15 Best Places to Visit in Philippines

Do you know what to do in The Philippines? Achieve your travel goals with this list of beautiful destinations, things to do, best places to visit, Philippines tourist spots, attractions & more.

To say that the Philippines is an island lover’s destination would be an understatement! The entire country is spread across 7,000 islands, each of which is a traveler’s delight. From transparent emerald seas to white sand beaches, the islands of Philippines offer the ultimate island getaway.

We have curated a list of the finest places to visit in the Philippines that covers the best beaches, picturesque resort towns, and verdant jungles for you to explore.

Here are my top picks for first-time travelers who want to start discovering beautiful destinations in the Philippines.

Most of these places are easy to reach from Manila, Cebu and other major airports. I also included a few remote, yet extraordinary spots for those seeking off-beat adventures. If you want to discover more spots, check out the best beaches in the Philippines and the Philippines’ most beautiful waterfalls as well.

The Philippines is a stunning country to explore that’s filled with thousands of tropical islands, stunning beaches and a heap of amazing cities. And that’s the thing, with so many islands you’re almost guaranteed to find some of the best places in the Philippines to explore.

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES ARCHIPELAGO

Yup! We mentioned on the first part of this blog post that the Philippines has over 7000 islands, making it an archipelago. It just means that most of the time, you have to ride a boat or ferry to reach some islands.

Riding an airplane is also one of the best ways to get on far islands of the country. It depends on your preference and budget.

THREE MAIN ISLANDS OF THE PHILIPPINES

The three biggest and main islands of the Philippines are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon is the biggest and the island in the northern part of the country; the Visayas is the smallest and it is located in the middle part; lastly, Mindanao is in the southernmost part of the country and it is the second to the largest main island.

Later we are going to tell our recommended places to visit in the Philippines from each of these main islands.

CAPITAL

Located in Luzon, the capital of the Philippines in Manila. It is the densest city in the world. It is also the most accessible part of the country from different parts of the world. Their main airports are here.

CURRENCY

Their currency is Philippine Peso. Currently, 1 USD is equivalent to more or less 50 pesos. Click here to check the exchange rate.

LANGUAGE

There are hundreds of languages and dialects in the Philippines. Their official languages are Filipino and English. Yup! Majority of the Filipinos can speak English. You don’t have to worry about not being understood when you speak English there.

VISA

Visiting the Philippines is not that difficult especially if you are one of the nationalities who can go to the Philippines without Visa. Click here to know if you are one of them and to know the Visa policy of the Philippines.

Click here to read our blog post on how you can extend your stay in the Philippines.

KNOW ABOUT WEATHER AND CLIMATE

The Philippines has only 2 seasons- wet and dry season. During March to May and even up to June, the weather is hot and humid. From June to November, expect the weather to be rainy and cold. The wet season can start as early as May.

You can click here for real-time updates on the weather.

Is the Philippines safe for travelers?

Personally, as a foreigner in the Philippines, I can say that it is totally safe in this country plus the people are too kind and hospitable. We agree that the Philippines is a safe country, but we remind you to be always mindful of your belongings everywhere you go. A basic rule!

BEST TIME TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES

If you don’t want to experience the hot and humid weather, we recommend that you visit the Philippines in the month of January.

If you love to tan in the Philippines and experience the REALLY hot summer there, visit during the months of March to May. Expect accommodation prices in tourist spots to be high because it is peak season.

The best time to visit the Philippines is according to your preference and budget.

HOW TO GET TO THE PHILIPPINES

Good news is that every main city in the Philippines is accessible from most parts of the world. Check Skyscanner to get the best flight deals in your country.

MODES OF TRANSPORTATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

Transportation in the Philippines is good! There are many ways you can travel by land (jeepney, taxi, Grab, tricycle, ride-sharing cars, buses, trains, etc.); by sea (ferry, boat); and by air.

We are warning you of the traffic in Manila, though! It is heavily congested especially during holidays, paydays, and weekends.

Book your bus/boat tickets online with 12Go Asia

DAILY BUDGET TO VISIT THE PHILIPPINES

Travelers visiting any destination in the Philippines will be pleased to know that the cost of living in the country is relatively low, especially compared to countries that charge by the dollar, pound or euro.

A decent meal here can go for less than 100 PHP, especially if you eat at local eateries and avoid fancy restaurants and fast-food chains. If you’re feeling a bit fancy and want to splurge a bit with a significant other, 700 PHP (or $14 USD) will take you far.

Beer in the Philippines is also very inexpensive, at 40-70 PHP per bottle. Prices tend to go lower in provinces, except for very touristic places, in resorts and in bars.

As for going around the country, transportation is also very affordable. Short distances can be covered by the jeepney, with a flat rate of 9 PHP. Taxis also have a flat rate, 40 PHP, and the price increases by the meter.

Many of the destinations in the Philippines can be reached by a bus taken from various terminals in Cubao. For example, a trip from Cubao to Baguio City costs 445 PHP in a regular air-conditioned bus and 750 PHP for the first-class bus. You can also ride the bus to Zambales for 375 PHP.

You can read our travel guides to Dumaguete, Bohol, Malapascua Island, Siquijor and Samal Island to learn about the transportation costs to visit those beautiful destinations.

Accommodations in the Philippines also vary from province to province, island to island and city to city. It is safe to say that 850-1000 PHP will go a long way as far as lodging goes. You can always check Booking and Agoda for the best room deals before your trip to the Philippines! Airbnb is also very popular in the Philippines.

PLACES TO VISIT IN THE PHILIPPINES

Want to make 2019 your best year yet? Grab a 2019 calendar, and start filling it up with these adventurous getaways and fabulous retreats handpicked by us. From old favorites to up-and-coming lesser-known spots, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit in the Philippines in 2019!

1. Palawan

If you have the unfortunate dilemma of choosing only one place to visit in the Philippines, Palawan should be at the top of your list. You came to the country to see spectacular beaches and islands. You are going to experience the best in Palawan!

Puerto Princesa

Most travelers arrive in Palawan by way of Puerto Princesa. Known as the “City in a Forest,” Puerto Princesa is not only the island’s busiest gateway, it’s home to many remarkable attractions.

Don’t miss the Puerto Princesa Underground River (a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the longest navigable underground river in the World), island hopping trips to Honda Bay, and a tour around the city.

How to reach 

Touchdown at Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS). Major airlines including Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines & AirAsia serve direct flights from Manila, Cebu, Iloilo & Clark. Travel time from Manila to Puerto Princesa is around 1hr 30m by plane.

El Nido

This is one of my favorite places in the Philippines for dramatic “over the water” views. El Nido is blessed with gorgeous off-shore islands, soaring limestone cliffs, hidden beaches, and secret lagoons. The “scenery” here rivals popular destinations in Asia like Ha Long Bay and the Phi Phi islands.

How to reach

Most travelers arrive in El Nido by flying to Puerto Princesa Airport and traveling by land to El Nido. Travel time is around 5-6 hours. If you want to skip the long land journey, you can also fly directly to El Nido Airport.

Coron

Located farther north of El Nido, Coron is also popular for pristine lagoons and white-sand beaches. The views underwater are just beautiful too! Go here for shipwreck diving, sprawling coral gardens, and great snorkeling.

How to reach

Touchdown at Coron-Busuanga Airport, which serves direct flights from Cebu, Clark, and Manila.

Sightseeings to visit in Palawan
  • Off-beat island hopping in Balabac, San Vicente/Port Barton, Taytay, and Quezon (Tabon Caves).
  • Remote island chains and great diving unchartered by tourist crowds in Tubattaha reefs (a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cagayancillo), Linapacan, Cuyo, and Spratly’s Islands (Kalayaan Islands).
  • Luxury island resorts including Amanpulo, El Nido Resorts, and Dos Palmas Resort.

2. Cebu

Cebu is the Philippines No.1 most visited tourist destination thanks to its strategic location in Central Philippines, well-connected flight/ferry network and diverse set of attractions.

While in Cebu, visit the old Spanish-colonial heritage sites, beaches, and waterfalls scattered throughout the province and nearby islands. Don’t leave without getting a taste of the local cuisine, starting with the prized Cebu Lechon!

How to reach
Cebu-Mactan International Airport serves direct flights from all major cities in the Philippines as well as international flights from Asia and North America.
Places to see and things to do
  • Easy-to-reach luxury beach resorts in Mactan Island.
  • Centuries-old churches and heritage sites.
  • Among the Philippines’ best white-sand beaches and diving in Malapascua, Bantayan, Moalboal, and Camotes Islands.
  • Waterfalls & hiking in Badian (Osmena Peak), Samboan, Ginatilan, Badian, Oslob, Barili, and Cebu City’s highlands.
  • Badian-Kawasan Canyoneering

3. Bohol

Bohol

Looking for a place to visit near Cebu? Bohol is one of the best destinations to add to your bucket list! This island is famous for its heritage sites and natural attractions, including the iconic Chocolate Hills.

Bohol is also where you can meet the cute Tarsiers, one of the World’s smallest primates. If that’s not enough, beautiful beaches, diving sites, and dolphin encounters await in Panglao Island.

How to reach

Bohol International Airport is 1 hour south of Manila by plane. You can also go by ferry from Cebu. Sea crossing takes around 1h30m hours.

4. Dumaguete & Negros Oriental

Apo Island – Trip Veteran

Extremely chill Dumaguete is the jump-off point to Apo Island and Siquijor. It’s also a good base to explore the many waterfalls, lakes, and mountain resorts of Negros Oriental province.

How to reach
Dumaguete Airport is about an hour south of Manila by plane. You can also fly directly from Cebu. The flight only takes 30 minutes.
Places to see and things to do
Apo Island

If swimming with sea turtles is on your bucketlist, the best places to go is Apo Island, a protected marine sanctuary with sprawling coral gardens.

Siquijor
Siquijor – Trip Veteran

Hop on a ferry from Dumaguete & wander around Siquijor Island. Visit the stunning beach coves, waterfalls and experience the idyllic island lifestyle.

5. Surigao

Endless stretches of white-sand beaches, not your only image of a perfect island getaway? Surigao has many extraordinary sights for the off-beat traveler. See the bizarre Enchanted River. Enjoy the island hopping in Siargao, Dinagat Islands, and Britania Islands.

Siargao & Sohoton lagoons

Siargao Island – Trip Veteran

Cloud 9 in Siargao Island considered as the Philippines’ best surf spot. When in Siargao, don’t miss a trip to the exotic Sohoton lagoons in Bucas Grande Island and see the rare non-sting jellyfish.

6. Cordillera Region

The Philippines isn’t just all about postcard-perfect beaches. It has cool highlands and rich mountain cultures too! Go here for scenic viewpoints, waterfalls, summit treks, and of course, the famous rice terraces.

Places to go and what to do
Banaue & Ifugao
Ifugao Rice Terraces

See the Banaue Rice Terraces, a top tourist spot in the Philippines featured on the P1,000 bill. Banaue village is an excellent base to explore the Ifugao Rice Terraces (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and immerse in the well-preserved culture of the Igorot mountain people.

Sagada
The bizarre hanging coffins – Trip Veteran

The bizarre hanging coffins draw many travelers to Sagada. This popular backpacking hub is also popular for cave spelunking, beautiful waterfalls, village treks & sunrise viewpoints.

Baguio

This is the Philippines’ summer capital. Baguio City offers a cool climate, urban comforts and fun day trips beyond the city including La Trinidad strawberry fields.

How to reach

Land travel from Manila is approximately 5-6 hours to Baguio, 8 hours to Banaue, and 12 hours to Sagada. Cut the travel time by arriving at more relaxed Clark Airport.

7. Ilocos

Ilocos – Trip Veteran

Visit historical and relaxed Ilocos Region in Northern Philippines.

Best destinations and where to go
Vigan
Vigan- Trip Veteran

Vigan is the best-preserved Spanish-colonial town in Asia. If you’re a lover of old cities, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit.

Laoag & Ilocos Norte

locos Norte is one of the Philippines’ best heritage destinations as well. From Laoag, visit the Spanish-colonial churches of the province including Paoay Church (included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites). Go farther north to find the beautiful beaches, surfing, and coastal landscapes in Pagudpud and Burgos.

How to reach

Laoag Airport is an hour north of Manila by plane. You can also arrive at Clark Airport and travel to Laoag or Vigan by land.

8. Bicol

Sightseeing Places to visit

Legazpi City
Mayon Volcano- Trip Veteran

Legazpi is the gateway to Bicol Region. This city is perhaps the most picturesque in the Philippines! Here, you can enjoy majestic views of Mayon Volcano, recognized as the World’s “perfect” cone-shaped volcano.

More reasons to visit Bicol
  • Swim with whale sharks at Donsol (Sorsogon).
  • Go off-the-beaten-path to Calaguas Island and Caramoan.
  • Get a taste of the Bicol Express and other local Bicolano cuisines

9. Central Luzon

Central Luzon is a new addition to this list thanks to easy access from Clark Airport, the fastest growing flight hub in the Philippines. In case you find yourself transiting via Clark, there are plenty of places in Central Luzon that’s worth a stopover.

Places to visit and things to do
Clark & Pampanga

This former US airbase, located in the greater metropolitan area of Angeles City, is developing as a major international and domestic flight hub, and will soon rise as the country’s first smart city. Clark and Angeles City is an excellent jump-off point to explore Pampanga province, a culinary and heritage destination in the Philippines, and other interesting spots nearby including Puning Hot Springs.

Subic Bay

An hour’s drive from Clark takes you to coastal Subic Bay, a popular destination for themed attractions and natural sites. Subic’s top tourist spots include the Pamulaklakin Nature Park, Boardwalk Park, Zoobic Safari, Ocean Adventure, Inflatable Island & Duty-Free shopping malls.

More reasons to visit Central Luzon
  • Enjoy an off-road adventure and hike to the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo
  • Visit the scenic beaches and islands of Zambales
  • Wander around the heritage sites in Bataan

10. Davao

Considering a trip to Southern Philippines? Start with Davao City, the largest urban center in Mindanao. Located at the foot of Mount Apo, the Philippines’s tallest mountain, this sprawling metropolis is where you can get a taste of Durian, meet the great Philippine Eagle, and enjoy day trips to refreshing natural sites like Eden Nature Park and Samal Island. Of course, it is also the gateway to beautiful spots in Davao Region and beyond.

Places to visit and things to do
Samal Island
Samal Island – Trip Veteran

Samal Island is easily reached by ferry from Davao City. Enjoy a luxury stay at Pearl Farm Beach Resort, famous for its waterfront stilt cottages, or wander to the peaceful beaches of Talikud Island.

11. Lake Sebu & South Cotabato

Lake Sebu – Trip Veteran

Another place worth visiting near Davao is Lake Sebu. This highland village offers cool mountain temperatures, beautiful waterfalls, and scenic lake views. Lake Sebu is the homeland of the peaceful T’boli people.

How to reach

General Santos Airport is around two hours by plane from Manila or around 1 hour from Cebu or Iloilo. Land travel from General Santos to Lake Sebu takes 2 to 3 hours. Alternatively, you may arrive at Davao Airport and take a 2 to a 3-hour land trip to General Santos.

12. Northern Mindanao

Places to visit and things to do
Iligan
Tinago Falls – Trip Veteran

One word… WATERFALLS! Iligan is home to many of the Philippines’ most beautiful waterfalls including Tinago Falls, Maria Cristina Falls, and remote Limunsudan Falls (the highest two-tiered in the Philippines).

Cagayan de Oro & beyond

Cagayan de Oro, the largest city in Northern Mindanao, is a convenient hub for tourists visiting nearby Bukidnon and Camiguin Island. It’s also the adventure capital of the Philippines! This city is famous for its white water river rafting, river tubing, paragliding, nature parks.

More reasons to visit Northern Mindanao
  • White Island, hot springs and prisitine waterfalls in Camiguin Island.
  • Cool pine forests in Bukidnon, Del Monte Pineapple Plantation and Dahilayan Adventure Park.

13. Boracay Island & Aklan

Boracay Island – Trip Veteran

Boracay is an easy place to visit if you’re looking forward to hitting the beach. At 4 kilometers long, White Beach in Boracay has clear blue waters and very fine white sand, compelling enough to earn Boracay a spot on the list of the World’s best beaches & islands by many globally recognized publications.

14. Iloilo & Guimaras

Don’t follow everything the guidebooks say, there’s more to Iloilo than a mere working city and a flight hub. It has its own set of worthwhile places to visit that are still largely untouristic. From here, you can easily go on a trip to Guimaras, Boracay, Antique and Capiz.

Places to visit and things to do
  • Enchanting beaches and islands in Gigantes, Guimaras, and Concepcion.
  • Eat cheap seafood and delicious Ilonggo native cuisine.
  • Visit Miagao Church (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Calle Real, grand colonial houses, and heritage buildings.
  • Enjoy bustling yet relaxed Iloilo City — Alternative gateway to Central and Southern Philippines and one of the most livable cities in the country keen on preserving its cultural and natural heritage.

15. Manila & beyond

The Philippines’ capital city offers many attractions for travelers. It’s also a good base to explore interesting places in nearby Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, and Laguna provinces.

Manila Destinations and attractions
  • Historic Intramuros is a good place to start. This walled city is filled with Spanish-era architecture including the Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago, and San Agustin Church (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
  • Beat the tropical heat & shop at Manila’s massive malls. The Metro Manila is home to many of the World’s largest malls including the ever-expanding Mall of Asia, expected to grab the #1 spot by 2021.
  • Exciting food and nightlife scene in cosmopolitan Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
  • New entertainment districts in the Manila Bay area.
  • Day trips to nearby Corregidor Island, waterfalls in Laguna, Tagaytay/Taal Volcano, Antipolo (view overlooking Metro Manila skyline) & more.

Thanks for visiting and reading Tripveteran Blog. Have a great day ahead.

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