The Philippines is a magical destination in South East Asia. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or first-timer, this holiday haven is always an exciting overload of experiences and culture.
Stepping off the plane, you are immediately drawn into the beauty of the country. From the hospitality of friendly locals, beautiful views on land and sea, delicious food and unique culture – this remarkable destination is set to become a favourite on your list.
Why Travel to the Philippines?
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The Philippines is an extraordinary country with so much to offer and is an affordable tropical destination. From chaotic crowded cities to pristine beaches, there is not one word that you can use, to sum up this electric tourist hot spot.
What sets it apart from most South-East Asian countries is the ease of travelling around and communicating with the locals, this is because English, along with Filipino is recognised as an official language.
Other unique aspects of the Philippines is their rich Roman Catholic history and Spanish influence displayed throughout their culture, food, religion and architecture across the country.
An important aspect of Filipino culture to take note of is their generosity and kindness. If you are invited to eat with the locals, accept their offer. Your recognition of their kindness will only make your holiday better as they may have the right connections to help you get around and enjoy your trip more.
The Top Destinations in the Philippines
Home to some of the most magnificent destinations in the world, with incredible flora and fauna across their 7641 islands, which makes it rather tricky to select the perfect place. It’s nearly impossible fitting them all into one holiday.
The best way to choose places to visit in the Philippines is by picking activities you’re truly interested in. The Philippines offers you the chance to explore and venture out of your comfort zone in so many wonderful ways. From renowned rice fields, exotic beaches, lush jungles and volcanoes, you are blessed with some pretty awesome choices.
The Best Tourist Spots in the Philippines
Check out our top choices for the best spots in the Philippines, and perhaps they might make it onto your list.
The Philippines is not just another beach lovers paradise, instead the country also boasts a number of trails that provide panoramic views of the spectacular natural beauty of the country.
When it’s not spewing lava, Mount Mayon, also known as Mayon Volcano, is viewed as one of the best volcanoes in the world and is an absolute must-see and do hiking experience.
You’ll need to be prepared for the hike up and there are four camp spots along the way; basecamp, camp one, camp two and the final one being the crater itself. It is advisable to only hike up to camp two as the final stage of the hike is dangerous and more suitable for seasoned volcano hikers, equipped with the right gear.
The hike up to camp two takes roughly 3 hours and provides spectacular views of the almost perfect conical shape of the volcano.
Just a few hours drive from metro manila, this hiking trail provides hikers with endless green grassy views against rolling slopes. This hike will take you roughly four hours to reach the summit and provides a semi-decent challenge for all hiking levels.
For those wanting to take in the sights and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding them, there are a number of campsites along the way where you can spend a night or two.
Another option near metro Manila is the Masungi Georeserve trail. This hiking trail has quickly become a favourite tourist spot for day trips as it is set within a beautiful green and lush conservation reserve, surrounded by lush green rainforests and limestone formations.
This spot is perfect for nature lovers and those seeking the best Instagram pictures. The trail itself takes roughly three to four hours and is a fun and exciting trail with a few rope obstacles along the way.
Along the Sierra Madre- the longest mountain range in the Philippines, lies Mount Daraitan. This hiking trail delivers spectacular views of lush forests, wildlife, springs and even hidden caves and is the perfect escape from reality.
Hikers can enjoy a day trip up the mountain or even slow it down and stop to camp for the night. A lovely little side-trip option, during your descent, is the Tinipak River.
Here hikers can view and swim in crystal clear waters, set against a white and green backdrop of stone and forest. Another perfect Instagram location!
Best Beaches in the Philippines
The Philippines is renowned for its paradise beach locations across its islands and rightly so. Some of the best beaches in the world exist here.
The list of beaches below are ideal for those looking to soak up the sun and enjoy the beauty of the Philippines on land and in the water.
Boracay is at the top of our list of the best destinations in the Philippines, simply for its sheer natural beauty and location.
Boracay is a small island in the central Philippines and is famous for their resorts and beaches, boasting palm trees and white sand. On the east coast, tourists can enjoy a variety of water sports on Bulabog Beach and on the west coast, tourists can relax, soak up the sun and enjoy crystal clear and calm waters.
Offshore, tourists can view and snorkel with the incredibly diverse marine life and even dive down to some shipwrecks.
Palawan is an exotic favourite globally, known as one of the most beautiful beach locations in the world. It’s hard not to add this to your list. This slice of paradise not only offers exquisite beaches but also caves, mountains and jungles.
El Nido is a spectacular destination for beach lovers. Located in Palawan, this tourist spot is like something from a postcard. The dramatic limestone formations peeking out from crystal blue waters make for a picturesque location.
Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path as there are plenty of other gorgeous beaches to be discovered around the town of Palawan. Try renting a scooter and head off on a beach adventure for the day.
We recommend stopping off at beaches like; Nacpan Beach, Duli Beach and Maremegmeg Beach. Enjoy a couple of pit stops to cool off and appreciate the local cuisine on offer at little beach shacks.
For those looking to enjoy more sea-time, there are El Nido island hopping options along with kayaking, and snorkelling activities along the way. The 7 Commandos Beach and Cadlao Island are also ideal options for water enthusiasts.
Cebu is another tropical getaway we highly recommend. As the center of trade and tourism, it is a melting pot of endless opportunities and fun for travellers. There is a lot to be seen and done, from world-class beaches and superb marine life experiences.
Mactan Island provides a number of family-oriented high-end resorts but in order to enjoy more of a paradise beach experience, you’ll need to take a boat out from here to islands in the Bohol Strait.
Those with more time on their hands can also opt to drive roughly three hours and then take a quick 10-minute boat ride to Malapascua Island. Aside from the beauty of this island, there are also plenty of fun activities on offer.
Here tourists can enjoy water sports like wakeboarding and scuba diving, as well as thresher shark watching.
Whilst in Oslob, a visit to Sumilon Island is recommended. This island remains one of Cebu’s best kept secrets and is perfect for a day in the sun, swimming, diving and kayaking.
An interesting feature for Sumilon Island is the diverse marine life and exquisite water hues. It is also the first marine protected area in the Philippines and was made a fish sanctuary in 1974.
When people think of Oslob, they almost instantly think of whale shark diving. This is a tourist hot-spot at the moment, however, a rise in concern over the ethical treatment of these creatures has seen a way for an alternative to diving in Oslob.
Whilst diving with these gentle giants is an incredibly unique experience and provides the best photo opportunities and memories, it should be done ethically. Instead of diving in Oslob, we highly recommend you rather plan a trip to Donsol.
Donsol has transformed into a safe marine environment that protects whale sharks in the area. Guides and volunteers dedicate their time to monitoring each whale shark and guided tours have allowed for a more ethical, regulated and controlled experience.
Tourists may no longer jump in, and simply swim with or just touch the animals. Instead, tour guides control the number of people in the water (up to 6 people per shark), and tourists are advised not to touch or feed the animals. There are also minimal boats allowed out in the area at a time.
A trip to the Philippines would not be complete without a visit to some of the best sightseeing spots the country has to offer. The Philippines is rich with a unique history and culture and the locals love sharing their stories and lives with tourists.
Manila is a great place to start sightseeing. In this densely populated city, you are exposed to the Filipino metropolitan way of life through roaring traffic, multi-story buildings and an overall sense of excitement and chaos.
Historic Intramuros, located on the banks of the Pasig River, is one of the most iconic tourist spots in the Capital. Known as the Walled City, this ancient heritage site was the old city of Manila during the Spanish Colonial Period. The best way to explore this spot is by ‘bambike’, a traditional handmade bicycle made from bamboo.
There are so many authentic experiences at your fingertips in Manila. The key is to indulge your senses in as many ways as possible through traditional Filipino street food, shopping ‘til you drop and perhaps ending your night off with the locals.
It’s no secret that karaoke is a favourite past-time for Filipino’s. As the sun sets each evening, karaoke bars- fitted with high-tech sound systems come to life, allowing for a night of singing and dancing with welcoming locals.
Banaue Rice Terraces
Considered to be the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ by UNESCO, this world heritage site is a remarkable attraction that should most definitely be on your list.
The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province are close to 2000 years old and were carved by the ancestors of the local indigenous people of the region.
The terraces in this region are considered to be national treasures to the country as they are the main source of food and survival for locals. They are an example of sustainable agricultural methods passed down from one generation to the next.
Chocolate Hills, Bohol
The Chocolate Hills are a majestic landscape and popular tourist attraction. With more than 1000 hills stretched across a 50 square kilometre region, it’s hard not to marvel at the wonder of nature here.
The chocolate hills are named after chocolate based on their appearance during the dry season in the Philippines (Late November-May). During this time the green grass fades and the hills become a chocolate colour landscape.
Two of the best areas to view the hills are from the viewing deck of the Chocolate Hills Complex in Carmen, and at the Sagbayan Peak.
Puerto Princesa Underground River
Located on the northern coast of Palawa, this impressive cave system and underground river tour is perfect if you have already opted for a trip to the beach in Palawa.
Protected by a national park, this is one of the world’s most unique features and is the longest navigable underground river. During your guided boat tour, you will be able to see beautiful rock stone formations, with a couple of bat encounters.
Experiencing a new country and culture is always fun, and what better way to do it than through your sense of taste, sight and smell.
If you have had the chance to watch any Street Food and Anthony Bourdain episodes, you’ll know that the Philippines offers some of the most delicious and unique dining experiences.
Wherever you may find yourself during your holiday, open yourself up to a whole new diverse culinary world. We have listed some of the dishes you need to try before leaving below.
This is a staple for any Filipino feast and was described as “the best pig ever!” by Anthony Bourdain.
This dish is a whole cooked pig that has been roasted on a stick over a fire with coals. The pig is seasoned with a number of herbs and spices and is massaged with soy and garlic to give it the delicious crackling texture and flavour.
For the best version of Lechon, you will need to give it a taste during your stay in Cebu.
Sisig is the perfect sharing dish and is a sizzling platter of pork cheeks, ears and a tail with chicken liver. The ingredients are seasoned with a number of spices, onions, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice, and are cooked until salty and crispy.
You can find and enjoy a variety of sisig versions across the country however, Manila is famous for the sisig dishes it serves.
Adobo is a popular dish and cooking method in the Philippines that involves meat, seafood or vegetables, that are marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and black peppercorns. The dish is browned in oil and simmered in the marinade.
Cebu offers delicious variations of this dish, usually paired with a bed of steamed rice.
This dish is the epitome of the Philippines. It is a vibrant, colourful sweet dish made up of shaved ice, evaporated milk, colourful ice-cream and jelly as well as a variety of other little ingredients including; coconut, sweetened beans, fruit slices and so much more.
Halo Halo is the perfect dessert to enjoy on a hot day, out on the beach.
Wrapping Up The Best Places to Visit in the Philippines
Now that you know all the wonderful activities you could experience in the Philippines, it’s time to start planning your trip.
Whether you’re looking at treating yourself to an all-expenses-paid beach resort holiday, conquering some challenging goals with endless outdoor activities, or perhaps ticking off items from your sight-seeing bucket list, the Philippines is the perfect place to start.
We guarantee this will be one of your favourite holidays to date because ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines.’