills. It’s not real chocolate, though. These are hundreds of symmetrical and mountainous hills that turn chocolatey in color during the dry season and lush green during the rainy season. There’s a viewing deck here that allows you to have the perfect vista for this wonder of nature.
For nature lovers, a visit to the Bohol Habitat Conservation Conservatory is a must. Here, various species of caterpillars, birds, spiders, butterflies, and flowers can be seen.
Also, don’t forget to take Instagrammable shots at the Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridge in Loboc. And if you want to be near water, you can join a cruise along the Loboc River.
Located northwest of Bohol, Cebu holds the historical charm of this Asian country. It’s home to the Spanish colonial past dating back to the 16th century, where Spain colonized the Philippines for more than 300 years.
Some of the ‘obligatory’ must-sees here are the Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu. You can also have a blast from the past by visiting the 1730 Jesuit House in Cebu City.
But aside from inland activities, you should prepare you scuba gears as Cebu is also one of the best spots for whale shark diving. The Oslob Whale Sharks Tour Company offers guided dives all year long.
Anyway, if you don’t want to be with the large sea creatures, you can relax by the Mountain View Nature Park. This place in the capital is perched in the mountains and offers a breath-taking view of the surrounding hills.
As a large province, this post wouldn’t be enough to list all the things you can do in Cebu. But one thing’s for sure; this province is home to the largest shopping malls.
Calling all avid surfers out there! Siargao is a famous spot for surfers who want to experience big waves all year long. Year in and year out, this island in Mindanao (the southernmost island group of the country) is flocked by foreigners.
As they say, it’s almost a sin not to surf if you’re vacationing in Siargao. There’s a spot here called Cloud 9, where the hollow tube and thick waves can be experienced. It’s so perfect for surfing that international water sporting events are being held here.
Also, you can relax by the Naked Island and its white sand beach. But hey, this isn’t a nudist beach, so make sure that you keep those bikinis and trunks on.
If ever you get tired of staring at the shore, you can also go island hopping to Sohoton Cove. However, this place is quite far-flung, so you should allot at least a day for this activity.
Most of all, go on a food trip. Siargao has one of the best local foods in the country, including General Luna Ale.
From the extreme south, let’s climb to the north by visiting Banaue. This is located in the mountainous province of Ifugao and home to the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. It was fondly called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and similar to the terraces you’ll see in Ubud, Indonesia.
In Banaue, your visit will be about strawberries, sightseeing, mingling with the locals, and exploring the indigenous culture. You can visit the Paitan Village where carvers and weavers live. Also, there’s the Bocos Village where you can find huts adorned with skulls of wild pigs and carabaos. The more skulls the hut has, the wealthier its occupants are.
Far from the fancy nature of other attractions, Banaue takes you back to nature and the simplicity of life. It’s a great respite from the noise of the capital Manila.
However, Banaue can get packed during the summer season in the country as locals climb to cool themselves on the chilly Banaue weather.
Be transported back in time with the cobblestone paths of Vigan. This municipality in the province of Ilocos Sur (up north!) is the image of the Spanish colonial period. It has kalesa or a horse-drawn carriage rounding the Calle Crisologo. Take note that on this street, motorized vehicles aren’t allowed.
Many couples have traveled all the way to this northernmost province (about 12 hours from Manila) just to take their prenup photos in the historic and idyllic Calle Crisologo.
Aside from that, you can also visit the Syquia Mansion, the residence of the Philippines’ 6th President Elpidio Quirino. But if you’re up for some water cruising, you can join one along the Mestizo River.
Before calling it a day, drop by one of the weaving shops in the city to see the Abel cloth being made. Abel is a tradition woven product of Vigan lauded for its deep-rooted artistry and beauty.
You can also shop for some antiques along Calle Crisologo. And for a lazy afternoon, you can relax at Leila’s Café for some hearty bites.
Located in the Bicol Region, Albay is famous for the perfect cone-shaped Mayon Volcano. This maiden is shrouded with mystic, often hiding behind the clothes for first-time visitors. Aside from staring at its natural beauty, you can also get some action on an ATV tour.
Of course, it’s a sin not to take fun photos at the Cagsawa Ruins. It’s actually a 16th-century church buried in the lava of Mayon Volcano when it interrupted back in 1814. Nowadays, Mayon Volcano rests perfectly on the vista of this resting church.
Once you’re done taking photos, you should visit the Mayon Volcano National Park. Here, you can go floating by the Sumlang River inside one of the fancy rafts adorned with abaca furniture. And in your view is the stunning Mayon Volcano stretching its perfectly shaped figure.
Beyond the image of the volcano, you can also explore some Japanese tunnels in Albay. There’s also the Vera Falls, Quitinday Underground River, Daraga Church (viewing deck for Mayon!), and the Lignon Hill Nature Park where you can zip lining.
9. Samal Island
Located at the far end of the Mindanao island group, the Island Garden City of Samal is a spectacle to behold. A visit here is a combination of water and inland adventure. First off, you can soak at the Vanishing Island located in a protected marine reserve. It can only be seen during low tide where you can go snorkeling and relaxing on its shallow waters.
For those who want the adrenaline, don’t forget to visit the Maxima Aqua Fun, where a 40-meter super slide into the ocean awaits. Giant slides are a big thing here, as you can find more at the Bluejaz Beach Resort.
What you really have to witness is the view at the top of Mount Putting Bato. At 1,755 feet above sea level, you’ll soak your eyes on the view of the island. It’s a quiet and idyllic experience, much so for beginner hikers.
If you have the time, visit Talicud Island. This is a neighboring island at the back of Samal and great for camping and pulling the plug from the noise of the city.
10. Camiguin Island
Just south of Samal Island at the top of Davao City and Bukidnon is the Camiguin Island. This island is a tropical paradise with its endless stretch of white sand beaches, green jungles, and waterfalls. Unlike Boracay and Palawan, most spots in Camiguin are still low key for tourists. So if you want to dodge the crowd, you should consider going here instead.
If you want to start with a relaxing day, head to the Ardent Hot Springs. It has a Disney jungle vibe that will surely set the best mood for your vacation. If the weather is hot, you can switch to the Sto. Nino Cold Spring instead. You can also visit the Tuasan Falls for a one-of-a-kind water massage.
For divers out there, the Burias Shoals aren’t one to miss. Underwater, it’s a stunning flatbed of corals and marine life. You’ll get to see red, white, black, yellow, and various coral varieties.
From the sea, you can climb up to the famous Mount Hibok-Hibok, also known as the Catarman Volcano. This is a challenging 3 to 5-hour trek, but the view is truly worth it at the top. You’ll get to see Camiguin and neighboring islands like Siquijor and Bohol.
These places to visit in the Philippines are just a few of the wondrous spots you can lay your eyes on. This tropical country was showered with wonders of nature that you’re yet to discover and experience. Are you planning your next itinerary? The Philippines might be your next big vacation soon!